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Brewing beer, curing meat, or making cheese?


Bob Martinez Aug 11, 2006 05:21 AM

I have given it a try, I really have, but this weird convention of identifying dates as "5 days ago" or "4 months ago" is driving me nuts. What's next - "four score and seven years ago?" "Posted in the 7th day of Capricorn?"

For years thousands of CH posters managed to navigate the board and identify posts by the date and time they were posted. It was easy - nobody asked for a change. Since CH has moved from a tree model to a flat model it's even more important to be able to get an idea of when something was posted. On an active thread seeing 15 posts all marked "one day ago" doesn't tell me much.

I know - some well intentioned site designer thought this would be a swell idea. They meant well but it isn't working out.

There's a reason that every other site identifies posts with the actual date and time - it works best.

Give us back our dates and times.

  1. m
    mimolette Sep 11, 2006 01:17 AM

    maybe do it like www.fatwallet.com

    1. b
      babar ganesh Sep 11, 2006 12:06 AM

      real dates! real dates! i don't care about time zones; just pick one or make everything EST or PST.

      the other thing that bothers me, though i know it shouldn't, is the leading zero as in:

      posted by Bob Martinez on Aug 02, 2006 3:21 AM

      1. Das Ubergeek Sep 9, 2006 02:58 PM

        Another person for real dates. I was looking for my own posts for trips we've made to Baja California. I had to do maths to figure out whether I wanted the posts that were 550 days (or whatever) ago, or 920 days ago, instead of being able to look for the date itself.

        "Over four years ago" doesn't help me.

        I don't even care if they have to be in GMT... at least then there's only an seven-hour difference to be accounted for (like when the old Chowhound had all the dates in Eastern time and Hot Posts refreshed to the new date at 9 PM in California).

        2 Replies
        1. re: Das Ubergeek
          carswell Sep 9, 2006 03:08 PM

          It wouldn't be hard to program a time-zone setting for each user into the software, especially since CH Engineering must already be looking at some sort of user profile in order to make customizable Hot Posts possible. That would obviate the need for mental math, which is, after all, why god invented computers.

          1. re: Das Ubergeek
            butterfly Sep 11, 2006 02:41 PM

            There's absolutely no reason why the dates would need to be in GMT. It's very easy to adjust the dates and times from GMT (if not for every user--which is impossible right now, since users don't identify their location--at least to Eastern time).

          2. c
            Chimayo Joe Sep 8, 2006 08:00 PM

            I prefer real dates, too.

            1. LindaWhit Sep 5, 2006 02:33 PM

              So Chowhound Engineering, any more feedback about adding "real dates" vs. what you *seem* to think users want?

              The overwhelming majority here on this thread is that people want real dates - or at least the ability to CHOOSE real dates vs. the horribly formatted relative dates. And if you posted a post on all boards linking back to this thread, I'd bet the overwhelming majority choice would continue to be real vs. relative dates.

              I have been to countless message boards, and none of them - NONE OF THEM - use relative dating. And I never see any requests for relative dating over real dates. So why have it here? Or does this just come down to CH Engineering programmers deciding what users want, without taking into account what makes sense or what the users want?

              You've all been so great with making other logical changes when the board format switched over; why is this seemingly simple request being ignored?

              (And I say "seemingly simple" without any knowledge of what it takes to make the change or add the choice of real dates, so please take that into account.)

              1. p
                Pan Sep 2, 2006 06:40 AM

                As it seems to be important for all those who favor real dates to state their opinion, I would like to be on record as favoring them.

                1. f
                  fickle Sep 2, 2006 04:26 AM

                  I vote for real dates too!

                  1. Karl S Sep 1, 2006 12:48 PM

                    Add me to the list of those who much prefer real dates if we have to choose one or the other.

                    1. c
                      chowda Sep 1, 2006 12:44 PM

                      agreed! worst case, you can just put both, # of days ago, AND the date. The more info the better!

