Asking for Help from Specific Posters
Recently a visitor to San Francisco posted a few questions to that board, and in his or her title included prompts to specific frequent posters who should reply. For example: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/500435
This started a conversation that seems better continued here than on the San Francisco board. Is there a written or tacit rule about this?
Personally, I certainly understand feeling like certain posters are more in line with my tastes--that's why we have the "People I'm reading" function so that we can follow them. However, I did feel that it was a bit rude to single out certain people.
The joy of Chowhound is to get responses from lots of people, some seasoned pros, some first-time posters with fresh perspectives, and for me the "et al" tacked on to the end of the title didn't convey the sense of welcome that the OP may have intended.
In the old Chowhound days, composing a message title soliciting a response from a specific Chowhound poster would get the message deleted. Not many of Chowhound's draconian moderating policies seemed like good ideas, but this one did.
While it is a universal human trait to associate with folks with whom one has an affinity, Chowhound is about community. Entitling a post to solicit responses from certain Chowhounds subtly discourages other Chowhounds.
Even though I was one of the people singled out in that header, I have to agree. I think it's rude to say blatantly that you want some people's opinions and not others. Someone who may have had something of value to add might be turned off (and ironically, I didn't post to that thread, because I'm not personally familiar with three of the four places mentioned).
Furthermore, like all online communities, the number of people who post is tiny compared to the people who "lurk," many of whom when asked why they don't post will say they're afraid that their contributions won't be good enough or they'll be treated harshly. Singling out people just adds to those people's feelings that the boards are cliquish or that their contributions wouldn't be welcomed.
I've been around for a couple of years - which on CH is by no means a veteran - and it is easy to sometimes fall into a familiarity with certain posters on the boards that one posts on regularly. I try to avoid that, but I think some of it just floats to the top, even if one doesn't mean it to.
On some boards - like Not About Food - some of the same posters have the same discussions over and over again. On Home Cooking, there are a lot of us who post a lot, and so we may refer to things that actually aren't obvious to others - I'll work on that! Your post is a good reminder of the possible (unintended - by me at least) consequences of that sort of posting.
One of the things I love about Chowhound IS the community aspect of it - but it should always be a welcoming community.
P.S. I do think the same familiarity grows on the regional boards - after a while, you get to know who likes what and why, and so end up referring to that etc. But I'm always thrilled to get great deliciousness tips from new hounds!
re: Ruth Lafler
On the MidAtlantic Board this singling out is common; especially among a few Hounds who have met offline. Tag lines like "I agree with (posters name) and phrases that single out specific Hounds as having a restaurant preference that holds more weight than another Hound is not only rude-play but boring. For those folks, no amount of tact or Mod support seems to deter it. So once again, it's take what you like and leave the rest..for the rest of us...some Hounds just need the limelight...and I'll continue to giggle at how ridiculous that need is.
re: Ruth Lafler
Ruth, what a terrific observation! Frustration and hesitation about "coming out" as a lurker to a fellow participatant is common among many of my friends who enjoy CH because providing & sharing CHOW tips doesn't seem to be enough...having those experiences flamed, challenged or ridiculed (and we all know the diff btwn a flame & another great perspective) just isn't worth the hassle.
I agree with all of the reasons why people should be discouraged from calling out specific people to respond to their postings.
One solution might be to make a point of not responding when referenced. On the San Francisco Bay Area board, many posts in the past have asked for Melanie Wong's opinions specifically, and it appears that she never responds to those posts that call her out, though I might have missed cases when she did. Seems like good practice that will, over time, discourage people from repeatedly calling out specfic people to respond.
(Of course I don't mean that one should never respond when referred to -- I, for instance, responded to Dave MP's recent Bar Jules post in which he asked if I'd chime in after we happened to see each other at dinner one night. I'm talking about the case of a poster soliciting advice from specific people outside of the context of a shared occasion. Chowish lawyers might be able to find the gray area here and suggest a case where my distinction melts into ambiguity, but until then ... .)
It's a behaviour we really discourage. As Ruth noted, it's a real turn off for many posters who might have had an opinion, and it comes very close to crossing over the line of telling other hounds what they can and can't post (which is definitely not allowed). It also puts the named posters on the spot to answer, which is unfair to them.
The great strength of the Chowhound community is in the large number of people who come here to swap tips, bringing with them many perspectives and data points. Singling out only a few people is self-defeating, and it doesn't help build that community.
This poster has said that she meant no harm, so we leave it up to the posters (named and unnamed) on the SF Bay Area board to decide whether they want to respond to her query. In the future, however, we may edit the title on, or remove and ask for a repost of, threads of this nature.
Thank you pane for starting this thread and all of those who added their wisdom. I am glad I am not the only one who feels this way...