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'Hound Favoritism

PJ Hyett Sep 20, 2006 11:43 PM

May I quickly remind everyone that when we were first asking Chowhounder's how to build this site, it was made very clear to us that favoritism has no place in Chowhound. Yet, the ability to quickly scan threads to see if their favorite hounds are posting is at the top of almost everyone's wish list.

We'll build the site however you'd like, but I'd appreciate some clarification.

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  1. Bob Martinez RE: PJ Hyett Sep 21, 2006 12:02 AM

    The multiple opinions have got to be frustrating for you folks building the site.

    I think overall you'll usually find consensus opinions with a vocal minority disagreeing. Those egalitarian positions (No favoritism!) sound swell but over time most people come up with lists of posters they find trustworthy. If you make it easy to find their comments people will be grateful.

    One option, already suggested by at least one person, is to hot link from the "Who's talking" sidebar directly to the posts of specific individuals *in that thread*. (Right now the hot link goes to their MyChow page.) In addition there ought to be some indication (either by color or a "new" indicator, etc.) as to whether you've read those posts so you don't re-click someone's posts on a given thread repeatedly.

    I suggest you wait for a consensus to build before making further changes. The process is messy and drawn out but in the end it has the best chance of pleasing the most people.

    As you well know, you'll never please everybody. Don't worry about it too much - the next time you're reincarnated you'll come back as a user. :-)

    2 Replies
    1. re: Bob Martinez
      free sample addict aka Tracy L RE: Bob Martinez Sep 21, 2006 12:50 AM

      My thought exactly, some of these topics have hundreds of replies, it would be much better to navigate through them all if you could link to the person's response you want to see. Sounds like some of these changes are contentious. Can a poll feature be built into CH?

      1. re: Bob Martinez
        PolarBear RE: Bob Martinez Sep 21, 2006 12:54 AM

        "One option, already suggested by at least one person, is to hot link from the "Who's talking" sidebar directly to the posts of specific individuals *in that thread*. (Right now the hot link goes to their MyChow page.)"

        Excellent suggestion Bob, that was my first thought on seeing the upgrade. The other was, why not put it at the top of the right margin so that scrolling down wasn't necessary? (BTW, I hate scrolling, almost as much as a multiple click trail).

      2. Robert Lauriston RE: PJ Hyett Sep 21, 2006 12:45 AM

        People probably weren't conscious of their snobbery.

        Skipping over the unknowns to focus on posts from your established favorites ... doesn't quite seem to fit with "Chowhounds spurn established opinion."

        7 Replies
        1. re: Robert Lauriston
          Bob Martinez RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 21, 2006 03:46 AM

          All posts are created equal, eh? I don't think you really believe that.

          People get to pick their favorites, people they find especially trustworthy. Maybe my favorites are different from yours. That's fine - that's democracy. But to force every person to read *every single post* on a thread is pure political correctness.

          1. re: Bob Martinez
            limster RE: Bob Martinez Sep 21, 2006 04:47 AM

            I don't track users because I try to read every single post on my local board; you never know where the next good chow tip is going to come from and I'd rather not generalize; I'd miss stuff otherwise.

            1. re: limster
              p
              Pupster RE: limster Sep 21, 2006 02:28 PM

              That's great for you, but that's not everyone's choice nor does everyone have the kind of time (or patience) like you do to read every single post.

              Frankly, if I was forced to go through every single dumb post put up by unthinking people or those who have proven themselves to have tastes different from mine, I would quit reading CH altogether. Lots of people feel that way, which is why you see fewer posts and less traffic by veterans on some of the boards.

              Democracy means the ability to choose whom you want to read. Not being forced to read everyone -- that's fascism!

              1. re: Pupster
                limster RE: Pupster Sep 22, 2006 03:12 AM

                I'm not insisting that everyone read every single post or read only posts from certain posters. All I'm saying is that if you only read posts from a limited set of people, you will miss good chow tips because there are pitfalls to generalizing. We're still free to choose our reading habits on the boards; just hoping that the choice is informed and that the pros and cons are evident.

            2. re: Bob Martinez
              PBSF RE: Bob Martinez Sep 21, 2006 04:51 AM

              I read topics that interest me rather than who the poster is.

              1. re: Bob Martinez
                yayadave RE: Bob Martinez Sep 21, 2006 05:14 AM

                I go to boards that interest me and look at threads that interest me and never feel that I have to read every post. In fact, I think I am more likely to avoid some posters than I am to look for some. I don't think I need a programmed filter to do this.

                1. re: yayadave
                  Bob Martinez RE: yayadave Sep 21, 2006 11:46 AM

                  It's not a filter, it's a tool. You can use it or not as you please. But to say "This doesn't interest me therefore no one should have it" means that you are imposing your wishes on other people.

