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What do you think of eGullet these days?

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First of all let me say that I am a donor member to eGullet and really would love to see that board revive and become a bit more relevant and active, but sadly a lot of the forums seem to be dying. I don't want to rip on a fellow food board (the more the merrier), but I find that I check it fewer and fewer times each week -- and I am a person who actually paid to support them.

Don't get me wrong. That board has a treasure trove of information and passionate moderators, but in another year or so it seems as if a lot of the boards will simply fall behind too much and lose that information advantage it may once have had. I've even seen moderators from eGullet prompting topics to spur discussion -- not a good sign.

The cooking and baking boards will continue to have significant value as cooking techniques are more stable, but boards that rely upon changing products or tastes seem to be falling victim to a slavish mentality of merging topics to ancient threads. The number of times I have seen a good discussion get linked to a 5- year- old thread is crazy. That is fine if one is talking about making a specific dish or cooking technique, but when talking about kitchen consumer products, it makes no sense as products change quickly these days -- and no one wants to read through hundreds of old posts. I've seen several threads where a specific (and good) question has gotten buried in an old thread and old post title. Merging is fine, but merging to an very old discussion can be useless.

The cookware forum is clearly falling way behind and not very active. The beverage section on eGullet seems to be better, especially the spirits portion. Cooking and baking still have great information, but I suspect there are better baking sites out there now such as The Fresh Loaf. And people like Chad Ward have come out of eGullet and produced valuable books, but I haven't seen them post very much. Fred's Cutlery forum and Knife forums are better places for knives.

Anyhow, do other people think eGullet is losing relevance in the food discussion? I recently spoke with a respected emeritus member and former moderator and it wasn't a very pretty picture I got.

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  1. I guess it's like anything else, the more information sources that exist, the thinner the user base is spread.

    If I'm away from my home area, I now find online discussion boards are not the best way to find restaurants that I might want to eat at. I'm back to using the printed guides which tend to be more reliable - coupled with local restaurant review sites.

    As to whether egullet has relative relevence against other boards (such as Chowhound) might depend on where you are in the world and/or the type of food you eat. I'm in the UK but do not contribute to Chowhound's local board as I find it London-centric and, even then, very focussed on the casual almost hole-in-the-wall sort of place. This moight be relevent to, say, foreign tourists visiting our capital or local residents who want to find a new cheap place to eat. By comparision, the eGullet UK and Ireland board certainly has far less traffic but the contributors tend to be living around the country and, also, eating a restaurant level that fits my dining. So, it's where I would generally post my UK restaurant reviews (usually a weekly thing on average) and it's also the board that I would ask for recommendations for an unfamiliar town.

    One of the styles I particularly like about eGullet is the encouragment to develop a thread over time. So, for instance, there is pretty much a single thread, over a number of years, discussing restaurants in the city centre at the heart of our metro area (Manchester). It's a "one stop shop" if you will.

    So, to answer your question specifically, yes I think eGullet (and other boards) is losing a relevence. But it is not irrelevent, IMO. I may be a declining minority but I still favour the discussion board as the best vehicle for, erm, discussions, about food matters.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Harters

      "I guess it's like anything else, the more information sources that exist, the thinner the user base is spread."

      There was a thread on mouthfulsfood.com, one of egullet's spinoffs, about just this a while back. There are only so many people out there who want to talk about food. Each of these sites seems to have its own personality, and not everyone is going to fit in on each of the sites that's out there. egullet, moutfulsfood and probably opinionatedabout.com (I'm not a member there anymore so I don't know for sure) have characteristics that make them unwelcoming to newbies and people new to food in general. If (either by design or just by the style you've chosen to foster) you're weeding out all the people who are new to food forums, and you realize there's always going to be some attrition as your users discover other sites they like better, you're inevitably going to have forums which slowly die off.

      New food forum posters are generally uneducated about a breadth of food topics, can be brash, overconfident and may have writing styles that are off putting to older posters, but they are also usually enthusiastic, energetic, willing to engage, and may even have maybe have deep knowledge in one area. Yelp has done a great job with pulling in a wide audience of new posters. Chowhound does the same, to a lesser extent... some of the hardcore oldtimers manage to scare some of them off, deeming their opinions "pablum" or calling them trolls and shills every time they have a strongly held opinion. What I think people who don't want that kind of newbie on their site forget is that today's newbies may stick around to become tomorrow's core contributors. If oldtimers take some time to foster these newbies instead of getting their hackles up every time some newbie comes along with some spunk to challenge the old guard, the community helps to build the userbase of tomorrow, thus ensuring the longevity of a thriving site.

