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Why I'm no longer using Chowhound much anymore

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  • Dylan Aug 27, 2006 03:38 AM
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LOCKED DISCUSSION

I have to admit I gave the new site a chance, but I basically don't use it very much any more.

As far as reading messages, the new system makes it much hard to see what posts are new. Everything is listed by thread, and it gets kind of old pulling up each thread and scrolling to the bottom to find the one or two things that were added. Which basically means that once I click on a thread once, I'm very unlike to return to it. And the fact that very few threads are listed on the first page means I don't really see much of the site. (Admittedly, were I not so lazy could I click through to the next page? Sure. But, I don't.) And the fact that I no longer know who most of the posters are (despite the attempts of the "mappings" to tell me) makes it simply a less comfortable place to visit.

As far as writing messages, here it's a bit more ineffable. I'm not quite sure why but I rarely feel the need or desire to add to an existing thread. I can't quite figure it out. One reason might be that it's really easy to pull up posts by user. Do I really want a complete catalog of my posts available? I guess not.

Finally, I have for some time been rather frustrated with the loss of Chownews - which was one of my favorite aspects of the site and created a lot of good will towards it.

I know that the Cnet folks had good intentions with the site rewrite, but I fear that fundamental mistakes in the structure of the site have really harmed the franchise.

  1. I share many of your frustrations re: reading the site. As a daily user, it is more time-consuming now than before. I can't really understand your other objections, but it's tough for you to articulate, too (believe me, I understand -- I can' completely understand why I don't use Hot Posts or the tracking features on the new software much, even though I was excited about both initially).

    But I think there is good news on the Chow News front. I don't have any "inside information," but it is coming back, according to posts by Jim here.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Dave Feldman

      I find the new UI much less time-consuming, since if there are 20 new posts in a thread I can just read them, instead of having to click to 20 different pages.

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        I agree.

        1. re: Lucia

          Me too!

    2. Dylan, sorry that you are having issues with the new software. I am not sure if giving visual clues that there are new postings at the thread level is possible, but we'll look into it. Also, CHOW News is actually still here, it is just called Digest. We're putting up RSS and newsletter access very soon, so that should help you out.

      10 Replies
      1. re: Tatum

        Tatum
        What was the rationale behind the current threading model? I don't understand what the advantages of the current one are.

        1. re: Peter Cuce

          We wanted to keep the value of threaded discussions without the UI nightmare of fully threaded discussions. This format is different, we know. But after re-reading my message above, I realized I was wrong in my response. We already do offer the ability to see what's new at the topic level, as I did just now to get to here. Once you're at the thread level, we show you what is new here as well. So I'm not sure why the new software is not helping you find new posts, as it seems to be doing its job quite well (assuming you're logged in, if not, it does not work). Before we launch into the account/anonymous debate, I'll just say that I really liked being able to log into a computer that I've never used before, log in, and find exactly where I left off. This was the point of having the account so we could provide this level of flexibility. The old software only allowed you to see new threads if you were on the same computer all the time.

          1. re: Tatum

            Tatum, its true that we can see what is new at the topic level, but it gets tedious scrolling or clicking to get down to the new stuff on long threads.

            The other issue is figuring out how to reply when the number of levels gets maxed out.

            1. re: jen kalb

              ..and I still find Hotposts..with ALL the Boards mashed together, difficult and frustrating to use...

              1. re: jen kalb

                I agree with Jen. In fact, once a post gets about 40 or so replies, I stop following it because it's such a hassle to find the "new" posts in the thread and, often, the text of the new posts appears and disappears when you’re trying to read it.

                For instance that thread about the "best chowhounding cities" that has in excess of a hundred posts? I’ve stopped following it, even though I’m interested in the topic, because it’s just too much of a bother:

                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                EDIT: oh, and the other thing that happens as I scroll down the humongous threads in search of the "new" post is that my screen temporarily freezes while it catches up to my rigorous down-scrolling.

                ~TDQ

                1. re: jen kalb

                  first Tatum if you are reading along, thanks for making your presence known on this thread, and for all your help.

                  since the number of levels just maxed out, I could only reply to derek by replying to myself - its really impossible to get anything out of hotposts for "all of chowhound" - the result of the current format is that Im now reviewing hotposts on at least ten boards, and skipping manhattan, because, in full text form, its just too big to follow.

                  When you consider how much clicking, scrolling up and down etc one has to do each time we visit a board, it gets sort of tedious. Even the list of options in the hotposts scroll menu - its gotten so long that they arent all visible at one time - it would be quicker to have two levels, say NYC - Best, and have to click twice than to have to both scroll and click.
                  As I mentioned another time, it would also be really nice to have the option to look at hotposts on a "higher" leve - say NYC or asia - rather than being forced down to the micro level. Im interested in So Asia but it just got its first post in a number of days - a post on Singapore that really belongs on the confusing "Greater Asia" board. I wouldnt feel it was such a waste of time if I could (optionally) scroll through all of Asia or International instead.

