HOME > Chowhound > Site Talk >

Discussion

Old vs. new Manifesto.... why the changes?

It's 2 years since the CNET takeover, and I can't believe that I just noticed that subtle but significant changes have been made to our beloved manifesto.

For those who were not here in the early days of Chowhound, Alpha Hound Jim Leff's Manifesto was the opening splash page of chowhound.com, and in order to get to the boards, one had to click through a colorfully descriptive definition of what a chowhound is, and how they are different from foodies.

It was a stark page, large white lettering on black background, (see here: http://web.archive.org/web/2000051006... ) and most likely scared away more people than those who clicked through. But after reading it for the first time about 8 years ago, I realized that he was talking about me. I was a chowhound and had been for years, but I just didn't know it... and imagine, now I had a community of like-minded people with which to share food and restaurant tips in this sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles.

I've just now noticed that CNET modified our beloved Manifesto, (which after disappearing for a while, reappeared as a tiny, microscopic link at the bottom of the page... http://www.chowhound.com/manifesto ... snipped of its gusto and bravado, relegated to a place where only the old guard would seek it. No longer were trendy foodies scared off by the stark splash screen, and I do believe that the Chowhound community is worse for wear for it. Though the CH community appears to have grown significantly since the management change, the signal to noise ratio has diffused as well, due at least in part part to the fact that the Manifesto splash is no longer front and center, laying out the law of the land and setting the tone for our entire community.

As a public service to Chowhounds old and new, I've decided to do a paragraph by paragraph analysis of the old Manifesto versus the new CNET tooled Manifesto.
-----------------------------------------------------
Old manifesto, 1st paragraph:
Everyone has one in their life: the brother-in-law with a collection of 800 takeout menus, the coworker who's always late from lunch because she HAD to trek to one end of town for the best soup and to the other for the best sandwich. Chowhounds know where the good stuff is, and they never settle for less than optimal deliciousness, whether dining in splanky splendor or grabbing a quick slice of pizza. They are the one in ten who live to eat.

New manifesto, 1st paragraph:
Everyone has one in his life: the brother-in-law with a collection of 800 takeout menus, the co-worker who's late from lunch because she HAD to trek to one end of town for soup and to the other for a sandwich. Chowhounds know where the good stuff is, and they never settle for less than optimal deliciousness, whether dining in splendor or grabbing a quick slice.

Comparison of differences, 1st paragraph:
1) Note that the co-worker is no longer seeking the BEST sandwich and the BEST soup. Why not?
2) Jim Leff wisely defined "slice of pizza" as opposed to just slice, because people living outside of NY city do not understand what a "slice" is, unless they grew up or lived in New York. (A slice of what? Pie? Cheese?) This shows the NY-centricity of the site where this really should be a global forum for all.
3) WHY in the world was "[Chowhounds] are the one in ten who live to eat" eliminated? That's the entire essence of chowhoundishness!
-----------------------------------------------------
Old manifesto, 2nd paragraph:
We're not talking about foodies. Foodies eat where they're told; they eagerly follow trends and rarely go where Zagat hasn't gone before. Chowhounds, on the other hand, blaze trails, combing gleefully through neighborhoods for hidden culinary treasure. They despise hype, and while they appreciate refined ambiance and service, they can't be fooled by mere flash.

New manifesto, 2nd paragraph:
We're not talking about foodies. Foodies eat where they're told. Chowhounds blaze trails. They comb through neighborhoods for culinary treasure. They despise hype. And while they appreciate ambiance and service, they can't be fooled by flash.

Comparison of differences, 2nd paragraph:
1) Diminishing reference to ZAGAT survey was eliminated (for legal reasons?
)2) We no longer comb gleefully. We just comb. And the treasures we find while combing are not hidden. Apparently, they're just there.
3) Jim's colorful descriptors have been snipped... we no longer appreciate "refined" ambiance. Also "Mere" flash edited
-----------------------------------------------------
Old manifesto, 3rd paragraph:
No media outlets serve chowhounds. There are no chowhoundish newspapers, magazines or TV shows. And they've never had a place to gather and exchange information. This discerning, passionate crowd has long been completely invisible and utterly disenfranchised.......until now!

New manifesto, 3rd paragraph:
No media outlets serve Chowhounds. They've never had a place to gather and exchange information. This discerning, passionate crowd has long been completely invisible and utterly disenfranchised... until now.

