[Answered] Are social threads valuable to MP ?

Discussion in 'Talk To Me' started by milchap, Mar 30, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. milchap
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    milchap Gold Member

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    Three factors seem to be the key to success for MP:
    1- A friendly community
    2- relevant and knowledgeable content to assist business and leisure travellers plan, implement and share their travel
    3- An effective and leading edge IT platform to support this travelling community.
    Without doubt the MP IT platform is hailed as superior and at the front of the pack.
    Content is being built and wikis are in the hopper and being crafted.
    The MP community is indeed friendly and growing.
    There now needs to be a discussion on social threads. The reason that I say this is that I find perculating in various threads some comments that social threads have little value and do not really contribute to the success of MP.
    Reminding ourselves that this is a friendly community where divertisty of opinion is not only tolerated but encouraged as built in checks and balances, the question on the agenda is :
    Are social theads valuable to MP?
    I will start off the discussion by stating that they are indeed valuable to building community and establishing rapport and frienships, They are effective in avoiding the silo effect where travellers only frequent their preferred forums and interact with the members of these forums. Forgive me using myself as an example: I am an FT Evangelist with over 19k posts mostly in the Air Canada forum. I socialize with some AC frequent flyers but have never socialized with other forum members.
    I am helping build content in my MP home forum and I am also getting to know other frequent flyers through interactions in a social forum. (FYI this forum has content and I have built contacts for future trips)
    Granted that MP is not Facebook and that social interaction is not the core activity of MP which is frequent flyers helping each other enhance their travel activities. However social theads build rapport and lubricate the respecful and friendly handing down of travel knowledge to the community.
    Therefore social threads well done contribute to the vitality of communication here on MP. I have no problem putting content first and foremost in the construction of a well designed site but members liking each other sure makes it easier to build the site.
    Quid tibi videtur ? (for those latin challenged....What do you think?
     
  2. Kaanapali
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    Kaanapali Gold Member

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    Great question and post Milchap.
    While I think some on here may quibble with the order of the three (3) factors you enumerated for the success of MP, I do not think any on here would argue with the inclusion of all the factors as needed for success.

    Many of the comments questioning the value of social/community-building threads seem to not be questioning the value of the threads per se, but rather the intentions of the posters in said threads. To wit; certain mileage runners and mattress-runners are (to be blunt) accusing other mileage runners and mattress-runners of being post/like/points-runners. Ok, so? While one could first say "pot kettle black" to this, I suggest what is really being stated here is that status is being accorded or would be accorded based upon such points - and as a group of mileage/mattress runners and people who love to travel on deals....we all want a higher status or in on the latest deal.

    Well, with the recent manual selection of a few lucky members to Gold status, hopefully this argument will be put to bed. Points/posts/likes do NOT get you higher status (other than perhaps silver...which almost everyone has anyways). The admins and Randy have decided to hand-select those they view as worthy of being Gold...and this is their right...it is their site. (Of course as members of this site we can tongue in cheek (or not so tongue in cheek as the case may be) complain about that.....but that is our right as members).

    So the issue then becomes as Milchap has phrased it: Are social community threads important/valued to building MP? It is NOT a question of whether they are more or less important than content threads. It IS a question of whether they have importance/value in and of themselves in the building of MP.

    My answer is yes...they do have importance. If not, why have them at all? We could simply be a Wikipedia site, plenty of information and no interaction. I do not believe any here at heart want that. (off soapbox)
     
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  3. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    I might quibble with the order but not with the three points. Once again your contribution shines milchap.
     
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  4. milchap
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    milchap Gold Member

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    My three points were only listed and not weight listed...
     
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  5. Cholula
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    Cholula Milepoint Guide

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    I think the social aspect of Frequent Flyer travel is one of the primary reasons for the creation of this site.

    If you want FF threads with no human interaction or, worse yet, with snarky human interaction, there are other IBB's for that.

    Here I think the best of both worlds are being blended together. It's just a matter of getting the balance so that MP doesn't turn in to a mini-Facebook at the expense of helpful and knowledgeable content for frequent flyers.

    It's getting that balance right, IMO, that is responsible for the tweaks that we see in the site every so often.
     
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  6. Kaanapali
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    Kaanapali Gold Member

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    Thank you. MP is really a recipe. Good Italian or French Bread needs flour and yeast. One is content, but the other allows it to rise above. :D
     
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  7. Tenmoc
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    Tenmoc Gold Member

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    Ok. I am going to try to phrase all of this carefully and as non complaining as I can.

    Simple answer, Yes. Social threads have value. They are the reason I stay here when I get frustrated by the bait and switch of the original reasons I came here.

    I have met many people I would travel to meet IRL or go somewhere if I knew they'd be there to meet them. Most are people I've never even heard of before in my 6+ years on FT. MilChap here included. And yes I am aware of his other handle on FT, but never noticed any of his posts there.

