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Aug 17, 2011 09:29 PM

Johnny One-Notes

On a board I frequent, there is a poster who has some axes to grind. Sound familiar? So okay, there are people who dislike a particular restaurant, and always chime in when someone else says something nice about it. That's not what I'm talking about.

I'm talking about someone who dismisses categories, or even particular places that someone asks about or even recommends (detailed recommendations) by saying that "such places" are always terrible. Or asserts that a place has to be terrible despite a poster's detailed and heartfelt description of a meal, because this person looked at the restaurant's website and feels the place falls into a category that is unacceptable (like, oh, "red sauce Italian" or "a diner").

This kind of writing accomplishes two things. One is that people simply stop putting in the effort to write something, because of this nastiness. The other is that entire thread after entire thread is hijacked by back and forths about whether this assessment of a category is correct. Meanwhile, the specific restaurant is no longer discussed, or the specific thing the OP wants ("restaurants near Rte. XXX) is ignored in favor of negativity and argument.

Shouldn't there at least be a rule that, if someone is going to express an opinion about a place, the person either has to have eaten there or maybe has some hearsay about the place?

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  1. Elisa515, my only pet peeve on any board is what you stated about expressing an opinion with no first hand knowledge/experience about it. Be it a restaurant, a great source for knives or a recipe. We do count on each other for first hand knowledge. But beyond that, the best way to handle a concern is to report the thread to Mods and let them handle the heavy lifting. The Mods seem to know a good deal more about what may/may not be at play with this type of poster than we do.

    4 Replies
    1. re: HillJ

      HillJ, thanks for answering. I do just what you say. I'm wondering if the moderators have just washed their hands of this sort of behavior. It's certainly curtailed much of my positive and active (and also passive) engagement on the site, and I know I'm not alone.

      I'm even allowing for second-hand knowledge as being acceptable!

      1. re: Elisa515

        Oh I hope whatever peeve we share it doesn't turn you off completely to CH. We just have to get better at sifting through the pastry (as it were).

        1. re: HillJ

          Oh no, I'm devoted to Chowhound. Was part of things even before it started, actually. But I've curtailed some of my participation, and I'm afraid others have, in a loss of helpful new discussions.

          1. re: Elisa515

            Oh others def. have. I miss dozens of old timers wordsmithing..but some of the recent newcomers have been terrific too.

    2. This is difficult. People like this fly under the radar. They don't break the rules, but they make everyone miserable. The best solutions I have -

      1. Ignore the troll

      2. Report those posts that do break the rules

      3. Post a postive reply to the reviiew, makiing sure not to comment on said troll even indirectly

      4. Feel sorry for them

      5. Don't let them win. Reclaim the board and don't cut back on posting. Ignore their response.

      Never ... call them out on it on the board. They will go after you for sport

      Ignoring is hard to do if others respond to the troll. Like attracts like. So, going with posting a positive comment to the poster who is being dismissed for no reason sometimes diverts away attention from the troll and people will instead glom onto your positive comments.

      You know how if you are afraid to speak in public people tell you to imagine the audiance without clothes or something negative to get over it?

      I picture these people doing their little superiority dance alone in a one room cheap hotel. They have nothing better to do than io try to get a rise out of people. They have no life. So sad. THere they are, drooling and toothless madly pounding out rants on an ancient computer ... or even sadder ... the public library because they don't have a computer. Even if they have money, they've turned into some Howard Hughes type of recluse with nothing better to do than try to make others lives as miserable as their own.

      The other visualizatin that I have some, but less success with is the crazy person analagy. If a ranting crazy person approaches you on the street, do you engage with them or cross the street to avoid them? Avoid them like that. Unfortunately, in real life, I'll tell said street maniac "get away from me" and if that doesn't work, then I cross the sttreet. So given that character trait, not the best strategy for me.

      I don't think that making a rule that someone cant have an opinion without having eaten there is a good idea. Sometimes it can lead to productive discussion. Phony reviews are different. Also trashing a place before it even opens is different and I think there are some rules about both somewhere.

