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Moderation on Chowhound

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Lina Dec 3, 2008 07:08 AM

Although I love the Chowhound site, I find the moderation to be very heavy-handed. I've had yet another post deleted--this time because I've expressed interest in another food site out there (one that I have no affiliation with other than as a foodie, the same as my affiliation to this site, and this other site isn't in competition with Chowhound). Was looking for info, not driving traffic or raving about it. I should also add that I wasn't notified of the deletion or told why, I'm guessing after finding yet another missing post.

Another post I had deleted was because I mentioned that I had a couple of hygiene-worrying experiences at restaurants in Piccadilly Circus. Even when I didn't name names, my posts were removed because the moderator said that although my post didn't expressly break any Chowhound rules, it might lead to posts that did break Chowhound rules. A little controlling, no?

I've been using Chowhound for years, and was introduced to the site by my father who has been using the site for even more years than me. And although I love the people I meet here, support your advertisers and click on your ads, I don't feel that I, as a user, am respected or valued.

My feedback for Chowhound: reign it in a a bit with the moderation and remember that your users (and the free content they provide you with) are what you are trying to monetize.

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  1. j
    Janet from Richmond Dec 3, 2008 07:11 AM

    Their site. Their right to monitor as they like. Perhaps it isn't a good fit for you (not being sarcastic).

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    1. re: Janet from Richmond
      vyieort Dec 8, 2008 11:01 AM

      This is a sad statement: like it, or leave it.

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      1. re: vyieort
        j
        Janet from Richmond Dec 9, 2008 05:44 AM

        Not at all. Some forums are a better fit for some than for others. Not.one.thing. wrong with that. I've had many posts removed, I have no issue with that. If someone has an issue with Chowhound monitoring the posts on their site, they may be happier posting elsewhere (again, not being critical or sarcastic).

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        1. re: Janet from Richmond
          Xiao Yang Dec 10, 2008 11:49 AM

          You could say the First Amendment is a better fit with some people than others.

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          1. re: Xiao Yang
            ccbweb Dec 10, 2008 11:59 AM

            There's no first amendment issue here.

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        2. re: vyieort
          s
          Sal Vanilla Dec 15, 2008 10:03 AM

          I agree with you. I am often baffled by people snarking off with the take it or leave it attitude when someone merely mentions some issues they think a site may have in THEIR opinion. Maybe Chowhound could consider the opinions of their users. Wouldn't that be what we should all prefer? It is like they are taking personal offense and declaring you audacious! I rank those people with the weirdos that go around correcting other's grammar and spelling.

          I haven't had anything deleted that I know of, but there should be an ability to sound off over heavy handedness. Frankly, I think Lina made some valid points. A post might LEAD to another member making an illegal post? What sort of silliness is that? I will tell you. It is the kind that drives users to other sites. Hmmm.. I guess Janet from Richmond would get her wish.

          So annoying!

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          1. re: Sal Vanilla
            ccbweb Dec 15, 2008 02:23 PM

            Not all replies like this are snark. It's also a legitimate response. Janet went so far as to specifically note that she was being neither sarcastic nor critical. To voice an opinion is entirely valid. This, too, is an opinion: perhaps the site isn't a good fit for some.

            Janet also didn't call anyone any names. Like "weirdo."

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            1. re: Sal Vanilla
              c
              cimui Dec 15, 2008 04:08 PM

              others'!

              just kidding. (actually, i have no idea where that apostrophe goes. ;)

              despite all the invitations to leave, i hope neither you nor vyieort, xiao yang, alkapal, lina, silverbear, soupK, givemecarbs, nor any of the other well spoken, well thought out hounds on this site leave. i would miss you terribly. and how boring it would be to have only cheerleaders for company.

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        3. alanbarnes Dec 3, 2008 07:57 AM

          You can't take it personally. You may not agree with the mods' decisions, but an unmoderated forum is a recipe for unmitigated chaos. As one who's had more than his fair share of posts deleted, I understand your frustration, especially when you've put significant time and effort into writing something up. But it's the nature of the beast.

          My motto is, if you're not getting deleted, you're not trying hard enough.

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          1. re: alanbarnes
            b
            Beach Chick Dec 3, 2008 08:19 AM

            'My motto is, if you're not getting deleted, you're not trying hard enough.'
            Love that Alan!

            Not to be a kiss ass but they all do a really good job..
            I get deleted at least once a week...Get over it and don't take it personally.

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            1. re: alanbarnes
              Gio Dec 3, 2008 08:26 AM

              Your motto is brilliant, Alan.

              I've had my share of deletions too. It's a pain but I know it's to keep the focus on the deliciousness of the chow we're supposed to be reporting on.
              Keep on keeping on.

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            2. m
              mlgb Dec 3, 2008 08:08 AM

              The problem with heavy handed moderation is that it's another reason for people to quit it. Add in the sluggish, ad-intensive website, moderation can be the proverbial straw.

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              1. Davwud Dec 3, 2008 08:47 AM

                I too have had many deletions.
                There is a restaurant up here that we aren't allowed to post about. I do once in a while anyway. Let the mods earn their money.

                When it first started to happen I was really pissed. Then I just decided that the site is better than the headaches.

                DT

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                1. re: Davwud
                  Jacquilynne Dec 3, 2008 09:26 AM

                  Please don't deliberately create work for the moderators. The majority of moderation is done by a small, very dedicated crew of other site users like you, who volunteer to help out. They don't receive any payment, and it adds more work to their efforts. As well, it's confusing and upsetting for other members who reply to your posts and find theirs deleted as well.

                  -- Jacquilynne, Community Manager for Chowhound

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                  1. re: Jacquilynne
                    Davwud Dec 3, 2008 09:31 AM

                    Fair enough.

                    The one place in question is a sore spot for me. They've been rather tyranical in my view on the subject. But I'm not in charge and have to live within the rules.

                    DT

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                    1. re: Jacquilynne
                      Xiao Yang Dec 10, 2008 11:54 AM

                      You've pointed out something I see as a problem: some posters are also moderators. Posts may be deleted for disagreeing with another poster/moderator; there is no check on that, and I have been the victim of it on a number of occasions.

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                      1. re: Xiao Yang
                        Servorg Dec 10, 2008 12:18 PM

                        I very strongly doubt (make that I am sure) you were not deleted for disagreeing with a moderator/poster. And, even if you think that's the case how would you know/be sure that it was a moderator/poster you were disagreeing with? As long as your disagreement post is on topic and you weren't attacking someone personally then it wouldn't matter "who" you were disagreeing with. Hell, back in the day I got into it pretty good with Jim Leff and all of my posts remained up (and Jim gave as good, or even better than he got! - lol).

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                        1. re: Servorg
                          Melanie Wong Dec 10, 2008 12:58 PM

                          "And, even if you think that's the case how would you know/be sure that it was a moderator/poster you were disagreeing with? "

                          I'll mention that I get a certain amount of profane email traffic from various posters who have been deleted and believe that I'm a moderator and responsible. It's been like that for all the years I've been on the site. Most times i never even read the post that was removed, but I'll say from the language used in mouthing off to me via email, I can imagine that vulgarity, rather than disagreement, had something to do with pulling a post.

                          Nope, I'm too immoderate to wear that hat. And, seeing just that tiny fraction of responses that is misdirected and ends up in my inbox, I appreciate their seemingly thankless task.

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                        2. re: Xiao Yang
                          Jacquilynne Dec 10, 2008 01:18 PM

                          All actions by all moderators are visible to me and all other moderators, and most deletions get looked at by several pairs of eyes afterward. If a moderator was involved in a grudge match like that, it would be noticed very quickly, and dealt with very severely. In practice, the mods step back from moderating threads they're significantly involved in, asking another mod to review those threads instead.

                          Another factor to keep in mind is that if you're involved in a running personality conflict with another poster, there's a good chance that low levels of discontent are flaring up into rules violations more often than you're recognizing it in your own posts. Those sorts of simmering feuds do tend to lead to a lot of posts being removed. That might lead you to think that the other person must be a mod, when that's probably not true.

                          One of the drawbacks to having anonymous mods (we recognize there are pluses and minuses to that decision) is that it can seem like you're being picked on by one moderator, even when that's not the case. It might help to know what we don't have moderators assigned to specific boards or specific shifts, so just because all your deletions happen from one board, or around the same time of day, or whatever commonality they have, doesn't mean they were done by the same person. I don't know where it would make you feel better or worse, but if you've been deleted a number of times, the likelihood is that it was done by a lot of different people, not just one.

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                          1. re: Jacquilynne
                            Xiao Yang Dec 10, 2008 01:27 PM

                            I haven't been deleted often (not counting as part of whole threads that went astray) but very selectively. It's the very selectivity that arouses suspicions.

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                            1. re: Xiao Yang
                              Jacquilynne Dec 10, 2008 01:48 PM

                              If you've got specific things you'd like me to review, please send an email to me at jacquilynne dot schlesier at cbs dot com and I'll take a look through your history.

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                              1. re: Jacquilynne
                                Scargod Dec 16, 2008 05:46 AM

                                By saying you have "history", you are suggesting that there could be members that are red-flagged, or on a black list of sorts, that are repeatedly acting up or problematic. A history of all our deletions? Can you refer back to our (complete), history and could this be used in the decisionmaking as to whether to delete or not delete?
                                I believe you have banished a significant (contributing), member (or members), and have also reinstated one or more.

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                                1. re: Scargod
                                  Jacquilynne Dec 16, 2008 06:28 AM

                                  We have basic records on posts, mod actions, emails, etc, that have happened since we moved to this software. We do consider a poster's history in deciding on current situations -- a person who has a long history of personal attacks and insults would get a different warning from someone who has always been civil but lost their temper once, as an example.

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                        3. re: Jacquilynne
                          Caroline1 Dec 14, 2008 04:10 AM

                          Jacquilynne, you probably recall where I stand on voluntteer moderators! THEY SHOULD BE PAID!!! I mean, it's not like Chowhound is the small start-up relying on Jim Leff's perszonal pocket. CBS, despite the depression (I can't bring myself to call it a recession any longer) is STILL a deep pockets entity, any way you slice it.

                          The great advantage that paid moderators would bring is, first and foremost, more even handed and consistent moderation. As things stand, things ebb and flow with the change in staff, or the mood of a particular moderator.

                          Couple that with the constant technical problems, and Chowhound just isn't getting much bang for it's buck as things stand.

                          FYI, I haven't been able to get ANY of the final Recipes pages to load for a couple of days now.

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                          1. re: Caroline1
                            Servorg Dec 14, 2008 04:54 AM

                            Why you think paying moderators would bring about more even handed and consistent moderation is not apparent or even necessarily true. The moderation to my mind is both as consistent and even handed as it can be, given the constraints of the posting guidelines and the material. Moderation is never going to be an exact science (or any sort of science).

                            The ebb and flow of paid staff could certainly be the same or even worse given the state of the economy, and the mood of any single moderator is already not an issue since Jacquilynne has stated more than once that it is not just one moderator looking at deletions, or that is part of the decision making process about what goes and what stays up.

                            Finally, as you can see with the engineering issues that ARE taken care of by PAID staff; paid employees are not always the answer / path to purported perfection. CBS has enough current financial challenges that I would doubt very strongly that adding employees to their payroll is something that corporate leadership would be look favorably upon at this moment. Corporate pockets everywhere in the world are a lot shallower than they have been in a long, long time.

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                            1. re: Servorg
                              Caroline1 Dec 14, 2008 02:58 PM

                              Well, without going into the minutia of my life, before my kids were born (they've both now kicked 40 in the teeth) I was a psychiatric occupational therapist, and did both group psychotherapy and group motivational therapy. Additionally, I have also served as a volunteer group facilitator in a self help group specifically for newly divorced/divorcing and widowed people. In the self help group all facilitators and directors were "volunteers." A constant problem with volunteers was some of them not understanding how to perform their function. Some would jump in and do more damage than good. In my experience with Chowhound, that happens more frequently than I believe it would with paid professionals.

                              I have "taken my marbles" and stayed away from Chow because the mods AND the tech problems were not doing anything good for me. Generous private emails brought me back.

                              At that time there was a thread about what to take in the way of food to a "Beatnik" party. It quickly became apparent that few had any idea what a Beatnik was, and were confusing them with "flower children" and such of later times. I wrote a fairly long explanation of the beatnik movement AND the food and covered American culture of the time. The mods removed it. When I objected (I think it was over that post) they wrote back and suggested I start a blog. BUT... They left up a totally inappropriate post from someone about mashed potatoes with ketchup and menses that may have been appropriate to the militant women's movement, but is entirely unrelated to beatniks.

                              Extending cultural literacy seems often frowned upon on these boards by mods. That bugs the hell out of me. It is NOT the job of moderators to squelch food related information. I don't think professional moderators would have the same personal policies because it does seem to be a personal thing with some moderators. It is not uniform.

                              Now, the technical problems are wholly unrelated to the time to time over exuberant moderators. The technical problems may or may not reflect on the competency of that staff, but I tend to think (based on observation) that it is as much if not more of an old equipment / new software problem than it is bad technicians. Doesn't matter how great a technician is, there's not one on the planet who can make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. To do all of that they acomplished while keeping the boards up and "sort of" running was a daunting task.

                              I wouldn't waste too much time worrying about poor CBS facing any financial shortfalls on behalf of Chowhound. Have you taken a look at the never ending stream of ads down the right side of every new page you open? Have you counted the number of ads plopped in front of you per hour? The Chowhound cash cow appears to be in good health and still giving milk. With lots of cream. And people like you and I -- who ARE in effect "volunteers" -- earn those bucks for CBS. Why are you so willing to feel guilty about asking for a reasonably well thought out and enacted policy from moderators, or better equipment for the tech staff, for that matter?

                              If as much progress had been made in a more even handed moderation application as has been made on the technical side, I would not be writing this but would be singing their praises! But I will say they have backed off somewhat on me, for which I am grateful. But I do see other people occasionally chopped off at the knees. And I have to admit I just don't post as much as I used to because I don't want to fight with mods over trying to be useful, so that is a factor as well.

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                              1. re: Caroline1
                                Servorg Dec 14, 2008 03:57 PM

                                I think that if there was a university which offered a course of study which ended in the award of an advanced degree in Chowhound moderating then perhaps the analogy of volunteers overstepping their bounds in the field of psychology would have some relevancy here. Alas, they don't.

                                As to the mods frowning upon "cultural literacy" I find that if the literacy is on topic it will stay and if not it will go. Carolyn, if it were only you who wrote this type of erudite, witty and interesting detour de force there would be no problem. But, unfortunately one draws another and that one draws two more and before you know it this site would be an unusable chaotic mess.

                                I try and remember that "before" I make a humorous aside. Sometimes I don't, and when said aside is laid to rest by the moderators I take it with a grain of salt. Not too mention, when the mods let yours stand then the next few hundred potential posters with itchy off topic trigger fingers note that, and expect theirs to stand as well. And when their witty bon mots don't remain, they rain holy hell down on the mod's for being "uneven handed" and "inconsistent."

                                While you see the moderation of your contribution as being personal you aren't seeing what else is being taken down for the most part. And, when you push the envelope you tend to "augur" into the ground more often than the other pilots.

                                CBS may be making money. But when the time comes to having layoffs and cut backs you can be certain that the powers that be are going to be very sensitive to adding head count on Chowhound. You won't want to be seen as eliminating peoples livelihood right before Christmas with one hand, while you start paying folks over here to do something that is done, and done well in my estimation, for gratis.

                                My earlier statement someplace else about moderation here is that you need to find out how the "refs" are calling the game, and then match the aggressiveness of your play to the way the game is being called. Otherwise you will find yourself riding the pine.

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                                1. re: Servorg
                                  Xiao Yang Dec 14, 2008 06:37 PM

                                  "As to the mods frowning upon "cultural literacy" I find that if the literacy is on topic it will stay and if not it will go. Carolyn, if it were only you who wrote this type of erudite, witty and interesting detour de force there would be no problem. But, unfortunately one draws another and that one draws two more and before you know it this site would be an unusable chaotic mess."

                                  Yeah, scary to think how confusing and unsettling a place Chowhound would be if it had a few more culturally literate posters.

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                                  1. re: Xiao Yang
                                    ccbweb Dec 14, 2008 06:49 PM

                                    Culturally literate as defined by whom?

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                                    1. re: Xiao Yang
                                      Caroline1 Dec 14, 2008 10:17 PM

                                      Well, my problem was that what I wrote that was removed was NOT off topic, but the objectionable post I refer to was off topic and it was left up. You might say, on a cultural literacy level, it was similar to confusing the Revolutionary War with the Civil War. Beatniks and Flower Children are neither the same nor were they contemporary. My point was that a post explaining the differences was removed while one that added to the confusion was let stand. Which undoubtedly says a lot more about the cultural literacy of the mod who removed my post than it does about anything else. I do believe having paid moderators who can be tested on their knowledge before hiring instead of having moderators being invited to serve as a volunteer simply based on how active they are on the technical boards and asking for deletions from the boards would go a long way toward making things more even handed around here and restoring the sense of fun and mutual adventure. After contributors are slapped up along the side of the head a few times for their contributions, it rather puts things on the gray side of life. Who needs more gray?

                                      Please don't think I don't appreciate your droll wit and tongue in cheek comments. I do! I do! They are delicious. I just wanted to correct the misconception that culturally relevant posts will be left on the boards. That's a false impression simply because it depends heavily on whether any given moderator doing the deleting is culturally literate. And THAT is the rub! '-)

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                                      1. re: Caroline1
                                        Jacquilynne Dec 15, 2008 06:00 AM

                                        The one thing the moderators have in common is that first and foremost, they're all hounds. They're passionate participants in the community outside of their moderating activities. That makes them better moderators, not worse.

                                        What they do, they do because they're motivated, not by money, but by their love for the site. Bringing in outside people, who aren't familiar with the vibe of the community, who don't understand the implications of their actions, and who blindly follow a rulebook, isn't going to improve the situation.

                                        I know it seems like it would be easier for people if we could set down a series of hard and fast 'this gets deleted' and 'that doesn't get deleted' rules, and if ever you got deleted, you could get an automatic email that says you violated paragraph 4, subsection 3 of the Chowhound code of conduct. But moderation is simply not that simple. There are shades of who and what and why in every decision. Previous posting history, the content of the post and the overall situation are all considered.

                                        All of the moderators are longtime hounds who were asked to join the team (we don't really take volunteers who volunteer themselves) based on their thoughtful feedback and posts on site issues and their active and interested participation as hounds. New moderators aren't simply thrown into the deep end and left to sink or swim. There is initial training for them, to ensure they understand the rules and the reasons for them. As I've noted elsewhere, every action a moderator takes requires them to leave a comment that's visible to all of the moderators. Other mods see and follow up on the decisions of new (and old!) moderators. The team is also in very close contact with each other via email, IM and our site tools, so we discuss and debate possible actions with each other constantly.

                                        I know that it can be difficult for members to trust that this anonymous group of people really, truly has the site's best interests at heart and isn't advancing their own agenda or acting out of ignorance. But I've worked very closely with all of them for a long time, and these are good, smart, caring people. I see how hard they work, and how much they agonize over making the right decisions. While we're never going to reach 100% consistency, I trust them to try to do the right thing in every situation. I hope you will, too.

                                        -- Jacquilynne, Community Manager for Chowhound

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                                        1. re: Jacquilynne
                                          h
                                          HillJ Dec 15, 2008 06:36 AM

                                          How incredible helpful to know all of these points, Jacq. If you had posted this insightful, first hand account days ago fewer "best guesses" would have appeared in trying to understand/defend or assume how Moderation is determined.

                                          From my own experience on CH, the "mystery" of how Mods are selected/volunteer/function/assess threads was long overdue explanation.

                                          Please consider turning your revealing post into a sticky at the top of the Site Talk page.

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                                          1. re: HillJ
                                            h
                                            HillJ Dec 15, 2008 11:10 AM

                                            Would it be forward-thinking to create a Moderation Board separate from Site Talk where Mod specific conversations and announcements could be posted?

                                            Site Talk has many other points to ponder and Moderation appears to have a good deal of inquiry.

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                                          2. re: Jacquilynne
                                            Scargod Dec 16, 2008 06:08 AM

                                            I'm not asking that you and CBS rethink moderators, as paid professionals, but part of your reasoning is (I think), part of why Caroline1 and others object to volunteer moderators. They are people interested in food and the discussion. I guess you wouldn't want moderators ignorant of food, restaurants and cooking but how can they be objective all the time? They are not paid to be professional at moderating or professionally objective.
                                            Education, literacy and professionalism are all relevant. I don't think much is done to inhibit members from using French or Spanish to skirt the moderators. I enjoy the contributors who are good writers and understand ethnic food history. I think the site should be well-balanced and have that included. There is plenty of useless back-and-forth that is left in that has no content about food. I've been guilty....
                                            All together, I think we are blessed with having Chowhound around. There has been improvements or I am just getting comfortable with my place.

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                                        2. re: Xiao Yang
                                          Caroline1 Dec 14, 2008 10:31 PM

                                          Don't bet on people not missing you! Did you leave an email address on your profile page when you left? If I hadn't done that, I too would have gone on thinking I wasn't missed. I just checked your profile page, and I'm saddened that you haven't posted in a year. I, for one, would love to see you become active again. Just don't spend all of your time hiding on the LA board...! '-)

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                                          1. re: Xiao Yang
                                            Servorg Dec 15, 2008 06:26 AM

                                            The difficulty (impossibility) is that everyone thinks that "their" posts are the epitome of "cultural literacy" and that whatever off topic post they put up should stand as "pearls of wisdom." Without moderation this site would be unusable. Do the moderators make mistakes? Of course. They are human. But in the majority of the cases that I personally have knowledge of their deletions are on point and necessary.

                                            This issue boils down to seeing the glass (site) as either more full (beneficial) or more empty (deleterious). I believe that there are better sites out there for those who have a lower tolerance for moderation. For those of us who dislike off topic chaos and verbal assaults this site works well. And, since we are all here voluntarily, there is really no need to become agitated by the moderation. It is what it is. We can live with it, or live without it. I choose to live with it. Your choice is always in your hands.

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                                            1. re: Servorg
                                              LindaWhit Dec 15, 2008 07:15 AM

                                              What Servorg said - all of it. :-)

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                                        3. re: ChinoWayne
                                          wolfe Dec 14, 2008 04:27 PM

                                          Thank you Servorg and CW that's about what I meant by my rapidly deleted post and said much more elegantly.

