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Jun 26, 2008 06:41 AM

I'm a better Chowhound than you. And to prove it I am going to insult and/or mock you.


I love Chowhound. I've been reading/posting here for 4+ years and have learned a lot about cooking, eating and about places I probably would have never heard about otherwise.

I enjoy the comarradarie (I'm certain I just misspelled that), but what I do not enjoy is how some posters are intentionally condescending and insulting to others who don't share their opinions on a variety of subjects...may it be the inability to make pie crust from scratch or a fondness for a host others see as inferior.

I have no issue with disagreeing and friendly banter, but more and more (or so it seems) I am seeing posters who intentionally berate and mock other posters opinions and declare them inferior.

Am I the only one seeing this?

  1. If people are intentionally mocking or berating other posters, please use 'report' to flag that for our attention, and we'll remove it. Vehement disagreement is allowed, mocking is not.

    7 Replies
    1. re: The Chowhound Team

      I reported my first post ever this morning. I realize that it takes time for the moderaters to respond and/or remove, but it just hit a nerve.

      1. re: The Chowhound Team

        I wasn't going to say anything but I'm going to call you guys on this.

        In one thread a racial slur was used for Japanese. I flagged it and wrote you guys and your response was that you didn't think it was offensive. There was a few back and forths of disagreement. I finally had to track down the Editor in Chief and mention it and then it was removed.

        1. re: ML8000

          Everyone makes mistakes. If you are looking for 100% perfection with human beings you are bound to be disappointed. For a mostly volunteer force and the sheer amount of content put up on the site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week I think the mod's do a damn fine job.

          1. re: Servorg

            Fair enough and you're right. Still, missing something like that...I don't know. There were a few back and forths exchanges. I don't see it happening if it was a derogatory and vulgar term aimed towards someone else, like women.

            1. re: ML8000

              The issue we try to look at when it comes to situations like that is what does the intent appear to be. We ask questions like: Was it used in an angry way? Was it used as a deliberate insult? Was it aimed at a specific person? Was it used as an attempt to deliberately upset people or make them angry? Or was it used in an offhand, incidental way by someone who maybe doesn't know better, but wasn't trying to cause problems? In the first few cases, we'll remove things, but in the last case, we generally won't -- though we'll sometimes email people and ask if they'd mind an edit.

              In that case, when we asked the person who posted it if they'd mind if we edited it, they hadn't even thought about the racial implications of it. They'd just copied and pasted it from an IM sent to them by a friend. There was no intent to offend or insult anyone and they were fine with having us edit it for them.

              It's not that we felt the word in question wasn't offensive -- it obviously upset you, and we understand why. But we don't think it was meant to, which is why we wouldn't immediately remove it. Even though discerning intent seems like it must involve mind-reading, in practice, we usually find that we can get a pretty good idea whether something was meant to offend, or did so only accidentally, and we try to make allowances for the latter.

          2. re: ML8000

            Most hounds strive to be as culturally sensitive as we are food sensitive. We don't know what we don't know; we will achieve ambassador-level smoothness the week we die. Remember, it's a journey, and innocent people, even moderators, constantly try to improve themselves, every day of it. There's simply so much to be learned in a lifetime....

            1. re: Veggo

              Jacquilynne, I take no pride in my many hundreds of deletions, but not a one of them had to do with cultural offense or ignorance.
              I embrace Bobby Jones' comment in 1928 after reporters heaped praise on him for declaring a penalty stroke on himself, which nobody else noticed.
              "You might as well praise a man for not robbing a bank." Good words for all to live by.

        2. I am definitely seeing a change in the tone of chowhound. It's becoming more aggressive and reminds me of the feeling I sometimes get when I''m spending time with my large, loud-mouthed and opinionated family. Except I love my family. There are posters who I just won't read anymore because I think they are deliberately trying to start something.

          4 Replies
          1. re: southernitalian

            I actually find that some of the more irritating posters can sometimes be full of great information. So I do read what they have to say. I don't want to miss out on learning something. Most of the people here are great. While some may be annoying, I can deal with them. There's only one poster on these boards that's on my "list" that I refuse to engage in any conversation, even when he tries to.

            1. re: Miss Needle

              this is exactly why i prefer less moderation, to more, in general.

              1. re: thew

                Wow! There must be a lot of threads I don't read because I rarely see insulting or condescending posts. I see posts by people with whom I don't agree and who sometimes are self-righteous, but I have not noticed many that I found so outrageous they should have been removed.

                Maybe it's because I usually read the Home Cooking messages and the SF Bay Area general thread. Well, that's not really true as I check out the Site Talk and Media boards regularly, too.

                All in all, I think we're a pretty mellow bunch.

                1. re: thew

                  It's always a question of balance. If one knowledgeable but trollish poster bullies or annoys away 3 equally knowledgeable posters, it's a net loss. Perhaps I'm naive and like to think that on average most people are nice and friendly. If that's true, then we may be losing the nice knowledgeable majority because of the trollish bullying but knowledgeable miniority.

