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I understand the most recent, heartfelt pleas made on Insiders for a return to the good old days of specific travel-related posting, and appreciate the desires of many that we revisit the original intent of the site, as construed years ago by Marriott in versions one and two of MRI.
While I concur that this is a worthy and even hoped for ideal, I fear that it can never come to pass without a lot of self-policing or worse, Marriott intervention. We are a free-wheeling group, and we post as we please regardless of subject. Structurally, there seems to be no way for a post to be confined to its original theme or subject. If we had some kind of Marriott designed word check or phrase check that would automatically redirect posts to new themes and subjects, we would be able to do this.
So, I heartily recommend that everyone post as they want, and if they can, stay on the subject of the original post. I have been guilty of wandering down allies, some would say dead-ends, as I post away. So, in the end, who is harmed? Only the original poster who feels that a question is not being answered or a post is not being appreciated.
It is good to remember that this is not a site aimed at a particular class of Marriott Rewards Elite member, but one for all who care to post. Restricting by fiat will not help the new person who is considering a post, in my view, just confirm that it is an un-level playing field. As an example if all the threads are just on places that only a few have gone or intend to go then the audience is narrowed, and I would say unfairly.
For those offended by the free-wheeling nature of this Insiders blog, please understand there is no way to control it, other than self-control, which seems to be an unlikely outcome
Like I mentioned to another Insider in a private conversation, this is primarily a forum where people can come to find useful information that will enhance their travel experience, but it is also – let’s face it - a social forum - there’s no denying it - and honestly, it is also a tool for Marriott International to enhance business by creating a place where MR members can maximize (through information) their membership in the Marriott Rewards Loyalty Program as well as Marriott products and services, there by creating customer satisfaction. So there is quite a lot at work here.
I agree with you SS, that there is a strong social aspect to this forum (as there is with most forum models), and there is really no way to control it without strict and vigilant moderation (and how plausible is that, really? Not, I think). Additionally I would ask, how harmful is the social aspect, really? So people get side tracked and digress. The thing about that (in my humble opinion) is, so what, in the big picture? I mean ya, maybe let’s reign it in a bit, but if it doesn’t happen, is the sky going to fall?
First of all, it’s natural for one thing to lead to another. We just perhaps need to be disciplined to start a new post as you suggest, and some people are, thankfully. An example of this is, in a recent photo album of Paris, I mentioned Rick Steves, which prompted another mention of how great his stuff is, which prompted a mention of how I want to now visit Croatia because of him, and then someone started posting about Croatia in a Paris photo album. The progression of the conversation from one topic to another was perfectly natural. It just needed to have another post started on the new topic of – Croatia.
Secondly, travel produces profound experiences that need to be shared. It’s natural to want to have a connection to others who understand and can relate to and validate the depth of meaning and value that travel experiences bring. Once we make connections, the banter and easy conversations that follow are quite natural. We humans are social creatures by nature. As such, it’s what we do.
Third, how hard is it to scroll down past the banter to look for a comment relevant to the topic? It’s not been a problem for me. Just sayin.’
Fourth, the idea that newcomers feel intimidated or not worthy (as was insinuated in the recent popular blogs) because of all the ‘banter’ and side streets that we meander down as well as the activity statuses that are assigned just flat doesn’t fly with me, because I have got to be one of the more inferior travelers (in terms of sheer travel experience) of the posting bunch on this site, and it didn’t thwart me one bit as a Newbie. I came here because I needed information on my upcoming trips this summer, and I didn’t hesitate to ask, regardless of all the Gurus or Rock Stars or Lifetime Platinums, Stewards, etc. who would read my (perhaps dumb?) questions. If I need help, I ask for it. Period. In fact, all of the ‘Gurus’ and ‘Rock Stars’ and Veterans of the sight actually did more to encouraged me that this might be a useful and helpful tool for me. If I need help with something, I want to seek out help from those more experienced and knowledgeable than I, right? What do I care what anyone else thinks of my novice travel experiences? (Well, okay I confess I do care to a small degree – I am human, a social creature who wants to be an accepted member of community - but more than that, since I do have a real life with a real community of family and friends and peers, I just want my travel endeavors to be successful, and I’m not too shy to ask for help regardless of anyone’s perceived divine status on this site.) Do people really think that newcomers care about anyone’s status? No, they want answers and information. That’s why they join. I don’t think anyone has that kind of power to scare newcomers off.
Finally, I love a good laugh! I truly laughed ‘til I cried earlier today from one of your benign posts, SS. Who can fault that?!
You mention that perhaps the original poster may feel that a question may not be answered or that a post is not being appreciated as a result of all of the meandering and banter. I can’t imagine that to be the case. First of all, if someone has an answer, they’ll post it regardless of the meandering posts. If there are no posts that answer the question, then it’s not because of the banter, but simply because no one who knew the answer saw the original question or was willing to take the time to answer! Second, if an original post is not ‘appreciated’ it is only because of a lack of audience with experience. The banter has nothing to do with it, and in fact, the banter at least shows that someone was interested, even if they don’t have an answer. I have seen numerous questions asked on this forum that have not been answered, because apparently no one has any experience with the particular location (for example, Asia hotels or there was one post about Frenchman’s Cove that went unanswered. No one knew.) It has nothing to do with straying off topic.
I have been enriched by this site by people not only answering my travel questions and enriching my understanding of a destination by sharing their own travel experiences, but also by making connections through benign conversations which often result in laughter and even enlightenment. For me, its all been good. Everyone here has been really, really respectful in my experience, unlike some forums that are moderated 10 times more than this one, which really speaks to the quality of people who visit and use this site.
