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Time to re-task forums for discussion of companies rather than their FF programs?

Time to re-task forums for discussion of companies rather than their FF programs?

 
Old Jun 26, 2013, 5:06 pm
  #1  
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Time to re-task forums for discussion of companies rather than their FF programs?

Several TalkBoard members have suggested that it may be time to change the stated mission of the Miles & Points forums on FlyerTalk. The current subtitle of Miles & Points is "These topics are all about frequent flyer programs - and only frequent flyer programs". Members tend to ignore that statement and post topics related to the travel company, whether or not the topics are related to points earning and redemption.

Although this idea surfaced recently in the context of discussions of possible new forums for Spirit, RyanAir, and EasyJet, I'd like to set the issue of forum creation aside for the moment and focus on the overall mission of forums in this thread. If there is a re-tasking, any new forum decisions can then be made in the new context.

Let's discuss the re-tasking options and pros and cons here, keeping in mind our common objective of giving FT members what they want the way they want it. To get the discussion started, here's what I posted 3 days ago:

Originally Posted by nsx
IMHO what matters is not technical consistency in naming but rather how our members use the forums. MR Deals and Hotel Deals aren't exactly FF program discussion either, but they live under Miles&Points.

In the interest of accurate naming of categories, our Community Director could make changes like these:

"Airline Programs" could become "Airlines and their Programs"

"Miles&Points" could become "Travel Companies and their Miles&Points"

The subheader "These topics are all about frequent flyer programs - and only frequent flyer programs" could become "Discuss your favorite travel providers and their loyalty programs"

I believe that these name changes would not conflict with the missions of any other forums. Other suggestions are welcome here.
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Old Jun 26, 2013, 5:31 pm
  #2  
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No big objection here, but don't see any big need either. It's pretty obvious that topics about airlines/hotels go in those forums.
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Old Jun 26, 2013, 6:05 pm
  #3  
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IMO it's obvious to those who are very familiar with FT or have been around here for a while, but the titles of these fora don't describe their mission or their contents very well. Recently I've seen lots of apologetic posts by newbies questioning where they can ask more general questions about particular airlines, hotel chains/families, etc. The less unnecessary ambiguity there is about what's appropriate for some forum, the more welcoming FT will seem.
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Old Jun 26, 2013, 9:15 pm
  #4  
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Originally Posted by cblaisd
No big objection here, but don't see any big need either. It's pretty obvious that topics about airlines/hotels go in those forums.
It's not, actually.

Looking back at the threads on Spirit and RyanAir just for the purposes of framing this discussion, it's being argued by some that discussion of these airlines and their programs belongs in Budget Travel rather than in the Airlines/FFP area because that's what's in the sub-description of those forums.

There could come a time when an airline comes along with a value proposition such that there really isn't a FFP in place or one worth discussing BUT in itself is an airline that FTers want to discuss. Where would *that* discussion go?

That said, I've made my opinion (so far) on this pretty clear and I think it's time for people not on the TalkBoard to talk so I can see whether or not my opinion changes during that time -- or perhaps is altered enough to change what I think would be the preferred way to address this.
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Old Jun 26, 2013, 9:39 pm
  #5  
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I've long thought this would be the way FlyerTalk would evolve, and I'm glad to see the discussion is actually coming to a head now. Interested to see perspectives on this, but as of now, I would vote in favor of a well-thought-out change to this effect.

One aspect I'd like to see discussion on: how to handle multi-airline programs that are currently discussed in a single forum, like the Miles & More group of airlines.
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Old Jun 26, 2013, 9:49 pm
  #6  
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Originally Posted by jackal
I've long thought this would be the way FlyerTalk would evolve, and I'm glad to see the discussion is actually coming to a head now. Interested to see perspectives on this, but as of now, I would vote in favor of a well-thought-out change to this effect.

One aspect I'd like to see discussion on: how to handle multi-airline programs that are currently discussed in a single forum, like the Miles & More group of airlines.
If it's not broken, don't fix it. The LH group and FB seem wot work well as they are currently structured, so I don't see a compelling reason to consider changing this, although there's not a strong reason to re-organize along airline lines either.

In the case of FB, which I know better, there seem to be enough commonalities due to the FF program to keep AF and KLM as subfora of FB, even though there are important differences such as IFC on a few AF flights and an IFC lounge at CDG versus only WBC and single (schengen and nonschengen) lounges at AMS or premium economy as a separate cabin on AF versus Economy Comfort seats on KLM as their Y+ offering.
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Old Jun 26, 2013, 11:18 pm
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist
IMO it's obvious to those who are very familiar with FT or have been around here for a while, but the titles of these fora don't describe their mission or their contents very well. Recently I've seen lots of apologetic posts by newbies questioning where they can ask more general questions about particular airlines, hotel chains/families, etc. The less unnecessary ambiguity there is about what's appropriate for some forum, the more welcoming FT will seem.
Exactly. I'm new enough to FT to remember what it was like to think as a newbie. I was honestly confused the first couple of times when I wanted to ask a general question about an airline. I finally saw that enough other people were ignoring the categorization that I felt comfortable doing so as well. However, I did spend time looking around and it was very cognitively dissonant.

