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What's a newbie to do?!

There was some kvetching in this topic about the topic http://www.chowhound.com/topics/523144 being rehashed for the 12 gazillionth time. And I feel like I see many people tell others "do a search, this topic has already been discussed!"

It prompted me to post this rant (which I thought better of, and edited out of my post).

"Boy, you know, people are damned if they do, damned if they don't. People bitch about it when old threads get resurrected and then they bitch again when new threads are started! Where are the newbies supposed to ask questions and share opinions?! It's not like there are THAT many topics for us to hash out in Boston, and new people with new opinions come along all the time- if you've got an opinion, add it, if not, read the next thread."

I just wish people who are "old-timers" here would cut some slack. It's the nature of a site like this that topics are going to be revisited. Over, and over and over. I've been here for over 6 years, and yes, I get tired of seeing the same topics come up. Do I read every thread that rehashes a discussion I've already added my twenty cents to, over the years? No, but it doesn't bother me if other people do. So why do people feel the need to jump down the throats of posters who dare to ask a question that's already been asked more than once? (And then it's probably the same people who go ballistic when people resurrect a 7 year old topic to add their input!)

This rant isn't directed to anyone in particular, just the posting community in general. All I'm trying to say is I wish people would mellow out here. Post on the topics that interest you. Don't posts on the topics that don't. It's that easy.

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  1. Gazillionth time Newbie threads are perfect vessels for finding and linking a couple of voluminous recent threads which cover the territory being inquired about. That shows the N's in question:

    1. CH archives are not just for wall papering your kitchen with and that they, (the N's) can actually find information to answer their question if they are so inclined

    2. How to be better informed if they still want to ask the question by "refining" their query somewhat


    3. There is probably nothing much new under the CH sun, but it doesn't keep us from staring directly into it, be we Newbies or Grizzled Veterans.

    1. "Do I read every thread that rehashes a discussion I've already added my twenty cents to, over the years?"

      Wow, "twenty cents", my opinions are only worth twp cents, or are you adjusting for inflation?

      My two cents regarding "newbie repetition": Any one, newbie or not, should be encouraged to ask any question, start any topic they wish, no one is forced to read it, and you never know when someone does add some new, previously unknown gem of information. This is a discussion forum, not a lecture venue.


      1 Reply
      1. re: ChinoWayne

        Well, I'm figuring each topic gets rehashed an average of 10 times, and if I added my two cents each time.... :-)

      2. I can't speak for anybody else, but I find it personally annoying when someone new comes on asking a question that has obviously been asked and answered numerous times before. All they need do is search the old topics and find what they are looking for. It is obvious that the "newbie" has devoted no time to solving their own question on their own.

        8 Replies
        1. re: hhlodesign

          Unfortunately, a lot of new posters don't realize that there is a search function or that it works. On the Manhattan and Home Cooking boards, to which I post the most, I reply to those posts with a link to a search that I've done, in the hope that it will "nudge" new posters to searching further on their own. My thought is that this is a way to encourage newbies without putting them off the site.

          1. re: MMRuth

            Those links are very helpful, MMRuth. Thank you for being so kind - I can tell you it is appreciated.

            The Search function can be a little awkward to use. I am only a partial newbie, and I think I've figured out a few things on the site. But as an example, I tried to refer someone to RGR's LES tour in Manhattan. Then I did the search myself, and it took a long time to find a copy of the actual text. It was referred to a lot, but no links were included. I finally found the copy and gave the link to the other poster. RGR's tour has been reposted many times on the Manhattan board, and yet I found it very tedious to actually find it, and I knew what I was looking for!

            A little kindness goes a long way. The whole point is that the newbie is new - they shouldn't be expected to know that their topic may have already been covered. It is easy to get annoyed and frustrated, but we should try to be understanding. After all, we were all newbies once upon a time. So here's to slack! And here's to the very friendly veteran Chowhounders who make this place so much fun!