Comparison of differences, 3rd paragraph:
1) Elimination of "no chowhoundish newspapers, magazines or TV shows."
2) "Until now." is no longer an exclamatory remark
-----------------------------------------------------
Old manifesto, 4th paragraph:
"Chowhound.com's Alpha Dog, professional restaurant critic/author Jim Leff, along with Bob Okumura, launched this site to provide a non-hypey haven where their fellow hounds can opine, bicker, and rave to their hearts' content. Anyone who eats is welcome to stop by for unbiased, savvy chow advice or to just sit back and watch in amazement."

New manifesto, 4th paragraph:
This paragraph was eliminated from the CNET version

Comparison of differences, 4th paragraph:
Obviously this paragraph was eliminated in order to minimize Jim and Bob's names as being co-branded with Chowhound.com. I understand this-- it's not about Jim and Bob, it's about the food and the community. But I still regret the loss of Jim's coloful and enthusiastic descriptors of our community.
-----------------------------------------------------
Old manifesto, 5th paragraph:
If you, too, fret endlessly about making every bite count; if you'd grow weak from hunger rather than willingly eat something less than delicious, this place is for you! Welcome to our community. Let's talk. Let's swap tips.

New manifesto, 5th paragraph (actually 4th):
"If you, too, fret endlessly about making every bite count; if you'd grow weak from hunger rather than willingly eat something less than delicious, this place is for you! Welcome to our community. Let's talk. Let's swap tips (click below to get to the meat & potatoes)."

Comparison of differences, 5/4th paragraph:
Only difference is "click below to get to the meat & potatoes"... a minor edit, but yet another bit of Jim's coloful descriptors that was hacked to bland up the Manifesto.
-----------------------------------------------------
Old manifesto, final paragraph
You needn't be an expert to participate. If you're less food-obsessed than the rest of us, but have a yen for egg creams, gazpacho, or Quisp Cereal, let the resident hounds guide you to the best stuff. Follow (and chime in on) some of cyberspace's most rollicking, contagious discussion -- featuring thousands of entertaining messages from characters all over the world. But, hey.....

New manifesto, final paragraph:
You needn't be an expert to participate. If you're less food-obsessed than the rest of us, but have a yen for egg creams, gazpacho, or Quisp Cereal, let the resident hounds guide you to the best stuff. Follow (and chime in on) the rollicking discussion -- featuring thousands of messages from characters all over the world.

Comparison of differences, final paragraph:
1. Antiquated term "cyberspace" has been understandibly removed from Jim's Manifesto.
2. "Contagious" has been removed... yet another one of Jim's colorful descriptors has been snipped.
3. Our messages are no longer entertaining
-----------------------------------------------------

So, fellow hounds, what do you think of these changes and the relegation and retooling of our beloved Manifesto?

Looking forward to your replies.

Mr Taster

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. I feel kinda neutral on the whole about the new manifesto but there are somethings that I think are an improvement.

    For example, the Zagat reference. It's just an example for saying we should be more adventurous and independently seek out our own deliciousness ("blaze trails") rather than rely solely on existing information sources. If someone only ate dishes at places that were recommended on chowhound.com, they'd still be eating where they were told. That's not blazing trails and certainly not chowhounding. To me, the key point made in that section is about the need for independent exploration. Many chowhounds read the boards not only to figure out where the known deliciousness lie, but also to figure out the unknowns -- what the gaps are in our chow knowledge -- so that they can attempt to fill those gaps by "combing neighbourhoods".

    6 Replies
    1. re: limster

      Limster, you mean "combing **gleefully** through neighborhoods", right? ;)

      Let's consider the trailblazer. There can be only one actual trailblazer, machete in hand, hacking through the overgrowth to find the hidden gem.

      But we as chowhounds are all *pioneers*, treading the paths established by people like Jonathan Gold who have a large voice in this arena. And along the way, we may blaze our own trails, finding our own hidden deliciousness.

      Even though I may not have been the first to "discover" them ("discover" in quotes because I feel this is a bit like Columbus "discovering" America... the natives knew it was there all along), I have exposed countless friends to hidden ethnic gems that they likely never would have found on their own. But the bottom line is that in comparison to most people who "eat to live" and not the reverse, we chowhounds are all trailblazers.

