We’re listening... we always have been
- Tatum Jan 23, 2007 06:14 PM
First, let me say on behalf of the moderators and developers that we wish we could have posted something earlier than the end of the day....but it has been a seriously long day. Let me also recognize upfront that we could have done even more to message the changes to you prior to the switch, but we didn’t have the capabilities in the software to do group messaging and we didn’t want to spam you. In the future, we will have better methods for messaging and rolling out changes.
We understand the changes we made yesterday have been tough for many of you, and we would like to apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you. Let me start by telling you why we made these changes. We wanted to fix many of the problems we both were having with the site since we relaunched Chowhound in June last year. You had issues with long threads breaking, limited topics per page, no images, no location data, general readability and messaging issues. We needed to make the change to address some business and operational issues we were having with the site and the code. What we didn’t expect was the proxy errors and performance issues that plagued us last night and this morning. We tested and the issues *still* happened, and for that, we are truly sorry.
We are reading all of your feedback, and taking it to heart. We would specifically like to thank those that stayed constructive and distilled the opinions of many into easily digestible feedback. For those of you who remembered that we have been really responsive in the past, reassured your fellow ‘hounds that we wouldn’t purposely inflict pain on them, and that we would probably quickly roll out improvements, we are truly grateful for your support.
Let me address the business side for the changes, and I will defer to our moderators and engineering team for more details on how our changes will help them better serve you. When we relaunched Chowhound the first time, we did it under serious duress. The software was breaking. Bob and Jim had done a heroic things to keep the software from breaking on a daily basis.... for 10 years. It was a fire drill from the very first day Chowhound came to CNET to make sure we didn’t lose posts or have the whole site shutdown. Boards would literally “fold over” on themselves, wiping out days of valuable chow tips. So we rebuilt the site from scratch in a couple of months so that we could meet as many of the requests from Jim and the mods as possible. Many of the wish list never got implemented, and both you and the mods have been very patient and understanding of our inability to address your requests. Thank you.
We also have a business to run. We’ve been working on two code bases, with the same handful of people. Improvements we would make to the editorial side of the house, CHOW, would not be reflected in the community side of the house, Chowhound. This was inefficient and annoying, not to mention costly. More importantly, we should go on record as saying that CHOW and Chowhound are more than sister sites, they share a house. Our engineers, designers, editors, sales team, et al think about both sites each and every day under a singular “best food web sites”. And we do think that we offer something very unique in both sites. In Chowhound, we have the most useful community forum for sharing food tips in the world. Sure we take a lot of flack for our moderation methods, but you will not find a more dedicated group of contributors and moderators in the world focused on the singular mission of keeping signal higher than noise for sharing deliciousness. Like you, I’m constantly blown away by the passion of the people who make Chowhound. My life is better because of it. How many websites can you really say that about?
With CHOW, we believe we are approaching editorial (recipes, how-to’s and videos) in the spirit Jane Goldman and the rest of the magazine started out on several years ago. Sure, we catch grief for our irreverent titles and topics, as well as our general disregard for celebrity worship and lack of food porn visuals. Being different is hard. An intelligent and real point of view on the food lifestyle is interesting to us, and we believe to a great number of other people as well. We are still refining our voice on CHOW, and we are looking forward to producing great editorial and product features that entertains our growing daily readership. That hopefully includes many Chowhounds, but we understand not all of you. We have really tried to make the boards that boards, and the editorial the editorial- even if they are a little closer in design now than they were yesterday.
Together, we hope that CHOW and Chowhound will make your online food life with us enjoyable, but we also hope that it will be a successful business that will let us work on a product and in a subject area each and every one of us loves. Your hobby is our hobby- but it is also our livelihood. We hope that you will support our marketing partners who support our site, and we will do our best to work with marketing partners who you find interesting. We are just ramping up our sales efforts, and we look forward to your feedback on what you would like to see from our marketing partners. For those of you not interested in commercial messages, we understand, but we hope you will at least be tolerant and understanding of the commercial relationships we make to support the efforts that bring you these sites each day.
But as Keith Richards says, talk is cheap, and we’ve been talking about addressing a lot of the changes we’ve wanted to make for awhile now. We aim to take to action now, therefore this change. Also, as a company, we made a promise to Jim to take the best care of Chowhound that we possibly could, while allowing him to focus more on his writing (as opposed to every little thing!). These recent changes help us take care of our business, and your site. We promise to continue to do the best job we possibly can. You will see a large number of changes over the coming days and weeks. Again, we are listening. We always have been. Please try to stay constructive and civil, to us and one another. Life is too short for hate, and not long enough to enjoy all the chowhounding in front of us.
Your response has a lot of words, but let me ask a question I ask at this point in every meeting. OK what do we do next? It would be helpful to those of us who have also had a long day to understand which of the Top-10 list are being addressed first. A time line (very generic) would also be well received by many.
Engineering is rolling out some new changes and a product roadmap here shortly...
Tatum, glad you responded.
Not everyone will agree Im totally sure, but certainly many of us understood that there would be an effort for more integration between Chowhound and Chow (otherwise, why bother with Chowhound and continue to find a home for our community to gather?)
Honestly I dont care very much as long as there is a good, usable interface for discussions, a decent search function. If Im exposed more to CHOW editorial content thats not a problem though I think there is a bit of dissonance between CHOWHOUND passion and the CHOW jokiness - it feels shallow to me a lot of the time. Maybe as I see more of it I will change my view on this. There has to be some synergies between these sites and a bit more integration - as youve done, makes it more likely that CHOW content will get discussed on the Boards which may make more hounds read CHOW, etc.
But its really really important that discussion not be impeded and content findable through search. AND that we can stand to look at the page. Realistically Im not going to spend as much time here if it hurts my eyes and runs slowly. We do thank you guys for the MY CHOW innovation (as it was - hope we will get it back)
Thanks for checking in Tatum. It's much appreciated.
Search is a top priority for us. You'll see some major search and presentation of results very soon.