Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Site Talk >
Dec 29, 2010 07:54 AM

CHOW does it again

I cant be the only one who finds references to excrement in headlines on our food site disgusting.
what kind of audience is chow seeking?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I'm with you jen k... apparently the same folks enjoying RuBo's advice column.

    I'm confused by the written tone/technique of these "stories" wrapped as food comedy. I'm confused by the remarks that defend one tone on CHOW and another for the CH community.

    But, if the CH community and CHOW mag are two entirely different camps why do we even discuss CHOW on the CH Site Board? Maybe CHOW should have it's own suggestion box.

    9 Replies
    1. re: HillJ

      Until a recent site re-design, there were two boards, Site Talk for Chowhound discussion, and CHOW Feedback for CHOW-specific discussion. I think there was a lot of confusion about which parts of the site were CHOW and which were Chowhound (especially after the URLs were switched over to Oh wait, maybe there were 3 boards? I remember one for technical issues too, although maybe that was just when the new site was introduced and were were all still trying to figure it out? So yeah, it's probably easier to have it all in one place now.

      Personally I don't find it confusing to have different modus operandi- CHOW is an online magazine, Chowhound is a discussion board, and I don't see much problem with different standards being applied to a one-way article versus a series of two-way conversation, for one thing.

      RuBo does NOTHING for me, but I can't say I'm particularly bothered by it there in the sidebar. I just ignore it. I can see why CHOW wants a bit of sensationalism in their headlines- it obviously has some appeal based on the 13 "tweets" and 52 Facebook "Likes" in the little widget thingy on the left, but I think CHOW has a pretty different audience than Chowhound, for the most part. These kids today with their Tweets and Likes do seem to require more punchy, edgy eye-catching teasers to get their attention... I don't just mean here, but on the web in general.

      1. re: Chris VR

        hey CVR. When I said confused I didn't mean I didn't understand the layout-in all it's configurations. I''ve been here reading & watching from the beginning of CH time. I'm not a CH historian but I do care.

        What confuzzles me is the decision, thought process behind supporting new writers and new approaches with snark tones and harsher language. The RuBo column and other stories recently have had more comments about tone than content. CH's voice their offense over sexist ads, errors, flames, etc. Now a writer for CHOW is taking many of those issues CH's are told not to use to pump up the volume on their column, a column that makes no sense. What purpose does it serve? How does it support the manifesto?

        Sure, I/we are all capable of ignoring material of all kinds but aren't we "allowed" to question the choices? Aren't the powers that decide ultimately looking to achieve a reliable, chow-friendly audience and engage discussion? RuBo's new column throws around plenty of flames (and if this is the "new" humor, count me as a non-believer) but readers aren't suppose to react in the same manner?

        So, yeah, I'm scratching my head. And, fwiw I think the suggestion box for CHOW should be over on the CHOW side of the site where it can be heard and considered.

        1. re: HillJ

          No, I get what you mean about being confused about why CHOW and Chowhound have different standards, and I think you and I have had our differences of opinion on this in the past. And I don't mean to say you don't have a right to be confused, I just don't personally find it confusing. The two are different entities, so in my mind, different standards for two different types of media (magazine vs. forum) does make sense to me. I just look at it as product differentiation.

          But I do appreciate that having two media with the same look and feel, at the same domain, with two different goals and standards could definitely be confusing.

          1. re: Chris VR

            And to the newcomer and general online population they are one & the same site.

            1. re: HillJ

              I agree that it looks that way, but it's not, and anyone who spends time here can figure out pretty quickly that the two don't even operate the same way (comments on CHOW stories don't thread in the way Chowhound discussions do, for example, and Chowhound threads don't look like CHOW articles- no byline, and a different look and feel with graphics and fonts.)

              There definitely seems to be a desire to cross-promote CHOW on Chowhound, via the sidebar promos. The cross promotion of Chowhound on CHOW is not as strong- it's not in the sidebar, and is only done via one of four sections in the links at the bottom of the page.

              I think, what it comes down to is this: forums don't make money. Magazines do. This forum would close if that magazine wasn't making money, so if ads in the sidebar draw eyes (and revenue) to CHOW and keep the lights on at Chowhound, it's something I can live with.

              1. re: Chris VR

                No argument on keeping the lights on. RuBo et al columns, reporting of this nature are not ads. Welcoming people who will stick around as you've described should be the goal of both sides of the site. Again, no argument. It's not about living with it for me either Chris. I'm disappointed in the lack of quality...bad steak.

                1. re: HillJ

                  The most offensive thing about RuBo to me is not the language, but that it's taking a (very) mildly amusing joke and running it into the ground. I would feel differently if it actually made me laugh.

                  1. re: JonParker

                    here the language doesnt bother me - sex and food run together (tho a sprinkling of fucks seems to have more to do with aggression and emphasis than sex) - but the low humor content is disheartening - why would anyone look at RuBo more than once?

