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nice, stable site with tons of features. too bad it's not as much fun as the old chowhound.

i know all the infrastucture problems with chowhound and, yes, something had to be done. just didn't figure that a radical soul-ectomy was the answer. pity. i'll keep posting and stuff but i guess it's time to pass the torch and shuffle on.

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  1. I think we're giving too much credit to the web designers and engineers. Soul is not found in the ability to track users, list 40 topics per page or have a working search engine, and there never will be. It's found in the chow tips that hungry hounds contribute. Chowhound.com just provides a website, soul from chowhounds themselves.

      1. re: Dave Feldman

        Ah, but that raises the proverbial question faced by all implantees, which should I get, a brain, a heart, or an appendage?

        Me, I am not interested in any implants, or plastic surgery for that matter, I'm happy working with what I got out of the box, I can always make something interesting out of that.

        1. re: ChinoWayne

          Perhaps the OP was one of those kids that had more fun playing with the box than with what came in it.

          1. re: ChinoWayne

            "Ah, but that raises the proverbial question faced by all implantees, which should I get, a brain, a heart, or an appendage?"

            When a man's an empty kettle
            He should be on his mettle
            And yet I'm torn apart
            Just because I'm presumin'
            That I could be kind-a human
            If I only had a heart.

            I'd be tender, I'd be gentle
            And awful sentimental
            Regarding love and art
            I'd be friends with the sparrows
            And the boy who shoots the arrows,
            If I only had a heart.

            1. re: Bob Martinez

              'Remember, my friend' said the Wizard to the Tin Man; 'A heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others'

              I'm relatively new here so I don't know what is different, but I find the site to be fun, entertaining and informative and only because of the people who are on it. Site features aside, the heart of any website is its devoted users.

              1. re: cooknKate

                You are EXACTLY right. Any community like this is what the participants make of it, the infrastructure is relatively unimportant. I found value with the old set-up and I find as much, or more value with the current set-up.

                I think may of us have been focussing too much on what we don't like or think does not work on the new site. It just might be a good idea if we devoted that time and effort to reading and posting to the FOOD related forums, that would help to continue to foster a site that is useful, focussed, somewhat educational and entertaining.

        2. I have to agree. I used to visit chowhound 3 or 4 times a day, now it's not unusual to go a whole week without visiting.

          I may be wrong on this, but I get the feeling that the new design is intended to primarily to help boost the number of page views. The only thing keeping me from being 100% sure of this is the lack of banner advertising, but still...

          4 Replies
          1. re: creamfinger

            I find I'm able to visit less often and get even more out of it, add that to the number of new posters I'm seeing on multiple boards, you'll have to pardon me if I'm missing something. To sum up what was so eloquently stated by limster and Gary Soup, consume and/or contribute but don't bitch about the silverware.

            1. re: PolarBear

              its worth assuming the silverware is still a work in progress until told otherwise.

            2. re: creamfinger

              >I get the feeling that the new design is intended to primarily to help boost the number of page views. <

              You have to be kidding. On the old site, EVERY POST was a separate page view.

              What fun that was.

              1. re: creamfinger

                Er, with all postings of a thread now on one page we've drastically slashed the number of page views (old software was one page per individual posting) in order to provide our users with more convenience.

              2. I don't agree at all. I found a large percentage of the time I spent on the old board was a waste of time necessitated by the outdated software. Now I can visit more often, see if there's anything new I'm interested in, and get off much more quickly. I don't see the "soul" in having to scroll through huge amounts just to see if there's something I'm interested in.

                12 Replies
                1. re: Mick Ruthven

                  Agree w/ Mick. I frequently threatened to build a chowhound competitor because it was so sickeningly bad. This appears to be a fantastic leap in the right direction. It was several years past due. Well done, chowhound.

                  Reading the whining above I'm reminded there are some still nostalgic for the old text-only games (Infocom's Zork). Let me assure you that these people are crusty Luddites clinging to VHS, vinyl and decrepit underwear. It's time for a change.

