Creating a Chicago 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 Chicago 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
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.
On the Chicago board the repetitive topics of "Chicago style pizza", "Chicago style hot dogs" & "best Chicago steakhouse" seem to come up almost weekly.
A sticky for at least these three topics would be nice so that new seldom different threads are not created on the board very week or two.
nsxtasy's comment are also pretty much dead on, only I would add that the Chicagoland metro area is about 100 miles north and south and runs at least 50 miles west of the lake making for a HUGE area to try and cover as this link illustrates: http://www.wildonions.org/Chicagoland-Map.htm
The NY board is fortunate to have had things broken down by Boroughs and for cities like LA & Chicago with even larger metropolitan areas (in sq miles) this should also be implemented.
The Chicago board would best be served as we Chicagoans tend to think of our town: the City North side & Northern, far north suburbs (including Kenosha, WI), the City South Side, and south suburbs (including Gary, Merrillville and Hammond), and the City West side & western, far west suburbs and lastly, just Downtown.
Maps to support this separation of areas can found at these links:
http://www.wildonions.org/Chicagoland-Rings.htm or more specifically:
"On the Chicago board the repetitive topics of "Chicago style pizza", "Chicago style hot dogs" & "best Chicago steakhouse" seem to come up almost weekly. "
Nsxtasy often is able to provide links to those topics. I think it would be great to incorporate his links into a sticky. I agree that we shouldn't try and eliminate those topics but it would be nice if people could persue them at a glance and then narrow their choices down before asking a the question.
For example, "I saw the sticky on steakhouses and I narrowed it down to Gibsons, Keefers, and Gene and Georgettis. I'm looking to see what the major differences are between those three......". I think that would elicit more thoughtful responses than the generic - I'm looking for a steakhouse.
BTW - Nxstasy, thank you for taking the time to complie those lists. I think they are great!
Thanks, lbs. However, while I agree with you, I have observed that the Chowhound Team prefers not to designate specific topics as a "first place to go", and instead permits and even encourages the creation of new topics at any time. This is different from some other food websites, where comments on any particular type of food or particular restaurant are consolidated into a single topic (when someone creates a new topic, they are often merged into the existing topic). There are pluses and minuses each way, e.g. avoiding the need to repeat the same posts over and over, versus keeping things fresh at all times. While my ideal preference would be the same as yours, I understand that that's just the way things operate here. I enjoy Chowhound in general and the Chicago Aare forum in particular, and I appreciate the efforts of the Chowhound Team in keeping things running smoothly.
I think this is a great idea!
Some of what has been written for the Manhattan board could be copied over directly - special occasions, girls night out, kids, etc.
One of the problems with Chicago is that out of towners sometimes use the term "downtown Chicago", which can mean a lot of things (whereas in New York, no one talks about "downtown" except as a direction, and they more likely refer to specific neighborhoods). Chicago has neighborhoods extending in a radius of roughly two miles from the center of the city, all of which are often (but not always) included when using the term "downtown". So you might want to include the following question:
"Where should we eat in downtown Chicago?
Downtown Chicago means different things to different people, and sometimes includes a broad span of neighborhoods. You may wish to search on the specific neighborhood you're looking for: Loop, Michigan Avenue (Magnificent Mile), River North, West Loop, Greek Town, South Loop"
Also might want to add a few questions for areas which get asked in a bunch of different ways...
"Where should we eat in the Loop?
Search terms to try: Loop, Grant Park, Millennium Park, Palmer House Hilton
Where should we eat near Michigan Avenue?
Search terms to try: Michigan Ave, Magnificent Mile, Streeterville, River North, Water Tower Place
Where should we eat near McCormick Place?
Search terms to try: McCormick Place, Convention Center, South Loop, Chinatown
Where should we eat near Wrigley Field?
Search terms to try: Wrigley Field, Lakeview, Wrigleyville"
I would include this paragraph, similar to one used on the Manhattan board:
"This board is focused on discussing chow in the greater Chicago area, including the city itself as well as its suburbs both near and distant. If you'd like tips on chow in downstate Illinois or in neighboring states, head to the Midwest board at http://www.chowhound.com/boards/8 ."
Whereas the Manhattan board refers only to the city, the Chicago Area forum also includes suburbs. So I would modify the one paragraph to read something like this:
"Chicago Area chowhounds are a great resource, but help them help you by including some important details. Tell them what parts of town you'll be in (city neighborhoods or suburban towns), how you'll be getting around and how far you're willing to travel for great chow (the central commercial district is pretty small, but when you include the outlying city neighborhoods and suburbs, you can be talking about traveling long distances), what your budget is (actual dollar figures will help, as one person's "expensive" may be different from another's; don't forget to indicate whether the amount you use refers to a single entree, or for a complete dinner with alcohol/tax/tip, etc), what types of cuisine you're interested in and any other special considerations (traveling with kids? vegetarians? non-chowhounds?). If you've searched first and done some of your own research, include that in your question, too, so people can help fill in the gaps and update your knowledge rather than rehashing things you already know."
I can't think of any local abbreviations that are commonly used, either for neighborhoods or for specific attractions.
Here are a few more Chicago-based questions you might want to include.
How can I look up the address, phone number, and other details for a Chicago-area restaurant?
Try searching the listings on Metromix, the entertainment website of the Chicago Tribune, at
How can I get to a particular restaurant using public transportation?
You can use the "Trip Planner" function on the website of the Regional Transportation Authority, the umbrella organization for Chicago-area public transit, at www.rtachicago.com You can also look up maps and schedules on the major Chicago-area transit agencies: www.transitchicago.com for the CTA (city subways and buses), www.metrarail.com for Metra (commuter trains), and www.pacebus.com for Pace (suburban buses).
The restaurant I'm interested in doesn't show their menu, or doesn't show prices on their menu. Is there anywhere I can look up restaurant menus?
How can I find restaurants that are open late/Sundays/Mondays/holidays?
Many Chicago-area restaurants accept reservations on www.opentable.com At a glance, you can check availability for many restaurants at any particular day and time.