Frequently Asked Questions - Atlas Obscura
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Frequently Asked Questions

General

What is Atlas Obscura?

In an age where everything seems to have been explored and there is nothing new to be found, we celebrate a different way of looking at the world. If you're searching for miniature cities, glass flowers, underwater restaurants, gigantic flaming holes in the ground, bone churches, balancing pagodas, or 22-million-year-old cheese caves, Atlas Obscura is where to find them.

Atlas Obscura is an award-winning media and travel company. Widely celebrated for building the definitive, community-driven platform for discovering the world's hidden wonders, we also offer top-of-class storytelling, unique online and in-person experiences, and once-in-a-lifetime trips. 

Our community-driven platform is the Atlas itself, a collection of more than 20,000 wondrous places around the world. It is a collaborative project. We depend on our community of explorers to help us discover amazing places and share them with the world. If you know of a curious place that's not already in Atlas Obscura, we want to hear about it!

 

Submissions

 

Who can add places to Atlas Obscura?

Anyone, anywhere in the world can contribute to Atlas Obscura. We rely upon your eyes and ears to learn about all the amazing places we don't know about yet.

 

How do I add places to Atlas Obscura?

Get started by creating an Atlas Obscura profile. First, click the “Join” link in the main menu. After signing up, don't forget to add a profile photo and tell us about yourself.

To add a place, first search Atlas Obscura to double-check that your place has not already been added. If it has and you have more to add, simply click "Suggest an Edit” at the bottom of that place’s page. You can also add your photos to existing places. 

To add a new place, click here or any of the "Add a Place" links throughout the site.

All contributions to Atlas Obscura are reviewed and edited by our editorial team before they are published. Sometimes it can take a few weeks for your submissions to be reviewed.

 

What makes a good Atlas Obscura place entry?

We are looking for the most unusual, extraordinary, strange, secret, surprising, or otherwise amazing places on the planet. 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. Submissions range in length from 200 to 600 words or so, and should include an address or specific location, photos, and anything a visitor to the place should know. More details about what to include can be found below. 

These contributions don't need to be in far away, exotic locations—we love learning about strange or interesting places in big cities and small towns as much as we love remote islands and vast deserts. Here are some good places to start:

Things to avoid:

  • Things/places that no longer exist
  • Private property or illegal entry places
  • Famous places that are in the “regular” tourist guides
  • Mundane places that are not particularly surprising or unique
  • Any places that promote intentional direct contact with wild animals

 

What is Gastro Obscura?

Gastro Obscura is our destination for all things food-related: places to eat and drink, stories, trips, experiences, and more. We encourage our community to submit places that fall into this category, too. 

 

What makes a good Gastro Obscura place entry? 

Gastro Obscura is a guide to finding great food and drink in unexpected and extraordinary places. From an auto shop that turns into an amazing taqueria by night to the Swedish farm making the world’s only moose cheese, all Gastro Obscura entries have an element of the hidden or inspire a sense of awe and wonder. Gastro Obscura places don’t always need to be restaurants or bars; we’re also looking for food museums, street-food stands, monasteries, food statues, farms, and more.

Update to Coverage of Foods in Our Database: 

Gastro Obscura will still publish entries about foods, but with a new approach. In the past, our food entries were specifically about dishes, drinks, and produce. But these didn’t always help travelers discover and share wondrous experiences around the world. So now we are seeking specific extraordinary eating experiences that are tied to a particular place. 

There’s no exact formula for a perfect Gastro submission, but here are a few categories we’re excited about:

Here are a few things to avoid: 

  • Gimmicky restaurants or bars 
  • Places that exoticize other cultures or traditions
  • Chain restaurants, unless a specific location is exceptional

 

What information should my place entry include? 

Tell the story of the place and describe in your own words what makes it unique. What is unusual or fascinating about this place? What makes it worthy to be included in Atlas Obscura? Always lead with whatever is the absolutely most interesting thing about the place and keep it short and punchy.

We want to inspire wonder and curiosity. Places should make people think “‘Wow!” and compel them to go explore. The voice should be encyclopedic yet interesting, and a little wit is always welcome. We don’t have a word count, but between 200 and 600 words is a great range to shoot for.

Please do not include copyrighted or copied material in your entry. We’re looking for a short, original description of why you think the place is interesting, so we cannot accept a block of text copied from Wikipedia or another existing website, even if it’s your own. Submissions containing copyrighted or copied material cannot be published.

