Tripadvisor banned my ip along with others with no explanation. I thought was perhaps a mistake and I sent an email. Here is what followed:
IT seems that the maintenance on your site has possibly caused an issue with my account. I can no longer log on or access my owners listings and management response area. I have built a new id and cannot post on the forums indicating that my ip is being blocked. Can you please look into the matter and have my account reactivated? It seems that Dec 2nd, all of my posts and entries disappeared at once, and I am getting a lot of personal emails from other TA members asking what has happened. A.K.A. Owee
Further to my message about Owee’s account being disabled, I noticed that a thread that I started listing the new visa fees copied from a memorandum was removed. Could this have breeched a rule in some way? Can I please have the account reactivated? Owee
From: “TripAdvisor Support” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Hi, Thank you for contacting us. After reviewing your account, I see that we have removed your account for advertising. You provide a link to your business site within every post, which is against our posting guidelines. Best Regards, Beth TripAdvisor Support Team
Hi Beth, In this case I believe TA is in error. This also happened once in the past by a person complaints but was found in the end to be unjustified, and his ip was banned.I have never tried to sell on either the forums, or the blog, however, I do know there are some out there that might talk about what I do as it is a blog after all, but very little The link I provide is not to a business, but my personal blog that talks about life and travel in Vietnam and how I adjusted to it. It also offers the viewpoint of an expat that lives and works with tourism and can provide information that no other can such as the passport issue question in the top question about Vietnam area. IF TA feels that the blog link should not be attached to my signature, all they had to do is ask or give warning and I have no problem not adding it, however, in the past, I have received communication that posting links to the helpful information on my blog was allowed and within the guidelines. Please review the link I provided on all of my posts and if you find it does not link to or sell my product in any way. If you look in the owners center, you will find that I run a hotel in Nha Trang and nowhere in your forums will you ever see me refer to that fact or self promote, so how it can be removed for advertising, I cannot understand. Please review your decision and hopefully you will reactivate my account. Owee
From: “TripAdvisor Support” <email@example.com>
Hi, Your account was deactivated due to having multiple screen names and for advertising your blog within our forums. While we do allow members to place their personal blog in their signature line, we do not allow members to refer to their blog within the forum post. Best Regards, Beth TripAdvisor Support Team
OK…. so you do allow blog signatures but how is linking to information a person is looking for be called advertising? Sounds like you have no idea.
Ok Beth………… Whatever, however, I DO NOT!! and have NEVER!! had multiple screen names. I only registered RIPTideNhaTrang as a new one after the only screen name I had was deactivated. Furthermore, there are no commercial links or direct advertising on the site. Have you even looked? I have received many hundreds of letters from TA members and other experts that have no issue and actually appreciate my 6000 posts that that are facts and not just guesses like many of your so called Destination Experts. At any time in the past 4 years, you could have asked me to stop with a warning, if Tripadvisor thought I was linking to advertising. I had communication with moderator Jane in the past that the links to blogs were totally acceptable, however she thought that linking in my signature was too much, but not enough to cause breaking guideline rules. Now all of a sudden, without a warning, my ip is banned due to advertising????? Have you even looked at the site in question? I removed the single link to my business to comply with TripAdvisor request 1 year ago in November. Since that day there has not been an issue.”While we do allow members to place their personal blog in their signature line, we do not allow members to refer to their blog within the forum post.” OK fine. This is contrary to what I was told in the past and under that policy it looks like you will have hundreds of members to also ban. Had there been any indication that this was going to be a new policy all you needed to do is notify me and I would have complied. TA members I have been in contact with so far are also at a loss why this is happening (even though I know a couple of Hanoi fans that would love to see me gone) I ask again…. Please reactivate my account and I will comply! I feel it is not a good policy to blacklist somebody without any warning or notice. Owee
That was the last I heard from Beth…. In fact, I was getting no help with this matter so I decided to write to one of the Tripadvisor executives.
To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Moderator gone too far?
Dear Mr. Charron,
Please accept my apology if I am sending this to the wrong person, however, I am not sure where to direct this mail. I am writing in regards to an action taken by TA moderators responsible for the Vietnam forum section of your site. My name is Owen a.k.a. Owee on the Vietnam forums and have been contributing to the forum for 4 years with 6000 posts. Over those years, I have befriended many of fellow forum contributors and have found TA has also become a friends network for me. In all of my posts, I link to my travel blog in the signature. The blog gives more detailed information about travel and culture in the destination and to most that use it, becomes a useful tool to be used in conjunction with their TA queries. On Dec 2nd, without notice or warning, my ip was blocked from making further posts on the Vietnam forums. A woman by the name of Beth (who I have never dealt with before) gave reason in a response that I was linking to direct advertising, secondly, I was falsely accused of posting with dual personas. The blog has no direct advertising at all and Jane (TA moderator) made me aware 1 year ago about a single link to my business that I then removed. It looks like there is some kind of personal vendetta that I am unaware of that is happening. I would appreciate your attention in this matter, or perhaps have another look into it. Part of the reason I wish to continue, is until now, I have always thought TA one of the best resources for travel information in this country. Travel in Vietnam can be very limited because of old no longer enforced government rules and there are few such as myself that live here and understand the tourism business. Most of the Designated Experts (some my friends) only know the surface of the old touristy trail. Part of the reason I enjoy posting, is I can often answer or correct advice and help a person enjoy this place as much as I do. I have kept transcripts of the falsely accusing emails. Please help to reactivate my account if you see ( which I believe you will) that their actions are unjustified and if linking to my blog ( after 4 years of it being allowed) is now inappropriate due to new policy changes, please advise and I will cease.
