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Feedback Wanted on New Feature Coming Soon

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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

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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.

                            2. I like it

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Quine

                                This is simply more of the slippery slope to someplace very, very hot and pitchfork friendly. Lie down with Social Media Dogs. Get up with Like(ly) Button fleas...

                              2. I have mixed feelings about this.

                                I see the benefit of eliminating the +1, me too sort of responses. It is anti climatic to scroll through a thread to see what is new only to have a post which has contributed nothing new.

                                The "bubbling up" of the most relevant or informative parts is troubling. An effort to homogenize the experience will cause the site to loose value as a forum for serious seekers. Often the most helpful information (for me) is found in a random post which has no reply's, but addresses a new to me place/product/concept. Bubbling up data will essentially censor out the unusual gems, making the site less useful. Look how frequently posts rise from the dead - because someones search has resurrected a seldom found topic! This brings new people to the site and allows for another chance to learn.

                                I can't help but feel that the powers that be just don't understand that what makes this site useful is the focus on exploration, sharing and communication. Yelp is great at being Yelp. Please let Chowhound keep being great at being Chowhound.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: meatn3

                                  I assumed (based on nothing) that users would be able to filter for the "helpful" posts if desired. I wouldn't - and you probably wouldn't, either - but it seems harmless to allow others to do this.

                                  1. re: meatn3

                                    Well put.

                                    As for my own two cents . . . I find anything that reduces the level of the conversation is a bad idea. If something is worth endorsing, than it is worth the fifteen to twenty seconds that it takes to draft a sentence that expresses the notion. It is the actual articulation of a point that permits the other participants to benefit.

                                    1. re: MGZ

                                      I agree with you.

                                    2. re: meatn3

                                      >>> I can't help but feel that the powers that be just don't understand that what makes this site useful is the focus on exploration, sharing and communication. Yelp is great at being Yelp. Please let Chowhound keep being great at being Chowhound.

                                      +1, Like, Helpful

                                      That being said, I understand it is about numbers that keeps this site alive. I just wish there was some thought given to development of the parts that make Chowhound unique.

                                    3. Since your announcement says it's already "coming soon," what's the point of asking for feedback post decision making?

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: mcf

                                        The announcement doesn't say coming soon. Certain posters on this thread have jumped to that conclusion on their own. If a "Like" feature would replace the tedious "+1" responses on every other post, I would be for it.

                                        1. re: Samalicious

                                          Actually, it does - right there in the title.

                                          1. re: Samalicious

                                            The thread title is:
                                            Feedback Wanted on New Feature Coming Soon

                                            1. re: Quine

                                              My bad, I guess my eyes were on the "So we're thinking about allowing users to mark a post as "helpful" part. I'll just go be resistant to change now.

                                        2. “I like”types of votes don’t provide me with a necessary information. Our names here assure a certain measure of confidence in recommendations. I want to know if that “I like” comes from a person who consistently praises my favorite restaurants and dishes, or is it a poster who tends to wax poetic about places I find to be extremely disapointing. Even the “+1” reviews, while not very informative, give me some info based on a poster’s handle.
                                          On the other hand, since the button feature is "coming soon" anyway, what we feel about it seems meaningless, just like "I like" buttons...

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: Bigos

                                            i want to know WHY something was liked not just that it was

                                            1. re: c oliver

                                              Well, I agree with you there, but I've seen you use "+1" before, which just says that something was liked, but not why. Why is "+1" ok but "helpful" isn't?

                                              1. re: Chris VR

                                                In the last month or more, if you've seen me use "plus one" not "+1" it was meant in humor. I will, however, use it and then add comments. This occured after the brouhaha over + and - ones.

                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                  Ahh, gotcha.

                                          2. When I think of a "helpful" vote, I think of it in the context of a user's review, as in Amazon or Allrecipes, where such a vote would mean "this review (or comment on a recipe) was helpful in deciding whether to purchase a product or use a recipe." I'm not sure what "helpful" or "like" would mean in the context of a thread. One of the reasons I like CH is because it is a *discussion* board.

