Living in Sai Gon, I had gone to China for a month and then, back in Ha Noi decided to work my way south by train, instead of flying home.
Just before arriving in Hue, I found Travelfish on the internet for the first time and thought they had some good input about the reality of the city of Hue.
As I worked myself south, I appreciated some of the thoughts TF offered; and, also, had different views at times. In addition, TF has quite a few errors in their addresses, evaluations being confused with other places, etc.: I thought I might be able to offer a different opinion for some locations or help clarify or correct, for both TF and the traveler, some information noted in TF.
Feeling a responsiblity to give something back to the site that had given me some helpful information, I started in Hue with my posts and worked thru cities south, posting in the hotel reviews sections. I liked this area of the site as it was close to the Home page for each particular city and could be easily found by the traveler when reading about that city and trying to gain some insight or pertinent info.
In addition to the hotel itself, I gave what I thought was updated or helpful information for the immediate area (i.e. the hotel's own street), my own personal opinions and views, and a posting sequence that the reader could easily follow (since most travelers hit the same cities along the coast of Viet Nam).
Some of this could perhaps go on the message board, but why complicate things I thought. My thinking was that I could offer the traveler to have not only a hotel review, but key information for the immediate area (i.e. that hotel's particular street or surrounding area).
With a site, the traveler is forced into a learning curve on how to get around that site, what it offers, and the immediate info at hand. I felt having related info with the hotel was something I myself would like to have;
Myself, as a traveler trying to find information, didnt even know about the message board til sometime later. But, I did know about hotel reviews (many of which are blank!).
TF's guidlines for the reviews are to state that the post might be corrected for typos and meaning.
Please note comments may be edited for clarity, typos etc
There are NO other guidelines and all of my posts where within these parameters!
Not only was TF not comfortable with my posts (censorship: was it arrogance or fear?) they dont even have the courtesy to notify me!! And THAT is what really annoys me; A lot of effort on my part that is just thrown out the window like old bath water.
Obviously it takes a bit of effort and time to submit a post; those that give and make posts have some value as only a very small minority of people will ever post and many people are happy to just be 'takers' and not contribute. In addition, those that actually live in that particular country and make an effort to post might have some insight to offer that the average traveler would never be aware of, and possible appreciate. Instead, they heavily deleted portions of my posts, in addition to pertinent information for the hotel review, itself. And, again, that was without even trying to make an effort to contact me!
Remember the movie, 'Good Morning Vietnam', and all the censoring of the news that was done before it could be read on the radio? My trying to make an effort and a contribution to the site in order to make it better for other travelers was met with quite a censorship being committed on my words (again, there is nothing in the guidelines noting this will happen to your post!): That I view is as a result of very poor and bush-league management of this site.
Obviously, my attempts, as someone living in Asia, at contributing to this site are finished
#1 taz has been a member since 24/3/2008. Posts: 3
I've also addressed your concerns via email, but as you've posted on the messageboard, I'll repeat the email in part here:
Well there you go -- mistakes happen. We've got two members kaz and taz, and due to a transcription error on my behalf, the email explaining why the comments were edited was sent to the other member's email address.
So, we tried to contact you explaining why the comments were removed but stuffed it up -- sorry about that.
As I explained in the followup email that I sent to you this evening, your posts were edited for clarity -- you had posted them as accommodation reviews and we edited them as such.
There is no grand conspiracy/arrogance/fear wrapped up in our actions -- there are numerous comments on the site disagreeing with what we say and/or correcting our errors."
In summary, your comments were not censored, rather they were edited to remain relevant to the section of the site you decided to post them in -- the accommodation reviews. You will note our posting policy -- it reads:
"Please note comments may be edited for clarity, typos etc. Also, this is not intended as a means to contact the guesthouse or hotel. Messages such as reservation enquiries will be deleted -- as will ranting tirades, spam and anything else that really belongs outside."
Although it sounds like you're not planning to continue to contribute, should you change your mind, the trip reports section is here.
The fun of Travelfish, and the point of it really, is to share what we may have learned to help the next person who comes along to have a more positive experience. But it sounds like you may have got off track somewhere, since the tone of what you've written above makes it sound like you think your observations and opinions are more valid than others'.
I do detect arrogance here (your word), but it isn't on Somtam's part. Somtam bends over backwards to accommodate a wide variety of opinions and input from various users. That's why this is such a good website.
