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Wikis and Places Tools

Melanie Wong Aug 15, 2007 01:49 PM

Hi Jane, what's the plan for using Places to develop neighborhood hubs and wikis for FAQs?

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  1. j
    jane RE: Melanie Wong Aug 17, 2007 09:49 AM

    Hi Melanie. We're working on hubs right now -- the plan is to start with Chowhound's biggest boards (SF, LA, Manhattan, Outer Boroughs, Ontario, Boston, Chicago) and create hub pages for those. Right now, I think they'll have restaurant search/browse capability, along with Digest, uploaded pics, and possibly a few lists culled from threads (similar to Digest). That will launch after Labor Day.

    Then we'll build out those hubs -- breaking cities down into neighborhoods, adding other hubs, adding features. (I'd love to hear what other features Hounds might like.)

    As for wikis, what were you thinking? Perhaps that's a way to handle neighborhoods? We could have a wiki for each neighborhood (Bernal Heights in SF, say). I don't want to discourage people from adding info to specific Places, though, because I think that's particularly useful.

    I think one of the goals here is to provide an easy way for newcomers to get the questions answered that they frequently ask (like what's the best sushi in midtown) and allow those answers to be updated easily.

    Love to hear your thoughts.

    20 Replies
    1. re: jane
      MMRuth RE: jane Aug 17, 2007 11:36 AM

      One problem that I see is that the question of "what's the best sushi in midtown" can't be answered with a straight naming of a restaurant. Of course, it can be qualified - but there are still lots of divergent - and strong - opinions about say Kuruma, Yasuda and Gari (as there are with many places across all the regional boards). To me, that's one of the wonderful strengths of Chowhound - that we do have such divergent and strong opinions. In terms of then "updating" that information - say NY hounds listed those three places as the best sushi in midtown, and then I decide I actually really think Gari stinks, and go in and remove it. Another poster disagrees and goes in and puts it back. I'm not sure the updating process would work. A single hound could go in and add a new place as "the best". Just some thoughts to consider .....

      1. re: MMRuth
        pitu RE: MMRuth Aug 20, 2007 03:29 PM

        a wikiformat would be a disaster for this kind of info
        there's already a huge problem on wikipedia with corporations cleaning up things in their interest...can you imagine if restaurant pr people could delete stuff on chowhound?

        1. re: pitu
          ChinoWayne RE: pitu Aug 20, 2007 04:33 PM

          Yep: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/19/tec...

      2. re: jane
        DiveFan RE: jane Aug 17, 2007 03:58 PM

        I like this idea of Hubs (neighborhoods?). If it's a map with Places that have associated posts and the Place has been, er, validated then I love it! Hey, I already thought of it but y'all can take the credit.
        You've no doubt seen the posts about the Place duplicate and address bugs -- we need a easy, clean way to resolve these and have a clean 'Place' database.
        I'd keep it simple to start. Don't futz with rankings. Let people drill down to Places and then to posts and external websites.
        Personally, I'd like to lock out Places of national chains for the Hub view, but that could be controversial :-/.

        1. re: DiveFan
          Melanie Wong RE: DiveFan Aug 21, 2007 12:55 AM

          Further, if management is relying on posters and a couple editorial staff to create the Places database from scratch based on posted threads, that's going to be a slow process. Why not import all the name, address, neighborhood, and cuisine info off Opentable and Yelp across the country, then have the editorial staff validate and scrub the data?

          1. re: Melanie Wong
            DiveFan RE: Melanie Wong Aug 21, 2007 04:29 PM

            My post about Places usage is my take on the California boards. Since this feature has only been here for ~50 days, I should probably give it a little more time :-).
            Robert Lauritzen reported in another post that CH is supposedly working on the capability of linking Places to Topics without a topic post (which brings the topic back to the top of the list). IMO critical to improving visibility of Places.
            The more I think about *user created* Hubs, the more excited I get. This could be a obsessively bad thing :-).
            Expecting the CH staff to scrub any large database is unrealistic; they have enough moderation to do.
            Your Salinas taco truck map is my great example for a 'Hub'. I wouldn't expect the staff to maintain it, nor would I want it to be a full blown wiki. If I don't like your taco map, I'll make my own :-). Articulate, long time contributors make this site great, not the *cough*Recipe database*cough*.
            A bad example are the stickys on the EG California board. Most haven't been updated in months.
            Fix the Place bugs and bring on the Hubs!

            1. re: DiveFan
              Melanie Wong RE: DiveFan Aug 21, 2007 04:58 PM

              No, no, I'm not suggesting that the Chowhound Team scrub the database. Their job is moderation. However, if Chow.com wants to create a database they should have professional database designers on it and members of the Chow editorial staff (which is a separate group of people from the Chowhound team) working with them who know how to do these things.

              What I was suggesting is that the initial entries, e.g., AOC, Los Angeles, could be easily loaded in from other restaurant sources with neighborhood and cuisine as a first cut instead of expecting chowhound posters to do that work by pulling them in one at a time from Google searches. I'm not asking the staff to maintain it, just create the skeleton where chowhounds can add their input and not have to deal with creating each Places entry anew. Given the browser related issues, and other problems with linking Places, chowhound posters don't have working tools to build it out now.

              1. re: DiveFan
                MMRuth RE: DiveFan Aug 21, 2007 05:03 PM

                Don't know if you saw my post on another thread about this, but you can add places w/ out posting - open a reply box, link to places, then just don't click on "post my reply". The places will have been created.