            1. re: moh

              If you want some tips on searching, I'll find an old post on it that I think is pretty useful. And, thank you.

                1. re: MMRuth

                  You are awesome! :)

                  (BTW, got the Casas books I ordered - looking forward to June...)

              1. re: moh

                moh, RGR's LES Tour is so popular, it appears on a number of Internet sites by googling it.

                1. re: HillJ

                  Doh! I'm really bad at this internet thing....

            2. re: hhlodesign

              I have to say that I've been a part of Chowhound before it was purchased by CNET (and now CBS) and I was alerted to the Site Board by another hound. And I just discovered over the weekend that there is a Technical Board. And I also recently learned how to work that damn Search engine. I definitely think it's possible for newbies to totally miss stickies, the search engine, not knowing how to use the search engine, etc. So I feel that Ruth's idea of "nudging" posters is great.

            3. The "How do I search for something?" section of FAQ would be a very helpful sticky on the Site Talk page. Not everyone, newbie or experience CH, remembers where that tiny little FAQ is located. Anything that makes the experience better/faster/experiential for all is a help as far as this newbie is concerned. MMRuth you are a gem!

              1. I can see this has been bothering you, Chris_VR, if only because the occasion that has inspired this rant seems so innocent: one poster cheekily lamented the return of what is clearly a repeated topic (where to get the best NYC-style bagels in the Boston area) and then contributed his vote. Not 'jumping down throat' behaviour at all-- especially not when I consider some other responses over the years.

                It's hard to read the post ( 'My "VOTE!" is that this has been hashed over 12 gazillion times. And you left out Katz's in Chelsea which is probably the best') as 'bitching' or 'throat jumping'. A jab, possibly, with further information given. cheeky, a bit cranky, but giving something.

                From what you wrote, I was wondering if someone had let loose on the recent 'What do Chowhounds think about tipping?' thread, which would deserve a bit of a go, if you ask me. The Not about Food boards are lousy with tipping threads, and it seems that if anyone wants to know, any number of those would let us know-- and from reading them I often think I don't want to know :)

                I think we have to be 'mellow' about all kinds of posters here and know that personalities and feelings will come up, especially from those who have been around here for a while. Goodness knows how many times I let out a loud sigh whenever a new person starts a 'best pizza in NYC/Brooklyn' thread-- or the 'oh no not again' worthy 'Best Burgers in Park Slope' (can we expect the usual Bonnie's love followed by dissenters?). If someone says something (within reason) I cut it slack, especially if opinion as to where to get food is also given. Can't say I'm too impressed with the 'fav foodie movies' that has started on 'Not About Food' given the multiple threads in the appropriate place. I do not understand the mods, so will not comment on its continued existence or placement.

                Meanwhile, on the whole I see very generous activity from hounds when such things arise. Yes, someone may be cranky, but more often than not, I also see helpful information given in the form of posts or links. Other comments are there to educate the person into e-community citizenship; without asides, people might continue to post in ALL CAPS or post queries about food that fail to specify area, type of food preferred, or financial parameters.

                More importantly, I'm just happy that the thread you cited mentions Rosenfeld's Bagels. Those really are some splendid bagels-- or they were the last time I had them.

                1. I confess to having occasional difficulties using the search engine, even when looking for a thread I know exists because I posted in or even started it. I agree with Chris VR that we have to give people a break. Maybe they tried searching and couldn't grasp the art of using the search engine. Or, maybe they did a search and the threads they saw seemed old to them or didn't quite answer their question... I do get an occasional chuckle when someone pops in and asks a question and there's a nearly identical thread bouncing about on the front page, but then again, maybe they have their preferences set to order their posts by OP date instead of last reply and it's not appearing on the front page for them. Who knows.

                  I try to be patient with "newbies" and just link them to a current discussion or two. If I'm feeling annoyed or fear I might unleash my bad attitude, I just scroll on by and let someone with more patience answer the question. Or not. No one will die--not even the newbie-- if the 10,000th question about where to get Philly cheesesteak sandwiches in the Twin Cities doesn't get answered.

