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Tracking people should be more private


With regard to the "People Tracking Me" and "People I am Tracking" feature in my Chow, I would like to suggest that these are not made viewable to the general public. One of the nice things about Chowhound has always been the range of people that participate and the variety of subjects that such a range of people tend to generate.

If the tracking parameters are left public, I'm afraid this could open the door for pettiness and sore feelings. Chowhound is too valuable a resource and too rich a community to let feelings of jealousy and contempt creep in. Unfortunately, this is what I see developing if such a popularity contest is allowed to develop through the publicly displayed tracking parameters in my Chow.


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  1. I agree with you on this and have mentioned in other posts I didn't want the 'People I'm tracking' part made public.

    My concern is that people might feel snubbed if I don't track them. I value EVERYONE on this board, but I don't find the tracking section useful.

    I never thought about keeping the section 'People tracking Me' private. But I think you are right. If someone has one person tracking them and sees others have a huge list, they might feel no one cares if they attend the party.

    It is one of the reasons I am THRILLED ... THRILLED ... that there is no counter showing how many people read posts.

    On other sites you will see topics where hundreds of people read a thread while others have few hits.

    It makes certain topics popular and by extention, the person who started the topic someone people pay attention to. It should be about the food and nothing else.

    Also, if someone new posts and sees nobody even reads their post they might not make that second post that would be wildly popular. Also they might feel that to get read you have to be part of the in group.

    Some information should not be visible IMO. Perhaps who is tracking a poster should only be visible to the poster for the reason you mentioned.

    6 Replies
    1. re: rworange

      Yes, I agree w/ the posts so far. Tracking info should be kept private. I kinda assumed that it would be (w/ people who I'm tracking only visible to me), but was surprised to learn that I could see who was tracking me and others. It does feel a little strange, and I could see how this could lead to hurt feelings and/or social pressures for a number of reasons.

      To elaborate on my own personal neuroses around this:

      1. I see who's tracking me and then feel a little guilty if I don't reciprocate by tracking them.

      2. I have decided that I want to be more selective in who I'm tracking (no need to track visible regulars), but don't want them to feel bad if I delete them from my list.

      3. I do get a kick out of seeing who's tracking me, but then I start to feel pressure to post something interesting besides site talk issues. This is distracting and stupid, I know...

      4. I get some thrill out of seeing how long Melanie's list will grow. :-)

      I could maybe list one or two more, but that's enough neurotic exposure for now. Bottom line is that I can be more focused in my chow sharing and purpose here if I don't get bogged down in virtual social politics. I also think that newcomers will feel more welcome w/o this feature.

      1. re: Carb Lover

        1. As I said above ... me too. I've been explaining why I'm not tracking anyone except to test out the feature.

        2. I was going to feign hurt for your not tracking me, but you are. Delete me, I won't feel bad.

        3. *** see note. But one quick comment, I've been surprised by some of the people tracking me. I didn't think they knew I existed.

        4. Yeah, there are a few people like that. And just to re-iterate the popularity game ... there a few people I'm surprised are not being tracked more heavily.

        *** Let me preface this to the Chowhound Team that this is not being said with disrespect or criticism. At this point I would hope you all consider running for public office. If our elected officials implemented things and as well as you folks, in a timely manner and were as responsive to the big issues, we'd be a super duper power. Chowhound Team for president.

        THAT BEING SAID ...

        I can't imagine that anyone is using this feature. Come on ... fess up ... is anyone using this regularily ... well three days worth of regularily ... and why?

        However, I started to get that same panic attack about just Site stuff showing up on my page. Really it freaked me out a few days ago and I stayed up late reading and responding to San Francisco posts just to get those damn site talk posts off my "MY Chow' screen.

        Then I realized how that feature works ... not like you would suspect ... and I figured screw it. Besides, everyone is new. We need Site talk at this point to get us up and running. I've finally cleared things up so I'm back to the SF board and even posted on the General Board ... hmmm ... gotta go back and see what's going on with that.

        So, Carb Lover, don't feel pressured to do anything extra. Don't go changing, just to please me. I love you just the way you are.

        1. re: rworange

          Likewise, rworange! I liberated myself and "x"'d you from my list; it felt good. :-)

          Just a moment ago, I was thinking to myself, "do you really use this tracking??!!" I sorta do just to "check in" to see how active a person has been lately, but rarely do I read all of their posts listed. Maybe just a couple, if that. I kinda feel like the tracking defeats the purpose of CH...to hear from a broad audience who I may not be that familiar with.

