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Mid Month/Month End Updates

  • d

Over on the midwest board, we've been innundated with nearly identical running update threads every two weeks.

On the 15th of the month, a "Mid-Month Update" thread is posted. At the end of the month, a "Month End Update" thread is posted.

Here are examples:
January 15th: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/360254
February 2nd: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/366799
February 15th: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/371383
March 2nd: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/376744
March 16th: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/381651
April 1st: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/387121
April 15th: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/391923
April 30th: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/396842

These threads seem to go against the posting etiquitte that is at the top of every board, in particular, the section on chattiness that can be found here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/36760...

While it is interesting to hear where people ate in the last two weeks, more extensive reviews are now being put into those threads, rather than threads about specific restaurants and/or cuisines. (Here's a recent example of someone holding back a review until a month-end thread is started: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/396650 - thankfully the poster was talked out of it.


You state "Chowhound's goal is to help people find great chow right now." However, these threads are making it increasingly difficult to accomplish that. Because so many restaurants are mentioned in those threads, they are showing up in search - but with little information about the restaurant than the fact that somebody was there, and their singular experience. Not to mention that you have to dig through dozens of posts to find the one opinion - and then do the same for others who ate there in other two week periods.

Perhaps these threads are a result of Minneapolis/St. Paul getting more traffic - at times we seem to dominate the midwest board, so these boil things down and keep us out of Indiana's hair. But, these bi-monthly digests are replacing real discussion and content - I can tell you that I'm visiting (and contributing) less since these threads started appearing. They're just too hard to keep track of, and have so little staying power.

I've reported the threads, and posted in them asking the same questions above - and nothing has happened (except my posts being deleted). I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels this way about these threads. Can The Powers That Be either contain these threads, or explain the value they add to Chowhound?


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  1. Danny, that's a great summary.

    I agree with you that these threads are leading to a discussion structure that results in a "list all the places I ate" theme. On the latest thread I posted a (now deleted) plea to 'hounders to restrain themselves. Here's why:

    1. They invite chattiness. The signal-to-noise ratio does seem to be steadily worsening there, as more and more people reprint their calendar instead of focusing on the worthwhile gems.

    2. They seem to be turning into an default thread as you mentioned, where people are holding off on posting their good info in a logically-named, informative, accessible thread about a particular restaurant because they'd rather add it to the end-of-month thread. Gotta ask: are these threads fostering the notion of competitive posting? Of course they don't mean to do so, but that emerging tendency is a huge turnoff.

    3. They pose a significant problem for people who are trying to search for useful info on a particular restaurant. This is my PRIME concern. The search tool is a painful exercise now. The dedicated threads are lost among these catch-all topics, and drilling down to whatever good info might be mixed into the jumble is increasingly laborious.

    Sure, the topic is helpful for jogging a person's memory about restaurants or meals they would not otherwise have bothered to write about. But let's ask one another a serious question: if it wasn't memorable enough to stand as its own thread, or build on a theme from an existing thread, how does tossing it into the monthly pile support the mission of this site?

    1. Thank you, Danny, for having the courage to post this. We Twin Citeans are a congenial, go-along to get-along folk, so, it's not easy to be a dissenting voice.

      My normal response to a complaint like this is to say, "Scroll on by. If you don't like it, ignore it." However, I don't think that response works here for a couple of reasons.

      1. Maybe I'm imagining it, but the posting volume has gone down on the MSP board since these threads have started. Partly because some people are holding off posting their reports until one of these threads come along. Since there are fewer threads bouncing about to draw people in, there are fewer posts altogether. This will kill our little forum.

      2. Aside from the volume thing, what’s the difference between reporting about your visit to, say, Town Talk Diner outside these update threads vs. posting about it inside? Because people find these laundry lists of where people ate during the month boring, (at least I do.) I don't mean to be unkind, but I do not find it interesting to hear about every meal someone ate--we all eat several meals a day; I don't want to feel like I'm reading a food diary--I just care about the exceptional ones, good, bad or unique. If people are bored by and avoid these threads, they aren't going to see your Town Talk Diner report to comment on it, which means we are losing our back and forth commentary. It's the conversation, the give and take, the back and forth discussion that makes Chowhound valuable. As a pack, we can "digest" a meal better than a lone 'hound; this is how we learn and grow as individual 'hounds and as a community.

      3. These threads kill the search engine. No one will find it helpful, 3, 6, 9 months from now to know where TDQ ate in late April. Instead, they want information about a specific restaurant; or, cuisine; or neighborhood; or price point, and so on. Now if you search on Town Talk Diner, you're going to get a bunch of one-liner hits in a giant thread you're going to have to wade through.

      4. Forget the search engine, you can't even remember what you read in these threads a couple of week later. I remember Josh's University Avenue thread, Chris Mitra's "Little Szechuan is back" thread, Cassandra's "cheap fancy pants challenge" thread, but I can't remember even a week or two later where that off-hand Town Talk Diner comment was. The lack of focus dilutes Chowhound as a resource.

      5. I don't think people are reporting very critically in these threads--they aren't dissecting their meals and giving us specifics.

      My initial reaction to the first of threads was annoyance. I had already gone to a lot of effort to post very specifically about my recent dining experiences in other threads. So, I just posted a bunch of links to all of my recent posts. I did quickly realize, though, that I hadn't posted about EVERYWHERE I ate, so found it an interesting exercise to list out all of the places I had eaten and comment on them. But, I also realized there was nothing particularly noteworthy about those meals, which is why I hadn't already posted about them. So, while it was interesting as a one-time experiment, I don't find it ongoingly helpful to go through this exercise.

      There is one thing I like about these threads and that's that it does seem to draw out some of the newer, quieter folks. I don't know to encourage these people to post otherwise except to say, we're interested in what you have to say, take a chance and open up a new thread to report on a recent dining experience you had.

      In fact, the folks posting in these threads are people whose posts I otherwise find very interesting and valuable. I am interested in what these folks have to say; it's just the grocery list format I can't abide.

      Finally, I do think these threads constitute "chatty polling threads," which the mods say they discourage as expressed very succinctly here:


      It’s also in the posting “etiquette” in paragraph #4, here:


      As a community, all we can do to discourage them is not post in them. Also, when we notice the threads devolve into chat or other non-chow discussion, we can report them to the mods using the "report this post" feature. And, of course, we can lead by example; eat at a new, or new to you place? Post about it. Notice one of your favorite places has gone downhill? Post a downhill alert! Try a new dish for the first time? Post about it! Just have a great meal at one of your “standbys” that hasn’t been mentioned on the boards in awhile? Post about it!


      2 Replies
      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        I might have the dissenting opinion here, but I like the monthly updates. If I've been somewhere new or exceptional in the month, that I think is deserving of its own thread or belongs in a pre-existing thread, I'll post there immediately after the meal. However, if it's somewhere I go to frequently, or it wasn't worthy of it's own thread, I save it for the monthly thread and try to specifically point out which dishes I had, service issues, etc.

        I also enjoy reading the monthly thread because it reminds me of either the oldies but goodies that people probably wouldn't post about otherwise, or notifies me of a new place that doesn't have its own thread. I also actually really enjoy seeing the full picture of where people have been over the past month. Maybe it's wrong but if I see someone say, "well, we hit Big Bowl on Friday and then Olive Garden the next night - the lasagna was great!" I pretty much discount that post/poster.

        I'll admit too that husband and I were pretty much the ultimate foodies in our social circle, until we started hanging out with Chowhounds folk. We love good meals and good service and won't put up with much else, but I'm not nearly as good with details as TDQ and others. The monthly thread gives me a chance to say "I had the lamb dish" while I would be hesitant to post a whole new topic unless I remembered every detail of the experience.

        That said, I wouldn't be too sad if they were gone, my posts would likely go elsewhere, but I certainly don't have an aversion to them.

        1. re: katebauer

          Just a side note: being "good with details" is something I've really worked at over the years and I'm so flattered when you say I am "good with details" because I pale in comparison to so many talented posters on Chowhound. I do hope I've improved over the years, but I think I have a long way to go.

