Why we have comments – and why you should care

If you’re a regular commenter on this site, January sure was an interesting month for you. It was for me.

We started by declaring war on snark and concluded with perhaps the biggest story of the new year, which happened to be about a company that repeatedly referred to its own customers in an obscene way.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Generali Global Assistance. Generali Global Assistance has been a leading provider of travel insurance and other assistance services for more than 25 years. We offer a full suite of innovative, vertically integrated travel insurance and emergency services. Generali Global Assistance is part of The Europ Assistance (EA) Group, who pioneered the travel assistance industry in 1963 and continues to be the leader in providing real-time assistance anywhere in the world, delivering on our motto – You Live, We Care.

And boy, you’ve kept our moderators busy. This morning’s heavily-flagged post is no exception.

Even if you’re just a lurker or an occasional visitor, you’ll want to read what’s next, because it will probably affect you.

Why we have a blog

This site exists for one reason and one reason alone: to serve consumers who need help.

Although that may seem obvious, it isn’t always. I love to tell stories, and sometimes my articles are written in such a way that a reasonable reader could assume I’m doing this for sport.

I assure you, I’m not.

We are here to help consumers.

I write in the articles as I do because I want you to care. And I think most of you do.

You also tolerate my clickbait headlines and my provocative polls because you understand there’s a real reason behind this exercise. Each case highlighting a customer problem and a resolution helps to inform consumers and, over time, can improve service. That’s a worthy goal.

Why we have comments

The discussion section of this site serves the stories, and in turn serves consumers. Again, this may seem obvious. Then again, maybe not.

In fact, this site has attracted its fair share of what the moderation team likes to call “recreational” arguers — people who come here to disagree for the sake being disagreeable.

I think a healthy debate is important, as long as it’s focused on illuminating the story and informing the customer.

Over time, some commenters have lost sight of why the comments section exists.

They treat each post as if it were a fresh scrap of meat thrown to the wolves. They savage the consumers who turn to me for help. They attack my credentials and try to discredit the posts instead of using their industry expertise to make constructive comments.

The result? The comments section has devolved into a toxic basement of name-calling, snark and angry rhetoric. During the last few months, I’ve heard from too many readers who say they no longer read my stories because of what’s below them. Our simple rules — be nice, stay on topic, no personal attacks — are routinely flouted.

You’re chasing away the customers

That made me wonder if the bile-filled barbs were making consumers look elsewhere for help, too. Do they come to the blog looking for assistance but leave in disappointment when they see the comments that heckle other consumers? Do they shake their head and ask, “Whose side is this guy on, anyway?”

I believe the answer is: yes.

So I decided to do something.

The first step was a warning shot, fired in early January, when I asked the commenters to cut the snark.

During the last month, the moderation team has also been reading your comments more carefully. We’ve issued warning letters to commenters who repeatedly violated our published policy.

Today, I want to offer a glimpse behind the curtain to help you understand what’s going to happen next.

We have 16 volunteer blog moderators who have the rights to approve and remove comments in Disqus. Our group is almost always reactive, which means that we don’t go looking for trouble. Instead, trouble comes to us by way of flags on comments.

Anyone can flag a post they find objectionable.

When we see a problematic comment in the queue, the entire team is automatically notified. Most decisions are easy. For example, every comment with a link automatically goes to the “pending” queue to avoid link spam. Profanities are also filtered out.

A small percentage of questionable comments require a discussion. Did the comment violate our policy? I assure you, that’s often a lively debate among the moderators.

If something “iffy” drops into the queue, we’ll send a note to the group, asking for feedback. We take a quick vote and a simple majority decides whether the post goes to the “approved” queue or gets deleted. To keep the discussion as current as possible, we give ourselves an hour from the time the notice gets sent out to make a decision.

Obviously, not every moderator weighs in on every comment, but we try to include as many as possible in every decision. Once the clock runs out, action is taken by the moderator who first reported the comment to the group.

