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I Miss CHOWhound; Hate FoodieHound

LOCKED DISCUSSION

For this long time follower of chowhound.com, I can no longer deal with what has happened to this site.

Somehow it has morphed from posts about chow to way too many posts about fine dining.

It's even gone to the point where posts for good food in Maine, get replies about fine dining with nary a mention about the best crab roll, or baked beans or codfish cake or blueberry pancakes. Anyone who goes to Maine in late summer and has ANY dessert other than blueberry or raspberry pie ought to be dismissed from chowhound.com.

Please, please, please. Would you foodies go to one of the gazillion sites dedicated to ovepiorced melange of decorated foods and let us have our chow back?

Does anybody else miss the old chowhound?.

  1. Hey, CCB

    A few thoughts, in no particular order:

    We never aimed for this to be a "cheap eats" site, and I've been pleased that it didn't turn into one. When Ducasse (most expensive restaurant in NYC at the time) opened, we had several reports the very next morning...from the same people who'd been scouting tacos and knishes. Deliciousness is deliciousness, and we aim to chart the full spectrum. I strongly disagree that you've got to eat berry pie in Maine. Lord knows I would, but if tremendous zabaglione showed up in Kennebunkport, by all means we ought to know about it. Again, deliciousness is deliciousness! That was the hallmark of the old Chowhound and the new one, as well.

    But if you feel the mix is skewing one way or the other on a particular board, it's really important to bear in mind that Chowhound is not like a tv or radio station, where a set program is imposed on you. The site's what you make of it. Again, we try to cover the entire spectrum of deliciousness, so it's great that folks out there are charting the upscale. If you perceive a gap....fill it! Post about the sorts of places you like, and do so in such contagious, passionate style that you 1. make converts (who run to your places and make them their own favorites and post passionately about them themselves) and 2. attract kindred spirits (if blueberry pie lovers abandon the site because of a dearth of blueberry pie postings, then new blueberry pie lovers showing up will find no blueberry pie postings at all and leave, so the situation will never resolve).

    Finally, bear in mind "Jim's Green M&M Theory": if you hate green M&Ms, you'll hate a large bowl of M&Ms more than a small one, because a large bowl has lots more green ones. Anything you hate, in other words, you're going to see more of as something grows, and the aversion can grow out of proportion, in spite of great stuff quietly growing in equal (or near-equal) proportion.

    This is, BTW, why NYC (and other large cities) have a reputation for rudeness. You pass thousands of perfectly nice people on the streets of a big city every day without paying particular attention. The rude people you starkly notice, and their effect compounds...even if the proportion of rude people is the same as - or even smaller than - back home in your small town.

    Ciao

    11 Replies
    1. re: Jim Leff

      Here here! I confess, for many years, I've been one who experiences mostly "fine dining", or at least usually "expensive dining" and have reported on CH about such dining. This is in part due to my husband, who feels that if you're going to go out to eat, you should "go somewhere nice". I'm not saying I agreed with this concept 100%, but we had the financial wherewithall to do that, and I was happy to go along. When we went to Shake Shack on a rainy Saturday last year, we realized that was probably the cheapest lunch we'd ever had together! Since I discovered Chowhound however, I've discovered, among other things, foods that I didn't even know existed, like Banh Mi. This led me to decide to eat in each of the Outer Boroughts and to try foods at lower price points:

      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/36284...

      Banh Mi was first on the list - http://www.chowhound.com/topics/39634...

      After that trip, and the many responses to my first post, above, I realized that an "Outer Boroughs" exploration didn't even really cover it, since in fact there are many diverse neighborhoods, with different ethnic communities and chow within each borough.

      We also went on a group outing with friends to Sripraphai in Woodside (and I was a bad CH and didn't report back, after culling a list of about 40 menu items!) - thereby exposing them to options other than "fine dining".

      So, I am grateful to Chowhound for widening my horizons in many ways, and glad that there is room for discussions of deliciousness at all price points - both on the regional boards and on the home cooking board.

      1. re: Jim Leff

        Yeah, but the "Green M&Ms" are already being reviewed quite nicely by the major media outlets. And then of course if you do recommend anything less than a Temple of Gastronomy for someone's birthday or anniversary, that is invariably derided.

        A quote from this thread:

        " Lower end, cheap whole (sic) in the walls are fine, but when they are compared to classic eateries more favorably, it's a joke." Well, boy, it's hard to argue with that reasoning. Oh wait, there wasn't any....

        1. re: Steve

          What's your home board, Steve? Because during the summer months, the main topic of conversation on the Boston boards is the whereabouts of one particular hot dog cart, and if he's out that day or not. "Temple of Gastronomy" it ain't.

          I agree with Silverbear: at least as far as the Boston board goes, there's a fair amount of people going on about places with tall food and foam, but the major threads of conversation also include where to go in Chinatown, which clam shacks are most T accessible and whether there's any reason to ever eat pizza anywhere except Pizzeria Regina on Thacher St. (answer: no, there isn't.) So it's a mix, but I would guess it's about 55% those threads, 20% "Where's Speed?" and 25% "fine dining." I'll take that.

          1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

            My home board is DC, and you can always find my profile by clicking on my name. And it's fun to do!

            As in Boston, we get all kinds of posts, not just the Foodie ones.

            In DC, we get a ton of visitors posting. If they seem open to any cuisine or location or price range, then I will suggest places that I believe are worth going out of the way for. These suggestions occassionally receive derision for being not worth it. Not because the food isn't any good, but because that kind of restaurant can't possibly be worth going out of your way for.

            The attitude seems to be contradictory to my Chowhoud experiences of the past, and what makes Chowhound such a unique and valuable site on the internet.

            I am heartened to know that most Chowhounds are so open to the kind of amazing food adventures that I cherish.

            1. re: Steve

              Steve is one of the most constructive contributors to the Washington/Baltimore Board. One of the things that I especially appreciate about his posts is that he gives specific suggestions of menu items at recommended restaurants. Not just "go here." But "try these things" that he knows are winners from what might be an overwhelming selection at a particular place. I've had the experience of going waaaay out of my way on someone's suggestion before to try a place, only to order the wrong things and felt horribly misled. CH would benefit if more posters emulated his style.
              I sometimes disagree with Steve's characterizations of certain local places but those are his opinions based on his taste. Those are perfectly good establishments that many people enjoy and he should keep telling the Board about them. Especially why he enjoys them.

            2. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

              Wait, what? This place? http://www.hollyeats.com/Speeds.htm

              When I was in Boston last year, I posted asking for recs and no one mentioned this place! I ate well in Boston but I would have loved this place. Give up the goods, folks! *sob*

              Dear chowhounds everywhere (this means you, Steve): this is exactly the kind of thing that some of us are looking for when we're travelling! Please, please don't leave them out of your posts because you're afraid that out-of-towners wouldn't appreciate them!

              1. re: alopez

                Those are exactly the types of places I've loved finding on CH. I rarely do special occasion dining but am often at a loss of where to do on a day to day basis. If not for CH, I would never have found Rice and Spice Thai or Be Le for banh mi. I agree about sharing--even if it's not exactly what the OP has described, it might come in handy for someone else, especially since the search function can be pretty frustrating.

                Some CHers are very poetic in their descriptions and reading their reviews are a pleasure. Some of us are not nearly as descriptive (though I do try). But I think every reviewer, even if they just say they enjoy the food/service or don't, adds something. I think it can be intimidating knowing that people might jump on something you post. But, holding back against popular opinion is what makes a place too much the same.

                1. re: chowser

                  " I think every reviewer, even if they just say they enjoy the food/service or don't, adds something"

                  You bet. The long florid posts are a Chowhound hallmark, and some people love them. For myself as a site user, I find I have the best luck following breathless quick terse tips - even quite inarticulate and undetailed. If you sense passion and savvy, that's all that matters. Finders of really good finds (as opposed to throwing in their opinion on the latest shiny spot or food trend) often (though definitely not always) post real tersely.

                  I like detailed postings, too, though. I'm into a wide spectrum.

                2. re: alopez

                  I don't think anybody on the Boston board thinks that out-of-towners won't appreciate Speed's - it's more that if the local Hounds have trouble finding Speed out and doing business on any given day, we're less likely to think that a visitor is up for the tsuris!

                  The problem is that "this place" (which is an outdoor hot dog cart) verges on being the Boston CH Brigadoon - it's only there in the summertime, not on Mondays, Tuesdays, or possibly even Wednesdays, only in nice weather but not if it's *too* hot, and it's in a fairly out-of-the-way location.

                  To address the OP and the thread topic - I kind of see your point, because there are times when even our excellent Boston board seems overwhelmed with threads about high-end places of a kind I can only rarely patronize, or with threads about restaurants in the suburbs or in Boston neighborhoods where I'm just not likely to *ever* get for a meal. But as so many others have said here as well, CH is what *you* make it.

                  I admit that I'm pretty new as a poster here myself, though I'd referred to CH from time to time for years (gotta say my usage - and especially my regular readership and actual participation - have increased dramatically since the CNET sponsorship because I hatedhatedHATED the cumbersome old threading) but when I become bored with the Boston board I find it's usually only a day or two before the threads tack off in some other direction and I get sucked in again!

                  1. re: Allstonian

                    The number of restaurants mentioned at the high end and at all other price points for the Washington/Baltimore market is statistically insignificant compared to the thousands in the area . The number of people actually posting is much smaller than I would expect for a major metro area and the same few restaurants are discussed time and time again. Entire areas are left out. In an area as educated and internet savvy as this, there must surely be more people willing to participate in CH. Where are they?
                    Perhaps as chowser says, people are intimidated by the tendency of some posters to dismiss suggestions with which they don't agree instead of viewing them as alternatives that others might enjoy if if they themselves might not. That's no reason to post a "What are you crazy? That place is terrible! No one should ever go there." Some people like trendy or ethnic, others like the old stand-bys. Both have a right to enjoy what they enjoy without getting blasted.
                    If this small group is driving the discussion, how will it ever be enlarged?

                    1. re: MakingSense

                      Disagreements about places/food are great, done respectfully. But, if done in the the way MakingSense described, which does happen, it's not constructive. If I didn't like a place and others do, I can find out if there's more to it than I found, eg. there's a local bakery that I've had poor experiences with that others seem to recommend higly. When I asked, I found I hadn't been getting that store's specialties. It makes all the difference when you have open lines of communication, rather than being shot down for voicing a differing opinion.

          2. This may vary by regional board. I'm active on the SW Board, specifically in those threads related to the Phoenix Area, and we've got a nice mix of commentary about fine dining destination restaurants, solid citizen neighborhood restaurants, strip mall gems representing every corner of the world, and even the occasional street vendor. Some regulars seem concerned with only one or two of the categories above, while others are broader in their interests. Regardless, as long as every type of participant speaks up, it all seems to balance. I guess my point is that the best antidote to excessive commentary about fine dining by others is for you and other like-minded individuals to post abundantly about crab rolls, baked beans, etc.

            2 Replies
            1. re: silverbear

              Hear hear silverbear. As a recent chowhound convert, I am constantly impressed by the variety of the posts. I find it very well rounded.
              Plus CCB, don't forget, this is not life and death stuff. We're all on this site because we love food, in all of its various forms.

              1. re: silverbear

                You can count me as one with (ahem) broader interests. Although you could categorize me as belonging to the Boston Area group, I read all over the place, post on any board when I see something I would like to respond to, and enjoy every last detailed report and review of every dining experience and non-dining experience CHers have, from Australia to Ontario and beyond. I'm very glad I found this site. Must have been fate!

              2. I agree with the rest of the posters, i enjoy the variety of the posts I see on the several boards I read. While I may not be interested in eating foi gras pb&j sandwiches, i think reading about their existence broadens my horizons to new possibilities. We've gotten and happily made recommendations for some restaurants that we love, both cheap and expensive. Thanks to Chowhounds we found a wonderful place to celebrate our anniversary at a higher end restaurant! at the same time I posted a recommendation for a chow-er visiting Portland Maine to visit Becky's Diner - the best blueberry pancakes I ever ate. I see posts about cupcakes, and ice cream as well as high end sushi - LOVE the variety. I say keep it up CHOW folks! :)

                1. I can say that, in spades, for the SF Area boards. It's become an elite vetting service, and an outsider casually browsing the SF Boards over a period of time could easily be left with the impression that there are only a score or so of sit-down restaurants the are worth spending one's money on, and once someone has typed up and printed out the foodie "A" list there's no need to look any deeper. Chowhound is becoming more and more like a Wednesday night tent meeting.

                  A lot of good posters appear to have given up on the boards, posting very infrequently or not at all these days. I suspect that many of them have not actually been intimidated by the would-be taste-makers, but have been driven away by other factors like the increasingly heavy-handed moderation.

                  26 Replies
                  1. re: Gary Soup

                    Considering that there are so, so many restaurants in the area, it's true that the same ones do come up again and again. And a couple of times when I posted about "other" places the silence was deafening. I still enjoy reading, though, and have learned a lot. I just have to force myself to accept the fact that I'm never going to have the ten dollar burger or twelve buck sandwich that everyone says is so great. The absolutely best tip I've had was about a cheap, good bahn mi place close to my house. That alone has made Chowhound worth the time.

                    1. re: Gary Soup

                      I'm new to Chowhound, but I find it funny when an out-of-towner posts for advice on the SF Bay board and the first two recs always seem to be Fleur de lys and the dining room at the Ritz. Now, this might bother me a little more since I had a so-so experience at FDL, but I think people should get options that won't cost $150/head.

                      1. re: Fussy Foodie

                        True, but often posters - and I note the same thing on the Manhattan board - post very open posts - coming to xyz city, looking for amazing food - what do you recommend? With no price points, cuisine, locations, etc. So, that may influence the effort posters put into replying.

