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Mar 12, 2009 05:46 AM

When Should Mods Let Posts Remain, When It Comes To People's Safety?

I had my post titled "Sam's Barbeque, Any Risk Eating There?", removed from the Austin board.
My son lives in Austin, but had never been to Sam's. When I visited him last summer he, SO and I went there for lunch, because the name kept coming up when I looked for barbecue. We went in but neither of them wanted to stay and eat there. (YOU wouldn't want to eat in there! Just get it to go!)

Recently eGullet brought up Sam's again, and it piqued my memory. When I asked, there were several responses mentioning the neighborhood, panhandlers and whores... One respected eGulleter said, "Probably the scariest (good) restaurant in Austin." He didn't mention the crack dealing in the alley and addicts coming into the place, or the cop that died, while trying to catch dealers.
If you've never been around 2000 East 12th Street, it is a pretty rough neighborhood. When we went arrived there were vagrant-looking people on the deck, hanging out, eyeballing us. I worried about the car being broken into, but we didn't stay long enough for that to happen.
MY POINT is that Chow doesn't let concerns about safety to be posted. Don't we (collectively), have some obligation to let people know more about a place than the lure of the good chow? At Sam's, people are hassled and propositioned. Do we want to send off UT newbies to a (well established), bad part of town with no clue of what they might be getting into?

You can say this on Chowhound: "at Sam's, while I was inside waiting for the food, the guys were approached not once, but three times by unsurly's for money....and twice by the same person who said she had kds to feed and the first 5 bucks wasn't enough", or "Open very late, a definite dive, basically a shack on a corner with a couple of card tables and a window to order through. You will want to take out, but their brisket is excellent, they do fine ribs, and they also serve mutton, a specialty. Not a place to sit back and have a beer and enjoy the atmosphere", or this, "I couldn't really see your group driving into economically-distressed Deep East Austin to eat BBQ on a card table in front of a shack", or this, "With regards to Sam's.....I do not mind taking chances for great barbecue".
On Chowhound, you can dance all around the facts with offhand comments, but I can't ask if it's safe to go there?

I am disappointed that Chow has this "Don't Ask-Don't Tell" policy. Yours is the only forum I know of on the Internet with this restriction.
Chow Moderators: Would you want your (newbie from out of town), freshman daughter or son going there at night, just because they heard their barbeque was the greatest? You wouldn't want them to know there's a risk?

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  1. scargod,

    I have to admit...while driving off the highway onto 12th Street, the area progressively got worse and the comments in the car from the others were along the lines of....

    * where are you taking us
    * lock the doors
    * are you sure this is worth it
    * are you sure you have the correct directions

    Having experienced this firsthand I completely agree with your assessment of any potential safety concerns others should be aware of. The evening was eventful at around 9-10 PM. I do not know if it is ACTUALLY worse during the day when there are more people on the streets or in the later evening after 12Midnight, when there are less likely any one to witness any events in the area.

    As I had said in the thread you referenced with some of the comments. I liked Sam's, but personally I do not know if I would go again, my thoughts are along the lines of been there, done that and Iived to tell the story. I cannot say I ever felt my life was in jeopardy at any time, but my attitude is in line with the others who commented on the less savory aspects of going to Sam's after my experience.

    I have been posting for a couple of years now here on this site and have had more than a few posts deleted...I will never understand the criteria used to determine when a comment becomes off-topic. I remember one thread asking where to go for lobster in Manhattan on the Manhattan Board. 90% of my suggestions were for Manhattan restaurants and Chinatown. I mentioned an area of New Jersey known for lobster specials....and my comments were deleted. Hopefully my comments here will remain.

    11 Replies
    1. re: fourunder

      Forunder, re your comments in the last paragraph about the Manhattan board not permitting New Jersey recommendations, CH has always had a policy of keeping posts focused on the restaurants covered by a specific board. What you could have done is start a Lobster thread on the Mid-Atlantic board and then linked to it on the Manhattan board. Problem solved.

