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Question 8: Do you have concerns about commercialization of FlyerTalk?

Question 8: Do you have concerns about commercialization of FlyerTalk?

Old Nov 6, 11, 11:28 am
  #1  
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Question 8: Do you have concerns about commercialization of FlyerTalk?

From a member:

What is your view on the commercialization of FlyerTalk? How do you feel about commercial posts in the forum and on signatures? Are you invested in any business that markets towards FlyerTalkers?
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Old Nov 6, 11, 1:59 pm
  #2  
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I am am on the fence about commercialization. On one hand, I think that we should create a separate forum for business ventures to advertise and allow other Flyertalkers to support their business if they would like. On the other hand, there would need to be a way to make sure that these are not scam artists (not that any Flyertalker is). We need to make sure that the forum would be a safe place to market a business and possibly have others invest, donate, or purchase products and/or services. If we created a separate forum, I would not be opposed to allowing a signature with a link to the business forum.

I am not a shareholder nor do I work for any business that markets to Flyertalkers.

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Old Nov 6, 11, 2:11 pm
  #3  
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I have no problem personally with commercial signatures as long as they are of a reasonable size. After all, members can turn off the viewing of signatures or simply ignore them.

I prefer leaving the board free of commercial posts on the forum. I know there are exceptions (KVS and ExpertFlyer come to mind), but I'm not a fan of people pushing products and services on FT beyond putting a link in a signature.
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Old Nov 6, 11, 3:46 pm
  #4  
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Originally Posted by SanDiego1K View Post
From a member:

What is your view on the commercialization of FlyerTalk? How do you feel about commercial posts in the forum and on signatures? Are you invested in any business that markets towards FlyerTalkers?
Commercial posts - not a fan. (Though if the member, please cite some examples of what you're referring to so I can discuss those better.)
In a signature - as long as it complies with current FT ToS, I have no qualms
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Old Nov 6, 11, 3:53 pm
  #5  
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I am not invested in any business that markets towards FlyerTalkers and commercialization comes in two avenues to me with the first being that F/t is part of a business and the second being that members who post links to commercial ventures.

Flyertalk is a business and a business needs to make money. Internet businesses like F/t make money via advertising and with that, I have no issue with advertising on F/t provided that the advertising...
  • is in good taste
  • is relevant to F/t (I wouldn't want to see ad's for "Joe's Auto Body" )
  • Is functional so that it doesn't interfere with viewing content, causes pages to draw slowly and/or browsers to crash
As to commercial posts in signatures I am against this for two reasons.
  • It's free advertising for the commercial venture. If the commercial venture wants to be referenced, take out an ad.
  • There is also no way to know if the poster who references the commercial venture in their signature has a vested interest in said commercial venture and if yes, again, it's free advertising.
Now with that, I may or may not have violated what I just said as depending upon how one looks at it as prior to changing my signature to say that I am running for Talkboard, I had a link in my signature to the home page of a blues band which I have been following for 35 years. I have no vested interest in the band other than I am a huge fan but and again, depending upon how you look at it, it could be taken as free advertising as opposed to me simply hoping that there might be one other fan out their in the F/t family so with that, I think that any external link in a signature needs to be looked at and evaluated and if found to be a commercial venture, the member needs to be contacted for an explanation as to what their relationship is with the entity-and especially if the link leads to another internet board which is related to travel.

For the issue of commercial posts, I'd like to pose a question back to the member who asked the question as to what they mean by "commercial posts in the forum" as I see this as commercial posts being nothing more than ads set up as posts and appearing in the middle of a thread which will detract from the subject at hand (and imho, pi$$ people off)

Last edited by goalie; Nov 7, 11 at 3:24 pm Reason: Removed reference to ad free version as it no longer exists
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Old Nov 6, 11, 3:57 pm
  #6  
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MIles and Points are Commercial.. The Airlines FFP, Hotel Loyalty Programs, Vendors, Credit Card Companies, etc are Billion Dollar Commercial. As our interest here are Miles and Points, we are synonomously desiring understanding of the Commercial Benefits of Miles and Points in our lives.. I respectfully submit we are all already embracing to a degree.. the marketing, information, human resources, financial, accounting, technology.. the businesses of the various FFP, hotel loyalty, vendors cc companies we are interested in learning about and/or members of.

FlyerTalk is also possible through the Commercial Resources of Internet Brands.

All of the above is technical.. What matters most is how can FlyerTalk enhance the experience and education of its' members?..

One of the traditional challenges to FlyerTalk is private users, advertising commercially about themselves here on the forum. There are many industry professionals who represent companies, that help us bridge the gap. imo, the TalkBoard, and Moderators have done a fantastic job finding the balance. There are rules, unwritten protocol, TOS.. that addresses what is appropriate and inappropriate.. no doubt the rules will continue to evolve, and the TB and Moderators are here to address this on an ongoing basis..