                                            Unless I'm reading the wrong threads, I don't see the "+1'ers" being a real problem. When they are there, they normally confirm a reply or a reply to a reply, not the initial thread post, so I don't see how lots of "helpfuls" would be relevant to the thread.

                                            Does each post get a "helpful" button or just the original thread? What causes a thread to "bubble up"? The number of "helpfuls", the helpfuls/views ratio, or something else? Does a low number of "helpfuls/views" ratio mean the rest were "not helpful"?

                                            I am of the opinion you can't just have a "helpful" button anyway. If you are really serious about doing this, I vote for something like smallh's idea for multiple choices. My choices would be "helpful", "not helpful", and "meh."

                                            No offense intended, but if I were voting on this idea, however, I would vote "not helpful."

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: al b. darned

                                              "Helpful" votes would be per post, rather than per thread.

                                              We don't have specific criteria for what would cause things to bubble up (or even where they would bubble up to) at this point.

                                              We definitely don't want to get into any kind of negative feedback mechanisms -- we're not trying to cause anyone to feel disliked, just provide a positive boost to those making great posts, and hopefully help people find great tips.

                                              1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                while I'm ambivalent, I do appreciate the term 'helpful' it's positive yet not too specific, doesn't convey anything about the poster except a commentary on the content.

                                                in the long run a post that's 'non-responsed' works just as good a snub as an active negative button (and avoids those ugly flame posts that just get deleted anyway).

                                            2. I’m having difficulty seeing the benefit of such a feature. That X number of people found a post “helpful” doesn’t provide me with any “helpful” information unless I know (1) who found it helpful and (2) why they found it helpful. It seems inevitable that people will call a post “helpful” when what they really mean is that they “agree” or that they “like” what the poster has to say, and that would pretty much render the number of “helpful” votes useless.

                                              At least it would be unobtrusive and easily ignored, but I just don’t see this as being anything other than the popularity contest CH has tried to discourage from the get-go.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: JoanN

                                                why not also have unhelpful?? There are so many posts by the same people over and over again that have nothing to do with the threads topic. Many other places do it.
                                                Better yet "does not pertain" when so many checked post gets deleted. This would get rid of lots of the "talkers to ones self" and the SAE 's . self appointed experts

                                                1. re: celeryroot

                                                  Now that makes a world of sense.

                                              2. Let me be a nay-sayer here. I don't like peripheral doodads on the CH board. I don't even use an avatar.

                                                1. i'm not gung-ho about this.

                                                  it will contribute to the echo-chamber w/o offering any new info or perspective. HQ states they don't want to use negative "unhelpful" tabs, but if a post or poster is "helpfulled" 37 times, or immediately tagged "helpful" during a discussion w many povs, it has the same effect of opposing povs being perceived as "unhelpful," minority, disliked. will decrease civility in disagreements and contribute to the cliquishness problem on some topical and regional boards, as folks will reflexively "helpful" posts by their favored/followed fellow posters. will discourage active participation in threads-- folks will just skim and "helpful" the post(s) closest to their own opinion, without adding the nuances of their own experiences/povs. the site will become more anonymous as fewer folks will risk articulating their posts, when they can just "helpful" a post they mostly or partly agree with. the site already has a problem with retaining the contributions of posters with a diversity of experiences, this will further homogenize/clubbify the experience.

                                                  chowhound also reflects a journey for most people here. this means that more often than not there are no monolithic "right" answers. if i loved a technique for frying donuts in 2005 and enthusiastically "helpfulled" 3-4 responses advocating same, then discovered a better method 3 years later (which nobody tries, therefore Helpful (0)-- there is no way for others to see that journey and be prompted to try it out. similarly, if everyone in town loves new restaurant x the year it opens and enthusiastically "helpful" the first few rave reviews. . . it is difficult for the thread to be accurate and helpful to folks interested in the same restaurant five years, two chefs, and a change in ownership later, when quality has suffered. important contrary povs, which are not "liked" or agreed with so readily or widely, will be drowned out in the noise.

