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-   -   Question 4: FlyerTalk as a "global" frequent traveller community (https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/talkboard-elections-09/1012623-question-4-flyertalk-global-frequent-traveller-community.html)

Randy Petersen Nov 1, 09 7:28 pm

Question 4: FlyerTalk as a "global" frequent traveller community
 
submitted by starflyergold
I think a pertinent question to ask the candidates would be how they intend to address the fact that FT is a global frequent traveller community. A number of discussions recently appear to show that there is a huge US bias, for example when putting forward new forum suggestions (I readily admit that I am deeply frustrated about the reaction I got from the TB, or at least some members, regarding the proposed Accor/A-club forum).

aviators99 Nov 1, 09 7:55 pm


Originally Posted by Randy Petersen (Post 12749842)
submitted by starflyergold
I think a pertinent question to ask the candidates would be how they intend to address the fact that FT is a global frequent traveller community. A number of discussions recently appear to show that there is a huge US bias, for example when putting forward new forum suggestions (I readily admit that I am deeply frustrated about the reaction I got from the TB, or at least some members, regarding the proposed Accor/A-club forum).

Here's my answer, which is meant to be provocative :-)

I feel that this is a very important issue, and don't intend to bring any bias to my decisions. But if you believe actual bias to be the problem, the answer to your question is very simple: The way to change the direction of the TalkBoard is to change the makeup of the TalkBoard! I may be shooting myself in the foot here (since I am American), but if you really believe that bias played a part, you should vote for non-US people to fill the roles that make these decisions. You can also run for the TalkBoard yourself.

Now, I am not familiar with the particular vote you reference, but I don't feel the board has a bias. If they do, it is likely that a group of unbiased people would come to the same conclusion that was already reached. But just like in real-world politics, you can help sway things in your favor.

MSY-MSP Nov 1, 09 9:36 pm

Thanks for your question.

I think you bring up a very interesting point that I had not considered prior. I must admit that i am unfamiliar with the specific issue that you brought up, but i am going to go look into it and try to understand why the decision was made.

As for a US bias, I personnally would never consiously allow a geographical bias (e.g. American) sway a decision that is before the Talkboard. What i can say, and i have lived abroad, is that i try to understand how others view an issue. I try my best to understand another culture so that i can enjoy my experience in their land. So i can truthfully say i would not consider where the particular issue comes from in determining what the correct outcome should be. What i would do is consider the issue within the context that it came from. For example, if the issue was not global in nature (i.e only relevant to a subset of the world) i would look at the issue in the terms of the relevant part of the world affected by the issue. From there, i would try to understand what drives the issue in the region and then consider the impact of the options on members from that region. Only then can i make an informed decision.

So to sum up, i would try my best not to have a geographical bias play into my decisions. If i am elected to the talkboard and a member believes that i have made a decision that is based on a US bias, i will gladly speak with that member and explain why i made the decision that i made.

Markie Nov 1, 09 10:23 pm

Well right up front, clearly a vote for me would start to redress that balance ;). Luckily when I became a member of TB I replaced another European based member so Europe kept the door open.

In terms of the Accor discussion, I voted against a board for it. My reasoning: whilst I know the Accor brands in Europe are strong we don't have many posts on them yet. I am always open for a surge of interest to change my vote, and perhaps in six months we can look at it again.

FT has always had a US bias - that's the way it is. Many promos are for US based members only and that can leave the rest of the world feeling left out.

I think we need to encourage Randy and Internet Brands to get the message out to European travellers that FT exists. However, the success of EUMA airlines telling their members about the Freddies suggests that might be one way to go - articles in the member bulletin or newsletters. More traffic means more profits and at the moment perhaps it will be hard to spend $'s on promotions but I am sure PR could do something low cost. In addition I've always wondered why we don't have little business card made by IB. I am often talking to a seat mate about FT and he then has to write down the address - something to give him or her would surely prompt them to have a look don't you think?

worldwidedreamer Nov 1, 09 11:19 pm

FlyerTalk is currently an English-language site with forums that tend to have far more traffic regarding loyalty programs from companies in English-speaking parts of the world. (With Miles & More + FlyingBlue being the two notable exceptions, both the major European programs for their alliance.) I feel that going forward it might be worthwhile for FT to look at whether it makes sense to have parallel communities focused on other major languages of international business like Mandarin or Spanish. A French forum might include brands like Accor while a Spanish forum might include brands like Melia that are less well known in the English speaking world.

RichMSN Nov 1, 09 11:33 pm

Well, I know this doesn't really answer the question, but I would've voted for the Accor board mainly because I think it better to allow a "marginal" forum and reevaluate it after six months than to disappoint a subset of membership asking for it in the first place -- talk about turning away a group of posters. It would take quite the oddball forum request before I would vote no for it -- however, I would strongly push to look at forums regularly and establish a criteria for the removal of forums that didn't see enough traffic after a reasonable amount of time.