                  1. re: plasticman

                    The very first computer game I ever played was the best. It was all text, in DOS, and I don't recall its name right now, but it predated the first Leisure Suit Larry from the late 80s by at least a year. It was a game that required the MIND of the participant, let me tell you! ;-)

                    Just kinda only kidding! Love the new chowhound, not kidding about the game ;-)

                  2. re: Mick Ruthven

                    That's funny, I find just the opposite. Now if I see there's a reply to a thread I'm following I have to scroll through the whole thread to find it, only to find that it's not something I'm interested in. On the old software, I could pick and choose exactly what I wanted to read.

                    It's not so bad with short threads, but when they get up around 20 posts they're just not worth wading through anymore. I'm probably missing stuff I'd like to see because it's buried in the middle of a large thread. Even if I'm tracking a poster, it might not be worth it. I'd know that Poster X posted in Thread Y, and that there's a new post on Thread Y, but is it from Poster X? Is it in response to Poster X? Or is it in response to some completely different branch of the thread? Similarly, I may be interested in only one branch of a thread. Say, on Home Cooking, there's a long discussion about what to make in hot weather. There's one particular subdiscussion I'm interested in -- let's say, cold soups -- but there's no way to see if the new replies are to that subdiscussion or not. So I just give up.

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      On the old site you could tell whether you wanted to read a post just by the timestamp and name of the poster?

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        To some extent. I could tell by the name of the poster and by looking at where it was on the "tree" (whether it was in reply to a post I'd read and whether it was in a part of the thread I was following).

                        As I said, for a short thread it doesn't make much difference, but on a long, multi-branched one, it makes a huge difference. As I noted during the first week of the new software, I've pretty much given up on General Topics, because the long threads there are too unweildy.

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                          I think choosing which posts to read by the name of the poster is anti-Chowhound in spirit. You probably end up cherry-picking responses of people you already know will think like you.

                          I do agree that it would be nice to be able to collapse threads into single lines. One of the endearing features of the old software was the ASCII "graph" of activity. I'd tend to migrate to hot sub-discussions, not to specific posters' pearls of wisdom.

                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                            I agree the long threads are cumbersome to navigate through. In the old days people would eventually move on from a topic, nowadays, the same topics keep resurfacing and more and more replies are being added. I think the bookmarking of topics and my chow page are partially to blame because it allows people to revisit the same topic too much.

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              Yes, I agree and with a slight change in focus I object to ancient posts being resurected and presented as "new" ie the most recent item or topic. And back to your point, there were a number of very reliable posters on various boards whose name gave you confidence of the worth of their comments as it had been born out over time and sometimes confirmed your own experience. Now I can't conveniently look for those names if indeed they still post without pouring through the entire series of posts. I find this "new" board definitely inferior.

                          2. re: Mick Ruthven

                            I agree with Mick as well. Old chowhound would sometimes have me fuming, getting off it before I had read anything. The new way is much easier, saves time and moreover, my mood.

                            1. re: Mick Ruthven

                              Exactly! I was away from the site all summer, but finally logged in again. I love this new layout, and the fact that we have RSS feeds. Now I can keep track of any good chow recommendations as they come through.

                              1. re: Mick Ruthven

                                I'm pretty happy with the new site. One "feature" of the old site was that one could scroll through a large number of topics quickly. With the new site showing only 40 topics per page, some posts to the high traffic boards (L.A. & S.F.) tend to get pushed off the front pages, sometimes within a few hours.

                                I'd like to be able to see a higher density overview, maybe hundreds of topics on a page, with sort, search and filtering - something like a webmail UI.

                              2. New version is lightyears better for searching specific information, and probably for monitoring a particular board.

                                Old version was falling apart and had to be replaced but (for me, anyway) it was better for random browsing. I miss in particular the old hotposts which allowed one to quickly scan, on one long page, who had posted that day on all the boards. So I basically never drop in on the other boards around the country and world. I am probably going to my regular boards as often as I used to, but I am still looking for a strategy that will enable me to check out all the other boards in a time-efficient and informative fashion. (Just looking at the names of the threads on the new "HotPosts" doesn't really convey the same level of information that the old one-page format did.) I hope to find one, and would certainly be interested in how others are dealing with this.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: PayOrPlay

                                  Yup, well put. I really miss the old threaded "tree" view of Hot Posts. I could see which parts of a long thread looked interesting, and I miss the serendipity.

