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Lonely Planet is a fraud!

An ex-writer is shooting his mouth off about plagiarising his work for Lonely Planet.
13 years ago, April 12th 2008 No: 1 Msg: #32437  
B Posts: 71
Maybe a few of the inaccuracies we find in the LP can be because of this??

Lonely Planet Fraud

Ali, any chance of a Travelblog travel guide site coming up???

TB Travel Guide Discussion>
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13 years ago, April 12th 2008 No: 2 Msg: #32438  
B Posts: 71
Although I posted this, I still am using and will use Lonely Planet. Sure I find a few miss placed hotels or restaurants in the map now and then but I like the help it gives during travel. I don't follow the book to a T and maybe thats why people complain about it too much. I use it to find out a few good places to stay, eat, see, some ideas about how to get from A to B and a few good facts about a place and its people. After I get some good ideas, I throw it in my bag and do most of the exploring on my own. The people who winge about every little mistake are maybe relying on it too much. What do you all think?? Reply to this

13 years ago, April 13th 2008 No: 3 Msg: #32474  
Hello Nomad 😊

I suppose it is very possible for the Lonely Planet to hire unreliable staff. It would be difficult to do an indept assessment of them all. But maybe they could do more spot checks to find patterns of unrelability. When a company gets very successful I think they tend to slack off on things like that and become in danger of losing their edge.

I wish the Lonely Planet would hire me. I swear I would be reliable and only report the absolute truth. :D

I generally use the books for information on safety and local customs. They give reliable information about these topics even if not about others.

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13 years ago, April 14th 2008 No: 4 Msg: #32556  
Completely agree Nomad; I've noticed only a few minor mistakes in LP and see too many people using it as a bible, not as a guide. I'm finding that LP is good for some things, general country and city lay out, an idea of what to see, and then from there I rely on other traveler's recommendations and my own nose for adventure.

I was wondering if anyone has used Rough Guide or Let's Go and thought they were any good?

PS - A travelblog travel guide would be amazing. Reply to this

13 years ago, April 14th 2008 No: 5 Msg: #32573  

Here is another thread about this.

The Other Thread Reply to this

13 years ago, April 14th 2008 No: 6 Msg: #32576  
Yes, I have used both Rough Guide and Lets Go. I would say all 3 guides are equal in quality. This quality and accuracy depends on the author of each particular guide. If I know or suspect that a particular Lonely Planet guide has a not accurate author I choose one of the othes. Usually Rough Guide is my second choice.

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13 years ago, April 15th 2008 No: 7 Msg: #32660  
Lonely PLanet respond.....

Thomas Kohnstamm and our guidebooks

As Mell says, the quality of these guides depends on the authors. Some of them are really excellent, you can tell that they love the place they're writing about, and have researched meticulously. On the other hand, with some of them, you can tell the person just doesn't care, as seems to be the case with this guy.

But as noted above, it's really not all that important, they're just guides after all, and it's best to use them lightly.

Btw, this guy has a book coming out, I suspect he's talking a bit of bullshit for some publicity......
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13 years ago, April 15th 2008 No: 8 Msg: #32662  
And here's a blog with a few links regarding the matter.....

Blogosphere buzzes with juicy Lonely Planet guidebook scandal!
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13 years ago, April 15th 2008 No: 9 Msg: #32672  
Well it doesn't suprise me. While the books are detailed, most of the information from a specific spot can be gathered in a combination of research through a public library, internet, word of mouth and a few days in the country. With guide books I get the distinct impression in some cities that they are only listing 3-4 places to stay not because they are the best or most economical and safe- but because thats the only 3 the authors knew about. If they pay crap, it makes sense to not even visit the city you are writing about but instead ask a friend who just visited and give their opinions on 3 places to stay.

At the same time LP and other guide books are indispensible sometimes! They put everything you need in one place, especially information regarding the major tourist attractions. My recent trip to Cambodia was totally taken careof as far as food, travel and lodging was concerned as my sister lives there- yet I still read my guidebook front to back and learned a ton about Cambodia through it!

Travelblog guides? It does sound juicy- I think the major hurdle is getting everyone to remember where they stayed! I notice a lot of travelbloggers dont post the names of the hostals/hotels and campgrounds they stay at. If I really like a place I try to include it, but is there some unwritten rule about this? If every blogger on this site had a small paragraph at the ends of their blogs listing where they slept and where they ate, the guidebook would be user-created over time right? Then moderators could combine all the information from different locations and users and POOF! travelblog guides...
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13 years ago, April 15th 2008 No: 10 Msg: #32696  
B Posts: 140
A travelblog guide sounds like a great idea! I've always liked Lonely Planet - whatever their shortcomings I've found them far better than any other guide book on the market. There are often mistakes unless the edition is brand new simply because things change very quickly. Equally some Lonely Planets are better than others - I found the writer of the Peru guide had a very interesting idea of what constituted a 'budget' hostel, they all seemed quite expensive. Reply to this

13 years ago, April 15th 2008 No: 11 Msg: #32701  
I have been using both Lonely Planet and Footprint while doing the planning for my travels to South America. One thing I have noticed about LP is that they often repeat themselves. For example I read the words "watch out for pickpockets" or "careful with your luggage" etc may times . I am certain that this is good advice, but it is something that doesn't need to be repeated continually as it is generally common sense.

They probably could have cut out ten pages if they only mentioned it once in bold at the start of the guide. Reply to this

13 years ago, April 16th 2008 No: 12 Msg: #32704  
B Posts: 5,195
Yep - LP has it's shortcomings - for example - a very small island I know very well in Malaysia was visited by the Lonely Planet author/updater - a year ago.