      Mr Taster

      1. re: Mr Taster

        What about treading paths not established at all? What about establishing your own paths? It's a very big forest with a lot of gems, and no one person can hack through all of it. There's always terra incognita that needs to be explored. Nothing is completely picked through, no food critic has eaten every dish in every restaurant, stall, cart, market etc...

        And with that in mind, my impression is that chowhound was founded with a very egalitarian idea -- that anyone could come across something delicious without having been told about it, that people could taste stuff on their own and decide for themselves whether it was good or not. All it takes is a willingness to try something new.

        Jim Leff often described himself as the "Gorbachev of food critics" because when people go out on their own to explore, and when they identify foods that they find delicious and share those finds, even great food critics become obsolete. See http://www.chowhound.com/topics/53056... and http://www.chowhound.com/topics/28852...

        1. re: limster

          Sure, all valid and good points. Certainly in a perfect world, we Chowhounds would all have infinite time and resources to seek out untrodden paths to valuable culinary gems. The reality for me is that as someone who does not earn my money by eating (in fact it is just the opposite), 95% of my dining out is hyper-delicious chowhound-trodden territory, still highly exotic and untrodden territory for most of my friends and colleagues. For that 5% of my time on weekends or vacation where I can seek out something great and new, I do it. But of that 5% an even smaller percentage of those places wind up to be worth reporting on. If I were paid as a food critic, my voice would not just be louder because of my media soapbox, but because my opportunity to try lots of different places would be subsidized by my publisher.

          Mr Taster

          1. re: Mr Taster

            But small percentages are fine, great even. It might be a drop in the ocean, but the ocean is made up of drops. Say you go to 50 new places per year (one each week) and you find that 5% of them are worth reporting on - that's perhaps 2 places a year for 1 chowhound. Multiply that by thousands of chowhounds and the number becomes big, even with overlaps. On chowhound, you never eat alone. The alternative, without trying, means we find no places. 5% is infinitely bigger than 0%; 0.0001% is infinitely bigger than 0%.

            And as for time and money, we don't always have to try expensive places that are out of the way. The little things count, sometimes a lot. Stop by a hole in the wall on the way home. Have a look at the restaurant next door when you eat at a recommended place; save some room and get a small item to taste. Or go to a recommended place and try a couple of dishes that has never been mentioned. One way to minimize the risk of getting stuck with something undelicious is to eat a number of small dishes at a large number of places. When you hit upon a place you like, go back order more stuff. I'm sure hounds will have all sorts of tips to share.

            Jim says it better in one of the posts I linked to: "but can I ask that all participants ALSO try a new taqueria on the way home today and report back? Track a missing sushi master, seek a better slice of pie? Find an off-menu thing to order at Spago? Run through the various consulates in town to find the ones with lunchrooms? Ask coworkers where to find superior marble cake? Scrutinize bagel shops to find hand-rolled? Above all, drive to a nabe you've never been and EXPLORE...and report back?"

            1. re: limster

              Again, all valid points. My point is that it's just not practical to always do so. I walk to and from work and use the car only on the weekends, so that's when I do my exploring. (although with $4.65 gas, I'm not even using the car much on the weekends anymore). My time and resources are limited, and if we are to spend our hard-earned money (of which we do not have enough) on dining out versus cooking at home, it is likely to be spent on a bit of inexpensive hyper-deliciousness... exotic to most others, but known to Chowhounds. And on those occasions when I stop at a new place and find something extraordinary, I post. When we spent 7 months traveling through SE Asia, China and Korea, we posted a *lot*. When we dine out with friends (a great way to try more dishes and defer expense), they're more often than not blown away by the new fantastic delicacy I've introduced them to.

              So am I a trailblazer? It depends who you ask.

              By the way, it would be interesting to find out how many of J Gold's picks come from tips, and how many come from trailblazing. I wonder if he's ever addressed that publicly?

              Mr Taster

              1. re: Mr Taster

                This is more of a reply to the thread, since there are some points that have been brought up more than once.

                IMHO, it's more important to focus on the blazed trail, rather than the trail blazer. We need to remember that terms like "chowhound" and "trail blazing" are labels merely for encouraging accumulation of certain types of information, not to classify people into different castes. Classifying people as "chowhounds/trail blazers/foodies" has little value in helping us find delicious food. Encouraging people to try and report on all sorts of places and dishes, OTOH, is great for getting fresh new chowy information.

