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Motion Passed: Establishment of General USA Forum

Motion Passed: Establishment of General USA Forum

 
Old Jun 5, 14, 12:16 pm
  #1  
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Motion Passed: Establishment of General USA Forum

Recently, we have seen discussion of this idea here:

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/talkb...s-section.html

And now there is a TalkBoard vote on a specific proposal, on which your comments are welcome:

"The TalkBoard recommends to the Community Director the creation of a 'USA' Forum in the 'Americas-USA' section of the 'Destinations' sub-forum family category."

The USA Forum description will be:

"From sea to shining sea and mountains to beaches, the USA offers it all. Whether it is national parks, metropolitan cities, different climates, unique regions, food and music, historic landmarks & sightseeing wonders, Hollywood glitz or homespun country, this vast nation of 50 states offers something for everyone. This forum is for general USA questions such as cross-country travels, ports of entry, tipping, and other general USA topics not covered by the USA state/region sub-forums."

The vote will close on June 19, 2014, at 1:58pm or after all TalkBoard members have voted, whichever comes first.

Per the TalkBoard Guidelines:

A motion shall pass if at least two-thirds of the yes or no votes cast by TalkBoard members are ‘yes’ and a majority of the total TalkBoard membership votes 'yes.'

Bruce
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Old Jun 6, 14, 1:38 pm
  #2  
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Recommend establishment of General USA Forum will pass

In accordance with the TalkBoard guidelines, we'll announce if a motion has passed or failed once enough yes or no votes have been recorded by TalkBoard members. This is the public notice that this motion will pass as it has secured 6 yes votes, as of a couple hours ago.

Please note that not all TB members have voted yet, and so a final announcement with who voted yes/no will not be posted until all 9 have voted or the voting period ends.

Bruce
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Old Jun 6, 14, 7:30 pm
  #3  
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The first motion of the calendar year and it's adopted in what should be record time, 24 hours from notice to adoption. Now that's action.
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Old Jun 9, 14, 7:48 am
  #4  
nsx
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This is an example of how TalkBoard should work. Debate the issue fully in the public forum. When that debate is settled and everyone has formed an opinion, write the proposal and have a fast vote. That's how we get the best version of any change.
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Old Jun 9, 14, 7:52 am
  #5  
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I totally agree. By the way, we have 8 yes votes now.

Bruce
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Old Jun 11, 14, 4:43 am
  #6  
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Why would TB members take a while to vote? I'd imagine they would've formed their opinions by now, no?
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Old Jun 11, 14, 5:23 am
  #7  
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There is always the possibility of a TB member being on a trip or busy with non-FT things, hence the two-week window to complete voting.
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Old Jun 18, 14, 1:17 pm
  #8  
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Arrow Why I'm abstaining

After much thought and some research on this proposal, I've decided to caste my vote as an abstention. [Note that this is not at all the same as not voting.] I realize that, with all eight of my TB colleagues already having voted yes, my specific vote won't matter. Moreover, I intend to fully support the new forum and I sincerely hope that it will succeed.

My reasons for the abstention are twofold: Evidence and Precedence.

The abbreviated history of this motion is roughly as follows (with a bit of editorializing): One of the BA moderators started a thread in TBT on May 15 suggesting a General USA forum. Our Community Director and several TB members quickly posted their opinions that this would be a good thing for FT. A thread in the private TalkBoard forum was started for discussion of the issue on May 17. On June 5 a formal motion was made and seconded in less than an hour, with a voting deadline of June 19 (the customary two weeks).

In the private TalkBoard forum, I twice expressed concern, in two posts on May 20, that no one had either asked or answered the standard questions for new fora as stated in the sticky at the top of this TBT forum. Nothing seemed to happen to explicitly address the questions, so on May 27 I made post #56 in the TBT thread requesting that one or more of those advocating the new General USA forum please provide some of the evidence. That post implicitly documented my attempt to find cases where new fora were seriously considered by TB without reference to the questions. [I could find no such instances during at least the last several years.]

In the meantime, a few FT members had raised concerns in the public TBT thread about whether the proposed new forum would negatively impact some of the other fora in the USA Destinations area, in particular the five regional fora. At that point I examined various fora and threads in the area with the aim of determining whether we should simultaneously consider some larger reorganization of the USA Destinations area, but I quickly decided that there didn't seem to be a serious case for restructuring. ["If it's not broken, don't fix it," a point on which other TB members seemed to agree.]

