A Sneak Peek at the New Forums

Posted by Katie Hamlin on January 30, 2009 at 4:48:25 PM EST | Post a Comment

Since 1996, our forums have been a trip planning resource and gathering place for those eager to share their passion for travel. Everyday in our forums, questions are asked, answers and advice given, trips taken--and in the process connections are made. We're proud that our community has become one of the web's most active and engaged travel communities, and we are constantly impressed by the wealth of knowledge our members share every day. Your participation and support have nurtured this community and shaped its growth. We appreciate everyone who has been a part of the 13-year journey.

We realized early last year that our forums had come to a crucial crossroads. Their underlying infrastructure limited their functionality and made it difficult for us to make improvements and implement new technology.

We identified priorities and goals for an upgrade to our forums and other community-related site offerings, keeping in mind the feedback we've received from members. Below is an overview of the new features you'll see when we launch our new community and forums. Each will be explained in more detail in a fully revised Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) section.

If you have questions, feel free to email me at forums@fodors.com, or pose your question here. I'll do my best to shed light on the exciting changes coming up.

Member Profiles

All members will have their own profiles in the new design. Your profile will show the topics you've posted on and commented on and any reviews you've written in our online destination guides. Profiles also include an optional place to share a bit about your travel style, including favorite destinations and those you hope to visit one day. You will also have the option of uploading a photo of yourself or a favorite snapshot from a trip. Profiles are linked to member names and can be viewed by simply clicking a name (your own or another member's).

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Trip Reports

We know many of you love writing and reading trip reports. We think they're great too and enjoy including your observations in our guides as a part of our "Word of Mouth" feature. With this in mind, we've added a "trip report" tag so it's easier than ever to view and sort trip reports. For instance, by tagging your topic "California" and "trip report," it will appear on the California page with a trip-report icon so it's easy to spot. Additionally, when other posters click on your name to view your profile they will see your report in a special section.

Of course many of you have already written very helpful (and amusing) reports. We will do everything that we can to tag these reports in our system. If you've written a report that you'd like to appear in your profile under "Trip Reports," please do not repost it. Simply email the url(s) of the report(s) to tripreports@fodors.com, and we'll do it for you.

Say Good-bye to Those Messy URLs

All topics will have a clean and easy url. For instance, the url for the topic Most Underrated European Cities will be http://www.fodors.com/community/Europe/most-underrated-european-cities.cfm. It will also be easier to link to an individual topic; you will not need to click on the title of the topic to find its url. If you've bookmarked old topics using your browser, they will redirect to the new address.

Starting a New Topic

The "Start a new topic" page will include helpful posting hints for new and veteran posters alike. We have increased the size of the main entry field by almost 40% so it will be easier to view your post as you enter it. This page will not include a preview or editing function at launch. We apologize in advance for any inconvenience this may cause. As is the case now, you can request the removal of one of your topics (or replies) by sending an email to forums@fodors.com.

Forums Navigation

Each forum will have its own home page in the new design. For instance, the Europe forum's main page will feature its most recent activity in the left-hand column (just like now) along with a selection of new topics, topics with the most replies, trip reports, and links to related Fodor's online guides. The new design makes it easy to view topics by their tags (France or Italy).

whatsnew-Usforum.jpg

A New Search

With almost 1 million topics, our forums are chock full of tips, advice, and trip reports, but it hasn't always been easy to find what you're looking for. We're excited to offer a streamlined search and an advanced search with this redesign.

Share with a Friend

Our new "Share with a Friend" widget will make it easier to e-mail topics to friends and to post a topic of interest on your blog or favorite social-networking site.

RSS Feeds

RSS feeds will alert subscribers to new topics added within a particular forum or with a particular tag. You can subscribe to your favorite forum with whatever reader you prefer, such as Google Reader, Newsgator, or Bloglines.

Report a Post

We have added a "report this topic" icon to the new design. It's an easy way to report a topic (or replies to a topic) that you feel the moderators should look at.

Destination Guide Links

Each forum will feature links to relevant Fodor's online guides, which include reviews from members and Fodor's editors. These links are handy for folks just starting to plan a trip, and they are also reminders that your opinions and reviews are welcome. (Keep in mind that the more focused you can make any questions you post, the more helpful the responses are likely to be.)

Improvements to Come

We're looking forward to your feedback. We know you have great ideas for making the forums and the larger community even better. Some items on our to-do list did not make the first wave of the upgrade, but we expect to introduce more in the future. This is just the beginning.

Have an idea? Send it to us at forums@fodors.com.

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