Question 8: New Forums/Old Forums

Old Nov 6, 06, 8:12 pm
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Question 8: New Forums/Old Forums

This question submitted from empedocles:
Current TalkBoard policy on the creation of new forums is that a clear and compelling need must be shown via numerous threads that do not "fit" within an established forum. Is this guideline appropriate to justify a new forum? If so, why? If not, what guidelines would you suggest for new forums?

Additionally, do little-trafficked forums need to be periodically reviewed and culled if necessary? If so, what guidelines would you propose for the elimination of forums?
Randy Petersen is offline  
Old Nov 6, 06, 9:32 pm
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I completely disagree with that policy. In fact, I don't even believe that it exists.

I know that it appears on a sticky on top of TalkBoard Topics, along with proof of "copious" posts already appearing in ill-suited forums, but the TalkBoard never made a decision authorizing that sticky.

The illogic behind it is obvious: Off-topic posts are removed from forums. Hence, if a post is off-topic it should not be found and therefore can not be used as the evidence demanded.

My policy for a new forum (other than for a flag carrier, which I have discussed elsewhere) would be:

1. It must be travel-related. FlyerTalk can not handle every subject in the world and it is, at heart, a travel bulletin board.

2. The elected members of TalkBoard should vote for/against the proposed forum on the basis of whether they feel it would be helpful to the membership and an asset to FlyerTalk. This is, admittedly, subjective -- but that is why we have human beings making this decision and not computers.

I believe that all forums should be reviewed annually. If one has less than 100 threads in its first year, and 200 in each subsequent year, it should probably be removed. I say "probably" because in some cases, and Disability Travel immediately comes to mind, its value to even a small minority of members is so great that it should continue despite a much lower thread count.
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Old Nov 6, 06, 9:49 pm
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The policy is illogical.

If a post doesn't fit anywhere else, it should theoretically be in OMNI. And yet there are relatively new forums (Women's Travel and Religious Travel, for example) that have travel related topics that DID fit in TravelBuzz! or another existing forum. Maybe not well, but those feelings are subjective.

Adding a forum should be up to the TalkBoard with adequate input from the member population. Announcements and polls should be put into place to determine the demand of a forum.

For example: It is my opinion that there wasn't enough opinion sought out on the creation of the Men's Forum that was, ultimately, rejected. I'm not saying that the forum should've been approved or was rejected incorrectly, but it didn't seem that member input was actively encouraged, with the exception of the thread on TalkBoard Topics.

As far as removing old forums, it should not be done in a formulaic way. Clearly, obsolete programs should be eliminated or moved to a separate area when the programs end. If there is a request for an airline/hotel/car program forum that doesn't exist at all, it should be approved without much debate in most circumstances.

Removal of forums could be accomplished by a once-a-year review of all forums. Forums could be nominated by TB members and voted on as part of an annual process.

Once forums are approved, though, I think they should be given at least one full year before being put up for removal.
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Old Nov 7, 06, 9:00 am
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Look, the growth of forums is an art not a science. Every poster, every TB member is going to approach the question more from the gut than from the head.

Does a new forum FEEL right?

That's why the threads about them are so long.

My personal criteria regarding the creation of a new forum are:

- Is it travel related?
- Will it serve a useful purpose to very frequent travelers?
- Is that use well met somewhere else?
- Will a vibrant community evolve around the new forum?

Each of these is, of course, a subjective question. But I did the analysis of the forums the current TB rejected and I found many of their decisions sorely wanting (oh GREAT, now I am alienating the current TB...there goes another constituency of potential votes...oh, wait, I already lost their votes in my answer to question #1!!!! Sweet, so I'll proceed apace).

[reposted from my platform statement]Here are some of the decisions the current TB has made (and why I think they were bad decisions from a community perspective):

Motion Failed: Travel with Pets Forum (People are passionate about their pets. For people who travel a lot dealing with their beloved pet is a constant issue whether the pet travels with them or not. A vibrant community could easily have evolved here.)

Motion Failed: Create Government Traveler Forum (Black and even brown passporters and their equivalents from all countries face very specific and special travel restrictions and needs. The TB here missed a golden opportunity to create a community dedicated to those folks.)

Motion Failed: Creation of a Mens Travel Forum (Men don’t have a forum where men can talk about men-related travel things that men want to talk about. Where threads will be moderated instead of closed. Where men can be men.)

I'd like to have the TB give greater weight to the travel community aspect of FT and not focus solely on the points and miles aspect.

As for closing forums...well, if a community fails to evolve, the forum ought to be recycled after a year or two.
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Old Nov 7, 06, 9:58 am
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If community members want a new forum then I believe that anyone putting forward this suggestion should provide information to show that the creation of the new forum is required.

Some of my fellow candidates have stated the basics of what a new forum should relate too with the number one being Travel Related, but Travel Related can cover so many things.

I think that we currently have an excellent wide range of forums that cover a lot of groups/airlines and some obscure things like Omni (now that’s a scary place at times).

More forums will be added as the face of travel changes over the years and this will happen as FlyerTalk has to move with the times in order to remain the top travel community on the web.

As for culling off forums, well, if folk are posting to it and folk are reading the postings then why kill it off? I don’t go into every forum in FT and read all the posts, I go to the ones that are on top of my Favourites list.

