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Aug 31, 2006 04:36 PM

Hater topics now OK?

Re the "Overrated disappointments" topic on the SF Bay Area board:

I've been active on that board for several years and negative topics of this "don't you just hate" or "what's the worst" school have consistently been removed.

The term "overrated" isn't about the posters' opinion of the food; it's a value judgment on other people's opinions. Consequently I don't see how discussion of which places are overrated is going to help anyone find great food.

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  1. It certainly looks like it got a good conversation going - albeit a negatively slanted one. I've seen this on other boards, and as a way to get the conversation started, I think it's as good as any. It's not a personal challenge, but rather a challenge to a group consensus. It makes the responder think of specifics to answer with, and that's always good.

    Several years ago, after a seemingly Boston hound mass agreement on the wonders of East Coast Grill, my first visit was a dissapointment and I said so. Lots of people responded, gave me things to try and to think about, and I appreciated every bit of information I got out of that post. I have been many times since, and feel that the consensus was right - it is a great place.

    1. When people report details of a bad meal at a particular restaurant, that can be helpful in finding good chow.

      But topic 321944 is mostly vague comments that certain places are overrated (i.e. that most posts alegedly recommended them) without reports on what people ate or what specifically they found disappointing.

      Melanie Wong, one of the most active longtime participants on that board, made a similar observation:

      5 Replies
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        I agree with Robert that there is an important distinction between balanced critique and unfounded dismissal. Saying that a place "is not worth the hype" or rattling off a list of "overrated" restaurants does nothing to help others find good chow and creates a negative, unproductive atmosphere. In the thread in question there are maybe three negative comments that actually include reasoned criticism and about 25 negative comments that provide no useful information at all.

        These types of threads are also just begging for flaming and trolling.

        1. re: Morton the Mousse

          Well said, MtM, I agree with Robert as well. A perfect example is the post that merely listed four places they considered to fit the criteria, however rworange posted that she agreed with the list but added links that explained why. The former had absolutely no value.

          I'm reminded of a few years ago a certain poster/flamer took me to task for questioning her habit of automatically including all places IHNSHO to avoid in any given area along with her suggestions to the OPs that addressed their requests.

          My point was why even bother to mention/list places you dislike unless the poster specifically asks about those places. Likewise, it seems to me that asking whether a specific place lives up to the hype it receives along with the whys and why nots has value and supports our CH mission, long lists of opinions (e.g. the LA thread) are just a waste of electrons.

        2. re: Robert Lauriston

          From 321944:
          "I recommend Bodega Bistro all the time because it has some of the best Vietnamese food I've found and unlike a lot of its competitors it's open at my dinnertime. The papay salad is tops. The spring rolls, pork bun, fried mushroom and crab rolls, pad thai, and crepe were all first-rate."

          Good, decently specific info there...

          Question is - would someone have been looking at this negative megathread for that kind of info? Would you have posted this info separately in a positive review thread if not so prompted by this negative question? Thankfully, it's searchable, regardless.

          I guess that I just don't see what you guys are getting at. Negative is as important to me as positive. Details to back up both are absolutely necessary to create any credibility. Ultimately, my personal filters hone in on responses I want to care about and weed out those I don't - I'm sure it's the same for everyone else, and I'm equally sure that all our filters aren't the same.

          Reichl hands out more 2-stars than 3 or certainly, 4. I want to read the 2-star reports as much as the others.

          1. re: applehome

            Speaking of hater threads and weeding out, that's ultimately the purpose for reading those threads for me. I can read through one long thread and weed out many posters whose posts I no longer need to bother reading. There's bunch of 'em in that LA "overhyped" thread.

            1. re: applehome

              That information was abridged directly from my report on my first visit to Bodega Bistro.

              I was responding to, "I don't understand why people rave about Bodega Bistro, which is very good but not overwhelming."

              What does that tell you about Bodega Bistro's food? It's very good, so you'd want to eat there, right?