    2. The fewer, quality posts on eGulletsure beat the mass pablum on the site!

      4 Replies
      1. re: Passadumkeg

        I would tend to agree with that too. How many dutch oven threads are there? For me it is a fine line between pablum and too much control though. I saw one thread on eGullet where someone asked about specific knives to bring back from Japan and then the thread got merged to a post dating back to 2003 with the title: "Which Japanese Knives to Buy" with very general info about knifes available in the US. After that, responses changed from a more specific request (knives available in Japan) to a general discussion of which knives to get, which the OP did not necessarily want to know about. S/he wanted specific items to search for while in Japan on a trip. The original question got buried and the post actually turned into different 'pablum' that may have had nothing to do with the OP's issue.

        1. re: smkit

          I don't post a lot at Egullet but when I do I often get a PM saying the topic was moved or merged. It has happened so often I started to get a complex. I understand the reason behind merging but sometimes the OP is asking something new about a topic and after it's merged it's lost

          1. re: scubadoo97

            That has happened to me a couple of times too, and one time I even did my research of previous posts on the subject and framed the question in such a way that it would hopefully not be buried/merged -- but in the end it was merged anyhow.

            It was frustrating. It takes longer to post because you have to do a lot more research into past posts that go back several years, think about how you want to uniquely phrase things to prevent merging, and in the end it still might get buried under someone else's post title. I can see myself getting a complex too. Even after the 100-world statement, I now think twice about starting new threads on eG.

            1. re: smkit

              Back in the old days when I joined you didn't have to submit a 100 word statement. I still like to visit EG and do so often. There are some very talented and influential people that post to EG. It's a slower board as far as posts go but there is a lot of good info there.

      2. Actually, I like eGullet these days. It might not have quite the traffic it once did, but the quality of some of the posts and threads is quite good. The local boards can be hit or miss - the California board is a snooze - but cooking and cookbook boards are quite good. The Mexico board is considerably better than the one here on CH. But what I like most is that list mods don't move or lock posts with the same frequency as we see here. At least we're not made to feel like 2 year olds getting our hands slapped by a list mod for something

        6 Replies
        1. re: DiningDiva

          I think I'd feel like a 2 year old being told "go away, the adults have already discussed this" if every new thread I started got merged to a 5 year old thread in the manner smkit describes. Sure, it gets tiresome to see the same topics recycled here, but very often I see new answers (mostly from new posters, but sometimes from older posters who weren't here the last time the topic came around) and find new favorites as a results.

          I admit, on egullet, these massive 50 page threads seem so intimidating, that I wade through a few pages of discussion from 6 years ago and then give up. I don't want to post whatever tip I have because it might be duplicated in the thread already and I don't want to let on I didn't read the whole behemoth... and even when I did wade through the entire thing, it seems pointless to add my tip when the tip was already shared. I like merging in theory, but with a site that's been around for a while like egullet, it just kind of feels like the merging is saying "everythng worth saying on this topic was already said." So I just kind of give up and move on.

          1. re: Chris VR

            Umm...I think you missed my point. My comment about being treated like a 2-year old refers to CH not eG. I live in a area considered a tourist destination and at times 80% of the posts on my local board here on CH are duplicates of questions asked previously, often within the last 24 hours with the poster having taken no time to do even a cursory search on their question, which would often times turn up well over 100 replies.

            I don't try and read the massive threads on eGullet. Frankly, at my age my attention span won't support it, so I start backwards and read the most current posts first and then work my way backwards to see if there's anything interesting that I missed. That said, I do find the long threads about cocktails and spirits frustrating because there is a lot of great information there and I simply don't have the patience to cull it all out. Same for the thread about what did you have for dinner and what are you baking. I like these threads and you just kind of have to jump in and go with the flow.

            In general, I find the comments on eG to be better focused, more to the point and (as noted below) coming form a more sophisticated/mature POV. If I had to guess, I would say that the average age of the posters on eG is older than the average age of a poster here on CH. I like both eG and CH. I get better food related information from eG, but a better sense of community and connection on CH

            1. re: DiningDiva

              I didn't miss your point. I'm responding to you saying "At least we're not made to feel like 2 year olds getting our hands slapped by a list mod for something" I'm just saying different things make different people feel like they are bring treated like 2 year olds. Having a thread moved to another board doesn't make me feel that way, but having a thread I started killed by being appended to the end of a massive thread does. You feel differently, I respect that, but I felt it was worth pointing out that there are pros and cons to any strategy moderators use to manage their boards, and the same actions are going to make different people feel differently.

