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New Restaurants Section has Launched

We are happy to announce that we have launched our new restaurants section. This builds on the previous “Places” section to create a more useful and comprehensive database, and to make it much easier for new and old users alike to discover the wealth of chowhound discussions about specific restaurants.
Highlights of the new section:
- 750,000 new restaurants & bars added to the database- incorporating all of the valuable information contributed by users to the old ‘Places’ database
- Search by cuisine, neighborhood, features (kid-friendly, etc).
- Enhanced restaurant information: menu, neighborhood, features like kid-friendly, romantic, Open Table reservations links
- Ability to rate restaurants and post ‘quick reviews’ on restaurants pages
- Ability to rate and mark Chowhound threads as a review
- Improved photo upload tool
Thanks to all of the users who participated in our early focus groups and beta test of the product. We are very excited about these new features, but we are aware that, as with any launch, we will need to make refinements, fixes, and add new features over the coming months. To to that end, we really welcome your feedback and suggestions. Please send them to redesign@chow.com, or post to this thread.

Thanks,

The CHOW Team

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  1. Reviews outside of the context of Chowhound discussions? Star ratings?

    Welcome to CBS Interactive's Yelp knockoff. I think this is the end of Chowhound as we know it.

    44 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      At least Yelp allows you to edit your review.

      About the stars, the review section is optional. You can drop stars and run. Especially useful for restaurants upping their ratings. No fuss, no muss. You and your friends don't even have to leave a self-promoting comment. Click stars and you are five star restaurant. No one is the wiser.

      Could you please explain how this works? What could be tested was really limited and I really don't want to play in the live database. I'm not sure if what I see is an error or meant to be.

      1. There was talk when a quick review was posted on Places it would also appear on the Chouwhound boards. Has that been abandoned?

      2. What happens when you check the review box on Chowhound? Where is this supposed to appear on Places. I've been checking that box when I could in the past few weeks and they don't appear to be showing up in Places.

      3. What exactly is the old Link to a Restaurant/Bar supposed to do in terms of appearing on Places?

      I'm more than happy to start an error thread on Techinical Help, but I'm not sure if these are errors.

      1. re: rworange

        Thanks for your feedback. A few replies:
        1. Ratings & Quick reviews are being moderated in the same way that the boards are moderated, so we will know if it is a restaurant has come in to rate themselves, and we will remove those ratings. Also, an individual user's ratings only count once, so if you review a place the first time as 3 stars, and then revise your review to 2 stars later, only the 2 star review will count.

        2. We are still planning to move towards closer integration of the quick reviews and the boards. For this first release, we wanted to get a sense of how many quick reviews we would get, to determine the best way to integrate that content into the boards without overwhelming them with dozens of quick restaurant comments. We will be watching this carefully, and welcome your feedback and ideas over the next several weeks.

        3. When you check the review box on chowhound and complete it with a restaurant name, that post should appear on the restaurant detail page, under the "reviews' section. We'll check to confirm that that is happening as it should be.

        4. If you link to a restaurant/bar with the 'link to a place' button, it will appear in the lower section of the page under "Dig Deeper", and it will appear as a link on the thread page, within the post and in the upper right hand corner.

        Thanks again for your feedback, it's fine to submit errors here, on TH, or to redesign@chow.com.

      2. re: Robert Lauriston

        my first thought as well. RATING?? wth? And, if the rating will not be shown, then why collect the data? to sell advertising?

        yikes and yuck.

        The chowhound restaurant posts are better than reviews--they're discussions. Let's keep it that way.

        Or has Big Advertising won out?

        1. re: toodie jane

          If the forums continue and as posters we are able to keep the standards up, personally I'm for anything that pays the bills and allows Chowhound to continue.

          What worries me is that the way it is currently set up, it would be real easy to divorce the forums from Chow and either sell them off or shut them down.

          The way it seems to be set up, the Chow place reviews are direct competition with the Chowhound forums.

          The bonus added and what really drives people to Chow/Chowhound are the discussions. I like Places. However, if all there was on this site was the Places review, there would be no reason for me to visit Chow. Yelp does that particular format a lot better.

          1. re: rworange

            Right. It seems to me that the people who give star ratings and post "quick reviews" could very well end up being entirely separate from those who frequent the forums and actually bring something to the table.

            The big problem with ratings and quick reviews, such as those on Yelp, is that there's no accountability. Fine, you keep the restaurant owners themselves from pumping up their ratings, but a fairly large number of the reviews on Yelp are from people who give a restaurant 5 stars because it has free wi-fi or who give it 1 star because they felt like their waiter looked at them askance. Yes, you give an accompanying "review," but there's no real need for you to justify your rating and nothing to ensure that your rating is proportionate to your experience. Heck, on Yelp, there are people who post ratings and reviews who haven't even BEEN to the restaurant in question. And yet these ratings carry no less weight than any other in determining a restaurant's overall "score"...which ultimately can make or break a business.

            I don't mean to be elitist or a snob. Of course there's a place for something like Yelp. But once you open up a ratings system to the masses, I really do think that something is lost. In the forums, if you post something about a place (positive or negative) that seems to be completely off or is just without basis, folks here will call you out on it--and a debate, often heated, may ensue. I understand how some might find that intimidating (woe to the poor newbie who posts, "Olive Garden has the best pasta in the city!"), but that's what makes this site unique and valuable. And with these changes, many visitors to the site--the new, casual users that the new format is intended to attract--will probably never make it past the star ratings and the quick reviews. They're never going to scroll all the way to the bottom of the page to click on a link that will take them "deeper."

            If it's about money, then fine, I understand that. But if many of the long-term, faithful users of Chowhound feel the same way I do, then I feel like the site organizers should really take that feedback into consideration.

              1. re: abstractpoet

                I agree with much of what you have said and these issues concern me as well. We haven't been able to make members post accurately and adequately before and I don't see how we will be able to now. Perhaps if it works as a credit card or bank transaction, where all critical fields must be filled in? Fine. That doesn't mean that the information will be any better than before, unless there are things like "spell check" and Google involved to verify that a place exists and is being entered correctly.
                Still, how do we do adequate linkages and searches without some formality on the site?
                I would disagree in one area, as I have alluded to already: There has never been anything preventing anyone from posting false data, just like on Yelp. There is the dissent and discussion here, but that doesn't mean the exact same thing can't happen here as the examples you gave for Yelp.
                Perhaps if we were to get more sophisticated we could have statistics or ratings for members to tell whether they were in the norm or whether they were a wierdo and inconsistent with their reviews and ratings. You could compare Chowhound X with Chowhound Y... Now, we have to read every word posted and get to know Chowhounds and then decide whether to believe them. That is very difficult and time consuming. I don't have a clear answer. This is a challenging task to amass good data on the internet, when anyone can contribute.

                1. re: Scargod

                  But I would argue that "dissent and discussion" are precisely what define Chowhound and set it apart from Yelp and other sites. If someone posts inaccurate or blatantly false information here, people will be all over it. And if a guest to the site clicks on that thread, it will be very easy for him or her to see that this one isolated opinion is an anomaly. It takes some time to figure out which Chowhounds' tastes align with yours, sure. But that is how you get good information.

                  What I dislike particularly is the function that lets you sort by highest rated, etc. I understand that this is very convenient and user-friendly. But it's precisely the sort of thing that assigns WAY more weight to the opinions of, once again, the "masses" than ought to be the case. And, as mentioned, I'd hate to think that this would be what could really make or break a restaurant.

                  1. re: abstractpoet

                    Valuable information takes some diligent digging (as you note). Chowhound is important exactly because it's not like Yelp or City Search or Zagat. Without the idiosyncratic posters that populate this place I would have lost interest in it years ago. Let's not aspire to being like all the other sites...

                  2. re: Scargod

                    You can click on the poster's name to get to the My Chow report which shows how active the poster is. Quite frankly I am starting to discredit anyone on Yelp that is elite and has hundreds of posts. Restaurants court these people inviting them to pre-opening events and plying them with free food. I would hope there is never a review total on any part of Chow/Chowhound.

                    For all the eloquent arguments, the reality is that the star rating isn't going anywhere. Yes, every site in the world has it. One would hope that this doesn't become too much like every other food review site because there are already way too many.

                    That is not to say that the bells and whistles such as maps, being able to now see other nearby restaurants in the area and a central restaurant record that hooks everything toghter and is a central repository of info such as hours, features, etc are not a good thing.

                    However in the revision for easily scannable quick reviews and moving away from talmudic discussions, there needs to be thought given that this doesn't become another the equivalent pf a fast food review site, so to speak. Pleasing to the masses with no flavor or substance.

                    The one thing that still really, really bugs me is the ability to add stars with no reviews along with the reasons for that. As someone who takes time to be thoughtful and give useful information, it really seems to strike at the soul of Chowhound.

                    While it doesn't prevent me from posting, catering to people who promise to maybe stop lurking and start posting if they can just enter stars is just offensive.

                    1. re: rworange

                      Agreed. I'm not a fan of "elite" Yelp-dom as a sort of status symbol, nor do I want to encourage people to start posting hundreds of reviews just so that they can appear creditable. My point is just that if there is going to be a rating system at all, I don't think people who don't contribute to the boards at all should be allowed to rate. Random people who just wander in after googling the name of a restaurant shouldn't be allowed to give a rating--not if that rating is meant to be anything more than a measure of how popular and well-known a restaurant is.

                      Chowhound has always been open to anyone who wants to participate, but requiring that people put in a minimum amount of effort to have their opinions heard doesn't strike me as unreasonable. And, for God's sake, people who don't even bother to write a "quick review" should definitely, definitely not be allowed to give a rating.

                      But I, for one, don't think that just because every other site in the world has a star rating system means we have to have one here. I see no reason to view that as an inevitability.

                      1. re: abstractpoet

                        You have to pick your issues.

                        Intuitively, I knew from the minute there was the first hint of adding stars this was a done deal. It is something the management of this site isn't going to take away or be talked out of.

                        There have been some things they have worked with the community about which have made the restaurant database a whole lot more useable.

                        So one needs to do a little Chow serenety prayer ...

                        Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, to request changes that might be possible. , and the wisdom to know the difference

                        Star ratings falls into the first category.

                        Star ratings with a required review, hopefully the second category.. Even on Yelp and opentable it ticks me off when someone does that. Since I've yapped about that way to much, I'm working on the wisdom to shut up finally and hope somewhere along the line my prayer is answered. .

                      2. re: rworange

                        There's no reviews count per se on chowhound, but you can see who posts a lot by looking at the number of pages at the bottom of a person's "recent posts" page. Though if you spend any time at all browsing a board you'll know who the usual suspects are anyway.

                      3. re: Scargod

                        "There has never been anything preventing anyone from posting false data, just like on Yelp. There is the dissent and discussion here, but that doesn't mean the exact same thing can't happen here as the examples you gave for Yelp."

                        That's exactly right. I'd say that about 30% of the information on CH is flat out wrong, either factually so or the evaluation of a restaurant by a particular poster is so off base that you have to question their basic credibility.

                        If you're a long time reader of the site and you're familiar with the restaurant being discussed you can put those inaccurate reviews in the proper context. But many people are relatively new to CH. When they read those inaccurate reviews they come away thinking opinion is "mixed" and have often said so.

                        Yes, a ratings system is subject to abuse but all it does is formalize the system we have now. Ultimately the reader is responsible for doing the follow up work and reading actual reviews.

                        A positive point of the rating system is that the ratings will be the results of *multiple* threads. That would tend to dilute the effect of 2 or 3 unreliable reviewers who pop up on individual threads and post misinformation. The casual reader, who hasn't seen the 25 other threads on the same restaurant doesn't know those posts are outliers. This way the effect of those unreliable posts will be properly diluted.

                        In the end the person reading the reviews needs to drill down and read the actual threads on which the ratings are based. Even on Yelp that's the case.

