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Negative posts being removed?

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I've been reading and occasionally posting for a long time -- back to the old text-only days, when you could post without registering, and there were periodic calls for cash contributions (I sent a check several times) and I've never really questioned the mods. I know the work is hard and thankless. But at least on the board I frequent most regularly now, Southern NE, it's seeming more heavy-handed, and I'm wondering if it's just me. Just last night or this morning, I read a post that was quite critical of a place that's more generally recommended than panned, and while I disagreed with it, I thought it was generally substantive in criticizing the service and the quality of the cooking. And this isn't the first instance where I'll read a post, then come back a day later and it's gone, yet I can't see where the post violated site guidelines. While I haven't done any statistical study, my impression now, as compared to years ago, is that there are way more picks than pans, and that the discussion has gotten blander. Is it just me?

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  1. We don't remove negative posts as a general rule, but if a negative post violates one of our other rules, we will. And we make the determination of what violates the rules based on more complete information about the situation and the posters involved than is available to you as a user. So, sometimes deletions may appear completely baffling despite being done for very good reasons.

    Unfortunately, we're generally not going to be able to clear up those situations for you, because in the interests of not violating CBS Interactive's privacy policy, we generally don't discuss the reasons why someone else's post was removed.

    22 Replies
    1. re: The Chowhound Team

      the chowhound team wrote: "And we make the determination of what violates the rules based on more complete information about the situation and the posters involved than is available to you as a user"

      i wonder if the mods could explain the "information about the posters involved" part. i'm hoping it means only direct knowledge of conflict of interest.

      thank you.

      1. re: linus

        >> i wonder if the mods could explain the "information about the posters involved" part. i'm hoping it means only direct knowledge of conflict of interest.

        From what I've observed (as a non-moderator), it consists of their history of Chowhound posts and violations, and any patterns therein. The moderators often know the "reputation" of various posters on specific boards - who posts a lot, who engages in personal attacks that frequently get deleted, etc.

        1. re: nsxtasy

          Imagine a dossier about food passionate folks

          1. re: HillJ

            nsxtasy Dossier
            ------------------------

            Loves contemporary American, loves Chicago deep-dish pizza, loves pastry, hates sushi, most frequent poster on the Chicago Area forum, posts are deleted only once in a while, percentage of posts deleted is low due to posting frequency, doesn't he/she ever shut up?

            :)

            1. re: nsxtasy

              I think this is a NAF topic in the making, nsx. Thank you for your entry :)

          2. re: nsxtasy

            i hope you are wrong about this. seems impossible to apply that kind of criteria with any fairness or objectivity, and implies the moderators play favourites when it comes to deleting or not deleting posts.

            1. re: linus

              The moderators have written here before that no one moderator is responsible for making deletion decisions without it being seen and reviewed by a bigger group of eyes. So any possible personal bias against a certain poster would quickly be uncovered.

              On the other hand if you or I knew we had certain actors who continually caused mayhem on our site wouldn't we make sure to track the posts by those posters more closely? I mean, profiling in this case is a good idea. But again, unless site rules are being violated no ones post or no thread is going to be removed.

              The idea of some conspiracy or personal grudge being taken out on one or more posters on the part of one or more moderators is ludicrous.

              1. re: Servorg

                I'm not so sure about that.... You for instance seem to be favored perhaps because of your ardent cheer leading for the mods and well documented "love it or leave it "mantra.

                1. re: Duppie

                  Then how come I keep losing posts to moderation deletion decisions? lol...It happens to everyone here. Sometimes more during some phase of the full moon and sometimes less...but I just keep on posting and don't even worry about it. I do this for fun and I'm not going to let things outside my control get me upset.

                  Seriously. A moderator by name is moderate in their approach. Why would they go after someone? What's in it for them? Doesn't make sense.

                  1. re: Servorg

                    Good heavens my dossier comment was meant to be light hearted. No conspiracy theory here. Mods do the heavy lifting to keep this site happy, friendly, moving along.

                    It's food, fun and entertainment dear CH people. Relax.

                    1. re: Servorg

                      "It happens to everyone here"...some more than others? why?
                      " I do this for fun"...so do i. questions like these are fun.
                      "moderator by name is moderate in their approach"...and sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. except, when it isn't.
                      "Why would they go after someone?"...why WOULDN'T they?
                      "What's in it for them?"...it's fun, it gives them a sense of power, a friend, poster, chef, restaurant, etc. was insulted, they had a bad day at work, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
                      "Doesn't make sense"...makes perfect sense. moderators here are as human as anyone else, subject to the same foibles, idiosyncrasies, prejudices and mistakes as the posters.

                      look, man, no one here is claiming any great conspiracy. we're just postulating about the possibility of inequitable application of some vaguely defined rules.

                      like i said, it's fun for me to think about this stuff. but that's me. didn't mean to harsh your mellow or anything.

