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Building awareness in our community -- avoid shaming

Hi everyone,

I'd like to bring up a topic to help our community as a whole, and sometimes that means discussing issues. In the same vein as past discussions I've started about being patient with newcomers, maintaining politeness no matter what, and being aware of what your actions cause outside of the thread itself (namely, it drives people away from participating -- and possibly traveling -- when they see a newcomer treated poorly), I'd like to speak for a moment about shaming. I can appreciate the irony in that this very post could be construed as shaming shaming, but it needs to be brought up in order to improve awareness of the issue.

It's not something the majority of our community does. I still find this to be one of the nicest corners of the internet. However, patience among some of our members has apparently worn a little thin. It's unfortunately not exactly new either. I've seen a few too many threads in which someone basically shamed the OP for not knowing something or for having been unaware of what was covered in past discussions. A few have even piled on, which is just bad.

If I'm looking at things in the most positive light possible, some are doing it to show others what information could have helped had it been known beforehand... so that others reading along can now know it before their own travels.

If I'm looking at things in the worst possible light, the behavior comes off as self-aggrandizement or some form of clique-style superiority. This is usually how it is received by the targeted individual and many others reading along.

When posting to this forum, everyone -- whether you have 10 or 10,000 posts -- needs to be in a frame of mind to remember that they were new travelers once. Some need more help than others. People are here asking their questions because they actually don't know. People are sharing experiences that could have gone better -- and they're trying to help others by sharing that experience -- because they didn't know something. That is OK! It's why we have our forum! What I'm asking for is that we maintain patience and be aware of what shaming looks like in a written format like our forum.

What I'm NOT asking for is for members to stop providing advice that may have helped in a situation, or inform others about something they don't know. That is still helpful to the individual and others reading along. The nuance I want forum members to pay attention to is to be true to the purpose behind your reply as I know you all are genuinely here to help others. If you're going to give advice about what could have helped, be very careful with your tact. Even relatively neutral comments can come off as being negative depending on the juxtaposition.

Unsolicited negative reviews

These threads are always problematic from a moderation standpoint. Yes, no one likes someone who just comes to a forum to rage, but we need to be aware that many do this from a position of wanting to help and warn others. Picking away at their story to try and find their fault is only too common. Be extremely tactful if you're going to ask for more information to get at the root of an issue. Of course, shaming them for what happened to them -- even if you think they deserve it -- casts our entire community in a bad light. I ask that we be extra patient with such threads or avoid replying at all.

Moving forward

Overall, a big thank you to everyone for making our community an incredibly helpful and positive space for discussing travel. Thanks to everyone for reading along. My goal is to build awareness and I hope this serves as a good reminder for everyone whether this applies directly to you or not.

Posted by
5512 posts

So, it’s not just what we say, but how we say it. I hope that people will continue to use this Forum for helpful sharing of information. Even if something might be perceived as negative, it could still be done nicely. There’s so much meanness these days in so many places and ways, and countering that on any level will make the world a better place. Happy traveling.

Posted by
23 posts

Thank you! In the same vein, please be encouraging when newer travelers plan to visit "popular sites"--there's a reason they are popular, even if experienced travelers now find them overcrowded/overhyped/wouldn't go back themselves. For someone who hasn't seen these classic sites, they can still be worthwhile experiences! Of course helpful tips from expert travelers on maximizing these visits and avoiding travel pitfalls are always appreciated!

Posted by
48 posts

Thank you Webmaster - a great reminder for all of us who enjoy this forum.

Posted by
31435 posts

Well said, Webmaster. This is a good reminder to keep everyone on track and keep the forum a polite and friendly place for travellers to get advice.

Posted by
27425 posts

Thanks for putting up this thread, Webmaster, a little nudge in the right direction helps from time to time...

Posted by
164 posts

Thank you Webmaster and to your responses. Things were just getting too harsh, edgy, critical… on this wonderful and fun travel forum. A little kindness goes a long way!

Posted by
90 posts

As a frequent reader but rare poster, I would also remind folks that sometimes people post a question about something that is easily google-able in order to start a conversation, not because they don't think they can find the information elsewhere. I've seen numerous posts where someone posts a question, and the answers are "Look it up!" "Use google!" It's a bit like being at a party and asking someone what the weather is looking like for the rest of the week, and they say Look it up! And then walk away.

Posted by
7421 posts

You’ll be happy to know that I responded to someone’s post a couple of days ago. . . thought about it and this message . . . and went back and deleted it.

Thank you for the reminder.