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ATX Chowhound Board

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chowmick Sep 16, 2011 07:41 AM

What happened to this board? It just vanished, and has been replaced by the incredibly lame and unreliable Yelp and the rest of that ilk. Some posters on other sites are saying that it's because of some volunteer moderator who has been deleting a lot of posts...I have had posts deleted, so can relate. This used to be the best site for ATX food info, and it's dying a slow death.

Can we defeat this moderator and take back our board? Do the uber Chow superiors know the ATX site is in massive decline? What the hell? mick

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    addlepated Sep 16, 2011 10:55 AM

    Yeah, I don't post much there anymore after having too many of my posts deleted with no reason given and no reason I could see according to the site guidelines. I've been a moderator on very high traffic boards since 2003, so I know what I'm talking when I say that this behavior is an excellent way to drive off your users. Moderators need accountability. It's not like I post a lot, and I try to keep my posts germane, reasonable, and civilized. It was depressing to see my content treated like I was on The Gong Show.

    It used to be that Yelp was about the trendy and Chowhound was about the good, but now Chowhound is a wasteland.

    3 Replies
    1. re: addlepated
      s
      singlemalt Sep 16, 2011 01:27 PM

      Perhaps a good example of the actions of mods is the fact that this string was moved from the Austin board to this one when the problem seems to be in Austin. Who knows, maybe other cities are having the same problems. AFA Austin is concerned, the number of people is dwindling down to only a few. It is interesting to me that the attittude of the owners, (managers?) of this site are untouchable and all and any complaints to them are patently disregarded. It is also interesting and amazing for a board of this size, that postings are allowed to run on into the high teens and even more with out any type of editing from the mods. Scrumptious chef took it upon himself to edit his own string of posting by breaking it up into volumes. OTW, it would have just run on and on. That's my .02.

      1. re: singlemalt
        The Chowhound Team Sep 16, 2011 02:22 PM

        We try to keep the local boards focused on discussion about local chow. The Site Talk board exists for discussion about the site itself, so this thread is appropriate here. We left a pointer behind on the Austin board so Austin hounds would find it in its new home.

        1. re: The Chowhound Team
          tom in austin Sep 16, 2011 08:44 PM

          The Austin board is for discussions of Austin chow. I've run afoul of this before, especially when feuding w/ the Fearless Critic group, but to be fair, this is clearly stated in the Chowhound charter. Maybe the rule is silly, but it has definitely been consistently enforced.

    2. tom in austin Sep 16, 2011 09:00 PM

      Chowmick--

      I'm frustrated too. I definitely spend less time writing on a site that might delete my efforts. That being said, this is our only option aside from the diaspora of the blogosphere. For now, the other sites in the space are either an insipid cacophony or even more archaic and depopulated.

      We have had losses in our ranks. For example: I don't know why MPH or Twill left. I do know why Nab left (moved out of state), and I think I know why Scrumptiouschef left (the reasons cited here). That being said, I don't know if we can call this any great exodus or any great waning in quality, unless you're harkening back to a time that precedes my attendance. There have never been enough contributors on this board to bear the exit of a few writers, and we've lost a few without gaining enough replacement talent. I think we were precarious all along.

      Still, I've eaten at a dozen places in the last two months that are worthy of discussion and have failed to document those adventures. Tonight I ate at Rocking Rice on N Lamar and I was very impressed; I could tear off a thousand words of prose on the dishes we crushed, accented by our Lone Stars and sojus from the liquor store next door. Frankly, I'm disinclined to do so. Every time I write something longer than a sentence, I feel like I should make sure I keep a text file copy on my hard drive. This sort of fear is unnatural and only incentivizes the most terse responses, the most carelessly discarded words.

      Chow mods--

      I'm on your side. I believe in your site's great mandate. I exhort you to do the following:
      * Operate in the light. Announce which participating users are the mods in each board, a la Reddit subreddits, that those users may face the judgement of their peers.
      * Democratize moderation. Allow for non-Chow staff who are trusted community members of each board to act as mods as well, including the ability to review and reverse deletions. I'd trust MPH or Scrumptious with this capability much more than I'd trust a nameless, faceless genie with phenomenal cosmic powers.

