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Mar 6, 2011 09:07 PM

How to encourage tourist or first time hound to use the search function on Chowhound?

I have been contributing to the Japan, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Jakarta Boards over the past few years. Regular hounds have made much contribution to review and discuss many restaurants, food topics and dining scene, so the use of search function on above right hand corner would have helped any reader to do research on any topic over the past many years.

Unfortunately, many of the regular contributors are tired of tourists, first time hound or even old timers to treat the board as it is a free concierge service. Instead of making use of the search function to do some research on the topic before asking more specific question, we do get regularly posts that are repeating commonly discussed subjects, such as "where should I eat?", "where is the best sushi?", "where is the best dim sum?", "please recommend best restaurant..." etc.

Most of the time, we just shake our heads, left those threads unanswered and moved on. A few would repeatedly ask them to do some "research" first. But it is getting tiring and irritating to read these posts.

Can anyone think of any way to encourage new users to use search function to "research" more on common topics?

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    1. I would appreciate it if the mods would delete or lock some of the posts. The Japan board is suffering because of all the lazy posters. People have resorted to recommending the worst restaurants in Japan just to mock them. I don't always know if they realize they're being ridiculed for posting a question that has been answered in a thread three inches down the page, but I don't really care any more.

      1. I am drafting a Japan specific "First time poster FAQ" that we can attach as a sticky note to the Japan board that will answer common logistic questions and make suggestions about utilizing site functionality to get the most out of the CH experience. Hope to finish and post it by the end of the week. Regulars will be suggested to add additional comments.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Silverjay

          >> I am drafting a Japan specific "First time poster FAQ" that we can attach as a sticky note to the Japan board that will answer common logistic questions and make suggestions about utilizing site functionality to get the most out of the CH experience. Hope to finish and post it by the end of the week. Regulars will be suggested to add additional comments.

          Yes, a stickied topic is the way to do it. Many of the boards have a stickied topic titled "New to the XXX Board? Read This First". You can see an example in the Chicago Area forum at

          These stickied topics have been created by the Chowhound Team. My recollection is that they first created a topic to which everyone contributed comments, suggestions, and write-ups to be included, but they actually created the stickied topic itself, presumably to prevent it from running off on a tangent (or, worse, flames). Perhaps they can assist with doing so for the Japan forum...?

          1. re: nsxtasy

            This is a great idea. Why doesn't the Chowhound Team does that to every board? Not just Japan, but "China & SE Asia" needs it too...

          2. re: Silverjay

            Well, I HAD been working on a very Japan specific FAQ off and on, but seem to have deleted it between my biz and personal computers. It's gone. I'll have to rewrite it, but not happening this week.

            1. re: Silverjay

              Sorry, I do need to finish writing FAQs for the International boards, as the North American boards have them already. I need to make some tweaks to the format to fit the International boards and I haven't done that yet.

              1. re: Jacquilynne

                What I drafted was very specific to Japan, as there are certain peculiarities to restaurant research and dining there- as I'm sure is the case in many other countries. I had used your format as a basis though. I plan to take another crack at it soon.

                1. re: Silverjay

                  Drop me an email at when you've got some time to look at this again and we can work together on it. I'm happy to work with you on getting the details right, since I've not been to Japan and am not familiar with its idiosyncracies, but I'm going to want to post the actual sticky topic myself for various reasons.

                  1. re: Jacquilynne

                    Sounds like a plan. Thanks for getting involved.

          3. either ignore or politely explain it to them.

            misleading them only turns CH to shit

            1 Reply
            1. re: thew

              My first two years as hound: I politely explain it to them, and sometimes even copy and paste old threads to them.

              Subsequently two years: ignore them.

              Now: hope to change their behavior or simply go back to ignore them.

            2. Today, the search box in the header is hidden to most users who go to a specific board and scroll past the Chowhound header and advertising clutter to get to the thread list.

              Simple way to encourage searching is to replace the red [ADD NEW POST] button (on left side of page ... just below board name) with a red [SEARCH THIS BOARD] button.

              The [Add New Post] button could be moved over to the right side of the page ... just below board name.

              New visitors may be more inclined to search - if the button's right there for them.

              7 Replies
              1. re: Foody4life

                Good idea--I don't think most new posters are aware of the Search. Put it next to the "post" and they're bound to see it. Even more, when your cursor goes over the "Post" button, it could say, "Did you try Search first?" or something to that effect.

                The most annoying recently was someone who demanded to be told where the "good food"in the area was--as if that weren't what the entire board is. I don't know if people are too lazy to look and want others to do the work for them or what the disconnect is.

                1. re: Foody4life

                  God yes, move that search to the left side of the page. Howevver I'd leave the add a post button on the left as well, otherwise then there will be the problem of people not seeing how to post.

                  Despite having put together guides and lists for the SF area which also gets tons of repetitive questions, I'm going to defend people who don't search.

                  When you are really familiar with a board, it seems simple to just say search. However, I've moved once and traveled a bit and even after nine years I find using search is difficult to find the info you want.

                  The sticky is great and I hope your board gets it. It has been wonderful on the SF board.

                  Let me caution that it is wonderful NOT because anyone reads it initially. However as a poster, you can say ... "Check out the great suggestions at the top of the board for searching and then come back with some ideas about where you would like to eat and you'll get more input" ... or something along those lines.

                  Lists is a great function if you want to put your own favorites together and don't wan't to repeat the same thing over and over. Here's my SF list.

                  Vistining SF, eat like a local not a tourist

                  I did include a link to the sticky in there. Also, lists can be changed at any time. There's not two hour limit. I've been away from SF about a year, so the above needs some updating which will be easy to do when I return.

                  And ... as someone said ... you don't need to answer them. If it is a chore, just ignore.

                  And a, um +1, for not putting misinformation on the board to ridicule the query or be snarky. That will ruin it for anyone who does try to search the board on their own and make Chowhound a less credible site ... AND ... you a less credible poster.

                  1. re: Foody4life

                    Good idea to re-position the search box but I doubt Chowhound will do that based on our suggestion.

                    1. re: FourSeasons

                      making the SEARCH box more obvious would be simpler (I feel so rude posting " hey jerko 12 people have asked that in the last month, ever heard of keywords?" just comes off wrong no matter how I word it)

                      whatever the mods may do on the next re-vamp, there will always be the clueless and lazy few. I just ignore them largely anymore unless they've expressly done some effort and have a specific detail in question (or I'm in a rare good mood)

                      1. re: FourSeasons

                        I'm not a web developer, but something like this on each board would probably help first timers

                        1. re: Foody4life

                          couldn't hurt and would be a lot simpler than the rest of us digging up links to the exact same question posted last week (still gonna happen, but...)

                          and the mods are reading this thread (see above re Int'l sticky FAQ's - so who knows.

                          1. re: Foody4life

                            That's a big improvement. Though I am a computer Luddite par excellence, I have always been able to find and use the search box on any website I've ever read. I do think it's more a matter of initiative vs. laziness rather than any inherent difficulty in using the search function. Maybe in addition to your relocated button, an arrow pointing at it, captioned "Look here, Chowhole!" ??? ;-P