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Introducing Talk Back

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Mar 19th, 2009, 06:52 AM
  #1
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Join Date: Jun 2004
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Introducing Talk Back

This week, my column (http://tinyurl.com/dlvzof) on Fodors.com focuses on 2 things.

First, I have tried to summarize what makes a good forum post (i.e., the kind of information that people need to include in order to get some useful answers from fellow Fodorites). I'd love to know what else you think is important. What have I left out?

Second, I've introduce the Talk Back feature, where you can send me your questions and I (with the help of my colleagues at Fodor's Travel) will give you answers. My column going forward will focus on the kinds of issues you raise, and then my fellow Fodorites will have the opportunity to pick apart my answer and tell you what they think. After all, the purpose of this site is to help you make the most of your travel experiences ... and also to encourage lively discussion. We hope this new format will do both. So please write to me at [email protected] and let me know what you want me to talk about each week. I'm happy to help you with trip-planning or answer any other questions you might have on your mind.
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Mar 19th, 2009, 11:07 AM
  #2
yk
 
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Hi Doug -

I think you've covered most of it on the first part. Is it something you send out on emails to new users? It'd be great is there's a FAQ or Sticky on each forum so newbies (or even people who have registered years ago but only come here once a year to request for help) can refer to it before they post.

Along the same lines, a few more things I find useful are:

1) tell us what you've done or where you've been before. People may ask for "things to do in NYC for repeat visitors" but not tell us what they've already seen. After all, not all first-time visitors do the same things.

2) tell us what your interests are (along the same lines as your 5th suggestion). A lot of people will say, I'm going to ___ for 3 days, what should I see/do there? For Boston alone, I can suggest many different itineraries depending on whether they are: history buffs, or architecture buffs, or museum buffs, or foodies etc.
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Mar 22nd, 2009, 11:55 AM
  #3
 
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I think you've got it pretty covered. I like Yk's addition of providing info if you've been there before.

I think along these lines, a good "sister subject" would be "what makes a good response". When I started looking for information on this board, it got real tiring to read "it's a waste of time" "don't bother" "go there instead" with no idea of WHY the poster felt that way. Just as it's important for the OP to state what they like, etc., it's also important for the responders to state reasoning behind their statements. That allows the OP to decide if the response is right for them.

For example, if I'm the OP and ask about Niagara Falls, having someone respond with "Don't bother. It's a waste of time. Go to NOTL instead, you'll enjoy it more." Why should I take your advice? Why do you think it's a waste? Why should I believe that just because you didn't like it, that I won't either?

Without any additional information on WHY you think it's a bad idea, then the OP is likely to think you're just a negative person OR the OP might take your advice and skip their perfect destination.

I think this is the same for the "I want to see 12 countries in one week". Rather than just saying "don't do it", explain WHY you don't think the OP should do it. Pointing out the "obvious" is necessary because if it were that obvious, the OP would have known it. So, include in your response that the travel time between cities would take up more time than the time spent in the cities, that they won't be able to see all of the top 10 sights in each city in that limited time (let alone anything else), etc. Providing this information gives the OP something tangible to work with. If the OP chooses to do it anyway, he/she will be more prepared for the trip because of your posts - and isn't that the goal here? To provide advice to others so they can make the best of their trips, even if it's not the trip you'd take yourself.
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Mar 27th, 2009, 09:04 AM
  #4
TC
 
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Hi Doug, Great topic. I would add -- give as much information as possible in your post heading. I tend to skip over things that read "Help me plan my trip" or "Honeymoon" -- too vague. I look at posts that ask a question that specifically addresses my knowledge, ie. "Have you stayed at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas" or "Question on renting a car in Cozumel". The web site loads very slowly and jumping back and forth to look at posts is time consuming. I find I only take note of those headings that are pretty specific.
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Mar 27th, 2009, 11:00 AM
  #5
TC
 
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One additional point -- I don't find airport codes to be helpful in posts without some definition. Not everyone will know what "Best way to fly between SCF and NMN" means. Again, time consuming to look up the codes and that just might makes the difference between getting a response and not -- or getting the right response and not.
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Mar 27th, 2009, 06:55 PM
  #6
 
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TC - I agree with that about the airline codes, but posters should indicate WHICH airport if there are more than one for the location (e.g., London). Also, if you would or would not consider alternate airlines for one location, providing that would be helpful - for example, San Francisco to Toronto but would consider Oakland airport but not San Jose.
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