                        I'd like to thank the CH team for developing this feature. It finally overcomes the problem of multiple threads on the same restaurant where information is scattered all over the place. Finally there's a way of pulling it all together. I've been waiting for this for years.

                        1. re: Bob Martinez

                          I hope that no matter how Chowhounds feel about star ratings that they will use them.

                          I' thought this would do no harm, but I'm really taken aback on some of the first reviews that are not connected to the boards. Absoulely mediocre, awful food is getting five stars.

                          Restaurants so bad that every other food site is giving them three stars or under ... even Yelp.

                          Folks, there are other stars one can click on besides five. Of course, this is like the pastor giving a sermon about people who don't show up for services. The people doing this aren't reading this.

                          Looking at some of those reviews, they aren't first time posters and seem to post infrequently over the years.

                          Perhaps the disccussion format has been putting them off for all these years.

                          No wonder. Some of these opinions would have been questioned on the forum.

                          The bottom line is that unless Chowhounds balance the reviews with their own star ratings, people reading this site are going to get skewed opinions from these chirpy overly positive reviews and for someone not familiar with the site may get the impression that Chowhound is endorsing mediocre restaurants.

                          Everyone using the ratings is the only way to balance things.

                          Suddenly I'm a fan of adding stars without a review. I've been able to put in some .... opposing stars, so to speak ... so the ratings are more in line with the actuality. .

                          I'd question the accuracy of your estimated number, Bob. Different taste is not the same as flat out wrong.

                          Also, I like scattered reviews. My eyes glaze over when there are more than 20 posts for a restaurant not only here but.on every other site in the world, yelp, egullet, etc, etc. Scattered smaller posts are easier to digest. That's a personal thing though. Some people like graing and eating little scattered meals while others like one big heavy main meal ... to use an allegory.

                          1. re: rworange

                            "I'd question the accuracy of your estimated numbers. Different taste is not the same as flat out wrong."

                            It's a personal estimate based on traffic on the New York boards. I regularly see occasional highly negative posts about restaurants I know well, places that have performed consistently for years. Often the reviewer is someone who just joined the board a few weeks ago. From their review, I hardly recognize the place. They rip the food, the decor, the service, the list goes on and on. It's a review from BizzarroWorld. At least those are pretty easy to spot because they're so over the top.

                            The really insidious ones have a surface plausibility. Again, they're written about places I know well and they pick out all sorts of faults. The net effect is that they've noticed the place is slipping. Often I've visited the restaurant a couple of times over the past few months and I can do a reality check - the restaurant is the same good place as it always was.

                            Because I'm a suspicious type I click on the name of the negative poster and often I find that those negative reviews are theme for them. They specialize in take-downs of popular places, implying that their taste is so sophisticated that they notice failings that the masses miss. They're playing a game with us. Often, because their reviews have a surface plausibility, they get others to chime in, eager to be the among the first to notice that a popular place is slipping.

                            Keep in mind that I'm talking about a minority of posters. The problem is that on any given thread they can sow a lot of confusion and misinformation. In the aggregate, their effect is diluted. The problem is that if a new poster reading along isn't aware of all those other threads they give too much emphasis to those false negative reviews.

                            Your experience seems to be better than mine. It may be that the SF boards have a higher percentage of experienced and reliable posters. Even on the NY boards the substantial majority of posts are well intentioned and honest. Reliability is something I assess individually. Like you, I've been around a long time and I've gotten to know a lot of posters who I respect enormously. I may disagree with them from time to time but I always take what they have to say very seriously.

                            My hope is that the rating system will dilute the effect of the overly negative (and overly positive) posts. I've got to discipline myself to start using it.

                            RW, it's always a pleasure to talk to you.

                            1. re: rworange

                              "Suddenly I'm a fan of adding stars without a review. I've been able to put in some .... opposing stars, so to speak ... so the ratings are more in line with the actuality."

                              Look, I understand what you're saying, but the idea that now regular posters on the site now need to monitor the ratings of specific restaurants to make sure they don't get too low or high--well, let's just say that's precisely why I have such a problem with having the ratings system to begin with. And if the new changes are at all successful, meaning they draw lots of new traffic to the site, then it really doesn't matter that much if the hardcore Chowhounds end up inputting their own ratings.

                              How do you do battle against the entire Internet? ANYBODY can put in a rating! Right now, when there are only two or three inaccurate votes, your rating will substantively change the restaurant's overall ranking. But once there are fifty? A hundred?

                              I've read The Tipping Point too, Bob ((whether or not you were making a conscious allusion), but I don't think the "wisdom of crowds" applies in this case . I mean, if it did, then something like Zagat would be the MOST accurate source of information on restaurants, but we all know that's not the case.

                              My point is that one inaccurate thread can only do so much harm. But an inaccurate (or, in any case, of limited usefulness) overall star rating can certainly do a lot to affect a restaurant's reputation and ability to do business.

                              If someone reads all the threads and decides not to go to a restaurant because it has "mixed" reviews, even if I think the place is perfect, I can live with that. I really can. You'd rather someone base their decision on a star rating?

                              1. re: abstractpoet

                                >>> You'd rather someone base their decision on a star rating?

                                No. But anyone who does that gets what they deserve ... and that might mean missing a terrific spot because it has two stars for dumb stuff.

                                I WOULD like to see some sort of description when searching though since now ALL the decision is made on is the unreliable rating.

                                I have no plans to moniter places. However, it is just a Yelp habit. Sometimes I'll rate a restaurant higher than it deserves because some yahoo trashed it. My favorite was the vegan who gave a Brazilian restaurant serving almost exclusinvely meat a one star rating because he was told they didn't serve vegan food.

                                1. re: rworange

                                  They would, indeed, get what they deserve. But I'm more concerned about the effect that this has from the restaurant owner's perspective--the owner of the restaurant with an unjustifiably low rating. It just seems like a matter of justice to me (without being too hyperbolic about it, I hope).

                                  And, secondarily, I dislike what it does to the overall site ethos. As you said earlier, I don't feel as good being an active member of a website that promotes overrated (but popular) restaurants--at the expense of the hidden gems or restaurants where there are just one or two spectacular items that make them worthwhile.

                                2. re: abstractpoet

                                  @Abstractpoet - "I've read The Tipping Point too, Bob ((whether or not you were making a conscious allusion), but I don't think the "wisdom of crowds" applies in this case . I mean, if it did, then something like Zagat would be the MOST accurate source of information on restaurants, but we all know that's not the case."

                                  Chowhound is exactly like Zagat with the exception that you can post full reviews. That remains the same. If someone chooses to skim along and pick restaurants purely on a star rating rather than drill down and read the full reviews then they are lazy at best, and fools at the worst. They need to use the stars to dig down and read the reviews behind them.

                                  The star system isn't perfect but it's a hell of a lot better than the chaotic jumble we've got now.

                                  As someone said upthread, there's a reason other sites haven't chosen to emulate the "zillion threads on one restaurant" model. It's not because they fail to see it's brilliance, it's because it doesn't work.

                                  As I've said many times before, CH is a tremendous information resource but it only works if you can find that information. The star system and related links will make that work.

                                  1. re: Bob Martinez

                                    The "zillion threads on one restaurant" is precisely what I like about Chowhound, and the reason is because many of the threads are so specific: where to find the best x or y in the Bay Area, or an in-depth discussion of one particular dish or one particular happy hour special at a certain restaurant. I can go to the thread that's pertinent to what interests me without having to wade through dozens of posts that just talk about the restaurant in general.

                                    Would improved search capabilities make this easier? Of course. But does the star rating system or having all the reviews in one place? In my opinion, not really.

                                    I think Zagat is fundamentally different from Chowhound, at least Chowhound as a discussion board driven site (which it will hopefully continue to be).

                                    The type of person who will participate in that type of discussion format is self-selecting, and while the information may not be perfect, a Chowhound is, generally speaking, going to be a different species of cat than the person filling out a Zagat survey. I'd argue that the fact that it's a smaller and less inclusive set of people is what makes the information found here more, not less, reliable.

                          2. re: abstractpoet

                            Here's a random idea (one that I, admittedly, haven't really thought through): What if only users who had made at least X number of posts in the discussion boards were allowed to post ratings and quick reviews?

                            I still wouldn't like it, but I think I'd like it more than just letting anyone off the Internet give a rating.

                            1. re: abstractpoet

                              They have that rule (15 posts needed) for posting on one 'exclusive' forum at Mozillazine. Sadly it leads to "Yeah!" or "Thanks!" posts.

                            2. re: abstractpoet

                              You can lead a horse to water...

                              Anyone who chooses a restaurant by visiting CH and then just looking at a rating is the same person who thinks Zagats is a good source. It takes time and effort to do a proper research job and if someone takes 5 minutes then caveat emptor (sic).

                              Those who spend the time to read the forums will learn more, probably come back more often and then start contributing. Those who come, read a rating and leave, adios. Even with the forums, you need to separate the good from the bad.

                              And the Yelpers in jfood's area actually gave a 5* rating to a place because he passed out in the bathroom and when he woke up the next morning he thought it was clean. Other areas have better inputters. There as well you need to try to throw out the crap and try to find the posters who have similar tastes to you.

                              If it was easy, everyone would do it.

                              1. re: abstractpoet

                                Here's an example showing how easily the new feature becomes a parallel discussion site.
                                http://www.chow.com/restaurants/6185/...

                                "Quick reviews (2 Reviews)
                                » Please tell me where you would walk to?
                                please? (by JustineR, updated September 9, 2009

                                )

                                » Walk a few more feet, get a better burrito
                                Walk a few more feet, get a better burrito (by itsapeugeot, updated September 9, 2009)"

                                Is the La Cumbre page where we want to host discussions of other taquerias?

                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                  I agree that's a problem but it's been a problem for years. Discussions of other restaurants often creep into threads dedicated to other restaurants.

                                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                                    They are not even reviews and I guess there is no process for getting them removed since there is no report button?

                                    We are increasing our ability to have more garbage on the site, with these expanding member information input areas in the places/restaurants-bars area and elsewhere. Is no one minding the store?
                                    An example of contamination is that there is a drink recipe in the Mexican food recipes and people can post total BS in the comments areas for recipes, stories, videos, etc. There is no report feature.

                                    1. re: Scargod

                                      chowhound.com (redirects to chowhound.chow.com) is still just boards.

                                      I don't think of Chow as the same site. It's more of a parasite.

                                      1. re: Scargod

                                        Please email moderators@chowhound.com if you have an issue with a Restaurant review for now.

                                        Those reviews were actually just from beta test, so I've removed them.

                                        1. re: Jacquilynne

                                          I hate to be a troublemaker and thorn in your side. I'm just not in on all that's going on and am puzzled by some of what I see. I used to be "Big Daddy". Now I am just a jerk on the sidelines.

                                          1. re: Scargod

                                            Sorry -- I didn't mean to give you the impression that I was unhappy with something. Unfortunately, we don't have great moderation tools on the new restaurants section yet, so that's a good question, and it was good to get that information out there.

                                  2. re: rworange

                                    "What worries me is that the way it is currently set up, it would be real easy to divorce the forums from Chow and either sell them off or shut them down."

                                    this is "the money" I was alluding to.

                                    1. re: toodie jane

                                      I don't think CBS has any incentive to sell off chowhound.com. The net cost should be low and they use the site's popularity to promote their other sites.

                                      They could probably make it a cash cow if they had properly targeted advertising from restaurants, but from things Jim Leff said when he sold it to CNET that might be prohibited by the terms of sale.

                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                        You haven't noticed the restaurant ads on the site?

                                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                                          Not so far. Where have you seen them and which restaurants?

                                          Looking around at the moment, I see ads for cars, credit cards, other CBS Web sites, and for CBS TV shows.

                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                            They're typically under Sponsored Links on the right, beneath the tabs with "latest posts" etc. Right now I see an ad for Rhodes W1 and Milsoms Restaurant.