          And, I don’t think you have to be a food expert to post here on chowhound. It can be intimidating at first, but people aren’t here to judge your food writing skills. They are here to learn and think about food thoughtfully themselves, and, of course, find out the best places to get great chow.

          But, I will tell you that whenever I eat out, especially when I'm eating at a new place, or a dish I haven't tried before, I do it with the expectation that I will be posting about it later. I bring pen and paper and take notes (discreetly) about not just what I ordered, but also how the dish was described by my server and on the menu (ie., in terms of preparation and such). I bring my little camera and discreetly if I can snap a photo of my meal, as well as the menu, to help jog my memory of what it looked like.

          I don't think I have a super refined palate, so, if there's a flavor or ingredient in there I'm not sure of, I try to ask about it if I can. I try to remember to ask if they make this sauce or that beverage "in house."

          I ask my dining companions to taste my dish and tell me what they taste and smell and what they think the texture and fragrance are like so I can see if I agree and taste and smell what they do.

          And I try to read a lot of posts by people who I think are really talented in writing about food, like lots and lots of our fellow chowhounds!

          It's an art, and it takes practice, and that is why we are all here, of course, to learn more. (P.S. I think you're selling yourself short, Kate. ;-) )


      2. I also enjoy the mid month and month end posts. But I also am not using this board
        to do searches on particular places. I actually don't know how to do a search, and
        would like to know how.

        1. wow i had no idea these threads were such a big deal, or that a version of them wasn't on all of the regional boards. i guess i haven't been here long enough to get annoyed by them. i haven't contributed to any of these threads, and i agree that the "laundry list" format is blah and usually boring.

          but, i do think that the format does mean that some of the non-bright-and-shiny-new-star places get a little nod on chowhound. i've seen some folks mention little or older places (or places where the food is blah but the pie is good, etc) that probably might not make the boards otherwise, & i think that's a good thing for general discussion. when pressed about EVERYWHERE you ate in the last month or so sometimes you'll catch someone out-- "hey i go to this little old-school gyro place that is down the block from my house" or "found myself at a horrible chain restaurant because the in-laws dragged us and the salad was wilted and nasty but i was surprised at how good the "green bean fries" were-- i think they bit the idea from that SF restaurant-- anyone know?"--- which of course leads to annoying chattiness. i do feel it would be better for searches to start new threads for these, i guess, but i think the chi-town, ohio, etc midwestern posters must HATE THE *&%$ out of MSP already for being such avid talkers.

          i don't know if it is worth it or possible for the CH powers to divide the midwest board further, but it is strange to see cincinnati threads next to the one about tanpopo, & it doesn't seem to make much sense to me that MSP, Chicago, Madison, Milwaukee, & Detroit are lumped in with Kansas!? i think chi-town chowhounds in particular would start posting if they didn't have to look at MSP threads ad nauseum-- so i think that the slop-bucket that are the MSP mid-month updates do serve to reduce aspirin consumption in the rest of the great flyover region.

          i guess my vote might be that the threads do serve some purpose-- for MSP and the midwest board at large-- and maybe they should stay for the time being. if we had our own board it would be different-- then they would probably definitely be clutter and need to go. most of the other MSP posters have been at this little round table longer than me so i do defer to their opinions about these items. i don't frequently search on chowhound so i think i probably have no idea of the headaches these threads cause for more frequent searchers like Danny and TDQ.

          3 Replies
          1. re: soupkitten

            I believe the issue of breaking MSP up from the rest of the midwest has been brought up several times and the Chowhound Team have said it's not possible at this point.

            I'm not understanding how the monthly threads screw up searches (I search about once a week for something specific). There are plenty of search results that have only a snippet of information on a restaurant - which is what might happen when your search turns up a monthly update thread. I'm not getting how the monthly threads specifically make searching harder.

            1. re: soupkitten

              Chicago has their own board, thats why you don't see them much on the midwest board.

              I also see a board of our own as a solution to this. We'd have a place for the short, simple comments to not get lost - without needing to blog about where we ate. We have enough discussion and participants (both online and at our Chowdowns) to support it.

              There's a place for the "I loved the lamb at Athens Cafe, what else should I try?" threads. They're getting lost in the shuffle now, and the mid-month/month end update threads shouldn't be the solution to the problem.

              As for the impact on search, try searching for places that opened around the time of the start of the updates - like Il Vesco Vino. ( http://www.chowhound.com/search?item_... ) There's one discussion that involves the place, but some of the most informational comments are in four different the mid-month/month end update threads, and you have to dig deep into each of them to find the latest info. If they were all in a single thread about the place, it would be a lot more helpful to someone considering the restaurant.

              1. re: Danny

                Got it Danny. I usually just search (Edit/Find) for the specific phrase I'm looking for once I'm in a search result, mostly because I've found this "problem" true for a lot of my searches - there's one kernel of information on a topic within a longer thread.

                Since we're talking about this, I really prefer the more topical threads versus restaurant specific threads. Things like 'Afghan in MSP' versus 'Tanpopo is wonderful' - just because they provide a broader spectrum of information. Of course I like specific recommendations on dishes, but my eyes do glaze over when there's multiple paragraphs about one entree (although I know others like that).

            2. just a "clueless" question...who is St. Paul Susie..and why is she creating these threads?

              5 Replies
              1. re: HillJ

                I can answer the "who": St. Paul Susie is a much-beloved and highly-respected/knowledgeable regular on the Midwest board.


                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  Thanks TDQ! Knowing that really helps me understand this specific thread framework. I have family in St. Paul and do visit that specific Board from time to time.

                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    Yes TDQ, that is absolutely crucial to note! St.Paul Susie is an individual contributor, and a good one.

                    This discussion is IN NO WAY any criticism of the person, her tastes, or her ability to describe meals & restaurants.

                    1. re: KTFoley

                      I just like to eat - what can I say!

                    2. re: The Dairy Queen

                      So sweet - I'm planning a Nook visit this weekend and I will toast to you!

                  2. One point that is both positive and negative: The monthly and mid-monthly "update" threads prevent the MSPers from overrunning the Midwest board. Before these threads started MSP comprised a larger percentage of the board. Now people seem to be holding onto their experiences and waiting for the mid-month or monthly update. This thread in particular troubles me: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/396650

                    I think no new update threads should be created but let the existing ones be.

                    1. I agree that the Update Boards have maybe gotten a little out of control. I would instead prefer more boards on specific restaurants. Especially when these threads get soooo long. It doesn't motivate me to read them the full way through and who knows where the perfect nugget of knowledge may lie.

                      1. This site renders either poorly or not at all on mobile devices such as blackberries and treos (including the mobile version), so as far as finding "great chow right now" I find the site useless in accomplishing it's stated mission. In finding "great chow 20 minutes from now after I get out from behind my computer which can handle this site" it does a good enough job. If I want to find good food in an unfamiliar area "right now", I ask a local standing next to me. I do not try and find a computer or access point to post a thread someone might take hours to respond to.

                        I guess my question is, if Chowhound is not the site to discuss food and eating in our respective markets and to update people on the state of eating in that market (a monthly recap of places we have tried or re-tried or purchased food-stuffs from in the time-period stated), where is that site? As far as I know it does not exist, there appears to be a need for it, and Chowhound would be foolish not to incorporate that into this pre-existing creation.

                        Were I to post a new thread each and every time I tried something new that I wanted to tell everyone about, I would clog the boards like trying to flush a basketball down a toilet. Allowing users to give encapsulated reviews of those experiences in a given time frame actually frees-up the board from 10,000 individual assesments of given "spots".

                        Keeping this site handcuffed to it's "policy" will only serve it as well as it has served other inflexible enterprises, which is to say, it will strangle it to death.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Foureyes137

                          I think Foureyes137 said it best. I'm not a frequent poster, and I'm not going to write up a review every time I eat out. (I have a fairly busy life as it is.) The twice-monthly updates are a good way to jog my memory, allow me to do a quick summary of observations I want to share, and also read a wide range of opinions about a large variety of places. How many individual threads praising Sea Salt or 112 Eatery do we need?

