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Things I don't like about the new site

Luther Jun 24, 2006 12:57 AM

Might as well get this one started.

Things I don't like about the new site:

* The fonts in the thread list are too large. This means that I can't see more than 10-15 threads per screen, and I am working at a pretty high resolution.

* Building on the previous obvservation, there's a lot of wasted space on each page. The site has a sort of kiddy feel to it.

* Use of newer web technology means the page loads noticably slower than simpler websites (like, in 1 second instead of 0.5 seconds).

* I really wish those responsible had gone with a simple, customizable software like Invision or PHPBB. These interfaces are feature-rich and very familiar to many web users.

The new software has the feel of a feature-driven, or "one-way" type website. Chowhound is not a feature-driven website. It has a few published features but it is not a blog. It is a community forum. The new software feels like it marginalizes the community aspect (by making it more awkward to navigate) while pushing the user toward feature content. For example, the site only takes up 75% of the width of my screen (sitting in a centered column), and of that space, perhaps 25% is used by an ad for the "Tale of Two Chowhounds" feature. It would be nice to see the discussion boards without having features pushed so hard.

  1. j
    JC_JOE Jun 24, 2006 01:27 AM

    This is NOT going well!!!!

    1. carswell Jun 24, 2006 01:54 AM

      I like the overall look and feel, which won't stop me from suggesting a few tweaks.

      - Luther's right about the thread listing font.
      - I also have problems the basic format of most pages. To see both columns without having to scroll right or left, I have to expand my browser window wider than I'd like. Shouldn't the software adapt to my preferences instead of forcing me to adapt my preferences to it?
      - The 15-minute edit window for posts is too short, especially since you've ditched the preview function. I just posted a couple of long messages on the wine board and didn't have enough time to make all the changes I'd have liked.
      - Why can't we use boldface and italics in our posts? Italics are almost a necessity for those of us who live in and write about places where English is not the first language and who therefore use "foreign" words in our posts.
      - A glitch. While it's great to see the software changing URLs in posts into active links, the sentence punctuation following the link is often incorporated into the link (e.g. www.google.com). In the example, the close parenthesis and period become part of the address, which kind of defeats the purpose of the active link.

      1. b
        Biltong Jun 24, 2006 02:07 AM

        Well the worst has happened. Now chowhound is just like every other lousy food site. I especially hate no hot posts and no visible threads.

        1. TrishUntrapped Jun 24, 2006 02:10 AM

          Miss not being able to get hot posts. Seems more time consuming, can't easily browse.
          Can't get whole page on my screen without using the arrows.

          1. m
            Mick Ruthven Jun 24, 2006 02:14 AM

            Congratulations on the new site! It's a great start. Here are my initial wishes...

            1. Like the other posters, make the font much smaller for the message list.

            2. The 15-minute limit on edit is really silly. One other forum I frequent has that and I hate it there alao. I frequent another forum with no time limit on edits and it causes no problem at all.

            3. Include the date/time of last reply in the message list.

            4. Include the date/time for each message.

            5. Add a user preference for number of messages per page on the list page (now fixed at 20).

            6. Provide a way to search on a phrase. Searching on "san rafael" (with the quote marks) finds occurrances of "san" as well as "san rafael". In addition, other search features like searching on user name, etc.

            Again, a great start.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Mick Ruthven
              PaulF Jun 24, 2006 04:55 AM

              I agree that searching by user name is an important feature ... just my two cents.

              1. re: PaulF
                Jim Leff Jun 24, 2006 04:57 AM

                you can do it. from any search results page, hit the "advanced search" button. It allows you to search by username. Just don't include anything in any other field (for now).

                1. re: Jim Leff
                  PaulF Jun 24, 2006 05:03 AM

                  Thanks Jim!

                  Nice work on the new site!

                2. re: PaulF
                  The Chowhound Team Jun 24, 2006 04:57 AM

                  You can search by userrname. See this post: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                3. re: Mick Ruthven
                  aquariumtown Jun 25, 2006 03:58 PM

                  Searching by phrase is key. A search for "O Cantinho" in Cambridge, MA highlighted every instance of the letter "O" in the posts it found, clearly not helpful. In that case Cantinho is a rare enough word that it doesn't matter, but searching for a name like "East Coast Grill" or any other restaurant name with common words is clearly very difficult.

                  Another approach I used to use with the old site was Googling with: --Site:chowhound.com "Restaurant name" "city"-- sometimes adding something like "-tristate" or "+Boston" if I was looking for something in Somerville, MA instead of Somerville somewhere in the tristate area. Unfortunately all the old links no longer go to the newly archived threads. (Perhaps this will change as the Google spiders crawl through the new site?) Either putting a google (or google-style-features) box within the site, or allowing google searches from the outside to include the archived content would make the search function more powerful and much more useful.

                  I love track by user, by the way: I'm proud to be one of the first to index the legendary limster.

                4. PJ Hyett Jun 24, 2006 02:17 AM

                  Hot posts are coming.