                                            1. re: limster

                                              Some may recall that from the moment we added Google ads, we had a helluva time blocking ones rolling in for restaurants. Because of my pledge, we played whack-a-mole, blocking each restaurant as it appeared in the feed. Not fun.

                                              CNET assured me there'd be no restaurant advertising, but they, understandably, had no desire to spend 24/7 whacking off restaurant ads randomly floating in on the google ad feed (i.e. those "Sponsored Links" on the right). And, anyway, I think most would agree that such ads don't constitute a conflict of interest, since they're coming in "blind" on the google feed, and it's not like CBS has an ad rep out there shmoozing restaurants. We're certainly not beholden to advertisers floating in on Google ad syndication.

                                              There are a lot of ways this site COULD be a "cash cow", though. I had lots of ideas, all ignored. Understandable, from the standpoint that I myself was never able to get any revenue out of the site... though less understandable given that I was holding the whole thing together for nearly a decade via my adrenal glands, so there was no time/energy/money left over to implement my (pretty creative) monetizing schemes. I'll be writing up those ideas in my Slog this Fall, if anyone's curious.

                                              As for the new Places feature, I'm vehemently against ratings for Chowhound for reasons delineated here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6153...
                                              ....but CNET/CBS must profit if this is to continue. It's a miracle the site still exists at all after all these years, so we probably all ought to take stuff like this in stride.

                                              1. re: Jim Leff

                                                And yet, at times, there have been full-color, paid ads on the top banner and upper right corners for both fast-food restaurants and for Roy's, the upscale chain.

                                                  1. re: rworange

                                                    That was the fast food i referred to in my post.

                                2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  Thanks for your feedback. As you know, there is no better source for restaurant information on the web than Chowhound. But we also know that many people want to make use of that information and are either intimidated or bewildered by the message board format. So we wanted to try to make information from the Chowhound community more accessible to casual users. That’s the motivation behind the redesign of the restaurants pages and the city hubs. Not only do the restaurant pages offer information at a glance about specific locations (with the import of over 700,000 restaurant listings) as well as links to relevant Chowhound threads, but we’ve inaugurated much-debated features: quick reviews and restaurant ratings.

                                  In some ways, restaurant ratings are counter to the collaborative, nuanced, Talmudic nature of Chowhound information. But there’s a reason just about every restaurant guide in the world uses them: they’re shorthand and easily scannable.

                                  So we’ve included a five-star rating. We hope you’ll post your ratings and your quick reviews to the restaurant pages. The more robust those pages are, the more helpful they will be to new users who arrive via search not knowing anything about the Chowhound community. And those who wish to dig deeper can. The value of Chowhound has always been in the cumulative observations of an informed and intelligent community; they all boil down to a much more helpful view of a place. We want that information to be as accessible as possible to every user. So we hope that our quick reviews will be helpful and that people who have had experiences with restaurants will share them not just in the boards but in this format.

                                  And, please rest assured that we will continue to moderate the site, including the restaurant ratings & reviews, with great care- so restaurant owners and shills will not be able to pump up their ratings or add reviews without being detected.

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    "I think this is the end of Chowhound as we know it."

                                    Boy, I wonder how many times that phrase has been posted over the course of Chowhound's operation.

                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                      They added the stuff on the right - who cares?
                                      They changed the look (500 negative posts against) - who cares?
                                      They added lousy recipes - who cares?
                                      They added basic how to's- who cares?
                                      They have a full week of increased error messages - who cares?

                                      Results - usage is up.

                                      Chicken Littles keep walking around with signs that have zero predictable value.

                                    2. Just noticed the changes and as a quick impression, I am excited and fairly impressed. The hours, prices, etc. on the right side of the restaurant info view are not responding for me. Some words do not show up in Google Chrome; like "edit" inthe same area on the right.
                                      I don't have an issue with you having the five star rating system. The ability to use the search feature and choose between child friendly, cost, etc. is a big step in the right direction! Congrats!

                                      1. For this first release of the new restaurants section, we have limited access to editing of restaurant/bar pages (cuisine, neighborhood, features, etc) - if you are interested in editing these pages, please reply to this post:

                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/655867

                                        and we will provide that access. Thanks.

                                        1. I haven't played with your new feature yet, but was excited to see the new checkbox when I posted a comment on a regional board tonight. I look forward to learning more, but...

                                          Gotta say, I've been having trouble clocking on this site ever since I turned it on earlier this evening to look up a recipe, and I have to wonder, GEE, is this the price we're paying for the cool, new functionality? I hope it's just a weird coincidence, but thought I'd point it out.

                                          For kicks, "Link to a Restaurant/Bar" is not working for me here. I thought I'd try it just for fun since we're discussing how the new playthings work, but it doesn't work...not here and not for me, anyway.

                                          24 Replies
                                          1. re: kattyeyes

                                            An couple of hours ago I was having trouble getting anywhere. Nothing was working at one point.

                                            1. re: Scargod

                                              Exactly! The whole site seemed to be down for a while earlier tonight.

                                              1. re: kattyeyes

                                                There seems to be major slowdown and link breakages every time there's a big upgrade of some kind.

                                            2. re: kattyeyes

                                              >>> For kicks, "Link to a Restaurant/Bar" is not working for me here. I thought I'd try it just for fun since we're discussing how the new playthings work, but it doesn't work...not here and not for me, anyway.

                                              What board where you trying to link from? Which restaurant?

                                              It works, but a little differently ... except on some boards.

                                              I put in two phony restaurant records to illustrate that but I learned that the restaurant has to match the board.

                                              I have a phony restaurant called Le Test Restaurant in Paris, France. I was going to add it here to show it could be added ... except this isn't the board for France.
                                              http://www.chow.com/restaurants/85781...

                                              The only reason I did that was because I found out there are some kinks adding foreign addresses. A test restaurant I wanted for Mexico City, Mexico was assigned as
                                              Test Restaurant
                                              Mexico, Me
                                              http://www.chow.com/restaurants/85781...

                                              I guess there is a Mexico, Maine.

                                              The only place that restaurant can be accessed is from whatever board Maine is located on.

                                              ANYWAY ...

                                              Say I am on the SF Bay Area board and I want to link to Zuni restaurant in SF.

                                              1. Click on Link to a Restaurant/Bar
                                              2. Enter Zuni as the name
                                              3. Select Zuni from drop down menu
                                              4. Click on Add a link

                                              If the restaurant name is entered incorrectly or if it is not in the database, there is only a blank box and no way to add it from the post ... which avoids duplicates ... but then you have to go and add the restaurant before you can link it to the post.

                                              Then there is the different way this all works if you flag the restaurant as review of a specific restaurant.

                                              1. re: rworange

                                                Not in the database? Whos?
                                                I guess Chow's database doesn't know whether you spell a restaurant name correctly or not. Like you, I found this to be a real problem in the past where restaurant names were entered incorrectly; searches on Chow were futile. Also (in the past), if you didn't know where the restaurant was (say tristate versus outer boroughs), you couldn't go anywhere with your search. I've seen dual entries because of minor discrepancies. I hope we can go in and fix errors and get a duplicate listing (with errors), deleted. I try to post correct information on a thread when I see names butchered. I hate it when the restaurant's name is wrong in a thread's title...
                                                Perhaps I'm seen as a jerk, but people are not getting the principle of "garbage in garbage out". This is not Google, where it can suggest the correct spelling or location for you. Hey, can we tie into their computers?

                                                1. re: Scargod

                                                  I'm sorry. I have no clue what you are posting about. My post was about the change to linking.

                                                  The only referenece to things not being in the database is that despite the new pre-loaded info, there still remain restaurants that are not in the Chow restaurant/bar database.

                                                  The issue you have is what?

                                                  1. re: rworange

                                                    The only thing specifically addressed to you was whether you meant Chow's database (or some other, like Google's, that exists on the internet). After I read it again, it's obvious that I misread it. You were referring to the one we are creating here, from our own input. Sorry.

                                                    The rest is just my expanding on what I think the difficult issues are with having a good database and how it is difficult to "link" if you don't. That's my issue.

                                                  2. re: Scargod

                                                    You will see a "mark as duplicate" link in the upper right corner of the restaurant detail page. The prompt will ask you to note the ID of the listing that is being duplicated, and when you enter that and hit save, it will merge the data from the two listings and eliminate the duplicate.

                                                    1. re: CHOW HQ

                                                      I don't have a Mark as Duplicate link.

                                                      I do have a Mark as Closed link, but because I can't edit due to the the record hanging, clicking on the closed link doesn't work either which is too bad since I have a list of about 25 restaurants that have closed since August.

                                                      1. re: rworange

                                                        We're unable to replicate the saving/editing problem here- can you let us know what OS/Browser you're using?

                                                        1. re: CHOW HQ

                                                          Internet Explorer 8.0 using windows on a pc

                                                          1. re: CHOW HQ

                                                            Same problem on an old Mac (OS X 10.3.9, Firefox 2.0.0.20). I hit save and it just hangs.

                                                            I'm also not seeing a Mark as Duplicate link; only Mark as Closed.

                                                          2. re: rworange

                                                            Editing has been fixed- you should be able to edit and mark as closed.
                                                            Please let us know if you have any further problems with this. Thanks.

                                                            1. re: CHOW HQ

                                                              Excellent - thanks! Just tried one and it worked.

                                                              Still not seeing a Mark as Duplicate link, though. And the redesign has introduced duplicates. An example: http://search.chow.com/search?query=w...

                                                              1. re: CHOW HQ

                                                                It's fixed, but I had to log out and clear my cache for Firefox to work.

                                                                1. re: CHOW HQ

                                                                  I am puzzled about what is happening. I really don't want to clear out my cache just for CH, just so I can do you the favor of filling in restaurant info. A fellow Chowhounder told me this morning that in IE7 their box was getting smaller and smaller as they tried to add a comment. IE8 on my PC, doesn't show any edit options. Google Chrome does and I can edit just fine.
                                                                  Plus, I'm still getting quite a few "Houston we have a problem" messages and very slow response times.

                                                                  1. re: Scargod

                                                                    Edit on the reviews or edit on the business info?

                                                                    I'm just asking because on IE8 without clearing cache, I have always seen edit on the business info. They fixed the other problems and all is well from me.

                                                                    I'm just curious if there is an edit on the review I'm not seeing if you enter it from the restaurant page rather than the boards

                                                                    1. re: rworange

                                                                      They were speaking of the "Good to Know" box.
                                                                      I just did a review of Crave and I could not go back in and edit the review (Google Chrome). I checked IE8 and Firefox and none will let me edit the review I just did. BTW, Firefox looks different still in the edit info area.
                                                                      I have not asked to do a review from a board post.

                                                              2. re: CHOW HQ

                                                                I'm running Windows XP SP3. I don't see a "mark as duplicate" link.

                                                                In MSIE 7.0, I see "mark as closed" and "edit info."

                                                                In Firefox 3.5.3, I see neither of those.

                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                  I have heard it suggested that you should upgrade IE 7 to 8. Not that it will change the way things look, but I understand it has less vulnerabilities.

                                                                  1. re: Scargod

                                                                    I only use MSIE when Firefox doesn't render a page properly.

                                                                    Based on my recent experiences with upgrading MS apps, I'm in no hurry.

                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                      Hah! I only use those when Chrome doesn't work!

                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                        What browser(s) allow editing and display both the duplicate and closed options?

                                                                        Just curiours, Is there an edit link in some browser I've never been able to see? During testing people didn't seem to know what I was talking about so maybe there is an edit option that just isn't displayed on my browser.

                                                                        I know the review can be edited withing the two hour limit if entered from the Chowhound board, But if entered directly on the Restaurant record I don't see any edit link or report.

                                                          3. The link to a place is vastly improved. Kudos for that.

                                                            1. It's confusing that Read / Reply is two links for quick reviews but one link for topics. I think for quick reviews it should be Expand Review / Read Discussion.