But there’s more: As of January, we’ve also kept track of the most-flagged commenters who violate our policies. If you get a lot of flags, you’ll receive a warning letter. If you don’t heed the warning and your comments continue to generate flags, you’ll receive a public warning on the site. You’ll know it’s a public warning because it will come from me and it will say “this is a public warning.”

I haven’t written any of those yet, but I am about to.

If after that you still don’t comply, you’ll receive a 30-day suspension, followed by a ban.

Too much or not enough?

Some of you will say this is going too far and that free speech should rule in the comments. Others will counter that I’m not acting quickly enough. To both groups, I would say, please give the system a chance to work.

All of the moderators support a spirited, focused debate. Dissent is a natural part of any discussion. But if the argument turns so unpleasant that consumers won’t come to us for assistance, I can’t do my job, and the blog you enjoy commenting on will no longer exist.

I admit, on several occasions, I’ve been ready to draw up a list of commenters who have personally upset me and blacklist them without any due process.

But cooler heads prevailed. While I still have my finger on the trigger, I now believe a more measured approach is warranted. I think most of my moderators agree with this careful and considered policy.

Commenting on the site is a privilege, not a right. My intent is not to chase anyone off this blog, but to carefully explain to offending commenters what we’re trying to do and to ask them to make their contributions fit within the broad framework we’ve outlined. If, after repeated warnings, violators fail to understand the purpose of this site, they will be asked to take a timeout to reflect on their actions.

If they come back rehabilitated, we will welcome them. If not, we will politely ask them to take their comments elsewhere.

I believe the result of this new policy will be a friendly and engaging discussion that makes consumers comfortable turning to us for help. But I can’t do it without you. If you see a comment that violates our rules, please flag it.

Together, we can make this site better.

Update: We’re getting a lot of questions about “snark” in the comments. The dictionary definition of “snark” is “crotchety, snappish, sarcastic, impertinent, or irreverent.” When I say we declared war on snark, I mean that we stood up to the excessively negative, cranky, short-tempered comments that have infested the blog. They turn away consumers and make the site an unwelcoming place to visit.

Put differently, this is not your digital playground. It is not my playground, either. It belongs to the aggrieved consumers who need help. We are just visitors. Please behave as if you were a guest in someone else’s house.

63 thoughts on “Why we have comments – and why you should care

  1. Good explanation. Is it possible to put any particular commenter on “review before posting appears” status? Some of the snarkers are not routinely so and may be able to contribute if filtered. Sort of putting in purgatory before banishment.

  2. I think that the comments section is the probably the most useful part of this blog. As an infrequent traveler, I’ve learned so much from the more experienced commenters – even the blatantly snarky ones. And I think that there’s snark and then there’s snark. Good natured sarcasm doesn’t bother me a bit, and I think even makes it more enjoyable. Glad you’re taking a stand against the nastier snark…but not taking it too far.

    1. Sometimes a little snark can even be a good thing. Maybe takes a little snark for someone to gain some perspective about what they are asking for. I know many of us get tired of the people who seem to think the rules don’t apply to them, or a minor bad experience deserves a full refund, or their status as a special snowflake grants them more rights than everyone else.

      Yes I can see how things getting nasty can drive people away. But I also can guarantee that there are people who come to this blog BECAUSE of the lively, witty and, yes, sometimes snarky comments. They are fun to read. And fun to participate in. Provided they don’t get ugly, of course!

  3. Great explanation of they why’s and how’s. Some people snark just because it’s fun, some because they may not know how else to communicate, some because they are angry and some for other reasons. A team of moderators helps to understand what the reasons behind the snark are and maybe better manage it.

    I appreciate that you give grace by giving second and third chances. It’s may help those people reverse course before they lose the privilege of commenting.

    And let’s all remember this blog’s ultimate goal: to help consumers.

  4. Is it snarky to ask why there are so many credit card ads in your website?
    I wonder how those ads help consumers? What if they get into more credit problems?
    I never saw these ads before you moved to the Boarding Area.
    You think that is okay to have in a consumer advocacy site.
    Some of the travel hacking sites in Boarding Area have way less credit card ads.
    Just a simple question. Not trying to be snarky.

