Ethics Pledge

Long before starting this site, I listened to a podcast about internment camps in the United States during World War II.  As many people know, Japanese Americans were rounded up, and put in internment camps.  The fact that this was even done is a stain on U.S. history, but it was made worse by how they were treated.  They were forced to use open-air latrines, sleep in cramped spaces and endure sub-standard healthcare.

Meanwhile, there were also German and Japanese prisoners of war in internment camps in the U.S.  Even though these soldiers were actually the enemy, they were treated significantly better than Japanese American citizens.  Sure, they were prisoners, but they had some nice privileges.  They were given instruments to play, equipment for sports and the freedom to leave the camp and work on farms during the day.  My grandfather was actually a military policeman at one of these German camps during World War II, and he regularly noted how well the prisoners were treated.

The Key: Not Making It Up As You Go

Why the difference?  Some of it can be attributed to racial and cultural attitudes, but historian Paul Springer attributes it to principles and guidelines.  POWs were treated in accordance with the Geneva Conventions.  There was a clear set of standards for what is acceptable or unacceptable.  In the Japanese American internment camps, there weren’t previously existing standards.  The guards and the government made the rules up as they went along.  Certainly, they ended up doing things they would never have seen themselves doing at the start of the war.

I bring up this story, not to depress anyone or suggest that websites can turn into internment camps, but because it shows the importance of setting guiding principles up front.  On Day 1, I want to lay out my guiding principles and ethical standards so I don’t lose my way as this site (hopefully) grows, and so that you can hold me accountable along the way.

Enabling Access to Travel

This isn’t a foodie site or a fashion site.  It’s dedicated to travel, specifically to helping you travel freely.  In other words, time and cost shouldn’t be barriers to experiencing the world.  I want to show you how miles, points and financial planning can bust those barriers.  If, one day in the future, I start rambling about an awesome recipe you just have to try, please call me out.  That doesn’t belong on this site.

Quality Content

I’m hoping to build extremely in-depth and up-to-date guides, then updating them if there are significant changes in the world (eg. loyalty program rule changes, new laws, etc.).  What would I not consider quality content?  If, for instance, you see that I posted about one airline breaking away from its alliance, and I previously wrote about how this airline is great because it’s part of a strong alliance, let me know.  I want to provide updates and ensure standing guides are always current.

Transparency

I want to help you travel freely, and I also want to make money from this blog.  To make sure my priorities stay in that order, I pledge to err on the side of over disclosure.  I’d rather have my readers disagree with me than feel I misled them.  What are a few examples of things I’ll be transparent about?

  • My Advice is My Opinion – It means just that.  If I make a recommendation, it’ll be because I believe in what I’m recommending.  Sometimes that means recommending a product or service.  Even though I’d never push a product or service that I didn’t think was best for my readers, I will always disclose any information that could have affected my motivations.  For example, if the seller was a personal friend of mine or if I earn a commission for each unit sold.  That way, you can decide for yourself if my judgment was compromised.
  • Best Offers – You’ll quickly learn that the easiest way to accumulate a substantial number of miles or points is with credit cards.  On this site, I’ll provide links to where you can sign up for points-earning credit cards.  What I promise is that I’ll always feature the best available offer, not the best offer I earn a commission on.  You shouldn’t have to check 20 sites for the best offer if I’m doing my job properly.

Bottom line: on Pointing to Dreams, what you see is what you get.  If you ever feel that isn’t the case, let me know!

A rule for the rules

The last point is that I pledge not to change the content of these principles.  They lose all purpose if I can just edit them whenever it suits me.  That’s not to say there will never be amendments, but those amendments should be added separately, like in the U.S. Constitution.  This way, I’ll always know my original intent for Pointing to Dreams, and you can hold me accountable for those promises.