      To get back to the excellent point raised by the original poster, I agree completely. If a restaurant is in a high risk area then it's legitimate to allow that information to be posted. It shouldn't be the focus of the post but it's information I would want anyone to have. Long discussions about crime in a given area, like any non food issue, would be off topic but the basic information should be allowed in the post.

      1. re: Bob Martinez


        Thanks for clearing up the policy and and solution....it just seems a little too sensitive, restrictive and a waste of time. I may not like it, but at least now I understand. Again , thank you.

        1. re: Bob Martinez


          It's ironic, but similar to the following thread below is the frustration I cited in the paragraph above you mentioned. The topic is started on the Manhattan board, but there are references with NJ. At present time the NJ references have not yet been deleted. There is no consistency to the policy.


          1. re: fourunder

            Fourunder, I go way back on this site (1999) and I've got a pretty good idea of how it works. A quick reference to another area usually doesn't get flagged. An extensive conversation will. That holds true about 80% of the time. Part of that is moderator judgment. Part is that some things get by because no mod reads it. And then there are those rare times where a mod gets up in the morning filled with energy and calls things precisely by the rules all day long, like a cop giving tickets for people going 57MPH on a 55MPH highway. (It doesn't happen very often but it does happen.)

            When in doubt, if you've got a suggestion that crosses board boundaries just link to the other board. I've never seen a problem with that.

          2. re: fourunder

            Pictures of Sam's Barbecue. Those with my OP didn't upload (familiar problem). I am sorry I didn't take pictures inside, but frankly I wasn't sure if having a $5,000 camera out was a good idea. The place was so greasy-dirty looking, with everything tobacco colored. SO said the air was greasy. Just smelled like "Q" to me.

            1. re: Scargod

              In all honesty, that place looks great to me! If judging by looks alone, some of you might want to bypass Payne's and the Cozy Corner in Memphis, Peaches in Jackson, MS, and about half the places mentioned on the New Orleans board- but you will be missing out on some of the best food around!

              I think the purpose of posting here should be to get us to try new places where we might not normally go, rather than to steer us away from good places because of the atmosphere- good food is worth taking the chance! Just my opinion...

              1. re: Clarkafella

                With due respect, I do not think (Scargod) is questioning the merits of Sam's menu offerings and store appearance, but rather the nuances of potential risky encounters within the neighborhood if someone decides to make a trek there for what is arguably the best barbecue in Austin as recommended and opined by others....and whether posts posting these concerns should be removed.

                The other places you mention may be in a neighborhoods deemed safe and not questionable.

                1. re: Clarkafella

                  I don't think anyone is suggesting that a specific restaurant should be avoided because of "looks alone". The issue is physical safety, and I agree that it is ridiculous for C'hound.com to suppress that type of discussion.

                  As to your comment "good food is worth taking the chance"...the chance of what? Being shot for my IPhone? Hey, I love good 'q as much as anyone, but it ain't worth dying for!

                  1. re: Clarkafella

                    Clarkafella - "good food is worth taking the chance! "

                    I think that decision should be left up to the individual. If they don't know that the place can be dangerous, how can they make an informed decision?

                    I'm not saying that no one should ever post about a great place in a dicey area. I do think that people have the right to *know* that the area is dicey. Then they can factor it into their decision to go there.

                    1. re: Bob Martinez

                      I guess my point is that one person's definition of a "dicey" area might not be someone else's. There are people in the world that think dining at Applebee's is an adventure!

                      I just don't want to see people steering others away from a place because of the neighborhood- instead I would rather see people get steered toward some place in *spite* of the neighborhood.

                      Not doing a very good job of explaining myself here, so I apologize in advance for being hard to follow. The fault is all mine!

              2. I did not see your thread, Scargod, but I would definitely want to know that a joint I was thinking of going to was in an area I in which I might not feel comfortable, or that my safety might be compromised. No matter How good the food is. I wonder why the mods won't allow that kind of caveat. Adults ought to have the opportunity to make their own informed decisions....