Regarding the American bias, I'm not sure that this is something TalkBoard can rectify or even the degree to which it exists -- I know that there is a lot of UK traffic on the BA board (duh!) and quite a few of those people do not venture into other forums. I know that I subscribe to about a dozen forums, but I hit 3-5 on a regular basis. I also know that at least one vote (mentioned above) against the forum came from a British member of TB.

I think the best way to lessen any bias (and I believe it's more English speaking than anything necessarily American) is for people from other countries to run for TalkBoard, to organize DOs, and perhaps for TB to consider forums or places on the board where other languages besides English can be spoken. It's something that should be discussed at some point, certainly, and something that could be brought up at any time by the person who asked the question in the public TB Topics forum, as well.

schley Nov 2, 09 5:15 am

As someone who lives in Saudi Arabia I'm interested to hear other candidates responses. I'm an American living over here as an expatriate so great question.

I don't think FT has to be everything for everyone, nor should it try to be. It doesn't have to be the google of the travel world (although it is to many of us) in all languages in my opinion. Allow other sites to fill those niches as they probably already have.

In regards to proposing new forums, I believe without allowing it to open we will never really know how much traffic it would generate. I don't see anything wrong with opening up a new forum and giving it a period of time to evaluate if it should stay long term. There is no harm in that, but when you choose to not even allow that forum to open it will surely upset members. What does it hurt to open it on a trial basis and allow it a chance to be a permanent fixture.

gleff Nov 2, 09 5:55 am

I cherish Flyertalk's global reach.

I don't think we need to worry some much about the geography of where a Flyertalker calls their home airport, as much as whether or not they have a provincial or global outlook, and perhaps whether they actually travel the world or not.

Looking over forums created while I've served on TalkBoard, I believe we've created more for non-US programs and locations than for US ones. And that's likely a function of Flyertalk becoming more and more global, when it started there were more US-centric folks.

But the criteria for forum creation, in my mind, is whether the forum will generate enough activity to be vibrant rather than moribund. If people come to a dead forum, they don't return. And if they don't return there won't be new posts and the next person finds a dead forum as well. It's useful to draw a circle around posts and put them in a particular forum when that'll help people find information or create a place that's focal where a question will get answers from the best-informed people because that's where those people congregate. But creating a little-visited forum harms both of these goals.

So as Flyertalk grows, the specialization in forums will grow. And much of that specialization has grown in non-US areas.

lucky9876coins Nov 2, 09 8:33 am


Originally Posted by gleff (Post 12751667)
But the criteria for forum creation, in my mind, is whether the forum will generate enough activity to be vibrant rather than moribund. If people come to a dead forum, they don't return. And if they don't return there won't be new posts and the next person finds a dead forum as well. It's useful to draw a circle around posts and put them in a particular forum when that'll help people find information or create a place that's focal where a question will get answers from the best-informed people because that's where those people congregate. But creating a little-visited forum harms both of these goals.

So as Flyertalk grows, the specialization in forums will grow. And much of that specialization has grown in non-US areas.

This was exactly my reasoning for not supporting the Accor forum. It wasn't a function of geography, but rather a function of the amount of traffic a forum would generate. I think it's better to have one forum with a decent amount of traffic than three forums that have very little traffic.

In the future I'm sure we'll see more and more forums for international topics/airlines/hotel chains, as we've seen quite a bit of lately. But for the most part I think the interest has to come before it makes sense for a forum to be created.

B747-437B Nov 2, 09 11:27 am

If you build it, they will come.

If they don't come, tear it down and build it again. After all, it don't cost nothin'.

I wonder where we would be today if Randy Petersen had taken the attitude that there might not be enough traffic for the InsideFlyer online forum, so lets not bother setting it up?

The internet as a whole is US-centric. We must live with this. Why is the generic Ebay.com the site for the US market, while one needs to specify Ebay.co.uk to get to the UK site?

FlyerTalk also suffers in that many non-US posters tend to congregate in their regional forums (British Airways, Air Canada, Qantas, Airlines of India, etc...) rather than use generic forums that are more appropriate for the subject matter? For example, are threads about security at UK airports more suitable to the British Airways forum than to the Travel Security forum? The non-US posters have themselves to blame if the wider userbase have diminished awareness and consequently cannot identify with what may be viewed as relevant. Some forums on FlyerTalk run the danger of becoming ghettos of regional discussion at the expense of broadening awareness of the often widely relevant regional discussion among the larger community.

FlyerTalk IS a global community, but like any community the onus is on the minority to set the agenda for integration into the mainstream rather than on the majority to open the doors and welcome them with open arms.

