One Mile at a Time Commenting Guidelines

Filed Under: Misc.

This is probably long overdue, but we’re finally updating our policy on commenting. This is something that a countless number of readers have asked for (and no, not in a “we’re devaluing our frequent flyer program due to member feedback” kind of way).

Historically our policy has been that if people want to make fools of themselves online and have ridiculous comments, we’ll let them. We figured that it reflects on them more than it reflects on us.

But we also want to be more conscientious of the environment we’re creating around here, and the general state of dialogue on the internet suggests we need stronger guidelines.

To be clear, we don’t want to shut down useful discourse. Rather, we want to return to that — at one point in time OMAAT had the best comments in the space, and when I look at posts from 2013 and 2014, I’m so impressed and proud of the back and forth discussion and shared knowledge.

Nowadays, the comments on our YouTube channel are often more pleasant and interactive than on the main page of the blog, so something needs to be done. We did start banning commenters who were consistently horrible a few years ago, and that helped for awhile, but the level of hostility has been gradually increasing.

So I’d like to draw some lines as to what we consider to be acceptable, and am of course open to your feedback as to how to make the comments more enjoyable and productive for everyone. Here are the three general guidelines we’d like everyone to consider when participating in the comments.

1) Don’t be a you-know-what

Fundamentally, we’d like everyone to feel comfortable participating in the comments, but like, business-casual comfortable, not walking-around-drunk-in-your-underwear comfortable.

There are some things that should just be kept to yourself in polite company.

As such, and in our sole discretion, we will edit or delete comments that we consider to be:

  • Abusive, harassing, threatening, antagonistic, hurtful, or overly-personal  — whether to us, our families, other readers, or public figures
  • Profane, pornographic, obscene, or otherwise inappropriate
  • Intolerant, racist, homophobic, sexist, or generally derogatory towards any individual or group
  • Spam or solely promotional in nature — including a link to relevant outside content is permitted (and encouraged!), but comments should be relevant to the post topic

Just be nice.

2) Add value

If you want to leave feedback on our posts, or business practices, or whatever else, that’s great. We appreciate constructive feedback, especially from people who disagree with us, and that’s a huge part of what has made OMAAT what it is.

Similarly, back and forth between readers is great, and nothing makes me happier than seeing readers helping each other in the comments. That includes pointing out deals or other resources — all of that is great, and adds value that everyone can benefit from.

“Am I writing this just to be annoying?”

There has been a rash recently of folks leaving the most ridiculous and off-topic comments. It’s distracting, and unfair to other people who are here to learn and engage.

If you’re not adding anything to the conversation, we’re going to ask that you refrain from commenting. We ultimately banned “Debit” because his comments just got tedious and boring, and we didn’t feel like anyone else should have to suffer through that inanity on a daily basis (he at least used to be original back in the day, but recently he was just copy and pasting the same stuff).

Don’t abuse anonymity

Along those lines, we keep a dated commenting system on purpose, because there are reasons for some people to need to comment anonymously at times, and we don’t want to require logins.

But if you’re commenting under multiple names in order to hurl insults or create the impression that your argument has outsized support, we will — without hesitation — delete said comments and block you from commenting further.

Again, it’s irritating, and doesn’t add any value.

3) Be gracious and courteous

Look, we all have things that inspire us to turn into keyboard warriors, and the temptation to tell someone exactly what is wrong OMFG with their reasoning is probably universal.

But we’d ask that here, at least, everyone try to extend some generosity and goodwill towards people who might see things in a different way. One of the things about OMAAT that is fairly unique on the internet is the extremely broad audience — we have readers from every part of the globe, across all demographics.

Everyone comes from different backgrounds and environments, so naturally are going to have very diverse perspectives, and might not think about things in the same way that you do.

What brings us together is that we all love some element of travel, aviation, or getting a deal.

We’d like to keep the focus on that, and encourage everyone to engage in robust dialogue through that lens. A comment on a touchy subject may not be intended to offend, and hearing someone out who you initially disagree with can be informative. Let’s try and help each other out there.

That being said, if your specific perspective on the world makes you unable to participate in civilized discourse, we’re not going to ask anyone else to tolerate it.

So at a minimum, please be polite about your disagreements, and keep the tone at “dinner table” levels.

On politics

In the polarized world we live in, it seems like the one thing that all reasonable people can agree on is that, regardless of country, the die-hards on the far-left and far-right are exhausting. We feel like we have a front-row seat to that, as we get an equal number of complaints from people saying we’re too conservative as too liberal. They’re all probably correct in ways.

Travel is inherently political. We’re going to continue to talk about topics that you may consider to be political hot-buttons (but that aren’t necessarily seen as such by others), because that’s part of the exchange of ideas that happens when humans move and interact across the globe.

Similarly, if the US president tweets about something aviation or travel-related, it is news, and we might cover it if we feel it’s relevant to the audience here. Let’s try and keep the corresponding discussion as tolerant and well-mannered as possible.

Moderation practices

We essentially have two methods for monitoring comments — what WordPress can do automatically, and what we can do with our own eyeballs.

Auto-screening

From a technical perspective, there are a few situations where your comment might not post right away:

  • If you’re commenting for the first time (this includes from a new email or IP address)
  • If your comment includes links of any sort (this is to protect from spam)
  • If your comment contains words on our filter list (an assortment of profanity and other spam-triggered words)

These all go into a queue, we read them, and 98% of the time they’re approved. That number might drop to 97% with these new guidelines. 😉 .

Manual screening

One of the reasons why we’ve been hesitant to implement a formal comment policy is because it then has to be enforced, and try as we might we just aren’t watching comments 24/7. We do read every comment eventually, but there have been goodness-knows how many times where a post is published late at night, or scheduled while I’m on a flight, and I land or wake up to several comments accusing us of harboring racists or whatever, because comments haven’t been deleted.

So I’m asking you guys to help us out here, not just by sticking to the guidelines above, but also letting us know if there’s something that needs our attention that we might have missed.

