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Apr 19, 2011 11:41 AM

"Ask the Expert" on topical boards

I haven't noticed and of these special features on the boards I read for some months now. Last year I suggested trying to line up a home canning expert for Q/A's during the late summer to fall Northern Hemisphere harvest season so I am just posting to remind the CH powers that be that you thought it was a good idea at the time. Anyone else think so, or have other suggestions?

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  1. I'm happy to help facilitate expert threads. Feel free to suggest people and/or topics and I can look into who's available and willing.

    64 Replies
    1. re: davina

      Here is another list of experts I would love to talk to.

      A barbecue and smoked meats expert.
      An expert on sausage making
      A recent graduate of a culinary school. Some of your moderators might be able to fill that bill.
      Christopher Kimball from Cook's Illustrated or any of his regular chefs.
      A Chinese Cuisine expert.
      Actually name any cuisine expert.

      1. re: Hank Hanover

        I've always hated this feature on the CHOWHOUND part of the site. IMO, this belongs on CHOW.

        Here's why.

        I was just reading this on Chow about what the food editors are reading

        That was fine, However it struck me that the bloggers, food writers, food experts, etc have lots of places to express what they think.

        The ordinary people like me and most Chowhounds don't have the hype or the publicity. Chowhound is supposed to be about the ordinary person's opinion.

        I've also learned more about food on Chowhound from the non experts ... those quiet, unsung posts about the unloved cuisines such as Laotian food that the experts don't care about. I've learned more about cooking techniques, cookware, wine, etc, etc, etc ... from the regular folks.

        I've seen similar types of things on egullet ... and you know what ... the experts take over.

        Yes, I'm interested in reading about what the experts think ... on Chow, not Chowhound.

        1. re: rworange

          I realize these so called experts have plenty of places to put their opinions but it seems to me I have little opportunity to question them. I can get all the one sided articles, videos, recipes from these people I can stand. I want to be able to talk to them and ask them questions.

          I haven't seen that, before.

          As far as taking over, that's already been done. Chowound has been taken over by a few self anointed experts that aren't experts at all. It is also controlled by a 10 - 12 volunteer moderators that decide whether your statement is worthy to be on chowhound.

          1. re: rworange

            RW, have you read any of the previous Ask the Expert threads? They included the Nimans, Mark Bittmann, and a gardening expert, with a 2-week time window. I didn't think the experts took over at all. If anything, some of the usual suspect Hounds tended to jump in to answer before the expert had time to reply. Overall, though, I thought it was a good give-and-take. The experts weren't self-promoting their agendas, just answering Hounds' questions.

            1. re: greygarious


              Yes, I read them and enjoyed them. I just don't believe they belong on the Chowhound side.

              There might be less of that jump by Chowhounds and focus on the experts opinion if this was on Chow which has a different tone. .

              There is still the opportunity to ask questions on Chow because there are reply boxes, so there is nothing preventing give and take.

              If anything, because of the way Chow is organized it would be easier to find these discussions there as they could have an "Ask the expert" category.

              The way it is now, the thread gets unpinned at the end of the two weeks, and good luck finding it with the search engine. It is a shame to have these buried in the forums.

              It isn't that these people promote their agendas, it is that there are more and more of these types of features. The experts start joining in on the regular posts and suddenly in is necessary to "be somebody" for a post to be considered worthy, so to speak.

              It is no longer what is being said, but who says it.

              I don't dislike the feature, only the placement.


              If you haven't seen this before, I'd suggest checking out egullet.

              1. re: rworange

                CHOW is a pretty busy site magazine. I read it daily and it's getting so cluttered by content...tons of videos, recipes all over the place, crazy ad placement, clutter, resident columns and no search engine, no archive and a tiny comment section. While I see your points and responses to this thread, I think Hank and greyg both reflect what CH's are looking for from an Expert post.

                I think what's critical is that davina set ups an Expert Board on CH with parameters for discussion, pre-questions supplied by the Expert and a week for the community to participate in the discussion. An Expert Board would begin to archive the topics/guests and the past Expert posts from last year could be moved over to this Board now.

                And, it would be incredibly helpful if CH's respect the Expert to lead the conversation. Maybe some of the CH "experts" can offer their expertise thru davina and volunteer to cover a topic on their own post topic rather than bogart the opportunity to learn and listen to an invited "guest" speaker.