                  But, as an example of how repetition--even seemingly fruitless repetition really is good: last July/August there were four posts (from different people) within about a 2-3 week window asking where the best Philly cheesesteak sandwich in the Twin Cities was. This is a question that comes up a lot. And there's never been a good answer. *Yawn. Minny ain't Philly, get over it.* So, I was mildly amused the first time the question was asked. And the second and third times a week or so later the question was asked. I just kept linking back to the former threads. My patience wore really thin when the question was asked a fourth time, but yet, I linked back to the previous three threads and included a remark along the lines of "this question has come up four times in the last month now". Astonishingly, within a day or so, someone who posts on the boards only occasionally (and, therefore, probably doesn't read the boards as obsessively as I do and may not see every single post and most certainly doesn't keep a weird mental tally "that's four times this month" like I apparently do) answered the post with an actual recommendation. A solid one. And everyone in the Twin Cities is so happy now, with bellies full of Philly cheesesteak sandwiches. So, sometimes repetition, even four times in one month, is good.

                  And that's my two dollars. ;-).


                  8 Replies
                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    I get that the search engine is difficult. I get that we were all newbies once. I get that patience is a virtue and something that I can be better at.

                    But, on the Boston board, those 4 different posters ask the same questions within a one week window or less. Almost every day, we get the same question, where should I eat in Boston, or I'm looking for seafood or eating with kids or best lobster or best fried clams or staying in X area. The noise ratio is really high and at this time of year (graduation, wedding, showers, rehearsal dinners and vacations), I find that I spend minimal time on the Boston board.

                    My biggest frustration that the newbies don't seem to read the "New to the Boston Board, read this first" post that is stickied to the top of the board. If they just skimmed it, it tells the newbies how to do general searches with their requested parameters. The boards can be difficult to manage but if the search terms are provided and the users don't read, look or seem to care, that's where my patience runs thin. I can lead a horse to water but I can't get it to drink so to speak.

                    I rarely answer and don't really re-open those threads because the OP mostly doesn't report back after the generous contributions from other Boston hounds.

                    I also know, that when I plan to visit another area, I won't ask the open ended question. It's tedious and unfair to local hounds who have much more patience than I do. I'll do my research (or attempt to) and if I've overwhelmed by the boards (the Manhattan board is so huge), I'll plan to just to blind hits of places to see what can find and then eventually report in. For me, too much planning of meals can take the fun out of exploration of a new area.

                    1. re: beetlebug

                      So why not let the Mods handle it. Moderation can determine if the new thread/repeative thread is welcomed.

                      Threads that are 3-4 years old with new entries recommending a restaurant for a question long asked and answered also appear quite frequently.

                      I'm resolved to the idea that there will be degrees of improvement but not much can/will change in the behavior in how (we) CH's enjoy this community.

                      1. re: HillJ

                        I've found that the Mods don't handle it and I don't even think they should. It's more my problem (lack of patience) and I how I deal with the noise (I try and rise above it and ignore it). That's how I try and enjoy the boards.

                        I DO think though, it's a problem endemic to society and not just the internet - the instant answer age v. trying to figure it out yourself through minimal research.

                        1. re: beetlebug


                          bettlebug-As a field rat/researcher comfortable on the www, I see your point. I will counter tho by adding, I don't expect a certain behavior just because it happens to be my behavior. I come to CH for fun and helpful food info/tips, not to change things to my liking. Sure, I have suggestions like anyone else, but its not my playground.

                        2. re: HillJ

                          New and/or repetitive threads are not ever going to be moderated. The Mod's have said many times that, (and they are right) even very, very repetitious threads may draw new replies/ideas from posters, both new and old. Even the dredging up of old threads may result in new information being uncovered because someone's mind got jogged. We don't have to read every thread. We certainly don't have to reply to every, or any thread. This is a voluntary, fun activity (or at least it should be).

