Flyertalk vs. Milepoint, Media Smackdown

Okay, not a smackdown but a compare and contrast. USA Today ran a story today on Flyertalk versus Milepoint. It’s going to be pretty inside baseball for some, but they seem to come down on the side that if you’re an expert the deep reservoir of content on Flyertalk is hard to beat but if you’re not already steeped in the community the place can be daunting.

Randy Petersen gives a nod to Flyetalk’s content, while Internet Brands acknowledges the challenges that the site faces in being accessible to new members. The piece offers a nod to Milepoint‘s technology platform, and its welcoming nature for new members.

Of course both have value, and it’s always great to see these communities cross into the mainstream via USA Today and other popular media.

I’m participating mostly in Milepoint these days, and I know I’ve gone out of my way to answer most of the award booking questions that come up, though others have done a magnificant job of the same. I’ve been really thrilled to see the growth of Milepoint since it launched in beta back in February, it’s now just shy of a million posts and 40,000 members and I do think that so far at least it’s been a very welcoming environemnt where folks passionate about miles and points can meet and learn from each other.

Plus I’m proud of the ability of such a new site to be able to help sponsor frequent flyer experiences like the Star and oneworld MegaDO events, host industry chats with the heads of American AAdvantage, Southwest Rapid Rewads, and Hyatt Gold Passport. And even to participate in sponsoring gatherings of frequent flyers like the Chicago Seminar. It’s been a great experience giving back to fellow flyers, raising significant money for charity (such as Kiva and Susan G Komen for the Cure) in the process.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I’m moving increasing amounts of traffic over to MP. The content isn’t there yet, so I’ll help to build it.

    But the real reason I’m moving over is just the overall snarkiness of FT, which seems to have gotten worse recently. Heaven forbid you say something even slightly inaccurate and people start jumping down your throat. Enough is enough, already.

  2. I also spend more time on Milepoint because I prefer the friendlier culture there. Don’t get me wrong: most flyertalkers are very helpful and friendly, but there are many who aren’t. Hopefully as Milepoint grows it will keep what makes it special, but also grow the richness of content that is found today more in FlyerTalk.

  3. I, too, have shifted most of my activity from FT to MP, but as mentioned, the depth of information on FT keeps me going back, especially as my primary airline isn’t one of the “major” ones. I cringe when I see the way some people write to others on FT, though, and I appreciate the understanding and oftentimes jovial atmosphere of MP. I can’t see myself giving up one over the other for now – for me they’re complimentary.

  4. My biggest pet peeve right now is that most MP members came over from FT (obviously) amd since they, too, can’t decide which one they’ll stick with, they post everything on MP and on FT (and to a lesser degree on TB, since that place is less friendly to casual posting). The result is that much of the current content is identical on both sites! I’m not saying I know what I would do differently if I owned or headed either site — I’m just saying it’s a pet peeve! 🙂

  5. I got tired of the FlyerTalk snark almost a year ago, and despite ~26,000 posts there, I have not been back in that time. Also, the arrogance and sense of entitlement got to be too much. Just because you fly a lot does not make you a better human being than anyone else, nor does it qualify you to pass judgment on the lives of others.

  6. Internet boards inevitably become harsher as traffic levels increase. Splitting the discussion into multiple smaller boards has the potential to improve the experience for all users. It’s even better if the different boards cater to different user types: calm vs. agitated, advanced vs. beginner, and so on.

  7. FT is definitely getting a bit harder for the new poster to get in to and I say that as a 5 year regular there.

    Milepoint is definitely on a better technology platform and in some forums at least, has good content. In others, you pretty much have to be on FT or bust.

