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How can we make it easier to find useful info on this forum?

How can we make it easier to find useful info on this forum?

Aug 6th, 2004, 06:57 AM
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How can we make it easier to find useful info on this forum?

Hi, as much as I like the search function, when you type "Paris" as a word to search, it's just not very useful.

What do people think of the idea of a superthread? We could create "superthreads" to various cities and keep our commentary to the minimum. Each posting will have a title followed by a link to the thread containing information referred to in the title. Then we can all refer to the superthread from now on. And we can also refer newcomers to the superthread so that we don't need to add additional commentary if we don't want to.

This idea is of course similar to what ira has thought of for Italy and France -- but maybe we can take this one-step further. Basically a superthread will just become a "table of contents" of sorts. That way no one has to read through commentary on subjects that don't interest them.

We could also create a superthread for issues like transportation, etc. (relevant subjects here could be budget airlines, Eurostar tickets, etc.).

What do people think of this idea? Are there any other ideas out there regarding how we can better organize the information in this forum so that whatever we need is all in one place?

I'll create an example posting as a followup to this posting.
111op is offline  
Aug 6th, 2004, 07:02 AM
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[This is an example posting. For example, in a superthread on Paris, we may want links to Mike's Bike Tours. So we do the following:]

Mike's Bike Tours (and Segways):


[Perhaps it's even more useful if we bother to include a direct link to Mike's Bike Tours, so we may want to do this also.]


[What are your ideas?]

[Of course, in the real thing we would keep the commentary to a minimum, so reading the superthread is very much like reading the table of contents in a book -- or look at the index at the back of the book. We only click on the links that interest us.]
111op is offline  
Aug 6th, 2004, 07:41 AM
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It will only be as good as the "ownership" attached to it.

And people who have that much interest to develop a comprehensive storehouse of info seem likely to use a website - - or in a few cases exemplified by some contributors of note here - - files that they circulate around by e-mail (Ben Haines, elaine, maribel). Of course the problem with any approach is keeping the info current.

Isn't that wht this forum does, in the aggregate?

No "superthread" here will ever be able to hold a candle to an actual (current) guide book - - to a country, a city, or a subset of either (restaurants, museums, lodging, or a single place).

Converseyl, no guide book can ever be as current as this forum (or the internet at large), in the aggregate.

There are over 100,000 threads on this europe forum - - and fortunately, as a supplement to the often cantankerous "search engine", there is a lot of corporate memory.

If you think you know what question you have, you can probably find someone here to get it answered - - or in some cases, get it formulated in a fashion that others can answer it.

I fo you don't know what you don't know - - or don't know where to even start to put to gether a (list of) question(s), then that works here as well. You may get directed to books, web sites or other resources. 500(-or-less) word snippets are not a match for well-written and edited material, on paper, on in electronic form.

But those sources will always be benefit from the real-time supplelemntation that comes from asking good questions, and having an army of other travelers willing to help get them answered.

Anything Fodors could do to make searching work better would be a more useful boost than "superthreads", IMO...

Best wishes,

rex is offline  
Aug 6th, 2004, 07:54 AM
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I'd agree with you -- Fodor's could definitely improve the search engine, and that would be much better.

At the moment, though, it's clear that there're postings that get skipped. When if you type "Paris," say, into search, a lot of postings probably aren't relevant to what you're looking for -- this thread will probably come up because "Paris" is in the thread or not (if the search engine is throwing tantrums).

I guess what prompted me to post this is that I'll be off to Paris again in a couple of weeks. I'm just curious to see what there's to do beyond the usual Louvre, Orsay, Pompidou, etc. It seems like what I want and need is an interesting list that I can use to investigate. Perhaps a "superthread" would have pointed me to things that I've not thought of, etc. When I type Paris into the forum, I see hundreds of postings that have nothing to do with what I necessarily want or am interested in. After a while, I just give up.

A superthread would be more akin to my browsing a guide book into the store, if you know what I mean.

I agree that a superthread is obviously only as good as we make it. And that a guidebook or the forum in the aggregate is much better. Still it may be useful for just random browsing. I'm not suggesting that a superthread supercede any of the other methods that people use (read this forum, search this forum, look at guidebooks, do web searches, etc.), but I think that it may be useful anyway.

