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The Chowhound Police

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NicoleFriedman Feb 12, 2007 12:39 PM

I realize that one of my more recent posts was quite controversial as the topic (not started by me by the way) was on food taboos. This was on the Gereral Chowhound Topics board. I do not understand why the post and subsequently the entire thread was removed- if someone does not want to read about food taboos they do not need to open the thread. Instead of deleting posts and/or threads, why not implement a "tag" to alert chowhounders that there may be "risque" or controversial posts in a particular thread. This policing disturbs me greatly as we could be discussing so much more than just dining and eating- politics, anthropology, psychology all apply to the subject of food- and many of these discussions could potentially be deemed controversial and deletable- and they should not be.

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  1. The Chowhound Team RE: NicoleFriedman Feb 12, 2007 12:51 PM

    Chowhound has a very simple and narrow mission- to share tips on finding great chow. We don't aim to be a site that discusses food politics, anthropology or psychology. While we agree that such topics are interesting, it's simply not what we're about.

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    1. re: The Chowhound Team
      tony michaels RE: The Chowhound Team Feb 12, 2007 01:55 PM

      Amen and thank you.

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      1. re: The Chowhound Team
        Pablo RE: The Chowhound Team Feb 13, 2007 11:29 AM

        Sounds great, but then how can you have stories like: "Caveman Posture" what does this have to do with how delicious is it? Isn't that slightly psychological and anthropological?

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        1. re: Pablo
          The Chowhound Team RE: Pablo Feb 13, 2007 11:34 AM

          We're not sure what you mean- we don't see a thread by that name.

          If you see a thread that you think is off topic, please use the "report" feature to let us know.

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          1. re: The Chowhound Team
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            HillJ RE: The Chowhound Team Feb 13, 2007 12:00 PM

            http://www.chowhound.com/search?y=0&a...

            Caveman Posture

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            1. re: HillJ
              ChinoWayne RE: HillJ Feb 13, 2007 12:21 PM

              You might want to note that the article you link to is part of the Chow editorial content, it is not part of the Chowhound discussion forums.

              In my mind the Chow editorial site and the Chowhound discussion area while coexisting together in terms of the web site resources, are geared to two different (but not necessarily mutually exclusive) demographics, and there is certain discussion content in either arena that would not be considered appropriately topical in the other.

              I do notice a difference in "discussion" and overall content between the Chow/Chowhound siblings, and adjust my response and expectations to each.

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              1. re: ChinoWayne
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                HillJ RE: ChinoWayne Feb 13, 2007 12:50 PM

                Yes, this link does appear in a CHOW section but the question, "guidelines on moderation and why," appears to be the same irregardless of where a post appears within this entire website. I was providing the link so the Chowhound Team could see it.

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                1. re: HillJ
                  The Chowhound Team RE: HillJ Feb 13, 2007 01:20 PM

                  The editorial content of CHOW and the discussion content of Chowhound are separate things. Not everything the writers at CHOW talk about is on topic for Chowhound discussion, but each article there does have its own comment section if you'd like to discuss them.

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                  1. re: The Chowhound Team
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                    HillJ RE: The Chowhound Team Feb 13, 2007 03:43 PM

                    I'm not asking about approved content within CHOW. My questions as it relates to this thread remains:

                    Is the Moderation of member posts (whether appearing on CHOW or CH) moderated the same way...yes or no?

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                    1. re: HillJ
                      The Chowhound Team RE: HillJ Feb 13, 2007 04:20 PM

                      Chowhound (referring to the Chowhound discusison forums) is moderated by The Chowhound Team, a group (mostly volunteers) of dedicated and active site participants. The Chowhound Team is not involved in the operation of CHOW.

