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Laura Sterling
Community Manager
communitymanager@independenttraveler.com

Welcome!
The Independent Traveler is a community of folks who love to travel and we all benefit from the exchange of advice that takes place particularly here! Our Travel Boards are a cooperative effort which depend on all of you to make it work well. If you post questions, please try to take the time to answer other members' questions as well. The Independent Traveler has adopted a series of guidelines to help make the Travel Boards easier to use and better for everyone.

Messages posted in The Independent Traveler must conform to our Community Guidelines found in this area. Posts that violate these guidelines will be removed from the travel boards. Repeated violator's may lose their posting privileges. We will automatically remove any subsequent inappropriate postings without warning. Please use good judgment in posting any message.

Remember, these are YOUR Travel Boards. Help make this a great source of information for you and your fellow travelers by sharing the name of that wonderful beach you found, the great restaurant you ate at, or the fabulous tour you took in Rome that just can't be missed! If you have any questions or comments regarding our posting guidelines or any content found on our message boards please be sure and let me know. I'll be happy to discuss them with you.

Looking forward to reading about all of your travel journeys!

Laura Sterling
Community Manger
The Independent Traveler

Disclaimer
The Independent Traveler's message boards, as well as the information you may read in a Member's Trip Report (and other member-generated areas) are designed to help travelers obtain unbiased travel-related information and discuss ways to make travel more enjoyable, and perhaps even offer you a money-saving tip or two!

On our Travel Boards, this information is sometimes provided by our volunteer Hosts and sometimes by other contributors, many of whom use anonymous user names and are people we've never met.

We recognize that while we have tons of great stuff in our forums, people sometimes post messages in our folders or submit articles that may be misleading, deceptive, or downright wrong. They may do this unintentionally or, sad to say, intentionally.

Treat the travelers here the same way you'd treat anyone you'd met for the first time. This is important because anyone is allowed to participate in our community. You shouldn't make a travel decision just because some stranger (or even an online friend) talks it up. Basically, you shouldn't treat cyberspace any differently than you would real life.

The fundamental concept is that you should NOT totally rely upon the information or opinions you read. Rather, you should use what you read here as starting points for doing independent research on destinations, hotels, tour operators, restaurants, excursions and bargain-hunting techniques. Then judge for yourself the merits of the material that has been shared in our forum.

We do not guarantee the completeness of any information provided on our Travel Boards. Although we do read through the thousands of messages we receive each day, check out all the hyperlinked web sites, we cannot research each one for accuracy. That isn't why we're here. Staff members are here to provide you with an environment that is free from advertising and soliciting (unbiased), free from harassment, vulgarity and disparaging statements, as well as providing you with a safe haven brought together by those sharing a mutual interest: travel!

You are responsible for your own travel decisions. The Independent Traveler will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by a reader's reliance on information obtained in our area, or in a hyperlinked area.

As cyberspace develops, the freedom and openness from which we all profit can make us the target of touts, shysters, and frauds. These people could infect our forum, just as they infect other parts of the world. Please proceed with caution, do your homework, and be wary of those who post hyperlinks to strange web sites.

"Host" USER NAMES
You will see some people with the "Host" prefix on their user names around our Community. These people are the official Hosts of our community. Their primary purpose is to keep our forum running smoothly, with politeness and good humor. They perform a variety of tasks, especially answering your questions about the information available within The Indpendent Traveler, and explaining how to navigate our forum.

Many of these Hosts contribute to the various discussions. They are free to contribute, or not contribute, as they see fit. Their opinions are their own. The Independent Traveler does not regulate what the staff says about a location, hotel, tour operators or travel provider.

Our staff is drawn from a wide circle of daily life. Most of them are experienced travelers -- either realtime or "armchair." Most, however, are outside the travel field in their professional lives. You should not believe that these people have any additional insight or information simply because they have a "Host" prefix to their name.

Advertising Guidelines
The Independent Traveler has strict guidelines prohibiting blatant advertising, commercial sales and solicitation posts on all of our message boards.

Our Travel Boards are meant to be a traveler's exchange of advice and tips where you can talk about your travels -- not a marketplace for advertising and selling services. There are thousands of travel professionals online and if we didn't insist on a non-solicitation policy the travel boards would be very quickly overrun with nothing but ads.

The Independent Traveler defines advertising as an individual or company's attempt to generate business or other commercial enterprise, either directly or indirectly, by using our Travel Boards. Solicitation includes, but is not limited to, requests to be E-mailed, the posting of phone numbers for your business, and the referring to or posting of one's own Web site address.

Also, although third-party recommendations are the lifeblood of the message boards, when, in the sole opinion of the message board staff, those public postings are too commercial or promotional in tone, excessive in quantity or if there is reason to suspect that they are disingenuous, or posted by the agent, themselves, under cover of "alias" screen names, such postings will be removed. While we welcome the third-party recommendation of your personal travel or cruise agent, they MUST be in response to a request for such information, and they must NOT contain contact information of any kind. Touting of your travel agent is not allowed.