    2. I am not offended by it, I am not opposed to using the f-bomb in humor, I like sarcasm.....but, I just don't think it is *that* funny. Some of it kind of makes me smile a bit, but it's not laugh out loud funny (or even chuckle out loud funny) to me.....okay, the "ice in the freezer" schtick was clever......

      Some Chowhounds are funnier than RuBo. Maybe they should have just "let us rip" and give all the snarkey "advice" we wanted with no THAT would be more entertaining!!!!!

      1 Reply
      1. re: sedimental

        A chowhounders on chow advice column. A separate section with a posted question, a submission process, and a few choice answers selected. That would have been a good time, and a nice way to integrate the two sites.

        And I agree: I do *not* mind what we now are compelled to call the f-bomb, but the advice in the new column just isn't very funny, or really useful. I had hopes that it would be both, and wish the writer had done that.

        That said, I'm not yet judging what Chow does to pay 'our' bills on CH. I meander through my food talk with mentions of my cat, and recently mentioned bird poop. I don't think I *can* throw language requirements at a site I gladly frequent.

      2. I use extensions like Remove it Permanently or AdBlock to block things I don't want to see within a domain. Lately I've pretty much wiped out the right hand column within Chow.

        3 Replies
        1. re: MplsM ary

          Okeedokee...please tell me how that works.

          1. re: jfood

            Chrome's AdBlock works best, You just right click and it'll guide you through the blocking process. Remove it Permanently (for Firefox) has varying success with text and I find I need to either repeat the process over and over again to block the offending text or just wipe out the whole column. I ended up blocking the whole column but you can undo the blocking.

        2. I just see that and RuthBo's columns as CHOW trying to reach further to demographics that aren't "traditionally" attracted to gourmet/foodie/whatever-you-want-to-call-it content. In the end, it's all about attracting advertisers, and that requires proof that you can attract the right demographics. Not necessarily a bad thing, as everyone needs to make a living. It's just a change and trying to get new people and groups attached to the CHOW site and brand. Easy to ignore if you don't like it, and if it becomes too much for some, then there's nothing forcing anyone to stay and read CHOW or post on the boards. I think it's just a matter of CHOW doing what basically every for-profit company does: risking losing a handful of long-time members in the hopes that they'll attract many more new ones.

          20 Replies
          1. re: yfunk3

            That's so interesting. The ads run for the entire site, not for one writers column, yes? The content is for the site audience, yes? Well so far dozens of people visiting this site have commented on the new column-not the ads, not the site- but on the writer's tone. So I don't follow how ads factor in one way or another. I'll move on & time will tell if this new approach has a big audience and if the style of writing speaks to the NEW community. Remember Waiter Rant....yeah, that books in the remainder pile for .98.

            I don't see the appeal of filling space just to fill space. I'd rather see another ad placement keeping the lights on.

            :) Just 2 cents.

            1. re: HillJ

              One controversial article brings people to your site. The more hits you get on a site, the more you can tell an advertiser that you get so many hits per month, the more you can get to put ads on your site. Simple business transactions. Ads are what make the money for the employees of CHOW, not the people who read the actual articles or who post on Chowhound regularly because it's all free for us. We factor as a commodity, as "bragging rights" for CHOW to show its advertisers that they are worth investing money in. In return, CHOW keeps this site and the forums free for everyone, longtime member or not.

              You are arguing about your personal preference for what you want CHOW to stay/be, which unfortunately is a consequence of CHOW's personal financial goal(s). I am just saying that I see it differently and that CHOW is allowed to change whatever it wants in order to try to do what every other blog/website/etc. on the interwebs is doing. You're looking at it personally, in a "I don't like this change" way, while CHOW needs to think in a "how can we keep this site running and relevant?" way.

              1. re: yfunk3

                CH's have been "arguing" about their personal preferences for this site for years. Every time the site goes through a change this Board is busy. Gosh...avatar-no avatar, white or grey backgrounds, font size, what dictates a Board, ratings-no ratings, etc. The community shares their opinions. And yes, I shared a peeve over the tone of a new CHOW writer.

                Of course CHOW is allowed to do whatever they want and I fully expect them to. But if CH's opinion didn't matter where would this site be? I agree the size of community membership puts advertisers in the room. Plenty of Site topics have covered suggestions for keeping the site running and relevant.

                As the OP asked and I commented..some change should be rethought.

                what is so wonderful about a string of comments like this?

                1. re: HillJ

                  And as I said before in my first post on this thread, CHOW is willing to take the risk of losing some older members in order to gain more new ones that might just stick around for a bit, canceling out those who "left".