              1. re: Chris VR

                Okay, gotcha, I read your comment differently. One of the hazards of flat communications like these boards

          2. re: DiningDiva

            That's good to know. I am in the midwest, so the whole 'heartland' category for restaurants from Madision WI, Minneapolis, Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, Lawrence KS, Omaha NE etc. is not very useful, so I use Chowhound instead. But for other places, I might try exploring eGullet a bit more. And I will definitely take a look at the cookbook forum now.

            1. re: smkit

              The CA board on eG is a desert. There hasn't been a restaruant post on it in at least 2 weeks. Contrast that with restaurant posts here on CH...we've got 3 very active boards for CA. One for L.A., San Francisco and San Diego, none of which would go for a day without someone posting about a resto experience :-). CH is by far the better choice for restaurants in CA, and a far better, more discening voice than Yelp.

              By all means check out the cookbook section on eG. It goes in fits and starts but it's not bad. Also, there are threads scattered throughout dedicated to specific cookbooks with people posting the recipes as they make them. There is currently a fairly active thread on Dorie Greenspan's new book "Around my French Table" and a recent on Rick Baylesses new book "Fiesta's at Rick". The whole concept of cookbooks and cooking from them get kind of lost in the Home Cooking section and while there is a dedicated core of cookbook fans here on CH it's not quite as focused.

          3. My SO and I almost exclusively use eGullet since his CH banishment. A Hound friend mentioned this thread or I would not be posting this.
            Yes, eGullet is spotty (slim participation in various locales and boards). CH is no better than eGullet for Oklahoma. Back around 2003 SO tried to rally participation for eGullet's New England board (and failed), so he went almost exclusively to CH.
            With eGullet, the quality of threads and comments you get, when you get something, is generally higher than CH's. There's not a lot of immature threads, questions and comments. In areas where we participate on eGullet, people don't just hang out there for hours on end and post pablum. eGulleters tend to eat more like we eat.

            We do not see how "the Gullet" can compete and continue the way they are as a non-profit. It is sad since we love the clean interface, lack of ads/Bling and the more sophisticated membership. We wished that eGullet's personal statement requirement was not off-putting to prospective members, but it is something that keeps the quality of participant up, the spammers down and the membership numbers lower. A double-edged sword. Here is their requirement:
            "3 - You will need to submit a personal statement. The personal statement must be a minimum of 100 words and must include a specific acknowledgment of the member agreement. Applications with missing or non-conforming personal statements will not be accepted."
            In our humble opinion, Chowhound would be well served to adopt something, anything, that would sift out some of their chaff.

            35 Replies
            1. re: ardelle

              Very well stated! Your eruidition is only superceded by the fact that you have a Phd. from Yale!

                1. re: ardelle

                  ardelle, I think that is a good assessment too. When I want a bit more serious discussion I often go to eGullet, especially for cooking-related or food product discussions. Cookware not so much anymore and regional and local boards depend.

                  1. re: ardelle

                    "3 - You will need to submit a personal statement. The personal statement must be a minimum of 100 words and must include a specific acknowledgment of the member agreement. Applications with missing or non-conforming personal statements will not be accepted."
                    In our humble opinion, Chowhound would be well served to adopt something, anything, that would sift out some of their chaff.
                    ~~~~~~~~~~~
                    And if that had been a requirement of CH back in the day when I joined (I *think* 2002?) I wouldn't have joined. Perhaps that's what you want. Seems rather exclusive to me.

                    I'd *like* to think I've offered some insight into various restaurant reviews (although not a whole heck of a lot as I don't dine out as often as many 'hounds do) but I know I've contributed to many other threads generated throughout CH. But if that requirement had been in place here at CH, I'd have passed it by. I think if you want a tightly controlled entrance exam to restrict who posts and who doesn't, as eGullet does, fine. But I don't think that CH has ever wanted to be like that. The eGulleters who left here did want more tight focus and control, however, and chose to go in the way they did.

                    And having read some of the posts about merging several years-old threads with brand new ones - well, would drive me nuts. I wouldn't want to read through 50 pages of posts about something when I'd want more current information. Not sure if they do that for restaurants as well, but what happened at a restaurant 4 years ago doesn't necessary mean that's the way the restaurant is functioning in current day.