                I feel that one substantial value of CH comes from being able to find information about places that would otherwise never be mentioned elsewhere or would only be mentioned much later. Thus, it becomes important to get people to tear away from something that is known to be hyper-delicious so that they can have a chance of finding something even more delicious. That remains a distinct possiblity because new places are opening all the time, and not every single place has been reported on.

                While there are practical constraints, we all contribute whatever information we can. Chowhound, when used properly, is a collaborative, egalitarian effort where even minuscule resources can add up to something huge.

    2. I have a different perspective on this subject. I found CH looking for relatively high end places at which to eat in London for an upcoming visit. I've looked back at my posts by searching - some of the next ones are making recommendations for Paris, then various queries in NYC, then some reports in NYC, and then evidence of my full fledged allegiance to CH as a CH poster - 5,665 posts later .....

      Until I found CH, my husband and I were generally "upscale" diners, his view being that if you are going to eat out, you "might as well go somewhere nice", which we were fortunate to be able to afford to do. Because of CH, however, we've now explored many other dining options, including ones in parts of NYC that we would not otherwise have explored. If it weren't for CH, I wouldn't know about banh mi, soup dumplings, pork buns, "real" tacos, etc. I wouldn't shop in Chinatown. I wouldn't head to Bay Ridge to buy Abba anchovies (none other will do) for Jansson's Temptation (which I've still not cooked five months later).

      The real treasure I found, for me, on CH, is the Home Cooking board. I'm more or less a follower in terms of restaurants, not a trail blazer - my "out of the way" explorations arise from CH tips, not my own exploration - but the HC board has encouraged me to try new cuisines, new cookbooks, and to post about them regardless of any previous so-called trail blazing.

      So, at the end of the day - does this make me not a "chowhound"? I'm not sure, though, to be honest, I don't really care (just don't call me a foodie either). I love to eat great food, I love to cook. If I come across some random new ingredients at a market I'll buy them and figure out later what to do with them - probably by checking my cookbooks and posting on the Home Cooking board. Do I understand and respect the value and the place of Chowhound in the general realm of online food communities? Absolutely. Does it really matter to me that the manifesto has been tweaked? No. Do I admire those who trail blaze? Definitely. Do I still buy Zagat, because it's a quick reference to use to find somewhere in a particular neighborhood? Yes (and then check out the place on Chowhound).

      12 Replies
      1. re: MMRuth

        MMRuth,

        I think your perspective is very interesting. I too think that mainstream American dining culture tends to follow the following rough paradigm. You've got your fast food outlets on the bottom rung. Then you've got your dingy coffee shops, then your Applebees/TGIFs, then your "upscale casual" chains, then your local wine bistro type places, and then high end dining.

        I think the general assumption that people have in dining out is that fancy = more money = healthier, better food, but Chowhounding (particularly in Los Angeles) turns this paradigm on its head.

        When you're eating delicious Thai pan fried noodles and veggies for $5 or a lovely plate of luscious dumplings for $5, or a massive Oaxacan tlayuda for $5, it begs the question as to how such delicious food can be found in such unassuming, unpretentious circumstances (those of us who have traveled abroad or in poor countries with great street food (Mexico, Thailand, Vietnam, etc.) know this first hand)

        Chowhound definitely has opened my eyes to new and better ways of eating. Now I just say no to the $12 plate of Kung Pao Chicken when I know a Shandong Beef Wrap can be had for half the price!

        Mr Taster

        1. re: MMRuth

          "So, at the end of the day - does this make me not a "chowhound"? "

          No.

          The notion that chowhound is about eating on the cheap is one of the misnomers I've been unable to kill over the years. The dining world has always been divided into upscale vs downscale. Chowhound's mission was to treat it all as horizontal - different pleasures cost different amounts, but the point is in finding the good stuff in every realm. Deliciousness is deliciousness, period.

          Of course, some observers saw folks talking with reverence about tacos and takeout, and concluded we're about downscale eating. Those observers failed to observe that the people waxing poetic over knishes in Brooklyn and secret tamale ladies in Harlem were often the same people reporting on meals at Ducasse and Daniel.

