How can I post information about on-line tea retailers using the ‘Places’ tab?

I originally posted a version of this question on the ‘Which new features do you want the most?’ thread, with no response. I though I would try again as a separate topic. You can read it if you want in my earlier post here, but it is a wee bit wordy :)

I would like to hear about your overall experiences in buying from various the online tea shops. Yet, it seems there is no organized, streamlined way to do this. I could (and have) look though the various tea notes for the retailer I am interested in buying from, hoping to find some information regarding experiences with purchasing from the tea dealer. But it seems there could be an easier way to do this.

Currently, the ‘Places’ tab is place to log information about visiting brick-and-mortar stores, but there is no simple way to log information about on-line stores (without any discernable address). I did enter my experiences about two shops (Harney and Son’s and Jing Tea Shop) on the Places page, but I had to fudge a few things to get it to save. I understand the purpose of the ‘Places’ page is to log information about experiences of those who have physically visited these stores, and that’s why the need for an address. Can we make a small change to this to allow on-line stores (without an address)?

For example, I don’t have an address for Jing Tea Shop, and unfortunately it won’t save without one. So I put ‘123 China’ in as the street name, and ‘MO’ in as the state, and it took it! Then there was an issue with finding it again. I can’t search without at least entering some kind of address or location, so I had to type, ‘China’ in the ‘Find tea places near’ field, and then, ‘Jing Teas Shop’ in the ‘named’ field to find it. But someone else may not know that Jing Tea Shop is in China.

Further, if I type the name of the shop in the search box in the upper right-hand corner of the page, I get a listing of the teas, but no way to store information about the tea shop alone. I could include my information about the shop with every review of every one of their teas (which I am doing so far, although it’s redundant), or just do it once and put a link to it in my other references, but that’s not a really great solution either (IMHO).

Ideas? Anyone care? Or is it just me?

24 Replies
Cofftea said

As you said, Places is for brick and mortar places to go and buy and/or drink tea, not for tea companies. I absolutely agree there needs to be a Company tab, but as much as I agree on this- I just as strongly feel that this should be a separate tab and NOT be added to the Places tab.

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I personally do not care one way or the other. I would consult with Jason or Ricky before I added a tea company to the places tab, though, because they may not want it there. Since Cofftea doesn’t own/operate Steepster, she is not the one who should make that determination.

wait … she’s not … ;)

Cofftea said
have never thought or said that I own Steepster (because I don’t, imagine that). It’s such a shame that certain people (I, sadly, am not the only one) can not voice their opinion without being told (or talked about) “well you don’t own Steepster”. Even the Steepster mods ask the opinions of others. Can I tell them how to run Steepster? Absolutely not. But I can definitely offer suggestions and opinions as well as… GASP- disagree with them. To each their own and freedom of speech. It is my opinion that having features serve too many functions reduces usability.

Offering opinions is one thing, however, you often come across as “instructional” (for lack of a better word since I’m trying to be polite) with your strong opinions. I have no problem with a strongly opinionated individual as I happen to be one myself. However, when you “instruct” or suggest someone that they should remove posts from a forum because it is similar to a year-old post, or when you tell someone that their post doesn’t belong in a particular thread (as you have done to me in a PM), that comes across as rather “moderator-like” (again, for lack of a better word as there may be children present).

This forum should be a fun place where people feel free to go and ask questions regarding all things tea, and when they are thwarted because of other peoples “opinions,” it makes them feel intimidated and less inclined to post in the future.

I have a few questions for you, LiberTEAS. Look at this as simply an invitation.

I appreciate your viewpoints and I hope you continue to voice them.