                          As for the issues of the search engine and chattiness ... I humbly suggest that if the Chowhound management wants this board to draw people, they should work to make it serve our needs ... not come up with endless restrictive rules. I don't work for Chowhound ... the moderation is already excessively annoying. Keep piling it on, and I'll go somewhere else.

                          If you want searches to be more fruitful (a goal I heartily endorse), then build or lease a better search engine. That's a much more customer-friendly option than restricting the users to serve the needs of the search engine.

                          1. re: Jordan

                            We don't need a new thread praising sea salt or 112 Eatery every time someone goes there. But, when you go to Sea Salt or 112, bring one of the previous threads up to the top and talk about your most recent experience! Some of my favorite threads are the ones that have gone on for a very long time with periodic updates.

                            1. re: Danny

                              I think that's easier said than done. The search engine doesn't work, and it's not very realistic to expect that people are going to obediently scroll down through pages and pages of topics to find an old post to which they can reply.

                              For me, the bottom line is this: it's easier to change a message board than to change human nature and habits. One is an engineering feat; the other is wishful thinking.

                        2. okay forgive me for appearing to be a big whiner here-- i really don't get something & maybe it can be explained to me:

                          so this topic has got me dinking around the other regional boards that i don't usually look at. wow it looks like there are a lot of great discussions going on & i have a new respect for the scope of chowhound and some of the mod-ing here. i think that people are served well in the pacific northwest board, for example and that people are finding what they're looking for simply by stating the name of the restaurant-- people respond because they know where it is. in the midwest board you see a lot of people put in their very first post: "i tried bob's restaurant today" then someone else has to be like: "city???" "location???" because it could be in cincinnati or in madison or in tulsa or msp. the midwest board covers a huge geographical area and it's not like most people in the midwest frequently go to another state to eat lunch. i understand that chowhound needs to do things regionally & i think that's great, and maybe msp isn't big enough to need it's own board, but even if the huge midwest board was broken down into 2-3 smaller geographic areas i think it would help.

                          i noticed that there are more MSP-related posts today in the midwest board than there are for today in the new orleans board. or the texas board. in fact there seem to be consistently more daily MSP threads and posts than in a lot of other boards. why does austin texas get its own board but msp, which does more traffic for this site, swims with 20 or so other states? chicago seems to be all about "where can me and my buddies drink" threads with 2 or 3 responses while MSPers tend to hash it out with each other-- some valuable discussion resulting in longer running threads. i am not here to say that new orleans is somehow not deserving of its own board-- my question is why we're apparently undeserving? anyone?

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: soupkitten

                            Per this post, they DO have some new Boards planned but they need to resolve some technical matters first.



                            1. re: soupkitten

                              If I recall from the old site, the traffic on the New Orleans board was much more lively before Hurricane Katrina. In fact there was a discussion, perhaps in Site Talk, about deleting posts that inquired after long-time contributors who had disappeared. Just a tiny digression, sorry.

                              But still, it does highlight a question: what does a city have to do to qualify as a "food location" on Chowhound? MSP is causing -- or is perceived to be causing -- some heat for overwhelming the Midwest board.

                              First, is there a way to validate that perception? Because if it's playing out differently for non-MSP readers we ought to let go of that notion altogether. Midwest participants, please chime in here!

                              Second, the idea that MSP 'hounds ought to do something to contain all the dialogue directly contradicts the idea that MSP isn't active enough to merit a board.

                              1. re: KTFoley

                                There have been posts in the past complaining that the MSP traffic is overwhelming the Midwest board, such as this one.


                                But, frankly, I don't see why we MSP posters suddenly, after all these years, have to contain ourselves to the "update" threads which (many, not all) posters are confessing they find boring, at the expense of having an active, lively discussion about the Chow in MSP . Was that the goal of the Update threads? To be less imposing on the rest of the Midwest posters? Should it be?

                                People complain all the time on Site Talk that Las Vegas is overwhelming the Southwest board and San Diego is overwhelming the California board ( see links below) and I don't see all the Las Vegas and San Diego posters cramming themselves into a single thread every two weeks so as to not be a bother to the rest of the Chowhound community.


                                Let the Chowhound and the Engineers resolve the matter of splitting the boards up further into different regions, as they have said many times that they are working on. They are also working on improving the search function. But the truth is, if people stop posting their "reports" outside the update threads, and are just posting "snippets" inside the update threads, and half the community wanders away because they find the "update" threads too boring to read, and you lose your active "give and take" discussion, then it doesn't matter how good the search function is. All you'll pull up is "snippets" by the remaining people who don't leave the forum due to feeling squelched by the "Updates."


                            2. I appreciate the opportunity to discuss this issue.

                              Count me as another person who really likes the twice-monthly updates. I would miss them if they stopped.

                              I think they create more MSP-specific activity on this board, not less. In particular, there's more restaurant-specific information, especially thumbnail reviews, which we didn't see much of before. I love that these summary threads help remind us of good places or good dishes that fly under the radar. And they balance out the "where can I find this?" and "who has the best that?" threads that are so common.

                              I agree, however, that searching for information is extremely painful - but these threads aren't the cause of the problem. The real issue seems to be the broken search function.

                              I would hate to banish these lively and interesting threads just because it's difficult to find information. The Chowhound Team assures us that the search function will be fixed someday. Let's all clamor for a real fix now!


                              1. I like encouraging people to report, as the ratio of reports to requests seems to have changed significantly in the last couple of years. However, scheduled reporting really takes away from the spontaniety of the site. I love the " damn, you won't believe what I found last night" type post. I don't think you can express adequate passion 2 weeks later.
                                So, my answer would be, hell, I don't know.

                                1. As a Cincinnatian, I have two comments. (1) MSP gets so many posts that it seems to warrant its own board, as Austin deservedly did, and (2) when I see all the posts from MSP, it just makes me sad that there isn’t a more thriving Chow community in Cincinnati. It might actually invigorate things here if we tried a monthly “what’s new” thread, so I would appreciate it if the Chowhound team did not totally disallow them. MSP seems to suffer an embarrassment of riches when it comes to both restaurants and posters. Here, the new posts come primarily from newcomers to Cincy or Chow; the same handful of people tend to respond, often repeating their recommendations; sometimes they shut down newcomers, telling them to check out a previous thread; and there is such a dearth of posts re: Cincinnati that sometimes the only new comments are to very old posts. Maybe Cincinnatians are not as adventurous a lot, but we do have some good restaurants, they do change, and it would good to encourage new blood. We clearly have a long way to go to develop our own community and offer much to Chowhounds at large, and an excess of chat or reviews is not a problem we need to overcome.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: intuitive eggplant

                                    Thanks for your appreciation of the MSP posters to NOT say "check out previous threads". I found that to be the most annoying part of searching for options when traveling to NY and Orlando.

                                    I'm proud to be an MSP poster. I too like the monthly update, for no other reason than to jog my memory. However, I see the others frustrations as well.

                                    Seems to me the 'best' option is a separate board for MSP or at least MN/WI/IA or the like.

                                  2. Frankly, I like to read the update posts. Never been a problem. I understand the search issues, but should that really be the primary focus of the forum (id est, supporting the search function)? And, if the volume of posting for MSP has gone down since these update threads have started, is that a fault of the updates? I don't know. Just wondering.

                                    Anytime Chowhound can split off a new board, I'm in favor. Maybe if MSP had its own board, we'd get more postings aside from the updates. Maybe not. Worth a try. Are MSP CHs ready to load up a board with food talk that deals with anything from updates to new finds to what's really fresh at farmers' markets to finding a good butcher? Make our case, Mpls/St. Paul. I'm all for a board of our own.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: cayjohan

                                      Your report on Minneapolis Farmer's Market stuffed into the Month End Update thread is exactly the kind of post I'd like to see in its own thread and if not for this kafaffle I would have completely missed it. I had no idea there were lovely cornichons to be found there. And that's the kind of topic (farmer's markets) that can really take off when people share their favorite, perhaps little known markets. A thread like the Month End Update is too rigid if we are to follow the rules of Chowhound by staying on topic. It's maddening. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/39684...

