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Creative Director of Chow Thinks Your Comments are "Worthless"

Apprently Jeremy LaCroix (creative director of Chow) spoke at a panel last night and had this to say about us:

"LaCroix noted that advertisers were terrified of commenters, and didn't want to be positioned anywhere near the chatting. They prefer chow.com to chowhound.com—Chowhound is the chattiest. "Do I think most of the comments are worthless? Yes, I do," LaCroix said."

Quote is from the Radar Online recap of the event.

I'm offended!

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  1. oh, very nice.

    and advertisers are terrified of being near thread posts? well gee, they must not be too afraid, 'cause the ads are ALL OVER the freakin' screen!

    and do more people actually *read* chow vs. chowhound?

    i do believe mr. lacroix owes this community a big, public apology. maybe HIS job is worthless, too. (i'm sure he'll think this thread is *especially* "worthless." )

    3 Replies
    1. re: alkapal

      No, alkapal, that part's true: advertisers do indeed prefer placement amid static, controllable content. It's not a function of how good an online forum is....they're scared of them, period. That's one reason why after Chowhound was acquired by CNET they brought on CHOW...to provide the sort of static, controlled editorial content that advertisers prefer.

      1. re: Jim Leff

        jim, so advertisers get a discount to incentivize them to advertise on the chowhound side?

        1. re: alkapal

          No idea.

          But the "advertisers dislike message boards" rule is, for the time being, a fundamental thing. Anyone involved in online ad sales will say the same.

    2. whats the saying..? "don't bite the hand that feeds you..?"

      1. It certainly doesn't sound like Jeremy. I texted him about it -- he's on his way back to SF from NY -- and asked him about it. He's stunned by this recap. But I'll let him respond. He's getting on the plane, so it will probably be around eight hours.

        For what it's worth, we've had many, many discussions about how to encourage MORE feedback and comments.... "Worthless" is about as unlikely an opinion from him as I can imagine.

        1. Based ONLY on the original post and not the link, it looks like the "worthless" comment could be about the comments from the advertisers who are terrified of CHers.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Ima Wurdibitsch

            "They prefer chow.com to chowhound.com—Chowhound is the chattiest."
            that is -- the advertisers prefer chow because chowhound commenters are [too] chatty. the advertisers are afraid of being near the commenter's comments. comments are posted on the blogs" and "reviews." the "comments" referred to are those made by chowhounds. the only "comments" on chowhound are, in fact, posts and replies on threads (unless i am missing somewhere on chowhound where "comments" are solicited).

            unless mr. lacroix was misquoted, it would seem clear that he is characterizing chowhounders' comments as "worthless."

            i tell you what, some of those things on chow that allow comments --- THOSE are the "worthless" things. like that ridiculous "table manners."

          2. Hold on-- don't get your aprons tied in knots! I was there as well and feel like this is really taken out of context. Jeremy also spoke very passionately about bringing great design to the readers of the site and how much he loves Chow. I'm new to the site today, because the slides he showed were so gorgeous, I had to check it out. This feels very incorrectly amplified. I think they are trying to make a sensational mountain out of a molehill.

            5 Replies
            1. re: deeverdee

              how is it taken "out of context"? was it said? what context justifies the comment to make it "not really any big deal" (or "overamplified")?

              and, fyi, since this is your first post, ....we don't all wear aprons.

              1. re: deeverdee

                I agree deeverdee, I was there as well and this is totally out of context. And geez people if you believe everything Radar says that says more about you than anything... especially in its review of the night in all absolutes. I think the panel addressed very successfully the balance and relationship between print and the web, and the issues that have come up revolving around them both. I can't wait for Jeremy to respond to this one.

                1. re: msjonesnyc

                  again, how was it taken out of context?

                  and gee, you first-time posters seem to have a similar disregard for us.

                  1. re: alkapal

                    I too would like to hear how the context was somehow distorted or misunderstood and why it is so vigorously defended by first time posters? Should we turn over these posts to the ever present moderators?

                2. re: deeverdee

                  So, if I read your posting correctly, what you're saying is he did make the statement as quoted in the OP and he also says he loves "Chow"? Just because he also said other things, it doesn't make the offending quote any less offensive. And was he delineating between Chow v. Chowhound? Love of one and maybe not so much love for the other?

                  I'll wait for LaCroix's response to see what context would have been appropriate for the quote.

                3. If any layer of that quote is true Jeremy did more damage to CHOW/CH in one moment than any troublemaker moderated off the Boards. I look forward to learning from Mr. LaCroix how the word "worthless" fits anywhere in a discussion about this site. Hasn't the CH community already proven it can attract substantial advertisers?

                  1. I’d like to set the record straight regarding my statements at last nights panel discussion.

                    For starters I in no way referred to the comments on Chow/Chowhound as worthless. I agree the way this article is written it would seem that this is something uttered from my lips specifically about the Chowhound community, that is simply not the case.

                    As you read through my post I want you all to keep in mind this was a peer to peer panel discus ion of the issues concerning designers switching their careers from print to web.

                    To clarify how this was taken out of context let’s start with the question I was responding to.

                    A member of the audience asked what we on the panel thought of those ever present commenters who leave jokey/snide comments on news stories and such and should that kind of thing be allowed. Does it bother us? What do we do about it?

                    There was a moment of silence... it seemed like my colleagues were reluctant to speak so I jumped in. I said that comments are the nature of the web and that they are something that we live with good / bad and learn from. I explained a little bit how Chowhound is moderated in order to keep the value of the discussion top notch and on point but the comments on Chow stories not as much as they are opinions of an editorial story. (Obviously if we uncover someone leaving a comment is a shill for a company or restaurant etc. We will take the posts off a Chow story. This is generally done by the edit team which is not the same team as the moderators on CH)

                    I also talked briefly regarding advertisers attitudes towards discussion boards in general (not just on Chow but I referenced the paradigm of Chow/Chowhound as an example) because the truth is advertisers are weary ( I did not use the word terrified as the article suggests) of having their brands represented near content that is not controlled. They feel for example What if a thread starts on how much user X hates Dunkin Donuts while my DD ad is sitting right there on the page next to it? This potential conflict is not seen as very attractive to brand managers as you might imagine.

                    These kinds of scenarios weigh heavy on advertisers minds. This is not a secret to anyone in the web industry but to those who are interested in changing their design careers from print to web (this was the narrow focus /niche of the audience) It’s something I thought they should be aware of.

                    When I said “do I think most of those types of comments are worthless?, Yes I do” I was referring to the question asked above regarding those unconstructive comments that are like junk mail littering up web pages.

                    That was the context.

                    For the record I did not refer to CH as chatty, the word chatty was never in play and is not a word I use, period.

                    I’d like you all to know I take my job and this site very seriously. Everyone who works or has worked with me in the past knows this.

                    It’s outrageous to think that I would find comments on the site I devote the majority of my waking life to as “worthless”. I am concerned that in this article I was represented in a way that offended some of you here however I can’t control that.

                    I always liked the way Jane once described the Chowhound community as the “Lifeblood of the site”. We would be nothing without you, your comments and your quality discussions.

                    I hope this clarifies the issue. I’ll keep my eye on this thread, Let me know if you have any further questions regarding this topic and or if my comments here are not clear.

                    Thanks for reading through this long post and more importantly thanks for continuing to comment on this site!


                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Design_Team

                      Jeremy, If you were misrepresented I hope you will take the context one step further and approach/write to the author/site who ran that article. One common point, is being judged by our words. As you know, CH's spend a great deal of time making sure their posts/tips/words are clear and any one of us would get taken to task for anything less-been there myself!

                      Respect & appreciation for setting the record straight.

                      1. re: Design_Team

                        jeremy, thank you for your detailed explanation. it sounds reasonable.

                        1. re: Design_Team

                          Having personally seen the way media prints only portions of comments/questions, I took the article with several huge grains of salt rather than at face value, however, not everyone has had the experience of having their words printed in such a way that they are apparently saying something that is completely opposed to what was meant.

                          Thank you for putting things into context.

                          1. re: Design_Team

                            I cannot speak for others, but having been a victim of media misrepresentation more than once in my life, all I can say to you is relax, take a deep breath, and don't let it bother you. It is the nature of the beast. Thanks for the explanation. Much appreciatedl.

                          2. I actually read this story an hour before I spotted this thread, and I likely lost most if not all of my security deposit from the welts I've left in the walls to my right and left. I'm glad I read this before I started strangling the neighborhood pets and children.

                            Thanks for the speedy clarification, Jeremy, and for being on top of it, Jane. I myself have been misattributed more often than I've been correctly quoted, myself.

                            I'm now going out for some lasagna or something similarly gooey and caloric in order to try to calm down.