Art234 Nov 2, 09 12:51 pm

I completely agree that FT is a a global community-we have members from around the world who participate here, and who contribute to the international flavor of this board. I think there is more of a global reach here than on any other aviation related board I read.

I am not sure so much that there is so much a US bias here, but it does appear that a significant majority of posters and participants are based in the United States, which can give the appearance of bias, just in the fact that there might be more posts from the US, or that American members might raise more issues. That being said, I am not aware of ANY bias in any of the administrative areas, and I am admittedly not familiar with the issue brought up the original post. Just because a travel provider is not popular in the states, or an issue is not important here does not mean it should not be covered or discussed here.

While it's true there is power in numbers, I think the Talk Board should remain entirely unbiased and dedicated to equal say for all members from all corners of the globe--and I have no information that it is not so at this time. As a member of the board, I would want to hear every side of an issue, and to me just because a majority are from one country or area does not make their point of view necessarily the right one. I give more weight to WHAT is being said than I do to how many times I hear it said....

Thanks.

LessO2 Nov 2, 09 2:40 pm

Thanks for the question.

After looking into it, I found out that 60.22% of FlyerTalk traffic is U.S. ISP-based. Even if you take into account the high likelihood of traveling Europeans in the U.S. visiting FT, and vice-versa, that 60% number, I think, likely balances out.

(In case you're curious, the second-largest representation is from the U.K., followed by Canada, then Australia. The rest after that are countries that have English as a second language).

Thus, by the sheer numbers, there's likely going to be at the very least a perception of U.S. bias.

What they say about perception being reality holds true. And I'm not going to say there is no bias -- there is one. We may slightly differ on the intensity of the bias, but if you have the feeling there is one, that is definitely something that will be on my mind as a TalkBoard member.

Thanks again for your question. And I hope to earn your vote.

jackal Nov 2, 09 11:14 pm

For one, I'm very much of the try-it-out mindset. If the Accor forum proposal is brought up again, I'd support it. I understand but disagree with the view that it's better to have discussion in one centralized, larger forum than several low-volume, smaller forums. I think the act of creating a forum brings people, whether from outside or from existing members who see it and think of a question, or for people who might have some small questions but don't think it's worth posting and cluttering up another forum not specifically geared to that program. (For example, I've stayed in a Formule1, but I wouldn't really ever think to discuss it if I hadn't have seen this question reference an Accor forum, and now I realize I might have some questions about other Accor properties--but I don't have anything substantive enough to ask or say in the general Other Hotel Programs forum.)

Two, I have no problem supporting outside-the-U.S. ideas. I'm used to living in an ignored part of the world. ;) I was an advocate of the European Rail Travel forum (both because I thought it would be valuable and also because of my try-it-out mindset).

Again, though, my preference to bringing more world-wide participation would be to use positives to counter the negatives rather than making motions that restrict things (such as setting quotas based on continents for new forums or some such). I'd be in favor of spreading the word about FlyerTalk to all parts of the world and letting the discussion about non-U.S. travel grow organically and naturally instead of trying to force it. Who knows--we can look at some of the proselytizing techniques used by some of the faster-growing world religions for inspiration about how to spread the FlyerTalk "gospel." Perhaps as part of the "FlyerTalk Ambassador" program, some members can be designated to hand out FlyerTalk tracts at airports or post them on travel office bulletin boards or the like. (OK, that's extreme, but ideas like that will certainly stimulate debate and get everyone thinking about ways to bring more people! :D)

Radioman Nov 3, 09 2:01 pm


Originally Posted by Randy Petersen (Post 12749842)
submitted by starflyergold
I think a pertinent question to ask the candidates would be how they intend to address the fact that FT is a global frequent traveller community. A number of discussions recently appear to show that there is a huge US bias, for example when putting forward new forum suggestions (I readily admit that I am deeply frustrated about the reaction I got from the TB, or at least some members, regarding the proposed Accor/A-club forum).

Hi
Yes there is a hugh US bias but I dont really see that as a major issue. Maybe FT should try and promote itself in other parts of the world but where do you stop?

If you want a new forum then put up a very good case for it and show there is support for it. I am sure they gave reasons why they thought it should not be created but you will have to take that up with them.

I know it might not be the answer your looking for but I think your still a bit upset by it

J

CMK10 Nov 3, 09 3:03 pm

This is a hard question to answer especially as I think often biases are inevitable.

I think the only thing I can promise is that no member of this talkboard will have a preconcieved bias and that everyone running is doing so because they are openminded enough to function objectively.

That being said, word of mouth is the best tool we have to spread awareness of this website. I think the Star MegaDo will go a long way to bringing in more international members.


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