I read an article posted on Wednesday, July 16, 2014 called Rookie Wednesday: The “funny” little things you should know before you try FlyerTalk written by René deLambert, who is the author of the Delta Points weblog at BoardingArea.com…
…and although I have nothing personal against René — in fact, we even plan on flying as passengers together on flights operated by Delta Air Lines sometime in the future with the itinerary and exact dates yet to be determined; and we have discussed this idea more than once — that article is filled with so much misinformation that I do not even know where to begin.
René admits that he has what he calls “a love/hate relationship with FT. I love the idea of FlyerTalk and the community aspect of it to share ideas”…
…but he “went through a period where I gave up on FT for a while and I have talked to a great many who have even quit altogether visiting this site. They say things like ‘it is just too toxic of a space nowadays’ and I understand their feelings.”
Too toxic of a space? Hmm…I have been an active member of FlyerTalk for almost twelve years. Every Internet community has some people who might be rude and abrupt; but I know many FlyerTalk members who will go out of their way and take the time to assist with whatever questions or problems you may have. One of them is FlyerTalk member CMK10 — the same FlyerTalk member who launched this discussion criticizing René: “I’m usually on the side of the defending bloggers but this is rather petty on his part. It also paints us in a very unflattering light that I think is not deserved.”
The “toxicity” of FlyerTalk apparently “is also one of the reasons you have seen such an explosion of blogs, not just here on BoardingArea and its sister site Prior2Boarding, all over the web.” I disagree with that statement. Weblogs serve information in a much more concise and specific manner than Internet bulletin boards, where you may have to “wade” through superfluous comments and content unrelated to the information for which you are seeking. Both weblogs and Internet bulletin board communities have their benefits and shortcomings. If FlyerTalk was a “one size fits all” solution to frequent travel loyalty program miles and points, you would not see The Gate and other weblogs here at FlyerTalk in the first place. In fact, The Gate was “born” here at FlyerTalk back in August of 2006 and was the idea of none other than Randy Petersen, the founder of FlyerTalk and BoardingArea.
“On FT you can often get a very harsh reply or none at all from members.” That is usually the GIGO syndrome used for computers: garbage in; garbage out. Post with an attitude and expect an attitude in return. Appear to be lazy in acquiring information and fellow FlyerTalk members may be loathe to assist you. Provide useful information with a positive attitude and you will rarely be treated poorly in return. As I stated earlier in this article: I have been an active member of FlyerTalk for almost twelve years. I have given to the community. I have met hundreds of fellow FlyerTalk members over the years. I have stayed in the homes of FlyerTalk members around the world and have been given tours of the areas where they are based without even asking. I have treated FlyerTalk members to dinner, given away certificates worth as much as $100.00, and tried to give friendly and useful advice when asked. Sure, I have had my share of “snarky” responses over the years launched at me — but they were few and far between; and with many of them, I either took them from whom they came, ignored them, or learned from them. Show some effort that you truly want to be a valuable part of the community; and the rewards you will most likely reap in return will pay in more dividends that you might have expected.
“After that, many MODS, that is moderators, tend to allow some users to ‘get away’ with saying things I bet they would never say face to face to that same person.” That is simply an unfounded assumption. How do I know? I am a volunteer moderator on FlyerTalk. I will be the last person to say that we are perfect — but considering the amount of time and effort we put in to help ensure that your FlyerTalk community is as pleasant, rewarding and valuable an experience as possible, I would say that we do a reasonably good job. In fact, there are many actions we do behind the scenes about which you will never know — such as ensuring that most “spam” content never reaches your eyes and interrupts your FlyerTalk experience. Did you know that, René? Were you ever a moderator of an Internet bulletin board community?
I will state definitively right here, right now: I do not “allow some users to ‘get away’ with saying things I bet they would never say face to face to that same person.” In fact, there have been times I have had to impose official moderator action on FlyerTalk members whom I consider more than good friends. That is never easy to do; but they have been incredibly understanding and never held it against me, as it is simply “doing business” and has nothing to do with the personal relationships I have with them.
