Rookie Wednesday: The “funny” little things you should know before you try FlyerTalk

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RenesPoints Rookie

Welcome to a weekly feature on the Renés Points blog. Each week this series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this week’s feature.

many flyertalk logos

Most frequent flyer enthusiasts know that the founder of BoardingArea, that is Randy Petersen, was also the brilliant mind behind the mega chat board called FlyerTalk (FT).

But this is not about RP as so many call him in short code when talking about him, it is about FT. I have a love/hate relationship with FT. I love the idea of FlyerTalk and the community aspect of it to share ideas. I post quite often, not just comments, but new “threads” as they are called with a topic that has not yet been discussed on FT. One sub board I really spend a bunch of time on is the Mileage Run one for obvious reasons both looking for inspiration and sharing what deals I have found in my research.

There is another similar major board that RP founded called MilePoint (MP). In many ways it is a little brother to the much older FT. I like MP but there are many more active members on FT so I tend to gravitate there most times.

Why most times? I went through a period where I gave up on FT for a while and I have talked to a great many who have even quit altogether visiting this site. They say things like “it is just too toxic of a space nowadays” and I understand their feelings. This is also one of the reasons you have seen such an explosion of blogs, not just here on BoardingArea and its sister site Prior2Boarding, all over the web. Blogs like these are happy to help both on the blogs and via E-Mail. I attempt to answer every E-Mail I ever get from readers either with a personal note or a link to a post that answers their question. On FT you can often get a very harsh reply or none at all from members. After that, many MODS, that is moderators, tend to allow some users to “get away” with saying things I bet they would never say face to face to that same person.

So I thought as both an educational, and maybe entertaining, list I would share the Top 10 things you need to know about FT if you are going to use it:

1) Learn gibberish. FT (yes I see the irony in this) makes twitter look like the oxford dictionary at times. Why say anything typed out when short code will do fine. Want more see (E15).

2) Zealots rule the roost. Some, not all, long time users “think they own the place” that is there are those who think they “are” FT and tend to comment on everything. Some tend to stick to certain boards while others are equal opportunity sharers of “knowledge”.

3) Got a bullet proof vest? Good – bring it and maybe layer up as well. I am constantly stunned by what is not just said, but how it is said, and that MODS allow many of the things they do on FT. I have seen new users ask simple questions and get digitally “pounded” for missing that this was talked about endlessly 4 years ago in a thread only the zealots remember in the first place (that is now locked to new comments)!

4) IBTL! Since we are talking locked, that is “in before the lock”, this is another common theme of FT 2014. You see MODS will lock a thread, that is shut it down to further comments, when the “discussion” gets out of control and this happens quite often. Many threads can start with a newbie question, links to dusty old threads, zealots taking over the thread, questions going off topic and personal, then the thread gets locked and the cycle can begin all over again.

5) Please don’t even EVER make a spelling mistake or math error. Let’s say you have found the secret of how to turn lead into gold. You start a thread and tell your fellow FTers how to do it too. Rather than thank you about the find, be ready to be creamed for not knowing how much lead will be needed to make a standard gold bar (plus you forgot about troy OZ vs just an OZ) or that lead should never be called lead but only referred to as Pb, its symbol on the periodic table of elements. – Deep sigh.

6) Other than some certain stone tablets that came down from a mountain, everything that has ever been said is on FT. You better believe there is not an original idea on this planet that was not first pointed out, discussed, or found out about on FT. The library of Alexandria you say? It would have just had a small sub board on FT. Oh, and if you happen to not understand this clearly be sure you review point 3! 😉

7) Clearly understand FTers are better than you (ie BTDT). Not only is all the info on the planet on FT (point 6) but many of the member have “been there, done that” no matter what it is you have done. As long as you go in knowing you this you are free to share before point 4 happens.

