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Car Talk Community Update

Dear Car Talk Community,

While I had a chance over the holidays, I simply wanted to share some thinking from the Car Talk Plaza end regarding the Car Talk Community, our plans and hopes as we look to 2012 and beyond.

First, a belated New Year’s thank you. We’re grateful for our local Car Talk Community regulars, who hang out here and provide answers to Car Talk listeners of all kinds. A number of you have been here for years, and for that we’re very appreciative. You’ve helped thousands of first time CTC visitors, most of whom are simply looking to navigate the often frustrating and confusing world of car repair. One of the projects for this year that we’ll finally get to start, is profiling some of our more long-term and helpful members.

I also wanted to thank you for bearing with us during what has clearly been a bumpy migration period. As time and money allow, we’re working with our hosting and forum providers to debug various log-in issues with our new single-sign on system. As many of you can tell, it’s obviously not perfect. In time, it will get close enough for most if not all of us to be reasonably happy with it. As anyone out there who has been through a migration into a content management system will tell you, moving 15 years of content into a cms, along with integrating legacy accounts witih a new single sign on system, can be a dicey proposition. Add in surprises like issues with unrelated widgets impacting performance, and you have a handful of somewhat complex issues. So, bear with us. It will take time, but are are slowly knocking out the bugs with help from our programmers, Corsis, and the folks at Vanilla forums.

In the year to come, we hope the forum will continue to grow and develop. Many of you noted the new alert system that we now have in place, which is powered by the tagging system we use in the Car Talk Community. (Here’s the rundown: This year, we’ll also launch an “Ask An Owner” area, which will also use CTC tagging as the engine behind the system.

As we go forward, I also wanted to share one of our concerns about the community-- namely, that the tone at times can become slightly derisive and demeaning, especially towards “newbies.” This is something we’ve been watching, and we’re interested in hearing your ideas about how to make the community as civil as possible. Obviously, we’re fans of open and free speech, so we don’t want to spend our days cleaning up posts or deleting content to meet our community standards ( Should we take a stronger stand in moving posts to the moderation queue? What ideas do you have? Our goal is simple: we want everyone coming to the forums to feel respected, and to feel as though they are being well-treated-- even those who don’t read your questions thoroughly, ask what we think might be dumb questions, or are otherwise not very well clued in. Let me know what you think.

Thanks to everyone here, and I hope you all have a healthy and happy 2012!

All Best,

Doug Mayer
Senior Web Lackey
Car Talk

Happy New Year to all you folks back there in the Plaza, and the rest of the posters here in the community, too!

So far, I think the forum works quite well. Sure, there have been some issues, and as they come up, you guys seem to be able to address them, although maybe not as quickly as some would like. For me, I’ve had almost zero problems, and I use a variety of systems to look for problems, too, especially when I see one mentioned.

One of the things I see happening, which you have no control over, is that an original poster (OP in every thread) arrives, posts a question, and then we all attack it (in a good way, really), trying to provide insight, and requesting more clues. One big problem is that the OP doesn’t come back, sometimes for days, and sometimes ever. Why? A variety of reasons, I think. The responses weren’t what they were looking for (like the engine killed with an oil light on), and there have been more than a couple where the question was so basic (or convoluted), the responses weren’t, how shall I put this, constructive?

From what I’ve noticed, almost everyone seems to be attempting to help. There are a few that merely flame everyone they have any small issue with. Most of us have been on the receiving end of that at one point or another. We can ignore the flame, or respond, inciting further flame. I think ignore is the best way to end it, and that puts the onus on us.

In my opinion, if you see a thread that’s getting into that area you wish not to see, you can try:

  • telling everyone posting (via a thread post) that the flame war (insults, negative comments, etc) must stop and civility be maintained,
  • closing the thread (which may be a disservice to the OP),
  • moving it to another queue, and possibly send a message to the OP assisting them.

Whatever route you take is completely up to you. We’re all merely here using a resource that’s been provided, by you folks, to perform this function. Sometimes, it may be appropriate for you to attack one of us, in a private comment, letting us know we’ve gone too far. I’m sure I do, even though I try not to. It’s also true that sometimes questions are not taken as they’re meant.


Happy New Year. Thanks for all you do. I think if it wasn’t for this site, I would probably just disconnect from the internet, this is where I spend most of my internet time.

I think that all in all, most people here are civilized. Occasionally someone tells a new poster something they need to know, but maybe could be a little more tactful. But the message, no matter how tactful, that tells the poster that they did something stupid is never going to be well received.


Maybe we could all help with the flamers by reporting them sooner. I guess we are all guilty to some extent of thinking that someone else will report them, or that someone at car talk has nothing to do but review all the posts to weed them out early.

I will resolve to try to be better in the coming year.

Probably one of the best things to do for someone posting a question, would be having a message at the top on the question box that says “we’re trying to help you, but you might not like some of the answers we give, so please bear with us.” or “internet forums are like the highway system: Most of us know what we’re doing, you may not like what happens, but we all try to share the road with everyone.”

As far as being nice goes, this is one of the friendliest forums I’ve been to. I’m on one that has a for sale/want to buy section and I’ve seen a couple people get screwed over by the seller, and several members will do a little digging and find the seller’s name, facebook page, phone number, and even their home address and post them to the forums; they even took a picture of the guy’s house and sent it to him to show that they meant business in making things right.