Have you ever had to impose official moderator action on a friend, René? Probably the closest you came to that is deleting an unflattering or acrimonious comment which a friend might have posted to your weblog.
Now — without further ado — let us examine the “Top 10 things you need to know about FT if you are going to use it” which René has been so kind to share with you:
- Learn gibberish. Yes, many FlyerTalk members do post with acronyms, short cuts and code. Much of it you will be able to understand when in context; but if not, either refer to the FlyerTalk glossary — or just simply ask a fellow FlyerTalk member or a moderator.
- Zealots rule the roost. René posted the claim that “some, not all, long time users ‘think they own the place’ that is there are those who think they ‘are’ FT and tend to comment on everything. Some tend to stick to certain boards while others are equal opportunity sharers of ‘knowledge’.” Zealots rule the roost? There may be some FlyerTalk members who might be considered “zealots” — by definition, people who are fanatical and uncompromising in pursuit of their religious, political, or other ideals — but to say that they “rule the roost” is a rather broad statement not based on objective data. In my opinion, René should re-think that statement and either clarify it to one which is more factual; or at least state that that statement is based on his own opinion.
- Got a bullet proof vest? Good – bring it and maybe layer up as well. René expresses that he is “constantly stunned by what is not just said, but how it is said, and that MODS allow many of the things they do on FT. I have seen new users ask simple questions and get digitally ‘pounded’ for missing that this was talked about endlessly 4 years ago in a thread only the zealots remember in the first place (that is now locked to new comments)!” Wow, René — nice overgeneralization on how moderators perform their volunteer roles on FlyerTalk. Tell you what: you think you can do better? Apply to become a moderator. As I said: we are not perfect…but wow. Oh, and by the way: I do not need — nor have I ever needed — a “bullet proof vest” when posting content on FlyerTalk.
- IBTL! Since we are talking locked, that is “in before the lock”, this is another common theme of FT 2014. René explains it this way: “You see MODS will lock a thread, that is shut it down to further comments, when the ‘discussion’ gets out of control and this happens quite often. Many threads can start with a newbie question, links to dusty old threads, zealots taking over the thread, questions going off topic and personal, then the thread gets locked and the cycle can begin all over again.” I will simply respond with what René posted in comment number 11 of his article: “I wish the MODS would be a bit more diligent at enforcing the rules – then it would be a much better place.” So which is it, René? Less diligence or more diligence? You cannot have it both ways.
- Please don’t even EVER make a spelling mistake or math error. “Let’s say you have found the secret of how to turn lead into gold. You start a thread and tell your fellow FTers how to do it too. Rather than thank you about the find, be ready to be creamed for not knowing how much lead will be needed to make a standard gold bar (plus you forgot about troy OZ vs just an OZ) or that lead should never be called lead but only referred to as Pb, its symbol on the periodic table of elements. – Deep sigh.” Yes, René — deep sigh; and knot four the saim reezin az yoo.
- Other than some certain stone tablets that came down from a mountain, everything that has ever been said is on FT. “You better believe there is not an original idea on this planet that was not first pointed out, discussed, or found out about on FT. The library of Alexandria you say? It would have just had a small sub board on FT. Oh, and if you happen to not understand this clearly be sure you review point 3!” FlyerTalk may be the largest Internet bulletin board in the world when it comes to travel, miles and points. However, I can tell you from my own experience that there have been times I wanted to write an article and post it here at The Gate — the purpose of which is to highlight and link to discussions on FlyerTalk — only to find that a discussion about that particular topic does not exist. Admittedly, that may be rare — but it happens. As I said before, “Both weblogs and Internet bulletin board communities have their benefits and shortcomings” — but with the combination of both, you can have virtually all of the information for which you seek and need.
