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too many vague 'how much should I take' posts now!!

Travel Forums System Talk too many vague 'how much should I take' posts now!!

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1. Posted by joey22 (Travel Guru 561 posts) 7y

Guys,

Far too many people are posting and saying 'how much should I take to so and so' and not saying how they intend to travel or where they might want to stay etc.

It's becoming a bit frustrating. I love helping people but you can only help if they are a bit more forthcoming with their questions and provide more background on what they intend doing etc.

Not sure what you can do about it but felt it was worth mentioning.

Joey

[ Edit: Edited on 23-Jan-2009, at 08:32 by joey22 ]

2. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 7y

I know what you mean, but apart from a "read me first" (which most people won't read anyway), i don't know what you can do.

My personal response isn't really a good one, but it works for me - unless i happen to have lots of free time, I just ignore any posts that are too vague. Occasionally i'll put a brief "tell us more so we can help answer", but mostly I admit to not bothering at all. Many I can probably help, but don't have the time to find out exactly what they want to know. I also ignore all "i want to know everything" sorts of posts (especially short ones). I know people can be entirely new to this stuff, but if they can't google/read a guide book to get some ideas, then why should I attempt to help? I'll answer questions, but i'm not here to do all their planning/research for them.

It's frustrating, but i've realised you can only help people who help you understand what they want to know.

But if you come up with a better idea (slapping them all round the face with a wet cod isn't logistically possible), please let me know.

DISCLAIMER: i know some of that sounds a bit harsh, but i truly do want to - and enjoy - helping people where I can. But in order to do that, I need help from YOU the person asking the question, to be able to understand what you really want to know

3. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 7y

Some people just take a little longer to explain just what they need--and maybe some are travelling for the first time and are a bit overwhelmed. It can get frustrating when it feels like you have to ask what seems like basic questions, but even saying "can you be more specific?" helps guide people in the right direction.

Remember that we see the same kind of posts a gazillion times, but for each new poster it's a brand new question! All we can do is help. And it's always appreciated!

4. Posted by joey22 (Travel Guru 561 posts) 7y

I know Tway but it makes you wonder.

I love helping people out and if I'm quiet at work like I am today then I can spend up to 2-3 hours just answering posts - gets me through the day.

But some people are just too lazy it seems to find stuff out for themselves. Part of the beauty of our shared passion is learning from your own mistakes and getting out there and finding out about places for yourself, whether from a guidebook or from just getting on that plane. I ask questions on here and try to get an idea from peoples experiences about trips I am considering - but I take responses with a pinch of salt and try to apply them to my own tastes etc. I have a fairly sketchy grasp on the geography of south America and the distances from A to B, but have had a look at guidebook first before posting my 'does this look ok and where else might I consider' thread.

'Where should I go in Thailand' is such a ridiculous question. Why are they choosing to go there? Because everyone else does? Or because they want to see temples and beaches?

It winds me up but I guess I can just ignore them and answer the people with a decent, well written question that gives me a fighting chance of imparting some knowledge or at least giving them a clue;)

I must be getting old

5. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 7y

Quoting joey22

But some people are just too lazy it seems to find stuff out for themselves.

Oh, I'm with you on that one. Every once in a while I find myself looking stuff up for someone and suddenly think, "Hey, wait a minute...". I tend to just ignore those posts now.

I think a lot of people who post general questions, though, really just don't know where to start. Or else they're just not comfortable putting their questions in writing--often because English isn't their first language. So people asking for specifics sometimes really helps them to reform the question and get the info they need.

6. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 7y

but even saying "can you be more specific?" helps guide people in the right direction.

and

And it's always appreciated

Sadly, no it's not. I originally thought that, but a couple of years ago over the course of a few months i got 6 or so PM's (2 were definitely X-rated) all basically complaining I was taking the preverbial **** by replying and asking people to be more specific, and offering suggestions as to what i thought there question could actually mean (and thus why they needed to expand their original vague question). When people reply saying "why should i be more specific: my original question was fine" (and their original questions were things like "i have 2weeks and want to go to Europe. where should i go" and my favourite "I want to travel, what do i need to do"), I thought f*ck it. I actually stopped replying to virtually all forum posts for a couple of months.

I'm quite happy to try and help out on genuine looking queries/questions and will spend time checking facts/links etc without problem, but i'm now too wary of backlash and so rarely bother to try and coax more info out of them. If somebody else has the time to deal with it, great and i might help later on in the thread. But if not...

7. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4810 posts) 7y

Quoting Gelli

but even saying "can you be more specific?" helps guide people in the right direction.

and

And it's always appreciated

Sadly, no it's not. I originally thought that, but a couple of years ago over the course of a few months i got 6 or so PM's (2 were definitely X-rated) all basically complaining I was taking the preverbial **** by replying and asking people to be more specific

Wow, that sucks. Must've hit a whole basket of bad apples there. (Are you sure this wasn't a single member trolling you?) I very frequently tell people to be more specific, and I've never had a reaction anything like that. (And although not nearly everyone goes out of their way to say they've appreciated my help, there's enough who do (including people I haven't actually helped directly! (to the recent case of this: sorry for not answering your PM yet; been really busy, but know that it was appreciated in turn, and will be replied to)), that it always makes me feel my time has been spent in a worthwhile manner.)