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                                      2. re: Caroline1
                                        wolfe Dec 14, 2008 08:22 AM

                                        The paid, trained officials at baseball, football and soccer games never make a judgment error?

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                                        1. re: wolfe
                                          Caroline1 Dec 14, 2008 03:00 PM

                                          And what exactly does that have to do with the price of eggs on Chowhound? I never said things would be perfect with paid moderators, but I do strongly believe they would be greatly improved.

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                                          1. re: wolfe
                                            silverbear Dec 15, 2008 07:58 AM

                                            They often do, but their errors are more visible -- either via the first-hand observations of spectators or via video recordings. Egregious errors in officiating are exposed, discussed, and may eventually result in changes if they are systematic.

                                            In contrast, Chowhound moderation is completely opaque. There's no exposure of what has been done and why. As a result, there's no reason to have confidence that the moderation is being done appropriately. The assurances that the moderators are all "hounds" themselves, that they're passionate about the site, etc. are not enough to reassure skeptics when good posts disappear and mean-spirited, unhelpful posts are allowed to stand. Maybe there's a good reason for the decisions being made, but until those decisions are more transparent, no one will know for sure.

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                                            1. re: silverbear
                                              q
                                              queencru Dec 15, 2008 08:36 AM

                                              I visit one site that at one point had the most heavy-handed moderation I'd ever seen. I probably lurked for a good 6 years before getting the courage to post, because everyone I know who tried posting almost got banned in their first 10 posts. While sometimes the rules here can be opaque, I do appreciate that I won't get automatically deleted because I didn't see a post 100 posts up on the thread or didn't capitalize a word. I don't really mind my posts getting deleted as long as it doesn't start some counter to me being banned. I'm sure on that other board I've mentioned, I would have been banned ages ago because I've had many posts deleted here.

                                              On the other hand I don't think I've ever gotten a notification as to why the post was deleted- even just something generic to say it was deleted would be nice. I thought I had signed on with an email address I never used because I was sure at least a few would get a mention, but it was a normal email address.

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                                      3. re: Davwud
                                        invinotheresverde Dec 9, 2008 11:33 AM

                                        "There is a restaurant up here that we aren't allowed to post about."

                                        This is what blows my mind about this site. Users aren't ALLOWED to post about a RESTAURANT on Chowhound.

                                        <Throws hands up in air>

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                                        1. re: invinotheresverde
                                          LindaWhit Dec 9, 2008 11:41 AM

                                          But if they've dealt with heavy-handed shilling from that place before, it's understandable. It does suck that you can't post about them, but when it's hard to figure out future posts as to whether they're shills or not, it's ultimately just easier for the Mods.

                                          Really no different on Yelp, where if you give a bad review on a favored restaurant there (i.e., one that provides ad revenue dollars) they won't allow the bad review - or force it to the bottom of many posts so many people don't see it.

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                                          1. re: LindaWhit
                                            Caralien Dec 20, 2008 07:04 AM

                                            Yelp does allow bad reviews--I've left plenty, and it's generally in the order of what was most recently posted combined with what was deemed most useful by other yelpers. Even on this site I've read contradictory reviews on restaurants (loved the beer and food at (place in Princeton)...no, the food is crap and I hated it and the beer is too watery). Then again, maybe these aren't favoured places who advertise, so only the users care?

                                            I have adblockers and flashblockers installed on my browsers, so I don't see the ads anyway.

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                                          2. re: invinotheresverde
                                            Servorg Dec 9, 2008 11:53 AM

                                            If a restaurant orchestrates a shilling campaign despite knowing that what they are doing is verboten to the point that they won't stop, then being banned from the site seems only fair and right.

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                                            1. re: Servorg
                                              The Chowhound Team Dec 9, 2008 12:19 PM

                                              This is actually addressed in the "Interview with a Moderator" linked to below (and transcribed here http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/378081#2364464 ). We don't ban such restaurants out of a sense of fairness or justice, it's simply because we get to the point where we don't feel we can be sure about the honesty of many posters, so we don't allow discussion of the restaurant at all.

                                              It's also addressed on our posting etiquette (which, again, we'd recommend everybody read at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/367605). Here's the relevant part:

                                              "Restaurateurs (or their friends, employees, PR firms, relatives, etc) who post phony testimonials or recruit others to post for them will be uncovered. Any subsequent discussion of the restaurant -- from any poster -- may be removed. We fight hard to preserve the site's reputation for integrity and to ensure the trustworthiness of our resource."

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                                              1. re: The Chowhound Team
                                                invinotheresverde Dec 9, 2008 06:14 PM

                                                "... we don't feel we can be sure about the honesty of many posters...".

                                                I'm curious. If a longtime poster had a question about this restaurant, and a second longtime poster answered, the thread would be deleted? This isn't sarcasm, I'm actually curious.

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                                                1. re: invinotheresverde
                                                  The Chowhound Team Dec 9, 2008 07:27 PM

                                                  In the rare cases that we have to take the action of banning a restaurant from our site, we disallow all discussion, from any poster. It would confuse and upset people if we allowed some discussion from trusted posters, but no discussion from posters we're not sure about. It would make the longtime posters think that the people we're deleting are shills, when that wouldn't always be true. It would make new posters feel unwelcome and untrusted when they see that we allow some people to discuss the restaurants, and not them. And the people who caused the situation in the first place would do their best to manipulate the discussions so that trusted hounds mentioned their restaurant.

                                                  We're very thankful that the majority of restaurant insiders stay hands off on our site so we're only forced to take such action for a very small number of restaurants, and only when the problem can't be managed any other way. We're hounds and we like to talk about food too. We hate it when we're forced to take this sort of action by people who don't respect the values of an open, honest site.

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                                                  1. re: The Chowhound Team
                                                    invinotheresverde Dec 10, 2008 07:49 AM

                                                    Is there a list of banned restaurants?

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                                                    1. re: invinotheresverde
                                                      Servorg Dec 10, 2008 07:54 AM

                                                      Probably not a good idea to publicize the names of restaurants that are banned for shilling since it just gives them more free online "air" time (exactly what they are looking for).

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                                                      1. re: Servorg
                                                        invinotheresverde Dec 10, 2008 08:16 AM

                                                        True, but it must be frustrating to posters truly looking for info.

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                                                        1. re: invinotheresverde
                                                          The Chowhound Team Dec 10, 2008 08:25 AM

                                                          We do our best to email unsuspecting posters who are deleted in these situations.

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                                                      2. re: invinotheresverde
                                                        LindaWhit Dec 10, 2008 08:08 AM

                                                        If they put up the list, they'd have to delete themselves. :-)

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                                                        1. re: LindaWhit
                                                          invinotheresverde Dec 10, 2008 08:17 AM

                                                          Excellent point!

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                                                          1. re: LindaWhit
                                                            ccbweb Dec 10, 2008 09:04 AM

                                                            And they'd have to email themselves to explain why.

                                                            And then the internet would implode.

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                                                            1. re: ccbweb
                                                              LindaWhit Dec 10, 2008 10:42 AM

                                                              A black hole that once was the Internet. There goes Al Gore's invention. ::::Sigh::::

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                                                              1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                wolfe Dec 10, 2008 01:06 PM

                                                                For those trekkies still out there this sound like a rerun of the Nomad and Landrew episodes.

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                                              2. re: Davwud
                                                s
                                                Sal Vanilla Dec 15, 2008 10:06 AM

                                                Why wouldn't they let you post on a restaurant? Isn't that the point here?

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                                                1. re: Sal Vanilla
                                                  ccbweb Dec 15, 2008 02:24 PM

                                                  If you read through the rest of the thread, you'll fine reasons about why. You may not agree with them or think they're good reasons, of course, but they're given nonetheless.

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                                              3. c
                                                cimui Dec 3, 2008 11:33 AM

                                                I agree that the moderators on this board are occasionally heavy handed and sometimes also just completely off base. I understand that to a great extent moderators can only apply standards, not hard and fast rules. But there are times when deletion patterns seem almost completely arbitrary to me.

                                                My thoughts on the matter: moderation is desirable, but try to make standards clearer to the moderators so they can apply them more consistently. Deleting good posts has an undesirable cooling effect on discussion.

                                                57 Replies
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                                                1. re: cimui
                                                  Jacquilynne Dec 3, 2008 12:40 PM

                                                  It's worth keeping in mind that the moderators are making their decisions with a more complete picture of the situation than the users have available to them.

                                                  As a single example: users may have seen only the first joking post or two in a thread, and not the dozen that rapidly followed, completely derailing an otherwise chowish discussion. When they check back later and find those remarks deleted, they wonder why we have no sense of humour, when really, we were just trying to keep the thread on track.

                                                  The moderators don't live to delete stuff. We don't even like to delete stuff. (Except shills. We like to delete shills -- and we delete a lot more of them than you might imagine.) And we're definitely not perfect or always consistent, though we do hope we achieve a standard that's higher than 'arbitrary'. We work hard to keep the conversation honest, friendly and on topic, and while our reasons might not always be obvious to an observer, we hope you'll trust that we have the best interests of the Chowhound community at heart, and that those reasons do exist and are good ones.

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                                                  1. re: Jacquilynne
                                                    c
                                                    cimui Dec 3, 2008 12:59 PM

                                                    I understand your perspective and appreciate your good intentions. I do suspect there could be better consistency in applying standards.

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                                                    1. re: cimui
                                                      Servorg Dec 3, 2008 01:47 PM

                                                      If I am correctly reading what Jacquilynne is saying, cimui we (the regular CH posters) won't / can't understand that, what looks from this side of the curtain as inconsistency, is actually not. But, because we aren't privy to all the things the moderators are seeing, we perceive the deletions as unnecessary or inconsistent.

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                                                      1. re: Servorg
                                                        vyieort Dec 8, 2008 11:02 AM

                                                        I agree. Moderation is one thing. Shaping the threads and overall "big picture" message to fit an aesthetic of Chowhound seems overbearing and counter to the expressive and excitable nature of food and its followers.

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                                                        1. re: vyieort
                                                          Servorg Dec 8, 2008 11:30 AM

                                                          If we will just stop concentrating on the trees and look at the forest we find a thriving food discussion community with thousands of varied and interesting topics to follow along with and participate in, if we are interested in doing so. And the suggestion to find and participate in a site that fits "our" personal aesthetic is on point.

                                                          Chowhound is only "one" of many, many sites where we can discuss food. If the moderation here gives any one of us "heartburn" then we should find a site that is more to our liking. This sort of site is meant to provide fun and be a diversion. This is certainly not life and death.

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                                                          1. re: vyieort
                                                            ccbweb Dec 8, 2008 11:52 AM

                                                            I don't see any effort to create an aesthetic or to shape threads other than to keep them on the topic of food. I also don't think there's any particular message inherent in Chowhound. The content is still driven by individual posters and for every opinion on the site there are disagreements also on the site.

                                                            Not everything that people who love food want to talk about is about food only because people who love food want to talk about it.

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                                                            1. re: ccbweb
                                                              BobB Dec 8, 2008 12:07 PM

                                                              I agree - the moderators never attempt to pull or otherwise shape a discussion in any particular direction, they just delete ones that wander off in what they consider to be inappropriate directions.

                                                              Perhaps it could be said that this creates an aesthetic by virtue of leaving behind only certain "civilized" types of posts, but having seen the nasty, ugly chaos that so easily erupts on unmoderated sites I say Go Moderators!

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                                                              1. re: BobB
                                                                g
                                                                givemecarbs Dec 8, 2008 12:48 PM

                                                                You've visited gaming forums haven't you BobB? He he! Well I have and it sure gives me a sense of perspective.

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                                                                1. re: BobB
                                                                  FastTalkingHighTrousers Dec 8, 2008 08:10 PM

                                                                  "the moderators never attempt to pull or otherwise shape a discussion in any particular direction, they just delete ones that wander off in what they consider to be inappropriate directions. "
                                                                  "what they consider to be inapproriate directions"?
                                                                  That could be anything related or unrelated to the topic. The bottom line is this site is way over-moderated.

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                                                                  1. re: FastTalkingHighTrousers
                                                                    The Chowhound Team Dec 9, 2008 05:28 AM

                                                                    There are many inappropriate directions that a discussion could take. For example, a restaurant insider shilling for his own place, or an ex-employee slamming that place after he leaves. Snarky comments about other posters or their writing style are another big problem- we ask people to review the chow, not each other. Our posting guidelines at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/367605 do explain our moderation approach very well, so we'd recommend anyone who hasn't read them take a second to do so.

                                                                    We'd also recommend people check out this interview at http://www.chow.com/stories/10474 to get some insight into the way the site is moderated.

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                                                                    1. re: FastTalkingHighTrousers
                                                                      ccbweb Dec 9, 2008 05:57 AM

                                                                      Over-moderated in what sense? What do you think ends up missing that would benefit people who come here to get tips to find great food? What do you think should be allowed to be posted here that would help that search?

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                                                          2. re: Jacquilynne
                                                            silverbear Dec 3, 2008 02:29 PM

                                                            That's precisely the problem: Moderation is opaque and the community therefore has little opportunity to understand what has happened and why.

                                                            CH could improve by considering the following, all of which are common in other moderated online discussion environments:

                                                            -- Leaving a placeholder note in place of the deleted post showing the reason for deletion: off-topic, TOS violation, etc.

                                                            -- Consistently sending deletion notices to the "deletees." That's happened to me only about 1 out of 10 times.

                                                            -- Allowing for some community role in moderation. Right now, it's in the hands of an invisible elite, and as you have said before, "We don't moderate by consensus." That's maddening. Why not let the community have a role in setting its own standards?

                                                            Alas, these questions and suggestions are rhetorical, because CH's most loyal participants are a self-selecting group that has bought into its opaque moderation strategy. Those who object either adapt to the site's non-democratic nature or move on.

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                                                            1. re: silverbear
                                                              c
                                                              cimui Dec 3, 2008 02:42 PM

                                                              Far more eloquently said than I could have said it. I wish I could think of a much better alternative, though. I'm not sure that more democratic moderation, at least as it exists in forms I'm more familiar with (i.e. Craigslist) are very effective, either.

                                                              I do appreciate that there are fewer shills on this board than other places in cyberspace, Jacquilynne!

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                                                              1. re: silverbear
                                                                LindaWhit Dec 4, 2008 07:58 AM

                                                                I *completely* disagree with allowing the community itself a role in moderation. How in heavens name could that be productive to anyone, allowing anything and everything to be deleted?

                                                                We *do* have a role in moderation right now that works - click on the "Report" button and give an explanation as to why something should be deleted/moved. The Mods see it, they make the judgment call.

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                                                                1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                  silverbear Dec 4, 2008 02:44 PM

                                                                  I think you *completely* misunderstood my suggestion, which is not about allowing unilateral deletions by anyone and everyone, but instead allowing the community a role in setting standards for what gets deleted by moderators.

                                                                  As for the "report" button, I'm not too satisifed with it. It has resulted in deletions only a small fraction of times I've used it.

                                                                  It's obvious that you're pleased with CH's moderation strategy, and that's great. I'm less satisifed, so we'll agree to disagree.

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                                                                  1. re: silverbear
                                                                    LindaWhit Dec 4, 2008 05:43 PM

                                                                    But just because you think something should be deleted doesn't always mean it should be. It's there to use; sometimes it works to your (or my) satisfaction, sometimes it doesn't. Can't always get what we want.

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                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                      The Chowhound Team Dec 4, 2008 06:03 PM

                                                                      We do always read the reports sent to us, investigate the situation, and consider whether the post presents a violation of the guidelines. Our motto isn't "does the post deserve to stay?", it's "does it absolutely *have* to go?" We do apologize that we don't always email people who send reports to thank them for the help and to explain why we left a post if don't agree it's a problem. With the large volume of reports we get (hundreds per week), it just isn't possible to respond to each person, but we greatly appreciate all the help we get.

                                                                      There is a bug that prevents us from seeing a small number of reports, so if you've reported something and it's not removed, and you feel there's a chance we missed your report, please send an email to moderators@chowhound.com.

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                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                        silverbear Dec 5, 2008 08:07 AM

                                                                        That's obvious, but when the report "button" results in deletions less than 25% of the time I click it, and when lots of useful and innocuous posts disappear without explanation, it's a sign that CH moderation is not working for me. If the ratios were better, I'd be happier because I undersand "can't always get what we want." I'm less understanding of "almost never get what we want."

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                                                                        1. re: silverbear
                                                                          s
                                                                          soupkitten Dec 5, 2008 08:26 AM

                                                                          what are you reporting on, typically, silverbear? i mean, i get deleted a lot because i'm a wingnut, i frequently have a diametrically opposed pov to others', and sometimes i freak out, but i also use the report somewhat frequently-- and i hardly ever use it when i see something that's borderline ot, or snarky, or dumb-- i mean, unless it's really really bad. if i did report something like that, i'd expect that there's at least some chance that the mods might elect to leave the post, or let the discussion continue for a little while before deciding to axe it. it's gray area for me, as just a regular poster, i might not always be right, indeed, i may seldom be right.

                                                                          i *will* absolutely report a shill the instant i see one, or if someone has started a new topic on the wrong board, that just needs to be moved in order to get more helpful response-- to me this is just basic housekeeping and should be everybody's job on the site, and ime the mods have been really responsive to these reports, no complaints from me on these more black&white moderation issues.

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                                                                          1. re: soupkitten
                                                                            silverbear Dec 5, 2008 08:42 AM

                                                                            discriminatory remarks
                                                                            disrespectful comments
                                                                            dismissive one-liner attacks

                                                                            ... that's the type of stuff I report. I don't report shills because they're usually so obvious that anyone can see past them. In fact, I find them often rather amusing in their amateurishness.

                                                                            My general feeling is that CH moderation pays too much attention to topicality and not enough attention to civility. That bothers me as much as the Orwellian "We know what's best for you; trust us" tenor of official CH non-explanations of moderation decisions.

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                                                                            1. re: silverbear
                                                                              c
                                                                              cimui Dec 5, 2008 08:47 AM

                                                                              These are the types of comments I report, as well, with particular emphasis on discriminatory remarks. I very, very seldom see an of these removed and most of the time, if I post to point out a discriminatory remark, my posts are deleted.

                                                                              On the other hand, lots of innocuous posts are removed, as sksoze has noted. I think I might know which well spoken poster he/she is referencing. It seems to me a tragedy that someone who adds so much to the discussion on this board be driven away.

                                                                              I don't know what the solution ought to be, but I really think it would not be a terrible idea to have the moderators be (better) moderated.

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                                                                              1. re: cimui
                                                                                alanbarnes Dec 5, 2008 10:17 AM

                                                                                So long as a post is on-topic, it shouldn't be automatically deleted just because it's discriminatory, disrespectful, or dismissive. Take a look at the posted guidelines: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3676...

                                                                                A few excerpts: "Personal attacks and offensive language aimed at other posters are not permitted." But "incidental vulgarity, obscenity, and general offensiveness in otherwise chow-ful postings" is "OK so long as it's not said in anger or is clearly intended to stir up trouble."

                                                                                The moderators have expressly limited their role with regard to potentially offensive posts: "Our role as moderators is not to shield all users from anything they might find offensive. If we tried to do so, there'd be literally no end to it, because many different people are offended by many different things." So report all you want, but don't expect them to take a post down just because you find it offensive.

                                                                                On the other hand, you should probably expect to have a post of yours deleted if it has no content other than to state that you're offended. That's off-topic; you can't hijack a thread and turn it into a discussion of whether a substantive comment was appropriate. I mean, c'mon - it's the internet. There's offensive stuff everywhere. If you can't tolerate that, you're in the wrong place.

                                                                                The rules for this sandbox are posted in plain sight. You can choose to follow them, ignore them, or try to skate as close to the line as you can. As noted above, I get deleted on a regular basis. But I'll be the first to admit that there's generally a good reason for the deletion, and the last to whine about it.

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                                                                                1. re: alanbarnes
                                                                                  c
                                                                                  cimui Dec 5, 2008 10:32 AM

                                                                                  I've read the guidelines. The guidelines also say that the moderators' role is to promote civility in discussion. Discriminatory posts are not civil. If a response addresses the discrimination in some way and also has a content that is on point, I don't see why it should be deleted, if the moderators are applying the same standards.

                                                                                  This is the type of moderation I object to.

                                                                                  I am aware that this is the internet and that discriminatory and offensive things are here. But if there is to be moderation of some sort, I object to double standards and standards that are applied unequally.

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                                                                                  1. re: cimui
                                                                                    Servorg Dec 5, 2008 10:56 AM

                                                                                    If you are expecting perfection from human beings in each and every moderating decision you are going to be disappointed. There is no way around it. This is generally a very civil and friendly forum for food discussion. Generally the moderation is excellent. But focusing on the few times it's not will promote extreme frustration in you and for no gain. Concentrate on the food and enjoy the site. If you need to air a grievance do so in a private email to the moderating team. No one likes to be called out in public. Finally, no one site can be all things to all people. There are many choices in the marketplace of the Internet. If Chowound moderating ruins the experience for you then maybe another site would be a better fit.

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                                                                                    1. re: Servorg
                                                                                      c
                                                                                      cimui Dec 5, 2008 11:23 AM

                                                                                      You make reasonable points, servorg, and I agree with many of them. I really, really enjoy many of my fellow hounds. Many are often insightful, knowledgeable and all around great human beings.

                                                                                      I agree that no site can be all things to all people and no one can be perfect. But we can all be better. I don't mean this as an attack on the moderators, but more as an optimistic statement. Applying standards more consistently would be wonderful. Instead of doing a good job, they would do a GREAT job. I encourage them to keep up the good work... and also try to do great work. There *is* room for improvement.

                                                                                      That's really all I have to say on the subject, frankly.

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                                                                                    2. re: cimui
                                                                                      alanbarnes Dec 5, 2008 11:04 AM

                                                                                      ~~"I've read the guidelines. The guidelines also say that the moderators' role is to promote civility in discussion."~~

                                                                                      Really? Where? Please provide a link to where the guidelines say that; I've read the guidelines and searched for more, but can't figure out what you're talking about.

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                                                                                      1. re: alanbarnes
                                                                                        c
                                                                                        cimui Dec 5, 2008 11:20 AM

                                                                                        " We moderate the forums with our mission in mind - keeping the site ... friendly ...."

                                                                                        "A friendly, respectful environment encourages onlookers to offer their chow tips."

