HOME > Chowhound > Site Talk >


Private Messages


Why, why, why is there no way of contacting another user? I searched for this topic and found threads regarding this site not being used for promotional purposes, but... Seriously, this is just kind of ridiculous.

All I want is to ask a particular user a question about a recipe they posted in a thread. The thread is from 2008, so I don't think posting there will be of much help to me. The user still appears to be active on this site, but there is no way for me to get them a message, other than starting a thread or responding to one in which they've posted, then cross my fingers that they'll happen to see it. This is ridiculous and stupid and inconvenient.

  1. When a response is made, even on an old thread, it brings the thread up to the top of the "My CHOW" page of any user who participated on that thread, so it's not as unlikely as you seem to think it is that they'll see your post. Plus, if you have a question, chances are others reading along either may have the same question, or had it and figured it out. So post your question on the recipe... there's nothing to lose and you'll probably be doing a favor to others!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Chris VR

      Thanks, guess I'll try that... i just figured that people might tend to ignore necro'ed topics.

    2. This isn't a dating site. The purpose of Chowhound isn't to facilitate one-on-one hookups, but to provide information about good chow to the entire community. The issue has been discussed to death; just type "private message" in the search box. You don't have to like the policy, but it's there for a reason, it's been in place for a long time, and it isn't going to change just because you complain about it.

      If you really want to get in touch with people off the boards, then yes, you're going to have to - gasp! - post your email in a public place on the internet. But seriously, it's not like having a published telephone number, where people can interrupt your dinner. You can always alter the format a little to prevent spiders from picking it up and/or open a separate email account that you can abandon if things don't go to your liking. If that's too ridiculous and stupid and inconvenient for you, well...

      5 Replies
      1. re: alanbarnes

        All right, sorry. I did search "private message" (or a similar term) and did not think I saw any pertinent results, but I guess I didn't look hard enough before posting. I still disagree with the policy but I'll shut up if it's already been discussed to death.

        I wouldn't have bothered to complain in the first place except that Chow is a site I enjoy and use a lot. When I like a site I tend to assume that they ought to know if one of their features (or lack thereof) is causing their users frustration.

        1. re: sonia darrow

          Just want to echo Chris VR -- if you have a question, chances are other have too, and it makes sense to post a query. If you're afraid that some people don't read threads that are several years old, you could start a fresh one -- it's important and useful that issues get revived from time to time, be discussed from different angles by different people.

          In such scenarios, a private message benefits 1 person, whereas posting a query where anyone could answer (and some could provide better answers that the original poster that inspired a question) benefits everyone. Sharing is an important feature of the site, and I would encourage you and everyone to post chowhoundish questions as much as possible.

          1. re: sonia darrow

            No apology necessary, and I'm sorry if I sounded snippy. You tried to find the answer and it didn't pop up. What else are you supposed to do?

            One of my main complaints about the site is its atrocious search feature. Doing the search myself, the relevant threads do not show up on the first page of results unless "Sort By / Relevance" is selected in "Search Options." And since the default search options aren't automatically visible on the search page, it's easy enough to miss relevant threads.

            For future reference, third-party search engines are often far better at searching the site than the resident software. Try Googling "private message site:chow.com."

            1. re: alanbarnes

              I only recently started searching CH using google and it's SO much better, isn't it?

              1. re: alanbarnes

                Good call, I think I will use Google in the future. I hadn't really thought about it, but now that you mention it I never do seem to find relevant results using Chow's search--and the site is so extensive that I always just KNOW that what I'm looking for must be there somewhere.

          2. Please institute a personal messaging function. This is a pretty common feature in many current bulletin board software packages. I've been posting on this site for ~10 years and it has always amazed me this feature hasn't been added.

            Given the tight limits placed on even slightly off-topic posts on this site, personal messaging would make life a lot more convenient and enjoyable for many Chowhounds.

            While you are at it, a polling function would be fun too!

            22 Replies
            1. re: Tir_na_nOg

              I give. What would a "polling function" do for us here on CH? Not familiar with the term.

              1. re: Tir_na_nOg

                Why don't you create an email address for your use on CH? Put it in your profile. Then you can ask someone to email you. The mods are quite tolerant of that. I think the current system is fine.

