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Chowhound is dead

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jakew8 Dec 9, 2007 08:07 AM

You know, I really liked the old chowhound. The text-only interface, the small, dedicated group of users, the nested boards, etc.

And then the redesign came, and it was pretty nice. I'm a web designer myself so I have no problem with flashy interfaces.

And then, perhaps lured by the new site's ease of use, came a horde of internet stumble-upons who are decidedly NOT chowhounds. Each and every day (at least on the Manhattan board) there appears another first-time poster who prefaces their question with "I'm not an adventurous eater and here are the food I don't like..." They don't search the site; they don't search google; they don't ask their friends; they just post--blindly--and ask the board's seasoned members to direct them to the lowest common denominator. Maybe you should hit up the the Olive Garden, Times Square branch to take out an ad. Talk about synergy!

The masthead that appears at the top of every page says "Chowhound: For Those Who Live To Eat." When was the last time that was actually true around here?

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  1. Seth Chadwick Dec 9, 2007 09:09 AM

    Despite the fact that computers and internet technology are fully ingrained in our society, there are still many people that are intimidated by search technology like Google. Their eyes glaze over when they enter search terms and Google tells them that the first page contains 10 of 10 million hits.

    It can be daunting to those who still believe that hitting the right (or wrong) series of keys on their home PC will launch the nuclear arsenal and they will be responsible for the end of known life on the planet.

    I certainly understand your frustration with the questions you see on the Manhattan board. On the Southwest board, we are often asked about whether or not there is any decent Mexican restaurant in Phoenix metro or someone will state they are coming to Scottsdale and want a recommendation, but don't mention where they are. And since the actual city of Phoenix is nearly 500 square miles in size and Scottsdale is 30 miles long from top to bottom, we end us asking posters to be more specific so we can guide them.

    There are a couple of options for you, though. You can either 1) ignore those posts, 2) provide the lowest common denominator, or 3) make someone a new chowhound.

    Why not tackle those posters with #3? You can gently guide them to someplace that won't scare them, but will slightly push them into trying something new. I do that all the time when people ask about Mexican restaurants in Phoenix. They don't want "too spicy" or hate pinto beans or don't understand how/why there is chocolate in mole. But, there are excellent, outstanding, chowhoundish Mexican eateries in Phoenix metro that will satisfy their requirements and also get them to try something more exotic than the chicken burrito at El Torito or Chevy's.

    If people don't want to take your advice, that is their problem. But think outside of the box for your sake and for theirs.

    The only way we are going to win the war against bad food and lousy restaurants is to bring the chowhound-worthy restaurants into the spotlight. It is a slow process, but we are gaining ground.

    Please remember that we all weren't born chowhounds. Some of us needed a guiding hand and to be challenged. Reach out to those people. Cut them some slack. Offer them a challenge.

    Even if only a couple of people take you up on your advice, that is a few more people that are taking their first steps to becoming Chowhounds.

    That is a good thing, no?

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    1. re: Seth Chadwick
      jakew8 Dec 9, 2007 11:03 AM

      I appreciate the response. I just don't feel that it should be my (our) place to a) teach people how to use the internet or b) turn people who willfully ask for banal recs into chowhounds.

      These boards used to be pretty exclusive. Only real 'hounds bothered to post here and the discussions were in-depth and probative. I wish it could have stayed that way. As for ignoring the posts, that's tough--they're all over the place. And they clog the board and the searches.

      Some discussion forums have a waiting period before your first post or force new members to post some number of times before they can start a thread. Now, that's completely impractical here because you can't expect anyone to post three responses on the Manhattan or Phoenix board if they've never been there. But you could require them to at least do some number of searches to see if their question has already been asked and answered before. Or give them a one-day waiting period before they can start a thread to discourage "impulse posts" and encourage a little poking around on their own.

      I used to think that there was no real sense of discovery anymore because so much information can be found instantly on the internet. Now, it seems like not only are people unwilling to do old-fashioned research (Zagat's anyone?), but they're unwilling to research on the internet as well. They just want someone to spoon-feed them their answer. They're lazy (and for the most part not at all into food) and this website is becoming less and less interesting and useful because of them.

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    2. diablo Dec 9, 2007 11:15 AM

      I love this site so much specifically *because* I can post a query and get an immediate answer from real live people who love to cook and eat. I look at it like this: the more posters on Chowhound, the better the chance that whatever I'm asking about will get a response. I am constantly googling and searching on the web for feedback about area restaurants and recipes to try, but nothing beats what I've found here. Any question I've posed on this site has always been answered differently than what I've gotten off a search engine or recipe site............love it!!!