                                                            2. The quick reviews should include the title of the topic formatted as a link.

                                                            2. The Read link should take you to the "quick review" post, not the top of the topic. Finding the post in context could be very difficult when there are 50+ posts.

                                                            1. Am I missing the "report" link on these pages? I assumed that was a problem that would have been fixed from the last version.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: Chris VR

                                                                Do you mean "report" this quick review or rating as a problem/inappropriate/etc?

                                                                1. re: CHOW HQ

                                                                  Both, I suppose. Is there any sort of report feature anywhere for any part of Places?

                                                              2. Maybe I missed this, but are we no longer able to Link to Place if the restaurant isn't in the pre-existing database?

                                                                I figured I'd be helpful here http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6558... and add a link to the Place, which isn't one I've seen discussed before on the Boston board. But the restaurant name doesn't come up with the automatic options, and there doesn't seem to be an option, like there used to be, to add a place.

                                                                I can see this being a real problem both as new places open and also as we try to link to taco carts and the like. The Place page for Speed's Hotdog Wagon is a great example of s Place that has been extremely useful because we can combine info on buses, hours of operation and directions, but wouldn't be in the database.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: Chris VR

                                                                  It is possible to add a new place, but not from the 'link to a place' function (yet).

                                                                  Open a new window, then go to this url: http://search.chow.com/search?query=a...

                                                                  and add from the link at the bottom of that page. This function is very very slow right now, so please wait after you click 'add' for it to take you to the edit page. And, it will then take 5-10 minutes for your new restaurant to appear as a selection in the "link to a place' search.

                                                                  Sorry that this is complicated at present- we are working on a way to make this faster and more accessible/integrated.

                                                                  1. re: CHOW HQ

                                                                    Thanks- I'd never have figured that out on my own, but it seems to have worked just fine!

                                                                2. The linked discussions used to be sorted by those that were manually linked up to a place record and those that had a mention of the restaurant name. Now it seems that the many reports that i linked up are now jumbled in with everything else and can't be teased out from the rest.

                                                                  Places was an easy way to try to find the meaty reports, since the search engine is so busted these days. What do I do now?

                                                                  14 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                    Yes. I saw this as well. Even worse is the reports that show up are at the mercy of that awful search engine.

                                                                    Here is Fang which just opened
                                                                    http://www.chow.com/restaurants/63364...

                                                                    The only link is for the first report by me. Everything else is just picking up on the word fang. While it was annoying that people linked just for the address, at least there were two sections one of which had as Melanie mentioned the meatier reports.

                                                                    So, has the link to the restaurant been relegated merely to provide gps type of info and has no relation at all to Places?

                                                                    I can't remember what restaurant it was, but the discussions included the search problem of picking up partial information ... so say the restaurant was Oliveto, it picked up anything with olive in it. That wasn't the restaurant, but whatever it was, discussions included a piece of the name.

                                                                    1. re: rworange

                                                                      Try to find info for the Chow restaurants in sf or Lafayette!

                                                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                        Fish, House, Home, Q, B, etc. etc, etc

                                                                        1. re: rworange

                                                                          Just to clarify, in the old Places format there were two sections for Chowhound threads

                                                                          1. A section of all reports that were linked

                                                                          2. A section that picked up reports that matched the Places title exactly.

                                                                          The second isn't necessary. That was done from what I recall when linking was new so that older reports could be picked up. Linking has been happening over a year now so there is a good store of reports and older reports get links as the topics are revied.

                                                                          What should remain is #1. Display only reports that are linked.

                                                                          There's a few reason for this

                                                                          - Not everyone links their reviews. Using that link was a way to indicate a significant review ... the meatier reviews. Now only the poster can indicate a review. If the poster doesn't check that box, there is no way for other Chowhounds to flag a siginicant report.

                                                                          - The check box only allows one restaurant in the review. Maybe half of the posts on Chowhound have multiple restaurants such as this which has excellent reports about Ubuntu, Fremont Diner, La Salatte and Ad Hoc.
                                                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/651068

                                                                          These great reports will be impossible to pick out te way it is currently set up.

                                                                          While the old liking wasn't perfect, it is so much better than what is currently in place.

                                                                          1. re: rworange

                                                                            "While the old liking (sic) wasn't perfect, it is so much better than what is currently in place."

                                                                            Truer words were never spoken...

                                                                            1. re: rworange

                                                                              Thanks for this feedback. A few responses:
                                                                              * Posts that are linked (using the "link to a place" button) to a restaurant should be showing up first under "Dig Deeper" section on restaurant pages- as on this page: http://www.chow.com/restaurants/1228/...
                                                                              If you're seeing something different, can you post a url so we can investigate?
                                                                              * Posts that are marked as "Review of a specific restaurant" should be showing up under the "Quick Reviews" section higher on the page (i.e. Fang
                                                                              )* We understand that the explicitly linked posts are in general more valuable than those pulled in by the search engine, but there are also regions where users do not link places as diligently as they do i the SFBay Area, etc, so in those places, the posts that are pulled in automatically often provide very useful content where there would otherwise be none.

                                                                              All this said, we understand that this is not the optimal interface, and we're working right now on a revision to these options (link to a place, mark as a review, etc) so that we can make it as clear, accurate, and useful as possible.

                                                                              1. re: CHOW HQ

                                                                                Yes they show up but are often buried so deep it is hard to pick them out.

                                                                                Thanks for the perspective about other sections of the country (and world). In that case it would be better to go back to the old format of linked reports with a second section of everything else that matches in some way or anthother.

                                                                                Or, perhaps float the linked reviews to the top of the Dig deeper section.

                                                                                Because search works so badly it is just so difficult now to find meaningful reviews without major effort.

                                                                          2. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                            Melanie, can you clarify what you mean about finding info for restaurants in SF or Lafayette?

                                                                            1. re: CHOW HQ

                                                                              She was referring to the sorting problem when the feature pulls in all threads with the word "chow" and jumbles them with specific linked reviews of the restaurants in SF and Lafayette named Chow. I hope that makes the issue obvious.

                                                                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                Thank you. Here's the Place record for Chow restaurant in Lafayette.
                                                                                http://www.chow.com/restaurants/10727...
                                                                                It pulls up 8,208 threads. Now at least the first three do mention the actual restaurant, although not necessarily the branch in Lafayette. That gave me some hope that there might be some intelligence and relevance sorting. But no, the fourth of 8,208 threads doesn't even mention Chow restaurant but is picking up "chowing".

                                                                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                  Another thing that came up ...it is virtually imossible to determine the duplicate record because you can't see if anything is linked to restaurant without opening each and every post.

                                                                                  Which is the significant post ... who knows? I don't

                                                                                  Hopefully there will be fewer duplicates because they can't be addd in a post, but as far as the existing duplicates ... I can't tell in some cases.

                                                                                  I think this might be ok because the screen says "This restaurant record will be removed, and its reviews and photos will be added to the original restaurant record"

                                                                                  ABOUT FLAGGING DUPLICATES ...

                                                                                  It would be easier if the entire url for the original OR the confirmation included the title of the original record.

                                                                                  I accidently may have added some Slanted Door info to Fessenden Firewood in Richmond.

                                                                                  First I tried to use the original URL
                                                                                  http://www.chow.com/restaurants/15/sl...

                                                                                  The first message was something like Arey you sure you want to mark this as a duplicate.

                                                                                  I said yes and got an error message that the id was invalid ... how can that be? I did a cut and paste.

                                                                                  So I thought I'd just try the number. I should have entered 15 but entered 16.

                                                                                  Voila ... Fessenden Firewood may or may not have Slanted Door links.

                                                                                  There's a lag updating the restaurant database, so either I lucked out and there were no linked reports or when I look at it Friday, there will be attached Slanted Door info.

                                                                                  It would have ben nice to have the message say something like are you sure you want to add duplicate title to selected title ...

                                                                                  In this case that message would ahve been said are you sure you want to add duplicate Slanted Door info to Fessenden Firewood.

                                                                                  It still would be easier to cut and paste the entire url

                                                                                  With the site using small type only my eyes once again are burning out and if I have to stare at teeny type, it is likely I'm going to make another mistake, though I'll really try not to.

                                                                                  1. re: rworange

                                                                                    I went in to check this morning and mark as duplicate is really messed up causing posting errors. Here's the info on the technical help board
                                                                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/656558

                                                                                    1. re: rworange

                                                                                      Thanks very much for this feedback- we'll fix that record, and consider a clearer and less error-prone way to handle the duplicates.

                                                                          3. re: rworange

                                                                            The 'context sensitive Place linking' is still a questionable feature at best.
                                                                            See this topic: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/662983
                                                                            Two Places (Pacos Tacos and Mariscos) aren't even close to the area under discussion.

                                                                            We really need a way to add or remove Place links *Independent* of the posts to the topic - the good ole manual way as opposed to automatic.

                                                                        2. I can't find a list of my "quick reviews" in MyChow. Am I missing something or does that not exist?

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                            That does not exist in this release, but it will be added in a future release.

                                                                          2. I agree with most said, especially the annoying new prominence of the ratings feature.

                                                                            Except for the search, the regional Places (restaurant and bar) page is pretty useless. Highest Rated, New Arrivals and Restaurant Ideas don't thrill me at all.

                                                                            Searching for 'cuisine name' in Hawthorne from within the Los Angeles page got me results from Memphis, TN. OK, I'll add the state code. Not context sensitive. I was hoping for a preloaded list of city names and zips within a region, maybe in version 2.

                                                                            We still have the dilemma of places that are coded inconsistently. To find Slavkos Poultry in San Pedro (LA neighborhood) you have to search by zip or Los Angeles.

                                                                            I searched for restaurants near 200 N Gaffey in San Pedro CA and Unfortunately got all of the preloaded fast food places (bad) in distance order (Good). Gaffey St Diner at 247 N Gaffey has fallen off the short list (very bad).

                                                                            I searched for restaurants in Orinda CA and got only 5 results. In nearby Moraga, only 2. WTH? And who decided those hilariously defined neighborhoods?

                                                                            Hopefully the Add/Edit Tag feature will be activated soon to make up for loss of the Map by Cuisine type selection. Where's the list of defined Cuisine tags so I know what to search for?

                                                                            Someone's got some 'esplanin to do. TIA!

                                                                            P.S. - just to make sure this post doesn't sound too negative, a Big Thumbs Up on the new Place map on topics with links.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: DiveFan

                                                                              Thanks for your feedback.

                                                                              1. on orinda/moraga, we're seeing :
                                                                              Orinda: search returns 35 results: http://search.chow.com/search?query=&...

                                                                              Moraga: search returns 28 results http://search.chow.com/search?query=&...

                                                                              what steps were you taking that you only found 2 or 3?

                                                                              2. Your choice of cuisines appears under the "search options" button just underneath the search bar, and you should see a map of the results in the right column.

                                                                              3. Add/Edit- you should see an edit button in the upper right hand corner of the restaurant pages.

                                                                              1. re: DiveFan

                                                                                Hmmm, well foolishly I used the word 'restaurant' as the search word.
                                                                                As opposed to bar, market, etc.

                                                                                The list of cuisines only appears AFTER the search. Talk about bass ackward! I should have expected the non-intuitive use of tags after my frustrations with searching the Recipe database.

                                                                                No Edit button is seen under Firefox 3.0.14. It Does show up on Opera 10, but the dropdown menus don't work right (hard to explain).

                                                                                Still needs work, still looks like a Beta to me.

                                                                              2. Don't know if you want all the "issues" brought up here or if this is best handled as emails?
                                                                                Like, I cannot edit a picture caption once saved. I wonder where "See Menu" goes, or how it works, since it was a broken link.
                                                                                I did this: http://www.chow.com/restaurants/35733...

                                                                                1. For quick info about a place, I think that the best bet is likely to be the summaries on Chow Digest. Plus I assume that the tags are already in place in Digest, so that providing the same information under the page for the restaurant would be straightforward.

