Dear TripAdvisor,

Your forum rules make my life hard.

You’ve done a really good job in becoming the number 1 result for nearly every search phrased like “bus from x to y”. I’ve been travelling for 11 months now, and trust me, your forum is always up there when I’m trying to find buses, trains, or other ways to get between destinations in Europe.

In a way, that’s great for me. Someone has asked the exact question I have, and other people have posted a variety of responses with useful information.

But this is where your forum starts to make my life hard. Most of these threads are years old. And many, many, many things have changed in this time. Countless times I’ve tried to use information in these threads, only to find out that it’s completely outdated.

The information provided on your forum can often become useless. This isn’t your fault, things change, and you aren’t required to keep on top of them. But you don’t have to, because it’s a forum – it’s collaborative. People can post updates letting other users know about things that have changed.

But they can’t.

Because of your time-lock on threads that prevents other users from replying to older threads. Thanks to this feature, you’ve got thousands of threads with useful questions, which contain useless answers. What’s worse is that people can’t even comment to let other people know the information is outdated.

Instead, people have to browse through tens of questions which are exactly the same as one another (dated months or years apart), just to find information that’s relevant. And the only way for them to determine if it’s relevant is to do their own research on every single answer. And if they find useful information from another source, they can’t even update a thread with the latest information, which means anyone else doing the same search has to do all the same research all over again.

I find it difficult to explain just how frustrating this is.

I do a search. Your site is the number one result. The information is irrelevant. I find the relevant information by spending another 20 minutes researching. And I can’t even go back to the original thread (the number 1 result in Google) to post the latest useful information, which means the next person with the same question as me has to go through the exact same process.

Here’s an example: Pecs to Osijek. As expected, you’re there, as the number 1 result. And as expected, the information is outdated. One person gives a link to a train timetable, where you can find a train that takes 11 hours with 3 changes. It’s less than a 2 hour drive. A new bus has just started this route, however I can’t update this thread with the new information, thanks to your automatic lock. So every single person trying to find a way from Pecs to Osijek will get to your site, get useless information, and probably give up, because the only way to find out about this bus is through the bus station itself, or through a local.

In other words, for the Pecs to Osijek query, a thread on your forum is the first result in Google and it’s absolutely useless and no one can do anything about it. I could make it useful if I could write a reply, but I can’t. And I’m not going to post a new thread, because why should I? I don’t have a question, I have an answer – to a question that’s already been asked and is already the first result in Google.

This is not an isolated example. For the entire 11 months I’ve been travelling, this has happened countless times and it’s been the most frustrating thing to deal with. So much information is irrelevant and I’ve wasted so much time, and there’s no way for me to even let other people know not to waste theirs, or let them know where they can find relevant information. I’m over it.

I don’t know why you implemented the time lock on your threads, and whether it benefits you as a company, but you need to be aware that your users do not benefit from your time-locked threads.

You’ve got the rankings. You’ve got the platform. You could make my life (and the life of thousands of other travellers) much easier, simply by removing the time-lock. That way, threads with never-changing questions can stay relevant with ever-changing information. The information provided on your forum could be kept up to date without any action required from you at all.

With every passing day, more and more of the information on your forum is becoming outdated and useless. And when the day comes that there’s more useless than useful information on your forum thanks to the time-lock, no one’s going to use it. It’s just a matter of time.

TripAdvisor, please remove the time-lock on threads.