It’s your choice to read on or not. I advise waiting until you are in an open state of mind, otherwise, you may have difficulty appreciating this point of view (I admit I am not always in an open state of mind, and try not to read things that I may react quickly to if I am not). My hope is to provide another way of looking at your response. If you choose not to read on, I completely understand. No offense taken. :)
How do you feel thwarted? Who feels “intimidated and less inclined to post”? Do you feel that way (you wrote “… it makes THEM feel …”)? If YOU feel that way, I invite to tell us (or Cofftea). If not, then do you believe those others are able to speak for themselves? I do; I believe everyone here has the freedom to speak up if they want. Why do you feel it’s your prerogative to speak for this nameless ‘them’?

Yes, hard questions.

I, for one, respect others who have the courage to give their opinions, to state what they want, or heck, even instruct. I judge I have just such courage. The way I see it, we are ALL teachers, ALL learners. You or others have the freedom to choose to see my posts (or the posts of others) in a different light, and that’s OK with me (for the judgments of others are their business, and are primarily for them, as an opportunity to learn about themselves).

We are all different, and we all have something of value to offer (if I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t take the time to get involved), such that we are sometimes mirrors for each other (we see the things we like about ourselves, and the things we don’t like ourselves in them). We may not like like how others say things (I have my way, you have yours). And if I want, I can try to CHANGE how others do things through various devices; you can try to CHANGE me (or others) through your own devices. However, in my experience, unless I have real power over them, in some form or other where I can enforce real consequences (and I don’t believe anyone on this list has any power over another, that is, unless they CHOOSE to give away such power) it doesn’t work (power over others is really an illusion anyway, in most situations, if not all situations, but that’s a conversation for another time. :))

The way to summarize how I approach what’s posted out here: take what you like, and leave the rest (I am borrowing that phrase from one particular circle I sat in for many years. It’s an overall good philosophy of life, for me anyways).

Take all of this with a grain of salt (a big grain if you like; or better yet, if you’d like, throw it all out! It’s OK. I give you permission – not that you need it :) ). It’s my humble opinion, my viewpoint, my judgments, whatever you want to call it (“my two cents”). It matters to me, and it may matter to someone else. Your opinion matters to me (and I hope it matter to you), and it may matter to others, too. It’s why blogs work. Its the driving force behind them. I want to be heard; you want to be heard; we all want to be heard. Otherwise, what are we doing?

I can choose to see the din of e-pinions out there as simply noise, meaningless clutter, or I can choose to see them as a diverse set of voices, a chorus, masterfully orchestrated in such a way as to fill the void with its lovely music.

ssajami said

I don’t often post, but I have been reading these boards for a long while now.

I have seen people APOLOGIZE for posting something, say, an issue that may have been discussed before in a previous thread, after getting such “instructions” (and no, it’s not me). That gives me the impression that the person that posted felt ashamed/embarrased for having posted what they did. Obviously they needn’t have done, or felt, that way. BUT THEY DID. Their reasons are not ours to judge or analyze. Will this person be so ready to post again in the future? I’m not sure.

This is not how these boards should be.

Clearly everyone has a right to their opinion. Some are more organization-oriented than others and that is fine.
Differences in opinoin, tastes and points of view are what make discussion boards the wonderful thing they are.

However, I believe that whatever one’s opionion, it needs to be stated in an non-offensive manner. That includes not giving others instructions or passing judgement. Not everyone feels comfortable enough here, or secure enough in their ideas/ wants/ opinions to do whatever they like – in spite of judgement. Also not everyone is familiar with the people on the boards, who is and who isn’t official Steepster moderators, and so any instructions may be perceived as official when they are not.

Words do matter and they do influence others. I’d like to think that we welcome discussions. Yes, even discussions that have been done before. I’d like to think that we welcome any and all tea-lovers, their thoughts and opinions.

@SimpliciTea – thank you very much for your well thought-out reply. I am sorry I didn’t reply immediately, I wanted to take some time to also consider my reply rather than to reply with a reactionary tone. Unfortunately, I do feel that any reply at this point will probably sound reactionary as this is the path this thread seems to have taken.