We are a science-minded, nerdy, nature-loving, history-obsessed website! Avoid listing pedantic details about a place like a textbook or a travel brochure. We are not advertising for these places, we are just explaining why they are awesome, obscure, or amazing. Place entries should never be first-person accounts. If you’d like to discuss your own experience of visiting a place, we’d love for you to share in our community forums.

 

I added a place and it hasn't appeared on the site! What's up?

There are a number of reasons why we may not have published your submission, the most common being simply that we haven't gotten to it yet—we often receive more entries than we can edit quickly.

All submissions are reviewed by our editorial team, and not every submission is guaranteed to be published. If our editors have any questions about your submission, they may reach out to you to ask for more information or clarify details. You should hear from us within a couple of weeks, though it may take a few more weeks for an approved place to be edited and published.

The more complete your submission is, the more likely it will be published. We almost always give precedence to submissions with at least three good photos and a detailed description. Places that are a strong fit with Atlas Obscura’s mission are also given priority. This includes areas that may be underrepresented in the Atlas, both geographically and culturally. For example, we already have quite a few places in New York City, but we’re working on expanding our coverage of cities such as Nairobi and Hanoi (though certainly not limited to those!).  

You can save a draft of your place while you’re working on it and let us know when it is ready. Once you’ve officially submitted, the draft will be locked for editing while our editorial team takes a look. We may send you a message asking for more information, details, or photos if necessary. You can find your pending submission in your profile under the “Added” tab.

Some submissions are not a fit for Atlas Obscura. Reasons that we might pass on a place include:

  • The submission is a duplicate, e.g. the place already exists in the database
  • The submission is in many guidebooks, e.g., the Eiffel Tower
  • The submission is unverifiable, e.g. your grandmother's gnome collection
  • The submission is fictional or no longer exists, e.g., Atlantis 
  • The submission is too broad, e.g. Buenos Aires
  • The submission is an ad for a business, e.g., the TGI Friday's with the interesting drink special

We are always happy to discuss any questions you have, so feel free to email us at places@atlasobscura.com.

 

What are your photo guidelines?

We love clear, original photos of a place’s unique or interesting aspects as well as wider shots that provide context. A place must have at least a few good photos in order to be published, but the more the better.

All photos submitted to Atlas Obscura must be legally available for use. If you’ve been to the place yourself, remember to include any photos you took. Otherwise, you can look for photos licensed Creative Commons (they must also be available for commercial use), in the public domain, or used with explicit permission (if you’ve secured permission from a photographer, please email a record of this permission to places@atlasobscura.com). Remember to credit the photographer, and include a link to the image.

If you don’t have photos of your own, here are some places where you can find copyright-free images:

  • The Creative Commons search
  • Wikimedia images
  • Flickr (filter by “Commercial use allowed” or “US Government Works”)
  • Government websites/Public Domain

What makes a good photo:

  • Horizontal orientation is best
  • At least 640 pixels x 400 pixels, though bigger is always better, up to 4,000 pixels
  • Free to use under copyright
  • Available for commercial use
  • No watermarks or date marks 
  • No people in the photo unless they are essential (a chef making a dish, for instance)

 

My entry changed from what I submitted! What happened?

During the review process, our editors sometimes need to make changes to a submission, including changing the title, adding additional details or perspectives, fixing grammar and spelling, correcting facts, or adding new photos.

Once a place has been published, other members of the Atlas Obscura community will have the ability to submit edits that may result in further changes to the text and/or images in a place entry. All changes to the text are reviewed by our editors, and may take a day or two to show up on the site.

If you have any questions about edits made to your entries, feel free to email us at places@atlasobscura.com.

 

I submitted photos, but they were not used. What gives?

Some of the common reasons for a photo not being used include:

  • The photo is too blurry
  • The photo featured too many people
  • The photo is too small
  • The photo is not of the correct location
  • We cannot find the copyright information
  • We do not have the rights to use the image
  • The photo included a watermark or visual accreditation
  • The existing photo set was adequate

Again, we are always happy to discuss any questions you have, so feel free to email us at places@atlasobscura.com.

  

I am more interested in writing articles than place entries, how do I get involved in that?

We're always looking for submissions from freelance writers and photographers. Check out our pitch guidelines.

 

I would like to host an experience with Atlas Obscura. How do I learn more?

Thank you so much for your interest in being part of our amazing community of Atlas Obscura experience hosts! You can learn more about our experience hosting process here.