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LOVE the new format

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OK, maybe love is too strong, but all in all i think it is an improvement. There have been a couple of things I have had to get used to, but all in all I have found things to be cleaner, clearer, and easier to use. I know that people resist change, it adds complications to their otherwise perfectly organized and well sorted world. Change is inevitable, this was a good one.

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  1. It is three weeks. I have still not got used to it. It is a horrible change, IMO. Every day I hate it more and more.

    Supposedly, there were some fixes that were promised the week after the format change and they never happened I'm getting cranky about it

    As it is now I no longer switch back and forth from Chowhound to Chow except when I am on my profile page and forced to do so.

    Getting to a different board that is not in my profile or getting to Chow ... I just say the hell with it.

    Don';t even talk to me about search when I forget I'm in my profile and get thrown into searching Chow instead of Chowhound.

    The only good things I see about it is the Digest and unread posts being easier to find ... but then I have to remember where they exist ... I wanted to be sure that I was happy with the digest tab before I wrote this, so I went to my proflie page ... where is it? Oops ... I'm in Chow, have to get to the boards.

    What is it EXACTLY that you find so clear and clean? It has escaped me.

    21 Replies
    1. re: rworange

      Ive never understood the whole separation of chowhound and chow. that wall needs to be erased, hopefully it will be in one of the next iterations. That aside....

      The graphic layout now is much clearer, less distractions. Being able to build my own list of boards that I visit, instead of that huge list of everything is great. I have had no problems with searches of any kind. I guess I don't use a lot of the features. I don't even know what "digest" is.

      I just know that I find it much easier to navigate around the site now than it was before, at least for the way I use chow.

      1. re: KaimukiMan

        "Ive never understood the whole separation of chowhound and chow"

        Hmm, that's strange. Well, here are a few reasons:

        1. Chow is editorial, Chowhound is conversational

        2. The Chowhound community predates CHOW by a decade, and Chowhounds, many of whom have been around for years and years, feel a tight bond with the brand.

        3. The tone of Chow was never intended to match that of Chowhound. The two are separate operations with different tones, and each does great at its respective mission.

        4. Tightly-knit communities react badly to being debranded. Pissing off chowhounds would jeopardize the flow of food tips which generate lots of traffic from tip-seekers and press mentions from the many reporters who follow the discussion. The community has been tolerant of lots of redesign and other changes, but nullification of the Chowhound brand would be an entirely different thing. I don't think CNET/CBS would do it, but if they did, I'm pretty sure they'd be extremely disappointed by the traffic result.

        1. re: Jim Leff

          I wouldn't want to nullify Chowhound, but I never understood the point of giving Chow a different name, a differentiated but linked website.

          1. re: KaimukiMan

            Editorial content is much more attractive to advertisers than message board content (because the latter is inherently uncontrollable). Creating a separately branded but affiliated entity to draw advertisers made sense. If the whole thing was called "Chowhound" and the editorial side didn't match tone/sensibility of the longstanding Chowhound community (and, again, the intention was never to match tone), it would have changed the complexion of that community (a risky thing, given that its large and tight-knit crowd could quickly unravel and dissipate if its environment changed much). And calling the whole thing "Chow" would bring the negative results I mentioned in my last posting.

            Keeping both makes lots of sense. And viva Chow.....its ability to draw advertising is what keeps our lights on - much as a good portion of chowhound's traffic (which is steered in via profile pages, etc etc) beefs up their traffic stats. So it's symbiotic.

            I speak only for myself; I'm not officially involved in any way. Just one of the hounds! :)

            1. re: Jim Leff

              thanks for the explanation. and you will never quite be just one of the hounds.

          2. re: Jim Leff

            thats all very well, Jim but the Chowhound users are complaining mainly about a reduction in the site usability. Sometimes there is crossover to Chow content as well.

            hotposts facility is on Chow, the overall linkages between Chow, Restaurants and Discussion are a lot clunkier and a search has to be for one or another. For example, if someone is looking for a particular restaurant in Queens, they have to (separately) search Discussion and Restaurants - the results will not come up together (the restaurant page and the discussion) . Similarly If I view the site through HOtposts, I have to use the same pulldown menus as before to switch Boards, whereas on Chowhound I can use the new Saved Boards feature.