                1 Reply
                1. re: Gio

                  They moderators do have a stated policy about not allowing any discussion of food safety, on the grounds that such things should be reported to the board of health instead, but this does seem different. What's your alternative, to call the Austin police and tell them Sam's is in a bad neighborhood? They know that, it's visiting 'Hounds who don't. I think the post should have stayed up.

                  Then again, maybe they deleted it for a different reason. Hopefully one of them will post here and clarify.

                2. I agree, I think the moderators in general are a little too heavy handed at times, and this is a perfect example. It's related to eating, to the restaurant, to the experience of dining out. Similarly, if every other restaurant in a particular area had free parking and one charged a $20 mandatory valet charge, I would want to know about that too. It's RELATED to food and to the dining experience.

                  1. Safe for whom? If a reader is African American, safety can mean something completely different. If this were the late 80s, maybe it's worth noting that despite the good pizza to be had, it wouldn't be safe for a single black man to be wandering alone in a certain neighborhood in Brooklyn, let alone trying to buy a car. Or if this were the early 2000s, maybe we should also point out that despite the great hot dogs in New Jersey, minorities shouldn't feel particularly safe on the roads from the police who practice racial profiling. My reading of this thread is that issues of safety is a slippery slope, since it can get racially charged. The crux of the subject seems to be asking "is the neighborhood safe for white people?"

                    I think it's fine to say something descriptive about a neighborhood, but anything more is off-topic. Let's focus on the food.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: E Eto

                      "If this were the late 80s, maybe it's worth noting that despite the good pizza to be had, it wouldn't be safe for a single black man to be wandering alone in a certain neighborhood in Brooklyn, let alone trying to buy a car. Or if this were the early 2000s, maybe we should also point out that despite the great hot dogs in New Jersey, minorities shouldn't feel particularly safe on the roads from the police who practice racial profiling."

                      That's a red herring. 1) Nobody has injected race into this discussion before you did and 2) Black people were well aware of the risks of going into certain neighborhoods and driving on certain roads. They didn't have to read about it on food boards.

                      Where I do agree with you is that race has no place in the discussion of restaurant safety. *Crime* does. I know that you're well aware of the fact that the biggest victims of crime are minorities. The criminals don't discriminate. It isn't a racial issue - it's a safety issue.

                    2. This sounds like one of those topics that should be okay. And in theory, it should be fine. But in practice, it's just not.

                      A side comment or two suggesting a neighbourhood is less than a scrubbed clean, sunlit paradise amidst a general discussion of the chow usually doesn't stir up a storm, which is why we let them slide.

                      But when a discussion is point blank about the safety of a given neighbourhood, it becomes one of those hot-button subjects on which the conversation just does not go well. People who live in the neighbourhoods being discussed feel personally insulted by the accusation that their neighbourhood is too dangerous for hounds to even visit. And race definitely plays a role in these conversations, whether it should or not. The people suggesting a neighbourhood is unsafe usually end up getting accused of being classist or racist, so they end up upset, too.

                      And the end result of all that sturm and drang is ... not much. No consensus is ever reached on whether a given neighbourhood is totally safe, mostly safe, safe during daylight, or not really safe at all.

                      We hope every hound, whether at home or when travelling, will be smart about personal safety issues, but those seem to be judgments best made on the ground, since discussions here bring more heat than light.

                      -- Jacquilynne, Community Manager for Chowhound

                      20 Replies
                      1. re: Jacquilynne

                        You have brought up a very good point Jacquilynne. I live in an older part of town. About a mile or so down the road are some really good places to eat, but are close to a bunch of apartments where there have been some crime sprees happening - in the complexes, not at the restaurants. And yet I have read CH's say things about being "scared" to even try these restaurants for fears of being mugged, or worse! Some people won't even drive down certain streets around here unless someone else is with them! It's ridiculous, and I do get offended. Now there are a few places that I, and everyone else in town, know are really not a safe place to go to unless it is daylight and you have a friend or two with you, but I would not post about these places on my local board in the first place, not even to warn others. People should have the sense to figure some things out for themselves.