                      1. Chuckles the Clone Aug 30, 2006 11:50 PM

                        Here is a perfect example of why absolute dates are *necessary*, not just a good idea.
                        The basis of the chowhound experience is reputation and trust. One learns over time
                        the reliability of the recommendations and opinions of the various usernames (if
                        not the actual users behind those names).

                        There are two posts further up this thread. One by me and one by Bob Martinez.
                        We both suggest doing exactly the same thing. I posted one day before Bob:
                        At the moment, it is clear that my posting came first: mine was "17 days ago" and
                        Bob's was "16 days ago". If 15 days, that's not going to work anymore because
                        both will say "one months ago". (And note how it is impossible for me to
                        refer to "my posting on August 12th" since that information is now hidden,
                        and referring to "my post 17 days ago" is useless because it is only findable
                        as such today


                        This particular issue is completely innocuous, we were both saying a very obvious
                        thing and it doesn't matter. But in more chowish discussions, it could mean a lot
                        to know who is coming up with food discoveries and who is just echoing.

                        It is disappointing to read the very stubborn and defensive replies from "chowhound
                        engineering" which suggest that they neither know nor care to find out more about the
                        issue. In my expierience this is not an engineeering issue anyway, it's a question of
                        user interface design which is best done far from the engineering department.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Chuckles the Clone
                          ShortOrderHack Aug 31, 2006 02:58 AM

                          I agree with your date-oriented sentiments, but I'd like to point out that design and engineering are not mutually exclusive! Quite the opposite, they must work hand-in-hand to produce a superior product, although practically speaking poor management often precludes this.

                        2. jfood Aug 27, 2006 09:23 PM

                          I am in the minority. I like the new date format. I like the idea that I can see relative dates to current time than absolute dates. I do not care if 1186 days ago is two years or three years, it is really an old post.

                          My minor complaint is that I do not think they are always accurate. Sometimes I see "1 Day Ago" and I am positive that they have been there longer.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Pan
                            Peter Cuce Aug 28, 2006 03:32 AM

                            I don't mind relative dates, but it wouldn't be too hard to offer both -- I might like to see it that way sometimes. It should be a setting in the My Chow area. However, the relative dates having days as the unit drives me nuts.

                          2. toodie jane Aug 26, 2006 04:11 PM

                            has anyone explained WHY it was thought to be a good idea to list in DAYS rather than actual dates?

                            I agree that the days listing is unnecessarily awkward. Who ever says "167 days ago I...."? No, it's " Last May, I went fishing in Baja ...."

                            Just plain awkward, self-conscious and artificial.

                            Please change it.

                            21 Replies
                            1. re: toodie jane
                              jhammon Aug 27, 2006 02:41 AM

                              Remember this post from 14 days ago?

                              "14 days ago Chowhound Engineering replied to Bob Martinez

                              "Based upon the feedback we've received, more people enjoy the relative dates than not."

                              That seems so hard to believe, based upon the feedback in this thread alone. Dare I suggest that Chowhound Engineering take another look at the feedback?

                              1. re: jhammon
                                Engineering Aug 28, 2006 06:36 AM

                                We do pay attention to feedback, but there are over 19,000 registered users and only 28 have posted in this thread.

                                1. re: Engineering
                                  Bob Martinez Aug 28, 2006 11:44 AM

                                  "We do pay attention to feedback, but there are over 19,000 registered users and only 28 have posted in this thread."

                                  I'm assuming that the positive feedback on relative dates that you referred to earlier came in the form of private emails directly to the Engineering Team since the sentiment on the public boards seems pretty negative.

                                  Site Talk is only viewed by a fraction of CH users but there's an easy way to get a wider sample of member's feelings about relative dates. We could post "pointer" emails to this thread on some of the major boards. That would bring lots of responses.

                                  Would the moderators allow this?

                                  1. re: Bob Martinez
                                    LindaWhit Aug 28, 2006 02:37 PM

                                    And the percentage of those that actually use Site Talk is what? Seems to be a fraction of the registered users, as Bob Martinez said. The overwhelming majority on *this* thread is for REAL dates. And that's the only context we as users have - we have to go on faith that CH Engineering is saying that the overwhelming desire by users is for relative dates. You can say that's what is wanted, but how do we know?

