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Question 13: What role can Talkboard have in making FT more welcoming?

Question 13: What role can Talkboard have in making FT more welcoming?

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Old Nov 9, 11, 8:35 am
  #1  
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Question 13: What role can Talkboard have in making FT more welcoming?

From a member:

Several of you have spoken in your platforms of FlyerTalk being more welcoming to newbies. Too many newbies are fearful/apologetic when making their early posts, apologizing in advance for perhaps posting in the incorrect forum (and perhaps many others don't even join for fear of a welcome flog). As a Talkboard member, what can you do to make FT a more welcoming/less intimidating place?
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Old Nov 9, 11, 8:57 am
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An "ambassador" or "greeter"-type role would go a long way toward fostering a more welcoming environment for a lot of newbies. Or some kind of "mentor" program where an "experienced" FT member offers to "show someone the ropes" or offer guidance about what to post, where to post, etc. I think TalkBoard could develop this program and offer it through a new members first 30 days or 30 posts, or something along those lines. Or it could be more open-ended if the newbie member wanted that kind of hand-holding.
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Old Nov 9, 11, 9:30 am
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Originally Posted by SanDiego1K View Post
From a member:

Several of you have spoken in your platforms of FlyerTalk being more welcoming to newbies. Too many newbies are fearful/apologetic when making their early posts, apologizing in advance for perhaps posting in the incorrect forum (and perhaps many others don't even join for fear of a welcome flog). As a Talkboard member, what can you do to make FT a more welcoming/less intimidating place?
This is mostly a duty of moderators. Quiet forums are always welcoming, but on busy forums readers can get frustrated by the need to sort through newbie questions to find information of value. Newbie-only threads are one method to reduce this problem. However the problem is inevitable as FT becomes more and more popular.

I do not know what policies the TalkBoard can recommend to ameliorate it, but I am open to member suggestions. For example if there is a way to improve the software to sort out newbie questions from other information, the TalkBoard could recommend implementing that capability.
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Old Nov 9, 11, 9:46 am
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Before I ever flew LX, I had an important question, so I went to post there, and they have an interesting concept there: you can specify when starting a thread "Newbie Question." I liked that. Highlighting that in advance I felt insured I didn't get burned by others, and I'm an "experienced" poster! If more forums had that, I feel people might be nicer when they know in advance, this is a newbie question.
AA has a thread, I believe, that's simply a newbie mega-thread, that allows newbies to ask any and every question relating to AA. I used that, and never got flamed. That has its pros and cons. The pros are the understanding that this is for newbies. The con is that this is a MEGAthread. It needs cleanup constantly. If my question is missed, it might be missed, and would need to be reposted.

But I really like the LX idea. If we could always allow threads to be pre-empted with "newbie question," combined with an expanded ambassador program, giving many of the larger forums ambassadors, we'd go a long way of ensuring a friendlier atmosphere for newbies on FT.

I guess my idea would summed up as: Add the LX feature, increase the ambassador program, and make sure ambassadors are on the look out for threads tagged "newbie question."

Remember, someone can be a "FlyerTalk Posting Legend," be GS, HON, TPL, Gold.. you name it. But if I (let's assume all those apply to me) have never flown AA or posted in their forum, then I'm still a newbie in the AA forum, even though I have 50K posts and have been a member for 10 years!
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Old Nov 9, 11, 10:05 am
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I'd like to see a sticky that's a "frequent newbie questions, read me first," that has just that, along with answers. I'd prefer that it's locked, and doesn't contain a lot of posts, just a few that are manageable in size, and they contain the questions and answers. It could, but doesn't need to look something like:

Question: Can I receive retro-active flight credit, for flights taken in the last year before I joined XYZ program?
Answer: You can receive retro-active flight credit for flights within the previous 90 days.
If someone posts a "newbie" question that isn't in the sticky, the mods could add it there, along with the answer.

The Abassador program also is a key component to welcoming new members.

I'd like to see an updated "new user guide" and a more complete list of acronyms and terms, with their explanations.

A mentoring program might work, but that should tie into the Ambassador program, in some part.

I think generally, members should be reminded that they should try to be friendly and polite to all members, both new and old.
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Old Nov 9, 11, 10:39 am
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Originally Posted by kipper View Post
I'd like to see a sticky that's a "frequent newbie questions, read me first," that has just that, along with answers. I'd prefer that it's locked, and doesn't contain a lot of posts, just a few that are manageable in size, and they contain the questions and answers. It could, but doesn't need to look something like:



If someone posts a "newbie" question that isn't in the sticky, the mods could add it there, along with the answer.

The Abassador program also is a key component to welcoming new members.