                                      1. re: MplsM ary

                                        M ary, what we need to do then, is talk more about these topics. I'm game if you are. I'm also game for the updates, from which I get a vicarious thrill. MSP has a vibrant food scene for those who are eating out and for those (like me) who are procuring and cooking. Let's talk about it despite the current issues with the Midwest board. I trust Chowhound to make a good decision. Cheers!

                                    2. Hi Danny!

                                      Didn't see this topic until today.

                                      One of the reasons I fell upon the idea is that people were asking for recommendations saying "where should I go"

                                      No one was really saying "where have I been" - unless it was one of the "top" places in the cities!

                                      I had also noticed that people were recommending places they hadn't been in quite some time.

                                      And that people were going to places, and being disappointed, since they had gone on a recommendation which was potentially outdated.

                                      Personally, I've visited MANY new places based on posts to those threads - Its good to break out of my little st paul box every now & then.

                                      I appreciate the chattyness - isn't this a chat board? But I am also a very fast reader so lenght doesn't bother me - and I love the detail of the updates.

                                      If I have a meal at Alma - I'm going to tell you in depth about the meal and everything else I can recall.

                                      If I have a slice of pizza - I probably won't bother mentioning it!

                                      Its an open forum, an open chat board & we can't prevent people from posting a novel about places some of us might not consider chowish.

                                      I have never used the search feature here.

                                      Perhaps just one a month? Instead of Mid Month and Month End?

                                      Doesn't matter to me - I can stop. I just have a running list of new places to try or avoid based on the responses to this thread. & its reminded me of some old favorites!



                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: St Paul Susie

                                        Please don't think that I don't like the information in the threads - or that there's any question about your intentions. Both are wonderful.

                                        My concern was the structure and how the threads have evolved. While your intention wasn't to have detailed descriptions of meals in "update threads" that was starting to happen.

                                        I don't envy The Powers That Be in this situation. Perhaps if we all come to some sort of agreement as to what is appropriate in these threads, we can come up with a solution that works for all involved. But, I suspect it isn't that easy...

                                        1. re: Danny

                                          Danny - how about some type of intro which is a little more specific?


                                          And telling people if they had a great meal at a great place (or a lousy meal at a great place) to start a new thread and shout it from the rooftops now & not wait for the mid month or month end update?

                                          I like hearing about all the little and big places people go to in MSP. But I don't think every meal out needs its own thread.

                                          Even if you don't think its wonderful - you can tell me.

                                          Just like I can tell people that I dislike 112 eatery & think its overrated.

                                          I think that we are lucky in MSP that we have a lot of great dining options and fantastic posters to open our eyes to other dining spots.

                                      2. I'm not a fan. The bi-monthly updates don't serve me because I gravitate toward a post based on the subject line. I don't read these because they are, generally speaking, too long and too unfocused. I think the intent is admirable, encouraging folks to write about the places they eat at, but the execution leaves something to be desired.

                                        1. Not sure I even noticed that MSP was dominating, but I'm going to echo a couple of the posters in the comments who suggested splitting up the Midwest. I made that suggestion to the Powers That Be some time ago, with the same arguments. Lumping together Kansas and Ohio with Minnesota just makes no sense whatsoever. I concluded that the PTB consider us all "flyover" country, and they couldn't conceive that there could be enough worthy Chowlocations to warrant a more limited regionalization. As to the MSP updates, I just skip over them. I know I'm not likely to be up there anytime in the foreseeable future, so why waste my time with them?

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: k_d

                                            It's not a case of not wanting to split up Midwest. Midwest is our poster child for regions we'd like to split up. When people in California or New York ask for more board breakdowns, we ask them to please remember that Midwest shares one board for a whole huge region.

                                            The reality is, though, that splitting boards presents some technical challenges in terms of archiving and accessing old information. Until we overcome those particular challenges, we're not likely to split out any new boards.

                                            -- Jacquilynne, Community Manager for Chowhound

                                            1. re: Jacquilynne

                                              I'm curious - couldn't you just start a new board with the understanding that any information previous to that date can be found on the old board? It seems like maintaining appropriate traffic to each of the boards, which is a dynamic process, should be a priority.

                                              1. re: katebauer

                                                If you really want to move anything that had to do with MSP to a new board, I'm sure some of us in MSP would be willing to flag threads that need to be moved. Many could be moved with a few searches - "MSP" "Twin Cities" "Minneapolis" "St. Paul" etc.

                                                Would it be perfect and catch everything? Probably not. But, it would catch enough. This isn't a region where restaurants have tremendous staying power. The way restaurants turn over, information from years ago wouldn't be of much use anyway.

                                                1. re: katebauer

                                                  A solution like that would be fine for established members, who would realize that the transition had taken place. But for new people--and a huge portion of Chowhound's readers are people who have recently arrived at the site--it would be confusing and difficult to find the information they're looking for. We have given the issue a lot of consideration, and right now, until we work out the technical details on how to best split up boards, we feel it's best to keep the geographics on the boards as is.

                                                  1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                    When do you anticipate having the technical details worked out? We don't need things to be perfect here, we just want them to be better.

                                                    If we're talking anything more than a few months for splitting up boards, I can't imagine that the fix outlined above (even with all its warts) would be worse than the current situation.

                                                    1. re: Danny

                                                      I'm with Danny. It seems to me that the mods are going to have this same problem whenever there is a split and that it's probably easier to cull out the MSP posts now than in a year from now.

                                                      Also, I guess I don't understand how a split causes confusion to newcomers. If folks are looking for info on restaurants in the Twin Cities area, they can go to the new forum.

                                            2. I agree with katebauer that I enjoy reading the updates..reminds me of oldies but goodies. Again, though, I don't use the boards for searching (though I expect I will pretty soon). And I simply enjoy hearing where everyone's eaten. It's kind of fun to see the range of places even 'hounds frequent.

                                              1. Perhaps another format, another section of the site, could be devoted to more of a "laundry list" of where people have eaten which would be accessed from the regional board. I don't know if this would drive the techies crazy, but perhaps there could be a page where you could either create a sub-page for a particulary eatery or log on to an existing one that would list the CHs that have sumitted information as well as a 1-5 score for various subjects, ie. Overall experience, Food, Service, etc. Perhaps the page could have an average score posted for each subject (total score/# of responses).

                                                That would allow people who want a quick summary to get the information they are looking for, while freeing up threads for more specific comments and discussions.

                                                1. I am sorry to say that I don't like these threads, to put my two cents in. I find them sort of cliquish, and I much prefer individual restaurant and store, etc. reviews. But then again, I suppose that it doesn't have to be everything to everybody.

                                                  It also, I think, tends to make people link back to past threads rather than start fresh ones. Sometimes it isn't that fun to read through fifty messages.

                                                  1. For what it's worth, my $0.02.

                                                    After reading this thread, I come down slightly on the side of keeping them, although I can understand why others don't like them.

                                                    Here's why I like them: They can jog my memory about little discussed places without a long post; they allow a quick statement about a place without a long post; they allow folks who don't normally feel comfortable posting to post without a long post.

                                                    In other words, I think that the focus should be on short capsule statements related to new or less mentioned places or an unusual experiences. Folks don't need to know that I had a butter burger at Culvers. Likewise, they don't need to know that I (like everyone else) had the lamb scottadito at 112, the pot roast at the Modern, or any of the other usual dishes at the usual suspects.

                                                    It will take some self-policing to make sure that the summary thread does not become the primary place for long posts, but I think it's not that hard to try to educate people about the need to keep long reviews/discussions, etc. in separate threads.

                                                    Also, I don't think that a long review of a meal should be front and center in these threads -- they belong on their own.

                                                    Having said all of that, I think that if people are judicious in making sure that signficant reviews or discussions are on their own threads, there's nothing wrong with a summary in the bi-monthly thread.

                                                    With respect to some of the complaints voiced here (and meaning absolutely no offense to anyone who voiced them -- I think this has been an interesting conversation):

                                                    1) If you don't like the thread, ignore it. I read the board several times a day and don't find the summary thread to be any more or less difficult to follow than others.