                                    How hard can it be to provide both to the user - real and relative dates? Let the user make the choice. I'd love to see what the overwhelming choice would be.

                                  2. re: Engineering
                                    ShortOrderHack Aug 28, 2006 01:02 PM

                                    If you are going to look at only this board, I think the appropriate metric to use is % pro/con, not total number of replies.

                                    1. re: Engineering
                                      Peter Cuce Aug 28, 2006 01:24 PM

                                      So the positive feedback you received before was more in the neighborhood of 19,000 than 28?

                                      1. re: Peter Cuce
                                        ShortOrderHack Aug 28, 2006 03:44 PM

                                        Another interesting metric to look at is the average number of posters on a Site Talk thread, and whether 28 is significantly more or less than that. That might indicate the level of interest compared to other topics. (normalized for time that the thread is up, if necessary)

                                        There are many more indicative ways of evaluating the validity of '28', but referring to 28 posters vs. 19,000 registered users is not one of them.

                                      2. re: Engineering
                                        carswell Aug 28, 2006 08:50 PM

                                        All right, then. Let me make it 29. And need I point out that many of the previous 28 are people who do more than their share when it comes to contributing valuable content to this site?

                                        1. re: carswell
                                          E Eto Aug 28, 2006 08:51 PM

                                          I'll be 30.

                                          1. re: carswell
                                            The Dairy Queen Aug 28, 2006 08:52 PM

                                            31 (casting my paranoia aside)


                                            1. re: carswell
                                              Chris VR Aug 28, 2006 09:08 PM

                                              Count me as 31. That was one of my first negative comments about this software- I hate the dates.

                                              1. re: carswell
                                                JoanN Aug 28, 2006 09:41 PM


                                                1. re: carswell
                                                  rose water Aug 29, 2006 04:57 PM

                                                  count me as thirty something. i find it hard to follow the flow of a conversation when multiple posts say "about 20 hours ago" or "3 days ago" and get itchy to know who came first

                                                  1. re: carswell
                                                    mirage Sep 1, 2006 12:34 PM

                                                    I've been periodically reading this thread and assuming that the powers that be would soon see the logic in having actual dates and times. It occurred to me that by not posting our opinions they might be counting those of us reading along as agreeing with the current situation. Please, moderators, don't do that. I for one really *hate* these relative dates. My brain doesn't process information that way - it seems kind of... spacial. (I can't arrange flowers, either.) Anyway, when I read "3 days ago" and "5 days ago" (let alone those huge numbers) my brain goes into a fog. The only way out is to completely ignore that information. Not terribly useful.

                                                    1. re: carswell
                                                      limster Sep 1, 2006 04:52 PM

                                                      From reading above, I don't think the moderators have anything to do with the user interface. I think it's a request that would have to be made to Chowhound Engineering.

                                                      1. re: carswell
                                                        jhammon Sep 2, 2006 01:02 AM

                                                        Good point, limster! Does anyone know how we can bring this to the attention of Chowhound Engineering?

                                                        1. re: carswell
                                                          limster Sep 2, 2006 03:28 AM

                                                          I'm assuming Chowhound Engineering reads this board -- they replied to some of the posts above.

                                                        2. re: Engineering
                                                          LindaWhit Aug 28, 2006 09:24 PM

                                                          Here is a PERFECT example of not having REAL dates.....


                                                          It's a post from Burke & Wells, first posted back in 2001. *ALL* replies say something like "1802 days ago..."


                                                          Only the last response from about 2 hours ago (sometime around 3pm-ish Eastern Daylight Time today) says anything of merit. But everything else - 1802 DAYS AGO???????

                                                          I have NO idea how the initial post would have gotten to the forefront of the GenTopics board for someone to have responded to it recently, but this is a perfect example of the relative dating being so completely user-UNfriendly!

                                                          1. re: Engineering
                                                            Deb Van D Aug 29, 2006 06:46 PM

                                                            Well, here's a little more feedback for you. I want REAL dates, too. A lot.