    The FL* Lounge in particular has been very friendly. Very accommodating and has had a large range of topics discussed with a lot of knowledge. Everything from Nuclear Power and the effects of things in Japan to Cricket to wine to cars to food to restaurants in different towns etc. I understand its not organized and therefore little value to those who weren't there to see it, but that's the way things go. I would assume the same can be said about the Penalty Box in the UA/CO forum. I don't know for sure. Those complaining about our thread don't know either.

    As for content. I am trying to help build things of use here. I have multiple hotel reviews with pics up. I have multiple restaurant reviews with pics up. I along with Kaanapali created an AA FAQ page as a precursor to the wiki. I am on the wiki team and plan to help as much as I can with the creation of those. I have done what I can to be in the newbie forum welcoming new people and answering questions.

    Most importantly in my efforts to actually participate here I am involved with many more forums than I normally would be. I think most of us are doing that.

    I have been quite frustrated by the responses we've gotten to many questions but I am trying to put that in perspective and continue to do the things that make this site fun for me. As soon as fun time is over, so will participation. So everyone sit back and realize that opinions of others, even those of management, are not very important. One of two things can happen. We're asked to leave and take our information with us, or we deal with the situation and have fun. I'm voting for having fun. The gains to me have already been many in new friends and some information and to be honest the chance to help create this place. I'm a builder. I like to do that.
     
  8. kwai
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    kwai Gold Member

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    And good Thai food need sweet, spicy, salty and sometimes sour in the proper balance. If any is out of proportion they don't mix well.
     
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  9. travelinmike33
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    travelinmike33 Silver Member

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    I think Kaanapali's first response covered things pretty well for me. If anyone thinks that the social threads aren't valuable, they don't have to read them. As long as anyone finds them valuable, it contributes to MP.
     
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  10. Dovster
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    Dovster Gold Member

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    There are 12 guys on your block. Six you go bowling with on Wednesdays and often share cook outs with on the weekends.

    The other six you barely know.

    You walk into your local, friendly, Best Buy and find that for one hour only they are selling all TVs at an 80% discount.

    Which of the 12 are you going to call?

    The friendships you build up on the social threads will be encouraging you to post about bargains, miles & points, good hotels, etc on other threads.
     
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  11. Counsellor
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    Counsellor Gold Member

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    Let's define some terms so we know that we're all talking about the same things (or so we'll have a better idea of when we're NOT talking about the same thing).

    If by "social threads" you mean something like the community threads on FT, where we recognize each other's birthdays, announce children or grandchildren, and arrange meetings large or small, formal or informal, I think they're great! As Kaanapali so rightly says, we don't want to be a cold and sterile Wikipedia subset. We are people, we are human, and it adds value (and a delight in being here) to show that. I recall during FlyerTalk's first year the threads on Catman's birthday when we found out he was born on New Year's Eve. Those brought us together into a social circle, with much in common besides just miles and points. Great!

    And you have the news-related threads. By that I don't mean just commenting on news stories, but growing out of what is in the news. A great example was the series of almost blog-like postings from Dovster and his counterpart in Lebanon (whose handle escapes me at the moment) telling us what they saw and felt as war raged around them. This wasn't just some talking head on CNN, or a dry columnist in the Times of London, these were people we knew and liked (and in some cases had actually met), and coming from them the information and perceptions were much more vivid and personal. Like sessions in the local watering hole over an adult beverage, or around a campfire, this was "social" and it was good.

    Then you have threads that are mainly banter. If they're sufficiently at the adult level (I don't mean "X rated", but rather "sophisticated") they're a delight. Again drawing from early FT, the running banter between Merry and baobab certainly added to the entertainment and to the anticipation I felt when returning to FT and beginning a new session at the site. Here, too, you can find value added, a true contribution to the bonding that it takes to make a community out of a "bunch of people." I'm all in favor of such.

    But then you also have the "Mr. Rogers" or "Barney the Terminally Friendly Purple Dinosaur" threads, so saccharine that just viewing them can cause diabetes. There's a reason Mr. Rogers and Barney are pitched to very young children. 'Nuff said, I think. Group hugs can be found on a different site.

    Now we come to the "counting threads" and their clan (in which I include the "random number" or "free association" threads). These on the other hand strike me as not only a waste of time and bandwidth, but actually pernicious. They are not just content-free, one has to wonder about the type of mentality that can be amused by them. They're not "social". They're not even shiny.

    Some may say if you don't like them, don't read them, but the bigger question is why permit them? If you allow them, they will come, and bring others of their ilk. Is that what MilePoint wants to attract? Is bandwidth really so cheap? And what sort of an impression do they leave on the casual visitor who enters the site thinking it had something to do with miles, points, or travel. If we really do want to be a "miles, points, and travel" community, we should make the site attractive to those who are interested in those subjects.

    That sort of thread (the "counting" ones and their wannabes) is the functional equivalent of what I as a gardener with a varied garden of flowers and vegetables (the attractive and beautiful as well as the wholesome and functional) would promptly spray with herbicide or snatch out by the roots if I came across it in my garden. Just because I prize a variety of plants does not mean I tolerate quackgrass gladly.

    At least that's how I see it.
     
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  12. Dovster
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    Dovster Gold Member

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    His handle is BEYFlyer and I am very happy to say that he recently joined Milepoint.
     