                                                                                        So, perhaps, "friendly" and not "civil" is the word I'm going for. But friendly's a stronger standard, no?

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                                                                                        1. re: cimui
                                                                                          alanbarnes Dec 5, 2008 12:17 PM

                                                                                          Thanks. I see what you're talking about.

                                                                                          I believe the mods act consistently with the guidelines. My take on it is that the language about a "friendly" environment is aspirational, while the rules about deletion are proscriptive. The goal of the rules is to create a certain kind of site, but their application is governed by the more specific do's and dont's.

                                                                                          That's not to say that I always agree with the judgments made. There are posts that stay up when I think they should go, and there are posts that get deleted that I wish would stay. But although I don't always agree with the results, I can't imagine a moderation paradigm that would work better, at least for the way I use the site.

                                                                                          Which is really what it comes down to. I enjoy your posts and those of many others, from the bubbly to the irascible. So the teacher comes along and smacks us with a ruler every once in a while. Big deal. It won't stop us from having fun here.

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                                                                                2. re: silverbear
                                                                                  Jacquilynne Dec 5, 2008 08:52 AM

                                                                                  Please do report the shills -- we don't read everything, so we don't always see them, no matter how obvious they might be. We'd appreciate the help.

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                                                                                  1. re: silverbear
                                                                                    vyieort Dec 8, 2008 01:17 PM

                                                                                    I totally agree with the concerning Orwellian tone of the moderation defenders in this thread.

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                                                                                    1. re: vyieort
                                                                                      g
                                                                                      givemecarbs Dec 8, 2008 01:30 PM

                                                                                      vyieort, let's hope the breezyness doesn't turn into a chill wind.

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                                                                                      1. re: vyieort
                                                                                        ccbweb Dec 8, 2008 06:20 PM

                                                                                        Good grief. You're free to exit the system here. There's no requirement that you participate in Chowhound. There's no state-supported restriction of free speech. There's a handful of folks trying to keep a site about food on the topics of, you know, food and finding good food to eat. Maybe they're not perfect at it. Maybe they're actually really bad at it. But I don't assign the nefarious motives to it that you and others seem to.

                                                                                        It appears that you've signed up for an account here rather recently and found much to dislike pretty quickly thereafter. Why continue to bang your head against a wall? (I ask seriously...are there things you do like about Chowhound?)

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                                                                                        1. re: ccbweb
                                                                                          Servorg Dec 8, 2008 06:52 PM

                                                                                          To paraphrase Winston Churchill, "Chowhound is the worst form of online food discussion site except for all those others that have been tried."

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                                                                                          1. re: Servorg
                                                                                            ccbweb Dec 8, 2008 07:37 PM

                                                                                            Indeed. Nice paraphrase and quite accurate.

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                                                                          2. re: silverbear
                                                                            limster Dec 4, 2008 02:18 PM

                                                                            There are trade-offs, which may be ok for some and not ok for others.

                                                                            One reason why we all don't like spam (even though we know it's spam and can discount it easily) is that it adds clutter and slows us down. Leaving a placeholder does the same thing. If some post is deleted because it's spam or off-topic, I'd rather not have a place holder around, because it would be just as disruptive for me.

                                                                            The other thing is, I'm a curious guy. If I saw one of these placeholders, I'd like to know more. Exactly why was it off-topic, or which TOS did it violate...again, another distraction from our goal in life, which is to find something delicious.

                                                                            I decide to use and participate on CH based on a practical criteria -- can I find useful information about where to eat, as efficiently as possible? If the answer is no, I go somewhere else that fits that criteria better. There's plenty of websites on food on the internet and that offers us a vast amount of choices. I think that's a very efficient model.

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                                                                            1. re: limster
                                                                              silverbear Dec 4, 2008 02:49 PM

                                                                              Good point. My observation is that CH values topicality over transparency and community-building. The decision has been made to keep the discussions as tight as possible, even if that means truncating off-topic discussions that might bring participants closer together. For CH's devoted followers, that decision makes sense, but it does constrain CH's appeal to a self-selecting group. That worked well in the pre-CNET days, but I sometimes wonder how it meshes with the need to sell ads on the site that will be seen by as many visitors as possible. I don't pretend to know the answer; it's just an interesing question to ponder.

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                                                                              1. re: silverbear
                                                                                Jacquilynne Dec 4, 2008 03:43 PM

                                                                                There are a couple of reasons why we chose not to have that kind of marking built into the software.

                                                                                One is what was mentioned, above -- it distracts from the conversation. People end up discussing what was deleted and why was it deleted and who was deleted, and that's a lot of posting energy that could be directed towards actually talking about food. And then we'd end up deleting those off-topic conversations, as well, which would be more work for us and more distraction for people who were just trying to get to the chow.

                                                                                Another is that it feels like a public slap to the face for the people who got deleted. We do try to let people know in private if we think they might not recognize the reason why their post was removed (though, when we remove strings of posts from different posters, that's not always practical), but we prefer to do that as quietly as possible, so no one feels like they're being made to stand in the corner for being bad. Everyone gets deleted eventually -- even me and the other moderators sometimes -- and we hope people will come to recognize it as just something that happens occasionally on a moderated site, and not take it personally. Public warnings wouldn't further that goal.

                                                                                If there's a particular pattern of postings in a thread that we think people might not understand why it got removed, or might continue the conversation in that vein if we don't make clear why it's being stopped, we will leave a public note as 'The Chowhound Team'.

                                                                                Another reason is that much of what we remove is spam or shilling or trolling, and frankly, we don't want to call any attention to the fact that it ever was there. Spammers and shills want to be noticed, and trolls would just derive satisfaction from having been removed.

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                                                                                1. re: silverbear
                                                                                  g
                                                                                  givemecarbs Dec 7, 2008 06:27 PM

                                                                                  I really like your comments silverbear. Is there another site where I would fit in better? I am looking for fun and a sense of community. I'm starting to feel like an unwanted weed in a very cultivated garden and I wonder if there is a place where I might bloom and prosper. I'm pretty new to chowhound and I'm feeling confused and clueless.

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                                                                                  1. re: givemecarbs
                                                                                    m
                                                                                    mlgb Dec 7, 2008 07:45 PM

                                                                                    Yelp?

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                                                                                    1. re: mlgb
                                                                                      g
                                                                                      givemecarbs Dec 7, 2008 07:53 PM

                                                                                      shudder. :) He he been there tried that. But thanks for responding mlgb -still clueless in Pennsylvannia.

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                                                                                      1. re: givemecarbs
                                                                                        silverbear Dec 8, 2008 04:43 AM

                                                                                        Actually, I would recommend reconsidering Yelp, but it depends on the climate of the Yelp community in your locality. I thought it was useless in my community until the site hired someone to manage it in my area; now, it's as good as CH for the buzz on new restaurants, and there's less groupthink. Of course, there are a lot of strident voices on the site more interested in self-promotion and political diatribes than good food, but in most major cities, there's also a subgroup who are mostly interested in good eating with a little community-building on the side. In cities in which Yelp has cultivated a large enough community, there's usually an unofficial subgroup for every taste. I'd also say that Yelp's software is much more stable than CH's, and that makes a difference in my frustration level.

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                                                                                        1. re: silverbear
                                                                                          m
                                                                                          mlgb Dec 8, 2008 09:20 AM

                                                                                          Although I originally did not think much of Yelp, now I find it is handy for small mom and pop places that are under the radar. And when you're going into the 'hood, you want to hear about the vermin, etc. Chowhounders in my area seem to recommend the same 5 to 10 places over and over, focusing on the trendy, rarely anything new. In some ways, Yelp is now more "chowish" and certainly more democratic than Chowhound. It also has that social networking function.

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                                                                                        2. re: givemecarbs
                                                                                          lynnlato Dec 9, 2008 12:32 PM

                                                                                          Don't give up, givemecarbs! Many of us enjoy your posts. What fun would it be if we all walked the same walk and talked the same talk? As they say, variety is the spice of life and I still find things spicy 'round here!

                                                                                          Stick around and wallow in the underbelly - it's good times down here. :)

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                                                                                          1. re: lynnlato
                                                                                            g
                                                                                            givemecarbs Dec 9, 2008 10:43 PM

                                                                                            Thanks for your warm words lynn! They mean a lot to me.

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                                                                                      2. re: givemecarbs
                                                                                        alkapal Dec 8, 2008 04:49 AM

                                                                                        don't go, givemecarbs. just come on over on the home cooking board!

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                                                                                        1. re: alkapal
                                                                                          g
                                                                                          givemecarbs Dec 8, 2008 01:01 PM

                                                                                          Holy smokes alkapal! Home Cooking is where it's at! Thanks I'm warming myself there right now!

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                                                                                        2. re: givemecarbs
                                                                                          ccbweb Dec 8, 2008 06:12 AM

                                                                                          Facebook, MySpace, Friendster (does that still exist?) and the like are specifically designed to foster community or at least social connections and communication.

                                                                                          Perhaps check out Team Sugar which bills itself as a "Women's Social Network and Community" and has a section for food and restaurants and recipes.

                                                                                          If you're new to something (as you note that you are here) its difficult to expect a sense of community. That grows over time if at all. If discussion of finding the best food possible is secondary in terms of importance (and I'm not for a moment arguing that that's bad or wrong) to having a sense of community, Chowhound may well not be the right place to look for it. That's because ranging conversations that don't focus on finding food may well be deleted, removed or otherwise shut down as its not what Chowhound is trying to be. As silverbear noted, they've made the decision to try to be narrow and focused in their mission and that means it won't be all things to all people.

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                                                                                          1. re: ccbweb
                                                                                            h
                                                                                            HillJ Dec 8, 2008 07:07 AM

                                                                                            Blogher or blog search engines may be another avenue to consider. Searching will lead you to hundreds of food blogs. Commentary is avail on most blogs and only the blog owner Moderates.

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                                                                                    2. re: silverbear
                                                                                      flourgirl Dec 18, 2008 06:42 AM

                                                                                      I've been posting on CH for quite a while now and I have never, not once, received an e-mail explanation of why a post was deleted. Granted, MOST of the time I know full well why a certain post was deleted, but there have been many times where a post of mine was deleted, where the deletion seemed completely arbitrary and inexplicable.

                                                                                      (A little venting here - sometimes it really peeves me when I come back to a thread, realize a subsequent poster took a nasty pot shot at me, nasty post was up for days and as soon as I have the temerity to defend myself, wa-la! all the involved posts get instantly deleted. Can't help it - this just makes me feel like certain posters get favored treatment over others and it's annoying.)

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                                                                                      1. re: flourgirl
                                                                                        Jacquilynne Dec 18, 2008 06:56 AM

                                                                                        If we think it's likely to be pretty clear to the poster why a post was deleted, we will often skip the email. If you're genuinely confused about a deletion, you can email us at moderators@chowhound.com and we'll try to explain.

                                                                                        The second situation does seem unfair, but it's generally the case that we never saw or noticed the original post -- we definitely don't read everything on the site. Your defense of yourself may have been flagged, or we may have happened to read it, and so when we realized that the original post was an attack on you, we removed it all. The best thing to do is to use 'feedback' to bring the original attack to our attention as soon as you see it. That way it doesn't stay up any longer than necessary.

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                                                                                        1. re: Jacquilynne
                                                                                          flourgirl Dec 18, 2008 07:14 AM

                                                                                          I knew intellectually that was the likely scenario. (And I know life isn't always fair.) But it felt good to vent a little about that pet peeve of mine.

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                                                                                          1. re: Jacquilynne
                                                                                            thew Dec 18, 2008 07:29 AM

                                                                                            i've never gotten an email, and have certainly had posts deleted more than once. only email i ever got was when i started a thread about moderation that got deleted.

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                                                                                            1. re: thew
                                                                                              Jacquilynne Dec 18, 2008 07:33 AM

                                                                                              Our records indicate we've sent you at least half a dozen emails. Perhaps they're ending up in your spam trap?

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                                                                                      2. re: Jacquilynne
                                                                                        c
                                                                                        cimui Dec 3, 2008 02:38 PM

                                                                                        Just curious, J: Can anyone volunteer to be a moderator? How are moderators chosen and is there ever any sort of review of a moderator's decisions?

                                                                                        Say a moderator hates Chowhound X. If said moderator deletes every third post by Chowhound X, would this trigger any sort of review of the moderator's actions?

                                                                                        I realize all this could require some burdensome administration that's not practical for a website like Chowhound, so I'm not necessarily advocating for such procedures. But at the very least, it would be nice to have a clearer idea of the limitations of the moderating process as it currently exists.

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                                                                                        1. re: cimui
                                                                                          Jacquilynne Dec 3, 2008 02:56 PM

                                                                                          Moderators are invited to join the team based primarily on their history of reporting problems. When we're looking for more hands, we look for people who've consistently provided thoughtful feedback via email or the 'report' button. The 'report' button is really the community's best source of input into moderation. We review all the flags that comes into us, and while not all of them result in deletions/moves/etc, they are a very important source of feedback. They attract our attention to potential problems we might not have otherwise spotted (we don't read everything that gets posted on the site) and also let us know how the members feel about specific issues.

                                                                                          All moderation actions are permanently logged in a way that's highly visible to all moderators. While there's not a formal review process where we check up on every action, several pairs of eyes look at the vast majority of deletions that happen, and a moderator who was deliberately removing one person's postings would absolutely be noticed. The moderators make a point of not moderating in situations where they may be less than objective, instead passing on those tasks to other moderators, to ensure that the situation is handled fairly.

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                                                                                          1. re: Jacquilynne
                                                                                            c
                                                                                            cimui Dec 3, 2008 03:24 PM

                                                                                            very interesting. thanks for the explanation.

                                                                                            is it public information who moderators are? (by public info, i mean are the handles that moderators use public.) how many moderators are there? do you all sit in the same physical space when you moderate?

                                                                                            it would be interesting to think about how we could elect moderators.

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                                                                                            1. re: cimui
                                                                                              Jacquilynne Dec 4, 2008 08:30 AM

                                                                                              Information about the moderators isn't made public. They're volunteers, and we'd like them to have the ability to enjoy the site as regular users when they aren't modding.

                                                                                              They're spread around the country and around the world, so no, we definitely don't sit in the same room and mod.

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                                                                                    3. s
                                                                                      soupkitten Dec 3, 2008 01:10 PM

                                                                                      i recently found myself in the middle of a real doozy of a thread that kinda proved how we chowhounds can really get ourselves in trouble when we get too far off the subject of food. it was a relief, when the whole stinking, rotting thing just got flushed down the toilet-- it was getting bad, bad, bad. back to talking about food, with folks from a wide variety of perspectives, just how i like it.

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                                                                                      1. c
                                                                                        cimui Dec 3, 2008 02:44 PM

                                                                                        (Lina, thanks for starting an important discusison, by the way.)

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                                                                                        1. sksoze Dec 5, 2008 06:53 AM

                                                                                          I don't think the problem lies in deletion, but in deletion without justification.

                                                                                          I'm fairly new to the board, and one of my first experiences here was watching another user, who spoke well and wasn't reckless, get repeatedly deleted until they declared they've had enough and left.

                                                                                          Now keep in mind this user wasn't brash or irrational. Their first post that was deleted concerned sanitary conditions of a food joint the rest of us were talking about eating at. I don't think that was too far off topic, and in fact, I think it's a disservice to the community to do such a thing. Blatant slander is one thing, but civilized discourse within the realm of what's being discussed is another. And as far as I know, that user approached with the latter.

                                                                                          I watched as what seemed a rational exchange in my opinion, got silently deleted into oblivion. As a new user, it left a bad taste in my mouth for the site and it's anonymous moderators.

                                                                                          It was like joining a fun summer camp and on the first day seeing a kid being dragged off and done away with while being told "Don't look and don't ask, be happy it wasn't you." I haven't been here long and I already feel confined to a tight box of conduct.

                                                                                          Maybe it will pass, and maybe it won't, but it could all be avoided by leaving explanations as to the deletion. Saying it will drag the topic off of discussion and people will talk about the deletions is not a great defense, not in the face of the alienation of users.

                                                                                          7 Replies
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                                                                                          1. re: sksoze
                                                                                            BobB Dec 5, 2008 07:38 AM

                                                                                            Sksoze, I agree with you that discussing the sanitary conditions at a restaurant shouldn't be off limits, but the site guidelines for posting state quite clearly that they are: "Reports of health violations, including food poisoning, bugs and foreign objects found in food are not permitted, as our breezy forum is not an appropriate venue for handling such urgent and serious issues. Please report them to the appropriate health authorities.."

                                                                                            You can't really criticize the moderators for enforcing clearly published guidelines.

                                                                                            I don't agree with your summer camp analogy - the poster was not "dragged off and done away with," only that particular discussion was. The poster was quite free to continue posting to their heart's content, within the rules. If that person chose to leave Chowhound it was of their own volition (and frankly, of the various posters I've seen threaten to leave and never come back after some post of theirs was deleted, almost all have continued to post once they'd calmed down).

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                                                                                            1. re: BobB
                                                                                              sksoze Dec 5, 2008 08:15 AM

                                                                                              I see the logic behind the rule.

                                                                                              As for the summer camp analogy, I meant to illustrate the idea that they themselves, which in context of the forum consists of their posts, silently disappearing is about the equivalent of the aforementioned analogy. Granted their account wasn't deleted, but if their posts are, it's hard to draw the line of their "existence."

                                                                                              Anyways, it was just a first impression that left me sour. The poster could have been an awful and destructive person to the forum, I really wouldn't know. But that was the impression I first got, right or wrong.

                                                                                              I mentioned it for consideration in context of the conversation.

                                                                                              ----

                                                                                              Vagabond à la Carte : http://vagabondalacarte.wordpress.com

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                                                                                            2. re: sksoze
                                                                                              MMRuth Dec 5, 2008 07:41 AM

                                                                                              This thread - with the posting guidelines - is helpful in terms of figuring out why things get removed sometimes.

                                                                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/367605

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                                                                                              1. re: MMRuth
                                                                                                Servorg Dec 5, 2008 08:40 AM

                                                                                                And finally, if you are here because you love food you settle in and really quit paying attention to deletions after awhile because content is King on Chowhound. When you come to terms with that fact, the rest is small stuff that you quit sweating.

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                                                                                                1. re: Servorg
                                                                                                  h
                                                                                                  HillJ Dec 5, 2008 11:34 AM

                                                                                                  Servorg, your comment really rings true for me. It took time for me to understand the new site, quite diff from the original CH days, but better understand I have.

                                                                                                  I find the report button useful when OP's wind up on the wrong Board and know Mods will move the topic to a better suited Board--that helps all of us.

                                                                                                  I have come to believe the site does a fantastic job of offering a place for "us" to post our non food questions and discuss grievances, that's definately member inclusion and frankly many community boards Mods don't respond to "back room" questions. CH Team, Mods and Jacq all do regularly.

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                                                                                                  1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                    sksoze Dec 5, 2008 12:07 PM

                                                                                                    I have to agree.

                                                                                                    From what they've shown in this discussion and what I've seen of it, it seems that they are open to discussion in the proper context, instead of the questionable thread, keeping the threads "CHOW Integrity" (TM) intact, while still being transparent for the community.

                                                                                                    ----

                                                                                                    Vagabond à la Carte : http://vagabondalacarte.wordpress.com

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                                                                                                    1. re: sksoze
                                                                                                      MMRuth Dec 5, 2008 12:14 PM

                                                                                                      "CHOW Integrity" (TM) - I like that! That's what I focus on. And I can see how discussions about whether or not a post is discriminatory or not can take the discussion away from chow into areas better suited for another forum. I try to remember that, for example, my grandmother used to call all Latin Americans 'Mexicans' - including my Dominican husband. She didn't mean to be offensive or insensitive (or just plain wrong, for that matter!), but she just didn't know any better. So, when I see "Oriental" used to refer to Asians, or "Jap" to refer to Japanese, I choose not to take offense, or infer racism, unless the post clearly, on its face, is racist, and the words clearly used in a way meant to be hurtful.

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                                                                                            3. Carole Dec 8, 2008 05:20 AM

                                                                                              When posting about restaurants, what I've found is that if your comment is positive there's no problem. If you voice a minor complaint, either about service or food, again no problem. But if you had a serious issue with the restaurant and you voice information about that experience, either about food or service, it'll get deleted. I've never had an explanation - posts just disappear. I haven't bothered writing an even slightly negative post for a couple of years now, no point.

                                                                                              And I think this makes for a very lopsided view of what you might find at a particular restaurant. Because there is no way to tell that a post has been deleted (or why), you can't possibly see the whole picture so you have to take all posts/topics with a grain of salt.

                                                                                              101 Replies
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                                                                                              1. re: Carole
                                                                                                LindaWhit Dec 8, 2008 06:11 AM

                                                                                                Hey - I've written negative reviews of places that haven't been deleted; I'm not sure what you're talking about. Negative reviews are all over the boards. This is most certainly NOT a site that only allows favorable reviews!

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                                                                                                1. re: Carole
                                                                                                  Miss Needle Dec 8, 2008 06:52 AM

                                                                                                  I've also posted negative reviews with no deletions whatsoever. It's important to post your experiences honestly. However, I do think mods will delete posts where it seems that the poster just has an axe to grind (not saying that was what you were doing).

                                                                                                  And I don't think positive posts are immune to deletion. I can definitely see positive posts extolling the virtues of McDonald's burgers being deleted -- not for the post itself but for all the responses that would follow it!

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                                                                                                  1. re: Miss Needle
                                                                                                    Servorg Dec 8, 2008 07:00 AM

                                                                                                    And unlike Yelp or many other online forums CH does not allow reports of vermin or foreign objects in the food/restaurant. Nor does CH allow reports of "the food made me sick" variety. Both of those types are rife elsewhere on the Internet. So if the negative review includes any of those things then it will be taken down.

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                                                                                                    1. re: Servorg
                                                                                                      Carole Dec 8, 2008 07:26 AM

                                                                                                      I'd love to be able to look at the post I made, but since it was deleted that's impossible. I started a thread about a very bad night at an expensive restaurant. I do know that it didn't mention vermin or foreign objects. Everything that could go wrong did, from waiting to get seated for a reservation, bad food, worse service, and no response from management either at the time or after the fact. I hope this doesn't seem just like I had an axe to grind. My reason for posting was just to let folks know what had happened and to let them draw their own conclusions about the situation.

                                                                                                      Based on what you guys are saying, maybe I'll give it another go and see if the moderators have eased up.

