Lonely Planet Writer

Have your say on the future of the Thorn Tree forum

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Since its inception back in 1996, the Thorn Tree has been synonymous with a diverse, engaged and helpful travel community and, like any long-running site, the forum has gone through a number of incarnations over the years.

Last year we started what will hopefully become an annual tradition, launching a detailed survey to collect feedback from Thorn Tree members and visitors alike. It ran from mid-November until early December, and more than 300 individuals participated to let us know how they felt about the functionality and usability of the site at that time.

Many of the points from the 2013 survey have shaped the past year’s work to improve the forum, as well as providing us with an excellent foundation for Thorn Tree V – the version that you see (and hopefully also use) today.

Last year’s results indicated that users wanted more intuitive navigation and better search, as well as the reinstatement of a number of features disabled during earlier major changes to the platform.

We’ve listened to these requirements by introducing, and gradually expanding, a new ‘EXPLORE’ panel containing a variety of quick navigation options, including:

Every individual post (both replies and posts that begin a new topic) received within the last 24 hours, regardless of branch, category or thread). Every individual post (both replies and posts that begin a new topic) received within the last 24 hours, regardless of branch, category or thread).
Every individual post (both replies and posts that begin a new topic) received within the last 24 hours, regardless of branch, category or thread). Every individual post (both replies and posts that begin a new topic) received within the last 24 hours, regardless of branch, category or thread).
All threads posted within the last week without any replies, across all branches and forum categories. All threads posted within the last week without any replies, across all branches and forum categories.
The most active topics on Thorn Tree within the last week, with filter and sort options to refine criteria by forum branch or type of activity. The most active topics on Thorn Tree within the last week, with filter and sort options to refine criteria by forum branch or type of activity.

Work has progressed behind the scenes on improving forum search, search accuracy and search result sort/filter options, to ensure visitors can easily access the wealth of information contributed to the site over the years. We expect to be able to announce further refinements to search in the near future, including a new option for grouping results by topic, so do keep an eye out for those changes and please don’t hesitate to let us know what you think.

Many of the more long-standing members of the forum will already be aware that a few important points from last year (improved member profile pages, signatures, embedded images, etc) have yet to materialise on Thorn Tree. There are several potential reasons why a feature might not have appeared:

  • We spent some time considering the request and we’d like to make it happen, but it’s relatively complicated to implement, and is therefore either in progress or carries slightly lower priority than those things that can be easily fixed or added.
  • We liked the idea even though it was slightly out of scope for us at the time, and we’ll probably have to return to it at a later date.
  • We considered the suggestion from a variety of angles, but factors either internal or external may have prevented us from taking any further action.

With this in mind, if you see any familiar points or ideas in this year’s survey, please take a moment to rate them once again according to your personal opinion, and we’d also encourage you to provide as many additional comments or as much explanation as you like.

Lastly, please don’t assume that simply because you haven’t seen something yet it won't happen in the future…or that we’re not listening! Development takes time and resources. As soon as this year’s survey has concluded, we’ll provide you with an update on the feedback we've collected and what we hope to do with the information.

The survey is open now, and will remain so until 23:59 UTC, Saturday, 31 January 2015, so you’ll have plenty of time to submit your response.

Whenever you’re ready, simply click the following link to begin in a new tab:

https://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/1909461/Thorn-Tree-User-Survey-2014

Please note: this survey has not been optimised for tablets and mobile devices. Apologies for any inconvenience this may cause.

Thanks in advance for your participation, and watch this space!