Question 11: Forum Creation/Deletion

 
Old Nov 3, 08, 10:52 am
  #1  
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Question 11: Forum Creation/Deletion

submitted by empedocles
Do you believe that segmentation of FlyerTalk into more forums serving a variety of constituencies is beneficial?
What would you look for in considering a new forum proposal? Would you consider eliminating any existing forums and what information would you gather/use in considering such a proposal?
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Old Nov 3, 08, 11:03 am
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The big question.

And I don't think there's a simple answer.

Segmentation of FlyerTalk into more forums serving a variety of constituencies is beneficial to the extent that it is beneficial, otherwise it's not beneficial. Well - as an answer it's totally correct, totally accurate and tells you nothing. It's really a question of where the lines is - and indeed I'm not at all convinced taht said line is a nice straight one!

In terms of creating forums and closing forums my criteria would be whether I think it's a good idea - and beyond that there's not much I can say. There are a whole range of reasons I might support a proposal, and a whole range of reasons I might be against a proposal. Obviously traffic levels and worthiness play a part - but there's no fixed metrics.

To my mind the best defence against bad collective decisions on the part of TB is for each member to simply stick to asking the general question of whether something is a good idea. With 9 votes the right decision would just happen.

Instead at present there's the politics, the high school debates, the navel gazing - and the let's-do-anything-other-thatn-answer-the-bloody-question.

If any member wants to know my views on the merits of any particular proposal - feel free to PM me and I'll add to this thread with my 'vote' and my reasoning.
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Old Nov 3, 08, 11:26 am
  #3  
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I would look at the net effect of creating a new forum.

If it cannibalized an existing forum to the point where the existing forum no longer has any (or any meaningful) traffic, then obviously there shouldn't have been a new forum, just a refocus or rename of the old one.

I would also try to get some feedback from those who are posting (via PM and post in the forum itself) as well as try to drum up some qualitative data from those who may not post very often but who benefit (or claim they do) from the forum.

I do not consider clutter or segmentation to be a major problem within FT as it currently sits, however, there is a risk that too much specialization could minimize the impact FT can have going forward. For example, I just had a walk-through of the Midwest regional board and it has virtually no traffic whatsoever. I have little confidence that posting a question there will yield a quick response -- I could be very wrong, but this is the kind of feeling newbies would have and perhaps they would decide to find another board outside of FT to ask the question.

I know this doesn't answer the question, but if there was any consolidation to be done, I would look at the boards that don't seem to have a lot of traffic and see if there were any related boards so that both could benefit from such a combination. Removing a board in its entirety should be done only if the threads posted there could easily slide back into a more general board.
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Old Nov 3, 08, 11:29 am
  #4  
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Segmentation is good if there's an unfulfilled need. One of the reasons why I voted Yes for the Traveling with Pets forum (which, even as a dog owner, I was initially against) is because I scoured the internet for any other Traveling with Pets type forum and it just didn't exist in a quality way. There's been the occassional request for Non-Rev & Airline employee travel forums - this is something I've never supported for FlyerTalk because there are other travel forums which do an much better job & act as a much better resource, than, IMHO, FT could be in that regard.

I believe that there should be a demonstrated need for a forum before voting for it - and whereas I used to be of the mindset that new forums are bad - not all of them are. I don't have any personal metrics as to whether or not a forum is good or bad - but I listen to what the members have to say. As for "failed" forums - I try to determine whether or not the posts in the forum are relevant & whether the users of that forum are actively participating and what kind of information is being discussed. I think that applies mostly to the special interest forums (which are the most controversial here on FT). Whereas I'm sold on continuance of the Religious Travelers forum - I'm still not sold on the Seniors Travel forum & wonder whether a consolidated sticky discussing Senior Discounts in TravelBuzz or SPAM may be a better option. Granted, the argument of "now that it's created - is it hurting anyone?" comes to mind. The answer is No - it's not - but is it overly segmenting FT? Maybe.