                        On the SF board, do posters who are more into the less so-called "foodie" places and less expensive places respond to the out-of-towner threads?

                        1. re: MMRuth

                          MMRuth's right. Whenever I see a generic "what to eat in SF?" post, I swear I can hear a collective sigh across the board. Eventually someone takes pity on them and either asks for more specific information, or pastes a prefab list. SF CH'ers are getting tired of playing Chamber of Commerce, and the repetitious lists are in part a response to our annoyance that people aren't doing their own research first.

                          On the other hand, when someone posts "I'm coming from X city and I'm looking for excellent examples of X,Y, and Z cuisines, budget is $-$$$, my favorite restaurants in my own city are A, B, and C", the thread explodes with all sorts of interesting recommendations.

                          1. re: daveena

                            You know, on every message board upon which I've been a "regular," the "regulars" have always complained that the "casual" (irregular?) users of the forum ask questions that have already been asked and answered repeatedly; that they don't use the search function; that they don't ask the questions the right way; that they don't report back...

                            And to that I say, this forum is what you make of it. If the same old/same old questions from the irregulars bore you, just scroll on past. Let someone who wants to respond. Or not. Why let it get to you?

                            If you think questions ought to be asked a certain way, model that when you ask questions. If you wish there were more reports (or more reports of a specific nature), make a point of posting more reports, or more reports of that nature. And, when you answer a question for an irregular, don't forget to encourage them to report back (it can be intimidating to report back to a new community of people who seem very knowledgeable and passionate) and acknowledge their reports when they do make them.

                            You'll never be able to control the irregulars and the newcomers (or anyone else for that matter); all you can control is you. But, you can sometimes influence others, especially eager newcomers who want to fit in, and, over time you'll be able to notice a shift towards the positive.

                            ~TDQ

                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                              I haven't been around on CH long enough to have a lot of opinions about this stuff...but I do find a difference between a well formulated question that may have been covered before and the "what's the best restraurant in SF" or "what the best restaurants in SF" queries. The latter two examples being so broad as to be useless. If someone asks an actual question to which someone can offer a reasonable opinion, even if its been covered before, i find people will chime in with thoughts and suggestions.

                        2. re: Fussy Foodie

                          I completely disagree. When someone wants contemporary Vietnamese on the SF Bay Board, they are quickly persuaded to skip the higher end contemporary restaurants and ridiculed for not considering pho houses as an alternative. I can't tell you how many times people have posted to go to Bodega Bistro instead of the Slanted Door if they want "authentic" Vietnamese cuisine. Worst still is that Bodega Bistro isn't even a Vietnamese Restaurant, but instead some odd blend of a poor rendition of French, some Vietnamese classics and Chinese. The recommendation to go there is purely price driven and that lower price has deluded the posters into thinking its preferable. Lower end, cheap whole in the walls are fine, but when they are compared to classic eateries more favorably, it's a joke.

                          1. re: Fussy Foodie

                            As MMRuth points out, you have to specify what you want. I see the posts you mention also and if you don't say "money is an object" or "I don't want cal-fusion, I want authentic Vietnamese like my friend Thanh's grandmother makes" you will get a lot of recommendations for places that have gained a reputation for excellence among a wider set of the dining population.

                            CCB, I don't know if me being on this site for only a year makes me too new, but the wealth of knowledge I've found on here makes CH an absolutely priceless resource. As a student on a limited budget, I've had some rough times where knowing where to get the bahn mi I suspect Glencora is talking about saved me resorting to a trip to JITB's 99 cent menu. Also, no where else could I have found a discussion, let alone a full chow-down report with pictures on where to find the bengali mustard fish and mishti doi I grew up with at a restaurant. Just this morning, I got some of the most delicious coffee that I had no idea was sold 15 minutes from my house on tips from fellow CH's - this absolutely made my day.

                            I can see just from who's posting that there are some serious seasoned veterans taking up this issue (me not being one of them - i'm just opinionated) and I really think that if you seek, you shall receive.

                            1. re: adrienne156

                              (....and the coffee was from....? :) )

                              I find that posting for my locale with the Calif Board, sometimes I feel I'm being repetetive. With an area population of about 325,000 , there aren't often new choices to report on. "They've all heard this before" I feel, so hesitate to chime in. Then I think well, obviously this person hasn't done a search, or they wouldn't be asking, so I go ahead and post.

                              Hopefully, new posters will learn the joys (and pitfalls, TBS) of searching. You can follow some threads into new and delicious territory!

                              All in all, I think TDQ hit the nail on the head. Encourage, encourage, encourage. This year I hope to follow Melanie Wong's example of using my camera to add spice and color to posts!

                              1. re: toodie jane

                                Honestly, the current search function is so useless I'm not surprised people are getting repeats. I always start with a search, but when you can't sort by date and you're getting replies that are 5 or 6 years old, the search doesn't help much.

                                1. re: Amuse Bouches

                                  As a recent CH-convert, I really agree with Amuse, a search function that allowed better sorting would make a huge difference in cutting down on the repeat requests/posts.

                                2. re: toodie jane

                                  Blue Bottle from Guerilla Cafe. :o)

                              2. re: Fussy Foodie

                                If people say they're on a budget (which they should, if they are), the responses are different than if they want the "best" restaurants.

                              3. re: Gary Soup

                                Hi Gary -- I've never been to SF before a couple of weeks ago. I had all of a day and a half. Perhaps I was an "outsider casually browsing the SF Board", but one of the two meals that were my own choice was taken a Shangainese place on Balboa St -- per your recommendation. It was excellent, thanks for the tip. And, most importantly: keep posting these tips! I guarantee folks are eating better because of it.

                                1. re: Gary Soup

                                  "A lot of good posters appear to have given up on the boards, posting very infrequently or not at all these days. "

                                  what Gary said holds true for the LA board as well. I find that a number of people who used to post VERY regularly have vanished into the mist. I can't say the why but those who have replaced them do seem to have deeper pockets than I and none of them seem to know SQUAT about all the different types of Chinese food leaving me quite short of hints on places in the SGV. sigh.

                                  Which is not to say this is true of every single board---I have found some non-ritzy suggestions on my recent post to the NW board. Still, I find something lacking and that saddens me..........

                                  1. re: jenn

                                    It is important to remember that people's desires and interests change over time. Two years and one month ago, I had never heard of Chowhound. I stumbled across it from a link off of an Orange County, CA food blog and that got me posting and, ultimately, starting my own food blog. But, looking back where I was two years ago, my interests and postings I made were not even food related and I chuckle at what I was writing about 2.1 years ago.

                                    I know that on the Southwest board, several of the posters that were quite active two years ago have had things in their lives take great importance (new job, marriage, birth of a child, family obligations, etc.) over posting the latest chow find in Phoenix. Life is fluid and so is Chowhound.

                                    As for the people who have deep pockets, there is room for them, too, but that doesn't preclude you from starting topics about little holes in the wall. I did just that about two months ago asking for "hidden gems" in Phoenix and that thread is still active. Nothing ritzy listed; just great restaurants that serve a mean taco/pasta/schnitzel for a cost that won't break the bank.

                                    There is nothing wrong with forcing the conversation in a direction you wish by asking very pointed questions.

                                    1. re: Seth Chadwick

                                      being of cheap mind and shallower pockets, I do start my own threads on holes in the wall and always have [I think I found this place in '02]. But I remain sad that so many established posters with expertise I can never hope to obtain [due to a paucity of language skills] seem to have vanished into the night. There are limits as to what I can do---I don't speak/read Chinese or Thai, I am not fluent in Spanish. So even if I try every little "hitw" that I see, there is no chance that I can create the deep and wonderful posts of certain posters who appear to no longer be on this board. And these are posters who were well established when I joined this board.

                                      The absence of such people is a loss to all Chowhounds.

                                      After I posted my original comment to Gary Soup's post, I went back to my tracking threads to see if I was perhaps misstating the situation. I googled my fav LA board posters. Some of them haven't posted since spring. To me, that is sad. When people who have been doing a particular behavior for such a long time, stop that behavior, you have to wonder what is going on.

                                      As for other things taking great importance, uhhh, I found this list when I had a new child and since then my family has expanded, we have moved, we are moving, work has been hell and yet I remain and try my best to add to the conversation because good food is a priority for me and my family.

                                      Isn't the fact that good food is so very important in every day life the hallmark of a CH?

                                      If people are posting to whom good food is NOT important, why are they here?

                                      1. re: jenn

                                        I think what Seth is saying that is posting about (as opposed to eating) good food may take less priority. Some of these hounds might continue to eat just as well, but they might be too busy to post.

                                        1. re: limster

                                          Perhaps we shouldn't dismiss Jenn's thoughtful questions so easily. It is possible that some of the posters of whom she speaks have simply gone elsewhere.
                                          We have probably all had the experience of a watching a loved neighborhood establishment change when a new group starts frequenting it. As more of them and their friends start hanging out, they play different songs on the juke box, push tables together, ask for and get new things on the menu, different beer on tap, other rail spirits, the TV louder and on another channel. They're louder and laughing about things we have no interest in. It's not our place any more.
                                          Some of the old crowd stays because they don't mind the changes. Others find someplace more to their liking. They pop in every now and then to check but don't stay for a drink.
                                          Is that sorta what Jenn's getting at?

                                        2. re: jenn

                                          People drift from online communities for the same reason they drift from offline ones. They get busy, they move, they take up another hobby, they go on a diet, they fall in love. Drift used to worry online community managers a lot more way back when. Back in the 80's on Compuserve, we decided to look into the matter, and we surveyed drifting members, it was always la-di-da factors like the above.

                                          The other factor turning people off is scaling. A bigger site means more of what you like, but also more of what you don't like. And the latter must be waded through to get to the former. Some people don't have the patience for it, and they, the Contributors of the Good abandon the site to the Contributors of the Bad. It's a self-fulfilling syndrome, and while I don't think it's happened wholesale yet, I'm warning about it (in this thread and elsewhere) to remind everyone that the site is what you make of it. If this stew is missing cumin, ADD CUMIN! Don't complain to the basil! :)

                                          Yup, there are people here who don't love good food. There are even people here who don't understand why anyone WOULD love good food. But they're like .01% of the total site population. But at our scale, that's still a lot of people, and bad stuff "sticks out" worse than good. We're all so inured to the notion of thousands and thousands of cool chow tips constantly flowing in that we take that for granted. I don't, because I'm still amazed this thing ever worked, considering that it was built on a shoestring and skeleton staff from absolutely nothing and with no marketing. So every single good chow tip makes me giddy with pleasure.

                                          ciao

                                          1. re: jenn

                                            YES jenn, you've nailed it!

                                            I too am in great debt to the old Chowhound and its posters as they truly motivated me to cultivate my palate and broaden my mind.

                                            Before reading Chowhound (circa 2002), I had the desire, but not the knowledge. I remember my sister visiting me from New York... I took her through the San Gabriel Valley showing her all the Chinese signs and restaurants, but having absolutely no clue where to go (and feeling completely intimidated to even try a place). We wound up in Pasadena at PF Chang's.

                                            However once I really began absorbing those posts from so many enthusiastic and knowledgeable people (not the least of which were ipsedixit, das ubergeek, professor salt and the many voluminous and highly specific exposes of Chinese deliciousness from jerome (down to the transliterated Chinese, so I could use crib notes at the restaurant), my world opened up. In fact it was because of Chowhound that I took my then Taiwanese girlfriend to the Islamic Chinese restaurant Tung Lai Shun (RIP), and she was so impressed with my choice and enthusiasm for the food that she married me a few years later. Truly a match made from Chowhound.

                                            And I understand Jim's point... it's not that I don't understand that it's my chowhound, and that I can start a new topic any day on Chinese deliciousness in the San Gabriel Valley. It's just that in the old days, at any given random moment I'd find at least two or three interesting articles about obscure deliciousness, written from many different perspectives by lots of interesting minds. Now sometimes days go by where nothing draws my eye.

                                            That coveted signal:noise ratio that Jim always talked about keeping so high is, for me, greatly diminished, and it is entirely because of the new management going out of their way to attract people that just don't belong here. Or, I should say, didn't belong at the old, ugly, blue and grey screen chowhound. It's the trendoids. The Zagat guys. The guys impressed by avatars over the raw substance that *was* Chowhound.

                                            If Jim Leff's old Chowhound mission statement were still here (it vanished with the new build), we might have had a chance. But truly the death knell was when the Chowhound mission statement (which demarcated the difference between chowhounds and foodies) vanished.... see my post below for that. And right now I'm staring at a chow.com advertisement telling me to "Be a better foodie"

                                            *sigh*

                                            I'm still here, but it's difficult. It just makes me really, really sad.

                                            Mr Taster
                                            ---------------------------------
                                            Protect Chowhound
                                            Boycott Avatars!
                                            ---------------------------------

                                            1. re: Mr Taster

                                              You're absolutely entitled to your opinion. But a few corrections:

                                              1. The mission statement is still here. http://www.chowhound.com/manifesto . See "manifesto" in the red links below.

                                              2. Some of the cleverest avatars are used by some of our best, longest-term posters. I was against avatars, myself, but I gotta admit, some of them are great. And the all-white ones (like yours) are just part of that greatness.

                                              3. Not only don't they go out of their way to attract people here, CNET hasn't marketed Chowhound at ALL. They market CHOW instead. This conscientious decision keeps things from diluting back here. Yes, we're growing (in part because of the easier-to-use software), but we've been growing since day one, and users have been complaining about dilution since day 2 (I'm not kidding...a great many posters complained that we'd completely lost it by 1998 when we'd been written up in 3 or 4 newspapers and "the masses" had come in and spoiled us).