                      CHOW is written and edited by CHOW's editors (http://www.chow.com/static/about ). The editors of CHOW are not involved in Chowhound's moderation. Comments made on CHOW.com articles are not moderated by The Chowhound Team. The forum for discussing CHOW.com articles is at http://www.chowhound.com/boards/59

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        2. re: The Chowhound Team
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          Flynn1 RE: The Chowhound Team Feb 13, 2007 12:18 PM

          I really disagree that Chowhound's mission is "to share tips on finding great chow." Too many controversial topics have been left on the Boards by the moderators while some seemingly innocuous ones are eliminated. For example, the thread on "Eating cats, dogs and horses" is, in my opionion, not about finding 'great chow' yet it stays up and people are writing in about it pro and con. Actually, I don't believe it's legal to serve cats and dogs in the USA. Some restaurants have been closed because it was found they were serving these animals. I know that the US exports horsemeat to Europe but I'm not sure it's legal in the States.
          Here's the thread:
          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/364398

          My point is that food in itself can be political and while I'm glad we don't have screaming matches on these boards, the balance of what's allowed, what's okay and what's deleted is sometimes a gray area.

          I know the Moderators are a great bunch and are volunteers but a bit more consistency would be appreciated.

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          NicoleFriedman RE: NicoleFriedman Feb 12, 2007 07:11 PM

          I realize and understand that your aim is more narrow than the scope of the conversation, but if that is where the people on the site end of taking the conversation, it is just disappointing when it gets deleted- if you really intend to not allow such conversations, get rid of the "general topics" or such boards, or state the limits that you desire the posts to be limited to and make them clear, because that may lead others like me to assume that we can have open discussions without being bound to what your site deems acceptable.

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          1. re: NicoleFriedman
            The Chowhound Team RE: NicoleFriedman Feb 12, 2007 08:26 PM

            Just to clarify -- the General Topics Board is a general food topics board where many food-specific topics that are not specifiic to a particular geographical location are discussed. This might include cuisines (e.g. characteristics of Georgian cuisine or signature dishes in Yunnan) or food items that are available widely(e.g. best cheese or soda or chocolate).

            Do see the posting etiquette http://www.chowhound.com/topics/367605 for more details. We do state our limits based on our mission statement there.

            In practice, it's impossible to delineate every specific topic that is acceptable or unacceptable (there are countless topics out there), so we moderate with our narrow mission in mind -- quoting from the posting etiquette thread:

            "Chowhound has a narrow mission: to allow unbiased consumers to share honest chow opinions with their fellow consumers. On our regional message boards (San Francisco, Chicago, etc.), the focus is where to find great chow in that area. On our pan-regional "topical" boards (e.g. Home Cooking, Food Media & News, etc.), discussion is a bit more wide-ranging, but still on topic."

            We're not the police, merely janitors and librarians (most of us are still volunteers) that try to clean up and keep things organized. We don't always get everything, but we do our best with our mission statement in mind. And we're extremely grateful for all the help we get from everyone in keeping the signal to noise ratio high and for alerting us to posts that are off-topic or spammy.

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          2. Melanie Wong RE: NicoleFriedman Feb 12, 2007 07:19 PM

            Maybe the "sticky" posted at the top of this board helps,
            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/367605

            Generally speaking, i'd say that if the core of a post isn't addressing, "how delicious is it?, then it's likely not a topic for this site.

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            1. re: Melanie Wong
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              HillJ RE: Melanie Wong Feb 13, 2007 07:24 AM

              Regardinng MW's reply...I would add that many original posts and replies that follow often begin true to CH's mission but veer quickly if members start to "chat" or respond to each other in a more "chatting" way - would the CH Team consider this "chat" pertinent to the OP or off protocol?

              I have a difficult time understanding why some "chats" are left in and others (and I'm not referring to harsh/critical/offending replies) are removed..but examples abound on Boards that begin with a simple question and result in a battery of smaller conversations.

              CH Team, can you clarify.

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              1. re: HillJ
                The Chowhound Team RE: HillJ Feb 13, 2007 08:47 AM

                We do prune threads that veer off-topic. But we don't have the ability to read through every single post and rely heavily on hounds reporting in. If you see a post that is off-topic or shouldn't be around for any reason, please let us know via the "report" link and we'll look into it.