                                                    2) I don't find the summary thread to be any more or less chatty than many others on the board.

                                                    2) The search function definitely needs improvement, but I don't see this thread as having a bearing on the summary thread. The issue pops up in lots of different ways on this board. For instance, it seems like we have a thread every week or two asking "I'm staying in Downtown Minneapolis for [3/4/5/6] days and am looking for good places to eat." We all try to be helpful and trot out the same answers (i'm as guilty as anyone), but that means anyone who tries to search has about 15 threads to sort through with pretty much the same info. If we're serious about trying to streamline threads in order to meet search needs, we'll need to be more diligent.

                                                    (And, as a matter of personal philosophy, I have a problem with trying to enforce rigidity in these types of communities. They become less friendly and welcoming places if you have to always draw within the lines.)

                                                    So to summarize my thoughts:

                                                    1) Let these posts continue. Perhaps if St. Paul Suzie or others are going to continue with them, they should come up with more specific criteria of what we're looking for and encourage folks to make "significant' posts as stand-alone threads as well.

                                                    2) Those of us who enjoy or use the summary posts should try to be good citizens and follow these guidelines.


                                                    2 Replies
                                                      1. re: bob s

                                                        I really like Bob's thoughts on this issue. His suggestions are practical and seem to be a good compromise.

                                                      2. I do travel a lot, and I end up searching other city and country boards for recs. It's difficult if you don't know much about, say, San Diego or Hong Kong, to know what's up. It's easy to post a "where can I find the best...?" post, and as many of us here in the twins have discovered, we end up pointing to recent discussions on that very topic by someone who asked the same question two days ago and two weeks ago.

                                                        As an alternative, I find this summary post to be potentially helpful to a stranger to town. In one easy post, you can find out where the dedicated ch'ers are going and what fun things they had to eat there. It certainly doesn't obviate the kind of posts for "where's the best dossa?" or "MSP airport has some great new restos". And for a resourceful out-of-towner, it has the potential for being a good starting point for a deeper search on a particular place. In that vein, I do think it's important to keep starting posts for places that are particularly good or bad, such as the recent posts on 112 or Temple.

                                                        I say keep the end of month posts!

                                                        1. are we now trying to reach some sort of agreement for "special posting rules as msp-ers," as bob s' (sensible, i think) post seems to suggest, or are we just waiting for the CH Powers to decide whether or not to axe the update posts?

                                                          if we need some special posting rules as msp-ers, then what is our obligation to the larger midwest board, & is it more or less important than our obligation to our fellow hometown posters? i must admit i don't like special rules that people elsewhere don't need to follow, but if the payoff for everyone at large merits it, then i'm all for it.

                                                          i am assuming that per Jacquilynne's posts that new boards are right out (which is fine); and we just need to carry on from here, so as long as we're all talking about philosophy instead of chow. . . socrates, kant, foucault?

                                                          11 Replies
                                                          1. re: soupkitten

                                                            I guess I see bob's suggestion as something I've been doing all along - start new threads for something significant or unique and keep my posting purposeful. I'm not sure those are special rules as much as general internet board courtesy in my opinion. Is there something else I'm missing?

                                                            1. re: katebauer

                                                              I agree totally that my suggestions are not much more than general courtesy. With the monthly summary thread they are the guidelines that I try to use myself. However, there is a wide range of opinions about what the summary thread should be used for (if at all.) I think it's helpful to actually articulate the basic assumptions/standards/etc. if we're going to collectively agree to use the thread in a certain manner. If there's consensus among us about how this thread is going to be used, we can keep them in mind as we post (and the moderators can enforce them to the extent they think it's necessary).

                                                              1. re: bob s

                                                                i'm all for courtesy & consensus-- although i'm a bit of a mouthy wingnut, really ;-)

                                                                i'm glad to get to talk about these issues, but mightn't they be a bit much for brand-new posters to stomach? is it fair to everyone? does any of this discussion matter if the CH Powers just decide to get rid of the update posts altogether? & is there any agreement on whether or not they should?

                                                                *** yikes*** perhaps I'M the one who's a brand-new poster, and you've all talked about this years ago. if so perhaps someone can use the broken search to find the link & give it to me so i can catch up. the guy in the chicken suit at 7 am should have tipped me off to how my day would go. . .

                                                                1. re: soupkitten

                                                                  Fortunately, I think this discussion is a bit "meta" and will float by the majority of posters. I for one rarely venture beyond the Midwest board. I'm with you tho' -- I've never seen these issues discussed before.

                                                                  As far as new posters are concerned, I think all that is necessary is a short and friendly explanation of what we're looking for in St. Paul Susie's (or whomever's) initial post to the thread.

                                                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                                                    I'm still not getting how the search function is "broken." For example, I just looked up Temple MSP randomly and got 7 threads where it was discussed. Then I can do a search through each page that's link to for the word Temple. What else is it supposed to do?

                                                                    1. re: katebauer

                                                                      It would be nice if it gave it to you in chronological order, allowed you to search by posts as well as threads, use booleans to restrict or specify your search, allow you to search by username or number of responses, etc. etc. ... essentially, what pretty much any other search engine in use on a message board will do for you.

                                                                      1. re: Jordan

                                                                        Got it. I guess I wouldn't consider that broken, as others were referring to it as, rather the search engine is not useful. I don't see how the monthly threads contribute any more to the 'brokenness' of it though.

                                                                        1. re: katebauer

                                                                          i don't often use the search function, as i said-- when i referred to the "broken" search, i was going off of other posters' comments, which i thought referred to how the search used to be before the new format (i honestly wouldn't know because i so rarely use it though!)

                                                                          it seems like people are saying that the long update threads are unhelpful to look through when using the search function to try to get in-depth info about a restaurant. others say they like the threads because they are chatty updates and they see some new things there. seems like people who do lots of searches don't like these threads; while people who don't search (like me) don't mind so much? maybe? i can see both sides & have learned a few things in this discussion (like i should always remember to turn down the burner before checking in with this thread!). i have especially liked the comments from people outside of msp on the dilemma.

                                                                          sorry if i mistakenly used the word "broken" to describe the search function when a better word might be "unhelpful" or "annoying" or some such. :)

                                                                          1. re: katebauer

                                                                            I don't think the twice-monthly update threads contribute to the brokenness of the search engine. In fact, I think the "search" issue with the update threads will become even more apparent when the search engine is fixed.

                                                                            When the search engine is working properly, if you do a search on _____________(restaurant name) you'll pull up every single "update" thread that mentions (restaurant name.) If all, after scanning the the Mid-month update thread all you find is a one-liner comment "And in May, I ate at my old standby, (restaurant name) again!" but no additional critical analysis or opinion as to why you like that place, you will have wasted the searcher's time because s/he probably really doesn't care where you ate in May. S/he wants to know what's great about that place that keeps you coming back so s/he can decide whether s/he wants to eat there, too.

                                                                            tlackner explained the problem perfectly, actually:



                                                                        2. re: katebauer

                                                                          Try searching for a place that has been around for a while - like Alma. You'll get a mishmash of threads from the last 5 years, in seemingly random order. And, there's no way to sort by date, so if you want to see stuff that was posted recently, there's no way to find it.

                                                                          1. re: Danny

                                                                            I think this debate gets away from the point. Yes the search is broken. The update threads perhaps add results one might rather ignore, however modifying human behavior in one way will never correct that problem. It's one of the biggest priciples of information systems. Poorly written reviews are not under any external individual's control, so let's focus what is under the board's control. I have to repeat that point since it's antithesis appears to have been given credence; no attempt made by an outside fource will ever effect the quality of the reviews. You can remove the monthly updates, but the bad reviews will persist. It is a law of information.

                                                                2. The discussion, like the Midwest board, also seems to be dominated by denizens of the dynamic duo (take that! Battyman). So here's my out-of-town take on the topic.