    The main challenge for me with Milepoint is that it has inherited some of the ‘Cult of Personality’ group of a few senior people who believe they lead us, but just appear (in my and the eyes of a few others including senior marketing people in the indsutry at least) to be driven more by their ego than the helping of others. There is nothing wrong with high profile and thought leadership (Gary, Randy etc), but there are a select couple who moved over to MP and didn’t exactly act as poster children for open, democratic communities for all. (I remember for example the first Star Mega Do starting out as an idea through a very different group, which was then grabbed and beaten in to what we know today by one individual who decided that they wanted to drive it. A shame as the knowledge and participation of a number of senior FTers including moderators was thrown by the wayside without a second thought) Sadly I don’t think this is seen or realised by the top brass at MP, or previously when at FT due to them being very much in the inner circle.

    Overall though, I hope that both communities, as long as good quality blogs such as this continue to grow and succeed. Without them, the internet for many of us would be a poorer place.

  8. It’s amazing to me how what you think is almost a throwaway post in MP that would have been buried in FT turns out to be mentioned in the article. I’ve been so busy with other things I hadn’t even noticed Randy had put it into a sticky. I felt both happy and worried. Mainly worried that more people would find issue with it. HA!

  9. I do like MP’s format and general culture better. I do think larger internet forums tend to get unwieldy and nasty, so I don’t know if there’s anything FT could’ve done differently to have not ended up like it is. It’s good that MP has tried to set things up to help preclude the same thing, and I hope it works out well over the years.

    I think the content will come over time in MP, and wish I had more to offer myself. Even on FT, outside of the biggest airlines there often isn’t a whole lot of unique content, really. And on some forums such as BA, God help you if you’re not a UK citizen who flies BA metal exclusively.

    Besides the snarky users and anti-newbie atmosphere, FT also suffers from taking itself too seriously. TalkBoard has to vote on every little thing, I think even whether to let someone get a drink of water. For Pete’s sake if Etihad needs a forum, just make it!

    It’s getting harder to keep an eye on the real hot news on FT. MilesBuzz has become a catch all for everything from “help me pick an airline FFP” to “Tahiti for honeymoon in July – newbie needs help”… stuff like that needs its own “Help” forum or something. But of course you can’t question the mods or how things are run, or you risk suspension or whatever.

    Sorry didn’t mean to go on a FT rant. It’s always good to have choices though!

  10. I just have to wonder how many of the million posts are as silly as people counting backwards. It is not a very good stat to brag about.

  11. FT is certainly welcoming, but it is also vast. As with any site, there are some welcoming people and some jerks. As far as attitude, MP certainly has some. Quite a few of the MP regulars are outcasts who couldn’t manage to behave on FT without breaking the rules. Their behavior certainly has not changed on MP.

    MP certainly has a lot of smart people on it, but not a lot of real content. Most of the MP posts are just as jerry said — nonsense. The interface certainly is a lot nicer. But, the extremely annoying signatures — each of which seems to sport at least four different logos and pictures — make it difficult to follow what little interesting content there is.

  12. For the forums I follow (Aeroplan), MP has the same content with a bit of a lag. No real need to check them both right now.

  13. @jerry just like you wonder how many of the 0 post members that seem to make up the majority in the 1974 pages of members are either spammers or dupe accounts created to win an iPad… 🙂

    But back on topic, wasn’t MP created to address a completely different audience? I recall Randy mentioning that there are a gazillion freuqent flyers out there and MP targets the millions that FT doesn’t attract in the first place… has this strategy now changed, triggering this ‘smackdown’?

  14. @oliver2002 bitter much? 😛 The reference to ‘smackdown’ was a joke, as I think I note and as the article certainly explains the two sites ARE positioned differently. Randy gives his tip of the hat to the role that Flyertalk plays and Brent Conver I think acknowledges that Flyertalk isn’t for everyone.

