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Seeking your ideas for the future of the Car Talk Community!

Hello everyone,

I’d like to ask for your ideas about the future of the Car Talk Community. Car Talk appreciates how vital and spirited this section of the site is, and we’d like the experience to be as user-friendly as possible. A lot has changed in the world of forums since our last upgrade, and we’re now starting a discovery process to find out what features we’d like to include, in a future iteration of the Car Talk Community.

That’s where you come in. Many of you are here every day, accumulating wisdom about what works well… and what needs improving. You may also be acquainted with other forums with feature sets you’d like to see here.

So, Car Talk has some questions for you!

*What new community features would you like to see, and why?

*What do you like about the current Car Talk Community that you’d like to see retained?

*What are some other forums you’ve seen and have made an impression? What are the qualities they have that you like— design? User interface? User experience? A particular function or set of functions?

This is your chance to let us know what you’d like to see in the next version of the Car Talk Community. This portion of our discovery process will end a week from Friday, so now is the time to point us to changes you’d like to see.

We obviously won’t be able to include everything, but we hope the updated forums will be a significant improvement. Getting there will require your help!

Thanks, as always.


The moderation is excellent. It’s even-handed, non-intrusive, and not overbearing. Keep it up.

This will doubtless come up, a lot, so I’ll chime in. I’m on the fence about opening things up to non-car topics. If you do, I would hope it would be in its own sub forum, perhaps only accessible to people with x-number of posts (to keep non-regulars from coming in and starting political fights, etc). I do think that having a non-car sub forum would increase the moderation workload - there would almost certainly be political, religious, etc discussions, and some (ok, fine, most) could turn heated and require intervention.

I would love to see you ditch Vanilla. It’s clunky, and when it breaks you have to wait around for that company to get around to fixing it.

There are at least 2 robust, excellent free forums available that would suit CT’s needs better than Vanilla while not costing you anything. My personal recommendation is phpBB3. It’s very customizable, has excellent security features, is modifiable for even more customization, and it’s free. Did I mention it’s free? :wink: (no, I don’t own it or work for it - I just use it on my forum and find it very impressive).

I’m still not a huge fan of the like/dislike buttons - it’s better now that they’re hidden, but I still believe in the old fashioned idea that if you disagree with someone, you should explain why rather than just hitting a “downvote” button and moving on to leave people wondering. And if you explain why, then you don’t need the disagree button because it’s clear in your explanation that you disagree.

The notifications system is a total kludge. Let’s say you tag me in a post. I get a notification, which appears next to the notification button. If I go straight to the post because I know it’s likely that’s where the notification comes from, then the system should recognize that I’ve seen the post and drop the notification. It doesn’t. In fact, even if I click the notification, and then click the sub-category of notification, it won’t drop the notification unless I click through to the post, which I’ve already read, which is dumb for two reasons: By the time I drill down to the notification, if I’ve either already seen the post that generated it, or I don’t want to bother with it, I still have to go to the post in order to clear that notification. At least when the check engine light goes on and I don’t want to address the problem I can put a piece of electrical tape over it, knowwhaddimean? :wink:

How about a more robust profile system? I’d rather know what you drive or what your areas of automotive expertise are than know what badges you’ve collected.

Speaking of what you drive, automatic post signatures are a nice place to put those. If only we had them :wink:

Also, maybe put some feelers out there for in-person meetups of Cartalkers. Race events, car shows, etc are good opportunities to get together with fellow car geeks. (BTW, everyone, I’ll be at Road America for the Vintage races in a couple of weeks, if anyone else is going).

Just a few ideas. I will, needless to say, be scandalized if you don’t implement them all, soonest. :wink:

What I’d like to see from you ( and it probably can’t happen ) is for youall to go tell Ford how to run a forum !
The forum in our Ford dealer website is archaic at best. We can’t edit our own post …ever, we can’t post picture or photos…just typing. ( ) I have typed on that forum my ideas but nothing has changed in ten years.

Along the lines of personal meetups…
How would we know who’s a cartalker or not ? Except the few like me who use our real names , it would be an idea for youall to send us regulars …maybe …a Car Talk ball cap or something similar. Then , when we attend an outing we could identify ourselves that way.
When Ford sent a bunch of us from various Ford dealers to the NHRA mile high nationals in Denver, we could easily tell who our Ford bretheren were from all the other dealers.

( I have fully expected any one of you to visit my Ford dealer since I have exactly where that is in past posts, yet I’ve not met any cartalkers cruisin’ route 66 out west )

Next up for Gallup NM…the Red Rock Balloon Rally, December 5,6,7

I am pretty used to the forum, it is like driving a car with a few quirks, you get used to them and and go on. My biggest request would be for the thread pages be more significant as far as what page one is on, and what pages have been read. Thanks.

On another note, are there any plans for how long the rebroadcasts will go on, and if the rebroadcasts end will this site end also?