                  -The Engineering Team

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: PJ Hyett
                    ChowFun_derek Jun 24, 2006 04:32 AM

                    Hot Posts are coming?!!!
                    Bless you Engineering Team!
                    (Sooner rather than later please)

                  2. j
                    jackal Jun 24, 2006 02:17 AM

                    1. As said before, the font is WAY too big. We should be able to see 40-50 threads per page.

                    2. An advanced search page. Subject/body text-specific, date range, and username searches.

                    1. Jim Leff Jun 24, 2006 02:24 AM

                      Guys, we're not going to respond to each and every thing. But just so you know, a lot of what's being mentioned (here and elsewhere) is already on our drawing board (what you're seeing is a work in progress.

                      Definitely keep the comments coming, though! But be nice, cuz the developers killed themselves to give us something this good this fast (the old software was crumbling, so it was kind of an Indiana Jones move).

                      1. k
                        Kuisine Jun 24, 2006 04:18 AM

                        The new site looks great guys!

                        I don't know if this is already on the drawing board, but one thing I miss is having the title of the threads I've already read change color.

                        It would be nice if there was some sort of color coding on the thread titles to tell you if you already read it or not (a la the hyperlinks on the old site turning from blue to purple), and also maybe a feature that would show you if new replies have shown up to that thread. I know there's the bookmark feature, but I'm one of those people that, although I'm not specifically tracking a certain thread, if new posts show up to a thread I already read through, I'll read them too...

                        Kathy (Kuisine, formerly KathySK)

                        1. The Chowhound Team Jun 24, 2006 04:21 AM

                          If you go back to a board after you have initially read any threads, of those threads that you previously read, if new posts have been added since you last read the thread, you will see a little "New" lable just below the thread title.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: The Chowhound Team
                            Kuisine Jun 24, 2006 04:23 AM

                            Oh fantastic, you guys are right on top of it! 3 minute turn around time on the response too, crazy!


                          2. Melanie Wong Jun 24, 2006 04:22 AM

                            Hi Kathy, there should be a shaded rectangle and the words "NEW" in red next to the name of the thread when a new reply comes in.

                            P.S. When I saw the new handle and looked at your profile, I thought to myself, "hmmm, Mr. Fong's, that sounds like KathySK". I agree with you!

                            1. monkuboy Jun 24, 2006 04:28 AM

                              I agree with Luther; while I thought the old site seemed to be somewhat archaic, it was more functional and felt like more of a community site than this new one. The new one feels like I just subscribed to an AOL product. Sorry to say something so cruel, but I don't feel this is as user-friendly as the old site for the same reasons Luther mentioned.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: monkuboy
                                Jim Leff Jun 24, 2006 04:38 AM

                                monnkuboy, the community is the people, not the interface. We have a new clubhouse, we badly needed it, and we'll find a way to do cool and chowish things with it. Give it more than a couple hours, it'll grow on you. Enjoy the search engine for example...haven't had one of those in a while...


                                1. re: Jim Leff
                                  monkuboy Jun 24, 2006 05:07 AM

                                  I do have to say the search engine is much better in this version, and fast, too. And I am sure I will get used to this. But while you are correct that the community is the people and not the interface, I feel that the interface plays a role in either facilitating or hindering the communication among the community and this interface feels too sterile to me. That's just my opinion, though.

                                  1. re: Jim Leff
                                    Luther Jun 24, 2006 11:46 AM

                                    I have a degree of concern as to whether the new look and feel will prevent a significant number of users from becoming regulars on the new site. We'll have to see what happens.

                                    1. re: Luther
                                      monkuboy Jun 24, 2006 09:05 PM

                                      Well after looking around some more, I am getting used to the site so maybe I was a bit hasty. I think new visitors will be fine since they have nothing to compare the new site to, and us oldies will get used to it. Someone mentioned they would like to see 100 posts per page instead of 20 and I agree - it would be nice to give the viewer the option of the standard 20, and then perhaps 50 and 100 or even more. At least the pages load fast.

                                2. susancinsf Jun 24, 2006 04:45 AM

                                  Thank goodness hot posts are (so it seems) coming back...but other than that: what the heck is wrong with big print!!??? I hate wearing my reading glasses so its good for me...

                                  ok, back to checking it out...

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: susancinsf
                                    ChinoWayne Jun 24, 2006 04:53 AM

                                    Hell, when you are an old geezer like me with shot eyesight, and you have also started cocktail hour about three hours ago, big type is a good thing!

                                    1. re: ChinoWayne
                                      Helen F Jun 24, 2006 12:48 PM

                                      Fellow geezers - I put down my computer reading glasses once and for all, upon learning the trick of adjusting the size of the type on my screen by scrolling the scroll wheel while pressing the Control key. Works with most Windows applications I've encountered. It's brilliant!

                                      1. re: Helen F
                                        Phoo D Jun 24, 2006 05:58 PM

                                        Thanks. Never knew that.


                                        1. re: Helen F
                                          Pate Jun 26, 2006 10:13 PM

                                          If I could I'd kiss you.

                                    2. Peter Jun 24, 2006 05:01 AM

                                      A few things about finding new posts:

                                      1. The little "new" icon doesn't quite stand out enough. I'd look for a contrasting color instead of keeping it in the same palette as the rest of the page.

                                      2. So you see the "new" icon and click into the thread but then you have to scroll way down the page and look for what's new. One should be able to click a link (or maybe the icon itself?) and be scrolled right to the oldest new post. (Oy, now I see this isn't so easy -- the newest replies may be scattered about due to nesting. Uh-oh, this may be complicated.)

