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Lonely Planet blog

Behind the scenes • Community • Thorn Tree

Thorn Tree V update

By Jane Atkin   13 March 2014 4:02pm Europe/London

For as long as Lonely Planet has been online we’ve hosted a place where curious travellers can connect with each other and share independent travel advice to help each other get to the heart of a destination. The Thorn Tree Travel forum is by travellers, for travellers, and covers every place on the planet (even places that we don’t have guidebooks for).

Launching Thorn Tree V

In March 2014 we’re launching the fifth iteration of the Thorn Tree travel forums. At the end of 2013 we started a project that aimed to kill off the old technology platform and replace it with something easier to maintain and improve. Thorn Tree V represents a ‘lift and shift’ into new software which will provide us with a more stable foundation and a better experience for the members of our community.

A sneak peek of Thorn Tree's new look.A sneak peek of Thorn Tree’s new look.

Technology, the way we travel, and the opportunities to connect with one another have changed a lot since the first iteration of Thorn Tree in 1996. In a world where Google returns information as soon as you can get the question to your fingertips, we think there are still some compelling reasons to host travel forums on lonelyplanet.com.

Thorn Tree is a place for travellers to talk about travel whether they’re travelling or not. It’s a place where curious people can come to get independent travel advice. No business accounts means that you’re getting advice from a traveller not someone with an agenda to push. The advice you find on the forum can help you decide where to go next. It’s a place where travellers can meet locals. Where you can find answers to questions that aren’t covered in our guidebooks or that Google can’t help you with. Our forum covers regions with visitor numbers that don’t support a print product or aren’t otherwise covered on our website. Maybe most significantly, Thorn Tree is a place for travellers to share up to the minute advice on security situations as they develop.

Building on user feedback

None of this would be possible without the members of our community that have given their advice, hints and tips and by sharing that insight making it possible for others to enjoy authentic experiences all over the planet. We’re listening to member feedback and will be focusing on improving the search experience and making some changes to member profiles so we can give back to the best travel community on the planet. The generosity and wisdom of the members of Lonely Planet’s online community are what continues to make Thorn Tree one of the most reliable places to come to get trusted travel advice on any number of questions.

Blast from the past... Thorn Tree back in 1999.Blast from the past… Thorn Tree back in 1999.

Better user experience

We acknowledge that the user experience on our forums has left a lot to be desired for a long time. We are launching Thorn Tree V in beta. We have rebuilt the back-end from the ground up and rebuilt the front-end to bring it into line with the rest of lonelyplanet.com. Our aim is to replicate the features of Thorn Tree 4 on a more stable platform that will allow us to deliver a better experience for all our members. We’d love to hear your comments on what features you feel are important in the Community FAQs branch of the forum; you can add your feedback to this thread, or start a new topic.

Thorn Tree will be down on Monday 17 and Tuesday 18 March. We will be back online on Wednesday 19 March (GMT). Thanks for your patience while we work through this transition.