                                                  in short (i know, too late), this feature will not help people find deliciousness and may actively work against getting current and accurate restaurant recs or finding answers to questions/quests that are at the heart of the joy of this site.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                                    Good post, soupkitten.

                                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                                      "folks will just skim and "helpful" the post(s) closest to their own opinion, without adding the nuances of their own experiences/povs." I think this is very well said.

                                                    2. Rather than have a "helpful" count that is visible to posters (and comes with all the negatives described in this thread), it would be significantly better to use that as a mechanism to alert the Digest editors of interesting threads that are digest worthy. The information would be visible to only the Digest editors, who could identify interesting threads more efficiently but also provide an additional level of editorial that I consider very chowy.

                                                      Right now I have a view of "Most Popular" stories on my right as I'm viewing this thread. If that was replaced by the titles of most recent Digest blurbs, it would help me zero into some of the most interesting stuff on the boards. On this side bar, organise the digest blurbs or titles in the following order (but make it configurable):

                                                      digests referring to those on the board being viewed
                                                      digests of topical boards
                                                      digests of nearby regions
                                                      digests of other locations
                                                      digests of recently viewed boards

                                                      6 Replies
                                                      1. re: limster

                                                        I've had my say in this thread, but yours is such a new and unique and really useful idea

                                                        The digest continues to be the most useful part of the site in identifying significant posts.

                                                        Even for those times I'm following te boards closely, the digest always turns up fabulous information I seem to somehow have missed.

                                                        And if people want an ego stroke, I'll admit that early on I was really flattered that some of my posts were selected for the digest. To this day I'm still surprised by some of my posts picked for the digest Posts I think are important get snubbed. Some little thing I write that I consider unimportant about gets picked up.

                                                        To have the digest more visible in the way you described, might encourage others to post content rather than just their approval of others content.

                                                        As long as I'm here ... soupkitten ... helpful

                                                        1. re: rworange

                                                          I agree about the digest and I'm on a crusade to get it greater prominence in the right column or somewhere on the site.

                                                        2. re: limster

                                                          limster, what I enjoyed most about your idea was that digest doesn't separate the post from the poster and the digest runs in support of each Board community not against it. Wonderful.

                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                            I agree with the sentiment not to separate the post from the poster. Why depersonalize this community by letting people arbitrarily flag information?

                                                            I grew up with social networking and I use Facebook frequently, and I think one of the most repugnant parts about Facebook is how the lowest common denominator still rises to the top. Stupid meme? Fleeting current event story? That's how I see the "helpful" option. It's just so darn arbitrary. I sure wouldn't trust it. There is a HUGE range of skills and interests on this website. I'm much more interested in keeping up with the folks who are passionate about the things I'm passionate about.

                                                          2. re: limster

                                                            i also really like this new idea of Limster's! how many times have any of us found some little gem of an obscure post, and wished we could do something to make it more widely visible besides "bumping" the whole thread with our own post? i don't read the digests as often as i would if they were more visible, but i've really liked the highlighted content on them when i do read them. an invisible ("helpful") button would be a great tool for the admin folks to see what content is really important to the users of the site.

                                                            1. re: soupkitten

                                                              "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. "

                                                              It sounds like they have their own variation of a digest in mind with the data collected. but in the meantime, it might give the lurkers a voice too. Seems like it kills two birds with one stone?

                                                          3. I think it's a great idea.

                                                            1. This is a 'like' button in disguise. There is quite a lot of content on chowhound that is only going to be 'helpful' if it conforms to your tastes and views. Not all of the content, but enough so that this button feels too much like a 'like' button. The users won't know who marked the post as helpful, which seems to, for me, undercuts the function greatly. The only positive I see is the is the diminishing +1 posts. I'm not raging against the new feature, but it just seems silly.

                                                              1. The digest idea is terrific!

                                                                We have the ability to "read" any poster we choose to follow in that way. We have the ability to mark threads we find useful as "favorites". The "helpful" being visible to all does not create community.

