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Creating a SF Bay Sticky -- Your feedback

We've been trying out a new sticky format on the Manhattan Board for awhile now, and while it hasn't completely eliminated 'Coming to town for the weekend, where should I eat?', it also hasn't caused any problems, so we're going to go ahead and start working on these stickies for some others of the boards, beginning with our most active regional boards. This thread is for feedback on what should go into the sticky for the San Francisco Bay Area.

Check out the sticky on the Manhattan board ( http://www.chowhound.com/topics/444453 ) for an example, and then let us know:

1. What are the most repetitive (yet generally on topic) questions that get asked? Are there specific events or attractions people are always asking for recommendations near? Specific restaurants that have been discussed in great detail? We're not trying to totally eliminate these questions, just help people to find the information that already exists. The really general 'Coming to town for the weekend, where should I eat?' questions that are an issue on every board are a given for this list--you don't need to suggest them here.

2. Any board specific vocabulary, abbreviations or habits that people should know? On the multi-state boards, this might be the habit of using airport codes in titles to note the town, locally it might be that putting the airport code in the title means you want to eat near the airport. On Manhattan, we mentioned that prices there are generally higher than average so people should try to use clear cost descriptions if they have budget limits.

3. Are there any off board chowdown lists/groups that people should be aware of? How can they sign up?

If you've got any other feedback about the stickies, let us know that, too.

We probably won't be able to use everything that gets suggested, but we will try to incorporate as much feedback as possible while still keeping the stickies manageable.

-- Jacquilynne, Community Manager for Chowhound

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  1. Yes, by all means. It will save seeing the same question all the time.

    1. Thank you thank you thank you. I've noticed a significant drop-off in the number of requests for bachelorette party and sweet sixteen recs on the Manhattan Board, and overall percentage of quality posts is starting to rise. I don't think the regulars have read the sticky, though - when they respond to general questions, they're still typing out the whole "what's your price range, what kind of cusine", etc, instead of just linking to the sticky.

      For general "where to eat in SF" - key questions to help board members give useful tips:
      1) Where are you from? What are your favorite restaurants?
      2) What kind of cuisine are you looking for? (A gentle nudge towards "Places" would be good here, just so they can see the range of cuisines that's represented out here)
      3) What is your price range? Dollar amount, before tax, tip, and beverages.
      4) Will you have a car?
      5) If you're public transportation dependent, will you be willing to travel to the East Bay and/or the Peninsula by BART?

      Commonly asked questions:

      Where do I eat near Union Square? Search: Union Square, Financial District, Chinatown, Tenderloin, Belden Alley
      Where do I eat near the Moscone Center? Search: Moscone Center, SOMA, Westfield Shopping Center
      Where do I eat near the Curran Theater? Search: Union Square, Tenderloin
      What's the best dim sum/pizza/taco/burrito in SF? Search each term.
      Which wineries should I go to in Napa/Sonoma? For Napa, also search Calistoga, St. Helena, Yountville, Silverado Trail. For Sonoma, also search Healdsburg, Russian River Valley. Link to SF Chronicle Wine Country guide.
      Where are the best soup dumplings? Search: XLB, xiao long bao
      What are the best cheap eats in SF? Search: cheap eats, Chinatown, Mission, Richmond. Link to Places, and the food section of SF Weekly.
      Where are the best cupcakes? Search: cannele, morning buns, dan tat. No one cares about cupcakes. Ok I kid, I kid. I don't personally care for cupcakes, but will admit there's quite a good thread going on it right now.
      Where can I get NY style Chinese/pizza/bagels? Search: orbitz.com, travelocity.com

      Plus all of the special event-type questions covered on the Manhattan Sticky.

      Specific to SF/Bay Area
      1 You'll need to define "SF Bay Area" vs. "California", as this distinction is not as clear cut as Manhattan vs. Outer Boroughs.
      2. Remind people to write the name of the city they're inquiring about in the thread title(SF, not SFO, unless they specifically want recs around the airport).

      I'd consider adding links to SF Chronicle Top 100, SF Chronicle Wine Country Guide, East Bay Express restaurant page, SF Weekly restaurant page, BART and MUNI pages.

