Because most travel guidebooks are out of date before they hit the bookstore shelves, TripAdvisor.com of Needham, Mass., has started a guidebook-like service that will be written and edited anonymously by the Web site's own users.

TripAdvisor Inside is an attempt to do for travel writing what Wikipedia has done for encyclopedias, harness the power of the Internet and its users to generate useful information.

One key difference is that TripAdvisor is trying to commercialize the Wikipedia approach, blending the content generated by its users with ads and revenue-generating text links.

Michael Spring, vice president and publisher at Frommer's, said his company also has been investigating a similar approach to travel as a complement to its popular guidebooks.

"People are curious what their neighbors think," Spring said. "It's certainly one valid way to get information. I certainly wouldn't base my trip on the assumption that other people share my sensibilities. If I had to choose, I think I would go with the experts, but I don't think it's an either-or situation."

Get the full story at the San Francisco Chronicle