                        1. re: danhole

                          People should have the sense to figure some things out for themselves.
                          Suppose you were researching restaurants for your itinerary for an upcoming trip (as I did when I visited Austin last month) and you received the recommendations for Sam's and it should not be missed and is a must have for BBQ. You provide the information as to where you will be staying, which is at a very nice resort. Don't you think that others providing pertinent information on travel time, quality of food and concerns is helpful? Should someone have to accept the fact Sam's is not worth missing under any circumstances....I take that statement to be true and drive from a premiere resort to experience Sam's, only to find the area blighted and cause for concern.....

                          Does the good sense kick in when I realize the neighborhood is questionable or when the information asked for is given? If your answer is for the former...don't you think that is an incredible waste of time and the complete opposite of information being beneficial?

                          I for one cannot sense the unknown....but I can figure out if it is worth to try something based on information provided to my queries.

                          1. re: fourunder

                            I think that anyone who would be so irresponsible as to recommend Sam's, knowing that crack was being sold in the alley and prostitutes were hanging around should be ashamed. If I was staying at a nice resort in Austin, or anywhere I was unfamiliar with, I would ask around before venturing out. We usually talk to the bellhops because they are the locals and don't steer you wrong, and they would let y ou know that it isn't a safe area.

                            It's a real tricky thing. There is a burger shop near downtown here in Houston where lots of homeless guys hang out, and crimes have happened in broad daylight (not by the homeless though), but they have great burgers, and fried chicken. But how do I tell you, who is from out of town, to eat there, but be sure you are carrying a gun? I just can't do it. Now, those of us who live here know this, and may go in a group, order and get in the car, and take it elsewhere to eat. But then there are people who make broad assumptions about neighborhoods based on a small percentage of crimes that have happened nearby therefore figure anything within a mile radius is a danger zone. That is where I take offense to people labeling neighborhoods as dangerous. I suppose if you know that an exact location has been the target of more than one crime scene it is note worthy but you have to state it in a very delicate way.

                            1. re: danhole


                              If I was staying at a nice resort in Austin, or anywhere I was unfamiliar with, I would ask around before venturing out. We usually talk to the bellhops because they are the locals and don't steer you wrong, and they would let y ou know that it isn't a safe area.

                              I am in agreement with you on common sense, but sometimes things are not cut and dry.

                              After getting a tremendous response to my original post on the Austin board, Sam's was the decisive winner for BBQ with House Park a close second...and from what I understand, with similar crusty appearances and also on 12 Street, but was on the other side of the Interstate and without the similar concerns for safety. Armed with the knowledge County Line BBQ was my fallback joint, and knowing Sam's was the consensus favorite from Chowhounders........from the moment I landed and encountered any person...I asked for steak and BBQ recommendations. Surprisingly, none of the recommendations given were mentioned by my fellow Chowhounders. At the resort and golf courses, when I asked for ideas and opinions from members, staff, bell hops and etc. what they felt was the best BBQ and their opinions on Sam's, and for directions on how far away it was....most had not ever heard of Sam's BBQ and did not know where 12th Street was. Some times things do not work out as you would be inclined to believe or envision.

                              1. re: fourunder

                                Agree with fourunder. I travel quite a bit on business and I've learned not to expect concierges to refer me to truly Chowish places, just to good mainstream restaurants. That's why I ask my fellow 'Hounds for recommendations before I leave home!

                                1. re: fourunder


                                  Maybe the fact that Sam's was not recommended was a clue in itself. Also the fact that they didn't even know that part of town. The burger place I mentioned in downtown is not my neighborhood, and I don't know that area at all, but someone I know that is familiar with the area told me about it, yet also warned me as well. And you are so right that things are not always cut and dry!

                              2. re: fourunder

                                See, this is a perfect example demonstrating how Jacquilynne's comments about race and/or class figure into these discussions. By specifying that the visitor said they were staying at a "very nice resort" you're implying that (1) people who can afford to stay at nice resorts *deserve* more protection (because of their race or class), and/or (2) people who can afford to stay at very nice resorts *need* more protection (because of their race, class or general naivete about places that are not "very nice resorts"). If a place is dangerous, then why does it matter what kind of place the person is staying in?

                                Whether a place is dangerous is largely a matter of perception. There are places that eveyone would agree are unsafe, and some everyone would agree are safe, and in between there's a huge range of opinions based on people's experiences and perceptions, and yes, predjudices, both racial and otherwise.

                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                  Excuse me, but Scargod referenced a topic I started... which I received information on and was warned to be wary of the location. You have no idea of what my race is and what it does or does not play a part in this subject....and and I made no implications of anything about protection, only safety and only in later posts. I relayed my actual events I experienced at an actual visit to the placed identified for this topic. No where do I mention anywhere I felt protection was needed by me or others in my group. only, only comments made in jest inside the car on the way to Sam's. In the original thread, I even stated clearly safety was not a concern for me and was willing to accept my fate for the chance to eat the best BBQ.

                                  The only thing I suggest anything anyone deserves is pertinent information.....

                                  As for this comment from you.......

                                  "If a place is dangerous, then why does it matter what kind of place the person is staying in?

                                  In the original thread on the Austin Board, one poster offering recommendations commented on the fact they did not think a person staying at such a resort would want to travel such a distance to eat at a dive that was, in his opinion, a questionable area. Some have greater visions than others and actually consider the thread topic and information provided to get a feel or glimpse into what is asked to form a basis for suggestions and opinions on the topic......rather than rant about their own emotional thoughts.

                                  1. re: fourunder

                                    First, I'm reading this thread, not the original. But my comment stands. Why does it matter whether they're staying at "such a resort"? If you think it's not worth the trip that's one thing, and conversely, if it isn't good, then it doesn't matter how close it is. But when you start basing where someone won't be safe based on whether they're staying in a resort rather than a modest hotel or motel, then you're making judgments about race, class, etc. What's more, a true chowhound can leave their fancy resort and eat in a dive in a divey part of town if it's where the good chow is. I've done it.

                                  2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                    Sure, race and socio-economic status enters into comments. It's hard for them not to. Are we going to stop discourse because we are not all alike or don't all agree?
                                    If you go to a potentially bad area and flaunt your wealth, or are old, or very pretty, or alone, you may be singled out. Whether a panhandler or a criminal, they usually have a certain profile they look for. Much of this you can avoid if you know what you are up against, in advance. Being in a strange place and having too nice a car is a more difficult problem. Do you go "rent a wreck" or use the bus?
                                    Passadumkeg and I are about to do this "across the South and up the Eastern seaboard" road trip. We will be in a Miata. Two guys in a Miata. There are some places in the south where you might get harassed. I did, outside a cafe, when I was 21, traveling with a minister. He had a Volkswagen and had previously been run off the road on a FM road. This was N-E Texas in 1967.

                                    When I first came to New Haven I had never lived in a city. I grew up in the burbs and went to the farm in the summer. Even at 55 I was not that prepared. Panhandlers engaged me. I almost got run over in traffic. I accidentally parked in a handicapped space. I thought, "cool, I'm in the arts district so they painted the meter blue". I chunked my coins in and off I went. If I had gone to some parts of New Haven 5-6 years ago, I could have easily had a problem. Now I know. It's got some rough areas and some dangerous areas. You wouldn't think it because of Yale. They just had a drive-by shooting on the street I used to live on (my gardener heard the shots outside his house), and a close friend just got mugged. There's a lot of good ethnic restaurants in the area and many of them are on the fringes of safe areas, or not in safe areas, and not a smart place for any sensible person to be at night, regardless of race or position.

                                    The point I've been trying to make is that the moderators can control this and I have not seen extremes that ignite hostility on here. Perhaps there are other boards/other parts of the country where this will be more of a problem.
                                    Personally, I want this kind of info... and the variety of opinions. As you have said, it can be a matter of perception. Can it also be that you went during daylight hours or just had pure good luck?

                                    1. re: Scargod

                                      "Can it also be that you went during daylight hours or just had pure good luck?"

                                      When your number is up - your number is up. Lots of people have met untimely demises in small towns and big cities and good areas and dives and driving the safest cars made and skiing on the bunny slope and slipping in their bathtubs and choking on a piece of hard candy and picking the wrong airplane and going deep sea fishing on the wrong day and pulling over the wrong car for a traffic infraction or just going to work in their high rise building....and on and on and on. Life is risky. Life is a crap shoot. Life leads inexorably to death. We can't protect ourselves from random events, no matter what we do. Discussing this "safety" issue on Chowhound will be completely unhelpful in keeping anyone from harm, and at the same time will engender a lot of off topic and inflammatory chatter (even if you don't see the crap that the mod's take down it goes up on a daily basis). Life happens. Death happens. Lets talk about food.

                                      1. re: Servorg

                                        I liked Chow back in 2002 when Leff had that piece of crap site. Why did they ever let it get to this? It needed improvement/changes? P-shaw!
                                        How is it we are allowed to argue (here), about this, but we can't discuss risks of eating somewhere?
                                        I guess you've never used a seatbelt or a condom.. shit happens.

                                        1. re: Scargod

                                          If you haven't read Jim's chronicles of how Chowhound came into existence and what finally drove him to sell it then take a look: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5821... . Over the years I sent a couple of hundred dollars to Jim for what I saw as the value of the site to me. So did others. But long term that was no solution and the virtual doors were a gnats eyelash away from closing here forever.

                                          And I grew up without seat belt's in cars (condoms in car's yes). My point is exactly that shit happens. Discussing it here isn't going to make it stop happening. Write to your city council. Take it up with the Chief of Police. Keep Chowhound about the Chow.

                              3. re: Jacquilynne

                                To me, in addition, I wouldn't want anyone thinking that Chowhound was a good place to come and get information about whether a particular neighborhood is, in fact, safe. If such posts and discussions were allowed I can easily imagine that someone might think something along the lines of "well, I've never seen anyone on Chowhound write that neighborhood isn't safe, so I bet it's fine." To me, it's a defensible position for Chowhound to take to avoid having such discussions entirely so that no one would ever think it's a reliable place to find such information.

                                1. re: Jacquilynne

                                  You will always get dissent on Chowhound, it seems, but I don't see it rending itself. You, as moderators step in, so why can't you do that here? I say, "Where's the proof?" We have a President who wants to shed light on the workings of government so trust will be restored. Light is always good. Informed people can make their own decisions, as some have just said. Let us decide who is trying to be helpful and who is hyperbolic.

                                  I doubt that there is any argument that Yelp is on one end of the spectrum and Chow is on the other; eGullet, perhaps in-between. Neither of these forums has had a firefight or even one disagreement about comments made about Sam's. I've read them all.
                                  Here is one from Yelp:
                                  It's near one of the worst corners in town for drug dealing and prostitution (12th and Chicon) so be aware. I've been solicited more than once walking out of Sam's, but again I come there around 2am which is prime crack-smoking time apparently. Just DO NOT walk through the nearby alleys unless you're into that sort of thing. It should go without saying, but I thought a short -cut is a short-cut, right? Wrong. Just sayin.." *OR*
                                  "Don't be a-scared of the Texas-Chainsaw-Massacre-looking exterior. It's just the same inside."
                                  "And I was warned. The place is slummy looking, peeling walls, buzzing flies, curling photos pinned on the wall of famous folk who love the 'cue." .... "who cares if the guy that serves you slaps in on your plate with his bare hands."

                                  None of these comments caused dissent on Yelp. NONE. Race was never brought up, either, and the owners are black and it is a minority neighborhood.
                                  AND, it doesn't stop people from going there. People only go there for the food. Well, perhaps some go there to get drugs, too. I think that if I ask, "is it safe or not", I should be able to get some opinions (without going to the other forums). Perhaps I don't want food served with bare hands or needing to go with a friend so we can watch each other's back.
                                  I just don't think your fears of a hot button topic are warranted. How many places are going to fall in this category, anyway? You can shut it down when and IF it becomes a problem, can't you?

