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Confused about New Jersey?

I had been browsing New Jersey topics on the Tri-state Region board (NY, NJ and CT, right?). Then, today I happen to notice that many, many New Jersey posts appear on the Mid-Atlantic board. Which is it, or is it both, and why?

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  1. I agree. I got so sick of searching around different boards that I just stopped posting in NJ. (I live in Florida, but I'm from there.)

    I'm from Bayonne, and I would find postings for that on the Outer Boroughs, Mid-Atlantic and Tri-State board. I know some New Jerseyans consider themselves from New York (I know I did) and some from Philadelphia (like my friends from Cherry Hill). But if we can just make one board for New Jersey and make everyone stick to that.

    OR, since I know the mgmt isn't into creating new boards, can they please specify, somewhere prominent, which board NJ belongs to? Because three is way too many...

    1. I would definitely use the Boards more if I could find the New Jersey postings. The postings also never seem to be moved or edited to a new board either. I wonder if any other states fall into three categories?

      1. Yeah, being a New Jersey-based poster is definitely frustrating. Although the tagline for the Mid-Atlantic board includes "Central/Southern NJ..." and the tagline for the Tri-State includes "Northern NJ...", the major problem is that NOBODY on Earth agrees what constitutes the border between North Jersey and Central Jersey.

        Everything south of about Hackensack and north of about Princeton is in a virtual geographic-terminology war zone between the people who say it's North and the people who say it's Central.

        That said, I'm glad to finally see a Trenton post recently being forcibly moved from the Tri-State board to the Mid-Atlantic board.

        Wow, people sometimes post about NJ on the Outer Boroughs board? What are they smoking? People sometimes *joke* that NJ is the 6th borough, and I think it's a nice nickname or whatever, but it's not REAL, you hippies! Or not yet anyway.

        1. I don't know who came up with the idea of splitting NJ between two boards but, not only is it ridiculous, it's an insult. No other state in the US is treated this way on this site. Also, every other food forum I know of has a NJ-only board or, at the very least, keeps the entire state together on a multi-state board.

          Repeated requests by NJ Hounds for a NJ-only board have, sadly, fallen on moderators' deaf ears. So, we live with the situation as best we can. It is fairly easy to make a distinction between the northern and southern parts of the state. The big problem is determining where to draw the borders of central NJ.

          When I see posts that I feel are not on the correct board, I use the "Report" mechanism to alert the moderators, state why I feel the post should be moved, and most of the time, the moderators concur.

          Since the format change, posts on the Tri-State board have been sparse. The main action is on the Mid-Atlantic board, where there is lots of participation by a terrific group of Hounds. So, come join us there! :-)

          1 Reply
          1. re: RGR

            FTR - CT is also split between 2 board, Tri-State and New England.

            And coming from NJ (Exit 136) if you are insulted by this you got a long road ahead of you. :-)))

          2. Glad to see I'm not the only frustrated user. One thing for sure is that New Jersey is NOT an Outer Borough.... OK, where would you post for questions concerning the Middlesex County or New Brunswick areas? Thanks for your help.

            7 Replies
            1. re: Mayner

              If you look at the map, you will see that Middlesex County is located in about the middle of the state (north-to-south), so I consider it Central NJ. Thus, in my view, posts about restaurants in Middlesex County, like New Brunswick and vicinity, belong on the Mid-Atlantic board. I use Middlesex (and Hunterdon to its west) as the general dividing line, i.e., restaurants in counties to the north belong on the Tri-State board, those to the south on the Mid-Atlantic board.

              1. re: RGR

                That's the trouble - no one knows what the true boundary is.

                Anyone who lives below what I call the "M-Line" (Mercer/Monmouth/Middlesex Counties) believes that anything inside or above the M-Line is north.

                Anyone above the M-line believes that everything inside or below is south.

                For the most part, only people living in the M-line realize the overlap. I know that I personally never considered the possiblity of "Central Jersey" until I lived in Mercer County and realized it was neither North Jersey or South Jersey in both the geographic and cultural senses.

                It is a little annoying to have to monitor both boards for NJ-related posts. If there isn't a separate NJ board (I doubt there's enough traffic to justify it) I would love to just see "NJ Posts Go HERE," be it Tri-state, or Mid-atlantic.