                                              4 You missed an irony. You, who ate at **PF CHANGS**, for god's sake, wised up as a result of this site, are eating great, and are participating like a champ. Now you're complaining about the "wrong" people showing up? Mr Taster: YOU were a wrong person! It reminds me of my old Polish building superintendent who complained bitterly about all the immigrants coming in and ruining this country!

                                              1. re: Jim Leff

                                                1. Jacqueline referred me to the manifesto below.... as I said below, it's GREAT to see that it was not scrapped, but I am sad to see what was once in such prominent view now relegated to microscopic type at the bottom of the page.

                                                4. Actually........ It's not really an irony because I still like PF Chang's (as does my Taiwanese wife!)

                                                (shh... don't tell)

                                                Mr Taster
                                                ---------------------------------
                                                Protect Chowhound
                                                Boycott Avatars!
                                                ---------------------------------

                                                1. re: Mr Taster

                                                  I was born in Taiwan too, and I can't stand PH Chang.

                                                  1. re: Mr Taster

                                                    We've moved the digression on PF Chang's to the Chains board at http://www.chowhound.com/topics/416969

                                                  2. re: Jim Leff

                                                    RE: #3 What's the difference between marketing CHOW and marketing (or not marketing) Chowhound? Anyone who finds their way to CHOW and explores the site, finds the discussion boards. So the more food blogs that link to CHOW, the greater their authority, the easier CHOW becomes to find, the more people find Chowhound.
                                                    Now that can be good. That can be not so good...
                                                    What if you're beyond M&Ms? Is there a way to organize everything from gumballs to handmade chocolates so that they all don't melt together into a big mess in the candy bowl? I don't know the answer but sometimes the growth of the population seems to have overwhelmed the infrastructure. There should be room for everybody here, even the huddled masses yearning for good food.

                                        3. This is an interesting thread - I've always been puzzled by self-professed Chowhounds who still put limits on food: ONLY authentic is good, or "I refuse to go to a restaurant that has a dress code", or I will never pay over xxx for dinner no matter how good the food is (not referring to those with budget constraints), or only inexpensive food is worth the money, or, even worse, those who look down on those who don't subscribe to their theory - "ordering pad thai is so pedestrian" (umm..it's one of Thailand's most famous street food) or that those who enjoy white-tablecloth dining aren't Chowish. Delicious food is delicious food and is found everywhere, and I'll go to whatever range there is. Fortunately, we can afford high-end, but you're also likely to find me in a hole-in-the-wall taqueria, or a cheap spot in Chinatown with questionable hygeine ; )

                                          Tonight we're heading to a high-end restaurant re-opening, but the rest of the week includes a new Foochow restaurant in Chinatown, and a great tiny Peruvian spot in East Boston (all with fellow Hounds I might add). Yep, I'm obsessed with food, I'm a Chowhound, I love it ALL!

                                          Also, I know, speaking for myself, if I go on vacation, I tend to ask questions about high-end. Why? Because researching the boards, the great hidden cheap finds usually have a high consensus amongst the locals and are easy to note, whereas high-end is a bit more divided so I appreciate clarification from knowledgeable posters.

                                          OTOH, I've been on CH for years so still cringe when I hear people call themselves "foodies" and not 'Hounds. ; )

                                          9 Replies
                                          1. re: Rubee

                                            Very curious. When I travel, I only ask about low end, because I figure I can alway look up high end restaurants at the major media outlets. No need for Chowhound at all. Tell me, name a high end restaurant in the US that isn't covered by that town's major newspaper critic .... or where there is a significant difference in opinion.

                                            1. re: Steve

                                              I'm pretty sure no newspaper has covered the most expensive tasting menu at Boston - it's a roughly 10 course banquet at one of the places in Chinatown here that should go for more than $300 per person, food alone (the whole banquet costs >$3K and I estimate should feed 10). There's probably not the best ambiance or service for sure, but I really have no idea whether the food is good or not because it's never been discussed in any media outlet.

                                              1. re: Steve

                                                I see the point you're trying to make. Obviously you love the wealth of information this site has, as do I. But if you think impersonal write-ups are the same as local CHs taking the time to write about their experiences, you're missing out. When CH started (and Jim Leff who you replied to above is the "Big Dog" whose dream this whole site is), CH is the definitive place to talk to people who love food (or, as my husband calls them - "freaks like you about food"). For example, I know Vietnamese food, but I didn't even begin to explore Chinatown here in Boston till years ago when people I count among my friends now - who I met through CH - taught me the difference between really well done Taiwanese, or real peppercorns in Szechuan, and what is a good 'soup' dumpling and that Peking duck is supposed to be served in courses with finesse, and...

                                                I hope you don't think that CH fits only a category, as you stated -- "figure I can alway look up high end restaurants at the major media outlets. No need for Chowhound at all".
                                                Because then you need to explore the years of information on this website.

                                                And this statement below: "Or tell someone to drive 45 mintues away to eat at a Thai restaurant. There will be derision".

                                                You're joking, right? Because anyone I've met personally through this board has done that many, many times. Example - Lotus of Siam. Not only my top 5, but everyone I've ever convinced to take the 40 minute cab ride from downtown Vegas, not only was there no derision, but expectation.

                                                1. re: Steve

                                                  Gary Danko, Michael Mina, and Slanted Door are all highly rated by major media outlets covering San Francisco, but you'll find very divided opinions on them on the SF Boards.

                                                  1. re: daveena

                                                    Asking an SF'er (CH or otherwise) about the best restaurant (for X, Y or Z) is like asking a NY'er which subway is the fastest to get from A to B...you're going to get different answers from everyone, half literally don't know what they're talking about AND THEN someone says to take a cab.

                                                    I think when out-of-towners ask for a rec, people pick something safe because they want them to have a good time. Even professed hardcore CHs might be freaked by some recs in SF, so why go there?

                                                    1. re: ML8000

                                                      "I think when out-of-towners ask for a rec, people pick something safe because they want them to have a good time."

                                                      That's probably true... I remember two threads in particular. One was for someone with an 8 hour layover in SF - lots of recs in the Mission, and a rec for Zuni, followed by a huge argument about whether or not those were appropriate for an out-of-towner with a short stay. He ended up going to the Ferry Building and had a great time. After that thread, I started trying to see SF from a new visitor's perspective when I made recs, but in eliminating all neighborhoods that could potentially be considered marginal, I eliminated a lot of places I would otherwise recommend (prior to that thread, I didn't consider the Mission marginal). Then there was one asking for an interesting neighborhood with great food - lots of excellent recommendations came up - they ended up going to North Beach and had a great time. So while a lot of good info came out of those querys, I did kind of feel a "huh... maybe there's no point in giving more obscure recs." There was another great thread where the poster had really interesting requests - he got suggestions as far as Richmond and Union City - we never heard back from him.

                                                      Anyway, while I do think the same restaurant recs do come up for visitors, I'm grateful that the discussion on the Bay Area board in general still covers a fairly diverse spectrum of cuisines and price points.

                                                      1. re: daveena

                                                        I remember that thread on Zuni vs. FB because I thought/said FB was easier for a traveler. Traveling can be tiring and a little adventure though an unfamiliar city can be a drag if you're not fresh. Any way, sometimes the best rec isn't the best food or most hardcore CH adventure (esp. when traveling) but the best place for the circumstances. Agree that the SF board is diverse in so many ways...but SF'ers can be just nuts about food (both in a good and bad way) that it becomes a self-parody...but it does keep things interesting.

                                                      2. re: ML8000

                                                        I don't necessarily choose something safe to recommend...but if someone doesn't give some parameters...i end up thinking "do you like Italian, or no?" "are you interested in creative Asian cuisine?" "Do you want to spend $200 per person?" and so on. I don't feel like I can just offer up something that will help.

                                                  2. re: Rubee

                                                    I entirely agree. As a student with a limited budget, I really cook much more than anything else. When we go out, it's usually to somewhere casual with really good food--things like dim sum, taquerias (though not in Boston!) pubs, and especially pho. But once in a while we can splurge on a really nice meal and, when we do that, I want to make sure that it is not a rip off. There is nothing worse than an overpriced meal, it's insulting because it suggests you don't know what good food is and that you should pay money for image alone. But their is nothing better than an amazing meal prepared by a skilled and inspired chef who opens your eyes (and your belly) to new possibilities. I certainly enjoy reading about other people's fine dining experiences, and as long as the posters are food lovers and not just into the 'foodie' scene these discussions are helpful.

                                                  3. One of the things jfood likes about the site is the varied opinions on all sorts of stuff. We chat about street food (would never have tried Raffiqi's in NYC without CH) to high enders. So maybe it;s good that jfood is in the TriState, NYC, Gen, NAF and Home cooking boards with the new inclusion on NOLA.

                                                    1. I think we're fortunate on the Midwest board (for Minneapolis-St. Paul, anyway) to have a good mix of "regular" posters, most of whom appreciate both casual and high-end dining. Many lean one way or the other in terms of overall preference, perhaps, but, for the most part, people are pretty open-minded about the full range. And the requests we get from visitors are varied, too. Maybe it's because the Twin Cities dining scene is relatively small, but my fellow Midwest 'hounds seem to appreciate good chow, even whether it's fine dining or "street food".

                                                      ~TDQ

                                                      1. It seems that overall, people here are happy with the diversity of opinions and experiences from the collaboration of posters. And while the range may wax and wane from time to time, if enough idividuals share their experiences, the spectrum will be covered (perhaps not, and I am being naive). On this note, a word of caution: if all requests for separate boards were honored, I believe the sum of diversity in general would decrease, and people may relegate to their homogenous board and be a little more content with their heads just a little bit buried in the sand. Specificity can be a good thing, but it sould not come at the price of the blessed array of opinions, and experiences on these boards. Just my two cents, not intended to offend.

                                                        1. Hey CCB, how about posting some of your tips on on the New England board, to get the ball rolling? I don't see that you've posted any Cape Cod tips either, and those would be much appreciated as well.

                                                          1. Chowhound is what you make of it.

                                                            I feel somewhat blessed that my residence on the Southwest board is quite a happy one where we get reports from Phoenix, Tucson, Vegas, Albuquerque, Salt Lake and Denver on everything from the best in fine dining down to which taco truck has the tastiest carnitas tacos. But that stems from people actively sharing their finds, their favorites and their warnings.

                                                            I think a lot of times people look at a board and don't see what they want to see and then register a complaint about it. However, there is nothing preventing anyone from offering up their favorites or warnings. CH is alive because of the people who read AND contribute to it.

                                                            If you don't see something about the best blueberry pancakes in Bangor, ME and you know of a quaint little coffee shop nearby that serves them, for goodness sake, speak up! Let us all know.

                                                            6 Replies
                                                            1. re: Seth Chadwick

                                                              I'm fairly new to Chowhound and I find it addictive because it exposes me to far more than if I just hung out with people who agreed with everything I said or had my taste. If I don't like what I read or the response I get I go to a thread where I have more in common with the posters. Everyone has their own opinion and that's the beauty of this site.

                                                              1. re: Seth Chadwick

                                                                Seth, you seem like a very nice guy. But try recommending a Sichuan Chinese place for someone's anniversary, and you'll get scolded. Or claim that a meal of Indian chaat is more delicious than a nine course 'tasting menu.' Or tell someone to drive 45 mintues away to eat at a Thai restaurant. There will be derision. Not because the place you suggested isn't good, but because it can't possibly be worth the drive, not special enough, not refined enough, etc. There is actually open hostility to suggesting the best food or restaurant is not high end.

                                                                1. re: Steve

                                                                  I think a thali might be a better comparison to a 9 course tasting. :)

                                                                  But in all seriousness, I have posted along those lines but only when I think a place is really good etc... if the place matched the parameters; it's sometimes a bit hard to find a "romantic" sichuan place for an anniversary *vbg*. But I don't do that to be contrary or different -- I recommend places that I honestly think are great. And I often travel 45mins to check out a place (sometimes not even one that is great, but one where there's no information about). And I haven't had much of a hostile reaction, at least on the boards that I post on.

                                                                  1. re: Steve

                                                                    I disagree. On the Boston board, I very frequently see such suggestions from longtime poster limster, and I have never once seen anyone deride him for such suggestions.

                                                                    I suppose it all depeneds on how you deliver the message. If someone asks for Thai in a certain area and you tell them there's no food worh eating there, and they must drive 45 minutes for the only Thai worth eating... well that point might be nitpicked by peopel who disagree with you.

                                                                    I am sure I've seen the topic of whether or not chaat can be as delicious as a 9 course tasting menu covered extensively here. Perhaps you have Chowhound confused with another site, because I'm fairly sure the general opinion here is that you can find deliciousness at any level.

                                                                    1. re: Steve

                                                                      I haven't seen anything like that on the SW board. Maybe people respond differently on different boards.(??) Anyway, if the rec really is good, but it's not high-end enough for someone, I figure that's their problem (unless you think it really keeps people from mentioning good places in your area, which would be tragic).

                                                                      1. re: Steve

                                                                        Steve,

                                                                        I would like to think I am a nice guy, but I have my moments. :o)

                                                                        However, I think your experience is not universal, at least not in my neck of the woods on CH. I always recommend a variety of places from the high end to the local Mexican dive regardless of the occasion because I don't believe a wonderful food experience can only be found at a place with $40 entrees nor does a high-end place guarantee a good meal (oh, the stories I could tell); and I have never been scolded. If people are looking for high-end only, I will suggest only those places I think would provide a great experience.

                                                                        But I am troubled by the fact that anyone would scold you or anyone else for recommending a restaurant simply because it didn't have starched, white linen tableclothes on the tables. Celebrations come in a variety of flavors and my other half and I have had great celebrations for birthdays and anniversaries at some little strip mall joints that had fantastic entrees for under $15. If people can't see that, that says more about them than it does about anyone else for making the recommendation.