I'd like to see an updated "new user guide" and a more complete list of acronyms and terms, with their explanations.

A mentoring program might work, but that should tie into the Ambassador program, in some part.

I think generally, members should be reminded that they should try to be friendly and polite to all members, both new and old.
While many forums do have FAQ threads, I don't think TB could simply mandate them.
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Old Nov 9, 11, 11:12 am
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A Welcoming Tone for those New to FlyerTalk!

There was mention of this topic on my platform message.. one of the main reasons why its' important to me to run for a position on TalkBoard..

Compared to some of the members, I'm a rather Newbie.. and have gone through the scathing remarks of misunderstood protocol when new here on the FlyerTalk Forum. I want to first apologize for not understanding fully the TOS and the unwritten protocol from the very beginning that's expected for all members when having first arrived.. Hindsight is 20/20, the rules are sort of like an encyclopedia, that must be read through and understood several times over, and experience reading, navigating and posting on the FlyerTalk Forum is necessary to get the hang of what FlyerTalk is all about..

Make no mistake.. 95% of the members were great, and the L/Earning process seemed to take off from the beginning. Sometimes its the 5% or less of the FlyerTalk Members posts/responses that turn Members off, and what's most remembered.. At a Fairmont Banff Springs GolfDo, I had the pleasure of golfing with another FT dad with kids similar age of my 6 year old and 1 year old. He is a frequent flier, but his comment to me was he avoided reading and posting on FlyerTalk regularly because of the unexpected Flaming experienced that required his followup..

Carefully chosen words, can send the same message, but be graceful in the delivery..

Its' great that there are FlyerTalk Ambassadors' that are appointed by FlyerTalk to give a warm welcome to those new on the forum. We can all be FlyerTalk Ambassadors' in a sense without having the official title..

My presence on the Board would give the TalkBoard perspective from a Newbie. This would help to pass policies that would make FlyerTalk more user friendly for those new to the Board. The overall tone can be addressed as well so that all FlyerTalk members' feel welcomed. This would increase Retention.. by compassionate Attention.

As I've suggested on my platform, perhaps an etiquette checklist that is in addition to the TOS could be made available for all ongoing members to remind of the desired conduct here on FT. This may help moderators in their quest to put out fires, for those involved with heated exchanges could be sent gentle reminders of expected FT ettiquette and conduct. We all desire compassion and respect.. we can all as FlyerTalk Members discuss topics with language reflecting compassion and respect for one another..
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Old Nov 9, 11, 11:19 am
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Originally Posted by joshwex90 View Post
While many forums do have FAQ threads, I don't think TB could simply mandate them.
They could suggest it to the moderators, or even work to compile them for the various forums, rather than leaving it to the moderators to work through the content.
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Old Nov 9, 11, 1:29 pm
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I remember I was welcomed (even after posting my first post to the wrong forum) and I like seeing “Welcome to Flyertalk” in posts by other members, but I also want to add that sometimes new members are not given the welcome they deserve.

I’m not saying that everyone needs to post “Welcome to Flyertalk,” but rather to look at the new member’s post and do not simply post things like “wrong forum,” “not allowed,” “did you see this thread?” and etc if a new member simply made a mistake as who knows, the new member in question may be the next mileage run guru, TSA expert or "airline of your choice whiz" and we just “scared ‘em away”. Try and help them out by explaining the situation and if need be, use the ”Report Bad Post” feature to have the thread moved or closed as even though there are Moderators, they can’t catch everything .

The burden on proof lies on not just Members of TalkBoard or Moderators but on all of us. It's really not that hard to use the Report Bad Post function to alert a moderator and to post in a "newbie's" thread, "Welcome to Flyertalk ". This really isn't the right forum for this post but I've alerted the forum Moderators (by clicking the little red triangle to the lower left of each post) to see if your post can be moved to a more appropriate forum where your question should be answered".

And in line with this and for my education as well, when a Moderator moves a misplaced thread (and especially from a newbie) do they (and are they required to) notify the poster that their thread was moved os simply post in the thread something, "I'm moving your thread to the more appropriate "XXX" thread.
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Old Nov 9, 11, 2:22 pm
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The reason that newbies are so often greeted with 'DO A DAMN SEARCH' is because they have DONE a damn search but the answer to their question is buried in a mega-thread somewhere and can't be easily accessed.

So the TB needs to work with the moderators (yeah, you heard me!) to end this horrible practice.