                                                                                  9 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: limster

                                                                                    Chow Digest is a blog produced by CBS Interactive staffers and at least as regards the SF Bay Area covers only a small portion of what's discussed on the board. I think its main raison d'être is to give people who don't read the boards regularly a way to keep up with some of the highlights.

                                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                      Yep, and I think that it's time to give the digest additional and more visible roles, since the small portion that it covers tend to be the more interesting portion for chowhounds (the "highlights" as you say). Not all restaurants are mentioned in digest, but the ones with digest mentions should have that listed in their pages. It may be also be a potentially useful mechanism for selecting restaurants for more prominent displays on the first page of the Restaurant section for each city/board.

                                                                                      1. re: limster

                                                                                        To what purpose? I don't see who any of that would benefit.

                                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                          The goal of the restaurant page seems to be to present short boiled down information. The summaries in the digest have that short boiled down information. It would benefit whoever the intended target audience is for the restaurant page.

                                                                                          1. re: limster

                                                                                            I agree with all those reasons for making the Chow Digest more visible. It should also be easily searchable.

                                                                                            The Chow Digest is being written by the same people who wrote the Chow News, some of them from the beginning, I believe.

                                                                                            It is one of the few parts of the site that has not changed in any siginifcant way, thank God. It is a little glimmer of the fomer soul of Chowhound. Occasionally someone goes on vacation and some of the people who take over temporarily kind of don't get it. It isn't about weird, quirky finds, it is about good food, no matter what the category.

                                                                                            It does need a little better promotion. They added a Boston Digest recently and did nothing at all to publicize that. If I had not looked at my newsletter section for something else, I never would have known it was there.

                                                                                            Yes it could be expanded. Some of the changes i see in the Restaurant database could lead to that. Selected good lists could be added which might revive that part of the site again.

                                                                                            But I hope it still keeps the sensibilites and core. It is what makes this site different.

                                                                                            1. re: limster

                                                                                              The "quick reviews" aren't boiled down, they just show the first few sentences. Since that's done by software, it costs nothing. For digests you have to pay by the hour.

                                                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                The quick reviews are aimed to be short. As are the digests. Since the "quick reviews" aren't even boiled down, they're would be substantially less informative than a digest.

                                                                                                For digests, they've already paid, since those digests have been written. Thus the cost to use them now is minimal since adding that tagged information to a page can be done by software. And since they are paying people to write future digests regardless, might as well put that information to better use.

                                                                                                1. re: limster

                                                                                                  "The quick reviews are aimed to be short."

                                                                                                  Outside of that section of the Places pages having that title, there's nothing about the implementation that encourages people to keep it short.

                                                                                                  If someone checks "This is a review of a specific restaurant" when posting on one of the boards, they may not even be aware that it will show up as a "quick review."

                                                                                                  They're lumping two different kinds of posts together under one heading, just like "Dig Deeper."

                                                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                    Be happy to go into these points, but they're irrelevant. The point is that the Digest items will add value to the restaurant pages because they give a short and useful overview.

                                                                                    2. Now that some of the bugs and design oversights have been fixed, I have to say I'm pretty impressed. The Places section is much improved.

                                                                                      I still don't like the star ratings, but I don't have to pay any attention to them, either.

                                                                                      1. Is 5 stars the default setting? That might explain why so many places are getting such ridiculously high ratings? Such as here,
                                                                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3687...

                                                                                        if you have a default , maybe it should be 3 stars so results aren't skewed if the poster neglects to input stars.

                                                                                        For me, I'd like a "none of the above" or null set. I don't want to give stars. Surely if the system allows star ratings without narrative, we should also allow reviews without stars. Without a feature of this sort to opt out of star-giving, I won't be checking off the "review" box when I post and then the text won't feed to the Places page for the restaurant.

                                                                                        13 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                          "Without a feature of this sort to opt out of star-giving, I won't be checking off the "review" box when I post and then the text won't feed to the Places page for the restaurant."

                                                                                          One person here totally gets this issue. I'm not surprised that it's Melanie.

                                                                                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                            >Without a feature of this sort to opt out of star-giving, I won't be checking off the "review" box when I post and then the text won't feed to the Places page for the restaurant.<

                                                                                            You mean if you don't op to give a "stars" rating, then your report won' feed the Places page? Is that true? If so, that's very bad.

                                                                                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                              I've only done a couple of places since the ability to do "stars". I sure hope the default is no stars and having no affect on any other star ratings. If you care or you don't know what to give a place I think a null should be allowed. You can still write out what you think about a place.
                                                                                              We need a FAQ about the features of adding and scoring places. A little information wouldn't hurt.

                                                                                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                I just posted a quick review without selecting any stars, and my QR has no stars.

                                                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                  While I understand taking a stand, you could be hurting the restaurant’s Chowhound standing by placing a zero in the average. 3, 3, 2, 5, 5, 0 = average of 3.
                                                                                                  3, 3, 2, 5, 5 = average of 3.6

                                                                                                  Unless of course they don’t factor in zeros. But then zero would have no meaning and that can't be right.

                                                                                                  1. re: MplsM ary

                                                                                                    A null is not zero, and my quick review with no stars did not affect the average for that place..

                                                                                                2. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                  Neither linking nor flagging a post of a review is currently working.

                                                                                                  However, the default was no stars. You could put no stars and as long as you checked the box it would post under the review section. If you enter the review from the Restaurant record there is also the option to enter no stars

                                                                                                  While you might plan not to assign stars,,unfortunately that could hurt a good restaurant that is getting trashed. It also gives the real lousy restaurants out there an advantage. The first restaurant review for Maya gave it five stars ... along with a gushing review so there was no mistake in the assiged star rating. Maya. Tell me. Is that one of the top SF Mexican restaurants?

                                                                                                  They have changed the menu. Sandoval has given up any pretense of producing serious upscale Mexican food. It caters to the flavored margahrita crowd. It is not longer upscale Mexican. It is upscale Chevy's. The restaurant is a real crowd pleaser on yelp. However, when you look on opentable, it rarely rises abouve two stars.

                                                                                                  So if don't assign stars. However, that might lead to posts about ... this was highly recommeded on Chowhound but sucks posts.

                                                                                                  And it just means that the good guys who could use an assist and we want to stay in business get bypassed while the zagat.yelp lemming crowd pleasers get more and more credibility and maybe siphon business from a better restaurant.

                                                                                                  1. re: rworange

                                                                                                    A default of no stars that actually figures into the rating math as zero stars is very bad. The default should be "no rating" that doesn't figure into the rating math. A "stars" rating, zero or more stars, needs to be a non-default and obvious act. I say obvious because my report on Aram's Cafe in Petaluma seems to have resulted in a 5-star rating when I had no intention of giving a stars rating (although I like the place a lot). I probably clicked somewhere on the stars image wondering what they did which, unknown to me, gave it a stars rating.

                                                                                                    1. re: rworange

                                                                                                      Hm ... strategic starring. Like others I'm allergic to this kind of system, but I guess that's worth considering if I notice clueless skewing of ratings, positive or negative.

                                                                                                    2. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                      I notice that ChowHQ has a post dated Sept 29/09 on the thread Melanie references on Arama's http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3687... that says "Adding link" but there doesn't appear to be one. I've noticed this elsewhere and I don't get it...

                                                                                                      And I agree with Melanie and others that a null star option with the capacity to still link comments on a particular resto to the "Dig deeper" (goofy wording for a food site but perhaps I am nitpicking...) then I am disinclined to participate in the so-called Review process.

                                                                                                      And since I'm venting, I make it a personal policy to avoid calling the reports I post "reviews" as they are not conducted in the way I consider a restaurant review should be undertaken (ie) multiple visits, anonymity etc. which is another reason I'm not loving the "Review" and stars fandango... but again perhaps I am nitpicking.

                                                                                                      And a question: why do you get different results when you search in Restaurants/Places than if you search in the relevant Board e.g. if I search on Sea Harbour in Restaurants I get one discussion, but multiple threads in Western Canada? Also I get nothing on Gudrun in Restaurants but hits if I search in Western Canada. Are the databases different?

                                                                                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                        Is this still the case? No stars, no Places?

                                                                                                        1. re: toodie jane

                                                                                                          I'm linking to Places, but not checking off the "review" box. My posts don't feed to the Quick Review box. They do show up in the linked chowhound discussions, if someone scrolls further down. Records that have no reviews show blank stars which looks the same as zero stars. They should say "not rated" or something like that. I have the same issue with the word "reviews" that grayelf expressed above, I don't do reviews.

                                                                                                      2. I just found another glitch. I posted a review about a restaurant within a thread about Connecticut's restaurant week. When prompted for the restaurant's name, I typed in Bricco. That's what I've heard everyone call it--Bricco. Well, it didn't feed the restaurant/places section because the restaurant's full name is "Restaurant Bricco." Any way to try to link the names we type in with what's in the database...maybe a prompt to say, "Did you mean Restaurant Bricco?" (similar to Google when you might misspell while googling)...I even used stars for the first time, but I guess my review went to nowhereland because the name wasn't an exact match. Bummer. I like the idea of how the new functionality *should* work, but thought I'd point out a disconnect. I get that it's user (my!) error, but am guessing it's one that will pop up with some frequency if posters don't peg a restaurant's name exactly.

                                                                                                        Here's the restaurant/place listing sans my review:
                                                                                                        http://www.chow.com/restaurants/47610...

                                                                                                        Here's my review:
                                                                                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6568...

                                                                                                        Bummer they're disconnected.

                                                                                                        1. If this was covered earlier, my apologies...I can't remember seeing it. How do we tell you about a restaurant missing from the database? I posted to a thread about sushi in Litchfield, CT today, but could not "link to a place" because it wasn't in the database: Kawasaki.

                                                                                                          How do we add places?

                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                                            Until there is a better interface, put "a" in the restaruant name and the city and state in the address
                                                                                                            http://search.chow.com/search?query=a...

                                                                                                            At the bottom is the link to add

                                                                                                            It's a little funky because when you add, there's a pop up window, so sometimes you need to scroll up to see it.

                                                                                                            Side note to the mods. As far as the review section of Chow, I was dealing with a situattion in the way it is dealt with on Yelp. The Chow review section is new and how many of the Chowhound rules apply to it is still a bit unclear to me. It is less visible than the boards ... and ... well, a lot of stuff.

                                                                                                            The same info is on Yelp for that restaurant. In fact, I toned it down on Chow. No harm meant.

                                                                                                            To the people in charge of the Restaurant desgn. Are you aware that if someone enters a reveiw from the restaurant page rather than the boards, it is not visible on their profile page. There is no way to see if that person has reviewed anything at all.

                                                                                                            1. re: rworange

                                                                                                              Did somebody fix this or just fix it for Kawasaki, because it works with or without an a in front of kawasaki?

                                                                                                              1. re: Scargod

                                                                                                                [Raises hand]

                                                                                                                It's just fixed for Kawasaki a couple of days ago. It was my practice restaurant for adding a new restaurant. You can't add a restaurant while posting, as in the old system, but you can open a new window/tab, navigate to the Restaurants & Bars screen, and search for the place with as little as necessary to distinguish it from every other restaurant.

                                                                                                                In the above case, search for Kawasaki in Litchfield, CT (or just CT if you're not sure of the exact town or village). If it doesn't show up, click on the "Don't see the restaurant you are looking for? Add a Restaurant or Bar" link, fill out the complete name & complete address, and you're on your way.

                                                                                                                When done, save the new changes, go back to your original posting and add the newly added listing.

                                                                                                          2. As I noted: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6585...
                                                                                                            The database has all the chain (ugh, I hate to say the word in the same breath), "restaurants" listed yet it's missing many Mom and Pop places. This is so wrong!

                                                                                                            We have to create all the great little hole-in-the-walls that Chowhound was based on?

                                                                                                            Why are the chain "restaurants", like McDonald's, in a "Chowhound database" in the first place?