Similarly, we’d appreciate your patience and understanding both when we don’t see something problematic right away, and when we don’t initially see something as problematic. We’re coming at this informed by our own perspectives, and while we’re doing what we can to grow, there are definitely nuances to things that we don’t see, so we appreciate the chance to learn.

At the same time, to a hammer everything looks like a nail, so if you’re finding offense in every.single.comment. in a discussion, we’d ask that you step back from it and consider if everyone else was actually intending to be horrible (and there are certainly days where it seems like that might be the case), or if it’s a topic where you’re particularly sensitive and that might be influencing your part of the dialogue.

Bottom line

We don’t want to censor people who disagree with us, and we really don’t want to micro-manage the comments. But something has to be done here in order to maintain an environment that can be enjoyable for everyone.

If you have “First Amendment concerns” about any of this we will turn this car around and take you back to the civics lesson you so obviously missed remind you that shouting in the public square is one thing, but private companies aren’t required to give you a platform. Please understand we’re using our best judgment here. If you’re a reasonable human being, these new filters won’t affect you, other than that you’ll perhaps enjoy the comments section more again.

The OMAAT community is really important to us, and this blog is our “home” in more ways than one. Our hope is that by putting some rails on the conversation we can return to a better dialogue on the site, and encourage more thoughtful discussion.

Comments

  1. Can we just at least say the word “[email protected]” in the comments, cos a lot of the time for some reason it is filtered out when legitimately talking about an issue on this topic? It is slightly silly in this day and age especially given the main person in this blog having just got recently married, that this is filtered out as an “obscene” word… also as a someone who is of that persuasion rather insulting…

  2. I think there have been more than one instance where your behavior caused backlash from your audience. Instances such as invading other people’s personal privacy in order to ridicule or judge their behavior onboard an aircraft, or asking for handouts in order to fly certain products.

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with moderating unfounded toxicity but my suspicion is that you hide behind these guidelines to block justifiable criticism. We’re not here to be your yes-men/women.

  3. I could of swore this was written by Tiffany. Comment moderation seems like a hard problem to tackle. Automation isn’t 100% there yet.

  4. Banning debit enhances this blog greatly. Your blog is a great resource for many. Thanks for what you do.

  5. You could remove comments entirely but I am assuming they are fundamentally a part of the business model of the blogosphere.

  6. @Lucky — Good guidelines.

    When you say this: “So I’m asking you guys to help us out here, not just by sticking to the guidelines above, but also letting us know if there’s something that needs our attention that we might have missed.” Is there some reporting mechanism other than leaving another comment? It seems a bit pointless to leave a comment buried among others about a comment that you’ve missed.

  7. @ vlcnc — You can, for sure. We added some of those words into the moderation queue precisely because of the vitriol that came about after Ben’s wedding. A lot of the comments we get on that topic now are gross and horrible, so we want to look at them first; we still publish anything legitimate, but feel no one else should have to see the other stuff.

    Many apologies if that has caused any offense, as it’s absolutely not the intention.

  8. Debit gone?! Whaaat! One of the reasons to visit. 🙂

    You can have all the nice guidelines you want but ultimately you can’t police the internet. Unless the activity in question is actually against the law (hate speech, defamatory etc.) trying to police a comment section to ‘play nice’ is a fools errands. In the end such clampdowns draw more attention to themselves. In a Streisand type effect it actually increases the type of nuisance comments you were originally trying remove. The best thing you could have done was nothing, ignore it . Shitposters need attention and you just gave it to them. This is basic forum mod 101.

    Best of luck!

  9. Please make an exception for debit/credit. Their lunacy is truly entertaining. I scan blogs all over the travel space just to see how deranged he/she is day to day.

  10. Glad Debit is gone.

    @ Ben….Glad that attacks on political parties and their supporters (of any party) will not be tolerated. If a politician does or says something related to the travel industry then fair game. This is a travel and points/miles website and blog. Let’s keep it the subject at hand.

    @ majik…They can’t police the internet, but looks like they will police this sites comments section.

  11. Mr Lucky Sir,
    I’m a big fan of your blog overall
    You have really grown from your time traveling and increasing your knowledge and increasing maturity and wisdom all of which also comes from age and experience
    You touch on many relevant topics brilliantly but I am concerned you may turn into a control freak trying to be the politically correct police.
    Please continue to be organic to the best of your ability.
    I’ve always felt Gary’s View from a Wing Blog was somewhat better as he has a thicker skin in the social media chaos and more professional working knowledge & experience to discern the good from the bad in most regards
    I believe he should have deleted more posts historically but for the most part he lets people express their opinions fully if not shockingly so
    I’ve cringed at some of the horrible rude things some individuals have said to him personally and to other posters. To a degree part of the bad and the good of social media is the unknown territory in which you surf ,explore & experience

    As perhaps one extreme example
    Trip Advisor once a great site years ago has destroyed its core integrity
    its overly poorly enforced posting guidelines inconsistently applied have ruined the site from what it once was and what it could have been.
    Today it’s a sales tool to sell rooms for Expedia or whoever owns them with overly inflated ratings of many mediocre properties. That comes from the heavy handed control of the moderators who reject far too much of the negative content
    They have withheld that guests have being raped, held up by gun point or had their drinks poisoned as that would make their readers uncomfortable and have some not booking rooms on their site which transcends into lost revenue.

    I do believe censorship should exist when its someone/something is out of control
    Out and out personal attacks, threats etc.
    Though to much unnecessary moderation becomes a slippery slope and could make for a sterile site that’s sanitized and Disney like much the way the Points Guy site has somewhat become .It once was a go to site for me now I peek and run

    Your way more than that and I hope you do not lose site starting to scold folks for silly stuff veering off topic and every little petty thing because then it’s time to move on and let someone else come in and fill the void of the very greatness of what you have accomplished to date and what your full potential may yet lie
    None of us are perfect we all said things we regret in the heat of the moment but let’s keep an open mind and only do what’s absolutely necessary in extreme cases.
    Keep on keeping on! 🙂
    Best Regards
    A long time reader

  12. @Christian
    One person’s ‘extreme’ is another person’s ‘witty and insightful’. You can’t police personal preference, especially on the internet.