We are here for Mile and Points education, and the community aspect is a great tie in.. FlyerTalk Members want in on the screaming deal, that helps us achieve our dreams, on the limited resources we have.. The focus is delivery and how we as a community can enhance member's experience..

If voted in, my Commercial and Non-profit Experience will be brought to the TalkBoard. FlyerTalk Members have my commitment to help serve, give continual input and guidance, participate, listen, gather feedback, develop ideas, and get things done.. for a better FlyerTalk L/Earning experience..


Edit: To answer OPs question I have no ties as a stakeholder or investor in any company that markets on FlyerTalk.

Last edited by Ancien Maestro; Nov 6, 11 at 4:04 pm Reason: Addressing OPs' Question as a stakeholder or investor of FT companies'
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Old Nov 6, 11, 5:39 pm
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As I've stated previously IB is a business and for anyone in business who has an understanding of keeping them progressive and generating revenue, then they need to be able to do it..

However, I believe there should be particular forums for certain types of posts...and I don't agree with signatures of members posting commercial links for financial gain.

Every member should be on the same playing field.
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Old Nov 6, 11, 6:10 pm
  #8  
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I see opportunity for win-win commercial activity on FT. In other words, as long as our members clearly benefit, I have no objection in principle to commercial links and such. However they must not be used in a spam-like manner.

An on-topic commercial link, with any financial interest fully disclosed, should be fine as long as the link provides real value to readers.
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Old Nov 6, 11, 6:33 pm
  #9  
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Absolutely. I'd much prefer a Consumer Reports-type approach where FT wouldn't accept advertisting or promotion of commercial ventures. Aside from the advertising, which seems to be a necessary evil, I think the moderators do a good job of eliminating commercialization in the threads. The advertising seems to be necessary to "pay the bills", unless there's a strong willingness from members to pay for content, but I don't advocate that. I want to keep FT as open to the public as prudent.
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Old Nov 6, 11, 8:38 pm
  #10  
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I appreciate that FlyerTalk's rules--and more importantly, the FlyerTalk community itself--value the purity of information and the lack of commercialization in the general forums. No one wants to look for information only to have to wonder if it's tainted by some ulterior motivation. I support that entirely.

The Web is changing, though. Not only do companies expect to be able to use social media, consumers expect to be able to find companies on social media outlets. As long as it's properly organized and handled well, it's a win-win: consumers get to interact with companies on a more personal level, affecting those companies' products and development cycles, while the company gets to benefit from the increased exposure. We've seen it in all manner of companies, from large airline frequent flyer programs (anyone on FlyerTalk would tell you they appreciate it when an airline has an inside representative on FlyerTalk) all the way down to niche providers of travel services like ExpertFlyer or even one I just used a few minutes ago, BiddingTraveler.

The best thing to do now is to acknowledge that changes in the Web are happening and embrace those changes. FlyerTalk can do so with some dedicated places for this kind of dialogue. Segmenting that activity into its own dedicated area will both allow an entirely new way for FlyerTalk members to engage with vendors of services that make traveling easier (in the same way ExpertFlyer and BiddingTraveler do) without "tainting" the regular forums with commercial activity. It's the future of the Web and thus the future of FlyerTalk.
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Old Nov 6, 11, 8:50 pm
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Originally Posted by jackal View Post
I appreciate that FlyerTalk's rules--and more importantly, the FlyerTalk community itself--value the purity of information and the lack of commercialization in the general forums. No one wants to look for information only to have to wonder if it's tainted by some ulterior motivation. I support that entirely.

The Web is changing, though. Not only do companies expect to be able to use social media, consumers expect to be able to find companies on social media outlets. As long as it's properly organized and handled well, it's a win-win: consumers get to interact with companies on a more personal level, affecting those companies' products and development cycles, while the company gets to benefit from the increased exposure. We've seen it in all manner of companies, from large airline frequent flyer programs (anyone on FlyerTalk would tell you they appreciate it when an airline has an inside representative on FlyerTalk) all the way down to niche providers of travel services like ExpertFlyer or even one I just used a few minutes ago, BiddingTraveler.

The best thing to do now is to acknowledge that changes in the Web are happening and embrace those changes. FlyerTalk can do so with some dedicated places for this kind of dialogue. Segmenting that activity into its own dedicated area will both allow an entirely new way for FlyerTalk members to engage with vendors of services that make traveling easier (in the same way ExpertFlyer and BiddingTraveler do) without "tainting" the regular forums with commercial activity. It's the future of the Web and thus the future of FlyerTalk.
Isn't it possible that leveraging existing social media platforms (Facebook/Twitter) and allowing for a user-customizable level of integration is what's needed? I mean, do we really want FT to be another form/layer of social media?