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      1. re: diablo
        jakew8 Dec 9, 2007 01:33 PM

        Diablo, I see that you're an avid, regular Chowhound user. As am I; as is Mr. Chadwick above. We are the types who fuel the real discussion on these boards.

        Those against whom I'm ranting are the ones who ask one question, get their answer, and leave. Once their trip to New York is over or their big 30th birthday dinner out has been eaten, they're gone. They don't stick around afterward to give immediate answers to anyone because they *don't* live to cook and they don't have anything to offer.

        "Discussion board" implies two-way communication. Citysearch, Tripadvisor, Zagat, Menupages, New York Magazine, the New York Times--all of these other information sources exist. I just wish that these people would look elsewhere first so that we don't have to hold their hands.

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        1. re: jakew8
          diablo Dec 9, 2007 01:48 PM

          I hear ya, jake, but I even get something from the 'one shot' posters, just because it always involves feedback. I do understand what you are saying, don't get me wrong, but I look at it as a given for this kind of site. It's so good, there's no way it could have stayed under wraps for long. I liked the old Epicurious better than the new, but times change and you gotta roll with it. Hopefully your post will encourage more people to search.......it's actually easier in the long run for specific questions.

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      2. whs Dec 9, 2007 02:54 PM

        Oh come on...this sounds like the people who want to close the gates to the country club once they become a member. I get exasperated by posts like: "What's the best restaurant in Manhattan??????" but I was there once. I appreciate hounds who tell me about the best restaurant in a hill town in Puglia, but CH has become so much more inclusive since it went to the new format, and has garnered so much press. I use the word "inclusive" diplomatically. I just ignore the really dopey posts.

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        1. janetofreno Dec 9, 2007 03:01 PM

          You know, I discovered Chowhound through a google search on "the best place to eat in _____ " (Don't remember the city....). And although I started out probably being that random poster you don't like, somewhere along the way I became a regular poster and learned a lot about food and restaurants I didn't know. I made friends, and even discovered that my own twin sister was already posting on the site, previously unbeknownst to me.

          If you want to have more folks like you on the site, tell people you know that share your passion for food. And show a little patience for folks who stumble upon the site....they may yet become hounds. Some day you may find yourself traveling to unknown territories or even (as is happening to me right now) moving...and the help of chowhounds may go a long way towards making you feel at home in unfamiliar places....

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          1. re: janetofreno
            t
            Tay Dec 9, 2007 03:13 PM

            Janet
            You are always so cordial... so nice... I was going to post something more succinct like, "Get over it and stop being so into yourselves, " but I like what you said much better...:-}
            Thank you for stating your thoughts so eloquently.

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          2. PommeDeGuerre Dec 9, 2007 03:28 PM

            Hello Jake,

            This looks like a great moment to engage in what makes this country great, competition. You seem to loathe laziness and are a web designer, so put your work ethic, training, and ideas for the perfect culinary site together, and create some competition for Chowhound. Seems like a much more productive path than complaining about an audience which is beyond your control.

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            1. re: PommeDeGuerre
              jakew8 Dec 9, 2007 04:05 PM

              The ad hominem attack is cute and probably deserved, but even through your irony you're missing the point. I love Chowhound. I learn a lot from the serious users and try to contribute as much as I can myself. Several people in this thread have written that they once were first-time posters (who wasn't?) and have since come to appreciate the boards. Notice, though, that these are people who are passionate about food and discussion thereof.

              I don't want to build a better chowhound--I just long for a chowhound that really is for people who "live to eat" and doesn't have to do double duty as a roadside information stand.

              The point of yours that I did take is that it's beyond my control, so, having aired my frustration, I'll shut up.

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              1. re: jakew8
                Gio Dec 9, 2007 05:06 PM

                That Chowhound exists at all is because it IS a roadside information stand. A place where peeps can come to get the information they need to fulfill their good food quests, and then depart.

                Some want CH to be a viable community, ongoing and inclusive. In the few short months I have been here, I have seen and then missed many posters who had sterling information to give for a time, then left.... goodness knows why. Life has a way of getting in the way of the life you want to have. I try to read as much as I can whether or not it pertains to my present interests, knowing that some day the information may be useful.

                Let those who hit and run have their say. At least they know where they can come to get valid and superb recommendations.