          People who really love food seek to maximize the deliciousness of everything they ingest. They don't do their "fine dining" on weekend nights and otherwise eat crummy sandwiches and boring cookies. Chowhound's for people who try to work really far up that curve of declining results, and, above all, recognize that deliciousness is deliciousness. I don't care if you only eat raw carrots. You have strategized it all out, expending vast energy in ferreting out unbelievably great carrots and ways to serve them. You found some unsung genius who grows and slices them a certain way. You have SCORED (or died trying). You are a chowhound.

          Oh, and Zagat's a wonderfully handy address book, no doubt about it.

          1. re: Jim Leff

            "The notion that chowhound is about eating on the cheap is one of the misnomers I've been unable to kill over the years."

            That's still covered very nicely in the FAQ:

            "So Chowhounds eat as cheaply as possible?

            "No. Chowhounds go way out of their way to find good food at any price. They're savvy enough to appreciate value. Why buy rugalach at Balducci's when it's available at the baker's outlet in Brooklyn at a fraction of the cost? But they also know certain pleasures come at a price--foie gras ain't cheap, and Ch√Ęteau Margaux is one terrific drink. No pleasure is gladly missed."

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Yes, my probably somewhat disingenuous query referred more to my self-confessed non-trail blazing, rather than eating (or having eaten) in the past more at high end restaurants. I've always felt as if there is a place for the full spectrum of restaurants on CH, though I've also noticed that some posters are always insistent that "cheap is good" and "expensive is bad", even if both are delicious.

              1. re: MMRuth

                MMRuth, you bring up an interesting point re cheap = good, expensive = bad scenario.

                I don't have a lot of disposable income, so on those rare occasions when I eat out at a high end place (and dip into my savings to do so), I need a rock-solid guarantee that my meal will be extraordinary one.

                If I'm eating at a low-end local dumpling house or something and the dumplings aren't as delicious as I'd heard, it's forgivable because I've only paid $5 for it.

                If I'm paying $100 for sushi and the fish isn't downright phenomenal, I'm going to be pretty upset for not getting my $100 worth because I know the kind of very good fish I can get in Little Tokyo for a third of the cost.

                I wonder if Chowhounds with a lot of disposable income, who are able to absorb the financial impact of a not-phenomenal meal, would tend to allow for more high-end forgiveness, as I would for a low-end dumpling house? (note: I'm not talking about forgiving a *bad* meal, but a mediocre to pretty good one that just wasn't worth the high $$ amount).

                Hopefully people here haven't misinterpreted my intent. I've never meant to imply expensive = bad and cheap = good. It's just that when it's expensive, the stakes and my standards are a helluva lot higher.

                Mr Taster

                1. re: Mr Taster

                  I think the essence of being a chowhound is to go to great lengths to eat delicious food. It's the nature of things that some of it is cheap (peaches in season, a perfect hot dog) and some is expensive (Ch. Margaux, Kobe beef).

                  Conversely, a hardcore chowhound will be intolerant of, or at least uninterested in, food that doesn't make the grade, regardless of price.

                  That said, at least in San Francisco, places in the top price range don't stay in business long if the food doesn't inconsistently delight the customers.

            2. re: Jim Leff

              I think of the chowhound ethos as being egalitarian. Whatever you eat, you treat with the same critical attention and appreciation, whether it's a cheap tamale or dinner at Cafe Tres Tres. It's interesting that people interpret that as turning the upscale/downscale dichotomy on its head.

              The "hound" part of the equation is the tough part for me. I'm not a trailblazer, never have been. I enjoy exploring, but for various reasons I don't eat out much, so when I do I like to have a recommendation. The original board was very much about restaurants (and street vendors such as taco trucks). This has changed, but the assumption still seems to be that it's where most of the action is, and that Home Cooking etc. are spin-offs.

              But the bottom line for me is, does it matter whether I call myself a chowhound or not? Is it a status I aspire to? No. Nor do I call myself a foodie. I just care a lot about what I eat.

              [Edited to add a few things and rearrange the rest, because I can never let well enough alone.]

              1. re: jlafler

                But what a wonderful spin-off Home Cooking is, IMO.

                1. re: MMRuth

                  Yup. Now I'm off to suggest that someone make liqueur.... :-)

                  1. re: MMRuth

                    Yeah, but even that is chowhound-ish, in that people are always looking for an angle or a wrinkle or something real specific or requiring strategy. There's a vast diff between our home cooking board and other cooking discussions (I'm not saying it's better, just different...and the difference is that it's chowhoundish).