  5. Isn’t another major reason for comments to keep people at the site for longer periods so they can see and click on ads? And what about engaging people more so they’re more likely to return to the site? I agree comments can (and do) help with consumer problems but it’s not really fair to pretend that’s the only reason you have them.

    1. Except I don’t see the ads when I look at comments – at least not if there are a lot of comments. They scroll up out of view. Not the most effective way to get more clicks on ads!

  6. You go, Chris. Part of the reason I rarely comment anymore is that things can get ugly, fast. I don’t have time to deal with trolls or to let ’em get me down during my busy day.

    Also, something to think about – this is YOUR site. We are guests here. You have rules and by commenting, we’re agreeing to abide by those. If we don’t like those rules, we’re all free to go elsewhere. Just sayin’.

    Thanks to you and your team for taking on what I’m sure is at times an onerous job.

  7. It seems as if the people doing the flagging have the most power. What’s to prevent, for instance, someone from flagging all the comments of someone they dislike? And doing it repeatedly? That’s just petty vengeance. Yet I can’t believe it doesn’t go on.

    And is anyone who disagrees with the consensus automatically a “troll”?

    1. The moderators and Chris are looking at the flagged posts and we’re on the alert for “vengeance flagging”. Yes, it does happen, but we won’t let it make a difference. If you read Chris’s article again I think you’ll see that disagreeing with the consensus doesn’t make you a troll, but I’ll let him speak for himself.

  8. “I’ve heard from too many readers who say they no longer read my stories because of what’s below them.” So people who don’t have the common sense to stop reading what you’ve actually written and who knowingly look for things to get upset about get highest priority? or is it that these people have made the most noise and those who scream the loudest get the most attention? (wondering where I am on the list to be banned… LOL)

  9. I am wondering, who is watching the watchers? (Credit goes to Watchmen)
    It seems anything is allowed, when it is about name-calling, insulting, cursing companies, company representatives, or even ppl who simply try to educate consumers.
    Something else: it would be nice, if your moderators take their inside fight outside – or to the moderator forum.
    With my all respect Chris, it is strange that you frequently send an insult to the exact ppl who gave you a forum, and provide extra advertisement revenue.

    Nevertheless, great site, really helping many ppl. Thanks for your (and your moderators’) hard work.

    1. Credit should go to the Roman poet Decimus Iunius Iuvenalis, who wrote the famous line: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who will guard the guards themselves?

      1. I am busted. Mea culpa mea culpa mea maxima culpa – I should have read more classics less comics:-)
        While I was aware, that the basic idea is not from Moore, but did not remember the orginal source. (Other, than every big idea is either Greek or Roman.)

    2. Pirossalma, I’m not sure I understand — are the moderators arguing publicly on this blog? I guess that zoomed over my head. But I don’t know who the moderators are, except for Mr. Elliott, so maybe they have been and I’ve just missed it.

        1. Not everyone who posts to the forum is a moderator. Also, there’s been a recent change in the moderators. You shouldn’t see those arguments in the future.

  10. My impression is that often, the commenters who are the most likely to violate the rules you’ve posted are also the ones most likely to argue that a given LW deserves no compensation because, in some obscure corner of the company or airline’s website, there are written rules allowing the company or airline to treat the customer in the way that they have. It’ll be interesting to see if that rules-are-rules crowd follows *these* rules, now that they’ve been brought to everyone’s attention.

    1. I think that if a position can be reasonably argued, that’s fine with me. And I think in instances where a contract exists and there’s a question about its enforceability, a strict interpretation of its provisions is reasonable (as well as the opposing view that an exception exists for one reason or another). But a response that a letter-writer should not prevail merely because he or she is an “idiot” is in appropriate . . . unless the commenter can establish a reasonable argument that the person is, in fact, an “idiot” (a hurdle that i think is virtually impossible to meet in nearly all circumstances).