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                1. re: Gio
                  i
                  idia Dec 10, 2007 10:32 AM

                  I feel like saying "bah humbug" but it IS the season to be jolly so I will put on my nicer hat and simply say that everyone's posts should be respected and more than welcome -- those who are the more informed elitist food experts and those trying to learn how to challenge their taste buds away from "your" Olive Garden.

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                  1. re: idia
                    Gio Dec 10, 2007 05:41 PM

                    Surely you don't mean MY Olive Garden, do you?

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                    1. re: Gio
                      i
                      idia Dec 11, 2007 11:33 AM

                      Gio:
                      No, not your Olive Garden (or even mine). The poster in the quote below referred to Olive Garden as if anyone who enjoyed it there was anything but a foodie. (tell that to my husband who adores their soups!)

                      "Maybe you should hit up the the Olive Garden, Times Square branch to take out an ad."

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                      1. re: idia
                        Gio Dec 11, 2007 04:27 PM

                        OH WHEW/... I was worried there for a mo. Thanks for explaning!
                        I can breathe again. LOL.

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                        1. re: idia
                          l
                          Lizard Dec 18, 2007 02:03 AM

                          To be fair to the original poster, he is coming from Manhattan. Choosing to go to Olive Garden when in NYC is simply beyond comprehension-- at least it was for me when I lived there. The choices of good food in NYC are so vast, so plentiful, and so inexpensive, that choosing Olive Garden can feel like a wasted opportunity. When I lived in NYC I never ate at McDonalds either-- but why bother when the same amount of money (or less, rather) could be spent on a great falafel or banh mi?
                          I cannot recall having a good meal at the Olive Garden, but I won't dispute your husband's palate or commitment to food. However, if he opted for Olive Garden in a land of extraordinary choices (barring one of those inexplicable cravings), I'd have to wonder.
                          Does that make sense?

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              2. E Eto Dec 10, 2007 01:56 PM

                The same complaint has been registered on CH years before the CNET changeover. I'm not sure where you get this idyllic notion that there was a "small, dedicated group of users" during the pre-CNET days, but the masses you complain about have been around for a while. Sure, it's grown even more since the redesign, but I guess I don't see the big difference. If you're in the habit of reading every single post, then maybe you have a point, or maybe you just need to learn to read CH selectively, as I believe a lot of the veterans have learned to do. Filtering out the noise surely contributes to a more pleasurable experience on CH.

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                1. Azizeh Barjesteh Dec 10, 2007 06:06 PM

                  Who cares if someone simply asks one question and then takes off forever? If people respond with answers and you learn something from them, then the point of the board has been met. Sure, it would be ideal if everyone that came onto the site was some kind of food expert... but we're all here to trade information and get new ideas, learn of new places to go and get advice.

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                  1. re: Azizeh Barjesteh
                    t
                    Tay Dec 11, 2007 04:46 PM

                    Very well said.
                    There shouldn't be any conditions on imparting/acquiring knowledge.

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                  2. psb Dec 12, 2007 03:07 AM

                    two things:
                    1. yes there is noise on plenty of threads, but surely it is also for you personally
                    easy to ignore the "i will be in for a week, where should i eat" threads.
                    if somebody ELSE wants to waste their time either by answering or telling
                    them to use the search function, why does that bother you?

                    2. the CH search function sucks, and while that doesnt let those who dont even
                    try to use it off the hook [neither does "i'm an web neophyte"], the CH search sucks.

                    parenthetical, might get me "moderated" comment:
                    i find the "oh we are chowhounds ... we are passionate about food" mentality of
                    a lot of people a little off putting. i'm a reasonably active member of this site, but
                    you know i enjoy food, it's an area of life where i am quite literally willing to put
                    my money where my mouth is ... instead of say wearing an expensive watch ...
                    but i'm not "passionate" about it, i dont think food is elevated and transcendant,
                    or important" ... i'm looking for good deals and stuff that tastes good. think hard
                    about "live to eat". would you really repect somebody deeply if that was their
                    number one priority in life? not justice, truth, great ideas, serving your fellow man,
                    the human condition, political or philosophical problems, but only wine and cheese
                    and the best sushi and the choices cuts of meat? i said to a friend once "you really
                    care about lifestyle issues dont you? [serious foodie]". she took it as a complement.
                    i didnt mean it as one ... it was partly an "observation", but it had an "edge" on it ...
                    and edge i was pretty sure would be missed.