                      1. re: linus

                        I wonder if your "fun" is just as much "fun" for the volunteer, unpaid moderators? Probably not.

                        As to your assertion that a moderator might be going after someone because "it's fun, it gives them a sense of power, a friend, poster, chef, restaurant, etc. was insulted, they had a bad day at work, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera." (rather than they have been deleted for a rational reason that anyone of us would be moderated for just the same) I'll just say that you have to be claiming some great conspiracy with those examples since all moderating decisions are looked at by more than one moderator (according to what has been written here on Site Talk multiple times over the years).

                        1. re: Servorg

                          i guess i must have missed the memo about the gunmen forcing these saintly volunteers to moderate this website. it's sad their precious time is directed at this most noble of pursuits. one assumes all the soup kitchens, red cross, big brother/sister programs and homeless shelters are full up in their towns.

                          and thanks for telling me what i'm claiming. i also must have missed that memo, too.

                          1. re: linus

                            Whoa! Linus is pissed! Hatin' on the mods. Damn, dude! I am sure they will refund your membership fee if you ask and you can host your own online community and moderate it however you like! If it makes you this upset, why do you subject yourself to it?

                            1. re: LorenM

                              not pissed, hating or upset. however, i still think you're entitled to some rice a roni or turtle wax.

                              1. re: linus

                                I have no idea what that means. I guess I'll take it as a compliment, though! Much rice a roni or turtle wax to you too! :)

                    2. re: Duppie

                      Hi, Duppie:

                      Until there is a policy whereby Mods cannot post without disclosure or accountability, your suspicion is not unreasonable.

                      Aloha,
                      Kaleo

                      1. re: kaleokahu

                        Trust me, It's not solely my suspicion....

                    3. re: Servorg

                      +1- it's their site, if you break their rules they can do whatever they want to with your posts. They don't hate you OR love you, they have a busines to run.

                      1. re: EWSflash

                        i agree. the moderators can do whatever they want. but it seems loftier claims are being made.

                        1. re: EWSflash

                          sounds like what is in question is what constitutes a post that "break(s) their rules" and how that is determined.

                          there's no quantitative Break-the-rule-o-meter, so a good deal of qualitative assessment / judgement may often be involved.

                          i've seen many times (on other sites) where this power has been abused, even with the "it's not just one person's decision" rule in play.

                          people can be very passionate about what they believe whether it's completely based on the facts or partially skewed by their own beliefs / biases which may elicit stronger than appropriate feelings (they do love or hate certain users. maybe justified or not.).

                          not familiar with any of the threads in question. just observations from a 20+ yr internet user.

                  2. re: linus

                    We have the history of their activity on the site from the point where we started registration -- previous removed posts, emails we've sent them, emails they've sent us, etc.

                2. I agree about the heavy handedness Gin n Tonic, I used to be a frequent poster on the Florida board but it seems like relatively innocuous posts or posts in which there is any disagreement gets deleted or redacted. Generally, anything that is not a concierge-type posting gets the Chowhound Big Brother touch.

                  I'd rather it get redacted if needed, but deleting entire threads seems like overkill. It seems as though whomever is moderating our threads has just decided its easier to remove threads rather than take the time to edit or close threads. Please allow us our freedom to discuss our local food scene. If you allow us to moderate ourselves a bit more freely, we can and will have fun while actively making our area more Chow enriched. If you give us half a chance, we can and do take each other to task for potential spamming, cliquishness and otherwise not abiding by the Chow manifesto. By stifling our voices, you are taking out one of the few true avenues this community has in this chain-food desert to find great Chow.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: TampaAurora

                    Your concern appears to be over the topic being discussed at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/794411 which has since been restored, and which was removed for a specific reason (it sounds like the original poster posted a link to the publication which employs him).

                    My experience has been that described above by the Chowhound Team - IOW, they allow negative as well as positive reviews of restaurants, as long as those reviews don't violate the Chowhound rules in some other way. I have been posting here for years and I have not observed any favoritism whatsoever towards positive reviews (I assume that's what you mean by "concierge-type posting") over negative reviews in their moderating activities.

                    I'll also add that, although I don't always agree with their deletions, I usually do - and that the Chowhound boards are a better place as a result, because as a result they don't have the bickering or personal attacks that are common on some other sites.

                    Disclaimers: I have no association with the Chowhound Team other than as a user/poster here. And there have been plenty of instances in which my own posts have been deleted - usually with reasonable justification. In those cases, they sometimes, but not always, contact me by e-mail to let me know why I have erred.