              So what's the point of going on about how other posters allegedly rave about the place, with no links to the alleged raves, and no specific criticisms to explain why the "very good" food didn't merit them? How does that serve Chowhound's mission of helping people find good eats?

          2. I wonder if the moderators are all in a meeting today or something. Normally topics that are only about service problems with no comment on the food (as in, "they screwed up my reservation so we didn't eat there") get removed soon after I report them.

            Wait, I know that's not true, since one of my posts was removed from 321944.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Hi.. Robert: your post above, where you mention reporting other's posts that do not serve 'Chowhound's mission' really got me thinking. All along, I've been seeing three shades of red in regard to the zealous mods itchy delete fingers. But now it occurs to me that perhaps it's much more common for other CHers to be the ones initiating the deletion process, via the 'report this post' link on every post. I speculate that many many others probably share the mission of feeding the mods with suitable grist for the deletion mill. This makes alot more sense now...

              1. re: silence9

                When moderators delete replies, sometimes they'll send (or at least used to send) an email saying, "please don't respond to posts like this, just report them."

                So I have been.

            2. Negative threads can tend to get rambly and ranty, and also very long. In the past, we've removed them early to preserve bandwidth, and also to prevent the tedious work of removing the entire thread post by post if it later got out of hand. The new software solved those problems, so our approach is evolving as we have better technology to deal with threads. Avoiding bad food and questioning hype is part of chowhounding, along with seeking out deliciousness, so as long as discussion remains civil and chowy, we'll leave the thread up.

              The 'report this post' feature is very helpful, in that it lets users bring our attention to potential problems we wouldn't otherwise see (it's not possible for us to read every post made to the boards, there are just too many) but it's not a 'delete this post' button. The feedback goes to the moderators who make the decision on whether the post needs to be removed. The users who flag posts aren't responsible for those decisions.

              16 Replies
              1. re: The Chowhound Team

                I don't think you understand my complaint.

                "Overrated" is not a quality of a restaurant. In this case, it's a value judgment about about me and other posters who have eaten well in certain places and recommended them, on Chowhound.

                I find such criticism impertient and offensive. I don't follow the logic of allowing such rudeness while removing responses that object to it on that basis.

                If somebody has a different opinion about a restaurant, they should say what they ate and what they liked and didn't like about it. If they have an opinion about other people's posts, they should shut the hell up.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  "I find such criticism impertient and offensive."

                  Please. These are restaurants, not sacred icons. There's a bright line between giving clear reasons why a restaurant is bad and pure mudslinging. It's up to the reader to figure out which is which.

                  Besides, what about all those positive posts that are completely unsupported by any real detail. "Go to Gino's - it rocks." Aren't they just as bad?

                  On boards like this sometimes a herd mentality takes over and places receive undeserved praise. I give credit for someone who's willing to buck the trend as long as they can support their opinion by giving detailed reasons.

                  1. re: Bob Martinez

                    But that's precisely my point. People in topic 321944 aren't giving any reasons. In fact, in many cases they say they had a good meal but were disappointed because they expected better.

                    What's the lesson from that information? Don't read Chowhound, it might get your hopes up too high?

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      I just looked at the thread you originally linked to. While people are getting pretty passionate most are making some attempt to justify their positions by supplying relevant details. It looks like there's some good information there.

                      Maybe you saw some bad things that have since gotten deleted by the impression I got from skimming the thread is that a lot of people were just venting about bad meals.

                  2. re: Robert Lauriston

                    I don't think the posts indicate the parties responsible for the overrating. It could just as easily refer to the impression about the restaurants from the local press. As much as I enjoy this site, it's not the only source of ratings.

                    1. re: limster

                      Discussion of reviews elsewhere are off-topic to the regional boards. They go on the Food Media and News board.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        >>"Overrated" is not a quality of a restaurant. In this case, it's a value judgment about about me and other posters who have eaten well in certain places and recommended them, on Chowhound.<<

                        My point is that saying a place overrated is not necessarily a value judgement of you or other posters who have recommend it. They may not even be referring your post or that of other posters. Just because it was posted on a regional board doesn't mean it was referring to specific or general posters on that board. I don't judge whether posts are off topic or not, I leave that to the moderators.