                                                                At this time searches can be refined by "best match", "newest" or "oldest". To add most viewed or most helpful as an option will dilute things. Often a terrific post is missed due to when it is posted. A middle of the night post on a busy board can be practically invisible the next morning. Same with a post over a holiday weekend. Poor timing will result in less views will result in bottom of a search results.

                                                                We are bombarded by these requests to "rate" to the extent that the results garnered loose all meaning. Do we really need to jump on the dumbed-down bandwagon?

                                                                1. I recently read a couple scholarly article about an entirely different field that relates to this discussion. Basically users in these online, participatory communities go through a series of stages where individuals lurk at first, observe and learn the norms of the community and then join in. Also, when as these educated users participate there is some flexibility in the norms of the community that keeps it from becoming stale.

                                                                  WRT these articles I can see the proposed new feature in 2 lights (in no particular order):
                                                                  1) This is part of the flexibility of the community, adapting to the desires of the participants. The site will provide what more people want, so there will be more vested users providing quality content.
                                                                  2) This will lower the bar for entry, meaning that new users will spend less time learning the norms, and the overall quality will decrease.

                                                                  After all that I don't usually participate in Site Talk threads, and I don't have a strong inclination one way or the other. If anyone cares I can provide citations for the - (non-chow related) articles.

                                                                  1. OK. I guess it's time that I just give up. So, I'm going to come full circle and endorse the dumbing down approach fully. Let's just really go for it. I mean, shouldn't the "helpful" be a "Mmmm," or a "Tasty," or perhaps "Yummo?" In fact, that's even short sighted. Can't the marker be audio? Say a basic grunt or an obnoxious "To die . . . ." voiced by, say, one of the Real Housewives of New Jersey?

                                                                    1. this doesnt really address any need or desire of mine. My wish list is more along the lines of making the mapping and linking less clunky and slow, figuring out a way to encourage people to post more substantive reviews rather than quick offhand references to restaurant names

                                                                      I would rather see threads than posts tagged as useful - per the digesting suggestion. To tag a particular post within a rambling branched discussion thread as useful really seems bizarre.dont know how Id feel as a participant in a thread with these kinds of tags on individual posts. Seems too much like high school. this is a more direct and interactive kind of community so Id rather encourage good posts or newbie posts with a more direct acknowledgement.

                                                                      Not sure that Jacquilyne's point about encouraging shy newbies is really to the point. My experience is that people really respond to detailed, passionate posts that pique their imagination and start getting them to want to visit a place. That could very well be a recycled blog post these days - I think a challenge is to get folks to do substantive writing and discussion here at all. Projects like cookbook of the month which involve a group project in which lots of folks both post and lurk seem exceptional these days.

                                                                      1. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/781333
                                                                        Quite a few posts have been started asking how to remove the newest bells and whistles that have been added to the site. Given the time and energy spent creating new ways to experience CH, I (also) don't understand why more tabs and tags are added when the community is seeking ways to avoid their visual intrusion in reading the Boards.

                                                                        9 Replies
                                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                                          The entire community is not looking for ways to "avoid visual intrustion." I would say frankly that the same core group that hated the site redesign, finds flash ads distracting, can't tolerate the social media tab, complains incessantly about marketing elements that are common everywhere else and can't figure out how to use popup and ad blockers will all simultaneously beat their heads against the wall for a week when and if this new widget is installed and then it will be overwith. I also sense that some people are anxious that their comments will not receive the same number of "likes" as someone else's and fear that will diminish them as contributors in some way. Good content will still be good content and crap will still be crap, and neither will go away because of a button.

                                                                          1. re: Samalicious

                                                                            You know, it as been almost two years and I still find te re-design a real PITA. Search still doesn't work and I still have to think of where the hell it is on the page when I occasionally use it. .

                                                                            In all that time, I no longer search the Chow side of te site because I would have to do that separately. I really would like a search the entire site option. There are a few times I wanted to look for a recipe, but it just isnt worth the hassle to me. So for all purposes, except for an occasional article that catches my eye on the side or bottom of the page, I don't get to Chow as much as in the past.