Your attempts at contributing to this site are finished? Guess what pal. I certainly won't miss you. Cheers.
The situation was thus (Somtam, if I am off base, by all means, please correct me):
1. The posts were ongoing and sequenced; by reading them it could be readily concluded that the proccess of posting was still happening; and so, what is the rush to delete a contributor's post as I havent gone anywhere?; much less, delete a post at all. (Actually, there were three more cities to contribute information on.)
2. As Somtam notes, TF attempted to contact me, once, but used a wrong name and thus address.
3. However, even according to the wayward letter (a copy has been sent to me), the reports had already been deleted before the letter was sent ('we have been paring them back'). Not moved; not flagged and asked me to contact admin and help them. Simply deleted (perhaps, and hopefully, they have not been deleted and are somewhere, but after receiving two emails, there is no suggestion that they do still exist and the letter states that they were already changed even before the letter was sent; again, I hold out hope).
I would ask the reader to consider that: a person takes time to write and post, and 90% of the information (that were considered informative and updating) was deleted. How would you feel?
4. Though Somtam notes they were useful and preferred them to be in a trips report, they werent transfered there (at least not to my knowledge at this time; nor have i been advised of such in the two emails; nor have I been able to locate them).
As the posts were in an ongoing and sequential order, they noted where I would be going to post next (i.e. "Part VII to be cont'd, see blank blank hotel in blank city"). Som tam could have easily put a note for me on the last post, or the forthcoming hotel review, and I would have easily seen it as I continued with the process. Is there a hurry to delete the posts and throw them away?
As noted in the OP, I posted the comments and information as I myself would be able to use information (linked together in a readily accessible area things that pertained to each other; or so my thought was) as a traveler; including, information that is generally not in the travel books.
Yes, the posts contained information other than just a hotel evaluation, but TF, themselves, also contribute pertinent additional information within their review of a specific location that links things together. I will admit they was a lot to the size of the posts; but then, I felt there was a lot of good information that a traveler would be able to use, and so did not hold back; but, instead was forthcoming with information as I would hope another traveler would be.
That I liked where the posts were, is not the point here. If TF had been patient and attempted to make contact with me,(again why the rush to delete them; or, why werent they simply transferred) in more ways than one, and said, 'Ms. Taz, thanks for the time, effort and information, but is there possibly a way we could work together and make this satisfactory for everyone involved?", I would have easily agreed!! Easily! After all, it is their site to manage as they see fit; but it is not their's to throw out my words, when they admit they contained useful information.
So, what has now been lost to the reader/traveler?
exacto, you may contact Somtam and ask for his thoughts on the content of the entire information, its usefullness and specifics. 90% of it is gone and so I have a hard time understanding how you can have an informed thought or make a responsible comment without knowing what was actually there.
Travelfish, and the point of it really, is to share what we may have learned to help the next person who comes along to have a more positive experience.
Am I missing something here? What if there was information within those posts, or still within me, that another traveler would find like to have? You use terms like, 'sounds like' and 'tone': Can you not state a position with some objectivity? For that, you would need to have read the original posts. Your flippant comment is unnecessary.
#4 taz has been a member since 24/3/2008. Posts: 3
The posts have been deleted, not transferred -- they cannot be retrieved.
Material is edited and/or deleted from the site on a regular (daily) basis and posts are regularly moved within the messageboard when people post stuff in the wrong section.
We have never, ever in the past contacted anyone to advise them of edits/deletes/transfers and only attempted to contact you (which we admittedly screwed up) because of the length and effort you'd gone to -- we didn't want to see you waste more of your time.
Why didn't we move your stuff to the right section? Because moving from accommodation reviews to the messageboard is more complex -- we need to reset your password then login to the site under your username, then post the messages in the right section, then edit and remove the accommodation reviews. We're a small team and don't have the time -- simple as that.
I thought taz was no longer contributing to this site. ;-)
Seriously though, taz, you accused my friend of censorship, arrogance, and acting out of fear. What kind of a reception did you expect?
I'll stand by my comment about the tone of what you'd written, as it was based exclusively on the language used in your complaint above.
As for the information that was deleted, if you truly feel that it will be of worth to others, then by all means please repost it in the trip reports section as Somtam has invited you to do. I understand what a pain that might be, but I suspect we've all had to retype many posts over the years due to computer crashes, power failures, loss of internet connection, or in this case, including the info in the wrong section of a forum.