Also in the meantime, longtime (I mean this as a compliment) active FT member lin821, whom I consider to be very careful and thorough when providing such information, posted about three threads from TravelBuzz that would be candidates for a new General USA forum:

2014: Best and Worst USA Airports (depending on focus, this could be about best for MRing, worst for TSA, worst for immigration and customs lines, etc., so it could be a candidate for fora other than TravelBuzz, but it's a TravelBuzz sort of topic)

2010: Route 66 (IMO clearly a great candidate for General USA)

2009-2010: National Parks (IMO would belong in General USA if it's created, but it also would be fine in USA West since most of our national parks, including the iconic ones and those that are most visited/popular are in the West as defined on FT)

Also: Speeding ticket threads, which generated an argument about whether the information is general or state specific.

2006-1014: Who's been to all 50 states? (fun TravelBuzz topic that doesn't seem to be about USA as a destination)

Other people, including some TB members, have made posts that included suggestions about potential thread topics that would be suitable for USA General, including the perennial issue of tipping. rwoman provided her own short list. AFAIK there wasn't any evidence provided that these topics are being discussed elsewhere (where, specifically?) on FT, that there's a lot of interest, that FT is the best place for such discussions, etc.

The other argument in favor of the new USA General forum concerns logic and consistency of organization on FT. Specifically, it's been observed that the other large destination areas, such as Europe and Asia, all seem to have a general forum as part of that area on FT. However, while the USA area doesn't currently have a general forum, it does have the five area fora (New England, Mid-Atlantic, South, Midwest, and West, of which only the last currently has a moderator, with some further state and city subfora, some of which are moderated). OTOH, FT doesn't have General Airline, General Hotel, General Alliance, etc. fora. [Perhaps we should, but that's not being discussed here, nor do I immediately see an argument for General Community for instance.] So I don't find the logic and consistency argument to be logically consistent itself.

Since no one wanted to answer the FT/TB questions for new fora, I decided to try to do so myself quickly:
1. People seem to believe it will be (maybe based on some ideas for thread topics) but no data/evidence seems to have been given.
2. Not obvious and no argument provided. Who would be the contact or what would be the source of any such contacts?
3. Not clear and AFAIK not mentioned. Other travel sites such as Fodor or TA?
4. Not clear. Hopefully some of the folks who regularly answer USA destination questions will participate in the new General USA forum, but others such as kipper seem more enthusiastic about regularly visiting some of the more specific USA fora.
5. Who knows? This is one of the big questions. One philosophy is "why not approve a new forum, if FT creates it people will come" while the other side could point out the lack of current threads on FT that we can point out as appropriate/natural for the new forum. In fact, I examined thread titles for about 20% of Information Desk and found few if any obvious candidates for USA General.
6. It's the best place on FT but will it get a critical mass? I hope so but I'd like to see evidence beyond assumptions, speculation, and wishful thinking.
7. Not applicable. We're not splitting a forum and in fact there isn't much information already on FT that has been suggested as candidates for existing threads to initially populate the new forum.
8. I hope it succeeds, but I can't say that I'm convinced by the evidence that we "strongly expect" it to succeed (speaking for myself here).
9. Not applicable: no implied question here.

I had really hoped that some people would provide me with some evidence on which to base a positive vote. To some extent, I share the gut reaction that the new forum is a good idea, but when I analyze the criteria, I have a problem with the evidence that has been provided.

My abstention should be viewed as a vote in favor of applying the same criteria to whatever new fora are proposed for FT, however the issue comes to TB for a recommendation and vote. Our standards been carefully crafted (by previous TB members), they seem to work, and I therefore think they should be uniformly applied.
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Old Jun 18, 14, 1:43 pm
  #9  
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
I had really hoped that some people would provide me with some evidence on which to base a positive vote. To some extent, I share the gut reaction that the new forum is a good idea, but when I analyze the criteria, I have a problem with the evidence that has been provided.

My abstention should be viewed as a vote in favor of applying the same criteria to whatever new fora are proposed for FT, however the issue comes to TB for a recommendation and vote. Our standards been carefully crafted (by previous TB members), they seem to work, and I therefore think they should be uniformly applied.
FWIW, I personally think the criteria questions are bureaucratic crap. I vote with my gut, informed by what posters care to post in favor or opposed.

