Wikipedia launches travel site Wikivoyage on January 15

The Wikimedia Foundation's newest venture, the Wikivoyage travel site, is emerging from beta for general use this month

Move over Michelin and Frommer. There's a new guide to travel in town, and it comes from the creators of Wikipedia.

Wikivoyage, currently in beta, will be ready for prime time on January 15, according to the travel site Skift.

Earlier this week, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales said during an interview on Comedy Central's Colbert Report that development of the travel site was a priority of the nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation, which runs the online encyclopedia and other properties.

Wikivoyage contains more than 25,000 articles on places around the world. The articles can be viewed on a number of devices--desktop, notebook, smartphone, and tablet--and can be freely downloaded as a PDF file, printed, or even gathered into a book so you can create a custom guide for a trip.

Each article is laid out in the familiar Wikipedia format and will provide historical information about a location as well as suggestions how to get there and travel around within it, what to see and do while there, and information on the essentials--eating, drinking, shopping, and sleeping.

Thus far, eight languages are supported by the website, although all the articles aren't translated into all the languages yet.

Launching amid controversy

Wikivoyage has been in beta since September and has been a source of controversy since its launch.

The Wikipedia community voted 540-152 in August 2012 to set up a travel wiki under the Wikimedia Foundation. Their approval was met by a lawsuit from a commercial travel wiki, Wikitravel, operated by Internet Brands, charging two Wikivoyage volunteers with theft of intellectual property and unfair competition in a criminal conspiracy.

Wikipedia countered with its own lawsuit in September 2012, seeking a judicial declaration that Internet Brands had no lawful right to impede, disrupt, or block the creation of Wikivoyage.

"While the suit filed by Internet Brands does not directly name the Wikimedia Foundation as a defendant, we believe that we are the real target,"  Wikimedia Deputy counsel Kelly Kay explained in the nonprofit's blog.

"We feel our only recourse is to file this suit in order to get everything on the table and deal head on with Internet Brand's actions over the past few months in trying to impede the creation of this new travel project," Kay added. Both lawsuits are still pending.

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