Originally Posted by jackal
One aspect I'd like to see discussion on: how to handle multi-airline programs that are currently discussed in a single forum, like the Miles & More group of airlines.
For the record, FB has subfora for KL and AF (not KQ, UX, RO, or SB). M&M has a subforum for only LX (not LO, OS, SN, JP, OU, LG, or 4U). MP has subfora for UA and CO (now locked for new posts), but not CM.

I'd say they should remain grouped as is for now. Deciding which airlines would qualify for either subfora or being broken out altogether seems like it should be a separate decision. It is definitely one to consider in parallel, but it seems like it is a decision that can be taken with or without the decision to rename the fora from FFPs to airlines.
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Old Jun 26, 2013, 11:50 pm
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Warning, I'm probably broaching a different (but related) decision/brainstorming here.

I'd recommend that everyone reading this topic head over to the front page and just look at it a while and think about how the fora are arranged and the categories and subcategories. (It'd probably be most helpful for coming up with original and creative ideas if you did that before reading the rest of my post.) I'm realizing that there seems to be a lot of disconnect between actual forum content and the way things are labeled and categorized. I have the glimmerings of a re-organization in my mind that would make few substantial changes in the sense that old timers would have no difficulty finding the same forums with a blindfold on, but which would make it far more intuitive and logical for someone trying to find a forum for the first time. However, before I post a rough draft, I'd better sleep on it.

On second thought, there's no reason but pride to present a very, very rough first draft. Basically this very rough draft would pull most of the subcategories of Miles & Points back a hierarchy level out from under Miles & Points. This would cause them to more accurately reflect the fact that the majority of their threads deal with travel on the airline, sleeping with the hotel, or renting a car, rather than necessarily talking solely about the loyalty program. Furthermore, it would make the front page more powerful by exposing each airline/hotel. (It would, however, make it more overwhelming for newbies. That should be a separate decision as I'm sure IB/vbulletin could make top level categories show collapsed on the front page if that would be better for clutter sake.)

Code:
Miles & Points
-MilesBuzz!
-Hotel Deals
-Mileage Run Deals
--Mileage Run Discussion
-S.P.A.M.
Airlines
-United
-American
-Etc
Global Airline Alliances
-Star Alliance
-OneWorld
-SkyTeam
Hotels
-Starwood
-Etc
Credit Cards
-Credit Card Programs
-American Express Membership Rewards
-Chase Ultimate Rewards
-Diners Club Rewards
-Manufactured Spending
Car Rentals
-Hertz
-National
-Etc
Other Loyalty Programs
-Amtrak
-iDine/Rewards Network
-Gaming Loyalty Programs
-Discontinued Programs/Partners
--America West
--TWA
--etc
Alternatively, in view of the orphan that MilesBuzz has become (and rightly so: it was a conglomeration of Manufactured Spend and Credit Cards and random promos and newbie questions--a combo that didn't belong together. I'm glad they were separated.), perhaps it should be converted to a Newbie Question forum, moved to the very top as a general introduction forum that would include policy stickies and newbie lounge threads and just a general and friendly introduction to FT. Then MR Deals and Hotel Deals could either be put under a Deals category (a bit OCD, IMHO, for just two fora; but it does better represent the way that I browse FT) or they could headline the newly named Airline and Hotel sections, which would probably make more sense for most people. S.P.A.M. would then fit very logically into "Other Loyalty Programs". So that alternative would look something like this:
Code:
Welcome to FlyerTalk (FAQs, Read this First, Questions) (former MilesBuzz)
Airlines
-Mileage Run Deals
--Mileage Run Discussion
-United
-American
-Etc
Global Airline Alliances
-Star Alliance
-OneWorld
-SkyTeam
Hotels
-Hotel Deals
-Starwood
-Etc
Credit Cards
-Credit Card Programs
-American Express Membership Rewards
-Chase Ultimate Rewards
-Diners Club Rewards
-Manufactured Spending
Car Rentals
-Hertz
-National
-Etc
Other Loyalty Programs
-S.P.A.M.
-Amtrak
-iDine/Rewards Network
-Gaming Loyalty Programs
-Discontinued Programs/Partners
--America West
--TWA
--etc
ETA: One final idea. Split MilesBuzz into the Newbie/Welcome (as done in my second organization above) and a forum that retains the name MilesBuzz. Have MilesBuzz headline a Deals category that would include MR Deals and Hotel Deals. MilesBuzz would then become a place matching its description for the first time in many, many years: "Discussion of the latest frequent flyer & hotel program buzz...only." Basically it would become a place to discuss the mega promos like 36 Avios/$ Nordstrom, 30 WN/$ Sears, 25k Delta Skymall, the amazing Choice hotel per stay promos, etc, etc. It could also host discussions of sweeping changes that may be FFP-specific, but that affect all FFPs. (Obviously if you include the "sweeping changes" part, it becomes less applicable under the Deals category.)

