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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. The original comment has been removed
                1. 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.