                1. re: c oliver

                  If you ever spend much time on a board that has a PM function, you might be more open to how much more convenient it is. I don't know about you, but many of us don't need one more e-mail address that we don't have time to check (I have 6 or 7, plus all the ones I've forgotten the addresses/passwords for over the years!), or desire to post our e-mail addresses online (I've recently started removing all of my personal information online, including my photo from Chowhound). However, I don't want to debate it. I just wanted to share my opinion with the owners of this website.

                  According to Wikipedia's "Internet Forum" page: "Most forums implement an opinion poll system for threads. Most implementations allow for single-choice or multi-choice (sometimes limited to a certain number) when selecting options as well as private or public display of voters. Polls can be set to expire after a certain date or in some cases after a number of days from its creation. Members vote in a poll and a statistic is displayed graphically."

                  It's just another way we can communicate with each other and express our opinions. I'm sure the Chowhounders would find creative ways to use it.

                  For example, we could have a poll on whether Chowhounders would like a personal messaging function...

                  1. re: Tir_na_nOg

                    The biggest problem I see with PM function on this site (aside from being bombarded by unwanted PMs) would be the loss of information sharing. Tips, questions, opinions, etc would be shared on a PM that no one else could see - That's not what this site is about.

                    The current system is fine.

                    1. re: hannaone

                      I'm in total agreement with you and c oliver. This site is about drilling down into the nuances of food and restaurants. I didn't even agree with the addition of the star system that was implemented a while back, so the addition of another feature that shows raw "poll statistics" leaves me cold. And adding a PM function will not further the prime mission of Chowhound; to find delicious food. There are plenty of other sites that allow users to chat about whatever is on their minds, if that is of interest to them. Let not fix what isn't broken.

                      1. re: Servorg

                        I think my main objection to polling is the same one I have to the "star" system that was implemented. it feels like something that's intended to be used to determine the official distillation of opinion here, and I think that's just not what this site is about. Chowhound isn't about saying "X has the best pizza" and offering numbers to back it up. It's about saying that people's tastes differ, and what's good for me isn't good for you, but if we all offer our opinions with as much detail as possible, we can share our knowledge and help each other find the chow that's right for us.

                    2. re: Tir_na_nOg

                      jfood treasures his privacy and would very much oppose any PM or rating system. rmember one of the sub-mantras on CH is review the food, not the poster. Voting is against this sub-mantra.

                      Likwise if someone REALLY wants to contact someone they can ask the Mods to forward on the registered log in email address of the pster.

                      it ain;t broke, don;t fix it.

                      1. re: Tir_na_nOg

                        Polling. Great. If we were to ask everybody in America to name the best restaurant in the country, The Cheesecake Factory would be a serious contender. Chowhound isn't about conventional wisdom or polls or the lowest common denominator. It's about finding good food, even if it's a little obscure or inaccessible. The reductionism inherent in polling (and star ratings, too) are antithetical to that goal.

                    3. re: Tir_na_nOg

                      Not to speak for The Powers That Be, but the reason a PM function has never been added is not because nobody's thought of it, or that implementation would be difficult. Private messaging has been considered **and rejected** as antithetical to the expressed purpose of the site.

                      The basic "Posting Etiquette" sticky found at the top of many boards says, "Please don't ask Chowhound users to reply to your postings via email. Email feeds one chowhound, whereas public discussion feeds the whole pack!" Why do you think private messages would be viewed any differently?

                      1. re: alanbarnes

                        I suspect that several of you who have replied do not spend much time on Internet forums that do have a PM function, since your criticisms do not reflect how this feature tends to be used in actual practice.

                        Take erobertparker.com (the largest Internet wine board), which I follow. In my experience, PMs are used to communicate things that are not appropriate for public posting. These include organizing the details of "off-lines" (the equivalent of Chowdowns, which I know from weekly experience are needlessly tedious here), off-topic personal communications between people you have only met online, etc. They are not used for commercial purposes, since to do so results in account deletion. PMs also do not result in less public communications, since the whole reason people sign up for a websites like this is to read and exchange opinions with a large audience.

                        More avenues of communication are better than less. Don't knock it until you try it.

                        1. re: Tir_na_nOg

                          Er, if you look at Alan's profile, you'll see his email address is there. That's about as "more" as you can get, isn't it?

                          1. re: Tir_na_nOg

                            I personally spend a lot of time on sites with PM systems, so I am more than familiar with them. For the sites that have them, they are appropriate. For all the reasons mentioned here, they would reduce the effectiveness of this site which is to spread information about food to the largest group possible and not between two people.

                            One downside you don't mention about PM systems is how mean they can get. Cliques form. Informal ostrisizing of forum members goes on.