                1. re: HillJ

                  And it would be incredibly helpful if CH's respected each other. Hank's comments are exacty what is wrong with an expert board ... there are experts and "so-called-experts" And that is the problem. A chowhound's opinion, no matther what their expetise is somehow considered lesser than an 'expert".

                  That may or may not be true.

                  Some people are just guided by passion. They are 'obsessives' but they don't choose to make a career of it.

                  The bogarting being done is of the Chowhound boards and that might be why it gets some of the response it does.

                  I am more than aware that Chow and CBS can make any choice they want to. But IMO, I'm still entitled to my opinion though I'm no expert. I think this is better on Chow. If that side of the site is so cluttered, there is no reason to start cluttering this side.

                  There is a search engine on Chow.

                  And really, no reason for posters to get hot and bothered by my little comments. I realize it won't change a thing. It jus struck me while reading that link this morning why I disliked the experts collumn on the Chowhound part of the site. This isn't the side of the site for official experts.

                  1. re: rworange

                    Yes, I am referring (when I said bogarting) to the CH Boards and specifically what both fellow CH's reading along and asking ?'s and Experts invited on CH experienced last year. Imagine you're invited to speak on a topic and everyone is talking for you.

                    I also believe that if a CH (member) is willing to offer their expertise on a given topic (like Sushi Man has) then volunteer to lead an Expert topic by following the same set ups directed by davina and the Team. I'm not at all opposed to giving the "floor" to a CH member with something really interesting to discuss. Does that appeal to anyone else? I'm (again) referring to very specific topics, discussed over a weeks time.

                    It's up to davina and the CH Team to set and enforce the guidelines for Expert posts and discussions.

                    Count me in as preferring those discussions are scheduled on CH.

            2. re: rworange

              I don't hate the feature. But the name has always made me feel uncomfortable as Chowhound was founded on not blindly accepting opinions from on high.

              I would have no problem with "Ask the Author", "Ask the Pro", or something besides "expert". Because the fact is, no one is the end-all, be-all expert in any field. One of the benefits of the Chowhound site is ability for people (and I would not call chowhounds "ordinary") to shared a unique piece of knowledge that they own and to aggregate the experiences of many individuals, none of whom are appointed "experts". Yet those voices manage to contribute considerable expertise across a range of topics.

              Like others, I cringed at the 'hounds who jumped in to answer a question before the "expert" had a chance to come back to the board. It was the same sort of feeling I have when audience members at a lecture monopolize the floor with their own opinions rather than using the limited time to ask a question of the speaker. But when I thought about it, if the point was to surface additional knowledge regarding a topic, then they're entitled to have their say.

              As far as Chow vs. Chowhound, I don't have an opinion either way. The Chowhound audience is larger and the threaded messaging is superior to the reply function on Chow.

          2. re: davina

            The key thing about Chowhound is that it demonstrated that the cumulative weight of lots of really savvy people surpasses that of any given expert. In its nearly fifteen years of existence, we very forcefully proved that.

            I, for example, was a well-regarded restaurant critic when I started the site. But I quickly realized I was the Mikhail Gorbachev of food critics, having ensured my own obsolescence by showing that the network of chowhounds knows way more than any one person. Fine. I never felt comfortable with the "expert" mantle, anyway, and I was proud to be part of such a swell crowd.

            Tons of well known food world people have also joined the crowd and posted here, relaxing, for a moment, from having to pronounce from "on high". They've mostly been dazzled by the resident expertise level.

            Now we're going to anoint them? And also rate posts?
            Why did the powers that be come to deem Chowhound's horizontal, non-hierarchical structure a weakness rather than a strength? That's the entire basis of this community!

            Change the culture, change the community. Change the community, lose the savvy.

            1. re: Jim Leff

              I want to be sure of what you are saying. There won't be any
              "expert threads" on chowhound because you don't feel they are necessary and are counter intuitive?

              1. re: Hank Hanover


                To have an expert thread means other threads are non-expert because they don't have famous experts. But famous experts are no more expert than layman experts. We've proved precisely that over the years. That's why this resource - this network - is looked to for expert information by so many people.

