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Saturday, January 26, 2013

51. From Virtual Tourist - LONELY PLANET THORN TREE FORUM SHUT DOWN

The person calling himself Airbender,  sent these links:

Virtual Tourist see page 5

Troonz

Reply #49 Today (Wed 23 Jan) at 11:37am by Airbender:
You can find most of what you might want to know concerning the reasons for closing the TT forum on this other forum, starting with page 5:
Virtual Tourist see page 5

At this point, only Kevin May of Tnooz has seen all the e-mails that were exchanged regarding the problems discovered on the TT forum. Whether he wants to pursue a follow article to this one linked below is yet to be seen:
Troonz

A wise person will simply ignore Gogo’s comments because she hasn’t a clue about what she’s talking about. At worst she regularly engages in out right lies and at best, deliberate distortions of the truth. Just one example of an outright lie from her, “depsite Airhead's assertion that I'm banned from TT, my recent postings there have gone straight through…” Ask her to provide the exact quote where I asserted she was banned from TT. She won’t because she can’t. If you prefer to associate yourself and believe borderline sociopaths like her, be my guest.

I agree with you that the BBC and LP did not go about resolving their issues in the best possible manner. Obviously, they were the ones to make those decisions. Some of this is discussed in the VT link provided above.

You write, “It is curious that you have posted here as a guest but not a member.”

Quite simply, this forum seems to be to be temporary by its nature, and I haven’t any expectations of contributing to it for any length of time. If you’re less inclined to believe a post written by a guest as opposed to written by a member, again, be my guest.

The motives behind the journalist’s decision to write to acting director Tim Davie of the BBC before submitting their article to the NY Times is moot. What isn’t moot, and what is salient is that the BBC obviously took the report and information provided by that journalist very seriously, and obviously, they checked into to accuracy of the facts provided in that report and e-mails.


It appears that Airbender is Ubudian on Virtual Tourist (VT)

Re: Lonely Planet Thorn Tree Forum Shut Down:

Posted: Tue January 8, 2013 01:06 AM UTC by Ubudian

“From what i understand, the main reason why they had to close the TT for a while was because of the Saville case and they suddenly realised that because of their zero moderation policy some members had formed groups for sex tourists on TT including some who were discussing how to find underage sex around the globe and they are now going through all the posts since the site started to make sure they wipe that out.”

Concerns about pedophilia, or the Jimmy Saville scandal at BBC had nothing to do with TT being shut down despite how the UK and OZ press ran amok with that speculation.

The reason BBC/LP made these changes (still ongoing) to the Thorn Tree forum are best summed up in this article by Kevin May on tnooz:

http://www.tnooz.com/2013/01/05/news/lonely-planet-closure-of-thorn-tree-triggered-by-letter-to-acting-bbc-director-general/

The meat is specifically found in the “reports elsewhere” link.

Whether or not any of the former activities and off travel topic branches return is yet to be seen, but the infamous YC branch (Your Choice) is gone for good. A great many of those addicted users have since migrated to the political stew forum where they carry on in the exact manner they used to on the YC branch.

Regarding the OP’s original question, I personally found the destination branches of TT to be generally excellent and current, especially if the poster asked specific questions. The forum did tend to lend itself more useful to young and budget minded travelers, but that’s the whole origin of Lonely Planet.

Hopefully once fully restored and with the common sense revisions made to it, the TT forum will rejoin those pre-eminent travel forums, like VT.

Wed January 9, 2013 03:39 AM UTC by Ubudian
Hey Fergy, I love your travel style…“where’s the bar?”

And for sure, as you surmise, VT is right at the top of the list of the best “all encompassing” travel forums; all encompassing being simple terminology to distinguish such forums from country, area, city specific travel forums and expatriate living forums.

Some of the features that set VT ahead of the others is the lavish use of photography, far less commercialism, a broad base of knowledgeable and experienced travelers, a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, consistent and fair moderation, etc.

The article for the NY Times Sunday travel section evolved from specific research being done by a small group of consultants for the Indonesian Travel Ministry. I don’t know whether or not the article will be published, as there is some discussion that it might evolve further into a dot org web site.

Keep up your good work! I really enjoyed having a read of your work here and on your blog.

Benny, I think it will only be a matter of little time before all the country specific destinations will be restored to TT. SEA is also currently absent, and incidentally, so is India. One could easily speculate about the reason for this, and IMHO one reasonable speculation is that the areas currently still absent are those where the sex trade, including under age sex trade, is more prevalent.