Also, more cake parties. Elaine Benes was wrong. You can never have enough cake parties.
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Old Nov 9, 11, 2:30 pm
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I think that we should continue to promote non Talkboard members welcoming newcomers in threads that they post. I think that Talkboard should also welcome new members by allowing them to PM the members of Talkboard and the Moderating staff. I am not saying that every single new member gets a new pm. Just send one to all of the new members for a day or a week with the invitation to ask questions. I also agree with kokonutz about the 'do a search' posts and more moderation. That is not a way you should greet a new person to this community.

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Old Nov 9, 11, 3:15 pm
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I think a new IBB is an intimidating place, even one as friendly (if you don't think FT is friendly, go out to some of the shadier boards where even I feel intimidated).

A newbie thread stickied is a great idea. Every board would have one or two people who would be thrilled to start and/or maintain a Wiki/Thread. Give those people recognition as we do other people with titles, something like:

WikiTeam, Starwood Preferred Guest

I really think that having a well-maintained newbie thread with questions answered would make a lot of the trouble go away. Oh, it doesn't hurt to be nice to people with elementary questions, either.

FT isn't alone in eating their young, though. I participate in an Officiating IBB where the standard response to an elementary question is, "Did you look it up?" and the discourse usually devolves from there if a moderator doesn't step in.
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Old Nov 9, 11, 6:15 pm
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Originally Posted by kokonutz View Post
The reason that newbies are so often greeted with 'DO A DAMN SEARCH' is because they have DONE a damn search but the answer to their question is buried in a mega-thread somewhere and can't be easily accessed.

So the TB needs to work with the moderators (yeah, you heard me!) to end this horrible practice.


I fully agree! As I've mentioned before, the mega threads, and searches are out of hand.



But we also need to encourage a more welcome atmosphere for newbies.
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Old Nov 9, 11, 7:17 pm
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This is one of the issues I'm most passionate about, and I believe my record shows that.

I worked with the forum administration to get the Ambassador program rolled out in the Alaska Airlines forum. As part of that, we implemented a dedicated newbie thread in the Alaska Airlines forum--a thread that has not only seen much success but also served as a role model for a similar member-created thread in the American AAdvantage program.

I would like to see the Ambassador program and dedicated newbie thread concept rolled out FlyerTalk-wide, at least in forums of a certain activity level or higher.

I've also toyed with the idea of creating a dedicated newbie forum where newbies can post when they don't know where else they can go. It would be frequented by Ambassadors who can provide a welcome and helpful guidance as to where the question would best be answered. I have also been working on researching what technical assistance the forum software can provide to help Ambassadors locate and assist new members.

I've also been working on measures to improve the forum's organization to make it easier for newbies to understand the forum's layout and find the forums they're looking for. These include things such as retitling forums, revising each forum's descriptive text, and changing where some forums are located (for better visibility or more logical placement).

I've also been looking at ways to revise the way the new user sign-up flow is handled. I'd like to see a newbie welcome guide displayed upon completion of the sign-up process that helps newbies find their way around the forums.

This is all work in process that I have not yet completed but would look forward to continuing as part of my next term.
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Old Nov 10, 11, 1:45 am
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Originally Posted by RichMSN View Post
I think a new IBB is an intimidating place, even one as friendly (if you don't think FT is friendly, go out to some of the shadier boards where even I feel intimidated).

A newbie thread stickied is a great idea. Every board would have one or two people who would be thrilled to start and/or maintain a Wiki/Thread. Give those people recognition as we do other people with titles, something like:

WikiTeam, Starwood Preferred Guest

I really think that having a well-maintained newbie thread with questions answered would make a lot of the trouble go away. Oh, it doesn't hurt to be nice to people with elementary questions, either.

FT isn't alone in eating their young, though. I participate in an Officiating IBB where the standard response to an elementary question is, "Did you look it up?" and the discourse usually devolves from there if a moderator doesn't step in.
I have a big problem mandating FAQ stickies. Take a look at The Middle East forum as an example. How exactly do you create an FAQ thread. There seems to be only 2 common questions: "What will they ask me at passport control in Israel if I have stamps from ___________?" and "Will __________ let me in if I have stamps from Israel in my passport?"

Other than that, it's just too varied. Take for example the fact that generally, the people knowledgeable about Israel aren't so knowledgeable about other countries, and vice versa. The questions are just too varied. And the same with Religious Travelers, and numerous other forums.

I love the idea of these threads, and I've been working hard on the LY one, and love the CO one, my other heavily-frequented forum. But I just don't see how TB can mandate them.

I do think RichMSN has an interesting idea about giving them titles if they volunteer, such as WikiTeam. I also like the idea of expanding the Ambassador program, which i've mentioned numerous times, and I really like the idea of tagging threads "newbie." Perhaps if that's done, mods can wait until the question is actually answered satisfactorily before moving it to the dumping ground, aka mega-thread.
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