Changes to the CTC

Dear Car Talk Community friends,

Thanks to your enthusiasm and willingness to share your collective expertise, you have driven (so to speak) the Car Talk Community to become one of the top discussion areas on the web for car topics. Click and Clack may be the on-air guys, but you all keep this place the exciting and informative resource that it is.

We folks at Car Talk Plaza know how important you are to our success. We recognize there’s been a lot of action 'round these parts lately, and we wanted you to know that we will be addressing a few of the issues in the coming few days.

Like similar discussion areas on the web, this community was built for helping people with questions, not for driving traffic to external sites. We?ve never intended the community discussions to be used in this way, so now we?ve explicitly updated the guidelines to more specifically prohibit third-party promotion and we will enforce this and all guidelines from now on. (For more info, here they are: http://act…e#section3)

We think this is in the best interest of everyone and we hope that you will join us in discussing, fine-tuning, and enforcing these guidelines in the spirit of your community and as a great resource for everyone.

For those of you headed to other boards, we wish you the very best. For everyone else, thanks for staying along for the ride, and we hope you’ll continue to share your expertise here as the Car Talk Community grows further. Look for more news in the next few days.


The CTC Lackey-in-Chief Cyberbabe

Does this mean you will be switching back to the old format most of us preferred?

One of the things I like about your competitors is their lack of censorship. I fear your tightening of the rules is only going to scare more people off. Sometimes the best way to answer a question is to provide a link to a non-Car Talk web site. How will you distinguish the difference between promotion of outside sites and a simple link to a learning tool?

Glad to hear that we are so popular! Most of us try to contribute time permitting. We may never reach the “Dear Abby” advice to the lovelorn level of popularity, but I feel the collective wisdom of the regular contributors will save the posters a great deal of money in better decisons regarding the purchase and operation of their vehicles.

Whoever you really are, CTC Cyberbabe, enough people have been disturbed by your (Car Talk real-owners, et al.) blatant CENSORSHIP practices, that tightening those practices further is only going to alienate many of the best mechanics on the Web, and send them elsewhere. One would think that your FINANCIAL interests would lead you down a different path.

You know, Cyberbabe, the competing site to which most of us are defecting promotes Car Talk. I noticed on one of its banner ads today. (The banner ads are through Ads by Google.) Why not return the favor? It would be what I like to call a win/win situation.

We’ve been pleading and complaining about the poor usability of this site since it was “improved” and this is the best you can come up with?

While I agree it is in poor taste to promote an alternate site here, there are at times legitimate reasons to direct someone to a more specialized site to answer their question better. Need a particular tool? Here’s where you can get it. Got a problem with a 93 Taurus wiring harness? Heres’s a discussion on it. Etc. I would just hope those types of referrals are not prohibited in the interest of trying to be of service to fellow motorists.

Dear Car Talk, I am one of the many readers of this board who have asked questions, gotten answers, and find it a wonderful resource due to the knowledgeable members who contribute their time to help non-mechanics. I make a point of using your entire site as a way to thank you for providing this forum.

So I am exactly the type of user/customer you want and need on this board along with the experts you need. But guess what, you are shooting yourself in the foot here.

Now ,I can understand you had to redo the CT board with newer software. Such is the cyber world and its ongoing upgrade demands. But in doing so you removed many of the user friendly features – that everyone, advice seekers and advice givers alike – think made using the previous CT format easy to navigate and substituted a truly INFERIOR product with your upgrade. It may be an improvement behind the scenes technologically but is a real pain for users – it just is NOT user friendly.

Regular users, both advice seekers and advice givers, have been pleading for specific user friendly navigation and format features to be brought back. CT has utterly ignored those pleas.

Rather than further drive away the best of the FREE labor support system built up here on CT over time, why not simply address the major user and format issues on this board and keep all the best of the best???

No one wants to break up the wonderful tight knit group helping folks. No one wants to see folks needing help go without good help. But no one particularly enjoys being taken for granted and ignored when they provide so much time and expertise for free.

Why not simply make use of this board easy again as an acknowledgement of the value of your greatest asset – they people who help people here for free!!!

Yours truly,
…one of the non-mechanics who has benefitted so much from the expert crowd you seem determined to alienate!

We folks at Car Talk Plaza know how important you are to our success.

Cyberbabe, responding to some of the above questions would go a long way in showing us you mean what you say…or is your appreciation all talk?

Thanks for your post, Uber-Lackey. It clears up misconceptions that some of us may have had. If I may offer a suggestion, it would be helpful if you included a FAQ that teaches people how to search for information they are interested in. I know that there is a search button at the top of the page, but it isn’t prominent enough to be noticed. Maybe a button could be placed around the ‘What people have been talking about…’ area in the left column.

One thing that has turned many participants off is the plethora of “questions” about gas saving gadgets and additives. The EPA has tested dozens and found that they all have one thing in common: they don’t work. How many of these are legitimate questions, and how many are advertisers trolling for suckers? I’d guess that many are the latter.

As part of the FAQ, there could be references tu US government sites, like the EPA site I mentioned above, and It’s a great place to find out about fuel usage estimates, alternative fuels, and several other issues dealing with cars and fuel. Us citizens already paid for the information contained in these sites, so why not let everyone in on the secret? Here are the pages I mentioned in case you want to use them:

Hi again everyone,

Thanks for your thoughts. You’ve brought up some good points, and I want to add a few more.