Understandably, Lonely Planet’s somewhat still new owners, the BBC, are particularly sensitive to pedophilia and that sensitivity must surely have been heightened with all the press coverage that falsely linked TT’s temporary closure to the Jimmy Savile scandal. I suspect that virtually every single archived post covering those countries currently absent from TT are being thoroughly scrutinized…and for good reason IMHO.

I can quote from one e-mail sent by a LP executive to the author of the planned NY Times article:

“I very much appreciate you raising your Thorn Tree concerns: it was a timely
reminder to review thoroughly our content and moderation policy and
practices.”

One can only ask, shouldn’t that thorough review been done before the BBC handed over 130 million GBP for what was a controversial purchase of Lonely Planet? The question is of course rhetorical.

This past July, (2012) the BBC downgraded the value of LP to 85 million pounds, or about 45 million pounds less than its total acquisition cost. Obviously it remains to be seen if this latest fiasco results in any further devaluation of Lonely Planet. Time will tell, as it always does.

Fri January 18, 2013 03:52 AM UTC by Ubudian:
It seems to me that TT (Lonely Planet) is doing a pretty good job of restoring its travel forum, albeit an agonizingly slow process.

Benny, from what I am hearing, even those older posts on area specific boards will eventually be restored, early February being the target date.

Most of the YC (previously the Your Choice Board) regulars who assured the ultimate demise of the reputation of both the BBC and Lonely Planet have migrated to this forum (URL below) where they all seem content and happy with their new home:

http://www.politicalstew.com/bb/viewforum.php?f=5&sid=9aa3d89455be2e058e107a63f41af77a

Sat January 19, 2013 07:28 AM UTC by Ubudian:
“Leaning towards redneck” is in my opinion a very kind or soft way of describing the activity on that particular forum.

And no, I wouldn’t worry a bit about any migration and continuance of the old TT forum, Your Choice branch, or the current Political Stew forum ever being a potential problem here.

Mr. “G” aside, it’s pretty obvious to me that the community here would never allow that to happen.

Why this was allowed to happen with a forum owned by a prestigious company such as the BBC, and a trusted travel advisor as Lonely Planet remains a mystery.

But one thing remain certain…that being, the lessons learned.

Sun January 20, 2013 01:12 AM UTC by Ubudian:
What a nice compliment Kate! There are some of us still lingering about, and without thinking, will continue to open a door for a lady. ;<)

While Thorn Tree is back and open for business, there are some major issues yet to be resolved.

In recent past days I’ve tried to sign on using my past active moniker, but to no avail, so I re-opened a new account and resumed activity posting about the country I know best, which is Indonesia, specifically, Bali.

It was only a day before that new moniker, as well as what I’d like to think were very useful posts, were nuked.

Is this retribution for my role in what happened to TT, or does Lonely Planet really not care about the accuracy of the information posted on its forums? Could it be that one of the most trusted names in journalism, the BBC, has abdicated its responsibility as a venue of truth and accuracy?

The most currently active string on the reincarnated TT forum is under Community FAQs:

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=2287614

Now 49 pages in length, Zabba  buries himself in a quagmire of relentless and repetitive posts by a small minority of discontented past TT users. Obviously young and inexperienced, it is true that when LP initially turned the forum back on, his forum profile did indeed read:

"This member's profile has been removed as it contains content which is deemed inappropriate."

I saw this for myself, and I retained it as a screen save.

One can only wonder what reaction to that faux pas would have been forthcoming from BBC executives like Philip Fleming, or acting chairman, Tim Davie if they were aware.

The most successful forums, be they travel related or otherwise, are not operated as democracies. They are successful because they operate with clear guidelines and rules, and their integrity and reputation is maintained by this consistency, as well as through its community of contributors who are willing and happy to contribute in the spirit and comradery established by the forum’s owner.

It’s all rather simple actually, and therein is the irony of the BBC still tripping over its own feet as the Thorn Tree forum continues to rise like a Phoenix…albeit a bird with clipped wings.


Interesting Information
Well there is a piece of interesting fact in that last post. So Zabba, the "Community Manager" is Mr. Tom Hall and is the editorial director for Lonely Planet. Quite a high position..



A Strange Co-incidence?:
According to Ubudian's profile, he is an American expatriate whose name is Roy and he is married to a Balinese woman, they have three sons and live in Bali in a place called Ubud.

In the link in my previous post (50. Reason For Thorn Tree Shutdown?), Home in Bali written by Ubudian, he states in his third paragraph, "This entire event was initiated by an e-mail dated December 16 to acting Director-General of the BBC, Mr. Tim Davie by a well known writer living on Bali who was preparing an article for the New York Times Sunday travel section."
Ubudian lives in Bali with his Balinese wife and children. The travel writer lives in Bali .....

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