                    1. re: LindaWhit

                      "Not sure if they do that for restaurants as well"

                      We certainly tend to do that on the UK board. Works well, IMO

                      1. re: Harters

                        See, I wouldn't want to read a review of a restaurant from 4 years ago. There's a good chance a lot of it will be invalid, depending on ownership, management, who the chef is, whether they change menus on a regular basis.

                        1. re: LindaWhit

                          No - but you might want to read one from a couple of months back, if that was the last time a poster had been there.

                          And of course, that poster might have been interested in the one a couple of months before s/he went. Etc. That's how the long threads develop on the UK board.

                      2. re: LindaWhit

                        I find it a Hobson’s choice between egullet’s merging of threads and CH’s tolerance of those who think their opinion so unique that they have to start a new thread to review a restaurant that already has dozens of fairly recent threads devoted to it. It is no less onerous to me to have to open and scroll through innumerable threads on the same subject than it is to scroll through a seemingly interminable thread—especially when I have the option of starting at the bottom.

                        CH’s Home Cooking board is far more welcoming than egullet’s, but egullet gets kudos for allowing cookbook authors and Web site owners a forum for having a conversation with their customers. CHs inconsistent application of what is considered self-promotion is often, very unfortunately, to the detriment of the exchange of knowledge.

                        1. re: JoanN

                          I really liked the interaction with professionals on EG. I was commenting on rice and black beans once and had Daisy Martinez respond to my post. I've shared my Grandmother's recipe for kaak with Survir Saran. The sous vide topic has had Nathan Myhrvold's imput as well. Nathan is the author of The Art & Science of Cooking. EG and CH are both food boards but they are quite different which is a good thing.

                          1. re: scubadoo97

                            I agree with scubadoo that I have liked the interaction of the eGullet members. By starting this thread, my main point was that I find the moderation heavy-handed and narrow-minded at times and that this is not always conducive to good food discussion. I've read (and had) many good discussions on eG, but IMO it is when the 'institutional' moderators/godfathers largely stay out of it and you don't feel like the threads are being patrolled and controlled.

                            One moderator's comments in particular (I won't name which one) are often mildly pretentious at best and downright dismissive at worst. That doesn't help discussion in my book. But despite this, it is fabulous to get the input and discussion of people like Myhrvold, Chad Ward, and even Grant Aschatz long ago during the Alinea project. And there are many other serious professionals that interact on the forum. But I would also imagine those 'celebrities' would never get a PM that their topic was merged either?

                            By comparison, boards such as knifeforums also have serious professionals and big names (for that industry) who frequently interact and post, but that board oozes friendliness, acceptance, and patience for the newcomer. I wish eGullet had that same feeling going on, as I think it would improve the discussion and make it more inviting for members to stay and join (despite the 100-word statement).

                        2. re: LindaWhit

                          I'm surprised at how onerous many feel a 100 word essay is. Is this a comment on the lack of erudition of Americans? Linda, wasn't your mother an English teacher?
                          The road to Hell is paved with texting.

                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                            I think the 100 word essay sounds very elitist (are they going to grade on good grammar or spelling - a lot of CH's word be disqualified there!)? If chowhound doesn't work for some, then by all means, go to egullet. By the way passa, I don't text either. I hate the abbreviations. My daughter teaches 5th grade this year and can't believe how it affects her kids spelling.

                            1. re: nvcook

                              Many of the posts here are more than 100 words, including Linda Whit's well reasoned and written post. I just think it would get rid of a lot of irrelevant posters, whom enjoy sounding off on topics upon which they know nothing. And maybe, more importantly, get rid of the Chains board.
                              ps My bro is on the Clark County teacher's wall of honor.

                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                It's not the length of the statement that puts me off. It's what it implies, that you have to prove yourself worthy of joining their "society". It's the idea that the chaff needs to be sorted out in the first place... the idea that some posters are irrelevant. I find that an incredibly elitist attitude, and wouldn't want to be on a site where the organizers have the right to decide whether someone is worthy of participation. That just leaves a really bad taste in my mouth.

                                I really am thankful that there are sites like egullet and opinionatedabout.com for people who do want that atmosphere, and sites like Chowhound for those who don't mind hearing from some "chaff" if it means there's more to discuss and learn. What I don't understand is why some people want Chowhound to be like those other sites. Those already exist... why try to make this one one into one of those?