                                                            I was just reading something that I posted 1,022 days ago.

                                                            Good times.

                                                            1. re: Engineering
                                                              jhammon Sep 2, 2006 01:16 AM

                                                              Chowhound Engineering said, "We do pay attention to feedback, but there are over 19,000 registered users and only 28 have posted in this thread."

                                                              Are there any figures on how many of the 19,000 have given feedback favoring relative dates as opposed to actual dates? If all 19,000 were polled, my guess is that at least 17,000 would say they prefer actual dates, based on the feedback we can see on the boards at this time.

                                                              1. re: Engineering
                                                                abrocadabro Sep 8, 2006 07:29 PM

                                                                Add my vote for real dates and times.

                                                          2. f
                                                            feelinpeckish Aug 26, 2006 11:32 AM

                                                            List one more vote for real dates, the current "system" is:
                                                            1) artificial
                                                            2) STUPID
                                                            3) meaningless
                                                            4) count this as at least 4 against current system

                                                            1. m
                                                              Mick Ruthven Aug 26, 2006 04:00 AM

                                                              Another vote for real dates and times. And for letting the user set their own time zone that controls the times displayed. That's standard on many forums I visit.

                                                              1. Peter Cuce Aug 25, 2006 04:28 AM

                                                                You know, if you're going to have 1974 days ago (instead of 5.4 years), than why not be consistent and have 0.0284722222 days ago (instead of 41 minutes)? :)

                                                                1. d
                                                                  Dave Feldman Aug 25, 2006 03:44 AM

                                                                  I'm trying to think of a single advantage to relative dating. At least, for a non-paranoid person.

                                                                  DF, ducking a Brazier-cooked thingie flung by TDQ.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: Dave Feldman
                                                                    The Dairy Queen Aug 25, 2006 03:45 PM

                                                                    The paranoid thing aside, neither can I.


                                                                  2. m
                                                                    munchie1 Aug 18, 2006 10:03 PM


                                                                    1. Woodside Al Aug 17, 2006 07:55 PM

                                                                      Another vote for real dates and times. Since the threading response feature often leaves posts physically out of chronological order, the relative dating further serves to often make it impossible to figure out which posts come before or after others.

                                                                      My question: other that Dairy Queen's admittedly paranoid reasons above, why would anyone prefer the non-specific dating?

                                                                      1. The Dairy Queen Aug 17, 2006 01:39 AM

                                                                        Okay, now that's funny.

                                                                        I've been mute on this point to-date, but I have two comments, one very embarrassing because it reveals the ultra-paranoid side of my personality. I like that the posts don't list the time of day-- so twenty minutes, two hours, 1 day --works for me. Frankly, I like the idea that, after the fact, no one knows exactly what time of day I'm posting. Beyond that, I like dates. So, what if, within 48 hours we have relative time and beyond that, month and date but no time of day?


                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                          Bob Martinez Aug 17, 2006 12:59 PM

                                                                          "Frankly, I like the idea that, after the fact, no one knows exactly what time of day I'm posting."

                                                                          Why? I'm curious.

                                                                          1. re: Bob Martinez
                                                                            The Dairy Queen Aug 17, 2006 01:23 PM

                                                                            I told you it was paranoid. :) I don't know, I just don't think anyone really needs to know what I was doing at 8:23am on August 17, 2006. I fear it would be incriminating should I ever run for public office or something and someone wants to dredge up a bunch of old posts. ;-)


                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                              Bob Martinez Aug 17, 2006 01:29 PM

                                                                              You shold try using your real name like me. :-)

                                                                              It helps to have a common name. Anyone who Googles me gets this -

                                                                              1. re: Bob Martinez
                                                                                The Dairy Queen Aug 17, 2006 01:38 PM

                                                                                HA! Nice to make your acquaintance, Mr. Governor. Anyone who googles me gets this:



                                                                              2. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                ChinoWayne Aug 25, 2006 06:14 AM

                                                                                Well you needn't be concerned whether or not dates and times are displaying on your postings here, you should be more concerned what your employer's spyware is logging in terms of dates and times. ;-)

                                                                                1. re: ChinoWayne
                                                                                  The Dairy Queen Aug 25, 2006 03:43 PM

                                                                                  Hehe. How do I figure that out?