                                                                  I leave 250 miles away, visit the Twin Cities once every couple of months or so, and frequently use Chowhound to find new places to eat, check up on old ones, etc. I'm finding it a little frustrating to search for reviews of a restaurant I haven't been to for a while, only to be inundated with 1-2 sentence comments and have to do a lot of scrolling to find a useful and realistic comment/review. I frankly don't care where you went for dinner last Thursday unless you can provide a reasoned analysis of why it was or was not a good place to eat.

                                                                  It all looks a little too much like "what I did on my summer vacation." For my money (yes, I know Chowhound is free and you get what you pay for), we might usefully file the mid-month/end-of-month reports in a separate folder. They do get in the way and don't contribute a great deal to our shared interest in gastronomy. I'll leave the geometry of said folder up to the readers' imaginations.

                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: tlackner

                                                                    Ah, but it appears from a number of the comments that they do contribute to some's peoples' interest in gastronomy, just not in the way you'd like that interest to be expressed. I could say that I frankly don't care that you're finding it a little difficult to search, but that would just stop the conversation cold, wouldn't it?

                                                                    Seems to me there are two problems here. One is the issue of how the update threads add further frustration to the use of an already hobbled search engine. The second is a subtext I'm seeing in a lot of comments: what type of information belongs, or doesn't belong, in Chowhound and more to the point, what type of information is or isn't valuable. Where you weigh in on that debate seems to depend on whether you want Chowhound to be mostly an online resource of controlled contributions from people who provide, as tlackner said, reasoned analyses of restaurant experiences, or an online community where people feel free to share their, perhaps unreasoned, experiences with food and restaurants.

                                                                    I'm a very new poster to Chowhound, but I have been around online boards and communities of one sort or another since the early 80s. This sort of issue always comes up wherever people gather online around a shared interest. Attempts to establish very tight boundaries and rules choke all the life out of a board; no boundaries at all makes it such a mess that people flee.

                                                                    Based on the comments above, looks like a fair percentage of people find the threads interesting and valuable. The responders don't stray off into a bunch of off-topic posts, so they can't, at least via what I consider to be a reasoned analysis, be called chat. It seems reasonable to limit the update to monthly updates instead of mid-month, and reasonable also to ask those who post in that thread to keep in mind the multiple search hit problems (I know that had I’d been aware of that I would have written less in my one and only Update posting). The remaining issue seems to be whether there is any way in which Update threads can be excluded from the search engine. Can they?

                                                                    1. re: clepro

                                                                      By "excluded from the search engine" what I mean is...can they be moved to a separate folder, as tlackner suggests?

                                                                      1. re: clepro

                                                                        clepro - Absolutely well stated. I concur with your assessment to date.

                                                                        1. re: clepro

                                                                          I actually feel like excluding the monthly update threads from a search would even more so express the opinion that what should be posted there should be line item lists with no detail. When I post in the monthly threads I try and express an overall opinion, specific dishes I enjoyed, and usually some comment about the service. Isn't that information useful to someone seaching for information on that restaurant? Why would you want to exclude posts merely because they don't have multiple paragraphs about the intricacies of a dish? If I'm trying to decide between Punch pizza and the Modern for dinner in NE one night I'd certainly appreciate finding someone's comment in the the monthly update thread that they went to the Modern and the service was spectacular and the roasted chicken hit the spot.

                                                                          I guess even after reading all these responses, and thinking about multiple sides, i'm still in the camp that the monthly do lilttle to no harm. So I do a search and I happen to see that a restaurant has come up in a few monthly update threads which I can choose to look at or not. To me that's no different than choosing to read or ignore the advice of someone who likes Red Lobster.

                                                                      2. So...

                                                                        How about this.

                                                                        at the beginning of the month I will post an update thread - for that month.

                                                                        I will create a short intro - specifing that this is a place to post where you visited during the month & to edit your post to add places as you progress. which might limit the lenght of the thread to one post per poster.

                                                                        I will also request that posters keep it short and sweet. & to start a new thread about a particular place or about a particular theme ...for example, Sushi in the twin cites, vegan dining, st paul mom & pop places etc etc.

                                                                        I like hearing about the "everyday" dining out that people do, and from reading everyones responses and based on the posts in the actual update threads, others do to.

                                                                        If chowhound is planning a separate MSP board "in the future" that is great.

                                                                        If chowhound doesn't want the threads - that's great too. But since no CH team member has posted that I'm going to keep going.

                                                                        If you don't like it, don't read it.

                                                                        But I think its a good place to put downhill alerts and new finds about the places which might get missed since they aren't in the alma, 112, LBV group.

                                                                        & IMHO the seach engine doesn't work, with or without the update threads.

                                                                        9 Replies
                                                                        1. re: St Paul Susie

                                                                          huh? ask posters to keep it short & sweet? St. Paul Susie...even the Mods are okay with the CH who has alot to say! Do you really want to ask people to edit themselves?
                                                                          Who is going to "grade" quality vers. quantity?

                                                                          Slippery slope from one 'hound to another...

                                                                          1. re: St Paul Susie

                                                                            My only diversion there would be to note that, IMHO, downhill alerts really do deserve their own threads. That's EXACTLY the type of worthwhile info for all 'hounds, even those who put themselves in the "don't want to read the calendar; skip the thread altogether" category.

                                                                            1. re: St Paul Susie

                                                                              I could be okay with with what you're talking about (although I'd still question the value) - but with one huge exception:
                                                                              But I think its a good place to put downhill alerts and new finds about the places which might get missed since they aren't in the alma, 112, LBV group.

                                                                              Downhill alerts and new finds are absolutely, positively not appropriate for "monthly update" threads. They deserve their own threads, as they are the heart and soul of Chowhound. They're the exact type of "news" that myself and many others visit chowhound looking for. (Why would I visit the site to only discuss the places everybody already knows about?)

                                                                              I'd be heartbroken if places like Little Szechuan never got the attention they have because when it was discovered, it was only mentioned in a monthly update.

                                                                              Heck, the same could be said for 112 eatery. Sure it is a Chowhound regular now, but remember back when it opened... Would you want a a post like this http://www.chowhound.com/topics/123699 reduced to a note in a month end update?

                                                                              1. re: Danny

                                                                                But the hordes DID descend after I posted that, and it's impossible to get a table now! <grin> All my fault, I'm sure. Thanks for digging that up; it was fun to re-read. I remember very clearly the delight I felt at that first dinner. And you're right that it would be a shame for similar experiences to get lost amid the laundry lists of monthly updates.

                                                                                1. re: mcgeary

                                                                                  True, there's nothing like being first to discover a new gem. It takes a real chowhound to do that. Let's not squelch or bind them.


                                                                              2. re: St Paul Susie

                                                                                >But I think its a good place to put downhill alerts and new finds about the places which might get missed since they aren't in the alma, 112, LBV group.

                                                                                I humbly disagree. If there is a new find or an experience warranting a downhill alert, surely that should go into a new, separate thread?

                                                                                And, this may or may not be helpful re: search. You can do a Google site search, which sometimes or not has the date of a post.
                                                                                MSP vegetarian site:chowhound.com
                                                                                brings back these search results: http://tinyurl.com/2xyn8q

                                                                                1. re: St Paul Susie

                                                                                  We're still kicking it around in the back room. We'd like to find a compromise that allows people who enjoy the update threads to participate in them, while still making them useful for people who search the site and use it as a resource.

                                                                                  1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                                                    sounds great - since everyone else is has so many opinions someone else can start the threads if they care to.

                                                                                    Can't please everyone so I'm not going to bother.

                                                                                    See you back over on the midwest board.


                                                                                    1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                                                      I think the nature of this board lends itself to chattiness. Not just in the update thread but in multiple other threads as well.

                                                                                      I just don't see the chowhound.com boards turning into an "angie's list" type of non-forum. While Angie's List is very valuble, its certainly a different type of site.

                                                                                  2. As a long time Chowhound, and outsider to the Midwest board, I find this whole discussion fascinating. Both sides have very valid points, and I feel that there is potential for compromise.

                                                                                    What is the source of this conflict?

                                                                                    This is a debate over structure, not content. Noone in the anti-update camp feels that the content in the update threads is invaluable. They feel that the structure of the update threads makes the content difficult to absorb, difficult to retain, and difficult to reference. The lack of structure devalues the content within the update threads.. Furthermore, the prevalence of update threads encourages posters to limit their contributions to the updates. Hounds who would otherwise write detailed reports, simply write a few lines in the update. For both of these reasons, the update threads diminish the quantity of well structured, readily accessible content.

                                                                                    The pro-update camp feels that content is king. Even if the structure of the update threads is a bit haphazard, it encourages content production. Posters who normally keep quiet will happily share their chow experiences in an update. The content is there, even if accessing it is a bit awkward. If the update threads are scrapped, passive posters who contribute to the update threads will keep quiet, and content will be lost.

                                                                                    Both sides are correct. The update threads do encourage content that would otherwise not be generated, but the content within the update threads is less valuable than content presented in a more structured fashion. The update threads both improve the Midwest board by increasing the quantity of content, and diminish the Midwest board by decreasing the quantity of well structured content.

                                                                                    Why is structure so important?

                                                                                    Well structured threads enhance content for many reasons:

                                                                                    -They encourage a lively, focused exchange. Reading brief snippets on twenty different restaurants does not give me a real understanding of any one of those restaurants. But reading twenty brief snippets on the same restaurant, including internal discussions of a particular dish, the atmosphere, or the style of food the restaurant does well, gives me an excellent understanding of that restaurant.

                                                                                    -They are easier to absorb and retain. Some Hounds may have a photographic memory which allows them to remember everything they read on the update threads. For most of us, disjointed content becomes a blur. It's like trying to read the newspaper by just skimming the headlines - by the next week, you'll forget everything that you read. But if you read one article in full, you'll probably remember at least some of that article.

                                                                                    -They are easier to reference later, either manually or by search. Yes, the search is broken now, but it will be fixed later. Clearly titled threads with focused content will always be easier to reference than unfocused threads. Whether you're using a search engine, or scrolling through the pages trying to find a post you read recently, if the threads are structured you will have an easier time locating the content you are seeking.

                                                                                    What is the solution?

                                                                                    We need to find a way to encourage content without sacrificing structure. We can't just assume that if we scrap the update threads, content production will remain the same. Clearly, there is a core of passive Midwest hounds who will happily contribute to a thread when prompted, but are unlikely to post their experiences independently. How do we convince those Hounds to contribute content without the update threads? I believe the solution is focused polling.

                                                                                    Instead of asking, what did you eat over the last two weeks? Why not ask, have you had any fantastic Korean food recently? Or, what's your favorite restaurant in Indianapolis, and why? Or, where do you go for your fried chicken fix? These questions will still generate content from more passive hounds, but that content will be posted in a structured thread. More active Hounds will be encouraged to post about their experiences outside of the polls, when the memory is fresh, because there is no certainty that the next poll question will cover their meal. If you feel that a poll is not addressing your experiences, you can always create your own.

                                                                                    Focused polling may not be the ideal for both camps, but it seems like the best compromise. Yes, some content may be lost if the polls do not address a passive hound's particular meals. Yes, some Hounds may decide to write a few lines about a meal as part of a poll, instead of writing their own, detailed reports. However, I feel that focused polling will improve structure without drastically diminishing content production. It's certainly worth trying.

                                                                                    Of course, who cares what I think, I don't even use the Midwest board! I want to know what you think, and if you feel that focused polling may be a step in the right direction that will make both camps happy.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                                                                      You are right on Morton the Mousse! I find the update threads unfocused and overwhelming and the fact that it occurs every two weeks just seems competitive to me. I would much rather read about your korean fried chicken find and why it was great than a litany of meals where it is quite likely possible that you discussed it in another thread anyway.

                                                                                    2. I have to say that I really enjoy reading the mid-month and end of month updates. I actually feel more of a sense of community with people on here by seeing where everyone is going in a more timely manner. It also makes me wish I was going out more, but it usually reminds me of where I have been wanting to go and where I should go again. I read those posts more than others sometimes for the fact that I can get a quick update on a place that I want to check out. If I need further info I will use the search engine to find out more. It does also seem to me that it keeps MSP threads contained for those other midwest folks who don't want to know where we eat our meals every night.

                                                                                      13 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: jaysin612

                                                                                        I am clear at this point that the mid month and month end updates are the MOST
                                                                                        fun and interesting parts of the midwest board for me. I agree that they encourage people
                                                                                        who would be too timid or unmotivated for whatever reason to post a single thread. And
                                                                                        I find it very fun and interesting to see where people have been going. So for the local
                                                                                        community I think they are something we should keep. I don't understand putting higher
                                                                                        priority on out of town people searching.

                                                                                        1. re: faith

                                                                                          Just because you don't search (or don't know how to use search) doesn't mean that none of us do. Nearly all of the participants in this thread are part of the local community. The above thread has ample evidence that many of us do search.

                                                                                          Further, I'd really like for our community to be just as welcoming to visitors as other Chow communities have been to me. The old saying: "Do unto others as you wish others do unto you" comes to mind.

                                                                                          It sounds like you're saying, "They're not from here, so they're not as important as I am." That really isn't the attitude we should have towards visitors.

                                                                                          1. re: Danny

                                                                                            This leads to the same question that keeps being asked however: is the issue the threads or the search? The more we discuss, the more it seems that the search is the faulty data element, not the threads. It's poor logic to say the presence of data is what makes the search perform poorly.

                                                                                            On a less logical and more human note, asking people to not contribute, or to contribute less, probably makes them feel excluded as well. I dare say moreso than asking others to simply ignore irrelevant search results.

                                                                                            1. re: Foureyes137

                                                                                              Search is one of the many ways the problem manifests itsself, it really isn't central to the discussion. We'd be having this discussion regardless of whether or not Chowhound had the best search in the world or the worst search in the world.

                                                                                              Nobody is asking people to not contribue (or contribue less) - it has been pretty clear from the start that this isn't a discussion about content. It is a discussion about how to structure the content.

                                                                                              Just today I read three threads (from three posters) that included posts that pointed someone with a question to a monthly update thread for a full review. That means the OP had to go through the board twice - once to see if there was already a thread on the topic. In absence of a thread, a new one was started - then the OP had to go through all the monthly update threads to find good content.

                                                                                              I guess I don't understand why people are reluctant to share their experiences outside of the "Monthly Update" platform - we're all friends here, post away!

                                                                                              1. re: Foureyes137

                                                                                                You are so right. Instead of spending time talking about limiting discussion Chowhound should be working on the search engine and develop one that actually works.

                                                                                                1. re: ibew292

                                                                                                  I don't think we're talking about limiting discussion as much as we're talking about wanting to focus the discussion. There's a difference between mindful contributions about memorable meals you had --good, bad or somehow noteworthy--and a disorganized brain dump about every meal you ever had. We all eat 3 a day, ya know.

                                                                                                  "Chat" is something that is expressly discouraged on chowhound. It's part of the "signal to noise" ratio we call care so much about. See point #1 here--"we're trying to build a data trove, not a chat room:"


                                                                                                  Here in the etiquette, refer to paragraph #4.


                                                                                                  And it's not just the powers that be that discourage and are annoyed by "chat":

                                                                                                  And for the record, I use the search function at least once a day. I use it on the Midwest board. I also use it on the other regional boards and I like to be treated like a full Chowhound citizen when I search and post on those boards, even if I'm not a "regular" on those boards.

                                                                                                  Furthermore, you might note that it's specifically noted in the etiquette posted at the top of every board that we request that especially newcomers to SEARCH before they post. It would be nice if, if when they did a search and when the search engine is working to its full potential (which I hope is very soon), they didn't pull up a bunch of one liners about folks having eaten at their favorite place again. Refer to paragraph 3:

                                                                                                  In fact, a lot of people on Chowhound care about searching, which is why this thread has almost 400 posts:


                                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                    Not to be picky or anything but some of your posts seem to be very chatty.
                                                                                                    I find it amusing when people that have been contributing to the board for a long time start to think they own the board and can control the content. Why doesn't Chowhound have a rating system and flagging system so you regular contributors can control the boards.
                                                                                                    I for one know of many search engines that can exclude words so I think this thread is a wast of time untill Chowhound gets in the 21 century.

