Change is in the air

Edit: IT'S ALIVE!!!

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/all-topics

Also, please note the new "jump to top" and "jump to bottom" links! Right hand side of your screen!


Hello fellow travelers:

For those who have not run across my few postings already, I'm Kate, the web producer in charge of our overall website redesign.

I want to thank all of you who provided detailed and extremely useful feedback for how to improve our travel forums here. All change is jarring, but sometimes not all of the change equals an improvement to usability or community, and we absolutely acknowledge and understand that in this case.

Before I get into the meat of this post, I want to specifically address a complaint I've seen sprinkled throughout these posts about the new forum, which is that we solicit feedback but aren't actually reading it, or that reported issues have not been solved yet, and therefore we aren't paying attention or reading comments, and no changes will be made. This is 100% false. We are a tiny, tiny web team (three of us, and only one of us doing any technical work) working on a website that comprises of around 27,000 assets. The forum is but one part of this massive website. We work closely with an equally tiny IT team comprised of developers whose main focus is not our forums or even our website, but the many, many components of our internal operations systems. Needless to say, we are stretched incredibly thin, and even thinner now with this major website redesign and getting everything working the way it should. We are taking all of this seriously, but we are not a big company and not a big team working on one heck of a massive website.

Now, the main thing I want to tell you: we hear you, we understand, we agree, and we're making improvements.

1) "Classic view." Many of you have written about the loss of "classic view" being among the biggest pain points of the new forum. This is coming back. We are in the final stages of this work, and will be relaunching it soon. Stay tuned!

2) Usability issues. There are some major usability issues just with reading and responding to posts in different country forums, in that you have to jump all the way back out to the main landing page of forums just to choose another country forum. We've put our heads together for a solution to this issue, and are currently sketching it out with our developers.

3) Bug fixes. Paragraph breaks don't work, bullet points are wonky, we need a "back to top" link at the bottom of long strings of replies, etc. These have been reported, and they're in the queue.

4) All those dang country forums. We're exploring this and chatting internally about it. This is going to take some time to work out, as there are many moving pieces to this puzzle and many things to consider. But we are talking about how to ease the pain here.

Again I want to thank those of you who have taken the time and energy to detail your thoughts about the new forums and how to improve them. And of course, I need to thank Elaine for starting the "Website ReDesign - Let's Talk about What We Like" thread, and to everyone who took the time to contribute to that. :o) That is awesome, and it's great to read all the kudos for the overall site redesign. We worked really hard on this, and we really love that you guys love the new look and feel.

Again, I must beg: please be patient, please know that we're paying close attention, and that we're getting to things as we can with our tiny, hardworking web team. We love this community, and we want it to be as useful and fabulous for everyone as it was before the restructuring. We're working on it.

Thanks again, and happy travels!
Kate

Posted by Grier
Carmel, IN
1050 posts

Yay!!! The return of Classic View. Or Son of Classic View.

Thanks for the update, Kate.

Posted by Norma
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
3403 posts

Kate, super that you have responded to all the complaints, whines, kudos, compliments & nostalgia posted over the past weeks. Your explanation should go a long way to quiet us all down while we wait for the improvements and the promised answers to our vociferous complaints. Nicely done.

Posted by Gail
Downingtown, USA
1555 posts

Bravo to you for this update. It is so refreshing to know that you are listening. Thanks so much!!!

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17722 posts

kate,

Thank you for providing this update on the progress of "bug fixes". A lot of suggestions have been made since the launch of the new website and it's gratifying to hear that these are being noted. Your comments are appreciated!

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4862 posts

Thanks for the update Kate. I'm sure you are all working incredibly hard and the changes can't happen overnight. It's good to know our concerns aren't falling on deaf ears.

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2600 posts

Thank you... and as I am sure you can tell from the passionate answers you have received (even though many negative) it is because we really do care about this Helpline/Travel Forum and giving all our advice... after all... it is 'solicited advice' on this forum...not like when you hear a family member is going to Europe. On this site people appreciate what we say:) so I, for one, would be extremely sad to not have this little diversion. If we didn't care we would just disappear. Thank you again.

Posted by Webmaster
Edmonds, WA, USA
241 posts

Hi everyone,
I want to add to Kate's comments and say thank you to all of you for your patience through this process. We really are listening and will make improvements, adjustments, and fixes as possible.