                                                                          2. Alice Patis Aug 17, 2006 12:43 AM

                                                                            Did things just take a step BACKWARDS? We used to see "3 weeks ago" or "7 months ago" or "about 2 years ago" but now the units are always in DAYS. Like in this post explaining whether to buy fresh vs frozen dungeness crab:

                                                                            2022 days ago! Is that before toast was invented? The mind boggles...

                                                                            I can't focus on the chow, I'm too busy dividing 2022 by 365, then trying to figure out what month that is so I can determine if the post was written during crab season (Nov to March).

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: Alice Patis
                                                                              Sarah Aug 17, 2006 03:23 AM

                                                                              Exactly my point and what I complained about oh-so-long ago -- can't find the post now, but I totally agree w/you. It's important as to what time of year/season the post was written.

                                                                            2. Alice Patis Aug 16, 2006 05:43 PM

                                                                              "Based upon the feedback we've received, more people enjoy the relative dates than not."

                                                                              Hmm ok. Well then count me as one of those who enjoy real dates over relative dates! I don't care if the time is GMT, or customizable to my timezone, I just want the exact date and not "about 3 years ago".

                                                                              1. Robert Lauriston Aug 12, 2006 09:48 PM

                                                                                I find relative dates less confusing than GMT.

                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                  Chuckles the Clone Aug 13, 2006 06:03 AM

                                                                                  I find them equally confusing: neither one gives me any useful information.
                                                                                  It would be nice to be able to specify a locale in my profile and have dates
                                                                                  in my timezone. And if it's really being designed by consensus, as Chowhound
                                                                                  Engineering suggests, then maybe provide an absolute/relative switch in
                                                                                  the profile as well.

                                                                                  1. re: Chuckles the Clone
                                                                                    limster Aug 13, 2006 07:49 AM

                                                                                    So long as I have a rough idea of the posting time to within a few days, it doesn't make a significant difference for me one way or the other.

                                                                                  2. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                    butterfly Sep 11, 2006 02:30 PM

                                                                                    Theres's no reason why it would have to be GMT... They could make it Eastern time and anyone in the US could figure it out. There's no priority here to accomodate users in other countries, so that won't be a concern.

                                                                                  3. a
                                                                                    adamandeve Aug 12, 2006 01:10 PM

                                                                                    Specially if that means we'll get Bob posting as he did before the change!! Please do whatever he wants, we miss him!!!!

                                                                                    12 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: adamandeve
                                                                                      Bob Martinez Aug 12, 2006 03:33 PM

                                                                                      For better or worse I'm posting at about the same level I did before the site changeover. Maybe even a bit more.

                                                                                      I appreciate all the work that was done to bring the site up to speed but this "4 months ago" convention gets in the way of trying to follow posts in the order that they are written. It's like trying to read a book where every page in a given chapter has the same page number. You know roughly where it belongs but it makes it hard to follow the actual flow of conversation.

                                                                                      The default for message board software is real dates and times. I would think that all the programmers need to so is throw a software switch to make the real dates appear. It's not hard to do. Why not do it and make people happy?

                                                                                      1. re: Bob Martinez
                                                                                        Engineering Aug 12, 2006 04:24 PM

                                                                                        Based upon the feedback we've received, more people enjoy the relative dates than not.

                                                                                        1. re: Engineering
                                                                                          Bob Martinez Aug 14, 2006 02:28 PM

                                                                                          How about this. The server is already keeping the actual dates and times - it uses them to do a calculation every time you call up a thread to tell you how many hours minutes and days it's been since something was posted.

                                                                                          Since it's there already, how about giving us the individual option to display it? People could make their own choices. If possible (and the feature may be already built into the board software already) each user could identify their home timezone. That way the time settings would be accurate for all parts of the country.