                Setting up an official distinction will alter the balance, tone, and culture of our community, which has always been profoundly based upon the notion of non-hierchical expertise (i.e. the network's the expert).

                Here it is in even more of a nutshell. What would happen to Wikipedia if the admins created special "Expert Articles"? Maybe good things, maybe bad things (I think more of the latter). But one things' for damned sure: it wouldn't be Wikipedia anymore.

                1. re: Jim Leff


                  Wikipedia offers the community "featured content" that represents the best that Wikipedia has to offer. These are the articles, pictures, and other contributions that showcase the polished result of the collaborative efforts that drive Wikipedia. All featured content undergoes a thorough review process to ensure that it meets the highest standards and can serve as an example of our end goals. A small bronze star () in the top right corner of a page indicates that the content is featured.

                  Wikipedia's community thrives with or without participation in Featured Content because participation is optional. And, I think having the option is all any of us interested in this idea are asking for.

                  Every online community has a subtle and obvious form of highlighting those who contribute in differing ways; including varying levels of knowledge. While there has always been room for everyone, plenty of "informal rating" occurs. Some CH's attract that kind of value around here (with or without a gold star). Therefore, I still fail to see how an optional opportunity to read and participate in a guest speaker post would change any of the other offerings on this large website or create havoc. Every page is optional to enjoy or ignore.

                  1. re: HillJ

                    "Wikipedia offers the community "featured content" that represents the best that Wikipedia has to offer"

                    So do we. Digest. It's great. I fully support it (in fact, I launched it, under a different name, years ago).

                    We're discussing a different thing here. Bringing in people with presumed "greater knowledge" and anointing them. Again, the analogy would be for WIkipedia to offer special "expert articles", created not by the crowd but by academics, etc. It's the antithesis of the culture.

                    As with wikipedia, "experts" are free to contribute anytime on Chowhound as PART OF THE CROWD (as they do, often!). Doing so respects and maintains our culture. As with Wikipedia, we create expert content without specially anointed experts. In fact, that's our entire raison d'ĂȘtre. It's about the power, speed, and breadth of a real smart smart crowd.

                    Let Chowhound be Chowhound.

                    1. re: Jim Leff

                      Ok, Wikipedia calls this opportunity you refer by a different name. While the culture is collaborative anyone can alter the content; unlike CH where you cannot change the words written by another CH. Big difference there.

                      I'm not sure your entire comparison CH/Wiki works for the purposes of this discussion nor was I caught up in the idea of giving out ratings (just didn't think it was necessary or helpful to any of us) but if allowing for even more collaboration is a concern, I don't see inviting a guest onto a Topical Board a buzzkill.

                      Chowhound will be Chowhound.

                  2. re: Jim Leff

                    Ok. I just wanted clarification because if that was what you were saying it didn't make any sense to waste any more time on this thread.

                  3. re: Hank Hanover

                    Jim, as the resident expert on the founding history of CH, I think sharing your view on the Ask the Expert topic is a bit ironic here and expectedly biased. Maybe that's the point. With all due respect, the weight of your "voice" carries.

                    1. re: HillJ

                      I don't see any irony; Jim is but one of the many experts on how chowhound was built, contributing his perspective on the history of the site. Many other experts in the same area seem to share many aspects of that perspective, and have also expressed their opinion here, that's the point of the in-house expert network.

                      1. re: limster

                        The idea that there are many "experts" on CH is not my issue at all. Yet the word expert is getting battered..and then used at the same time. Seems to have some bearing on why the idea of a guest speaker invited to CH is a muddled formula. I meant no harm above just another observation.

                        Overall I would say the major of the CH community has not weighed in at all on this topic. Okay, I've more than expressed myself on this guest speaker idea.

                        1. re: HillJ

                          Well, if we want to invite a guest speaker, then, it makes sense that the guest speaker should add value, knowledge and information above and beyond what the combined savvy of the community can already provide. Finding such a guest speaker is a very non-trivial task.

                          1. re: limster

                            limster, I do agree w/you and I hope the opportunity is pursued.

                            1. re: HillJ

                              HillJ, you've mistaken Limster's dry sense of humor.

                                1. re: HillJ

                                  Alas, I didn't get the joke. Wasn't exactly attempting humour, merely stating the situation. To speak more plainly, a guest speaker that fits the above criteria may not exist.