                                                                        I wish I could provide you some solace. All I can say, though, is that I think offering up a Sichuan Chinese place for my anniversary would be very welcome by both me and my fiance.

                                                                    2. As a new chowhounder, I can't address what the old one was like, but I have to disagree with CCB. Good lord, I've seen recent postings debating A&W rootbeer. (No dress code there, btw.) Or were you just trying to put the cat amongst the pidgeons, CCB? (Mmmmm... pidgeon.... not so certain about cat.)

                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                      1. re: hungry_pangolin

                                                                        I've been around since the earlier days, and you are absolutely correct. The massive influx of newer Hounds in the last few years has considerably diluted the overall quality and reliabilty of advice on the site, IMHO. There is better luck to be had on certain boards, for sure, but I've seen some absolutely awful advice posted on the South board many times, people absolutely raving about restaurants that are mediocre at best, or even barely edible, by the standards of any true Hound.

                                                                        It's not a total decline by any means, but I think most old-school Hounds would never in a million years have imagined that there would come a time when a whole section of the site would be devoted to chain restaurants, where, by the way, a discussion is currently ongoing concerning the relative merits of Applebee's and Chili's. I've actually seen numerous posters loudly accuse those of us who avoid chain restaurants as having some sort of arrogant bias against them, as if chain-ness or popularity is the innate problem for us, not the generally crap-tacular food or the obesity that usually accompanies the patronage of such places.

                                                                        Heck, I eat fast food here and there, for old time's sake, or for convenience. I'm no snob. But the last time I made your point, Jim Leff (bless him) trotted out his "Green M&M theory", but I ain't buying it, with all due respect. I think the noise sometimes threatens to drown out the signal, so to speak. But, to be fair, that probably varies widely from forum to forum. I would imagine Boston or DC to be hotbeds of fine dining obsessives, really, while the San Francisco board is famously eclectic and inclusive of all dining opportunities, regardless of price or style of quisine. I guess the slide, if there has been one, is probably stabilizing as we speak, and of course I certainly don't have to peruse the "Chains" board if I choose not to. Bu there were wide reports of many of the old-school Hounds abandoning ship not too long ago; I wonder if that's true....

                                                                        1. re: uptown jimmy

                                                                          "But the last time I made your point, Jim Leff (bless him) trotted out his "Green M&M theory", but I ain't buying it, with all due respect"

                                                                          That's cool, but it's helpful to bear in mind that the same point has been made since early 1998, when we got some press and skyrocketed from 30 or so postings per day to an unthinkable 50 or 60. People have always been decrying Chowhound's dilution, and while I used to get worried, I eventually took a long hard look at the dynamic, and realized it's all about Green M&Ms.

                                                                          There've always been a high percentage of really good posts. There've always been a lower percentage of really bad ones. As sheer numbers of both have grown (in more or less equal proportion, IMO), there's been unceasing dismay over the latter, and that's human nature.

                                                                          But I look around and see lots of great chow tips. Not all uniformly great, but you'll do megatons better following advice here than you would out in the world randomly eating just anywhere. So.....enjoy. And keep complaining! People who accept the way things are don't make good chowhounds. In fact, that's the only benchmark by which I'd worry...if people ever stopped complaining....

                                                                          1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                            Great post. Rock on, Mr. Leff.

                                                                            Or should I say.....wait for it....eat on!

                                                                          2. re: uptown jimmy

                                                                            Maybe you should go start a private site with "Older" Hounds so that no one can dilute it?
                                                                            I'm amazed at what democracy has come to.

                                                                        2. Why havent you posted about some of that great food in Maine (or Cape Cod for that matter)?..

                                                                          15 Replies
                                                                          1. re: susancinsf

                                                                            Exactly, susaninsf.

                                                                            Continuing the thought in my posting above, people prefer to complain about green M&M's even if they have pockets full of yellow, orange, red, and brown ones to offer. It's a weird dynamic, and it makes the bowl quickly greener and greener (to THEIR detriment and displeasure) as they withold those colors, giving kindred spirits less and less to grab a hold of.

                                                                            There's a passivity when it comes to people's relationship with media (or, at a higher level, with society), and it's hard to make them realize they themselves are the answer. We don't need less of everybody else's oranges....we just need more of your apples!

                                                                            ciao

                                                                            1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                              I believe there continues to be a problem with open hostility or derision whenever someone suggests cheap eats for a birthday/anniversary OR to go out of your way to find great cheap eats as in the post below:

                                                                              "Even if Haile Selassie himself showed up those wouldn't be suitable for an anniversary dinner - especially not to drive down from north of Baltimore."

                                                                              On the Washington DC board, if a tourist is steered to an out of the way location for cheap eats, there is often a derisive comment about how that kind of food can't possibly be worth the effort.

                                                                              1. re: Steve

                                                                                As other posters have pointed out, the problem you describe is not pervasive, but yes, there are occasional posters who don't treat others with respect. If you see derision or hostlity, please use the "Report" function to let the moderators know, and we'll take care of it.

                                                                                1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                                                  I made the comment about Haile Selassie the Steve just referred to and I'll take responsibility for what I posted. It was neither hostile nor derisive and certainly not aimed at him.
                                                                                  The OP was hiring a car and driver for the evening from about 70 miles away to celebrate a wedding anniversary and the suggestion was made that they eat at an inexpensive Ethiopian restaurant which actually has a branch near their home. The restaurant is very good but certainly not the "worth the special drive to Washington" that the OP was asking for, especially considering the cost outlay for the car service.

                                                                                  On the Washington/Baltimore board the reaction is often related to distance. Unfortunately, many on the Washington board who don't use public transportation often make impractical recommendations, especially for tourists and others without cars, who can't easily get to places, some of which are in far-flung suburbs, however wonderful the food might be.
                                                                                  If Steve is offended, I am sorry.

                                                                                  1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                    While distance is often an important consideration for an outsider, and I'm sure you mean well, it is frankly NOT YOUR DECISION what is and is not worth the drive. I live in the DC area and if someone is visiting from a location where they don't have access to fantastic Ethiopian or Vietnamese food, they deserve a heads up about those things, long drive or no. They can make their own decision about that.

                                                                                    When I was visiting Vancouver, I took a trip down to Richmond for fantastic Shanghainese food. When I was visiting Ann Arbor, I drove to Dearborn to eat in a Lebanese diner. Had folks on those boards withheld that info on the grounds that those meals were "not worth the drive", my life would have been a little less interesting. That is my decision to make for myself -- not yours.

                                                                                    Also -- if you're a carless local and you object to discussion of "far-flung suburbs", tough luck. I lived carless by choice for a couple of years and while there's a lot to be said for it, that type of politics doesn't have anything to do with what is and isn't delicious, and as such is irrelevant to the mission of chowhound, unless it someone specifically makes it a criteria in their request.

                                                                                    1. re: alopez

                                                                                      When folks ask for recommendations on the board, I assume that they are chowhounds per the board FAQ - http://www.chowhound.com/faq - and would do my best to come up with houndish recommendations within their parameters. That means the options are not necessarily considered "safe" or "mainstream" or "easy" but will be places that imho are delicious. Doing otherwise would be assuming that those asking for recs aren't hardcore hounds, and that kind of condescension is uncalled for.

                                                                                        1. re: limster

                                                                                          Y'know, limster, the irony of all this is that the OP asked:

                                                                                          "Which restaurants in DC would *you* drive (or ride) that kind of distance for?
                                                                                          Incidentally, these don't have to be the ultra high-end, special occassion places. In fact, I'd rather not have to lay out a mortgage payment for the bill."

                                                                                          Since she put it that way, I decided to respond with a Sichuan and a Thai rec that I felt were worth the drive. In fact, they are about as far a drive for me as the OP. Then someone else chimed in with an Ethiopian suggestion. It's not like we were trying to decieve anyone.

                                                                                          I agree with alopez, let the OP decide!

                                                                                          1. re: Steve

                                                                                            Yes! - absolutely - the OP should decide. I doubt that chowhounds would want to be spoonfed about where to eat anyways. Best to give them the recommendation or point them in the general direction.

                                                                                        2. re: alopez

                                                                                          Alopez, I was referring to "specific criteria in a request," although I didn't make that clear as I look back. Often we get requests from tourists who ask for recommendations for one night specifically in DC, saying that they won't have a car. A Salvadorean place in Chantilly, VA, might be a great restaurant but posting that suggestion without even saying why that place is worth the drive isn't being very helpful.
                                                                                          If the OP didn't ask for a specific type of restaurant, say he was willing to travel anywhere, etc. isn't it more useful to offer suggestions of the dozens, if not hundreds, of places within easy walking, Metro or cab distance of his hotel. Some of them are likely good ethnic, just close by, which is what was requested. We have many places worth the drive, even renting a car, if you have time, but when people clearly give time, travel or other constraints, we should respect them.
                                                                                          Obviously, when travelers have the time to get to more places, CH is a terrific resource as it has been for you. Having access to a car makes that easier which is why I have often pointed out the easy availability of ZipCars in DC to whisk car-less CHs wherever they choose.
                                                                                          I have no objection to the discussion of suburban locations any more than suburban CHs should object to the discussion of restaurants in the city which they may rarely venture into. Not politics, just the way things are.

                                                                                          1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                            At the end of the day, I simply don't agree with this at all. You're essentially saying that it's ok to discourage people from coughing up good chow tips, which to me is antithetical to chowhound's purpose. Sometimes a poster drops by for reasons known only to them and offers a tip on a gem that is at best peripheral to the original subject of a thread. Geography is just one reason why it might not be a good answer -- maybe allergies, preferences, or a hundred other things the OP did or didn't mention are at play. But just because a tip doesn't answer the OP's request to the letter doesn't mean it's disrespectful -- everyone reading along benefits from learning about the great bowl of pho around the corner. If that isn't the OP's cup of tea, they can easily read past those responses. I know that when I perused the boards to find the great meals I mentioned above, I scrolled past dozens of other tips that didn't fit my criteria. No harm done.

                                                                                            If you want to offer a second opinion on a place that's perfectly reasonable. I think Bertucci's sucks and I will sometimes chime in when someone recommends it on the DC board. Beyond the issue of taste, though, any other criteria is pretty much up to the reader to decide on their own. I am perfectly capable of typing a restaurant name into Google maps to decide on my own if I want to figure out how to get there. I don't need for you to police responses on my behalf. To some people, maybe only the French Laundry is worth travelling any distance. Me, if I'd already travelled to California, I'd happily go another 100 miles if I thought it would get me the best taco in the country. And as we know, some people would go further than that just for a hamburger.

                                                                                            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/292192

                                                                                            1. re: alopez

                                                                                              Far from discouraging discussion of good food on the Washington/Baltimore board, I wish there were more active posters and that they talked about a wider range of cuisines and price points.
                                                                                              This discussion was about posting responses that weren't "not to the letter" but often far removed from a very specific request - almost as though the poster hadn't considered the OP's question. If the OP asks for a steakhouse in downtown DC, answer that request. There are lots of other threads where you can tell us about "the great bowl of pho around the corner," or please! start one and let's find out about a lot of bowls of pho in the area. The OP isn't going to read only the thread he starts himself. He'll likely read lots of others so he'll get the benefit of your "bowl of pho," the Ethiopian choices, a few 4-stars, the ever-touted Dino's, etc.
                                                                                              There's just common sense to maintaining some categorization of topics . Everyone doesn't have to respond to every request from every OP. Especially if they give the same-old, same-old.
                                                                                              I wish more people would say exactly why they recommend a certain place. What's special about it. Just saying La Casa de Tacos has good Mexican food doesn't tell me anything. Somebody chiming in to say that the place is terrible is just as useless. As part of a discussion of local Mexican food, those comments become relevant. Sprinkled all over the place, who can tell?

                                                                                              1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                "Just saying La Casa de Tacos has good Mexican food doesn't tell me anything."

                                                                                                Actually, if Steve Siegel posted the exact words "La Casa de Tacos has good Mexican food" -- and nothing else -- I would immediately get in my car and drive there. But even if it Joe Random posted it, if I had a hunch I might drive out there and check it out. Chowhound is what you make of it.

                                                                                          2. re: alopez

                                                                                            "unless someone specifically makes it a criteria in their request."

                                                                                            The fact that there are people who will STILL insist on making "45 minutes away by car" recommendations when the OP has specifically set the criterion of carlessness suggests to me that reading comprehension skills on the part of one's fellow hounds are not always where one would like them to be.

                                                                                        3. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                                                          I'd like to happily add that my experience on CH is good but the description of mediocre food can throw people is a tizzy on both sides of the same sandwich.

                                                                                          What is considered absolutely the definition of deliciousness others might find "settling" and if I reacted badly everytime I saw that argument get hashed out I'd stop reading CH.

                                                                                          Take what you need and leave the rest is a good suggestion provided to me by CH Mods from my first post. Still good advice.

                                                                                  2. i believe the quality of posts in general-- too many inane posts by people with nothing to say-- has really deteriorated. i find the moderators to be too picky to a point of censorship. the new management is not responsive to complaints and even site related questions such as WHY is there a board for Austin Texas but none for other major cities. i desperately miss jim leff and his management of the site. miss the old CHOW.

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: MarkG

                                                                                      Jim Leff answered the question about the Austin board back in January.

                                                                                      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/357450

                                                                                      1. re: MarkG

                                                                                        I've tried to address both of those issues on multiple occasions:

                                                                                        Austin was created partly as a technical experiment, partly to support the site's major presence at SXSW: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/31582...

                                                                                        Other boards are not being created because of issues with archive and making sure that we can transition smoothly:
                                                                                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/38906...
                                                                                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/41028...
                                                                                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/39709...

