Wikirec is a proposed new project by Mountainmantis.
Wikirec is a small ball that has been rattling around in my head for about six years and I'd like to get it out and, with some substantial help, start it rolling. I've long perceived the need for something like Wikirec, yet was unaware of any software close to what it would take to make Wikirec happen. That is, until I came across Wikipedia and its user editing and interface. Till this point I've been a little leary about sharing the idea of Wikirec, primarly because of concerns about how it will be received. However, I present it here because of the way Wikimedia has handled Wikipedia and it appears that Wikimedia may have the resources to make Wikirec materialize.
Wikirec is derived from wiki and recreation, specifically outdoor recreation. Wikirec would be a collection of outdoor recreation pages that correspond to physical locations. It would not include commercial recreation sites. Though Wikirec is primarly concerned with locations and their potential recreation uses, the underlying idea is a wiki site with pages that correspond to geographical locations/entities. That said, it may be worthwhile to think of recreation as a catch all for how people interact with geographical entities.
It would be very helpful to be somewhat "outdoorsy" or environmentally conscience when considering Wikirec. If you don't consider youself "outdoorsy" it might be useful to talk to someone that has outdoor interests and run the Wikirec idea by them.
Also, there are a lot of conceptual details that need to be worked out concerning the layout of pages and just what the end product would look like and how it would work. As for the programming, I would guess developing Wikirec would/will be quite a challenge.
To understand the potential of Wikirec it is best to see the current problem through an example.
- Say I’m 40 year old father of 3 and this Memorial day weekend I’d like to take a little family vacation for a few days and bring the canoe and hiking boots. We plan on car camping and want to go somewhere new. I heard about a lake just north of where we usually go, but don’t know a thing about. First, I head to the local canoe store to pick up a guidebook. The only guidebooks they have are for local lakes and are at least four years old (typical situation). Plus the books are limited in locations, which will also be overcrowded thanks to the guidebook. Not to mention the cheapest book costs $15 and doesn’t cover hiking or car camping. However I ask the shop working and they have heard of the lake (so it exists). What next? I get on line. I go to the canoe sites, hiking sites and car camping sites (like they exist). This is basically a wild goose chase. I finally track down lake access sites, a place to car camp (a commercial site because they are on the net) and a near by hike. Up on arrival, I find the lake is a reservoir and the local fish derby is that weekend, so the place is packed. The camping is nice but I have to pay for it, and I see there is free public campground right down the street, just need reservations. As for hiking it is great, but the governing public authority just raised trailhead parking fee rates, plus I was supposed to pick up a permit in a town an hours drive away. To bad I didn’t bring the bikes, I see there is a great bike trail that goes around the lake.
Staying on top of current conditions are for geographical locations is very difficult. Physical locations are governed by various authorities, if they are governed at all, with each authority imposing their own set of ever changing rules. The conditions of locations are very dynamic with changing access, hours, physical conditions, etc. Currently, there are already mailing lists, boards, databases, and a vast amount of general websites dedicated to outdoor recreation sites and conditions. There are also many sites that deal with one aspect of a location, such as it's state of "health" or lack-there-of. Unfortanetly, all the existing sites are very limited in scope, extremely limited in interface, not associated with similar sites and worst of all not user editable or searchable. The primary advocates for sites are the users. The users are also the primary source for the current conditions. Yet there is currently no vehicle to unite the users and focus and organize their knowledgebase.
Alright, lets get down to it. What would Wikirec be??
It would be a wiki site, though it would have a few more items that are associated with a classical database. Wikirec would have all the typcial features and capabilities of the other Wikimedia Wikis. Such as the great ability for users to create and edit pages. However, Wikirec would also have some additional unique capabilities described below.
Each page in Wikirec would have a corresponding physical location. The site would give pertinent (if users fill it out) information (knowledge) regrading the location. Examples of what might be on each page are listed below. Each page would also have an associated talk page, same as Wikipedia. Naturally, pages might mention other associated pages. I suppose a country, state, county system would be used as a hierarchy to locate and organize the pages.
Wikirec has the potential to encompass every non-commercial geographical entity, such as parks, trails, campgrounds, lakes, rivers, glaciers, mountains, public lands, etc... And provide current knowledge about each one.
- Is a glacier receeding?
- Is a lake polluted or over-fished?
- Is a public land suffering from over use?
- Was the forest logged where your trail is?
Wikirec would serve as a mouthpiece for the condition of our natural spaces.
First thing that would be somewhat unique to wikirec is the geographical location coordinates. Pages would have the option for associating a set (or more than one set) of geographical coordinates (Lat/Long and UTM) with the page. Obviously the specific locations would be very useful and would probably be listed for each site. However, what would be slick is to have a search feature that is based on these coordinates. The search feature would be relative to the coordinates of the site your currently opened to (or user defined) and have an optional radius setting to limit results. The search feature interface might become rather large (when flags are added, see below) and it may be better contained as a tab at the page top (similar to "edit" or "move").
Some sites, such as campgrounds, may have one set of coordinates. A page for a trail might have multiple coordinates, one for each end and one for intersections with other trails or significate points. Then, some pages might not have any coordinates.
Second fun feature would be activity flags. Each page would be associated with one or more activities. For example a trail might have hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding associated with it. Not sure what the flags and interface would look like. Possibily a list on the side of the page with a check box for each flag.
An alternative to flags may be categories, currently used by Wikimedia. Locations would have various associated categories and searches could be performed within a particular category.
What will make Wikirec really powerful and useful is the search feature. Ideally, as well as being able to search for words, users would be able to turn the activity flags on and off to refine the search as well as search based on location coordinates. If a user is viewing the page for campground and wants to be able to go hiking, they would access the search tab and turn the hiking tab on and insert a radius of 50 miles, then hit search.
Note, information is not accurate, only used as example
- Mt. Si Trail, King County, Washington, USA. Hiking Trail for hikers only, no pets. Trail starts at xxx elevation (xx Lat, xx long) and climbs 4.6 miles to the summit of Mount Si at xxx elevation (xx Lat, xx long). Trail is part of Blah-blah trail system maintained by Blah and Blah. Currently, no fees or permits are required to hike and park at trailhead. This is one of the most popular trails in the state and is very crowded on weekends. The parking lot often fills up on weekends. Trail was last cleared on m/d/y.
- This page would be flagged for hiking. Internal links shown in bold. Mt Si link to be to page for the actual mountain, which would detail info on mountain and various routes up it (or what ever else, history etc.).
- Lewis River Campground, Lewis County, Washington, USA. Campground with car access (xxx Lat, xxx Long). 34 campsites, 12 are RV compatible, 2 group sites. Campground is maintained by Mt St Helens National Forest. Fees are blah blah. Reservation are obtainable for Memorial day through Labor day with Mt St Helens National Forest, however campground rarely fills. Campgound is located on Lewis River. Campground is also start of Lewis River Trail.
- This page would have flags for camping and car camping. Internal links in bold. Lewis River would have same coordinates and be flagged with fishing, rafting and kayaking. Lewis River Trail would also have same coordinates and be flagged with hiking, Mt. biking and backpacking. There might also be links to the Mt St Helens National Forest, both internal and external
Well, there you go. Hopefully you get the idea and see the need and potential for Wikirec. I realize it won't be easy to develop Wikirec, however I believe that there is a tremondous need for Wikirec and I think it would be very worthwhile and popular.
Please direct questions about the idea of wikirec to Mountainmantis. For questions about what it would take to develop wikirec, well that is why I've proposed this project to Wikimedia. Thanks.
--Mountainmantis 23:25, 15 Mar 2005 (UTC)