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                                                                                                      1. re: Carole
                                                                                                        Servorg Dec 8, 2008 07:31 AM

                                                                                                        Carole, if you aren't sure why your post went to Never Never Land then you might think about writing it up and again and "first" emailing it to the moderators and asking them if you are violating any of the site rules with what you have written.

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                                                                                                        1. re: Servorg
                                                                                                          Carole Dec 8, 2008 07:51 AM

                                                                                                          I'd love to but it's been a few years and I can't even remember the name of the restaurant! I remember going back and reading the etiquette rules and wondering what went wrong but I just let it drop.

                                                                                                          I think one of the problems I have with all this is that I don't like silent censorship. There is no way to know that a post was deleted from a thread. Other forums I participate in also moderate but let you know that a post was deleted. And if it's off-topic, to where it was moved. They also will lock a thread that gets out of hand.

                                                                                                          Maybe a 'Rants and Raves' section can be added to Chowhound (just a joke, I know that'd be out of the question here).

                                                                                                          I will definitely give the whole thing a try again, though.

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                                                                                                        2. re: Carole
                                                                                                          LindaWhit Dec 8, 2008 07:48 AM

                                                                                                          Was it a recent post? Perhaps an EMail to the Moderators asking why - they don't / can't always respond as to why something was deleted several days/weeks ago, however, but if someone does recall why it was deleted, hopefully they'd get back to you. OR - maybe the restaurant is on their "shill list" and they won't allow anything posted about it?

                                                                                                          Servorg's response above sounds like a better way to go about it as well.

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                                                                                                      2. re: Miss Needle
                                                                                                        BobB Dec 8, 2008 07:03 AM

                                                                                                        "I can definitely see positive posts extolling the virtues of McDonald's burgers being deleted"

                                                                                                        Maybe, but maybe not if it was on the Chains board ;-)

                                                                                                        I agree that really bad reviews are not necessarily going to be deleted - I've seen plenty out here, and written my fair share.

                                                                                                        When my posts have been deleted it's usually either because I (and typically other posters in the same thread) have gotten carried away in an off-topic argument about something like politics or political correctness, or because the post itself was considered off-topic. I recall how surprised I was to have a post about gardening removed, since it was clearly about food. But the moderators seem to feel that while talk about eating and obtaining food from restaurants and markets is OK, talk about growing your own is not. That's not a line I personally would draw, but now that I know it's there I simply stay off the topic.

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                                                                                                        1. re: BobB
                                                                                                          s
                                                                                                          soupkitten Dec 8, 2008 08:35 AM

                                                                                                          i think the site is also growing and changing-- i remember having all sorts of (food related) conversations about agriculture/farmstead local foods being deleted when i first came here (and i'm hardly a CH oldster)-- & now posts about local food ag are generally considered on topic and left up :)

                                                                                                          when i first arrived it also seemed like uttering the dreaded "aitch word" (that would be halal) led to sure deletion of the post, sooner or later. that seems to be changing :)

                                                                                                          although CH is in many ways somewhat-sorta-extremely cliquey and the discussions here certainly carry the biases of its members, i've been heartened to see some good recent discussions on cuisines, cultures & regions that have tended to get short shrift on CH in the past. great to see, because imo xenophobia and cultural imperialism don't have much place on a food-based site, that's how the kids in the clubhouse miss out on the delicious goodies the "weird kid" has in her/his lunchbox-- & so what if i want to sit down and talk to the "weird kid" (or maybe i *am* the "weird kid" LOL)! i would encourage the poster above who's worried s/he doesn't fit in, to stay and join some more conversations. there are a lot of folks on the site who don't fit into the "typical chowhound" demographic (i sure don't, & have been reminded of that lately), but their perspectives and povs are often refreshing and respected-- i always like to hear from Sam in columbia, Purple Goddess in australia, and Moh in canada, for instance. some of the local boards seem pretty cliquey but others are great-- i'm lucky to be at home on the (very welcoming) midwest board & like to "stay home" for local-to-me discussion sometimes, & other times talk to folks from all over the world. as Alkapal mentions the home cooking board is extremely friendly and welcoming, the not about food board-- *definitely* not so much-- i like to think of that board as a big dog park where we can all let our inner snark-monsters off the leash for a while and have some really colorful discussion :) -- hey we all thrive on a little friction and conflict, right?

                                                                                                          since the mods are selected from (experienced) members of the CH community, it stands to reason that they will reflect the changing values and foci (within the food world) of the site, and collectively change their attitudes and mod-ing practices a little slower than some of the newer folks like me might like. it's natural to get ticked off when posts or threads with important content get deleted-- but maybe that content isn't relevant *at all* to someone else's search for for good donuts in albany-- the site's all about those donuts, which is beautiful in its own way. i've learned to kick a tall trashcan & get over it quickly, no point in dwelling on spilled verbiage. still though, when i've stumbled across old 2001 CH threads that contain pretty harsh racist language, or some long-gone hound says something just *funny* that comes out of a limited pov, like "all vegans should be declared insane and institutionalized"-- i've realized that the site is always changing, hopefully progressing. as long as the site expands my mind in some way i see myself sticking around, despite the technical issues & the sometimes arbitrary-seeming mod-ing, the people are the same, & hopefully everybody's learning something, i'd hope-- but then again what do i know?

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                                                                                                          1. re: soupkitten
                                                                                                            h
                                                                                                            HillJ Dec 8, 2008 08:43 AM

                                                                                                            Right before Thanksgiving a Chowhound posted a topic about supporting food banks and it remained up throughout the holiday. I recall a number of posts with a food/charity slant that did not remain up. I can't speak for the moderation of either but I was delighted, as someone who works in the npo/ngo field, to see the topic last and highlight unique ways and some tried & true ways to support local food banks.

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                                                                                                            1. re: HillJ
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                                                                                                              Beach Chick Dec 8, 2008 09:01 AM

                                                                                                              Thanks HillJ...that Food Bank post, "Food Banks...do you give?' was from me and the responses have been incredible!

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                                                                                                                HillJ Dec 8, 2008 09:18 AM

                                                                                                                Thank you Beach Chick, thoughtful post.

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                                                                                                              2. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                ccbweb Dec 8, 2008 09:42 AM

                                                                                                                I think, given the presence of a few threads that seem surprising (the "what do chowhound do?" thread for example) that the moderators look for good opportunities to allow for a bit of an outlet for the pretty clearly off-topic but not vitriolic or divisive things some folks seem to want to discuss. That is, when you get a really civil thread that isn't fostering contentious debate or any sort of personal attacks or anything along those lines (like the "Food Banks...do you give?" thread) I think the moderators decide to let it stay as a way to try to corral some of those conversations in minimal places so they don't draw other threads off topic. The Food Banks thread also wasn't an "advertisement" for any specific organization or a request directly for any donation to any specific organization or what have you. I think it threaded a very narrow needle in order to remain up.

                                                                                                                That's really a guess on my part, no special knowledge here.

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                                                                                                                  HillJ Dec 8, 2008 09:46 AM

                                                                                                                  ccbweb, interesting observation; decisions more challenging for Mods than members but some of the narrow focused topics have spun into wider food topics.

                                                                                                                  Also, you can find a charity minded CHOW topic referencing specific charities by name in that area of the site.

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                                                                                                              3. re: soupkitten
                                                                                                                Miss Needle Dec 8, 2008 10:18 AM

                                                                                                                I do agree with you that this site is changing a lot. Actually, in the very beginning, the Not About Food board really meant not about food, having posts covering the gamut from interior design to sports. But then they started having bandwidth issues and started limiting the NAF board to posts tangentially related to food, which I unfortunately found out when I posted something years ago looking for a classically trained feng shui practitioner. Currently, they still limit the NAF board to food-related posts because they find the conversations can get quite ugly the further away it strays from food. Yes, the Home Cooking Board is probably the friendliest board here and the NAF Board can sometimes cause my blood to boil. I actually avoid reading that board if I'm not in the best of moods as I don't have the mental energy to deal with it sometimes. I'm not really a confrontational person but will occasionally let loose (and get deleted) if I feel somebody really steps over the line.

                                                                                                                And you are certainly correct that there are some cliques and biases on these boards. Vegans do get a bit ostracized on this board, and there quite a few snarky not-intending-to-be-funny remarks against these "tree-huggers who need to get with the times and eat some bacon." While I'm not a vegan (and don't believe that a vegan diet is the healthiest thing out there), it's refreshing to hear different points of views, even if I don't agree with them. A few months ago, I caught some flack for posting about the Singaporean fleur de sel-esque use of urine crystals in food. This would be a pretty boring board if it all was about how everything is better with bacon (which, honestly, I'm kind of getting a bit tired of hearing) and how chain restaurants and the Food Network are the devil (after a recent horrific dinner in Queensbury, NY at an independent family restaurant, I totally understood the appeal of chains). I'm an adult who's capable of making my own decisions from all the information out there. I've got no problem with people debating, but I just wish more people would do it constructively. I do think there's a bit of one-upmanship on certain posts which kind of dissuades certain more timid posters from posting. Not everybody is so wonderfully outspoken and resilient as you, Soupkitten. : ) (As an aside, I think you're a fascinating poster and would love to get into your head to see how your mind operates!)

                                                                                                                I think it's great that Chowhound has been giving greater latitude towards certain types of posts that may not have originally made it on the boards, and hope that this continues where we have a wide variety of posters with different points of view, no matter how far it strays away from the "norm." It lends for a much more enriching experience. There's a larger chance that the mods will leave those posts up if the responses aren't as hostile.

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                                                                                                                1. re: Miss Needle
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                                                                                                                  soupkitten Dec 8, 2008 12:57 PM

                                                                                                                  *blush* thanks for your kind words, Miss Needle. i did not know that: about the NAF board, being, at one time, really not about food at all-- wow i admit that it's a little scary to think about everybody just letting loose with non-food-related opinion on anything under the sun--LOL!

                                                                                                                  i'm certainly guilty of broad-brush denigrating chain restaurants in favor of mom & pops (hey, it's what i know), though i know some indie restaurants that are absolutely horrendous on any level you'd care to count, and some chains that are run well & produce well-trained staff for the rest of us to fight over when they leave :) another poster, OldBayCupcake, i believe, would always be very good about shouting out when the chain-bashing stepped over a line, & i think we all need to hear that once in a while.

                                                                                                                  there are some posters i have *nothing* whatsoever in common with apart from the love of food. i read their posts and wonder what freaking rock they are crawling out from under, or what ivory tower they haven't left in thirty years, and i'm sure they think i'm from another planet too. then months down the road we find ourselves agreeing on the finer points of potted goose, or best brand of organic tahini or something, & that's so cool! then of course immediately we get into a verbal throw-down over pizza crust or some other life-or-death question of god, country & personal identity--oh well. i don't have the background of many hounds who've been on zillions of internet forums over the years-- i've learned primarily from this site & still have to remind myself to try & be civil-- heck, humorous, even-- or i'll never figure out where the other person is coming from, or discover the diverse other povs of others listening in. though i've learned a ton about food since coming to chowhound, the povs of the individuals in the crowd are probably more important to me at this point.

                                                                                                                  i do think chowhound needs to get better about welcoming, rather than shutting out, diverse points of view. i might be in the minority on that. i don't know how much of this is on the mods, and how much is on the community-- my gut says the finger points squarely at the community, since we're the ones starting conversations & tangents, and in some cases maybe even teams & factions. i can see how the perception of the site as intimidating and unwelcoming can be such a huge obstacle for new posters to overcome. we can keep saying that these folks are too sensitive or that they need to find their own place on the web or whatever all we want, easy for us to say-- but aren't we all ultimately losing out on valuable insights and perspectives every time a new poster gets the cold shoulder from the community, gets defensive in a post, gets deleted by the mods, and subsequently leaves the site for good? i think this happens all the time, unfortunately.

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                                                                                                                  1. re: soupkitten
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                                                                                                                    HillJ Dec 8, 2008 01:58 PM

                                                                                                                    "...but aren't we all ultimately losing out on valuable insights and perspectives every time a new poster gets the cold shoulder from the community, gets defensive in a post, gets deleted by the mods, and subsequently leaves the site for good? i think this happens all the time, unfortunately."

                                                                                                                    soupk, apply for a Mod post! :0)

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                                                                                                                    1. re: HillJ
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                                                                                                                      soupkitten Dec 8, 2008 02:13 PM

                                                                                                                      yeah right, that would be the day! though you're funny!!! no, i think they need folks who are a little more, shall we say, even tempered, than i am. :)

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                                                                                                                      1. re: soupkitten
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                                                                                                                        HillJ Dec 8, 2008 02:16 PM

                                                                                                                        Hell yes, soupk. Go for it.

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                                                                                                                      2. re: HillJ
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                                                                                                                        givemecarbs Dec 8, 2008 02:14 PM

                                                                                                                        Second HillJ's notion.

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                                                                                                                      3. re: soupkitten
                                                                                                                        limster Dec 15, 2008 11:17 AM

                                                                                                                        Back in the day, there was an unwritten practice where the more veteran posters would try to engage new posters and to try and draw out more chowy information from them and to keep them around. We were often extra careful when disagreeing with newer posters, and would often bend over backwards to be extra diplomatic, especially because it was very hard to communicate intent and tone with just text. have mentioned this before -- it's essential that we get ego out of the way and instead focus on getting as much deliciousness as possible.

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                                                                                                                    2. re: soupkitten
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                                                                                                                      Theresa Dec 12, 2008 06:11 AM

                                                                                                                      I think I've only ever had one post deleted, and it was because I mentioned that some of the customers in a cafe/restaurant in Corsica were quite hostile towards myself and my husband because he is black. I queried this deletion, and argued that my comment was as valid as other posts which include in their description how welcoming a place is, the ambiance and the type of people who eat there.

                                                                                                                      The moderator's reply was actually quite insulting, as I was told that Chowhound was no place for me to be making political statements! I responded to him, emphasising that all my original post had said was that some of the customers were racist, and that that had affected our experience of the place - an important piece of information for others thinking of eating there, particularly black and Asian people. I had no reply, and just let it drop - but I still think it was over-the-top moderating.

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                                                                                                                      1. re: Theresa
                                                                                                                        The Chowhound Team Dec 12, 2008 06:24 AM

                                                                                                                        We certainly didn't mean for that email to insult you -- we tried to make it quite friendly, but tone doesn't always come across in text, and we apologize if we offended you.

                                                                                                                        We do try to keep the focus of the discussion on Chowhound on food and not on larger social issues, and that does mean we ask people not to post about those types of hot-button issues that are likely to promote long arguments about non-food issues.

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                                                                                                                        1. re: The Chowhound Team
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                                                                                                                          mlgb Dec 12, 2008 07:16 AM

                                                                                                                          Why couldn't you just lock the topic if it degenerated and delete the subsequent string of posts? This seems like a valid comment that a lot of potential diners might want to know. Especially in this situation, I mean after all it's in Corsica and wouldn't tourists want to know?

                                                                                                                          If the posts regarding restaurants are supposed to be only about the food, and not about the total dining experience, then a lot more should be deleted (probably two-thirds). So many are just about how much someone enjoys going to a certain place and comments about the ambience.

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                                                                                                                        2. re: Theresa
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                                                                                                                          soupkitten Dec 12, 2008 08:24 AM

                                                                                                                          you know, i've had posts pulled re: pointing out racism/homophobia on my home board-- it makes me wince because one place is a frequent rec of a couple of my fellow posters, to visitors, as a "local color" type place-- but the place flies the stars&bars and the proprietor makes sure that it's very clear that people of color are not welcome, right when folks come in the door. i always feel like i need to alert out-of-towners to what is common local knowledge about the proprietor's bigotry. and my posts always get pulled-- this place made it onto the chowhound short-list of recs for the RNC conventioneers :( i about had a fit.

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                                                                                                                          1. re: Theresa
                                                                                                                            alkapal Dec 13, 2008 03:34 AM

                                                                                                                            i agree with theresa. racism that happened to you and your husband is not a "larger social issue." it is a factual event with implications for others similarly situated. mr. alka is sri lankan, and i am a white southerner. it has happened to us, too.

                                                                                                                            i'd want to know if it is likely that an uncomfortable or antagonistic situation will arise due to race in a particular restaurant. it is not fair for chowhound to shutter off these specific factual events as if they don't affect the dining experience.

                                                                                                                            i don't think that posting about a specific racist occurrence would invite a contentious debate about whether that racism "should or should not have happened". obviously, it should not have happened. but it does certainly affect the dining experience. and isn't THAT the focus of chowhound?

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                                                                                                                            1. re: alkapal
                                                                                                                              ccbweb Dec 13, 2008 03:51 AM

                                                                                                                              Interesting points, thank you for posting them. This is really something to think about.

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                                                                                                                              1. re: alkapal
                                                                                                                                Servorg Dec 13, 2008 04:02 AM

                                                                                                                                "i don't think that posting about a specific racist occurrence would invite a contentious debate"

                                                                                                                                Ha ha. Good one!

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                                                                                                                                1. re: alkapal
                                                                                                                                  E Eto Dec 13, 2008 07:52 AM

                                                                                                                                  I don't believe THAT is the focus of chowhound. CH's focus is finding deliciousness and sharing those tips, nothing more. While your experience is troubling, it only opens a can of worms for anyone with a gripe to use the racism card to slander a restaurant, whether factual or not. CH just isn't the appropriate board for these kinds of reports. There are probably better places on the internet to air these reports.

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                                                                                                                                  1. re: E Eto
                                                                                                                                    Xiao Yang Dec 13, 2008 08:28 AM

                                                                                                                                    I cannot disagree more strongly. While finding deliciousness in a vacuum might be the theoretical intent of CH, other factors affecting the dining experience are, by precedent, considered fair game and important. Decor, crowding, noise, server attitudes, cleanliness of bathrooms, even (in California) ease of parking are constantly discussed in assessing the overall dining experience. A racist or homophobic attitude on the part of management or staff is certainly going to affect the dining experience of its targets as well as others who happen to witness it.

                                                                                                                                    If only posters with a "don't rock the boat" mentality are made to feel comfortable posting on Chowhound, then the overall value of the information to be gleaned from Chowhound has to be greatly discounted.

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                                                                                                                                    1. re: Xiao Yang
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                                                                                                                                      queencru Dec 13, 2008 01:41 PM

                                                                                                                                      I agree. Many people use this board to find restaurant recommendations for vacations, group functions, and other special occasions. No one wants to travel hundreds or even thousands of miles and waste precious time on a place that is intent upon giving them a miserable experience (if letting them in at all). I've been blindsided by travel guides before and would hope that websites such as these offer a bit more candor.

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                                                                                                                                      1. re: Xiao Yang
                                                                                                                                        E Eto Dec 13, 2008 10:46 PM

                                                                                                                                        As long as posts are primarily about the food at a given restaurant, and there's some secondary information about the atmosphere, then that's fine. Saying that "the pizza at restaurant X is great, but get there early because parking's a bitch" fits right in with the mission of CH. But if a post gives no information about the food and concentrates solely on the secondary matter (i.e., racist hosts, bugs, etc.) then as far as I'm concerned, it's off-topic. And if it's controversial, then the moderators have the right to exercise the Chowhound policy and delete it. I tend to discount the messages in posts that provide little information about whether there's deliciousness to be found. That seems to be far too often.

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                                                                                                                                        1. re: E Eto
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                                                                                                                                          mlgb Dec 14, 2008 09:51 AM

                                                                                                                                          So a post that asks which restaurants don't have a corkage fee should be deleted, then?

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                                                                                                                                      2. re: E Eto
                                                                                                                                        The Chowhound Team Dec 15, 2008 05:32 AM

                                                                                                                                        That's right -- a big part of the problem is that they really can't be verified, and they're such a high impact that allowing unverified (and unverifiable!) reports to stand is a problem.

                                                                                                                                        If someone says a restaurant has slow service or poor food, other people may still try it and offer their own opinions and in time, consensus emerges, or at least differing viewpoints are offered. But when the comment is about an issue as heavy as racism or bugs or food poisoning or something like that, many people will take a single report as a reason never to go to a place.

                                                                                                                                        Moreover, such reports, as we noted earlier, invariably end up heated and off-topic, as people debate endlessly whether something could really have happened, or happened the way it was reported or what the person should do, along with speculation about what else might be happening or should happen. That kind of discussion is off-topic and further adds to the unreliability of the information since a lot of it is speculation.

                                                                                                                                        It's not that we doubt every person who posts about an experience like that, most of them are certainly telling the truth. We just can't run the risk that some people aren't. The downside to false reports of that nature is simply too great.

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                                                                                                                                        1. re: The Chowhound Team
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                                                                                                                                          soupkitten Dec 15, 2008 09:05 AM

                                                                                                                                          thanks for addressing this particular issue. i understand the point about not being able to verify anecdotal stories about discrimination. i think that there are cases where this is a very real issue, though: in the st paul bar/pub case i referred to, it's possible to refer to specific lawsuits brought against this establishment due to discriminatory statements printed on the uniform t-shirts (required to be) worn by the staff at the bar. to me, that's no longer anecdotal statements about possible discrimination-- the place is advertising its overt bigotry, upfront, across the chests of its servers, and, to me, this *definitely* goes to ambiance. the place will not get a penny from me, so i'm sure i can't really say whether it makes the best coney dog on the planet or not, and just add an oh by the way-- casual side note about the owners' political views. . . but it's really, really, really frustrating to see this place on chow rec lists intended for visitors to the cities. most locals would refer to this place *first* as a white-power hangout/networking center, bar/restaurant second. most people don't even know what they serve foodwise, just that they serve a very tiny minority of folks, and aren't welcoming to the rest of us.

                                                                                                                                          i worry that sending people to this place, talking about good hot dogs, but without talking about the political vibe of the place, could be, 1) well, *really* potentially embarrassing for us locals, if an out-of-towner thinks that it's a typical local establishment 2) it's giving this place financial support, when the city and neighborhood has been trying to get it legally shut down for over a decade 3) the ambiance could be potentially very unpleasant for the visitors, no matter how good the hot dogs are 4) it could possibly be dangerous for visitors who don't happen to fit in with the crowd. yes, i've actually *really* worried about this. i don't think it's a joke at all, or that people's safety & well-being is secondary to a good meal. i'm at a loss-- i feel i can't in good conscience keep my mouth shut about this place, and i just get deleted over and over-- how annoying i must be, to a mod in new england, say-- wondering what axe i'm grinding over here, about this place. . .

