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Sep 7, 2006 08:17 PM

Bored with chowhound

Since the "Why I'm no longer using Chowhound much anymore" thread is closed, I'll start a new one.

I've loved this site for five years, but more and more often now I visit the site and can't be bothered to open a topic.

The new format *looks* good, but for regular users it sucks. It's too hard to find just the posts you haven't read, especially in long threads. There are too many repetitive thread topics, perhaps because there are more casual users attracted by the jazzier format. It's too hard to follow the postings by the regular posters, so the sense of community is disappearing.

My prediction: in six months Chowhound as we've known it will be gone, replaced by a generic food discussion board. Sad. Really sad. You destroyed the village in order to save it.

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  1. Well there is the feature of color encoding along the left side to signify, and there's the my Chow section.

    For the left you have to know what you had previously read to know if it did change, but for me the bigger thing is that my Chow only holds a handful of recent topics and then the old ones slide off. I'd like the opportunity to up that limit.

    And for some reason in other views such as Hot Posts, the left hand color coding doesn't work - or maybe it's when I view another hound's list. I'd still like to cross reference that list with my activity and I'm not sure why that's not a global function of that side bar.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Dennis S

      It's not hard to tell if there are new posts, it's just a pain to read the new posts if the thread has more than half a dozen replies. It's a total waste of time to scroll through the thread to find the new post, and half the time, it wasn't worth it. In the old format, I could read just the new post, and since I could see who had posted it and what it was replying to I could also make an informed decision about whether to read it or skip it.

      And before someone mentions it, the poster tracking is the most frustrating "feature" of all. It seems like it would be a cool thing, but in practice, it's almost completely useless in actually finding new posts by the poster you're tracking.

      At this point, I think the only thing that could save Chowhound would be the resurrection of the original "hot posts" or some other way of tracking posts, rather than topics.

      Typing that gave me an epiphany: from my point of view, what's destroying the community nature of chowhound is that the new format is "topic-centric" while the old format was "poster-centric." Topics in and of themselves are not very interesting -- as I said, they tend to be repetitive, even under the best of circumstances. What the old format highlighted and the new format masks is the lively exchange of opinions within the topic. The visual impact of that lively exchange and the ability to see and recognize the people involved in it was what gave the old chowhound its personality and energy.

      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        I agree with you completely. The biggest loss the new format has caused is the loss of community. Chowhound is a much colder place than it used to be.

        1. re: Chimayo Joe

          I agree. Perhaps because many "friends" from the Home Cooking Board are no longer posting (and I wouldn't recognize their posts easily, as with the previous very visual "tree" format).

          The last subject that even came close to resembling the passion and sense of community of the "old" Home Cooking Board was Carb Lover's ATK vs. Zuni Roasted Chicken debate. The lively interchange was so refreshing...

    2. howdy, ruth.

      i tend to agree. you and i (and others) will probably be replaced by a new generation of contributors and that's simply the way it goes.

      i've enjoyed your posts. see you down the road.


      1. "It's too hard to follow the postings by the regular posters, so the sense of community is disappearing."

        You don't use the user tracking feature?

        1 Reply
        1. re: ChinoWayne

          It's worse than useless. Let's say, for example, that I'm tracking you (and you're well worth tracking, Chino Wayne). So I click on your name, and up comes a list of topics. Great. But that list of topics is a list of topics *that you've participated in at some point in the history of the topic* -- there's no way to know whether you've posted in it recently or not. Furthermore, the "new" icon only indicates whether there's been a new posting since the person being tracked last read the thread, not whether there's been one since *I* read the thread. So I might read the thread and find out that there's actually *nothing* in it that's new to me. And of course, for a prolific poster, the number of topics listed is totally inadequate.

        2. I think we old-timers should heed Tatum's request and hold off on rehashing these familiar complaints for a few months, until the developers have time to address some of the things he discussed in his post in "Why I'm no longer using Chowhound much anymore."

          Since there's no way to link to a particular post, I'll copy it here:


          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:


          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.


          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 (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: Robert Lauriston

            > Since there's no way to link to a particular post, I'll copy it here:

            See, even the powerusers are confused by the new site.
            Robert, there -is- a way to link to a particular post:

              1. re: Morton the Mousse

                Two powerusers! One mysterious feature!
                You owe me three taterpuffs from Gregoire for this:
                Click the little one-eyed-flying-saucer just to the left of
                the "4394 days ago Morton replied to Chuckles" headline.

              2. re: Chuckles the Clone

                Useful tip. I'm not very visual, icons just look like garnish.

