Posters here who don't do their homework

Old Jun 24th, 2010, 08:54 AM
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Posters here who don't do their homework

It amazes me how often I see new topics begun by posters who clearly haven't done any homework on a travel destination and seemingly expect everyone else on this site to do it for them. Examples often look something like this:

"We're a [fill in the blank regarding number of people, age group, and the like] and will be traveling to [fill in destination, often a place very well covered on the forums here with a million things to see and do] in a few months. What are the must sees? Where are the great places to eat, preferably ones only the locals know about? Where can we stay that's centrally located and only costs [some ridiculously small amount of money] per night?"

And it's not just newbies who are guilty here. A look at posting profiles of some folks who do this shows that it's a chronic issue with them.

So what to do?

I guess ignoring them is one approach. One thing I often do instead is ask them if they did a board search here, inform them that this city is very well covered on this forum, and to please come back with a sample itinerary and re-post.

I'm also wondering if the Fodor's website moderators might consider expanding the FAQ entry about this. Currently, it says:

1. A quick search might yield answers

Fodor's member Anonymous recommends that you use the forums' search function to find topics relevant to your trip research; you wouldn't want to miss out on past discussions about the destination that you are interested in.

Perhaps the last part after the semicolon could read

"the forum and Fodor's website in general have an excellent backlog of information that will likely answer several questions people have. You'll often get best results from our community if you provide specifics when you seek advice, such as your likes and dislikes as well as a sample itinerary."

Sure, things change in the travel world. Restaurants, attractions, and hotels do close or undergo modifications for better or worse. But that's a different issue.

Thoughts welcome.
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Old Jun 24th, 2010, 10:34 AM
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Well I do get a bit bored with the constant stream of 'two days in London' 'Five days in Paris' etal.

Its a shame we cant have a permanent thread for these cities that stays at the top of the page.

Id also like a data base on how to get from the airport cheaply. A bit of advice there really is useful. Practical tips rather than endless repetition.
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Old Jun 24th, 2010, 10:35 AM
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I don't think adding any more verbage would help. I'd be surprised if people read it. I was thinking like you this a.m. when I saw the topic "should I buy Euros".
It doesn't really bother me, I just ignore it. People are often nervous about travel or just lazy!
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Old Jun 24th, 2010, 02:24 PM
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Well basically I will gently disagree with the entire premises of this post...

There is no rule that says you have to do "homework" before posting a question on Fodor's. For many people this forum appears to be their first stop. I have no problem with that. Sometimes it's more fun to answer a completely open question like "what would YOU do with 10 days in Paris?" I enjoy giving my comments without restrictions. I don't feel any need to know their likes or dislikes or see a proposed itinerary before making a reply.
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Old Jun 24th, 2010, 09:57 PM
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“Why don’t posters do their homework?”

Well, I’d humbly suggest that posting a question here IS homework. It’s the same as talking to somebody about a trip that one is considering.

And I think that respondents like the opportunity to share their knowledge, experience – and prejudices too.
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Old Jun 25th, 2010, 01:29 AM
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I still think having a permanent and ongoin London post would be a good ide. At least all that depth of knowledge would be in one place
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Old Jun 25th, 2010, 06:23 AM
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Trip Advisor has that. In their destination forums, over to the right on each main page -for "Seattle" or "Honolulu" "Puerto Vallarta" or whereever - there are FAQ topics like getting from the airport, one day walking itineraries, changing money, etc.
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Old Jun 25th, 2010, 08:54 AM
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Thanks for the reactions. Have some further thoughts:

--I guess seeing the 20th poster who essentially puts the same vague question up does get a little annoying after a while. And that's especially true for destinations that are deeply and repeatedly covered here: for example, London and Paris and Rome in the European Forum, or New York and Boston in the US Forum. You've just got to be not trying at all to miss them, and that backlog is actually quite good and very useful. Maybe the things offered up in an initial inquiry don't have to be massively detailed, but at least a little effort on the OP's end goes a long way with me, anyway. I guess I'm finding the completely open-ended questions less enjoyable nowadays.

--certainly, doing some research before posting may not be a "rule," but (for me, anyway) it suggests at least some tangible involvement by the OP in their own trip, as well as a level of common courtesy. I'm more prone to want to help someone who displays such traits.