            1. re: jen kalb

              Yup, it's a drag. But it's still loads better than the resource shutting down. Which it very nearly did (I've explained it at http://jimleff.blogspot.com/2008/12/c...

              )

              Whenever people complain to me, I always have to suppress a grin. I just can't believe this thing is still running. How many cool web resources from 1997 are still going out there? I never imagined it would last 13 years. So I don't sweat software particulars that much....

              1. re: Jim Leff

                I'm sorry Jim, that is not an acceptable answer.

                It is admirable that you have divorced yourself from Chowhound. And yes, I am grateful that Chow is able to keep the site running.

                But the big picture is that when a site becomes more and more difficult to use, that carefully cultivated community starts to drift away.

                There are software particulars and software particulars.

                If anyone knows how devoted I am to Chowhound, it has to be you. Long ago I stopped reading other boards because the site was slow, hot posts had stopped working well and it was just too annoying to have to deal with release after release.

                With the latest release, I no longer even read my home board much. About all I do these days is post about places I find in Guatemala. Yeah, there's a little more activity from me than that, but not much.

                Now, I'm thinking maybe I won't even bother posting that and is Chowhound a site I want to visit anymore.

                Chowhounds of the same caliber when I first started the site are no longer being nurtured. The increasing dullness makes it less worth the bother.

                So that is my reaction to all of this. Withdraw. I can't be the only one as I see that same response over and over.

                And please ... don't tell me buen provecho ... find a site you like better or start your own. Neither is going to happen so that unfortunately leaves a void in this particular nitch.

                There are minimal things, without having to make software changes that would make a world of difference.

                One is acknowledging reported problems do exist. Posters have no clue if a problem ticket has been submited so keep bringing up the same issues over and over. When there is that type of acknowledgement, some Chowhound always links the response in the repeated query.

                Another thing is to respond to posters that make an effort to make the site better and would help draw traffic to the site which is a good thing for both Chow and Chowhound.

                Jen Kalb has entered over 1000 restaurant records for Italy. Her simple question if the option to link on foreign addresses is in the works remains unanswered weeks later.

                You know that Chowhounds are more than willing to endure a bad site design if there is a minimal response that it is being worked on.

                For years, we all went along with you telling us better software was coming we would just have to wait.

                I suspect that some of the horrible features in this release might be the base for improvements in the future. A simple response that ... this is a first step and better is coming in a few months ... years... etc ... would have gone a long way.

                And another sad thing is I sort of like some of the stuff on Chow and miss visiting it. It is just too much of a hassle to go back and forth.

                1. re: rworange

                  I don't agree with your assumption that I've divorced myself from Chowhound. And this is still vastly better software than we had pre-CNET. And even if it weren't, the important (and remarkable) thing is, as I said, that the resource remains up and running at all. I'd think you'd agree with that, in retrospect, if it were to go dark tomorrow. You've been complaining for many years now about anguish caused by this or that facet of Chowhound, and announcing your solemn intention to visit less. Yet you still spend hours and hours here. I think that says it all.

                  That said, the bad stuff exasperates me, too. I'm not excusing it. And I hope some of it gets fixed, and invite you all to keep complaining. Don't stop complaining. But some perspective is a good thing: it's amazing this place is still here. It was never our plan for it to remain up and running in 2010!

                  1. re: Jim Leff

                    I agree with all you said down to my complaining.

                    Having taken a number of timeouts from the site I truly know what a loss it would be if the lights went out. There is really nothing close to it on the web that could replace it, I've looked for something better ... a lot.

                    It is not only a place to get some of the more reliable tips on great eats, but in the process over the years became a great repository of information about everything food-related.

                    The things I've learned here I would have never known even if I spent my days in hundreds of libraries culling thousands of books. Certainly not even if I was glued to the food network or flipping thorugh dozens of newspapers and magazines.

                    I may be signed on all day, but I am also signed on to other sites all day. I just flip back and forth between work.

                    Other than mainly Guatemalan reports, I spend my time updating the restaurants and bars database. It is a tiny way I hope can give a little back for all I've gotten from the site over the years.

