This is what an advocacy site for grown-ups looks like

Elliott Advocacy is here to help you.

If you want to know what an advocacy site for grown-ups looks like, you’ve come to the right place.

For example, have you checked out our comments recently? I just did. They were thoughtful, helpful, and respectful. I kept looking, and it occurred to me that comments aren’t the only thing that have changed. The site is different.

Different, as in better.

The comments are all grown up

Some of you remember the days of our freewheeling comments. Below the fold had become a toxic moshpit. It was not at all reflective of who this site is or what it does. Instead, many readers came to mock the consumers asking for help, or to brag about their insider knowledge.

That had to end. We instituted a new comments policy that strived to create “an open, engaging and friendly environment.”

“We advocate for consumers and want them to feel comfortable sharing their problems with us without fear of being attacked,” the policy notes. “Commenting on this site is a privilege, not a right.”

It took five years of negotiating, moderating — and finally turning off the comments for an entire month — before something clicked.

But it finally clicked.

Here’s how comments work now. We’re lucky to have a team of amazing moderators. We’re also fortunate to work with Disqus, which hosts our comments. It allows granular control of each comment. If you’re new to this site and leave feedback, your comment gets held for moderation. If it’s acceptable, a moderator approves. Leave enough helpful comments, and we’ll whitelist you so that you can participate in the discussion in real time.

But our trust is revocable. If someone flags a comment as inappropriate, our moderation team reviews the comment and could remove it. It may also un-whitelist the commenter. Serial offenders are blacklisted.

The system works, which is to say, our commenters are respectful of our guidelines. They’re usually polite, and their comments try to make the story above them better and more useful.

I probably wouldn’t recognize this site

Scroll back just three years, and you wouldn’t recognize this site. I know I wouldn’t. Elliott.org was part of a blog network that sold ad space and referred traffic to my site (of course, I referred traffic to its site, too).

The ads were embarrassing. They hawked points-earning credit cards and third-rate hotel chains — products I didn’t believe in and would never endorse. The tipping point was a massive malvertising infection that referred readers to a scammy site that tried to trick them into downloading ransomware.

It was awful.

At the time, I wanted to remove all the ads, but I couldn’t afford to. So I exited the blog network, found a different ad provider, and moved on. But I never gave up on the dream of dropping all the ads. Finally, earlier this spring, with a little encouragement from my staff and readers, I did it. We were already on our way to becoming a nonprofit organization, and I knew it was the right thing.

But I’ll be honest. At this point, I’d rather lose money on this site than run another ad. A site that advocates for you should be ad-free. I have no regrets.

A truly useful site for all

Some of you may have noticed a more focused approach to our cases. It’s true that during the last year or two, we’ve phased out some of the travel commentaries that used to be a staple here. That’s because, believe it or not, this isn’t really a travel site anymore. Each month, our number of non-travel cases grows, and our audience expands.

Ultimately, the site is part of a new nonprofit organization that helps consumers solve their problems and helps those who can’t. Everything we do on this site today furthers that goal, so all of the incremental changes you’ve seen are part of a bigger plan to focus this cause on what matters.

It’s been quite a journey from a personal blog to a news organization, to now, a nonprofit advocacy organization. I think every case we mediate, every story you read, is proof that we’re on the right track.

You won’t find anything else like this site. Other advocacy sites that showed potential have been shut down, discontinued, or worse, they’ve fallen down a rabbit hole of lucrative affiliate deals with suppliers. Their content is emasculated by undisclosed agreements that prevent them from writing stories critical of those businesses. And their comments section either sounds like a useless “amen” choir or looks like a messy playground where virtual mud has been splattered all over the floor.

But my staff and I are lucky. Maybe it’s because we refuse to give up, but after all these years, we’ve become the advocacy site for grown-ups.

By the way, if you’d like to support the ad-free, levelheaded and highly effective advocacy on this site, please consider becoming an underwriter during our spring fundraiser. Here are details.

Underwritten by

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.

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.

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.

Underwritten by Enterprise

A family-owned, world-class portfolio of brands. A global network that spans across more than 85 countries. Some 97,000 dedicated team members sharing common values. And more than 1.9 million vehicles taking our customers wherever they need to go.

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.

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.

Underwritten by InsureMyTrip

It’s simple. InsureMyTrip finds you the right travel insurance plan, every time. InsureMyTrip is the authority on travel insurance. Rated A+ for travel insurance by the Better Business Bureau. All travelers that purchase a policy through  InsureMyTrip have access to Anytime Advocates® for claims assistance.

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.

Underwritten by SCOTTeVEST

An innovative apparel brand for people who want easy access to everything they need. For those who live for every second, SCOTTeVEST lets you maximize your life. Ditch the carry-on bag and pick up a  SCOTTeVEST.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Underwritten by Sungard Availability Services

Leveraging more than 35 years of experience, Sungard AS designs, builds and runs critical IT services that help businesses manage complex IT, adapt quickly and build resiliency and availability. A leading provider of critical production and recovery services, Sungard AS partners with customers across the globe, delivering resilient IT systems, infrastructure and recovery services tailored to achieving desired business outcomes.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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