A few very important comments about your comments

Thank you.

I wanted to start by saying that, because the bottom line is, I’m really grateful to you for making this site what it is today.

You — and specifically, your excellent comments — have made this blog a helpful resource for consumers with real problems, a lively forum, and a fascinating read.

I feel as if I’ve been entrusted with something valuable and important. Which is why I’m writing this post.

I’ve had a “hands-off” policy on the comments, in part because I believe the Internet is all about free expression, and in part because I don’t have the resources to screen each comment. (More on that in just a moment.)

But during the last few weeks and months, I’ve received numerous emails from concerned readers who say the comments have gone too far.

These readers, some of whom have been commenters for years, are refusing to participate in the discussions because of the negativity and perceived bullying by a small, vocal group of commenters.

I outlined some of these changes as an update to yesterday’s post. But I’m going to repeat them now, in a separate article and in a little more detail.

It’s gone too far

Here’s the thing: This site has an obligation to help consumers, first and foremost. When we veer from that mission, as I believe we have, and the comments devolve into shout-fests and name-calling, then the only ones who benefit are the companies providing terrible customer service.

We can’t let that happen.

We deserve a comments section that is a welcoming, non-toxic environment, where ideas and suggestions can be freely exchanged without fear of ad hominem attacks.

To that end, I’ve made the following changes:

• All comments will require a confirmed email address. I will not allow anyone to anonymously take potshots at my commenters.

• I’ve reverted to the old version of Disqus, which allows for more moderator control. It will also give more people the ability to comment, since the new version of Disqus has some serious compatibility problems. Regressing to the previous version of Disqus eliminates the ability to “upvote” and “downvote” comments people agree or disagree with. I think having your comment voted down can be hurtful and offensive to some commenters.

• All of the comments are now being screened. If your comment doesn’t add to the discussion, or is nothing more than a thinly-veiled personal attack, I will not approve it.

Hit me with your best shot

I’ve also noticed an uptick in comments leveled against me. I don’t mind the criticism, but like many of the other commenters, I object to the way some of them have been framed.

By all means, feel free to point out places where a story can be improved, or where I misjudged a case. But leaving an anonymous zinger that accuses me of being the worst consumer advocate ever is profoundly unhelpful, and I’m inclined to just delete it and invite you to find another consumer advocate to criticize.

In particular, I’ve reached my limit with the complaints about the following topics:

Not knowing as much as a “professional” [insert name]. I’ve openly admitted to not being a lawyer, travel agent or customer service manager. I’m not any of these, nor do I aspire to be one. I’m a consumer advocate. That fact has already been pointed out on this forum, ad nauseum. We should move on.

Not voting in the poll or disagreeing with the poll. My polls are designed to provoke an animated discussion, nothing more. Sometimes they have little or nothing to do with the story. If they’re thought to be unfair every now and then, that’s fine. I’m not trying to get a job with Gallup here. Deal with it.

Hating my headlines. Again, I’ve openly admitted that I love provocative, tabloid-style headlines. If you want the newspaper of record, you are clearly reading the wrong site, and it’s time to move on. I’ve been crafting my sensationalist headers here since 1996, and I’m not about to stop. If you have a problem with it, rest assured, your complaint has been registered.

The initial feedback from readers regarding this new policy is positive, and I’m happy that so many of you agree with me.

But I need your help. I can’t manage all of the comments alone, and I need a few good volunteers who are regular partipants, and who can act as moderators when I’m on assignment.

If you’re interested, please email me directly.

Update: Thanks to everyone who emailed me with offers to help with moderation. I’m putting a few things into place now and getting the moderators up to speed with Disqus. You may see a comment slip through here or there while we get this new system in place. Please be patient with us.

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirportParkingReservations.com

With nearly 20 years in the industry, over 128 airport covered in the U.S. and Canada, and over 1,000 Hotel and Parking Partners-we provide travelers the best options on how to get to the airport when flying. Whether you want to; drive yourself and park near an Airport (Airport Parking), stay the night before your flight at an airport hotel and leave your car (Hotel and Parking Package), or take a shared Shuttle/Private Car/Limo to the Airport- we got you covered. The best deals can be found online, and booking a reservation has never been easier. You can explore all of our options by visiting us at AirportParkingReservations.com, ParkSleepFly.com, AirportParking.com, and ShuttleFinder.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Cavalry Travel Insurance

Cavalry takes the worry of out travel by providing 24/7 access to medical and security professionals combined with the best medical evacuation and security extraction services. Cavalry gets you home safely when you need it most. Learn more at Cavalrytravelinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at Sodexoinsights.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at Travelexinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by G1G.com

Since its inception over three decades ago, G1G has continued to revolutionize the travel insurance industry by being the only aggregator to operate a customer portal, placing all of the user's primary needs in one place. We have continued to innovate and disrupt the market by reimagining the way travel insurance can be delivered to the end user in ways no competition can. Simply put, no one knows the market as well as its founders and no one else shares G1G values and mission.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

Send this to a friend