                1. re: jzerocsk

                  You are probably right that people living north of the M counties consider everything south of them to be "South NJ." However, while there is no "official" answer to the boundary question, the "Central NJ" designation is not a recent development for those of us living in the M counties. I have been living in Monmouth County for almost 40 years, and whenever someone has asked, I have never said I live in South NJ. I either say, "Central," or because of the particular location of my town, "South/Central."

                  As for monitoring two boards, you are correct that it is a royal pain. However, the time I spend checking the Tri-State Board is minimal. When it comes to NJ, that board is pretty much moribund since NJ posts there are very few and very far between. As I've said, happily, we have a great group of NJ Hounds on the Mid-Atlantic board, so that's where just about all the NJ restaurant action takes place.

                  1. re: RGR

                    Central Jersey isn't a new concept to M-Liners, but outside the M-Line the rest of the state remains, for the most part, completely unaware of it! Strange but true :-)

                2. re: RGR

                  Hey, RGR, I pretty much agree with your suggestion that restaurants to the north of the Hunterdon-Middlesex axis belong on the Tri-State board. I’m thinking, however, that Union County should also be included in Mid-Atlantic. If not, restaurants in places like Westfield and Rahway (for example, Chez Catherine and Restaurant David Drake) would be placed in Tri-State. For me, that just doesn’t compute. In any case, a county-based division between Tri-State and Mid-Atlantic seems more logical than drawing a line across the state, as you have suggested more recently.

                  Unfortunately, the moderators have clearly stated that New Jersey is not going to get its own board any time soon. I guess we’ll just have to continue with what is a very confusing situation. Perhaps we can persuade the powers that be to at least come out with a specific statement as to where the boundary is between the two boards. We in New Jersey will still have to monitor both boards but at least we’d know where Mid-Atlantic ends and Tri-State begins.

                  1. re: ambrose

                    ambrose,

                    You make an excellent point. I've always considered Chez Catherine, David Drake's and even Lorena's to be in Central NJ. So, I am now amending my previous geographical division with regard to Central NJ to include Union County and the sourthern part of Essex.

                    1. re: RGR

                      If the CH team would take a pencil and draw a horizontal line across the "food belly" of NJ a North & South NJ Board would be very helpful. One divide, clearly stating north andsouth then central wouldn't be a guessing game. A Tri state board in CH's infancy worked...6 million posters later...not so much.

              2. so glad someone brought this up, as I've found the limbo-land nj resides in is frustrating at best...Please Jim, give us our own board!!

                1. Now that I've had a few months of CH experience, I agree with every member who has brought this dilemma up about a NJ Board.

                  NJ is a state one can drive thru in tip to toe in a day. There is no reason to not give NJ its own single Board. CHow's are saavy enough to figure out the rest.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: HillJ

                    Well, if NJ had its own board, there would be nothing to "figure out." :-)

                    1. re: RGR

                      I was referring to CH's who visit this site looking for NJ tips but aren't from NJ. One "road map" for the state would be helpful but RGR you say it anyway you like. (bg), I agree: one board.

                  2. Mods, is the subject still open to discussion?

                    If so, I will gladly sign my "name" to a request in support of one NJ board. Reason: NJ is a relatively small state. One can drive thru the "garden state" in a day. Those living in NJ are familiar with county to county logistics; those visiting NJ need one roadmap to navigate the hundreds of posted tips without first figuring out "which exit."

                    The decision to best represent one NJ Board should include collective reasoning from those members living in the state and supporting these threads.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: HillJ

                      Plus, even though the area is so small, being the country's most densely populated state NJ would seem to overwhelm any other board it's lumped onto.

                      1. re: Covert Ops

                        The interesting thing is that on most other food forums, posts about restaurants in the northern part of NJ are way more abundant than those for the central and southern regions. However, as I've already mentioned, here on Chowhound, there is very sparse posting about North NJ restaurants on the Tri-State board while posting by NJ Hounds on the Mid-Atlantic board, particularly regarding Central restaurants, is extremely active, pretty much overwhelming posts re: PA, DE and MD.

                    2. Stop the confusion. Make a New Jersey board.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: dan

                        And a Delaware board as well. I have the hardest time finding posts about Delaware, trying to get through all the stuff on that Mid-Atlantic grouping.

                      2. I consider Monmouth County part of Central NJ so I post on the Mid-Atlantic. However, if one travel to another region to eat then they will have to look at another board.

                        1. Yeah, i know and apologize, Mayner.

                          The way most of us do it is to post about northeastern NJ (i.e. NYC suburbs) on tristate, and put more remote Jersey locales on Mid-Atlantic. It's hard to call, say, Cape May "Tristate", and hard to call, say, Hoboken, "Mid Atlantic".

