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Feb 2, 2007 07:40 AM

Kosher Board Standards

Is it just me, or wouldn't it be great if Chowhound/Cnet actually posted a set of standards for the Kosher Board. I've noticed that threads and posts sometimes get removed from the board for reasons that are beyond my simple comprehension.

Most recent example - the guy who found "Kosher Shrimp" under the Kof K and wanted to know whether there was a mistake on the label. The entire thread was eliminated, not just the sarcastic reply of one of the posters. [I can live with the deletion of my reply to his thread, but the whole thread?] Wouldn't whether this was a mistake be something that the Kosher board would want to know about?

I've reviewed the standards on the Chowhound site but nothing seems to indicate why the whole shrimp thread should be taken down. It certainly was not obscene or threatening.

Meanwhile a thread that is labeled "Kosher Wine Sucks" can stay up.

I tried to get an answer from Chowhound by email about six months ago but no one ever answered. I'm posting this for some clarification but I fully expect it to be gone the next time I visit the site.

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  1. I think, (without having read shrimp thread) they are looking to avoid forums on hasgacha practices. I've had stuff removed from the kosher subway thread, regarding the refusal to give hashgacha to pareve cheese and meat and the whole concept of "maras ayen". i understand the point that they don't want the site to get bogged down with religous debate...but i guess if you are a strict observer of kosher, the variables that make a product acceptable to eat (and for all intents and purposes, kosher), are more than just food. Therefore, you have an argument in that although not "chow-related" per-se (the standard in question, i believe), if, in fact, hashgacha-themed posts dictate what is and isn't kosher, to a fair percentage of kosher board users, it is chow related.
    If it aint kosher, you aint chowing.

    1. The Kosher board is focused on the search for the most delicious kosher chow, not the most kosher delicious chow. Debates about whether something is or isn't kosher, or a specific kashrut is or isn't acceptable are off topic for that board, especially when they rapidly lead to personal attacks and comments on whether board members are sufficiently religious in their keeping of kosher.

      6 Replies
      1. re: The Chowhound Team

        That's not a bad principal if its enforced even handedly.

        Its not.

        Posts that rip kosher certifiying agencies or more particualrly the agencies' views stay up. Posts that defend the kosher agencies come down. I can give specific instances where attacks on the agencies are still up today, whereas the responses defending the agencies were taken down.

        I respect Abu's opinion even though he and I do not see eye to eye on Kashrus issues. He gives his view on the food and the kosher position and does not take gratutitous shots. There is always room for free discussion and as he correctly states, in talking about Kosher food the discussion is partly about food partly about Kosher.

        If Cnet wants to eliminate discussions of whether something is Kosher, it needs to even handedly apply the position and remove all threads that ask whether the product can be made in kosher fashion or what ingredients can be used in making Kosher products.

        1. re: PapaT

          If the moderators delete a negative off-topic post and leave a positive one, report the positive post with an explanation to that effect.

          Don't discussions of kosher wine belong on the Wine board? Anyway if somebody starts a topic there I can recommend some that don't suck.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            I'm not sure I follow the advice as to the moderators actions. They are allowing criticism to stay on the board and deleting the defense of the position which was criticized.

            As to Kosher wine and board placement - I never understand why stuff gets moved from board to board.

            I agree, there are plenty of good Kosher wines. My point was just that an inflammatory statement (anti Kosher) can stay up as Cnet is selective in its enforcement.

            1. re: PapaT

              If somebody says "Rabbi X is the most trustworthy," somebody else replies "Rabbi X is totally incompetent," and only the latter is deleted, then report the first post and complain that only one side of an off-topic dispute was deleted.

              On the other hand, if the first post is "the egg roll at Schmenge's is delicious, and Rabbi X says it's kosher," and somebody else replies simply "kosher schmosher, Rabbi X can't tell schmaltz from pork fat," then don't expect the first post to be deleted.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                The most recent was that Rabbi X says that only egg rolls made a certain way are kosher because he is protecting his financial stake. This statement stayed up.

          2. re: PapaT

            We don't read every post on every thread, and rely on reports from users to find some violations on the board. If you see posts that are more about kosherness than they are about deliciousness, please use the 'report' link to bring them to our attention.

        2. I'll give it a shot!

          1. "The Kosher board is focused on the search for the most delicious kosher chow, not the most kosher delicious chow." I don't know whether you stick to this or not, and I really don't care, but as one writer to another...that is one beautifully crafted sentence.

            11 Replies
            1. re: Deven Black

              Thanks. The Chowhound Team is cribbing from this post I made back in '04, after the umpteenth Kosher board flame war (I write better when aggravated):

              Yo, Kosher Hounds

              This message board is a resource to swap tips about the most delicious kosher chow, not the most kosher delicious chow.