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                                                                                                                                          1. re: soupkitten
                                                                                                                                            E Eto Dec 15, 2008 10:34 AM

                                                                                                                                            Have you posted this to other sites like Yelp or Citysearch, etc.? You'll cast a wider net and you'll ease your conscience. Just expect these comments to be deleted on CH.

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                                                                                                                                            1. re: E Eto
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                                                                                                                                              mselectra Dec 15, 2008 11:32 AM

                                                                                                                                              Would it be within CH rules for soupkitten to link to one of those other sites, like saying it's not appropriate to raise this here, but for out-of-town visitors thinking about going to this place, you might want to check out this yelp (or whatever) discussion?

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                                                                                                                                              1. re: E Eto
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                                                                                                                                                soupkitten Dec 15, 2008 11:48 AM

                                                                                                                                                that's not a bad idea at all E Eto, though as i've stated, i'm not really on those other boards much. after just doing a quick search, the establishment isn't on yelp at all-- this place is probably so uncool nobody on yelp would mention it, let alone go there. it has just a few reviews on citysearch, all of which say something about the very un-PC-ness of the place. the establishment gets a lot more play here, though, where more folks seem to place a lot of trust in the recs of their fellow hounds, who are allowed to talk about hot dogs and chips, but aren't allowed to post about other important details like: "the owner of this bar is a white supremacist"-- which is kinda what worries me.

                                                                                                                                                anyway, i'd say that it's a very very small percentage of the posts (by me) that have been mod-ed off the boards because i'm stating that a place discriminates. in fact i think it's *just* this place that i would have anything to say about on that count--the fact that this establishment is *such* an, erm. . . political outlier-- is what makes it so incredible to me that it gets any play here on chowhound at all, and when it does get mentioned on my home board, by folks i consider to be my pals, i do feel obligated to say something. i do know i'll likely get my posts deleted. . .

                                                                                                                                                mostly i get my posts axed for my delivery, or for getting too far off topic, from what i've inferred, or been told by the mods.

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                                                                                                                                                1. re: soupkitten
                                                                                                                                                  BobB Dec 15, 2008 12:43 PM

                                                                                                                                                  Yeah, I usually know when I've posted something that's going to get axed. I do still occasionally get surprised, though, like recently when I posted something that mentioned a religion. Not in a bad way - and my own religion at that (though of course the moderators wouldn't know that) - but frankly, who would think it's offensive to suggest that where there are a lot of Jews, there's likely to be a good purveyor of lox? But it got deleted. Go figure.

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                                                                                                                                                  1. re: soupkitten
                                                                                                                                                    applehome Dec 15, 2008 01:13 PM

                                                                                                                                                    I have had bad personal experiences with xxx in my youth. I refuse to do business with xxx owned sushiyas (there are many) and try to make sure that the places I go to do no business with their purveyors. It's actually pretty easy, as it turns out, because they supply some truly mediocre neta to some really low-quality Americanized sushi places. They're truly in it for the bucks - just as the rest of their pandering/slave-wages based business model - so they're bound to produce lowest common denominator foodstuffs. I would be in a pickle if they actually provided excellent food - I would have to choose between eating wonderful food and following my principles.

                                                                                                                                                    I've been deleted many times when I put down one of their places. I try not to get into the religion/slave-labor aspects, and try to comment solely on the bad food. But it's almost inevitable that my feelings come forth.

                                                                                                                                                    And yet...

                                                                                                                                                    It is possible that I'm wrong in being so judgemental about this organization. Their leader, the claimed second coming, is friendly with and has contributed to Dubya. Many mainstream fundamentalist religious leaders now recognize him as a peer, if not as their proclaimed leader from on high. His slave-labor tactics could be considered to be good old American capitalism at work. His going to jail for income tax evasion is now touted by his republican friends as over-reaching by government - after all, a church based business is still a church enterprise and shouldn't be taxed.

                                                                                                                                                    So who am I to continue my life-long campaign for boycotting a group that used true brainwashing tactics (including food/sleep deprivation) to recruit young followers and turn them into beggars, gathering money for the church leaders to live as kings? People just point to the established religions and say look how they got their start.

                                                                                                                                                    Perhaps, you're also exaggerating the evils of White Supremacy. And in your case, these people have some excellent hot dogs, not to be missed.

                                                                                                                                                    Being able to carve out your food world from the rest is easy, if you're culturally ignorant. It's easy to cut out any discussions of the subject if you want to remain ignorant and want your readers to remain ignorant. The alternative would be to want your readers to learn something perhaps other than the comparison of sriracha to tabasco - something culturally and historically relevant about food.

                                                                                                                                                    The narrowness of focus that keeps these issues off the page is indeed not a good thing for the chowhound community at large. I know it has little to do, directly, with finding deliciousness. But it has to do with knowing something about how deliciousness happens. Perhaps less people would eat shark-fin soup if they understood what it was doing to the sharks. We are discussing more and more "green" issues - more about the writings of Pollan and Schlosser and other food industry muckrakers and forward-thinkers. This is a good thing. Food is political. Food is cultural, Food is lore, science and history, as well as recipes and techniques. This site ought to be bigger, not narrower. We ought to be able to say - the food here is good, but if you go there you are supporting white supremacists, or a brainwashing, slave-labor creating religion. If others disagree, there ought to be discussions - we ought to have a dialectic process and we ought to all learn from it.

                                                                                                                                                    The mods do a really good job keeping personal attacks and escalating "heated discussions" from occurring. I agree that these don't belong here, and that there are topics that lend themselves to personal attacks and escalations. And yet, I think that they are too eager to cut off these topics just to avoid the fights.

                                                                                                                                                    An informed consumer is the best way to create businesses that are responsive and meet our needs. That's what this site does best - create informed food consumers. But sometimes, the lines that are drawn are done more for the ease of those controlling the discussions, than for everybody's benefit.

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                                                                                                                                                    1. re: applehome
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                                                                                                                                                      soupkitten Dec 16, 2008 06:53 AM

                                                                                                                                                      <<
                                                                                                                                                      Perhaps, you're also exaggerating the evils of White Supremacy. And in your case, these people have some excellent hot dogs, not to be missed.
                                                                                                                                                      >>

                                                                                                                                                      LOL! thanks for an interesting perspective on this Applehome-- very chowish. i'll still skip the hotdogs though :)

                                                                                                                                                      enjoyed your 3rd to last paragraph very much-- i no longer eat shark-fin, myself. though i broke that principle at my friend's wedding 7 years ago-- as you say, food is cultural as well.

                                                                                                                                                      i actually found one of my old posts referring to this establishment (a little obliquely) that was allowed to stand. maybe if i toned it down, hmm.

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                                                                                                                                                2. re: soupkitten
                                                                                                                                                  meatn3 Dec 16, 2008 06:54 PM

                                                                                                                                                  This is where the inconsistencies get odd...there is a BBQ place in SC that has a very strong "political" point of view. That view has been mentioned enough on a number of threads where an alert reader would be able to catch on and decide if this was a place they were comfortable supporting.

                                                                                                                                                  I had stumbled upon the place years ago prior to CH. It was a strange experience, trying to figure out what exactly was going on. Needless to say, I haven't been back.

                                                                                                                                                  Yes, Mods, I do see where this is a very thin line...but is it right to allow a place to appear to be a viable option to those who could be in danger going there? Many people check this site for options when traveling to area they are not familiar with. I for one appreciate a heads up about potentially dicey situations. I might still choose to go, but at least I now can make a better informed decision.

                                                                                                                                                  I had inquired about several places of the same genre when visiting another state. One poster let me know that the area around one was transitional...this was extremely helpful. I did decide to go for lunch and, as a person not familiar with the area, was appreciative of the heads up. It was not a good place for someone who could easily get lost to be in a rental car at night. I had originally planned to visit the place for dinner...the poster didn't alarm me, but he did provide pertinent additional info. I see this, if worded correctly, to be every bit as pertinent as cautions regarding parking or the the fact a place is usually insane when there is a home-game, or that dinner is subdued, but the vibe gets more raucous after 10....

                                                                                                                                                  Part of what makes this site important to me is that relationships do form. I may not ever have a direct "conversation" with most of the posters, but over time, I do gain a sense of who they are. That knowledge allows me to know who has opinions similar to mine, who is more adventurous, who is less so. All are valid voices and merit notice. There are some poster who I know that I will probably love the food they love, and this is a handy way for me to find new options on a limited budget. There are others who I can enjoy their eatting exploits vicariously, enjoying the experience through their eyes (and mouths)!

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                                                                                                                                                  1. re: meatn3
                                                                                                                                                    Scargod Dec 17, 2008 03:34 PM

                                                                                                                                                    I think there is a really big issue here. Does CBS not want to deal with racially charged issues? Do they not care that there will be a large, disaffected population of Chowhounders? Do we want to turn our backs on discourse about restaurants or food suppliers that discriminate?
                                                                                                                                                    To say "this place will not be discussed" is unbearable, in my opinion. To act like "this place does not exist" and "we don't have this problem, here" is reminiscent of many failed policies and social complacency, or worse.
                                                                                                                                                    Come on Chowhound, where do you (CBS) stand?

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                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Scargod
                                                                                                                                                      Servorg Dec 17, 2008 03:50 PM

                                                                                                                                                      CBS News has dealt with and continues to deal with serious issues such as racism in our society. Chowhound continues to deal with finding delicious food. Don't confuse one with the other.

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                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Caroline1
                                                                                                                                                        Servorg Dec 17, 2008 05:17 PM

                                                                                                                                                        I expect you will make that determination based on your upbringing, your learned values and your powers of reasoning and any biases you bring to your interaction with the world as you find it. As I will. As each and every person on this planet will. Beyond that I doubt that screaming and shouting about the issue on CH will do little or nothing to inform any of us on the problem as it exists. And in the process we will have killed the (delicious) Golden Goose of CH.

                                                                                                                                                        So write a letter to the editor. Start a blog against restaurant racism. Put up a billboard in your local area taking the place to task. Make a video and post in on You Tube. Picket the restaurant you think engages in this activity. Email your government representatives about the issue. Stand on a soap box in your local park and shout it out for all to hear. Write a screenplay and get it made into a major motion picture. Just don't do it here.

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                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Servorg
                                                                                                                                                          applehome Dec 17, 2008 07:19 PM

                                                                                                                                                          And you see no value in CH opening up to include greater levels of political or social discussionsas related to food? We're not talking about changing the level of moderation - just open up some of the topics. Keep in mind that since the good old blue-and-white days, we've already opened up quite a bit. Without the old bandwidth/memory limitations, we're happily discussing a lot more than we ever did. The focus still stays on finding deliciousness - there's a just a whole lot more information around that deliciousness.

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                                                                                                                                                          1. re: applehome
                                                                                                                                                            Jacquilynne Dec 18, 2008 06:21 AM

                                                                                                                                                            How we deal with reports of discrimination (racial or otherwise) is a challenging issue, with many facets to it. The response it has prompted in this thread is a big part of the reason why we take a very cautious approach -- people react very strongly to an accusation of racism or anything surrounding the issue.

                                                                                                                                                            We provide a loud microphone here for people to comment on a restaurant that provides a livelihood to many other people, and with that comes an imperative that we do our best to make sure that the discussion remains honest and in good faith. That means more than just protecting the community from shills and self-promoters. It works both ways -- both positive and negative posts about restaurants can be false or exaggerated. The higher the stakes are around a given subject, the higher the imperative that the information be clear and verifiable.

                                                                                                                                                            Unlike chowish, food-focused discussions where most people will balance the positive and negative posts to get a picture of whether they will like a place, and consider that sometimes restaurants have an off night, a single accusation of racism is, for many people, all it takes to keep them out of a restaurant. Soupkitten's description of a place where racism is well documented and institutionalized into the very core of the restaurant is by far the outlier in terms of accusations of racism. Far more often, they're accusations based on a single interaction with a single staff member. That situation may have been true, but it may have been misinterpreted (see this example: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5769... ), or made up out of whole cloth by someone who was angry for other reasons, or the problem staff member may have since been fired or quit. But the post would remain, available in our search engine and Google, for people to read for years to come.

                                                                                                                                                            In our experience, the follow-on discussion to these types of accusations doesn't shed light on the issue. Debates rage about who said what to whom and why and when and so on, but they're invariably filled with even more speculation and outrage and fan the flames of the original post. And because racism is an issue people relate to in a very personal way, those discussions are also generally very personal and heated, as well.

                                                                                                                                                            We recognize that our position on this issue means eliminating those reports of racism that are actually true and accurate. If we could readily determine that this report is true, and that one is false, and that no accusations fell in a grey area of exaggeration, somewhere between truth and falsehood, we'd be somewhat more open to playing host to those conversations. But since those determinations are impossible, we err on the side of caution in what we make available. And even knowing that the accusations that did appear on our site were 100% true wouldn't necessarily be enough.

                                                                                                                                                            By having a blanket prohibition on accusations of racism, we also avoid perpetuating the idea that we're a good source of information on those subjects. If we allowed some reports of racism (like soupkitten's well-documented example), but disallowed other more nebulous ones, people would get the impression that we were the right place to look for that type of information -- but our picture would invariably be highly incomplete. In that regard racism is much the like the health department discussions that we also avoid -- we can't provide an accurate, complete, timely picture of sanitation, and to avoid giving false negative impressions about a place or a false feeling of safety due to a lack of reports, we think it's better to take the issue off the table altogether, and ask that people instead source their information from the local Health Department, which can. While there isn't a single clearing house for racism-related issues in the vein of the Health Department for health-related issues, we can't be that clearing house, and we think offering a definitely incomplete, frequently inaccurate, and generally out-of-date perspective on the issue is more damaging to both restaurants and diners than offering none at all.

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                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Jacquilynne
                                                                                                                                                              meatn3 Dec 18, 2008 11:18 AM

                                                                                                                                                              Thank you for explaining in such detail. This type of response goes a long way towards allowing us to better understand your processes...While I don't agree, I do now better understand your reasoning and how the parameters are structured.

                                                                                                                                                              I'm a person who tends to see much more gray, rather than clearly defined black & white. I suspect that is why I find some of these policies frustrating...
                                                                                                                                                              I can appreciate the need to stay true to a very defined point when making moderating decisions. I feel that discussions such as this could be codified and provide a fuller view of moderation policies. The real or perceived lack of clear guidelines helps fuel the feelings of uneven handling.

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                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Jacquilynne
                                                                                                                                                                Scargod Dec 18, 2008 01:58 PM

                                                                                                                                                                I appreciate the expanded and helpful explanation of moderating policy.
                                                                                                                                                                While not gay, I see two posts in this thread referencing treatment of gays and homophobia. I suspect there are many gays working in the food service industry and many, many clients, and yet, abuses in this area cannot be discussed, as well.
                                                                                                                                                                I would think Jon Stuart would have a field day with this if he knew of Chowhound's policies. There are so many inconsistencies that I just scratch my head and say, "whaaaaa?".
                                                                                                                                                                As many others have said, I respect your opinion, but I disagree.

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                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Servorg
                                                                                                                                                              Caroline1 Dec 18, 2008 02:23 AM

                                                                                                                                                              Oh, this *IS* amusing! And thank you, mods, for making one of my points so eloquently! I responded to Servorg in a manner you (mods) don't like, so you delete my post, but you leave his up because it is supportive of you. Rich! Well, chances are you're unlikely to like this post, but I do have some honest points to discuss, so Jacqueline, I plead with you to personally read this post with fairness, and then use your influence to keep it up, regardless of whether you agree with me or not.

                                                                                                                                                              I have been pushing for some time to replace the volunteer mods with paid mods. I may be guilty of thinking the logic is so simple and straightforward it didn't need explanation, but maybe it does.

                                                                                                                                                              Let me start with the basic definition of "moderators," and what they are supposed to do. From thefreedictionary.com:

                                                                                                                                                              mod·er·a·tor (md-rtr)
                                                                                                                                                              n.
                                                                                                                                                              1. One that moderates, as:
                                                                                                                                                              a. One that arbitrates or mediates.

                                                                                                                                                              And from their thesaurus:
                                                                                                                                                              moderator - someone who mediates disputes and attempts to avoid violence
                                                                                                                                                              go-between, intercessor, intermediary, intermediator, mediator - a negotiator who acts as a link between parties

                                                                                                                                                              The point here is that a good "moderator" must come to the discussion or arbitration from a neutral point. And that's the rub with having vounteer moderators who also PARTICIPATE! When a party who is a participant tries to act as a moderator, they cannot sustain a level of unbias that is critical to true moderation. It's rather similar to appearing in divorce court only to find your mother-in-law is the judge. It may work on a few points, but it is not going to work across the board. And if you will honestly review the actions of "moderators" on th is board in depth, you will see that it is as true here as it would be with your mother-in-law as your divorce judge.

                                                                                                                                                              As an example, let's use a point already under discussion in this very thread. A racially biased restaurant with good food. Let's don't discuss now whether the perception was accurate or not, but fo the sake of discussion let's assume it is. And let's assume Chow is successful in banning such discussion beyond whether the hot dogs are good. Now let's add another restaurant for consideration. No racial bigotry in this place, but they do require that all diners sit on a rail suspended above water, and that said rail is rotated without warning from time to time to provide amusement for other diners who are not dumped in the water. But their food is GREAT! However there is no take-out, no drive-thru window, and you must sit on a rail to eat. Would Chowhound policy forbid a warning to other chowhounds and ban any further discussion beyond "the food is terrific?" From my personal viewpoint, I would rather see men, women, and children dressed in their Sunday finest dumped into a pond of ice water than witness one single person subjected to any sort of racial (or other) bigotry. By disallowing discussion of it on these boards, Chow us supporting it by default.

                                                                                                                                                              And by having volunteer moderators who also participate to any degree in the discussions, Chowhound is supporting bias.

                                                                                                                                                              My opinion. Please weigh what I have said. Consider the points I have made. And please leave this response to Servorg up.

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                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Caroline1
                                                                                                                                                                Jacquilynne Dec 18, 2008 04:20 AM

                                                                                                                                                                We removed that post because of the personal and unfriendly remarks you directed at Servorg based on his username of all things.

                                                                                                                                                                I disagree, obviously, with your assessment of what makes for the best moderators. As I've already stated, the moderators step away from moderating particular conversations in which they have a particular stake. At the same time, though, having an active, passionate interest in the community is what drives them to make caring, thoughtful decisions rather than blindly following minutely detailed rules.

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                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Jacquilynne
                                                                                                                                                                  Caroline1 Dec 18, 2008 06:58 AM

                                                                                                                                                                  Jacqueline, you seem to keep missing my point. I agree that the mods have a "passionate interest in the community... ... [that] drives them to make caring thoughful decisions rather than following minutely detailed rules." I remain unconvinced. Passion is one of mankind's most blinding emotions. Arguably THE most blinding emotion! When one is passionate about something, then one's judgment is immediately distorted, which leaves our poor moderators here with "blindly following minutely detailed rules" as their only means of trying to compensate for the passion.

                                                                                                                                                                  Consider the number of posts in this single thread in which people are saying that they do find fault with the way moderation is applied, with the opaqueness of it, of the communication barrier that the mods (and you and whomever else) have set up, not only between chowhounds and the anonymous mods, but that are being set up between chowhounds. Are all of the voices expressing this viewpoint to some extent or another in this single thread falling on deaf ears?

                                                                                                                                                                  No one here that I'm aware of, including me, is demanding anarchy. Just a means of communicating on these boards with rules that are more easily comprehensible. I have read the FAQ. Then I read the boards, participate on the boards, and lo and behold, there is a puzzlement! What was it the FAQ said about this kind of situation?"

                                                                                                                                                                  Plain and simple, it's not evenly enforced. Yes, we are all human. No, we need not hide under that excuse, whether with or without passion. Think about it.

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                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Caroline1
                                                                                                                                                                    l
                                                                                                                                                                    lcool Dec 18, 2008 07:22 AM

                                                                                                                                                                    DITTO about evenly,I don't find the board management to be "even handed' .

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                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: lcool
                                                                                                                                                                      ccbweb Dec 18, 2008 07:36 AM

                                                                                                                                                                      Do you feel that the moderators are being uneven in a particular way that shows favoritism or is designed to leave only particular information up on the site or do you feel that the moderators make "bad calls" about what to remove or leave and don't explain it well enough?

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                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ccbweb
                                                                                                                                                                        l
                                                                                                                                                                        lcool Dec 18, 2008 07:55 AM

                                                                                                                                                                        ccbweb,no to specific by design or slanted.The adjective sloppy comes to mind.Part of a thread will vanish and some posts remain of the same ilk.
                                                                                                                                                                        It seems that the reading of ?? simply is not thorough.The devil is in the details.I can see not reading everything.If editing;the context as well as content should bear equal weight.Some things don't always seem to have been read in the entirety.

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                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: lcool
                                                                                                                                                                          ccbweb Dec 18, 2008 08:17 AM

                                                                                                                                                                          Thanks for the clarification!

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                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Caroline1
                                                                                                                                                                      Jacquilynne Dec 18, 2008 07:30 AM

                                                                                                                                                                      I've read all of your posts, Caroline, and I've tried to respond to your comments in a thoughtful manner. I think in the end, we're just going to have to continue to disagree. I understand why you feel the way you do, but my experiences have lead me to different conclusions.

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                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Jacquilynne
                                                                                                                                                                        Caroline1 Dec 18, 2008 09:45 PM

                                                                                                                                                                        Jacqueline, I do understand that you are just fulfilling your job and that on a personal level you may or may not agree with all of the policies that you are required to officially endorse and enforce. I don’t know which way your true emotions flow.

                                                                                                                                                                        But for me, there is a real conflict here. There have been many issues on Chow I have found disturbing. Not being allowed to share information about getting seriously ill after eating seafood at a specific restaurant. Chow’s stance on contributions here being republished (for profit) by other entities; specifically, if I understood that discussion correctly, Chow will do nothing to prevent such plagiarism, but if we want to hire an attorney and pursue it on our own, that’s okay. In other words, what boils down to thank you for giving us the right to publish your writing here, but we aren’t going to do anything to guard your copyrights.

                                                                                                                                                                        These are minor irritations when compared to Chow’s policy of banning reports of racial (or any other kind of) discrimination from restaurants. This one sets off all sorts of alarms for me! The positive side is that – as far as I can tell – Chow is open to participants of all races, creeds, and color. The negative side is that Chow will not allow reports of discrimination from restaurants and bars from those who have witnessed or suffered it first hand, but only reports on how good the food was. This is a real dilemma for me. Isn’t this support for those establishments? At the very least, it is a head-in-the-sand policy.

                                                                                                                                                                        So for me, there is some real soul searching and conscience wrestling going on. I am seventy five years old, I have a huge wealth of knowledge about food and food associated customs I can share. BUT!!! Isn’t my sharing that in such an environment an endorsement of those policies I find so reprehensible? Should I go, on principle? Or is there a chance I can contribute to change by staying, stirring things up, getting people to think, and possibly bringing about change?

                                                                                                                                                                        It’s a moral dilemma I would as soon not be faced with. I wish that Chow was everything I could possibly want it to be. But it isn’t. For the moment, I am having a long discussion with myself. These are not the sort of things one relishes having to contemplate during the season of peace on earth, good will toward men. But… I’m thinking! I’m thinking!

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                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Caroline1
                                                                                                                                                                          s
                                                                                                                                                                          soupkitten Dec 19, 2008 09:24 AM

                                                                                                                                                                          C1,

                                                                                                                                                                          see, i've gone all the way back to feeling bad for the poor mods in this discussion. they are only human, & (if you know what i mean) they are running a big train with lots of steam & passengers, and a couple of the passengers say they want to do an about-face on an issue/rule or two? yikes-- how do you just *do* that all at once? can't stop on a dime or throw the train in reverse, and then maybe the other passengers won't get where they want to go. . . maybe my train illustration makes no sense, but i see it as the line that J and the other mods are walking, with lots of criticism on every side. as i noted in another post, i *have* seen many changes in the mod-ing in the time i've been here, many instances of "loosening up" on the part of the mods that i can point to. all of this makes me hopeful that more change (agonizingly slow, molasses LOL) is possible over time :)

                                                                                                                                                                          J has tried to tell each of us nicely that special exceptions to the rules are not practical. i've sure heard that before-- i don't think anyone has the right to think they are "special"--unless it's to their mama, their SO, or their bartender. . .

                                                                                                                                                                          i don't have to love this situation, but i'm hopeful that the mods will, maybe, consider the unrest on this thread as a cue that a different approach to these types of posts in the future might be a good idea. in the meantime my fellow hounds have not changed, they're still obsessing about butter and meticulously categorizing regional types of pizza, bless em! :)

                                                                                                                                                                          as to "should i stay or should i go," & other great hits by the clash-- i wouldn't try to tell you what to do--girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do, you know :) but i think it's important for your voice to be in the conversation as well. is there really anyone else here who has had the same experiences as you, or who has the same POV? who would take your place? it wouldn't be the mods, or cnet, or whatever, suffering, if you left-- it would be the conversation, and the rest of us who are involved in it. the only way to change the conversation is to speak up & participate, right?

                                                                                                                                                                          just a thought, yours in steam and curing salts,
                                                                                                                                                                          --sk

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                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: soupkitten
                                                                                                                                                                            h
                                                                                                                                                                            HillJ Dec 19, 2008 09:31 AM

                                                                                                                                                                            on a wintry day in Jersey, I just wanna add that YOU soupkitten should be considered for Mod-ship. What a way you have.

                                                                                                                                                                            Happy Holidays!

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                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: soupkitten
                                                                                                                                                                              Caroline1 Dec 19, 2008 01:47 PM

                                                                                                                                                                              Soupkitten, bless your heart and thank you! But I think we're in danger here of mixing apples and oranges, if not of calling everything "bananas." But it was me who admittedly put the applesauce and orange juice in the punch bowl all at once.

                                                                                                                                                                              One issue is mods not being uniform and even handed in enforcing "rules" that they DO NOT write. There are many objections here and in other related threads about unevenness in actions taken by the moderators. I don't know with any certainty whether the problem comes from too few mods to cover all of the boards or a less-than-uniform interpretation of the rules from moderator to moderator. I suspect both problems come into play. But I also, based on my life experience with situations in which ""moderator," "facilitator," and "therapist" have been interchangeable titles, do not believe that people can be passionate participants in these boards while serving as even handed moderators *IF* they are human. So that's one issue.

                                                                                                                                                                              But the rules are not set by the moderators. I suspect that Jacqueline does not set the rules all by herself, though from time to time when when I beleaguer her over certain issues, I do hope that she at least has some input. And this is the level at which I have conflicts about Chowhound policies and would truly like to see some changes.

                                                                                                                                                                              On the first issue, I wouldn't consider leaving because of uneven actions from the mods. When I think they're unfair with me, I shoot off a protest to them and argue.

                                                                                                                                                                              But it is the second issue that is decided at the highest level of Chow, that could prove to be a deal breaker yet. For me, to ban sharing of information about discrimination in a restaurant is endorsing the discrimination. It may be by default, but nevertheless it is an endrosement simply because the sharing of the information is blocked. The other issue in this area I have a problem with is not allowing people to say they got sick after eating the scallops at Mother Shan Feng's Irish Pub last Saturday night. Such information could be life saving for people with compromised immune systems. But such seem to be dead-horse issues for the moment.

                                                                                                                                                                              So for me, the big dilemma is whether my participation here is also an endorsement of "it's okay to discriminate" attitude by default. I do realize that those who read this thread will know the truth, but I also suspect that no more than 5 or 6 percent of all Chow participants do that. When I browse the profile pages, I am always amazed that some participate exclusively in their "home town" boards and never venture beyond. Guess I could do a sig block, but I think that would be tacky.

                                                                                                                                                                              Bottom line at this juncture is that I greatly and truly appreciate your comments and caring enough to write your post. Meanwhile I'm still thinking and alligator wrestling... '-)

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                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Caroline1
                                                                                                                                                                                applehome Dec 19, 2008 02:18 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                But... 2 thoughts...

                                                                                                                                                                                1) Since the mods already say that they consult with each other, I doubt that there are that many actual cases of one mod applying a piece of censorship that another mod (or mods) would not have.

                                                                                                                                                                                2) I cannot see your point at all that your continued participation here reflects an endorsement of any attitude that "it's ok to discriminate". Nobody at CH thinks it's ok to discriminate, just that it's ok to not allow discussion of it. I think that the implication here is that you're calling all of us who do participate, bigots, and you refuse to be one. Not so, and you know it.

                                                                                                                                                                                I fully understand the reasons they have drawn certain lines. I want those lines re-drawn to have more inclusive discussions, but I have no problem with the way they go about enforcing what they do. Take people who we all know as being mods and participants - eg, Pat Hammond. I love her posts, (far too few since she's been a mod) and I have full confidence that she's modding effectively. She's sent me a few notes with deletions, and they've always been on the money. It would be simply absurd to think that she's bigoted or knowingly or purposely unfair on any given subject.

                                                                                                                                                                                This thread has gotten off track if the focus is on blaming the mods (or the owner/managers) because of policies that have been in place since the beginning of it all. I'm advocating that the site should change some more - evolve and open up a topic or two. I'm talking about allowing discussions of these subjects - not single POV's that could be damaging. If one person says I got sick and dozens chime in with I never have, wouldn't the average intelligent person assume that it was a one-time event? But if 2 or 3 people reported getting sick (at different times), then doesn't this place deserve to go TU? Shouldn't we be forewarned about bacteria as well as a lack of deliciousness? Ditto, discrimination. I think that the bans on these subjects really treat us as kids - unable to distinguish truth from hysteria... of course, they have to edit out the truly hysterical. Is this more work for the mods? Get more mods. (Probably not a good time to be talking about more personnel - even volunteers. OTOH, there may be more of us out here available for such a position...)

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                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: applehome
                                                                                                                                                                                  Caroline1 Dec 20, 2008 01:05 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                  Sorry you don't understand my viewpoint, applehome, sot let me try another approach. Do you think it is okay to belong to a country club that bans Blacks, Jews, Hispanics, and any other "dissimilar" ethnic or religious group from membership or playing on their greens? Don't you support those policies by joining such a country club and paying your dues? Yet it's most likely that no one at that country club goes around talking about discrimination. It's all done for them in the membership screening process. Everyone knows what the process is and how strictly it's enforced, so no one has to talk about it. It's done.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Well, turns out that Chowhound is just such an organization. My dues are my participation. The Chow "membership committee" is the group of mods, unknown entities to most of us, who enforce the no-discussion or sharing of information about bigoted restaurants or food that makes you ill.

                                                                                                                                                                                  And now The Chow Team has disclosed that such policies ARE NOT coming down from above, but are set out by the moderators themselves!

                                                                                                                                                                                  As far as I know, I have never suffered any prejudice in a local restaurant since becoming active in Chow. But I have gotten very sick from eating at a restaurant that was receiving rave reviews on Chow. In fact, the Chow reviews are the only reason I went there. So now, knowing what the Chow policy is, I am forced to wonder whether there were warnings about the restaurant that were taken down by the mods? Are the mods the reason I got sick? When I tried to share my experience it was taken down and I was told not to do that anymore. As a result of this experience, I never bother participating in my regional board any more. Why bother when the information is suspect?

                                                                                                                                                                                  So I am now faced with the question of what I get in return from Chow for paying my dues by contributing? The answer is currently "Not much." When I look around, I have to ask, "Hey! Where am I? Is this Alice's Wonderland or the Disneyland of the Third Reich?" One thing is for sure: For me, "This isn't Kansas any more!"

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                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Caroline1
                                                                                                                                                                                    applehome Dec 20, 2008 01:33 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                    These policies were set by Jim Leff and Bob Okumura - the founders of Chowhound, and their initial staff. They are not bigots, they did not create a discriminatory country club.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Your continued insistence that these people, the originators, the mods, the current management, whoever, are bigots because they don't want to discuss discrimination, borders on the absurd. It's just nonsense. If you want to keep yourself off this board because you are being nonsensical, that's your right. But don't think, even for a minute, that anyone else thinks as you do on this subject. I've been yelling long and loud (longer than you've been on this board) that they need to open up the discussions. But not for one second would I ever think that these people are bigots. This is not a discrimination issue. It is a board management issue.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: applehome
                                                                                                                                                                                      Caroline1 Dec 20, 2008 02:23 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                      And you obviously did not understand a word I wrote. Pity.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Caroline1
                                                                                                                                                                                        j
                                                                                                                                                                                        jpc8015 Dec 20, 2008 03:00 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                        I don't think it's that Applehome doesn't understand what you wrote, it's that what you wrote doesn't make any sense. The Chowhound moderators are not disallowing anybody from coming to thir website and having discussions. What they are doing is limiting the conversation to subjects they feel are appropriate.

                                                                                                                                                                                        I'll use your Country Club analogy, which is absurd. If I go walking into a country club and start speaking poorly of other members of the club by making claims of racism, sexcism, adultery, theft, etc...that club has not only a right but a responsibility to ask me to either adhere to their standards of speach or leave.

                                                                                                                                                                                        This becomes a legal issue very quickly. Lets say I own a restaurant. Suddnely I notice a steep decline in business. Now if I come to Chowhound and see a series of long threads about my restaurant promoting racism or serving food that made people sick you'd better believe that I am going to take legal action against the website for allowing such libelous comments to be posted. Chowhound has neither the resources or responsibility to investigate every claim of racism or bigotry.

                                                                                                                                                                                        If you want to discuss race and other social issues there are a host of other websites out there that will welcome your voice. This is simply not the place for such discussions.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Caroline1
                                                                                                                                                                                      wolfe Dec 20, 2008 04:28 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                      "Hey! Where am I? Is this Alice's Wonderland or the Disneyland of the Third Reich?"
                                                                                                                                                                                      I always find it helpful in a disagreement to evoke images of those I disagree with as "jack booted thugs" from Nazi Germany.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: wolfe
                                                                                                                                                                                        Scargod Dec 20, 2008 06:30 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                        I don't think the metaphor "Disneyland of the Third Reich", comes close to your "Jack booted thugs". Not even close to the same thing. I think you should visualize a very strange playground run by controlling people with strict, confining rules.
                                                                                                                                                                                        So you have amped this up and are even more unhelpful than the one you criticize. Should I hit the "report button"? Nope, I won't.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Scargod
                                                                                                                                                                                          Servorg Dec 20, 2008 06:45 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                          If I had a nickle for every Nazi metaphor employed by a disgruntled poster on CH over the years in reference to some action taken by the moderators I would be able to refund every penny of the losses incurred by Bernie Madoff's "investors."

                                                                                                                                                                                          Yeah, references to the "Third Reich" and "Jack Booted" thugs aren't similar at all. Right.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Servorg
                                                                                                                                                                                            wolfe Dec 20, 2008 07:12 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                            Third Reich,Nazis, Bernie Madoff. Strange how easy these associations are.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Caroline1
                                                                                                                                                                                        flourgirl Dec 20, 2008 05:04 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                        Chowhound doesn't discriminate with regard to who joins Chowhound. So now it is you who is in danger of mixing apples and oranges. I can certainly see an argument for somehow finding a way to enable CHers to share such information about a particular establishment's apparently discriminatory policies in a fair and even-handed way, but otherwise you are not being logical and I resent the implication that everyone here is automatically branded a "bigot" just by virtue of posting here. That's a ridiculous, unfounded and illogical line of reasoning.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: flourgirl
                                                                                                                                                                                          j
                                                                                                                                                                                          jpc8015 Dec 20, 2008 05:47 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                          Chowhound has no way of verifying the validity of claims of bigotry in a dining establishment. They are better off not allowing the discussion in their forum.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: flourgirl
                                                                                                                                                                                            Caroline1 Dec 20, 2008 06:39 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                            This is going to be my last response in this thread.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Chowhound DOES have a way to escape being held responsible for others' reports and opinions. They simply post the same kind of message that every cable station states all night long before they air those infomercials that promise you too can make a gazillion dollars a year if you just follow so-and-so's magic program available for the amazing sum of $49.95. Chow simply posts a banner that says something like, "The opinions and positions posted by participants on these boards are not the official opinions and positions of Chowhound or Chow." I'm not a lawyer, but I'm sure Chow has access to a whole flight of legal eagles to write one for them.

                                                                                                                                                                                            As for Chow/Chowhounds current policy of not allowing discussion of people getting sick after eating in a specific restaurant, it is true that the illness may have been the result of another cause, but what if it is the actual consequence from eating there? If the person who was made sick can prove that someone posted a warning on Chowhound that the food was bad and Chowhound removed that post, and if the person went to that restaurant based on high praise on the Chow boards, then Chowhound could well be in a whole lot of legal trouble! The current policy is protecting them from nothing.

                                                                                                                                                                                            As for the rest of what you say, you saying that I am wrong does not neccessarily make that true. I think you're not comprehending what I wrote and may be reacting to what you think you have read.

                                                                                                                                                                                            End of my discussion here.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Caroline1
                                                                                                                                                                                            Scargod Dec 20, 2008 07:49 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                            I would like to express my support of caroline1's comments. I think Moderators need to add a "Ludicrous" category to the Report feature.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Applehome: I don't think Chowhound has many bad actors, like a Madooff, but how can you (and others), make so many assumptions and conclusions? You say "Nobody at CH thinks it's ok to discriminate". Perhaps you meant “you believe all Moderators are above discriminating". Since most Moderators are anonymous, we can't know, can we? We, all, have leanings. If you are honest, genuine and sincere, then that's the most one can expect. I feel Caroline is in that category. I just dislike it when comments are assumptions and/or broad generalizations. If you know everyone here is perfect, please share the proof. I don’t think Caroline came close to suggesting that Chowhounders are bigoted or racist. You, and others, suggesting that she feels that way is just “ludicrous”.
                                                                                                                                                                                            People are distorting Caroline”s comments and opinion. I would interpret that she is suggesting that there are those (staff and Chowhounders), that don’t care about equality and transparency on these issues, want to remain uninvolved or are afraid to deal with it.

                                                                                                                                                                                            It seems like we have a dozen or so moderators and how many are on duty at any one time? J has said that not all posts are read. This leaves us Chowhounders to use the "Report" feature. When one or more readers object to a posting, what is the chance it will get pulled? Perhaps it is dependent on who's complaining, who's on duty moderating, whether they consult with another moderator or on the volume of complaints.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Policy: They have been here from the beginning of time... Come on! They have never been changed or modified? Leff is responsible for every policy currently in place? “Uh, it’s that Leff guy’s doin’. We’re just followin’ orders…”
                                                                                                                                                                                            To those that object to Caroline's comparing Chowhound membership to the Country Club membership, I think her comparison works better than anything (like apples, oranges, bananas), that you have thrown at it. If you support the site and it turns it's back on these issues (and goes la la la la la--I can't hear you), then you are condoning the practice. There’s no reason to change.
                                                                                                                                                                                            I want full disclosure about a restaurant. I suspect Chowhound’s risk to be low, if good vetting of comments is in place, especially if something like food poisoning is accurate or verifiable. I filed a complaint the last time it happened. It's there, on the record. Why can't I say that I believe I got sick there, filed a complaint and that food was, indeed, not being kept hot enough?
                                                                                                                                                                                            I am again with Caroline; (in that) I wonder whether to trust what I read. There are some places that deserve to be called out for uncleanliness, bad working conditions and dangerous food. There will be those who take information, and even recommendations, and have a bad experience or go into a dangerous situation. Where does that leave Chowhound? At risk for having bad or misleading information on the site? Tainted, at least.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Scargod
                                                                                                                                                                                              Servorg Dec 20, 2008 08:17 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                              You don't like the fact that CH doesn't cover subjects like racist restaurants, dangerous food and bad working conditions. You want full disclosure. You are welcome to start your own site that covers all of these topics and more. You can have full disclosure. Just be ready to lose any sort of civil discourse about food if you do.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Jacquilynne has explained numerous times, and the various CH posting rules and site guidelines which are available to us are quite clear about what CH was formulated to do, and what it still does.

                                                                                                                                                                                              If you have something to post, and you're not sure if it will be allowed you can always shoot off a copy to the moderators for a pre-post ruling. At least that way you won't have to wonder what became of it if it gets deleted.

                                                                                                                                                                                              I like the "party" analogy being used by other posters in this thread. You can say what you want about me, my wife or my children. You just can't do it in my house after being invited to my party while drinking my liquor and eating my food. If you do you'll be invited to utilize the egress feature of my front door.

                                                                                                                                                                                              You can live with the moderation here as I chose to do, or you can live without it on some other website. The choice to be here is totally voluntary. Stay and play by the rules. Or go somewhere else that allows you to express yourself as you see fit. It not only seems simple, it is.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Servorg
                                                                                                                                                                                                Scargod Dec 20, 2008 08:50 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                Ah, "My way or the highway". So open-minded.
                                                                                                                                                                                                As Caroline and others have said, "We are contributing to this party". It wouldn't be anything without the sum of the contributors.
                                                                                                                                                                                                I'll say again that there are some very sophisticated Chowhounders that squirm under the current policies and Moderator enforcement. While this may be a closed, invitation only party, we are here, we are contributing, and you may run us off, or you may not. Many would be sorely missed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Just don't tell me to shut up and play by the rules or leave. The moderators are allowing this thread to exist and allowing us to have this discourse. Are you in charge? Are those heavy boots I hear?

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                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Scargod
                                                                                                                                                                                                ccbweb Dec 20, 2008 09:58 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                The response to the sanitation issue (not that you have to agree and clearly you don't) is, I think, that Chowhound is not set up to be a good source for that kind of information. They don't want anyone to ever depend on reports here for any information that has anything to do with the cleanliness or healthiness of a restaurant. They can't be sure they'd have good information. The information they would have would be entirely anecdotal and based on the whim of the posters. Not everyone who posts to Chowhound would post about a health department type of issue every time one came up. Many who post to Chowhound likely wouldn't recognize a health department type of issue if they saw one. Even if the reports that did go up could be verified, what overall good would they do from a site-wide perspective? Users could easily start to infer that an absence of bad health department type reports means that a restaurant is clean and good and safe. It might mean only that no Chowhound has posted anything about it yet. The Chowhound folks (moderators and others) seem to have made the choice that they'd rather no one look to Chowhound for health department sorts of issues rather than have people look to it when it couldn't possibly be a complete and trustworthy source of information on the matter. The fact that it can't be a complete and trustworthy source of information on the matter actually has nothing to do with the individual reports that get made by Chowhounds. It's simply outside the scope of what this site can do. It's a situation where little bits of information here and there, no matter how true, can actually be more dangerous than no information at all. By not allowing discussion of sanitation there's no suggestion that restaurants that don't have any mention of sanitation issues are then by definition totally clean places.

                                                                                                                                                                                                One thing that occurred to me as I wrote this, though, is that perhaps there'd be a way to link to a local health department page off of the places page for a restaurant. In my town, there's a page that lists all restaurants with a link to the report on the last inspection. I would guess that there is at the very least a web page that could be linked to that would have the information for pretty much every local health department in the country. That could perhaps be listed along with the restaurant's contact information. Interested users could click through to the health department's site and read about inspection procedures and if the locality posts their information, it'd be right there. Clearly this doesn't solve your issue of being able to write about your own sanitation related experiences, but it'd make health department information more easily accessible without creating any of the problems the Chowhound team seems to want to avoid. I can also see the objection "the last inspection was 2 months ago and I was there last week." But this might still help some.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ccbweb
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Scargod Dec 20, 2008 11:25 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thank you for the response. It is a "let's try and find a solution" type of conversation I wished we could have more of. You have made and restated the Moderator's opinions but you have suggested a viable alternative that says Chowhound cares. If the site were to have a links page to submitted health department information it would be a way of people having easy access to information, without bias or liability.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  "what overall good would they do from a site-wide perspective?"
                                                                                                                                                                                                  None, unless, for instance, you wanted to visit at foreign place and do some due diligence to see if the hole-in-the-wall with mixed reviews near your hotel would be a place to try for breakfast. Locally, it could prove invaluable.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              3. re: Caroline1
                                                                                                                                                                                                jfood Dec 21, 2008 09:49 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                Jfood has been the victim of discrimination at a private club and he and a few others forced their doors open, so he has walked the talk. But the idea of a Food Site making such harsh accusations other than in the presence of very clear and open evidence is not for this site. If jfood gets a bad table or a bad meal at a restaurant was it because he is bald, or short or chubby or white or Jewish. The idea that one can connect the dots borders as much on slander/libel from the poster as it does discrimination on the restaurant. That is why we have courts. Now if there is clear and proper evidence of discrimination, as in a shirt or sign that states "We do not serve XXX" then that is a different story. But how can a food site be the conduit for this sort of opinion. It could have been just plain old bad service. And we have all seen the bad poster just trying to get back at a restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                With respect to food illnesses. There are so many things that can cause this. If the chicken or pork is raw, then mention it, if the oysters tasted off, say that. But again to connect the dots to "I received tomain posioning at..." is such a far flung conclusion as to also border on slander/libel and also strikes jfood as potential retaliation versus good reporting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                With respect to using the term Nazi with anything other than the most horrific time in our history, jfood was making soup when a workman called him the Soup Nazi yesterday. Jfood asked him to leave his house. At no point will jfood approve of using the word anywhere anytime other than describing the 40's.