  13. FWIW, my major issue with the trolls and haters is distraction rather than offense. It’s some random idiot on the Web after all, and I’ve usually heard worse in person.

    But I have really appreciated and benefited from the open political discussion. For example, regarding travel to countries where non-heterosexual sexual identity (or activity) is a crime. It’s a really complicated subject that implicates, to name just a few topics, the meaning and scope of privacy, basic human rights, cultural imperialism, and historical hypocrisy (same sex sexual activity was legalized in Argentina in 1853, basically a century and a half before the US Supreme Court overruled state sodomy laws). I know what I think, by my views have been nuanced by reading opinions that differ from my own, particularly in the context of where and how to spend discretionary travel dollars. So here’s to continuing that type of debate in a respectful and open-minded manner!

  14. I thought Debit’s posts were mostly bonkers, but occasionally one would make me laugh out loud. I figured the crap stuff was a price worth paying for the funny stuff.

    It’s a pity that the OMAAT world is now a little blander.

  15. @Lucky and the OMAAT crew. I hope this works out and appreciate some moderating. Some of the comments are just not worthy and add nothing of value. I hope that most comments come thru like you said in the blog post, as different points do need to be made.

  16. @EC2
    To be a pedant, this forum section is part of the internet and it’s policing could prove fruitless. Case in point there are numerous posts now commenting on the loss of Debit. If Debit’s comments went silently into the night we’d be none the wiser and probably wouldn’t notice. Instead the mod team have decided to make an example of Debit in support of their new guidelines. This now draws attention to Debit and his posts. It’s a classic example of the Streisand Effect.

  17. Just wanted to say thank you! I stopped coming to your blog as much as the comments truly were horrible and many were just instigation.

    Love the new normal!

  18. @The so-called Real Paul

    Could you proof-read before posting? Your comment doesn’t seem to make any sense!

  19. @Ben, sorry for this not being related but what happened to the article about Chase URs restricting transfers to AU only??

  20. Everybody tripping over themselves to tell Ben what he can’t do. If you don’t like what he does with this new policy then don’t let the door hit you on the way out. “Censorship, oh noes!” Somehow I expect you all will find some other corner of the internet to give your boring opinions.

    If Ben’s overarching philosophy here is simply “if you comment don’t stink” we all will be better off. Add value or stay away is a fine policy.

    It’s absolutely correct that the blog’s comments once were a strength but they are just not anymore and if Ben wants to take a chance at bringing back what was, fantastic.

  21. This all sounds perfectly reasonable to me. I wish we lived in a world where comments didn’t require moderation but the fact is they do and websites are finally catching up to that fact. In general I feel that the comments on OMAAT are thoughtful and on-topic, but totally understand why this is being articulated now. I trust Lucky to get the balance right.

  22. @Tiffany, thanks for the response – I understand now that this is safeguarding issues, which I appreciate! Apologies if this wasn’t understood – I guess for me in my day to day life it isn’t an issue, and I was slightly perplexed why this was the case here especially when it was on topic quite benign what I was saying. I guess you are right the comments can be quite nasty here, so I can see who they may get a bit out of hand and used in a malicious way. I think this is a very good initiative and I know its not an easy one, but unfortunately people cannot be relied on to police themselves.

  23. And cunt is one of my more favourite, most descriptive words. Please don’t say that’s on the list 😉

  24. First, can you please implement threaded replies like Matthew has on Live and Let Fly? It makes for more coherent and easy to follow conversations.

    Second, can you please unban debit? He is sometimes funny like others have mentioned, and really not that offensive.

  25. Haven’t you considered adopting Disqus platform here for commenting? I think it would enhance the exchange of information and conversation between readers.
    It’s also useful if you want to ignore some commenters you don’t like or to flag inappropriate comments.

  26. Thank you Lucky. Many of us appreciate civilized discourse and not being attacked when we disagree with someone. I’m looking forward to a kinder, gentler comments section with thoughtful discussions.

  27. “As such, and in our sole discretion, we will edit or delete comments that we consider to be:

    Abusive, harassing, threatening, antagonistic, hurtful, or overly-personal — whether to us, our families, other readers, or public figures…”

    This has been a long time coming – thank you.

  28. I am a fairly recent newcomer to omaat, and guess I missed the ‘debit’ drama. Getting rid of poisonous posters is a great thing..here’s why….ever been to the gorilla cage at the zoo? The smell knocks you over…after a while, you grow accustomed to it….after a long while , you say “what smell?” Toxic posters are like that gorilla cage.

  29. Thank you for your willingness to evolve and change. Some commenters seem to find that hard to accept quietly… change is hard. We also see evidence in this thread of people who just.can’t.let.it.go and so while you’re considering comments about new platforms, another wish-list item would be a cap of two posts per thread. If you can’t get your point across in two tries, time to step aside.

  30. Wikipedia imposes censorship by making “sockpuppetry” the equivalent to 9/11 and terrorism. Then they accuse you of sockpuppetry and ban you so that they can have a biased, non-neutral bent. Luckily, Lucky is not like that.

    Wikipedia is just a wacky website. Some parts are ok but some are crazy and sneaky crazy. Luckily, OMAAT is not a wacky website.

  31. Please, just look that your list does not include the word „Virgin“ as it does for example at my University. So you don’t have to check all the comments under a article about any Virgin Airline.

  32. Thank you for a well written explanation.
    Is it me, or does is appear that the “Trollish” crowd enjoy trolls, while they are nothing more than a self absorbed nuisance for the rest of us and a waste of screen space.
    Ultimately, this, I believe, is about sharing information, To me, personally, this has been priceless over the years I have been reading this blog.
    Clarification is OK, further info is wonderful.
    Above all, I am very grateful to have this blog available.

