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View Poll Results: Where do you, as an expat, look for advice about life in Switzerland?
An internet forum, for example EF 33 82.50%
Facebook 1 2.50%
Twitter 0 0%
Web search 6 15.00%
Voters: 40. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1  
Old 27.02.2012, 10:47
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Do you think expat forums are losing ground to Facebook / Twitter?

My parents and I were discussing this article yesterday, which says that expats are now turning more to the 'instant response' of Facebook / Twitter rather than using forums when they have questions. In particular, the writer says, this is happening because:

Quote:
...far too often people don't bother to leave a message to say whether a piece of advice had worked. Is there anything more frustrating than to spend an hour finding someone with exactly the same problem as you and a piece of advice that sounds like it would be perfect but never knowing if that is the case? Tempting as it is to assume that the person was so deliriously happy that they just forget to say thanks, the pessimist in me tends to assume that the advice didn't work and they left to carry on searching other forums in the hope of eventually finding an answer.
I thought the article was interesting, but I don't agree. I don't use Twitter, and while I do have a Facebook account, I would never dream of asking a question about living in Switzerland there - for the simple reason that most of my Facebook friends live elsewhere. If I have a question, I come here, and I plan to continue to do so because here I can get advice from a wider range of people. And also those people (mostly) live in Switzerland - so even if my question is not directly related to life in Switzerland (e.g. dealing with cat vomit on the sofa, at least I know the responses I get will be relevant to Switzerland in terms of people recommending solutions I can actually implement here!

I just wondered what other people thought. And I'm going to try and post my first ever poll to see...

And I'm also going to go back though my old threads and reply so people know if the advice was good or not!
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Old 27.02.2012, 11:00
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Re: Do you think expat forums are losing ground to Facebook / Twitter?

I don't use Twitter (and the @whatever#theheck that gets posted to FB drives me bonkers), but I use forums, FB and searches probably equally, depending on what I'm after.

Some of the folks I know from here which I connected to outside of the forum I have as friends on FB so some things (even about life here) I ask there.

Things I want to ask (or get off my chest) that I don't necessarily want family to see, I ask only here though, as I have connection to ALL of them on FB (even hubby's family) but afaik, none of them (or their friends) use EF.
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  #3  
Old 27.02.2012, 13:25
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I think they serve different purposes.

I think of a venn diagram...you know, interconnecting circles.

EF is a way to connect with a lot of people, most of whom I don't know personally. It has helped me connect on a personal level with some people, and a lot of them are my FB friends. But I also have lots of FB friends who are not in Switzerland, and/or not on EF. Most of my FB friends are people I know, albeit virtually. Pages that I follow, or like on FB and FB groups tend to be more issue related.

I use twitter more like a news source. Things I want to follow, books and articles I want to read. Something that's interesting is twitter chat, we're a group of people get together online and discuss something (in 140 character statements), always with a hash tag. There's an breast cancer and social median group that I participate in every week. I think it serves more to align people, pull them together, and then we all go off and do more reading and writing on our own.

So while there is intersection between the three, they are still distinct.
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Old 27.02.2012, 14:05
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Re: Do you think expat forums are losing ground to Facebook / Twitter?

What is this Twitter everyone is talking about?
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Old 27.02.2012, 14:08
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Re: Do you think expat forums are losing ground to Facebook / Twitter?

PS: I think your pole poll will be a bit biased since it's only available to forum users
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Old 27.02.2012, 14:24
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Re: Do you think expat forums are losing ground to Facebook / Twitter?

In the beginning it was forums; now that my German's a bit better I can usually suss out the right key words to google stuff myself.

The advice on forums also tends to be very heavily Zürich/Basel/Geneva-Lausanne biased. If you don't live in one of these three, there is no guarantee anything other expats have written will even apply to you!

For me a normal query process looks something like this:
1) Use http://www.leo.org/dict/ to translate a few key words. Try to think what the technical/legal terms are in English, you've got a better chance of getting the appropriate register in German that way.
2) Google [key words] glarus site:ch. Ignore any results having anything to do with any other canton - no matter how detailed, informative and applicable they look.
3) If not found, go and have a poke around the canton's and town's websites. Maybe it's on there under another name.
4) If still not found, ring them up and ask - or for more complicated questions, go see them in person and ask.
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Old 27.02.2012, 14:26
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Re: Do you think expat forums are losing ground to Facebook / Twitter?