              Wider issues of kashruth and certification, important though they are, are off-topic for our narrow scope. If you're not certain a given restaurant passes muster, make inquiries and check up (and, if you'd be so kind, report what you find out). But endless debate of what people should/should not deem acceptable are a vast ground unto themselves, and we will NOT get into that here. It's not our purview.

              And we won't get into ANYTHING where participants adopt a huffy, indignant, personally insulting tone. It's essential to create a friendly, respectful atmosphere where readers along feel comfortable in chiming in with their chow tips. This isn't the place for huffy debate or argument on theological or other issues. People who can't talk about food without going ballistic on theological issues are unwelcome here.

              Look: if one hound is so "reformed" that leaning kosher means removing the bacon from his bacon cheeseburger, and another hound won't touch a glass of water that's not been blessed by twelve internationally celebrated rabbis, great. We can all share the real estate of this board and cover the range from "veg-but-let-it-slide" to "glatt extra VSOP". We're not a forum on kosher issues, we're a forum on kosher (and even kosher-style) chow in all its many manifestations. As in the real world, it's every individual's responsibility to decide what meets her/his needs and restrictions. We expect everyone to be tolerant of varying needs and restrictions and to simply watch out for themselves.


              1. re: Jim Leff

                Ah, I remember that post well. So well-written I printed it out, memorized it, quoted from it, wrote music to it, embroidered the words onto a charming little throw pillow.

                (Confession: I didn't completely agree with one of the lines, but why quibble. I just left it off the pillow)

                1. re: Jim Leff

                  I've spent a while thinking about the whole issue. While I like the statement that the:
                  "The Kosher board is focused on the search for the most delicious kosher chow, not the most kosher delicious chow" I'm not sure that this ingenious turn of phrase actually addresses the issue. Similarly, with all sincere respect to Mr. Leff, his post above does not provide clear guidelines for what should go on the board.

                  By way of example, what set off a recent flame war was an innocuous question posted as to whether a certain food when made kosher contains certain ingredients. When I posted the answer a certain kosher agency (OU) provides as to what ingredients are permitted in this food it led to a debate as to whether the agency was authoritative. In retrospect, the posting was probably a mistake.

                  With this in mind I propose the following guidlines for the Kosher board to avoid future controversy and avoid statements as to whose version is correct:

                  (1) Don't ask/answer whether "X" product is kosher.
                  (2) Don't ask/answer what makes "X" product kosher.
                  (3) Don't ask/answer what ingredients are in "X" kosher food.
                  (4) Don't ask/answer whether "X" product can be made kosher.
                  (5) Don't ask/answer whether Rabbi X or agency Y is reliable.
                  (6) Dont ask/answer what standards are used by Rabbi X or agency Y.

                  By avoiding discussions of these issues, there is a strong likelihood that the debate as to what constitutes kosher or which Rabbi's version is correct will be avoided.

                  Just a thought.


                  1. re: PapaT

                    There are many problems with setting real specific rules:

                    1. people would have to know about them (it's surprisingly difficult to get folks' attention)

                    2. situations are like snowflakes, and you could write 2000 pages of laws trying to anticipate all scenarios and still find 75% of situations unaccounted for

                    3. the mods would be obliged to work with diamond cutter precision, when they've got all sorts of radical problems to handle (you all don't see what they have to defend against...and we like it that way!).

                    4. people would still get deleted, still get mad, still demand explanation, and still get huffy even after being explained to. And we're not going to build a judge and jury to handle "appeals", which is always the next step to a code of law ('cuz it's all in the interpretation).

                    So what we do instead is spread the word that anything may be deleted at any time without notice or explanation. I'm deleted, too. Roll with it. And let our rough guidelines be your guide. In this case (as in most others around here) the guideline would be: stick to chow. And don't attack.

                    1. re: Jim Leff

                      You get deleted? Isn't this your castle?

                      Seriously, I will try to roll with it. And if there's one thing I've taken from the experience its this - if you feel you've been attacked or that someone has posted something attacking your values (even if your post was not the one that was firebombed) don't counter punch -- just report the post to the mods and let them deal with it.

                      1. re: PapaT

                        Yep, we have never given Jim any special treatment. We moderate independently based on guidelines with the goal of keeping the boards an efficient source of chow tip sharing (see Jim rolls with it and moves on when we remove his posts.

                        1. re: The Chowhound Team

                          Exception: like once per year I invoke special privilege and ask for help on some question on the Not About Food board. Haven't done it in a couple years, but I reserve the right to do so once in a great while.

                          1. re: Jim Leff

                            "Haven't done it in a couple years..." is not exactly accurate, but don't be concerned, we are monitoring it.

                            1. re: The Chowhound Team

                              I haven't KNOWINGLY posted anything unsuitably off-topic in a couple of years. So if I did, it was unknowning...and you should have deleted me!

                  2. The original comment has been removed