              2. re: MMRuth

                As a fairly new member to CH I have been very excited to read about all this site has to offer. I am enjoying everything from the blogs to the recipes to the articles. But I was particularly stunned by most peoples' negative reference to the word "foodie". I've been calling myself a "foodycat" (my maiden name is Catalano) for close to 15 years, simply to describe my love affair with great food. How and why is it that the majority of CH's blogs I have read have morphed this term into something ugly?

                Webster's dictionary define's a "foodie" as "a person with a particular interest in food, or a gourmet", which is defined as "a connoisseur of fine food; a person with a discerning palate". Isn't that the foundation of anyone seeking higher culinary experiences?

                My first recollection of the word foodie simply meant someone REALLY into food, and I believe it existed purely to describe those who loved any aspect of it: cooking it, eating it, writing about it, reading about it, exploring it, seeking it. The word existed long before the cliche'. How did it become a generic term that defines a shallow interest in food? Have we gotten so snobby that we have risen above the basic element here? It's FOOD, really great FOOD in any setting, price range, and city we can get it, or make it.

                I won't stop using that term (or feeling bad about it) just because it's been cranked so far off it's original base by.......whoever. Maybe it's time we grabbed it by the pasta strands and cranked it back into place. If you love really great food, you're a food-ie even if you don't admit it.

                1. re: foodycat

                  A rose is a rose... the words used matter less than the meaning. The manifesto states that there is a special kind of food lover that seeks their own path - that searches for deliciousness under any and all circumstances. That this type of food lover is different than the one that simply follows the well-worn path and goes where they're pointed. This site is intended for the searchers to share their finds.

                  You may not agree with the difference as spelled out in the manifesto - but it is a founding principal. Those of us that have been here a long time believe in the difference. It's been "cranked so far off it's original base by" US. Which isn't to say that everyone isn't welcome here - whatever you feel you should call yourself. But you may be challenged to show some level of adventurousness, some level of wanting to experience new and wonderful foods, not just the best or most written-up, or most raved about.

                  While most folks here are going to generally agree that "foodie" serves the generic purpose of identifying a food lover, those of us that have been around here a long time keep insisting on maintaining the difference between foodie and chowhound, if for no other reason than to honor the tradition and the roots of this site. I would suggest that newcomers get used to it.

              3. My view of your comparisons:

                "Comparison of differences, 1st paragraph:
                1) Note that the co-worker is no longer seeking the BEST sandwich and the BEST soup. Why not?"

                If one is trekking from one end of town for a sandwich and the other for soup, it's fair to assume that the person has a strong reason for doing so.... "best" is unnecessary in this instance because who else would you be going all over the place for lunch? It's simple editing, as are many of the changes, IMO. Jim Leff has a particular writing style that's unique and verbose. This isn't Jim's site anymore... and it shouldn't read like it is. Like it or not, CNET owns the show here, and corporate-speak has to be a bit blander in order to get through the multiple levels of approval that corporations usually require.

                "2) Jim Leff wisely defined "slice of pizza" as opposed to just slice, because people living outside of NY city do not understand what a "slice" is, unless they grew up or lived in New York. (A slice of what? Pie? Cheese?) This shows the NY-centricity of the site where this really should be a global forum for all."

                Since the site is owned by people who live in work in San Francisco, I'm not sure where you get any "NY-centricity" from. For me, the sentence flows better with the parallel comparisons of fairly equal length.

                "3) WHY in the world was "[Chowhounds] are the one in ten who live to eat" eliminated? That's the entire essence of chowhoundishness!"

                I'd bet that CNET is hoping to target more than 10% of the market.

                "Comparison of differences, 2nd paragraph:
                1) Diminishing reference to ZAGAT survey was eliminated (for legal reasons?"

                When he wrote that (10 years ago) Zagat was the main game in town for user-contributed reviews, so it made sense for the "little guy" to set them up as the big bad guy. For various reasons, that's the case anymore, so why keep it in there?

                "2) We no longer comb gleefully. We just comb. And the treasures we find while combing are not hidden. Apparently, they're just there."

                De-Leff-ization.

                "3) Jim's colorful descriptors have been snipped... we no longer appreciate "refined" ambiance. Also "Mere" flash edited "

                De-Leff-ization.

                "Comparison of differences, 3rd paragraph:
                1) Elimination of "no chowhoundish newspapers, magazines or TV shows.""