                          We could set hard boundaries, but people wouldn't follow them. So it's kind of blurry, but between those two boards you should find what you need.

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: Jim Leff

                            ...or find a way to make the whole problem go away by replacing boards behind the scenes with passive, automatic tagging so that a Bayonne post would be tagged with everything it falls into: "Tri-State Area", "Hudson County" (which would tag it with "NE New Jersey", which would place it in "New Jersey", which would in turn tag it as "Mid-Atlantic" too).

                            The "board list" would simply be those tags you and Management deem worthy of appearing on the board list.

                            Not to imply that this would be a quick change. There'd have to be mechanisms when posting for the poster to quickly and easily mark their post with a narrower geographical area, so someone posting a new Cape May topic on an NJ "board" would be able to mark it, if desired, as pertaining to Cape May or at least the shore, or at least the southern half of the state.

                            1. re: hatless

                              Holy smokes...or we could avoid the grey areas/confusion and focus on enjoying the glorious deliciousness from one end of NJ to the other by creating one NJ Board.

                            2. re: Jim Leff

                              I'm with HillJ on this. Hoboken and Cape May are easy to categorize, but there are many grey areas, e.g. New Brunswick, Atlantic Highlands, Bridgewater to name a few.

                              1. re: Mayner

                                Mayner, I appreciate all your comments as well. The only grey area I see is dividing a state that does not require division--just ease of use. Since you can travel the 'fine roads' of NJ from top to bottom in a day no one should be confused by where to find great eats...but hey, that's just me :) (wink).

                                1. re: Mayner

                                  Hey, Mayner, Confusion about New Brunswick and Bridgewater? Perhaps -- though, in my view, they easily belong on the Mid-Atlantic board. But Atlantic Highlands?!!! It's on the Jersey Shore, which is definitely not in Northern NJ = Tri-State board. That said... Regulars to this board know that I think splitting NJ between two boards is totally idiotic!

                                2. re: Jim Leff

                                  But you still haven't addressed the request to have all of NJ combined into one, unique board. It works well for PA, despite the miles between Philly and Pittsburgh. If PA was included as part of a generic "Mid-Atlantic Board, guaranteed there'd be a lot less interest.

                                  1. re: CindyJ

                                    I agree. Make New Jersey it's own board. Then figure out a good place to put Delaware.
                                    No offense to anyone who posts on the Mid-Atlantic board, but it's very difficult to find posts about the Delaware shore right now, with having to wade through all the posts about New Jersey.
                                    Personally, I think each state should have it's own board, then sub-boards under for major areas/cities (i.e. under the CA board, there would be a LA section, a SF section, etc...). I know it is a lot of work, and probably will be shot down, but it's something to strive for in the future.

                                    1. re: CindyJ

                                      CindyJ, pull up the Mid-Atlantic board and read the description. Pennsylvania is included!! I think most people will agree that Pennsylvania should have its own board, which it does, so why is it included in Mid-Atlantic as well? Makes no sense.

                                      I think it's a shame that the people who run this site are so reluctant to consider customer suggestions to make it more intuitive and transparent. I love Chowhound but am becoming increasingly frustrated by its haphazard organization.

                                      And yes, put me down for one board for all of New Jersey!

                                    2. re: Jim Leff

                                      Speaking of which, the "Tri-State" board's rationale is tough for me to understand. It's essentially places that are an easy commute to Manhattan, but outside the city. Which would be great if NYC residents frequently headed out into those areas, but they don't. Which leaves the notion of it as a board for people in the near-suburbs, except that Long Island, Westchester and Fairfield County, and North Jersey and Rockland are each terra incognita (and a 90-minute to two-hour drive) from each other. The only thing connecting Westport to North Bergen is the fact that you have to get past or around NYC to get from one to the other.

                                      It's as though you took Europe and made the Romance language countries one board and Finno-Ugric-language countries another, so that Romania was lumped with Portugal and Estonia with Hungary, with round-the-clock train rides in between.

                                      If some sort of fuzzy, blurred geographic tagging isn't in the works and the site's sticking with rigid individual boards, surely separate state boards for NJ and CT would be better than this.

                                      1. re: hatless

                                        >>It's as though you took Europe and made the Romance language countries one board and Finno-Ugric-language countries another, so that Romania was lumped with Portugal and Estonia with Hungary, with round-the-clock train rides in between.<<

                                        Or as though the victors after World War I arbitrarily broke up the old empires, drew artificial boundaries that made little sense and created problems for decades to come (oh, wait a minute, they DID do that!).

