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.
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.