                  Some boards are bigger than others. For example the Mid-Atlantic board gets only a moderate amount of activity every day. It's easy to read everything. OTOH the Manhattan board gets a flood of posts and it's impossible to read them all. Many are repeated "tourist" type requests that come up repeatedly. Often I skip those threads out of hand but I'd be inclined to read the posts of someone who is of special interest to me.

                  Reading the full New York board every single day requires an enormous amount of time. This is only only one example of how a "direct link" feature would work. At it's heart it just makes it easier to go directly to someone's posts. There's nothing to stop you from reading anything you want.

                  Edited to add:
                  The old board software, for all it's faults, allowed people to just open the posts of people they followed yet the earth stayed in it's orbit and the stars didn't fall from the skies. Great new posters managed to get noticed all the time.

                  Under the new software even if you zoom to the post of osmeone you're following the posts immediately before and after will clearly be visible so the post will be in context.

                  If the proposed "direct link" feature was going to have a bad effect it would have been seen under the old software. It worked fine.

            3. Seth Chadwick RE: PJ Hyett Sep 21, 2006 02:07 AM

              I am not sure I would go so far as to declare it favoritism. I see it more as familiarity leading to trust. I don't see familiarity and/or trust as negatives.

              That does lead me to this question, however. If scanning posts for familiar and trusted names is "favoritism," then why wouldn't you apply the same term to those of us using "user tracking" on our myCHOW pages?

              2 Replies
              1. re: Seth Chadwick
                Robert Lauriston RE: Seth Chadwick Sep 21, 2006 02:18 AM

                Wanting to be sure to read all of one person's posts is pretty different from not wanting to see other people's.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                  Seth Chadwick RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 21, 2006 02:46 AM

                  That assumes people are wanting the feature for that purpose. PJ said, "Yet, the ability to quickly scan threads to see if their favorite hounds are posting is at the top of almost everyone's wish list."

                  Wanting to see if my "favorite hound" is posting does not imply that I am not interested in the posts of others.

              2. yayadave RE: PJ Hyett Sep 21, 2006 02:57 AM

                Since we already have tracking, aren’t more bells and whistles un-necessary?

                1. Gary Soup RE: PJ Hyett Sep 21, 2006 03:03 AM

                  Elitism and cliquishness are unfortunately part of the makeup of Chowhounds as a group. But fingering the latest posters can be useful in any case once you've learned who the leader-follower role players are and who the non-aligned thinkers are.

                  1. limster RE: PJ Hyett Sep 21, 2006 04:26 AM

                    Good job on all the stuff you guys have done.

                    You'll get 11 opinions from 10 hounds about how the site should be built. Probably best to ignore the vocal minority (there'll always be an extremely vocal minority no matter what features you implement or change) or make the site UI customizable so that everyone can have it their way.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: limster
                      Carb Lover RE: limster Sep 21, 2006 06:33 AM

                      Exactly...the Engineering Team will never please everyone, and there will always be a vocal minority who want something different. We want "last post by", no we don't, etc.

                      I really appreciate all the effort that the designers are making to improve the site and get feedback from users, but the line has to be drawn somewhere in order for the site to just develop and for stability to set in. I'm getting used to any "quirks" such that changing them is a bit jarring on my senses, but hey, I'll adjust because I value the site's content and its users, not the bells and whistles. I'll find the info that I want no matter how it's configured.

                      Personally, I have no need to track posters more than current features allow. While there are hounds I have come to know, trust, and/or be entertained by, I want to stay as open to all posters as possible. I think the new site has "forced" me to mingle w/ different posters (in a good way) and reduced cliquishness in my eyes. Just my two cents...

                    2. d
                      Dave Feldman RE: PJ Hyett Sep 21, 2006 06:28 AM

                      Although it isn't nearly as important to me as being able to find unread replies faster, I don't see much downside to letting CH's see who has replied. What is the possible downside?

                      1. Chuckles the Clone RE: PJ Hyett Sep 21, 2006 06:41 AM

                        You people are all too darn nice. Can I try to spell it out ? The problem isn't
                        always the desire to follow a favorite, it's the desire to avoid opening up a
                        topic and scanning through it only to discover the only new post is from
                        that annoying guy. We all have our annoying guys. I'm sure I'm that guy for
                        a few of you. It's the opposite of favoritism, whatever that's called.

                        I think the site just got a lot better. Thanks!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Chuckles the Clone
                          Carb Lover RE: Chuckles the Clone Sep 21, 2006 06:54 AM

                          ...But that annoying guy might have a great chow tip or something worthwhile to add. Or maybe someone responded to the annoying guy w/ something of interest. If not, then you've wasted a few seconds of your time and have more confirmation that the annoying guy is still annoying. Life goes on...

                          I truly can't imagine getting THAT annoyed w/ any one poster. It's the internet, not real life. Hope I didn't annoy you. ;-)

                          1. re: Carb Lover
                            yayadave RE: Carb Lover Sep 21, 2006 01:30 PM

                            I'm glad to know that Chuckles the Clone and Carb Lover are "that annoying guy" because I always thought I was him.

