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Do we need more top lists?

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Author kintante
#1 | Posted: 10 Jul 2015 08:41 
The top 50 missing was a nice thing. I think the world heritage list has a lot of potential to create a few more lists where we can all add our personal preferences and opinion. clyde was talking about his personal top 100 and seems I am not the only one who'd like to know what they are. There are a few ideas coming into my mind: the most beautiful sites, hardest to visit, most (positively) surprising, the favorite sites of the top 10 community members, best of a continent and many more.

Constantly there are lists produced by journalists that are much less in a position to do so than our community members. We already showed with the top 50 missing that we are more than capable to create a really representative list. Plus, it's fun.

What do you think?

Author meltwaterfalls
#2 | Posted: 10 Jul 2015 09:58 | Edited by: meltwaterfalls 
I'M IN!!

I find them fun and informative, and sometimes (much like trips) the planning is half the fun.

If others are keen then perhaps we can look at ways of doing it that perhaps don't place such a big burden on Els, unless she is very keen as well.

Author elsslots
#3 | Posted: 10 Jul 2015 11:06 
OK with me.
I can easily reuse the checklist template we have now for visited sites.
Maybe you could work on what the first list should be, and the rules etc?
I would like to see something like a "WHS bucket list" - the 10 sites each wants to visit most (and you can keep updating them)

Author meltwaterfalls
#4 | Posted: 10 Jul 2015 11:29 
Maybe you could work on what the first list should be

I think something like the top 25 of each person would seem like a reasonable place to start. Or those sites on peoples Wish list.

most (positively) surprising

I think this is one I am really interested in. Though perhaps the hardest to design a question/ criteria for.

Author clyde
#5 | Posted: 10 Jul 2015 15:20 
My top 100 are actually a sort of bucket list that I wrote down after having seen around 200 sites. They aren't necessarily what I consider the best 100 sites as I had already visited some of the best sites such as Taj Mahal, great pyramids, Angkor wat, Petra, colosseum, Great Wall, etc

Author clyde
#6 | Posted: 10 Jul 2015 15:21 
Whatever the list, I'm in. I love lists and I always look out for new /different sites that crop up every time someone chooses the best/worst sites.

Author clyde
#7 | Posted: 10 Jul 2015 15:31 
I always dreamt of visiting the 7 new wonders of the world and the 1 ancient survivor since I was a child ... should I decide to go for Yucatan in Dec/jan and not a fully fledged Mexico road trip, I'm mulling over the possibility of spending a week in Peru to visit Maccu Picchu. It would be an unforgettable treat for my 30th birthday and both destinations are not ranking high on my better half's list. So I'm actually considering visiting 2 world wonders to then complete the new wonders in a Rio next year ... it's just a thought for now but it's really an attractive one :)

Author Solivagant
#8 | Posted: 11 Jul 2015 03:50 
Some lists like "Most surprising" or "Hardest to visit" really need a bit of explanation rather than just a "tick list" and would perhaps be better covered in a Forum topic.

For a worthwhile "tick list" filled in by users of this Web site one really needs a large enough "number of sites to be selected" as to provide some genuine statistical value (albeit that the voting group is self-selecting and "biased" (even if more "knowledgeable than the average Joe on these matters) so I fear that lists of "the 10...." or the "25...." will not achieve much overlap. It may be of interest to know that WHS collector x has the following 10 sites on his/her "see list" but most of us are going to have rather different lists!

The Top 50 missing approach succeeded because the number selected was reasonably high in relation to the number to be selected from 20 out of 119 as I remember it - and the 119 was itself a "selection) so a genuine "pattern" emerged of our collective view on this matter.

A subject i would be interested in is which sites do we, self-appointed "experts" in WHS, regard as really being the most valuable ones out of the 1031 inscribed ones - we all believe that too many "average" sites have been inscribed and will continue to be so but which ones do we regard as being absolutely "essential" ?

What if (as could have happened) it had been decided that the "List" would be limited to the World's most important 200 sites? Which ones from the current inscriptions (better I think not to overlap with the "Top 50 Missing list) do we each consider should have been placed on such a list. Our view may have been informed by having actually visited them but even if we haven't we will still have a view which is informed by the visits we have made to other sites and the research we have carried out. By not limiting votes to only those sites people have visited, the bias arising from our mainly European/US based background should be at least reduced!

