Yesterday I posted an example fuel dump (1X) that I discovered myself.* As I expected, I’ve received some hate mail and disparaging comments. You see, fuel dumping is a highly secretive concept that is covered in code on many forums. I’ve never been able to decipher the code, and have never benefitted from it. To state again, the fuel dump that I posted was found by me without the aid of others.
Since I found the fuel dump myself, I’m not bound to confidentiality as if someone gave the information to me. Readers email me all the time with interesting tricks. If the reader asks that I keep it confidential, I always have and always will (this creates an “underground” travel hacking community). But still, folks are mad. Some people believe that I’ve risked the trick being exposed to the airline and being unavailable for future use.
This isn’t the first time I’ve taken flack from the travel hacking community. As a blogger, my job is to write about the tricks I know. Here’s the question: as a blogger, do I owe a duty to the community?
Without question, the travel hacking community has been the single most valuable resource for me to learn. I started off knowing absolutely nothing, and with the help of the community, I’ve become an expert. However, there’s plenty I’ve learned myself outside of the community, and have actively contributed to it. I’m not just a taker, but also a giver. I suspect most bloggers fit within this category, to varying degrees.
Bloggers and their blogs are not outside the community. They are an excellent resource for beginners to learn, and experts to easily follow what’s going on. In the sense that as a blog we belong within the community, we owe a duty to our comrades. However, our comrades include everyone along the spectrum of expertise. There are far more beginners than experts, but yet they are part of the community.
If I owe a duty to my comrades, what is the scope of that duty? Although I believe it includes a duty to protect the knowledge held by the community, I also see the duty as one to nurture and teach others. Everyone was a beginner at one point, and it is only with the help of others in the community that you become an expert.
Did my fuel dumping post breach that duty? I hid the relevant sector of the fuel dump so as to protect the integrity of the trick. Even with that safeguard, I still shed the limelight onto it, and as a result, I did hurt the viability of it. On the other hand, I believe I gave a good visual example to many on what a fuel dump looks like and what it can do. In that sense, I’ve helped others. You see, it’s a balancing act. If I teach a trick, more people know it and it’s more exposed, and it’s more likely to be shut down. However, if I don’t share it, then folks might never know about it. I believe that I acted appropriately in balancing my duty to the community by protecting the integrity of the construction and the desire to help others.
So yes, as a blogger, I have a duty to the community. The scope of that duty is to contribute, to protect, and to teach others. It’s a very fine balancing act, and it’s very easy to upset people if they believe that balance hasn’t tipped in their favour.
* Addendum: After I found the fuel dump, I went onto the FT forum and asked whether the 1X was skippable. I did not think it was skippable. The forum provided me with confirmation that it wasn’t skippable.