8) Have you ever been to a more confusing space than FT? Some folks are being a bit overly critical at the all the changes going on at the BoardingArea home page. Sure there are some tweaks that are going to need to happen. However, just try to find things on FT! It is all but impossible (but FTers know and thus the importance of point 6). What I do is use Google and add the word FlyerTalk to my search whenever I need to find anything on FT as it seems to be the only good method of finding anything.

9) FT is big enough that companies care. For all the talk of how PVT FT is and that no one “really” reads it, all major companies have reps that read FT each day. This can be good as what you say will be seen by someone with the company but the sad part is if you comment something you shouldn’t you may find your points account suddenly closed or audited or something along those lines. Just sayin’, be careful what you type!

10) BoardingArea is just a better place to get your info. OK the last one is not really part of the top 10 list but it should be. Due to all of the 9 points above it is clear more and more are turning to blogs for their daily info rather than spend hours searching threads.

Please don’t take from this that I don’t enjoy using FT and I am not saying you should not join and take part. You really should as it is a resource like all others on the web to be used. Think of FT as a travel wikipedia where you have to read sometimes dozens or hundreds of posts to get to the full summary of the thread (unless there is a wiki post on top of the thread that is)!

Just be careful and know what you are getting yourself into and some may prefer just to be a “lurker” and not brave the above. To be fair there are some who cling to what FT once was, that is a great platform to share info and help others but those kind helpful members are the exception not the rule nowadays! Tread carefully. – René
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  1. Rene, thanks for the tips. I used to frequent Flyertalk as a lurker. I rarely post.
    As such, FT is populated by (not nice people), pure and simple.
    The level of smugness is off the charts.
    It has been increasingly difficult to ferret out information and most “members” are either too busy to even condescend to answer or they actually seem angry if a poster dares to post in the wrong forum.
    Randy should shut it down and start over.
    Wow, now I sound like one of them…………..

  2. Ain’t it the truth!

    That being said, as a rookie I have gotten some good advice on FT, so don’t be too intimidated.

  3. Rene,
    Funny post….really enjoyed your tounge in cheek description,. Everything you say is so right …much rather read you and the rest of the bloggers then deal with the attitudes at FT. Please don’t change your style!
    Lon in the ATL

  4. FT sounds like a good place to avoid. It’s too bad that so many good things get ruined by a bunch of jerks with egos.

  5. Just wanted others to know how very helpful you have been, Rene, both with your blog and especially with your personal responses to emails. I feel like I’m still such a newbie but you don’t treat me like one. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  6. Amen. Good info but rude participants. Takes a lot to sifting to get valuable info. But the info can be very valuable. I prefer BoardingArea Blogs. Nic

  7. For what it’s worth, I came to Delta Points and FlyerTalk about the same time, shortly after getting FO (silver medallion) status about 18 months ago. While there are certainly curmudgeons on FlyerTalk, I’ve found them to be mostly welcoming of me. And while I’ve been pounded on a couple times, I’ve found politely but firmly holding your ground to be very effective. I don’t post every day, by any means, but there’s usually something every week I feel I can add to the discussion on.

    All of this is to say, it’s not really as negative as I think you made it out to be, Rene. And I know you added that you use it — but I think your post left an overly negative impression, probably unintentionally.

  8. @jkealing – Txs! Thus the Love/Hate part. I love the good people, the great advice from so many. I hate the Angry types who only seem to want new users feel small (or make themselves feel big). I wish the MODS would be a bit more diligent at enforcing the rules – then it would be a much better place.

  9. AMEN on your comments Rene! Although there are some good folks willing to help and tolerate “newbies,” the level of smugness, as Geoff said, is pretty high. How quickly some forget they had to learn new things at some point also. Since you started covering Delta Mileage Runs, you’re a “one stop shop” with Delta (well 2 stops haha)! Thanks as always.

  10. I understand that everyone will have different experiences, but my time on FT has been hugely helpful. In fact, I still remember my first post about 6 or 7 years ago. I had asked what was a pretty silly question (I know that now!) and had a few different people welcome me to the board and took the time to answer it very politely. That has continued throughout my time there.
    I think part of the perception might be because it is hard to judge emotions and attitudes on the internet.