                                        I just have my fingers crossed that someone at Chowhound is listening to our complaints and suggestions and will make some of the improvements we are requesting.

                                    3. Four less than perfect ways to divide NJ
                                      1) By Parkway Exits. Every town/city that can be reached from the top half of the Parkway= Tri State and anyone south= Mid Atlantic
                                      2) By team loyalty. Those where the majority of fans root for the Giants= Tri State and those where the majority root for Eagles= Mid Atlantic.
                                      3) T.V. Stations. If you get the NYC Fox channel and evening news= Tri State, if the Philly= Mid Atlantic
                                      4) "The City". If you consider NYC "the City" and that is where you commute to= Tri State, if Philly= Mid Atlantic

                                      I think that most of the confusion would go away if instead of saying "Northern NJ" in the description of the Tristate Region that they actually named the counties that they consider Northern. And then the Mid Atlantic could just be everywhere else in NJ.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: viperlush

                                        I agree, a lot of the confusion would go away if board geographics were simply defined by county or counties. That's why the NY metro area boards work pretty well. You have New York County (Manhattan) and then the 4 other counties on Outer Burroughs. Nassau and Suffolk on Long Island go on Tristate. There's no confusion.
                                        Terms like northern, northeastern, etc are too vague. Even "Tristate" is a poor choice; it means different things to different people. You see and hear references in commerce and advertising to things like "tristate area Ford dealers" and the like. That usually means the NY metro area and Fairfield County CT, but certainly not Buffalo or Rochester.

                                      2. Chowhound was originally NYC-centric. See http://strangemaps.files.wordpress.co... for the New Yorker's perspective.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: ahr

                                          If the Boards covering New Jersey were originally designed from a NY perspective that explains a lot in regards to this revisited topic.

                                          If I (a NJ lifer) were to design a CH Board with only a visitors knowledge, I'm sure I'd miss more than a few important details for finding great CHOW or the optimal way to share that information with CH members.

                                          1. re: HillJ

                                            Incidentally, here's another funny thing: upstate New York -- all of it -- belongs on the Tri-State Area board, as does Long Island. Plattsburgh and Jamestown -- each over 6 hours' drive time from NYC on a good day -- are Tri-State, but New Brunswick, NJ, 40 minutes out of Manhattan? Mid-Atlantic.

                                            1. re: hatless

                                              Not to toot my own horn, but I posted to the Mid-Atlantic site months ago to beg for a NJ board and/or at least for the post to contain the town/state and the discussion was shifted to Site Talk, where it promptly got no replies.

                                              I am willing to put in money, if need be, to have a New Jersey board. I don't think the Mods understand that unlike other borders, the NY/NJ border (in the boards I mean) isn't crossed a lot for food, and so there is no benefit to regionalization. If people want NY food, they will go to Manhattan or Outer Boroughs - if they want NJ food, they do what we all do now.

                                              The same goes for New Jersey/Delaware.

                                        2. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/519323

                                          the comment about NJ on this thread answers it all for me.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: HillJ

                                            WTF, Jim ? Does NJ have a "kickme" sticker on its back or something?

                                          2. Dear Confused,

                                            I know it might have been brought up by others, but why can't the Chowmeisters just give Jersey its own identity? This regional id thing is insane. One of the earlier posts mentioned the fact that that Chowhound started in NYC. That would explain allot of things here.

                                            Confused also in northwest NJ, or do you call it central NJ? In the Northeast or do you call it the Mid-Atlantic? I don't know, I call it New Jersey.

                                            1. I am with HillJ, RGR, sixelagogo, dan, Covert Ops, Mayner, CindyJ, ambrose, aacharya, and jebs--in other words, pretty much everyone who has posted on this thread: GIVE NEW JERSEY ITS OWN BOARD. I too want to be able to find Mid-Atlantic posts for Delaware (which does not appear to merit its own state board, based on the number of posts on DE chow) without having to wade through what appears to be a 90:10 ratio of New Jersey:Everyplace Else. It would be really simple to just move the NJ posts to a NJ board.

                                              What is the problem? Jim Leff seems to think "We could set hard boundaries, but people wouldn't follow them," but magically, for Pennsylvania they seem to follow them just fine. As for the legacy of Chowhound's NY-centricity: can no one in charge of the site grasp the fact that what worked for the user community of ten years ago might not be appropriate for the user community of today? Chowhound has managed to grow out of its original incarnation and improve in a lot of other ways--why not this one?