                  1. re: jen kalb

                    I don't understand how anyone can find scrolling down a page to find the new posts as tedious as the endless clicking back and forth on the old site.

                    1. re: jen kalb

                      To Robert Lauriston:
                      I hated the old site interface. But just because that one was bad doesn't mean this one is automatically good. Anyway, on the old site I used to open up every thread I wanted to read in a separate tab.

                      1. re: jen kalb

                        The new site could be refined, e.g. by having the "New" icon be a link to the first new post, or with collapsible outlines that would hide branches without new posts.

                        But the minor annoyances of the new UI are *nothing* compared with the profound and pervasive horribleness of the old one.

                        1. re: jen kalb

                          Also to Robert Lauriston

                          I used the old site a lot and have been trying the new site a lot, hoping it would grow on me. I have to say that I much preferred clicking to scrolling. Call me nuts but that is how it is... for me.

                  2. Since I feel like the people-up-there are paying attention to this thread, I'll reiterate my idea that Jen is talking about, which is to use Craigslist style organization for the board groupings. For example, you could click on Asia and see all the threads, or you could click on Japan and see just the Japan threads, and when you were posting, you would have to choose a specific board to post on, possibly through a drop down box.
                    I also think Jen summarized the pain of the current threading model very well.
                    See example here:
                    http://newyork.craigslist.org/sss/

                    1. Tatum,

                      It takes much, much longer for hardcore (i.e., daily) users of Chowhound who used to use the old Hot Posts to follow long threads. I don't think it's a coincidence that all of the posters on this thread are hardcore users, including Robert Lauriston. If Robert is referring to how the new interface is better in finding new replies on "old" threads than clicking and backspacing, then you must not have used the old hot posts. I virtually never had to go to the index. From hot posts, there was no back-spacing necessary at all, no waiting for the index to load.

                      That's the crux of the problem for me, Tatum. With this new software, there is no quick way to get to the new replies on busy threads, and no way to follow complex exchanges, where there are several dialogs going on within a thread. As Jen, points out above, there is no way for me to address Robert directly, or you directly. This post is going to land on the bottom, but if five people before me hadn't hit "reply" and one had hit "post my reply," the software would have reacted differently.

                      With the login and cookies, you have the ability to show us only posts and replies since the last time we logged on. Wouldn't this be an option that would be of great value to us -- it would be like an automatic hot posts, and solve many of these problems.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Dave Feldman

                        Call me elitist, but I think there was tremendous value in being able to see who was active in a thread just by looking at the index.

                        1. re: Chimayo Joe

                          I agree with you - not about being elitist, but wanting to see who had posted.

                      2. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                        about 4 hours ago Peter Cuce replied to jen kalb

                        To Robert Lauriston:
                        I hated the old site interface. But just because that one was bad doesn't mean this one is automatically good. Anyway, on the old site I used to open up every thread I wanted to read in a separate tab.
                        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                        That's how I used the old interface--opened the index page of whichever board then opened the threads into new tabs(actually into new windows since I was using IE then.) Never really had the loading time issues that some people had with the old system because I only loaded the index once(and began opening threads before it was fully loaded) and didn't use the back button much.

                        I don't spend as much time here now as I did before, don't read as many threads, and don't post as much. Tend to focus on the threads that REALLY interest me rather than reading a large portion of the board's content as I did before. I still don't like the unthreaded index of the new interface which doesn't allow me to dip into the board as I see fit. Props on the improved search though.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Chimayo Joe

                          I read the old site in much the same way. It was still ridiculous to have to load a new page for each post.

                          I've used around a hundred different conferencing systems over the past 19 years and the old Chowhound was in the bottom 10% as far as usability and user-friendliness. The new one is in the top 10%.

                        2. I liked the old Hot Posts because then I read all the different regions if something triggered my interest. I really find the new to be very tedious and rarely look at Chowhound any more.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: LikestoEatout

                            I must be missing something, like you I monitor a number of boards (8 or 9) on a regular basis. I've found by starting at the bottom of the pull down menu (Wine), right clicking to open in a new window on those that interest me, then clicking "Mark All as Read", and using the drop down menu to select up to the next board of interest, I can race through all of them quickly and efficiently, much more so than plodding through the old system. Of course threads with many replies become tedious trying to find the new post, unless it's at the bottom, but I'm finding when they get very long, there's not much substance that gets added.

                            1. re: PolarBear

                              Where is "Mark All as Read"?