First off, who am I? I should properly introduce myself. My name is Carolyn, and I have worked on various projects with the folks at Car Talk Plaza for the last five or six years. Some of you might have exchanged e-mail with me if you’ve had problems with posting or registration, and you’ve submitted a question for help.

In response to whether the new enforcement of guidelines will mean adopting a heavy hand to censor all outbound links, the answer is no. The goal should be for us to help people however this makes the most sense (including outbound links). It?s explicit promotion we want to avoid because it hurts the community that we?ve all worked hard to build.

Take, for instance, the recent stream of snake-oil posts. As jtsanders mentions, we all saw the posts about water-for-fuel gimmicks, but nobody from Car Talk stepped in to delete them. Why? Because our members took the initiative to flag the posts, or to debunk the quacks. This spirited debate and development of community standards is what keeps this place going. We all really value that.

Stay tuned for more updates!


It doesn’t matter who you personally are; now, you are acting as the avatar of
Car Talk, et al. As such, we will view you as Car Talk, et al., and as the decision making entity, thereof.
Car Talk has already practiced heavy-handed censorship which is NOT in the letter, or the spirit, of its own drawn-up guidelines. So, to have “new enforcement of guidelines” starts with Car Talk, et al., following said guidelines, itself, and employing standard English semantics and definitions of the words in said guidelines; not the putative use that Car Talk, et al., has been using.
You can decide whether to be severe, unyielding, and uncooperative, and a hard-liner, and drive the usual respondents away in droves; or, try to be a facilitator.
We have absolutely nothing to lose. Car Talk, et al., do.

It seems pretty obvious and rightly so to protect CarTalk’s site that you can no longer post a direct invitation to move to a competing and similar site. The recent thread that did just that seems to be gone; I can’t find it. CarTalk was slow to do this which reinforces their tolerance so not to worry.

I am going to go with that you can still post a reference to a site that might answer a particularly difficult question better than the residents of CarTalk who have replied but not adequately answered such a question.

This completely ignores the issue at hand.

The issue at hand is the forum software and an apparent lack of interest in upgrading the feature set of this software.

We are important to Car Talk? Then listen to what we are saying and look at the motivation behind posts that advertise alternative sites. Tell us in plain language: are we to expect new features in a realistic timeline or are we not?

While I have seen some references to other sites that were uncalled for or were totally promotional of another site, but there have been many references to another site that could not be addressed easily or properly on CarTalk.

For example if someone is looking for the change that might result in changing a tyre and wheel size, they need a tyre size calculator. That tool is available on line.

In an case I do plan on staying around and I also wish anyone who may leave well.

MayDay, MayDay!!!

Houston, We’ve Got A Problem…!!

Your CTC is on fire and falling out of orbit!

It is already becoming a disaster. Many of your “key” members (former members) have already bailed and more are getting ready to jump! I see a huge difference already and it’s not good!

Do something now, before it’s too late! (Or is it already too late?)

You know, many of the folks on the competing site have not left Car Talk. They monitor both sites. In fact, the competing site has a couple links to this very discussion. It appears they are willing to tolerate competition from Car Talk. I guess the manager of the site has decided to run his site better rather than censor its contributors. It really shows that if Car Talk had managed its site better, it would not have to fear competition.

In a way, the competing site fills holes left by this site when they changed its format. For example, Car Talk went from having four forums to two forums.

Car Talk created this problem by getting rid of our favorite features. They then ignored our pleas to bring them back. Now a competitor has arisen to fill the holes Car Talk has opened. I don’t want to leave, but as a self-respecting contributor, my needs are secondary here. No, they are less than secondary. They actually appear to come last. The lone manager of the competing site has honored its contributors by listening to criticism and responding promptly. He has even added wonderful features we didn’t even ask for. obviously has internal customer service and management issues. I have had enough.

It isn’t too late. Many of us would love to monitor and contribute to both sites. We are not from Missouri, but we say “show me” you care about us, don’t just say so and expect us to believe it. Frankly, Jad is doing such a good job of responding to our needs he is making Car Talk look bad in comparison. All Car Talk has to do is get its act together by improving its focus on customer service. It would be so easy to fix. What a shame.

“Take, for instance, the recent stream of snake-oil posts. … we all saw the posts about water-for-fuel gimmicks, but nobody from Car Talk stepped in to delete them. Why? Because our members took the initiative to flag the posts, or to debunk the quacks.”

I responded to most of them to prevent new readers (not necessarily posters) from assuming that the guff was acceptable. But I would prefer a FAQ that addresses them after the fatuous posts get to be too much. If you choose to keep the less than credible stuff on site, please move them to another area; possibly a third topic group that Car Talk populates as the Water for Gas posts drone on.

One more thing: it’s nice to meet you, Carolyn. I’m not at all put off that you have a real name and are a real person.

You might do good by stating the favorite features that you miss.

What are the two forums that you miss?

The competing site is new and innocent for now; is feeling its way and can tolerate references to CarTalk.

The competing site will go nowhere without a constant feed of references such as what CarTalk has via it’s other venues.

CarTalk seems to adequately address the needs of people with car problems. You have a question, then you have a place where you can state it. What else would you need?