Creating a Boston Sticky -- Your feedback
- Jacquilynne Nov 8, 2007 10:13 AM
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 Boston 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
I think Boston costs are occasionally shocking to visitors, so cost guideline requests a la the Manhattan board would be welcome.
No surprise that popular tourist areas get tons of requests: the North End (endlessly), the South End, Harvard Square, Quincy Market/Faneuil Hall; to a lesser extent, Back Bay, near Fenway Park, near the TD Banknorth Garden, the Theatre District, Chinatown.
Similarly predictable: threads on pizza, seafood (especially lobster, clam chowder, and fried clams), burgers, Olde New England style food, Italian, sushi.
Other popular but less frequently recurring topics: private rooms, large parties, kid-friendly, dinner with music/dancing.
In addition to MC's neighborhood suggestions, I would add - convention center/Seaport area. Sometimes the request is for the Hynes Convention Center in the Back Bay.
Another popular request - best cakes, cupcakes, pies, etc. Also, there are numerous requests for caterers and restaurants for large functions.
The dinner for 10--20---30-- 40 questions. Perhaps a referral for those who have been asked to plan an outing.
And lately, where's a great place to eat and watch the game? Boston has a lot going on in the sports world lately and it looks like it is going to continue as football and basketball seasons are upon us.
I think we also see frequent requests about steak houses from out of towners as well. We see some abbreviations like JP=Jamaica Plain and DOT= Dorchester, NE=North End, CTown or CT=China Town.
I'm always seeing requests for seafood suggestions, and in the summer months, lengthly discussions and requests for clamshack/lobster/lobster rolls.
Yup it is a lot smaller, which is why a clarification a la the Manhattan vs Outer Boroughs etc one on the Manhattan sticky might not be out of place, so people know that a question for say Cape Cod restaurants should at a minimum be cross posted to New England to get the most / best response.
As to sticker shock, there's an element of truth about the prices, but there are a wide range of options here and I think the bigger problem on the board in that regard has to do with communication / assumptions rather than the pricing per se - I often see responses to requests for inexpensive places giving places that I consider a level or two above that. And it's not because there aren't less expensive options out there. Clearly my idea of what inexpensive means is different than the posters. So maybe a comments about giving a price range when asking for inexpensive, midrange, etc vs just the label, which may not mean the same to everyone.
ooo thank you thank you! I know some of this has been covered but...:
--Where can I watch the game and get a good burger/beer?
--Where can I go for a girls night out? Bachlorette party? Tea?
--Where can I bring my picky mother-in-law/non-adventurous eating friends?
--Where can I get unique New England food?
--Where is the best: pizza/sushi/red sauce italian/indian/mexican/dim sum?
--Where can I get real NY bagels/NY pizza/real mexican/chicago hot dogs/regional specialties from other places in the country that obviously don't taste as good anywhere else but I have to ask and then complain about? (yes, this gets my goat)
--Where can I get a good meal for 2 under $20?
--What's best in Harvard Sqr/North End/JP/Brighton/MGH? (location specific)
--Where is the best breakfast?
--This is my first time in Boston, what shouldn't I miss?
--I have 6 meals here, please map me an itinerary, I'll eat anything but I want seafood at least once.
--Where's the best seafood/lobster roll, in the city or by T?
Red sauce italian may not be a familiar term to out of towners, but we all know what it means
Well, I looked at the Manhattan sticky, and was a bit less than impressed. Most of the stick was just telling people to "use the search to find" this or that... It might have been better stated to just tell people "Use search before asking a question - here are some tips to help you search".
But given you're sending people to search - is there any way to improve the way search works?
- You don't get the 'advanced' box until you do your first search, so I can't choose 'search in boards' until after I do a search. Then I'd have to know that 'boards/forums' is where I want to search
- It would be nice to limit a search to a board. Most of the time I want to look in a particular city. There's no seemingly easy way to limit a search to the boston board only...
- Are results sorted by date? If I ask for a good place to eat, chances are a 2005 response may not be as helpful
- Even once you get all the papameters set up, you're still hit with too much information. A search on "South end" lunch returns almost a thousand responses. Easily overwhelming a searcher. Almost easier to ask the question again...