                Things have changed a lot in 10 years. Such things exist now.

                "2) "Until now." is no longer an exclamatory remark"

                Exclamation marks should be used sparingly. De-Leff-ization.

                "Comparison of differences, 4th paragraph:
                Obviously this paragraph was eliminated in order to minimize Jim and Bob's names as being co-branded with Chowhound.com. I understand this-- it's not about Jim and Bob, it's about the food and the community. But I still regret the loss of Jim's coloful and enthusiastic descriptors of our community."

                What you said- it's not about Jim and Bob. And De-Leff-ization.

                "Comparison of differences, 5/4th paragraph:
                Only difference is "click below to get to the meat & potatoes"... a minor edit, but yet another bit of Jim's coloful descriptors that was hacked to bland up the Manifesto."

                De-Leff-ization.

                "Comparison of differences, final paragraph:
                1. Antiquated term "cyberspace" has been understandibly removed from Jim's Manifesto.
                2. "Contagious" has been removed... yet another one of Jim's colorful descriptors has been snipped.
                3. Our messages are no longer entertaining"

                De-Leff-ization.

                Look, I see where you're coming from. But things change. We're still here and sharing chow tips, and that's what Chowhound was created for and is still about. It doesn't matter what you call us, or whether we have t-shirts, or a manifesto, or a feeling that we're part of a cool underground subversive counter-culture. We're still eating great food thanks to the others who participate here, and hopefully tipping others off to great food in return. That's enough for me. This site could have shut down 2 years ago. It was close to doing so. It didn't, and there's a small price to pay for it. It's worth it, in my opinion.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Chris VR

                  Chris VR wrote:
                  -------------------------------
                  Since the site is owned by people who live in work in San Francisco, I'm not sure where you get any "NY-centricity" from. For me, the sentence flows better with the parallel comparisons of fairly equal length.
                  -----------------------------------

                  I'll bet you $100 that the person who edited the manifesto is a NY area transplant :-) !

                  Mr Taster

                2. The original comment has been removed
                  1. Mr Taster (and all),

                    Hey, I'd think it's obvious. But if anyone really needs it said directly: one of the things that happens when old labor-of-love owners, on the verge of impoverished exhaustion, are bought out by a large corporation, is that the mission statement changes - a little or a lot - and that even parts which are to remain the same get filtered through deadly serious business people and lawyers.

                    Could you possibly imagine that not being the case?

                    One could go over with a fine toothed comb and try to attach significance to every change. But the fact is that careful teams of corporate geniuses didn't work on that wording as if it was the most important document of their professional lives. A couple of managers somewhere gave it a quick slashing, expunging anything impossibly non-corporate and anything that sounded like it might eventually tie the corporation's hands in some way. Corporate people just hate having their hands tied. Even if they have no actual intention of doing something.

                    And that, really, is that.

                    I'm assuming that you took the time to do this work because you have strong feelings for Chowhound's values and aims. I'd suggest that the important thing is to gauge the actual flavor and usefulness of the site. To me, it's pretty much what it always was, only with viable software and a larger - though still organically grown - community. What a lovely surprise that the thing is still maintaining its flavor after all this time!

                    15 Replies
                    1. re: Jim Leff

                      Don't get me wrong, Jim... I do feel that the post-CNET Chowhound is still an invaluable resource. But I also find the quality of information more diluted as it was in the old days. That's my greatest lament... when compared with the Old Chowhound, the signal:noise ratio has diluted, and I often find the best tips and information archived away in the older pre-CNET posts. The only true upgrade that I feel CNET has brought to the table is a functioning search engine. When the old CH went to google, it really gummed up the works... Old Chowhound pre-Google was Chowhound's Golden Age, in my opinion... both in terms of quality of posts and functionality of the site. (I'm sure you'll disagree having lived on the other end of the creaky old software... but from an enduser standpoint, it was great.)

                      Of course even in its current incarnation, it's still the best forum I've found. This board has maintained a large amount of integrity, when you consider that it hasn't devolved into a Yelp or Citysearch type thing.