@"ken green"‌ the way most internet car clubs do it is to have a pre-arranged meeting point. Whoever shows up, is one of us.

In the early days of our multi-state car club, we had a banner that we’d put up so people could find us easily. We’re smaller now and everyone knows each other so we don’t bother any more, but it came in handy in the beginning.

Get a forum,that attracts intelligent non combative individuals,that are not overbearing,know it all trolls-Kevin

@kmccune I thought this was that place! My other favorite site gone away was mythbusters forum, they evidently were a target of trolls and inappropriate photo posts, it was sad when it went away because there were a lot of great posters there.

Oh, we don’t want the people to go away – we’re most interested in your thoughts about the community site’s ergonomics and handl–oops, I meant to say features and interface. :slight_smile:

We have the buttons ( flag, agree, like, ect.) Could we have one that says - Are you really this helpless?


How do you propose to implement this “areas of automotive expertise” idea?

I thought we’re all equal on this forum

Someone who’s not an expert might nevertheless have some good points to make

It’s happened plenty of times, near as I can tell

I can see that it might be intimidating if every user name had “real” credentials associated with it, for example, master mechanic, smog tech, brake specialist, welder, master machinist, diagnostic specialist, etc.

For that matter, how would anybody verify that the credentials are legitimate?

I suppose we could use the honor system

For me, knowing whether somebody is a professional wrencher is not that important

It’s usually pretty clear when somebody knows what he’s talking about

For that matter, I’m a pro, and I’ve been wrong on this forum before. And I’ll be wrong again. I’ve given bad advice, and I’ll do so again.


Please keep the system where you can see who liked or disagreed with a comment

I can’t speak for anybody else, but it gives me some peace of mind to “know” who liked or disliked a comment. As much as it is possible to know a personality in cyberspace . . .

I appreciate that you allow us to stray off course for awhile before “warning” us. It’s nice to have a little leeway. If you were to be more strict, it would seem like we’re bad students being punished by the teacher.

And please keep up the good work, as far as quickly banning real spammers goes. It’s not helpful when somebody joins the forum, just to promote some snake oil, never to be heard from again. That makes me think they have a financial interest in promoting that product. I get enough junk mail in my mailbox. There’s no reason to have “junk mail” on this forum also

For what it’s worth, I like ken’s idea of the Cartalk ball caps. Perhaps a “special” ball cap could be made available for sale, for members of this forum? I’d be willing to spend a few dollars on that.

My brother and I have the gray “don’t drive like my brother” t-shirts . . . LOL

Here’s a crazy idea. Could the site incorporate those icons that move when you move the cursor over them. For example, smiley face, bang head against wall, thumbs up, etc.

Here’s what I’m talking about

No offense to anybody, but it might work better than that combination of colon and parentheses that is supposed to be a smiley face

I think the monitors are doing a great job.

I was very impressed when there were a few threads recently that either got a little too argumentative, or we thought that the person was a troll. The monitors took little time to close the thread and put an end to the problem, before it got farther out of hand.
Yet I feel in no way that I am being watched over, so it gives me the freedom to post without a concern that I am being monitored. Sometimes we get a little off subject, but you give us time to get back on automotive talk before you lower the hammer on us.
I know sometimes I go off on a story telling campaign, or a story for a good laugh, but you’ve let me/us get away with plenty.

I would like to see the agree/ like buttons to stay.
The reason why is because if @db4690; writes a whole page explaining why he believes in the theory that it is a waste of time to change a timing belt and not replace the waterpump at the same time… If I click on the agree button then he knows that others have the same feelings on the subject. I don’t need to respond…just hit Agree!!!
I was impressed when I started on here that I had so many “agree’s & Likes” It gave me more confidence to continue to put my 1 1/3 cents worth in(I’m cheap)!!!
When I was a kid nobody liked me and my mom had to tie a pork chop bone around my neck so the dog would play with me.

And fore @cdaquila; I just hit “Like”, because I know she has no friends.

We horseshoers had a very nice board once, but it was attacked and it is now barren. There are less that 50 posts in the last YEAR. Bare with me.

We had "Horseshoers helping Horseshoers"
Then Sub catagories; Anatomy, Shoes and tools, Lamness, Gait problems, etc etc.

On Car Talk, we have "Repair and Maint, The Show & General
Would it make sense to add “Body work”. I wouldn’t be interested, but we have had questions on Dent removal, Hole in My roof, Trims comming off, Glass leaks, pealing chrome, etc, etc,.

Maybe someone else has some ideas of sub catagories.

I wouldn’t want to see Qualifications listed.
Some people will try to impress everyone…we experienced, might know better, but the uninformed will come on here and be swayed, not by that persons knowledge, but his blown up qualifications and take his poor advice.