                                                                                        The volunteer moderation team is largely the same people as it was pre-CNET. We've added a few new moderators since, but they were invited to join the team in the same way we've always added new mods, and we work from the same guidelines we were using prior to the site joining CNET. While CNET has certainly had the opportunity to provide input to the moderation process, they recognize that The Chowhound Team has been successfully tending the community for a long time, so there've been no major shifts in policy. We may catch more things that are off topic or out of bounds, simply because the new boards are easier to follow, but we haven't changed the boundaries.

                                                                                        -- Jacquilynne, Community Manager for Chowhound

                                                                                      2. I think the L.A. board does a reasonable job of covering the spectrum, so I wonder if it's a regional thing, CapeCodBob?

                                                                                        I personally hardly ever "fine dine."

                                                                                        Wife, kids, mortgage ... school, braces, car payments ... it's not realistic for me to spend more than 100 dollars on dinner for two -- and that's rare, very rare.

                                                                                        It's not my style, either. I'm not familiar with fancy ingredients and good wine. I wear a suit to work, I prefer to dine in jeans.

                                                                                        I prefer shacks, stands, trucks, counters and family run joints. And on the L.A. board, there are plenty of recs for those sort of places. I start some of those threads myself.

                                                                                        And the fine dining threads? I either skip 'em or live vicariously through 'em.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: PaulF

                                                                                          Bravo PaulF, I couldn''t agree more.
                                                                                          The sheer volume of information within this community makes it approachable and user friendly every day of the week.

                                                                                        2. I don't know. When I was in Vancouver, the two best meals I had were probably at West (high-end fine dining) and Kintaro Ramen (Japanese lunch counter). Man, I STILL dream about that bowl of ramen. Likewise in Boston the best meals I had were at Clio (high-end fine dining) and Muqueca (Brazilian with 6 tables). I also ate everything in between these extremes. So I think there's room for the whole spectrum.

                                                                                          With that said, I have noticed bit of a swing towards the high end on the DC board. I think that's fine since some posters seem to really be into that. What I don't like is that those posts seem much more likely to bring out the over-the-top, citysearch-style drive-by-rant by one-time posters. And they tend to digress into pointless chatter over who has a more educated palate, or who understands what the chef is trying to do, or whatever. Those discussions almost invariably get nasty. More importantly, they don't help anyone eat better. So why do it?

                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: alopez

                                                                                            I think that is my problem here. I certainly can't afford to eat at every single high end restaurant, and I do enjoy reading the experience in order to make my rare visit to these places well worth my time and money, but most of those discussion will inevitably de-evolve into little ego sessions of one-upsmanship between people arguing over who has the finer palate and who has better taste in marrying obscure wines with their rarefied entrees and trying to top another's experience in these restaurants. I enjoy reading your experiences, I thank you for your generosity in sharing your experience, I really don't care to be put down on this board because I can't afford to eat at these places on a daily basis.

                                                                                            The put downs aren't overt, but they are implied in the way the writers assert their views.

                                                                                            I think this is what CapeCodBon was complaining about, not that the board is overrun with people who prefer high end dining to finding the perfect littel hole in the wall, but the arrogance exuded by those who are high end dining enthousiasts.

                                                                                            This was set forth by Jim himself when he defined the difference between a Foodie and a Chowhound: the former is seduced by the implied status of being a food cogniscenti, the latter just wants delicious food.

                                                                                            1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                              Hi there - the kinds of ego-drive one-upsmanship is very very bad for the boards. Our goal is to maintain a friendly and egalitarian atmosphere for sharing chowtips. Please report those posts if you see them (use the report link under a post) and we'll take a look. Many thanks!

                                                                                              1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                Sorry, but I really just want delcious food, and I call myself a Foodie. (as opposed to a gourmand). In my mind a Foodie is a certain kind of a Chowhound ... or even the same thing? Someone who loves good food.

                                                                                                To now claim that a Foodie is not a food lover ... and/or not worthy of posting on Chowhound ... to tag those kinds of superficial labels on (just) words .... is a certain form of snobbery, don't you think...

                                                                                                1. re: FoodWine

                                                                                                  "Where can I find a man who has forgotten words? I would like to have a word with him." -Chuang Tzu
                                                                                                  Call them what you want, the comparison is between two (generalized) kinds of people, not between two words.

                                                                                                  1. re: FoodWine

                                                                                                    Per the Chowhound manifesto, created circa 1999....

                                                                                                    When CNET took over the site, they blurred the line between Foodies and Chowhounds.

                                                                                                    http://www.chowhound.com/manifesto

                                                                                                    "We're not talking about foodies. Foodies eat where they're told. Chowhounds blaze trails. They comb through neighborhoods for culinary treasure. They despise hype. And while they appreciate ambiance and service, they can't be fooled by flash.

                                                                                                    No media outlets serve Chowhounds. They've never had a place to gather and exchange information. This discerning, passionate crowd has long been completely invisible and utterly disenfranchised... until now."

                                                                                                    Mr Taster
                                                                                                    ---------------------------------
                                                                                                    Protect Chowhound
                                                                                                    Boycott Avatars!
                                                                                                    ---------------------------------

                                                                                                    1. re: FoodWine

                                                                                                      Yes, it is a certain kind of snobbery to distinguish between a foodie and a Chowhound. The irony is that the notion of what a "foodie" is has also morphed to mean "food snob," as opposed to just "someone who likes food."

                                                                                                  2. re: alopez

                                                                                                    The DC board has taken a turn for the foodie side. That's great for the occasional splurge, but impractical for the budget oriented. This trend has changed the way I read the boards; I ignore 90% of the subjects, those readily identifiable as the green M&M's either by poster name (sadly, I have identified some people to ignore to save myself aggravation) or subject line. But there are still enough DC chowhounds to keep the site worthwhile, with great recommendations that I would never find myself (my favorite DC posters are all here!).

                                                                                                    So I agree that the crowd here has changed, but let's not the change spoil things.I will be sorely disappointed if the true chowhounds take off.

                                                                                                  3. I tend to agree and often feel like the cheapskate here! I have no interest in "event" or "destination" venues. I was on Roosevelt Ave. in Flushing recently. I had a quirky sandwich at an Argentinian hole-in-the-wall and was in bliss. I was looking at all the varieties of food there; Greek, Jamaican, Italian...they were all funky places where the prices are amazing. I felt I'd gone to Chowhound heaven, but put me in a Battali, Chodorow or a Jean-Georges type place and I'm in hell. It guess it's aesthetics. I just prefer mom & pop places, be they American or ethnic.

                                                                                                      1. I particularly like this discussion because I can't really believe that someone who loves food would post this to begin with. So it gets the fire inside me going..which is great. First of all, I would like to mention taste....we all have different ones. There is no way you can tell me that any particular delicious dish anywhere will appeal to every person who has tried it. This has nothing to do with the pricing of the food or the color of a tablecloth or the uniform of the waiter. PERIOD. We all like different flavors, different styles, different heat levels, and definitely different ambiance when dining. Some like to vary it every week, some just stick to affordable local eateries. I prefer authentic ethnic food to any famous-chef-owned-restaurant most of the time but WHO CARES??? The point of a blog/forum is for people to have civilized discussions about things. I have a hard time even seeing the point in this post. Good food is good food no matter who served it and where. If your taste doesn't allow you to enjoy an expensive meal I am sorry, but please let everyone else enjoy. What I suggest you start doing is if someone recommends a place that is too "foodie" for you, just give them your chow alternative and get the discussion going like that. That is the fun thing about chowhound...and being a snob about blueberry pie is just as bad as being a snob about zabaglione...

                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: yomyb

                                                                                                          absolutely. I've got to say I'm surprised by how sensitive people are. I say, if you think someone is being a pretentious jerk, call them out on it or ignore them. This is in the end an internet site. And the internet is full of people with nothing better to do than post comments that annoy other people and reveal their own ignorance. The wonder is that chowhound is as useful and interesting as it is given how many people participate.

                                                                                                          1. re: dinnerbell

                                                                                                            Actually, we'd vigorously prefer ignoring to calling people pretentious jerks. This site works best if we rate chow and not chowhounds.

                                                                                                        2. One thing that this thread has brought to light for me - and I'm frankly wont to call myself either a chowhound or a foodie, just one who loves great food, whether in a restaurant (upscale or downscale), cooked by me, or cooked by others - is that I should start fleshing out my posts on the regional boards on which I post. Meaning, include details about the place, dishes I've enjoyed, why I like it, etc. It's easy just to throw out a name of a place in response to a request, but I pledge that, from now on, I'll try to add something more to just the name of a place.

                                                                                                          1. I came to this board because I enjoy food. I go to high end restauraants and low end restaurants... both are delicious regardless of price. To avoid someone posting recs about expensive restaurants why not just tell the people what you are looking for... cheap eats of fine dining. Wouldn't that make sense.? If a person doesn't like what they are reading... skip to the next rec.

                                                                                                            1. There was that Vietnam era motto, "Kill em all, let God sort em out" that applies to peope who reply to posts: Give your recommendations, the OP will accept or reject; and the rest of us will consider the recommendations according to our own particular circumstances.

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                That motto, I think, goes back to the Inquisition.

                                                                                                              2. For me, the noise is beginning to overwhelm the signal, so I'm not using this place as much. It also seems to me like a lot of the old Chowhound posters have been less frequent from the DC-Baltimore board, but I may be wrong about that.

                                                                                                                At any rate, I think the problem is that there are a lot more foodies than chowhounds simply because while people enjoy food, there aren't a lot of people willing to take the effort to FIND good food. Most people would rather go to someplace they know than to take a risk to try something. Which is why the same restaurants get mentioned over and over and over.

                                                                                                                It's too bad but I guess it's inevitable.

                                                                                                                16 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: BmoreHound

                                                                                                                  "For me, the noise is beginning to overwhelm the signal, so I'm not using this place as much "

                                                                                                                  When my parents moved to suffolk county in the 1950's, they were among the first. Then the area had a massive influx, and my parents recoiled in disgust at the mass exodus from brooklyn (they were from brooklyn, themselves), all the trees getting cut down, all the increased traffic and commercialism. It never dawned on them that they were, themselves, the root of the problem.

                                                                                                                  If Chowhound has material that displeases me and I respond by posting less (if, in other words, I abandon the boards to the posters I don't like), then *I* am the cause of the quality problem!

                                                                                                                  Which is absolutely your privilege. Hey, you're not forced to be here! But, yet once again, these forums are what YOU make of them. If you post the sort of thing you like, regardless of what others are doing, kindred spirits will find it and engage, and the facet of the food scene that interests you will grow in voice on Chowhound.com. If you post less and less, there will be less of what you (and your kindred spirits) like, and that facet will get less voice.

                                                                                                                  You control this process, not some unseen station manager. As you prime the pump with your posts, you create a programming stream that will endure (though perhaps not dominate). As you slacken, you help kill that particular stream.

                                                                                                                  ciao

                                                                                                                  1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                                    "If Chowhound has material that displeases me and I respond by posting less (if, in other words, I abandon the boards to the posters I don't like), then *I* am the cause of the quality problem!"

                                                                                                                    Maybe you're right. But on the other hand, I thought that the original idea of chowhound had something to do with the fact that people don't have a lot of time, and if you had a community of people that you knew and trusted, you could help each other find the places that had, well, chow-worthy food.

                                                                                                                    Problem is these days you have posters in B'more recommending Phillips and Legal Seafoods and Cheesecake Factory. And while I can ignore those pretty easy, I don't have time to wade through the crap. So if some anonymous poster recommends something anonymous, it's hard for me to know whether to filter it or not.

                                                                                                                    In other words, and I mean this with all of the best of intentions, part of what made the original Chowhound really useful was that the community was small and intimate enough that I got to know whether to trust what a particular poster had to say. Yes, Joe H could be insufferable, but he certainly knew his food. Yes, VordyGal had to drop off the board, but I had an idea of whether or not to try something he or she recommended. Etc.

                                                                                                                    Now, not so much. Which is a shame in and of itself. But things change, life goes on, and I guess the original chowhound is a lot like that great restaurant that closed a few years back - it's something that we can remember every so often but not something we'll never experience again.

                                                                                                                    1. re: BmoreHound

                                                                                                                      Yep, green M&Ms. More M&Ms total means a greater quantity of green M&Ms to wade through to get to the others.

                                                                                                                      Again, the solution isn't to bemoan the greens and the lack of reds. The solution is to BE the reds.

                                                                                                                      As for the anonymous posters, and not knowing how to gauge, yeah, I know what you're saying. Here's how I think of it (and it applies to the Green M&M situation, as well):

                                                                                                                      If I'm facing a chow scene in the Real World, I use intuition and savvy to separate the preponderance of crap from the nuggets of treasure. How do you know whether that anonymous coffee shop or taco stand or sushi temple is any good? How do I Photoshop out of my chowscape the distracting preponderance of obvious Crap? Well...that's the task of a chowhound, who rises to the challenge and figures it out. We LIKE that sort of thing!

                                                                                                                      Same on the boards! How do I know whether that anonymous poster knows her/his stuff? How do I know if that tip's good? How do I Photoshop out the preponderant crap?? I use intuition and my savvy and rise to the challenge and figure it out. It takes a Chowhound to use these boards optimally!

                                                                                                                      And doing so is a delight for me, because Chowhound tips are so skewed toward quality. Yep, Legal Seafood is here, but in way way way lower proportion than the real world. Same for anonymous randomness, and same for out and out wrongness. Hey, there's even a little marketing hype dripping in (in spite of the moderators' heroic efforts). But compared to the real world, we are downright insulated.

                                                                                                                      When we had fewer people, there were fewer green M&Ms, but we also did a worse job of truly covering the chowscape. We're still not covering as thoroughly as I'd ideally like, but it's much deeper and wider with all these new people.

