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Guide to the site for VT refugees and other new members

Travel Forums System Talk Guide to the site for VT refugees and other new members

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1. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5087 posts) 31w Star this if you like it!

Travellerspoint is a big site, which has grown many features over many years of development. I won't be able to do justice to it all (and am limited in time with writing this anyhow), but want to try to at least point out a few highlights to help you get your bearings.

As with all such endeavours, this is heavily colored by personal focus on what I know and use. You'll find different things important. Also, a lot of what I'll write will probably be obvious, but you never know when something obvious gets easily overlooked...

So, starting from the top:
When logged in to the site, In the upper right you'll see four links:
Control Panel: This has an expandable menu with the main items, but there's others if you click on it or on the "More..." link. This is your main entry to managing all personal content: Your blogs, your photos, your travel map, etc (more about these below)
My Profile: This links to your public profile (as others see it), and on there (in the upper right), you have options for editing it, including changing your password. Your profile is also the easiest way to link through to all your friends and find their profiles or easily message them.
My Messages: For sending private messages directly to other members, and reading what you've received so far. When there's new messages, the text of this link will change to "x New Messages"
Log out: self explanatory

The main navigation bar has the following items:
Community: which is a dropdown with the following items:
- Highlights: This is a selection of manually featured blog articles on various subjects. Was only sparsely updated between 2015 and late 2016 due to changing priorities and the high workload, but Peter has started featuring blog articles again lately, so this is slowly filling in with more recent content.
- Forums: That's where you're at now. The main forum page shows threads from all the various subforums together, but you can click through to one of the 15 subforums in the right hand column if you're only interested in forum threads for one or two main subjects. The subforums each have one or two moderators from the community, based on their expertise in the subject of that subforum. (I'm the moderator for "Australia & New Zealand" and "System Talk".) The main forum page also has a list of threads which you've participated in (near the top of the right column), which tends to be helpful if you want to find back threads. This also shows bold with a green number of new replies if there's any replies which you haven't seen yet. If you're very active with posting and want even more of that, there's a link to the 50 threads you've most recently posted in.
- Groups: This was a feature introduced in 2014 which imho never quite took off. It was intended as a way for conversation on frequently occurring subjects to be organically grouped together. (For example, we had a period when there would be two dozen threads from people wanting to go to a music festival, or like now, we have dozens of introduction threads from VT members.) Someone would request a group for this subject, the admins would approve it, and all activity related to the subject (both threads and photos) would be "grouped" together for it, complete with separate chat for the members. It still has a lot of potential, I think, but the process for how it all works needs tweaking.
- Photography: Like blogs, all photos uploaded to the site (with a location set to at least country-level, and with "allow featuring" checked) are looked at by human moderators, and the best from them are featured to the photography section. Photos can also be tagged by subject, so this section allows exploring photos by both subject and country. The URLs for these photo galleries are deliberately made as readable as possible, and although there's no clickable way to get there, you can by editing the URL do things like finding featured castle photos from Germany - /photos/gallery/features/countries/Germany/tags/castles/, or combine tags with the pipe ("|") character to find featured photos showing both mountains and lakes - /photos/gallery/features/tags/mountains|lakes/

Accommodation: What travel site can do without accommodation booking? We used to have our own in-house system, with verified reviews by travellerspoint members as a major selling point for me personally to use it, but I guess economies of scale worked against travellerspoint there. This has relatively recently moved to being a booking.com affiliate system, which I haven't had a chance to use yet. (If you were going to be booking through them anyway, a search through travellerspoint does help, as it's probably a major source of income for the site.)

Map: One of the main really unique features of travellerspoint (though I guess it might've been copied since it was first introduced) :), the travel map is a great way to visualize all your travels. It integrates with both the blogs and the photos here, based mostly on putting in a date for each. That means that to get this work as intended, you should add dates to your photos, your blog entries and your "stops" for each trip (or at least one departure day and one arrival day to cover the trip), and if they overlap, the map will automatically link the relevant blog entries and photos at the correct pin. There's a lot of other features here to explore as well, such as neat stats on your total distance travelled and so on (see your profile for that).

Planner: Where the focus of the travel map is to highlight where you've been (or where you're currently travelling), the focus of the travel planner is to help you with preparing and gathering resources before you head out. Content in the map is public, but a lot of the content in the planner is private. You can also collaborate with others for the planner. The system underlying the planner and the map is the same, so when your trip is ready, you've basically already created it on your map.