If the info is worthwhile, then make the effort on behalf of those you'd think it would help. Otherwise, just cut your losses and move on. Regards.
"The posts have been deleted, not transferred -- they cannot be retrieved."
Taz, have you checked the search engines?
Often moderators do their thing (as they are entitled to) but before they get there frequently some bot has idled by and has indexed / cached postings so they live on forever - and beyond the reach of editors!
If you think TF is aggressive, there are many boards which may TF look like a pussycat where the moderators openly show their prejudices - which weakens their boards value. If you want to see how bad things can get search for "Mr. Mookie" on LPs VietNam branch. A real fountain of verbal effluent.
Somtam's light touch actually increases the value of the TF - leaving the value judgment of postings to readers.
#7 CatBa has been a member since 5/3/2007. Posts: 349
Or Jon_Mak_Mak could have been dropping a gentle hint that an edit function wouldn't be a bad idea around here? (Note the asterisk and wink CatBa). It would save the mods having to waste their valuable time correcting typos.
As for the OP. Well from an outsider's perspective (I can't find the post in question) it seems to me that Taz has been treated a little high-handedly.
If her input was indeed a useful update/correction as she claims then maybe she shouldn't have been treated in QUITE such a cavalier manner? Basically what comes across is this:
"Your input is of no importance. Count yourself lucky admin went to the trouble of acknowledging you, even if they did screw up and send an email to the wrong person."
A slightly more apologetic tone might have been in order? From what I can gather Ms Taz's only fault was to commit the heinous crime of posting in the wrong section of the forum?
WHY is it so inordinately complex and difficult for mods on TF to move stuff from the guest house review section to the trip report section? No one except the mods on here have any edit privileges whatsoever.... why is this high security feature necessary?
Wouldn't it be better to give posters an edit button for correcting typos themselves and put accommodation reviews into a sort of holding pen for moderator vetting? Accuracy and objectivity are what this site's whole reputation based on, so there is a case for making sure the reviews are up to standard.
It would then be a simple matter to assign a "review/feedback" post to the appropriate section without the need to cause the resentment that has happened here.
A few pointers:
As already explained, taz's posts were edited back to retain relevance. This happens on a daily basis. If we contacted every person whose comment we edited or deleted, this would be a far smaller site as we'd be filling our days telling people why/what we have changed.
Taz didn't post in the forum. He posted on individual accommodation listings -- it's an entirely separate part of the site.
We've currently got a backlog of over 3,000 member comments on individual listings waiting to be edited and the term moderator should be used in the singular, not the plural!
It's complex to transfer the posts from accommodation reviews to trip reports because it requires two password resets and a lot of tedious cut 'n paste -- yes I agree it's not ideal, but nor are beer bottles that don't have twist-tops.
We don't allow people to edit their posts nor post links because of spam. We'll be adding a links feature soonish for regular posters. But, by not allowing either links nor editing, the site is far less attractive to spammers (that is unless you're a Hanoi hotelier -- they'll spam regardless -- over 80% of our non-viagra related spam comes from Hanoi).
For an idea of the scope of spam, on the TravelfishBlogs site we have around 40 spam blogs sign-up for every real one -- often over 100 a day -- and that's just the blogs -- a very small, low traffic part of the Travelfish thang.
Dealing with spam is more time-consuming than perhaps you realise, but having the restrictions we do, while not ideal from member's POV, does free us up to work on stuff that is probably more interesting/useful to you.
Hope that helps explain the situation.
to clear up - '*Somtam, please edit this post fro tyepos'
That was a joke. I made BLATENT typos as the joke,
Fully understand the reasons for no editing of the posts and spam is a serious pain. Keep up the great work moderators!
Yes it was a perfectly blatent joke! ;-)
Thanks for the further explanations Somtam. I think that should help to mollify taz if she's still reading this thread. (I assume she's female as she refers to herself as Ms Taz.)
"We've currently got a backlog of over 3,000 member comments on individual listings waiting to be edited and the term moderator should be used in the singular, not the plural!"
Hmmm you often say "we" when referring to the TF management yet apparently there's only moderator (you presumably?) doing all that editing? Now that your site is getting quite well known as an excellent source of travel info, isn't it perhaps time to think about delegating a bit?