--I guess it depends on what one considers to be "homework." With me, I normally start with looking through a travel guide book, Frommer's, Fodor's, and the like. I usually then go online to do some searching, here and elsewhere, for ideas not in the guidebooks or for those destinations not covered in guidebooks. Then I'll draw up a tentative (though in my case, pretty well thought out) itinerary and post it looking for feedback. Some things, such as how realistic your day's scheduled list of sights is, are best gotten through advice from others who have been there and done this. Plus, such folks can often suggest sights your didn't run across, or provide other tidbits (such as a preference for the Duck Tour over a trolley tour in Boston, or how reliable public transportation really is in a city). The problem with doing a blind, no-research question is that you have no context in which to put the advice you get. There are many excellent and informed posters here, but not everyone who offers up advice provides good information. I miss sometimes myself.

--I can see the wisdom of the kind of FAQ that Fashionista is suggesting.
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Old Jun 25th, 2010, 04:38 PM
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Thorntree also has "pinned" posts at the head of forums.

I've found the volume of posts on the Europe board just too great to keep up with. I use the "View by Tag" there and on the Africa board just to pull up the countries where I feel I can be helpful and that don't get many posters, so I skip all the UK and French posts, unless an interesting TR is at the top in the morning, and all of Italy except Sicily. I do check everything on the Asia board, but that board is much slower. Whether I'll answer a real newbie/no research question depends on how busy I am.
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Old Jun 25th, 2010, 07:01 PM
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I just figure it's all part of posting on a travel forum. Some people are not experienced travelers and come here and just ask their questions. They may not realize it's "common courtesy" to have already consulted a guidebook. If the broad or vague ones bug you, just skip over 'em. There's plenty of people who will chime in to answer.

That said... I am *amazed* how many people are well into planning a visit to a certain city and it becomes obvious they don't even have a MAP yet! That really cracks me up, I admit. I mean how are you planning a trip to Amsterdam or Paris, picking hotels and restaurants, WITHOUT a map????? -lol
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Old Jun 25th, 2010, 07:25 PM
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I rarely answer them. Why should I type a chapter that they could just as easily find by opening a book. Now, if someone asks a specific question about and it's clear they've been reading, I'm happy to share what I know.
Of course, sometimes the things that I want to see don't seem to be of much interest to many people.
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Old Jun 26th, 2010, 10:57 PM
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One should always do reasearch before posting, so one can at least understand the responses.

After viewing far too many of these kinds of posts....

There are only two thing that are universal, gravity and stupidity.
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Old Jun 27th, 2010, 09:11 AM
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I agree with Peter that these forums are a part of the "homework." I research a lot, but sometimes time to decide whether to go on a trip is short so posting and reading is happening at the same time.

I'm guilty of posting broad questions; oftentimes I want a variety of answers. Everyone has their own unique opinion and many, many like to share. I, for one, don't like reading trip reports because they are too specific. While I appreciate input, I really am quite independent on my journeys.

So, in defense of all those seemingly "uneducated" posters: If you're tired of reading those general posts, don't read them. Let other travellers - who don't mind assisting - share their wisdom. There are more experts out there than you realize.
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Old Jun 27th, 2010, 12:16 PM
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Even on TA it is clear people just often don't read FAQ's. And there is no rule they must. Internet sites have their irritations, good practice for not sweating the small stuff IMO.
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Old Jun 28th, 2010, 04:15 AM
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Because someone asks, "what are the must sees", may not mean they haven't done their "homework". It might just mean that they want to know what the Fodors masses consider as must see sites so they can compare it to their thoughts.

Also, some folks may not speak English as their first language, or perhaps don't write so well.
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Old Jun 28th, 2010, 12:26 PM
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A couple thoughts on this idea:

"Because someone asks, "what are the must sees", may not mean they haven't done their "homework". It might just mean that they want to know what the Fodors masses consider as must see sites so they can compare it to their thoughts."

One notable problem I have with the blanket vague "what are the must sees" is that it doesn't tell us what their interests are. This can call up anything from a children's museum to a historic house to a national park to an art museum to an amusement park. And it's not clear how useful such information is to the poster, nor is it clear how many travelers have such a broad spectrum of interests that all possible types of attraction are "must sees." It's not just respondents whose time is poorly used, it's also that of the original poster.

There's also nothing wrong with saying:

"I'm trying to decide what to see in New York. So far, the Metropolitan Museum, Frick Collection, Lower East Side Tenement Museum, Temple Emanu-El, and Ellis Island look like 'must sees.' What am I missing that would be similar?"

Now we've got some clues. A poster of this type may find the various Jewish museums and art museums in NYC of especial interest. It gets much easier to be helpful in cases like this.
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Old Jun 28th, 2010, 12:33 PM
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When someone asks the "must sees" for a city I've been to... I tell what I did when I was there, if I enjoyed it, and what I missed doing that I wish I would have.

Of course you're right, who knows how usefull that will or won't be to the poster, but it's the best we can offer since they were vague in their inquiry.
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