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Jul 7, 2006 06:28 PM

Etiquette/changing topics and saying "thank you"?

Sorry if this has been discussed already, but is the all of the etiquette under "Getting Started" still applicable?

There's this section about "changing titles"--that's no longer applicable anymore, right?

"Unlike some web communities, we discourage use of subject titles to communicate. So please don't change titles frequently (e.g. "Good Point!" or "Thanks!" or "I Prefer the Chicken!"). Change them only when conversation has digressed to the point where the old title no longer fits."

I'm asking because in the "Green Tea" thread currently bouncing about in "General Topics," I posted a question about powdered green tea, which, as it turns out, is drawing that portion of the thread in a different direction than the original question.

In the old days, I would have changed the topic slightly. Is that still possible? Or, should it have been a new thread altogether? Or, is it fine where it is?

Also, I did a search on the CH etiquette for saying "thank you" and nothing came up. There's nothing in the Getting Started/Etiquette, either. Is it still against the official etiquette to say "thank you" to the replies to a question you've asked if you have nothing else to contribute to the conversation at that point?

Thank you. In advance.


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  1. "In the old days, I would have changed the topic slightly. Is that still possible? Or, should it have been a new thread altogether? Or, is it fine where it is?"

    I believe only the original poster of the original question can change the title. So a new thread with a pointer would probably be best, if it's going off track of the original post.

    And I could be wrong, but I think the old bandwidth-eating restriction on saying "Thanks!" to someone who has helped out isn't as valid anymore, since there's a helluva lot more bandwidth to bandy about! :-)

    10 Replies
    1. re: LindaWhit

      I think you're right about the bandwidth but they are still being very strict about chatter (not complaining just observing) - I was deleted for congratulating JoyM on her pregnancy without any other advice. So might not be as lax as we think.

      1. re: LindaWhit

        It is terribly annoying to open a topic that has "new" replies, scrolling down to the new section, and seeing that the new post says only "thank you" or "I fourth it" without adding anything to the discussion.

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          Melanie, I'm not disagreeing with you. However, all I was saying was that I don't think the Mods are as strict as they once were because of the increased bandwidth. I could be wrong.

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            Really? While I don't particularly find that annoying and certainly not 'terribly annoying' in the greater world of things that are irritating, I can see why someone would enjoy a means by which to say 'thank you' or 'Congratulations' or what have you. Which is why I'm leaning more and more towards a PM option.

            1. re: krissywats

              Linda, I'm not disagreeing or agreeing with you either, just making another point about "thank you" replies. It's been a longstanding part of net etiquette here and elsewhere, originally for bandwidth concerns, yet also to not waste the time of other readers who are looking for solid information. But the net is changing as the user base on line expands and many aren't aware or don't care.

              Yes, krissywats, we're talking about a message board and not world peace or other larger issue. In message board terms, as signal to noise ratio declines and loses tight focus, the board becomes far less useful for its original purpose. I find it terribly annoying when the conversation here is less than chowish.

              If one wants to say "thank you" in a post, do it in a way that contributes to the discussion, such as creating a bullet-point summary of the suggestions, providing a report back on the establishment after trying it for better or worse, integrate the new recs with links to past reports, etc. Those are many ways that 'hounds demonstrate their appreciation for the advice received here while adding a "thank you".

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Thanks for the tutorial on how to post to your standards - I certainly wouldn't want to be "terribly annoying". Also a PM system would work, as I mentioned.

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  krissywats, if those were simply MY standards, they wouldn't be worth talking about. The point of the chowboards is to swap tips and create an archive of food content, this isn't a chat room.

                  I'm actually against "standards" for posting, other than politeness and staying on chow topics. We need to minimize the barriers to contributing to the chow discussion. More posts, more chow, more opinions! But I emphasize again, posts should contribute to the collective wisdom by discussing chow. And, it's possible to say "thank you" and make it meaningful.

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    That's a bit disingenuous - they are YOUR opinions on standards. This isn't a chat room, but it is a discussion board and we're talking about human beings discussing with other living, breathing, feeling human beings and sometimes, on this board, niceties can get lost.

                    It's interesting to me that your recommendations aren't actually suggesting that one ADD to the discussion in question (a summary? links?) but just gives someone a false platform in which to say 'Thank you' (and you're willing to scroll for a 'Thank you' with a summary but not a 'thank you' only..hmmm) when all that person actually wants to say is 'Thank you' or whatever the circumstance may be. Perhaps there IS no feedback other than 'Thank you' - and my point was that a PM would be a perfect way to keep everyone happy rather than spending all of my time creating a fake post just so I can say 'Thank you' or 'Congratulations on your pregnancy'.