                                  1. re: limster

                                    Now that's just the half empty debate...limster...I have confidence in this idea. However it works out..I'm confident guest speakers are a cinch to recruit.

                                    1. re: HillJ

                                      The speaker would have to "add value, knowledge and information above and beyond what the combined savvy of the community can already provide", and be on egullet. :)

                                      1. re: HillJ

                                        I'm sure lots of guests would be willing to come here to answer questions. But the issue is not whether people are willing to be guests, it's about whether we can even find someone worth recruiting.

                                        There's no debate about whether the glass is half full or empty. Based on the precedents, it looks mostly empty. We've tried out guest speakers a couple of times, and as some of the other posts here indicated, hounds here could provide answers to many of the questions raised. Most hounds were probably more restrained, and refrained from responding, out of politeness to the guest. Since the existing community could answer those questions, the guest speaker isn't providing something that is not already provided. And if politeness is keep many hounds from providing their perspective, we're essentially reducing the amount of information we could get.

                                        We have to be open minded and try things out first, and so we have had guest speakers. But once we've tried things out, we also have to think critically about the results and assess the experience. We can't just ignore what those experiences indicate and continue with something that is not productive.

                                        1. re: limster

                                          Well, here is where our perspectives vary. The guest speakers invited onto CH last year experienced an interesting introduction to this community. While there were plenty of CH's interested in posting questions, participating in the discussion and reading along, there were a number of CH's who didn't understand the nature of "guest" and jumped into the post replying to threads specifically directed to the speaker.

                                          A guest should be scheduled for a specific time frame because the CH community is not use to waiting hours for a reply and by the time the guest returned to the thread the conversation had taken all sorts of interesting turns without them. This coordination needs fine tuning.

                                          If this opportunity takes hold, I hope the folks organizing it will consider the optimal approach; beneficial for everyone following along.

                                          If I was attending a live workshop in a conference room a jumping in by audience members to answer audience questions would be handled in a way that didn't isolate the invited guest speaker but also encouraged Q&A.

                                          The only "experience" I'm looking for is fun, informative food speak. I receive more than enough "brain salad surgery" at my job(s).

                                          1. re: HillJ

                                            I understand the social gaffe that is asking an expert to 'host' a thread only to have other posters answering questions for him or her before they get a chance to. But might the problem be that a forum is the wrong media for that type of q&a rather than that some posters don't 'get' it?

                                            In other words...

                                            Imagine that all everybody played by the rules - that if someone asked a question about an area where you had your own expertise and perspective, you politely kept quiet and let the 'guest' expert answer. Then by inviting the expert (who is free to post here anyway, even using his own name and reputation), you've actually limited the discussion and the exchange of information.

                                            The problem is that you're asking an expert to make an appearance on a forum and then expecting the forum to stop being a forum while he's on it. Chowhound is not a lecture hall, and posters are not audience members. The best uses of expertise I've seen on a forum are cases like the Egullet sous vide thread[s], which featured some of the English-speaking world's foremost experts on the subject discussing matters collaboratively and in-depth with anyone who had anything interesting to add. That's what a forum does.

                                            And,as has been asked before in this thread - what's wrong with using for something like this? It's clearly the more appropriate venue IMO.

                                            1. re: cowboyardee

                                              I think a new idea requires a willingness to try it. The beauty of CH is that every aspect of registered membership is optional. A guest speaker not for you...just pass the post by. Participation will quickly tell if the idea has merit or not. And fwiw, if the idea doesn't fly with hounds I'll be the first to say so. I'm not afraid the community will change in some drastic fashion because a speaker was invited.

                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                If we're just talking about inviting an expert, it's already been tried (Mark Bittman is a good sport). I don't really mind if that's done again, but it seemed like a failed experiment to me, though mostly a harmless one.

                                                If you're talking about thoroughly moderating away posts to such a thread that aren't respectful, earnest questions addressed to the expert (IMO the only way to keep the same thing that always happens in these threads from happening again), then I think that idea will alienate more people than it pleases. I think trying it would be a bad idea.

                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                  It's not a new untried idea. It's something we tried more than once and didn't work, for reasons more than one poster have described on this thread.