Anyway, back to the original point of this thread:

Quoting joey22

Far too many people are posting and saying 'how much should I take to so and so' and not saying how they intend to travel or where they might want to stay etc.

It's becoming a bit frustrating. I love helping people but you can only help if they are a bit more forthcoming with their questions and provide more background on what they intend doing etc.

Not sure what you can do about it but felt it was worth mentioning.

I'm going to have to agree with those who suggest just taking a break from answering those particular questions. There's absolutely not more of them now than there were last year, or three years ago, or ten years ago (other than in absolute numbers rising along with rising numbers of visitors to this website in particular and travellers in general). It's mostly observer's bias: an artifact of you having been really active on the forum for a while, causing you to see some of the more common questions starting to re-occur so frequently that they're starting to annoy. There's absolutely no obligation on you to reply; if you don't, someone else who's new to replying will step up and fill the gap, and they won't yet be annoyed by these questions. Meanwhile you can spend a bit more time on answering more "worthwhile" questions more thoroughly (or maybe if you feel especially driven, write a wiki article on the common question in question). :)


When a forum exists primarily for regular members to converse between themselves, frequently asked questions by new members are very annoying and disruptive to the goal of the forum, and FAQs and "before you post" lists have every reason to be plastered all over.
However, when a forum exists primarily to answer the question of new members, and there's a never-ceasing influx of those new members, with only a very few who stick around and become regular members, trying to stem the flow of frequently asked questions is an effort in futility, and getting worked up about them can only lead to frustration. Just let them flow past you and focus on those questions which do seem worthwhile to you, where answering them does feel rewarding, still. And maybe every so often, dip back into the stream to refine the same answers you've given many times before already.

Also, for what it's worth, the topic of "[type of question] has become really common lately, can anything be done about that?" is itself a common question, and if I remember correctly, I've answered three earlier occurrences of it on this forum with posts similar to this one. :)

[ Edit: Edited on 23-Jan-2009, at 18:18 by Sander ]

8. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 1993 posts) 7y

Quite honestly, it's the "where should I go" posts that frustrate the hell out of me! What ever happened to imagination in this world? Have these people so damaged their brains with chemicals or alcohol that they are unable to think for themselves?

9. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 7y

I've been on a few sites (notably advertising boards) where people would be sarcastic, mean, insulting--you name it--to people who asked questions the regulars believed to be naive or repetitive. A lot of the newcomers were students or people who were thinking of changing careers, and here they were bombarded by abuse. What a horrible way to be introduced to a great industry!

So I've always found TP to be the polar opposite--a welcoming, helpful community where newcomers are made to feel like they can come on in make themselves at home. It's a rare and special thing to be able to keep that atmosphere going for so long. Yes, we do argue and yes, the occasional poster gets our backs up--but we stick to the issues and leave the pettiness behind.

I think policing for repetitive or vague posts will take some of that community spirit away. I totally understand that some posts may make you roll your eyes, but as Sander said, best to just ignore those questions and let someone else take a stab.

10. Posted by Isadora (Travel Guru 13926 posts) 7y

I agree with the comments by Tina, Rich and Sander. As Sander stated, "Just let them flow past you and focus on those questions which do seem worthwhile to you..." and that's the best advice. And, as everyone has said, the repetitive vague threads can be annoying. As a moderator, I still read them but have taken a back seat in trying to answer them from time to time. I will ask that the poster be more specific and sometimes they do accommodate that request. If not, then I move on to threads where I can be of help and leave the vague ones alone. I become more annoyed with a poster who consistently posts the same type of vague questions in the different forums, giving no information about their plans when asked. They reply with only a "really?" or "why do you think that?". I tend to think those members like the idea of traveling but haven't let go of their fears about doing the traveling.

As Tina said, new members tend to believe their question is "brand new" because they just thought of it. And, though they know how to search for info on their favorite celebrity, they tend to not put those skills to use for their travel plans. Since the planning can be a bit overwhelming, especially for the first-time traveler, it's easier for them to let others (who have more experience) do their work for them. I'm of the mind - link Travel Guide pages whenever possible so the poster will read about their intended destination. Between those pages and the many links they contain, the poster can gain more info and ask more specific questions. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn't - but it's worth a shot and 2 minutes of my time.

As for imagination, Daawgon - with a complete generation growing up on snippits and needing instant gratification - you do the math... We learned the usefulness of our imaginations because we went outside to play. Our own backyards were the world and we saw a bigger picture. Now, it's whatever is on the monitor and it's not a map of the world.