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                At the top of the page, for example:

                                Hot Posts for General Chowhounding Topics
                                The topics with new posts since your last visit to this page (Mark all as Read)

                          2. I used to use Hot Posts constantly, now I never touch it. I think there are two main problems with the current Hot Posts and I have proposed solutions:

                            1) The limitation of either viewing all boards or one board. In the old Hot Posts, posts were sorted by board so it was really easy to scroll through and look at new posts from the boards that interest you. Now, if you are interested in a few boards you have to manually select and scroll through each, which completely defeats the purpose of Hot Posts (which is fast and easy access to new posts that interest you).
                            It seems to me that it would be fairly easy to include a Hot Posts setting in My Chow so that you could customize which boards you view on Hot Posts. In my case, I would like to see posts from SF, LA, GT, NAF and FM&N. I'm not really interested on other boards most days. If I could hit one button and see all the new posts from those five boards I would definitely use Hot Posts. If you had the choice to either sort by board or sort by lasted entry that would be fantastic.

                            2) The other problem with Hot Posts is that the links send you to the top of the page. When threads get long, it requires quite a bit of searching to find the new post (although the yellow shading helps enormously). With the old Hot Posts you would link directly to the new post. True, this involved more clicking but at least you knew where to click.
                            I think the solution to this would be to have each Hot Post entry feature an option to link directly to the post in question. Essentially, the computer would do the scrolling and scanning for you.

                            I am fairly certain that if you made these two changes you would placate many of the old users who are frustrated with the new interface.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Morton the Mousse

                              I TOTALLY AGREE!
                              This would really work for me...

                            2. All:

                              We sincerely appreciate the opinions and ideas in this thread. We are extremely glad that this thread stayed constructive as well. Let me also say thanks for sticking it out with us through this transition, as we know change is difficult - and for some - annoying. This will be an evolving conversation, so keep the comments coming as we really do want to create the best forum system we can for you. However, please also remember that we will not be able to address each Chowhound's preferences. That said, some of these ideas are absolutely great, and we will put them on the product road map. It seems to us there are a few features we should consider for development, based on this thread:

                              ADVANCED FEATURES

                              1. Topic-level author participation: the ability to see authors who have participated in a thread. (Note: we tried to address this in the first release, but we couldn't make it work without creating a ridiculous amount of overhead for the machines. We'll give it another look later this Fall).

                              2. Multi-board HotPost viewing: the ability to see new posts from multiple boards from one view. e.g. subscribe to new posts in Outer Boroughs & Home Cooking from one view that can be accessed through MyChow.

                              BASIC FEATURE

                              1. We need a better viewing system for long threads. This one is going to take some thinking and some time. Be patient, but know that we are reviewing this as well.

                              Again, thank you for the feedback. I'm going to leave this thread open for a few more hours, then we need to close it so we can go back to talking food and drink. We will open up some new threads over the next few weeks to talk about feature ideas and feedback.

                              If you REALLY want to talk site development today, it would be great if you could look over at CHOW.com (login with your CH account name and password) and let us know what you think of Chowhound's sister site. We literally just got the beta up, and it needs all the critical eyes and constructive feedback you can give.

                              8 Replies
                              1. re: Tatum

                                You are computer GODS!
                                Thanks for letting us know that we are heard and understood,,,

                                1. re: ChowFun_derek

                                  Now if we could only switch from relative dates to actuals.
                                  :-)

                                2. re: Tatum

                                  Thank you so much for working on these issues. I think if you implemented those three changes (and included real dates) you would silence 95% of the criticism from old hounds. Of course, some will always be hostile to change.

                                  1. re: Tatum

                                    thanks!

                                    one last bit - the color difference in the marking of the NEW posts is awfully subtle and tasteful - sometimes in long threads when I cant find the new posts, I am tilting my laptop screen back and forth and scrolling up and down to find them- please think about other ways you can highlight these more aggressively.

                                    thanks again

                                    1. re: jen kalb

                                      Jen- Funny- the color difference on my home computer is very subtle, but it is really easy to see on my work computer. Will have to check my resolution settings, and see if that makes any difference.

                                      1. re: jen kalb

                                        Agreed. On my laptop the color distinction is almost invisible. On a CRT I have no problem. (Others have mentioned this in the past.)

                                        1. re: Bob Martinez

                                          I have the "too subtle" color problem on my laptop as well...I just blamed it on age, and male color blindness....nice to know I needn't blame myself...

                                      2. re: Tatum

                                        Thanks, Tatum. I know you understand that we wouldn't be harping if we didn't care. I appreciate all the advances in the new software.

                                      3. thank you all - especially jen and peter for stating the problems so clearly and for tatum for addressing them. these technical problems kind of erode the sense of community that used to be here. there used to be more agressive posting rather than asking and more familiar posters so that you knew how to gauge a comment. maybe that will come back in time. i miss it and i'm as guilty as anyone, it's just not as comfortable. we'll see........