      1. I completely agree, and I think this blog and its comments would be much the poorer if no one argued that position. I do, however, find that it’s more common – though far from universal – among the strict interpretationists to wage personal attacks against both the LWs and those who disagree with them. I may well be biased, though.

  11. I was hoping that you might have added what I consider to be an important distinguishing element. There are many things I find to be offensive to my set of values, but I can tolerate and even consider those things so long as there is something supporting the position being taken. In an old Monty Python sketch a man comes in for an argument, but is presented with an opponent who only replies, “No, it isn’t” to each point made. Similarly, responses here that are limited to just name-calling, or even “I agree with the above” and nothing more, I think are inappropriate debate. On the other hand, a response can be snarky or cynical, and yet remain an effective argument because it actually supports a position, and is not simply mindless name-calling.

    In the same vein, I would be careful about the term “disagreeable.” I think the most effective debate is when people do disagree with one another–and possibly take a stronger position in debating that they might otherwise take–because that’s where the points of argument are revealed. In other words, a debate necessarily involves people who disagree. I think you really mean “disagreeable” as a description of people who hurl insults alone, and not people who merely disagree with one another about an issue or its analysis.

  12. My desk dictionary defines snark as “rude or sarcastic criticism.” I try to stay away from the former, but I’ll readily admit that some of my comments and replies fall into the latter category. I think sarcastic comments can contribute to the overall issue, especially when used to highlight the absurdity of a consumer complaint or an industry response (or often times the bipolar quiz questions that almost always call for a third option). It’s your site – you’re certainly welcome to screen commenters, censor posts, and blacklist offenders; but I think the tone of the article generally sets the precedent for the comments. If you really want to cut down on snark in the comments, maybe shy away from clickbait headlines, egregious consumer demands, and vague poll questions. Just a suggestion.

    1. The method of reductio ad adsurdum–reducing a counter-argument by following its logical conclusion to absurdity–is, I believe, a method of argumentation that is by its very nature both critical and sarcastic (the latter if only implicitly). And to the extent that “snark” includes such argumentation within its ambit, I think you are correct that such responses are fair and proper.

  13. I find the negative leaning of your articles to set the tone for snarkiness. You start it, we all just follow. Lead by example and perhaps that will help.

    1. bingo. The site operates on the basis of “let’s help defenseless Timmy against 8000lb godzilla”, regardless of what Timmy did.

    1. This is a consumer oriented site. And as such, the bias from the writer is, as it should be, leaning toward the consumer.

      If you think he’s being totally unfair about “attacking” those poor, sad mega-corporations such as airlines and hotels from the scourge that is the individual consumer, perhaps you could start a website advocating for those big businesses where then can come and complain about how poorly they are being treated by “Mr Smith” or “Miss Jones” because they’re being so unreasonable.

      And you could also then make the rules as to what is appropriate behavior. No disparaging words against those misunderstood businesses, but for the consumer…well… 😉

  14. One thing the AbovetheLaw website did to help people who were turned off by the commenters (which are a million times worse than they are here):

    By default the comments are hidden, and you can click a link to make them visible. That might be a good idea here if the comments are offending some people’s sensibilities.

  15. It’s a shame that the comment accusing Chris of being snarky was deleted. I agree: I don’t think it’s fair to ask us not to be snarky when the headlines, articles and polls are so often snarky.

    However, I’ve come to the conclusion that Chris really intends to ban “mean” comments, not all “snarky” ones. A fine line at times, but a real distinction.

    I hope you let this comment stay. I think it’s a fair point and a reasonable discussion to have. And, hopefully it helps that I support the policy, if not the choice of words used to describe the policy.

      1. Yes, clearly. The moderators have to make that decision. If the standard is just “snarky,” they have to make the decision of what’s snarky, too. Presumably, they can do that. If they can’t, the entire concept of moderation will inherently fail.

