Linking to Restaurant Listings - Problems and Workarounds
Lately I've been trying to make sure my posts in the Chowhound regional forums have links to the listings in the restaurant database - you know, when the name and address of the restaurant appear below the post, and on the right below the map where their location is shown. That's nice because it gives people an idea of locations and distances, and lets them click to the listing where they can find various information, often including a link to the restaurant's own website.
I've found a few quirks and problems when doing this; I've also found ways around some, but not all, of them. I'll describe them in separate replies below, in case anyone wants to comment on any specific problem and workaround. And if anyone wants to add any additional problems and workarounds, please feel free!
Perhaps the Chowhound Engineering Team might also want to consider how the software platform could be modified to make these functions work without encountering the problem indicated.
1. Adding a link when the software doesn't create one automatically
When my first post appears, if I want to add a link, I can do so by editing the post. The problem is, when the first post appears - with the "thanks for posting" message below it - if I merely click on "edit", it shows the place to enter additional places with the label "Type the name of the restaurant or bar you wish to add", but entering the name there (and clicking on the proper result) doesn't create the link. The workaround is, I refresh the page, so that the "thanks for posting" message goes away and it shows "Permalink | Report | Edit | Reply" at the bottom of the post. THEN when I enter the name under that label and click on the proper result, it creates the link.
2. Too many results to select
Once I've refreshed the page and clicked on edit, I can create links to additional places by entering the name under the label "Type the name of the restaurant or bar you wish to add". Entering the name will give me up to ten matches to choose from, and when I click on the proper restaurant, the link is created below the post. One problem happens when there are more than ten possible matches, and the one I want isn't displayed. An example of how this can occur is when there's a local chain of restaurants with more than ten locations (I think Lou Malnati's Pizzeria has over thirty here in the Chicago area). The way I get around it is by going into the restaurant listings, doing a search, finding the specific restaurant/location for which I want to create a link, and changing the name so that it is unique from the other locations. After a few minutes for the restaurant database to refresh, I can go back to editing my post, enter the unique name, and create the link. After the link is created below my post, I go back to the restaurant listing and change the name back to the proper name of the restaurant. Kludgey, but it works.
3. Adding a restaurant that isn't already in the listings
When I need to add a restaurant to the database to create a new listing, I click on RESTAURANTS at the top right of the page to do a search on the restaurant I want to create. As long as the restaurant name isn't in the database, it tells me there are 0 results and it gives me a link to click to "Add a restaurant or bar". The problem is, if there are any other restaurants with the same name, so I get results, I don't get the link to add a restaurant or bar; I can only click on the results to edit them. The workaround I then use is, I do a search on a name that doesn't exist in the database, such as asdfghjk. Then I know it will give me a link to add a restaurant or bar, and I can enter the name of the place I want to add. Again, kludgey but it works.
4. Showing more than 26 listings on the map
When a topic has links to more than 26 listings in the restaurant database, all of the listings are shown below the map, but only the first 26 alphabetically have markers shown on the map, labeled A to Z, and the others don't appear on the map. (For an example of this, go to www.chow.com/topics/804489 ) It would be nice if it could create markers on the map for all of the links, not just the first 26. I don't have a workaround for this one; it's a system function. Maybe the Chowhound Engineering Team could change the software so it keeps going by adding markers labeled AA, BB, CC, etc.
Thanks for laying out these issues so clearly.
In another thread you'd mentioned the duplicate problem and asked for a work list by phone number. Another way of matching dupes is by address. You can sort the restaurants in a town by opening one restaurant's page, then click on "browse nearby restaurants and bars" on the map. The records that share the same address will be displayed next to each other or within a couple of lines. They get further apart the farther away away from the center point, so for a larger city you might want to sort again centered at a different address.
It is astounding how many duplicates there are in the database. At the time it launched, I'd posted a note on this board on the simple steps that should be taken for scrubbing an address database before loading it in. Even for a small town like Laramie, WY (which I visited in July) with but 75 entries in the database, I still removed a number of duplicate entries. For the San Francisco Bay Area board, there were 10-20% dupes, and I've removed more than 1K to date just for that region.