                          1. re: Servorg

                            Servorg, yes I have read that as well but it hasn't stopped CH's from asking for that guideline to change or why older threads should be kept. My point was to emphasis that plenty of suggestions/requests/new ideas become new threads under Site Talk and do not become new guidelines.

                            Yes! this is a fun activity and completely voluntary-no disagreement there. Have a good day!

                        3. re: beetlebug

                          beetlebug, I think you're doing all you can really do, which is ignore the posts that you don't find useful/interesting and modeling better behavior when you "travel to" other boards.

                          I do agree with you that this is a complaint "bigger" than chowhound. It's been a complaint on every message board I've ever visited, in fact. Frankly, I've not seen anything work other than ignoring "bad" behavior and modeling "good" behavior. I appreciate the mod's efforts in posting the "New to the X Board?" stickies, but, the conscientious people who are going to take the time to read such a thread probably aren't going to be the people that we find so frustrating in the first place. I've seen similar "sticky" kinds of efforts on other forums and they don't seem overwhelmingly effective there, either.

                          In response to the "these people don't ever report back" problem--the only thing I can say is that every time I reply to one of these kinds of "I'm new to the board" or "I'm visiting from out of town" kinds of posts, I endeavor to ask the person to please report back. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but I think the more times we ask, the more likely we'll hear back.


                          1. re: beetlebug

                            You're right, most newbies (or oldies, for that matter) don't seem to read that "New to Boston" post, so maybe gently pointing a new poster there is not a bad idea- with the qualifier that if they don't find the help they seek by following the tips in that post, they should follow up.

                        4. This won't help the current members but perhaps Chow can have new members who register read something that gives a synopsis about searching on Chow, etc. And, of course, I know nobody really reads these things. So for the first x times a new member logs in, there could be an annoying sticky that pops up that reminds them of certain features, with an explicit message saying that this pop-up will appear for the next x-1 times -- just so people won't get really pissed off.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Miss Needle

                            OOh, I like that. It shoudl also point them towards the posting guidelines, which it also seems people never read.

                            1. re: Miss Needle

                              And a welcome e-mail explain usage; how to search, etiquette etc.

                              My big thing, though, is the age of the posts. We all know how fickle the food industry is; you may read about a great Peking Duck in Vancouver in a post from 3 years ago, but lo and behold, the restaurant closed 2 years ago. So, a new post MUST be created. Maybe it's just a matter of people saying

                              "I searched Peking duck in Vancouver on Chowhound, and a 3-year-old restaurants x, y and z were recommended. Can anyone tell me if they are still around, and delicious?"

                              (This example is purely hypothetical.)

                            2. All computer users are not created equal. Young or Old, some people 'get' the technology and others don't. That doesn't mean they shouldn't have access or not be able to contribute to this community.
                              Give them a break, if they stick around, they'll figure it out.

                              1. We LIKE repetition. Every time a topic gets brought up for the gazillionth time, we might 1. draw in fresh opinions from new hounds who've come around, and 2. ensure that our info remains cutting edge as places open, close, and go uphill or downhill.

                                Food is extremely dynamic. The beauty of a site like Chowhound is that we (unlike any other media) can track that dynamic very closely, in pretty much real time. The tracking process may seem tedious to the tiny minority of readers who use us as a "read", but it's worth it to provide a great and up-to-date data trove for the hordes who use us to stay up on deliciousness.

                                The insistence to "search before you post" is something people bring with them from other forums on other topics. It's something we've always discouraged on Chowhound. Constant revisitation of every topic under the sun has always been vital to what we do. And there's more than enough fresh stuff to read every day that it's easy enough to overlook topics anyone finds tedious.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: Jim Leff

                                  *Every time a topic gets brought up for the gazillionth time, we might 1. draw in fresh opinions from new hounds who've come around, and 2. ensure that our info remains cutting edge as places open, close, and go uphill or downhill.*

                                  This is a worthy goal, but one which I don't actually see accomplished by posters who don't bother to review the board first, and then proceed to ask a question that's already the subject of prior threads (especially when it's EXACTLY the same subject).