  15. First a disclaimer; when ever anybody ask me if I think there is anybody who in the hobby who might be intellectually more smarter than me, I say that View From The Wing guy!
    I’ve been all over the map on Milepoint. I’m not a very social person. I tried the “games” but got bored with that. So I tried to “focus” myself on content, but that led me back to FT.
    I agree that the “cult of personality” probably doesn’t help Randy much. He doesn’t need it! Still, if I had to pick a seatmate on a flight fron ATL to PHX, I’d probably choose Loni Anderson or Pamela Anderson over Randy.
    I’ve have finally drifted back to Milepoint. What concerns me is not that people make their post on both sites; but that at the moment not enough people are doing just that. From my perspective, this keeps MP content poor. It takes effort to post on both sites. Readers will always read both; but I suspect the future of MP will be dependent on the number of posters who finally decide to participate mostly on one or the other 😉

  16. How will MP not become snarky like FT? It is snarky over there…agree. Another thing I don’t care for with FT, though I understand why it is done, is the rush to have master threads. If there is a master thread even remotely associated with a topic, the post gets moved. Only a matter of time until MP becomes that as well. On MP, I notice an awful lot of “threads” that simply have a link to a story…no commentary by the poster, just simply a link. My guess is that is the way to get the post and read count up.

    I’ve asked a question on MP as to why it was started. I got very polite replies, but not really an answer. Most of my attention is paid to FT still, though it has dwindled. I find FT snarky and less useful given the rush to consolidate threads. I find MP to be a lot of silly link only threads. I find MP to be great if Gary responds to your question! (there are several others as well but Gary really makes it…reminds me of Randy in the early days of FT).

  17. The problem with FT is that Randy lost control over some of the more influential mods there. The whole “thou shall not question moderators” thing was the deathknell. FT became more about feeding egos than serving members.

    On the other hand, MilePoint has not really taken off, and ther does not seem to be a concerted effort to increase its popularity. Membership is stagnant (other than the initial boon of some giveaways), and the content is seriously lacking. Probably 2/3 of the 1MM MP posts are garbage posts.

  18. Pretty much agree with all posts. As a about 13 year FT vet, it really has changed of course since the early days and even the more recent mid ’00’s. When I moved over early on to MP the issue was really the lack of the legacy content which is VERY valuable. I have commented many times we should create some real master threads over on MP to mimic some of the FT content, because unfortunately when I need some specific bit of info I much more often than not find it still on FT and then have to post there to get any further follow-up or qualifying info. that step simply hasn’t happened yet, but MIGHT. At least it has NOT yet turned in to the rough social environment that FT has become. Hopefully, it can stay that way a while at least.

    And the technology IS much better over on MP but of course it is much easier to implement new tech than pull out and replace older tech.

    I think Randy’s move selling FT when he did was the right one!

  19. Agree with most of the posts–I got sick of FT once it became a pissing contest and certain posters were not dealt with for their abusive posts. What put me over the edge were the same people posting OVER AND OVER AND OVER in OMNI/PR.

  20. I gave up on MilePoint when Randy refused to explain when all these better features were coming. He over promised and under delivered and wasn’t interested in explaining the timelines he expected to get this additional functionality. I’m perfectly happy with The FlyerTalk fora where I spend my time and Randy wasn’t interested in explaining why I should help him create another successful business for him through contributing content and time. He seemed to not realize that times have changed and in order to get people to volunter their time and knowledge you need to make it more valuable to them than the status quo.I haven’t logged into MilePoint in many months.

  21. @David While I do think the Milepoint software is superior to vBulletin which Flyertalk uses, but I think the key value adds are the activities and opportunities around Milepoint — bringing live chats with heads of programs to members, sponsoring frequent flyer activities, supporting the charitable efforts of members (the Kiva team on Milepoint has lent out over $1 million! the site has donated thousands to Komen, etc)… plus the effort to build a friendly and welcoming community. And there are more opportunities coming.

  22. One of my issues with Milepoint is that there is no LGBT forum like there is on Flyertalk. I read the thread on Milepoint about this topic, including Randy’s comments, and I still don’t really understand the reason why.

    I still use Flyertalk more, because I still don’t really find anything all that useful on Milepoint. I’m not really interested in the activities or the social media aspect of Milepoint. Not to say that I’d be that interested in it on Flyertalk either. Like others have said, the superior, holier than thou attitude from a lot of people in the frequent traveler realm is really unattractive.

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