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Mar 23, 2008 03:00 PM

Am I Oversensitive?


“So it's a big slice of bread, covered in crushed cookies, and sugar sauce? Does it come with two free syringes of insulin or do they just amputate a toe when you pick it up/have it delivered?”

“Know anyone with diabetes? Have they had any feet/legs cut off yet?” (comments


“It's no surprise that some of these people have said "enough." All of them better, or else they'll be rolling into the next tacqueria in a wheelchair after having undergone a couple of diabetic amputations.”

I can understand why amputation is the complication of diabetes that attracts the most prurient attention. But do I really need to explain why it's obnoxious to make jokes about it, imply that it's inevitable, or imply that it's deserved?

The rampant mockery of and disgust for fat people on Chowhound is bad enough. This is just sick.

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s not only distasteful, it’s inaccurate to assume that diabetes is a disease that afflicts only the overweight. A good friend of mine is 5’10” and weighs 130 pounds and has just been diagnosed with adult-onset diabetes. He eats very little meat and doesn’t particularly care for sweets. There’s a holier-than-thou aspect to some of these comments that does not reflect well on those who make them.

    1. Have you tried using the "Report" link that displays at the bottom of every post to make the moderators aware of any potentially inapprorpriate posts?

      1 Reply
      1. re: ChinoWayne

        I haven't, but I probably should.

        I forgot to mention that I know that a strongly-worded but not abusive response (not written by me) to the post that contains the third quote did get deleted by Chowhound moderators.

      2. I flagged the most offending of the above comments last night. The comment is still up. Given that a follow-up comment that I made in this Site Talk topic was deleted almost immediately, I presume that the issue is not that the Chowhound Team doesn't know about the problem.

        1. Okay, one last comment, even though I feel like I'm talking to a blank wall.

          I presume that the Chowhound Team doesn't endorse mocking or making light of serious medical problems. At least, I hope not, though I have no evidence to the contrary. But this is a good example of why I have problems with the Chowhound moderating procedures: they are completely opaque. Deciding what is and is not off-topic is fairly straightforward, and when my comments have been deleted for this reason I've thought it was reasonable enough. Deciding what is and is not offensive is (sometimes) a bit trickier. In cases where there's a legitimate dispute, as here, it would be nice to have some explanation or response.

          8 Replies
          1. re: jlafler

            Our policy is described in our Site Etiquette:

            Our policy on incidental vulgarity, obscenity, and general offensiveness in otherwise chow-ful postings is that anything is OK so long as it's not said in anger or is clearly intended to stir up trouble. Our role as moderators is not to shield all users from anything they might find offensive. If we tried to do so, there'd be literally no end to it, because many different people are offended by many different things. We ask that everyone show tolerance for different sorts of voices in our huge community. The alternative - a group with homogeneous ways of speaking and thinking - would not be good for this resource.

            1. re: The Chowhound Team

              I understand that, but I would think that insulting other Chowhounders would fall under the rubrick of "intended to stir up trouble." And I saw a reply to the offensive post that I would describe as slightly cranky in tone, but not "angry" that did get deleted. It just seems to me that the policy is very subjective and somewhat arbitrarily applied, and thus explanations are sometimes necessary. In any case, thanks for the explanation.

              1. re: jlafler

                Unfortunately, judging tone and intent can be very subjective and arbitary; we try to do the best we can. In an ideal world, we'd love to provide explanations. But we must apologize in advance, because with all the work involved in tracking down shills and trolls and discussing moderation decisions amongst ourselves, we will never be have the time to provide explanations to everything. Our team is volunteer based, and we do what we can to keep the boards useful and on topic.

                1. re: The Chowhound Team

                  I do appreciate the work the moderators do, and I certainly don't expect a detailed explanation for every decision. It seems to me (and I may be betraying my ignorance of IT here) that it would be pretty easy to automate some of this -- e.g. a checklist of reasons that the moderator could click when deleting a post (similar to the checklist the user sees when reporting a post to the moderators), and which would generate a message in the place of the deleted message saying "deleted due to X." But as I say, IT is not my thing, so maybe this is harder to do than I think.

                  It occurs to me that I have no idea how people are recruited to be moderators, but presumably if the pool were increased, it would relieve some of the burden.

                  As I said, I do appreciate what you do. I've just been puzzled by some decisions, and frustrated by the lack of a clear way to inquire about them.

                  1. re: jlafler

                    "Reason clicking" is certainly possible on some discussion board platforms but perhaps not the CH one.

                    I spend a lot of time on a non-food board and, following requests from many menbers, that is exactly what happens. It also means that if you are a regular offender other members can see that, for example, Harters has had the content deleted from yet another post - and it was profanity again.

                    1. re: Harters

                      I personally think the diabetes related comments and "jokes" are at least as offensive and mean spirited as the anti-child comments which DO routinely get deleted. I hope the mods reconsidere their position on this one.

                      1. re: jen kalb

                        Anti-child comments get deleted? Maybe that's why I can't find a good recommendation for places that don't cater to children. Thanks a ton, mods...

                        1. re: marmite

                          anti child in the sense of rants about "breeders" and such. Its gotta be possible to talk about the alternatives of "Child friendly" and "civilized" dining without personal attacks but too frequently the hateful stuff creeps in. Thats what gets deleted.

                          There is really no place for any kind of personal attacks and disparagement on chowhound, and in addition to being in very bad taste, this is what I feel these diabetes and amputations "jokes" and comments are. The mods have a point wanting to stick with the chow

          2. I don't think you're oversensitive. I don't necessarily find all of the remarks you flagged offensive, but I do find them... how do I say this politely?... a bit irrelevant. This site is about food. It isn't about the need to watch we eat. Either we understand nutritional concepts or we don't, but we shouldn't feel the need to temper every comment or recipe that we post with an "enjoy in moderation" disclaimer, should we?