                                  As you note, the site is dynamic. This means the most recent informaton on any subject will always appear, even in an old thread, if someone posts it to that thread. (And thanks to the way the site functions, if you've already viewed the thread before, only new posts will be expanded).

                                  When someone posts a brand new thread that is already the subject of extensive discussion, the usual result is either (1) responses perfunctorily, or repetitively, recite the same information that has been discussed earlier; (2) responses direct the poster to the other thread; or (3) the post is ignored (after all, didn't we just talk about this?).

                                  Yes, every once in a while someone will respond with new information, but wouldn't they be just as likely to do so if the OP - instead of starting a brand new thread on an existing subject - asked their question in an existing relevant thread? (Even if it was only "Anything new?" or "Anyone been here recently?")

                                  It is just as easy - probably more so, because less risk of repetition - for someone to provide up-to-date information in an existing thread, where it is relevant to that thread, than to do so in a brand new thread. Indeed, the new thread has none of the benefit of the "data trove" that has been created by the prior discussion. There is no "data trove" (to use your term, and it's a good one) where the same question is asked anew again and again - unless, of course, you actually use the search function, and then have to comb through multiple threads on the same topic (a much more unwieldy process, no?).

                                  "Constant revisitation" is not mutually exclusive to checking to see if a question is addressed by an existing thread.

                                  1. re: Frodnesor

                                    "Constant revisitation" is not mutually exclusive to checking to see if a question is addressed by an existing thread."

                                    I'm not sure you fully got my point. I wasn't saying every reiteration of every oft-discussed topic amounts to a snowflake...something uniquely beautiful. My point is that the site's culture of constant reiteration, generally, yields lots of snowflakes in the form of new opinions, news, and constantly refreshed updates of every possible topic. Though it may bore the pants off the extremely small number of users who view us as a "read" rather than a resource.

                                    But one thing is for sure: snappish replies to newbies demanding they search before posting definitely DOES discourage constant revisitation. It also discourages participation, generally. So please don't do it. Read threads of interest to you and skip the rest, please. There's room for all, and the aim isn't to delight every user with every thread.

                                    1. re: Jim Leff

                                      I think I did get it, and have no problem with reiteration. My problem is not with the same question asked over and over again so much as the same question being asked in a new thread, as if - for instance - nobody on the Florida board had ever asked (say, in the past week) "Where's a hip place to eat on South Beach?" and we were starting with a tabula rasa.

                                      You're right, I can simply ignore the thread, but if the "regular" contributors to a board (and I would venture a guess that a vast majority of the CONTENT on these boards is supplied by a relatively small fraction of the boards' visitors) simply ignored every repetitive post, there would be a lot of posts with no responses at all - which I think newbies would find even more discouraging.

                                      I do try to *gently* point to other threads or potentially useful searches, particularly when a repetitive thread simply goes unanswered (as they often do), and I think folks usually appreciate it. Most of them really don't understand how to use the search function and find it a useful resource once they do.

                                      1. re: Frodnesor

                                        Regarding your last paragraph - I try to do the same thing - link to a thread or two, or to a search result. I figure that the latter is actually probably better, since it clues the poster into the search function and also gives the poster an example (which I also hope is helpful in terms of content) of how a search works.

                                        1. re: Frodnesor

                                          "If the "regular" contributors to a board....simply ignored every repetitive post, there would be a lot of posts with no responses at all - which I think newbies would find even more discouraging."

                                          Ah, now we're getting to the core of it!

                                          You should ignore the HELL out of stuff you don't like! By choosing your participation, you cultivate the sort of posters and threads you like and you help grow the sort of site you prefer to see! Remember, you're the program directors here...not me, not the moderators, not CNET, not even CBS! :) If you don't like something, don't energize it with your participation. If you feel like guiding repetitive newbies to prior discussion, great. But we're not trying to encourage the entire world to populate these boards. There are millions of serious food lovers out there who've not yet found us. Let them provide our growth! (and tons of novices will still come around to lurk, because everyone is attracted by expert data).