Thwarted… do I feel thwarted? Not at the moment. However, there was a time when I first started posting here that I felt that way. I had posted in a thread and Cofftea felt the need to private message me and tell me that I had posted my information in the wrong thread. I have since witnessed her doing this to many other individuals – not by private message, but in the public forum – who post here. It was intimidating, especially when I was new to the board, I was unaware of who was in charge of the forums and I thought I had made a serious error. I didn’t post to the threads for a while after that.

When I posted what I did above, I posted for the many people that I have heard from in private message conversations who have felt intimidated or pressured by Cofftea’s approach on these boards. These conversations would always bring me back to the time when I felt that way. I know at that time I didn’t have the courage to respond after I was “corrected,” so I understand how they might feel the same way. I do not feel it is my “prerogative” to speak up on their behalf; however, after being here for well over a year reading complaints I chose to speak up and voice my opinion.

I am not trying to “change” Cofftea. I am only trying to lend support to those who post here only to have her instruction-like tone thrust upon them. That being said, I do believe that everyone on these boards has the right to voice their opinion. As I said above, I have no issue with people who are strongly opinionated as I happen to be like this myself. However, not everyone feels as empowered to be able to voice their opinions, especially when they are new to the board. My motive was merely to lend support.

I believe that there is a difference between voicing an opinion and suggesting that a thread be deleted because there is one that was similar created over a year ago, or being told that they should move information from one thread to another one. I personally do not appreciate the feeling of being policed by Cofftea when I post on a forum. I am also aware that others do not appreciate it as they have expressed those feelings with me.

Again, I do appreciate your thoughts. It gave me reason to sit back and think about my position, and I like it when I’m challenged to do so.

@ssajami – thank you also for your well thought-out response. I appreciate what you said very much and this was the spirit I was trying to reflect in my comments on this thread.

I’ve been anxiously paying attention to this however I wanted to wait until LiberTeas replied before I stuck my big nose where it doesn’t belong. I am quite new to this wonderful community, while things get heated at times and there are disagreements I still think this is a fantastic place. But this is because of our wonderful overlords and all of us here that contribute. People who don’t contribute obviously don’t add to the community environment (bear with me I have a point by saying that).

So here’s a little ditty (no its not about jack and diane), many may not believe this but I am quite shy and intimidated whenever I join a new community, whether online or in the real world. When I first came to the boards I too received harsh criticism, now I would have easily shy’d away from being an active member except for the fact that a few wonderful people, LiberTeas included, come to my defense and made me feel welcome. I really appreciated that, and I’m sure I never appropriately conveyed my gratitude but I want to express thanks to all those who made me feel welcome to be an active part of this community. Thanks!

@SimpliciTea I feel confident that you didn’t realize the full implications of what you wrote, you made some interesting points. It may have, however, escaped your thought process that there are many people here who are quite shy, insecure, or just don’t deal with conflict or criticism well. Therefore you have to realize that while everyone has the right to speak for themselves, that it is a fact that not everyone will. And since you already stated that you don’t try to change people I’m sure that you didn’t mean to imply that they should change and speak for themselves and no one else should be able to speak for them or provide them with encouragement that they are indeed welcome here.

I agree with your point that we all have something to offer, including those who shy away from conflict. I for one want to hear what everyone has to say, not just those who have strong will and are willing to stand up in the face of conflict and criticism.

All that being said, I’d like to quote Jason, “Basically, we’re all here to have fun and enjoy tea in all its glory. Don’t be a jerk and ruin everyone’s time. Drink tea and play nice!”

I really enjoy tea and talking about tea to people who are passionate about it and I thank everyone who makes this community feel like a warm circle of friends that all are welcome to be contributing members, not just those who thrive on conflict.

Sara said

Just wanted to add in here backing up LiberTeas, The Seattle Tea Snob, and ssajami on all points. It’s frustrating when anyone is needlessly harsh, and absolutely discourages shyer folk from contributing. I’d like to thank you three for having the right idea and speaking up in favor of treating people kindly, as we all deserve. I raise my teacup in gratitude. :)

(Response based on reading LiberTEAS reply only)

LiberTEAS: I hear you.