                    And, yes, it does benefit me doing that since I can get all the info I want about a restaurant ... hours, address, reviews, phone, etc, without having to search a million places.

                    But by time I leave this country, Chowhound will be the to-go places for info about Guatemala.

                    Of course you know Chowhound and what makes it work far better than I ever did or will and have a better perspective about it.

                    But it always bothers me when you say you are surprised it continues. I always think ... why not? Yeah, a lot of 90's sites aren't around today, but content was responsible for their demise ... or lots else.

                    It took a lot of work on your part to keep this site what it is. Regulars will hang around for a while despite the stuff that exasperates them.

                    I'm just saying, for me, whether or not I sound credible because of my history, I just don't read the site too much anymore simply because it is too difficult to use. Damn, I didn;t even know I liked Chow as much as I did until this last release and it just became too much effort to go back and forth.

                    1. re: rworange

                      Chowhound suffered a near death experience. Everything since then has been gravy.

                      And even before that crisis point, not a day went by after 2000 or so that the resource wasn't in grave danger of disappearing. I said so regularly and publicly the entire time, so all those who believed me (and I can't imagine why anyone wouldn't have) should feel, as I do, that it's a miracle we all still have this place to come and swap tips. The details and software niceties are significant, but they're still just details and niceties. But there's a certain taking for granted, both now and then, going on.

                      Again, do complain and push for things to be done better. But I'd suggest that hounds retain some perspective. It's the members that matter, not so much the clubhouse (I'm amazed that the years of nearly unusable software but terrific chow tips haven't served as an education on that very point!).

                      Have a great holiday weekend, all.

                      1. re: Jim Leff

                        >>>It's the members that matter, not so much the clubhouse

                        True. Can't argue with that.

                        Have a nice holiday weekend yourself.

                2. re: Jim Leff

                  yes its still running. but the discussion volume is drifting away because of blogging alternatives ,the clunkiness of the interface, the difficulty of aggregating meaningful info. When I can go on googlemaps and get an aggregation of map, essential data, some reviews, a restaurant website link, links to other restuarants that I might not have thought of, pix, even a link of a website on a restuarant with a simple websearch it almost convinces me that the work I am doing is pointless because notwithstanding chowhounds good discussions, the info is just not that accessible.

                  1. re: jen kalb

                    Just curious why Jim no longer posts anything significant about food on Chowhound. All there are are occasional queries and reports that are too brief to be posted on his slog. Lot's of good stuff in that Chicago report which isn't even linked from Chowhound, let alone reported

                    If someone of your caliber isn't posting here, it says a lot. Also, it is a loss to keep the site vibrant and relative.

                    Then again, I realize how tired you are of Chowhound so IMO you don't need to post here. You've more than earned a well deserved rest.

                    But if that is the case, if you are not using Chowhound much, then it is unfair to write off the difficulties that many of us are having who would like to continue to use the site.

                    However... it is to your benefit if you only want to post about queries that won't get better answers elsewere. If the smart people start leaving, then someday when you ask for a good guidebook, there won't be the people here who can give you a good answer.

                    You need to consider what it was about Chowhound that makes it worth the hassle for so many of us. It is savy posters. That is even what Chow pushes in their ad campaign.

                    1. re: rworange

                      ------------
                      "Just curious why Jim no longer posts anything significant about food on Chowhound. All there are are occasional queries and reports that are too brief to be posted on his slog. Lot's of good stuff in that Chicago report which isn't even linked from Chowhound, let alone reported"
                      ------------

                      I didn't link to my Slog piece about Chicago from Chowhound, because I don't want to make an example of using Chowhound to draw attention to blogs. I don't like when others do that (Chowhound's a repository of chow info, not outbound promotional links), so I try not to, myself. And I didn't simply post the piece to Chowhound because it was photo-heavy.

                      And I don't post very often about food 'cuz I'm mostly cooking for myself...healthy stuff. Though my postings aren't exactly eagerly received, so I clearly don't have anywhere near the influence here that you imagine I do.