                    BTW, in re: your comment about the superiority of the first "text only" incaration,
                    what really was a vastly superior ancient technology (interface-wise) was usenet
                    newsgroups with threading and search just outsourced to google
                    [at least compared to chowhound current. in the case of other sites that have better
                    map integration and search, this may not be true]. but yes, usenet and text newsreaders
                    did have higher barriers to entry.

                    BTW, i've been "on the net" since it was still the ARPANET and beore there was a
                    WEB, but the first incarnation of CH was unusable ... not for technical barriers to entry
                    but just crappy interface.

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                    1. DiveFan Dec 13, 2007 04:18 PM

                      Actually, the OP is pointing out the need for a desparately needed feature on CH - a customizable BOZO filter. Long available in news reader software but not here.

                      I'd like to have the option of screening out topics originated by those with less than (say) 10 posts or anyone using 'BEST' in the title :-). Not that I won't turn off the filter occasionally just for grins...

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                      1. krissywats Dec 13, 2007 06:10 PM

                        I feel ya'. I rarely look or even post any more (as compared to pre-CNET: and yes, there is plenty more noise now and a vast difference to the smaller, community feeling before) because the noise is very noisy.

                        I mean, you had to expect snark from those that weren't around then and want you to 'get over it', right? I didn't mind the redesign at all, but rather how some elements were handled by a corporation and i screamed and yelled. People were messing with our clubhouse and while I don't mind a remodel of the clubhouse, I wasn't cool with 1000s of more people who had no idea what our club was about. And yeah, of COURSE it's going to feel a little inclusive, 'cause a lot of us created a community. And for me, that's sad and frustrating.

                        Here's the deal for me, saying 'get over it' isn't helpful. If you can't comprehend this why say anything? If it is truly your belief that jake and the rest of us should overlook these posts - so why not take your advice and overlook this one? People want to be validated and jakew8, I'm all about validating you right now. Like I said, I feel ya'.

                        I have trouble believing there isn't a person in the world that hasn't experienced that sense of something they really enjoyed being messed with and they were unhappy about - no one feels good when other people just want you to get over it. Doesn't mean we can change it, doesn't mean we can have it back like it was, but it also doesn't mean we don't miss it.

                        I'm mainly a 'home cooking' browser and it's hard when I used to be able to get the highest quality information from people that knew a hell of a lot more about cooking than I did (and I know a few things). I was often asking or looking at questions that were about intense techniques or flavors or recipes that I'd never try otherwise. Now there's so much noise that often the hardest questions get zero replies while the 'what to do with canned whipped cream' posts get 100s of replies. And there's a lot more of the whipped cream posts than the others. It makes me wonder if while gaining lot's of viewers, CH hasn't lost quality.

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                        1. steve h. Dec 13, 2007 06:32 PM

                          i'm a little nostalgic for the old site but i'm pretty sure that's just what it is: nostalgia. after 24 hours i would be screaming for a return to the new software.

                          re: the REAL chowhound stuff. not a big deal. old posters get tired of answering the same questions and move on. new posters fill the vacuum. and so it goes.

                          the international boards here are pretty good. lots of savvy posters willing to share. well worth sticking around.

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                          1. limster Dec 15, 2007 05:54 AM

                            I miss the old days back when chowhounds were more kind and welcoming to new posters and were willing to take the time and effort to cultivate them into chowhounds so that there would be more folks scouring the area for good chow. Back then, instead of being quick to judge and generalize all new posters as being chow-unsavvy, chowhounds would actually try their recs first and consider for themselves what's good, all in the quest for deliciousness.

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                            1. re: limster
                              m
                              MysticYoYo Dec 15, 2007 06:21 AM

                              I honestly do feel your pain, Jakew8, but I'm ashamed to say that your post *really* made me want to search the Manhattan board for stupid posts. (I am hugely fascinated by goofy people.)

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                              1. re: limster
                                daveena Dec 15, 2007 09:57 AM

                                Limster, I always appreciate your Zen-like and generous embrace of all chowhounds, but I'd have to say that your characterization of early Chowhound as being more kind and welcoming is way off. I was completely intimidated when I started lurking in 1998 - I think it took me over a year before I wrote my first post - and even then, I was terrified that Jim Leff would pop up and deem my suggestions "un-chowworthy". Things were deemed unchowworthy all the time. If anything, the boards overall are far more welcoming to newbies now. In the olden days, a post such as this one -
                                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/440585 - where the poster specifies that "the quality of the food is not as important as the price of the drinks" - would have been met with a quotation from the Chowhound Manifesto, and possibly some fire and brimstone.

