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I run loco2.com. We currently have our own Q&A section at http://answers.loco2.com, but we're not happy with how it's working out for the following reasons:

  • The software we are using is pretty bad. There is a surprising lack of decent off-the-shelf forum/Q&A software out there and we don't want to build/maintain/host our own
  • Users getting in touch about how to use our site/service usually have very specific questions that only apply to them, and so answering them is much better suited to email (or a static knowledge-base about Loco2, which we are in the process of developing)
  • Those questions that are more suited to a "community" do not tend to lead directly to sales for us, and so it's difficult for us to spend the time answering them (we only make a slim margin on train tickets so cannot afford such luxuries as helping people plan inspiring journeys)

We really like the Travel Answers user interface and find that the quality of the answers given is really good. We also like that unlike TripAdvisor, it's not seen as a heinous crime to mention the fact that our website/service might be able to help with some of the questions that people have.

So we are intending to archive our own Q&A section, and instead begin directing Loco2 users/customers to Travel Answers when they have a question that we feel would be better answered by a community rather than one of our support staff. There was a discussion about a year ago on this subject:

Suggestions for websites to advertise Travel.SE on

Since then we have realised that it doesn't make sense to have our own Q&A for the reasons stated above.

I wanted to let the more active members of the community know that this is what we're intending to do. Hopefully it will strengthen the quality and depth of the train-related questions/answers on the site.

We have recently had engagement from members of http://www.railforums.co.uk and others who have very specialist knowledge about rail and tickets/timetables/prices etc and we'll encourage these individuals to contribute to Travel Answers as well.

We'll be happy to chip in with any answers when we have the capacity to help.

We may invite people to use a "loco2" tag on Travel Answers, in order that we can subscribe to it and answer any questions that may be posted by users not directed there by us.

Does anyone have any suggestions about specifically how we should invite our users to post on Travel Answers? Is there anything else we should be bearing in mind as we make this switch?

Thanks, Jamie

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    I'd advise against creating a loco2 tag. Meta tags of that sort (that is to say, tags that don't directly describe the subject of the question) are generally frowned upon on SE sites and run contrary to how the tagging system works in general. But other than that, Welcome! – LessPop_MoreFizz Apr 1 '14 at 3:42
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    I'm in huge favour of this idea, well - the driving users here. Wouldn't use a loco2 tag though. You could still rss monitor the trains tag at least, and that way catch all rail questions, not just loco2 ones! – Mark Mayo Supports Monica Apr 1 '14 at 5:53
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    Oh, and please be clear when you link that it's for objective questions and answers - not open discussions - it's not a forum :/ Perhaps link to the help center as well. – Mark Mayo Supports Monica Apr 1 '14 at 5:55
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    A Loco2 tag would surely be appropriate if a question was specifically about how to do something on Loco2 - for example, travel.stackexchange.com/questions/8045/… is tagged with "sncf", so this is the context in which I was expecting "loco2" to be used. – Jamie Apr 1 '14 at 9:14
  • Regarding what constitutes a "question", please can you give thoughts on whether this example would be appropriate: "I am planning to travel to Switzerland for 4 days from 4th July -8th July 2014 , France 8th July- 12th July, Italy 12th July 12- 16th 2014 . We are a family of 4 people ( two kids 7 years and 12 years) . Please suggest best options for economical train tickets in 2nd class. – Jamie Apr 1 '14 at 9:16
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    @Jamie It's borderline. I can see a good fit question from that, or possibly two, but I can also see it getting closed if not careful. You might want to help shepherd a few over with assistance on structuring / editing / clarifying, to provide some good examples for going forward – Gagravarr Apr 1 '14 at 11:59
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    @Jamie - one of our close reasons is WANTA - we are not travel agents. Therefore, asking 'best options' for said itinerary stands a risk of being closed...the point is that generally questions should be of use to future users as well, and that'd be waaay too specific :/ – Mark Mayo Supports Monica Apr 1 '14 at 15:26
  • While sat on board an ICE speeding across Germany, on a ticket bought through Loco2, I've just come up with a question which I think does justify the loco2 tag! – Gagravarr May 23 '14 at 13:22
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Great that you like the SE platform and Travel-SE in particular (I like loco2.com myself although I only had one occasion to try it out). I would however strongly suggest that you contact the Stack Exchange Inc. team about this (team@stackexchange.com) before performing a migration, as community moderators don't have that sort of responsibility and lack the tools to be of assistance. Historically, there have been similar agreements between online communities and Stack Exchange Inc. (Ask Ubuntu and Ask Patents when the SE platform becomes the official Q&A arm of the respective community/organization. However, there's no guarantee this would happen for loco2.com. In the meantime, we'd be happy to answer any on-topic question loco2 users might have, and we of course humbly appreciate your faith and trust in Travel-SE.