Anyway, perhaps you're right. Maybe it's an idea that just won't work for many of the reasons that you've already mentioned.
111op is offline  
Aug 6th, 2004, 07:55 AM
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I think this forum would be a lot easier to navigate if you could have a directory structure - like a folder for each country or location. For example, if you wanted info on France, click on the France folder.

You can kind-of do that now by selecting the country from the drop-down list. But as soon as you post, it takes you back to the whole Europe listing.
Kayb95 is offline  
Aug 6th, 2004, 08:23 AM
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This thread might give you some ideas for your upcoming trip:

mvor is offline  
Aug 6th, 2004, 08:26 AM
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Hey, thanks mvor! Maybe I should have just asked. I always prefer to look first. Still I think that a superthread can be useful. We can link the thread you just referenced in a superthread for Paris.
111op is offline  
Aug 6th, 2004, 08:26 AM
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<<if you wanted info on France, click on the France folder.

You can kind-of do that now by selecting the country from the drop-down list. But as soon as you post, it takes you back to the whole Europe listing.>>

and then to get back to the (virtual) "France forum" - - you just click on it again, as you did the first time - - is that really a problem?

Anyhow, I think that what 111op is lamenting is predominantly an issue in connection with Paris, Rome and London. Country searching is of very little help (yields too much other), and city searching, using the search engine is just as disappointing as has already been mentioned. Most frsutrating of all, is that it misses thestuff that may have been posted just days (or weeks) ago - - but has already fallen way off the first few "pages" here.

Anybody can start this ball rolling, of course. The header would/could/should be...

"The top 100 previous threads on Paris" (or wherever)...

and contributors would give a BRIEF mention of what's good in the thread, along with its URL (still, a lot of people - - even veterans - - don't know, or remember how to do this).

Keeping it current is still the problem.

I have referred, more than once, to a URL, cited on multiple threads here for http://www.nytimes.com/library/magaz...tra-paris.html ("Paris: An Insider's Address Book") - - for example - - but it's getting close to three years old now. In fact, just nytimes.com material on Paris - - http://travel2.nytimes.com/top/featu...ris/guide.html - - has six items newer than this.

That's why Paris is Paris - - the info you might like to glean through is inherently 100 times (1000 times?) more than you can ever see in one trip; maybe in one lifetime. And never static.
rex is offline  
Aug 6th, 2004, 08:40 AM
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Glad to help 111op. Perhaps when you get back, you'll add something you discovered to the thread. We'll make our 8th trip in November and we haven't done a fraction of what's on our list.

I try to save interesting threads when I see them since you NEVER know what the search function will come up with and it's much too difficult to remember all the good postings. Good luck with your superthread idea (sounds like a travel superhero will be needed to maintain them).

Meanwhile, I think I'll go add the "been before thread" to the "Paris 100" while I'm thinking of it.

mvor is offline  
Aug 6th, 2004, 08:54 AM
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Ha. I don't think that it's that difficult to maintain -- I could be wrong, of course. After all, you all will be contributing to it.

I'm planning a long-weekend trip for Labor Day weekend. I've some ideas and I'll try to post them here. I guess if I want something, the best thing to do is to offer something. Maybe that will encourage people to pitch in (or not -- then the thread will just die). I'll think about it and do some sample posts next week.

But well, rex, I don't think that any thread (or the superthread) needs to be completely current. I think of this more, as I said, more like browsing a book and keeping a file of interesting things to do. People who want more current information can ask again, do a web search, or whatever.

I probably have that Insdier's Address Book for Paris whose link you mentioned, for example. I frequently clip stuff from the Times. Their web travel section is, by the way, pretty well organized.

For example, this is the main index page for Paris:


You can just browse whatever articles you feel like from it, by looking at the titles.

You get the main travel page here:


If Fodor's had something like this, I wouldn't be thinking of a superthread.

Of course, I'll have to link the Times link to my superthread.
111op is offline  
Aug 6th, 2004, 09:24 AM
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I think it is always useful when folks try to improve things BUT all of this discussion and possible preparation and brainstroming, such as it is, seems to hinge on whether or not Fodors will accept this, incorporate it, etc.