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                                1. re: daveena
                                  Porthos Dec 16, 2007 07:39 PM

                                  Your memory is pretty accurate. Back in the days, there were several places deemed "unchow-worthy" and as you alluded to, the homepage clearly stated that this was not a site for "foodies" or for those who followed Zagats. I too lurked for a year before my first post in 2000 under "Dumas".

                                  I do remember a sudden surge of new posters with Chowhound's first public mention in the NYT (I think it was the Times). There was a noticible increase in noise and some really snippy posts. Sadly, it was soon after that we lost who I considered to be the most reliable poster of all "Pepper". He/She was very well versed on both coasts and knew of every hole in the wall SGV place I could think of and more.

                                  But to be fair, there are as many if not more high quality posters these days each with a certain subspeciality so to speak. You just have to find the one who's taste most closely aligns with yours.

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                              2. Veggo Dec 15, 2007 07:31 AM

                                Such a morbid topic! Part of the allure of Chowhound is that it provides entertainment and personal interaction, within the limits of computer screens, in addition to the transfer of information. And it can't be all take and no give. A crude yardstick for how much one is "giving" is the number of people reading you. It means other people enjoy your presence and your contributions. The 16 responders to this post to date have a total of 240 people reading them, or an average of 15 each. And I'm sorry that the poster, perhaps because of edgy attitude, has not yet developed a following over the years.

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                                1. chowser Dec 15, 2007 07:41 AM

                                  As part of the "post CNET noise," I can understand how older posters miss the older site/posters. I used to lurk back when chowhound first started and was overwhelmed by the amount of knowledge and information which is why I stuck to lurking. But, as Pandora's box goes, once it's attracted more posters, you can't go back. I've been to sites where the older posters start their own "groups" and only invite those they feel worthy of being part of it. Personally, I've always avoided that because there is much to be learned from others. As others have said, this is a chance to bring others up to your level of knowledge. Everyone has been new at some point, not just to the site but to being a chowhound. Most of the message boards I go to are about working out/fitness and many people love taking newbies under their wings and help get them into shape but others don't care for that and move on. I've seen people who've never worked out become fitness professionals--it's great, for me, to see, though I can see how others might only want to talk to hard core fanatics. I think of this in the same vein. I've learned so much here and people have commented about how much my cooking has improved and how much more I make now than I have in the past (and I used to cook a lot, too). I'm so appreciative of everyone who has shared. The Site Talk sometimes seems like backroom where posters come to complain about new posters, and forget that the new posters also come here and read about how older posters feel about their being here.

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                                  1. re: chowser
                                    krissywats Dec 15, 2007 08:22 AM

                                    Your points are great and of course no one wants to come off as 'i hate all new posters' because we were all new posters at one point. However, what keeps coming up is the idea of 'getting to know' new posters and I think the frustration is there is so much new noise that that task doesn't seem worth it. It's not fun any more, frankly. There's no one to blame, that doesn't mean there aren't new people that are absolutely totally worth it. It does mean on this board, at this time, they are very hard to find.

                                    The idea that we can be 'judged worthy' by who follows us makes me laugh, Veggo. How do you know who was following whom on the old board? A VERY crude yardstick indeed - so much so i think it's just a twig.

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                                    1. re: krissywats
                                      Veggo Dec 15, 2007 09:33 AM

                                      I'm a newbee and you put me at ease when you spoke for the old guard as not wanting to hate new posters. That can only mean that your laugh was sincere and not cynical, right? My word "giving" and your term "judged worthy" are, respectfully, not interchangeable. And it's not a bad thing that your "twig" has so many leaves. You must have an engaging style and I'm happy to add you to my "I'm reading " list.

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                                      1. re: krissywats
                                        chowser Dec 15, 2007 10:32 AM

                                        I do understand the frustration, because though I haven't posted nearly as long as many, many posters, I have seen the change just in the past year+, but even more so from years ago when I lurked. I realize I am part of that change and the boards have become more "common" in the knowledge. At the same time, I learn so much more every day type applications now. FWIW, I can't tell you how many times I've made that Elvis cake now, and the number of people who've loved it. I just finished making it again for a potluck tonight.