                                                  1. re: limster

                                                    cowyboy, I can't speak for moderation.
                                                    limster, I didn't say it was untried but I do believe there was something to be gained and learned from the guests so far should any other guests be invited.

                                                    okay CH's I can't think of another thing to say on this subject beyond:
                                                    -the CH community by in large did not weigh in on this thread
                                                    -the idea merits (imho) another try and I hope it rec's more thought in coordination
                                                    -anyone uninterested in participation if this idea moves forward clearly doesn't
                                                    have to participate

                                                    I have enjoyed discussing this idea with all of you. Have a marvelous Sunday. I'm off to learn from some QC experts here in Canada.

                                                    1. re: limster

                                                      293 posts on Bittman...not bad for a fairly quiet announcement.
                                                      Other posters have liked the idea limster. I'm cool with not everyone agreeing on this one concept. But, I hope the powers that be weigh the pros/cons based on something more than fear of the word/connotation of "expert."

                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                        More than 2000 threads on Bittman...much better, with no announcement nor guest speaker.

                                                        Posters have liked the idea of discussing food, and they'll discuss it, guest speaker or not, unless they've been restrained, out of politeness to the guest.

                                                        We've been weighting the pros/cons based on prior experiences rather than the meaning of any word, and I hope that learning from prior experiences will continue.

                                                    2. re: HillJ


                                                      Might as well say it now, because the idea doesn't seem either popular or workable.

                                                      1. re: kaleokahu

                                                        hi there kaleo, I haven't seen you in awhile. The only real take away on this topic for me was that there is only room for one style of expert. A CH member. That anyone invited formally to speak about a topic would be deemed a different type of expert thereby splitting this community in a way not welcomed by some CH's. If that is the case then I'm not surprised by the reactions directed towards my pov/posts.

                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                          "The only real take away on this topic for me was that there is only room for one style of expert. A CH member."
                                                          I don't speak for others. But that was never my point.

                                                          To clarify, my point was merely that inviting an expert to the forums necessarily involves either:
                                                          A) the slightly awkward scenario of inviting a well regarded guest to stand in the spotlight only to have them interrupted, shouted down, usurped, and all the other things that come with posting on an internet forum, respected expert or no.


                                                          B) the genuinely destructive and problematic proposition of moderating that thread in such a way that anyone not kowtowing to the expert gets their post deleted.

                                                          Again, if CH wants to try option A again, that's basically fine by me. It did no major harm. Just left an unpleasant taste in some people's mouths, judging from comments.

                                                          I've also said that Chow is a much more ideal medium for this sort of thing, so I don't see why it's not used instead.

                                                          1. re: cowboyardee

                                                            cowboyaredee, morning! Your post reminds me of the numerous threads I've read on CH's NAF Board regarding how one handles poor manners, unwelcomed guests and "life" experiences surrounding food. If any community should be able to handle/welcome/deal with the optional idea of a guest speaker it should be the dozens of smart, articulate people that have plenty to say on hundreds of food subjects covered here.


                                                            eta: CHOW Food Media:


                                                            Without guest interaction with the reader, this piece is rather flat and lifeless and over @ CHOW member comments are just as colorful but unlike CH, you can't see the ongoing conversation thru your profile page history.

                                                            1. re: HillJ


                                                              Or this CHOW member. Wouldn't it be interesting to have a give and take rather than read an interview alone?

                                                          2. re: HillJ

                                                            Hi, HillJ:

                                                            Yeah, been away from Site Talk for awhile after having too many of my own ideas shot down. So even if I disagree with you on this one, I know how it feels.

                                                            Celebs and celebrity being what they are, I just think there would be a palpable downtick in the collegiality here. Undue deference can be just as bad as lack of civility--or worse, because the former isn't always called out and *unless* called out perpetuates itself.

                                                            But I've learned that my opinions of how the site is run are worth nothing, so I guess I'll vote with my feet if things go south. Pretty telling though, when Jim Leff explains the theme of level. Oh well, CH is CBS's to foster or ruin as it sees fit.