As it might not be immediately clear, myself and other community moderators are not Stack Exchange Inc. employees and can't speak on behalf of the company.

You could rely on us to put in a good word for loco2 (I am fairly certain other Travel-SE regulars have had a good experience with loco2), if it comes to that.

Update: as mentioned in the comments, refrain from adding a special tag for loco2 users. Meta tags are generally frowned upon, and I personally don't see much benefit from having one. Questions that benefit loco2 users will most likely be helpful to others as well, so a distinction is pretty much meaningless. Besides, from a more selfish (for Travel-SE) point of view, we'd be very happy if new users embrace Travel-SE not just as a loco2 Q&A, but as a travel community that can offer much more than a support/discussion forum.

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    I also wondered at first if he meant migrate completely - but I believe he's just going to start directing people to use this site rather than their forum, which is all good! – Mark Mayo Supports Monica Apr 1 '14 at 5:54
  • Yes, sorry I wasn't talking about "migration" in any kind of formal sense. Just that we intend to retire our own Q&A section and ask people to (a) email us or (b) post their question on Travel Answers – Jamie Apr 1 '14 at 9:11
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    @Jamie: then by all means, you are welcome! You can still contact SE Inc. team and inquire if they'd be interested in some more official form of collaboration. – mindcorrosive Apr 1 '14 at 9:21
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    Still, there are questions that you currently cater to, but are not a good fit for Travel-SE. Recommendation questions immediately spring to mind -- most of these will probably be closed. See the What topics can I ask about here? – mindcorrosive Apr 1 '14 at 9:25
  • For recommendation questions, one option might be the FlyerTalk European Rail Travel forum - recommendation questions are allowed there – Gagravarr Apr 1 '14 at 12:01
  • @Gagravarr thanks, will check that out – Jamie Apr 1 '14 at 18:51
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I'm one of the Community Managers at Stack Exchange. To echo mindcorrosive, we humbly appreciate your faith and trust in Travel SE!

For what you're proposing, it doesn't sound like we need any sort of formal agreement. We're happy to be a platform for good Travel questions, regardless of where they come from. And it's a great sign that you're already familiar to some of the regulars here!

The main caveat is that you'll have to be selective with the questions you send our way. I checked out some of the most recent answers.loco2.com questions, and a lot of them were about billing issues between the poster and your company or ticket issues for specific trips. Those wouldn't be good fits for us, since they would be of little to no value to others in the future. Also, as Mark commented, our format isn't good for broad discussions, so discussion questions are generally not accepted by the community.

Also, as others have said, [loco2] would be considered a meta tag here.

From your profile, it seems like you already have some sense of what we consider appropriate, so I won't belabor the point. Feel free to get in touch with any other questions or concerns!

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I'm going to answer my own question, having taken into account the helpful answers/comments already provided.

To re-cap, there are two broad categories of questions asked on Loco2:

  • Questions about existing or intended Loco2 bookings
  • More general questions about how to plan itineraries/seeking advice about logical routes etc

For obvious reasons, we intend to keep answering the first type of question, though we will in future do so by email rather than in our public-facing Q&A (since these questions are generally so specific as for the answers not to be useful to other users).

It was the second type of question we wanted to direct towards Travel Answers, but based on the responses to my original question, I am concluding this is not the best idea.

A lot of the questions are not specific enough for Travel Answers, and would get closed down for the "WANTA" reason cited in Mark's comment (as a side point, few online travel agents provide this sort of advice; the low commissions from any bookings that result, combined with the frequency with which customers book with alternative suppliers after receiving initial advice, makes it financially non-viable).

Having read how stringent the Travel Answer rules are, and noting that questions such as "What are some recommended itineraries for travelling around France, Spain and Portugal by train?" would likely be closed (even if specific dates etc were removed), I'm concluding that directing our users here is not the best idea.

It seems that there is a difficult balance to be struck between ensuring a question is specific enough to be a genuine question (as opposed to simply a request for advice/ideas) and it being so specific that it's not useful to other users.

I'm now thinking that directing users to TripAdvisor's Europe forums would probably be more appropriate, as their rules do not have the same restrictions.

I'm happy to hear any further thoughts that community managers may have. We'll of course direct any individual users here when it seems appropriate, but based on the existing rules, I'm not sure many questions will be a good fit.

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