      I tried to look on your board to find the offender. Just looked thru a half dozen likely reports and couldn't find a pattern by anyone. Maybe the mods removed most of the junk that stepped over the line.

      On the other hand, that is the probleem with these people in terms of moderation. No single comment seems egregious and with all the posters on the board it isn't apparent to the mods they are not good community memebers.

      3 Replies
      1. re: rworange

        Thanks rworange, you and HillJ have made me truly glad I came here to write about my frustration.

        [Oh, and if you want an example of what I'm talking about, try the most recent thread about breakfast. It's a mild example, but it will illustrate my point.] Remarkably, the message I meant for you to read was removed. I had Reported it, but had sort of given up expecting to be listened to. Regardless, you totally understood the point I was making, which is what matters.

        About that crazy person on the street analogy, do you find you don't want to go to restaurants that are liked by people whose manner is often unpleasant on the boards?

        Thanks again for taking the time and care to reply.

        1. re: Elisa515

          >>> do you find you don't want to go to restaurants that are liked by people whose manner is often unpleasant on the boards?

          Nah, a good rec is a good rec if the posters taste match my own. In the same category as a great restaurant with bad service ... doesn't matter if the food is fabulous.

          1. re: rworange

            "do you find you don't want to go to restaurants that are liked by people whose manner is often unpleasant on the boards"

            only if they're going to be there. I too like the crazy street person analogy, except half the time I'm bored enough in real life I will respond for a moment (more so than on the web but yes the phrase I've read elsewhere is "don't feed the energy creatures").

      2. I get plenty annoyed here and elsewhere by what people "say." But that's the thing about free speech--it means it applies to everyone, even the trolls, even those you don't agree with.

        Of course, Chowhound isn't exactly a public institution, but the founders and moderators have set up guidelines, and the mods seem to pretty conscientious about removing material that is clearly inappropriate. For everything else: I'd rather the person be able to say it then get judged as being "not worthy" to post. I can always go do something else. Or just ignore a post if I see a particular screen name. If only relatives were so easy to deal with . . .

        Sooner or later, each of us will be the outsider nobody likes. Yes, even you. Practicing tolerance is good for the soul. And it even makes you more likeable.

        [steps off soapbox, moves away from the computer]

        12 Replies
        1. re: guilty

          I don't disagree with you. But sometimes people are poisonous in a way that discourages newcomers and visitors to a community, or means that such people don't get much response from knowledgeable people. And that's a shame.

          Many of us who are active on Chowhound tend to hang out in our "home" turf and then go to other boards when we're traveling. I'm constantly grateful for the great chow I've found that I never would have stumbled on without that help.

          1. re: Elisa515

            Thx Elisa515 it's awful when I visit our "home" board and there they are the "toxic avengers" posts... such a turn off. I literally shake my head with disgust and leave the site. I have called the poster out on several occasions but It seems to go right over his/her head. At this point and I've posted about it before I believe "toxic avengers" behavior is pathological. Oh and I always report those horrible posts.

            1. re: chowdom

              chowdom, thanks for coming and acknowledging (along with the other great repliers here) how toxic this kind of behavior is to "home." I think we need to employ the suggestions in this thread and also continue to fight the sense that we're being tattletales for reporting the behavior.

              1. re: Elisa515

                exactly, but I'd add if there is a decent reason just go ahead and be a 'tattletale' it's anonymous and painless and why the report button exists. don't even engage these jerks and try to explain why they are a jerk. that just feeds the insanity in which they live.

                easier to make a mental note of the posters name and proceed accordingly.

                1. re: hill food

                  I'm just really sorry the nasty ones don't get called out by name but just reported quietly--they continue on while everyone else steps aside or cowers and reports them. But maybe management should be doing more about the people I suspect keep showing up on the "report."