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      krissywats, I guess I'm having a hard time understanding what you mean by "false". When someone gets information from this board, it's not unusual that that they'll look up the addresses, make a summary for themselves, or research past posts to find more information on spots that are suggested. A summary of a long chain of discussion is very helpful to many 'hounds, as shown by the popularity of the Digest feature on this site. I'm not making up any of these examples, they are practiced by many thoughtful hounds. Here's a recent example of one such "thank you" from a Texas 'hound on her visit to Oakland/SF.


                      Sharing that work with the board is far from false and, in fact, seems even more genuine to me and a measure of commitment than just shooting off an empty "thank you". Doing something just for the sake of "niceties" would seem to be the false gesture rather than making the effort to repay the community. The 'hounds that provide tips took the time to help you, returning it in kind adds more meat to the discussion. I would hope that we can continue to be nice and content-rich at the same time here on Chowhound.

                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        At this point our argument is just becoming silly and strident. I would gladly tell you why I believe those things to be 'false' and why I would never see a 'Thank you' as a false gesture if you would like to email me and we can carry this on elsewhere (my email address is listed in my profile). If not, that's ok too.

                        My point was about more than one example, which you took out of context, seemingly for argument's sake. I don't really want to have that sort of conversation here as it is, as you said, "terribly annoying" since it isn't about chow or, at this point, even furthering the chowness of the boards.

                        This conversation would be moot if a PM feature - which I have seen the light about - were put in place allowing those of us who choose to say 'Congratulations' or 'Thank you' could do it privately.

                2. Wait, you mean, as the original poster of this thread I can edit my original post indefinitely? Not just for 15 minutes? I'm going to try it now. Wow. You're right, I just went back and changed the title of this thread. I don't know how long ago I posted it, but it was more than 15 minutes ago since your reply was about 22 minutes ago! Interesting indeed!

                  Thank you!


                  1 Reply
                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    I think there were complaints of only being able to edit your post (or initial subject of the post) for 15 minutes, so the CH Engineering Team opened it up for permanent editing (I think).

                  2. If a thread has digressed significantly, please use the "report this post" feature to let us know. We can easily split the thread (although do not currently have a feature that allows us to easily let people know that's happened, so we recommend you check "my CHOW" to see if it's been moved.)

                    1. Melanie Wong, I'd like to weigh in on the side of those encouraging a "Thank You" for answers to posted questions. I like to know that the thought I put into an answer has been helpful to whoever is seeking information. No response tells me nothing. I must assume the worst - that I was no help at all. When I receive even a brief "thank you" I know that my answer has been read and something of an information exchange has transpired.

                      OK, so posts saying nothing but "thank you" are annoying to you because they do not convey chow information. Perhaps they may be helpful to someone else. In this large world that we inhabit there is plenty of room for all of us to have opinions. A bit of extra politeness is welcome to many. I certainly appreciate it. Thanks for listening.

                      11 Replies
                      1. re: Sherri

                        I don't post "thank you" replies often. But I'd like a PM or an email link for the reasons that Sherri and krissywats elucidate. The thank-you might not further the Chow discussion much, and might even detract from it. But I don't see the downside in allowing PM's if folks opt to accept them. It seems to make everyone happy -- allows the discussion to flow unimpeded, allows the OP to know that the post was read and appreciated, and allows the recipient of the information to thank the OP and let him or her know that the effort was appreciated.

                        1. re: Dave Feldman

                          Well, THANK YOU to everyone who replied to my post here. I hadn't realized it would trigger some debate, but I guess that illustrates that people certainly use the Board and view their participation in a variety of ways.

                          I agree with Dave's recommendation for a PM system. RE: the e-mail link in the profile that Dave suggests; I'm in favor of adding the feature for those who wish to use it, but, for those of us who do not wish to provide our "real" e-mail addresses for privacy reasons, I still avocate adding a PM (private message) system. I don't think they are mutually exclusive both. Let's have both, if possible.

                          And, I appreciate the ChowTeam's recommendation to use the "report this post" feature to signal them that a post has drifted off-topic and needs to be split.

                          Finally, a part of me really really wants to post a thank you reply with "hugs and kisses" as David Ford wryly refers to it (I'm guessing he would be against little heart icons, too?), but, I do appreciate the need to keep the Board focused. I like Melanie Wong's recommendation to come back and summarize the recommendation or to provide a link or an address or some other way to enhance the value of the content beyond thank you. Of course, the best thank you of all is to come back with your own feedback once you've tried the chow yourself, whenever applicable or possible, but my original question was posed assuming that you hadn't yet had time to do so... Still, it's worth remembering!