  33. Hi Lucky,

    First comment here, been reading for around a year. Out of curiosity, do you have a guide to weather delays and how to book connections around them? Also, if you are booked on a flight that is delayed, what compensation are you entitled to? (Feel free to refer me to a guide if you’ve made one.

  34. 1. Ditto: Could you proof-read before posting? Your comment doesn’t seem to make any sense!
    2. I guess for the last time I will say Alaska is the little airline that thinks they invented First Class.

  35. I did not read the whole post, was bored halfway. Fine it’s your own blog and can do as you please, but Please don’t become just another boring PC blog… freedom of speech is good and fun!
    Was about to say “I will miss you Debit” and then read you have already banned him… oh well! I an sure it will be back with another name.
    Peesonally I would like to see more interaction and replies from Lucky himself to give back to his community of followers.
    Definitely the best blog of its sort around, be careful not to ruin it.
    Good Luck!

  36. Wow another topic that has elicited a huge number of comments — Lucky has done well recently in creating extensive user participation.

    About debit, I am surprised at the number of readers who would like to see him continue here. I suggest all of his fans encourage him to create his own web site on which he can continue to share his pearls of wisdom, and spare the rest of us from that.

  37. I’m not sure if this is a WordPress thing or what, but some other Boarding Area bloggers (Matthew’s LALF comes to mind) have a “reply” function that helps contain some tangents to particular threads. Just a thought.

  38. I of course support Lucky and Tiffany in their efforts

    It’s a hard needle to thread
    I’m another person who found Debit to be a near genius troll, and will miss him
    I easily see why others hated him

    Based on Ben’s criteria he should be banned

    I’m annoyed by the constant posts pointing out in a sarcastic way that OMAAT gets a commission
    The ones that say “Lucky is pushing for the Preferred, looks like Chase has a bonus”
    Not sure if they should be banned or not, But I find them obnoxious

  39. Even one of these comments reveals a bizarre desire to be offensive. I’m all for the moderation and deletion when needed. I’d also love more helpful back and forth among the commenters, ( and will resolve try to add something useful when I can) and of course always appreciate when Ben and Tiffany respond to questions.

  40. I am a fan of K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple S_____. I enjoy websites like these to help me make wiser decisions in travel costs, obtain points and use points in the best way.

    Let’s keep it simple and enjoy the benefits from traveling.

  41. I do not get it that you ban someone for disliking,disgusting or have similar feelings towards same sex activities. In democracy , that you represent, is allowed to like and dislike. Disgusting or disliking not necessarily means insulting. A word “phobia” means afraid something. I never heard that anyone afraid homos although majority of the world does not nor accept same sex relationships. Does people in the same or other religions have a right to express their thoughts and feelings on this blog? Do they have to accept what other people tell them to do? As far as I know, a same sex activity is not a human right but a behavior, even more, there is a only age line between a pedophilia and sex between two adults. When pedophiles do not like the name of pedophile and started to demand that this is “infant gourmet”, does the minority has a right to be heard and respected? Written with neutral tone.

  42. This is all reasonable. I consciously made a decision to stop reading VFTW because Gary has a nose for the inflammatory/sensational (which is entertaining) but then would have unmoderated comments predictably containing really unpleasant, broad stroke racism in response. It’s his blog, so he can run it as he sees fit, but I didn’t like it, so I voted with my feet (well, fingers). I’m hoping there’s still room for trolling here but I’m glad for the blog to decide that worst excesses are not wanted.

    Also, to whoever said it, this does totally sound like a Tiffany post, but it makes sense that it would need to come “from” Ben.

  43. +1 for keeping an old-school comment system. I personally like Disqus, but anything that allows anonymous comments is great. Sorry, but no one needs my email address unless I am expecting an email from them, so as long as you keep letting me use a fake email, thats great,

  44. I am just grateful that I don’t have to remember yet another password and login (Disqus) to make occasional, to-the-point, comment relevant to the topic. I didn’t overly mind Debit’s comment, but I could rarely see how they related to the topic at hand, and so they seemed distracting. I will admit that I usually go through the article itself perfunctorily and then head directly to the comments section, which I usually enjoy.

  45. Best idea is to just turn off comments all together.
    If you look at your numbers, I’d doubt commenters are a significant amount of your traffic.
    Why bother with the hassle of moderation?

  46. Well done Ben. Some of the more recent comments were just stupid or plain offensive – either way little or nothing to do with the topic in the report. I’ll keep reading and will enjoy the trip reports , your light hearted banter and a lot less of the other stuff.

  47. @NWE, you do know that:

    (1) Lucky is gay. He has mentioned that once or twice.
    (2) The first amendment doesn’t apply to his site since he’s not a government. So if he wants to ban anti-gay comments, he can. But he didn’t say he was going to ban anti-gay comments specifically. He said he was banning inflammatory speech. He certainly isn’t banning your unexpressed feelings.
    (3) The world has evolved and the majority of the world is not disgusted by LGBTQ people or their behavior. Apparently you are and that’s your loss.
    (4) Being gay is not a behavior or choice. It’s an orientation that is genetically determined. I’d suggest that you read some late-20th and 21st century science.

  48. Wow
    Debit was special. I won’t miss him. I like the reviews even though I am cheap and don’t see value in first class. I for am tired of the endless politics.

  49. @ NWE — Thanks for the example! I’m not entirely sure how an attempt to equate homosexuality with pedophilia can possibly be neutral (especially when using the word “disgusting” twice), but for the moment I’m going to assume good intent.

    You can dislike whatever you want. No one is going to require you to educate yourself on genetics, modern science, or social evolution (and yes, gay rights are a human rights issue). But this isn’t a topic we’re going to debate in the comments here.

    Again, this is our home. Would you walk into Ben and Ford’s living room and start lecturing them about how you don’t “accept” their relationship, as though your consent was required or even relevant? If so, that says much more about you than any commenting guidelines.