Thank you for your help in this matter.
Magically I received a very fast response
Sent: Saturday, December 08, 2012 1:11 AM
Subject: RE: FW: Moderator gone too far?
Hi, We have reviewed your account and see that there was a misunderstanding somewhere along the line regarding those links. We will restore your account. Please be sure not to refer to your blog anywhere in the text of your posts. We do allow personal blogs as part of your signature. Thanks for your cooperation on this going forward. Please refrain from opening any other account with us to avoid any interruption to your account. Best Regards, Diane TripAdvisor Support Team
To: email@example.com Subject: Re: Moderator gone too far?
Thank you. Now I have only one question.
I will cease referring to my blog with my signature and I want to be clear. I often answer questions with a link to one of my blog pages that have detailed information useful to a poster such as weather statistics, and distance charts, security, train schedules, and other information that is difficult to answer in a forum. In the past I was told that links within the post body was acceptable. Is this still the case, or is linking to 3rd party information no longer allowed under the new guidelines?
OhOh….. Beth is back!
Subject: Re: Moderator gone too far? [ ref:_00DA0I0Rf._500F0DBu5x:ref ]
Hi, Posting a link to your blog within the post is against our guidelines. Best Regards, Beth TripAdvisor Support Team
HUH? In your last email to me you said and I quote “While we do allow members to place their personal blog in their signature line, we do not allow members to refer to their blog within the forum post.” This is a 100% flip flop in one week.
To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: Moderator gone too far?
“Posting a link to your blog within the post is against our guidelines. “ Since when and for what possible reason?
So nobody is allowed to post a link to outside travel information, or just me? Shall we all start marking as inappropriate anyone who links as such? All of the pages I link to exist because of TA questions, many times mine and sometimes others. So your guidelines have changed? (I assume they are new since I was allowed under the ones prior to Dec 2nd) I will consider what you have said however, such a policy is a large disappointment. It seems that it is not your reader’s best interest that you have at heart.
Sadly, they had no answer for me. It seems that this whole affair has nothing to do with policy guidelines but perhaps about my blog being a threat to them in some fashion.
Sent: 12/12/2012 12:43 PM To: email@example.com Subject: Re: Moderator gone too far? [ ref:_00DA0I0Rf._500F0DBu5x:ref ]
I have logged onto my re-activated account but my message center is still disabled. Please enable so I can be in contact with the many TA patrons and TA Advisors that often contact me.
Please!!!! Beth….. Diane…. Marc…. and anybody else following this thread…… let us get these differences worked out. I am trying very hard to be patient.
Hi, We have reviewed your account and see that your private message center was turned off and must not have been reactivated when we reinstated your account. We have turned your messaging on and have tested your account to be sure it works. In the future, if you find that your messaging is turned off, you can turn it back on from your profile. Sorry about the confusion. Best Regards, Beth\ TripAdvisor Support Team
OK….. So I thought we had finally worked everything out. As you can see above, they seemed to be very confused about their own guidelines. If you look on the Tripadvisor forums for Vietnam, you will see many posts violating the above rules not enforced. There are many obvious tauters and people cheerleading in the guise of promoting ones business.
I returned to the forums and started giving advice as before but my very first post was deleted because I was giving advice on a tour. I still had no links as I do now on my site that I offered tours, however, it was not hard to find that I did. I tried again wit hotel advice…….. Deleted!! Whaaaaa??????? I saw and still see people who put links in the body of the post (not allowed by emails sent to me) So I linked to a page other than my own that had some usefull information that would help a Tripadvisor patron…. AGAIN DELETED!!!!!! AARRGGHH!!! What the heck is going on? Are the moderators on some kind of revenge thing because of me contacting their boss? Or is it perhaps a few Tripadvisor anti Owee contributors that were marking my posts as inappropriate? I do not know why but here it is 2 years later and still almost anything I post is deleted.
To me, the Tripadvisor forum has now become irrelevant. A person might as well purchase one of the outdated copies of the mainstream travel books. All true destination experts for Vietnam have been banned from even logging onto the site. I have my own thoughts on that. It is my belief that in December 2012 after a period of site maintenance, Tripadvisor began offering booking services. It is now in their best interest for a person never to leave their website and look elsewhere for information. I might have made the same decision if I was CEO for financial reasons, but this is very unfair to YOU!
I used to taut Tripadvisor as a person’s best resource for information when traveling to Vietnam and I guess it is still ok if you want general information of the main tourist trail from other travelers answering from their perspective right or wrong. In Vietnam you will end staying and eating in places altered to the foreigner and not representative of “real” Vietnam. There are so many fun, interesting, and beautiful destinations to visit but you will not find your answers on Tripadvisor. If you want help and information from those that understand this country and can offer the perspective of one who actually truly knows, search for blogs. There are a number of them that are very good and will give you excellent travel ideas but do not expect them to get any mention in Tripadvisor. Some of them have business interests and perhaps can offer you the vacation that you are looking for……. Perhaps not…. I say again Tripadvisor…… WHO CARES!!
In conclusion, I would suggest that the Vietnam Tripadvisor forum has degraded from a useful source of information into a site that does not really care for you to get the answers you want and mislead you in the hopes you will book through their online system. The term Destination Expert is misleading and in most cases an out right lie. A Tripadvisor chosen volunteer is a more accurate term. Please keep this in mind when using their resource. It saddens me when I encounter people traveling Vietnam that want something beyond what the travel guides and now Tripadvisor offer, but cannot find it.
Please Tripadvisor…….. Return to your old ways, cut the BS and live up Stephan Kaufer’s mission to help travelers around the world plan and have the perfect trip. Now you are just part of the tired old machine.
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