                                                                                                            44 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: Scargod

                                                                                                              Feeling your pain, Scargod, but there is a "Chains" board so I assume that is why such "restaurants" are included. Some of the old favourites are still in there, I've noticed, at least on the board I frequent...

                                                                                                              1. re: grayelf

                                                                                                                As mentioned several times, Chow purchased the list from a data supplier, to whom presumably, restaurants are restaurants, whether McD's or Joe's Eats.

                                                                                                                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                  I guess we will not hear from admin about this. So you purchase a database... Does it mean that you can't edit what's in it? They have edited it by adding Chowhound content to it. They could have deleted the fast food places.
                                                                                                                  You don't need them in the database; they are everywhere and not hard to find!

                                                                                                                  1. re: Scargod

                                                                                                                    I can't imagine how you'd start to go about editing that stuff out. I mean, OK, you take out the obvious ones, McDonalds and the like. But then... do you delete ALL franchises? How about In and Out or 5 Guys, which are chains but have their fans? In an area with no decent Mexican food, Chipotle or Qdoba might pass muster, but in Southern California, you wouldn't want to see those listed along much more worthwhile places. Editing such a database to delete restaurants in order to meet someone's (whose, the engineers? the CHOW editors? the users?) personal standards for chow feels like madness. It's not up to CHOW, or even to the users of this site, to decide for other people what's not worth eating, and editing out franchises would amount to that.

                                                                                                                    Now, I would LOVE a check-box option to to exclude franchises from search results (is there already one? I haven't used it much). I don't mind CHOW giving me the choice to exclude certain restaurants/types of restaurants but I don't see it as CHOW's place to protect me from the very existence of such restaurants.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Chris VR

                                                                                                                      I think the "exclude franchises or chains" check box would suit me fine. I agree that it is near, but not impossible to do. How about if we exclude the ones that have over 100 units?
                                                                                                                      I am upset that Subway heads the list of some of my search results. Seems a lot of what is happening here is blatant selling out of CHowhound's soul.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Scargod

                                                                                                                        Scargod, you are assigning nefarious motives to what amounts to technical issues.

                                                                                                                        I'm not sure what you mean when you use the word 'edited'.

                                                                                                                        Having worked in IT for a few decades I'm guessing this is basically what probably happened.
                                                                                                                        1. They ran a program that added restaurants not in the current database from the newly purchased restaurant database.
                                                                                                                        2. This means that they just kept whatever information that already existed such as neighborhoods, good to know, etc

                                                                                                                        I'm not sure how you are searching to have subway come to the top of the list. The sort order seems to be rated restaurants followed by restaurants that have chowhound discussions attached followed by everything else in no particular order ... which is almost how Yelp default sorts.

                                                                                                                        The purchased database seems to have information as to type of cuisine. So Subway, McDonald's Burger King, etc is pre-loaded as fast food
                                                                                                                        http://search.chow.com/search?query=s...

                                                                                                                        Should there be an option to exclude fast food from searches, there wouldn't be any fuzzy logic deciding if it was fast food that was worthy of your approval. There's no current data that decides what is evil fast food from acceptable.

                                                                                                                        1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                          "Edit" is perhaps a weak choice. Perhaps better, as you said, they "combined" databases.
                                                                                                                          It's full of double and triple duplications with minor differences. OK, I'm not spending all day on this, but I did find a triple listing. That could have been avoided.
                                                                                                                          I'm not sure how Subway came to the top myself. I was searching in New Haven (I believe for Italian), and since there was no price set (since a selection there was excluding some good restaurants), I think that pushed Subway to the top. Why? 'Cause it started with an "S"?
                                                                                                                          I am seeing so many anomalies with searching that I am reluctant to use it and miss what I am looking for.
                                                                                                                          Though I have permission, I have had varying success with editing or marking some restaurants as "duplicate". I could mark them yesterday or the day before, but not today.

                                                                                                                          It doesn't take fuzzy logic. Delete the interstate chains. I never said discern between good and bad, did I? You make that up and escalate the rhetoric by putting words in my mouth. Do you need to do that?
                                                                                                                          I just want to know what new we need to learn about chain food? You've eaten at one, you've eaten at them all. Do we really need to look for them in the database? Do they need to be mixed into search results, as if we don't see enough of their names?

                                                                                                                          I think Jim Leff is channeling me to do his dirty work. First we allow chains to have a section in our church of good food. Now we seem to be promoting and profiting from chains, while we say we worship deliciousness, and all the while saying that we are a discerning, passionate crowd.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Scargod

                                                                                                                            Jim Leff can speak for himself.

                                                                                                                            In fact he did. He didn't want the star ratings you are so enthusiastic about.

                                                                                                                            That is far more damaging to the Chowhound credo than having chain restaurants in the database.

                                                                                                                            What is in it for Chow to remove those? As a corporation how does this benefit the bottom line?

                                                                                                                            Do you speak for anyone else besides yourself?

                                                                                                                            What are you really expecting to happen from these posts here and in other threads?

                                                                                                                            That Chow will suddenly slap themselves in their foreheads and say "why didn't we think of that?" Would you be persuaded by your posts?

                                                                                                                            Do you want Chowhounds to rise up in mass and demand chains to be removed? Damn ... I just want them to fix search and enlarge the print size and fix the application errors.

                                                                                                                            The best way to keep as much of the Chowhound we love is to post about deliciousness ... whatever that might mean to that person.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Scargod

                                                                                                                              FWIW, I have no problem with the "Chains" section. I'm not anti-corporate, I'm anti-sucking. I love Trader Joe's, and am glad to have a place to discuss them. I'm also pretty happy with the pumpkin muffins (seasonal) at Dunkin Donuts and the non-spicy fried chicken at Popeye's. And if, say, Burger King ever came out with something truly delicious, I'd be a deliriously happy hound. 'Cuz I don't necessarily enjoy having to always go so far out of my way to escape mediocrity every single time.

                                                                                                                              As for the inclusion of utter crap in this feature, I see no reason it ought to be filtered. If they remove the chains (losing a couple babies with bathwater, btw), should they also remove really bad places? Is a really sucky chain any worse than a really sucky independent? Is this feature trying to only list really good places, and shield us from the crap?

                                                                                                                              Chowhound's about ignoring suckiness of any sort, and admiring deliciousness wherever it's found. This feature is just another listing of places we ignore and admire.

                                                                                                                              That said, the use of the word "review" in this feature is offensive to me, as a restaurant reviewer. And the star ratings are horrendously insensitive to Chowhound's values and culture, for reasons I've posted here:
                                                                                                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6153...
                                                                                                                              And thecommenting mechanism is an end run around what we're doing here in the first place (not to mention a confusing duplication of effort). And the whole thing is a moderation-resistant magnet for shilly commerciality and ditzy banality. And it will likely have splash-back - as serious hounds grow disgusted and as frivolous trendies attracted by this sort of thing seep into the boards. If that happens, our bond with our users will be lost, and that bond has kept traffic (and press) coming consistently for many years.

                                                                                                                              But you're hung up on chains in the database? Geez, you're choosing an awfully minor fight to pick!

                                                                                                                              1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                                                <<That said, the use of the word "review" in this feature is offensive to me, as a restaurant reviewer.>>

                                                                                                                                Why is that?

                                                                                                                                1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                                                                  A restaurant review is the result of a formal effort to gauge a restaurant in as meticulous, objective, and thorough a way as possible by someone whose job is to do exactly that, and whose professional reputation rests on her/his knowledge and even-handedness. It involves multiple visits, working through entire menus, and a mental attitude that's much more focused on precision and fairness than having a fun night with one's friends. It's a form of journalism - of reporting.

                                                                                                                                  I'm interested in reading how Joe Blow liked his chocolate pudding, and getting useful food tips from folks out there who are working to ferrett out deliciousness. But, as Melanie Wong notes, above, that's not "reviewing". It's neither better nor worse than reviews...just an entirely different thing.

                                                                                                                                  And, yes, I'm aware that many professional reviewers do a crappy job, and fail to live up to the standard I've described. But that still doesn't mean one-off reports from random web surfers about last night's supper constitute "reviews".

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                                                    I didn't realize the term "restaurant review" carried such a formal meaning to some folks, any more than the term "book review" (or "book report" from our school days) would. There are many people on this site whose opinions on food--and writing!--I respect and value far more than many "journalists" who write reviews for local papers, at least for the papers in my area. I dare say there are those among us who attempt to do exactly what you describe, but out of pure love for doing so, not for money...and not dictated by who advertises in the local paper or magazine, I might add. So while I understand what you're saying, I think a review is still a review...just by way of dictionary definition, if nothing else. I can think of two Chowhounds in particular--one who is a newcomer and one who has been around for some time as far as I can tell. Their accounts of meals they've eaten are on a par with, if not superior to, "restaurant reviews" I've read. I won't embarrass them by announcing their names, but to somehow think they are less worthy of the term "review" is wrong, in my opinion.

                                                                                                                                    If you're saying someone with an axe to grind about last night's lasagna isn't a "review"--OK, maybe not. But alternatively, what should they be called? Opinions? I'd say getting hung up on the word "review" is maybe not worth being offended about.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                                                                      Your request for "opinions" will summon an extraordinarily off-topic drift in a thread that's actually pretty important. Maybe we could discuss this somewhere else?

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                                                        Oh, let me clarify. By "Opinions?" I was offering what could possibly be an alternative to calling something a restaurant review--and wasn't really serious in offering "Opinions" as a substitute. I'm a food lover, not a food fighter and I come in peace. No need to carry on with this topic from my perspective. Just thought I'd let you know what I meant.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                                                                          Ok, gotcha. No problem with argument (ever) btw; I'm just hoping not to derail this already sprawling thread!

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                                                            I do admit that when I saw this rather prominent banner ad across the top of the Chowhound page today I was a little taken aback - recalling the "purity" of the old days on this site - http://www1.mcdonalds.com/angus/

                                                                                                                                2. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                                                  I agree you cannot selectively start eliminating independents or even small, independent state chain restaurants from the database because someone thinks they are bad.
                                                                                                                                  I'm not even saying all chains are bad. I think if you read all my comments, I generally speak of cookie cutter mediocrity where Chowhounds have nothing new to learn or share. They are supposed to all be the same. We are bombarded daily by their commercials. So, most of them have little or nothing to do with the Chowhound credo. I think all of the information about chains should be in a different area. And what would be wrong with manually filtering it out of your search?
                                                                                                                                  I wanted a Yelp-like searchable database. I never asked for ratings and duplication. I agree, given the track record so far, that the Restaurant and Bar area is very likely to be problematic.
                                                                                                                                  I think I pick plenty of fights on here... and I don't think I am hung up on the chains issue; I have taken a stand. I think the photos issue is a mess and the general reliability of the site sucks. I tried repeatedly to use the review and linking feature and the restaurant update feature this morning and failed, or had incredible problems getting things to load.
                                                                                                                                  I contribute to this site regularly and know others that do as well. There's a lot to be unhappy about. We've gone off on the Restaurant-Bar area tangent and it seems half-baked. The site doesn't work very well. Seems they should have fixed the other problems before creating new ones.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                                                    I can tell you that my scan of "quick reviews" that have posted directly via the Restaurants & Bars user interface to the R&B records for the SF Bay Area shows they are largely from the taste bud-impaired of the "yummo" school. I'm pretty disgusted that these comments can stand side-by-side with earnest reports fed from the chowhound boards, but are "protected" from vetting by those with better taste because there is no way to track postiing activity to R&B. Those plus the many restaurant shills (yes, I do go to the trouble of sending an email to the mods as there's no report button), makes the ratings there totally useless.