                    2. re: jen kalb

                      Hi Jen

                      There were always problems thwarting people from doing stuff on Chowhound. Our info was never super accessible (I had suggestions for how CNET could make it much more accessible, but they were ignored). I'm not sure what past golden age of Chowhound super-accessibilty you're nostalgic for. We've never been Yelp, nor has that been the aim.

                      The aim has always been "good discussion", not huge volume. In fact, many users (including you) complained as we scaled larger and larger that the savvy was diluting.

                      Chowhounds are the pickiest people on earth. That's what I love about them. That's the crowd I intentionally recruited.

            2. re: rworange

              getting to chow is hard? it is exactly one click away from anyplace in chowhound

              likewise - click on choose a board and you can choose a board

              the digest from chow? 2 clicks

              1. re: thew

                I'm happy the site works for you. It doesn't for me and judging from the huge response to the "I hate" thread, it doesn't work for a lot of others. I've posted why that is over and over so I'm not repeating it here.

                1. re: rworange

                  a great deal of the hate thread occurred in the 1st 2 or 3 days of the new release, so some features were not ironed out, and many other complaints were just people had not found/adjusted to the changes yet.

                  and i'm not saying you have to like the changes, i was just commenting that the complaints you listed here didn't seem to hold up to scrutiny in my opinion, eg, saying it was hard to get to chow, when there is a button on every page in CH that says take me to chow.....

                  1. re: thew

                    No. The problems in the long thread were not resolved in the first few days. The only problem resolved was the problems with white space.

                    The promised change to navigation never occurred and that is still what a lot of people are complaining about.

                    After almost a month, I didn't get used to the changes. I still find the site a pain to use and I have to stop and think too many times on how to get to specific parts of chow/chowhound.

                    Again, fine. Chow doesn't want to do anything about it, I've done the best I can to report it and so have others.

                    I'll leave the site to you since you seem happy with it and spend my time elsewhere.

                2. re: thew

                  I object to always having to think about where I am and how to get to where I am going.
                  it was a lot simpler before the change to operate - I didnt have to consider at all whether I was on CHOW or CHOWHOUND. I didnt have to say to myself, wait, I cant get to my posts or recent posts here, I have to click over to chow, or vice versa. I have to change to a RESTAURANT tab in the search box to search for the RESTAURANT data on a restaurant page. Its just not as intuitive for me. and I suspect others. Your right its a minimal annoyance, but in this day and age it should be better rather than the opposite, right?

              2. can't read your post. text is too small. my horizontal scroll bar occupies half way across the screen. this change has encouraged me to learn to use something like Linux so i could just read text on a bare background without flash, things on left/right of screen, and images.

                1. I don't.

                  I think posts are down since it was introduced too.

                  DT

                  1. As noted in the OP, the word 'love' is a bit strong, but frankly, I have no problems with this new format and have a hard time understanding the complaints. Then again, I'm not a big user, and when it does come to using the site, I am predominantly interested in Chowhound and see CHOW as an ancillary, occasional but ultimately inconsequential part of my visits.

                    However, because I live in a distinctly unchowish part of the world, I don't really have that much call to post, so perhaps that's another reason for not being too fussed.

                    1. jfood was a big poster on the day 1 yoo gotta be kidding thread. and he posted numerous times about the "bad" aspects of the changes. And jfood thinks most if not all of his issues were resolved. he still uses his favorites to navigate, maybe goes to the chow side 3-4 times a year, and did not use some of the features others do.

                      but he still hates, yup hates, the separation of the tri-state board. he does not feel connected to portchester any longer. yes he now feels a closer relationship to the new haven area and some of their posters many of whom he has grown to admire. his other major issue is the traffic in SW CT has dwindled to a crawl and the loss of many of his favorite posters.

                      Hopefully the Project Manager on the next release learned from this release and does a real Beta test. the last one was deplorable.

                      1. one thing i've noticed - CH seems snappier since the change

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: thew

                          That may have been an extremely amusing Mac-enthusiast reference, in which case: kudos.

                          If not, then, well, I'm happy to hear things are surfing better for you!

                          1. re: Jim Leff

                            I don't know if I'm just being incredibly dozy and it was always thus, but I recently noticed that you can choose Expand All or Show Only New Posts on a thread. How great is that?