          I'm sure that I'll settle into some purpose and use for it and will be glad to have it as an option, but for now, I think the public tracking record could be "x"'d.

          1. re: rworange

            I certainly don't use it in any significant way. After all, if I want to see what a poster is up to, I can just click on their name in any of their posts, and go to what appears to me to be the same information I get if I click on them in tracking...where I could see myself using it is if I run across a poster who I dont know well on a board I don't visit much, and I bookmark them so that I can check in on them in the future. but so far, that hasn't happened, and I am only tracking posters I know. (most of them I've actually met!).

            I do find myself peaking to see who is tracking me, so yes, I agree it does have some uncomfortable aspects that others have mentioned. For example, if I have noticed that rw is tracking Carb Lover but not tracking me, it could lead to bad feelings...(Just an example, rw, don't worry!).

            It also reinforces the concept that there are CH 'insiders' which might make some folks shy about responding. A lurker who thinks that Melanie has missed the boat in a post (well, it could happen, I suppose. Again, just a hypothetical example :-)) might be shy about appearing to disagree with her given her really, really long list,and then we'd all miss out on that other hound's opinion...

            1. re: susancinsf

              Your last paragraph is another thing about seeing other posters tracking lists. When I was new I still remember disagreeing with Limster about some chocolate. I was really sweating disagreeing with him because he was a frequent poster (and someone whose posts I really respected). I also felt most people would agree with him and jump on my opposing point of view. He was really great about it, of course. However, it was still difficult to do that post.

              I like that the new software doesn't make people stand out like the old one did. The same names are not prominenetly displayed over and over. It lets you focus on the food chat more. A new poster is not going to pick out the frequent posters until they have been on the site for a while and get to know the community.

              So yes, that last is true too. It is one of the few ways someone can easily see who has a large presence in the community and it might make them reluctant to post ... and that might be the person who would have info on a downhill report on Santa ramen, for example.

              They might not realize that Melanie would be the type of poster who would be interested in that info and encourange them rather than someone who would be argumentative with the rest of the community chiming in. Happens on other forums.

          2. re: Carb Lover

            I love the candor of this thread!

            I am in the "it should not be public" group, for all the reasons outlined.

        2. I mentioned this in another thread, but I'll also add my vote here against tracking being visible to third parties. Ideally, I would like to be the only person to know whom I'm tracking, though it's probably fair enough that the trackee also know I am tracking them. However, it is NOBODY ELSE'S BUSINESS whom I am tracking and who is tracking me, IMHO.

          1. Hi folks,
            The people you track is private. Only the people tracking you is visible to the public.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Engineering

              If rworange is tracking Carb Lover, and I go to Carb Lover's profile, I will see that rworange is tracking her. So the "people you track" is not private, right?

              1. re: Mrs Fang

                "People tracking me" is public.

                The "People I'm tracking" list is private, though if you looked at every profile on the system you could piece it together.

              2. re: Engineering

                Oh, I did not know that. Meaning I did not know that the list of people we track is private.

                Well then, that is good. And thank you.

                But you still need to go further. While the tracking feature is really neat and opens up a range of possibilities, no part of it needs to be viewable to the public for it to serve its primary function.

                Really. Thanks for giving us the ability to track users. I love that. And I look forward to using it in the future.

                However, with respect to the issue of each user's list of "trackees" made available for public viewing, I would like to reiterate my original point that by leaving tracking parameters viewable to the public, you open the door for pettiness and sore feelings among the more sensitive members of the chow contingent among us. And that could lead to reduced participation (and even lost membership, in the most extreme cases).

                And that would be a travesty. Because the strength of Chowhound lies in the richness of its community.

                So if you would, please consider the length that some of your users will go to when they feel that their privacy is being unfairly infringed upon. And weigh it against the relative worth that is gained by displaying each user's list of trackees for public view.

                Thanks for listening.


                1. re: Engineering

                  I have a visceral response against making any part of tracking open to view. Its nice to be able to track but it should be fully anonymous. Ditto having any kind of a "star" system for posters. this has been and should continue to be an egalitarian board.