                        2. re: Sherri

                          To Sherri, krissywats and all those in favor of ending threads with hugs and kisses all the way around; you are obviously free to do so. You have your own reasons, and you seem convinced that you are right for having them.

                          And I respect you for it.

                          However, consider this. When you are speaking to anyone in this forum, you are speaking to all of us. I believe this is the gist of what Melanie was trying to get across. If you were in a private chat room, and the person you were chatting with shared something nice with you, then it would be a natural thing for you to thank them. And then they would acknowledge your thanks. And then you would feel nice. All perfectly appropriate.

                          But in a forum such as this, there is a much wider audience. When one person shares something nice with another person, we are all listening in. And when that person says "Thank you" to the other person, we are *still* listening in.

                          You can probably guess where I am going with this. That's right, the old "what if everyone did it" routine! But seriously, it's a valid point here. And seriously, consider the implications if EVERYONE who received something nice from someone else said "Thank you" to the person they received it from. Two-thirds of Chowhound's content would be represented by "Thank you" posts! And, considering the kind of volume that Chowhound generates in a given day, week or month, that would be a whole lot of "Thank you" posts.

                          It is also a whole lot of reading. But not just reading for the intended recipient of the "Thank you" post; reading for all of us.

                          Sending a "Thank you" message using a PM system? Great!

                          Doing the same through e-mail? Super!

                          But not on a public message board. Sending a "Thank you" message is a private communication. And private communications should be reserved for private channels.


                          1. re: David Ford

                            First, a question: if I didn't believe what I say, why in the world would I ever say it? Thanks for the respectful disagreement, but it's really hard for me to understand how people can disagree with common courtesy.

                            I'm not talking about blubbering on about how Aunt Myrtle feels and that my back aches and that I love Melanie and isn't she the coolest hound ever....we're only speaking of the ability to say 'Thanks for your help'. If we can talk about how servers act and how much to tip and the hostess was mean to us and those people are loud and how do I handle it (all issues about behavior) and yet we can't say 'Thank you'? Because the latter, to me, is as much a part of being a chowhound as the food. Much like the ambience in a restaurant is part of the experience and should be discussed.

                            Second, I said over and over that a PM system put in place for this purpose would be great.

                            What's interesting is that as I think about it, I remember on the old board OFTEN posting a "Thanks everyone, I'm going to try X and let you know" or whatever was appropriate and it was never deleted. I remember others changing the title to 'THANK YOU FOR THE RECS', etc - so this isn't new, but the deletions seem to be. This happened a lot and no one complained and no one felt that the entire board was filled up with uncontrollable 'Thank you's'.

                            It's actually quite rare that I want to say 'Thank you' or whatever ("Whatever" meaning there can be several situations, not just "Thank you's") to one person but to an entire board of people (Which while I'm now for the PM system, could make that tricky) that took the time, generously, to offer their insight. This isn't about ending threads with hugs and kisses but common courtesy and as Sherri pointed out, it's nice to know when a thread is helpful to the O.P. At this time we aren't "obviously free to do so", as you said.

                            1. re: David Ford

                              Something just occurred to me - on the old board, when people would change the title they would put a thank you on the end. For instance: "Need help with souffle" on the Home Cooking board would change to "Need help with souffle - THANK YOU!" and my guess is that anyone that didn't want to read that could then pass it by and those of us that posted and wanted to read the 'Thank you' could take a gander. With that not an option it does make it trickier.

                              1. re: krissywats

                                Hi krissywats,

                                I agree with you that with the old board one could easily post a final "Thank you" message by appending " -- Thank you!" in the subject line. I did it many times and *liked* it. And if the person to whom it was directed chose to click on it, they would (sometimes) be happily surprised to find that it contained some extra-special chow tip as a token of my appreciation for their help.

                                You see, krissywats, I'm a person who likes to say "Thank you", too -- and for all the reasons that you do. I believe that common courtesy is *very* important. I also understand that when someone receives a "Thank you" after having gone out of their way to do something nice for someone else, it makes them feel good. And that it helps them to feel as though they have connected in some way with that person.

                                Also like you, I believe that a restaurant's ambience is as much a part of a good meal as the food. I love good food, but I also love to eat good food in a beautiful space -- and with nice people around me.

                                However, while -- for me -- the food and the ambience are a connected set of experiences, I have learned that there are others around me who just do not care. And although -- again, for me -- to spend time delving into a discussion of a particular restaurant's ambience is a perfectly legitimate part of sharing that restaruant's chowly merits, I have learned that there are others (some of them running this board) who want to know of nothing "but the chow". And, out of respect for those with differing views than mine on this subject (and to avoid being deleted), I have learned to take my discussions of ambience to the "Not About Food" board, where the moderators of this public message board say that discussions of this nature belong.