                                      3. When you do click in and see all the posts, there's absolutely no indication as to which ones are new (like the old purple and blue links). Trying to recall where we left off on each thread is going to get old. The posts that are new since the last reading should have the same "new" icon that the thread does out at the thread view.

                                      In general though I'm excited to see the changeover to the new system occur, even if it's not perfect right out of the gate.


                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: Peter
                                        Jim Leff Jun 24, 2006 05:09 AM

                                        good stuff, peter. We weren't going for perfect, we were going for crisp, fun-to-use, workable, and fast. We'll tweak as we go further.

                                        1. re: Jim Leff
                                          Peter Jun 24, 2006 05:11 AM

                                          Ah, now I see the "new" icon on the new posts. I swear, I didn't see it before and I only saw one of the 2 above until I looked for a third time.

                                          It blends in so well that it doesn't serve it's purpose. ;)

                                          Ok, time for sleep. (For you, too. Your nuts to launch late on a Friday -- you're in for a LONG weekend.)


                                          1. re: Peter
                                            Melanie Wong Jun 24, 2006 05:13 AM

                                            I've noticed this too. Maybe there's a lag time for "new" to appear?

                                            1. re: Melanie Wong
                                              PJ Hyett Jun 24, 2006 06:09 PM

                                              The first time you go to a topic, all of the posts are new, so it seemed a bit overkill to label them as such. Any subsequent visits to the same topic will have new posts labeled (if any exist).

                                        2. re: Peter
                                          Kuisine Jun 24, 2006 06:17 AM

                                          Since we're in suggestion mode - maybe putting a different or contrasting colored transparent background behind the new posts in a thread to help them stand out?


                                        3. h
                                          hargau Jun 24, 2006 08:45 AM

                                          the search is great but once you get the results page, you look at your 1st result that looks good and want to go back and look at more. I cant figure out a way to get back to the results page without redoing the search after each one. Back doesnt work as it has "expired". I cant find a button to do it, or am I just missing it.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: hargau
                                            Helen F Jun 24, 2006 12:53 PM

                                            A workaround you could use until it's addressed by the CH team would be to open each result in a new tab (if you're using Firefox or other browser that supports tabbed browsing, including, from what I understand, the new beta of IE). That way your results page won't go away while you look at the various results.

                                          2. h
                                            hargau Jun 24, 2006 01:06 PM

                                            I also dont understand the shadings on replies, some seem to be a pinkish tan for no apparant reason. When there are new posts in a long thread, its really hard to scan thru and find them. The multi-threaded threads make it really tough since the newest isnt always on the bottom and can be anywhere in the thread.

                                            Im not sure why this software was picked or why chowhound chose to work so hard to reinvent the wheel??

                                            There are plenty of very good software packages out there , tried and true and in a user friendly format that people are used to. I personally like Vbulletin alot. Great example http://www.disboards.com/

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: hargau
                                              zruilong Jun 26, 2006 06:32 PM

                                              I can see three colors for the thread nesting depth. White at the top level, greyish for the second, and pink for 3+. I find that a good majority of chowhound posts go more than three deep. The coloring doesn't distingues past this level, so the indentation is the only way to find who replied to what (my eyes eyes completely skip the who responed to whom how many days ago) at the top. However, the indentation doesn't really stand out - other than for skinny text boxes.

                                            2. b
                                              blewgo Jun 24, 2006 01:32 PM

                                              I have to agree with the original poster on everything he said. Why try to reinvent forum software when there are so many good free ones available.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: blewgo
                                                Chipotle Jun 24, 2006 08:38 PM

                                                Because "good" is subjective. Personally, I think PHPBB and most of its relatives are atrocious bloatware. Do we need user icons and ten thousand emoticons and private messages, or do we need speed and clear, elegant navigation? (Nobody would ever call PHPBB elegant, as far as I can tell, and while the old Chowhound was certainly clear, "speedy" wouldn't be something I'd have ever accused it of. The light HTML was overwhelmed by pages of unordered nested lists so long they took browsers minutes to render.)

                                                And really, I don't want Chowhound to look like "just another board," which is something inevitable with an off-the-shelf forum system. I think this is a fantastic job overall, even if it may not be perfect.

                                              2. d
                                                diablita FL Jun 24, 2006 02:01 PM

                                                I really like what you've done here. No, I'm not fully adjusted yet and I don't love everything, but it's great. Change is always a little tough, but there is really good feedback on this thread, and nice responsiveness. I'm impressed -- you guys must have jammed to get this done between the time you announced the acquisition and the change! Thanks.

                                                As an FYI:
                                                I don't have an RSS feeder on my computer (yet -- my MacBook Pro is in the mail!) and am not very familiar with this technology yet. But I noticed I can click the icon to the right of a board name (e.g., Homecooking) which indicates it's for RSS feed, and instead it takes me to the HTML code behind the page. Is that view only, or can we break your pages by accident? (Please disregard if it works as designed).

                                                diablita FL (formerly DevFL)

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: diablita FL
                                                  The Chowhound Team Jun 24, 2006 02:15 PM

                                                  We're started a new thread about the RSS issue in the Report Problems Forum: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                                                2. the_MU Jun 24, 2006 03:46 PM

                                                  Agree on the fonts and the thread colors.

                                                  However, I really like the way the message board panel rolls out when you mouse over the "Boards" link.