        1. I don’t think it’s just about snark, whatever that is. Chris has a link to the site policy, which is pretty clear, embedded in the article.

      2. It is possible to disagree with someone, or even not like someone, yet still not resort to questions their integrity, their mental state, or calling them names.

        If someone disagrees with another point of view, clearly and calmly state your points and then go on. That shouldn’t be too hard.

        There seems to be several on here who think they must insult the LW, OP, or whatever when they (the OP, etc) do things the commenters disagree with.

        1. Mr. Kolker, yes, of course. I’m still not sure that addresses the “mean” versus “snarky” conundrum, but I guess time will tell.

      3. Maybe neither “mean” nor “snarky” are precise criteria, but what I think what is trying to be expressed is whether comments are on point with respect to the subject matter, or whether they’re going after the messenger. Consider, for example, a subject matter relating to transportation security. One person might express the view that all persons of middle eastern descent, or having the appearance of middle eastern descent, ought to be subject to greater security scrutiny prior to being provided with transportation services. Such a view would be discriminatory, likely racist, and probably offensive to many, and might well be in the category of “mean” in the eyes of some. Yet such a view would be entirely on point, and likely to be supportable by a reasoned argument. I think such an expression would be entirely appropriate, notwithstanding its “meanness” or other characteristics that could–in another context–raise multiple red flags. Black letter rules are easier to administer, but good judgment makes for better debate.

        1. Fortunately, there don’t seem to be too many racists on this site. I don’t know what the moderators would decide, but I would be very offended by such a post.

  16. Sorry, what Chris does is great, even if I don’t always agree with him (mostly I do). He provides a voice where all too often the consumer has none. And it is more than a hobby; this is his vocation. Please treat this like a workplace.

  17. The policy looks fair and reasonable to me, though it sounds like a lot of work for moderators and I’m grateful for that. Comments in many entries quickly turned into shaming of letter writers, which I believe is the last thing Chris wants to achieve in his endeavor. As a matter of fact, I wrote to Chris once, but after reading all those comments, I’m a bit hesitant now. It’s a bit unpredictable what part in a letter backfires. I myself always make stupid mistakes, so I hope that Elliott is a judgment-free zone (as in a gym ad).

  18. Before the policy, I thought some of the comments were mean-spirited, and bordering on hateful. I would say though that those were less than 5% of the total. The rest, as they said in the old days, had pizazz. They were so interesting to read, and I actually dig snark. I guess I didn’t realize how much, until the new rules were in place. Now? Just my opinion, but they seem *too* nice. Nothing to offend anyone’s tastes. Kind of like oatmeal. I don’t care for plain oatmeal – I at least have to add some raisins, maybe some nuts. It is still great information, but the fun seems to be gone.

    Also, I am still having a difficult time wrapping my head around what is unacceptable. Many of the posts with the “be nice” warning? Seemed pretty neutral. I couldn’t figure out what was not nice about them. (It could be that they had been edited before I saw them. I usually read the forum at lunchtime or at night, and I usually miss the first part of the party.)

    Lastly, not sure if this is a coincidence or not, but one of the very regular posters seems to not be around anymore. Which is a real pity, he was a major asset to this site.
    Still, thanks for all you and the mods do. I’m sure it is a thankless job and you all put up with a lot.

      1. I know this is an older thread, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot.

        Regrettably, we’ve lost several regular commenters as a result of our new policy. They fell into two general categories: Those who wanted to mock the less knowledgable consumers on this site, and those who disagreed with me politically. I should also note that they left on their own — we didn’t ban them. I wish them well.

        What you might not know is that traffic is up dramatically since then. More people are reading the site because they are not immediately offended by the snarky comments or the constant drumbeat of the laissez-faire capitalists telling us we asked for bad service and we deserve what we get.

        You have to put yourself in the position of a person who is coming to us for help. If you read the site and then found comments that accused you of being an ignoramus, trying to scam the company or that just made fun of you, would you continue reading? Would you ask for help?

        I wouldn’t.