The question would need to be carefully phrased - do we include both Natural and Cultural sites for instance (yes -i.e use the List "as is"?)? I imagine something like the mythical "little green man" asking us Earthlings to tell it which, of all the places on Earth which we have inscribed on this thing called the "World Heritage List", are most important to us to be preserved. In so doing we tell it about our World, its and our history and our views on what is/is not important. I have no idea how much "clustering" or what sort of asymptotic tail might emerge from such a survey. I was amazed last time that Oxford/Cambridge came so high on the "Missing 50 list"! I think anything less than 200 would not give enough scope to produce a genuinely "rounded" list - but it would give us a chance to think through which sites we each REALLY do regard as important

Author kintante
#9 | Posted: 11 Jul 2015 17:47 
I always dreamt of visiting the 7 new wonders of the world and the 1 ancient survivor

I have the same side project. I'm stuck now with Rio for years. I got the other 6 + 1. visited the last (Petra) in 2012.

I think this would be a good start. We could use the actual list to choose from. So the only restriction would be that it is currently a world heritage site. I also think in this case I higher number wouldn't be bad as in case of top 20 or top 50 we'd probably have a list with the usual suspects. A top 100 or top 200 (I'd prefer top 100) would leave some room for surprises. So the question would be something like "what are in your opinion the 100 top sites of the 1031 WHS, regardless if you visited them or not."

Author elsslots
#10 | Posted: 29 Nov 2015 12:10 | Edited by: elsslots 
Bumping this item, in addition to my blog post of this week about other Top Lists, and Solivagant's reaction.

Let's first look at what we are aiming for, and how we will get there:
- We could work towards a Top 200 sites out of the currently inscribed WHS.
- Think of
the mythical "little green man" asking us Earthlings to tell it which, of all the places on Earth which we have inscribed on this thing called the "World Heritage List", are most important to us to be preserved.

- We could go through the list first segment by segment. For example: take on the Natural sites first, then the Mixed sites, and then the Cultural Sites per Unesco continent (or we could do it by year of inscription, but that will take a long winter). This way we have a chance to discuss first, and not let it be just a voting session. We could end these discussions with compiling shortlists, and make the final decision by vote at the end (and overall) (just as we did with the Missing selection).
- .... (other ideas)?

Author Assif
#11 | Posted: 29 Nov 2015 15:14 | Edited by: Assif 
I agree this selection (which I would find very interesting) should go by category. On the other hand, the selection of categories would also determine the result to a great extent. Should we demand half the list to comprise of natural sites? (I would say yes). Would we like to have a geographically balanced list (I would say yes)? For example, if we demand Europe and Africa or South America to have the same number of sites we would not be able to have a lot of the European highlights on the list despite its exceptionally high concentration of significant historical sites (which would be fine with me). What is sure is that if we do not determine ahead what should be on the list we will get a Eurocentric list, with much more cultural sites than natural ones.
I would propose the list to be half natural-half cultural (with mixed divided between them). As to geography, I would propose the following distribution key and see what comes out. It is based on geography, number of inscribed properties and cultural zones.

35 Europe (10 Mediterranean, 8 Central Europe, 8 British Isles and Benelux, 3 Scandinavia, 3 Russian sphere, 3 free),
35 Asia (10 East Asia, 5 SE Asia, 10 South Asia, 2 Central and Northern Asia, 2 Caucasus, 6 free),
10 Pacific,
25 Middle East and North Africa (7 North Africa, 7 Levant, 3 Iran sphere, 3 Arabia, 3 Turkey, 2 free),
20 Subsaharan Africa,
25 North America, Caribbean and Mesoamerica, (8 USA-Canada, 8 Mesoamerica, 5 Caribbean, 4 free)
20 South America,
25 free

Author kkanekahn
#12 | Posted: 29 Nov 2015 23:38 | Edited by: kkanekahn 
I am in. But, I think half natural-half cultural idea would be unfair to cultural list. If we choose 100 natural site (out of 197),then there may be possibility of undeserving sites cracking into the list. The ratio of cultural to Natural WHS is 8:2. For better representation of natural sites, we can go upto 7:3 (70% cultural and 30% natural).

I am in favor of geographically balanced list. However, it would be hard to stick to a particular no. for each geographical location. So, we can go for a range like Mediterranean (7-12 whs), which would be easier to choose.

Author Colvin
#13 | Posted: 30 Nov 2015 00:00 | Edited by: Colvin 
We could work towards a Top 200 sites out of the currently inscribed WHS.

Great idea! I'd like to see what the members of this forum decide, and I think your method for nominating sites seems fair.

Should we demand half the list to comprise of natural sites?

I'd like a good representation of natural sites, though I do note that there are four times as many inscribed cultural sites as natural sites. If we decide to take 100 natural sites, that would be more than half of the current inscribed list. I have a strong affinity for natural sites, but I'd be curious to see how many natural sites members of the forum choose for each region, rather than putting limits on the numbers of natural, cultural, and mixed sites in advance.