                                1. re: Chris VR

                                  What you said, Chris. All of it. :-)

                                  1. re: Chris VR

                                    Yep - it's not about sorting wheat from chaff, it's about making wheat from chaff. The latter approach results in more wheat. Besides, what sometimes looks like chaff initially may end up being wheat.

                                    1. re: Chris VR

                                      I can well see why some think the essay-writing requirement is elitist, but I doubt the original intention was to separate out those thought unworthy. My guess is that it was instituted in an attempt to cut down on the hit-and-run, can't-be-bothered-to-search, where-do-I-go-for-dinner-before-the-theater types of posts that can get so repetitive here. And I’m not sure I see the logic in saying that there’s more to discuss and learn on CH simply because of its open enrollment policy. On some boards and in some instances that may be true; in others, not so much.

                                      CH and egullet each has its strengths and weaknesses. As you said above, “there are pros and cons to any strategy moderators use to manage their boards.” I am sure that on egullet as here on CH policies that were instituted for very good reasons can seem somewhat arbitrary or off-putting to those of us not privy to the thinking behind them.

                                      Nonetheless, if anyone here was suggesting that they wanted Chowhound to be like egullet, I missed that. It certainly wasn’t what I intended. There are some things I don’t care for in the New York Times. That doesn’t mean I want it to be the Wall Street Journal. Vive la différence.

                                      1. re: JoanN

                                        I suspect JoanN is right on a number of counts - and I'm one certainly not keen on egullet's "entry statement". I'm sure it was intended to act to deter the "one-off frivolous poster" and I'm sure it does that. When I signed up I thought it nonsense and pretty much wrote nonsense - so I suspect no-one read it or cared.

                                        All boards are off-putting in some respects to some people. I prefer Chwohound's topical boards to egullet for example, as they fit my style and preferences. And, in similar but opposite vein, I much prefer egullet's UK board to Chowhound''s for exactly the same reasons. So, you will find me regularly posting restaurant reviews most weeks to egullet and almost never to CH, but you'll also find me posting on CH's Home Cooking board most days.

                                        Surely there is room for all - until something else comes along that supercedes the discussion board format. As we say in Britain - it's important not to be too far up your arse in these matters.

                                      2. re: Chris VR

                                        Merely projecting my personal feelings about the 100 word requirement, but I have a feeling it's probably contributed quite a lot to the decline in participation at egullet if indeed there has been.

                                        It certainly kept me from coming back (and I hope I'm not considered a hit and run pablum drooler...).

                                        1. re: Chris VR

                                          You didn't have to do that 'statement' when I signed up (which was the same time I joined Chowhound). If you had, I wouldn't have joined. eGullet is very interesting, but it's mostly aimed at food professionals and I don't have much to contribute as a home cook. But I have lots to say here.

                                    2. re: Passadumkeg

                                      Yes she was, Passa, as were both my grandmothers. And having attended and graduated from Katharine Gibbs, I'd certainly hope I don't lack erudition! I'm not a huge fan of texting, although I'm quite capable of it - with a set plan of 250 texts per month on my cell phone, the most I've used in one month is barely over 100.

                                      Like nvcook, it sounds to me to be elitist - write an essay as to why you should join our super-secret-only-those-worthy-are-allowed-to-join club. If that's the way they wanted to play their game, fine. I chose not to do so and would have done so here if CH required it back in the day.

                                    3. re: LindaWhit

                                      I agree with you completely Linda.

                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                        eGullet changed their direction about 2005 or so when they became the eGullet Society for the Culinary Arts and Letters. They decided to become a non-profit organization with an educational mission. I believe the essay requirement for new members was put in place at least partly to show that they were a serious organization and protect their non-profit status.

                                        At that time they also seemed to want to change the focus from a general purpose food chat board to one that was more focused on food industry professionals. So they reorganized the board topics with that in mind, instituted the entrance essay, and got very heavy handed with the moderation. Those things definitely reduced their number of users and volume of posting.

                                        Around the same time Chowhound greatly improved their user interface and joined up with a successful media company and seems to have grown quite a bit.

                                        I guess it just depends on your idea of what success looks like. I personally lost interest in eGullet around that time, just wasn't enough interesting discussion going on, and moved over here.

                                        1. re: pamf

                                          I'm not exactly a fan of this site's moderation policies either, but I'm still posting here.