I am honored by your response.

Thank you for your apology, and please hear that I feel there is no need to apologize for not responding earlier. I’m glad you took the time you needed to consider your reply. Besides, you made no commitment to respond in any time frame (or at all).

I hope you did not feel obliged to explain your position to me, as that was not what I was looking for (I have no authority what-so-ever here. The only ones who have any authority at all are the administrators of this site). I simply wanted to offer a different way of looking at the given situation. (CHANGE) I judge the manor in which you demonstrated your openness to another perspective is commendable; you set an example for me. Having given your own experience in more detail, I understand more clearly where you are coming from.

Quite honestly, I was surprised that you even responded, and a little nervous before reading it. Now, I fell relieved, and I couldn’t be more grateful. You gave me more than I was expecting, or even hoping for (or certainly deserved).
While describing your own experience you reminded me how sometimes fragile we can all be, especially in new circumstances (as newcomers to any new group or blog). I too was a little intimidated when I first came to Steepster, though not exactly as you described your experience. I have felt similarly in other times/places in my life. You did a great job explaining how you felt. And by the way, I understand the desire to stand up for and protect those who seem to need it. I have a soft spot for newcomers, (although given recent my comments, I understand that that may be hard to believe) as I have been there many times myself, and I know from experience that it can be difficult.

I can understand how you may have thought that part I wrote about changing people was aimed at you. In truth, however, it was about me. (ADDITION) I have a tendency to want to change others, and I still struggle with it. Those comments were, in part, a little bit of my preaching (I definitely have a soap box, and love getting up on it). It’s my goal to keep an eye on that part of me (which I’m not too proud of); it’s often in shadow, so it’s hard for me to spot. :)

(ADDITION) The more I think about this, the more I understand my reaction. I sometimes unconsciously see it as my responsibility to stand up for those I see as being ‘attacked’ by a group (in this case of Cofftea). Many things I had read recently seemed to ‘attack’ Cofftea (I say ‘attack’ as I had no clue as to the basis for the accusations leveled against her). That doesn’t mean it was that case, that’s simply the way I saw it. I know what it’s like to be ‘picked on’, and it’s horrible. It’s a pattern of mine to see it as my responsibility (prerogative) to stand up in defense of others who don’t even ask to be protected. I call that care-taking (ADDITION) (wanting to ‘help’ those who don’t ask for it, and don’t really need it, anyway. For me, the payoff is that I derive value at believing I have ‘stood up’ for someone in need). I recognized this about me years ago, but surprisingly enough, it still pops up now and then. Oh well, old habits die hard. :(

Btw, since you mentioned it, I do not feel your reply is in any way reactionary. :)

I end in gratitude, mixed with sadness, feeling a little more connected.

(Response after reading remaining replies)

Ssajami, Seattle Tea Snob, Sara: Thank you for responding. You points of view matter to me. I am grateful for your responses.

At the moment I feel a little smaller sitting here. That’s my choice; and as uncomfortable as it is, (smiling) eating a little humble pie every now and then is not too bad (I judge I need it to keep me grounded). I respect all of you for speaking up, for speaking your mind. (CHANGE) As you have challenged me, you (along with LiberTEAS) teach/invite/guide me to see things a little differently, and I gratefully accept my place as your student.

Seattle Tea Snob, I am glad you pointed out to me: “And since you already stated that you don’t try to change people I’m sure that you didn’t mean to imply that they should change and speak for themselves and no one else should be able to speak for them or provide them with encouragement that they are indeed welcome here.” I think I WAS hoping they’d change. But since you put it that way, I see how unreasonable my want really is (that’s my shadow popping up). Thank you for challenging me. I judge that took courage on your part. And it demonstrates to me that you really are reading what I am saying. It sounds like you will certainly keep me on my toes!

