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Joe Holleman is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

St. Louis Arch and redesigned entrance

The Arch and the redesigned circular entrance to the museum as seen from a helicopter over downtown St. Louis on Tuesday, June 5, 2018. Photo by David Carson, dcarson@post-dispatch.com

You can't buy publicity like this, nor would you want to.

A recent exchange on Trip Advisor — on the travel site's "St. Louis Travel" forum, no less — started Tuesday night when a user from Indiana posted this:

"We are 2 old women traveling in October from Indianapolis to OKC. Hearing lots of scary stories about East St. Louis and Ferguson and the north side of St. Louis. Best advise for route. Can we avoid St. Louis altogether?" — Nini

One respondent tried to dissuade Nini of her misgivings:

"Don't avoid St. Louis, plan a visit. You'll be glad you did. Someone has been needlessly scaring you." — TTTStLou.

Another tried to be helpful:

"In all serious(ness), if you are concerned just make sure to make your gas/rest breaks before you get anywhere near those areas. Simply stay on the interstate and take most direct route through St. Louis ..." — Nawlins4LIFE

One contributor offered a bigger picture:

"That’s a bit like deciding to avoid Chicago because of all the murders there, as well." -- clvier1

And one pointed out, pointedly, the obvious:

"You are asking in the St. Louis forum how to avoid St. Louis, which is entirely inappropriate; therefore, we'll just help you out and mark your post as miscategorized so you can find a better place to ask.

"Good luck on your trip." — bprop

Not sure, but does that last sentence comes off as a bit insincere?

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