            2. Janet, you are not alone. Sometimes these posters haven't reached the threshold where they can be deleted. I've said this before, but I call them a demi-troll. They really are annoying, and choose to deal with their issues by criticizing other posters. I try to just not pay any attention to them as I don't want add fuel to their fire.

              1. Janet from Richmond, I am a newer poster (less than one year), so I can't comment if there has been a change in the last few years. But I had an interesting experience. I recently read an old thread on chopsticks that had been revived (from several years ago). When I read the old posts, I was shocked by the tone of many (not all) of the older posts, and surprised by the racist tones of the original post and some of the responses. I also found some of the old posts condescending and insulting in many ways. The newer posts on that thread (the ones from this year) are much gentler in tone, and much less insulting. Now this is based on a sample size of one thread, so I'm not saying that my impressions are necessarily true. But I recall seeing that thread and thinking, wow, this board must have been a lot crazier back then. Maybe moderation isn't such a bad thing...

                Someone mentioned on another thread that people tend to notice the negative much more than the positive. I think when we see a condescending, insulting post, we notice it much more than all the informative, engaging posts. The annoying posts make much more noise and fire us up emotionally. I'm hoping that is what is happening. I also get very irate by the odd poster with Alpha dog syndrome ( and in this case, I am not referring to the Alpha hound Jim Leff, founder of CH and promoter of all things delicious, who amongst his many strengths can claim the art of writing a well-worded, thought provoking post devoid of obnoxiousness. I am referring to the Alpha dog wannabees, the ones who write the intentionally condescending posts). But then I try to think of all the great, helpful, generous posts, and try my best to forget the obnoxious one. Sometimes, I fail, and I respond in kind to the obnoxious post, and I get deleted. Stuff happens, right?

                8 Replies
                1. re: moh

                  I agree. Once in awhile I get sucked into the controversy, somebody pushes my buttons, and I make a post that I really shouldn't. And get deleted. I was so ashamed the first time this happened - I wanted to write the mods and tell them that I'm really a nice person, I just got overexcited. LOL! I too find the great majority of the posts helpful and positive. And those few posters who I know can annoy me I just ignore. A very, very small minority, to be sure.

                  I've been here less than a year, but am very glad that I stumbled in one day!

                  1. re: Catskillgirl

                    I think this is an interesting point, and one I want to comment on. This sort of thing happens to everyone, eventually. I think the first time The Chowhound Team took any real notice of me -- long before I was a member of the Team, or the Community Manager for Chowhound, when I was a poster like any other -- was when I wrote in to let them know I'd stupidly made an irate post because a couple of people on the Toronto board had irritated me. They didn't hold it against me, in fact, it made them respect me more because I let them know about it myself.

                    If you've let loose with a bit of snark, because you just couldn't help yourself, we understand that. We've absolutely all been there. We'd really appreciate it if, when you realize a few minutes later that it was probably snarkier than it needed to be, you'd use 'report' to flag it for us -- otherwise it'll take a lot longer for us to find it -- but we're not going to think bad thoughts about you for giving into the temptation very occasionally.

                    People who give in to that temptation every time are a problem -- they help create the hostile atmosphere that creates more situations like this -- but please don't feel stressed if it happens every once in awhile.

                    -- Jacquilynne, Community Manager for Chowhound

                    1. re: Jacquilynne

                      Jacquilynne, does this mean you're giving me one more hall pass, or have I exhausted my allotment? :)

                      1. re: Veggo

                        Go sit in the corner and stop acting up! I hope you wet your pants...

                        1. re: Scargod

                          I think I just did gotta run now

                      2. re: Jacquilynne

                        Aaah, I never thought to report myself! Will do.

                    2. re: moh

                      Just a clarification... as a long time poster of 8 years or so, I can tell you that CH has always been heavily moderated. In fact during the old days when people would complain about the heavy handed moderators, sometimes Jim Leff would reply "you should see what these boards look like when we don't moderate even for a few hours". Apparently they were constantly fighting off mega hoards of spam, in addition to trolling posters.

                      Mr Taster

                      1. re: Mr Taster

                        Also a long time poster---though not as long as Mr Taster--and I would agree. There has always been much moderation.

                        That said, I also agree with Stephanieh---I don't like it when a visitor asks about places in a city, a suggestion is made and then the response is disparaged by other people. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, no one deserves snarky comments.

                        and now I'm going to trace back all my posts to make sure I'm not guilty of what I've described..........................

                    3. I've noticed it too. The tone sometimes is definitely hostile around here. I've read some threads that went beyond banter and I could actually feel my blood pressure rise. I might be interested in the subject matter, but won't read the rest of the thread when it starts going hateful.

                      What makes me saddest is when someone posts that they're visiting my city and would like recommendations, then get blasted for wanting to visit someplace that's been hyped a lot that CHs don't feel is "worthy". It makes us look so unwelcoming. I wish we could nicely steer people away from a "tourist trap" or some place we know is resting on it's laurels without attacking the innocent person who is wanting a pleasant trip to our city.