        So please remember, we’re here for consumers, not for the amusement of the commenters. If that means the comments are boring, I’m absolutely fine with that.

        1. There’s a 3rd category: Those who don’t tolerate stupidity, nor PC, nor flaggings for the sake of censorship of the ideas put forth logicaly and cogently. There are people who will flag posts because they don’t like the message, or are professional “My feelings are hurt” whiners. Troublemakers are not needed; thoughtful, logical, polite disagreements should be encouraged.

          1. Actually, we go to great lengths to say dissent is an important part of the debate. But we’d like it to be polite and respectful.

            Here’s a copy of the warning letter we sent to several commenters. I’ve highlighted the relevant part:

            Thank you for being an active participant on my website as a commenter. I sincerely appreciate your interest in the debate. As you know, it’s our goal to create a friendly and engaging discussion that makes consumers comfortable turning to us for help.

            Our blog moderators have asked me to contact you because your comments have generated a high number of flags. They’ve carefully reviewed your posts and determined that some of them do not comply with our comment policy. I agree with them.

            I wanted to take a moment to remind you of our comment policy. You can find it here: http://elliott.org/comments/

            All of us strongly believe in a healthy debate. Dissent and argument are a natural part of any discussion. But if the debate turns so hostile and toxic that consumers won’t come to us for assistance, I can’t do my job, and the blog you enjoy commenting on can no longer exist.

            Please consider this a friendly warning to temper your comments. Before you post something, please ask yourself if your words will create the open, engaging and friendly environment we strive for. Put yourself in the shoes of the poster who came to us for help. How would you feel about the comment?

            Commenting on the site is a privilege, not a right. Our moderators will be reading your comments carefully, and we hope we don’t have to take any further actions.

  19. This is a welcomed post. While I disagree with parts of it, I see two rather germane take-ways..

    “Commenting on the site is a privilege, not a right.”

    I agree… and such those who exercise authority have the power to do with it as
    they please.. This is not a vilification, condemnation or otherwise if this fact, but
    just a recognition that this isn’t a free-for-all, therefore what is seen should, IMHO, be taken within the context of a moderated/censored site and one that has a stated pro-consumer angle (this is not meant in a negative manner, but recognizes the blogs target group)

    Towards the end, it is written “.. Put differently, this is not your digital playground. It is not my playground, either. It belongs to the aggrieved consumers who need help.
    We are just visitors. Please behave as if you were a guest in someone
    else’s house.”

    I’m not so sure I agree with this.. I see the idea that’s being presented..
    the person who the blog is intended to help is the consumer, but since this comment to me, infers authority, then I disagree.. It IS Chris’ playground, and as such, he (and those he chooses to appoint) may manageit in any manner they see fit, within law.

    This second comment kind of ties with the first.. Again, I’m not wholly against
    moderation.. and I do believe there are some comments that are (again, in my opinion) either patently abusive, off-topic or flatly without value… but…. and for me this is a big “but”… I am **very** cautious that this attempt (however right or wrong its intentions may be) at moderation does not morph into a practice where comments that may be viewed as anti-consumer and/or pro-company are moderated out..

    I also think that at times comments that can be “sharply worded”, or even perhaps a bit hurtful, may in fact be wholly correct.. Again, sometimes the truth hurts.. I think that a pro-whatever site, needs to fairly present *all* sides of the issue because that me is a benefit to all.

  20. Elliott’s house, Elliott’s rules. I’ll admit that when I post it is usually because I have an axe to grind, so, snark, & a little vitriol, may sneak in. We all do it.

    What I find I do, is to try to find a way to be “nasty” but in a funny or nicer way. Using homilies, “Don’t get mad, get even”, for example & give an example how.

    I’m a firm believer of praising companies & employees that provide good products & services & an even bigger believer in “getting even”!

    There is a old business adage that states that 1 unhappy customer leads to 17 lost sales! I take that to the extreme & a company, e.g. United Air, that screwed with me & I will take every opportunity to slam them & do what I can to hurt their business. Like now! United messed up around 1990 & I’m still after them. Never Forget! I have cost them big bucks in lost revenue.