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                                        1. re: chowser
                                          krissywats Dec 15, 2007 10:58 PM

                                          I'm glad you like the elvis cake! I wish I could claim more than simply posting it. Like I said before - sometimes it's just nice to have validation and a place to vent and people to nod and say 'yeah, it's different and sometimes that doesn't seem good'.

                                          Veggo - well thanks. I - like everyone, I would guess - am a messy human with lightness and darkness. If you search any of my old posts you'll probably find me being the happiest, most charming gal on the block alternating with a fairly unpleasant...well, I can think of lot's of words. Ah, at least I claim it.

                                          Again, it's not about disliking anyone - and it's not even about change - it's about loss, I suppose......I could name many fantastic posters that I rarely see now and that is just sad, doesn't mean the great new ones aren't welcome. Just, as I said, in a room of this many, makes them harder to find and much harder to get to know.

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                                      2. re: chowser
                                        scoopG Dec 15, 2007 08:45 AM

                                        All you had to do was ask Chowser! I just joined this past week so I can't wax nostalgic about the salad days of CH's youth. Just because I recently joined though doesn't mean that I don't know about deliciousness. And I did spend time exploring the CH site before posting. Besides finding a great deal of new information about my favorite passion (Chinese food) I've found a welcoming, knowledgeable and cynical-free group of dedicated informants. Half baked noise on the site? Certainly. Let's call them our "wurst-responders" and move on. For myself I will stick to what I know and want to learn more about and that is all things Sino-deliciousness in the capital of the world.

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                                        1. re: scoopG
                                          chowser Dec 15, 2007 10:34 AM

                                          I've learned so much since regularly coming here--from good places to eat to great cooking tips. Hope you find it as welcoming as I did and learn as much as I have.:-)

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                                          1. re: scoopG
                                            vvvindaloo Dec 18, 2007 12:00 PM

                                            Welcome, scoopg! Despite protests and other evidence to the contrary, there are still plenty of regulars on here who visit the regional boards and genuinely enjoy offering restaurant recommendations to newbies/visitors (when we're not discussing the varying values and charactieristics of salt flavor among rock and sea sources, the sociocultural origins of the word, "gabagool", or the why Sardininan sardines may or may not be preferable). :)
                                            Sure, there have been times when I just couldn't bring myself to answer one of those frustratingly vague requests that include neither location nor cuisine nor price range... but for the most part, I learn so much on this board in so many ways, that I appreciate the opportunity to give back. It stands to reason that a one-time user is more likely to show up in need of a restaurant recommendation, rather than a recipe question on Homecooking, or a philosophical theory on General Topics... I know that's where I started. And I don't agree that we should be discouraging possible new members of our happy CH community because their first post (when they finally got the nerve to ask) was about something as simple as where to find good pad thai. Buon appetito!

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                                        2. jbyoga Dec 15, 2007 08:27 AM

                                          Viva Chowhound! Any site that has a wealth of information and informed/not so informed/about to be informed users is obviously vibrantly alive!!

                                          We were all neophytes at one time regardless of our dining choices...I have been a guest of Michael Mina at Aqua ( with a personal kitchen tour) a while back and still love a bowl of Waffle House Cheese Grits!

                                          Don't be too quick to judge~

                                          Viva Chowhound and remember there is no such thing as a dumb question!

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                                          1. re: jbyoga
                                            m
                                            mpalmer6c Dec 15, 2007 09:35 AM

                                            I enjoy reading Chowhounders' answers about good local places to eat. It's a great way to learn about new spots. In addition, struggling (but good) eateries that get mentioned a lot here are likely to see more business -- that's a good thing, not a bad thing, to quote Bill Parcells.

                                            I certainly don't see travel books and annual "best" lists as the ultimate sources of good info.

                                            .

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                                            uptown jimmy Dec 17, 2007 11:52 AM

                                            I'm fully in agreement with the OP. As I've said before, the noise on Chowhound now drowns out the signal, so to speak. But that's sorta the way things work everywhere in America these days, right? It's a race for the Lowest Common Denominator. And anything of real value that emerges is immediately co-opted by corporations and ruined for those who made that thing interesting in the first place.

                                            I mean, it would have been absurd in the old days to think that there would come a time when Chowhound would have a board devoted to chain restaurants. Absolutely absurd. I sometimes peruse that board with a perverse sort of fascination...