                                                                                                                      And since I'm really well accustomed to Photoshopping crappy food from my vista (in the real world where that's 95% of the options), it's no problem at all to do likewise in a Chowhound where it represents 15% of the options. And I use the same intuition, savvy, and passion to gauge on Chowhound that I use in the real world (and the site appeals to hardcore chowhounds, in part, because they are the ones with the chowhounding skillset to make use of the data here!). And the site feels luxurious to me, because so much less work is necessary...plus there are clues in people's tone and writing to gauge how passionate and knowledgable they are. It's a lot easier than decoding restaurants themselves!

                                                                                                                      And that was my goal all along. Not to gather precisely the tips I personally prefer with 100% reliability and filtration, but simply to gather lots of tips from more or less kindred spirits in an enclave with vastly less gunk and randomness than you'd find in Zagat, guidebooks, newspapers, word-of-mouth, etc., so that no matter where we are and no matter what we crave, none of us ever needs to settle for undeliciousness ever again, Amen.

                                                                                                                      And...we work from there. If you share a sense of this goal, post the sort of thing you like, and engage with posters who post the sort of thing you like. And it'll flower....

                                                                                                                      1. re: BmoreHound

                                                                                                                        BmoreHound,

                                                                                                                        Best post on this subject. My thoughts exactly, and wonderfully stated.

                                                                                                                        FWIW.

                                                                                                                        1. re: BmoreHound

                                                                                                                          Bmore,

                                                                                                                          while jfood is an anti-CF hound, he finds it interesting to understand why people like the place. it adds to his knowledge and if that is what Leff means by green M&M's more power to those that post. Likewise it is difficult to understand the extra time it might take to go through any Board, heck jfood can look through a couple of days in a few minutes to see if there is anything that is of interest.

                                                                                                                          And there are several posters that jfood reads immediately for clear and concise input, and jfood trusts them implicitly, others jfood reads for the pure pleasure of yucks and grins (some jfood reads out loud to mrs jfood for a good laugh). but these relate to meals at the highest end and the lowest cost restos. usually preceding by "you gotta hear this" and followed by OMG.

                                                                                                                          So jfood is glad for the widening of the bandwidth. Is it perfect, heck no and that;s some of the beauty of the site. through constant feedback it's the posters who have a driving force in how it moves. some of us like the constant changing environment and some of us like the stay as it is. hopefully both can post good stuff on food.

                                                                                                                      2. re: BmoreHound

                                                                                                                        You're right, BmoreHound, at least about Washington. Not a town of risk-takers. Posters like the validation that we have something special, that the places where they eat are OK and make them part of "the scene." Ethiopian that other cities don't have. These restaurants have their stars and you can't go wrong. Here's our one shot at Italian and it has a great deal on wine one night a week. Here's the sandwich place. The quality of our pizza is poor except for this place. We're right by the Chesapeake but get your out-of-town seafood here.
                                                                                                                        Over and over and over - just as you say. And every one of those places can be found on the Washington Post or Washingtonian websites. They all have the Imprimatur so we can breathe a sigh of relief that we don't have to defend our position. God help us if we're "wrong."
                                                                                                                        At a City Council hearing this Winter, a witness told the Council that for something to be real in DC, they should get it into the Washington Post or people don't believe it. There's a lot of places with great food that never get mentioned - even in passing - in the paper. That's what I keep looking for on CH.
                                                                                                                        I don't care if you call them foodies, CHs, gourmets or whatever. I'd love a few more people who stop and say "Hey, it's only one meal. Let's see what that place is like." I'm tired of hearing about the same-old, same-old.

                                                                                                                        1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                          "I'm tired of hearing about the same-old, same-old."
                                                                                                                          -----------

                                                                                                                          Then post about more interesting places! If you do that, other people who like interesting places will join. And newbies surfing through who like interesting places will have a nucleus to glom onto, and before you know it you'll have fleets of like-minded chowhounds joining you in raking through neighborhoods all over town for undiscovered hyperdeliciousness, swapping notes, and everyone will eat better!

                                                                                                                          And if/when that happens, some of the lazier, more hype-susceptible posters may be tempted out of their comfort zone and catch the bug.

                                                                                                                          And when critical mass is achieved, it will push local journalists to be more adventurous (or at least to glean notes from the forum), presenting more interesting places for their readers. It's like a virus. Tides can turn, and, thanks to the Internet, YOU can make it happen. Just be a savvy chowhound and post (consistently!) to the forum and stop caring so much what other people post. This is the gist (and it's also the key to how Chowhound.com achieved my secret plan): you can't shame folks into eating better, you can only entice them.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                                            Speaking of critical mass...in another way, it seems things (mostly restaurants) are now so well covered in CH (and elsewhere on the net) there's not much new to discuss. Once a new place opens - it's covered pretty much instantly. This is a good thing but after the initial cycle of reports comes in...it's sort of "what's next"? Even in a big restaurant region like the SF Bay Area...there's only so places to review and once that happens, what do you talk about?

                                                                                                                            On an editorial note: I've noticed the moderators often cut/edit comments on a thread...obviously some for good reason...but sometimes this kills a dynamic discussion, momentum or willingness to contribute. I understand there needs to be a balance but a short editorial leash is sometimes counterproductive.

                                                                                                                            1. re: ML8000

                                                                                                                              We don't ever edit posters' comments. We do remove posts to keep the discussion on topic, and will occasionally fix spelling in a title to help with searching, but as a matter of policy, we avoid putting words in people's mouths.

                                                                                                                              1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                                                                                                Fair enough, you remove comments. That can still kill a discussion. If you want a food metaphor -- it's like removing spice/seasoning from a dish or taking the funk out of a hole-in-a-wall joint...it can kill it or do damage.

                                                                                                                                1. re: ML8000

                                                                                                                                  True. All we ask is that you judge the cooks by the tastiness of the dish. We built Chowhound as a moderated site from day one, and the same folks are still leading the charge according to the same policies. And the qualities of the forum (generous, savvy, sincere, non-heirarchical) are exactly what we were shooting for. :)

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                                                    As a relative newbie (under 1 year) jfood has learned a lot from the people on this site and can say that only twice was the food recommended disappointing and one of those is on the re-try list. Yup, everyone feels slapped when the mods nix a comment because isn't that a retort with no ability to revert. But hey, if you have kids you should be used to it and if not everyone needs to get over it.

                                                                                                                                    All in all the stuff everyone picks up is in the 90's on a grading system and that's a "A" in everyone's book. And since green M&M are only the third worst flavor (yellow and brown are worse) we can always have improvement.

                                                                                                                                    So when someone says that Chowhound ain't the same as the old days because of the expanded influx on what they perceive as non-relative dialogue, in Jfood's book that's good news because the net is wider, the discussion broader and more people are posting about more topics.

                                                                                                                                    As in every aspect of life, you pick your battles, here at CH you pick your topics and pick your favorite posters to read.

                                                                                                                          2. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                            I've found there are good knowledgeble people on the DC board if you're specific on what you're looking for. Being newer to the area, I've gotten great info on sushi, pho, banh mi, farmers market hints, Thai, etc., etc. Looking on my own, it would have taken me a long time to find them, if I ever did. While I pay fleeting attention to fine dining threads, it's generally not my focus. I've also found there is a "prevailing wisdom" to those restaurants and disagreements aren't well received. Someone who has found a different experience and posts why, not just that it was bad, adds a lot and I like reading positives and negatives. As repeating recs, there are so many questions, "I'm bringing my children. Where should I go?" that I find myself repeating myself often. Not that I think it should be done but a FAQ section would help with that.

                                                                                                                            1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                              In response to Making Sense

                                                                                                                              Just a note: some of those places that can be found on the Post or Washingtonian websites were uncovered on Chowhound first.

                                                                                                                              Also, please don't keep tips to yourself. "There's a lot of places with great food that never get mentioned." I'd love to see you post about those!

                                                                                                                              1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                Actually, there's a good point there (this relates to some things Jim and ML8000 said above, too). We need to be hounds out in the real world as well as on this site. We need to keep enjoying the game of trying random places we think look promising and posting our experiences. Otherwise it just turns into the same recs over and over again (or worse recs?). btw, I am fortunate that the hounds on the SW board do an excellent job of this.

                                                                                                                          3. I love this site and have enjoyed watching it evolve and grow (although I too wish the search function was more user friendly). I used to live in NYC and read those boards out of nostalgia and for pure entertainment. I now live in what has been called by a fellow chowhound as the armpit of Florida and use the site whenever I travel. I have actually traveled to try places recommended on the site (what I call a chowcation). I empathize with CCB,however, because a recent thread started by a NYC transplant criticized my town as having no “gems” because there was no simple fine dining. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/41210...
                                                                                                                            Every place recommended by me (and other chowhounds) for its family/locally run atmosphere or for fresh and tasty food was shot down by him as he declared a “culinary malaise”. I agree we have a lack of creative cooking in my neck of the woods, but this kind of criticism I find totally unnecessary and pointless. It makes me not want to post anything but questions. It seems so contrary to what Jim Leff basically says the site is all about: the deliciousness and sharing of information. My solution, however, unlike CCB, is to ignore the posters who ooze negativity and continue to enjoy the recipes, blogs, and information I get from fellow chowhounds about their local favorites.

                                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: masala maci

                                                                                                                              I agree with the above poster. It is up to the individual to keep it authentic, and I think most readers read between the lines and continue to get a great deal out of it.

                                                                                                                              In response to the OP, keep on reporting, overlook any snootiness, and we will all benefit.

                                                                                                                              1. re: chowfamily

                                                                                                                                Yup, good posting, chowfamily. Prime the pumps, and never lose sight of the fact that while no resource is 100% consistently on-the-money, at our worst we still offer more distilled and filtered data than other sources...much less the real world itself.

                                                                                                                                High-end, low-end, snobby and reverse snobby, we aim to track it all. It's a big internet, there's room for the full range to be represented. And it's up to us posters to flavor the stew with our own respective spices. There's no reason to tsk tsk at basil for not being cumin. YOU be the cumin! :)

                                                                                                                                1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                                                  Well said..........
                                                                                                                                  .............It sure sounds like some of these poster's are becoming elitist about being elitist.

                                                                                                                                  "Why can't it be the way it used to be????" Nothing is the way it used to be. Everything evolves.

                                                                                                                                  I also think there would not be as much repetition of posts if the search feature was refined.

                                                                                                                              2. re: masala maci

                                                                                                                                I brought up the topic of people being less than mannerly and being overtly condescending to the original poster when it comes to other people's opinions on restaurants and I got a response from The Chowhound Team saying that this is something that they should be notified of and they would deal with it. Here is an instance of it, and nicely referenced too.

                                                                                                                                1. re: masala maci

                                                                                                                                  Excellent points. It's great to read a positive side about how this site has changed.:-) You (the general you) need to be open to suggestions and even if you thought a place isn't good, it helps to ask why the other posters have liked it. I said above that there have been places that I haven't liked but when others recommend it, I'll ask why/what they liked. Chances are I might have hit it on a bad night or ordered something that wasn't the specialty. Kind of reminds me, years ago, when Krispy Kreme was just a couple of stores that people raved about, I tried a cake donut there and was totally unimpressed. I was told to get the hot glazed donut--mmmm. I don't know if I'd still like it but fresh hot donuts way back then were so good. CH help you find that.

                                                                                                                                2. There seems to be considerable regional variation in the quality of posts, in my surfing experience. But, as Jeff, Seth, and others have said, this is what you make of it. CCB (who, very curiously, has absented him/herself from the discussion.... anyone else find that odd?) complains that CH has become too foodie, whereas someone agrees that CH has gone downhill because it has become too populist. I'd say that that's evidence that CH is encompassing a greater spectrum... all to the good. As for snootiness, or plebian taste, on the Toronto board (pretty good quality on the whole, I'd say) there are folk (who shall remain nameless) who post, and I need only see the name to guess what they'll say, and they rarely disappoint. Like the rest of life, it's up to you to separate the wheat from the chaff, and as Mr Leff says, if you don't like the level of discussion, it's up to you to raise it, or lower it, as you see fit.

                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                  1. re: hungry_pangolin

                                                                                                                                    hungry, I did find the OP's lack of comment interesting as well....the longer I peruse the Boards the more I realize how often a generic "topic" creates such passionate viewpoints..OR that one lone CH winds up opening the gates to a topic many community members enjoy discussing...sort of like dazzling dinner conversation over a great meal! Fascinating.

                                                                                                                                  2. As a newbie, I'm not familiar with the "old chowhound". This site was recommended to me by a guy I happened to sit next to on a flight from HNL to LAX. One of his comments was that you could find info on everything from Dives to Divas. It was true. On that trip, I found that a place down the street from where I have been staying for years has (depending on who you believe) some of the best chili in LA - for a fast food place. Hardly haute cuisine. The threads in Hawaii (Elsewhere in America) are full of people asking to find not only "the best restaurant in Honolulu" to where to find the best Saimin. I have even been bold enough to suggest that one of our "best" restaurants was not someplace I would ever choose to go again - and some replies took offense to that, others said they understood, but did not agree. Fair enough. Sorry to hear that you have had your opinions slammed... apparently more than once. Considering the number of strong opinions in here, I'm not surprised.

                                                                                                                                    One final thing, with rare exceptions the food at fine dining fooderies tends to be above reproach - unless someone takes exception to the prices or the service (like I said, rare exceptions), but more "down home cooking" and "peasant food" seem more open to comment.

                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                    1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                      I'm also a newbie and can't miss what I didn't know. But I shall regret to my dying day that I didn't know this place before we visited San Francisco three years ago.
                                                                                                                                      I did use the search functions and asked a few questions and used chowhound as my guide to eating on our recent trip to New England. This site made a positive difference for us.
                                                                                                                                      So, thanks to those who shared their experiences.
                                                                                                                                      The rest is just the nature of us as beasts- great variability that is hard to describe and harder to understand when only the written word is there.