The Independent Traveler reserves the right to approve or deny links which lead directly to or link to travel-related material that is not located within our Web site.. This does not mean all links will be removed, but rather reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Travel Professionals, Tour Operators & Travel Agents
Travel professionals, tour operators and travel agents (and their associates, employees or designated representative) are encouraged to participate in the discussions on the Travel Boards and establish themselves as experts on a particular topic by responding to members' inquiries with useful answers.

In doing so, you are welcome to sign your name and note your professional title only. . You may not list your business name, phone number, business location, web site address, contact info or e-mail address. Responding to members' inquiries on the boards with an ad for your services is not allowed.

You may offer your services via private E-mail to members who have **specifically requested such information or services**. However, you should understand that unsolicited marketing mailings are considered a breach of Internet etiquette and are not looked upon favorably by its recipient.

The Independent Traveler considers requests to be E-mailed for additional information as soliciting and will return those postings to Travel Professionals.

Travel professionals and property owners (and their associates, employees or designated representative) may not list or refer members to their World Wide Web sites.


Harassment, Flaming and Trolls
The harassment of our members is not allowed.

The Independent Traveler is committed to providing an online environment that is free from these types of harassing postings. Please, don't attack another poster personally. Do not harass, threaten, embarrass, or do anything else to another member that is unwanted. This means: don't say bad things about them, don't keep sending them unwanted Instant Message notes, don't attack their race, heritage, etc. If you disagree with someone, respond to the subject, not the person. Postings of this nature will be removed from the boards.

Postings that have been placed on the boards to disrupt the flow of conversation will be removed.

Multiple occurrences of harassment/flaming may result in your loss of posting privileges on our message boards.

Profanity and Vulgar Language
The use of profanity and foul or vulgar language is not acceptable. Keep in mind that members come in all ages and all have access to our Travel Boards. Using asterisks to blank out several letters of a word is *still* considered a violation if the vulgarity is discernible. There are far more powerful ways to get a point across. Discussions of any nature that The Independent Traveler staff feels inappropriate for the Travel Boards will be removed.

Illegal Activities
The Independent Travleer prohibits the conducting of illegal activities on our Travel Boards, including (but not limited to) the posting of pyramid scheme/chain letter/make money fast-type information.

In addition, the discussion of illegal activities, such as (but not limited to) drugs on all of is also not allowed.

Copyright Infringements
The posting of large blocks of text obtained from the Internet, online newspapers, web sites, magazines, etc., defeats the purpose of our Travel Boards. All of this information is available to everyone online, and doesn't add to the idea of sharing firsthand experiences and travel advice. Also, the majority of information out there is protected by an author's individual copyright. Therefore, we will remove such information from the message boards.


Spelling and Grammar Errors
It is important to remember that everyone makes mistakes at one time or another, and that there are many users who use English as a second language, especially on our Travel Boards. There are also a number of people who suffer from learning disabilities and who have difficulty noticing their spelling mistakes. Do not make comments on the spelling and grammar of other users. It is simply not a productive expenditure of energies.

Please Browse BEFORE You Post
Browse a topic first to see if your question has already been asked or answered by someone else. This is your ##1 best resource! And please post your messages in an appropriate folder so that you'll receive the best possible response. It is very time consuming to return misplaced messages that are in the wrong topics.

Posts Appear Immediately and You Cannot Delete Them
We do not review messages before they are posted and you cannot delete your own messages once they are posted. As much as we'd like to, our volunteer staff is too busy to delete messages for you, extend spell-check services or rescue you from a momentary lapse in good judgment! ;) If you don't see your message after posting it, close your browser or click your "refresh" to see your posting. You'll see it -- and so will everyone else!

Answer Postings on the Boards, Not in E-Mail
Please try to answer message board posts on the boards instead of E-mail when appropriate. There is a lot of great information that we're all missing because it is passing through private E-mail. There are of course times when private E-mail is more appropriate but if you have information that would be helpful to many people, please try to come back to the boards and post it rather than replying to a posting through E-mail.

ALL CAPS
Typing in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS is considering shouting by many, so please double check your caps lock key before posting.

Rich Text & Graphic Images
The use of these features on our message boards can greatly enhance your online Travel Board experiences. However, postings that are difficult to read, too BIG or too small, too light in color, etc., will be returned to you so that you may repost.

Private Addresses and Phone Numbers
If you wish to respond to a post with your name and address, please send it via E-mail and do not post it publicly on the boards. It is not a wise idea to publicly post your address and/or phone number online. The Independent Traveler staff will return these postings to you.
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