I don’t think a “stronger stand” on moving things to the queue is needed at all. If anything, I think that the site admin is often a bit too thin skinned about discussions that people have. If this site gets any “cleaner,” and I find myself having to watch everything I say because there is some possibility that it might offend someone then this will be a thoroughly unattractive place to be. I’m not saying that things can’t get stupid here, and there isn’t plenty that I’d rather not see. But as noted by others, this is a relatively civil board.

I don’t know what the goal is of bringing it up either. The regulars on the board are used to occasional fireworks and obviously participate in them from time to time. Sometimes they instigate them, of course. I don’t think anyone finds it odd. I think we’d probably all agree that things can get stupid & unpleasant at times - welcome to earth.

So it must be about the passers-by who come to ask car questions & something or other gets a ball rolling in a direction that either hijacks someone’s question and/or threatens their ego. I can’t help thinking that this “scolding” we have gotten was prompted by LackeyWannabe’s recent posts, especially this one:

Sorry but that was just ridiculous.

A huge number of cases where people come here and get miffed at their “treatment” comes from the fact that they completely misunderstand what this place is or how to productively use it. The one above is a case in point. In the past, I have passed my suggestions along about minimizing these kinds of things with some simple “education” of the passers-by about what kind of site this is. As of yet, despite the fact that it comes up repeatedly, there have been no provisions made for making sure that people understand where they are and what they are doing when they post here.

At one time in the past, this forum did use a queue and all replies had to be reviewed before they got posted. That did not work out very well. At the time, there were a few people that were real (what’s that body part I am trying to think of?) that were very disruptive and disrespectful to everyone. I hope this never happens again.

Also guy’s, lets not attack our senior web lackey. He and his crew are doing a great job overall.

Happy New Year to all. I think that the transition has been relatively smooth.

As far as fuming especially to the newbies; I am on a few other forums and cartalk is the most civil and benign. Sometimes the OP has a wrong perception and the forum experts try to show them that they are wrong and this information is not taken well by the OP. For the most part I don’t think much “censorship” is required. Sometimes just a single post from a moderator could change the tone. I, for sure have not seen any recurring pattern with specific posters anyway.

Keep up the good work-this is where I come for meditation.

My experience with this forum, in which I lurk more than post, has been mostly positive. Sure, folks can get snippy but this is the Internet. I agree strongly that a simple sticky as well as maybe an alert when signing up to look for it is in order. Best practices in reporting issues are not commonly known by so-called newbies. Many folks just don’t do forums much, if at all.

As an independent IT consultant, Senior Web lackey, you have my sympathies. I know precisely the sort of issues you run into with this sort of migration. That it’s gone as smoothly as it has is rather impressive to me. I’d make a car analogy but I’m not really qualified. :wink:

CTC Rocks!


Where do the error reports go ?
does anybody actually read them ?
I must be sending 50 a day.

I am not receiving any. When you next receive one, can you please e-mail me at or send me a message, or make a post with the text of/nature of the error you’re reporting?

Then it’s probably just Internet Explorer’s error report.
to wit ;
Internet Explorer
Internet explorer has encountered a problem and needs to close. We’re sorry for the inconvenience.
If you were in the middle of something, the information you were working on might be lost.
– Please tell Microsoft about this problem –
We have created an error report that you can send to help us improve internet explorer. We will treat this report as confidential and anonymous.

When the report is sent another box pops up saying “This tab has been recovered. A problem with this web page caused Internet explorer to close and reopen.”

Today it is error reporting almost every time I toggle from reading a post, to the list of most recent , to read another post and back.
Over and over and over again. And I send each and every error report out into cyber space somewhere.

About once every ten times it kicks me off to a white page that says " We were unable to return to the page " and gives me three options…go to home page, return to Car Talk, log off. Whe I click on “return to Car Talk” it does.

And the cycle continues.

Yep, those reports go into the Microsoft world, never to be seen again. That happens all the time with my XP/IE8 (fully updated) machine, never now with my Windows7/IE9 machine. The XP/IE8 will, after a couple of errors, refuse to show the discussion until I close, then reopen, the window. Does that happen to you, too, Ken?

Mine always reopens. ( but it’s such a pain in the keester to fiddle with that over and over. )
As this is a work place computer I’ll have to just wait for any I.E. updates to come through the front office.

Mine displays ‘Web site Restore error.’ on the tab, I have to close it, then reopen it.

If you do send postings to a moderation queue, please actually moderate them. Some time ago, someone made a really funny posting, and I posted ROFL. It got sent to moderation, which in those days meant deleted and never moderated. When I asked about it, it seems we had several people totally uninformed on common Web abbreviations, so with no knowledge at all, they hit the abuse button. When I explained what ROFL meant, they chewed me out for using letters most people did not know, which as you well know was ridiculous.

What does it mean?

rolling on the floor laughing

edit: odd that I can use firefox on my mom’s laptop and not my own(she has the old 3.6.25)

If you have an older Apple Powerbook (G4),or Tiger OS, you need to use TenFourFox (older G4) or TenFourFox7450 (1.5GHz and up). Firefox no longer supports those older versions.