“So, I heartily recommend that everyone post as they want, and if they can, stay on the subject of the original post.”
I wholeheartedly agree. But if they can’t, I opine that it doesn’t necessarily diminish the usefulness and value of the site.
Eloquence at its best Pluto. I concur. The need to post should never be constrained as I mentioned by any construct other than the respect and relevance ones--and relevance is in the eye or the fingers on the keyboard of the beholder.
I shudder to think how sterile a blog could be if it nor for the wayward posts. If we were able to peer inside the National Geographic Intranet I think we might find off-topic, humorous, and even strange postings. This is as you have said so well, part of the business of social interaction. As for questions answered I meant that the poster of the original question needs to be very diligent in searching through the chaff that can follow a simple question to see if there is an answer in there.
But thanks--now let's see how others, with a contrary view, have to say.
Very thoughtful posts SS and Pluto.
One of the great joys of surfing the web and internet discussion groups (such as Insiders) is that you never know where an inquiry may take you...kind of our family's love of lighthouse hunting. Often the journey there is even more interesting than finding the actual lighthouse, as is the search for information on the web.
While it's true I often come to this site seeking an immediate and simple answer, it's fun to meander off into some unexpected tangent if time allows. I'm not certain you can really control the organic nature of where a discussion may lead, but as posters we could make an attempt to directly respond to the OP and, if a hybrid discussion inspires us...we should start a new discussion topic. But I certainly would not favor policing discussions to stay on topic.
As far as feeling intimidated about asking questions of more experienced travelers, that's just flat-out ridiculous! No one, no matter how well-traveled will ever know all there is to know and can learn just as much from a novice's fresh perspective as a road warriors experienced one. It's very sad if newbies are intimidated to post for all of us.
My sentiments too mgoes, thanks. We need to shy away from an Elitist blog where only world travelers can post and brag. Travel for most of is is a part of life, and most of us, if given the chance to tell all, would say that the bad outweighs the good: TSA hassles, small seats on airlines, diminished service, airport crowding, rental car issues, hotel problems--it is a long list of things we put up with in order to make a living on the road. Having a dependable lodging choice (aka Marriott) does make it easier to take, though not much.
Thus, I find the posts that speak to these off-topic issues as entertaining and informative as the ones that deal with specific places and events. Maybe I am one of a few, but I am glad I am. (humbly posted)
I'm hesitant to post right now since I don't have a contrary view...After reading the two previous posts by steppingstones and pluto 77, I don't see any room for disagreement, at least from me anyway. I can put up with any off topic chatter that may not be of any interest to me, but I wouldn't tolerate, nor do I ever expect it would happen, any policing of this site because of such chatter. And besides I've been on this site from pretty close to the beginning I think, and I am not interested in going thru another change. The only change I am looking forward to is going from part time golfer to full time golfer! How's that for hijacking the initial intent of the thread?
ADDED: I also want to mention again that this is the ONLY internet social chat forum I have ever been on and honestly think the vast majority of people here are far more respectful than I am. And as I also said before I feel like I have made connections on Insiders that might have taken far more time and effort to do so in a "real life" situation. So thanks to each of you who I consider my virtual friends, and would be honored to meet you just as jerrycoin and I did...and he bought!
Okay, I admit that I too am guilty of the wayward posting but I do think that we could help ourselves and others with a little structure. I find the MRI site to be great fun and have built some great relationships here but I do struggle to find that one reference of an Insider's visit to a particular location when I need it. I still recall my first postings on the site and recall how helpful Insiders were but an easier access route to specific views on locations would be really helpful.
I know that it may be seen as a pain but do you think that another heading on the banner entitled 'Locations' may help? We have Ratings & Reviews but that is only for Marriott locations. If we could link postings to specific countries or cities that would certainly help me in my searches. I know that it would not help Pluto77 find Croatia in a Paris reference ... but once found under Paris, perhaps some kind soul would add a reference under Croatia saying 'look in Paris' ...
SS ... bring us back to reality, eh? ... in the words of the Hitchhikers Guide ... "In cases of major discrepancy, it's always reality that's got it wrong."
Just a thought.
There already is a discussion heading called 'Destinations,' so I'm trying to understand how a tab called 'Locations' would be an improvement. Aren't the two practically the same thing? To be sure, your point is very well taken, that of how can we create easier access routes to the information we need regarding specific locatios/destinations. How indeed.
Great posts one and all.
Excellent - the communications page will show you replies to any thread you've participated within, any direct messages, any shares from other Insiders and any @mentions. How do I use the Communications tab to stay up to date on my content?
On the other hand, the Activity page shows a feed of all the latest activity across the site, or your followed activity. That's a good way to discover new conversations or see who else is active. How do I use my Activity tab to access the very latest from across the site?
From the homepage, those Quick Links in the right column outline the main areas of the community (Destinations, Marriott Rewards, The specified item was not found., The specified item was not found.) and those links will be available within each of these sections.
I hear your plea, brother, and I am here to help. Everyone should send me the first draft of their posts. I will thoughtfully, without much disdain, eyeball these drafts. I will ferret out the ones I find boring, unamusing, inept, inane, without merit, and silly. All others I will return to sender with my personal stamp of approval.
A few tips to get your drafts approved:
1) Express your undying support for the Chicago Cubs.
2) Rank all travel locales on a 1 to 10 scale for cheap eats.
3) Ask the Community Mgr. to send me on scouting trips to all new properties.
I think we all know at this point that this site, as changed from version 2 to version 3, is changed forever. And....it has really become a 'Facebook' type site. I have no issues with postings because if a subject doesn't strike my fancy, I have the choice of not reading it. I do enjoy the banter and the camraderie that exists here. Post on!