There is so much information available online – if you know where to look
Online encyclopaedias are known as ‘Wikis’. These have their content added by users, so the information is up-to-date, although sometimes wrong. Blogs are the work of individuals (or a group), and are an easy way to share thoughts, experiences and suggestions. Some are journals; others are information on a home town.
Podcasts are basically audio blogs, although some are of a much higher standard than others. Forums are websites that allows you to post questions and to find the answers to question asked by others.
Individual blogs can be hard to find, but helpfully some websites provide facilities for people to write blogs, which makes them much easier to find.
Also RSS feeds can be used to ensure that you are aware of any updates. RSS feeds can be read using software called an ‘RSS reader’, ‘feed reader’, or ‘aggregator’. The easiest way to subscribe to a RSS feed is to click the RSS button on the website (as shown below).
The other method is much fiddlier and requires the user to enter the feed’s web address or URL. The RSS reader checks the user’s subscribed feeds regularly for updates and downloads any that it finds. This system allows users to avoid manually inspecting all of the websites they are interested in.
As far as the content provider is concerned, blogs are a great way to share their thoughts as the blogs are free.
Wikis and forums
The following websites are a combination of Wikis and forums. So many sites cover all these different aspects of social media, it’s impossible to have separate lists. The big advantage of websites that provide a collection of services is that you can get views from different people giving you a much more rounded feeling of the destination. You may need to register (for free) to gain access to some of the content.
Just one word of warning before you jump into a forum and ask a question. When the Internet was used by mainly academic people, netiquette was developed. If a newbie did not follow this standard they were told in no uncertain terms to read the handbook (or FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions). Some forum users still follow netiquette, so before you post a question check the rules of the forum and search to see if this question has been asked recently.
Also, you are expected to have done some research before asking questions, so don’t ask for the email address for the New York Tourist Office, for example. Some groups are keen users of abbreviations, and you should be able to decipher these by using the FAQs, or by searching for a definition by using Google. Also USING CAPS IS KNOWN AS SHOUTING, so don’t do it.
About.com offers content that helps users find solutions to a wide range of daily needs – from parenting, health care and technology to cooking, travel and many others. The About Group is part of The New York Times Company.
This was put together to create a free, complete, up-to-date and reliable world-wide travel guide. Its content is built by contributors from around the globe.
VirtualTourist is a resource for travellers seeking an insider’s perspective. It contains travel tips, reviews and photos from people who have been there and done that. This content is also linked to the contributor’s profile so you can quickly find their experiences from all their travels as well as find out more about them to see if you have common travel goals.
TravelPod allows its members to create online travel journals (also known as a travel diary or travelogue). This enables users to share their adventures with everyone back home. Some blogs can be password protected, but others are free to read to enable you to research your trip.
This is one of the most comprehensive travel social media sites. It has forums, blogs and travel guides. This site can supply enough information for most trips. Links to booking websites are also included.
This is part of AOL Travel. Gadling claims to be the world’s top travel blog. It covers all types of travel, from highly specific travel tips to budget travel and for everything in between.
Concierge is a Condé Nast magazine. This website has blogs for those interested in more upmarket travel. The travel guides are written in-house. You can upload your holiday photos and create a Trip Plan so that you can save all your current and past travel information. You can also organise your research for future trips.
Lonely Planet—The Thorn Tree
The postings here are available for anyone to read but you must register with Lonely Planet to post a message. It is also one of the best organised and most navigable travel forums on the Web. There is even a poll option so you can find out where the worst hotel in the world is.
This is one of my favourite websites for travel news and opinions. Their e-newsletter is excellent if you’re interested in all aspects of travel. This website offers a useful collection of articles, travel news, and links to various other travel resources. The forums are arranged by destination and by topic.
The following guidebook websites also have forums: