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Private Message System

I haven't seen this posted before - my apologies if it was and I missed it.

I would really like to see a private message system on the new CH site. The Invision message board software has such a system built in and I've found it really useful for communications that don't really belong on the boards due to site policy.

Historically CH has discouraged "chatty" posts since they dilute the food oriented content. Fair enough. They also have taken a firm stand against using the boards to organize events for the same reason. Again, fair enough. There are other boards that have different policies but I understand CH's reasons and respect them.

But human nature being what it is, people still want to arrange dinners and sometimes they have a comment on a specific post that doesn't fit within the guidelines. A PM system makes this easy and removes a lot of the temptation to post things on the boards that shouldn't be there.

Sure, you can post an email address on your profile page but that requires a certain potential loss of privacy. (Yes, I know that you can create a special email address for CH messages but that's a real pain. I've already got 4 email addresses and I really don't want another mailbox to check.)

A PM system wouldn't require you to publically post your email address but would allow you to privately communicate with any CH user. One other thing for those not familiar with PM systems - they also support blocking. If someone who hates your favorite restaurant starts sending you annoying PMs you have the ability to block all their future PMs.

I've had experience with these systems for 5 years and they work really well.

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  1. There was some discussion on one of the earlier long topics.

    My own hope is that there is no future plans for a PM system. I haven't had such a good experience and IMO it would ruin the spirit of Chowhound because ...

    - it is easier to chat off-line about food and not share with the community. I've done that in other food forums.

    - it encourages cliquiness. In one forum posters banded together to ostracize another poster. None of their posts were replied to.

    - it encourages paranoia. People tend to believe that the moderators are reading all their mail and taking revenge against them

    - it encourages spamming by disgruntled posters who will pm everyone about a gripe. Even though systems can disable an email to all posters some people are really, really persistent and will go person, by person, to 'share'.

    It would also seem to add another thing for the moderators to deal with and require server space to maintain. That's none of my business, but it would seem to me I'd rather have Chowhound resources elsewhere.

    With emailing to people who choose to put that on 'My Chow', some effort is required to do the above. Heck, I wind up posting on the board instead of emailing posters I write a lot because it is less of a hassle and keeps the chat to the food.

    ... and the community in general benefits with shared knowledge that would otherwise be kept between two people.

    1. I've seen them work just fine and the "block" feature eliminates the worst type of abuse. If anything it fosters a sense of community since it makes it easier to communicate about a range of subjects and organize dinners while keeping the boards focused on food talk.

      Besides, those that choose not to use such a system are free to opt out.

      Come on RW - you were also worried about the registration requirement for CH but people seem to be handling it with no problems.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Bob Martinez

        Not my decision anyway only my opinion. Like you said

        If anything it fosters a sense of community

        That can be good but it can also be exclusive

        Chowhound made the registration process as simple as it could be. No insane requirements to write papers about why you should be considered to participate on the forum. No surveys. No real name and address info. Only a real email address and a handle. It made it painless.

      2. I agree wholeheartedly. Often there will be a reason why someone wants to contact you directly on a matter irrelevant to the board at large. As far as the paranaoia/privacy matters go, just assume that PM's are NOT private (That OTHER food board -- the one I bailed out on long ago -- "explained" that PM stands for "Personal Message" not "Private Message.") You can alway exchange email addresses through PM's for truly private communications, if need be.

        Otherwise, how to coordinate chow events without cluttering up the boards?

        1 Reply
        1. re: Gary Soup

          Otherwise, how to coordinate chow events without cluttering up the boards?

          How did that happen for the past nine years in chowhound ... and in the same way it happens on the other board. Someone posts a single post announcing the event and gives an email address where to reply.

          Personal messaging won't change that unless you are suggesting that there should be no announcment and chow events should be by personal invitation.

          Hmmmm ... so I should have been paranoid in one of those other forums ... heck, they weren't reading my posts, bless them if they were reading my boring private messages ... almost makes it worse if they did and knew what was going on behind the scenes with some of that nastiness.

        2. I'm sure I'm not the only person who would turn it off.

          Anybody wants to contact me, there's a mailto link on my profile.

          1. If I want to be contacted, off the board, by anyone, then it is my option to post my email address, in my individual postings, or as others have pointed out, use one of the fields in the Profile section of the myChow page.

            I have seen posts and responses from moderators from time to time which point ou5 that the purpose of Chowhound is to share information openly with the entire community, that is my understanding of why Chowhound discourages those posts that say in essence "email me for details, etc." I can understand and live with that.

            Again, I know I have the option of making a personal email address known on these boards or not, just as any other Chowhound has the same free choice to make.

            Another consideration is by adding such a feature/function, how does that impact Chowhound.com as a "business". There is cost and other overhead involved in developing the functionality, and in essence, maintaining a private mail system. Since Chowhound is available to me free, I am not disappointed in the least if management of Chowhound does not wish to invest time and resources in to such a function.

            Another consideration is that there seems to be quite a bit of paranoia rampant in discussions like this. Many people are reluctant to even register as users, because they are afraid of disclosing personal information. Well, if you are posting here, you have gone through the registration process and you aware that all you are asked for is a user name (that you can select, within some parameters) and a valid email address. I can handle that. I have about 8 different personal email adddresses that I use for varying purposes. Email addresses are free, and easily discarded and new ones easily acquired. So I am very comfortable giving Chowhound an email address so that they can to some degree validate that I am legit, and if they need to, have a mechanism to privately communicate with me, if they need to. Notice we are not seeing any more of those "XXX please phone home" messages on the boards, so the disclosure of an email address for every registered/posting user to Chowhound has some value. Most likely to the moderators, and to those of us wading through the boards.

            One final point, and this goes back to the paranoia issue. If Chowhound were to provide some sort of private messaging system, I am sure it would not sit very well with the paranoid among us, conjuring up "Big Brother" reading what we think are private communications.

            You want to communicate directly with someone, then post your email address and maybe someone will contact you directly. You want to arrange a chow get-to-gether, join or form a listserv group like the L.A. Chowhounds did with their Google group called SCARF.

            Let's just stick to echanging chow tips in an open, friendly, sharing manner on these boards.

            4 Replies
            1. re: ChinoWayne

              >If I want to be contacted, off the board, by anyone, then it is my option to post my email address, in my individual postings, or as others have pointed out, use one of the fields in the Profile section of the myChow page.<

              Many people, myself included, will never do this because they don't want their addresses harvested by spammers. And the comeback that spam filters work great these days just doesn't cut it; you've still got to waste time checking the junkmail file to make sure a valid message hasn't been sent there by mistake.

              Last year, I availed myself of another board's personal message system to contact serveral locals with whom I'd never corresponded about forming a wine-tasting group. I doubt many of the contactees would have posted their e-mail addresses, so if the PM system or some equivalent hadn't existed, the group would never have got off the ground. As it turned out, some contactees replied that they were interested, others replied that they weren't and still others chose not to reply at all. No skin off anybody's nose. But as a result of that initial contact, a dozen or so of us local foodies have met and, in some cases, become friends. The tastings are of benefit to us but also to the larger community, since we often report on the wines we've tasted. Through group orders of private imports, we're supporting local importers, some of them struggling to get off the ground. We trade food tips and news when we see each other and sometimes explore new places together, and again we share this new-found knowledge with others on the Web and even around town, since the group includes a food writer or two.

              I don't care if it's a personal message system or some way of sending e-mail messages through the website that doesn't reveal the recipient's address to the sender, but I firmly believe such a system makes a discussion group like this one a better place.

              1. re: carswell

                I think you may have missed on of my points, which is email addresses are throw away addresses and you can hold multiple addresses for multiple purposes. I use one specific email address that I have posted on Chowhound regularly for past year, interesting enough, it has not generated much spam, maybe 3 spams a month, if that many. I only use it for Chowhound, so if I need to, I can "throw it away" and replace it with another. I use an entirely different email address for my real personal business, that address I would not disclose on this board or any other board. So what I do for myself works very well.

                I have been contacted from time to time by other Chowhounds using the "public" address that I have published on the boards, I am not receiving any appreciable spam in that mail box, and I conduct my personal business on via an entirely different email address.

                I see no need for any kind of personal messaging system on Chowhound.

                1. re: ChinoWayne

                  No, I didn't miss your points. It's just that they've been addressed in this thread and elsewhere and I believe in keeping posts as short as possible. But, OK, how's this? I already have four e-mail accounts through three servers and am not in the slightest way inclined to add another for Chowhound-specific messages. What's more, to work anything like a PM or hidden-address e-mail system, your scheme would require thousands of Chowhounders to open special e-mail accounts -- a perfectly utopian scenario. Or this: I wish my experience with spammers was as benign as yours. Last winter I registered with a wine board not knowing that my until-then unspammed address would be publicly displayed; these days I'm receiving four or five spam messages a day, despite my rather vigorous filtering, and if the past is anything to go by, it will only get worse.

                  >So what I do for myself works very well.
                  And, of course, if it works for you, it will work for everyone. And if people don't know how to or can't be bothered to or have reasons for not wanting to follow your example, well, tough, eh?

                  BTW, you don't address any of my points like community building or the unobtrusiveness of a hidden-address e-mail system but especially this: there is currently no way for me to contact anyone on the Quebec board whose address I don't already have. On a website that strictly limits what one can talk about and how one can talk about it, that sucks.

                  1. re: carswell

                    For what I PAY to use Chowhound, I am perfectly satisfied that it does not offer the perq of a private messaging system. You don't seem to get my point, that if other posters wanted to receive email from you, there is nothing stopping them from posting their email address on their profile page.

                    I am grateful that the volunteers behind the scenes, and the Chowhounds out here in the public who have sustained this site with their work, postings, and voluntary monetary contributions have kept this site afloat all these years, and long enough for a savvy corporation to acquire the assets and build new, sustaining infrastructure. It has always been a privilege to read and post here, and I have always understood that I am not entitled to anything around here, but am fortunate due to the kindness of many other people. I can live by the rules of the house, no problem.

                    If I really could not abide by the status quo around here, working with and under the terms of the owners of this site, there would be nothing to stop me from finding another food discussion site that is more to my preference. Or to building my own website, which I have also done, there I get to make all the rules.

                    Now you have heard the last from me on this issue, I'm not trying to belabor my position or to engage you just for argument's sake. I am hoping you can appreciate what this site has to offer, as is, and we can both contribute to the chow discussion.

            2. Despite some of the possible cons mentioned in this thread, I would also like to see a "private" or "personal" message feature added. It would be so much easier to coordinate off-board "chowdowns"/get togethers. And it would be great if said private message feature offered the flexibility for individual posters to 1) turn PM's off entirely if they did not wish to use the feature and 2) "block" a specific poster from sending them PM's (to avoid receiving "abusive" PM's if one felt a specific poster was inclined to be abusive towards them based on past experience, perhaps). I've seen this work just fine in other forums.

              As far as "cliques" --those already exist. It's human nature to form them. Yes, even on Chowhound.

              I would never post my "real" e-mail address or “real” name publicly, because once it's out there I can never take it back. It's out there forever. While I may be comfortable sharing that information with the cozy little pool of Chowhounds posting today, you never know who's lurking or who might join tomorrow. (And what if I wanted to run for public office!) Seriously, though, unless I wanted to establish a new e-mail account that I would use exclusively for Chowhound and disclose that in my posts, there's no way for anyone to contact me if, say, they wanted to organize a Twin Cities chowdown. For all I know, they already have regular chowdowns in the Twin Cities but no one's been able to contact me about them.

              As it is, I was not that enthusiastic about having to provide my real e-mail address in order to register this handle. Even though it's not been made "public," I'm still having to entrust my personal information to the anonymous folks behind the scenes who, again, might be fine today, but who knows what's going to happen tomorrow.

              For those of you who post on Boards like San Francisco or New York, remember, not all the boards are that active. The Midwest board is pretty slow-moving; I don't follow it daily or even weekly --I drop in once or twice a month. While it's certainly a viable alternative, the problem with registering a separate e-mail address is that I know would seldom check it. That may be just a flaw of mine, but again, I'm just dropping in on Chowhound occasionally. I know the extra step of remembering to check my special chowhound e-mail account in case there might be that once in a lifetime e-mail from someone wanting to organize a chowdown is going to fall by the wayside pretty quickly.

              As an alternative to adding a PM feature, I would also advocate adding a specific board for posting about get togethers/chowdowns. If one wanted to organize a "Jucy Lucy" crawl in the Twin Cities, one could go to the Chowdown board and post about the Jucy Lucy crawl. Of course, Chowhound could put all kinds of disclaimers on the Board saying these are independently organized events and aren't sponsored or supported or endorsed by Chowhound in any way... This is something I’ve also seen work successfully in other forums.

              And just think, if there were a private message feature, then the poor beleaguered moderators wouldn't have to spend all their time deleting those marginal posts (and then addressing the deletions of said posts when people complain about them) that people make in the forum despite (sometimes) knowing they are off-topic.


              1. Rather than just repeating my earlier arguments I’ll add some fresh points:

                1. A PM system would require little development. My understanding is that the new CH board software is an adaptation of an existing commercial product and not built from the ground up. Such systems usually have an existing PM module. It just needs to be enabled.

                2. A number of people have given good reasons why they wish to withhold their email address from the whole world. The option of creating an extra email account just for CH correspondence is problematic. Extra email accounts are not signs of good fortune like multiple vacation homes. They are pains in the ass. You need to check multiple mailboxes each day and if an account becomes compromised you need to create a new one and then notify everyone who was using the old one of the change. A PM system would eliminate all of that nonsense.

                3. This discussion isn’t taking place in a world where a PM system has never been tried. Lots of boards have them and they have been used with great success. That should count for a lot.

                4. And finally, the fact that a particular technology can be abused is not an automatic justification for not using it. The telephone brought telemarketers but not many people canceled their phone service because of unwanted calls. The benefits outweighed the drawbacks. I think that’s the case with a PM system as well, especially since use of the system would be optional and users could block messages from anyone they chose.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Bob Martinez

                  With the provisos that Dairy Queen made in her first paragraph, I'd tend to agree with you, Bob. I put my "real" email address in the "from" field of CH since the inception of the site, and have had remarkably few problems.

                2. If you have a problem with spam, switch to Gmail.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Yahoo email works very well too. They have extremely efficient spam filters - I get one piece every 2 or 3 weeks.

                    1. re: Bob Martinez

                      I get four or five pieces of spam a day with yahoo (in the inbox) - I get none with gmail. The one I use for chowhound is yahoo but I didn't get any MORE spam because of chowhound when I was using the old site.

                  2. I like the idea of incorporating Private Messaging on these boards, but for those of you who have never used it or even heard of it, let me tell you it's great for the privacy, but it's another inbox to maintain. You have to login (usually) and check your private messages the same way as you would your email. The feature of private messaging should be encouraged more because there's no use of any email addresses. ANY communication you receive is AT the website and from people who are registered users and share your interest. It's great, just a little more housekeeping for us.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: Cheese Boy

                      I can see how this would be a good thing - but unfortunately the boards I've been on that had PM abilities allowed for hatefulness on a whole new level. So I'm torn.

                      Here is what I mean: Several boards I've been on with PM - people would either LAMBAST someone for their opinion through PM and then cause that person to flee, or people would spend more time in PM than they would on the board. When you have to go the extra step of actually contacting someone through email, that doesn't seem to happen as much.

                      Might just be my experience, but I've left those boards because of back-stabbing, clique-ishness and hatefulness that people felt could be done 'privately' that they would NEVER get away with through the boards.

                      1. re: krissywats

                        Very good point. I think many people don't seem to understand that Chowhound is not a social networking site, there are other sites for that. Chowhound is like a reference book, a reference book of chow-telligence that is constantly updated. People should accept it for what it is, as it has been very successful doing what it does, rather than trying to make it in to something it isn't.

                        1. re: ChinoWayne

                          I'm not particularly interested in using Chowhound or any other site for social networking. Food networking is another matter entirely, however, and not having a PM or e-mail system sometimes inteferes with that. Not to mention acts of kindness to other users. Case in point: Yesterday a newbie started a thread about the SAQ (the local liquor monopoly) on the Quebec board. Some moderator moved the thread to the Wine board but didn't leave a post on the Quebec board saying s/he had done so. Is the original poster aware that the thread has been moved and replied to? Or does s/he just assume the thread was deleted? If I could, I'd send a message to the OP to give him/her the heads-up. But I can't. That's a good thing?

                          1. re: carswell

                            Anyone can check their "my CHOW" page to see where their threads are, if they were moved.

                            1. re: carswell

                              >Anyone can check their "my CHOW" page to see where their threads are, if they were moved.<

                              Yeahbut: (1) that applies only to recent threads; (2) we're talking here about a total newbie who may be clueless about My Chow (I'm not but I don't know if it would have occurred to me to look there, especially if I were in a huff about my legit question being "deleted"); and (3) this was but the most recent of several examples I could have cited, and your My Chow workaround wouldn't be pertinent to many of them.

                          2. re: krissywats

                            "Here is what I mean: Several boards I've been on with PM - people would either LAMBAST someone for their opinion through PM and then cause that person to flee, or people would spend more time in PM than they would on the board."

                            Why not block the offender's PMs? There's no reason to take abuse and the blocking feature is designed for just such a situation.

                            Again, the potential for abuse is not a reason to avoid a very useful piece of technology, especially when there are built in remedies like blocking. If anyone find the idea of using PMs too stressful then there's nothing to stop them from avoiding it entirely.

                            What I don't understand is people who find it so stressful that they want to stop *me* from using it.

                            1. re: Bob Martinez

                              I don't find it terribly stressful. And my point wasn't JUST about abuse, but also a fostering of cliques and less activity on the boards but more in PM (can we all agree that those greats tips being passed in PM rather than on the boards would be a bad, thing, no?)

                              In my opinion the best option would be like one we have on a closed board I belong to: you can email someone FROM the board. From my experience that extra step really does make the difference.

                              Also - I would not mind one bit being given the option of making my email address AND any instant messenger services I use public on my profile.

                        2. I think some of the concerns you raise, krissywats, could be mitigated by allowing users who aren't interested in using the PM feature the option to turn it off and also for users to be able to selectively block PMs from other users.

                          As far as the reasons why I do not wish to provide my e-mail address publicly, I'm not that worried about spam. I'm more concerned about protecting my privacy and personal safety. Cyberspace can be a wild and untamed place.

                          My primary interest in meeting up with Chowhounds for "Chowdowns" is not for social networking. Of course, I'm always delighted to expand my circle of friends, but my primary interest in connecting with other Chowhounds for chowdowns or taco crawls or whatever, is to learn from my fellow 'hounds. I went on a couple of taco crawls and other outings with the Chowhounds and I felt that those experiences were tremendously enriching.

                          It's one thing to read on the boards about a dish someone else tasted, and a completely other thing to sit across from them while they are tasting it, hear their impressions, then taste the same dish and compare your impressions with theirs. Multiply this by the number of 'hounds in attendance and it can be incredibly educational.

                          I am not fortunate enough to have many chowhounds in my offboard life so these chowdowns are rare and valuable experiences for me. As I said in my previous post in this thread, an alternative solution to this would be to have a separate Board for coordinating chowdowns.


                          4 Replies
                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                            I'm not trying to be a smarty-pants but as someone who has been online since the mid-90s and met my husband this way, I am well aware of how 'untamed' the people can be - but how is giving out your email a safety issue? That I don't get at all.

                            Honestly not trying to be snide, just trying to understand.

                            1. re: krissywats

                              No worries, I don't think you're trying to be snide or a smartypants.

                              Most people's "real" e-mail addresses have their real names or real places of employment in them. Based on your real name or place of employment, people can often find out more information about you, especially if your name is unusual. And, I'm speaking from experience (also not trying to be a smartypants...): someone I encountered in an internet forum once pieced together enough information about me to contact me at home in a rather unsettling manner. I assume (and hope) that my experience was a rarity, but it has made me very wary of providing ANY personal information online, period--real name, real e-mail address, real anything.

                              One solution to this, of course, is to use a separate chowhound-only e-mail address, but, as I mentioned above, I would find that to be a bother, which is why I'm advocating making a PM feature available to those who wish to use it.

                              I've now posted in this thread more times than I have posted in the food-related Boards in several months. :(


                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                Perhaps this will be the catalyst to more posting! You're quite well-spoken.

                                I see your point. I hadn't thought of that. I live with a geek super-hero and he's extremely paranoid about privacy so I don't have issues such as those (phone # isn't avaiable at all online - searching for my name does no good, etc).

                                How would you feel, as I suggested to someone else, about an email system that comes FROM the chowhound board so it would say something like 'Email from KrissyWats on Chowhound' but would not give ME your email address? Similar to a PM system but in my experience it does add an extra step that keeps you ON the board when they're on the board and not simply PMing the whole time (since you have to check your email to get any personal notes).