                                                                                                                                    I do think that there should be an option for viewing maps or search results WITHOUT the chains crowding out more interesting places. Here's the map of every McDonald's in the country and it's pretty dense. It would cover up the local operators that we're trying to find.
                                                                                                                                    http://www.good.is/post/map-of-every-...
                                                                                                                                    Chow spent a lot of money trying to improve the mapping function so that we can search for spots near landmarks, etc., and I want to be able to use it Starbucks and McDs-free. Otherwise, what's the point.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                      Chow spent a lot of money on the mapping function? Seriously? As far as I can tell about 50% or more of Manhattan restaurants show up on their maps as being in Brooklyn. If they paid a lot of money for this, then they got seriously scammed.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                        thanks melanie

                                                                                                                                        i hadn't even bothered mentioning the shills because that concern has become ...what's below tertiary?....to the folks in charge. oh well. what hl mencken said.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: david sprague

                                                                                                                                          Hi David, long time no talk to. I think that this change to the user interface in Restaurants & Bars has shown us that implementing an overly easy to post and run type of Yelp-like UI attacts Yelp-like posters and shills. Can we end this experiment and do something that attracts more chow-ish posters?

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                            Melanie, just to clarify for the sake of those reading along, when you say "more chow-ish posters", what exactly do you mean?

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                                                              Simple. Contributors who are more discerning about what they put in their mouths. Posters who aren't distracted by the latest shiny object rolled out by the hype machine. Eaters who find their own path to deliciousness instead of piling on with "me too's".

                                                                                                                                              The Chowhound Manifesto defines the "chowhound-ish poster" better than I can.
                                                                                                                                              http://www.chow.com/manifesto

                                                                                                                                              I'd also like to clarify that I'm totally in favor of feeding content from the message boards to the R&B format to make it easier for casual readers to find and increase the number of eyeballs on the site. But I think it is a huge strategic mistake and a threat to the Chow.com and Chowhound brands to continue with a user-interface that collects comments on the R&B quick review sections in a duplicate space. I think the "quick review" section that included only postings fed from the chowhound community would be a unique and differentiated product. Intermingling content from shills and passers-by dilutes the focus and value, and degrades the brands to commodity status.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                                >>> I think the "quick review" section that included only postings fed from the chowhound community would be a unique and differentiated product. Intermingling content from shills and passers-by dilutes the focus and value, and degrades the brands to commodity status.

                                                                                                                                                I think that is a WONDERFUL idea.

                                                                                                                                                Have the submit button have the same function as "Start your own discussion link". That is, have it take the poster to the board.

                                                                                                                                                I've reported one too many restaurants giving themselves five star reviews. Something like this would be caught easily by Chowhounds. It is only the luck of what I'm searching for that these are turning up.

                                                                                                                                                Also it solves the problem where these reviews don't show up on the posters My Chow page.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                  "Have the submit button have the same function as "Start your own discussion link". That is, have it take the poster to the board."

                                                                                                                                                  As the Chow staffers have mentioned, this needs to be thought through carefully. Such as, do we want to have many new topics started about the same restaurant? Does it help the community to have shills and random posters make it to the boards?

                                                                                                                                                  They had said they're taking a wait and see, giving the feature some time to gauge how it's being used first. I don't like what I see now, but I'm not sure what the next step should be.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                                    My feeling is that if CNET/CBS needs to do this for business reasons, I'm all for it. They need to make a profit or else all this will go away.

                                                                                                                                                    I wish they'd created it more carefully, though. And to answer your question, it would be tremendously dilutive to direct these people to the message boards.

                                                                                                                                                    What Chowhound has going for itself is the knowledge and passion of its user base. It's vastly higher level than at competing sites, and that's where we get our traffic, press, and reputation. It's not from marketing (there's been none), it's from word of mouth about the quality of our data. Lots of thought and effort went into recruiting the unique community that contributes that data.

                                                                                                                                                    Change that formula by streaming in a flow of users with very different cultural attitudes, and that knowledge, passion, and traffic can be lost. And entropy is not reversible. So it's critical that we protect and conserve this culture.

                                                                                                                                                2. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                                  I must admit that I am not feeling good about the Restaurant section. I am from Toronto. I have been an active member of Chowhound for a long time, judging by my member number, hahaha. I took a look at the restaurant section the other day and noticed that several restaurants that have received many questionable reviews on Chowhound boards (all of which I had eaten at and felt were not worth a return visit) had 5 star ratings by a single poster in the restaurant section. I felt compelled to "review" and assign a star rating to one of them because it bothered me to think that others may head to the destination thinking that they were in for something special. Today, I took another peek, and I find that there are quite a few restaurants that have reviews posted by "members" who have only ever made one post to Chowhound, obvious shills. Take a look at the review for Angelo's Hot Table, and you'll see what I mean. I can't locate a "report" button, and it seems to me very unwise... While I love posting to Chowhound, because it's a conversation, I am not keen on posting reviews, and I suspect a large number of active members are of the same mind, though I could be wrong. What is happening now, though, is that the shills are ruling the reviews, and that might ruin its chances of ever achieving credibility... Just my thoughts.

                                                                                                                                                  http://www.chow.com/restaurants/14611...

                                                                                                                                                  Edit: While there may be problems with such a thing, I think it might be worthwhile considering whether a member needs to have made a minimum number of posts to Chowhound before they are able to contribute reviews. That would make it more plausible to me, anyway.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Full tummy

                                                                                                                                                    You can always email the mods about what appear to be shiil reports. I've done that with a few.

                                                                                                                                                    I'll say this again.

                                                                                                                                                    I would guess the star rating will never be removed.

                                                                                                                                                    I continue to enter my reports through the boards so that there can be a discussion and I can edit my report for up to two hours.

                                                                                                                                                    However, I always click the review box and enter star ratings when I do a report.

                                                                                                                                                    When Chowhounds don't do that the credible reports don't appear in the review section. And quite frankly, screw the "dig deeper' section. It doesn't work.

                                                                                                                                                    If you don't enter stars then it those 'reviews' get skewed to the shills and vacuous.

                                                                                                                                                    Also, it doesn't provide examples in that section to newbies of what a credible report looks like. There's just the yelp-like crap.

                                                                                                                                                    I am probably wrong, but IMO it is better to work with an undesireable situation and somehow make it a little better.

                                                                                                                                                    One thing I would like to say to Chow. I knew from the first mention of stars this would be a permanent feature.

                                                                                                                                                    However, it would seem to me it would cost Chow nothing and gain some good will ... and maybe increased use by some Chowhounds... to change the word 'review' to 'report'

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                      Thanks! I guess I'll just have to e-mail the mods, but hitting report is so much more convenient. And thanks also for the info about using the review box from Chowhound.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                        >I am probably wrong, but IMO it is better to work with an undesirable situation and somehow make it a little better.

                                                                                                                                                        No, I think you're probably right, and when I see users like you doing that I'm inspired to try to do the same.

                                                                                                                                                        But the Chow powers-that-be are ratcheting up the undesirableness with every new under-baked release. They need to realize that all users have an undesirableness limit. In time, once the site has exceeded it, we'll stop bothering.

                                                                                                                                              2. re: david sprague

                                                                                                                                                David Sprague said:
                                                                                                                                                "i hadn't even bothered mentioning the shills because that concern has become ...what's below tertiary?....to the folks in charge. oh well. what hl mencken said "

                                                                                                                                                -----------------
                                                                                                                                                David, if by "the folks in charge", you're referring to CNET/CBS, I'd suggest you're not in a position to gauge their concerns...only to complain about the results of their decisions (complaints I obviously share).

                                                                                                                                                But if "the folks in charge" refers to our mostly volunteer crew of moderators (who've found themselves charged with the impossible task of keeping this feature as authentic and useful as they've - miraculously - managed to keep the Chowhound discussion), you could not possibly be more wrong. No one on God's green earth cares more and works harder to ensure the honesty and authenticity of what goes on here than they do. They have considerable sweat and pride invested in it.

                                                                                                                                                I was mortified to see them publicly put on the line for the upkeep of this poorly conceived feature. While discussion board moderation is difficult and thankless enough, this latest is nothing less than a set-up to failure. So, for heavens sake, don't blame the mods if/when it doesn't work out.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                                                                  thank you for the reply Jim, and i didn't mean to use a broad brush -- but i clearly did -- in my complaint. i have had a few experiences lately -- not going to rehash them here, that'd be petty -- that prompted me to toss off that comment.

                                                                                                                                                  i obviously still value the forum, but find myself vexed by elements of its evolution -- not growth qua growth, and not "newbies" (passing info to someone who genuinely shares a passion is a true joy). i do note a drastic uptick in, to be polite, "practitioners of stealth advertising," and an occasionally lax attutide towards said practice.

                                                                                                                                                  apologies to anyone i offended.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: david sprague

                                                                                                                                                    If you spot shilling problems, use the "Report" button. Please! The moderators absolutely count on this sort of help, as it's impossible for them to catch every problem. And we all have a staked interest in seeing at least these message boards remain as honest as possible. Better to be part of the solution than to complain about the problem! :)

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                                                                      However, as a person with a writing-oriented background, it's bothering me that every person with half an ounce of writing skills immediately gets branded as a shill around here. We don't want people to be too fluffy and shallow but we jump on them if they're too smart too. Not directing this to anyone on this thread, but just the site overall- is it really that hard to believe that there are people who can write well and aren't shills?! I mean, sure, report people if they look fishy so the moderators can investigate it, but does every newbie have to be greeted with varying degrees of suspicion and calls to prove their sincerity? Would WE have stuck around if we'd all been met with that kind of welcome? We complain that the site is not as good as it used to be in "the good old days". I worry that our concern as a community that we're being infiltrated by stealth advertisers has made us so suspicious and unwelcoming of every new poster with an interesting thought or tip that we're self-enforcing a clique mentality, ensuring that all we get to hear is each other say the same stuff over and over again to the same people who won't challenge us or offer a contradictory opinion.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Chris VR

                                                                                                                                                        as a writer with many years of magazine and newspaper experience, i always appreciate someone who's well-spoken and articulate.

                                                                                                                                                        i am suspicious of someone who registers an account simply to say that a newly opened restaurant is the best of its kind anywhere in the world, hands down. or, conversely, that a well-regarded place is guaranteed to give visitors food poisoning because large rodents are not only in the kitchen, but actually involved in preparing the chow.

                                                                                                                                                        they're easy to spot, and sometimes quite amusing. but more often, they're just plain tiresome.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: david sprague

                                                                                                                                                          Well like I said, I wasn't speaking to anyone on this thread. But I see it a lot, and I'm not talking about the people who post "Eat at Joe's is the best deli anywhere in the entire world, hands down!" I think we can all agree that's very likely someone with a bias. But I do see people who seem well spoken and sincere and yet get the first degree simply because they're a newbie with a strong opinion- positive or negative.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Chris VR

                                                                                                                                                            No one should get the first degree, whether they're actual shills or not. If users have suspicions, even if they're not at all sure, using "report a post" is the way to go. No hard feelings if anyone gets it wrong. More reports are better, and less public accusation is better, as well.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Chris VR

                                                                                                                                                              I believe the correct literary reference would be "third degree", not "first degree"... Chortle.

                                                                                                                                                              Don't you just hate smart ass nitpickers. ;-)

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ChinoWayne

                                                                                                                                                                What we have here is "smart ass nitpicking" in the first degree.... ;-D>

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                                  Yup, that's me, a smart ass nitpicker of the first degree, everybody has to have *some* type of talent. Now if I could just figure out how to make some money out of it, instead of being just an aggravation to people...

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ChinoWayne

                                                                                                                                                                    "Now if I could just figure out how to make some money out of it, instead of being just an aggravation to people..."

                                                                                                                                                                    If that were the case I would have a bank account rivaling Sergey Brin's and you would be right there with Larry Page...

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: ChinoWayne

                                                                                                                                                                  Perhaps he meant first degree... a hand slap?
                                                                                                                                                                  Often I am curious whether a first-time poster will respond to me if I ask a question. Invariably NOT if I think they are a shill. Still, sometimes, their post remains... and my question does not!

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Scargod

                                                                                                                                                                    that's the litmus test, for sure.