                                                                                                                                                                                                And let's be real. The Mods have been more than lenient with your Walk Down Memory Lane posts. Although jfood enjoyed the Beatnik vs Flower Child perspective, it had nothing to do with the food of that era.

                                                                                                                                                                                                And Jfood is sure you could rephrase your incident with the restaurant such that it would pass the muster of the Mods.

                                                                                                                                                                                                It's their site and one needs to modify posts to achieve what you are looking to provide on restaurants without libel, slander, retaliation, and the like from creeping onto the Boards.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Jfood has had his share of posts removed, many in response to you, and you likewise. At jfood's age he does not sweat the small stuff, tries to find pleasure in life with his lovely Mrs jfood and fight the battles he sees as important.

                                                                                                                                                                                                He does NOT want to see a outright flame war on potential discrimination on a Chow site and does not wany a restaurant to suffer because some yutz did not get a free entree and then flames the restaurant on this site.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Are the Mods always right. To be honest Jfood needs to give them a B+ on stuff they removed that he wrote and a B- on allowing what he sees are posts that should come down. He reports many and most come down so on the "report" feature he gives them a A-.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: jfood
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Caroline1 Dec 21, 2008 11:17 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                  As long as you understand that I did NOT use the word Nazi. Deutches Reich ("third Reich in English) is not the same thing historically as Nazis, and was a time of phantasmagoric contrasts in that country, and that is the quality that I was referring to. When I posted a previous explanation, the mods removed it. I don't know why cultural illiteracy always has to win. I hope they will allow this one to stand.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Caroline1
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Servorg Dec 21, 2008 11:19 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_Ger...

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: jfood
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Glencora Dec 21, 2008 11:24 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I've been following this thread, finding it depressing and hesitating to join in. However, I have to say that I think this is the most reasonable response yet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Early on, I was deleted for mentioning that I'd seen a cockroach in a certain restaurant. At the time, I didn't understand, but I do now. jfood is right that if those kinds of posts are allowed on this site people could use them to unfairly accuse restaurants of something that is very hard to prove and hard to shake. Sort of like accusing someone of child abuse or racism or anything else; once you put the idea into peoples' minds, it's not going to go away, even if it is completely false. Of course it might be true, but I can understand why the mods don't want to deal with it.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: jfood
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Scargod Dec 21, 2008 11:29 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Not that I always agree with Jfood (I think I'm more liberal), yet, I find great wisdom and sensibility in what he has said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I think Caroline1's use of "Third Reich" was unfortunate. She could have chosen a less offensive term for her metaphor. I told her that privately, which (I believe), is only our second communication, ever. However, I was offended that people latched onto that and, using their own associated words, painted a wide swath, which wasn't deserved, and came at me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      As a southern WASP, I guess I don't realize how sensitive Jews, and many others, are to anything connected to that awful period in history. I meant no offense. Looking back, I realize that saying "are those heavy boots I hear", was offensive because of the connection, and I apologize. I just didn’t see it as name calling like, “you’re a jackass”.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I can see that given my support of Caroline's statements, some would ratchet things up because they were offended, and throw it back at me. My Achilles heel is someone telling me what to do. I do not retract my basic opposition to their mean-spirited attitude. I was not in the military. I don't have the mindset to take whatever is dictated to me. I don't have, or see the need for, unswerving allegiance, just because I am a Chowhound.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      I don't like having that "love it or leave it" attitude dictated to me and others who seek change for the better. Chowhound is a privately held company and free to do whatever they want, within the law, but it is also a PUBLIC forum with very diverse constituents. It would be nothing without it’s members. I think everyone knows where we would be without change and challenging the system.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Scargod
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Servorg Dec 21, 2008 11:45 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                        We are all highly opinionated on this board. There are a lot of very bright and well written posters here. My stand against the inclusion of vermin report posts being ascribed to any certain restaurant is as J Food outlines it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        My aversion to racist accusations against any certain restaurant is based on that being second only to being an actual racist in hate speech if someone is falsely/unfairly tarred.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Once someone tags you with being a pedophile or a racist in an open forum like this one who knows what some unhinged member of the greater public may take it into their tiny little minds to do?

                                                                                                                                                                                                        It is so easy to misunderstand why someone's lousy mood then spawned even worse service for you and your party. When I hear hoof beats I try and think horses and not Zebra's. But there are so many people who automatically jump to the Z conclusion, and respond with a written accusation that they received inferior service for that reason. It is a teflon slope greased with crisco to start along that path.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        But I'll say that I have the greatest respect for your views Scargod. And if my passion got the better of my reason in any of my replies (including this one) I apologize.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Happy Holidays to you and everyone else.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Scargod
                                                                                                                                                                                                          jfood Dec 21, 2008 12:39 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Not to worry S, jfood has read enough of your posts to get a good feel. ANd he was probably as liberal as you in his heyday, but then that McGovern thing and paying taxes started Snapplepuss shuffling to the right.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Peace

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. re: Caroline1
                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Chowhound Team Dec 19, 2008 06:45 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                    CNET and now CBS have been very understanding about trying to preserve the qualities and guidelines that helped the Chowhound community grow. The guidelines continue to be set and tweaked by the Chowhound moderation team. While they've had some comments, there have been no dictates from CHOW, CNET or CBS, and the rules under discussion pre-date the acquisition of Chowhound.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: The Chowhound Team
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Caroline1 Dec 20, 2008 01:08 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Then YOU GUYS are the ones banning the sharing of information about discrimination and food related illnesses? SHAME ON YOU...!!!!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Caroline1
                                                                                                                                                                                                        j
                                                                                                                                                                                                        jpc8015 Dec 20, 2008 02:09 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Caroline you need to either get over it or move on. The fact is that Chowhound can chose to moderate THEIR webiste as they see fit. If they chose to not allow posts that could be potentially libelous they have a right to remove those posts. You have no "right" to have your voice heard here. If you would like to spend your own money and develop your own website you are free to do so. I personally find your attitude of entitlement to be ridiculous, you need to stop attacking the moderators for doing as they have been asked to do and exhibiting their best judgement. SHAME ON YOU!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Caroline1
                                                                                                                                                                                                          k
                                                                                                                                                                                                          KTinNYC Dec 20, 2008 07:07 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                          The analogy Jim Leff always use to use was that chowhound was essentially a big party and we are all guest. Everyone is invited to the party but there are certain rules the guest have to abide by and certain discussion is prohibited. The mods and Jacquilynne have explained these rules repeatedly to you. You don't have to like the rules but if you are going to be a good guest you should abide by the rules or expect to have your post deleted. If you think the rules to be so reprehensible then you have the option of no longer attending the party.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: KTinNYC
                                                                                                                                                                                                            j
                                                                                                                                                                                                            jpc8015 Dec 20, 2008 07:22 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I agree with KTinNYC. It appears that there are some people who feel like they should be able to walk into my house and say anything they want; that's not the case. If you cometo my home and say things to offend my wife I will politely ask you to change the subject and if you don't I will ask you to leave. You are free to have those conversations anywhere else, just not in my house.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Chowhound is essentially the same thing. There are boundaries as to what are acceptable topics of conversation and if Chowhound has decided that restaurant bashing is not allowed you need to decide whether you aare going to play by their rules or get out of their house. I find it to be incredibly disrespectful for someone to be on this website carrying on and on about how they don't agree with the house rules of conduct. Imagine if someone were standing in your living room screaming at you because you have asked them not to speak in a certain tone around their children. That is essentially what is going on here.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: jpc8015
                                                                                                                                                                                                              h
                                                                                                                                                                                                              HillJ Dec 20, 2008 08:08 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Ah, yet there is flexibility in the policies/rules. Whether it's my house or your house, occasionally and many times when clarity is needed most, the enforcement of rules by the persons in charge of enforcing rules decides to be flexible instead...leaving a few of us (dare I say a few) just scratching our heads a bit puzzled by how easily/often/necessary the rules are stretched when they are written to be followed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              My question remains where does leadership stand on NEW moderation questions and Board/community issues. We have all posted our p.o.v's and/or aligned with the p.o.v. of a fellow hound...but at the end of any CH thread is a Moderator...given the task of policy...and in this current discussion there has been far less Moderation and more hound-speak stated.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              There appears to be a reason for flexibility now but I would enjoy hearing from J, a Mod on duty, CH Team as to the policy as it pertains to new issues....so we can get back to the chow!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: KTinNYC
                                                                                                                                                                                                              m
                                                                                                                                                                                                              mlgb Dec 20, 2008 10:58 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                              This no longer anyone's private house or country club. It's a public website owned by a publicly traded corporation. Their goal is to make money.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              Removing posts about discrimination and health is akin to cover-up and head in the sand about bad behavior. I agree that there is no reason that disclaimers cannot be used to remove any threat of liability from the public postings. Set up rules that allow such postings. If someone describes the details of what happened I'm capable of drawing my own conclusion about possible intent and whether I want to take my own chances. What is wrong with trusting a long-time poster's negative comment? If the discussion degenerates then lock it down. Clearly to me Chowhound's response is "it's just too much trouble, we've always done it this way". Bah on them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I understand exactly what Caroline is saying. If you go just along with the program, you condone positive press for establishments that should be avoided if they engage in practices that you oppose.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: mlgb
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                KTinNYC Dec 20, 2008 11:25 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                What does it matter if the site is owned by an individual or by a corporation. The owners set the rules. There are hundreds of forums that will allow you post about discrimination and health issues go post on those forums, this just isn't one of them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                In fact, why don't you just go out and set up your own blog to address these issues. There are many posters, this one included, that would visit and post. Chowhound has always had a very narrow focus and you will never convince the operators of this site to allow the discussions you want to see.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: KTinNYC
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  mlgb Dec 20, 2008 01:10 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  "If you don't like our country club, go play at the muni. Or start your own country club." Yeah, some of us have heard that tune before. Of course if Tiger had just given up golf after some of the treatment he had at the local private country clubs, all of golf would have been poorer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Chowhound does NOT have the "narrow focus" that it once had. Just look at all of the postings on the boards besides the local ones. And we aren't talking about general discusssions, we're talking about the overall and truthful ambience at a recommend restaurant.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mlgb
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    k
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    KTinNYC Dec 20, 2008 01:16 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The difference is that you are allowed to stay and play at this "country club" as long as you like. No one is asking you to leave or not allowing you to join, the operators are just asking you to follow the rules. Your analogy is completely flawed.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: KTinNYC
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      BobB Dec 21, 2008 04:53 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Re: the comment to the effect that "No one at Chowhound thinks it's OK to discriminate," I can't speak to the racism issue but I have seen some offensively homophobic comments out here (and not from newbies or one-time posters either) which drew me and several others into a heated discussion and the whole subthread promptly disappeared.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      That was appropriate moderating, in my opinion.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: soupkitten
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Caroline1 Dec 19, 2008 02:25 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                        currymouth, would you check out my profile page and contact me? Thanks!

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                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Servorg
                                                                                                                                                                                              Scargod Dec 18, 2008 06:18 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                              There's no confusion, in my mind. As others have said, I see no reason why we can't have a real "moderated" expression about racial problems we have encountered. Here, you can say someone was rude, or the owner yelled at us, or the food was burnt, but you can't say that you are black and were treated differently? Do they have to prove it in a court of law? Do we need to be professionals, and thus it will only be seen on a pay site like Zagat or in a Michelin Guide? Does fact not have a place on Chowhound? You can't say that X restaurant was fined for do-da about their employees?

                                                                                                                                                                                              I don't want to be on a soapbox, per se, and at the moment I don't have a restaurant or purveyor to complain about. Well, .... there was a place where someone looked at me and (friendly like), said, "where are you from?". I guess I still have a drawl. (I'm trying to interject some humor, here.)
                                                                                                                                                                                              Seriously, though, I have experienced reverse descrimination.

                                                                                                                                                                                              I don't see why Chowhound will become a free-for-all, YELP-ish place when comments can be moderated. As to dire warnings that we may not like what we get..... HUH? There's no reason to suggest we will go to hell in a handbasket if we allow some resonable comments. I don't think racists will find a welcoming home here. To me, Chowhound has some very sophisticated, well educated and well-heeled members and we do not like the confines of censorship, as we now experience it. Why can't we open this up a little and see what happens? I don't think we need premature, dire predictions that the sky will fall.
                                                                                                                                                                                              And CBS... Why should Chowhound be excluded from their good deeds?
                                                                                                                                                                                              Mostly, I don't like Chowhound's NIMBY position.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          3. re: Scargod
                                                                                                                                                                                            E Eto Dec 17, 2008 09:01 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                            These are big issues. However, most of the time, I find that most of the racially charged posts on CH are exactly the opposite of what you're thinking. It's usually about the more privileged populations being warned about getting on the subway to Woodside, Queens, or parking near Macarthur Park in LA, or going to West Oakland, or Dorchester in search of "authentic" foods, afraid of being mugged. Then there's the "why can't they understand English?" frustrations aired at some restaurants. I suppose if CH were to allow posts about discrimination, these kinds of posts will dominate the scene.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: E Eto
                                                                                                                                                                                              applehome Dec 17, 2008 10:41 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                              Personally, I see no difference between asking why they don't understand English, and saying that Olive Garden is wonderful Italian food and philadelphia rolls are the best sushi, ever. Ignorant people will speak here, and it is up to us to help and teach them. If we can do so without making fun of them, the posts should stay. If we get somewhat heavyhanded with the judgemental commentary, the mods ought to snip it out. In any case, I don't think these kinds of posts will *dominate* the scene any more than they already do - perhaps there will indeed be an incremental rise of nonsense, but it's not going to be a major part of the overall loss of signal to noise.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: E Eto
                                                                                                                                                                                                meatn3 Dec 17, 2008 11:04 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                I think the frustrations some may have with places where English is not understood/used is probably based in personal uncertainty rather that bigotry. There are a lot of folks who are very uncomfortable not being in command of a situation. Couple that with many Americans lack of exposure to people who differ from them, and it creates unease for many...These are the same folks who feel uneasy traveling independently to non-English speaking countries. It is a shame - I strongly feel that breaking bread and travel are the best ways that individuals can create positive bonds with those unfamiliar to them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                But think of what a service CH can perform in these cases! The posts describing dishes, menu translations, explaining customs and what to expect or not to expect can help a person new to the experience feel much more comfortable and open to exploring. Most people just get comfortable in their specific niche, it isn't always bigotry IMHO...

                                                                                                                                                                                                The opposite side of the coin, if a reviewer indicates that language may be problematic, then this allows the reader who is not comfortable enough "non-food" information to self-edit themselves from going. So ultimately the info can be useful all around.

                                                                                                                                                                                                E Eto, much of this is written in general...your post simple started my thought process! ;-)

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                                                                                                                                                                        2. vyieort Dec 8, 2008 10:57 AM

                                                                                                                                                                          Amen.

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                                                                                                                                                                          1. iL Divo Dec 8, 2008 05:23 PM

                                                                                                                                                                            DOES ANYONE KNOW HOW TO CONTACT CHOWHOUND MODS TO ASK A QUESTION?

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                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: iL Divo
                                                                                                                                                                              The Chowhound Team Dec 8, 2008 05:30 PM

                                                                                                                                                                              You can contact the moderating team by emailing us at moderators@chowhound.com.

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                                                                                                                                                                            2. s
                                                                                                                                                                              soupkitten Dec 10, 2008 08:39 AM

                                                                                                                                                                              like, whoa, dude.

                                                                                                                                                                              i just clicked on the "The Chowhound Team" username, and they have a profile page just like the rest of us, and people reading them! here it is:

                                                                                                                                                                              http://www.chow.com/profile/2

                                                                                                                                                                              it never occurred to me that you could pull the Team up just like any other poster, before this thread. trippy.

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                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: soupkitten
                                                                                                                                                                                Miss Needle Dec 10, 2008 09:10 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                Yeah, I've always thought it was a bit freaky that they had followers. I can understand Jacquilynne. Gasp! Perhaps these are the mods!

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                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Miss Needle
                                                                                                                                                                                  Jacquilynne Dec 10, 2008 09:21 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                  Nope, they're not. They wrote 'em, they don't need to read 'em.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Miss Needle
                                                                                                                                                                                    h
                                                                                                                                                                                    HillJ Dec 10, 2008 09:37 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                    Oh man CH's surprise me every day. What is so "freaky" about following the comments of the Team? As one who likes to understand the community, it's actually quite helpful to read Team comments. Gasp! :)

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                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                                                                                      limster Dec 10, 2008 10:09 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                      And http://www.chow.com/profile/1 is for the Engineering Team

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                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: limster
                                                                                                                                                                                        h
                                                                                                                                                                                        HillJ Dec 10, 2008 10:16 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                        That's correct, reading the Engr Team comments/posts are also helpful.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                                                                                        Miss Needle Dec 10, 2008 10:50 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                        Hey Mr. (?) HillJ, speaking as a fellow "freak" to another, I can see why one would follow the team to understand the rules a bit more. But I still think it's a bit "freaky." ; )

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                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Miss Needle
                                                                                                                                                                                          h
                                                                                                                                                                                          HillJ Dec 10, 2008 11:42 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                          MissN, call "people I'm reading" whatever you like.
                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm off to enjoy the chow my dh brought home a few moments ago.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: soupkitten
                                                                                                                                                                                      LindaWhit Dec 10, 2008 10:50 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                      But they didn't fill in their questionnaire(s). :-)

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                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit
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                                                                                                                                                                                        givemecarbs Dec 10, 2008 11:18 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                        Miss Needle,that is kinda why i am here on this thread, trying to learn the culture and rules of chowhound better. Anyone else here a fan of Gifts Differing? I wonder how many of the mods and administators have TJ as their preference? To maintain order on this one little corner of the chaotic internet is a daunting task indeed.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: givemecarbs
                                                                                                                                                                                          BobB Dec 10, 2008 11:36 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                          Uh, no. Color me M-BDMN (Myers-Briggsites Drive Me Nuts).

                                                                                                                                                                                          Does mentioning nuts make this chowish enough to not get deleted? ;-)

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                                                                                                                                                                                    3. im_nomad Dec 12, 2008 05:38 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                      i'm somewhat amused.....in case anyone is every wondering where the mods are...come into Site Talk and complain about them....and then they're EVERYWHERE in here. XD

                                                                                                                                                                                      sadly, while I like an awful lot about this site...i think it's ignoring an whole lot of discontent and need to develop that is right under it's nose. evolution is not a bad thing.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: im_nomad
                                                                                                                                                                                        ccbweb Dec 12, 2008 05:43 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                        Where else are moderators supposed to get involved in a discussion?

                                                                                                                                                                                        And, to what is the site supposed to evolve?

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                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ccbweb
                                                                                                                                                                                          im_nomad Dec 12, 2008 05:51 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                          it was a humorous observation....I was under the impression that they were too busy to hang around such as this. (i'm also beginning to suspect there is a mod-defender army)

                                                                                                                                                                                          I didn't say " evolve to ___". I meant grow, get with the times a little on some fronts, not losing people etc.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: im_nomad
                                                                                                                                                                                            ccbweb Dec 13, 2008 03:54 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                            Oh, I totally meant my response in a humorous way, too. Ah, the absence of tone in text sometimes.

                                                                                                                                                                                            My second question, though, is serious....evolve or grow...into what? If the site needs to grow/change/evolve/adapt/whatever in ways, what are they? What should the site look like post-growth?

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                                                                                                                                                                                      2. PaulF Dec 14, 2008 07:01 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                        There is a particular point relevant to this thread that I believe is off target.

                                                                                                                                                                                        At least twice in this thread a poster has suggested (and I paraphrase) "that if 'you' don't like the policies here, then perhaps you should find another site more to your liking."

                                                                                                                                                                                        In the years I've been reading this site, I've seen this point made many times.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Just so you know, I don't think that those making this point are mean-spirited, I think they are honestly saying that the site is the way it is for a reason (whether you agree with the reason or not) and that if you don't like the rules, then you should find a site where you are happier.

                                                                                                                                                                                        I do, however, think that they are missing an important point.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Because not liking the rules or the moderators decisions doesn't preclude using the site, it only gets in the way of contributing to the site.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Let me use myself as an example. I posted regularly on the site for a number of years. Just over a year ago, I became so frustrated with the site, that I simply decided to not post here anymore (until this singular post, I guess). So, what happened as a result of my decision.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Well, the only real impact is that anyone who might have benefited from my posts no longer benefits. I still eat out all the time. I still find places that I think are cool and interesting and have good food. I just don't tell anyone on Chowhound about them. But, have I lost anything?

                                                                                                                                                                                        Well, I can still check the site any time I want. I can still benefit from the opinions of others (in truth, since I don't post, I don't read the board nearly as much.) If I want to know where the best fish and chips are, I just do a search. I just don't start a thread asking about fish and chips.

                                                                                                                                                                                        In the end, my personal quest for good food has only been impacted a very, very small bit by my decision not to post. I guess I miss the "thrill" of being the first to post about something, the satisfaction of helping out someone with a question or the validation that comes when someone agrees with one of my opinions. On the other hand, I don't miss being told a meal I had wasn't very good. And I don't miss the moderating. I'm happier not posting, just reading if and when I feel like it.

                                                                                                                                                                                        So, what I'm saying is, when someone decides that this board "isn't for them" the only thing they're really deciding is that they won't participate as a writer and that readers won't benefit from their opinions. But, just because someone isn't writing, doesn't really mean you can't benefit from the site. It's possible the board suffers more than the departing writer. (So, when someone tells someone else to find another site, they're really just telling them to post somewhere else, not that they can't still use Chowhound as a resource themselves.)

                                                                                                                                                                                        P.S. I'm not delusional enough to think I in particular have been missed by anyone much. But there is a cumulative loss if there are many like me who decide "the board isn't for them."