                  I'm not saying CHOW is completely ignoring its existing members, but I'm sure the people running both sites know what they're doing and know it's not exactly a "disaster" on their level like it is on the personal level of the members who don't like changes to anything on this site. CHOW can't address every single member's personal grievance with a particular issue and make everyone happy. The "tone" complaints are most likely a serious minority rather than anything significant. It's just that people who don't mind the "tone" aren't exactly going to post new threads saying, "I have no strong feelings about it one way or the other and don't really mind!"

                  1. re: yfunk3

                    Who knows. I was speaking for myself and the observations, both sour & supportive, posted by fellow CH's. Site Board is the place for such discussion.
                    Thanks for your voice too yfunk3.

                    1. re: HillJ

                      The thing is that Chow does have some content that's appealing to that demographic and is actually clever and funny. I'd give Supertaster as an example. I'm not sure I'd eat any of the stuff that James Norton does, but I love reading about it.

                      More actually good stuff along those lines and less "What if Ruth Reichl and Anthony Bourdain were the same person" crap, which has all the appeal of one of those "imaginary stories" that DC comics used to do that always left you feeling gypped in the end.

                      1. re: JonParker

                        Absolutely. Bring on the content & tone we've all come to enjoy (more) and give RuBo the right vehicle to entertain. Is an advice column about food issues the right vehicle?

                        I'd also like to see CHOW create a suggestion box/board of their own so that site visitors like us can direct their questions to the staffers working hard to make CHOW a great online magazine. Instead the comment section of the RuBo articles is being used by all of us as a suggestion box.

                        1. re: HillJ

                          The Site Talk board is the right place for all these discussions -- the CHOW folks and the Chowhound folks all read it. And we do read the comments section on the stories, too.

                          And, for what it's worth, we hear the complaints, but we do stand behind the decision to run RuBo. She's not for everyone, that's understood. But for now it's a short-term column while Helena/Table Manners is on maternity leave.

                          1. re: davina

                            hi davina, thank you for your helpful response! I appreciate knowing the suggestions, comments and support posted here is reaching the intended audience.

                            1. re: davina

                              I think the problem that's getting people riled up is not that RuBo exists, but that objectionable information can't be avoided. There's a difference between people choosing not to search out RuBo and "Craptails", and being confronted with the story teasers when a page loads.

                              BTW I'd love to see more of this sort of article

                              1. re: Chris VR

                                While acknowledging the issues of story placement, some of us were also responding to tone and content, Chris VR. Both here on Site Board and in the comment section of RuBo's column site visitors have explained every reason they are disappointed.

                                The Food Media piece was an interesting read!

                                1. re: Chris VR

                                  I agree with you, Chris. Keep the trash off CH and I'll continue to ignore CHOW. I use 'bad' words with great aplomb (IMHO!) but I'd rather not be forced to see them. It's moronic. And RuBo? A one trick pony who's already outlived any humorous inclination on the part of the author. Beyond moronic.

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    Is that then momoronic? Hanging head in shame.

                                    1. re: MplsM ary


                              2. re: JonParker

                                Supertaster grew on me over time. James takes a bullet for the food curious with good humor and although I have rarely seen let alone tried the food stuffs he uncovers (and reader comments of his column are also sour to supportive) you gotta give props to the guy for being curious and sharing the food finds.

                      1. re: HillJ

                        Keep in mind that those who find something offensive are much more likely to comment publicly than those who enjoy it. This is especially true when all it takes is the click of a mouse (rather than putting pen to paper, finding an envelop and a stamp of the right denomination and locating one of the last remaining street letter boxes still in existence...).

                        1. re: Servorg

                          Adding a comment box at the end of any online article encourages this form of communication reply. Ask any newspaper! Trying call it in...mail, what's that?!

                          A hilarious remark Servorg given the writer RuBo is a fictional mashup sharing f-bombs dressed as humor.

                          And, a very happy & healthy New Year to all!

                          1. re: HillJ

                            Happy New Year to you and all the hounds, who make my day brighter by their participation in this food "mashup" of America, Canada, Mexico, the UK, South America, Europe, Asia and "elsewhere" in the World.

                    2. The "Craptail" piece? More lame than offensive. Dorothy Parker and S.J. Perelman, you are missed!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: erikschwarz

                        lame absolutely. if it had been hilarious or fascinating I might have let it go despite my dislike for scatalogical humor here.

                        I hate to think the chow authors have so little to say that they need to draw clicks with this sort of header. does the site really want an audience of people who might be interested in what a "craptail" is? The mind boggles.

                        1. re: erikschwarz

                          Lamely offensive, and lazy - blue language is the cheapest (quality, not cost) way to a laugh.
                          Even the New Yorker's standards for writing and proofreading have become lax (recently they printed the lizard species as "gekko"). Maintaining standards is becoming impossible. Because institutions small and large no longer consider them important., those who know them are akin to artisans of arcane crafts or the last speakers of a dying language.