                                                    3. re: HillJ

                                                      I think the only way these types of planned interactions with authors, chefs, celebrities, etc. could work is if the responses were moderated to allow questions only. I could see an article announcing the interaction, with a call for questions. The questions are submitted via email to the editors, who screen them (filtering out trolls and the like) and send them to the questionee, who answers them on his/her schedule, and then an article is created. It's not relly the free-flowing back and forth encouraged by the Chowhound discussion forums, but as previous discussions have shown (such as the one with Mark Bittman at ), Chowhounds aren't really the types of people to sit around and wait for someone else to answer. I can see how this might be offputting to an outside "expert" who might be expecting a discussion where the questions were being asked of him, for him to answer, not everybody else.

                                                      1. re: Chris VR

                                                        Well said, Chris VR. As I said up thread, CH's are not use to waiting.

                                                        On another thread I posted many of the suggestions you mentioned to davina. A new concept, even one that is grouped to a small cluster of posts over time, does need proper setup and a "sticky" to explain it. Most new concepts do.

                                                        293 posts on Bittman ...not bad for a new, quietly announced guest.

                                                      2. re: HillJ

                                                        >>The only "experience" I'm looking for is fun, informative food speak. I receive more than enough "brain salad surgery" at my job(s).

                                                        Exactly. Rather than repeat an experiment that didn't work,that didn't provide the optimal amount of fun informative food speak, we should stick with approaches that do work..

                                                      3. re: limster

                                                        We can't just ignore what those experiences indicate and continue with something that is not productive.
                                                        If we were talking about the number of user bells & whistles recently added to this site (you know the OP's on Site Talk asking for the lastest tools to be removed) then I would agree with you 100%.

                                            2. re: limster

                                              I can think of one obvious example where this is not true. For example, someone like say Paula Wolfert or another cookbook authori can provide a unique perspective, not shared by any other human being, on the content of her own books. When I cook from a cookbook and have questions, about what was intended, only the author can answer.Unlike some authoris, she doesnt interact on her website. The answers of my CH colleagues (I give these kinds of answers all the time) can only be informed speculations. Of course, moving out from such a specific area to say perceptions of mediterranean cuisine, ingredient substitutions, etc. moves us into areas where others might have things to say, and into a more interactive traditionally chowhoundy realm. but I dont see why some kind of conceptual purity should keep us from inviting interaction and participation by people with unique contributions..

                                              1. re: jen kalb

                                                Paula Wolfert inteacts on Facebook.

                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                  thanks! that was just one example, tho

                                                  1. re: jen kalb

                                                    I'm sure - she is very nice on FB.

                                                2. re: jen kalb

                                                  >>> but I dont see why some kind of conceptual purity should keep us from inviting interaction and participation by people with unique contributions..

                                                  Since I started this with my post, I want to point out that no one, even Jim, is against this feature.

                                                  My request was a simple one. Have this feature on the Chow part of the site rather than Chowhound.

                                                  And that is all anyone who has given an opinion about this has said.

                                                  Good feature. Wrong location on the site.

                                                  For some reason this is getting iterpreted as people not wanting the feature. Not true. I want it. It would be nice if it could appear on Chow. This thread alone has proved the problems of putting it on Chowhound.

                                                  If anonye can't see that, I certainly can;t say more to point out why.

                                                  It also does a disservice to the invited guest unless the draconian measure of deleting all but questions is taken.. As much as we would all like it, we can't change the way people will respond.

                                                  However, there is no need to defend the feature. Good one. Even better if on Chow.

                                                  1. re: rworange

                                                    At one point, what to call this feature seemed to be more at issue than where to place it. Several people discussing this tho said the CH community was larger; others didn't' have a preference either way on location. And it was greyg that inquired originally (thank you for asking!) about the possibility with Hank offering a nice list (food for thought). All in all, I didn't see any defending as much as the usual CH passion about new ideas.

                                                    I hope the idea attracts more CH to offer their opinions.

                                                    Finally, if you haven't caught my occasional references to celebrity endorsements just for celebrity sake...I'm not gaga for it. I'd much prefer to see a guest invited from the locals who bend over backwards to fuel their food passion so we all eat/cook/dream big about food. If the Obsessives folks were given a larger space, a Q&A forum, I'd be very happy.

                                                  2. re: jen kalb

                                                    I see 2 categories of answers to such questions of intent.