                                          Although, I'm curious if the changes at Egullet were anyway related to what happened to Jason Perlow, Egullet's co-founder, who got effectively banned from the site he helped create.

                                          1. re: hobbess

                                            What happened to Perlow was like something out of the founding of the Soviet Union. He was disappeared and Fat Guy would have erased all history of Perlow if it was possible.

                                            1. re: melo7

                                              YOu guys are making me vewwy, vewwy kewwious...

                                              1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                How much time do you have? Here is an extensive thread from mouthfulsfood.com. If you don't know the history mouthfulfoods was founded by a splinter group of people that first posted on chowhound, then moved on to egullet and then split off after disagreements from the powers that be over there so this isn't the most objective group but the thread is pretty much accurate.

                                                http://mouthfulsfood.com/forums/index...

                                                1. re: melo7

                                                  You weren't joking about how much time you need to have. That thread is 44 pages long!!

                                                  Surely, there's got to be a much quicker, tidier summary of why Egullet moved to banish Perlow, as well as a lot of their original moderators as well.

                                                  And, if Egullet is winding down in terms of activity, I wouldn't mind it if it eventually become more of a blog for Steven Shaw because I think he's still one of the best food writers out there regardless of the shadiness of what went down.

                                                  It was wrong what happened to Jason Perlow, but I always thought Steve Shaw was the real talent and brought more to the table. Maybe, its harder than it looks, but is it really that difficult from a technical point of view to set up a forum?

                                                  1. re: hobbess

                                                    I got to page 3 and decided maybe I don't need to know... :|

                                                    But thanks for the link, melo! :)

                                                    1. re: hobbess

                                                      "...is it really that difficult from a technical point of view to set up a forum?"

                                                      No. But to maintain a forum that has all of the tools and functionality that make one a popular forum, then, "Yes".

                                                      Look at a forum like, well, Chowhound or (another favorite of mine) StackOverflow and then go to almost any run-of-the-mill forum almost anywhere else on the web and you will soon see how easy some are to use and how tedious some others are to use.

                                                      Nowadays, there are plenty of out-of-the-box forum tools (similar to what something like wordpress would supply for a prospective blogger) that you can get a pretty plain jane forum to work relatively well (check out BikeForums.net for an example).

                                                      Then, when you add in the work that moderators need to do to deal with the inevitable political discussions that might spring up at any time (Obama/Bush/Clinton/Israel/Palestine/[fill-in-the-blank] is evil/stupid/useless/etc.) along with things like Server upgrades, software upgrades, email lists, virus checking, etc. and you can start to see how much work it might take.

                                                      1. re: DougRisk

                                                        Doing all that must truly be harder than it looks if you look at all the updates Chowhound has made to its boards in the past couple of months.

                                                    2. re: melo7

                                                      A fascinating thread. I was never on EG - I was very active on CH at the time, and applauded the self-segregation of a contingent that was making certain boards all but unreadable - but it's funny to see the same people behaving in the same insufferable way that led Jim to purge them in the first place.

                                                      CH is more insufferable than ever, of course, but mostly because it has become dominated by the food equivalents of ham-radio buffs, an ailment that no amount of vigorous moderation will cure.

                                                      1. re: condiment

                                                        condiment,

                                                        I must say that I sort of agree with you on this one. But this isn't to disparage the 'ham-radio buffs' that I think contribute greatly to the food-information base on the web. I just think that all of these food forum spaces have a dynamic that comes and goes (operators change) and has highs and lows in terms of content. It's a changing social space, but usually continues to have valuable information.

                                                        I don't think eGullet will bounce back as it is locked in to Fat Guy's narrow management/discussion system. And sure Chowhound can be 'fluffy' at times, but it is easier to search, less pompous, and growing versus atrophying. Those are my 2 cents.

                                                        I guess there comes a point when forum members accept and choose their own demise and simply post less. Maybe it is family demands, the lack of time, over aggressive moderation that is off-putting, or simply that the topics are so repetitive that its boring.

                                                        I also think most of us actually like to give and impart our food knowledge, but as a former food blogger, there is a point when 'typing and telling' for free loses its appeal.

                                                        If I leave and never post on another forum again, someone will be there to help out and give advice. There is a lifecycle for most people who post. People come and go. Sure, if I depart, people might get a little different advice on cookware or go to a different restaurant here and there, but they will still be in good hands. One will still be able to cook with a Cuisinart versus All-Clad cookware and make a good meal. And let me just say this right now: It doesn't matter if you use Staub versus a Le Creuset for a dutch oven. If you are reading this and love to cook, you are 100% able to cook a great meal with either one of those Dutch ovens.