                                                                                                                                    2. I enjoy Chowhound, and I just ignore the posts that strike me as bragging rights issues...like "if you could return to any restaurant in the world for a meal, what would it be?" OK, world traveler...we know it's nice to be you...but I guess I'm just more interested in home cooking so that's the board I usually frequent.

                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: archangelcat

                                                                                                                                        cat, I may be one of the bragging jackasses you refer to. Apologies if so. On the other hand, I've worked hard--to be able to work all over the place and to search out and enjoy the food as a major attraction (with great appreciation for my luck). So I talk about those food experiences when relevant posts come up.

                                                                                                                                        But, like you, my favorite board is "home cooking". And I think/hope that that is where I've been able to contribute.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                          Sam, I always enjoy your posts, maybe I was just in a "catty" mood...you have contributed some fine recipe ideas, etc... don't stop!

                                                                                                                                      2. Read my name- I think reviewing Per Se (which I was highly critical of) is as important as reviewing whether Patsy's pizza in harlem has gone downhill (it hasn't except for the burnt crust yesterday). As an omnivore who happens to live in Manhattan (I rent, can't afford to buy), I spend a lot of my disposable income on food. It's a shame you can't get decent sushi for less than $150 a person but I didn't create that situation-it's life. So between foie gras postings, I also love to check out 5 for a dollar dumpling houses, burger joints and street carts. That is what Chowhound (which I couldn't live without) is all about.
                                                                                                                                        Signed- the "Gutter"-Gourmet.

                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: guttergourmet

                                                                                                                                          You're a true Hound. I salute you.

                                                                                                                                          However: decent sushi for $150.00 a head? Good lord. The Big Apple is certainly an expensive place. I knew that, but good lord. You can get excellent sushi in San Francisco for $40.00 a head, easy. Not Tokyo excellent, but darned fine.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: uptown jimmy

                                                                                                                                            excellent sushi in SF != decent sushi in NYC.

                                                                                                                                            despite whatever culinary heights other cuisines may reach in SF, Japanese food offerings (not only sushi) in the city proper are pretty damned depressing.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: guttergourmet

                                                                                                                                            Just to demonstrate-I recently went to DC. Would highly recommend Citronelle, Maestro, City Zen and The Inn at Little Washington and equally highly recommend Ben's Chili Bowl (chili dogs!), Five Guys Burgers and 2 Amys Pizza.

                                                                                                                                          3. Progress is what it is. I DO hope to lurk on the boards long enough to see a "filter by date" option. That will allow me to screen out the old posts.
                                                                                                                                            Progress is what it is, and that means that Chino Wayne' poetic posts (anyone who ends a post on central California BBQ with a reference to "kisses from his cat's little pink tongue" is an artist!) have been replaced with Sam Fujisaka's worldly wisdom and JFood's reasoned counsel. This is not all bad.
                                                                                                                                            I miss you Rabo Encendido, Low End Theory, and the others from years past, (I am LA Board-centric) Thi Nguyen's farewell as the LA Newsletter editor still lives in my car. Fortunately, his continued presence maintains some continuity.
                                                                                                                                            I take a deep breath and accept that this is still the best game in town.
                                                                                                                                            Thanks to the team,
                                                                                                                                            Phood

                                                                                                                                            1. i am also a fairly new Hound (under a year) but have found this site very informative. i travel a lot for work and love the fact i am always getting to try new places. this site has been an excellent resource to find all the great local spots as well as the high end places. my co-workers all love traveling with me now because i am "in the know" with all the great spots. this site has also helped me discover some great spots in my own town that i didn't even know existed.
                                                                                                                                              i appreciate everyone here!

                                                                                                                                              thanks

                                                                                                                                              1. On the old, clunky Chowhound there was that great introduction about the difference between a foodie and a chowhound. I always loved the emphasis on adventure and experimentation and the warnings to avoid the idea that there is a single right answer to food questions. It's that last part that I feel is being ignored more and more. I often see people who criticize the 'right' place or praise the 'wrong' place get bullied into posting something like "I went back and tried it again. What was I thinking? You guys were all totally right!" It feels like we're squeezing out the diverse opinions that helped make this board so rewarding in the first place.

                                                                                                                                                1. I followed this thread ad nauseum from beginning to end. In a lot of ways I agree with CapeCodBob, I do miss the camaraderie and the generous spirit of the early posters, I miss their contributions, but many have departed in what I presume to be disgust over some of the other posters. I also see Jim Leffs assertion that is is our community and that our contributions is what will define the community. But I think that this community has suffered from the perils of a democracy, which is mob rule and no amount of thoughtful commentaries and recommendations a la the Chowhounds of yesteryears will reverse the trend towards foodieness. Contrary to Jim leff, I don't think the quantities of view makes the board better, it makes the board more democratic, but not necessarily better. Quality does not come with numbers, quality comes with passion.

                                                                                                                                                  So I will do what have been doing, I will still post, I will still read the posts. But I find myself further and further alienated from the site because it now lacks a spirit that existed in the site prior to the foodie invasion. It no longer feels like I am with kindred spirits. The passion is waning. It is similar to the waning interest amongst the Chowhounds for the Food Network because the thrill is gone. I understand that the goal is to make Chowhound.com be all things to all people, I also believe that it is an impossible task. But no worries, a diluted Chowhound.com is better than nothing.

                                                                                                                                                  One of the charming things on the old Chowhound was the story on the home page defining the difference between Chowhounds and Foodies. Note that this charming story is now no longer found. i think that says it all.

                                                                                                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                    Please - Could someone repost the chowhound/foodie story?

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: hungry_pangolin

                                                                                                                                                      I am very, very happy to do this, and provide a link courtesy of the Wayback Machine:

                                                                                                                                                      Welcome to Chowhound.com!
                                                                                                                                                      Here's a quick appetizer before we serve the meal ...

                                                                                                                                                      Everyone has one in their life: the brother-in-law with a collection of 800 takeout menus, the coworker who's always late from lunch because she HAD to trek to one end of town for the best soup and to the other for the best sandwich. Chowhounds know where the good stuff is, and they never settle for less than optimal deliciousness, whether dining in splanky splendor or grabbing a quick slice of pizza. They are the one in ten who live to eat.

                                                                                                                                                      WE'RE NOT TALKING ABOUT FOODIES. (ed: emphasis mine... Mr Taster) Foodies eat where they're told; they eagerly follow trends and rarely go where Zagat hasn't gone before. Chowhounds, on the other hand, blaze trails, combing gleefully through neighborhoods for hidden culinary treasure. They despise hype, and while they appreciate refined ambiance and service, they can't be fooled by mere flash.

                                                                                                                                                      No media outlets serve chowhounds. There are no chowhoundish newspapers, magazines or TV shows. And they've never had a place to gather and exchange information. This discerning, passionate crowd has long been completely invisible and utterly disenfranchised.......until now!

                                                                                                                                                      Chowhound.com's Alpha Dog, professional restaurant critic/author Jim Leff, along with Bob Okumura, launched this site to provide a non-hypey haven where their fellow hounds can opine, bicker, and rave to their hearts' content. Anyone who eats is welcome to stop by for unbiased, savvy chow advice or to just sit back and watch in amazement.

                                                                                                                                                      If you, too, fret endlessly about making every bite count; if you'd grow weak from hunger rather than willingly eat something less than delicious, this place is for you! Welcome to our community. Let's talk. Let's swap tips (click below to get to the meat & potatoes).

                                                                                                                                                      You needn't be an expert to participate. If you're less food-obsessed than the rest of us, but have a yen for egg creams, gazpacho, or Quisp Cereal, let the resident hounds guide you to the best stuff. Follow (and chime in on) some of cyberspace's most rollicking, contagious discussion -- featuring thousands of entertaining messages from characters all over the world. But, hey.....

                                                                                                                                                      ENOUGH CHAT; CLICK BELOW TO...
                                                                                                                                                      CUT TO THE CHOW!!!

                                                                                                                                                      http://web.archive.org/web/2000061903...

                                                                                                                                                      Mr Taster
                                                                                                                                                      ------------------------------
                                                                                                                                                      Protect Chowhound
                                                                                                                                                      Boycott Avatars
                                                                                                                                                      ------------------------------

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                        The manifesto still exists, and is linked from every page on both Chow and Chowhound at: http://www.chowhound.com/manifesto

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                                                                          I see!

                                                                                                                                                          Well that's definitely good news that it has been put back..... not so good that it's hidden at the bottom in 3 point type, rather than immediately shared with every new visitor. But definitely better than nothing....

                                                                                                                                                          Mr Taster
                                                                                                                                                          ------------------------------
                                                                                                                                                          Protect Chowhound
                                                                                                                                                          Boycott Avatars
                                                                                                                                                          ------------------------------

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                      Use of the word 'invasion' is interesting. The green m&m's theory will always break down in extreme situations of invasion and domination. This is a simple fact from political science/social theory/war strategy, etc. If you get enough force together to oppose something, the honorable resistance will eventually be silenced (i.e., not heard), even if they don't give up. The reason why is simple. What if there were a 1,000,000 green m&m's and only 100 red ones. Then if the green m&m's decide to invade, even if all the red ones stay, they will be outnumbered 10,000 to 1 and their voice will not be heard.

                                                                                                                                                      The reason chowhound is special is that it caters to a special (ie, rare) type of person. That means, in principle, that it can be destroyed by the invasion of green m&m's.

                                                                                                                                                      I don't think we've reached that point, yet, but to be fair to the OP, we at least have to admit the possibility.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Tatum

                                                                                                                                                        Yeah, pretty cool. I'm just playing around with it now, to see how it works. But, I'm already liking that you can sort by date or by relevance.

                                                                                                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                        I am in full agreement. Nice post.

                                                                                                                                                        And I think you are referring to the original "Chowhound Mission Satement". Perhaps it is felt that it would alienate too many people these days.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                          I'm not sure when Jim Leff started Chowhound, but "foodie" has been a perfectly useful and acceptable slang term since the early 80s. It was a non-derogatory term for someone who was interested in food - sort of a non-stuffy substitute for gourmet. It was a surprise to me, as it may well be to many who join Chowhound, that it is such a terrible thing on this board to be a "foodie." It isn't bad anywhere else in the general food universe. People decry "trendies" or "scenesters" or others who simply follow Zagat, the latest hot thing or whatever in lockstep but the general catchall "foodies" doesn't have the same connotation that it has here. It doesn't seem worthwhile wasting a lot of time on a word that means something only in one context.
                                                                                                                                                          My grandfather used to say, "I don't care what you call me, as long as you call me for dinner."

                                                                                                                                                        2. Even though I have had many posts deleted and letters sent to me from staff.I now understand Chowhounds mission statement much better and must say I think they have the best most diverse food site in the world.You are welcome to discuss almost anything as long as your not being a hoghound or an asshound,chowhound lives on and man is it one good piece of beef jerky.

                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: widehomehi

                                                                                                                                                            Great thread!

                                                                                                                                                            Most of my travels are in the Southeastern United States and I have learned to rely on a small handful of reliable chowhound posters on those boards to find the hidden gems in their turf...not for the fine dining spots...but the best of the rest. Going to Charlotte...search for BrentK and you will get a good review of what is going on there. Heading to Orlando...check out Bob Mervine. Hungry Celeste can always be relied on for dining in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

                                                                                                                                                            It is good to know who to listen to on the DC boards.

                                                                                                                                                            Maybe this could start a new topic..."best of the best"...to honor some of our great chowhound contributors by region.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Windsor

                                                                                                                                                              I agree with the idea of finding reliable posters whose taste is similar to one's own. I find that even when people make suggestions for places the are less interesting to me, I can still learn from the different points of view. One thing is true: I have started trying more places since reading Chowhound regularly. It's also nice to have a place to write about food with others who love food, too. :)

                                                                                                                                                          2. I haven't been posting here on Chowhound for more than a couple of months, but to a certain extent you're right about the fine dining orthodoxy of the board - there is a bias in favor of higher end stuff (or brand new stuff), and sort of a looking down on older places or cheaper "eatin' nasty" sort of places. But you're also not necessarily right. I've read boards in CA, LA, Chicago, and in Minneapolis (Midwest, technically), and I have found plenty of people in all of those boards who appreciate simple, inexpensive fair, too. Sometimes it's the same people!

                                                                                                                                                            I think it's just a matter of sticking up for your food perspective, and asserting your interests when others take digs. Sometimes people are impolite - here at Chowhound, and everywhere else you go on this planet. Carve out your own space, and talk about the food you want to talk to. With this many people on the board, you are certain to find others with similar culinary perspectives.

                                                                                                                                                            1. I agree with CapeCodBob 100%. Chowhound no longer seems to be a vehicle for the promotion of adventurous chowing, so much as a vehicle for the puffery of many who (with little apparent critical talent for the task) boast of their fine dining experiences and flaunt the expenses involved.

                                                                                                                                                              Unfortunately, I think that CH has lost sight of its initial direction and mission, and has also lost talented and articulate posters who have been put off by the--dare I say it?--rampant philistinism. I no longer, for example, see postings of many Chicagoans who had contributed in the past; it seems that a huge Chicago contingent has pretty much developed its own independent board in order to discuss issues which are presently overlooked, overwhelmed, or denigrated on the CH site.

                                                                                                                                                              I've observed and contributed to CH (mainly on Midwest and Chicago boards) for around a decade, perhaps a little less, and I am sorry to to say that CH is no longer as entertaining or as informative as it was in the past--in spite of the glitzy new format and the advertising and the cutesy, semi-professionally written articles. Oh well, things change, and I no longer live in the Midwest (now in Albuquerque). But, I find myself using CH less and less as any kind of an authoritative source for chow info.