                            1. re: rworange

                              Right, on the meanness.. although public meanness is probably not a lot more acceptable. :(

                              I had the same question as sonia and Tir, and I did the same honest looking and was pointed to this thread. o_O The hippie in me is crying out to the Golden Rule Goddess for a nudge in a nicer direction.

                              You can't correct someone's typo or the mods will delete a post (understandable) but it's reasonable and allowable to tease and taunt and mock someone else's questions?

                              I don't mean this to be directed at anyone in particular, but as a newer 'hound who doesn't know all the ropes, this is something that's bothered me a lot. This is a place to learn, isn't it?

                              1. re: WhatThePho

                                "but it's reasonable and allowable to tease and taunt and mock someone else's questions?"

                                No, it's not alright. If you see that happening and,if the MOD (moderator on duty) agrees, it will be deleted. It's happened often enough to a lot of us - the being deleted, that is :)

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    We don't really have a MOD. We're a team of moderators, who pitch in as we can and where we can. This means we often don't have a chance to read every post on the site. It really helps us when posters use the "Report" link to call our attention to a post that may be problematic.

                                    1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                      Sorry, I mis-typed and left out the words (If you see that happening) "report it." MOD is a term of endearment :) All I meant is that I don't perceive that there's a "committee" that convenes at times. Report it and a decision will be made. Wow. c oliver wasn't wordy enough. THAT doesn't happen very often, does it?!?

                                1. re: rworange

                                  I'm not really sure how a PM system could lead to people being any meaner than they've been to the OP in this thread (and everyone else arguing for a PM system). Calling anyone who thinks the PM system is a good idea juvenile and with a 4th grade mentality, and the ganging up in this thread shows that I'm not sure that people could get more cliquish or mean.

                                  1. re: JasmineG

                                    If you think that it's impossible for people to be "any meaner than they've been to the OP in this thread," you've led a seriously sheltered life. For better or worse, the moderators keep the discourse on this public forum relatively civil. The comments that can (and are) sent when private messaging is available are far more hostile and inflammatory than anything you'll ever see here.

                                    1. re: JasmineG

                                      What is cliquish about stating a strong opinion? All of the comments are right out there in the open, not whispered into someone's ear and giggling at the end of the hallway. An since jfood had a "fourth grade" reference let him respond. Not once did he state "4th grade mentality" as you stated, it was in reference to the dismissive statement that OP placed as "don't knock it until you try it." That is about as fourth grade as jfood can think as a response. it is the same as "your opinion does not count," " you do not know what you are speaking about," ...

                                      And jfood absolutely, positively, without hesitation, does NOT want PM. It is wrong, in jfood's opinion. And people on these boards who have reached out to jfood via email, know that jfood will respond and then "go back to his ostrich hole"

                                      Jfood believes that many anti-social bevavior begins with the on-line interactions, and losing the face to face interaction is totally wrong and jfood has instilled that with the little jfood and using the same words.

                                      This is a food board, not www.me-a-friend.com, if posters have something to add to the discussion, then it is available to all, you have PMs then that leads to off0-line recommendations and THAT is cliquish, not placing an opinion in cyberworld for all to see and hopefully enjoy. You want to reach out to a poster, ask the Mods, but the Boards should NEVER have that as one of its SOPs.

                                      That's a strong opinion, not mean or cliquish.

                                  2. re: Tir_na_nOg

                                    You suspect wrong. And while you're certainly entitled to your opinion about what's "better," there are those who disagree with you.

                                    Including the people who run this site, who aren't going to change their collective mind. Go ahead and beat your head against that wall if you want, but the wall isn't going to change, and all you'll get out of it is a headache.

                                    1. re: Tir_na_nOg

                                      "PMs are used to communicate things that are not appropriate for public posting" - oh yeah that was a fun part of high school
                                      "These include organizing the details of "off-lines"" - yup those cliques in High School were a good memory
                                      "off-topic personal communications between people you have only met online" - on-line dating has all kinds of positives, jfood will get back to you when he figures out one that he likes
                                      "PMs also do not result in less public communications since the whole reason people sign up for a websites like this is to read and exchange opinions with a large audience." - contradicts the stuff above
                                      "Don't knock it until you try it." - yeah jfood used to say that in 4th grade.

                                      Many here just do not agree, please have respect for hat built this site into what it is, hair and all.

                                2. This conversation is getting pretty unfriendly, so we're going to lock it now.