                                                                                                    1. re: ibew292

                                                                                                      When my posts get too chatty and devoid of content about where to find good chow in the Twin Cities, you should flag them using the "report this post" feature so the moderators can review them and see if they agree.


                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                        Citysearch already exists, this is more than that. I think that limiting the "community" aspect of the board and "reporting" those posts you might find chatty but that others find interesting and community-building, is a slippery slope.

                                                                                                    2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                      "There's a difference between mindful contributions about memorable meals you had --good, bad or somehow noteworthy--and a disorganized brain dump about every meal you ever had."

                                                                                                      The problem is that if one thinks they can control this in someone other than ones-self, they are setting themselves up for a great deal of failure. History is a good indicator that attempts to limit expression, however banal one might find it, end badly for those looking to limit that expression. I don't want to make this sound grander than it is, but it is the best context I can present (even though I made a similar point earier).

                                                                                                2. re: Danny


                                                                                                  Not using the search (since it does work) does not equal not knowing how to search.

                                                                                                  I use the search when I'm eating somewhere outside MSP. Or if my husband is on the road in a chowish city.

                                                                                                  I don't use it for the midwest/msp section since I attempt to keep up to date on the postings for the local area.

                                                                                                  And it doesn't work to well, but its better than nothing.

                                                                                                  And to be honest, a lot of the chowhound posters would have issue with your statement

                                                                                                  "It sounds like you're saying, "They're not from here, so they're not as important as I am." That really isn't the attitude we should have towards visitors."

                                                                                                  The MSP section of the midwest board gives it all we've got when visitors or residents ask for recommendations or brainstorming.

                                                                                                  1. re: St Paul Susie

                                                                                                    I apologize for not making it clear that I was responding directly to faith. My comments were directly for her, not not MSPers in general. Earlier in the thread she wrote "I actually don't know how to do a search, and
                                                                                                    would like to know how." That is why I made a comment about not knowing how to search.

                                                                                                    I also agree that we give it all we have when it comes to visitors, and I don't want that to change. Faith commented that "...for the local community I think they are something we should keep. I don't understand putting higher priority on out of town people searching." That leaves me thinking that faith doesn't have the same helpful attitude towards visitors that we share. It is my opinion that visitors and locals are of equal importance. Some of our most interesting threads and comments have come from visitors.

                                                                                                    1. re: Danny

                                                                                                      Danny- I have no problem with visitors using this site. But they are going to
                                                                                                      have very different priorities and frame of reference than locals who are very
                                                                                                      involved in the food scene. As St Paul Susie said, we are VERY accommodating and responsive to visitors who post inquiries needing suggestions for places to eat. It seems like some people enjoy the 2
                                                                                                      monthly summary threads, and others find them tedious. I'm in the former
                                                                                                      category, and would find this board a lot less interesting without those
                                                                                                      threads. And I have learned how to do a search. Maybe the reason I thought I didn't know how was due to previous attempts to use the search
                                                                                                      window that gave me less than great results.

                                                                                            2. We don't want to dictate to people what formats they should post in, but it's obvious there's some disagreement over the value of the regular update threads, and we understand and respect the arguments on both sides of the issue. We're going to offer some suggestions on compromises that allow our Twin Cities hounds to enjoy the discussion while still keeping the board focused and useful.

                                                                                              The guiding principle in what and where and when to post should be Chowhound's mission--we strive to be a focused resource, a place that helps people eat better, rather than just a place where people who eat chat about what they ate. Whether you're posting in a bi-weekly update thread on Midwest, starting a new thread on General Topics, or throwing in your two cents in a discussion of best pizza in Manhattan, that's a question to keep in mind: 'Will this help people eat better?'

                                                                                              The update threads sometimes help people eat better, because they draw out tips and discussion that people otherwise wouldn't have bothered posting--and that's great. It's never been a requirement that people post lengthy, detailed reviews of dishes. Quick recommendations--Try the veal at X, it's awesome!--are as important as multi-paragraph paens to the cheese course at Y. On the other hand, a detailed food diary that doesn't actually contain recommendations or opinions isn't helpful. Telling us what you ate with no mention of whether it was good, great or indifferent doesn't help people eat better.

                                                                                              With those in mind, some suggestions for improving the update threads:
                                                                                              -- Bi-weekly may be too frequent. Try doing the threads only monthly to cut down on the time they spend dominating the discussion of the Twin Cities food scene.
                                                                                              -- Participants in the update threads should be asked to include more than just lists of meals--opinions are important, and they should include whether (and, if possible, why) they liked something.
                                                                                              -- Participants shouldn't feel compelled to list everything they ate in the month--if a meal was forgettable and not worthy of mentioning as good or bad, or if you've talked about the same restaurant/dish multiple times in the past, consider leaving it off your list.
                                                                                              -- Participants shouldn't limit themselves to posting in the update threads. They're an easy, friendly way of getting your feet wet, but if you had a great meal at a great restaurant, jump out and start your own thread, or contribute to a stand alone thread about that restaurant. There's no need to save up awesome tips for the update threads. If you like, you can link back to your previous comments in the update thread so you don't have to repeat yourself. If we see great reports that are getting lost within an update thread, we may split them out to enhance the discussion around them.
                                                                                              -- Participants commenting on others' updates should have something informative or opinionated to offer about the restaurants under discussion, rather than adding chattier comments like 'Thank you for the report' or 'Sounds good, I'll have to try it in the future.' The threads are already quite long, and keeping them focused will help with their usefulness for people reading them later.

                                                                                              It's great that on a board that covers as much geography as Midwest that the Twin Cities Hounds have really created a vibrant community. The depth of passion in the responses on this thread are a testament to how much you all care about your chow and Chowhound, and that's great. We hope that everyone recognizes that their fellow food lovers are trying to create the best community possible, and while it's not always going to be exactly your ideal, a little flexibility goes a long way.

                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                                                                Thanks. I think this is a reasonable set of guidelines.

                                                                                                1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                                                                  I'm impressed with the Chowhound Team. Thanks for letting the discussion run its full course, and for distilling it into this set of reasonable guidelines.

                                                                                                2. I wanted to add a little tip for those folks like me, who rarely post but read a lot of Chowhound posts, especially on their home board. Log In. Really it becomes much easier to read new information and updates when reading long threads.

                                                                                                  For those of us who don’t live night and day on the Chowhound boards it makes a world of difference when one is logged in.

                                                                                                  1. gosh, i'm sorry to drag this 30 foot python back into the room--

                                                                                                    St. Paul Susie: do you intend to continue the update posts?

                                                                                                    how do the Chowhound Team guidelines sound to everyone? good? bad? ugly? n/a?

                                                                                                    so i tried to do a search today using the phrase "heirloom tomatoes." hoo-boy. i guess i had that one coming.

                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                      I'm willing to start it monthly - I'll craft an intro which specifically outlines what the CH team talked about above.

                                                                                                      & I will specifically ask people to continue to start their own threads & not "wait" for the month end updates.

                                                                                                      Tomatos locally? or in general?

                                                                                                      1. re: St Paul Susie

                                                                                                        I was a pretty regular reader until the past couple of months. It seemed that there was little being said. I know I had no interest in the mid-monthly updates, and it just seemed there wasn't much being posted outside of these.

                                                                                                        I never put the two together until reading this long and interesting discussion.

                                                                                                        For what it's worth.

                                                                                                        1. re: St Paul Susie

                                                                                                          Thanks for doing this, St Paul Susie! I really like these threads, especially for the information that wasn't being posted before. Plus, it's just fun to see where others are spending their precious dining-out time. Thanks again!


                                                                                                          1. re: St Paul Susie

                                                                                                            i think it was "heirloom tomatoes" in the midwest board-- no worries, i've got some (plants not tomatoes, yet), it was just to see what would come up, i guess.

                                                                                                            thanks for doing the extra heavy lifting, St Paul Susie-- i hope everything will work out with the update posts--