To avoid both disappointment and anger it might be useful to contact someone...whoever that "someone" is and ask them if the idea would be considered if presented. Just my opinion, of course.
TopMan is offline  
Aug 6th, 2004, 09:27 AM
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That's a good idea. Though Fodor's would presumably not care if we create a couple of threads. As far as the content goes, maybe we do have to be careful as to what we can link? Are there restrictions? No overt advertising, but anything else?
111op is offline  
Aug 6th, 2004, 10:03 AM
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there are some websites such as paris.org that cover little-visited sites as well as the popular ones, and a good bookstore will have some specialized guidebooks on narrower topics for Paris. \

ira did have a good idea with the Italy "super thread." Still, some of it will become out of date, inaccurate info can't be deleted from it, it doesn't get topped every day, and there are also many people who prefer newly asking a question for TODAY's answer, even if it's a common question about how to travel from the airport, or
travelers checks.

As rex put in a plug for my file on Paris, I'd be happy to send it to you if you email me. It has both common and arcane info in it, and I update it weekly when I come across new info here and elsewhere.
[email protected]

elaine is offline  
Aug 6th, 2004, 10:08 AM
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One key would be to remember to actually use the word 'SUPERTHREAD' in the title and the body, so we can find it in a search (and distinguish it from any other "Paris" thread).
Travelnut is offline  
Aug 6th, 2004, 10:10 AM
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Hi, thanks elaine. I'll e-mail you for the file. It's always interesting to see what people have filed away. If I create a superthread, do you mind if I list your e-mail address in that thread? (Presumably not?)

No, I don't think that it's good to top a superthread every day. But if there's enough useful stuff in the superthread, it will be referred to and the usefulness will perpetuate itself, if that makes sense.

I do agree that threads can get outdated, etc., but everything does.

Basically, just better organization, that's all -- there's so much useful information here. It just would be nice to have everything "in one place." Of course people can always ask again.

Anyway, with all this talk, I'll just start the superthread now.
111op is offline  
Aug 6th, 2004, 10:24 AM
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Ok, I've created the superthread here:


Let's keep the discussion separate from the superthread. Fire away. My first indexed item will be ice-cream in Paris. Yum!
111op is offline  
Aug 6th, 2004, 05:39 PM
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"and then to get back to the (virtual) "France forum" - - you just click on it again, as you did the first time - - is that really a problem?"

Well, not a problem. But in response to the original question, it would make the information on this site easier to navigate, thus more useful. Afterall, if I'm researching a trip to Greece, I don't necessarily want to have to keep "re-entering" the Greece forum so I don't have to weed through all the posts about Italy, France, UK, etc...

But this would have to be a structural change in the website by fodors - not something the users could do.
Kayb95 is offline  
Aug 6th, 2004, 05:53 PM
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But wouldn't the posting of these superthreads sort of defeat the purpose of discussion forum? I know that the same questions are asked over and over as new travelers discover the forum, but it kind of seems to me like we'd be saying "that's already been discussed here - got to this thread and read all about it." It may be a bit off-putting to a newbie.

And eventually it might turn it into an 'information only' forum instead of a discussion type forum.
Kayb95 is offline  
Aug 6th, 2004, 09:07 PM
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I certainly like the idea of a superthread of "things to do in paris"... especially since when you type in only a search of "Paris" you get everyone's Paris trip reports and their dog named Paris, etc.

Then again, I'm fairly adept at using the search function.

I also know there are a couple threads I keep my eyes on and can find them quickly when I need them... i.e. 100 top things to do in Paris, London, etc.

Good luck trying to maintain a superhead, though.

skatterfly is offline  
Aug 6th, 2004, 10:08 PM
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IMO(and if this isn't your opinion, that is ok) I think that this site will be so much easier to navigate and find what we are looking for if people start creating better subject titles.

When I am looking down the list of titles, it would be much better for me if I saw (for example only - and making something up off the top of my head) "Help me decide what 3 cities to visit in France this August" and NOT "help me decide" ... It gets frustrating sometimes.
FromAtlanta is offline  

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