  50. @ The nice Paul — We did too, but then it became like one good post out of a thousand bonkers one, and people were complaining, and it just didn’t seem worth it anymore.

  51. @ Howard — Threaded replies are probably not going to happen, given both the dated commenting system and the preferences for non-threaded that people have expressed over the years.

    @ Carlos — No on Disqus, because it doesn’t allow people to be anonymous, which we want to continue to allow.

  52. Thank you for doing this! I read your blog, and yours only, because you all seem like great people and you have a unique voice. It would be great if the comments section reflected that, with only courteous and constructive comments. Please don’t be afraid to make that the reality.

  53. Great news Ben. I don’t know how you guys have put up with the rubbish some people have vomited out here, and even as a regular daily reader it’s very rare that I’ll scroll to the comments section these days because of it. Looking forward to a more constructive, happy environment.

  54. It is so urging to test out that blacklist function on the words for the comments. But I won’t because I love this site (as much as I want to atleast try 🙂 )

  55. The notion of a comment policy is fine, good actually. The question is how, exactly, will it be enforced. Any efforts, whether automated or manual, to moderate the speech of others inevitably brings up biases of one sort or another. To be human is to be biased.

  56. What do you think causes the comments section on this blog to be markedly more nasty and vitriolic than other similar miles blogs?

    Hopefully OMAAT doesn’t follow Renes Points in censoring comments that point out offers with better terms than what might be mentioned in a blog post. Readers eventually wise up to such nonsense.

  57. @ Jack @ Ivan X — Of course I helped 🙂 It’s something we’ve discussed extensively over the years, and especially in recent months, so there was a lot of back and forth when it came time to put words to paper.

  58. @ JRMW — Oh, we find them obnoxious as well, but there’s nothing wrong with them, and this is a slippery enough slope for us as it is.

    So if people want to comment complaining about the 15% of posts that fund 95% of the content they otherwise enjoy, I guess that’s fine?

  59. @ Ryan — When you’ve pointed out better offers (including like, last week), we’ve published the comment and updated the post, despite the comment itself being snarky. We have no plans to change how we approach people alerting us to stuff we’ve missed.

  60. I like Ben and I like reading OMAAT . Remember it is his site , free of charge and IMO he can write about anything he wants and delete anything he feels like . Ok , Tiffany too.
    I have been a little concerned about DCS , haven’t read anything from him in a while . Not sure if he has also been banned or not . DCS let us know you are ok!

  61. I can’t believe DEBIT got banned? Although out there, I actually enjoyed looking for his ridiculous comments. He will be missed

  62. 1) This text definitely sounds like Tiffany wrote it hahah
    2) THANK YOU for banning Debit. His outrageous offensive comments about specific groups of people and the President were abhorrent. Really puts a damper on the reading experience here, so thank you for banning him.
    3) Please dont use what TPG uses (Diqus or whatever), being able to comment without having to link Facebook or anything like that is the best.

  63. I must be getting old. I don’t understand why anyone would miss the inane, the bigoted, the deliberately inflammatory. It is not a free speech issue – I am literally a card carrying libertarian. It is, as Tiffany said, about what you would say if you were at the bar with Ben and other fans of frequent flyer programs. Flyertalk, with a massive userbase, has much less of a problem with “shitposters” then OMAAT has had historically. Tiffany and Ben, ignore the trolls and their friends, and ban away, so the rest of us can enjoy the site and good company without wading through the morass.

  64. @AD Majority of the world is not US. There is nothing to be as my loss. You right about genetics.
    @Tiffany You got it right, neutral tune means that I wrote without being aggressive. I think that OMAAT is the best travel blog what comes to travel and I enjoy reading all that comes to travel, but not about any posters personal life. I am never go to anyone’s living or other room to tell them how the should behave to their own home. But I may or may not take a stand on a different ways in a public place when I see in front of me anything that makes me feel other than a normal feeling. What I wanna say, is keep the good work with all that comes to travel and keep the personal life separate for that. Success!

  65. @NWE. I did not say that the majority of the world is the US. I said that I think you’re wrong about the majority of the world. The US is FAR FROM the most liberal country in the world. Most of the world is now quite accepting of LGBTQ people. Sure there are still plenty of scary and dangerous places for LBGTQ people but even in those places, there are many people who are accepting. There are places that were downright hostile in my lifetime that are accepting now. The world has changed, even if your worldview hasn’t.

    You can write offensive things without being aggressive. They’re still offensive. Just ask anyone from the the southern US what “bless his/her heart means.” It’s not a compliment even if it sounds like one.

    And now I’m down the rabbit hole. Not to self… don’t click “notify me…”

  66. @ NWE — That’s cool, I guess. I’ll just remind you that this isn’t a public place, and the extremely openly gay man who runs this site and the people who love him aren’t going to caretake your “other than normal feelings” or make any effort to their personal lives from their travel perspectives for your comfort.

    We appreciate you reading, certainly, but we aren’t going to change who we are or be less open with what we share, and hopefully those insights will help inspire some tolerance and humanity over time.

  67. I agree wholeheartedly with the need for some (in the first instance) light-handed moderation. I am bored/ tired of smutty hetero sexual references (hello, Debit et al), as well as the large contingent of rampant homophobes lurking under the surface like volcanos ready to spew their foul, sulphurous hot air.
    For a time, would you consider publishing the usual header “XXXX says:”, with the time stamp, followed by “Comment Deleted”, ?
    Anything to make my daily read entertaining and informative, rather than infuriating, will be something to look forward to.

  68. I always just skipped over Debit’s comments anyway, as well as all replies to his comments. When I’m in the mood for inflammatory BS, there are plenty of places on the internet to go to for that. OMAAT should not be one of them, and I appreciate the efforts to keep the comments section relevant.

  69. @Luccky and @Tiffany — Did you see my question? I meant it genuinely.

    You say you would like our help “letting us know if there’s something that needs our attention that we might have missed” especially if you’re travelling overnight, etc. But if you’ve missed an offensive comment, it seems a pretty slow way to report it by adding a comment further below to the same post.

