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Feedback Wanted on New Feature Coming Soon

Hi Chowhounds! We've noticed that many users would like an easy way to acknowledge informative posts without necessarily jumping fully into the conversation or cluttering the thread with a bunch of '+1' or 'thank you' or 'I agree' posts.

So we're thinking about allowing users to mark a post as "helpful." Pretty straightforward, nothing you haven't seen on other sites, but something that could come in handy. And down the road we'll do more with the data, as a way to bubble up the most relevant or informative parts of the thread.

The button would be next to the reply and permalink buttons underneath the text box and would look something like this when 212 people clicked the link -

Helpful (212) | Permalink | Reply

Let us know what you think!

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  1. I have mixed feelings - the whole negative train of thought about CH becoming a popularity contest goes against my old-timer ethos. But it's how things are going and it's probably how we ought to go. It certainly sounds un-intrusive enough.

    7 Replies
    1. re: applehome

      That's actually really not what it's intended to do: we want it to encourage great information about food, not necessarily promote the people who are spreading that info. That's why we're attaching it to posts, not to posters.

      1. re: davina

        That's actually really not what it's intended to do: we want it to encourage great information about food, not necessarily promote the people who are spreading that info

        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

        Separate the posters from their post? Does that sound like community to you? Why have sign on names, why not offer anonymous membership? Exactly, my offense to this current slippery slope of thumbs up/thumbs down. It is because of the long standing post history of every individual member that CH has the volume/rep/history it is enjoying.

        Do you separate a ball player from the team? From the game history?

        I fail to understand this direction. From the CH manifesto:
        If you, too, fret endlessly about making every bite count; if you'd grow weak from hunger rather than willingly eat something less than delicious, this place is for you! Welcome to our community. Let's talk. Let's swap tips.

        1. re: davina

          One other (last) observation. It is the actual poster not the posted topic that is using the +1 in their comment box, so how does this new feature help promote the information about food? Could you please further explain the thought/usage idea.

          1. re: davina

            It's not personal to the rater, but it's always personal to the ratee. As RWOrange and others have mentioned below, people tend to take their popularity to heart, even if it's the popularity of their posts, and not of themselves. People who get helpful ratings will tend to post more and those that get less helpful ratings may tend to post less. Of course, that may be what we want.

            To me, it's part of the web - it's all about data mining. CH is indeed a treasure trove of information. The trick isn't how to get the information there - Jim figured that out in the '90's. It's how to make the information useful. We've always argued about that bugaboo. The helpful button is one way of going at it. I don't think it's going to destroy the site.

            But it is a major step in our evolution - let's not minimize that. Any way you put it, we're going to start mining popularity data and initiate some form of ranking. So it be...

            1. re: applehome

              re: Info -- for those who don't want to wade through a zillion posts, the digests are actually a superb place to start. I think the digests editors there are doing a great job, and there is very useful and informative stuff bubbling up there. Giving the digest more prominence would be an awesome start to promoting chowy information in a convenient way.

              1. re: limster

                Hi limster - we completely agree that the digests are a wonderful tool that aren't visible enough - we are working on promoting the digests in a better way thank you for your feedback.

                1. re: limster

                  and maybe, just maybe cut down on the repetetive questions (yeah right)

          2. No. More noise. Agreeing with Applehome, who's to decide what's helpful? Do you follow poster X's helpfuls because you like them but disregard Poster Y's because you don't?
            All I ever wanted was a FB share button so stuff I thought was helpful could be shared with MY friends.
            The opposite of a popularity contest.

            2 Replies
            1. re: bbqboy

              I use this for sharing on Facebook, on this site and others: http://www.facebook.com/share_options...

              1. re: Chris VR

                hey, thanks chris. I've always understood that the "like" button discloses all profile info to
                3rd parties, where the "share" button does not...I'm willing to be corrected if that isn't true.

            2. I am in favor of this if it does what I think it will: lets users "like" or "admire" or "agree with" something without adding an unread post to the thread. In other words, it seems as if it will save me from scrolling through 600+ posts just to see that someone feels similarly to someone else.

              In fact, I think you should expand this. In addition to "helpful," why not add "LOL," "You go, girl!," and "Have you searched for the answer to this question?" Then I'll have so much time on my hands that I can finally finish all those screenplays I keep starting.