                                2. As a professional software guy, I am astonished by the people who would vote for the old interface. It was astonishingly terrible! I might go so far as to say it was among the worst pieces of user interface design I've seen. I can only assume that the votes for the old stuff are some kind of nostalgia. Some of the features of the old software could be (and probably should be) implimented in the current software, but the new stuff is so much better even without those features that I am amazed anyone doesn't see it.

                                  8 Replies
                                  1. re: SouthernGent

                                    I too LOVE the new format. I can read so many more replies by skimming. For those that like to see certain users' responses, it's easy to pick it out scrolling the page. In the old interface, if I came late to a post and there were 30 replies, I hated having to click each reply individually to read the whole thread, so sometimes I would skip it altogether as too much effort. And just because I value some people's responses more than others, doesn't mean I want to completely ignore other people's contributions to the thread. I'm frankly surprised there's so many chowhounds out there who are only interested in hearing what a select group has to say about a topic.

                                    1. re: celeste

                                      " I'm frankly surprised there's so many chowhounds out there who are only interested in hearing what a select group has to say about a topic." I think your assumption may be a little too broad. Many people are "selective" in their reading, whether it be Chowhound, any other discussion forum, a newspaper or magazaine. That is not to say these people are closed minded, but that they make deliberate choices on how much of their own resources they may expend in pursuit of a given idea.

                                      I personally scan every board on this site, on some frequency. If a topic catches my eye, I may drill down in to it. If a certain poster, who I am familiar with and respect or appreciate is the author of something, I might go out of my way to read their postings. If a certain other poster who, in my opinion, has never expressed anything of value to me, then I may deliberately avoid reading their posting, this time around.

                                      I don't know about anyone else, but I do have a life outside of Chowhound, and despite the fact that it is a great diversion to spend my days cruising these boards, I do have to make a living and have a life beyond the Chowworld. To me it is all about balance, how much of my time and effort that is devoted to any activity in my life, and in order to achieve that balance, I must be selective.

                                      I'd rather read something that increases my base of useful knowledge, or that might entertain me or pleasantly enlighten me, but I won't do it at the expense of being an indiscriminate scavenger fish, just cruising along and scooping up everything in my path, I don't have the capacity to digest it all.

                                      1. re: ChinoWayne

                                        ChinoWayne, your point is taken. The debate is really whether the new format makes it easier or harder to selectively read, as I also have a (busy) job and home life to attend to. For me, with the new site, I can skim through a page/topic and stop when I see something interesting rather than have to click to even see if it's a joke reply or a thoughtful reply. This makes it really fast for me. I find the scroll bar a more useful tool, and I can be "selective" in many different ways, instead of just basing my decision on whether to click on the username.

                                        1. re: celeste

                                          I also find the new site easy to navigate and read. We live in a world that is constantly in change, and in order to thrive we must adapt, and I am adapting to the new look and feel of Chowhound just fine, it still serves its purpose for me, and it is still the focussed discussion and useful resource that it has always been.

                                          (Celeste this is not directed at you.) In my line of work we are constantly deploying upgrades to application systems, month after month, year after year. Change is inevitable in my line of work if we want to remain in business, sometimes it is tough on us, but if we want to THRIVE we will endure it, and our staff will adapt, and life goes on.

                                    2. re: SouthernGent

                                      I am not a pro, but I agree. With the old board, I was forever going forward and back and finding myself reading the same post over and over because I was confused about where I was in the thread.

                                      For the people who want to see particular favorite posters' replies, they can track those posters specifically. This is a cool feature.

                                      1. re: SouthernGent

                                        As a fellow professional software guy, I respectfully submit that it doesn't matter a whit who is a professional software guy.

                                        Yes, the UI had issues. Yes, the back end desperately needed to change and I'm glad it has. But what matters is the ability to foster a community and transmit good information. In fact, this is not a "software guy"'s primary field. The software guys should have made sure the new back end was extensible and well designed/developed and the new front end provided APIs such that it could be developed by designers who knew how best to serve the purposes of the front end users. This is a vastly different skill from coding (except the act of interfacing with the aforementioned UI API, obviously). Look into Ed Tufte's work generally if you don't believe me.