    I apologise if I’m missing something here. Tiffany said, “We have no plans to change how we approach people alerting us to stuff we’ve missed.” But I can’t see what that mechanism is.

    @mkcol’s use of the C word above certainly doesn’t seem like it’s adding anything useful to this post or the blog in general.

    One more question, and this may be to other readers who recall/know: Wasn’t Debit banned some years ago, so I was always surprised to see he had returned. Is this now his second banning?

    Thanks

  70. A comments policy is very corporate and probably a condition precedent to the sell-off of the blog. Otherwise, who really cares if someone posts something stupid or profane??? Don’t read it you are offended.

    I can hear the suits now: “Clean up the comments and then we’ll talk terms….” If that’s the case, make a sh-t ton of money Ben!

  71. I personally never understand the need to post anonymously. I have never, and I repeat never, read a single comment on any blog written from an anonymous person that truly added value (with the obvious exception of those who use the same name for all of their posts, and those people can add great value). But I would say Ben, you would be in reasonable territory to ban anyone who writes something critical or insulting unless they write their name in the name field.

  72. Let’s see how these new rules work out for all of us. Ben, maybe you can post an update in 6 months, highlighting the pros and cons of your new policy

  73. @ Brian — Nobody’s selling (or even discussing selling), but I think @ Kevinb has it exactly right when he says “I must be getting old” — having a cesspool in the comments is getting tiring, and takes time away from the stuff we’d all rather be doing.

    Besides, if a corporate brand wanted to clean up comments on a site, they’d just install Disqus (like the corporate sites have done).

  74. @ Malc — No, you’re right, we don’t have an ideal way to flag things, given that we aren’t changing the commenting system at the moment. My response about “alerting us to stuff we’ve missed” was directed at someone who is great about giving us a heads up on credit card offers, not talking about comments as such though.

    We do see all the comments as quickly as we can though, and I don’t think an alert system would actually speed up our attention. But help in letting us know if something is problematic is greatly appreciated, because we do see things differently, and are trying to figure out the best way to approach all of this for everyone.

    @mkcol’s comment is a great example of that. In the context of this post and people discussing what should and shouldn’t be allowed, it doesn’t seem off-topic. I don’t find the word offensive when used in the way that it was versus directed at a person (especially not as I can tell from his spelling that @mkcol comes from either a UK or Commonwealth country where that word isn’t considered scandalous like it is in the US), and he’s been a positively contributing commenter for years. Since it doesn’t seem egregious, I’d prefer not to moderate it, but this is the kind of grey area we’re talking about when we acknowledge that this is going to be difficult.

    This is Debit’s second banning, yes.

  75. FWIW, one of the few times I commented was on something Debit wrote regarding the India airspace closure. I’m glad he’s banned.

    I come here for good information on travel news.

    I don’t come here to see what bonkers or ridiculous comments are down in the thread.

    If that’s what folks are looking for, they can go over to Reddit. Crazy, witty, funny and weird comments over there.

    Ben, Tiffany etc – keep up the good work.

  76. What a lively debate. I think a lot of people have missed the point. All lucky (and Tiffany) said was that we are letting you what things we will keep an eye out for. If your comment is not I tended to be helpful regardless of how it is phrased. It should be ok.

    Everyone can have an opinion, but let’s remember it’s a blog by a person who loves aviation. Most people might be here for tips for better travel, which is fine. But there will he posts from a perspective of a die hard aviation fan. From a person who genuinely wants to talk to a group of people he has a link to. If that re quoted him to keep a light check. It’s ok otherwise go somewhere else to learn to slice cucumbers.

    It’s so nice to be able to share your love of all things aviation @lucky and always lovely to hear from you @tiffany. Please be as you guys are. Your blog is the best because you guys genuinely love not just the process but everything else about it.
    Do whatever you need to keep it going!

  77. Not off topic and intended *

    Requires* (due to people not liking non points post)
    Good grief. I apologize for the typos. Literally fat fingers

  78. Love the blog, long time reader first time commentator. Keep up the great work team OMAAT, I remember when James first started and there were so many nasty comments relating to his content (I personally love his contributions). Glad to see some guidelines to make it a relatively safe space for all

  79. I agree with Reaper. Just drop the whole comments section. I hardly ever read it as compared to your posts, which are the jewels I come to this site for. When I have read comments here, they are generally not helpful. I’d rather see you, Tiffany, and others spending your time constructively, writing more execllent content, rather than watimg it moderating comments. Keep up the good work. !

  80. sounds all good to me. Do what you need to do. My only other comment, is something can’t be fairly unique. Unique means one of a kind.

  81. @reaper nah the comments have a legitimate purpose sometimes readers catch mistakes in artickes or have further insight into an issue and sometimes readers have followup questions.

  82. Absolutely necessary. But, I have a critique…

    I’ve been reading the blog for a couple years now and I’ve asked a few “irrelevant” or “off-topic” questions from time to time. It allows me to make better, more informed decisions with my points. I know there is the Ask Lucky forum, but it sometimes takes a while to get a response.

    While I think there’s value in having a focused discussion, I don’t think comments should be removed for relevance. But, at the same time, it’s your blog and it’s absolutely your choice of which rules you create.

  83. Glad you put the policy in place, it’s well thought out and I think will make the blog a better place.
    I like the comparison to your home – if it’s not something you’d say in somebody else’s home to their face, don’t write it in the comments….

  84. @Christian says: April 14, 2019 at 7:24 pm: “I think that Debit and DCS should have a blog together. It’d be priceless.”

    I have no idea who this Christian is but it is utterly mindless to believe that @Debit (r.i.p) and I have anything in common, unless the view is that the perpetual substance of content of my comments and the vacuousness of Debit’s fall in the category of “opposites attract.”

    @dalo says: April 14, 2019 at 8:30 pm: “I have been a little concerned about DCS , haven’t read anything from him in a while . Not sure if he has also been banned or not . DCS let us know you are ok!”

