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A Paean to One of the First, and Longest-Lasting, Online Travel Discussion Forums. Going, going?
(Update Tuesday, April 14: it?s official. https://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/forums/announcements/topics/thorn-tree-news-taking-a-moment-to-pause)
According to rumours from veteran online posters, including those circulating on Lonely Planet?s Thorn Tree discussions forums themselves, and media outlets alike, Lonely Planet has been directly hit by the Coronavirus crisis, and is in the process of significant downsizing.
Apparently, ?most? of the Melbourne and London offices will be closed, and the famous publisher will limit output to traditional guidebooks and cut back on ?inspirational? titles and the Lonely Planet magazine.
Long-time posters on LP?s seminal Thorn Tree travel discussion board have predicted that Thorn Tree will also be closed to new posts, operating in a read-only mode at least for the foreseeable future.
Expected shut-down time will be 14:00 UTC, Monday at 11pm Japan time.
According to their own ?about? post, Thorn Tree has been around since 1996, making it one of the oldest online discussion forums still in operation.
Personally, I have been a member for nearly 20 years.
When I was alone my last year in a freezing cold apartment (which always smelled like kerosene, and whose water pipes froze in winter) during northernmost Hokkaido?s interminable winters, Lonely Planet?s TT forums kept me company.
I distinctly remember being on TT during 9/11, when my girlfriend couldn?t reach me about what was happening in NYC because my phone line was tied up by my modem?
In general, my memories of Thorn Tree have been much happier, as I have shared with, and learned from, other ?lifers? such as myself, as well as newbies and occasional travelers.
When I moved from Hokkaido to Tokyo, and then started to explore From its northernmost tip to its southernmost islands, other forum members gave generous practical advice. And I repaid with some hard-won experience of my own, and some inspiration.
And, when my wife and I discovered our new spiritual home in Iceland, forum members helped us make the trip three times, including to attend Sigur Ros? (literally) once-in-a-lifetime norur og niur music festival in Reykjavik at Christmas in 2017.
My 20+ years in Japan would have been a poorer experience without the wisdom and solace of others, many of whom are part of the first wave of expats to stay long-term en masse in their adopted homeland.
Plus, I had the privilege in participating in the their Pathfinders program, a pool of travel writers for the next generation of Lonely Planet projects!
While TT has not been without its problems in the past, its trolls and gatekeepers, and other familiar denizens of online communities, overall I have found it to be one of the sanest, best informed, and most respectful forums out there ? for travel or other topics.
Fortunately, at least one enterprising long-timer and local leader from the Japan forum, Giora, has set up a Reddit page for those who want to continue the discussion. See the link below to sign up, and continue to conversations?
Sayonara, Lonely Planet?s Thorn Tree discussion forum! Until next time?