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                                            1. re: uptown jimmy
                                              Chris VR Dec 17, 2007 12:37 PM

                                              I think you are wrong. Chowhound is now and has always been about finding the best chow- anywhere. Sometimes the best fried chicken around is at Popeyes- even JIm Leff has said that he's partial to Popeye's chicken. Or sometimes you MUST eat a Cheesecake Factory with co-workers. In some areas/airports, chain chow is just about all you can find. It doesn't seem out of the spirit of chowhounding to devote a board to sharing which options are the best on chain menus. Good chow is good chow no matter where it is. And if the only thing on the menu worth consuming under any circumstances is a glass of ice water, that's worth knowing as well.

                                              In addition, there are no ABSOLUTES when it comes to chow. There are hounds at all ends of the spectrum. For some people, chain chow is all they know or are comfortable with. Perhaps being steered to the best options on the PF Chang's menu might one day inspire those eaters to wonder what else is out there worth eating that is NOT at a chain. Not everyone was born with an adventurous palate but with some guidance, respect and encouragement, it's just possible that this site can gently steer people from the tried and true to the new and delicious. Not everyone wants to be a part of others' journey- I respect that, but I also think it's rude to pass judgement on others and their tastes. Say something helpful or don't say anything at all.

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                                              1. re: Chris VR
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                                                uptown jimmy Dec 17, 2007 01:48 PM

                                                Contrary to what seems to be consensus opinion at this point in history, many things are simply not a matter of opinion, and many, many people just have bad taste.

                                                Good point about being prepared when there are no other options, though. That makes perfect sense.

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                                                1. re: Chris VR
                                                  sifsw Dec 18, 2007 07:15 PM

                                                  I agree that it's rude to pass judgment on others and their tastes in a forum like this. I love hearing about new finds, with descriptions that can help me get a sense of the dishes, place to inspire me to try them (or not) myself. I tire of the same issue that others have noted of people arguing about matters of taste--I like dark chocolate, dark chocolate is amazing, no you're wrong, dark chocolate's terrible!--obviously people have different palates, interests, and it's pointless to argue about taste. In a way, it's like when you're out to dinner with a group, you order something you love, and someone says, "ewww, how could you eat that?!" Don't yuck my yum.

                                                  And, I can't speak to how Chowhound has changed over the years, because I'm new as of the past year. I will say that I get frustrated at the complaints that some old school 'Hounds lodge, lamenting the lack of creative new posts by newbies, when they contribute themselves to the problem. The Boston board, for example, is amazing in its number and quality of posts. And I've met and known many of its finest contributors, and think they are an excellent bunch, many sweet people, adventurous, good writers, etc. At the same time, there is this clubby atmosphere that at times I think is off-putting and contributes to what the established 'Hounds complain about. Someone new will post a contrary experience or opinion about a much loved place/dish, and immediately you'll see posts by established 'Hounds slamming their post, with a "that's fine if you didn't like it, but as has been established by 100+ 'Hounds here over many years, you're wrong. " Or sometimes there will be the self-congratulatory group report--a group of the best 'Hounds got together and we ordered exceptionally well, yes I loved it too, me too, me too! Love the passion of the Boston 'Hounds, and the quick banter that results, but if you want to bring in more new, original posts, then sometimes you need to make room and listen.

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                                                  1. re: sifsw
                                                    Chinon00 Dec 19, 2007 02:08 AM

                                                    One doesn’t have to love a renowned or “much loved place/dish” (as considered by other chows). But how a post is phrased can make a difference. For instance, I’ve never been to Daniel in NYC but my friends tell me that it is a remarkable French dining experience. But if someone has been to a restaurant like Daniel and didn’t enjoy it, I’d prefer a post like “What am I missing about Daniel?” rather than “Daniel Sucked”. The former demonstrates a curiosity that maybe the person didn’t or couldn’t fully appreciate what they had, where as the later I think is a either a frustrated diner and/ or someone wanting to be an iconoclast.

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                                                    1. re: sifsw
                                                      gini Dec 19, 2007 08:38 AM

                                                      Ouch. Really, seriously ouch about your Boston paragraph and I quote: "Or sometimes there will be the self-congratulatory group report--a group of the best 'Hounds got together and we ordered exceptionally well, yes I loved it too, me too, me too!"

                                                      I think I've been part of your so-called self-congratulatory group reports and I think you're missing the entire point of our outings. We're Chowhounds. We like to eat. The two sort of go hand in hand. And as CHs, we like to make the deliciousness that we ate known to others who may be interested. There's nothing self-congratulatory about it - it's just good Chowhounding.