- Clearly understand FTers are better than you (ie BTDT). “Not only is all the info on the planet on FT (point 6) but many of the member have ‘been there, done that’ no matter what it is you have done. As long as you go in knowing you this you are free to share before point 4 happens.” This is something someone should know before trying FlyerTalk? You have got to be kidding me. I thought you were better than that, René.
- Have you ever been to a more confusing space than FT? Yes — many times, actually. However, René challenges you to “just try to find things on FT! It is all but impossible (but FTers know and thus the importance of point 6). What I do is use Google and add the word FlyerTalk to my search whenever I need to find anything on FT as it seems to be the only good method of finding anything.” Gee, René — I simply use the Search engine built into FlyerTalk. While it is by no means perfect, I use it constantly not only for articles posted here at The Gate; but also for when I perform my role as a moderator. Guess what? Most of the time, I find exactly the information I wanted to find. Perhaps if you read this discussion on how to use the Search engine which is built into FlyerTalk, you might find information more easily as well.
- FT is big enough that companies care. “For all the talk of how PVT FT is and that no one ‘really’ reads it, all major companies have reps that read FT each day. This can be good as what you say will be seen by someone with the company but the sad part is if you comment something you shouldn’t you may find your points account suddenly closed or audited or something along those lines. Just sayin’, be careful what you type!” This is one point which I will not dispute, as it actually is true — but not nearly as drastic as it sounds. Let’s just say that you should not post anything on FlyerTalk — or anywhere else on the Internet, for that matter — about which you do not want anyone else to know.
- BoardingArea is just a better place to get your info. “OK the last one is not really part of the top 10 list but it should be. Due to all of the 9 points above it is clear more and more are turning to blogs for their daily info rather than spend hours searching threads.” This is a classic example of taking a purely subjective statement and claiming it as factual information. BoardingArea — or for that matter, First2Board, UPgRD, Saverocity, Milepoint, TravelCodex, or some of the other Internet web sites which contain weblogs and forums pertaining to frequent travel loyalty program miles, points and travel — may be better places to get your information at times than FlyerTalk; but as I said earlier in this article and I will say it again: “Both weblogs and Internet bulletin board communities have their benefits and shortcomings — but with the combination of both, you can have virtually all of the information for which you seek and need.”
“Just be careful and know what you are getting yourself into and some may prefer just to be a ‘lurker’ and not brave the above”, advises René. “To be fair there are some who cling to what FT once was, that is a great platform to share info and help others but those kind helpful members are the exception not the rule nowadays!”
I do not agree. Do you have statistics to back up that statement, René?
My experience suggests to me the opposite: kind and helpful FlyerTalk members are the rule. Perhaps that is a result of my contributions to FlyerTalk…
…so here is something you should know about FlyerTalk — whether you are a new member or a veteran member: FlyerTalk is what you make of it. Be helpful, friendly and kind; and you will generally receive the same in return. Be rude, nasty and unhelpful; and you will generally receive the same in return.
If you are a new member of FlyerTalk, you may want to consider perusing the Information Desk forum. I posted a brief article about it back on November 12, 2013. If you are a veteran member of FlyerTalk, I would recommend perusing it anyway — even if only to assist a new member and help that new member feel welcomed to FlyerTalk…
…and if someone posts content which is less than friendly in response to what you posted, simply ignore it instead of responding to it. This is the best way to avoid problems. Instead, pay attention to those FlyerTalk members who take an effort to assist you.
My friendly advice to you, René, is that in order to improve your FlyerTalk experience, you may want to consider rethinking about how you post to FlyerTalk and see what you can do to improve your contributions — and perhaps your experience will improve as a result. This might start with being more open to accepting feedback, as I wrote here: feedback is a gift — whether it is positive or negative. Learn from it. Understand why it is being given to you. Think about what the person providing the feedback is actually saying — as well as how you can improve as a result of that feedback.
To quote what you wrote earlier, René: “Just sayin’”…