                  3. re: The Chowhound Team

                    Also If I have had bad experiences at places reccomended by a particular chowhound shouldn't I be allowed to express an opinion about the recommendations of that hound. These are deleted all the time. The result is that the tin-palate gets no criticism which reduces the value of the site and all well thought out opinions.

                    1. re: Curmudgeon

                      Attack others opinions all you want. And, it's much more useful if you append the opposing opinion in the same thread where the wayward rec was made so that the two sides can be weighed together in context. Engaging in name-calling and taking the "you ignorant slut" attitude has and will get you deleted.

                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        Actually, please don't attack anyone's opinion. Feel free to disagree and offer your own opposing opinion, but that can easily be done without attacking another poster's review. If you just don't like what another poster has to say, please keep it to yourself.

                        For example, if a poster writes "I think Crabby's House of Crabs has the best crabs I've ever had", feel free to write "Crabby's House of Crabs serves slop with a side of garbage. The worst crabs ever." However, you may not post something like "Your taste buds are defunct if you think Crabby's House of Crabs is good." Keep your posts about the chow and we'll all get along just fine.

                        1. re: The Chowhound Team

                          If every opinion is equal, and you can't express an opinion about an opinion then Chowhound is useless. An opinion that I increasingly weigh as I look at these pages. I also feel that the opinions are overly generous in general, particularly about mediocre food. It's sad but I increasingly look for a few posters who I think are better judges than the rest, Melanie being one of them.

                          1. re: The Chowhound Team

                            Thanks ChowTeam for stating more temperately what I meant to say. (g)

                            For Curmudgeon, every opinion isn't equal. Many are just noise, but have an equal opportunity to state their case. The value of an opinion is in the eye of the reader who will judge whom to believe or not and weigh them accordingly. If you feel that someone has lead you to mediocre food, please post your opinion about the spot and help others to become more chowhoundly about discerning good from bad. We're here to learn from each other.

                      2. re: The Chowhound Team

                        Could you please comment on where complaints about service should be posted? In the past service issues and how to deal with them were deemed "Not about Food". The thread under discussion has many complaints about service, which seems to be where expectations are highest and often dashed, yet these posts have remained on the SF board even though they are not chowy. Previously, the service issues were felt to be largely idiosyncratic to a ranting customer or one-offs, and not worth keeping on the local boards. So, I'm curious if this is an intentional change in posting direction to make the regional boards part of and dilute the chow mission.

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          Im curious about this too, since we seem to have an inordinate number of discussions on the NY boards lately which comment only on service issues and not at all on food. the usual track is a initial complaint post that people pile onto or dispute. I hate to see the focus of the board shift in this direction.

                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                            Service is part of the restaurant experience, and specific service issues at local restaurants are on topic for local boards.

                            That said, service tends to be the target of hit-and-run, ranty posters who are angry and need to share their anger with the world. Those posts will be removed. Thoughtful, rant-free comments from board regulars about local restaurants are okay. General service questions and etiquette issues and 'how should I handle it when X happens?' posts that aren't about a specific restaurant belong on Not About Food.

                          2. re: The Chowhound Team

                            The thread I'm complaining about is rambling, getting ranty, and has grown to 64 posts on over 20 restaurants in a little over a day, plus another 35 posts here, plus who knows how many posts the moderator has deleted (at least two).

                            Some of the subthreads in both the original topic and this meta spinoff are hitting the nesting limit so its getting confusing to tell who's responding to which post.

                          3. I dont think its out of line for someone to say that they believe that some place is overrated on chowhound and follow up with a "because" and their personal experience.

                            But just throwing around vague phrases like overrated and underrated without context just creates formless frustrating chatty discussions, with no real frame of reference. Bad questions generate bad discussion and bad answers. So even if we want to help out maybe the answer is simply to stay away from these threads.