With regard to what many of us knew as "Classic View," our reincarnation will be more of an "All Topics" view. You'll be able to see all the latest topics that have been created and discussed in the forums. We hope that this will go a long way toward easing the difficulty involved with navigating between sections of the new forum, improving the ease with which you can reply to those who have questions, and reestablishing the sense of community that some of you felt was lost due to the expansion.

Thanks again for your patience as we work on fixes for the forum and the new website.

Cheers,

RS Webmaster

Posted by Nikky
Seattle, WA
13 posts

I've detected a slight shift in the force within the past few minutes.

Posted by Elaine
Columbia, SC
744 posts

Thank You for listening! Thank you for reacting! Thank you for appreciating how much some of really care about this site.

AND ESPECIALLY THANK YOU FOR BRINGING BACK THE CLASSIC VIEW, EVEN IF IT'S A HYBRID VERSION. ;-))

...AND YES, I AM YELLING!!!

Posted by Webmaster
Edmonds, WA, USA
241 posts

Elaine is now banned for yelling.

I kid, I kid. We're glad you like it. :)

Posted by Elaine
Columbia, SC
744 posts

....and JUMPING UP .....and JUMPING DOWN....and JUMPING UP .....and JUMPING DOWN - Whee!!!

Posted by Elaine
Columbia, SC
744 posts
"all-topics"

IT's FABULOUS!!!!
I love. love , love it.

I had a nasty day at work, then I come home and find these fun things and the great news here from Kate. I'm feeling rather perky now. Maybe too perky.

OK - I'll shut up now.

Posted by Grier
Carmel, IN
1050 posts

Thank you for the jump to bottom and jump to top buttons!

Posted by Darcy
Lewiston, Idaho, USA
1201 posts

Thanks Web crew! You're doing a great job and you're appreciated!

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7671 posts

Thanks for the update and for your responsiveness. To paraphrase Terry kathryn, we whine because we care about this place. If we didn't (care, not whine) we wouldn't be here.

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3196 posts

Love All Topics and Jump Up/Down... making progress... thank you!

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7819 posts

thanks,, nice to hear about the project in progress and happy to hear about the "jump" buttons.

Posted by Karen
Santa Rosa, CA
599 posts

Love the jump to top/bottom. Thanks for listening!

Posted by Diane
Ottawa
1154 posts

Thank you very, very much Kate (and "small but mighty" team)... I love the "all forums" page and the jump buttons!!!!

Wow -- that will really help and should result in an increase in responses. :-)

Q: Can the all-forums page length just be longer (higher post count) before having to hit page 2?

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7954 posts

Hrumph!,

Now I've got to change my Butthead List all around again.

It really screws things up when people listen.

Posted by Carroll
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
1346 posts

What a great post, Kate. Thanks so much. I am responsible for an internal website at work - much smaller than this one, and I am amazed at what you are able to do with such a small team. Kudos to you and your team!

Posted by Valerie
Tacoma
142 posts

Having remained silent but sad during the institution of these changes, I cannot tell you how happy I am with the addition of All Topics. Now I can once again quickly scan the site for the limited topics I have insight on. Until you made this change I had basically stopped using your website at all - and I have been in the habit of scanning it at least twice a day for years. Thanks for the change - I am back online.

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
3496 posts

Thank you so much for letting us know.

Are you also working on the Search function?

Posted by George
Canada
815 posts

The return of "Classic View" is all I need! Well, and maybe a Search Function that returns results in descending date order.

Posted by Nancy
Corvallis OR
960 posts

I must be missing something. I don't see an "All Forums" choice anywhere. Where is it?

Posted by George
Canada
815 posts

Nancy, see the link in her heading. This might be just a tide-over until they set-up a permanent link on the website.

Posted by Nancy
Corvallis OR
960 posts

@George - yes, I saw that, but the wording of some of the responses led me to believe it was available somewhere more obvious, without having to be in this thread to link to it.

I'm sure it will eventually be available elsewhere because a lot of people would never find it inside this post.