Guide: A collaborative travel guide in wiki format. If you edit significant chunks of any guide articles, you're highlighted as contributor to that article in the right hand column, which can include a link back to a personal website. Also, once you reach "Full Member" rank, you can opt to earn some money through Google ads shown on the wiki pages you've contributed to. (This also goes for your blog.) From the guide, you can also easily become a "Travel Helper" for a destination. This was originally only possible on country level, so lots of travel helpers there, but far fewer for specific destinations. As a travel helper, you get notified when there's forum threads specifically asking about your destinations, and random visitors can easily send you questions asking for help on that destination.

Then the personal content which isn't linked to from the main navigation, but which you can still find through people's profiles:
Blogs: Lots and lots of features here; too many to name, but some highlights:
- You can give your blogs an easy to remember subdomain based on your name or anything else. e.g. mytripname.travellerspoint.com
- You can run multiple blogs, so you could have one for each destination you care about, or one for each trip you take. (As a new member, I think you're initially limited to a maximum of 5 separate blogs, but that limit is swiftly lifted.)
- You can write blog entries in advance, and schedule them to be published at a specific time in the future.
- You can style your blog entirely as you want it. There are 10 gorgeous professionaly-designed templates to choose from, but you can also write your own, or modify one of the existing ones, using CSS. (And if you don't know CSS but want some specific changes made, we're always happy to offer guidance for that here in the System Talk forum.)
- You can have your travel map show up on your blog, either permanently in the header, or within individual blog entries.
- You can submit your blog entries via email, including accompanying photos. Perfect for when you're on the road with limited internet access.
- You can collaborate on a blog with multiple authors
- You can save your blog as a single PDF or HTML document, for easy archiving, or to have printed as a book.
- You can password protect your blog, and restrict commenting to TP members, or open it up for the entire world to see and comment on.

Photos: I already described a lot of the features here under the Photography section, but from the photo uploader perspective, there's also:
- Fix rotation of images after uploading, in case we got it wrong (or maybe you've always wanted to know what the Eiffel Tower looks like upside down?)
- Store original size images so you can use TP as a backup service. (This has some space limitations, which again become less limiting as you become more active on the site.)
- People can comment on your photos (and you have an interface to keep track of all comments and remove or report them if they're spammy or unwanted).
- You can place your photos on the map through the upload interface by typing a location, or by placing them on a graphical map.

[ Edit: Edited on 08-Jan-2017, at 14:18 by Sander ]

2. Posted by ToonSarah (Respected Member 281 posts) 31w Star this if you like it!

This is so useful - thank you very much :) Have bookmarked for what will no doubt become frequent future reference.

I'm interested in the capacity to create more than one blog, e.g. for each destination, as I was assuming I would have only one. Is that something you'd recommend? It would seem to have advantages in keeping content more organised but how would you build up the number of followers if you kept starting afresh?

3. Posted by Peter (Admin 6188 posts) 31w Star this if you like it!

I'd recommend keeping just one blog as it works better with subscribers. It really is designed more as a diary system than as a way of organising by destination.

You can set the country of each entry you post though, which will automatically create category pages by country.

4. Posted by ToonSarah (Respected Member 281 posts) 31w Star this if you like it!

Quoting Peter

I'd recommend keeping just one blog as it works better with subscribers. It really is designed more as a diary system than as a way of organising by destination.

You can set the country of each entry you post though, which will automatically create category pages by country.

Yes, that's what I'd anticipated doing - thanks for confirming :)

5. Posted by ADAMYAMEY (Respected Member 39 posts) 31w Star this if you like it!

Brilliant helpful introduction to using this website. Many thanks!

Is there a page that highlightseveryone's latest postings, or does one have to look at individual members' profiles?

6. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5087 posts) 31w Star this if you like it!

Quoting ADAMYAMEY

Is there a page that highlightseveryone's latest postings, or does one have to look at individual members' profiles?

How do you mean that? Everyone's blog posts, maybe? There's currently no good overview for that, since it was too attractive for spammers (so it'd show more spam than real content), but Peter was talking about reviving it just last month, since the spam problem is much more under control now. (He also pointed out that there's still an automated feed showing all recent blog entries, which kinda works to get an overview of what's being posted in the blogs.)

7. Posted by ADAMYAMEY (Respected Member 39 posts) 31w Star this if you like it!

Ok Thanks

8. Posted by Palawan Dave (Budding Member 30 posts) 31w Star this if you like it!

Great information. The site offers a lot more than i originally thought. I will have to start writing travel blogs of my last few trips, and get started with the planner for my upcoming Cambodia trip.

9. Posted by king_golo (Full Member 42 posts) 31w Star this if you like it!

That's sooooo helpful! Thanks a lot!

10. Posted by dey62 (Budding Member 4 posts) 30w Star this if you like it!

Reading through here, really helps. Looking forward to working on travel blogs!

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