We have more additions and adjustments coming soon in our Rick Steves Travel Forum. These changes are not yet implemented, but will likely be available later this week. Let's dive right in.
Here at RS HQ, we get lots of people emailing our on-staff travel advisors directly, asking the same sorts of questions that folks who come to our forums are asking and answering. So we thought, why don't we encourage these folks to just visit our already-lively forums to ask their questions? So we're going to start encouraging our many one-off emailers to participate in the forums. As such, when invited by the OP (original poster), Rick's on-staff travel advisors are also going to offer Rick's perspectives in addition to their own.
How will you know when a Rick Steves travel advisor adds a post? We believe in full transparency as we have no agenda here other than to give people the best travel advice and encourage travel. We also believe that you, our community of intelligent travelers, also shouldn't be overshadowed by any sort of marker highlighting our own posts. We are introducing a new badging system… you may see similar systems on other forums. New contributors won't have a badge to start. As you give more replies, you'll get a badge and your badge will change as you reach posting milestones: a green badge for someone with 500 to 1,000 posts, light blue for 1,000 – 2,499 posts, yellow for 2,500 – 4,999 posts, and a dark blue badge for over 5,000 posts. Rick's travel staff will have their own badge so that they can be easily identified.
We feel that these changes will boost popularity in our Travel Forum and give our community a greater voice with the public and their travel questions, as well as recognize the excellent contributions of our many long-time posters, without whom we would not have the awesome forums we have today. We hope that Rick's travel staff can be helpful with their own contributions and give Rick's take on travel questions when called upon to do so. Make no mistake; the primary voice in the Rick Steves Travel Forum is your own.
More Forum Improvements!
Invitations: Before you submit a new topic, check the "chime in" checkbox and your question will receive an answer from Rick's travel staff within two business days, usually faster. We won't chime in if you don't ask us to.
Topic Aggregation by User: See all your past posting activity in one place! Or find that helpful reply that So-n-so gave. Go to any profile, including your own, to find a link that allows you to view all topics to which that person has contributed.
Better Navigation: We're adding a sidebar listing of all other categories in our forum. Your feedback has been taken into consideration, so now you will be able to move from category to category with greater ease.
Optional Email Notifications for the OP: We are building the feature (back) in so that when a topic you started receives a post in reply, you will get an email notification. EDIT: This feature is defaulting to OFF for existing members. New members beginning 3/27/14 will have this defaulting to ON. You can turn this feature on or off in your profile.
Improved Reading: We are tightening up the design of each post and fixing the visual delineation between paragraphs of text in your posts. This should mean less empty white space and less scrolling while improving the readability of your posts.
Auto-Locking Old Topics: You've asked for this for years to stop "zombie threads" and this is one of many things our new forum makes possible that was always impossible in the ol' Helpline.
More Tweaks: We've adjusted forum posts in search returns and our "Explore Europe" pages, spam protection, and some administrative features to help make everything a smoother experience for you. You'll also return to the page you were on when you click to sign in.
Let us know in a post below if you have any comments, concerns, or joyous yelps.