I guess my answer is that each forum must be considered on its individual merits & there's no easy answer.
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Old Nov 3, 08, 11:31 am
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Originally Posted by RichMSN View Post
If it cannibalized an existing forum to the point where the existing forum no longer has any (or any meaningful) traffic, then obviously there shouldn't have been a new forum, just a refocus or rename of the old one.

I would also try to get some feedback from those who are posting (via PM and post in the forum itself) as well as try to drum up some qualitative data from those who may not post very often but who benefit (or claim they do) from the forum.

I do not consider clutter or segmentation to be a major problem within FT as it currently sits, however, there is a risk that too much specialization could minimize the impact FT can have going forward. For example, I just had a walk-through of the Midwest regional board and it has virtually no traffic whatsoever. I have little confidence that posting a question there will yield a quick response -- I could be very wrong, but this is the kind of feeling newbies would have and perhaps they would decide to find another board outside of FT to ask the question.
All good points and I think evidence that there's no simple answer. I really can;t stress enough that I'm very much of the belief that it's a case of getting 9 people to simply answer the 'is it a good idea' question. If 7 of 9 say it is... then it probably is!
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Old Nov 3, 08, 11:46 am
  #6  
nsx
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It would be much easier for TB to decide on opening a new forum if we had a better process for closing existing forums that have not succeeded.

I have one guiding principle on all FT policy questions: Does the proposal add value to FT or does it subtract value? It's a simple question, but it's difficult to answer.

Is FT more valuable when special interest content is presented in its own forum, even though that forum only draws a handful of readers? Or is FT more valuable when that content is mixed in with more general interest content, making it visible to a much greater number of readers?

If you answered that question yes or no, your answer is incorrect. The answer is that it depends on just how special the special interest is. If the handful of readers are the only ones who will be interested, and if the readers of the general interest forum who stumble across these threads will only be annoyed to see them, then a separate forum is the way to go. On the other hand, if even a small fraction of the readers of the general interest forum will be pleased that they found these threads, then separating the material probably decreases the value of FT.

Given this, why is it hard to close an unsuccessful forum? Because TB members are human, and they don't want to deliver a perceived insult to the handful of members who are active in the forum in question. But TB does not represent only those members. The TB represents all FT members, including the readers of the more general forum. Those readers will benefit from closure of the special interest forum if the material has some general interest. Even proponents of the special interest forum will probably benefit from having a wider audience, if they can just get past the blow to the ego that closure of the special interest forum represents.

TB members need to remind themselves that the best interest of FT includes members who don't speak out on an issue and may not even be aware that they are potential beneficiaries of a forum closure.

Once we have a better track record on forum closure, any remaining issues with forum opening will be easier to solve.
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Old Nov 3, 08, 11:57 am
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Originally Posted by Randy Petersen View Post
submitted by empedocles
Do you believe that segmentation of FlyerTalk into more forums serving a variety of constituencies is beneficial?
What would you look for in considering a new forum proposal? Would you consider eliminating any existing forums and what information would you gather/use in considering such a proposal?
It all depends on peoples views. Take the IC forum. You could break that down into the respective hotel brands i.e. IC, CP, HI, HIX, XHi etc so that if you only stayed at IC then you can read about them, but if your work only pays for HIX stays then you might just want to read about them.

The thing is where would you stop? I would say that breaking up forums would be pretty bad and would water down the traffic to that forum.

If a forum is hardly used then there should be justification as to why it should not be merged with another forum or shut down altogether.

The majority of folk visiting FT will only view a handful of forums, some will spend their life in Omni (well it seems that way.... )

regards
J
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Old Nov 3, 08, 12:06 pm
  #8  
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Forum Creation - There is a big difference between the "core" of Flyertalk (Miles & Points) and the "other" forums. For the "core" part of Flyertalk, I strongly support almost the "automatic" creation of forums for "credible" travel companies. For "other" forums, there needs to be "demand" for the forum for information that doesn't really have a "home" elsewhere.