                                                  1. s
                                                    Sean Dell Jun 24, 2006 04:21 PM

                                                    What?! No Hot Posts?!

                                                    This was one of Jim's great contributions to the web, and it's gone.

                                                    Please, pretty please, bring it back. The easy-to-read list on the home page is a miserable substitute.

                                                    If the new guys had really been paying attention, they would have used the Ducati Monster list as their template for a great user list. But it's ok - I'll stay a fan.

                                                    - Sean

                                                    1. p
                                                      Phillip J Jun 24, 2006 04:24 PM

                                                      I miss the Hot Post feature!!

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Phillip J
                                                        Helen F Jun 24, 2006 04:54 PM

                                                        Hold your horses - they're working on it.

                                                      2. d
                                                        Dylan Jun 24, 2006 05:02 PM

                                                        I general I like the new format a lot better. A very noticable increase in the speed of the site, for example.

                                                        I agree with what seems to be the consensus - show more threads on the opening page and make it easier to scroll through the threads. My guess is that the current format will make it less likely for folks to respond to older threads, because they won't see them on the top page.

                                                        Also the right side of the screen is wasted space. I hope it's not reserved for future advertising (!).

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Dylan
                                                          Tatum Jun 24, 2006 05:27 PM

                                                          There will absolutely be advertising on the site- there already was advertising on the old Chowhound! We are being very selective with the marketing messages that are delivered to the community, but we do need to generate revenue to support the development staff for the staff. We hope you understand and appreciate that.

                                                        2. b
                                                          berkleybabe Jun 24, 2006 05:13 PM

                                                          I miss the chowhound logo! Where's our mascot???

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: berkleybabe
                                                            Tatum Jun 24, 2006 05:25 PM

                                                            We worked quite a bit on the logo with the dog, and it just didn't work! We are thinking of something else we can do with the dog, so stay tuned.

                                                            1. re: Tatum
                                                              josquared Jun 24, 2006 08:59 PM

                                                              I still see the CH dog on the old bookmark I have in my Firefox faves (heck no I'm not deleting them hehe!)

                                                              At the very least, can it be at least the logo in the new bookmarks like it was in the older site bookmarks (right now, it's just the generic page logo)?

                                                          2. b
                                                            butterfly Jun 24, 2006 05:20 PM

                                                            These don't really belong on the "things I don't like" thread, but I'm here, so...:

                                                            Will it ever be possible to customize the front page or a user page (a sort of My Chowhound page). It would be great to subscribe to the boards that I'm interested in and only see those posts).

                                                            One other:
                                                            Will we get the option to get notified of replies via email? I I think this would be a great thing to let people opt in/out of. It keeps people hooked.

                                                            And I agree with both the people who want the fonts smaller. I think that these threads on the first page should not take up more than one line (you could truncate the thread name to a certain number of characters accomplish this) and have the poster appear on the same line.

                                                            ¡And viva hotposts! I had no idea how hooked I was on it.

                                                            4 Replies
                                                            1. re: butterfly
                                                              Tatum Jun 24, 2006 05:23 PM

                                                              Butterfly, you'll be pleased to know that "My Chow" does exactly what you are asking for on a customizable home page. We are actually working on the notify by email feature. That will come very soon...

                                                              1. re: Tatum
                                                                butterfly Jun 24, 2006 10:07 PM

                                                                Great news about My Chow. Except I'm an idiot--can we do this now or is this a coming soon sort of thing? Right now, I can see threads that I have posted to, but I can't figure out how to add other boards to the listing (probably missing something obvious). Email notification would be great--get us hooked even more than we already are...

                                                                1. re: butterfly
                                                                  susancinsf Jun 24, 2006 10:37 PM

                                                                  I agree: I dont think My Chow is leading up to its potential yet..shows my profile, my recent posts, and who is tracking me and vice versa (which isn't really what I thought it was), but I don't see how to personalize by putting links to certain boards, or to add other preferences....

                                                                  1. re: susancinsf
                                                                    Tatum Jun 25, 2006 05:19 PM

                                                                    My Chow is a big work in progress, so hang in there with us and keep the feedback coming. We wanted a bare minimum functionality to start with to see how people would use it- or want to use it. All of this feedback is great! Bookmarking boards looks like it's moving to the top of the dev list now...

                                                            2. Robert Lauriston Jun 24, 2006 05:39 PM

                                                              I find the site unusable in its current form. As Peter notes above, I can see which topics have new replies but in a topic with e.g. 18 replies I can't see which I haven't read.

                                                              It's nice to be able to skim a whole topic but that's useless if I can't see what's new.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                carswell Jun 24, 2006 05:46 PM

                                                                Actually, new posts in a topic are identified with a small "new" icon that follows the poster's name. For example, on my screen your post reads:

                                                                >1 minute ago Robert Lauriston replied [NEW]

                                                                That said, the icons are easy to miss when scanning a long topic (actually I only first noticed them an hour or so ago, a half day after beginning to use the new interface). I wonder if it wouldn't be more user friendly to change the background colour of new posts to, say, pale blue.

                                                                1. re: carswell
                                                                  Robert Lauriston Jun 24, 2006 05:55 PM

                                                                  Aha, now I'm seeing those. Looks like they appear only for posts that are new since the first time I read a thread using the new software.