                                                    The first would be a practical reason e.g. Saves x minutes vs other recipe; adds y flavour to contrast x; results in a certain texture. I don't think this is the category of answers you're referring to because the consequence of a specific change in the recipe can be tested as one systematically modifies it, which many chowhounds do so anyway in efforts to improve it, which means it won't be an unique perspective. From experience, people seem to ask questions that fit into this vein.

                                                    The second would be more personal and indeed unique e.g. my grandma passed the recipe to me; I happened to have z ingredients that day. That certainly adds an interesting dimension, but it is more Not About Food than Home Cooking. There are lots of interesting and compelling things beyond food but that's more tangential to a food focus, no?

                                                    It's not conceptual purity that's making me resistant to the idea. It's that after looking back at the threads where we had various invited guests, it seems that the pros don't outweigh the cons.

                                            3. re: HillJ


                                              1. I've always been really proud to be a part of this group, and never "pulled rank" re: food opinions. So the no-badges-for-experts culture started with me.

                                              2. I'll bet less than 15% of users even recognize my name (that's intentional...see #1)

                                              3. Limster's right. A couple thousand people really built this site and have as much insight into its culture as I do.

                                              4. If my postings on this are informed and insightful (not saying they are), then I'd be delighted if they're considered as such. I'm by no means anti-expertise (the purpose of the site, after all, is to gather expert opinions), I'm just against making any fuss about experts who happen to be famous or somehow accredited (as a number of our posters already are). As Limster says, Chowhound, like Wikipedia, is fundamentally about in-network stark contrast to the way experts are handled elsewhere.

                                              5. I just remembered an observation that was made early on (can't remember where): Chowhound's like a hip place where well-known people can hang out without having a big scene made.

                                              1. re: Jim Leff

                                                number 5, yeah I miss that one.

                                          2. re: Jim Leff

                                            I'm basically of the same mindset. Mostly it stems from trying to guess what would be the litmus for selecting an "expert." It's a palatable suggestion to me if the experts have some true technical expertise like, say, modifying a gas grill to increase its heat output or, perhaps, historical authenticity of a cuisine. However, if we're talking about expertise borne simply out of experience, we have a lot of that on a daily basis.

                                            I fear that celebrity will be presented under the euphemism of expertise. We already have some of that, but such posters are 'hounds and democratic enough to maintain anonymity. Basically, if we get to Gwyneth Paltrow on the Homecooking board, I'm out.

                                            1. re: Jim Leff

                                              It's fair to say that every day on Chowhound is an ask-the-experts day. There will be times that outside experts who aren't normally on Chowhound may be asked to donate some of their expertise for hounds who want to participate, and ask questions of them. This doesn't denigrate the existing experts in any way.

                                              1. re: davina

                                                No. It denigrates the in-house expert network if these people are brought in as experts. Because you are absolutely drawing a distinction, regardless of how you want to spin it/phrase it/implement it. Chowhounds are not easily finessed. They live here.

                                                To return to the wikipedia analogy I made a couple postings up, if you brought in academics to create special "expert" entries, you would profoundly alter the dynamic of Wikipedia. Even if you're careful to note, from on high, a bright cheery "This doesn't mean we don't love love love our volunteer editors who are REALLY SUPER SMART, TOO!! :) :) :)".

                                                And it's not just a matter of insulting the regulars. This would be an upheaval to Chowhound's unique dynamic, which has always been intrinsically grounded in the notion of a non-hierarchical, dead-level horizontal network of smart people. You would be making a fundamental change to that culture.

                                                And maybe it'd be fun to experiment a little and "see what happens" if we give little badges to good postings or posters, add in some REAL experts to the mix, etc etc. But you'd be on dangerous ground, because when the culture of an online community (or any other sort of community) shifts, the shift cannot be undone.

                                                Famous food world people and other anointed parties are welcome to post any time. Always have been. And they have in droves. They don't need special badges. Nor do we need an influx of ditzy posters drawn in to suck up to the folks with the shiny badges.

                                              2. re: Jim Leff

                                                Jim, I have never agreed with you more.

                                                1. re: Jim Leff

                                                  Mr Jim

                                                  In my short tenor on this site I have seen a few things that are good and some things that need improvement. I totally agree with you that when you add an "expert" tag to some then you implicitly add the "non-expert" tag to the others. If I want to visit and "expert" there are tons of sites out there to go to, but the attraction to CH (just learned that was short for Chowhound) was the interaction. Although this attraction is wearing thin from my less than fun experiences.

