What’s got you talking? Honest mistakes, emotional support snakes and unconscionable profits

It’s a kinder, gentler world, thanks to our common sense code of conduct. And in that world, it’s unusual for any post to exceed 100 comments.

So when two of last month’s stories soared past the century mark, I had to check the calendar. Was this 2012, a dark time when the mob ruled below the fold and this site was often confused with one of those loyalty program blogs?

It was not.

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Turns out we published several engagement-worthy posts that you just couldn’t stop talking about. And that’s good, because who am I to stop you from talking? I just run this asylum.

Before I get into the offending posts, a quick word of thanks to our friends at Disqus, our commenting platform, who have offered us expanded metrics in the last few months. This has helped us make our comments even better by creating more comment-worthy stories.

An honest mistake keeps my sister from flying United (130 comments)

Did United Airlines double-dip when it forced Vache Mikaelian’s sister to pay twice for her ticket? This one triggered a discussion about security and the value of the airline industry’s strict ticket change policies.

Here’s a sample comment from one of our more consumer-focused commenters:

Here’s one of the more industry-friendly comments. (I’m not suggesting this commenter always makes industry-friendly comments, by the way.)

The poll tilted in the consumer’s favor, with 70 percent of the respondents saying it was wrong to ask a passenger to pay twice for a ticket.

Should United Airlines have refunded Vache Mikaelian's sister's first ticket?

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And in case you are wondering, that is also the correct answer.

Let’s ban emotional support animals from the sky (126)

This is a perennial favorite. Airlines are petitioning the Transportation Department to adopt stricter rules on emotional-support animals, which are often nothing more than pets flying for free. And the fur flew on this one!

Actually, I was surprised by the overall tone of this discussion. It was really civil, considering the incendiary subject matter. When commenters disagreed, they generally did so politely. Color me impressed.

And this time, the poll showed a little more than three-quarters of the respondents favored declassifying comfort pets as legitimate service animals.

Should emotional-support animals be designated as service animals for the purposes of flying?

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Again, correct answer.

Is it ethical for a tour operator to make such a high profit? (72)

If someone cancels a tour, should the operator refund it, especially if they can resell the package? Another fascinating debate. Here’s a sample comment:

In the end, the poll suggested people sided with the consumer by about a 3-to-1 ratio.

When a customer cancels a vacation and a tour operator resells the package, should the tour operator offer a full refund?

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And since we’re a consumer advocacy site, that is also the right answer. Nothing complicated about it.

We love a good discussion, even when many of the participants are here to defend the very industry we criticize. That’s what makes this place great — that we can have a quiet and civilized discussion without name-calling and slinging toxic mud. It is what sets us apart from those other sites.

The Disqus information is extremely helpful, but in the context of these high-comment posts, it would be great to also know how many comments were deleted by our moderators and which ones were simply not approved. As I’ve said many times, it’s rare for our moderation team to delete anything, but we want to know which posts are triggering the deletions and what they said. Maybe Disqus can add that to the final product.

Here’s to a continued vibrant and polite comments section. Thank you for your participation.

 

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