    Not to be concerned because there is no reason for why I should be banned. I post when I have something substantive to say. I do not come here just for the polemics. I have been and can be “forceful” in debunking bogus claims, but usually I back it with a virtual Himalaya of supporting evidence.

    Now, who the hell are you again, and why do you care what I do here or happens to me?

    BTW, I am might be launching my own travel blog, which I will use just to expound on things that are dear to me or report on my Asian Escapades, as I have not been to do so since InsideFlyer went under…

    I got WordPress and paid fee. I have designed the website. I just need to launch it. A bit busy competing for federal grant $$ for my research at the moment, but I think I will launch with a dissection of the anatomy of my most recent big-time redemption: my 2018 Year-end Asian Escapade(tm).

    Stay tuned, and see y’all ’round campus!

  85. Can we still make fun of TPG?
    Also, for those missing Debit just imagine ‘because of the white male oligarchy…’ prefaces every comment. That guys level of commitment to derangement got old a long time ago.

  86. Hey Ben just wanted to see if you reply as we were on the topic of commenting ! Also what’s your favorite aircraft type?(Sorry if you already answered asI’m new and
    unaware if you ever answered this).

  87. Let me be frank, you’ve banned a handful of trolls in a decade. Sometimes the trolls were funny, especially if others took their bait. But even that got tiresome for me as a reader and must have sucked for y’all. The bottom line is, it’s your blog and you get to make the rules. It’s about trust really and you don’t appear to be abusing it.

  88. I actually like the updated policy, and 110% agree that Ben has the right to allow (or disallow) certain comments on HIS blog that he built via his own hard work. I’m a long-time reader and occasional poster, and I’m certainly guilty of being a jerk a time or two on this blog, especially in comment sections that devolved into political arguments. I think it best to stay on topic and ignore all the bigotry, hatred and political rants. There are comment sections on other websites for all that nonsense. I can say that I used to find Debit amusing, but, the novelty wore off quite quickly. Here’s to hoping the comment sections are more fruitful and become more comfortable for everyone!! Keep up the excellent work!

  89. Good riddance to Debit. He or she had long since lost any originality or interest. Just repeated political and religious bashing ad nauseum. I’ve noticed that quite a few sites have gotten rid of comments altogether because of the garbage that then gets associated with their business, but this site does often get truly useful comments that contribute to the topic at hand and add value for everyone, so I’m glad you’re trying the idea of encouraging worthwhile material. I know moderation is a challenging job and takes time, but I think it’s worth it. Kudos to you.

  90. Well done. I have always enjoyed this blog and the (mostly) valuable input from other commenters.

  91. you will be banning Debit now? I have to admit – I often scrolled down to look for his/her comments…they spiced up things and often made me laugh…sometimes offensive to some – maybe…but was it Mae West who said ““Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often” ?
    Anyway, it’s your blog, and if you want to make it more sterile and bland in hope of not offending anyone – it’s your prerogative…but Debit will surely be missed…paraphrasing – he was not a bug but a feature of this blog…

  92. Thanks for this, Lucky. So often I felt like the comments just sucked the life out of the article. They became a tremendous waste of my time to read, sorting through all the nonsense looking for one that might be helpful or at least civil.

  93. I join some others in mourning the banning of @Debit. Behind his flippant commenting style, one could sense an intelligent lifeform that often surfaced in his less flippant comments. By and large, I considered him harmless, a comic relief even….

    Commenting guidelines for a medium like this one are necessity, as long as not they do become, even inadvertently, an instrument for thought-policing, or to protect the host’s personal or vested interest or “investment” (see: TPG).

    G’day.

  94. @ William — If it’s relevant to miles, points, or travel, that seems fine, regardless of what post you end up commenting on 🙂

  95. @DCS: “Not to be concerned because there is no reason for why I should be banned.”

    You’re funny.

  96. I’ve always thought it best to imagine standing in front of the person saying out loud what is about to be typed in a comment. Sadly, I imagine many people have no problem saying nasty, thuggish things to other people’s faces.

    For what it’s worth, I think the comment guidelines are reasonable and I hope it works to keep things as polite and interesting as this article’s comment thread.

  97. About time Lucky! This is not censorship, this is sensible policy. The antagonistic drivel from a small number of individuals was creating a toxic environment that we all had to live in here. I look forward a return to a civil discourse here at OMAAT. Thanks for listening to your readers!

  98. Completely agree with the new policy @Lucky. Everyone can and should be free to have a point of view, sure, but if you wouldn’t say it to someone in person, why is it ok to do so in a comments blog.

    This blog is here for everyone and what I appreciate is the honesty Lucky is trying to bring with his perspectives, reviews, and his responses to feedback. Do I get frustrated when he doesn’t respond sometimes to what I feel are others reasonable questions and challenges to him? Sure… but just like the rest of us, we’ve lots going on…. and he does often get around to it eventually.

    There definitely is a balance to be had and so long as Lucky doesn’t start moderating reasonable points that counter something he’s written, or lose sight of his audience (cough, TPG), I’m gonna keep reading

  99. I’m sad to see Debit go. While his comments could make him appear as an ass, I think this is largely a part of easily offended people that don’t understand satire. There’s a huge difference between a comedic tone that says something negative about a specific group versus directly targeted plain hate speech.

  100. One thing to consider is granting a couple of other people moderator rights (other bloggers on OMAAT, trusted friends, or whomever).

    Pluses: More eyes that can more quickly react to prohibited content.

    Minuses: I’m not sure what granting moderator rights allows moderators to do (e.g., if they have mod rights, can they change content, etc.? If so, then this may not make sense).

    You really need to choose moderators carefully, as if they make a wrong call it can turn into quite a sh-tstorm.

    Either way, nice to see a broader list of items that won’t be allowed, and thanks for the great work you all do on OMAAT.

  101. Can’t argue with any of that.

    Two requests – allow original poster to edit a post.