                                                  But since you have been around since the beginning, this site already has it's implicit experts, or should I say self-appointed experts. Some deserve the distinction of more knowledgeable than me and I hope to learn from them, while I hope to teach others.

                                                  But beware of posting a divergent opinion to these self-appointed "expert", you will soon find your knees cut from you and be placed in the persona non-gratis category. So after a few weeks I struggle with the self-appointed "leaders' overseeing this so-called community. If CH now bring in "experts" (by the way who deems these people as experts) then the polarization of opinions will cause the self-appointees to prove they are smarter. Although that fight is something I would like to witness on some who have thrown darts at my forehead, I do not think that is the best business model for the site.

                                                  So I agree that an "expert" thread is being sponsored by people who either want their own opinions approved or to prove they are smarter than the expert.

                                                  1. re: nobadfoodplz

                                                    It's not about individual self-appointed experts. Nor is it about how some individual on chowhound being better than any expert out there. Instead, it's that the combined wisdom of thousands of savvy people exceed that of any individual.

                                                    1. re: limster

                                                      Oh my. The word expert really takes a hit here. nobadfoodplz, if that has been your experience on CH then the people capable of the power trip need to own it and I would highly recommend (with utmost respect) that you ignore the games. I have never met an expert on CH offline or on. What I have enjoy about CH is the fun and collaborative way everyone engages in food speak. All the other "junk" happens, we're all a little guilty of giving the junk focus because we care..but at the end of the day I'd rather (forgive me rwo, by way of example only here) read rworange's latest food slog than get into a tongue lashing with her over semantics. But, the two often intertwine and I greatly enjoy her words and her passion to share.

                                                      Poor harmless word: expert...I think we've overplayed this.

                                                      1. re: limster


                                                        Well said. That is what I was looking for when I started reading and posting. I guess I need to do a better job of ignoring the a-holes.

                                                  1. re: HillJ


                                                    You are wasting your time.

                                                    "I, for example, was a well-regarded restaurant critic when I started the site."

                                                    If this guy is who he says he is and I assume he is from his avatar and the deference Davina is paying him, he is against expert threads as we have described it. It is his site. It wouldn't matter if 100,000 chowhounders posted on this thread saying they wanted it. It isn't going to happen.

                                                    1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                      Friend, I never waste my time :)
                                                      Right now I'm enjoying a beer with my QC pals and life is good.
                                                      Enjoy the weekend!

                                                      1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                        I burst out laughing when I read that quote, as did many others I know.
                                                        Hank it is not his site. He has NO say on how things are run. CBS has the say not some
                                                        SAE. This quote is certainly an example of the definition of SAE.

                                                        1. re: celeryroot

                                                          I'm afraid you and Hank are both wrong :)

                                                          I have as much say as any other hound. And I neither seek nor receive the slightest deference.

                                                            1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                              Self Appointed Expert

                                                              not to be confused with Self Appointed Executioner, which some of the folks here seem to have understood it to mean.

                                                          1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                            Mr HH

                                                            If you would perform the least bit of research you will find that Mr Leff was one of, if not the only, founder of this site, and he spent considerable time and money keeping it afloat until he sold it to CBS. What he did before he started this site was his reference. If you read many of his posts you will see he has always been just one of the boys. He probably plays nicer than most of the posters I have encountered.

                                                            1. re: nobadfoodplz

                                                              I wasn't trying to be mean or attack him in any way.

                                                              I didn't need to do any research. I could see from his post that he was, apparently, the founder of the site.

                                                              Whether he sold most of the ownership to CBS or not, he was going to have a huge impact on what is posted on Chowhound.

                                                              If he doesn't like it, the chances of it making it on Chowhound are similar to a snowballs chances in hell.

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                                                          1. Hearing directly from the people who's books you're cooking from is invaluable. I'd definitely love to hear from more authors on the chowhound side. :)

                                                            1. I can find the expert's opinions pretty much anywhere - media interviews, their own websites, Tweets, blogs, Facebook, books, etc., etc., etc.

                                                              I like finding out how the folks who DON'T live on a culinary Mt Olympus do things in their every day lives.