                                                                            Everyone already KNOWS if their posts are HELPFUL or not because they get responses to their posts ... whch tells them WHY te post is helpful or not ... and WHO thinks that is so ... so you can decide whether to take that opinion seriously or not .. and that encourages more discussion and often helpful tips.

                                                                            So your theory about poster anxiety about lack of "helpful" tags is not only wrong for that reason ... but because this isn't Yelp. Once you post, it is rare you ever re-read your reply ... so you really will never know if anyone found it helpful because it is collapsed.

                                                                            The format here is not like Yelp where that info is always displayed... and let me say right now, I hope no one is plannying to remove the collapse/expand function so we can admire how many people found our posts helpful.

                                                                            So that makes it doubly useless.

                                                                            I read site talk and sorry, the majority of people were NOT asking for this. Quite the opposite. Over and over the majority said they hoped a "like" button woud not be on the site. And that is all this is ... just a different word. There were few people who said it was a good idea.

                                                                            There have been a number of well-reasoned posts in this thread about the probloms of tis on a discussion forum ... the main point being it discourages discussion.

                                                                            If the powers that be are serious about listening to the feedback they would implement that invisible option because

                                                                            1. They would not have to throw away any coding that is already done . They would just need a little more to deal with the display.

                                                                            2. They could still have the throw up option for mining data

                                                                            3. For those who have nothing to add to the thread but feel that their approval is so important that, like Willie Lohman, attention must be paid to them ... that would scratch that itch.

                                                                            4. Unlike so many bells and whistles that have not been used and actually shunned by most people because of the way they were implemented , such as the rating system ... going this way and working with the community sounds like people really would find it helpful and use it. .

                                                                            5. It would discourage 'helpful shilling'. Restaurants adding their approval of a positive review ... thought about that anyone?

                                                                            6. It would discourage cliques, already a problem on the site. Vote fore my reply and give me a big boost.

                                                                            The lack of visibility would take those motives away.

                                                                            As to not using ad and popup blockers, there are a lot of sites I will never know whether the content is crap or good because as a first time visitor, when I hit a site like that with tons of challenges, a bad design, slow response, errors ... I just move on.

                                                                            I wonder how many people new to Chow have done just that.

                                                                            You should not need to program your computer for a website. The site should be progarmming it for the users.

                                                                            1. re: Samalicious

                                                                              Hey there Samalicious, great post; most helpful; thumbs up. Silliness aside..

                                                                              My post didn't use the word "entire" community anywhere, fellow CH.

                                                                              I did however refer to quite a few posts that have been made to help get around many of the items you highlighted. I didn't post those threads asking for help; fellow hounds did for the reasons that seem obvious enough by reading the threads. If you have your own pov on the sites design that is exactly why Site Board exists...so we don't have to pound our forks on the table. Feedback was asked for site wide (CHOW/CH); we are all able to provide it without bashing each other in the process. Have a great evening.

                                                                              1. re: Samalicious

                                                                                As it is the exchange of ideas that fuels this Community, Samalicious, I appreciated your submission and offer my response.

                                                                                “I would say frankly that the same core group that hated the site redesign, finds flash ads distracting, can't tolerate the social media tab, complains incessantly about marketing elements that are common everywhere else and can't figure out how to use popup and ad blockers will all simultaneously beat their heads against the wall for a week when and if this new widget is installed and then it will be overwith.”

                                                                                Ignoring your hyperbole, I agree that there is a certain overlap of contributors participating in discussions on changes to the function of Chowhound. That is basically true, however, of the bulk of Site Talk threads. Perhaps it has less to do with any hatred or intolerance than it does with experience and a willingness to offer cogent thoughts?

                                                                                Personally, I find ubiquitous marketing elements offensive; as I do any aggressive sales technique. The fact that such elements may be common does nothing to reduce their distastefulness. Complacency is not my strong suit.

                                                                                “I also sense that some people are anxious that their comments will not receive the same number of "likes" as someone else's and fear that will diminish them as contributors in some way.”