                                        People disagree about the design of the new site; and that's as it should be. I suspect the coders and admins of the new site attribute too much of the complaining to the "people will bitch about change because it's different and something they're not used to" factor than should be so attributed, but also I have no idea if this suspicion is true.

                                        Either way, I think the new site represents a design failure because it destroys so much that was good and efficient about the old site's way of doing things (I miss NOT the crappy stuff, only the good stuff).

                                        Now, I get a lot less information per page view, I get a lot of wasted space, and I get irritating thread constructions. For all its faults, which were many, I got a lot more value and less waste out of the old chowhound.

                                        That's just my take and I realize people disagree. However, I really do think it's wrong to think that a coding background gives one extra might in this discussion. The underlying technology should serve the purposes of the site. Some think it does and I have no quarrel with those people who simply have different tastes than I, but saying one is a software person should be irrelevant to a discussion regarding the effectiveness of a new layout except to the extent a new layout is well or poorly implemented, which should be a different question from how well the layout is designed. And software guys are no better than anyone else, and to the extent they don't represent the user community are, in fact, demonstratively worse, at anticipating the opinions of those real users.

                                        In sum, in my opinion the new design is a regression in the most important respects from the old design, and therefore is teh suk. I know the old site was falling apart. I don't pine for a bad back end or the worse aspects of the old site. I just wish the new site weren't, in my opinion, such a step backwards in the outward facing ways which matter. And if we want to play the "professional software guy" card, I am too.

                                        1. re: Psmith

                                          I have to agree with PSmith and disagree with SouthernGent. The fact that I just wrote that statement - and would never have had to do so previously, speaks for itself.

                                          The UI/Front End is virtually independent of the back end. Everybody in the world was in sync with the site needing an entirely new back end with modern database, archiving, searching capabilities, etc. But the beauty of the old ui was that the relationships of each post within the threads were so clear - whatever else has improved, that has gone away. There really was no technical reason to take away the title line format and replace it with the indented full body screens. The addition of a title line to each post is certainly not a major hurdle. I'm sure that designers looked at the options and decided that this new format might work better. Indeed, the trade-off benefit is that you no longer have to click on each post to see the content. If we went back to the old fomat now, I'm sure people would complain about having to click on each post.

                                          I would cast my vote for the old format working better - the new site certainly works better technically, but the old ui worked better functionally.

                                          1. re: Psmith

                                            When you say that the new design has "a lot less information per page view" I am baffled. I can read this entire thread in one page view which would have taken me umpteen zillion page views in the old software. You are clearly correct that people can disagree -- my views are essentially the opposite of yours.

                                            I'm surprised that you perceived my software guy comment as professing to have some expert opinion that overrides other viewpoints. I certainly don't think that is the case.

                                            Just for your edification, Ed Tufte is a really nice guy and a real genius in the field of visual presentation of graphical data, but isn't really focused on user interface design and usability per se. He has some interesting ideas on the subject, but you'd do better to point people to Jacob Nielsen or Ben Shneiderman. It just so happens that usability is an area I am an expert in, but I don't think that makes my opinion more valuable than that of the more frequent posters. In fact, I'd argue that my opinion is less important than those who have a history of using the site. Despite a strong philosophical agreement with the goals of the site and regularly enduring ths hassles of the technology to search for the gems of wisdom hidden within, I never bothered to post with the old interface. I felt much more welcome to do so in the new format.

                                        2. I'm all for the new format and software. More than my picky and petty annoyances about people retreading the same old stuff or doing that lazy hit and run "need rec. for...", it was the creaky old jallopy scrolling, searching, even page opening that had me spinning the chambers and pointing at the keppe.

                                          But, plasticman, dude! What's wrong with vinyl? (How dare you assume I watch consumer videotape and neglect my laundry?)

                                          1. not to beat a dead horse, but:

                                            press 1 for International

                                            press 2 for China

                                            press 3 for Greater Asia

                                            press 4 for South Asia

                                            press 5 for France

                                            press 6 for Spain/Portugal

                                            press 7 for U.K./Ireland

                                            press 8 for Italy

                                            and so on.

                                            dear people, i'm not a luddite. just saying that something has been lost in the software transfer. i'm not buying the "old bad, new good" stuff. just saying that we users need to quantify the intangibles that made up a good chowhound experience.