                                                      And I'd like to say I DO look forward to yours and others' "new, original posts". Chowhound flourishes because of the community of people who seek deliciousness.

                                                      But come on, don't slam me 'cause I went out to dinner with some friends and then urged others to try the soya duck at Best Little Restaurant.

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                                                      1. re: sifsw
                                                        Rubee Dec 19, 2007 08:46 AM

                                                        I have to say, as a long-time Boston CH, these types of comments are really discouraging.

                                                        I take a long time to think and write about places that we went to and enjoyed, and to be accused of being "self-congratulatory" just because I chose to share it with other CHs is really insulting, and puzzling. I've met each and every one of those Chowhounds who I've dined with because of this very website - both old-timers from years ago, and wonderful new friends who I've met more recently at open-invite CH dinners posted on the Boston board. So, I can meet Chowhounds through this board, go out and enjoy a wonderful dinner with them at a new restaurant, but if we actually write about it on Chowhound itself, there's some hidden agenda? Over the years, I've posted solely to share information and give back in thanks for everything I've learned on this board. As I said, it's discouraging to see that there are those who view this negatively; comments like these make me feel like why do I bother posting? I guess I'm less cynical - on the "old" Chowhound, dinner reports like these were what inspired me to finally join a CH dinner (I still remember the great time I had at Ho Yuen Ting putting faces to names for the first time!). To me, that's what Chowhound is really about.

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                                                    HillJ Dec 17, 2007 12:33 PM

                                                    What saddens me is when the word "change" becomes a better or worse proposition. Jim Leff repeatedly shared that the opportunity and need would one day come to expand or close doors. The decision was made. We can all learn from each other. I can't think of a reason to lament. Describing deliciousness on CH may be an art form for some, a luxury for others or just an excuse to see your view printed...but SHARING is what this wonderful site is about. SHARE ON!

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                                                    1. re: HillJ
                                                      bbqboy Dec 18, 2007 07:03 AM

                                                      Yeah, but the good things that were promised never materialized. The boards never changed, catagories are the same. No Midwest split, no California split, no local boards added except for Austin(!?) and now we're told that the new format is just as clunky as the old. Jim got rich, the rest of us got a watered down and glitzed up version of the original.

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                                                      1. re: bbqboy
                                                        limster Dec 18, 2007 07:55 AM

                                                        When CNet acquired CH, only thing I remembered being promised was that CH would continue to exist, rather than having the plug pulled. As for the content of the boards, that's totally dependent on the posters that contribute the content; if it got watered down, then we only have ourselves as a community to blame.

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                                                        1. re: limster
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                                                          HillJ Dec 18, 2007 10:32 AM

                                                          have to agree with limster. I don't remember being promised anything but the opportunity to enjoy this FREE site...and I do!

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                                                    2. Chinon00 Dec 18, 2007 02:35 AM

                                                      As I've stated before, I get annoyed with so many "Any good Mexican food in Italy, France, etc" questions. There is to me something fundamentally wrong and remarkably unchowish about that type of request.

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                                                      1. re: Chinon00
                                                        MMRuth Dec 18, 2007 03:38 AM

                                                        I can understand that if someone is going on vacation to Italy or France, well, looking for good Mexican food may be a foolish choice given all of the other wonderful options. But, for example, I can also see Americans living abroad craving some good Mexican, or a great hamburger etc. We used to drive an hour to Frankfurt a couple of times a year, just to have an "American style" hamburger at an American chain hotel there and were in heaven when we could go to the now-closed Great American Disaster in London for hamburgers and milkshakes. This doesn't mean that we didn't appreciate the local cuisines in Sweden in Germany but, well, sometimes you just crave what you crave.

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                                                        1. re: MMRuth
                                                          Chinon00 Dec 18, 2007 03:56 AM

                                                          Yes, I understand and have made that point as well:

                                                          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/447575

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                                                          1. re: Chinon00
                                                            MMRuth Dec 18, 2007 04:10 AM

                                                            Ah - so my sense of deja vu was not misplaced! Though I see I didn't chime in on that one. And I do understand and agree with your general point.

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                                                      2. The Chowhound Team Dec 19, 2007 09:26 AM

                                                        Folks, as these discussions tend to, this one is starting to get personal and hurtful. Chowhound isn't dead -- that people still feel passionately enough about it to post to this thread is a sign of that. But please, let's let it go back to doing what it does best -- discussing Chow, and not Chowhound or chowhounds.

                                                        We're going to lock this thread now.

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