                                                                  So that problem should take care of itself in a few days.

                                                              2. h
                                                                hargau Jun 24, 2006 05:53 PM

                                                                bizzarre I swear those were not there before, I never saw them either! Maybe they just added them? I had been looking at how long ago they posted!

                                                                1. Robert Lauriston Jun 24, 2006 06:06 PM

                                                                  In the thread view, the link back to the board should be repeated at the bottom.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                    Tatum Jun 24, 2006 09:21 PM

                                                                    That's a great idea that we should incorporate. We'll put it on the list.

                                                                  2. s
                                                                    shivohum Jun 24, 2006 06:22 PM

                                                                    Hi there... Looks like a good start, and the new look has a lot of potential. But like Luther, I'm really curious: why did Chowhound choose to develop forum software of its own when so much very sophisticated, familiar, customizable forum and community software like phpBB already exists?

                                                                    One suggestion I'd like to make is to allow people to change the number of threads they see per page. With the old chowhound, you could browse through hundreds of discussions without clicking a next button... that's very useful.

                                                                    1. Paul H Jun 24, 2006 06:30 PM

                                                                      It seems that most of my suggestions and concerns have already been addressed, but I didn't see mention of 1) links embedded in text (e.g. some text that said "old post about good place" which was clickable, instead of http://www.chowhound.com/topics/this/..., ) 2) emoticons, and 3) embedded pictures.

                                                                      I certainly agree with most posters that figuring out a good way of reading ONLY the new posts in a long thread is the most important thing to work on.

                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Paul H
                                                                        Jim Leff Jun 24, 2006 06:40 PM

                                                                        Paul, in order

                                                                        1. maybe one day, but it's a fine-tuning, rather than a priority

                                                                        2. not sure we're the site for cutesy emoticons. I'm not totally against them, and you can certainly keep typing them yourself :) but we're a data trove, not a chat room.

                                                                        3. there'll be a strong photo component. But first we're trying to make this (great) start all come together before we add on stuff like that.

                                                                        And we're working hard on a replacement for HotPosts.

                                                                        1. re: Jim Leff
                                                                          Paul H Jun 24, 2006 07:14 PM


                                                                          Thank you for the quick response.

                                                                          As for HotPosts, you now have the ability to improve that, too. My suggestion is to make the [NEW] thread icon a link to the first new post in a thread, the [NEW] icon on that post should link to the next new post in the thread, or if there aren't additional new posts in that thread to the next thread with new posts & so one. Thus, the [NEW] icons would consist of a linked list of all the posts that were new since you last visited the board.

                                                                          To make this work well, we would also need a way to mark threads as read without reading them if we wanted to catch up quickly after a long time without visiting.

                                                                          1. re: Jim Leff
                                                                            rworange Jun 26, 2006 04:43 AM

                                                                            Jim, when photos are added to the site I hope it will come with an option to turn them off.

                                                                            While I love looking at them and some like Melanie's ramen pictures convinced me to try food I probably would never have tried, if you have a slow connection, it is torture.

                                                                            In the old site, pictures were at the end and depending on how much time I had, I would wait for them to load or continue on to the next message after reading the text.

                                                                            1. re: Jim Leff
                                                                              butterfly Jun 26, 2006 01:25 PM

                                                                              Call me a curmudgeon, but I was happy to see that emoticons weren't included...

                                                                          2. m
                                                                            mdg Jun 24, 2006 07:41 PM

                                                                            Please - when are smaller fonts and more messages/screen coming to the message list? It would be best if both were adjustable, but at the very least we need to be able to see more messages at a time by default. For me, that's the critical usability issue that is driving me crazy.

                                                                            It sure is nice to have search and reading threads all at once! But the font size / message count is a major usability issue that should be fixed ASAP.


                                                                            1. g
                                                                              Grady Jun 24, 2006 08:50 PM

                                                                              Okay, after two days I can no longer contain myself.

                                                                              I'm from the "if it's not broke, don't fix it" school (ah I see as I type that, that you didn't change the comfy classic Courier font when typing up posts, why'd you change it for the actual posting when it is finally displayed.) I'd like to look at my post before it goes on the site, that was a great feature before.

                                                                              Sorry but I find the new look very cold and over two days now I cannot find the heart to post my notes about Paris on such a corporate/high tech/obviously trying to bring in the bucks site. AND GAWD I HATE THOSE FLASHING ADS AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE! CAN YOU HOLD THEM STILL ??!!! (And why is chowhound advertising itself on its own website??) It all seems a little cutesy to me and more style than substance right now. I lament the no frills much joy site.

                                                                              Another country heard from re: the font size and limited number of threads viewed at once. And speaking of countries, does even that world map have to SPRING to life like that?? Why so many moving parts all of a sudden, this used to be such a nice calm reflective place to waste time, now its just another assault on the visual senses that I'm trying to escape.

                                                                              I know the old site was having problems with bandwidth or whatever, I duly sent in money to help with that, but why not just address that issue instead of this whole retooling of the look? This whole exercise reminds me of those few and far between great old diners that decide they have to "get with" the times and put in flashy fixtures and weird wall coverings and self flushing toilets and I know not what and simultaneously kill off the charm of their place and drive away longtime regulars.

                                                                              Call me a Luddite I guess.