              3. re: Robert Lauriston

                Well, I might have read that post if it hadn't been buried in a topic with 39 replies that I gave up reading.

                That's the problem in a nutshell.

                "A few months" is an eternity on the Internet -- more than long enough to kill an online community -- and the attitude expressed by the design team on specific design issues (for example, the "real dates" thread, where they pulled out the old "everyone who contacted us offline agrees with us" excuse) doesn't encourage me to think they're really interested taking any of our complaints seriously.

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  A post from the Chowhound team that closes a topic should be at the *end* of the topic.

                  That's not a software problem.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    A few months may be eternity on the internet, but in terms of planning and implementing a new backend programming feature of this type on a site of this size, it's not very long at all.

                    1. re: celeste

                      Especially when the same team is responsible for other products and is juggling priorities and release dates.

                      Managing user expectations is an art.

                2. Ruth, you truly are a valuable member of the community and it pains all of us to hear your frustration. All I can say is that I hope you'll stick with us while we evolve.

                  One thing I would like to address is the confusion on whether there is a " that a bug or a feature?" problem concerning the focus on topics. We spent a lot of time making sure that the focus of the site was the content- not the 'hound. We really tried to stay true to the Chowhound aesthetic of sharing found treasure, and we did our best to reflect it in the design and software. The site *should* reflect the importance of the shared information over the personality of individuals, therefore the focus on the topic-level. Again, I still think we can and will do something to address both author participation and making it easier to find new posts. Just give us a bit more time. Thanks.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: Tatum

                    (1) coming up with a way for folks to just see the new content without scrolling through the old is key. The time wasting is wearing.

                    (2) the "hot posts" should show the most recent poster's name not the original poster.

                    I agree, the content is key, but its the interchange between enthusiasts that develops the content - you need to keep that alive, too.


                    1. re: jen kalb

                      Yes--I agree. And on top of the annoyance of scrolling, there is a bugginess when I scroll through a topic. Text randomly disappears (I use I.E. 6.0 and firefox). The only way I can read it is to highlight it.

                      But mostly, I would love the option of seeing a thread collapsed (with an icon next to new posts and/or sorted with the newest posts on top.

                      Also, many times, even when I am logged in fine, the threads with new posts don't show up on My Chow--and, yes, I'm letting the page load completely. And when I click on the thread, the new posts are highlighted in yellow.

                      And since I'm on a roll today (seriously, I guess I have some pent up complaining to do... must be this sinus infection that is dulling my taste buds that making me crabby--surely other hounds can relate and forgive me)...

                      --I second the suggestion to show the posters name under hot posts.

                      --I would also like to see an option that allows hot posts to be broken out into boards as it was on the old site.

                      As it is now, it's just too much incongrous stuff mashed together and I'm not as tempted to impulse-read a bunch of new posts. Sure, I could use the drag-down menu to look at each board individually, but it's just too much trouble. Especially with all of the new boards.

                      --The ideal would be to let every user customize hot posts, so they can choose the boards "a la carte" that they want to see listed there.

                      Ah, that's it... must go gargle salt-water and hope the flavor comes back into my life and back to chowhound.

                      1. re: butterfly

                        "Yes--I agree. And on top of the annoyance of scrolling, there is a bugginess when I scroll through a topic. Text randomly disappears (I use I.E. 6.0 and firefox). The only way I can read it is to highlight it."

                        YES. This happens to me ALL THE TIME.

                        1. re: Das Ubergeek

                          Have you posted about that on the Feedback: Report Problems board? They can't fix bugs until they know about them.

                          1. re: Das Ubergeek

                            I figured it was a PICNIC problem, so I never bothered. Now I will. ("Problem In Chair, Not In Computer")

                            1. re: Das Ubergeek

                              "Have you posted about that on the Feedback: Report Problems board? They can't fix bugs until they know about them."

                              This has been reported in the past, without acknowledgement that I've seen by the developers.

                              I just bumped one thread about it in the Feedback forum:


                              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                You should post your service pack levels on Win2K and MSIE6.

                                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                  You presume incorrectly about my OS (I'm absolutely up to date on WinXP and IE). The system levels of the various users who have encountered the problem and similar details will be useful once the developers have acknowledged the problem.

                                  FWIW, some of the most-highly indented posts in this particular thread sometimes go invisible. I wonder whether it's related to the level of indenting and/or the number of posts.

                                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                    This very indented part of the thread went blank for me. I've reported this before. Here it goes again... This time I'm on IE 6.0.2900.2180.xpsp_sp2_gdr.050301-1519.