                                                    3. re: inaplasticcup

                                                      Strange thing is that after this thread started, I saw an Anthony Bourdain No Reservations where he covered the eGullet drama a bit. I have to admit that I gave eGullet another chance but hardly look at it anymore (and I am a supporting member). It just seems like the Fat Guy show in the cookware section. It feels like such a personalized endeavor and when that happens 'forum drama' often happens. And when I heard from an insider/former moderator that the mods often PM and make fun of certain posters, it really turned me off.

                                                      1. re: smkit

                                                        As one who was an original contributors on the site (geez, TWELVE years ago), I was witness to many of the underpinnings and in-fighting.

                                                        It will never be what it was and while I still post on occasion - mostly to answer questions about the area where I am most familiar - it was sad to watch the whole Fat Guy/Perlow implosion and degradation of what was an amazing and thriving site...

                                          2. Forums, Web sites, blogs, ... they all have an effective lifetime.

                                            eGullet had its days, now ChowHound seems to be still going strong, sometimes in the future something else will replace ChowHound.

                                            Most of the regional forums that I would find useful seem to be quite dead; and once that happen, it's _very_ hard to revive.

                                            M.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: Maximilien

                                              In my opinion, a lot of Egullet is whats ugly about food, dining, etc. Much of what I read makes me think that many posters are more concerned about IF they should like something instead of whether or not they actually do.........

                                              Like I am SURE they all though nouvelle cuisine was the end all......kinda like those people who LOVE a certain band.....AS LONG as a lot of other people don't know they exist.....I grew up looking at food as something that brings people together, not something to be used to keep people apart.

                                              1. re: gabagool

                                                "In my opinion, a lot of Egullet is whats ugly about food, dining, etc"

                                                I've never felt that way about EG. Can you give an example?

                                            2. I have read only a few posts from eGullet. Very high quality stuffs, especially Chad's stuff, but then eGullet also targets a small audience.

                                              1. I was on E-G for years, but it lost its sense of fun. People who I enjoyed left the board in droves, and eventually I lost interest and left too.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                  Same here :nodding: The oh-so-serious air really turned me off.

                                                  1. re: xo_kizzy_xo

                                                    Ditto - it's not fun - way way too serious.

                                                2. My short answer is I don't think of it at all any more. See if you can find the last post from "Chantilly Bob" (that's me on eGullet).

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. I've drifted away from it. At one time, I checked it almost everyday; now, perhaps once a month and even at that I rarely find anything I'm interested in. My sense is that a lot of the posters I followed moved on to other things. Some started blogs, so they no longer post trip reports that I'd be interested in on egullet. I used to enjoy the cookbooks section, but seems like a snore now.

                                                    I had no idea they started requiring a personal statement. I never would have joined back in 2003 if that had been a requirement.

                                                    1. Lots of good content, but the format is very 20th century. I find the site ugly and hard to navigate.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                                        It's like...the distant future...the year 2000.

                                                      2. I have to confess. I've been posting more on eGullet since I posted this thread. Maybe it is my northern guilt...who knows.

                                                        Or maybe I just wanted to give it one more whack before I bail, or possibly I just wanted to take the input here and find out the good areas of that forum, accepting the fact that it is going to have a more limited role with other food forum options.

                                                        One thing is for sure: you don't get immediate feedback to questions or comments (unlike Chow) unless you are talking about molecular gastronomy. eGullet is definitely the place to go for that.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: smkit

                                                          <<<One thing is for sure: you don't get immediate feedback to questions or comments (unlike Chow) unless you are talking about molecular gastronomy. eGullet is definitely the place to go for that.>>>

                                                          So true. Or Sous Vide. I swear I am one of maybe two or three people there that do not Sous Vide everything under the sun.

                                                        2. I like pretty pictures so I check the on going eGullet "Dinner!" thread regularly but that is about it these days. I think a lot of food related sites have lost traffic. You can practically hear the tumble weeds blowing through Robin Garr's FLDG and that used to be a rather popular and active board. I'm glad to see Chowhound still going strong though.

                                                          1. Eh. I joined years ago and frequented the food travel boards mostly, which were lively and interesting. However, over time, it seemed to me that the food travel boards focused mostly on the "of the moment" five star restaurants that not everyone can afford. I used to love the lively Quebec board, but last time I checked it was pretty dead.