                    1. re: TampaAurora

                      Redaction is a rare occurrence on Chowhound, probably because it would be more labor-intensive (remember, the mods are volunteers). I've had a number of posts deleted, and I usually understand why, but only once saw a post redacted, and that was a special circumstance.

                      I had written about the number of times I'd been interviewed for print articles based on comments I'd posted on Chowhound, and another poster mentioned she'd seen one of the articles and posted a link to it. She meant no harm, but the article gave my full real name, which I didn't want linked to on this site, so the mods were gracious enough to edit out the link.

                      1. re: BobB

                        We don't edit posters' words without permission.

                        We will edit titles to make them more useful for people trying to find a thread, as we consider thread titles to be somewhat community property rather than specific to the poster. And, we will fix broken URLs if it's something like a bit of punctuation on the end breaking it.

                        But otherwise, we don't edit things people have written, we either remove the post entirely and ask the person to repost, or, if there are a lot of good chowtips in the replies, we will write and ask them for permission to edit the post to correct the problem and preserve the replies. We don't want to put words in anyone's mouth, so we don't just decide to edit things to make them comply with our rules.

                        1. re: The Chowhound Team

                          "We don't want to put words in anyone's mouth..."

                          Clearly, a substantially inferior application beside the chow, in any case... ;-D>

                          1. re: The Chowhound Team

                            Not to get too OT but I should receive an email if something of mine was removed? I'd really like to know when I've violated rules/policy/what-have-you and what exactly it is. This is a completely non-sarcastic question since as a "newbie" I'm still trying to figure things out. While I had no expectation that with so many posts I'd get an email, it can be really frustrating to try and figure out exactly what I did wrong when something just vanishes. Plus, you know, I find it irritating that I can read the start of the response posts in my email, but nothing else...

                            1. re: Kosherbyforce

                              You shouldn't have expectations about anything here.

                              Just go with the flow. Post. Read. Post again. Read. Repeat.

                              If something gets deleted, don't take it personally. Move on. Life's too short. And there's too much good food to be eaten than to angst over why something was removed from Chowhound.

                              1. re: Kosherbyforce

                                >> I should receive an email if something of mine was removed?

                                In my experience, sometimes they send me an e-mail when a post is removed, but more often they don't. In most cases, it's pretty obvious why an e-mail is removed. (The most frequent reasons I've observed are spam/advertising, and insults/personal attacks.) Note that they often remove a bunch of e-mails at a time, so for example, if you happen to post something not exactly offensive in the middle of others' posts with insults and such, they will remove the entire exchange.

                                1. re: Kosherbyforce

                                  I've had my fair share of posts removed. Early on, I never knew why. The more I've read and posted, the more I've come to understand the deletions. You'll figure it out. There have been a couple of times where I was truly baffled. A quick email to the moderators and I would get an explanation. I don't always agree with the decisions, but I usually understand the reasoning.

                                  1. re: Kosherbyforce

                                    We try to send emails when there's something that a poster has done personally that they can correct. If we've removed a long swath of off-topic posts and yours was one of many, or if your post was removed because it was a reply to something else we had to delete, we often don't. If you're really confused, you can write to us at moderators@chowhound.com and we'll try to answer.

                            2. I don't want to sound like a 'kiss ass' but I find all the Mod's to be very fair and trust me, I've had my share of getting my posts deleted..mostly for good reason.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: Beach Chick

                                Couldn't agree more.

                                1. re: Beach Chick

                                  I totally agree, and I have had lots of posts deleted.

                                  1. re: Beach Chick

                                    I would post my agreement here too, except I know my post would be deleted.

                                    (kidding, kidding...)

                                    1. re: Beach Chick

                                      I'm actually sorta surprised that more of my idiot thoughts and bad humor AREN'T deleted. I have received a few notes, but in those cases it was a gentle reminder of a rule/line I'd crossed. and I learned.

                                      oh and I KNOW what web moderation team broke into the barn last week. very clever to ram the gate with your truck rather than leave fingerprints. dorks - it wasn't locked in the first place. and I also know the small aircraft I've been hearing can't be the CH team, there's only one registered landing strip within 50 miles and it is NOT open at night, so that one has to be 'blackops'.

                                      anybody ever reported themselves? I have.

                                    2. Gin n Tonic,

                                      Chowhoudn isn't a democracy. You have to play by Chowhound rules.

                                      If you don't like their rules, stop playing.

                                      If you want to play by other rules, start your own food discussion board.

                                      Not to pander to the moderators, but we should all be grateful that they've put up a (generally) free site, and have moderated it for free.

                                      In other words, take it or leave it.