      Do these things and I believe we may experience a second Golden Age. Do them not and suffer through the pain of our inevitable descent to Twitter-style 140-character-or-less exchanges.

      Best regards to both Chowmick and the mods,

      Tom In Austin

      26 Replies
      1. re: tom in austin
        sweet100s Sep 16, 2011 09:42 PM

        Tom,

        Thank you for my new word of the day...

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diaspora

        1. re: tom in austin
          nsxtasy Sep 17, 2011 06:37 AM

          >> Allow for non-Chow staff who are trusted community members of each board to act as mods as well, including the ability to review and reverse deletions. I'd trust MPH or Scrumptious with this capability much more than I'd trust a nameless, faceless genie with phenomenal cosmic powers.

          As a general rule, prominent and/or frequent posters in a forum should not be moderators of that forum.

          1. re: nsxtasy
            tom in austin Sep 17, 2011 07:46 AM

            I understand the "general rule," nsxtasy, which I think is an antique approach for a different time. Possibly wholly appropriate in the online world circa 1998, probably not the right approach today.

            If you make the moderator(s) of a board known to the board's denizens, and give the populace a say in who the moderators are, and allow other board members the ability to audit the moderator's actions, then you resolve all of the issues we're having today.

            I know this is a big leap from how old message boards are run, but it is approaches like these that have lead to the explosive growth of sites like Reddit and Stack Overflow.

            Sadly, the Chow team apparently thought porting the site to Ruby on Rails would magically make the site "Web 2.0" without learning any of the lessons of collaborative content, crowdsourcing, self-moderation and/or democratized moderation. Guys, AJAXy posting and editing of comments is much less important than a site that offers a compelling community.

            1. re: tom in austin
              Servorg Sep 17, 2011 08:00 AM

              You say above "I could tear off a thousand words of prose on the dishes we crushed, accented by our Lone Stars and sojus from the liquor store next door. Frankly, I'm disinclined to do so. Every time I write something longer than a sentence, I feel like I should make sure I keep a text file copy on my hard drive."

              You may not be aware of the fact that, if you run into problems with your post and it gets deleted, the moderators are glad to send you a copy and have you remove whatever the issue may have been that led to the removal before you put it up once more.

              I note, for example, that you have a very long OP on the Austin board at the end of May of this year. Obviously, just because one writes a long and impassioned post on CH, there is no correlation to moderation deletion decisions.

              It is really not all that difficult to discuss restaurants at great length and have ones posts remain extant on the board. Have you had a very long post deleted recently with no idea of why? Have you not been offered the chance to repost without the problematic item(s)?

              1. re: Servorg
                tom in austin Sep 17, 2011 08:43 AM

                Servorg, mayhaps part of the problem is in the attitude I perceive from your reply. To summarize your response: "It isn't hard to keep your posts from getting deleted. You must be doing something wrong. No worries: the mods will send you your original post so you can fix it."

                What you're saying to the contributors is that this isn't their site; this is the moderators' site first and foremost. Contributors need be prepared to revise their posts, iterating until they meet the approval of mod whimsy.

                If you can't see what is wrong with that, then I can only hope that you aren't a mod.

                The chowmick et al argument, at least as I perceive it, is that the contributors are the heart and soul of the site. Moderation should be reserved for blatant attempts at spamming, etc. The key contributors are forced to retreat to their own blogs (etc.) if they want to maintain their voice with any form of freedom and authorship.

                Lastly, instead of addressing my points (To repeat them: why not publicize mod identities and allow for a democratized mod process?) you turn it around on me, as if I must be doing something wrong or possibly I don't understand the methodology of being a good Chow poster and citizen. My friend, you're shooting the messenger. I didn't start this thread, I'm just laboring towards mutual understanding. You can see that I've played advocate for both sides. The plain fact is that the best contributors on Chow Austin aren't happy with the quality or quantity of posting. I think the reasons are myriad, but the mod issue definitely play a key part.

                Come, Servorg, don't play the apologist or make excuses for things that are obviously broken. Look at this thing plainly and with an open mind. It could be that most the avid posters on the Austin board just don't have a clue; they're bad Chow board inhabitants and need to get their heads straight. Alternately, it could be that the mod policies are non-optimal. I trust you're familiar with Occam's Razor?

