Please Be Specific About What You're Looking For
This is a GREAT Forum. But My pet peeve is some posters are so general in their topics- Like " I'm going to Europe, please recommend a restaurant I will love."
1. Location - ex: LA covers a large area what communities are You willing to travel to?
2. Price Range
3. Descibe specifically what atmosphere, tastes & type of foods you & your dining companions like. ex: "Dinner w/ my Father. Looking for best Italian."
I'm not talking about posters who are intentionaly being general (ex: What's your favorite Italian restaurant?"), but those that are looking for specific recommends (ex: "Where to have family dinner?")
While those who make very general requests like "nice restaurant" that's "not too expensive" do drive me crazy, I really don't want to alienate anyone. Plus, it's often visitors to NYC who don't seem to realize that, say, in the Theater District, there are literally hundreds of restaurants to choose from. So, my approach is to ask these people to provide such specifics as cuisine preferences, casual vs fancy, and budget. If they don't reply, I figure they're not that serious, and I move on.
Edited to note that looking up-thread again, I see ilikefood has mentioned the same thing about someone asking for recs in Los Angeles. I've come to believe there are some very unsophisticated people out there who have no earthly concept of how truly vast the dining choices are in places like NYC or LA.
Nothing mysterious. Under NYC, there is a separate forum to post if you have a "craving" for a particular food - even though particular foods get discussed all the time on the regular Manhattan/Outer Boros boards.
My modest suggestion is a similar forum where people would be directed to post if they are looking for restaurant suggestions. I think the objection was that such requests often produce useful information which is part and parcel of the main Chow discussion. If that was at all true in the past, I don't believe it's true any more - especially since an increasingly high percentage of requests relate to non-food activities (I need a place near Madison Square/to watch the ball game/to seat a party of eighteen) and actually aren't explicitly looking for special food tips at all.
the best way to discourage these (overly general, lazy) requests is just stop replying to them. The Manhattan board fills to capacity every day and these posts will just get washed away, hopefully leaving more interesting stuff. Sometimes the restaurant advice requests are a bit more interesting (e.g. family visiting from Sweden wants to try specific type of food in specific neighborhood) and the replies they generate are useful...and when people later report back on their experiences it is even better.
I would not be likely to spend much time on a board dedicated to "need a place in midtown east for 25 people to have drinks and dinner less than $40 each" type requests.
I always click on the poster's profile. If the request comes from a contributor I might reply. If they are "takers" (all requests no contributions) I skip it.
To me, you have to give as well as take if you want to be part of a community. If you are new to the community you should do a bit of giving before you ask others to give to you.
Sometimes we have to resist the hound instinct to solve every one's food problems. And, as was pointed out earlier in this thread - many of these requests are not about food.
Someone has a task they want to dump onto someone else, be it entertaining a 12-year-old, taking 40 business associates on a cheap night out or finding a place where they can have "fine dining" with their 3-month-old baby.(Why help them destroy some poor, food-lover's evening?)
If it is not truly food-oriented, we should send them to another forum. Let them set up "Businesshound" or "parenthound" or "unclehound."
I find this attitude really strange. I know a lot of people feel the same as you do. But if I share a tip or a recipe, it's because I want to share it, and (distant second) because I have benefited from others' suggestions in the past. I have no expectation that people should contribute before they make requests - who's to say their contribution would even be useful or interesting to me? Contributing is fun for me, I throw what I have out there and hope it helps somebody.
It can also be intimidating to make suggestions. Most people on my local board have a lot more time and money to go out it seems, or they have cars so they can really get around and find *the best* samosa or whatever. I'm more comfortable making comments on neighbourhood places that I know fairly well, and I'm more comfortable making a negative comment than a rec, because there's always that person who might (for example) drive way out of their way to try my suggestion and then be disappointed.
I just want to throw this alternative opinion out there for lurkers who might feel they have to contribute before jumping in and asking a question. To the OP, I do much prefer specific questions, and they will get a much better response on our board as well. Some New Yorkers :) and others don't seem to get that Toronto is also a fairly big city with a lot of restaurants.
I have suggested in the past that, if NYC can support a "What's My Craving?" forum, it could certainly support a separate forum for restaurant advice. Maybe that's true of some other large centers like L.A.
I didn't get much support for the idea, but I think it would make the main board a lot more fun to read.
Right after I started this topic I found a posting that perfectly matched what I'm talking about on the Los Angeles Board: ONE DINNER IN LA- "Out of town visitors, open to anything."
No disrespect to poster-Scotty, but do you realize there are a several thousand places to eat in LA, representing just about every cuisine, culture & dining level in the world. And you really expect to find the perfect recommendation with such general info ?