                            What really busts my chops is when "That Annoying Guy" comes up with a coherent, reasonable, and helpful answer and I have to admit it to myself.

                        2. MMRuth RE: PJ Hyett Sep 21, 2006 11:36 AM

                          Seems to me that "favoritism" suggests preferring some to others, to the detriment of the "others". In this instance, if there is any detriment it is to the favorer. That said, there are some posters (new and old) whose opinions I respect and/or whose posts I enjoy reading.

                          1. t
                            theotherhalfofdh RE: PJ Hyett Sep 21, 2006 08:46 PM

                            I don't want Chowhound or Chow to single out people.

                            No rewards for posting the most. No articles or 'hot poster' type of promotions.

                            Let me decide my favorite, but I need visibility to that. There are posters I follow that will never make a top ten list. They are interesting to me.

                            The new design is a great step in that direction. I might not catch every post by people I follow, but this helps.

                            Not to single out anyone we follow, I'll use Jim Leff as an example. If Jim posts something, I'm going to read it, even if it is not a subject I'd be interested in usually. If Jim joins in on a topic, I'm going to see what he has to say.

                            There are posters that my husband and I enjoy, that we read in the same way. If they post, we read topics we might not otherwise read.

                            A favorite poster can also draw attention to a topic that might get ignored.

                            My husband Ron writes good and informative posts. Chowhounds pay attention to his posts. If he sees someone new posting about a restaurant that might not get attention, he comments.

                            If people see his name on a post, they are more likely to join in and get interested. The reason people do that is because he has posted reliably over the years and not because he is flagged by Chowhound as some sort of super hound.

                            Ron and I don't want anything obvious that might indicate how popular a poster might be like number of posts or counts about how many people are reading a topic.

                            But, when we decide someone gives us reliable tips that share our taste in food, we want to be able to find that person a seen what topics they have posted or which topics they are involved in.

                            The recent changes are a big help.

                            1. Jim Leff RE: PJ Hyett Sep 25, 2006 05:17 AM

                              Sure, people have favorite posters. But the thing is we don't annoint elite users. No one gets stars or badges or the ability to raise their opinion above others.

                              We've all seen forums (on myriad topics) where a few pompous Kings of the Hill shout down opposition, and a spirit of groupthink is reinforced. That's death for what we're trying to do (i.e. map every iota of deliciousness). We want a horizontal network where anyone is welcome to inject a dissenting, weirdo opinion anytime...where lots of passionate people opine in profusion and readers draw their own conclusions. That can only happen on a very level playing field.

                              Observers naturally pick favorite players on that field. We just don't annoint them. And that makes all the diff.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Jim Leff
                                d
                                David Ford RE: Jim Leff Sep 25, 2006 01:24 PM

                                That the Chowhound community is so inclusive today, ten years later, is due in no small part to you, Jim, and the quality of your character. As the founder and principle architect of Chowhound, you could easily sit, as you say, up on a hill and shout down your precepts from On High. But you don't. Matter of fact, I have never seen even a hint of pomposity from you in the nearly 3 years I have been posting here.

                                You are blessed with rare qualities of taste and refinement, Jim. You are a true gentleman, and I raise my glass to you today for all the good that you do.

                                And thank you for Chowhound.

                                1. re: David Ford
                                  Jim Leff RE: David Ford Sep 25, 2006 02:20 PM

                                  That's really nice, David, thanks. But its' really nothing so noble. That's just the best way to build a chow tip resource. And I'd rather eat really really well than be King of The Mountain. It's strictly selfish!

                                  I haven't always had time to read the site day-to-day. But especially while traveling, MAN, do I ever eat better because of this site. Thanks, you guys, for participating. I toast you back!

                                  ciao

                              2. saraeanderson RE: PJ Hyett Sep 25, 2006 02:34 PM

                                There are too many posts for these kinds of navigating tools not to be used. I would suggest that tags might be good for topics, also, so maybe we could follow some favorite subjects like a city or a cuisine or a technique. If you're more interested in finding food tips than making friends on the board, read the food tips. If you're looking to connect with local hounds, do that. Myself, there's nothing really "local" so I'm not going to read every post on the Pacific Northwest board. If I find some local users, I might want to track them and see what they're posting. I don't think anyone's going to run home crying because the cool kids at chowhounds won't eat at their favorite restaurants.

                                1. The Dairy Queen RE: PJ Hyett Sep 25, 2006 09:22 PM

                                  The funny thing is, now that the "last poster" has been added, I feel like I'm clicking on more threads than I did before. Sometimes because the "last poster" is a person I "know" and I think, "Oh, look, X is posting about burritos. I'd like to know what X's opinion is on that."

                                  And, when I don't know the person, I still click because I think, "Hmmmm, I don't know Z--I wonder what Z's all about."

                                  So, even though it doesn't really save me any time because I'm still clicking on everything anyway, it helps me know what I'm looking for when I open up the thread.

                                  ~TDQ

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