                                                                                Perhaps you are correct, I hadn’t thought of such an issue. Instinctually, I feel that the people who are most concerned about such silliness are the same people who are likely to be attracted to the new feature. There appears to be a certain symbiosis there.

                                                                                “Good content will still be good content and crap will still be crap, . . .”

                                                                                I agree. I just think that there will be more of the latter when it becomes easier to add.

                                                                                “. . . and neither will go away because of a button.”

                                                                                This is actually the crux of the issue at hand, and, I would like to assume, the reason that feedback is being solicited in advance. To paraphrase: How far can we endorse ad populum approaches without jeopardizing the integrity of the site and alienating knowledgeable participants?

                                                                                1. re: MGZ

                                                                                  Perhaps it has less to do with any hatred or intolerance than it does with experience and a willingness to offer cogent thoughts?

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

                                                                                  Ah, we just care (enough) to share our feedback when asked and support one another while visiting this large and always changing website. Sam., no one said change was a bad thing. Some functions are def. questioned.

                                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                                    Thanks for the discussion. I don't know how hatred and intolerance got in the mix here and wouldn't accuse anyone here of those things . Stubborn and cranky, maybe.
                                                                                    Love y'all bless your hearts.

                                                                                    1. re: Samalicious

                                                                                      I didn't see either of those nasty emotions in your post and appreciate the reply, Sam. Enjoy your day.

                                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                                        I was careful to quote the language in the hope that it would clear from where the words came: "hated the site redesign" and "can't tolerate." I also pointed out the nature of the use of the words.

                                                                                        1. re: MGZ

                                                                                          Thank you MGZ, I always appreciate your take on things. This entire thread has been interesting to read and learn from.

                                                                            2. Hi Everyone,

                                                                              This is great feedback, thank you so much for taking the time to share your opinions.

                                                                              First we want to make sure that you all understand why we ask for feedback when planning new features. User feedback is a critical part of developing and launching great features. We want to hear opinions, both positive and negative. We strive to create tools that will help users, not hinder them and/or promote popularity contests. Actually this is what we are trying to avoid.

                                                                              The feature is intended to extract ‘helpful’ information, rather than highlight people. We hope that users police themselves for the most part. However we know this isn’t always the case – that is why we rely on our amazing community of moderators (thank you guys!) and a brilliant Community Manager in Jacquilynne.

                                                                              Threads and posts on the boards are conversations that have a cadence, and we don't want to interrupt that. But we do want to offer users a way to quickly scan the conversation for useful/helpful pieces of information. In the long term this feature is meant to branch out to small screen portable readers (mobile, tablets, etc.) In the future it will allow users to highlight the exact phrase that they found helpful as a way to pull out specifics about a restaurant -- like what dishes people should order. But in the short term we have to start small (on the website) developing simple functionality (a link with a number).

                                                                              This isn't meant to undermine the main premise of the boards or go against the manifesto. That would go against the grain of everything we are trying to accomplish: to provide the tools to make every bite count.

                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                              1. re: CHOW HQ

                                                                                Thanks for the reasons and the direction this is going.

                                                                                Is there going to be any way to monitor restaurant shilling? That is, a restaurant hitting "helpful" many times on positive feedback?

                                                                                Right now a lot of the checking is done by thousands of eyes on the site using the report button. That visibility to posters goes away with this. Credibility and minimal shilling are a huge part of the value to this site.

                                                                                1. re: rworange

                                                                                  rworange that is a great idea! We have talked about additional dependencies on the moderation tools but your suggestion will definitely be added it to the feature requirements.

                                                                                  1. re: CHOW HQ

                                                                                    That would not be a problem if you implement the "helpful" button similar to the way Facebook does its "like" button, where you see immediately how many people "like" something, but if you're curious you can click on the "17 people like this" and get a list of exactly who those 17 people are.

                                                                                    This would provide the further benefit of allowing those of us who value certain posters' opinions particularly highly to see whether they are among those who find something helpful.

                                                                                2. re: CHOW HQ

                                                                                  Is this new feature specifically for Boards discussing restaurants? If so, I misunderstood some of the feature benefits.