      8 Replies
      1. re: daveena

        **Where are the best cupcakes? Search: cannele, morning buns, dan tat. No one cares about cupcakes.**
        **Where can I get NY style Chinese/pizza/bagels? Search: orbitz.com, travelocity.com**

        LOL! I couldn't agree more about both of those! You and I were posting at the same time, so we covered a lot of the same points, but you did it better!

        1. re: daveena

          "Where can I get NY style Chinese/pizza/bagels? Search: orbitz.com, travelocity.com"

          Very, very funny... oh I really hope we can get this incuded in the sticky...

          1. re: daveena

            I agree that it's important to differentiate between SF Bay Area and California. From what I can tell from using the board over the past year, SF Bay Area includes the following counties (a very large area!):

            San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, Solano, Napa, Sonoma, Marin.

            I think it makes sense for all other counties in Northern California (most notably Sacramento, Mendocino and Monterey) to be part of the general California Board.

            1. re: Dave MP

              I believe it actually says somewhere that for the purposes of this board the SF Bay Area comprises the counties officially designated as the Nine Bay Area Counties, e.g., the ones you listed, minus Santa Cruz County. At any rate, that's always been the official guideline for the board.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                That makes sense. I wasn't sure about Santa Cruz....I came up with my list by just looking at a map - didn't know about the Nine Bay Area Counties.

                1. re: Dave MP

                  I think I read here once that they are so designated because those counties all touch the bay (? the only one I am not sure does touch the bay is Napa)

                  1. re: susancinsf

                    You're right, they all do touch the bay. When you get up into the delta it gets weird; some towns are on the Bay Area board, others just a few miles away are on the California board.

            2. re: daveena

              I don't think i've seen this here yet, but a perennial question is "How can you actually get a reservation for the French Laundry" -- it has been the best-known US restaurant. There are past threads here. They, and many of the newspaper articles they link to, all cite an independent advice page on the subject (I think it was set up by a local family unconnected to the restaurant):


            3. Here are a few off the top of my head:

              1. variation on the "coming to town" question: "where to eat around Union Square"; best dim sum; where to eat before the symphony/opera/ballet/Herbst theater; best burrito; NY-style bagels, NY-style pizza

              2. SFO means the airport; SF means San Francisco; xlb are xiao long bao aka soup dumplings; TFL means The French Laundry; when asking about the wine country specify Napa or Sonoma and when asking about "Napa" or "Sonoma" specify whether you mean the towns of Napa and Sonoma or the Napa Valley and Sonoma County; the East Bay and the South Bay are big places, be as specific as possible; Santa Cruz, Monterey and Mendocino are on the California board;

              3. There are four lists (SF, East Bay, Silicon Valley, North Bay) for organizing chowdowns on yahoo groups, this post has links to three of them: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/31694...

              1 Reply
              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                It's not mentioned in the post Ruth linked to....the North Bay chowdown group is at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nbchowdown

              2. The only topical things I have to add to Daveena and Ruth's excellent suggestions would be Fisherman's Wharf and dining with a view (not). TFL would be a marquee restaurant, and maybe a link to how to get a reservation and explaining that it's a three-hour round trip from the City.

                It seems to me that those who are posting these types of repetitive questions don't know how to search, do it badly, or are confused by the search field at the top of the page (vs. search this board). There've been many posts from puzzled readers who have tried searching and then say that nothing came up or was too old. Wouldn't it be better to provide links for the most common type of searches, and once there, explain how to vary the search term.

                I'd like to see the Places database invoked more. The SF Bay Area board has the largest number of entries. I've put "wine country" in the neighborhood field for every entry I've made for Napa and Sonoma counties so that it can become a guide resident on this site.

                For San Francisco Chinatown, I entered every spot I can remember being mentioned on the board (so that a discussion thread should be associated with each). I'm sure I've missed some, but here's the result so far,

                4 Replies
                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  I concur with the nudge to places; we regulars could probably use the reminder to follow that advice also...