                                                                              All that aside, what I'm really wondering is why is it necessary to log in with a password now??? Chowhound's version of the velvet rope? Are we being tracked electronically now? What's THAT all about?

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Grady
                                                                                Robert Lauriston Jun 24, 2006 10:12 PM

                                                                                It's easy to get rid of flashing ads. Install Mozilla or Firefox, and don't install Flash.

                                                                                Logging in means that the system can track which messages you've read. Very handy for those of us who don't always use the same computer.

                                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                  Kuisine Jun 24, 2006 11:01 PM

                                                                                  Heh, glad you posted that Robert. I have Firefox set up as my default browser and I was sitting here going - "what flashing ads? I don't see any ads!" So, the Firefox suggestion is a great one!

                                                                                  I actually really like the unified and calm color palette that you've gone with, though I'd still like to see something harmonious but NOTICEABLE put in as a transparent background on new posts so we see them quickly.

                                                                                  Kathy/Kuisine (formerly KathySK)

                                                                                2. re: Grady
                                                                                  Luther Jun 25, 2006 03:14 AM

                                                                                  To piggyback on Robert Lauriston's suggestion, it's easy to get rid of all ads entirely. Install Firefox and then install the Adblock Plus extension and the Filterset.G Updater extension. You'll probably see 1 banner ad per month, if that.

                                                                                3. ChowFun_derek Jun 25, 2006 06:46 PM

                                                                                  Hi Guys,
                                                                                  Before if we wanted to add a few words to the same heading..ex. "Where to get good Kugel?"

                                                                                  to "Where to get good Kugel" (link added)" we could..am I missing the way to do this now...also if I do include a link, I used to be able to check to see whether it was working before I finally posted.....
                                                                                  and finally...how do you post a picture now...either embedded in the message...(Melanie does that the best) or a clickable one?

                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: ChowFun_derek
                                                                                    The Chowhound Team Jun 25, 2006 07:50 PM

                                                                                    No, with this software, there's one thread title and that's it. Since all posts show in flat view, a title change doesn't really serve the purpose it served in the old software.

                                                                                    We don't currently have a way to allow pictures but it's something the developers are working on.

                                                                                    1. re: ChowFun_derek
                                                                                      Robert Lauriston Jun 25, 2006 07:53 PM

                                                                                      The person who starts a topic can edit the title by clicking on it in thread view.

                                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                        ChowFun_derek Jun 25, 2006 08:10 PM

                                                                                        So, if I'm not the person who starts a topic, but wants to keep the title, but perhaps clarify my response to it, buy adding a few words,...would I start a NEW topic using the exact same heading, but with a few additional words, or would this end up in a completely different location on the board from the initial posting?

                                                                                        1. re: ChowFun_derek
                                                                                          Robert Lauriston Jun 25, 2006 08:18 PM

                                                                                          The new topic would appear at the top of the board in the default "Latest Reply" sort.

                                                                                          1. re: ChowFun_derek
                                                                                            The Chowhound Team Jun 25, 2006 09:37 PM

                                                                                            Unlike our old software, a thread's position on the board is not a constant thing- it will change as new activity comes in. So there's no way to keep similarly themed topics near each other.

                                                                                            The best thing for you to do is post your response on the thread if it's the same train of thought, and start a new thread if it's a digression. The moderators are also able to break out a subthread, so if discussion heads away from the main topic, give us a heads up and we'll split it into a new thread.

                                                                                      2. Robert Lauriston Jun 25, 2006 07:10 PM

                                                                                        Can you include an IMG tag? No, I guess that doesn't work.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                          diablita FL Jun 25, 2006 11:36 PM

                                                                                          I think HTML would have to be supported for the IMG tag to work.

                                                                                        2. z
                                                                                          zruilong Jun 25, 2006 11:58 PM

                                                                                          OK. Its faster. I liked the old format, but I understand the need to improve the site.

                                                                                          Faster, though that was never an issue for me.

                                                                                          Font way too big. Some people like the large font, so give an option in their account to change default font size.

                                                                                          Way too few theards per page. I read chowhound for the forum. The content in the forum is my drive to come back. Too much space is given to features. I understand the need for advertising, so I expect adds. But give more space for the threads. I'm readinng these little block paragraphs with over half my screen with white space. Inefficient.

                                                                                          I prefer to have 500-1000 threads on a page. Most people will not, so make that customizable.

                                                                                          New visitors and casual visitors will not penetrate more than 1-3 pages into the forum. You WILL loose people's interest the less content that appeals to them is quickly available. Only 20 posts per page hurts you in this regard. The diehard chowhounder will click and click. If I found this page today for the first time, it would not appeal to me because it appears as a corporate smorgasboard of content shoved to me with a side-note forum.

                                                                                          Could not bring over my old nickname because it was only 2 letters.

                                                                                          Whatever you do, please smaller fonts and more posts per page.

                                                                                          9 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: zruilong
                                                                                            Robert Lauriston Jun 26, 2006 12:06 AM

                                                                                            Since the most recently posted-to topics sort to the top, there's much less need to see lots of topics.

                                                                                            Now that there's a real search tool, I think that's where most casual users are going to go.

                                                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                              zruilong Jun 26, 2006 06:16 PM

                                                                                              I will admit the search tool is good for when you have certain topic in mind. I often just like reading about the food offerings of the LA area (generally) which does not utilize the search capabilities.