I have mentioned my dislike of the dark blue and black page numbers before. I got a polite “we’ll look into it”. Apparently I’m not alone. Sometimes I blow the screen way up just so I can tell what page I’m on. Black and blue? I think those were the colors of my high school’s football team. How about black and red? How hard can that be to fix?

Yes there should be a non-automotive (not even quasi-automotive) category. Even though I’m a car guy, I have other interests. I think all of us are multi-faceted in one way or another. The board lost dozens of people to other forums (two in particular) when “All the rest” went away. So did they. I think I was the only person who routinely posted on this and one of those other forums until recently.

What ever you do, remember the mantra, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

I like the moderator and the lee-way given to discussions. Please continue identifying the like/disagree/agree posters. It allows the identification of trolls and keeps the discussion from descending into sniping and anarchy. NPR (and many, many news sites) lost control of the discussion forums on their site about the time they removed the “down-vote” button and they never had an “off-topic” selection. Their moderators don’t do nearly the fine job @cdaquila does.

I agree with many posters here that there would be value to a general non-car discussion area. I, too would like to see some restriction for posters for that topic. No guests, must have made 10 comments or gotten 10 “likes” to enter. Something like that.

I notice there is no connection to the comments left for the articles from Kitman, Montavalli et. al. with the main site. Why not? That system is the annoying and buggy Disqus. I would not recommend using that discussion system. I think there is value in discussion around the blogs topics within the greater Car Talk community.

I d just like to add that I don t like discus either. I know its spelled wrong, I don t even like the way they spell it :slight_smile:

Hi Folks,

I simply wanted to chime in and say thanks for the comments. I appreciate it.

For the moment, the guidance that is most useful is specifically about the functionality you’d like to see-- what’s missing from the current forums, what’s here but, well, doesn’t work all that well.

We’re in the early stages of a month-long discovery process, that will guide our decision making about what changes we will make. Right now is your chance to comment-- later this fall, we’ll be focussed on implementing changes in functionality, design, and the user interface and experience.

So, keep the ideas coming. We’ll aggregate them and do our best to keep moving the Community in a good direction. It’s an important part of the site and we appreciate your participation here!

As the process moves forward, Carolyn and I will keep you updated.

All Best,

Doug Mayer
Senior Web Lackey
Car Talk

Overall, I think it works pretty good, but there are a couple annoyances that I see. First is the share button, the slightest scan over the button and the window pops up. It is easier to get rid of now but it is still an annoyance.

Second one, and this might seem awful minor but when you get used to outer sites, you really miss it here and that is that in the header on the list, you cannot see who started the thread unless it has zero replies. All you see is the last person to respond. That is helpful too but I really would like to see the thread starter right under the title as well as the last person to post.

I do like the agree button. I don’t see a need for a like button and an agree button, if I agree with the answer, then I like it and if I like it, I must agree with it. Hitting the agree button saves time for me when someone else has given a good answer and I have nothing more to add.

If I disagree or have some more information to add, then I will reply myself, I don’t see the need for for a disagree button. I think there should only be two buttons, one for report (troll, spam, abusive, rules violation) and one for agree. Since hidden buttons are not intuitive to a new poster looking for help, anytime the agree button is clicked on, it should become visible with the total number of agrees visible. This should help the poster to decide which replies have the most consensus.

Now for a comment about this whole web site in general, not just this board. There are some real gems on this website, but they are getting harder to find. I’m talking about things like the Andy Scale (Andy Letter), the Cat-flap letter, Melissa, proper outside mirror adjustment. Make these gems easier to find. Not sure the best way to go about this but you guys can figure it out.

Now another comment about Car Talk in general, resurrect the show. I know one of the brothers cannot do the show anymore, but I understand that the other one could. Maybe one of the son’s could step in or find a new host or hosts to work the show. It will be hard to find replacements for this unique duo, but I think there has to be one or two qualified candidates out there somewhere.

One of the features of the new show could be one “oldie but goodie” would be played. This would be where one of the “best of the calls” or “classic call” from the old show would be played.

@KEITH I do not see a share button, It may be a browser difference, Chrome here or an add on you are not aware of, or maybe one eye just is not good enough.

I think we do no need separate like and agree buttons

Sometimes I’m not an expert on the topic of discussion, but I like the comments that somebody made, because he made good common sense suggestions, or made some good points

In that case, I click the “like” button

If the show were resurrected with one of the sons, the catchy phrases would have to be changed to “Don’t drive like my son/nephew” and “Don’t drive like my father/uncle”

I can only hope that one of the sons is very knowledgeable about cars and is also very witty. I hope I’m not being insulting by suggesting that the son of a car guy may not be a car guy himself.

I said that because both of my parents had advanced degrees in english, and were both english teachers. Not only that, but my brother was also an english major in college. In spite of all that, I was not an english major and went in a completely different direction.

To sum it up, it’s not always “Like father, like son”

But in this case, hopefully it is, so that one of the sons may follow in his dad’s footsteps