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    What do people think about posting results to searches that include specific restaurants in the search terms? Meaning, instead suggesting that someone do a general search for "seafood", post a link to the results for a search on "seafood Bar Crudo Ame Tadich", and instead of the general search for "Italian", to give the results for a search on "Italian Incanto A16 Delfina Ciccia". The major advantage would be that it would winnow down the number of results to the highest yield ones - the disadvantages are that it would 1) reflect the biases of whoever chose the search terms and 2) could become outdated. I don't know. I was thinking about it earlier but am not sure if it would be better or worse to do it this way.

                    1. re: daveena

                      I think they would get outdated too quickly, and also tend to "favor" places like the ones named. Yeah, those are all favorites, but I can think of quite a few more in either category that would be similarly deserving. The end result would be to come dangerously close to the "featured picks" on other sites.

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        I was thinking that those search terms would be the most likely to bring up the most comprehensive discussions, but the disadvantages are significant.

                        Is there another way to keep people from getting overwhelmed by the sheer number of threads that come up when you search, even if they limit it to "Search this Board?" Telling them to target the threads with the most posts helps somewhat, but sometimes there are threads with just 4 or 5 good quality posts that are higher yield than the monster threads. Oh well. I guess you can only do so much hand-holding.

                  2. One thing I want to clarify (and I'm posting this in every thread, it's not specific to this one) is that we're not looking to elevate specific topics or answers to sticky status, or even link them within the stickies. Nor are we looking to completely eliminate repetition from the boards. Repetition is still good--it brings out new answers (whether from new posters or about new restaurants) and ensures that things are updated. A single sticky (or otherwise annointed as official) thread for a given popular topic wouldn't do that job as well.

                    From the perspective of the new user, we're trying to help them find the information that's already out there, as well as help them craft a good question that will get them the information they need if they can't find it.

                    From the perspective of our regulars, we're trying to cut back a moderate amount on the repetitive questions, as well as help to ensure you get the information you need, rather than having to ask a bunch of clarifying questions every time someone new comes along.

                    1. How about explaining jargon that's local, or not universal? I'm thinking of words (examples below) that have shifted in meaning, or are understood differently by different readers not always aware of the split. Sometimes this issue evokes the reply that regular readers know the sense of the word on this forum; but jargon explanations, like FAQs or road signs, are exactly for people who aren't regulars.

                      Examples offhand: "Dumpling" is used differently in coastal boards (and this thread) from its meaning in most US cookbooks. (Compare entries in established editions of the Fannie Farmer Cookbook or Joy of Cooking). "Beignet" to most of the world is a fritter, or tempura; the word is idiomatic in New Orleans for what the US once called a "dough nut" (two words). "Price point" is jargon from economics and business for a price level causing an action or consideration -- not interchangeable with "price."

                      1. Here's one that I was just reminded of:

                        Please don't ask for "the best" something. "The best" is extremely subjective. Instead, try to describe what characteristics you would look for in something you considered "the best." For example, instead of asking for "the best" Italian restaurant, ask "What Italian restaurants do you recommend for housemade pasta/regional specialties/traditional Italian-American/in a specific neighborhood/at a particular price point/with a particular atmosphere." Same goes double for dim sum!

                        Which brings up another point: a visitor unfamiliar with the public transit options and layout of the city might not realize that sometimes it's easier to get from the downtown area to a place outside the city than it is to get to the more outlying parts of the city itself. So, for example, a recent poster on the SF board asking for the "best dim sum" but "looking specifically in San Francisco" might not realize that from downtown it's easier to get to the great dim sum places in Millbrae than it is to get to one in the Outer Sunset district of San Francisco [comparing notes with a coworker last week, we both take public transit, but it takes him an hour to get from his place in the Sunset to our downtown office, while it only takes 30-40 minutes for me to get there from the East Bay].

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                          Seconding the "the best" proscription. Not because it's subjective, since subjectivity is the name of the game here, but because it's exclusionary. Calling one place the best is simultaneously naming every other place as "not the best".

                          But the main reason is that threads asking about "the best" whatever tend to die before any useful information is imparted. It would be comforting to have the "the best" lecture written up and posted somewhere.