  11. Actually it’s a bit disappointing to read this blog post. I’ve been a member of FT for 13 years & have found FT to be a great resource with people who are willing to help others.

    Are there some who are a bit more snarky than others? Absolutely. Is that true in real life & not limited to FT? Absolutely.

    Most people come to FT for info re: their airline or hotel programs, or to learn more about certain regions of the world or a type of travel. Some come for manufactured spend or mileage runs. FT has over 500,000 members with approximately 10,000 of them active. For someone to say that most are mean-spirited & only some are nice is – IMO – inaccurate.

    When my sister had breast cancer, FTers came together in CommunityBuzz for “Operation Postcard” where they sent postcards from around the world to raise her spirits. We had another FTer deliver a medical device to a FTers child who was stranded in another country. There are many examples of FTers helping others. I’ve met many FTers in person & virtually that I consider friends.

    I disagree with Rene that kind, helpful members are the exception rather than the rule on FT and again, am disappointed that he would post such.

  12. @Sharon – txs for your feedback. As I said in the post, FT is a valuable resource and should be used. But also, new members should know what they are in for going in!

    As for all the good FT does, that is not in question. Just a shame some can drag down the good many do. Perhaps improved moderation and applying the existing rules can bring FT back to what it once was.

    PS – I would really love to have someone point out the kind board you are talking about as I must have missed it 😉

  13. I agree. As a long time lurker but infrequent poster on Ft. I always feel like I’m entering a game of whack a mole. One wrong word and bam you are getting your head smashed in by some pompous person who is just waiting to pounce.

  14. Everything you said is true, which is why I very rarely visit FT anymore. There are a handful of small-minded jerks that post all the time, and it’s mostly just snark coming from these people rather than any good advice. There are indeed helpful people that give great info, but the handful of jerks have ruined it for me. It’s nice to come here instead, so thank you!

  15. I started on FT in about 2005. It was a great source of news and sharing (albeit a little like a Star Trek convention at times). Since, it has steadily declined from a place to share and get help into a dungeon of snark and sometimes overt hostility. I read the headlines and the forums every once in a while, but rarely comment or add things any more. I just keep them to myself.

  16. Completely agree with Rene. FT has become overtaken by a sizable group who take joy in controlling and attacking others. There is even a moderator who has called members he disagrees with communists, and FT leadership allows it to continue. Since the leadership is clearly part of the problem, we are probably better off going elsewhere, because the hostility is obviously not a concern of those who operate FT.

  17. Thanks, Rene. I was not aware of most of this. I use boarding area about 99% of the time and flyer talk 1%. Call me stupid, but I thought boarding area was a subdivision of FT — don’t know why I thought that, maybe because Randy’s name was associated with both. The fact that Randy (two or three comments above this one) — doesn’t really use FT any more, speaks volumes. Is Randy still a principle in Boarding Area? Thanks.

  18. EXACTLY! I found this post (although I have read your blog previously) from a post at FT complaining about it. When my husband and I began flying more due to family issues I sought information regarding frequent flying, coming on FT. I posted twice – the first time I received 2 helpful responses, but also (unbelievably) my post moved by one MOD and a PM from yet another telling me that I should check prior posts before posting. Seriously DW (my own version of jibberish LOL). The 2nd post was a response to a question and on point – response was a criticism (ridiculous one).

    Overall I found that FT is completely covered in narcissistic and very aggressive men (although there are a few females) – NFL player with a high IQ and likely a career more in line with Jr. VP vs. professor. I have a great deal of education myself, but in my friend group no one acts this way. This kind of person I have avoided like the plague in my life. I’m just sad it’s not useful for most of us and instead something closer to a junior gladiator flight in the coliseum. Pathetic, really.

    Thanks for just saying what most all of us feel!

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