                2. To the CH Engineering, I think you missed part of the point. I'm glad people can't see who I'm tracking, but I (and I think the others) also don't want others to see who is tracking me. I don't want to see who is tracking Carb Lover. I might develop a neurosis and compare my list to Carb Lover's and feel bad I'm not as popular as she. I might compare rworange's list to Melanie's list and decide who should be my friend based on the length of their list.

                  I'm mostly being tongue in cheek here; I haven't a clue how long CL's, rworange's, or Melanie's list are, but now I can't wait to go look. But I shouldn't go look, because why waste time on petty things when there are tons of posts I still need to read? Bottom line is, it should be all about the Chow. Like CL said. No wonder she's more popular than me. ;-)

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Alice Patis

                    Thanks Alice. Exactly.

                    BTW, can Carb Lover drop you from her list without you being offended. I'm not sure how to feel that she was so happy to drop me from her list ... kidding, CL, kidding.

                    1. re: Alice Patis

                      Well said, Alice!

                      (what she said)


                    2. Oh sure, easy for you to be not offended, I have to use my mouse scroll wheel to read your list of fans. My list of fans would reduce by 33% if she deleted me. How 'bout I let her delete me if you add me. But I'm not gonna add you since I am boycotting this whole tracking thing.

                      See how petty this can get? ;-) Watch my post get deleted now for not being about the Chow.

                      No really now. CL can delete me. RW, you don't have to add me. Maybe Gary will add me. Maybe I'll add him so that he'll add me. Wait a sec, I haven't even figured out how to track someone, I'm so sad!

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Alice Patis

                        Very funny stuff, Alice! This is exactly what I had in mind in my OP.

                        Art truly imitates life here; as through your humorous monologue, the logic behind removing all public records of tracking becomes evident.

                        Thanks again for the nice humor. :-)


                        1. re: Alice Patis

                          Thanks for brightening my morning, Alice! Very funny. There are all kinds of places this viewable tracking feature can take us. Don't worry, you won't be eliminated anytime soon. And Katie Nell, I still love you, girl!! :-)

                          To the CH Team: Even though there isn't a public consolidated list of who a person is tracking, I can still get a sense of that based on the info that is there. I like Gary's idea of each person having a private list of who's tracking them and who they're tracking. No third-party onlookers. Not sure how difficult that would be to change at this point, but I think it's something worth working on to maintain the climate of the previous system.

                        2. Fine! I'm deleting all of you, because none of you are tracking me!!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Katie Nell

                            Lol - this is actually interesting and something I hadn't considered AT ALL. I was happily posting and not even thinking about tracking until I looked down and noticed a very few people tracking me. Huh - who are those people? Oh, I know that one and that one. So I click and look and then think 'huh, I suppose I should track them too and ooooo, no one is tracking that person and I feel bad', etc.

                            Here's the deal, though. I have never been clique-y but I worry about feelings and I hate ANYONE feeling left out. I finally decided that I'm only going to track ONE person (and we ALL know that whoever reads this is going to see who that is, LOL), someone I've been friends with outside of chowhound. OK - and THEN i noticed I can simply click on the people tracking me and keep track and see what they are saying. Wooohoo!

                            So what's my point? well, while I struggled with a bit of conscious (when generally I don't care about how other people feel about my posting re: popularity, etc - all I care about is respectfully listening to others and giving my own opinion) I am coming around to the point of view on this site and feel all the tracking should be private except to the tracker and the trackee. No offense, but I don't care how many people are tracking anyone else and it becomes a distraction for some people and plays to the basest part of us all (as this thread makes clear).

                          2. I agree that there is something that seems awkward about the tracking (stalking) feature. Part of my problem is that chowhound already takes up a big chunk of my available time, and I am finding myself reading reports from all sorts of places/people because they look interesting on the Home Page. What's more, there are new categories to explore - even if I never will go to the chains board. If I were now to start reading all of Melanie's posts (or all those other posters who views I enjoy and respect) even on boards that I otherwise would not normally read, I might have to start giving up sleep or (even worse) eating. So right now, I'm not tracking anybody, but this certainly does not indicate any lack of respect - just lack of time.

                            In any case, I don't understand why the feature is public or what making it public adds to the chowhound experience.

                            ed (the poster formerly known as e.d.)

                            1. I agree that there's no reason to make this public. It's a convenience, esp because you can't search for the poster's name by Ctrl-F any more, like we used to be able to do (for more than the 20 titles on that page, as shown).