                                              34 Replies
                                                1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                  I looked at that thread before I posted. Here is what it says: "we carefully examine the volume of traffic on existing boards, as well as the vibrancy of a given local food scene, and look for cohesive geographic and culinary regions to create new boards."

                                                  Volume of traffic on the Mid-Atlantic and Tri-State boards: I am counting an average of 20 New Jersey-based threads active each day on these two boards. The entire nation of Canada, which does have its own board, has an average of two active threads per day. There is a Russia board too, which has had a grand total of 21 active threads in the last YEAR.

                                                  Vibrancy of the NJ food scene: I would posit that a scene that engenders 20 threads or posts per day seems pretty vibrant. New Jersey Chowhounds certainly have a lot to talk about.

                                                  Cohesive geographic ... region: The map does a very nice job of drawing a line around this cohesive region. It's called the state border. Many people appear to have accepted it as a meaningful boundary.

                                                  If you're going to preach consistency, at least make an effort to practice it. Or at least read what you're preaching, so that it isn't so easy to demonstrate how completely you're ignoring it.

                                                  1. re: travelmad478

                                                    The key part of that thread is this:

                                                    "We do want to add new, more localized boards in the future, especially for our multi-state regions. We're not doing so now because it requires some coding changes to properly handle the archives of the existing boards. Those changes haven't made it to the top of the priority queue yet, and there's currently no timeline for when board splits might take place."

                                                    It's not that we don't want to create new boards, we just can't do it right now. The board structure that currently exists was created years ago and, yes, we know it needs changes. They just can't be done right now, but we have a pretty good idea of what does need to be done when it's technically possible.

                                                    Not to discourage people for adding their thoughts here (or on any of the many other threads asking for new boards), but we do want people to understand that we're not waiting for a massive show of hands to take action. When we can, we will make changes.

                                                    1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                      You REALLY REALLY need to get on that. That a coding issue is preventing such a basic piece of site maintenance is ridiculous. I thought this was the kind of thing that was supposed to be cleared up once Jim wasn't running it in his basement.

                                                      It is having significant impact on the usability of the site. You should make it a very high priority.

                                                      1. re: dan

                                                        Personally I think there are bigger issues impacting the usability of the site, and I'd rather see the Engineering Team work on the crucial issues first, such as the server errors (which are hopefully licked once and for all), and the lag on new posts appearing.

                                                        Don't get me wrong, I see the desire for new boards, but it's not a deal killer- I mean, if you want to post about food and you're not sure which board, pick one and start posting. New boards aren't going to make more posts happen, they're just going to organize them differently.

                                                        1. re: Chris VR

                                                          It's the organizing of a state split by two boards that has made it confusing Chris VR. The CH Team has already shared what the priorities are...it doesn't hurt to have hounds share what their priorities are.

                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                            I understand the problem and I understand the desire to discuss it. I just don't agree that the lack of organization to their liking has actually impeded local hounds' ability to post on food in New Jersey. It's not a unique situation to have a state split by two boards. I can think of at least a half dozen states on this site that have the same issue. I'm in a state that's also split by two boards (Massachusetts is discussed on both the Boston and New England boards.) Sure, we all have to think a bit harder about where to put posts about places that are outside of the immediate city of Boston, but it's not THAT difficult.

                                                            I'm not hearing that the CH Team is saying it won't happen. Time after time the message has been it'll happen when it can, but tech reasons preclude that at this time. And I have to agree with whoever is setting priorities on the tech development of the site that this problem is not as high priority as the other problems that (unfortunately) plague the site.

                                                            1. re: Chris VR

                                                              CVR, I wasn't indicating that this "confusion" exits solely on the Boards supporting NJ deliciousness. I've read many threads from hounds who have shared the same dilemma; including Boston. Nor did I assume the priorities facing the CH Team. Site Talk is a Board designed for just that and it's your freedom to express a counterpoint to my p.o.v. on this rest assured I will continue to express myself. My most recent response on this specific thread was in relation to the link/sited article about NJ dining and the confusion simply expressed in the article. As for impeding the ability to find chowhound delights throughtout NJ, it would reason the OP was started to discuss that there is a navigation issue for finding resto reviews & state food destinations easily. I happen to agree.

                                                      2. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                        It seems to me that the problem is primarily definitional -- namely, the idea that the Tri-State Region that revolves around NYC includes Northern NJ but not Central NJ. In fact, much of Central NJ (where I reside) is every bit as much in the orbit of NYC as are parts of North Jersey. Keep in mind that Jersey kind of wraps around NY; much of North Jersey is north of NYC and much further away, both geographically and culturally, than are parts of Central Jersey.

                                                        The point is, I don't think we need a new board -- instead, I think we just need to make the chatboard definitions square with the reality that Central Jersey is part of the Tri-State Region, at least according to people living here.

                                                        Now, South Jersey is a different story, since parts of it are clearly in the orbit of Philadelphia, and other parts of it might fairly be included in a larger catchall region like "Mid-Atlantic" that includes Maryland and Delaware etc.

                                                        But the idea that my Central Jersey home (Highland Park) is in the same region with Maryland and Delaware, rather than with Manhattan and Brooklyn, doesn't ring true to me, and I suspect would be rejected by my neighbors who commute to the City, go there frequently for entertainment, etc.

                                                        1. re: doctorbuzz

                                                          doc, I think the challenge for Jersey residents and visitors falls under "what is Central NJ for you?" This question has continued to come up, with no real solution except to get a NJ map and cross reference your starting point against the restaurant/diner/eatery you seek.

                                                          In the meantime very cool Jersey hounds are more than happy to fill in the gaps and help everyone on their way!

                                                          Happy chowing, doc!

                                                          1. re: doctorbuzz

                                                            The reality is that, no matter where the line is drawn the folks in the next little town away from where the line was established say "Hey, we are only 1 mile (or a half mile or one tenth of a mile or across the street) from there. How come WE aren't included on the Tri-State board?" So the line is completely arbitrary, and yet it has to be drawn somewhere. It is the proverbial "slippery slope" in action.

                                                            1. re: Servorg

                                                              Many have weighed in regarding NJ becoming one Board with no state divide; not where to further divide chowish areas statewide.

                                                              A year ago, the CHTeam expressed that this request/issue is of interest for many current Boards but not a priority at present. That was the reality as I understood it.

                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                The difficulty comes with the voluminous archives. There are thousands of old posts slotted into the existing boards that don't have much (if anything) identifying them as to location. Even where they do have locations attached someone is going to have to pull them out and slot them into the newly created board(s). How someonw would figure out which new board all of these archived posts would go to is a daunting task I imagine.

                                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                                  Good point, S. I would imagine one day the idea of archiving a CH map would be beneficial for US Boards generally speaking anyhow. A new way of categorizing material usual entails archiving older material. Whether archived by year/date/topic/area...the project is only going to grow larger.

                                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                                    Every day a solution is not reached this problem gets worse. Meanwhile, the organization of the boards remain scattershot and random.

                                                                    1. re: dan

                                                                      It just may be that we have to go to eat with the Chowhound that we have, rather than the Chowhound that we would like.

                                                                      "Random acts of deliciousness" - It kind of has a nice ring to it.

                                                                      1. re: Servorg

                                                                        Yeah, no, not acceptable. Do you work for CBS? The idea was that Mr. Leff sells his website to a big company. Mr. Leff then gets to focus on food while the big company makes the site run well. Mr. Leff has done some great food writing since then, but the message boards are not significantly better than they used to be. Some bells and whistles but fundamental problems (search, relevant board topics) are basically the same as they were before.

                                                                        Chowhound is imbued with a sense of community that keeps people coming back, but it's these kinds of problems that drag on a site's growth and allow similar sites the opportunity to start snatching up your mindshare/community..

                                                                        1. re: dan

                                                                          I just have a longer term perspective on what the site was like when I began to post in 2001 and where it is now. Is it perfect? No. Will it ever be perfect? No. But what I get from using and participating on CH is much greater than any momentary frustrations I encounter along the way. So, for me, the value far outweighs the negatives. I figure that Jacquilynne and the others who work for CBS/C/Net/Chowhound want to make the site better as they all use it too.

                                                                          If they can't do it on an accelerated time table that suits some of us then they undoubtedly have good reasons for it. I don't believe that they are NOT doing it to make us writhe in agony for their own amusement or because of some other nefarious plot that must be going on.

                                                                          Of course I am one of those people who, while living in the US and hearing hoof beats think horses and not Zebras. Your thinking may vary.

                                                                          1. re: Servorg

                                                                            I don't know what you mean by 'longer term perspective'. I would submit that the chowhound messageboards are not significantly better than they were before the acquisition.

                                                                            You and I will stick around because of the value we know the place has, My fear is a new user might say, 'Why am I reading about NJ I want to read about Albany' or 'I can't find things I search for' or 'Why is the mobile site a mess?' and then they will skedaddle to another site and we will lose their insight. For effect, I'm imagining this new user was the offspring of Julia Childs and David Chang. It frustrates me because it makes me sad!

                                                                            I do not attribute this to malice, but to bad management.

                                                                            1. re: dan

                                                                              Maybe just priorities. If 99.9 percent of the CH users are working thru navigation challenges and newcomers are continue to register the site daily, the problem may appear to be less urgent than the 1 percent of us vocal about weighing in. I'd still like to see all of NJ in one place; either call it a MidAtlantic section of North East Region or place all of NJ under a Tri-state Area Board. Dividing a state you can drive thru from toe to tip in one day into two Boards is unnecessary and cross referencing for travelers a real pita. But, again I acknowledge, the workload is not on my shoulders.

                                                                              1. re: dan

                                                                                With my most sincere apologies to Winston Churchill -

                                                                                "Chowhound is the worst form of food discussion site - except for all those others that have been tried."

                                                                                I guess until you and I have taken over as managers of Chowhound and seen the issues from the "inside" I will take it as a given that the management is running this place as well as it can be run, without the use of magic fairy dust and 3 wishes from the Genie in the Lamp.

                                                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                                                  Running a website is not nearly the intractable problem governance is.

                                                                                  I am an overworked computer professional, I sympathize greatly with the chowhound staff. I imagine the issues are 'The parent company is not giving us the resources to properly complete this project'. I do not fault the people working on chowhound, I fault their organization.

                                                                                  Anyway, unlike government there is no reason to settle for mediocrity when it comes to internet message boards.

                                                                                  1. re: dan

                                                                                    Anyway, unlike government there is no reason to settle for mediocrity when it comes to internet message boards.
                                                                                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                                                                                    Agreed. The CH manifesto was built on the idea that 'hounds are folks who won't settle for mediocrity.

                                                                                    I guess time will tell what happens in the future.

                                                                                    1. re: dan

                                                                                      This reply reminds me of the days when Jim and Bob were keeping CH together with chewing gum and bailing wire. So many "computer" professionals posted over the years to tell them how easy it would be to fix the site for next to nothing. And every time Jim actually ended up taking the time to try and work with said experts it turned out that their ideas were impractical and unworkable for the way Chowhound was configured. Evidently it's easy from the outside. Not so easy from the inside.

                                                                                      1. re: Servorg

                                                                                        Yes, your analogy is correct in that in both situations the resources were not available to properly address the problem. The difference is there is now Ad Revenue and a parent company with deep pockets.

                                                                                        I wasn't trying to be a know-it-all when I stated my profession, just that I empathize with the staff who are probably frustrated that they cannot provide their users with a better experience.

                                                                                        Also, why is computer in quotes?

                                                                            2. re: Servorg

                                                                              Then I don't understand the need for an internal search engine function at all. The entire site could run randomly. But I thought the point of creating regional Boards was to assist the CH visitor quickly and ultimately engage them in deliberate chowish conversation. If the trip is frustrating and too time consuming...the "acts of deliciousness" can be easily found in competing viral places.

                                                                              Ad revenue, a large audience, staffers all became a CH reality. A fortunate spot to be in. Why now, at a time of greatest resource, is there no time or budget for improving some of the growing glitches to regional Board mapping.

                                                                              Just one gals curiosity.

                                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                                I get the sense that it (making those board changes and making the archives synch with them) is a much more complex task than we know. I can't see any reason for the site owners to let this issue go on as long as it has if that weren't the case.

                                                                            3. re: dan

                                                                              Coupled with an internal search engine that is becoming more and more scattershot and random. I have taken to favorite-paging those posts I don't want to lose sight of via my browser and accepting that older information about NJ chow is easier and quicker to locate via Google than within CH threads.

                                                                              I recognize the cumbersome task of archiving and re-mapping Boards but a handful of college interns recruited to help out on such a project should be relatively easy to recruit. I'd post for summer interns asap.

                                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                                I agree. I had been using 'site:chowhound.com' on google since the old site, but now that doesn't work anymore. nice.