Posted by Alex
Longmont, CO, USA
340 posts

Keep up the good work Kate. I know how hard it can be to do an overhaul with limited (human) resources. Don't forget about Austria in the Hotel/Restaurant reviews section. :-)
Now drink your coffee and get back to it! :-):-):-):-)

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7671 posts

The All Topics link is down toward the bottom of the Travel Forum screen, on the right, in the blue box called Using the Travel Forums. Not very visible, but it's there.

Posted by Nancy
Corvallis OR
960 posts

Thanks Nancy. I was just about to post that I found it as one of the 'tips' in that box, but you beat me to it.

Posted by Rebecca
Nashville, TN, USA
644 posts

Thank you Kate, Andrew, and the rest of the Web team for all of your hard work! The new website is awesome, and so are you guys!!

Posted by Kim
Paris
537 posts

Thank you Kate for taking the time to respond (and to explain that you're only 3 people!). I too appreciate your willingness to listen and consider our pleas.

Hang in there!

Posted by Sharon
TX
505 posts

Ohmygoodness!! Yay! Yay! Just now seeing these posts! THANK YOU to you, Kate, Webmaster, and teammate for all your hard work. I shan't be lost again! I think perhaps it's time to delete the "lost" post?

Posted by Sarah
Chicago (formerly St. Louis), IL, USA
1311 posts

Thank you to the web team for all your hard work and for taking everyone's comments into account as much as possible. In this era of "humanless" technology and huge social sites like Facebook , it's so refreshing to see that this team genuinely cares about the opinions of volunteers.

Posted by Sharon
Atlanta
2663 posts

Hi Kate!

You all have a tough job! Thanks to you for your thoughtful comments, for taking time to listen, and to the entire team for working diligently to improve the Travel Forum! Bravo!

Posted by Roy
Auburn, AL
800 posts

Good work all around. Newcomers will find it easy to post in the new format and regulars on this site will find it easy to sort through new posts with Classic View, where those with knowledge about a place can find and answer questions about little-visited places. But things move down the Classic View list quickly, so I expect that there will still be a lot of regulars checking the listings for their favorite countries. Good luck with the remaining work on the country forums.

Posted by Douglas
Oak Park, Illinois
2373 posts

Thanks for the updates on how things are going and how you are listening to and evaluating all of our feedback. I had said before that I would be patient and wait to pass final "judgment" until all of the changes were implemented and the bugs worked out.

It sounds like you have a way to satisfy both user groups here: the people coming for help and the people responding to queries and threads. If so, I welcome that very much as it has been very difficult to move around and find new queries that I can help out with.

Posted by Diane
Ottawa
1154 posts

Kate,
May I suggest a small-font link "All topics" to appear just below our name, when signed in?

If I'm reading, the back button works fine. But after I have written a reply to a post, I find that I have to go back to the Forums page to get back to the link from there. It if was under my name, then I'd just have to jump to the top and be back with one click.

I'm more inclined now to seek out the proper forum in which to pose a question I would have, as I now know that the readers will be both forum-specific and the more frequent contributors that will be using the "All topics".

This was actually quite a smart set of solutions that you and your team have cooked up - kudos!
And thanks!!

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17722 posts

Kate, Andrew & the web team,

Thank you for bringing back the missing fields on the mobile version of the Forum. Having the number of posts, last reply date etc. is valuable information to have (at least for me) and allows me to skim through the topics much quicker. I often remember the number of posts or last reply date on Threads that I'm following, so can see if another reply has been added.

Posted by Michael
just North of San Diego ,CA, USA
32 posts

Great posts and updates by the Web and Forum development teams as well as concerned contributors.

Anybody know how to search for your own posts? I've tried a couple of different things unsuccessfully.
With activity picking up on the new and developing forum my posts slide back several pages in different forum topics.
It would be great if, after logging into your account, you could just enter a search phrase for your own initiated posts...and also if a phrase could be entered that would allow you to pull up all posts you've commented on. ( perhaps with search qualifiers by date range or something).
Those capabilities would allow the really experienced frequent contributors to be even more effective.

Posted by Kim
Paris
537 posts

Echoing Ken's thanks for the number of posts in a thread -- I don't know why, but those numbers often do stick in my head for threads I'm watching.

And another thank you for the jump to top/bottom buttons. Those are SO handy.

Posted by shuttleman
5 posts

For those of us using the Kindle versions of the guidebooks, having PDF versions of the maps on the website would be useful.