Still feeling grateful and connected. :)

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I think this is a great point Simple. I have had a very hit or miss experience with finding quality tea retailers in the world and while I love the variety of online shops, I get nervous when I’m spending my hard earned money on a tea that I’ve not had the opportunity to smell or taste. (And yes, I know, I can just buy samples and they are generally very reasonably priced, but I am a tactile person.)

Any way to review and study the online stores would be a great way to discover new tea stores with confidence and take some of the stress out of ordering.

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Yeah, I don’t see why the option for “online” can’t be added to the places tab. Online is a place. Agreed with LiberTEAS, as much as Cofftea thinks she might, she does not own Steepster. I think it is perfectly logical to have “online” as a place. There are many brick and mortar store with online presences, but many without.

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ssajami said

I too often look for recommendations and other’s experiences purchasing tea online from various sources. This would be very helpful! I think that between the Steepsterites, we have probably purchased from the majority of online vendors, and the ratings/comments/advice we could collect would be of great value to the others.

Maybe we can just put in “Online Vendor” in the address fields? That way we could also filter out all the online places easily?

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Cofftea said

While it has not been kept up to date recently as it had been when it was first written, there is at least 1 thread about online retailers on the discussion board. Just do a search for “online”.

redundancy seems to be a pet peeve of yours Cofftea. I can understand why, it bothers me to… but sometimes one has to let things go :)

Angrboda said

And yet, repeated comments scattered across the boards with ‘use the search function’ does not seem to be as bothersome… One can only wonder. Possibly that bit in the guidelines about not posting spam or duplicate content is being taken ever so slightly too literally sometimes.

LiberTeas and others, I am in full support of your opinions posted above. Thank you for saying things that need saying, and saying them in a calm, mature and sensible way.

Cofftea: I appreciate your invitation to search the previous posts. It is amazing how many hits there are from simply searching “online” as you suggested (there were pages and pages and pages). As a rule, I search for previous posts before asking a question, and although I don’t often come up with what I am looking for, I usually find interesting related information. So I feel searching is worth my time, and it helps, but, and here is the fly in the pudding, only to an extent. My questions are often specific, and general comments about on-line communities, or organic, or whatever the subject happens to be, are often not what I am looking for (I know, I’ve spent hours looking through previous posts).

Personally, I choose to search before I ask. Is it a requirement, ‘should’ I do it before I post a question? I don’t think so; it ‘s not in the Discussion Guidelines (Read Before Participating) post by Jason. I derive value in searching. Others, don’t. Either way, It’s all OK, it’s all good.

Thank you Cofftea for your interest here. And keep posting. I appreciate for point of view.

Here’s a little reflection I have about the subject of redundant questions (If you’re not interested in my rambling, then I invite you to skip this).

There is an up side to someone asking a question that has been asked before. An important part of what makes this up side work is that open communities (ones where people come and go as they please) have new blood, new people, continually flowing in. Any question posted gives those new people (or whomever) an opportunity to respond to the request. And simple answers to simple questions can easily be handles by ‘newbies.’ Answering a question (any question) may give them a sense of pride, or a sense of contributing that they may not have had had the question never been asked. Speaking from personal experience, I have sometimes gotten excited over the prospect of giving my input to simple queries like, for example, Where are good places I can get samples of tea? As soon as I saw this particular question I though immediately of mentioning Den’s green tea sampler for novices, but when I looked through the responses already given, I was a little saddened that someone already mentioned it.