              13 Replies
              1. re: small h

                I'm not quite sure if your post is sarcastic or serious, small h.

                So, if there is a "You go girl!" link, would posters be required to reveal their sex when they sign up? The link would only appear if you checked female?

                1. re: rworange

                  Serious. I've always been an advocate of streamlining Chowhound and improving the signal to noise ratio. "You go, person!" would also be fine, but it's not as snappy, somehow, or as alliterative.

                  1. re: small h

                    Streamlining for me would be simpler to use Ipad, Iphone and blakberry interfaces.

                    I guess I'm not clear on what feedback is expected? It sounds like a done deal.

                    Features like this hurt people' s feelings and discourage posting. There are enough posts out there about people who are upset that they have no one in their "read me" section. Whatever the intent, that just happens. It still boils down to a popularity contest.

                    I stopped posting on egullet because of something similar. Sometimes it is better not to know. I can post on some obscure topic and hope it helps someone. However, if I there seems like little interest, or I'm not being ;'helpful' enough, what's the point of posting?

                    However, should the mobile interface ever be easier to use, this could be good on the quick review section of the restauant record, so the useful information bubbles up should someone choose that.

                    At least the design seems unobtrusive which would have been nice had the share tab been similarily simply designed.

                    Did the "report" link just get left out on the example? Or has that been removed?

                    1. re: rworange

                      <However, if I there seems like little interest, or I'm not being ;'helpful' enough, what's the point of posting?>

                      I post because I have something to share, or to ask. Sometimes I get a lot of replies, sometimes a few, sometimes none (still waiting for someone to help me improve my homemade pita bread). I have never felt it was "better not to know" how many people care about what I write, or don't, because I don't feel I'm competing against the rest of Chowhound for eyeballs. Look, don't look, whatever.

                      1. re: rworange

                        Part of the reason I like "helpful" is that I hope it will have the opposite effect for many people. Right now, newbies sometimes don't get much feedback on their first report or two, while an old hat who reposts their blog entries may get many thanks from other posters. That creates a kind of echo chamber effect amongst the well-known hounds, and I hope an easy way to let people know that their information was useful will give some of those newer posters some positive feedback, and the boost they need to keep posting.

                        1. re: Jacquilynne

                          The perspective you are highlighting runs opposite of what I see in the Home Cooking boards. Newcomers are on the same playing field as regulars every day. And, most CH's weighing in on these type of Site topics over the past few years have always said that putting in the time here, developing a following (who's reading me) (both on regional boards, restaurant recs) was what "most" CH's relied upon. If this new feature is about raising the experience for newbies I can't help but wonder why the shift. I don't know what qualifies a CH as a newbie/regular (length of membership/# of posts/popularity) but this site functions well in the communication thread to thread area and hap hazard in the add on tools area. Why continue to bombard it with bells and whistles if it's the CH to CH experience that people come for? The more FB like the site becomes the less unique the CH experience is.

                          1. re: HillJ

                            "The more FB like the site becomes the less unique the CH experience is."

                            Exactly. I'm of the mind set that CH should move away from lowest common denominator theories and embrace the future of on-line communities by making itself selective. Perhaps some basic aptitude testing would help. Nothing too tough - basic grammar, reading comprehension, fundamental food/drink knowledge.

                            1. re: MGZ

                              "Perhaps some basic aptitude testing would help. Nothing too tough - basic grammar, reading comprehension, fundamental food/drink knowledge."

                              Which brings to mind that oft quoted Groucho Marx line "I would never want to belong to any organization that would have someone like me as a member."

                              1. re: MGZ

                                And proof of search skills. Or at least a sincere desire to learn search skills. I'd take off the fundamental food/drink knowledge, though. One of my early posts asked why we add pasta water to pasta rather than plain old water, and I got this very snotty response (among a great many non-snotty responses):

                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3786...

                                I would not have liked it if that snotty response had been part of my application process.

                            2. re: Jacquilynne

                              This makes absolultely no sense; people know if their posts resonate or interest others because they either get replies or they don't. Or they get enthusiastic or not so replies.

                              1. re: mcf

                                >people know if their posts resonate or interest others because they either get replies or they don't. Or they get enthusiastic or not so replies.

                                If you assume that everyone sees every post, you're correct.