                                                                                          That would make everybody happy.

                                                                                          1. re: Bob Martinez
                                                                                            squid kun Aug 16, 2006 07:44 AM

                                                                                            Great suggestion. And count me among those who prefers actual dates and times.

                                                                                          2. re: Engineering
                                                                                            LindaWhit Aug 16, 2006 01:04 PM

                                                                                            Well, I'd much rather see REAL dates vs. "59 days ago" or "7 months ago". I agree with Chuckles below - how about giving us the option to choose our Time Zone? That way, we're not all working off of GMT and calculating when the post actually was - we can see it in our own real time?

                                                                                            1. re: Engineering
                                                                                              ShortOrderHack Aug 16, 2006 01:18 PM

                                                                                              It should be simple to display both real and relative dates, side by side. The home board could identify the default local time zone, with a profile option to customize the local zone.

                                                                                              1. re: Engineering
                                                                                                JMF Aug 19, 2006 01:37 PM

                                                                                                Feedback from who? I'm one of the folks who definately wants the real date and time. Having to try and figure out a date from "2234 days ago" makes no sense.

                                                                                                1. re: Engineering
                                                                                                  jhammon Aug 22, 2006 02:49 AM

                                                                                                  "Based on the feedback" you've received? Are you getting different feedback from what we see on the board? It really looks to me like most people prefer real dates. Personally, I find "227 days ago" to be inconvenient and annoying.

                                                                                                  1. re: jhammon
                                                                                                    zruilong Aug 23, 2006 05:21 PM

                                                                                                    Fine. Here's more real feedback. CHANGE THE DATES!

                                                                                                  2. re: Engineering
                                                                                                    ShortOrderHack Aug 27, 2006 04:20 AM

                                                                                                    Sorry for replying to you Chow Engineers yet again in the same thread, but I figure my best chance of you listening to us on this post is to reply to you specifically. (Re: my comment "10 days ago" advocating both real and relative dates)

                                                                                                    Of course, tomorrow "10 days ago" will not be the same thing as it is now, so a major failure of relative dates is the inability to reference a specific post. On the other hand, in defense of relative dating, recent posts on a hot topic, i.e. "2 minutes ago", "5 minutes", "1 hour", etc. make it easy to track very recent activity.

                                                                                                    So, why don't you admit that 1) many people really do want real dates, and 2) there are real advantages to real dates plus real advantages to relative dates ?? Thus, the logical thing to do is provide the ability to do both??

                                                                                                    I would also like to acknowledge your generally fine website so as not to appear as a completely unappreciative boob. Thanks for the overall great job.

                                                                                                    1. re: Engineering
                                                                                                      Ike Sep 9, 2006 05:14 AM

                                                                                                      I prefer real dates. I'm glad at least the first post in every thread currently has real dates. The relative dates (e.g. "455 days ago"), like in all the replies currently, drive me up the wall. I'm astonished that anybody would enjoy relative dates.

                                                                                                      And to echo ShortOrderHack, so as not to seem like an unappreciative dingbat, I'd like to say thanks to the Chowhound Team for the overall great job. This board is a lot easier to use than the old one, and loads a lot more quickly. I use it a lot more. The old one crashed my browser or froze up my computer half the time, despite having broadband.

                                                                                                      1. re: Engineering
                                                                                                        butterfly Sep 11, 2006 02:26 PM

                                                                                                        Well count me in as another who would prefer real dates and times....

                                                                                                  3. Melanie Wong Aug 12, 2006 03:19 AM


                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: Melanie Wong
                                                                                                      The Dairy Queen Aug 12, 2006 03:23 AM

                                                                                                      No silly, REAL DATES!!!



                                                                                                    2. Sarah Aug 11, 2006 08:49 PM

                                                                                                      Totally agree - I complained early on, and the CHTeam agreed then that it wasn't exactly "user friendly." Two months later, nothing's changed.

                                                                                                      1. n
                                                                                                        noisejoke Aug 11, 2006 02:19 PM


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