                                With respect to the "Thank you" issue, to be perfectly honest, before reading the discussion between you and Melanie -- and reading some of Melanie's points concerning the same -- I had not really thought much about it. As I said, with the old interface we could tuck a nice little " -- Thank you!" at the end of the existing subject line and get the point across without obligating anyone to click on it unless they wanted to see the contents of what amounted to a private message. Well, those days are over and we cannot do that now. And for all those who would still like to connect in this personal way, another set of tools now must be utilized.

                                So what's the answer? Can there be an answer?

                                Yes, I believe there can be an answer. Why? Because that's my nature -- to believe. I believe there can and will be an answer. And I believe it will be an answer that will include everyone.

                                Is the answer to post "Thank you" messages on the public message board? No. I don't believe that it is. And as much as I would like to endorse this, I just can't. Too many people would be negatively affected to justify the benefits gained by a relative few. I really think we can do better.

                                Is the answer to send a "Thank you" message through a PM system, as you have earlier suggested? That sounds better. I think we should more fully explore the idea of PM-based communications with the Chowhound Team.

                                Do I have any additional ideas of my own? No. My idea would have been to use a PM system, as well.

                                Other ideas? Let's hear 'em!


                                P.S. If there is to be a continuation of this discussion, then I suggest it be given its own topic name. In this way, it stands to receive the widest range of quality responses. And, in the end, this will give the Chowhound Team the best data to work with as they consider their options.

                                1. re: David Ford

                                  For those who want to be contacted, I think it should be very easy for them to leave an email address on the mychow page, just type it in under the "Top 5 restaurants." If privacy is a big deal, just use a disposable yahoo or gmail or hotmail account. I'd rather not have PM, just because it encourages cliques and we're clique-ish enough as it is when we should be more inclusive and welcoming to newcomers.

                                  It's enitrely a personal opinion, but as for "thank yous", I think it would not be too much to ask for at least some feedback about a chow tip. Afterall, if we send time providing a detailed answer, I think it would be fair to expect at least an update about a particular restaurant or how the recipe went, as a form of quid pro quo.

                                  1. re: David Ford

                                    David's reply to limster:

                                    How about an implementation of a PM system specially tuned to the unique needs of the Chowhound community? Such an implementation would include an open policy that each message would be "reviewed" by the Chowhound Team to insure that it is not depriving the public boards of their rightful access to chow tips. Plus, there could be a limit on the number of replies to (1) make it easier for the Chowhound Team to manage, and (2) serve to discourage the use of the system for general "chit chat". The PM system that I envision would be focused mainly on passing along special "Thank you" messages, setting up chowhound get-togethers and trading e-mail addresses for all the rest.

                                    1. re: David Ford

                                      I think it would be too much for both the posters on the board and the chowhound team to have PM messages reviewed. Providing email addresses is a solution that's worked in the past, so why not try it out now, since it's quite easy to implement.

                                      1. re: David Ford

                                        David's reply to limster:

                                        I just added a new topic for the discussion of this issue.


                                        See you there!

                                        1. re: David Ford

                                          Hey David,

                                          thanks for your measured and thoughtful response. I see your points, however on some level we all post things that are going to irritate someone, and at some point I'm not going to care that much: ya know, that sticky fine line between being kind and good and not bowing down to the wish of every other person? Because reality is that when people post a restaurant rec on a local board they DO speak to the ambiance and the servers, etc. I guess I have a hard time seeing what a big freakin' deal it is to 'waste someone's time' by saying 'thank you'. My gut reaction is 'get over it, no one's time is THAT important'. But that's just not very kind of me, is it?

                                          I've exhausted my thoughts on the issue and while I'd like to see a PM system, my gut tells me it's not going to happen. So I'll keep sneaking in 'thank yous' and I'm sure I'll continue to be deleted.

                                          I'll keep reading thoughts on the other thread.


                                  2. Krissywats
                                    Thank you's are great, but not on the board. I think you did not see complaints on the old board because, in fact, they were not posted over and over but were very rare. But I can tell you, I would also get slightly annoyed by a "thanks all" post in the same way I would get annoyed if I picked up a VM at work from John saying "thanks for your help Bill" because he sent it to Bill and everyone else in the company. Its a nice thought but not the proper approach. If a PM system exists, great, use it. If not, consider that the common courtesy, in this instance, is to not post a thank you.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: tomritza

                                      For you....others feel differently.