                        2. A recommendation to include: don't call our city "Frisco" or "San Fran" which may incur ire among board posters.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: farmersdaughter

                            I've never seen anyone chastised for using "San Fran" -- but "Frisco" will definitely raise some hackles (along with calling cable cars "trolleys").

                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                              I just try to grit my teeth and keep my mouth shut when confronted with either. non-SFers would never understand anyway. Herb C. May You RIP...

                          2. I've been reading the Sticky suggestions for other boards just to get other ideas, and one thing that's really surprised me is the number of (presumably regular users) who complain that they can't seem to limit searches to the board they're searching on. "Search this Board" definitely needs to be more visible. The Manhattan Sticky describes how to find it, but since the sticky itself is already so wordy, it's easy to skim right over it. Maybe posting a screenshot with a big circle around "Search this Board" would be more effective.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: daveena

                              The nature of our photo upload makes that tricky -- but I was thinking perhaps of doing a separate thread just on 'search tricks and tips' that would expand some of the how to search stuff and linking to that in all the stickies, as well as other places where people ask for help with searching.

                              1. re: Jacquilynne

                                That sounds like a good idea.....I use this site all the time, and I didn't notice the "search this Board" button until a few months after it had been around - a friend had to point it out to me.

                                So coming up with a separate "search tricks and tips" is a good idea.

                            2. Thank you so much for this! Daveena and Ruth had great suggestions, and I think that it's an excellent idea to directly to link to some search results in the sticky (and man, please include the NY pizza/bagels suggestion!). I definitely second Melanie's Fisherman's Wharf and dining with a view points (neither has particularly chowish suggestions). Also, I would definitely suggest explaining some vocabulary as well as local strengths: SFO refers to the airport, not the city, the Italian food that you'll find recommended on this board is very different from East Coast Italian food, you can't BYOB in restaurants here without paying corkage, the dress code is a lot more casual than in places that aren't the West Coast (with the exception of TFL), and definitely something about local geography, that it's not a good idea to have dinner in wine country when planning to drive back to your hotel in San Francisco, travel time to Berkeley/Oakland, etc. Also, I think that it's a good idea to note what the typical price range is in San Francisco restaurants -- we've definitely had a lot of people who are surprised by the price range (from both sides) and it helps to say that for most moderately priced restaurants, the entrees tend to be in the $19-28 range (I just came up with that number off the top of my head, if other hounds have another way to phrase that, or think my numbers are off, please jump in).

                              1. The sticky is here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/46916...

                                I've tried something a little different than what I did with Manhattan, LA and Boston -- breaking the sticky up into multiple sections by 'replying' to myself. Not sure if that'll discourage people from reading it by making it look longer, or make it more readable (and referenceable) by breaking it up. Anyone else have any opinions? It's pretty easy to switch it back to one post if necessary.

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: Jacquilynne

                                  I like it! It makes it easier to directly link the part of the post that asks them to specify where they're from, where they're staying, what their budget is, etc.

                                  I still think it would be helpful to put in this part of my original suggestion - I think it's more comprehensive and useful than telling them to just search on the terms themselves (esp since they may not know what neighborhoods the Moscone Center and Curran Theater are in/near).

                                  "Where do I eat near Union Square? Search: Union Square, Financial District, Chinatown, Tenderloin, Belden Alley
                                  Where do I eat near the Moscone Center? Search: Moscone Center, SOMA, Westfield Shopping Center
                                  Where do I eat near the Curran Theater? Search: Union Square, Tenderloin"

                                  1. re: Jacquilynne

                                    > Anyone else have any opinions?

                                    Two thoughts:
                                    1. Wow.
                                    2. Having it broken up into smaller chunks like this should make it easier to point people
                                    more directly to an answer when they ask the "what's xlb" question, or whatever.

                                    1. re: Jacquilynne

                                      I really like it broken up! But I like daveena's suggestions as well, I think it helps to give peolpe some context about where their attraction is located and what else they can search for to find the same information.