Answering questions gives us (certainly me) a sense of involvement, a sense of connectedness to the often-abstract world of on-line communities. It validates my being a part of it. My invitation to you (or whomever chooses to read this): let the questions be asked, whatever they may be. If you don’t want to answer, don’t. Let someone else answer. And how does that little bit of wisdom go, There are no stupid/dumb/obvious/ questions. :)

you bring up some really good points SimpliciTea. I’d like to add as well, sometimes seeing the question again will bring new information to light, that may not have been available when the original was posted.
New tea shops, coupons, trends etc…
Moreover, unless I make it a point to memorize every post out there, like reading every book in a library, how will I know where to share my knowledge? Building on your point SimpliciTea, I would never have had the opportunity to spread my passion if it weren’t for seeing posts that were recently started.
Older posts are a pain to read through and find the precise part I want anyhow, so I suspect that many would see that and simply not bother AND besides, many of those who replied to older posts have already moved on to other endeavours.
In some ways, yes these questions are redundant… but they do serve a purpose.
Even still, for those who have been around since this site began… do sympathize with the lack of stimulating tea talk.
Cofftea, what type of postings would you like to see?? what makes you so passtionate about tea? I have a feeling you have much knowledge to share!

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K S said

I am glad this topic was brought up. I know of 2 B&M’s within 100 miles of my home. Obviously unless I buy grocery store brands, most of my tea is going to be purchased online. I Google tea vendors and try to find reviews but they are few and far between. This online forum seems like the perfect place for this. I too am nervous about not being able to see what I am getting before hand.

I have nothing to say about the other discussion other than to state figuring out how many of the features here on Steepster work, including the search feature, is a challenge even for someone who has been here almost a year.

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kanata said

I know this is an old thread but I was just wondering if anything was resolved re online tea space reviews? I live in a tiny town in the middle of an Island in Canada and the only place I am able to get tea of any quality is online. I assumed that clicking on the name of a company would bring up many reviews but that doesn’t seem to be an option. Is Steepster considering it for the future? Having a variety of views would be helpful for me. (and yes I could try samples but sometimes it costs more than the tea to ship something here in Canada)

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I am so glad you asked this @Kanata. And from the posts I have seen out here recently, I judge you are not alone. Jason ( jason @ ) is our illustrious overlord. If you e-mail him he may be able to tell you what they are planning regarding this. Clearly, I cannot speak for the administrator of this site—-as I am a humble blogger like yourself. But I can tell you that I have communicated with him offline (via regular e-mail) about what I would like to do in the interim and have started implementing a way to easily post and read reviews of online retailers.

I plan to create a more detailed discussion thread about this soon (or update an already existing one), but simply put, here is what I have been doing: I select the “_Add a place_” button at the top of the Places page. This then allows me to create a new online place by entering its name and appending “- online” to the name, thus allowing this new ‘place‘ to exist, separately, even if a brick and mortar version already exists. After entering all of the other pertinent information, this allows anyone else to find the review easily on the Places page; to do this you simply delete any text in the Find tea places near field and then enter “online” in the named field and hit the Go button to get a list of online places (there are currently seven, I believe).

I have written—-and posted—-four ‘online’ company reviews of my own so far (and I hope to write at least one more soon). If you wish you can do the same.

I am always open to any other ways of doing this, and clearly, no one need do it this way, it is simply the best temporary solution that I could come up with before they implement any changes, which—-my understanding is—-may take awhile.

My reviews are thorough and thus very lengthy (I judge), and yet clearly there are many other useful ways to write reviews. The way I see it, anything at all to post about one’s experience with online shops would be useful here.

kanata said

Thanks for taking the time to review the online places you have :) It really does help those of us who aren’t connected to any tea shops around. I’ll have to e-mail jason and ask about it and also contemplate adding my own. Just knowing that is an option makes me feel better about this place.

I glad you appreciate the reviews. : )

One other thing: to write a review for your newly created ‘Place’ (or to write a review for an already existing one) you have to first choose a ‘star’ rating—-underneath the establishments name—-by literally selecting one of the << green rating stars >> to bring up the review page. Fortunately, I stumbled upon this purely by accident, which seems to be a pattern in my life, recently. :-)

I hear you on your last comment; having options is definitely a good thing in life.

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