                                1. re: krissywats

                                  Why, thank you for your kind words.

                                  I like that idea (I'm sorry I missed it when you recommended it before!) as long as people who don't wish to be bothered with receiving even those e-mails have the option to turn the feature off. I've already given Chowhound my "real" e-mail address, so there's nothing additional I have to give them. And my e-mail address still remains out of the public view.

                                  And, since I check Chowhound somewhat infrequently (certainly less frequently than I've checked it lately!), it might be one of those out-of-the-blue e-mail messages that brings me back to the Board sooner.

                                  If they were to add that feature, I think it might also be nice to add a feature that--of course, only if you elect to have this option-- notifies you by e-mail when someone posts in a thread you've subscribed to. It's not something I feel strongly about, but just something I've found handy elsewhere.


                          2. I think some of these problems you raise would be mitigated if there was a field in "my profile" for email addresses. Many times, I have emailed Chowhound to thank them for a particular helpful post. I generally won't reply "Great Post" unless I have something more substantial to add to the discussion.

                            Here's an example. Carswell wrote something on a thread that I really liked. I wanted to email him a fan letter. I clicked on his (?) name and saw there was no email address on it. Now I've completely forgotten what I wanted to say. If a PM function were enabled and Carswell wanted to read PM's, he could have read my deathless prose.

                            Because I always put my email address on the old Chowhound, I received more than a few emails from folks who were either too shy to post or thought that there questions weren't of interest to Chowhounds at large. Maybe I was just lucky, but I never encountered any problems.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Dave Feldman

                              What happens when you report a post as "great post"? I'm going to try that RIGHT NOW!

                              OK, so far, I clicked "report this post" under Mr. Feldman's above post. A radio dial menu (I think that's what they call it) popped up where I was given four choices: reporting the post as spam, vulgar, off-topic, or GREAT!. I selected great and was given the option to include some comments. After clicking send, a gray box appeared under the post (can you all see the gray box, too, or is it only me?) that read:

                              Feedback Received!

                              Thank you,
                              -The Chowhound Team

                              I'll let you know if anything else happens. If Mr. Feldman wins the great post lottery or something, I hope he'll let us know, too. :)


                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                Oh! The gray box has disappeared. I fear reporting a post "great" does nothing but create extra work for the moderators.


                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                  I've finked on a couple of spammers in the new software, so I'm familiar with the gray box. I have a feeling that the "great post" is a way to gather material for Chow News and some of the featured posts and "overheard in the boards" features that we see on the home page and on the right.

                                2. re: Dave Feldman

                                  No problems for me, either. Far from it! I can understand the concern of others, but for me, contact with some 'hounds off the site has been a pleasure.

                                3. Obviously this is an old post, but I had just typed in 'personal messages' in the search box. Frankly, I would LOVE to have this ability. For one, it's not as big an issue as some posters have made it to be. For crying out loud, if someone sends you a p.m. that you don't want, just ignore or block. Every site to which I belong has the p.m. system. There are times when I've posted questions here only to get a particularly nice and comprehensive reply; maybe I've received several but I want to send a p.m. to one person in particular who replied to my questions so that I can express my appreciation without hurting the feelings of other members who also helped me out. If one response is much better than another, I don't want to post a reply to just the ONE that helped me the most, as that really could make the other posters feel bad. It would be great if I could just send a p.m. to John Doe to personally thank him if his reply was the one that I was looking for, etc. Just my opinion here. I happen to LOVE Chowhound as is, so I'm happy.

                                  1. I'm down with Krissywats' idea:

                                    When you set up your profile, there's a check-box that says "Allow other Chow users to e-mail me (your e-mail address remains private)". If I check it, someone can click on "Send Covert Ops an e-mail!" and off an e-mail goes, through some sort of filter that they don't know to whom they're e-mailing. (I don't know how such things work, but I'm sure it exists.) The other person won't know my real e-mail address unless I reply to their e-mail.

                                    And possibly the option's only available to logged-in Chow users.

                                    I don't know how easy it is to implement these things, but it would eliminate the need for server space for PMs, and people would have the privacy they'd expect from email-to-email communication. AND it would be easy to turn on/off.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. I came here to this board to post a question about exactly the same thing! I have never seen an online community that doesn't allow users to personally interface outside of the forums.