                                      1. re: JasmineG

                                        If there's a website or something that has a map of attractions and includes neighbourhood names, I'd be happy to point people at that as a reference point. But other than 1 or 2 examples, including neighbourhood information for attractions in a town as tourist rich as San Francisco will make the sticky so long no one will ever read it--it's already so long I fear no one will ever read it.

                                        1. re: Jacquilynne

                                          Hi Jacquilynne - I understand your concern about the post getting even longer than it already is - but I chose those three terms specifically because the best search terms for those three are not intuitive for visitors (as opposed to Japantown, Chinatown, Fisherman's Wharf, and the Mission). Please reconsider!

                                      2. re: Jacquilynne

                                        I like it! I thought of an abbreviation to add, though: DAT (Dine About Town, annual promotion in January). Maybe a link to the DAT site where they can get the basic info?


                                      3. Per the point made in this thread:


                                        Can you add a discussion of the places function to either the Sticky thread or the FAQs for new posters...if there is discussion of using links I can't find it there. Thanks!

                                        1. Why is it no longer sticky?


                                          11 Replies
                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                            We unstuck all the "Read this first" stickies on all the boards when we put the Posting Guidelines and FAQ into the footer of the site.

                                            1. re: Jacquilynne

                                              Can you re-stick them, or somehow otherwise add such pointers for the regional boards?

                                              1. re: eatzalot

                                                We have no plans to do that at this point, no. Keeping individual sticky posts for each board updated as the site changed was a tremendous amount of work, especially as most of the information in those stickies was repetitive from board to board.

                                                1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                  The SF board-specific stuff is still perfectly current after seven years and not repetitive of anything on another board.


                                                  We're getting a lot more repetitive lazy posts than we used to.

                                                  1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                    I'd lobby for an exception for the San Francisco Bay Area. We get a lot of tourists and business travelers outsized to our resident population.

                                                    Also, I've been receiving private emails asking how to sign up for chowdowns . . . four in the last two weeks. Previously I got something like two requests in the past three years.

                                                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                      Since I started using the site (2011), I've rarely seen anyone direct anyone to the Bay Area FAQ when responding to a post. Since the sticky is gone, perhaps we should be better about doing that ... teach a person to fish ...

                                                      On the topic of Chowdowns. I seem to remember there being a sticky specifically about Chowdowns when I joined the site mid-2011, and it getting taken down in about December 2011. There weren't a lot of Chowdowns during that time period, so I suspected it got taken down due to lack of activity. Am I remembering that right?

                                                      In any case, consider the numbers of new members on the lists over the past four years. I'm sure there are lots of reasons for this, but taking down the sticky couldn't be helping.

                                                      List: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, #total members
                                                      SF: 59, 44, 14, 6 (382 members)
                                                      EastBay: 26, 15, 6, 9 (223 members)
                                                      NorthBay: 10,10,11, 5 (100 members)
                                                      SiliconValley: 21, 19, 7, 4 (214 members)

                                                      Edit: Yeah, this post used to be a sticky http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/668213

                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                          I logged into Yahoo, Sorted each list by the date people join, and counted the number of people who joined for each year. I didn't count that carefully so his numbers might be a few off

                                                        2. re: hyperbowler

                                                          is it just me or does that decline seem appalling? yikers,
                                                          only SIX new CH members in SF in the year of 2013??
                                                          or did i misunderstand something?

                                                          1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                            This was the number of people on the yahoo groups, an off site list for meeting up with other Chowhounds.

                                              2. So now it's against the rules to even post a link to the FAQ when someone asks an overly vague question such as "Where should I eat in SF?"

                                                But it's OK to be rude?


                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                  Presumably the rudeness has been removed....

                                                  I would vote for a return of the sticky, but only if it's titled
                                                  PLANNING A VISIT?

                                                  I rarely respond to these requests, but the sheer number of them turns the board into a vacation planning site. I often wonder if those who are asking, are also responding to similar requests for the areas where they live. I doubt it.

                                                  1. re: 512window

                                                    I suspect that those who aren't able or willing to do some research aren't going to use stickys either.

                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                        I guess your definition of "rude post" is different from mine. I see nothing wrong there.