I'm not sure of the answer right now, but I remember the backlash when Facebook Connect was added to the site. Moving forward is important, but these decisions must be tempered with a concern that too much, too quickly could alienate some long-term valuable posters. Your idea of keeping this separate is a good one, but adding some layer of social networking / social media integration could add value seamlessly for some people who choose to allow it while leaving the FT experience unchanged for others.

Sounds like a great conversation to have over a beer, though.
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Old Nov 6, 11, 9:54 pm
  #12  
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Originally Posted by RichMSN View Post
I mean, do we really want FT to be another form/layer of social media?
FlyerTalk already is a form of social media. In fact, it could be argued that Internet bulletin boards are the original form of social media.

Originally Posted by RichMSN View Post
Your idea of keeping this separate is a good one, but adding some layer of social networking / social media integration could add value seamlessly for some people who choose to allow it while leaving the FT experience unchanged for others.
As I said elsewhere, I think that MilePoint has done some very good things in terms of site and forum organization, functionality, and appearance. I like the Concourse Z concept. Adding something like that here would definitely add value seamlessly for some people while leaving the FT experience unchanged for those who don't want to see it. As a separate forum, all anyone would have to do to ignore it would be to not go in that forum.

Originally Posted by RichMSN View Post
Sounds like a great conversation to have over a beer, though.
I'll take you up on that any time.
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Old Nov 7, 11, 7:31 am
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I think this topic needs to be addressed in great detail and that TalkBoard needs to create specific guidelines to address this, between the concerns about commercial-type do's to referral links in signatures, to the "PM me for a referral" to those looking to promote their companies on FT.

My general feelings are:
Commercial Do's--Any commercial aspects should be made clear to everyone up front, and any benefits given to the organizers should also be made known to everyone. Transparency is important here. I'd like to see a sub-forum of Community Buzz for commercial do's, if the membership wants to see commercial do's on the forums at all.
FT'ers looking to promote their businesses to FT'ers--These should be vetted so that the users know they are legitimate companies, and there should be a forum that allows FT'ers to promote their businesses. I'd picture this with either subforums for various categories, or threads for various categories, to make it easier to find categories of businesses.
Companies looking to have a presence on FT--Having company representatives vetted and their handles in green is a great step towards managing this. This allows members to know that these representatives are legitimate and can either escalate or address their concerns, and can help the members.
Referral links in signatures--I'd like to see these prohibited, as they don't benefit the community. They benefit only that person. I'd rather see any referrals be in the form of a conga in S.P.A.M., where all members can benefit, each by using a referral link, and then posting their own.
PM me for a referral--This should be prohibited as well, and again, referrals should be handled in the form of a conga in S.P.A.M., where the community benefits.

I do not have a financial interest in any companies that market themselves towards FlyerTalkers.
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Old Nov 7, 11, 9:36 am
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If its a signature, fine (especially if it's just stating: "I work for so and so" I.e. airline, hotel, and concierge services)


If someone makes a thread for a commercial, no.
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Old Nov 7, 11, 9:43 am
  #15  
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This is the biggest issue facing FT and must be a top priority of the next TB since the current TB punted on it.

The web has evolved. So has the way that information is being monetized on it.

And of course, some have had dollar signs in their eyes ever since Randy sold FlyerTalk to IB for millions of dollars.

The next TB must, in consultation with the posters, make some tough but necessary changes to how we treat and organize efforts that both border and blatantly cross into commercial ventures.

I've been banging my head against this particular wall for about 8 months now. The bad news is that my head is bleeding. The good news is that it is finally dawning on more and more posters that there are people who come to FT for more than community, points and miles. They are here for those things, too, but also to build brands, make a buck and get free schwag like top tier statuses for themselves and be flown around the country as 'experts' so they can drive more and more eyes and ultimately dollars to their brand.

I don't have all the answers. But I do know that a healthy discussion about this needs to take place asap. And I do have a notion of an outline of what I think will fix this creeping commercialism:

1) Admit we have a problem

2) Categorize the level of commercialization taking place, eg
- Is this brand-building
- Is this profit-making
- Is the profit realized or given to charity
- Is this a purely classic commercial venture
- etc

3) Create forums for each category

I think there IS a place for the MegaDos and KVSs and Seminars of the world. But those types of things are various shades of commercial.

Some really great ideas have been talked about on the TB topic forum and in the community thread about the commercialization of Dos. That conversation must be formalized and continue until a reasonable and fair solution is reached.

This is obviously an area where the TB and Mods should work together so that everyone has a thorough understanding of what belongs where.

We really, really need to get to work on this.
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