                                  1. re: Scargod

                                    I have two thoughts on your post:

                                    1) Yelp's review format doesn't tend to lead itself to discussion or responses to reviews, does it? It's very different than the back-and-forth discussion-style environment here.

                                    2) I don't know Yelp that well, but I have seen some moderation there. How do you know there was no dissent? Is it possible there was dissent that was deleted? Again, I'm not a heavy user of Yelp, just wondering if that is a possibility.

                                    1. re: Chris VR

                                      I have few posts on Yelp. Their rules state that they rarely remove posts and their rules are very reasonable and "liberal". You don't talk or create topics, like here, but you can reference another's comments and you post about food places, suppliers and services. You are rated and graded by peers and rewarded for good posts and behavior with "titles" like "Elite Squad". The chatting, which is more visible on Chow, if Mods allow it, is done behind the scenes at Yelp, if you allow it. So Yelp's more like Facebook, with reviews.

                                      On Yelp you can say (about Sam's): "I felt sick as hell later that day. I'd hate to attribute it to Sam's but it was the only thing in my stomach. Made me question exactly what I had ingested.."

                                    2. re: Scargod

                                      In our experience, on Chowhound, these threads do not go well. We can't sit on top of them, waiting for the inevitable backlash to start and hope to remove bad posts before the people being attacked see them. It's simply not feasible given the volume of postings on the site and the tools at our disposal.

                                      If we wait until we're aware that a thread has gone downhill to start locking it down or removing it, we end up with even more problems. If we wait until people get angry before removing these threads, people are already angry -- which is what we were trying to avoid. And if we wait until people are being attacked for their views, people are already feeling abused and unwelcome. Locking the thread or removing the posts doesn't put that genie back in the bottle. It also sets us up for more people to be angry that they've had their posts deleted, rather than just the original poster.

                                      It seems pre-emptive for us to just declare a subject like that off-topic altogether, but we've been at this for many years, and we see the same conflicts arise each time these issues are raised on any of our boards. When the anger, hurt feelings and moderation effort involved in keeping a subject manageable so vastly outweigh the information actually being shared, it's time to admit defeat and just ask that people stay away from those subjects.

                                      1. re: Jacquilynne

                                        I promise not to start a thread like "What's the Risk", if you will lighten up on the info shared within a genuine thread about a restaurant. :)
                                        I am not insensitive to your task. I've had to work within a corporate system, with budgets and I have also owned a corporation with two dozen employees. However, my empathy and commiseration with your position doesn't change the facts that the rules and human intervention (here), are imperfect. I would like to see a better solution or a more liberal position.
                                        Perhaps statements could be made, without argument. Perhaps facts could be presented. This may all be overkill for a foodie website? I just want people to be able to present a sensible, coherent (if not proved), statement that I can evaluate, rather than nothing at all. Rather than guessing about whether I should walk down a darkened path to get to a restaurant some have said is good... I've been to some like that.
                                        I realize that Chow is a place that we have been invited to and we can be uninvited.
                                        I think it is a mutually beneficial world. In the "So what's the average Chowhound's age?" thread there seems to be a warm sentiment that we all enjoy each other's company and that the young benefit from the experience of their elders.
                                        I hope some of us don't start reciting "grass-mud horse" or "raised by wolves!".

                                        1. re: Scargod

                                          I think there ought to be some space for factually mentioning environment, just as we talk about ambience or location generally, otherwise the info just isnt useful. As much as we want to stay focussed on food, ambience is part of the food experience. If this was purely a "gourmet foodie" website it wouldnt matter, because we wouldnt be talking about holes in the wall, marginal, out-there establishments at all. Here we have the full range which may challenge folks comfort zones (in many directions), and its good IMO to be clear what the people we are writing for are going to be getting into, from no english spoken to bullet-proof plastic barriers, along with their delicious food.