He arrived in the rainy season, asked about the other side and other islands in the one cafe that was open - and understandably got a very biased picture of the islands. (Allegedly - according to my friends on the island!)

Can't wait for the next LP Malaysia.

I also dislike the flowery language - it's a guidebook not literature and I know that nearly half the people using it are working in their 2nd language - I've seen them struggling over some pointless euphemism for boring/dangerous/expensive so many times.

It was only a matter of time for this to happen - travellers know that the LP writers are badly paid and often don't do a proper job when updating a guidebook. Half the problem is that so so many of us travellers would jump at chance of working for a LP guidebook - shame on the management for exploiting this.

But - like most of the backpackers worldwide - I have a copy in relatively easy reach when travelling 😉

TB guide?? - well - I have some half finished wiki style code that's been on the To Do list for a long long time... it could be finished 😉 Anyone volunteering to write a guide for a particular place? - it would be something that could be updated as you travel - and would have links to the contributors blogs... (probably should branch this discussion)

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13 years ago, April 16th 2008 No: 13 Msg: #32761  
4 posts moved to this new topic: TravelBlog Travel Guide Reply to this

13 years ago, April 16th 2008 No: 14 Msg: #32770  
Hmmm...I've been generally aware of LP for a while but, to be honest, didn't pay it much mind because my travels (up to the four month excursion I'm currently in) kept me in the U.S. and I didn't have a need for a U.S. LP (does one even exist?) While in Ecuador, I looked at an old guide that seemed to have a fair amount of info, but didn't really use it because it was the hostels and, being an old guide, I assumed the info was outdated. I also remember not being overly fond of some of the left-leaning political rhetoric that was slipped into LP, though I probably could have ignored it if there was otherwise useful info. It does seem a fair amount of the comments I'm seeing make me question the guides usefulness, though, based on the pay issue and how much time seems to be allowed for obtaining information. The guy writing his book I take with a big grain of salt. If he can lie once, he can lie twice...what's to say his claims of lying aren't lies themselves to make a buck? Frankly, if I was someone committing illegal acts, I would be pretty cautious in how public I went with it.

All this said, in my 6 weeks in Ecuador I think I did okay without a LP guide and suspect it will be the same now with me in Panama (and then Nicaragua). I'll ask around and use my nose. LP might be good as a very general guide, but even in my neophyte state of international traveling and backpacking, I can tell you it shouldn't be your "traveling bible". If I can manage to ask around and explore, you should too. Reply to this

13 years ago, April 17th 2008 No: 15 Msg: #32850  
Well now, everyone knows that you don't write for Lonely Planet for the money, it's just a form of subsidised travel. Every writer I've ever met has complained about "not getting paid enough" and "being required to go to so many places that the costs of travel are outrageous". Did this guy think he was going to make a profit out of writing a guidebook or was he interested in sharing great places with the rest of us? Reply to this

13 years ago, April 18th 2008 No: 16 Msg: #32901  
In my humble opinion, you may not be looking to strike it rich by writing for LP, but on the other hand if LP is making a large chunk of cash off your information, I don't find it completely unreasonable you should be expecting more than a pittance of the booty, just like any endeavor. Being admittedly a little cynical, the concept of just "sharing great places with the rest of us" only goes so far. You still have to eat, find a place to lay your head, etc. Also, if you're looking to be a traveler, you have to have the money to get to those places and perhaps pay other bills back home - not to mention more heady concepts such as "time is money". With only so much time for any of us, it's reasonable to think we should expect a fair compensation for our time.

There's also the issue if you are being expected to write about more restaurants and locations than any person could reasonably stay in the time given, there's another issue going on here. I guess I don't know the details of this writer to speak completely on his situation and, frankly, am not that concerned with it. That said, LP should know like everyone else you get what you pay for.

As far as what the guy thought, if he's going to this length to write a money-making book, I'd say he was thinking he could make some profit out of it (or make a profit in writing a sensationalized story about his defrauding LP - whether his latest story is true or not). In any case, regardless of motives and everything else, the more important question for all of us is can we trust LP's information? In the end, I don't care who's making the profit as long as if I buy information on a country, am I getting the product I expected when I shelled out cash? Reply to this

13 years ago, April 18th 2008 No: 17 Msg: #32948  
And lets not forget that LP was bought by BBC recently, so they are bound to inherit bad influence. Reply to this

13 years ago, April 18th 2008 No: 18 Msg: #32967  
I have found LP to be a good guide, but only that. I have found that with a copy of LP and one other (depends of where I am going), I can house, feed and caffeinate myself with very little bother. The best thing to do, I have found, is to head to the tourist information site. Yes, they're tacky, but they're filled with good and (usually) up-to-date information.

I think a travelblog guide is a brilliant idea! Let's all help to get this up and running. Reply to this

12 years ago, April 19th 2008 No: 19 Msg: #33044  
Some interesting goss ... Arrived in Bogota, Columbia as week and a half ago to find Tony Wheeler staying at my hostel. Then the story broke. Damage control?!

Anyway, I like the LP - sometimes the info is off, biased or downright wrong, but mostly its incredibly helpful and more than I would have been able to find out on my own. Especially the maps, dangers section and top places to see.

Ellen Reply to this

12 years ago, April 19th 2008 No: 20 Msg: #33046  
Wow, you met Tony Wheeler. What is he like?
I want to read his autobiography. I have not been able to find it in any book shop. Looks like I will have to order it on the internet.

Mel Reply to this

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