And that's why I voted for the new forum.

YMMV!
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Old Jun 18, 14, 1:51 pm
  #10  
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Originally Posted by kokonutz View Post
FWIW, I personally think the criteria questions are bureaucratic crap. I vote with my gut, informed by what posters care to post in favor or opposed.

And that's why I voted for the new forum.

YMMV!
Then maybe we should revise or eliminate the criteria rather than inconsistently abandoning them for this one forum.
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Old Jun 18, 14, 2:29 pm
  #11  
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
Then maybe we should revise or eliminate the criteria rather than inconsistently abandoning them for this one forum.
The criteria have proved helpful. They are among one of many things TB members take into consideration when deciding on new forums, but are not the only item (input by FTers, other TB members, the Community Director, IB, mods, etc being others). And yes there have been a few forums created that didn't have the criteria answered.

Cheers.
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Old Jun 18, 14, 2:37 pm
  #12  
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
My abstention should be viewed as a vote in favor of applying the same criteria to whatever new fora are proposed for FT, however the issue comes to TB for a recommendation and vote. Our standards been carefully crafted (by previous TB members), they seem to work, and I therefore think they should be uniformly applied.
As the primary author of the Important Criteria for Forum Changes, I see them as a useful tool to evaluate a forum proposal rather than as a mandated template that all proposals must meet. That's why the statement passed by TalkBoard says: "the TalkBoard encourages posters to fully address these criteria" rather than "any proposal must fully address these criteria".

Sometimes there's no way to know how a proposed forum will work out until we try it. The External Miles and Points Resources forum was a case in point.

Therefore I don't agree with you that this is a violation of standing procedure. I do, however, appreciate that you alone made the effort to address the criteria. Although drawing attention to supporters' failure to do all the typical homework is not a bad idea, I don't see this as a slippery slope to slapdash creation of new forums by TalkBoard. A 2/3 vote is a high hurdle all by itself.
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Old Jun 18, 14, 2:38 pm
  #13  
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Originally Posted by SkiAdcock View Post
The criteria have proved helpful. They are among one of many things TB members take into consideration when deciding on new forums, but are not the only item (input by FTers, other TB members, the Community Director, IB, mods, etc being others). And yes there have been a few forums created that didn't have the criteria answered.

Cheers.
I never said that answers to the questions were or should be the only criteria, but when they've proved useful, it's good to see the evidence laid out consistently, even if only to clarify thinking and see the pro and con arguments in a unified way.
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Old Jun 18, 14, 2:41 pm
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Originally Posted by nsx View Post
...I do, however, appreciate that you alone made the effort to address the criteria....
"Alone"? That seems a bit presumptuous, doesn't it? Others may well have considered the criteria without posting about it.

Bruce
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Old Jun 18, 14, 2:49 pm
  #15  
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Originally Posted by nsx View Post
As the primary author of the Important Criteria for Forum Changes, I see them as a useful tool to evaluate a forum proposal rather than as a mandated template that all proposals must meet. That's why the statement passed by TalkBoard says: "the TalkBoard encourages posters to fully address these criteria" rather than "any proposal must fully address these criteria".

Sometimes there's no way to know how a proposed forum will work out until we try it. The External Miles and Points Resources forum was a case in point.

Therefore I don't agree with you that this is a violation of standing procedure. I do, however, appreciate that you alone made the effort to address the criteria. Although drawing attention to supporters' failure to do all the typical homework is not a bad idea, I don't see this as a slippery slope to slapdash creation of new forums by TalkBoard. A 2/3 vote is a high hurdle all by itself.
I looked very carefully at that wording with terms like "suggested" and "encourages." I don't think I said that this constituted a violation of standing procedure. However, I did search back through several years to look for new forum proposals that were considered seriously in the absence of someone attempting to answer the questions or at least someone posting that the questions should be addressed. I personally couldn't remember any examples and I didn't find any here in TBT when I went back and looked at a few years' worth of threads suggesting that a new forum be established on FT.

However, at times since I joined FT, it's seemed to me that the questions have been used to discourage new forum proposals. Often the result is good, but it can seem off-putting.
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