Sorry, lots of random thoughts above. It is 2 am. I hope the above can serve as fodder for inspiration.

Last edited by HansGolden; Jun 27, 2013 at 12:00 am
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Old Jun 27, 2013, 4:59 am
  #9  
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Originally Posted by HansGolden
Sorry, lots of random thoughts above. It is 2 am. I hope the above can serve as fodder for inspiration.
My most creative work is done at 2am. Of course, I generally find I need to copyedit that work the next day when I'm coherent.

I'll be mostly out of cell coverage for the next few days as I traverse the Trans-Labrador Highway, so I'll need to revisit and comment on this after arriving back in civilization.
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Old Jun 27, 2013, 9:06 am
  #10  
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Originally Posted by cblaisd
No big objection here, but don't see any big need either. It's pretty obvious that topics about airlines/hotels go in those forums.
For some yes but for others no. I posted this over in the private TB forum

I was having a discussion on this very subject with one of our moderators about this just over a month ago and I had proposed this based on our discussion and being old and bald , I simply forgot about it

As you know, the Airline Forums are named for their respective Frequent Flier programs and from my understanding, this is because “way back when” the goal was miles & points but I have noticed that a good number of new threads started by new members regarding a specific airline, but which are not related to miles or points for that airline’s FF program, get posted in Forums like TravelBuzz and either get RBP’d and moved to the correct airline’s forum for better exposure or live to die in the forum they are posted in if not reported.

As an example, I reported this thread (along with reporting many others of a similar nature in the past) started by a new member (and their first post) as it was about Southwest’s luggage size but it was originally posted to TravelBuzz where imho, the Op would not get a good enough answer to their question. As a result of my RBP, I rec’d a thank you e-mail from one of the TravelBuzz Moderators but the e-mail also referenced that this is an all too common problem because many new members think the airline forums are specifically for only frequent flier program topics as opposed to “everything about the airline and it’s FF program” and asked me what I thought about a name change for the Airline Forums as with the proposed change, it might help new members and also help alleviate the moderators having to move misplaced threads.
I personally think this is a good idea and my preference would be:

"Airline Name (including "<FFP Name>)"

or

"Airline Name (and <FFP Name>)

or even

"Airline Name (and all things <FFP Name>)"
And with this, i would also include the hotel programs as they are also listed under their loyalty program vs the hotel brand name

Last edited by goalie; Jun 27, 2013 at 9:11 am Reason: added hotel reference
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Old Jun 27, 2013, 10:53 am
  #11  
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If we're potentially redoing airline forum names for the reasons mentioned, then hotels should also be included in the name re-org. Hans probably would have had to stay awake until 2:30am to get those included in his list

Cheers.
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Old Jun 27, 2013, 11:09 am
  #12  
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I hope Hans isn't suggesting that we deviate from the traditional alphabetical order listing for airlines and hotels. UA before AA? I would think not, at least unless/before AA becomes US.
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Old Jun 27, 2013, 1:12 pm
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist
I hope Hans isn't suggesting that we deviate from the traditional alphabetical order listing for airlines and hotels. UA before AA? I would think not, at least unless/before AA becomes US.
No. Was just doing etc, etc to condense. Should have done them alphabetically. The biggest question is nomenclature, followed closely by structure.
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Old Jun 28, 2013, 3:11 pm
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I personally think that there needs to be an Airlines forum and a FFP forum (maybe by slotting the airline in the proper slot under Global Airline Alliances?)

I'm mainly in the AC forum, and there are a lot of threads about AC and not AC's FFP. To me, it would seem that the AC FFP forum is the best place to post about AC, even if it's not about the FFP. This has made the forum pretty messy, especially since AC has subcarriers such as ACX and ACR.
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Old Jun 30, 2013, 8:18 pm
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Originally Posted by hydrogen
I personally think that there needs to be an Airlines forum and a FFP forum
As many topics overlap or have FF program as of many aspects, I think there needs to be just one forum for both the airline and its FFer program.

IMO both changing the forum names to just the airline names and a reorganization similar to what Hans posted would make FT a more friendly place for new members.
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