Growth in mundane and obvious places

I hate to say this, but it is because of this that I want to, because I would hate even more to not voice the concern if there are others that feel similarly.

The FAQ for What makes a good Atlas Obscura place entry states that:
“Atlas Obscura place entries should have an element of the hidden and inspire a sense of awe and wonder—leaving you with an awestruck feeling of discovering something new.”

I feel as if there has been an uptick in “mundane” and already famous places appearing on the Atlas.

I understand that seemingly mundane places can have hidden or obscure elements and histories, and I do understand that what may be seen as obvious to some may be obscure and awesome to others but this only goes so far surely when the submitters are asked to avoid: ‘Places that are obviously in the “regular” tourist guides’ and ‘Mundane places that are not surprising or unique’.

I do not wish to name the submissions that stand out to me for fear of offending or dismissing the hard work they have taken to create, as they are well written, but there have been places submitted that are already very well known internationally and/or ordinary places with nothing unique or distinguishing about them.

If it is only me then please dismiss my concerns, for I will continue submitting places I feel fitting. I simply fear that the truly obscure, lesser known, and overlooked places will continue to go unnoticed and missed.

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There was one specific entry in Japan that another user had stated was actually well-known, and in that thread me and others mentioned different entries that were quite popular too:

So this is not the first time this has come up. One thing that I think is quite helpful to tell if an entry is not obscure, is whether it has far more "been there"s than "want to go"s. A good starting point is, Most Visited Places on the site:

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@AdOYo and @linkogecko, thanks for starting this thoughtful conversation. As you can imagine, there’s a lot to balance in selecting a place to feature in the Atlas, including factoring in what our far-ranging community of contributors feels belongs.

There has been some coverage of this topic in other parts of the forum, and there’s always been a bit of a debate about our small editorial team’s role as gatekeepers, i.e. should we have hard and fast rules and be more stringent (which will always lead to some disagreement) or should we publish more and provide ways, e.g. user ratings, for the wider audience to sort out the best places to visit.

To be honest, the debate continues, and we’re still investigating ways for the community to have a wider say while still maintaining the awe and wonder that we believe makes Atlas Obscura unique among travel guides.

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My personal way of checking is whether or not its worth making a detour for on your usual trip, or if I come across it if it is worth stopping. Like sure, I will put the two museums on el Hierro onto the atlas, and these would be the go-to places for people to visit when there. But IMO a populated AO helps people decide to actually go there.

I agree that stuff like the Eiffel tower do not belong on AO, and a lot of local equivalents are put onto it, like the Vasa museum in Sweden which is the most visited museum in Scandinavia. But on the other hand, literally everyone knows the tower and only ppl who have been to Stockholm will know of the museum. So I agree that there is room for subjectivity here. IMO not every entry can be some abandoned cave 6h driving from the nearest point of civilization. (just my 2 cents,)

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I joined to see if I could flag places like this, and I couldn’t. I think that would be a nice feature. Also a way to edit tags.

This is because I checked my hometown, Wrocław, Poland, and it has seven entries, and one of them, the Racławice Panorama, is one of the major sights and the tourist information will tell you to go there, and you might think it’s cool (I don’t, but it’s certainly BIG) but it’s in no way hidden or unusual. The description even states that this is one of the city’s major tourist attractions.

It’s also bizarrely tagged with “outsider art”.

I’ll see if I can think of more fitting things here. Of the other six, one is hidden and four are definitely unusual, so they seem fine. Hydropolis is cool for kids, I think. But the Panorama definitely should not be included.

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You can suggest other tags by just making an edit and adding [[please add tag X]] to the top, or something similar. It works for me at least.

As for ‘well known places’ in ‘not well known towns’, I personally believe that it becomes obscure just because of the fact that not many tourists go there. Like if I take the Netherlands as an example, you can get a way with a lot more stuff in Rotterdam versus Amsterdam where 99.9% of all the tourists go. You’ll find most Rotterdam places in the Rotterdam pamphlets, but you need to actually go to Rotterdam to get those. I assume it’s similar with Wroclaw vs Warsaw, I’ve never been there at least. :stuck_out_tongue: (Although I’d love to visit more Polish cities.)

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Hi @regebro and @CoolCrab thanks for flagging the bad tag! I just removed it. Also, in looking at the entry, I notice that the subtitle is repetitive and could use improvement, so I’m going to edit that as well.

Re: the question of whether the attraction should be included at, we do place as much emphasis on the “wonder” part of “hidden wonders” as the “hidden” part, and for someone from the outside, this does seem really cool, i.e. something I’d plan an excursion around. So agreed with CoolCrab on this:

As for ‘well known places’ in ‘not well known towns’, I personally believe that it becomes obscure just because of the fact that not many tourists go there.

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Yeah, I guess I get it. If you are looking at Poland as a whole, maybe driving from Germany to Kraków, this might get you to make the detour into Wrocław.

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I’d agree that very often a place is not “obscure” locally! The question is whether it’s well-enough known to be a destination for people who aren’t local. And I’d agree if it’s not a destination, it seems it would be appropriate for AO. A quick-and-dirty criterion I use for how well-known a place is, at least in the US West, is how many out-of-state license plates you see! An example I’m working on is the Wallowa Mountains in northeast Oregon, which are well-known in the area but barely known otherwise. You don’t even see that many California plates in the campground! :wink:

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