                                            only a churl could cavil.

                                            1. Those that fear change have even more reson to get nervous. According to The Motley Fool, chowhound is about to "move into" chow.com. Now we'll get real commercials, not just public service spots and C'hound self-promotion.


                                              1. Please, people. As a long-time and vocal fan (to everyone I know) of this site, I am SO happy that I no longer have to qualify my enthusiasm with "...try to ignore the circa 1993 interface..."

                                                This new design is FANTASTIC! I've done searches and seen all the relevant threads in a matter of seconds (imagine!) and have been inspired to post multiple times where before I rarely bothered.

                                                Go chowhound!

                                                1. Gary Soup posteed:

                                                  "I think choosing which posts to read by the name of the poster is anti-Chowhound in spirit. You probably end up cherry-picking responses of people you already know will think like you."

                                                  It has its value, Gary, I have come to know certain posters and identified which posters have tastes similar to mine, so of course I would cherry pick for their recommendations because I would probably enjoy the same stuff. I have also come to know certain posters as a waste of time, either because their tastes and interests are diametrically opposite of mine, or they never have anything useful to say, or they are just downright schmucky. Why would I waste any more of my time reading what they have to say?

                                                  I think the whole point of Chowhound is to provide a venue where many different people, with different perspectives and experiences can come together to freely share information, but it is not, and has never been MANDATORY that any of us participate at any proscribed level of engagement.

                                                  6 Replies
                                                    1. re: ChinoWayne

                                                      Your point suggests you have a limited use for CH. Of course, if you like, say, California Cusine and are looking for guidance on a new Cal Cusine spot, you willl look for guidance for someone's whose sound judgement on Cal Cusine you've already vetted. But what if you have heard of a joint serving the only Fredonian Gooseberry Arepas in town, and you don't have an "A" list of Fredonian Arepa reviewers? Joe Schmoe may be an A'hole overall, but perhaps he had frequented the fabled Fredonian Arepa stands in White Rock BC as a child. Wouldn't you be interested in his inputs?

                                                      But as you would say, it's never been MANDATORY that you have any interest at all in Fredonian Gooseberry Arepas.

                                                      1. re: Gary Soup

                                                        I demand to know why no one has told me about the Fredonian Gooseberry Arepas! :)

                                                        Seriously, though, it's true that, over time, I've come to value the opinions of certain posters, because they have a particular expertise, or because they just eat out so much, or because I think their palate is more refined or experienced than mine. So, I do take a special interest in posts by those individuals. That's not to say that I don't read posts by other people, but I don't seek them out in the same way, necessarily.

                                                        I don't mean to sound elitist, but this has come from sifting through a lot of opinions of a lot of posters and comparing theirs to my own and determining that they frequently have something to teach me.

                                                        Or, maybe a person is familiar to me from another board other than my home board and their post in an unexpected place intrigues me.

                                                        Also, there are some that I find so pleasant and entertaining, that I'll read their posts. There are others whose posting style I find so abrasive that I don't necessarily seek their posts out. I just scroll on past.

                                                        On the other hand, I imagine there are more than a few people who just scroll on past when they see my name attached to a post. I'd love to think you're all hanging on my every word, but I know I'm just a novice hound and have a lot to learn and don't expect that what I have to see is that useful to anyone. I don't take it personally. Most of the time. :)


                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                          I hung on your every word when you were posting about the Twin Cities, even thought I have never been there, except at the airport.

                                                          1. re: Gary Soup

                                                            Aw, you're very kind. Maybe you should leave the airport one of these times so the other Twin Cities 'hounds and I could introduce you to the local chow! :)


                                                        2. re: Gary Soup

                                                          on hotposts, the name of the poster may or may not be relevant to the reader - I suspect most of us will open an item because of interest in the subject some of the time, no matter who the poster is, and other times because we want to read what a particular poster has to say.

                                                          It would be nice to have the name of the most recent poster on the hot posts list and have the choice. (Its weird that the main boards now show the name of the most recent poster, but not hotposts - seems illogical)

                                                      2. Steve, sorry you're sort of getting attacked here, for which I deeply apologize. It's not appopriate, and I hope you don't take it personally.