                1. re: DiveFan
                  DiveFan RE: DiveFan Aug 21, 2007 07:09 PM

                  MMRuth, I missed your post but discovered the same process. I was thinking of creating a Topic on the Use and Benefits of Places, as a succinct (heh) complement to the FAQ and the other two bloated posts (Introducing..., ...Bugs/suggestions).
                  Melanie, I think CH would have loaded up the Place database if it was cheap to get the data; technically it should be easy. Google has some hilarious bugs/features that impact the current Place feature. Often I get responses from a Very distant city.

                2. re: Melanie Wong
                  jane RE: Melanie Wong Aug 24, 2007 12:34 PM

                  Good idea - and we are going to input data from other sources. As you know, though, Open Table doesn't have many of the places that are discussed frequently.

              2. re: jane
                Melanie Wong RE: jane Aug 21, 2007 12:51 AM

                In her typical fashion, rworange was ahead of the pack and had started to use the Places tool to build out a FAQ for some of the common questions on the SF Bay Area board. That's why I posted this question to find out what you had in mind, as her initiative seems to have been shut down by the Chowhound Team for the time being.

                If what DiveFan said in another thread about the SF Bay Area being the only board where Places linking has gotten any traction is indeed true, then instead of building out hubs for the biggest message boards, focus instead where you have the highest density of Places entries to populate the hubs. Traffic doesn't correspond directly to Places database size.

                As far as "lists culled from threads", I hope that you have true chowhounds of the caliber of Thi, Mark and Cicely doing that work. In recent weeks it has seemed as though a directive has gone out to the Chow writers to pull in info from the message boards, and while they try, mostly they don't "get it". It takes a special eye, chowhound senses, and patience to find the kernels of chow-wisdom in millions of messages and to avoid the fluff. I would hate for the new hub info to be as sucky as Chow's Napa and Austin guides are for a chowhound audience, for example, and lose cred in the chowhound community.

                1. re: Melanie Wong
                  The Dairy Queen RE: Melanie Wong Aug 21, 2007 02:06 AM

                  I didn't see the post where DiveFan said that the SF Bay Are is the only board where Places linking is getting any traction, but lots of people on the Midwest board are using the places feature. I'm most familiar with what the Twin Cities posters are doing, but other Midwest 'hounds are using it, too.

                  Here are a few recent threads where the places feature is getting pretty heavy use on the Midwest board, as an example: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/432080


                  1. re: The Dairy Queen
                    Melanie Wong RE: The Dairy Queen Aug 21, 2007 02:12 AM

                    That's great!

                    Here's the post, http://www.chowhound.com/topics/32421... , don't know if its true or not. What I do know is that the Places database has about 2,000 entries for the SF Bay Area, if the result returned by the search engine is reliable. The entire Places universe is less than 6,000, so just the SF board is at least a third of the total. Considering that Manhattan and Los Angeles have many more restos and posts than SF, let alone the rest of the world, it does seem disproportionate.

                    1. re: Melanie Wong
                      The Dairy Queen RE: Melanie Wong Aug 21, 2007 02:24 AM

                      Melanie, just curious, how can you tell how many entries there are in the places database for any given region?

                      But, to your point (or DiveFan's point), the volume of posts, posters and restaurants on the SF Board is significantly higher than the volume Twin Cities (SF is a "red" region on the tag cloud, whereas Midwest is at least two steps down volume-wise and is only a "yellow" region on the tag cloud), so I would expect that the total volume of places entries to be higher for the SF than in the Midwest. But, that doesn't mean that the feature hasn't gotten any traction on the Midwest board--we've embraced it and are actively using it.


                      1. re: The Dairy Queen
                        Melanie Wong RE: The Dairy Queen Aug 21, 2007 11:29 AM

                        At the time I posted, I'd used the search engine to find "san francisco" in Places. I'd swear that it returned 1,9XX+ results then. But repeating it now, I get 1,240 entries. I just tried doing an OR search to add in berkeley, san jose, etc., but that doesn't seem to work for Places. The 1,240 does not include the test entries I tried for those other towns, so the number of entries for the SF Bay Area region should be north of 1,240.

                        1. re: Melanie Wong
                          The Dairy Queen RE: Melanie Wong Aug 21, 2007 12:46 PM

                          That's still a good showing! 1240 out of "about" 6000 places, especially once you add in San Jose and Marin and Oakland etc. I just did a places search on "MN" and got 541 hits. Can that be right? I spot checked the the results and they all did seem to be "Minnesota" restaurants.


                          1. re: The Dairy Queen
                            Melanie Wong RE: The Dairy Queen Aug 21, 2007 06:54 PM

                            I don't know if that's right or not, but its a very impressive showing if it is! Guess you could subtract the 7 known duplicates. (g)

                            Takes a CPA to keep me honest!

                      2. re: Melanie Wong
                        DiveFan RE: Melanie Wong Aug 21, 2007 09:06 PM

                        Just searched for "Los Angeles" in Places, got 834 results. Since we have no way of searching by board area (ha ha) we all may be comparing apples to oranges.
                        Searched for "duplicate" and got 26 hits. Right.

                        1. re: DiveFan
                          Melanie Wong RE: DiveFan Aug 21, 2007 10:33 PM

                          A search for "CA" turned up 2,676 Places, which would be split among the three boards.

                    2. re: Melanie Wong
                      jane RE: Melanie Wong Aug 24, 2007 12:31 PM

                      Nope, no directive (re: pulling in info from message boards). Same Digest writers as always. If somebody's not "getting it," then they're folks who've gotten it before & I hope will get it again.

                      I hope the hubs won't be sucky, but as with everything CH, it'll be an ongoing process, so the feedback is essential.

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