Can the search be made smarter and more integrated? So if I ask for a place for lunch in copley square, do a mini search and say "Here's a post similar to your question" and let a user chose to post their question or add on to an existing thread. Too much work? Too much confusion?
A bigger answer would be to make major changes to the Places feature - add the smaller neighbourhoods, and let people rate restaurants based on cost, meal (B, L, D) and such. But I see your head spinning already. :-)
Greater use of places is definitely part of the plan, but it's a long term part--where we can change the stickies over the next couple of weeks, we can't just up and change the places features or how people are populating it that quickly.
You might find 'search this board' meets your needs more than using the general search at the top of the site -- it searches only the current board, only for threads with replies in the last year, and sorts by more recent first.
We have various threads and FAQs and such on how to use search, it might be useful to create a more comprehensive resource on searching tips here on the site-related boards and point to that from the stickies for more info.
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.
This may be implicit given the other excellent posts already in the thread, but there are a ton of repetitive brunch-related threads. Best brunch, best cheap brunch, best fancy brunch, best brunch buffet, best brunch neighborhood, best brunch without reservations, best Saturday brunch...
The other place I find a lot of repetition is in requests for restaurants that fall under the banner of a handful of not-that-different criteria: celebration, special occasion, romantic, birthday, anniversary, date place.
Honestly, I think that a sticky thread is unnecessary. I don't think it's "broke" as it is - why fix what isn't broke?
Perhaps a note on the sticky to define the Boston vs. New England boundaries. Either state definitively that a town belongs in one place (eg Lowell belongs in NE), or perhaps just a reminder to look in NE board if the town is close (I would prefer the firm hand).
Couple concrete ideas: Is it possible to make "Search this Board" more obvious? Maybe increase the font a couple of sizes? When I send newbies to chowhound, I always find myself telling them exactly where to find the Search, instead of trusting that it's intuitive - and it seems that even "esnaguy", who's familiar w/Chowhound, has missed it....
Secondly, could we put stickies up above for searchs for Brunch, North End, etc.? Or maybe one sticky labelled "visitors" w/these searches included? It seems that the issue is that Boston has so many visitors...And maybe a sticky for Romantic/Special....This eliminates the reifying of links, but speaks to the laziness (!) of.....
1. Where to get brunch; Where's a romantic restaurant for a special occasion; Restaurant for a birthday party; I'm staying in Back Bay, where do I eat; Where to eat near the Commons; Where to eat in the North End, South End, near the Garden, in Harvard Square, near Faneuil, Back Bay; Where to to eat near the two convention centers; What's the best high end restaurant; Where to eat on the Freedom Trail; Moderately priced, non-scary food for food-advers relations; Where to have a function, be it wedding, company or otherwise; What's the best burger, pizza, old school Boson, seafood, sushi, etc.
2. All of the T stops, squares and neighborhoods can get abbreviated - people drop the"square" part, East Boston becomes Eastie, South Boston: Southie; SoWa is another annoyance that has cropped up recently. Boston can be more expensive than Tulsa, but there are also cheap eats to be had. Not all of us spend every night out at restaurants that charge $25/plate.
3. People should post to ask if they want to get together offline.
> 3. People should post to ask if they want to get together offline.
Was curious on this one: are you just saying there should be something in the sticky encouraging people to post for chow crawls, chowdowns, etc? Or are you saying that people should do something differently than they currently are?
In response to: <3. Are there any off board chowdown lists/groups that people should be aware of? How can they sign up?>, I think that people should post a specific request to get together if they want to for an event. I don't think the sticky needs to encourage people to be social, but it should mention the protocol for how to get together.
Just to clarify, hounds in some cities have established separate email lists for people who are interested in joining chowdowns, since we ask for RSVPs to be handled off the boards. For those cities, I'd like to include information on how to get join the mailing list in the main sticky.
In any city, with or without a separate mailing list, people are, of course, welcome to post events on the boards and ask people to join them.
Hey, this is Fantastic!
I did want to throw in a correction (I think, anyway) to FoodForThought's idea of how we abbreviate our neighborhoods. CTown, if used at all, is usually referring to Charlestown, not Chinatown.
Now that it's cold we might forget, but please add "Fenway" to your list of Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market/Convention Center.
I would echo the need for the clarity found on the Manhattan board demanding (and I'm paraphrasing) "if you have cost concerns, state it in dollars, rather than terms like moderate."