                      Mr Taster

                      1. re: Mr Taster

                        Not to dismiss your observation, but I've been hearing complaints about dilution since 1997...when we went from a few dozen users to over a hundred. I'm figuring that as an old-timer, you've heard my M&M theory of scaling operations? Anyway, if it has truly been declining at a precipitous rate since 1997, it would be pretty much babytalk and dingbats by now. :)

                        The best upgrade CNET has brought is this site's very existence. Back when I was fighting to keep it going amid punishing server bills, the biggest obstacle I faced was making people realize how extremely impermanent it all was...how close to going dark. They assumed that because it was a known brand,and they read about it in, like, newspapers and everything, and so many people took it for granted that it'd always be there, that its existence was assured. It wasn't. Ever. You have no idea how close we were getting to giving up. I had applied for a job working the counter in a computer store (as part of my plan to get out of the crushing debt I'd incurred), and we'd prepared a "goodbye" page. Nine years is a long, long time to slog, unpaid, and the software was exploding (requiring extensive patches) daily.

                        A trimmed manifesto? I can live with that. It's freaking 2007, and most of the other 1997-era labor-of-love web sites are GONE (or metasticized into something unrecognizable), yet here we are, still talking to each other. :)

                        1. re: Jim Leff

                          It's 2008, by the way :) But point well taken. I remember those desperate pleas for financial assistance that used to punctuate the board with relative frequency. I chipped in once in a while, but not nearly enough as I should have-- though I bought a bunch of those Chowhound passports for friends! (Do you still have a stock of those?)

                          Mr Taster

                          1. re: Mr Taster

                            Not actually pleas for financial assistance. We always discouraged people from wasting philanthropic impulses on a food web site when there are starving children in the world. We just asked people to pay, on honor system, for their use of the site. The same 50 or so people kept doing so again and again. That's the way things work in this world. A tiny percentage keep all good things going.

                            I think I have some passports somewhere, yeah. No idea where, though.

                            1. re: Jim Leff

                              Perhaps now is a fitting moment for some sort of plaque or trophy and a nice ceremony to honor the financial response that the old CH site got from David Kahn. David lead the charge to keep the lights on in every time of crisis that I can recall. His "matching" dollar for dollar posts were the stuff of legend and I am one, among many, that say "Thank you, David" for all you did then.

                              1. re: Servorg

                                David, for sure, but there were others. It would have been more fitting if vastly more people gave a lot less. But honor system is, alas, not a viable biz model for anything beyond a lemonade stand.

                                1. re: Jim Leff

                                  If CH lived to fight another day due to the "honor" system then it's a good thing to call out the honor roll of names like David's. If you want to take a minute to thank those that really did keep the lemon aid stand from tipping over and blowing away I am certain no one would object. To paraphrase Sir Winston Churchill's famous words "Never in the field of food discussion sites was so much owed by so many to so few." ;-D

                                  1. re: Servorg

                                    No, privacy issue. But most people who chipped in (money, work, or both) get all the gratification they need by continuing to have a place to go when they need to know where to get eggs benedict in Wichita. It's all about the chow tips.

                                      1. re: HillJ

                                        David still posts to this day. I just wanted to say thank you publicly one more time for his unparalleled generosity when the hour was late and the cause looked all but lost.

                                        1. re: Servorg

                                          Touche, Servorg. Those were interesting times in this community. *David* was generous in countless way and made participation an event.

                                2. re: Jim Leff

                                  Jim - I just stumbled across this comment. I've been looking for a source for a Chowhound passport ever since I first heard of them a couple of years ago, but my inquiries to the current site operators/moderators went unanswered. Would you be willing to dig one up and sell it to me? Or know anywhere else they're available? Thanks!

                                  1. re: BobB

                                    If you (or anyone else) wants to send a self-addressed stamped envelope to me at the address below, I'll be happy to send one out (offer limited to one per person, and be patient, as it may take me a while!)

                                    Jim Leff/Chowhound
                                    75-18A Broadway #543
                                    Elmhurst NY 11373

                                    1. re: Jim Leff

                                      Thanks, Jim! I'll send it out today.

                                      1. re: Jim Leff

                                        You're a lucky man, Jim, living so close to so much delicious food. My wife and I were just there and did a small 7 train tour of Queens... Went to Flushing and then walked through Flushing Meadows Park, on to that italian ice place just west of the park (Lemon Ice King of Corona), and then walked along Roosevelt to 74th street where we had dinner at a Korean fried chicken place just under the 7 train tracks at 74th st.

                                        Made me want to move to Flushing. (Of course, it was a balmy summer day, and I live in LA....)

                                        Mr Taster