David, if you truly want to respond, I think it is perfectly okay, and actually advisable, to point questioners to places or threads on the website, or even other websites, where their questions can be answered. It does get a bit annoying to answer questions for people who are too lazy to research the answers themselves.
Now, if it is an opinion someone wants, that's different. But factual info that is basic and readily available? Point them in the right direction, and forget it.
On another website I participate in, you can actually do a search for threads that deal with specific situations or questions by doing a keyword search.
You can do a keyword search by clicking on "Search" at the top of a thread or a board.
David: I have found that everyone is "thick" about some things. The person who asks a dumb question about cruising may be able to educate me on history, antique cars or folk art furniture. I know I would probably sound like an idiot to others on an antiques/glassware board if I asked if Heisey crystal was quality crystal. I have no idea if Heisey crystal is good. It's just expensive on Ebay. <VBG>
The other part of it is that cruising isn't what it used to be. Formal isn't the true definition of formal. With the introduction of the alternative dining options such as Freestyle and cruise lines not enforcing their own rules, Formal Nights are no longer formal on most mainstream lines. No man will be turned away if they are not in a tuxedo or dark suit.
First time cruising is becoming more confusing than it needs to be. Most people going on their first cruise have so many questions that they don't know what to ask and they really don't have anyone to ask, so they turn to places like this. Because of this confusion they may end up asking a question like you pointed out. Here is Carnival's definition of Formal attire: Formal Wear: tuxedo (optional); suit and tie; sport coat, tie and slacks; evening gown; cocktail dress; pantsuit That's a nice concise definition.
Also, there are many bad travel agents out there and that hasn't helped the industry. Many of them don't know the answer to client's questions or don't have the time or ability to answer them. Brochures aren't much help and if you booked through an agent there's no way the cruise line will talk to you. It has helped boards like this but I personally would rather see help come in a different manner.
OK: I guess I have to stop rambling now. :-)
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Upcoming Cruise(s) Carnival Liberty: May 31, 2014. The Anniversary Getaway.
"There is a great difference between being well traveled and just having been to many places." ~Me
I say the question were rhetorical because (and I have seen these) the questions have a silly component to them. The questions usually aren't " can I wear this or that" to a formal dinner, but "do people wear tuxedos"? Maybe what you're suggesting Mike is what they meant to ask but really ask something silly
kinda like asking "do they have burgers" at a burger place. The appropriate question might be do they have this or that, but to ask if they have burgers is silly.
"does this dentist work on teeth" instead of does this dentist do a specific type of dental work at his/her clinic. (that just came to mind because I had a painful dental visit today)
I feel Banker covered it already, you of all people ousoonerfanintexas should know the scenario as a recreation advisor and dealing with questions from the public.
Take the quote I gave it was "Does the Mediterranea have any Formal Nights? Do people actually dress Black Tie for them? I know they have Theme Nights, mostly Italian and Meditteranian".
1 Yes, they do
2 Yes, they do
3 Yes, they have theme nights
4 Never seen them "as mostly Italian and Meditteranian".
The above is not an answer nor advice. If I was asked....
We are sailing on xxx ship, visiting xxx ports. Do they have formal nights?, what percentage of people take part in them. I hear they have theme nights, how many per cruise and what do people wear?
That type of questions we all could answer, they are questions and an indication of what the poster needed advice on. Unfortunately a lot of people looking for advice, think they have asked questions, but dont. So look at the line boards, plenty of questions, very little constructive response.