Forum Deletion - If there was proper thought into the creation of the forum, this should be fairly rare. Things that should be considered include: activity (threads/posts in the forum), whether there are other forums that can provide a good alternative "home" for the information (since we've moved away from dumping everything into TravelBuzz which is a good change), and even if there is low level of activity some forums should exist because it provides a needed place for information.
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Old Nov 3, 08, 12:16 pm
  #9  
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Originally Posted by Randy Petersen View Post
submitted by empedocles
Do you believe that segmentation of FlyerTalk into more forums serving a variety of constituencies is beneficial?
What would you look for in considering a new forum proposal? Would you consider eliminating any existing forums and what information would you gather/use in considering such a proposal?
yes, traffic, yes, traffic - four questions, so excuse my long answer

Last edited by GK; Nov 3, 08 at 2:53 pm
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Old Nov 3, 08, 2:08 pm
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This is another good question.

There seem to be two schools of thought represented on FT. One seems to favor consolidation of forums (and threads), elimination of "quiet" forums, elimination of redundant threads, and minimizing segmentation of forums. The other prefers macro-segmentation, establishment of forums focused on very narrow interests, etc.

I fall somewhere in-between. I don't believe a forum has to have high traffic to be valuable. As an example, I think Travel with Pets and the Senior Travel Forum are both valid, even important, despite not attracting large numbers of posts. These forums focus on special interests, and these interests are either perceived as being adverse to other groups, or of minimal importance to them. By establishing a Travel with Children forum, those interested in this subject are able to avoid all the "noise" of posters whose input consists of recommending duct tape or car travel (and, yes, I confess to being such a poster ). Such input is of little value, though, to those seeking helpful suggestions when they travel with their kids.

Similarly, many people don't want pets on board or in hotels at all. That view, though, is irrelevant to those who want to travel with their pets and, as long as the airlines and hotels permit it, they are entitled to receiving the benefits of informed and constructive suggestions, right along with the mileage runners.

My metric for approving new forums (or closing existing ones) is very straightforward: does the forum in question serve a useful function for members of the FlyerTalk community? As long as the answer is, "yes," then I don't see a downside to having the forum.
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Old Nov 3, 08, 3:18 pm
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There is a difference between a "specialised" forum such as "Travel with Children", and an outright obscure forum like "Travel with Battery Operated Toys".

One has a place on FT and the other doesn't. I'll leave it to you to judge which.
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Old Nov 3, 08, 3:36 pm
  #12  
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I know that I once read pretty much every forum, even airlines that I did not really travel with and sometimes I found gems of information that I would have missed.

However, there are just too many forums now to make that possible.

I am in favour of a high threshold to open new forums, and to hold them under review perhaps every six months.

In my view the best way for a forum to come in to being is by a need being demonstrated in another forum.
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Old Nov 3, 08, 3:40 pm
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Originally Posted by Randy Petersen View Post
submitted by empedocles
Would you consider eliminating any existing forums and what information would you gather/use in considering such a proposal?
I think the OMNI forum serves no useful purpose on a board dedicated to travel and would support any motion to eliminate it.

In fact, I would even be willing to pledge that should I be elected to the TalkBoard, my first motion would be to consider the elimination of the OMNI forum.
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Old Nov 3, 08, 4:15 pm
  #14  
nsx
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Originally Posted by B747-437B View Post
I think the OMNI forum serves no useful purpose on a board dedicated to travel
I once felt the same way. Now, although I still don't visit OMNI, I can see two strong arguments in favor of OMNI:

1. Threads need a place to be moved to when they "go OMNI". The discussion can continue among willing participants without burdening the original forum.

2. FT members build friendships with each other in the miles and points forums. Sometimes they want to discuss other subjects with their FT friends. Providing that capability adds value to FT.
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Old Nov 3, 08, 4:30 pm
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Originally Posted by B747-437B View Post
I think the OMNI forum serves no useful purpose on a board dedicated to travel and would support any motion to eliminate it.

In fact, I would even be willing to pledge that should I be elected to the TalkBoard, my first motion would be to consider the elimination of the OMNI forum.
I would never vote for or endorse someone who supported this.

I would never, ever vote to eliminate OMNI, either. I love OMNI (the way it was, with one forum and the post/time requirements for entry).
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