                                                        But here's the thing. Chowhound has nothing to do with software or design (if it WAS about those things, we'd never have grown this huge, since they were never our forte!). Chowhound's about a group of kindred spirits who are sick of settling for crap networking together to map all the holdouts and geniuses so none of us ever needs to eat anything undelicious no matter where we go.

                                                        I like this new software and design, though there are some things I don't love. But in any case, what's the diff? It's the cooking that counts, not the napkins.

                                                        Our old software was falling apart, had no search engine, and forced 10mb indexes on you all the time. We all made do and, over nearly a decade, found a way to build something highly useful. This setup is more robust and efficient. And every day hounds are continuing to add to the data trove of chow tips. So I'm happy- it's still accomplishing its aim! - and ask you to cheer up, too! :)


                                                        1. no worries, jim. never really felt threatened :-)

                                                          1. forgot to mention i'm an old newspaper retread. this stuff is mere flirtation.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: steve h

                                                              I think that what steveh is getting at is that while the new chowhound is loads better in terms of everything technical, it doesn't have that same community feel that the old chowhound had. It now feels like your basic reader response site and has lost the focus on the chow.

                                                              The old was like your best friend from elementary school who you've grown up with and are now middle aged with. He's ugly, offensive, a free loader, and all around social mess...but he's your buddy and you'll still talk to him almost every day.

                                                              The new is like your new girlfriend. She's hot as heck and has curves in the all the right places....but she's just not your buddy. Not at all. Just my 2 cents.

                                                            2. I've been a Chowhound lurker for a long time, but as DW Candy has noticed, I have spent way more time looking at the boards since the revamp. This is actually my first post, and it's because I wanted to say it's *because* of the changes. Yes, I'd like to be able to see a collapsed version of the threads with just the "about x hours ago whoozis replied to whatsis" lines rather than tracking individual posters, but so far, my scroll bar seems to work just fine.

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: grover78

                                                                That's great, grover, and I'm glad you were inspired to finally post.

                                                                As a usually daily user, it has been very frustrating to come to long threads like this just to seek out one or two new replies. But if you are coming to a new thread to you, as a casual user or a new user might, it would be so superior to use this software and not have to constantly click.

                                                                1. re: Dave Feldman

                                                                  I came to this long thread and feel that it's quick and easy easy to find the new posts because (1) they're usually at the bottom and (2) they're colored yellow.

                                                                  1. re: Mick Ruthven

                                                                    I've been scanning for the "New" tag Mick, since the yellow background on my monitor is so pale. Any ideas on how to make it more distinguishable, i.e. is it a monitor adjustment or a browser setting (in my case, FireFox)?

                                                                    1. re: Mick Ruthven

                                                                      On this very thread, Mick, there were 6 new replies for me right now, and only two were on the bottom. Two were clustered near the top, and the other two were isolated near the middle. The clusters on the bottom tend to occur after the maximum of five subthreads are exhausted.

                                                                2. Let it be noted that I stopped reading or posting on Chowhound for some five years in large part due to frustration with the old user interface, so without the new software, I wouldn't be reading or posting on Chowhound.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: Pan

                                                                    I agree that the old user interface was horrendous. It took forever for pages to load for me, even on broadband, and it often crashed my browser. Clicking on every reply was time-consuming and tedious. I use the new site a lot more frequently. I am unable to fathom wanting the old site (or even just its good qualities) back, but I wonder if there isn't some way to alter the design of this site slightly so you can CHOOSE to collapse everything that isn't new (in other words, Gmail-like discussion structure), for those who prefer that.

                                                                    The yellow of new posts is very bright on my screens, but for those for whom it isn't, then if the designers can't collapse already-viewed posts, maybe they could put in a searchable "new post here" kind of tag, which you could get to using Control-F. As it is, the "NEW" tag isn't searchable with Control-F and wouldn't be much use anyway with the heavy common usage of the word "new."

                                                                    And Pan is clearly a very serious hound, IMO, so having Pan's input here is really great! Hoo hah!

                                                                  2. When is the site updated? I know for a fact that I've posted MORE than 40 items, but if you do a search, it will list ONLY 40 (and it's always the SAME 40). But, if I click "My Chow" or "Hot Posts", it shows threads I've contributed to that are NOT shown in the search results. Why is this?