                                      In my eyes it is a serious conceptual flaw in the chowhound structure. There are lots of posts that are frowned upon here, but... HEY! how are we going to communicate if not by pm and not by posting. I really feel as if this site is working against my efforts to communicate food information. Some discussions just plain don't belong on public forums, but will eventually benefit public forums. To think otherwise is to be handicapped by a very limited and naive view of internet information flow.

                                      Soon as I found out that I couldn't talk to folks here about a spinoff, quickie question that didn't need a whole thread unto itself, I stopped coming so often. Lets build a community, nit just a food news site.

                                      no PMs. harumph. how utterly bizarre.

                                      9 Replies
                                      1. re: krushdnasty

                                        The purpose of Chowhound is to share tips on great chow and create a public archive of such tips.

                                        Private messages don't serve that purpose.

                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                          In order to "share tips on great chow and create a public archive of such tips" a community must be built. Enabling personal communications about topics not worthy of a whole thread or a thread hijacking is an essential part of that community. Private messages do serve the purpose of building stronger links in the network of chowhounds and this will serve the purpose of spreading information. At the risk of repeating myself, its pretty naive to imagine that the information conveyed in private messags doesn't eventually benefit the community. Perhaps even benefit it in ways that wouldn't be possible without PMs.

                                          I don't want to give toooo many details and examples, but anyone intersted in a few good views on the subject should just PM me.

                                          Wait. You can't. See how it's supposed to work though? Pretty efficient isn't it.

                                          1. re: krushdnasty

                                            This public discussion seems to be working fine. How would it be improved by moving into private messages?

                                            Any time users of this site privately message tips or advice, that's tips and advice everyone else on the site misses out on. I'm not sure how this benefits the community.

                                            Up until a couple of days ago I sort of thought a very limited form of private messaging -- very short messages of 100 characters or less, for things like "email me at blah@blah.com. let's plan an outing" -- would be good. But frankly, I can't think of a single instance of it that would really benefit the site in any meaningful way. Moreover, I'm sure even the most restricted, most abbreviated private messaging feature would end up mostly being used by people to complain about other posters, or to privately ask someone for specific advice, like "Hey, you're the LA hot dog expert. Who's got the best chili dog?"

                                            That way lies doom. Or at least every other lame message board in existence.

                                            1. re: hatless

                                              "...mostly being used by people to complain about other posters, or to privately ask someone for specific advice, like "Hey, you're the LA hot dog expert. Who's got the best chili dog?"

                                              I can attest that 90% of the emails I receive from folks who contact me from the site are of the above nature. My "favorite" one was "I don't have time to read all the posts about dim sum, will you please send me your top 10 and why?" It just slightly edged out, "how about you design a wine country itinerary and call your friends to arrange a VIP tour for me?"

                                              I guess the advantage of a PM system is that it does keep these asinine requests from freeloaders off the public board.

                                            2. re: krushdnasty

                                              "I don't want to give toooo many details and examples, but anyone intersted in a few good views on the subject should just PM me.

                                              Wait. You can't. See how it's supposed to work though? Pretty efficient isn't it."

                                              I personally think that this is more efficient -- if there are no channels to discuss non-chow topics, then most of the traffic over this board will be about chow, and as a result, folks will come here not because it's fun and social, but because it's a treasure trove and the communities that emerge would be more chow-centric as a result.

                                            3. re: Robert Lauriston

                                              Private messages serve the purpose of organizing get-togethers that will result in more chow tips.

                                              1. re: Pan

                                                There's established etiquette for that. You create an invitation topic with an email address or link to some other forum.


                                            4. re: krushdnasty

                                              Email has worked very well for me over the years, if there's a need to communicate. It also has the advantage that those that want to contacted will post their emails on the myCHOW page, whereas those that prefer not to be contacted won't. And to be honest, the majority of the emails I get are about where to eat, which would obviously be better addressed on the boards.

                                              I like the fact that the folks come to chowhound with a very narrow mindset -- sharing chowtips, and not getting distracted with non-chow topics. I'm all for community building, but I would vastly prefer a community that is built on sharing chowtips than other topics.

                                              As for organizing get-togethers, the site does allow one to post an announcement to start, and then logistics can be handled over email.

                                              1. re: limster

                                                Limster, the ever wise one. Hounds don't let friends PM.