                                                                                                                                                                    if someone registers an account to say "restaurant x serves the best meatballs within 300 miles," and it's a brand new place, i'll ask 'so where did you get amazing meatballs before this manna fell from heaven?'

                                                                                                                                                                    anyone sincere will have a reply. a shill will walk away having done his or her duty.

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Chris VR

                                                                                                                                                              Chris, true, but the important thing is that as long as people use the "report" button to vent their suspicions, it doesn't matter whether they're over-eager in their assessments or not. The moderators will have a look.

                                                                                                                                                              The big problem is when people air their suspicions publicly. That leads to disruption and flames, whether their assessments are correct or not.

                                                                                                                                                              So, by all means, everybody, if you have any suspicions, just use that "report" system. The mod team will then investigate and make a call.

                                                                                                                                3. I think "Don't Miss" is a dopey option to include in the "Features" section. It's completely subjective. I'd anticipate that some people would click that box, bot others will unclick it. I'd leave the editorializing to the reviews section.

                                                                                                                                  However, eating at places that source their ingredients locally is really important to me, and I'ld like to see that added as a feature.

                                                                                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chris VR

                                                                                                                                    I agree.

                                                                                                                                    I thought about it in terms of being in a tourist area like SF where there's often the question "What are the don't miss restaurants?" Today's don't miss spot is tommorrow's avoid at all cost restaurant. Even in answers to that question in a single topic the opinions vary.

                                                                                                                                    One other fix that would be nice is to change the date opened to allow less that the full date. Often I know the month and year a new place opened,but not the day. I'm guessing that this field is to flag new restaurants, but it would also be nice to allow year only. Many restaurant note the year they opened as in .... "since 1945" Now I'm defaulting the month and day to '01/01' if I don't know. If I don't know opened day, I make it the first day of the month.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Chris VR

                                                                                                                                      HA HA--I've clicked "Don't Miss" frequently since the new functionality appeared. Hey, I only say it about my favorite places. ;) I agree it's subjective, but I also like to think I know what I'm talking about and most hounds would agree with what I think shouldn't be missed. But I do know what you mean.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                                                                        Question is, are you planning to go back to each of those and uncheck "don't miss" when one of your favorites goes downhill (god forbid)?

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                          I'm a fairly frequent flyer here on my local board. God forbid (esp. as some of my local favorites have been on my own list for years) should anyone downslide, you betcha...I would definitely uncheck and click save. Knock wood, I don't think that day will come. Should you ever come to Middletown, CT, check some of my "don't miss" places and let me know if you disagree. :)

                                                                                                                                          1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                                                                            I grew up in Waterbury, CT and have relatives all over the state, so I'm familiar with Middletown as well. I realize the restaurant scene in small cities like Wtby isn't as dynamic as larger metro areas. Some restaurants I went to as a child are still in business and are as good today as when I grew up.

                                                                                                                                            But even then, there is nothing to stop someone whose tastes differ from yours going through and unchecking all the boxes you checked.

                                                                                                                                            It isn't like the other boxes where either a place has a parking lot or doesn't. Maybe romatic might be different to some, but it is still not as subject to personal taste as don't miss.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                              Oh, I realize that. More power to whoever wants to do it. It is kind of a funny field.

                                                                                                                                              Far as I can tell, few people locally (on my home board) put the time and effort in, so maybe my humble little "Don't miss" checks will be less likely to change than they would if I were in a larger metro area.

                                                                                                                                              What's more important to me personally are that hours/days open can be entered...and I like being able to do this to draw attention to small, hole-in-the wall joints that don't have websites. I want to make sure my local mom & pops have staying power even if my silly checkmarks don't. ;)

                                                                                                                                              Edit: You didn't grow up in Town Plot, by chance, did you?

                                                                                                                                              1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                What is your point?
                                                                                                                                                I have asked who is overseeing this area. Is it going to be even close to a Wiki scenario? Will Moderators oversee it? It doesn't seem like it will be based on any average of inputs.
                                                                                                                                                Some of these check boxes or data fields may not matter much, but the subjective ones sure could be fought over.
                                                                                                                                                Is management ever going to shed any light on this? Where are they are going with it or how is it going to work?

                                                                                                                                      2. OK, what the h*** does 'Improved Photo Upload' mean?

                                                                                                                                        The display of previously uploaded images is EVEN WORSE than before. See the menus for this place: http://www.chow.com/restaurants/4827/...
                                                                                                                                        Talk about useless. Are we missing something?

                                                                                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: DiveFan

                                                                                                                                          Strongly agree - we need the larger display restored. Here's another example of a scanned menu that was legible before the redesign. Now it's worthless ... http://www.chow.com/restaurants/56098...

                                                                                                                                          Here's another photo issue: On one record (http://www.chow.com/restaurants/39700...) I added pictures and credited them to the restaurant's web site. For the top photo, which has no caption, the credit displays properly. For the two food shots, which do have captions, the correct credits are dropped and the photos are credited instead to the user who posted them (me in this case).

                                                                                                                                          Also: I can't figure out how to edit or delete photos or photo info. We need to be able to make changes, remove duplicate pics, etc.

                                                                                                                                          Several of these bugs (and a number of others) were raised during beta testing, but the subsequent redesign didn't fix them. Are these issues still on someone's to-do list for a future release?

                                                                                                                                          1. re: DiveFan

                                                                                                                                            These don't even expand to a reasonable size. WYSIWYG! Documents are problematic, even at 520 X 390 (the max Chowhound allows). Unless contrasty and starting with a good, sharp image, you can just forget about reading anything.This attempt, http://www.chow.com/photos/280721, with a good camera is only legible on the best of monitors, and even then it is difficult. The software squeezes the life out of the pictures as it is. They don't need to get smaller or not have the ability to expand a thumbnail to the 520 X 390 at least.
                                                                                                                                            I'd suggest people post their menu shots (if restaurant webpage links or pdf of menu is not available), elsewhere on the internet, like on Flickr or in the case of really wanting detail and legibility, http://www.closr.it/

                                                                                                                                            1. re: DiveFan

                                                                                                                                              Thanks for confirming that, as we've said in the IT business, it is .....
                                                                                                                                              Broken As Designed

                                                                                                                                              IIRC my long lost suggestion was to Not try to display images inline, but to use a Pop Up Viewer or a new image only page. Lightly compressed 800h x 600v JPEG images require minimal storage and shouldn't require further manipulation by the chow.com image mangling engine.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: DiveFan

                                                                                                                                                "chow.com image mangling engine." Cute. Stir and reduce until muddy!

                                                                                                                                                1. re: DiveFan

                                                                                                                                                  As far as I'm concerned, the image feature has never been worth using at the ridiculous max size of 520 X 390. Good (large) image presentation is common technology. For some reason this team either doesn't know or care how to do good image presentation.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Mick Ruthven

                                                                                                                                                    Perhaps, but the real issue is that they mush down, squeeze the life out of or mangle an image by reducing the file content to a paltry 30Kb or so. At 520 X 390 it is a blurry excuse for an image.
                                                                                                                                                    Think about it: You are allowed to upload up to 2Meg! That's 500 K per image! Let's just say you submit four images. That 500Kb image gets compressed (or blurred), to 30-35Kb when it could be 5-10 times sharper!

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Scargod

                                                                                                                                                      I agree, but to me even fixing that would leave the max size ridiculously small, an even more basic issue.

                                                                                                                                                      Here's an example of what's available in displaying images. Note that the image fills the available screen space (up to the original size of the uploaded image).

                                                                                                                                                      http://ruthvenphotos.com/gallery/oliv...

                                                                                                                                              2. Let's talk "Italian". I type in "Italian" and "New Haven, CT". I get 25 listings; ALL in New Haven. What happened to "near"? Some are pizza places.
                                                                                                                                                If I add "restaurant" to "italian" I only get 9 results, all listings have the word "restaurant" in their name.
                                                                                                                                                If I type "italian food" (and still have the location as New Haven, CT), I get seven, very mixed businesses as far away as 40 miles! NOW WE'RE TALKING NEAR! Why is it now working?

                                                                                                                                                I see that the advanced search options area has options of "Italian", "deli" and "pizza". Why, if I have already entered "Italian" do I have to do that again?
                                                                                                                                                Using the advanced choices I got two less (23), if I select Italian, and only one if I select pizza!

                                                                                                                                                If I type in "deli" I get 39. If I then select "deli" I get 37 listings. If I type in "delicatessen" I get two...

                                                                                                                                                What's with "near"? If I put in "New Haven" it usually doesn't work. If I put in the zip code it does work and (as in my first example), I now get 42 listings; some outside New Haven.

                                                                                                                                                Will we ever get a guide sticky or FAQ?
                                                                                                                                                The search feature sure seems to have some quirkiness and anomalies to me. This is a restaurant search engine isn't it? Shouldn't some things be a given and shouldn't some common words not be restrictive?

                                                                                                                                                1. I have not read this entire thread, but here is a problem I came across today. I was searching, through google, for a certain type of mexican meat in Houston. It sent my to Chow.com, under the restaurants, to a place named Tony's Tacos. Yes, that is a place in Houston, but all of the discussions linked to that place were from a restaurant in El Paso. They serve a "Tony's Tacos" dish with the meat I was looking for. Can those be removed from the Houston restaurant and put into the El Paso restaurant (which is not named Tony's)?

                                                                                                                                                  1. Just like the complaints that the tiny images in the restaurants & bars area are are unfit for menus, they are unfit for trying to read almost all text. Sometimes you can't even make out text on the exterior sign on a restaurant. EX: http://www.chow.com/restaurants/10853...

                                                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Scargod

                                                                                                                                                      will this be used as a profit model? sold to other outlets? if so, i am done here. i am a professional writer, and i do not donate my services -- even to non profits like CBS. will miss posting but i draw the line when it comes to making donations to multi billion dollar corps. that's why i am not a scientologist!

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: david sprague

                                                                                                                                                        David, are you replying to the OP or to Scargod? I'm not following your comment unless you're referring to the restaurants section in general--is that what you meant?

                                                                                                                                                        Don't you think we are all "donating our services" here--whether it's our recipes, general tips or our commentary on restaurants?

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                                                                                          i have been part of the chowhound community for well over a decade, and while i cannot say i was one of the very first folks here, i remember when it was actually a *community*, one where someone could suggest a get together and be able to meet up with just about every person whose name was really recognizable from their posts.

                                                                                                                                                          as such, i am still willing to post and share, even given the big sprawling nature of the current site. what i am NOT willing to do is provide "content" that CBS can repackage and sell at a profit to other outlets, and that's exactly what this twittery, dumbed down feature seems to be.

                                                                                                                                                          as a reviewer of a different medium, i have to agree with jim. there's a huge difference between really examining a restaurant or movie or piece of music and putting together a well reasoned critique and simply logging on to say "the clams sucked but the waiter was cute....so i give it a B-plus.' maybe that makes me an old fogey who actually respects the thought process but that's life.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: david sprague

                                                                                                                                                            I hope, speaking for myself, if I were to be flip and only say, "the clams sucked and the waitress did too", that the audience might realize that I have some creds, have been a presence for a while, and would not be dismissive of me even if it is not my usual style. It is when posters have little creds, and say things like your example, to which I promptly dismiss their comment and wish it were not posted.
                                                                                                                                                            Regarding good writers, not so much good writers and shills, I think when someone writes too well, even sounds professional, like in an ad, includes too much menu detail or restaurant detail and is 90 percent "positive" (because 100% positive would/should be a giveaway), and then recommends the place (or that you SHOULD drive an hour to go there... then they probably are a shill. I love a good writer. Those without an agenda on here are rare.
                                                                                                                                                            There are those who don't want to say anything negative about a restaurant or their experience, which I find odd... but that's their prerogative. They still don't come off as an advertisement for the place.

                                                                                                                                                    2. This is just wrong. If one word in a posting matches one word in a "restaurant", a link from that posting word is automatically created to the (usually wrong) place that contains that word. Is nobody minding the store here?

                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply