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Community Building and User Generated Content Forum

    
Travel Forum Structure
Best structure to manage content right from the start...
beachlover




msg:3727466
 6:20 pm on Aug 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

We are about to include a forum into our travel website.

Now what do you think is the best structure to categorize the future posts right from the beginning (bear in mind that we do not want to have some 30 sub-forums so that the first posts get lost deep in some subsubsub-Cat until there is decent activity on the forums).

a. categorize by destination or region
b. categorize by activity
c. categorize by ?

Looking forward to your ideas...

 

Quadrille




msg:3728856
 2:30 pm on Aug 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

Probably a & b

(a) is the obvious way to go, but if your target audience may be a total mix of backpackers, package holiday makers etc, then you may feel the need to give them somewhere for non-destination features in common.

Starting by destination allows for big forums (eg continents) to be subdivided according to need, as demand grows).

But monitoring a 'general' forum may soon throw up obvious ideas for subdividing that, too.

beachlover




msg:3733356
 11:56 am on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

Quadrille, thanks for your reply.

Any more ideas?

vincevincevince




msg:3733358
 12:01 pm on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

Age could be a good idea. Also - style or class could be worth giving thought. I have no common interest with people who think slumming it is a four star hotel...

In this region (SE Asia) some travel forums get dragged down to what is essentially dirty old men talking about looking for cheap prostitutes. That's a group you will need to keep moderated away or segregated to its own walled category.

lexipixel




msg:3738947
 9:40 am on Sep 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

Organizing data that does not yet exist is always hard. I could see where you could have many categories that would help people get information about the type of trip they want to plan.

A lot of trips, events, destinations, "travel packages" could probably fit into more than one category.

The geographic breakdown is a given.

-__ Destination
-----__ Continent
----------__ Country
---------------__ State/Province/Region
--------------------__ City/Town

I'd look for a format where cross-posting can be done, (message is "in" a category, but there are virtual links to it, the way you used to be able to post a message in UseNet to alt.bbs.tbbs, alt.bbs.major.. or the way WordPress allows a post to be assigned to one or more parent or sub-categories and the post "appears" there -- and the post keeps it's child comments associated to it wherever it appears.

Then you could make the same posts able to be found in categories like:

-
-__ Mode of Travel
-----__ Plane
-----__ Train
-----__ Automobile
-----__ By Sea
-
- Lifestyle
-----
-----__ Singles Destinations
-----
-----__ Family Vacations
----------
----------__ Theme Parks
----------__ National Parks
----------__ Cultural Destinations
-----
-----__ Sporting Destinations
----------
----------__ Ski
----------
----------__ Camping
----------
----------__ Hunting
----------
----------__ Watersports
---------------
---------------__ Boating
---------------__ Fishing
---------------__ Snorkeling
---------------__ Surfing
----------
----------__ Golf
----------__ Motorcycling
----------__ Nascar / Racing
----------__ Ballooning
----------__ Mountain Climbing
-
-__ Seasonal / Date Oriented / Event Travel
-----
-----__ New England Fall Foliage
-----__ Elvis' Birthday Pilgrimage
-----__ October Fest
-----__ New Years Eve in NYC
-
-__ ECO Travel
-
-__ Discount Travel
-
-__ Adventure Travel
-

rogerd




msg:3740495
 3:33 pm on Sep 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

Nice analysis, lexipixel.

I'd add that despite whatever plans you lay, you'll probably find that your actual content availability is different than what you expected. As this happens, just kill off empty categories and add further organization to categories that have grown bigger than expected.

lexipixel




msg:3740715
 6:59 pm on Sep 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

As this happens, just kill off empty categories
-rogerd

...as a rule I never never put up an empty category page/link. Nothing worse than having someone navigate to a page and find it empty, ("lacking content").

If I anticipate a need for content in categories and people will be adding the listings themselves, I create a <SELECT> pull-down on the submission form listing all possible cats, and program the CMS so categories only appear when there is content.

If I feel a category is needed (for SEO or because people will expect to find content on that subject if they come to the site), I try to always put at least (3) "seed" listings in the category.

If I'm building from scratch, I create a "New & Unsorted" category first, then move content to appropriate cats as patterns emerge.

caribguy




msg:3743143
 1:26 am on Sep 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

Another way to organize the subjects is by labeling your existing content and allowing visitors to comment on it.

e.g. you have an article about summer specials for a particular hotel chain at a certain vacation destination

tags: specials, destination_x, region_y, chain_z, summer_vacation, honeymooners

Rather than forcing your visitors have to enter a separate forum section in order to view or post comments, viewing the content page would give a summary of what's been posted. The posts would inherit the original content tags. I'd think twice before letting ordinary users create their own tags (overlap, synonyms), or even select them from a long list.

At the same time, you could still offer traditional views, by topic hierarchy, threads or most recent posts.

martinibuster




msg:3747718
 8:20 am on Sep 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

Another good post, lexipixel. :)

I suggest making somewhat general categories and as the members trend toward particular discussions move those discussions into more specific categories. However imo this should be done after consulting with key members and moderators to verify if this is something they want or need.

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