                                                            1. eGullet use to be the go-to place many years ago when I was in the baking industry. The format was fun, easy and interactive. After a few month hiatus I went back to eGullet and the format had changed. It was more difficult to nagivate, to find an answer or even to ask a simple question. Like many of the responders here, my inquiry would be directed back to an old thread which I found too outdated or not relevant.

                                                              Overall, eGullet does not have the casual mood that it once had.

                                                              I have found more answers and blockbuster recipes on CH. CH is like being around old chums discussing food without any pretense.

                                                              Each time I go back to eG for a quick read I find it less interesting.

                                                              If eG went back to the original format I would visit more regularly.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: maxmillan

                                                                I used to have an eGullet membership (found it very interesting/useful). (This was back when I had a huge expense account and went so often that I was almost bored of top restaurants. I switched careers to something much more fulfilling, and now only go to the special places several times a year.) I forgot both the username and the password to eGullet. I reapplied four days ago, but have yet to hear back whether my 100 word statement was acceptable (yeesh).

                                                              2. Wow, an old (2010?!) thread about the rise & fall of eG. Back in the day, this thread would have gotten erased and maybe the posters banned. LOL

                                                                Ah, the early days of social media, when moderators actually thought they had control over what people do. That's what happened at eG. It is what happened here at CH as well. It's a real sociological study in human behavior.

                                                                I really miss the old days of eG. Back when I joined in 2002, you didn't have to write any sort of 'essay' and it was a vibrant and growing community with a LOT of valuable information. Traveling? Just look up the regional board on eG and do some reading. Ask about certain restos and get an immediate response. And the information was spot ON. Buying a new kitchen gadget? Just look for a thread and you'll find ALL kinds of impartial input and reviews of what was currently for sale.

                                                                And the regional boards! Gorgeous photos of markets world wide. Amazing. (What I'm remembering specifically is Lucy Vanel's photos of the markets in Lyon) ~

                                                                Several key turning points here: The invention of blogs. AND, very importantly, eG deciding they didn't want people organizing social gatherings online. That's what killed the regional boards.

                                                                IMHO, blogs don't replace what eG offered. Blogs are just one person stating their opinion. Many comments don't matter. Well they might from a marketing perspective, but for the foodie looking for valuable advice about where to eat in any given city, blogs are fairly useless, unless you know the blogger and their taste matches yours. Plus, who wants to read 15 different blogs to find out where you should have dinner in ___ city? eG was ONE place, to find that information.

                                                                The other thing eG gave me, was life long friends. People on my 'foodie' wavelength. People who I am still friends with today. I know their tastes, I know how my preferences line up with theirs. I trust their recommendations. THIS is what was lost when eG went down a different path.

                                                                CH has never been this to me. CH has always been the 'hole in the wall' recommends. Which is fine, it works for many, and it works for me many times. But CH has always had a LOT of noise.

                                                                What doesn't work about CH for me? The fact that I can find threads about restos in my city where NO ONE has eaten at the place, but they all trash it, on a pages long thread, because of the prices. (This is indicative of a city with growing pains)... So it's more than you can afford, BUT tell me this- is it good? If you can't answer that question, you are not helping me or anyone.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: malarkey

                                                                  I love it. I do miss the glory days of eG. Freakin' Achatz vetting his kitchen build-out and initial recipes?? Tony Bourdain dropping by on occasion? The FOOD BLOGS! I got to visit Amsterdam, Kansas City, and a hundred places right when my foodiedom was on the rise. eG probably got me started as a food writer, which I still am.

                                                                  I have at least 3 or 4 in-person lifelong friends (gfron, verjuice, etc) from eG but I know folks with MANY more than that.

                                                                  Thanks, malarkey. :)

                                                                  1. re: tenacity

                                                                    Yes, the life-long friendships... Ironically, I am having dinner this evening in San Francisco with someone I met via eG who is visiting from New York. We only see each other every other year or so, but -- after ten years -- this will be the sixth time we have met but we always see each other when we are in each others' cities!

                                                                    Because of friends I met on eG, I have traveled to cities I would never consider going to - just to meet them! Now that I am getting married, they are some of the first online people I tell and we still have a thriving friendship.

                                                                    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

                                                                2. Funny you bring it up - I am a member, though not a donor, and I rarely even check it anymore. The last time I did, discussions were old.