Jack

Posted by Rebecca
Nashville, TN, USA
644 posts

I just went to "Hotel And Restaurant Reviews", used the "Select Country" pull-down tab, and it gave me the choice of France, Germany, Italy or Spain. Can we add some more countries; England and Scotland would be nice, or am I missing something? I tried to make the pull down box keep on extending down for more choices, but...nope...that's all there are for now. Thanks.

EDIT: On 2/10, Austria has been added. Thank you. Hopefully some other countries will also appear soon.

Posted by Kathleen
Reston, VA, USA
305 posts

Love having the "All Topics" link - it's great to scroll through the recent posts without having to choose. And the Jump to top/bottom buttons are most helpful. Thanks to the hard-working web team!

Posted by Adam
Boston
2628 posts

Maybe in addition to "all topics" (which is like drinking from a firehose for me) there could be "all forums" as a respite from the clickfest.

Posted by Diane
Ottawa
1154 posts

Hi Kate, Hi Webmaster!

Over the last few days, since the addition of the "All Topics", things have been falling into place quite nicely - so many thanks again.

One thing has come up and I was wondering if you can do a quick fix:

Can you make a link in a post open into a new tab, please?

I keep closing the tab out of habit, once I've read the linked-to page, thus losing the RS website when I do so... :-(

Posted by Laura
Virginia, USA
2889 posts

Diane, If you are using IE, you can open a link in a new tab simply by holding down the CTRL key when you click on the link. Other browsers also have similar shortcuts. You can also change the default to always open in a new tab (under tools / internet options / tabs).

Posted by Elaine
Mission Viejo, Calif., USA
763 posts

Why when we enter a "Reply" and somebody comments, do we not get an e-mail back? Also, why does the site not show "RED" when we have already commented about a particular question? I am definitely not a fan of the new format.

Posted by Susan and Monte
Granite Bay, CA
677 posts

Hello Kate,

If possible I would love to have an email notification when someone responds to my question. Just yesterday I noticed one of my posts had 18 responses and I had only been aware of about 5. Thankfully, it was at the top so I was able to see and read it. I had thought it was dead. I don't have the time to check it over weeks to see if it comes alive again.

Thank you,

Susan

Posted by Lo
Tucson
645 posts

How did westernintern... manage to permeate the website with its terrible ad for fake documents? Is there any way to block that kind of thing. So far this morning I found it on the General, Greece and Turkey sections.

P.S. I love, love, love the jump to links.

Posted by Nancy
Corvallis OR
960 posts

Lo, worse than that, it was posted in EVERY forum. Webmaster has been informed, hope it's gone soon - very annoying.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8731 posts

I actually watched that develop. It took them about 1 to 2 minutes for each post so it must have been done manually. What I noticed was that they just worked down the old list - the one you can access from your profile, and included all the closed boards like To the North.

This is another case where trusted lay moderators could have frozen or quarantined the offending items until webbie could deal with it. Unfortunately webbie has said that won't happen, so all we can do is report it.

I think that that's the first all zones spam I've seen. I was initially worried that they would multi post in each zone with a DOS attack. Thank goodness it wasn't.

I've noticed that this Helpline continues to improve and come together.

Posted by Diane
Ottawa
1154 posts

I find the spam reporting process a bit cumbersome - too many fields to fill.

Posted by Larry
Elkins Park, PA
575 posts

Did anyone Google this name? He's been doing this in other places too. And the phone number is from Cameroon. Is this maybe what became of the guy Eddie Murphy pretended to be on the train back from DC in "Trading Places"?

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7954 posts

The Web Crew is getting too damn good. I was fixing to order a Chad passport and a Bengali license to go with the Captn Midnight suit on the avatar I was devolving to fit the new theme.

Posted by Val
Long Beach, USA
92 posts

So will beautiful Bulgaria...Iceland...Romania....etc get the place they deserved?

Thank you!

I am new to the forum and loving it! My only suggestion would be to have a way of searching for info on a given topic, within a country, like "Normandy" for example, so that one would not have to skim through 6 pages of posting, to find articles on that topic, so I wouldn't ask a question that had already been answered. My gmail account sorts repeated contacts on a subject into a "thread"; the Casita Forum for fiberglass travel trailers also does this, so if you are interested, you might visit their website for a look. Thank you for providing this valuable resource.