                                                                                              As far as my comment on threads per page: I enjoy the chronological listing. My brain works that way. I want to be able to skim a large number of threads, titles and reply titles, without clicking page after page. That is why I hope they have plans to make the treads per page, as well as the font size, a user defined option.

                                                                                              A lot of the personal settings can be handled with one additional DB table. This will be nice because then your profile "roams" with you as you switch machines. I guess they could store it as a cookie, but some people disable them and the settings will need to be set per page. I'm sure over the coming months things will be refined.

                                                                                            2. re: zruilong
                                                                                              Psmith Jun 26, 2006 04:16 AM

                                                                                              I generally agree and thank you for expressing this, zruilong. While I'm sure the coders of the new site are very good and I'm sure they burned midnight oil, etc ... unfortunately the new design sacrifices the most important aspect of chowhound, efficiency in viewing large quantites of interesting information, for the sake of prettiness and sexy "web 2.0" features. Really, the 20 threads-per-page and the wasted space in each meaningful rendering should have been identified as design failures and fixed before something like an RSS implementation was even contemplated. They are obvious regressions in the realm of information exchange.

                                                                                              That said, I think these problems will be fixed and chowhound will continue to rock majestically. This time with a working search engine.

                                                                                              Thanks to everyone involved for the new site and thanks to zruilong for the comment I'd thought about writing but hadn't gotten around to.

                                                                                              1. re: Psmith
                                                                                                Robert Lauriston Jun 26, 2006 04:36 AM

                                                                                                The old site was anything but efficient. The board view was a huge long page but it didn't actually have any information except an outline of who posted when to which topics. The actual useful information was presented with each post on a separate page.

                                                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                                  danna Jun 26, 2006 06:38 PM

                                                                                                  OH, I thought the old site was EXTREMELY efficient. Because of the color-change on threads I had previously clicked, I could quickly scroll down and see if there was an unread post underneath one of my posts (if I read all the other posts, mine would be the only one not highlighted, because obviously I don't need to read my own post). That way, I could see if anyone had responded to me in seconds. I could also see if there were other posts to a thread that interested me in no time. Under the new system, the only way I would know that is if I had memorized the number of posts the last time I clicked on that thread.

                                                                                                  I also liked being able to see WHO had responded to a post at a glance.

                                                                                                  I don't hate it AS much as I thought I would....but I hate it. And I hate being a hater ;-)

                                                                                                2. re: Psmith
                                                                                                  krissywats Jun 26, 2006 11:36 AM

                                                                                                  A thing to keep in mind - most coders aren't coding for geeks any more. Back in the day a site like this may have been mostly for geeks that were into chow - now it's for the average person- and average people don't like the same look to a website that serious geeks do. Geeks may hate it because of the sexy 'web 2.0' as you say - but average joe or jane is gonna love it at first glance (the 'fear of change' aside).

                                                                                                  1. re: krissywats
                                                                                                    zruilong Jun 26, 2006 06:08 PM

                                                                                                    Although I agree with your sentiment, this is also a concern for me. Chowhound was for people serious about food. This was made clear on the old first page with the distinction of a "foodie" and a "chowhound." My sincerest hope is that this site does not get watered down and becomes something as trite as citysearch. The older interface almost acted as natural filter, keeping the trendy foodie recomending PF Changs for fine authentic chinese cuisine and the Cheesecake factory for mouth watering cheese cake goodness away from the site (Both serve their purpose, I understand, and have eaten at both, but not really the type of recommendation I think of when browsing chowhound).
                                                                                                    Again, I acknowlege, the need to adopt new technologies, I work in this field, so I am extra sensitive in this regard, I suppose. I guess its up to the old chowers to keep the spirit of the board alive and help keep its true identity no matter what new "skin" it has.

                                                                                                  2. re: Psmith
                                                                                                    zruilong Jun 26, 2006 06:20 PM

                                                                                                    It is nice not having to go to google and type -
                                                                                                    "los angeles" <search phrase> site:chowhound.com

                                                                                                    One more thing I noticed. When you select reply and it gives you the login screen, it doesn't keep track of you previous state and you have to navigate back to the message you want to post to.

                                                                                                    Is there a place where we can mention things like this other than in this thread?

                                                                                                    1. re: zruilong
                                                                                                      The Chowhound Team Jun 26, 2006 09:29 PM

                                                                                                      There are three places currently being used for feedback from users:

                                                                                                      Site Talk for general discussion and feature requests
                                                                                                      Feedback: Report Problems for bugs and other problem reports
                                                                                                      User Help for tips and tricks for getting the most out of the new site

                                                                                                      What you're describing sounds like a bug, so please post to the Problems board with as much detail as possible. Thanks.

                                                                                                3. t
                                                                                                  tomes Jun 26, 2006 01:48 AM

                                                                                                  I hate everything about the new site. the only thing i like is that I dont have to skim through the boards to see my previous posts.

                                                                                                  1. g
                                                                                                    GG Mora Jun 26, 2006 02:37 AM

                                                                                                    A quoting feature would be awfully swell.