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  13. Frequent Freak
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    Frequent Freak Silver Member

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    I guess wasting bandwidth is in the eye of the beholder. It must not be wasting bandwidth to repeatedly complain about counting threads.

    http://milepoint.com/forums/threads/what-is-wrong-with-the-other-forum.5906/page-6#post-278278
    http://milepoint.com/forums/threads/while-i-will-never-trust-mp.6018/page-3#post-236074
    http://milepoint.com/forums/threads/while-i-will-never-trust-mp.6018/page-2#post-233325
    http://milepoint.com/forums/threads/milepoint-v-flyertalk.5911/page-3#post-227519

    And posting numbers is OK as long as it's your member number.

    http://milepoint.com/forums/threads/the-member-number-thread.675/page-3#post-8282

    More direct to the OP's question: The very fact the social threads are as long as they are, are as diverse as they are, and are posted to by as large a number of members as they are is ample evidence that the membership here finds them useful. Also, of all the long ones, only one I know of has been shut down, so the rest implicitly have Randy's approval for now. Some of the threads are for me, some of them aren't, one of them I started. It's not my business to decide which ones are "wastes of bandwith" or "pernicious" or not actually "social".
     
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  14. travelinmike33
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    travelinmike33 Silver Member

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    I don't get all the references since I wasn't around FT for all the fun, but I generally agree with these sentiments. I think the problem comes when an admin thinks a thread is becoming too much of a "Mr Rogers" and shuts it down, but the posters think it's a banter thread (or something similar).
     
  15. techgirl
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    techgirl Milepoint Guide

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    Great analogy and I completely agree.

    I got bored on other sites because I no longer knew who I was interacting with and it became generic and arms-length for me. I don't tend to stick around communities if I don't feel a common bond with others.
     
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  16. Horse
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    Horse Gold Member

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    I agree with milchap, Kaanapali, jbcarioca, Cholula, Tenmoc, kwai, travelinmike, Dovster, and those who stated similar opinions.
    It's the social threads that keep me on here for more time than I would normally spend. If I was only looking for the latest info, deal, or what have you, I would check this place twice a day, add anything relevant, and sign out. Because of the social threads, I have met some really great and interesting people here that I never would have otherwise.
     
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  17. msv
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    msv Gold Member

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    I have experience trying to bring a social networking site to life in a very regulated industry and have been pleased with the progress in MP has made in allowing people to feel comfortable about posting in multiple forums through the friendships they make. Although some are certainly fountains of knowledge they don't always share evenly and people may be intimidated to ask. But many just want to learn and contribute what they can. Interaction with people you feel comfortable with encourages you to share and knowledge exchange will be enhanced by this. Subforums or micro-communities will guide people to the best answer in places they wouldn't normally look.
     
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  18. doc
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    doc Silver Member

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    Bowling? :D
    Really ;)
    This is 20... WAIT.. okay.. I'm finally starting to get it now.. at last :)
    Excellent post, Dov.. so very well put.. can't possibly say it any better ...
    For those who may wonder, why did 'doc' post so much on FT/TOBB.. yet he hardly posts here on MP
    Dov is one really BIG reason ! :)
    Hope everyones' day is going really great as well :)
     
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  19. secretsea18
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    secretsea18 Gold Member

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    So we can expect to see lots of activity from you, doc, now that you and Dov are both over here..... right? :)
     
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  20. Dovster
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    Dovster Gold Member

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    That's odd. Usually it's just women who go into hiding when I show up.
     
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  21. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    Hey prior to MP I was only counting backwards from 3 to launch bottle rockets and look at me now!
     
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  22. Dovster
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    Dovster Gold Member

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    You and I were both in Atlanta together and despite the fact that you, too, are a doc I got no activity at all. :(
     
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  23. canucklehead
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    canucklehead Gold Member

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    I would voice my agreement with others who are drawn to the social aspects of Milepoint and consider it a positive. Over the past month, I think I have learned more about poster's personalities and their 'likes' than just travel (which I have also gained from and hopefully contributed to). I started a thread a month ago about what social networks people belong to and how they use them. At the time, I saw MP as an travel information sharing site, with a social aspect, I now see that in equal terms and it is something that brings me back here.

    All three of milchap's points are important for a successful website, and without any one of the three, it will not succeed. (Thankfully, I think MP is heading in the correct direction).
     
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  24. secretsea18
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    secretsea18 Gold Member

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    You did not try that much. :(
     
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  25. Dovster
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    Dovster Gold Member

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    I gave up after what happened in the bar.

    For those who don't know the story, earlier in the day secretsea18 had been demonstrating mouth-to-mouth resusitation on a plastic doll as part of the Delta Road Warrior Training.

    It gave me an idea and after she had a few drinks that night, I faked collapsing on the bar room floor in the hope that she would give me the "kiss of life".

    She didn't even bother getting out of her chair.

    "Are you just going to let that man die, Doc?" one of the other FTers MPers asked her.

    "I reached my limit," she told him. "I never give mouth-to-mouth to more than one dummy in a day."
     

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