                                          If, on the other hand, a number of regulars choose to engage this sort of posting, then that's ok, too. Let them have their programming, as well. It's a big forum. And, again, a spirit of repetition is good. And if repetitive queries are ignored by all but a very few, and those very few are hounds too knew to realize the repetition, then....great. We get a new "take" on the issue from new people.

                                          So...vote with your mouse. Cultivate that which you want to see more of (which also means being real encouraging to newbies you really dig...people don't do this enough!). Ignore what you don't like. Exert your control via THOSE mechanisms, rather than explicitly demanding that users post to your preferences. There's no end to that sort of thing. So, please, all, stick to the chow. Post and let post, as Chris suggests above.

                                      2. re: Frodnesor

                                        "Yes, every once in a while someone will respond with new information, but wouldn't they be just as likely to do so if the OP - instead of starting a brand new thread on an existing subject - asked their question in an existing relevant thread?"

                                        Frodnesor, I have to disagree. I won't even look at a thread that has 157 replies and I've never seen it before, because I know it's an old thread which was generated before I began reading the boards regularly, and I don't have time to read all replies to get up to date to know what the new issue is. And because it's a new thread to me, all replies will be expanded, so I would have to look at the date of each and every reply to know which is the new one. So I am more likely to read a new thread than an old one. Just another perspective.

                                        1. re: lisavf

                                          If you are ever in that situation and you "do" happen to want to read that new post for some reason just run a "find" search on the screen name of that new poster, (or the month or year if that's more rare/helpful) and you'll get to that post very, very quickly.

                                    2. I gotta say, I'm with you on this, Chris. On the Boston Board, I find that a large number of posts are immediately rebutted with a mean "why the heck didn't you search, you dumb...". I find all these attacks on people asking questions infinitely more bothersome than the repetition of questions. I mean, there aren't that many new restaurants to discuss, so if we say that old topics are off limits, we might as well just archive all the old discussions and be done with it. But that's not quite the point of a DISCUSSION BOARD.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: okello

                                        If you see those sorts of replies, please 'report' them to the moderators. A helpful, friendly post that links to previous discussion is fine, but rude commands to do a search are removed.

                                        1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                          Interesting dichotomy you've ID'd, Chris VR. I've wondered about this myself as a relative newcomer to CH. As a full-on newbie, I spent hours reading through all of the entries for the last two or three years on the SF Bay area Board (which was quite an undertaking, albeit an enjoyable one) before posting my vistor questions because after reading only a small sample it was obvious to me that the same questions were being asked repeatedly and I could see how this would be a mite tiresome to the very folks I was counting on for good Chow info :-). I still made some newbie errors but I got dozens and dozens of really helpful responses and even sparked some very interesting debate, albeit inadvertently, on the merits of the Berkeley Gourmet Ghetto.

                                          That said, I am somewhat obsessional and what is known in my biz as a compliant patient and as someone said upthread I don't expect everyone to behave the way I do. It's probably better for their general health if they don't! So I would not call a new poster on asking a similar question without having done their "homework" even though I try to do mine. Again, as mentioned upthread, they may not have a great handle on the search function -- I'm still about 50/50 on it myself. Or they may just not be into that sort of thing.

                                          One final observation: although I'd hate to think potential posters would be scared off by less-than-ideally-welcoming responses, most of the people coming to CH for information are likely to be worldly enough to take even owly responses with a grain of salt. The only time I felt a bit sorry for a new poster was when a male teen posted a query with an example of a place he liked and got kinda flamed for liking it. Bless his heart though, he bounced back with the most amiable reply imaginable and thanked the other poster for educating him! Now that's a newbie with potential :-).

                                      2. I haven't seen many gripes like you describe. There are always a few unhappy chronic complainers, but that's life.