                                                                                                    1. p
                                                                                                      photogeek Jun 26, 2006 02:41 AM

                                                                                                      I've been reading and rarely posting for years, but I've got some comments on the new site:

                                                                                                      First, the layout screams blog. Admittedly, the old Chowhound was essentially a 1980's design holdover, but I feel that this new design has sacrificed usability for the sake of fashion. I can understand the appeal in doing so, but I would dearly appreciate a much cleaner, denser design (as a user-selectable option).

                                                                                                      The twenty-threads-per-page-limit seems silly; considering the design of the new site (essentially designed for broadband, not dialup), this should be a user-selectable option. Also, the extra block of white space that encloses each thread in the board view serves no useful purpose. I've never seen any forum software that wastes that much screen space.

                                                                                                      That being said, the increase in speed is nice... a functional search tool is nice.

                                                                                                      Really, I just want an option to have a lean, mean chowhound experience; everyone else can have the blog-features, but they make me gag.

                                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: photogeek
                                                                                                        zruilong Jun 26, 2006 06:26 PM

                                                                                                        When I thread gets nested more and
                                                                                                        more. The amount of horizontal
                                                                                                        space to write gets smaller
                                                                                                        and smaller. Soon we may
                                                                                                        be reading little
                                                                                                        columns of
                                                                                                        text all

                                                                                                        1. re: zruilong
                                                                                                          Robert Lauriston Jun 26, 2006 07:05 PM

                                                                                                          No, because there's a limit on nesting.

                                                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                                            cap Jun 26, 2006 07:14 PM

                                                                                                            Oh, really?

                                                                                                            1. re: cap
                                                                                                              zruilong Jun 26, 2006 07:17 PM

                                                                                                              ok, so multithreaded discussions are no longer possible beyond a report and a couple of replys?

                                                                                                              Whoever posted below me: I do not see your post. I have to highlight your text to see it.

                                                                                                              DHTML layering bug?

                                                                                                              1. re: cap
                                                                                                                Knoblauch Jun 26, 2006 07:32 PM

                                                                                                                How does this affect old threads that had more nesting? I'm starting to see threads with empty responses nested deep within them. Are deep responses lost?

                                                                                                          2. re: photogeek
                                                                                                            IamJacksBrain Jun 26, 2006 09:02 PM

                                                                                                            Please do all of us with some screen resolution a favor and don't limit the amount of text horizontally.

                                                                                                          3. PJ Hyett Jun 26, 2006 07:48 PM

                                                                                                            Hello everyone,
                                                                                                            Understand that what you're seeing now is not 100% finalized. The engineering and design teams both understand that this is an iterative process and we're taking all of your feedback seriously. Hang tight as a handful of things that you're asking for are rolled out in the next few days and weeks.

                                                                                                            1. danoots Jun 26, 2006 09:02 PM

                                                                                                              Nice job on the redesign guys. I assume you're all used to these, and don't get disheartened by the grumblings.

                                                                                                              A couple things that I'd find really helpful...

                                                                                                              * a "related forums" box in the right column - this would be helpful for eg. us who use both the outer boroughs and Manhattan boards extensively.

                                                                                                              * "my recent posts" in the right column.

                                                                                                              * in our profile, we're asked to specify "our" board... which one we "belong" to. It's just a text box - it'd be nice if we could specify an actual board (dropdown menu?), which we'd be taken to by default when we logged on.

                                                                                                              * perhaps a "home page" link in profile so users that felt like it could share more about themselves etc.

                                                                                                              I'll keep 'em coming...

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: danoots
                                                                                                                josquared Jun 27, 2006 02:50 AM

                                                                                                                I think overall I like the redesign and appreciate the speed of the new site. I think many of the main concerns (i.e. ability to preview and quote, hot lists, ability to post images as well as turn it off, etc.) have already been vocalized.

                                                                                                                I was going to suggest that if nesting becomes an issue (it's not a big deal to me because you can reduce the text size if need be), perhaps you can switch the advertisement and the "overheard on the boards" box to the top between the search bar and the thread itself. In this case, the "Tale of Two Chowhounds" box can be simply removed, since it is one of the items permanently in the "Features" section.

                                                                                                                If not, the space in the right hand column can be populated by more useability features such as danoots' "my recent posts" and "related forums" suggestions.

                                                                                                              2. m
                                                                                                                malibumike Jun 26, 2006 09:07 PM

                                                                                                                I really miss the "Hot Posts" the board seems so unfriendly and harder to read now.

                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: malibumike
                                                                                                                  Peter Cuce Jun 27, 2006 01:50 AM

                                                                                                                  I always thought Hot Posts was a workaround for a poorly designed board. Modern boards such as Invision, while having their faults, do a good job of letting you know what's new in each thread and helping you navigate to it. There should be a way to take the best of what's out there and incorporate it into this design. I'm not saying there shouldn't be something like Hot Posts, but surely they can present the basic information in a better fashion than currently.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Peter Cuce
                                                                                                                    Dave Feldman Jun 27, 2006 03:53 AM

                                                                                                                    I totally agree, Peter. Hot Posts was extremely useful on the old software, but it would be a very blunt instrument here. With logins here, I assume the opportunity is here to keep track of what is unread not based on calendar days but our actual last logout. And it can track our pattern for each board separately -- crucial to save unnecessary duplication.

                                                                                                                    This thread itself is a great example for why a new and better HP is needed. I realize this is a longer than usual topic, but it took me a LONG time to find and read the new replies

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