                                      After all, you don't go into a restaurant, ask for a cup of free ice water and then complain that it's not cold enough, right? And it's not cold enough because, of course, all the workers there hate you, right?

                                      12 Replies
                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        You've nailed it.

                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                          chowhound relies on people's opinions. Moderation should be MODERATE. Currently it is offensively heavy handed. I resent spending 15 minutes moderating myself and putting a reasoned post together to be deleted because I don't have the same opinion as the moderator. I posted one on the beer thread to be deleted because I stood up for Sam Adams and summer beers. totally and utterly offensive. Who moderates the moderators.

                                          1. re: Janeinma

                                            I feel really certain, after years reading and posting here (and being deleted plenty) that posts don't get deleted because your opinion differs from the moderators (more than one person, more than one opinion choosing deletions) but nore likely due to hostility or inflammatory tone or being way off topic or CH mission.

                                            1. re: mcf

                                              can I disagree without being deleted?

                                              1. re: Janeinma

                                                You undoubtedly replied to a moderator post on a board in which they were letting the posters to that thread know that some problem had cropped up and what they had done about it. Those types of posts on boards OTHER than Site Talk are not open to replies/debate and a reply there would be completely off topic, (and hence removed). Here on Site Talk we are all able to disagree with a moderator's post (as long as it's not a flaming diatribe in response).

                                                1. re: Janeinma

                                                  It would appear so.

                                              2. re: Janeinma

                                                Janeinma,

                                                YOU: "I resent spending 15 minutes moderating myself and putting a reasoned post together to be deleted because I don't have the same opinion as the moderator."

                                                ME: "If you don't like their rules, stop playing."

                                                MORE ME: "If you want to play by other rules, start your own food discussion board."

                                                There, 'nuff said. And re-said.

                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                  without our posts there is no chowhound. and yes I avoid certain parts of the board and should make sure I stick to that rule because the moderation is excessive. Chowhound is NOTHING without people posting reviews, NOTHING without opinions. and NOTHING doesnt bring in advertisers. nuff said.

                                                  1. re: Janeinma

                                                    However you are vacillating between "I resent" and "our posts"...big difference. CH is certainly user generated. But we all contribute and we all (hopefully) do it to have fun and enjoy the subject. The fact that the site is moderated just makes it a better place for me as I don't have to wade through a ton of crap to get to the meat of the nut.

                                                    1. re: Janeinma

                                                      Janeinma,

                                                      The loss of one poster -- you, for example -- will not cripple Chowhound. Just a guess. But I'm pretty comfortable sticking my neck out on that one.

                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                        It is CBS who owns the Chowhound "bat and Ball", if you want to play you must play by their rules, not subject to the 1st amendment protections, etc. What annoys me is the volunteer moderators qualifications, or lack thereof.

                                                        1. re: ospreycove

                                                          I would be much happier if they just removed something than sending me a rude email.....

                                              3. I rescind my claim...apparently, we cannot moderate ourselves.

                                                6 Replies
                                                1. re: TampaAurora

                                                  Can you imagine an unmoderated site? It would be unusable in 5 minutes...of screaming obscenities and vicious personal attacks. It's not so pretty when the curtain gets pulled back just a bit, is it...

                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                    Can you imagine an unmoderated site?

                                                    __________________________________

                                                    Yes, why yes, I can ... it would be called Twitter for Chowhounds

                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                      Don't you mean "Twits in lieu of Chowhounds?"

                                                      1. re: Servorg

                                                        Yes, but I didn't want to get deleted ...

                                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                                          A kinder gentler era on CH........

                                                    2. re: Servorg

                                                      oh jeez it would fast turn into a (more) salivating version of Salon's 'Politics' thread on Table Talk in an election cycle.

                                                  2. Usually these deletes have something to do with someone with an interest (one way or another) or with an abusive post.. Particularly a competitor, tho there might be other possibilities, an ex-wife, or ex employee for example. or a known troll. Chowhound may have tools avaialble to make a determination on some of these things.

                                                    I think the more picks than pans thing arises from the reluctance many of us have to reporting that we chose a bad meal! If a meal is poor or uninteresting we wont report. A poor meal at a "good" place may or may not be reported, but there are enuf sticklers here that if it happens more than once it WILL be reported. Sometimes bad reports that are clearly non-chowhounds spamming the web in their outrage may be deleted.

                                                    But honestly, people here are tough on restaurants. I dont see any "COncierge.com" type thing going on at all.

                                                    1. I find they remove my posts when I criticize Walmart for their company policies or make comments related to the politics of food. I always found it interesting that the final eight or nine years of Gourmet under Ruth Reichl had many articles on the politics of food...but the Chowhound Team fails to find this worthy of their blog. Otherwise I have not had posts removed.