                                                                                                                                                              1. As a relative but appreciative newcomer, I can't say that I miss what I didn't know. But I will add, with complete respect for all sides, that CH is a free, well moderated site open to all. Until the day that a CH/foodie resume is required in order to enjoy this community we should all find a way to get along. I don't believe any community divides over a difference of opinion; they divide little by little as the continue to poke at each other. However we personally define our love of deliciousness, I want to believe it remains the single best reason to keep visiting CH. Threads like this (and apparently there are quite a few) don't push unwelcomed people away, they bring out the scorn in good people.

                                                                                                                                                                Back to the table..

                                                                                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                  Its not the difference in preference. There has always been people who have haute cuisine tastes, which I appreciate because I certainly can't afford to eat at some of these places very often, so I enjoy reading their takes on these restaurants. It is the condescension and denigration of other's preferences and recommendations that tend to tick people off.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                                    and my humble suggestion for all of us to get along stands, Phaedrus. Since what "ticks people off" varies as much as any other aspect brought out by this thread. Taking what you like and leaving the rest (reasoning offered by Mods) is sound advice.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                      This is how dictator get into power, by everyone else being polite and not standing up for what is right and civil..

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                                        Phaedrus, if you believe that it helps me better understand your perspective. Thanks for sharing. I was referring to sound advice offered by the Mods of CH.com, not dictatorship. Which is confusing when the OP's thread would suggest fellow CH's conform to one ideal way of contributing to this community. Is that how you see being polite or civil.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                          HillJ,

                                                                                                                                                                          Sorry about the comment but it is very frustrating to get through to people just what moved me to come to this forum, it certainly isn't because of the food snobs who poo-poo any meal costing less than a hundred bucks a pop. Please read PaulF's post below, he is far more articulate about things.

                                                                                                                                                                2. Sorry You feel that way, Bob.

                                                                                                                                                                  My idea of a foodie, though, is that she/he likes any delicious food, whether he/she buys it from a food cart or eats it in a fancy restaurant. Or anything between.

                                                                                                                                                                  Yes, we love fancy restaurants, but we love chow, too.

                                                                                                                                                                  In Maine we got our food mostly from roadside shacks, and never went to a fancy place. Unless Lobsterman's Wharf in East Boothbay is considered fancy. (I hope it's still there, it's been too long.)

                                                                                                                                                                  And if there is blueberry pie on the menu, you can be sure, that's the one I will take, especially in season, in Maine.

                                                                                                                                                                  Just like we had these freshly baked apple pies, bought from a roadside store / bakery last fall in Vermont. wow. And packed the car with local produce to take back to New York.

                                                                                                                                                                  We recently came back from Napa. Yes, we enjoy (love) Thomas Keller's eateries, but one of our favorites this time was a roadside thing (the name escapes me now... Trevors ...?..). where you ordered first, and then sat around picnic tables, waiting for your name to be called. Yum, they had a perfectly cooked tuna burger... with a whole piece of perfectly cooked slab of tuna inside the bun, with sides. And their blueberry shake still makes me drool.

                                                                                                                                                                  The fun about this board is its diversity ... (well, almost all of it ;-/) )

                                                                                                                                                                  1. This is a fascinating thread.

                                                                                                                                                                    Lots of viewpoints ...

                                                                                                                                                                    ~~~
                                                                                                                                                                    I will relate one story that is sort of relevant.

                                                                                                                                                                    I participate in and in fact moderate a very popular sports web site. It's a subscription site for the most part, with some free areas.

                                                                                                                                                                    And the more popular the site became, the more successful the team the site is devoted to became, the lower the quality of posts became. Originally, the site was only there for those who made a real effort to find it and, as such, took great pride in sustaining the site and its quality. They treated the site like they had a stake in it being a great message board.

                                                                                                                                                                    And the more traffic the site got, the lower the level of discourse. As the site and the team became more popular, more people joined. Many were less passionate and, frankly, weren't nearly as good at expressing whatever passion and thoughts and feelings they had. They just posted because they could, not because they had something to say.

                                                                                                                                                                    The more this happened, the higher quality posters, the really inspired writers and knowledgeable posters stopped posting or posted very little. And we'd see posts that read "Whatever happened to so and so?'

                                                                                                                                                                    For the high quality writers, sifting through the lame comments and questions became a chore. And instead of writing more and trying to keep the level of discourse on as high a level as possible, they just left. Or, more likely, the stopped writing and simply scanned the board on occasion looking for news of interest.

                                                                                                                                                                    That's not a scientific study, just my experience.

                                                                                                                                                                    But it does make me wonder, as there are more than a few posts in this thread that suggest many of the senior and better writers are posting less and less or not at all.

                                                                                                                                                                    I have a theory I'd like to share.

                                                                                                                                                                    The best writers need other better writers to play off. It's a dialog. And when it becomes harder to engage in that dialog, it becomes less fun. Also, when a good writer writes a good post, and 90% of the responses are lame, they feel frustrated. It's not the dialog they wanted.

                                                                                                                                                                    Writing quality posts on a message board, really sharing your passion, takes work, effort, passion. And when those things are left unrequited, it starts to be not fun. (It occurs to me to wonder what kind of poster am I? This is just a fun break for me, so I don't concern myself with how high the quality of my posts are so much, though I do think about it. It's possible I'm one of the newbies driving away old timers on the L.A. board --- but I'm not sure. I'm on the board since '95 so I don't know if I'm old school or not.)

                                                                                                                                                                    And so, people leave.

                                                                                                                                                                    I'm not sure what can be done about it. The more noise, the less music, I suspect.

                                                                                                                                                                    Management's position is: we are doing the best we can, we have made decisions about how the site is going to be run and that's not changing (in fairness to management, they were pretty responsive to technical requests during the site conversion, but that's something a little different). So there won't be any policy shifts that address the issue of quality posters leaving. Which is fine, it's their site and their livelihoods and they can do what they like.

                                                                                                                                                                    Ultimately, it may become like Zankou Chicken. Zankou was great chicken when they only had one location. Everyone loved it. Everyone. The more the chain expanded, the more people loved it. But, according to many of the original diners, the quality went down. They still went there, sometimes tried the other locations, but they still went there. And to the people who are new to Zankou, they love it just like the old-timers. They don't know any better and don't know what they are missing. Lots of the old timers have now gone on to find other rotisserie chicken places they like better. And Zankou is still crowded, even though the old customers have moved on.

                                                                                                                                                                    9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: PaulF

                                                                                                                                                                      I enjoyed your articulate analogy PaulF, thankyou. It brings up a stellar point; there are fans and there is talent. The folks providing this free site, all of us reading CH, contributing to its volume are equal. No subscription for the best seats. Everyone plays an important role in creating this food community. So, if my experience is small but my quest for food knowledge large, should I stop visiting/contributing/listening because I'm not offering a challenge to the more experienced? Two simple words: growing pains.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: PaulF

                                                                                                                                                                        A bravura analogy PaulF, (insert clapping hands here) and although I've never tasted Zankou's chicken, it certainly must be far more palatable than the, seemingly, endless green M&M analogies on this thread.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Harp00n

                                                                                                                                                                          Indeed, HarpOOn. Jim Leff's a great guy, I suspect, but the green M&M thing is, umm, not accurate. As I said earlier, the signal-to-noise ratio around here has inverted into a noise-to-signal ratio. There's still some signal, but the noise is growing louder and louder....

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: uptown jimmy

                                                                                                                                                                            I'll certainly second your admiration for Jim's adventurous passion for food, uptown jimmy. Mr. Leff, along with people like Anthony Bourdain and Alton Brown, keeps re-kindling my desire to seek out the possibly unique and tasty delights to be found around that next bend in every road. I savor the Houndish memory of the mile-high fish sangs at Bet's Fish Fry in Boothbay Harbor every bit as much as the carnivorous wet dreams experienced at Peter Luger's.

                                                                                                                                                                            Hopefully, that's what brought most of us to his creation. I have an abiding joy for a well-turned phrase or unique approach in looking at food or life. Sadly, the combination of: the ever increasing Foodie posturing, the people who don't contribute and don't do research but post endlessly redundant OP's because it easier than doing said same research. That, along with a general mindset of MySpace.com all tend to cheapen the overall discourse. I soldier-on because of the still frequent highs not the ever increasing lows.

                                                                                                                                                                            Keep the faith,
                                                                                                                                                                            Harp00n

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Harp00n

                                                                                                                                                                              The New England board would be dreary indeed if it consisted solely of posts about the best lobster roll. Would it be heresy of me to say that they all more or less taste the same after awhile (except for the nasty one they make with fake crab at Hayward's in Nashua)? I like all kinds of food, and feel lucky that I can get great masala dosais, fried clams, bibimbap, raspberry pie, poutine, and foie gras in a sea urchin emulsion all within an hour from my house. The great thing about Chowhound is there are people out there who LIKE THE SAME THINGS as I do--who woulda thought--and respond to my posts, both high and low. That's why I keep coming back.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: PaulF

                                                                                                                                                                          Yes Paul!! You've nailed it. During the conversion I was one of the people who was terrified that the slick new interface, avatars, etc. would attract lots of the wrong kinds of people (hence my signature, which I have laboriously manually retyped on every post I've made since that time). The old, ugly interface, the long manifesto splash screen, the wordy main page, attracted nobody but the most intrepid, the most engaged, the most interested in searching out the unlikely places for great food. Let's face it-- if you were inspired by that manifesto, ( http://www.chowhound.com/manifesto ) you belonged here.

                                                                                                                                                                          Now the manifesto has been relegated to a dark and lonely corner of the site, and even management pays no heed to Jim's sacred words. (have you seen the banner advertisement imploring us to "BE A BETTER FOODIE"?)

                                                                                                                                                                          There is no longer a distinction as to what a chowhound is (neither by users nor by management), which means that we are doomed to become just another foodie site.

                                                                                                                                                                          What's sadder is that even Jim no longer seems to mind that the distinction is blurred, and as a result the hordes of NON-Chowhound foodies has diluted the signal:noise here greatly, which was a vital goal that Jim repeatedly declared over the Old Chowhound years (every time someone would complain about their post being zapped, it was inevitably declared by Jim or the moderators as an effort to keep such a high signal to noise ratio-- which it definitely did

                                                                                                                                                                          )

                                                                                                                                                                          However the site is flashy, driven with loads of new users who have never seen the Chowhound manifesto and thus believe this site to be just like every other. Sadly, I believe the conversion of this site to every other is in progress and I will hold out and continue to post for as long as I can, but Paul is exactly right when he says that CH is just not as much fun as it was before.

                                                                                                                                                                          I miss Chowhound.

                                                                                                                                                                          Mr Taster
                                                                                                                                                                          ----------------------------------
                                                                                                                                                                          Protect Chowhound
                                                                                                                                                                          Boycott Avatars!
                                                                                                                                                                          ----------------------------------

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                            Unfortunately for you, Mr. Taster, you're doomed by the memory of the old site.

                                                                                                                                                                            Because the new posters are having as much as as you once did. They don't know what you are missing and they might not even appreciate it if they did.

                                                                                                                                                                            It's like when Metallica released The Black Album or when Green Day released American Idiot. So many new fans jumped on the band wagon. The albums sold zillions.

                                                                                                                                                                            But the original fans felt slighted, were slighted. Metallica wasn't speed metal enough and Green Day sold out their punk rock roots. (For the record, the analogy fails when one compares why a band shifts their artistic vision versus why a web site shifts it's vision or financial model -- one is presumably are, the other commerce). The original fans may or may not have liked some of the new music, but it wasn't the same for them. It was more commercial, it took less effort to like.

                                                                                                                                                                            I'm on the cusp of things. I started on the old site, then managed the changeover. But I'm not 'hound enough to lament the differences you perceive. I know it and keep it in mind when I'm posting. What I try and do is post my neighborhood as best I can -- I know I'm not going to travel across L.A. for a taco or a rib or a piece of pie.

                                                                                                                                                                            I post about my neighborhood and try and make that my contribution to the site..

                                                                                                                                                                            My prediction -- though I don't know you -- is that you will start to participate less and less here. Why participate if it isn't fun? You'll still scan the boards and use the search when you are in need of a tip or something new to try -- but the conversational fun you've had will become a memory.

                                                                                                                                                                            I hope I'm wrong. I read your posts on the L.A. board and appreciate them.

                                                                                                                                                                            But your honest disappointment is palpable -- and, again, why do this if it isn't fun?

                                                                                                                                                                            BTW - I haven't seen the banner ad.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: PaulF

                                                                                                                                                                              Paul, if only your prediction would come true. Unfortunately, those of us who are here to talk about chow (if this is such a snobby place now, why is the most active thread on the Boston board a search for a dive bar with good food, with a strong debate about what exactly constitutes a dive bar to begin with?) find the regular whining about how no one here ever talks about chow anymore to be the most tiresome noise there is. I don't think some folks realize that they're the worst examples of what they claim to hate so.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                                                                                                                                                                I don't know. I'm surprised the mod of the Boston board has even allowed a thread on dive bars. Threads on bars are not allowed, I'm told, because this is a search for food, not drink.

                                                                                                                                                                                I don't even know if snobby is the problem. I'm not even sure if I agree with Taster that there is a problem -- his feelings are stronger than mine.differing opi

                                                                                                                                                                                In any case, this is the site talk board. I don't think this thread is in the way of your search for deliciousness on the Boston board or mine on the L.A. board.

                                                                                                                                                                                Personally, I find this thread interesting. Like I said, I don't even feel as strongly as Taster or the O.P. about the issue at hand. But I don't find this thread tiresome or noisy -- I've actually liked reading the different points of view.

                                                                                                                                                                        3. Thanks to everyone for your input on this thread. At this point we're closing it down, so everyone can return to discussing chow. Thanks.