                  1. re: escondido123

                    I feel life is too short to really sweat it. and sometimes actually more fun to watch the passion play of whatever demons they possess battle it out. I know I have mine, I just try really hard to keep them internal and only let them out at family gatherings when it's REALLY cringe-worthy. you folks? I don't truly know you so it would mean nothing.(though I like most of ya)

                    calling the dickwads by name gives them the recognition they seek.

                    1. re: hill food

                      And this isn't the village square where we have the right to throw tomatoes at each other. A big anti-CH patch doesn't need to appear on our shirts marked as troublesome. I like the private approach for that reason.

                      1. re: HillJ

                        Well...we can't just get rid of people if we call out a particular handle--it's too easy to get another handle. The only problem with the private approach (which otherwise absolutely is the way to go!) is just what escondido123 says, which is that while we're reporting and reporting, the offenders keep alienating folks who aren't used to their antics. Thus, it gets hard to expand a community and "tourists" especially won't feel welcome.

                        So,we need to report and also try to answer the original messages in a positive way. It takes one person to report, but a whole community to respond positively to original queries. As a Reporter, I don't always also have something to say about the original requests.

                        1. re: Elisa515

                          Valid points made Elisa515. I'm just getting *better* at focusing on the worthwhile and ignoring the rest. I count 100% on the Mods and the large community of CH to compliment each other in keeping the entire site enjoyable.

                          1. re: HillJ

                            99% of the posts I see are congenial. yeah some comments (mine too) get chucked but the mood overall is fairly cool. OK the great side salad debate's getting a little annoying, but there are no real claws out. I've seen other forums just go up in senseless flames and that really doesn't happen here (much anyway)

                            when I started I saw that immediately and 'got it' so I wouldn't worry about the dipshits alienating anybody - we're all big kids and generally have good BS sensors.

                            1. re: hill food

                              :-) hill food, you and I "hang" on different boards.

                              My original comment was spurred by feeling that too many potentially useful conversations were getting sidetracked into flames or at least unnecessarily into unpleasantness. I'm pleased to report that the particular problem in this case seems to have quieted down--and a big thank you to the moderators for finally getting it when people report.

                              1. re: Elisa515

                                I have noticed that lately there don't seem to be so many antagonizing comments or maybe they're getting deleted more quickly. I also find that I'm less willing to "take the bait" and that certainly helps. I've also put together my own list of posters to ignore so I don't get annoyed in the first place.

        2. I totally empathize. I would add a rule to say that if a particular dish or cuisine or an ingredient is not a a poster's particular liking, it's not appropriate for the poster to declare they are horrible or not chow-worthy. There's a poster on the Hawaii board who is a fairly new transplant to the islands and dismisses traditional Hawaiian food. He tells people not to bother trying Hawaiian food on their trip to the islands. Grrr. I think it's valuable for someone to tell others that they may find the food unfamiliar or whatever, but I think some posters really cross the line. In the Hawaiian food-basher's case, I was really disappointed that the mods wouldn't take the post down as it was pretty offensive particularly since that food is part of my heritage.

          3 Replies
          1. re: akq

            wow, akq, that is disappointing to hear...and rather un CH-like as you say. Why have a regional board to celebrate, discuss and learn about food from Hawaii and then allow bashing of those recipes and food traditions. I would have questioned it too.

            1. re: akq

              sheesh akq that's like telling someone going to Spain to avoid anything with olive oil or garlic...

              what really pisses ME off is that, when people can't appreciate what's right in front of them. If I was there I might not want traditional HI food everyday, but I'd certainly dive in and be grateful.

              1. re: akq

                Aloha Kaua, akq:

                I noho on the Hawaii Board (which should be renamed "Hawai'i", BTW) a lot and I have not seen this happen. No try w'dat w'me. Can you cite a thread that I can look see?


              2. I wanted to post an update to this thread. Thanks for everyone who wrote! You helped me do two things: resist the impulse (usually) to respond to such offenders, and also to realize that clicking on Report isn't the same as being a tattletale. The moderators have been really responsive, which doesn't mean they always agree with me, but a lot of this distracting irrelevant negativity is reduced now.