    The flip side is, we were at Joe’s Crab Shack the other day. The food & service were excellent, so I made it a point to praise it to the manager & server. Well guess what? They gave me a receipt to post a comment on their site with a “free” appetizer, which is worth about $11.

    This should just make people think a little more & come up with “different” ways to say the same thing, but in a acceptable way.

  21. I don’t usually comment on your columns here because the comments section is slow-loading on my various devices (Android smartphone using the generic Android browser and a 12-year-old Dell using Windows XP and Internet Explorer 8). Plus, I am afraid of getting in trouble for saying something wrong. I really wanted to say something in response to Monday’s poll results concerning the people who voted No, but I was afraid I’d come across as snarky. Let’s just say that “heartless” was probably the kindest opinion that went through my mind. I’ve been on the side that didn’t come out ahead in the polling before, but never by such a wide margin on something I felt so strongly about.

  22. I am torn on this. On the one hand I agree with Chris. On the other hand I have never been keen on censorship…even if it is your site and your rules. I have no issues with people who are snarky or sarcastic. Flags should be thrown when the conversation becomes vulgar or the attack is personal. However, many people visit here because other travel blogs are chock full of bully’s who try to shout other opposing viewpoints out altogether. All that said, if you over-enforce perceived petty rules you run the possibility of running people away (and ad revenue).

  23. Chris, don’t even worry for a minute about a “free speech” argument. There is no absolute right to be nasty, “snarky”, or rude. If someone can’t express their opinions without being unpleasant, you have the right to bar them. “Free speech” doesn’t cut it. Hang in there.

  24. Chris, I think you are performing a wonderful service for people and I enjoy being part of it. This has been the most interesting situation as we evolve … it is SO EASY for a sophisticated traveller to be snarky about someone who does something dumb and then loudly insists that someone else compensate them for their mistakes. Need I mention the anonimity involved when posting on the internet?? Travel is, for me, a great game that I wish to win. I am obsessive about research and nothing makes me happier than scoring a hotel room with a balcony overlooking the ocean, for the price of a standard room. I love to impress my husband with a first class upgrade in the air, a lavish complimentary breakfast. But sometimes just getting to your destination the same day you thought you would (Rick Steves quote) and having a comfy bed and a good shower is a winner … particularly these days. I pledge to always remember what this blog/column is all about … helping people. If I don’t want to/ can’t help them, I will be silent.

  25. I appreciate that you are dealing with this issue. I had become perplexed by the angry tone of some of the posters. Did it coincide with your move to Boarding Area? Or the expansion into consumer product work? Regardless, the site is better with constructive dialogue and without angry trolls. Flyer talk is a very large travel forum stocked with people of differing views and yet the users consistently keep it useful and polite (but with humor)- it makes a good proxy for what you are doing here. Keep it up.

  26. See, I get this completely. I’m a discussions moderator at another site and it is absolutely scary what people will say when they think they are anonymous and no one can “track” them. I think the upshot of all this is you can be snarky as long as you’re not attacking people personally. Calling someone an idiot just because his/her opinion differs from yours is childish.
    The hubs says the Internet is a big, blank wall and everyone has a can of spray paint. This little portion of that wall belongs to Chris and it’s up to him what can be sprayed on it. I don’t have a problem with it. You log on, you agree to the terms of service. It’s that simple. Be the adult and keep it reasonably civil, or get your butt kicked off. I really don’t see the problem here. He’s not saying don’t have an opinion, or don’t disagree with each other. He’s saying act your age and not your shoe size. Whatever happened to being able to disagree without calling names or flinging around personal attacks? I blame talk radio. LOL. Some people are just not happy unless they’re creating conflict somewhere. Unless they’re flinging excrement at others, they have no purpose in life. I’m sure Chris has had enough of the drama. It gets way old, sometimes.

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