Incredible India: A social experiment in travel.

Update: Thanks everyone for getting in touch. Keep up the enthusiasm! I’m working with a small bunch of you to refine the idea. If you’ve indicated your interest, I’ll keep you in the loop of developments. If you’re interested to join the initiative, feel free to drop me an email or a comment 🙂

India is a beautiful country. It’s richness of culture, natural wonders, people, traditions, festivals, landscapes, history, art, food, languages and wildlife, is as stunning as it is overwhelming. Even for an Indian, it’s impossible to explain in detail the diversity of India’s travel offerings or the riches in its every nook and corner.

Himalayas in India.
Himalayas in India. Photo credit: Wikitravel

So here I am, excited at the thought of a social experiment, aching to make my contribution to India’s economy, with an idea to facilitate tourism in India through social & social media collaboration. Here I am, inviting you to join me in this social experiment, because I know you’re aching to be that spark for India too.


Our recent victory with Anna Hazare & the Lokpal bill was a precursor to the social collaborative power of Indians. This social experiment is a notch more ambitious, but needs equally to leverage our unity and diversity.

Aim: We collaborate and showcase India’s richness of travel offerings online, facilitating both domestic and international tourism in India.

Approach: We find at least one person to represent each little part of India. Each of these people take ownership of all travel information related to their hometown (or any place of which they possess travel expertise), and take it upon them to provide it online.

1. Wikitravel – The most searchable travel resource online, and a credible source of information.
2. Facebook, Twitter, Blogs – The most effective ways to spread awareness about the experiment.

Measures of Success:
1. Number of participants
2. Number of Wikitravel pages created or edited
3. Impact on travel in India (ambitious, but if we never try, we’ll never know)


Know your hometown.

Think of a place in India where your heart belongs. It could be your hometown, the city you were brought up in, or even a village you spent all your summers at. Think of a place that you know like the back of your hand – you know where to get the best meals, the best bargains, the best steal for a good night’s sleep – you know how to get in from the major cities, to get around by public transport, to be safe – you know where to find serenity, experience local culture, meet foreigners – and when there’s any change in the things you know, you know you’ll be among the first to know.

For ease of reference, I’ll call this place your hometown, for home is where the heart is. Now, you need to take ownership of your hometown and download everything you know about it into the most search-friendly travel resource in the online space, Wikitravel.

Create or edit the Wikitravel page for your hometown.

  • Why Wikitravel: It has very high search ranking, which means that when you search for a travel destination on Google, a relevant Wikitravel page always shows up in the first few search results. Anyone can create or edit a Wikitravel page; no technical knowledge is needed.
  • Create an account: To be able to create / edit a Wikitravel page, you need to create a Wikipedia account if you don’t already have one.
  • Search for your hometown: Go to Wikitravel or use Google to search for your hometown’s Wikitravel page.
  • Create a new page (if applicable): If you’ve searched thoroughly and can’t find a Wikitravel page for your hometown, chances are it doesn’t exist. This is your opportunity to create one from scratch. Read this to determine if your hometown deserves a page of its own. If yes, here’s how you can create a new page for your hometown. If you are not familiar with Wiki’s language, here’s some basic terminology you’ll need to know.
  • Edit your hometown’s page: If your hometown’s Wikitravel page already exists, you are ready to start editing it. Here’s how you can make relevant changes and here’s some basic terminology. Ask your friends for inputs on the information that you’re editing to ensure that it is as accurate and up-to-date as possible.
  • Adhere to Wikitravel’s guidelines: Respect Wikitravel as a credible information source. Be objective and factual, use a neutral tone, and read Wikitravel’s guidelines.
  • Ask for grammar help: Having the passion to take part in this experiment is enough. Don’t beat yourself over finding English or grammar challenging. Ask a friend for help, or leave a note in the comment section of this blog post to ask for a grammar review on the page you’re editing.
  • Link to relevant pages: Linking to other relevant Wikitravel / Wikipedia pages helps add depth to your content and saves you time & energy. For instance, if you mention your state in your town’s page, you can just link the state to its page on Wikitravel instead of spending time introducing it. Refer to Wikitravel’s basic terminology to understand how to link pages.
  • Cite external references: External sources of information, like news articles or articles by recognized sources, help add credibility and objectivity to your article, and allow readers to verify facts. For instance, if you say yours is the most livable city in India, a trusted news source should back that claim. Refer to Wikitravel’s basic terminology to understand referencing.
  • Add images: A picture speaks a thousand words. Add pictures that represent your hometown to your Wikitravel page. If you don’t have good enough pictures, approach photographer friends from your hometown, or search for creative commons pictures on Flickr.
  • Save your edits: Make sure you save your changes frequently so you don’t lose any of them to an unstable internet connection.
  • Watch the page: Remember, anyone can edit Wikitravel articles. After you’ve made your changes, check the “Watch page” box, so every time you check back on your page, you’ll know what edits have been made and if they’re acceptable.
  • Add your page to your state’s & India’s page: To ensure that your editing efforts are worthwhile, ensure that you edit your state’s, as well as India’s page on Wikitravel and add a link to your hometown’s page in a relevant section.

Spread the word: Facebook, tweet & blog about this experiment.

  • Facebook: This is a golden opportunity to show off the beauty, culture & richness of India 🙂 Grab it & invite all your friends join the experiment. Share pictures and share the link to your own hometown’s Wikitravel page.
  • Twitter: Tweet about the social experiment and the Wikitravel page you’ve edited, and remember to use the hashtag #IncredibleIndia and if you want, travel hashtags like #travel and #lp.
  • Blogs: Write a travel blog post inviting your readers to join this social experiment. Facebook & tweet about the blog post too.

Tell me about your participation.

I’m volunteering to collate the pioneer participation (first 50 participants) of this social experiment for travel in India. When you’re satisfied with the travel information your hometown’s Wikitravel page offers, leave me a note with your name, email, the link of the Wikitravel page(s) you’ve edited, and your blog & Twitter ID if any. You can either comment on this blog post, or email me at [email protected].

What happens after the first 50 participants?

If this social experiment catches on and there are at-least 50 participants, the possibilities are endless. The ideas I have so far are:

1.We create 1 or 2 days every year when Indians from all over the world collaboratively edit Wikitravel articles for their hometown to provide a wholesome source of information for travel in India.

2. We set up a single website to showcase all these Wikitravel articles in a map of India, by far the most comprehensive travel resource for a country as big as India.

3. We set up a Facebook page to invite travelers from the world over to benefit from our efforts.

If you have any other ideas to make this big, or if you want join me in propelling this social experiment, please email me at [email protected].

So, let’s get started, let’s show the world the country that India is.

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  1. Vinayak Mathur says:

    Count me in. 🙂

  2. Lets do this.

  3. Nice initiative Shivya.
    I’ll write something for the city of nawabs! 😉

    1. Awesome, I’ll keep you posted with the developments!

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