                                                                            4. re: Servorg

                                                                              It's not something that a good programmer hasn't done many times. It's not a daunting task, at all. Then it runs...
                                                                              Having read some of the posts I don't think anything will get done. Manana, they say. In the meantime the site barely functions. People complain about the Tri-State region and they can't even make a simple change to correct the "Southeastern CT" blunder in the Tri-state description.

                                                                              While I'm already aggravated, I want to say that it is extremely hard for me to find places on the Eastern seaboard. First, the US is a big area. I am not into a cram course on all the small cities and towns there. Being a transplant, I am very sensitive to the fact that people don't understand a foreigner's dilemma. Though I am a Texan, I have never been on the east coast. There's Greenville, SC, Greenville, NC, Greenville, TX and so on. It's Tri-State, then it's Mid-Atlantic, then it's "South". It is very difficult to get advice for traveling up the east coast and Chowhounders aren't always specific about where a place is. "The South" is composed of eleven states! It's like your supposed to be a mind reader and a Southern cartographer to find anything. In some cases I know the data is there. Using the search function can be a tedious, slow and unfruitful task. I wish this were easier.

                                                                              1. re: Scargod

                                                                                You have accurately summed up WHY breaking the various boards into new groupings is so damned hard. What archives go with what boards is going to be a near impossible task.

                                                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                                                  Got it. It's not that creating a program is difficult, it's difficult identifying and organizing them correctly as to where they go. If people HAD to use a zip code or something like that when they talk about a place it might be easy. I know Jim Leff said he thought about how to organize, but you still have the human factor of people not being clear about what and where they are talking about. Then there's the misspelling...

                                                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                                                    Somehow this conversation has drifted away from "New Jersey should be on one board" and moved to "it's really hard to figure out how to break out the Southern states." Just because one thing might be tricky is no reason not to do the the other thing that's relatively easy.

                                                                                    Let me make a couple of points. First, I think some of the heat the CH support team takes on the New Jersey issue could be deflected if they told us just what the obstacles are to setting up a discrete NJ board. Clearly *something* is stopping them. If they told us what it is, maybe we'd back off.

                                                                                    Secondly, I've got to say that I've got a world of sympathy for people covered by catch-all boards like "South" and "Midwest." Talk about dysfunctional ... how can possibly find any info at all or foster a sense of community when they're lumped together like a random crowd in an airport lounge?

                                                                                    There's no way this situation can possibly be good for the site. While there are no doubt real issues to creating a better board structure the CH managers really need to resolve those problems and come up with a plan that gradually addresses them.

                                                                                    They could start by telling us why New Jersey doesn't have it's own board.

                                                                        2. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                                          Searching and finding places can be difficult. I mentioned the eleven state issue where, even if you find advice or a post with "coast" on it you then still have to get out the map (or Google Maps search), and find it before you can tell if it is in the area you will be traveling. If this doesn't work then you starts a new thread and the whole process starts over again, adds a lot of unnecessary content and redundancy and you may not get advice in time.

                                                                          While not a perfect solution, Yelp's format of looking for places near a location and being broken down into categories (you could have those for restaurants, places to buy foodstuffs, butchers, stores, etc.), is very helpful.
                                                                          I'm not into straining my brain at the moment for the negatives, but a melding of the two formats could solve some of the problems and you could still have interactive discussions. They would just be (primarily), based on a specific place.

                                                                  2. Just want to add to the topic:
                                                                    There's an article in the nytimes today about a small documentary that seeks to define the divide once and for all. maybe a link to it on the mid-atlantic or tristate page would be helpful.
                                                                    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/13/nyr...

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: sixelagogo

                                                                      six, thanks for sharing this story. I hope the filmmaker is successful. NJ really gets a bad rap and CH staff does a minimal job of helping 'hounds from or visiting the state navigate the deliciousness found here but as you know Jersey folks will help all they can!

                                                                      North, South or in between-deliciousness exists @ every "exit."

                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                        Spot on! The official sport of New Jersey should be eating. I regularly read the Midd. Atlantic board as a recovering Jerseyite w/ mom still in Middlesex County. What I feel sorry for are all the other folks on the Mid Atlantic board. This site is really dominated by the Hounds from Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean Counties. (Middlesex County has a greater population than the entire state of Maine!) Just out of respect to to the folks from the other Mid Atlantic states, New Jersey should have a board of it's own. Beside NJ is so kicked around, it should have one as a sign of respect for the epicenter (Sorry Queens, NYC) of Chowhoundum!