Also, in regard to whether the list will be too Eurocentric, I note that on the missing list, only 14 of the top 50 and 25 of the top 100 were European, so it looks like members of this forum have been pretty fair about choosing sites. I'd hope the final result isn't too unbalanced between regions, but I do recognize that Europe has a lot of quality sites to consider.

Author Solivagant
#14 | Posted: 30 Nov 2015 03:37 | Edited by: Solivagant 
A few thoughts/suggestions – not "conclusions"!

There is quite a difference between determining a list of the "Most Important (however defined) 200 WHS" and one of "200 WHS which best represent this World and its history". When I first suggested this exercise I was thinking about the former - if this meant we came up with a list of 200 sites in Europe or including every "Castle/Fortification" site then so be it!!

But in fact we won't will we? None of us is free of cultural bias but, as Colvin says above, we have a reasonable track record on this matter. I personally feel that we shouldn't impose numbers or %ages by type or area on the list we determine but should cover what we want in the question we pose.

I think it would be difficult anyway to come up with a fully representative list using just 200 sites out of the 1031. Best to leave it to the question and the knowledge/sense of our Community?

I quite like the idea of a 2 stage process as per Els's suggestion – reducing the 1031 to a smaller number on which we then vote. I suppose we could encompass both of the ideas above - Develop a "Rounded List" of (say approx) 400 by discussion and then vote on the most important 200 from among them? I think that the chances of the former list leaving out a significant site for voting upon is fairly slight and can be allowed for

The activity of discussing and arriving at the first list could be as interesting (or more) than the second – it would force us to improve our knowledge of the sites and consider our cultural and geographic "prejudices"! It would also create what Assif is looking for using a more reasonable number of sites?

We already have a reasonably good categorisation of the WHS in the form of the 68 categories to which we have assigned all WHS. They provide some geographical division already (I agree that this is not the case for Natural sites but we can easily take that aspect into account from each list –desert, marine, fauna etc). I have lost how to get to this via the current tabs but this links to an old format http://www.worldheritagesite.org/themehome.php

We could each take a few Categories and reduce them by around 60% on average to what we thought should be in the c400 for voting (A few sites are in more than 1 category – ok they will have 2 chances!). If anyone felt strongly about an exclusion (or inclusion) then they could initiate a discussion. In so doing we would identify, for instance, which, of the 43 sites which are primarily "Military Fortifications" are the most significant - of some interest just in itself? If we finished up with a few more than 400 for the vote it wouldn't really matter. If the number began to increase by too much then we might have to have "mini votes" I guess!

We need a common format for "reporting" on this first "cull" - do we do just do it on the Forum by pasting a full list of the names of our assigned category with an "N" against those we suggest be removed from the voting list (or a "?" where we want a discussion?), together with any "explanations" for the proposals which we might wish to give? Then let the discussion begin? Some categories are as small as 1 or 2 sites and only 1 (Cultural Landscapes) is over 100. Some categories might get excluded altogether from the Voting list in this process. Some Categories might justify being kept at above 40% of the original. This is the part of the exercise which is going to take the longest – say until March with voting in April?

Regarding the vote – I would expect us to have around the same number of voters +/- a few as for the Top 50 missing (c100?). I suppose there might be someone who is very put out that e.g Luxemburg didn't make it onto the ballot paper! We either say "tough" or allow such voters to add a few (e.g up to 5) extra sites onto the List. There will always be those who want to vote for "fringe" candidates!

I presume the Voting paper would look like our normal Visited Tick List so it could list the chosen c400 but (if we so decide) have the other c600 below for a small number of additions? We would need to consider in what sequence the chosen c400 would be shown. By Category would help focus the mind onto what each site is about and what its "competitors" in that category were? Unlike the Top 50 vote where we only voted for 20 I would have thought we should each vote for 200 – as with the Top 50 list our vote can be kept and shown for posterity both for our own interest and as "evidence" against us!

Author clyde
#15 | Posted: 30 Nov 2015 04:34 
Although I think Assif's reasoning is quite fair, I would be against imposing a choice of 100 natural sites out of the TOP 200 WHS. Moreover, I tend to agree with Solivagant that it would still be easier and more interesting to leave it up to the WHS community to decide. I would automatically go for a balance of 150-170 cultural and 30-50 natural but I wouldn't mind if others opt for a different balance. Ultimately, I think that the 'obvious' WHS will still make it on the top list and still some 'not-so-obvious' would make it too since everybody has different preferences and tastes. Picking the top 200 out of a list 1031 is a very good sample indeed in my opinion and really interesting/difficult to draft after choosing say 100-120. :)

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