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                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: PaulF
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                                                                                                                                                                                          givemecarbs Dec 14, 2008 10:39 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                          Thank you PaulF. Your thoughtful and insightful post illustrates clearly what we hounds have lost by not having your words to read more often.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: PaulF
                                                                                                                                                                                            Caroline1 Dec 15, 2008 01:13 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                            Ooops! My response to you hours ago has not appeared, Paul, but I suspect technical problems on this one, not the mods.

                                                                                                                                                                                            I've checked your profile page and see there is no way for anyone to contact you so how can you possibly know no one misses you? I am also grieved that this is your first post in a year! I've enjoyed reading your posts from the past through your profile page, and you are the kind of guy who is a major loss to Chow. I wish you would come back and post more. Just don't restrict yourself to the LA board any more! '-)

                                                                                                                                                                                            And thank you for this post.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Caroline1
                                                                                                                                                                                              Melanie Wong Dec 15, 2008 02:03 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                              Maybe you're looking for this response posted higher up in the thread to Xiao Yang?
                                                                                                                                                                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5769...

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                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: PaulF
                                                                                                                                                                                              Servorg Dec 15, 2008 04:05 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                              "Well, the only real impact is that anyone who might have benefited from my posts no longer benefits. I still eat out all the time. I still find places that I think are cool and interesting and have good food. I just don't tell anyone on Chowhound about them. But, have I lost anything?"

                                                                                                                                                                                              If, in this business climate, those places that you think are cool and interesting and have good food go under for lack of business then you have indeed lost something. And that is one of the things that the creation of this site helps prevent through the sharing of chow tips.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: PaulF
                                                                                                                                                                                                c
                                                                                                                                                                                                currymouth Dec 15, 2008 04:37 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                I concur PaulF. My very first posting on CH was a request for advice on a career change in the food industry and culinary schools. and after many very helpful replies I was able not only to find a suitable school but to focus on an area that would fit my experience.For that alone I will always be thankful to CH .
                                                                                                                                                                                                However I can no longer see myself contributing any post or opinions other than replying to any of my old post questions in order not to be impolite.
                                                                                                                                                                                                I still benefit from CH but after numerous arbitrary deletions and a threat of being banned from the site, I find this site "isn't for me".
                                                                                                                                                                                                In my new career I feel I do have a lot to offer to those with an open mind, and now do so on another less heavy handed moderated site and am quite happy with the results.
                                                                                                                                                                                                So I guess that CH is not for everyone, but it is a shame to see so many of the people that helped me make my career choice on this site either no longer posting or cutting back on their participation perhaps because of arbitrary moderation.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: PaulF
                                                                                                                                                                                                  ccbweb Dec 15, 2008 06:04 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                  The corollary to this is that there are some (myself included) who would stop reading the site entirely if not for the moderation. Other sites have horrible issues with shills and trolls and truly useless debates that have nothing to do with any possible central focus on anything, much less food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Yes, there are times when I feel passionately about a topic (social justice, food distribution, nutritional education) and wish that I could continue a thread that has moved off into a discussion of some of those issues because there are clearly some intelligent, articulate writers on Chowhound who also feel passionately about such things. I have had what I believe to be thoughtful posts removed and have seen entire such threads removed. I've always felt disappointed by that. I also, though, understand it even if I didn't agree with the specific instance. Sometimes I'll email my disagreement, usually not because while I don't like it, I know what the reasoning was.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Ultimately, I come to Chowhound to try to find better food and places to get food that I don't already know about. I also like the opportunities to help others when I seem to have information they're seeking. But if I had to wade through the shills and the whirlwind debates I wouldn't do it. When I suggest to someone that perhaps Chowhound isn't for them, I don't mean it in any flip way at all and I don't mean to imply that what they have to say and think isn't valuable. I mean it quite literally: without arguing that it's perfect in any sense, Chowhound is a particular thing (not stagnant, but fairly well defined) and that thing isn't going to fit for everyone all the time. I don't see that as a failing, but as inevitable. It's why Yelp and eGullet and Serious Eats and Tastespotting and so on and so on all exist...not to mention all of the food blogs in the world. It's entirely possible to find or construct the specific thing one wants. If this isn't it, then it isn't it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Moderation doesn't only drive people away, it brings people in. To look at it in one way and say "you're costing us participants" misses a part of the story.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: PaulF
                                                                                                                                                                                                    silverbear Dec 15, 2008 08:07 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                    "Just so you know, I don't think that those making this point are mean-spirited"

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I generally agree with your post, but I think the words above are too charitable. I've seen an incredibly supercilious attitude in many of the "take it or leave it" comments in this thread. It's pushing me toward the unfortunate conclusion at CH is a site run by the arrogant for the arrogant. That's okay if the site wants to remain cliquish. In fact, it probably fits in with the obsession over the signal-to-noise ratio. The question, of course, is how much "signal" is being tossed overboard in an unrelenting quest to filter out every last bit of "noise."

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: silverbear
                                                                                                                                                                                                      k
                                                                                                                                                                                                      KTinNYC Dec 15, 2008 08:47 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                      The "take it or leave it" comments are not supercilious, they are a reality. I don't know how long you've been around but people leave chowhound all the time and occasionally they start there own food boards. This, in my opinion, is often a positive. Let there be dozens of venues for discussion about food, this way no one site can become a monolith and no one site owner can act as a dictator.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I can think of at least 2 full fledged boards and countless blogs started by people who were unhappy with moderation on chowhound and left to do their own thing.These complaints about over moderation are not a new thing.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: KTinNYC
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Chris VR Dec 15, 2008 11:39 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yep. And I can think of at least 2 more boards and countless other blogs that were started by people who didn't like the moderation of the sites started by the people who didn't like the moderation here... and that's great, in my opinion! No one site can be all things to all people. The people pointing that out here are simply stating a fact- there are a great variety of food sites out there, with moderation styles that run the gamut. Just like french fries- we're not all going to like the same kind. If I hated the french fries at a place even though other people like them, I wouldn't waste my time complaining about it, or wondering why other people like them, I'd just go find a place that serves fries I like. Life is too short to spend it tilting at windmills.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: PaulF
                                                                                                                                                                                                      j
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Jase Dec 15, 2008 02:30 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Paul, let me speak up here and say I do miss your posts. I moved into your (our) neighborhood over a year ago and I really looked forward to your posts. Your many low key suggestions were big hits with my wife and I. I noticed pretty quickly when you fell off posting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Your posts articulates excellently many of the same feelings I have. I tend to be a lurker more than a poster mainly because it seems like there's too much ego wrapped up in people's difference of opinion. I ran into a poster who listed a long list of their bonafides on a certain ethnic food to prove how much better their taste was all because I disagreed and stated that I thought their taste buds and mine might not be in the same vein. I never said either one of us had bad taste buds, just different.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I now tend to just post informational posts and not to opinion type questions about restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Anyway, my past offer to you still stands. I'd be happy to buy you a beer or a meal anytime as thanks for the many great suggestions I've gotten from your posts. Please feel free to email me anytime on my yahoo account I gave to you previously or the gmail account in my profile.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. j
                                                                                                                                                                                                      jpc8015 Dec 15, 2008 02:10 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Chowhound is a private enterprise which has allowed the public to comment in an open forum. They are by no means required to post any and everything you have to say. You have no "right" to have your voice heard on this forum. The use of Chowhound is a privlege and should remain as such.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      If you come into my home and start speaking badly about my family I will ask you to leave. The same premise applies here.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jpc8015
                                                                                                                                                                                                        silverbear Dec 15, 2008 08:20 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I see very little, if any, assertion of "rights" in this thread. Most people here are smart enough to realize that a privately-run Web site can operate under its own rules. That realization, however, does not precude opinions that the rules can and should be more transparent, more consistently enforced, and more subject to evolutionary change.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        dolores Dec 15, 2008 04:52 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                        >>Although I love the Chowhound site, I find the moderation to be very heavy-handed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Noooooo, seriously?

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Sad truth -- their board, their rules, their heavy handed moderation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Those of us who don't like it can follow their heavy handed rules or leave.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        >>My feedback for Chowhound: reign it in a a bit with the moderation and remember that your users (and the free content they provide you with) are what you are trying to monetize.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Ain't gonna happen. In fact, I'm surprised your thread is still here!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Scargod Dec 15, 2008 01:47 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I was thinking, that of late, Chowhound was loosening up a bit. Call me crazy.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Scargod
                                                                                                                                                                                                            h
                                                                                                                                                                                                            HillJ Dec 15, 2008 02:39 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I agree with you that CH has been more easy going with Board posts, sidebar discussions and CHOW topics. I also believe understanding who Mods are, how they moderate, how the site has grown and evolved is equally beneficial to the entire community and should be stated from time to time so newcomers understand better how to enjoy the site. With an appointed Community Manager to share this information, it's all good....even if we can't all agree on the fine points.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                                                                                                              ccbweb Dec 15, 2008 05:12 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Much of that information is there for anyone who wishes to read it. In stickies and in the posting guidelines and similar places. It seems that the vast, vast majority of people never read any of those things. How the site is moderated shouldn't need to be restated over and over, its up there for people to read. Clarifying questions are fair, but many of the questions seem to be ones that have already been answered....the answers simply haven't been read.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ccbweb
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Servorg Dec 15, 2008 05:15 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I think it is more the case that the answers aren't the ones that some want to hear, and they think that they can change the rules of the game after they accept becoming part of the Chowhound league.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Servorg
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ccbweb Dec 15, 2008 05:22 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I agree with you. I think, often times, people conflate an answer they don't like with no answer at all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Pointing out a rule that one would like to see changed seems entirely reasonable. Taking the stance that because the rule is not then changed your point has been ignored or otherwise dismissed without consideration isn't always reasonable.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ccbweb
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    h
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    HillJ Dec 15, 2008 05:51 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ccb & Servorg, it is not the rules of posting that I was referring to. I agree that those questions are in fact answered throughout the site by Mods and by fellow 'hounds.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    What has also "come up" on this particular discussion is who Mods are, how moderators team-speak & think, how they are selected, etc. Moderators are often a mystery on OSN sites. In my humble opinion, the mystery can sometimes lead to guess-speak by members who try to figure out what the moderator profile is about. Why the mystery when knowledge provided by "those in the know" is so much simpler.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Again, no issue with deletions or rules of play. Just a question about leadership. Jacq's response upthread is an example of answering those types of questions.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. alkapal Dec 15, 2008 03:22 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                            is it chowhound's position that a situation of racial discrimination is taboo?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: alkapal
                                                                                                                                                                                                              The Chowhound Team Dec 15, 2008 04:44 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                              As our posting guidelines at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/367605 states(really, please do read that page, as it answers many questions people have about how the site is moderated):

                                                                                                                                                                                                              "Chowhound is about food, and it's supposed to be relaxed. We don't get into "big picture" issues. There are myriad online forums for debating politics, ethics, and other hot-button issues; please use Chowhound not to debate but to share news and tips."

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: The Chowhound Team
                                                                                                                                                                                                                alkapal Dec 16, 2008 04:39 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                please explain to me how it is a "big picture" "political" issue if a resto has discriminated against YOU or a member of YOUR dining party because of skin color?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                and who said any of us are advocating any "debate" either? as i mentioned in an earlier post, what is there to debate? it is a fact that a racist event happened. to you.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                in that resto. are you saying the "debate" would be about WHETHER the event happened? otherwise, the post would be: we ate at so-and-so. the food was ok, but service to our party was really bad. we noticed....xyz...."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                wouldn't you want to know that if YOU were a person of color who was considering dining there?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                i think your position ultimately boils down to the fact that you don't trust that most every single one of us who might relate a racist occurrence, e.g., "oh, they took 45 minutes longer to take our order than the white folks seated at the same time a couple of tables away...." would be telling the truth, without sensationalizing the event. if some poster's tone was over the top, that particular post could be deleted. but to bar ANY mention of racist occurrences makes me think of the moderation policy as a big ol' chow-ostrich, with its head in the sand.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                as to ethics, we discuss them on this site ALL the time.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: alkapal
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  jpc8015 Dec 16, 2008 05:37 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  How are the moderators supposed to know that an unfortunate event happened based soley because of a persons skin color? Things happen in restaurants all the time that cause service or food delivery to be delayed. The person who is on the receiving end of this may just jump to conclusions and assume it is because they are racist.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I was bartending at a theater one night and at intermission we had a huge crowd at the bar. There was a long line of people waiting to get drinks. One lady walked up to the front of the line and I didn't serve her because she had not properly waited her turn in line. She immediately started screaming that I was not serving her because she was a woman. Her claim was absurd because the person I was serving who had waited in line was also a woman but I have no doubt that this woman really believed that I was not serving her because of her gender. Would it be fair for her to now come onto CH and start making declarations about how women should not patronize that theater because the bartender is sexcist? She honestly believes it to be true but it clearly is not the case.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  If CH were to allow any and everybody who wanted to come onto THEIR site and post things like that they could be held libel. The risk of legal action is just not worth it.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: alkapal
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    alkapal Dec 18, 2008 04:36 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    dear chowhound team, i'm still waiting for the explanation i asked for above. and i'm curious as to how many times any racial discrimination posts have been removed? that is, how often has the issue arisen, and was the poster making it contentious or matter-of-fact, in an overall context of "here was our experience with food, service, ambience, etc. at this xyz place"?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    and servorg, et al, i don't at all accede to the false premise that any discussion of racial discrimination (to me, or anyone in my party) will be "loud" or "abusive' or "chaotic" or "reckless" or similar characterizations.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: alkapal
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Servorg Dec 18, 2008 06:07 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      "and servorg, et al, i don't at all accede to the false premise that any discussion of racial discrimination (to me, or anyone in my party) will be "loud" or "abusive' or "chaotic" or "reckless" or similar characterizations."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Some of the discussion will be civil in tone. Much of it even, at first. But these types of civil discussions degenerate as people get offended. And do we want new influxes of posters who are drawn here to discuss these very divisive and hot button topics? I would prefer to see new hounds who have a passion for food join us.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Finally, I think the moderators have enough on their hands without adding such incredibly inflammatory fodder to the mix.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: alkapal
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        s
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        soupkitten Dec 18, 2008 08:46 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Alkapal, here is a brief post of mine about establishment XXX in st paul, that was allowed to stay up-- i removed the name of the establishment to repost it here. it responded to another local poster (just to be clear, i don't think that any of the hounds who rec this place share political views with the proprietor) who rec-ed the dogs, and kidded about the proprietor's penchant for "reciting Carlin's list when anyone presents a challenge to his cuisine or politics"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        <<
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        as to the proprietor of the XXX, and his take on politics/culture, i'm not in the habit of rec-ing it to out of town guests. here's why: i don't think he runs a true hospitality establishment, because he is not equally hospitable to all patrons. in fact, he'll sometimes decide to refuse service. i think it would be a shame if a visitor were rudely turned away at the door of any msp restaurant, and took away that impression of our fair cities.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        >>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        that's the whole post. i remember, after so many deletions, phrasing it really carefully and as un-antagonistically--"civil in tone"-- as i could. i was not trying to break the rules to be a PITA to the mods, just warn that the establishment might not welcome everyone equally. i think that folks might pick up on a warning, but be confused by wth i'm talking about. i do hope it's still up because it's an okay post, and not just because someone overlooked it. please, mods, don't go back and delete it now! :(

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: alkapal
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          alkapal Dec 18, 2008 03:23 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          i guess that i am done on this thread.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: alkapal
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      q
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      queencru Dec 15, 2008 06:38 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm wondering what the mods suggest if there is a restaurant someone doesn't think a person should visit due to possible discrimination? I doubt it's that common, but I don't think anyone wants to travel to a place and use one of the precious few days they have there going to a restaurant that is going to treat them like dirt. Should others just say that service isn't uniformly good for all patrons or use some other bland statement that gets the point across that there may be some issues with the restaurant that are worth looking into?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: queencru
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        mlgb Dec 17, 2008 03:59 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Unfortunately I think what they are suggesting is that Chowhound can't be relied upon as a travel resource. So if you are going to a new restaurant in an unfamiliar neighborhood or country, then it is advisable to use another resource. Tripadvisor is a good place to ask questions of this nature, as is Fodors. Yelp reviews are not edited so you may find this kind of information.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        So eyes and clicks go elsewhere.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. h
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      HillJ Dec 18, 2008 04:51 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      In trying to follow this thread I'm left with more questions than answers. If Mods are comfortable with fellow posters answering the questions posted by various 'hounds without leading a discussion about "Moderation on Chowhound" then it's time for this hound to visit another Board.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'll be reading along...but this discussion is frustrating...when I could be enjoying a bialy!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        l
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        lcool Dec 18, 2008 05:27 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DITTO
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        You'd think the size of the organization of communication professionals that stand behind the moderators on CH could come up with a crisp policy.That functioned fairly ,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        more consistantly with a tad less confusion?with regularity.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. bbqboy Dec 18, 2008 06:46 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        On a totally different tangent, are the mods residents of the geographic area they moderate,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        or is everyone in NYC?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: bbqboy
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Servorg Dec 18, 2008 06:52 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This has been asked and answered before on other threads. They are spread around the country/world and moderate across the span of boards that encompasses the CH community. If there are questions which arise that only a local would know about I would imagine that those local mod's probably would give input in those instances, using their specialized, local knowledge.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: bbqboy
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Jacquilynne Dec 18, 2008 06:59 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The moderators don't have assigned boards to moderate, nor are they all in NYC. We have mods in three countries (US, Canada, UK) and in around half a dozen states.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Jacquilynne
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Xiao Yang Dec 18, 2008 07:52 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              That's hard to believe; the mods looking at the New York boards are pussycats (or they are cutting slack for NY bluntness); the SF mods wield a Procrustean sword.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Xiao Yang
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Jacquilynne Dec 18, 2008 08:00 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Well, you'll probably be surprised then, to note that while there are several mods who happen to live in New York, there are no active mods who live in San Francisco. Though, again, I'll note that mods are not assigned to mod any particular board. The Chowhound Team is a team -- they're all in it together.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Jacquilynne
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  bbqboy Dec 18, 2008 08:10 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  might that not explain what we all seem to see as inconsistent ?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Mod A lets something go, then at a later date mod B sees things differently and deletes?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Xiao Yang
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  lcool Dec 18, 2008 08:07 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Perhaps the less first hand knowledge they have leans a bit toward the over ?policeing direction.Not an uncommon human action.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: lcool
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Jacquilynne Dec 18, 2008 08:21 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I think the difference is probably because of the varying flagging behaviour between the two boards. San Francisco hounds are much more inclined to express their displeasure via the 'feedback' mechanism, so we're more aware of problem posts on that board.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Jacquilynne
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      givemecarbs Dec 19, 2008 11:35 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Jacquilynne that is fascinating to me. Thanks for posting this and other comments. I live in Pennsylvannia and I think I am finally starting to understand a few things about chowhound. I guess it would be a great oversimplification to say the squeaky wheel gets oiled.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Jacquilynne
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Xiao Yang Dec 20, 2008 07:00 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I don't think you can convince me that SF-ers are more "in your face" than New Yorkers, but they may be more prone to the insecurity that goes with provincialism, hence the the thin skins and fragile egos.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Xiao Yang
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ccbweb Dec 20, 2008 09:40 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Nice. Doesn't seem she tried to convince anyone of anything. She noted only that San Francisco hounds use the report button more frequently. Any other points or assertions are being made somewhere else.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Xiao Yang
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ccbweb Dec 18, 2008 08:18 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Could the more "strict" or what-have-you moderation on the SF board have to do with users on that boards using the report function more frequently?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. Jacquilynne Dec 20, 2008 08:46 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Just as an FYI for participants in this thread, I've been on Christmas vacation since yesterday, and will be off until early January, so any participation from me is likely to be rare in the next couple of weeks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  -- Jacquilynne, Community Manager for Chowhound

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Jacquilynne
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    meatn3 Dec 20, 2008 01:35 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Happy Holidays Jacquilynne.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I suspect this can of worms will still be wiggling when you return!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. meatn3 Dec 20, 2008 01:43 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I've been following and thinking about this for a while.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It is the passion of hounds which causes the angst over the moderating...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    When you value something and then find that it does not mirror your values exactly, that creates the type of outrage and frustration we are seeing here. We all want transparency in the issues we deem most important to us.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Since CH is important to us, there is a reluctance to say to ourselves that 'CH is useful to me in areas A, B & F. I need to use this other site for getting info regarding C & D.' We just want our true love to be our everything....Not always the healthiest desire on many levels.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: meatn3
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      currymouth Dec 20, 2008 02:07 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      You have had your heart broken, as have I by that cruel and unwavering mistress.........Chowhound.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Let us not weep, but look towards the sunset of reason. And hope, such futile hope that the mistress will awaken and grant us the freedom to seek unmoderated truth and clarity within her cloistered walls.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: currymouth
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        limster Dec 20, 2008 02:25 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The delicious truth and clarity is found at a restaurant, street cart, stall etc, never on a food discussion website. Let's remember that the talk about food is a very faint shadow to the taste of food. At the end of the day, it is eaters, not talkers, that have satisfied desires.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: currymouth
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Scargod Dec 20, 2008 02:39 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It's getting dark here, so I am off to have fun fixing dinner. I look forward to the morning light, a new day and, hopefully some enlightened change.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          If I could get out I'd have some new dining experience to talk about. Happy holidays!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: meatn3
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          applehome Dec 20, 2008 02:11 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yes - we accept the rules, and we do not beat up on the party hosts. But periodically we try, in threads like this one, to nudge the host - say something to push the envelope, nudge, nudge, wink, wink - say no more... And sometimes things change a bit, a thread you thought would certainly be censored is left alone. That's the way it is.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Personally, I think that the a huge issue here, as far as the things that bother me to the point of leaving, is the continued discussion of completely mundane, non chowhoundish foods - like chains and maximally prepared foods. That's a a real impact on the signal to noise ratio here, and a major concern as to the future direction of this site. The mods do seem to have done a good job of segregating at least the chains threads. Perhaps we can use that model to begin talking about some of the verboten areas. Maybe a specific health issues board could be tried, so that these reports don't mingle with the normal regional threads.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. Jacquilynne Dec 21, 2008 04:22 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I've really appreciated the many thoughts people have shared in this thread about moderation on Chowhound, and I hope that the perspective we've shared about how and why we do what we do has helped you, as well. But at this point, the thread is degenerating into an argument over who called who what bad name -- and that's not helping anyone eat better, or helping the site. It seems like everyone who wants to have a say on the actual moderation issues at this point has done so, so I'm going to lock the thread.

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