                            3. re: rworange

                              It can discourage posting, and as I've seen in other comment sections that have "thumbs up/down" abilities, tends also to encourage huge amounts of posts / discussion on "hey why did my post get a thumbs down when all I said was xyz ??" and "what is wrong with you people, I can't believe anyone would agree with something like that"

                              And those hurt feelings may not even be because someone truly disagreed with a post. There was a glitch on another site I visited when the page loaded there were a bunch of indicators on the comments indicating that I had already agreed with the comment, when I hadn't clicked anything at all. That, and there are trolls who get their jollies just clicking thumbs down all the live long day, and people who click "dislike" because they disagree with use of certain words or what not. It is not always an accurate representation.

                            4. re: small h

                              "+1", as it were! ;-D

                              Edit to add: This was in response to small h's 4/25, 11:55 pm post but the interweb gremlins plopped it here.

                        2. it sounds like the "useful" "funny" or "cool" buttons on yelp....
                          but i dont know what it will add to some of the threads/posts on chowhound..
                          just being helpful somtimes is more than ive gotten from a post or given..
                          and its easier to post a reply than just to say helpful...

                          1. How would the Mods/CH team handle a post/thread that goes from helpful to locked because the conversation btwn posters took all sorts of interesting but perhaps off topic turns? What determines "helpful" if deletion by Mods overrules member comments? How do you separate the post from the poster if you attribute another "ratings button" to the dialogue taking place btwn people?

                            Isn't the SHARE TAB enough?

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: HillJ

                              My first thought exactly about the share tab having similar, if not redundant functionality.

                              However, if you look at the OP, the difference, and real reason for this is

                              " And down the road we'll do more with the data, as a way to bubble up the most relevant or informative parts of the thread"

                              As to the rest of your comments, this link is on every post. It isn't a flag that the topic is "helpful" but that the particular comment is helpful. Deletions shouldn't matter. A reply would be helpful if it was within the parameters of the site rules.

                              I would guess though that a topic that has a lot of "helpful" flags on posts would also bubble to the top as a "helpful" or popular topic. The result of that is that the endless threads on topics such as Trader Joes would be those that bubble to the top.

                              Nothing said here by anyone will stop this feature from being added.

                              However, it is nice to get some of the thinking behind these things ... such as plans up the road.

                              It helps difuse some of the frustration of having a feature foisted on the site for some unknown reason.

                              I'm not against social networking and all the bells and whistles. Some people need that ego boost, to add their feelings without contributing much else. And if that drives traffic to the site and keeps it going, well, that is a good thing. Business is business, after all.

                              It is good that this new addition is unobtrusive. I hope when the bubble up feature is added it is well tested. The constant errors on each installation get tiring and might drive off as many people as they attract.

                              1. re: rworange

                                rwo, I gave my comments to the team who posted this topic not for you to pull apart. You have an opinion and so do I. But if you need to be heard louder, let's use our communicating here as an example to this new feature.

                                Was my comment or your comment more helpful?

                                I'm not going to mindread the CH Team, they asked for feedback and we are providing it. Irregardless of the final decision, we were asked.

                                This area of "social networking" appeals to people who enjoy voting and rating their favorite (fill in the blank). I don't happen to enjoy that aspect of communicating online. But I'm not in charge here. As for "bubbling up" a topic, that too will separate out who's post is deemed more bubble worthy....nah, I stand by my opinion.

                                1. re: HillJ

                                  Whatever our opinions it won't change the fact that this feature is being installed. That is pretty clear in the OP.

                                  That is why I'm a little unclear on the reason for asking for feedback.

                                  1. re: rworange

                                    You slay me, rwo. Your opinion was asked for what is unclear about that. Even if we stand on opposite ends of that feedback. The CH Team can't win for losing-ask/don't ask. I might not agree or even see the result I prefer but props to the team for asking.

                                    1. re: HillJ

                                      Which is what I said in the post you objected to. Nice to know.

                                      I'm reluctant to say anything really negative so that Chow might decide not to do similar posts in the future.

                                      However, if I had a clearer idea of what Chow was looking for in terms of feedback, that would be useful. This is a feature that is a done deal. Finding this feature helpful or not isn't going to change that.

                                      1. re: rworange

                                        I didn't object to your post. I objected to you picking apart mine. Perhaps the CH Team will be clearer now that you've asked.