The article mentions that folks don't come back to post on the results of advice given and also that response time is slow in getting advice. That may be true on many forums, but not here really.

I note that numerous times EFrs who've moved on to another country lament the lack of a comparable forum in their new homeland, and continue to participate despite the change in geography.

Post something here, and unless it's in the very wee hours of the morning (and still...) there will be a response usually within minutes. Usually several, and on touchy topics like permits and such there are some very well informed people giving the info. Even the emigration of several 'top posters' to another net hood has had little effect on the speed and quality of info available here.

But this place does seem to be the exception. Exceptional. A real community that takes time for drive by newbies as much as for the old timers.

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Old 27.02.2012, 14:30
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Re: Do you think expat forums are losing ground to Facebook / Twitter?

I think if people are too lazy to learn some French or German, then they will always be reliant on other people to give them what is usually second hand advice.

I prefer to publish web links to give people a good start to search for their information. I have often typed out 100 words of advice and the OP disappears and of course never even clicks the 'Thanks' button. Many here are also unable to make a simple search, and see the question has been answered 100 times before.
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Old 27.02.2012, 15:31
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Re: Do you think expat forums are losing ground to Facebook / Twitter?

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I think if people are too lazy to learn some French or German, then they will always be reliant on other people to give them what is usually second hand advice.

I prefer to publish web links to give people a good start to search for their information. I have often typed out 100 words of advice and the OP disappears and of course never even clicks the 'Thanks' button. Many here are also unable to make a simple search, and see the question has been answered 100 times before.
Maybe I'm too easy on them then... but I tend to assume that if someone could cope with a whole page of German, their German would also have been good enough to find that page in the first place. So I'll give the link, yes, but also try to summarize in English the bits that seem most applicable.

It's not always a question of lazy either, some of us are just fresh off the boat! I keenly remember not being able to read a word of the stuff - having to bring my mail in to the office once a week and have my (very patient) colleagues go through it for me. "Yes, that's a bill. No, that's just a request from some charity. Bill. Bill. Charity. Bill."
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Old 27.02.2012, 16:56
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Re: Do you think expat forums are losing ground to Facebook / Twitter?

Agreed, not all EF members are bad at learning their way around here.

Sometimes it is difficult searching for stuff in Switzerland, as it isn't always published in English. I search in German and publish the link, then it's up to the individual to translate with Google, and maybe learn a bit more about Switzerland.

If I supply a Google translation the general attitude is a big "WTF" and why have you posted this rubbish? So now they get the link and can do something for themselves.
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Old 27.02.2012, 18:04
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Re: Do you think expat forums are losing ground to Facebook / Twitter?

Absolutely.

And also some topics we discuss are quite expat-specific, such as questions on work permits or taxes on foreign income or real estate. I'm quite able to google that stuff in German or discuss it on a German-speaking forum, but the EF is just more suitable as there is likely to be a higher percentage of people who can either provide the answer or have similar queries and will thus appreciate whatever responses anybody can provide.

Other interests (such as my hobbies) I prefer to discuss on other forums (including German speaking ones) because that's where I'm more likely to find people sharing my particular interests and concerns in those areas.

I suppose it's all a question of the signal to noise ratio of the relevant forum in relation to the topic.
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Old 27.02.2012, 19:05
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Re: Do you think expat forums are losing ground to Facebook / Twitter?

I know some Swiss people retired and living in Spain who do not speak any Spanish after more than 10 years. Sadly, there are some expats here in CH who do not speak any German/French/Italian after 10+ years either- and have no intention to learn and expect to rely on others for help and support forever. Helping anyone 'just off the boat' is a total pleasure, but after two, three years ....

Last edited by Odile; 27.02.2012 at 19:52.
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Old 27.02.2012, 19:10
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Re: Do you think expat forums are losing ground to Facebook / Twitter?

Web searches, but primarly looking for forums. On the social side, I now use here (EF), meetup.com, couchsurfing.org and facebook. Facebook's more for when I've already built up my circle of friends.

I don't like the event system on here, so usually put my events on Facebook; somtimes duplicating them here.
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Old 27.02.2012, 19:15
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Re: Do you think expat forums are losing ground to Facebook / Twitter?

Online forums offer three important things:

  1. A large searchable database that covers many topics specific to your needs.
  2. A large base of niche users with the interest and the knowledge on your topic.
  3. The chance to get personalized information from said users.
Facebook and Twitter both lack point #1 as well as the niche users of #2 mostly.
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