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                1. re: The Chowhound Team
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                  HillJ RE: The Chowhound Team Feb 13, 2007 09:09 AM

                  Sorry, I'm referring to "chat" and CH's disdain of chat. I am clear on what to do/how to avoid off topic/off color remarks; not chat. Or is all chat btwn CHounds, off topic?

                  When in doubt...

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                  1. re: HillJ
                    The Chowhound Team RE: HillJ Feb 13, 2007 10:23 AM

                    Do see the posting etiquette http://www.chowhound.com/topics/367605 for details.

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                    1. re: The Chowhound Team
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                      HillJ RE: The Chowhound Team Feb 13, 2007 10:59 AM

                      Again, I find the post rather vague but if you cannot be more specifics I will drop it.

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                      1. re: HillJ
                        The Chowhound Team RE: HillJ Feb 13, 2007 04:00 PM

                        We can't possibly outline every conceivable scenario that might occur on the boards. Rather, we ask ourselves whether a given post strays from the mission that is described in the etiquette post (some common examples are described there).

                        Our goal is to foster an environment that is very efficient for sharing chowtips. When we moderate, that's foremost in our minds, rather than whether we are 100% consistent or perfectly applying of a set of legalistic rules (which frankly, is not humanly possible).

                        Here are two examples, which you may or may not find helpful:

                        example 1:

                        "Hi how are you doing? It was nice to see you again."
                        "It's great to see you too. Hope to catch up over dinner again"

                        This would be removed because no one is sharing chow tips.

                        Example 2:

                        "Hi it was a great dinner, I really liked how the restaurant paired the 1989 La Tache with a black truffle fondue. The dessert was also excellent."

                        "Great to hear you enjoyed the meal -- my favourite course was the rack of wild boar, perfectly roasted!"

                        This may sound like 2 people chatting, but it's all about sharing chow tips, so we'd be grateful to the posters for sharing and would be drooling as we read.

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              bulavinaka RE: NicoleFriedman Feb 12, 2007 07:41 PM

              Food is not just food - it is the product of people's thoughts, emotions, and wishes. I would hope that the Chowhound Team might reconsider, as there are so many more components to a food experience, than just the food going down one's gullet...

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              1. Sam Fujisaka RE: NicoleFriedman Feb 13, 2007 09:43 AM

                Horns of a dilemna: the Chowhound Team does a great job, but NicholFriedman and bulavinaka make valid, cogent arguments.

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                1. Veggo RE: NicoleFriedman Feb 13, 2007 11:49 AM

                  Wherever The Team sets the bar there will be detractors. I don't want to sound soppy but we are guests in their home, and I'm sure that smart Team members labor at night over policies. I have wandered outside the lines a couple times and correctly was zapped. I appreciate still being allowed in the club. I try now to embrace the mantra of a high signal to noise ratio; it resonates well. I am new here and not at all sophisticated about food matters and consequently I am learning a ton!

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                  1. jen kalb RE: NicoleFriedman Feb 13, 2007 12:31 PM

                    I agree that there are some grey areas here where Id like to discuss and its off topic. The fact is that items like taboo foods, bringing in religious and moral differences, tend to be the items that generate major flame wars. The mods do know from experience that this is the case. While some people enjoy flame wars and being provocative, they fray the culture of the site, in my opinion, more than deleting the threads.

                    A thread about eating dogs, cats and horses, if it stays focussed on the actual experience not the yuck factor is dicy but more acceptable. I do agree that a focus on the food experience of eating dog is trivial, just a sensory thing, and maybe insisting on this discussion limit is itself amoral. IMO these discussions are saved by relating to actual foods eaten in the world rather than relating to say human flesh. Some people are going to argue that an obsessive interest in any food is immoral given world hunger, etc.

                    The fact is, things start going wrong with our community when we switch over from the food per se to the other things.

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                    1. The Chowhound Team RE: NicoleFriedman Feb 13, 2007 04:50 PM

                      Folks, we hope that your questions have been answered here. We've had to remove some posts that don't advance this discussion and it seems this topic has run its course, so we're locking it. Please feel free to email us at moderators@chowhound.com if you feel anything is unclear.

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