                              1. I don't worry about it at all. I don't care who is tracking me and whether anyone else knows about it. NBD to me. I do like to be able to track some posters it is just more convenient than having to go to several boards to see what they have had to say ablout something or contributed. I wll certainly add more to my list as time goes by. I love you all, so track me or not. If you don't i certainly won't be wounded. I'm a big girl and don't get offended by stuff like that.Life is too short.

                                1. I don't know. This whole stalking thing sounds creepy to me. And I guess I'd rather know if someone was tracking me (not that I expect anyone to) than not, but why should anyone else care? I can do without this feature alltogether. I can't imagine actively following a particular hound anyway. I'm into the topics, myself.

                                  1. Man, y'all are getting your knickers in a twist. I use the tracking feature -- there are some posters who post rarely (like Mrs. Smith) but I DON'T WANT TO MISS A SINGLE POST. Others post frequently (like Carb Lover), but you post a lot of recipes, and I hoard things like that -- it makes it easier to see a bunch of stuff that you posted. I dig it. I don't care if it's public, and I don't care if you track me back or not. I just want to keep up, and sans the dearly departed hot posts, I know I'm missing a ton.

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: Amuse Bouches

                                      Yes, I know I'm a freak! (insert self-deprecating tone here) I'm actually feeling less neurotic now that I've said my peace. It was fun to laugh about it and shrug it off. Like all of the new gizmos, I'm adjusting and settling in to them. I'm much less distracted by the whole tracking thing even today. I still do have concern for how newcomers or those who aren't being tracked will feel about sharing w/ the community.

                                      That said, you've reminded me that I need to track Mrs. Smith if she's registered. I need to see what comes of the great muffin challenge!

                                      1. re: Carb Lover

                                        You're not a freak - you're sensitive to the needs of others and that's a beautiful thing - not something you should EVER apologize for. My husband (a wonderful man) doesn't get the whole "anticipating the needs of others" at all - so maybe it's an individual thing that some people just don't get. I worry too about how other people might feel based on the fact that I had a moment of playing into the group think and I'm not prone to jumping on badnwagons at all. I don't think anyone should ever apologize for caring.

                                        Now about that muffin challenge......

                                        1. re: krissywats

                                          Yes...if I recall correctly, I was the 'front runner' in this (now 1 year long) Muffin Challenge. Anyone recall the prize?

                                          1. re: Funwithfood

                                            Please, please keep in mind she hadn't gotten to my muffins yet....

                                            that sounds dirty.

                                          2. re: krissywats

                                            Thanks, krissywats, but I was just being sarcastic, not apologizing for my sensitivity on this issue. I'm of the belief that we're all "freaks" in some manner; who wants to be bland?

                                            Alright, I've said enough on this thread. I'm not sure if the CH Engineering Team plans to change the third-party viewing, but I hope they have placed it under serious consideration...

                                        2. re: Amuse Bouches

                                          My thoughts exactly. You really hit the nail on the head. I decided after reading this thread last night to not use the tracking features in fear of causing so much discomfort for others. Other web sites use a similar feature such as flickr.com. It can be a good tool, I don't think we've given it enough time, I think it could have lots of possibilities. Maybe we can have something similar to flickr.com like tracking food porn photo posts.


                                        3. Do any of you use other community sites on the web? Examples can be found at Flickr or Live Journal or tons of other sites. It's very common to have groups of "friends," or "contacts" to help you keep up with people that have similar interests to yours. If you're trying to build a great web community, it's almost necessary to have a feature like this. I think part of the problem is calling it "tracking," which has a bit of a negative connotation perhaps. I'm guessing that when the engineering team fleshes out the site and adds more meat to peoples' profiles, the reason for the tracking feature will become more obvious.

                                          1. It's a delicate issue and I don't have strong opinions. There's a think line between Flickr friends and laundry lists of friends on myspace. I hope Chowhounds don't get distracted by collecting "trackers."

                                            Like rwo, I've mostly tracked old "friends" who don't post much on the boards I frequent. It has been a way of keeping in touch, and even better, stumbling onto some excellent threads I might not have read otherwise.

                                            1. Hey all,

                                              Great news! I stumbled onto a way to track your favorite posters -- just like many of us would like to -- with complete anonymity!

                                              In the interest of maintaining the continuity of the Chowhound website (being that this falls into the category of a "tip"), however, this is more appropriately discussed on the User Help board. So I posted it there.

                                              Here is the link:


                                              Click on over and get ready to track your heart out!