                                                                                  Would the feature be applied to the Home Cooking board? If so, could you explain how a bit further.

                                                                                  1. re: CHOW HQ

                                                                                    Thanks for this explanation.

                                                                                    Something that I would find more useful than a way to scan through long threads for those nuggets would be if there was a way to push "helpful" posts re: best dishes and other restaurant specifics to the Chow Restaurants & Bars pages. Currently, only the original poster of a message has the ability to do that by clicking on "this is a review of a specific restaurant" during the editing window. Also, a post that covers more than one place can only select one restaurant. There are many times when I've read one post within a thread that I wish could be highlighted. I'd like the ability for me, as the reader, to be able to click off that box and save those phrases to the R&B page.

                                                                                    If I were able to do so, in effect I'd be acting much the same as the editor of the Digest (formerly ChowNews) in highlighting nuggets. As others in this thread have shown, the Digest is popular in the limited number of cities where available. I understand that you might not have the budget to pay more city editors, but why not create a way to make an instapaper Digest?

                                                                                    When people are searching for specific restaurant info, the R&B page format is better suited to mobile interface. And it's more readable for those not accustomed to message boards. But sadly the experience so far is that few posters are taking the time to feed their posts to the page and there's not much info there for most regions at this point. Giving other users the ability to forward "helpful" posts to R&B would populate them much faster. I know that I would be an avid user if this function were available to feed to the "quick reviews" section.

                                                                                    For those who think that the blue restaurant links are just address tags and have never looked at the full record, here are a couple examples.
                                                                                    http://www.chow.com/restaurants/1223/...
                                                                                    http://www.chow.com/restaurants/16607...

                                                                                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                      But this is all so subjective........what is helpful to you or me may not be helpful to others. Infact the helpful tip maybe wrong and misleading .

                                                                                  2. CH thanks for asking.

                                                                                    It sounds like this button is really intended to mean "I concur" which, in my view, doesn't speak to whether or not something is helpful.

                                                                                    I think there's a lot to be said for being crystal clear when communicating so, if CH wants to add a button to address the "+1" issue, it seems to me the button should be labelled "I agree" or "I concur"

                                                                                    1. No, thank you.

                                                                                      1. If there's a "helpful" button, there should be a "no help whatsoever" button. Everything here is SO subjective and without commenting on the validity, what good would it do? (Not to mention the countless but anonymous shills who would weigh in with 157 "helpfuls" to get more attention.)

                                                                                        I say skip it.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: Steve2 in LA

                                                                                          I agree with Steve2...skip it.
                                                                                          If implementing this brings the same result I've seen on other forums, I suspect that such 'ratings' will have no real meaning anyway.

                                                                                        2. what about letting us know how many added posts to a thread that we have already read? It's a little annoying to scroll through a long post to see someone say +1 or I agree. I might not look at a post that's interesting if I knew there was only one reply since I last looked at it, but if I knew there were 6 more replies it would be worth re-opening.

                                                                                          1. Giving lollipops makes users clamor for lollipops (and attracts the sorts of users who are into that).

                                                                                            Chowhound works best when the only incentive is to share food tips in a horizontal, non-hierarchical setting. That's been time-tested to draw the savviest tips. Competitive, self-promotional, king-of-the-mountain people (the kind who are motivated by lollipops) will suck the air out of a room and encourage groupthink. Chowhound works best when it's just folks enthusiastically sharing. Period. And tinkering with that formula is, IMO, unwise. This is a delicate ecosystem.

                                                                                            If one wants to bubble up relevant and informative material, there's already a great and well-established vehicle for that: "Digest" (formerly "ChowNews"). That's the place to do it...off the boards, where it won't affect the climate or the culture, and where busy people who need stuff bubbled up can grab-and-go.

                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                              **helpful**

                                                                                              ;-)

                                                                                              1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                Thank you. Agree 100%. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

                                                                                                1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                  Jim's take on the issue is the clearest I've seen here yet.
                                                                                                  I really do hope this 'rating' idea goes away...it would definitely take the forum down a notch or two.