    Ditch the need to agree to follow up comments for every post. Once is enough and every time just clogs inboxes and gets tedious.

    Don’t use anything that requires a sign-up (like Disqus). You often get phoney info and people, esp occasional posters using multiple devices, get sick of trying to remember user names and passwords.

    I neither collect credit cards nor play the points game but I love commercial aviation and cabin design and OMAAT is brilliant – esp the loads of photos for every review.

    Keep it coming.

  102. I will miss Debit as well.

    Can’t say I was surprised when I saw this article posted. I had a feeling it was coming.

    What I really would like to know is what has happened to some of the other occasional bloggers like James. I’ve asked several times and it is never addressed. This just makes me more and more curious.

  103. This is good news, Ben – you are a kind, thoughtful, and experienced traveler with lots of valuable info to share. The animus from some readers was most definitely overshadowing the good feedback and was personally driving me away from your blog.

  104. “who the hell are you ?” Yep , DCS is still in fine form so I’m not worried now . Name your new blog “Abrasive Travels” G’Day

  105. @FredM: I’m the same. I don’t play the credit card points game and would never book my travel the way @Lucky does, but I really appreciate his commentary on the general commercial aviation industry and his business class/first class and airline lounge reviews. I find myself a bit too hooked to the blog to be honest!

    Since a lot of people are commenting on @Debit, I thought I’d just add my two cents that I will not miss him. I never found his comments funny or satirical, but rather just your garden variety inane trolling. I would usually just skip over them since I knew they wouldn’t be worthwhile for me to read.

    To others asking about James, @Lucky did reply in another post that James had left OMAAT. Not much explanation provided if I recall.

  106. Ben and Tiffany – I think you both know how much respect I have for you both in terms of the content you provide and the integrity by which you endeavor to deliver it. It’s very hard in a digital space to do that, especially given anonymity of your readers and commenters. It’s like letting everyone into the playground when you know there will be disruptors or others who ‘don’t play well with others’. I applaud your efforts here, even if the entertainment factor for some may diminish. But then again, this isn’t meant to be TMZ, or the Enquirer.

    Free speech is a very tricky thing. For what it’s worth to everyone: disagreement – even extreme – can still be done respectfully and constructively. I work with people who are diametrically opposite of my views. We disagree often, yet have constructive dialogue ALL the time, collaborate and come to consensus often. People are individuals, and whether you believe it or not, we have far more in common than we don’t. Wish more folks here would think about that and that you reap what you sow.

    I’ll continue to read and appreciate the content! Cheers to you both and of course your entire team.

  107. @dalo — You come here and call me names and yet I have never addressed you before and have no clue who you are…Maybe that gives you more than a hint about why well-meaning people can get “abrasive”?

    Please get lost.

  108. Ben,

    Try to do your best. That is all you can do.
    In today’s social media environment we have poor behaviour.
    As to subjects, aside from your beginning writings mainly about hotels and airlines, other subjects that light up emotions came your way, such as the man being heavy handidly dragged off the United Plane. So your comment area will light up.

    As to what is the right subjects. I am reminded of this, my father pulled jury duty in the 1970’s.
    The case he got on was whether or not these certain publications were pornography or art.
    That was a very tough question back then. And he discussed it at dinner with our family, our youngest being a teenager. It was not an easy question.

    So just do your best. Your were born with a sensitivity, so you cannot just develop a thick skin.
    And it is always an assistance to ask upwards, for whichever you believe in, there is assistance from up above.

    Tim

  109. Hey DCS , I felt I had been unfairly harsh before . I meant to apologize and was concerned when we did not hear from you for a long time . It seems your enthusiasm is not dampened though .
    I am relieved by that.

  110. @DCS: “You come here and call me names and yet I have never addressed you before and have no clue who you are…Maybe that gives you more than a hint about why well-meaning people can get “abrasive”?”

    Lest anyone wonder why Ben and Tiffany need a moderation policy for OMAAT in the first place.

  111. It’s truly a shame debit was banned. He was a hugely successful troll and hilarious as well. Just shows how easily triggered most of the red hat snowflake brigade really are. But I imagine he will reappear under a new moniker. If you’re reading this Debit we’ll (those of us with a sense of humor) miss you!

  112. 100% support the policy change and banning of trolls like @Debit.

    I do enjoy the comments as I have often learned something from them! Glad commenting will continue, but comments like @Debit’s seriously caused me to reconsider. Just got real tiresome.

    I was actually hoping that you’d implement a personal filter. That way we could decide who’s comments not to see. And yes, @Debit would have been on that list with @DCS.

  113. @Pedro – cannot agree more! Those of us with at least SOME sense of humor will miss Debit a lot! Besides, he was like a mascot of this blog. And you banned him? Lighten up people! How could one be so prim, insecure and thin-skinned to complain about Debit? Or maybe envious of him, that he is hilarious and draws all the attention?
    I am not even sure my comment won’t be censored and deleted, it’s a sterile environment here, after all.

  114. Banning Debit achieves what? At times he was silly but now and then he really hit the target.

    As for some of those people moaning about Debit, I imagine 21st Century Walter Mittys in Momma’s basement creating some pretentious imaginary world for themselves. Go for blandness Ben. It appears to be what you want.

  115. @NeilH — You should be banned for being too…_______…and not recognizing hard hitting analyses, and believing that when people write thing that are way over your head they must be trolling or being Nasty. Think about that and then change your tune…

    I will greatly appreciate it if you never refer to me again.

  116. You all do realize the poster known as “Credit” that was Banned back in 2017 is likely the same individual that came back as “Debit”. Just sayin’

  117. @DCS: “You should be banned for being too…_______…and not recognizing hard hitting analyses, and believing that when people write thing that are way over your head they must be trolling or being Nasty.”

    Actually, I think it’s you insinuating that people are stupid (as you did here) that suggests that the comment is being trolling or nasty.

    @DCS: “Think about that and then change your tune…”

    Perhaps you should heed your own advice.

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