Radioman is offline  
Old Nov 7, 06, 1:23 pm
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I think it may be easiest/better for the membership to be able to weigh in for new forum suggestions. For example, there could be an admin sticky at the top of each forum informing the membership that new forums are being considered and a link to a discussion, either in Talk Board topics or somewhere else.

This may be the best way to gauge whether or not there is interest in a new forum.

As for removing forums, I think a good measure is traffic, or lack thereof. The measure could be determined by the Talk Board and approved by Randy.
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Old Nov 7, 06, 1:26 pm
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Although at least one candidate has indicated that they don't believe the “copious posts” criteria exists, it appears to have been the de-facto criteria used for the past several new forum votes. Is this guideline appropriate? My opinion tends toward the no side of the spectrum.

Although people are currently questioning the Religious Travelers forum elsewhere, I still believe that forum was a valuable addition to FlyerTalk, although it does not get much traffic. To paraphrase a current TalkBoard member's comment on the matter: “the traffic it does get is of high quality”. The forum did start quite strong, in my opinion, with several interesting threads, which probably would have failed had they been in, say, OMNI (where they may have ended up). It seems to be in a state of limbo at the moment, but I personally believe it will pick up again eventually. That forum seems to be more about quality, not quantity.

The success of forums is not just about post count, it is about whether the forum can eventually serve as an information resource and generate a community of interested parties (even if the community only posts a handful of times per year). I believe both are necessary to sustain a forum. There was recently a light-hearted discussion about a “Travel with Furniture” forum. It was clear from that discussion that although such a forum would have a community of supporters, the information resource part was a little lacking. Going back to the Religious Traveler forum, I believe the opposite is in effect. That is, the information is good, but the forum is still in need of the interested parties.

As for little-trafficked forums, even though this is my question, I can confidently say “I don't know.”
Clearly, a forum with little-to-no posts whatsoever and little in the way of data could probably be given the axe. On the other hand, as I indicated above, some little trafficked forums contain useful information and thus are a good reference source. It is an interesting quandry.

Last edited by empedocles; Nov 8, 06 at 6:21 am Reason: typo
empedocles is offline  
Old Nov 7, 06, 3:51 pm
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I look at it in a different light. Most regular FT visitors have their own personalized preferences and in reality only look at the forums that interest them. This is a huge departure from the old days when forum creep made the main page a hundred miles long and necessitated the elimination of many forums that had little traffic. I personally think that there is room for example for a forum for every single airline with a FF programme now on FT, why not, its not like it would particularly bother anyone that is not interested in it. I would also like to see more forums that have to do with travel lifestyle. There was a time when some purists thought that we shouldn't have GLT or Womens travel forums, while that made sense when everyone regularly had to see them, I no longer see this type of specialized forum as a problem. It can only expand the reach of FT at the end of the day.
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Old Nov 7, 06, 4:01 pm
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I agree with the currently posted criteria. It is not too much to ask proponents of a new forum to show that there currently exists an un-met need for a new forum. The proposed new forum should also fit within the scope and the purposes of FlyerTalk.

Existing forums should be reviewed periodically for use, but I'm not for any quantifiable metric to retain a forum, for that would just encourage post padding.
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Old Nov 7, 06, 5:32 pm
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I agree with Dovster on this issue
ingy is offline  
Old Nov 7, 06, 8:50 pm
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Spinning off a thread(s) into a forum doesn't make sense unless it can hit critical mass as its own forum.

And thus I agree with Dovster, but would ammend the forums to be reviewed every 6 months.

Also I would include some metrics that can be pulled from the servers - see where the traffic is going (which threads, forums, etc.)
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Old Nov 7, 06, 9:26 pm
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I agree with Koko's position on this:

Originally Posted by Kokonutz
My personal criteria regarding the creation of a new forum are:

- Is it travel related?
- Will it serve a useful purpose to very frequent travelers?
- Is that use well met somewhere else?
- Will a vibrant community evolve around the new forum?
However, I do believe that there should be some sort of basis for this as the current TB requests. I don't necessarily believe there should be a "Travel with the Kitchen Sink Forum" as there's probably no need for this. And yes, I'm sure that a vibrant community could evolve in this forum!

Also, low traffic forums should be pruned if need be...
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Old Nov 8, 06, 8:57 am
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I also agree with Kokonutz's points

Originally Posted by kokonutz
- Is it travel related?
- Will it serve a useful purpose to very frequent travelers?
- Is that use well met somewhere else?
- Will a vibrant community evolve around the new forum?
If there is a large number of users requesting a new forum, it should be created. But I would also say that the forum should go through a test period where if there isn't many posts, the forum would get deleted. Polls could show how many users want the new forum.
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Old Nov 8, 06, 3:04 pm
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I do not use the yardstick that has been mentioned earlier... I base my vote on my personal experiences, comments from members and do I believe it will enhance the Flyertalk experience. cannot be all things to all people. But we can do what we can to make this a wonderful place to visit and create community.

We cannot create every forum that everyone wants... we have to make choices... and not all will be popular.

If I believe it will enhance the FT experience, I will vote for it... especially if the need cannot be met elsewhere.

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Old Nov 8, 06, 7:37 pm
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I support koko's position here - and I again go back to my platform that TalkBoard should be soliciting input from members of the community as opposed to being solely reactive to a vocal minority. Whereas the 100,000 members of FT (or a majority portion of them) may agree with the minority who advocate on behalf (or against) a forum, we do not have a basis for determining this unless we ASK!
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