                                                                                                  1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                    Another hyooge +1.

                                                                                                  2. I think the potential for abuse and misuse far outweighs any possible benefit.

                                                                                                    I'd rather flicker over a hundred +1s than to see this board become a popularity contest.

                                                                                                    1. Having a "helpful" counter sounds, well, helpful, until you realize that there is absolutely no context for it.

                                                                                                      Knowing that a page has received 137 "helpfuls" is meaningless if I don't have other numbers to go along with it. How many page views have there been? How many unique page views have there been? Who has the power to click the "helpful" button? The owner of the restaurant? The sister of the owner of the restaurant? The silent investor in the restaurant? Etc.

                                                                                                      37 "helpfuls" on a page that has only had 40 unique page views sends a substantially different message than 37 "helpfuls" on a page that has 24,573 unique page views, and that presumes that no one is gaming the system.

                                                                                                      Since there is no context for the helpful vote result, what does the result actually mean other than there is a new bell or whistle on CH and we get to press it?

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: Seth Chadwick

                                                                                                        To the powers that be, please don't add views. It is the ultimate killer of info that might not be popular to the masses.

                                                                                                        It is one of the major reasons (amoung many) that I stopped posting on egullut. Not many were interested in Polish cuisine or the great mom and pop corner restaurant. If you know few people are reading your stuff, why bother.

                                                                                                        On the other hand, I don't know how many people read my stuff here. I don't imagine my Guatemalan reports get a huge audiance. But it is the occasional person who posts and says it is useful that is encouraging. I would rather just get the feedback of one or two people than know for sure that maybe only six people read my post.

                                                                                                        Even on flickr, it is discouraging to see the truly great, but unsung restaurants, get few hits while McDonald's photos will accumualte thousands of views in a few days.

                                                                                                        If there must be a helpful, please don't add views.

                                                                                                      2. I'm late to this but agree with those who say this isn't something they want to see on the site. I personally think there's a world of difference beween "helpful" and trying to say "hear hear! I agree!" Sometimes someone will post something and everyone in the thread disagrees with them, and then there's a lone person with an agreement with the OP who dares to speak up and say so. It's nice to be able to quickly back that person up with a "plus one" or similar type post so they don't feel they're the only one defending the OP or taking whatever position. This has NOTHING to do with a post being "helpful" or "unhelpful." And I don't see what purpose those buttons would serve, anymore than if you had "I agree" and "I disagree" buttons. I don't read the threads to see what "ratings" they have, I read them to see the conversation and dialog taking place and to see who has posted what.

                                                                                                        1. With respect, you have better things with which to concern yourselves.

                                                                                                          1. ok here's a feature I'd really like to see, sometimes the site freezes up and one clicks twice thinking it's the connection that's messed, and when the blockage is clear, all comments are expanded, which is usu OK but when a recognized and interesting poster has commented on an old thread that has racked up 25,000 posts it's just lost. in addition to the expand/collapse choice of "view response of the last 3 days" option could be cool. I imagine a more individually tuned mech could be worked, but not really necessary.

                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: hill food

                                                                                                              Yes, please! I'd like to see that long before I see any kind of scoring system or "I wanna go" list. (please tell me I don't have to use either to use the site)

                                                                                                              1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                Unless, or until, that feature gets implemented just do as I do when this happens. Go back one page and get the exact month and day the post occurred and run a fast word search (for yours I would simply type in May 20) and you'll find the post you've lost in no time. If the thread exceeds one year you can add the year too if you are finding too many of that particular month and day.

                                                                                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                  clunky, but effective.

                                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                    It is a little bit inconvenient, but it solves the problem, and considering that this issue doesn't crop up all that frequently it's not bad.

                                                                                                                    Another approach that you can do using word search is to enter the posters handle and then use "previous" and that typically finds the post effectively too.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                      I assume most people don't have this issue at all, but a fair chunk of the world is still unserved by broadband and so it happens to me a lot (why can't more things be tailored for me? me me me!)