                1. re: tom in austin
                  Servorg Sep 17, 2011 09:21 AM

                  Simply pointing out that one of your points was the fear that, if you make a long post and forget to save it in a file you'll lose if it gets removed for some reason.

                  As to your larger point. You want less moderation or more transparent moderation. You want mod's from your local board who who would be known entities to make any necessary deletions. I have come to recognize over time on CH that there are a lot of folks who come here who aren't too tightly wrapped (for lack of a DSM IV detailed probing of their wiring). If you think that the moderators decisions would be welcomed by those folks with bonhomie you are laboring under a false assumption.

                  Others here want more moderation. Language is a huge issue. Simple snark and the resultant off topic flame fests that break out over it on local boards cause a massive degradation of signal to noise ratio. Have you read this reply by the moderation team before: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7987... ? If not I suggest you do so and then cogitate on it.

                  Even if the baby is split down the middle folks will argue here about who got the bigger half. Human nature and built in "issues" will make that a certainty. You think you know how to build a better mousetrap? Then go and build it. See how it stands up to "everyday" bombardment by the masses of angry mice who want to chew it to pieces and spit back out at you.

                  This is a moderated board. I knew that when I began using it. You know it. The others who come here either know it now or will learn it shortly. Enjoy CH for what it offers. There is plenty of leeway to post freely on your local boards about the chow. If that doesn't suffice then find a board that covers your other needs for social interaction and get it out there. Seems pretty damn simple and straight forward.

                  1. re: Servorg
                    tom in austin Sep 17, 2011 10:23 AM

                    Servorg, the better mousetrap is being built, constantly.

                    I don't have to fashion it myself to recognize it, any more than I have to be the chef to appreciate great chow.

                    I deeply appreciate your verbose reply; it warms my heart that you might take this seriously.

                    That being said, if you think the crazy ratio at sites like Reddit and Stack is way less than Chowhound, then you obviously don't frequent those sites. They successfully run karma-based self-moderation. There are lots of warts. At the same time, there is the enthusiastic buy-in of the participants, knowing that they, as inmates, have a hand in running said asylum.

                    At the end of the day (or rather the post), your point still distills to "You know this is a moderated message board. Love it or leave it, dude."

                    This notion is something I'll consider. However, I'd like to reiterate: I'm not saying no to moderation. I'm saying add visibility and accountablility to moderation.

                    1. re: tom in austin
                      Servorg Sep 17, 2011 10:32 AM

                      I notice that you completely ignore discussing the linked reply from the Moderators on the other thread. I think that reply and its "moderate" and logical approach deserves all of our respect as participants here. Visibility and accountability are one way to go. But they generate even MORE discussion than the model currently being employed. And, yeah...we are all here of our own FREE WILL. If we don't want to be here and abide by the site rules we are all free to move to another site that suits our styles and personalities better.

                      And if you consider my reply verbose what, pray tell, do you consider your own? ;-D>

                      1. re: Servorg
                        tom in austin Sep 17, 2011 11:24 AM

                        I meant my compliment of your well-thought out reply sincerely. I didn't mean "verbose" to be a criticism. I genuinely appreciate your perspective, even if I disagree.

                        I read the thread you linked to and felt sad. The Chowhound Team, as spoken in that thread, have an unenviable task, much like unelected-but-benevolent lords. Some days they will be extremely successful, other days they will struggle, as they are humans and humans are fallible. For the good mods, this is a thankless task.

                        This is why democratized moderation is a necessity. It will remove these burdens from the good mods. Even if the moderation is worse overall, it will be moderation "for the people, by the people" so to speak.

                        Again, you raise the spectre of "love it or leave it." You needn't, as I love it. It isn't disloyal or wrong for participants in something to attempt to improve it from within. Stop making excuses and instead give yourself over to greatness that Chowhound could become if only the mods and admins would recognize the opportunity in evolution, and the inexorable risks of stagnation.

                        1. re: tom in austin
                          Servorg Sep 17, 2011 12:23 PM

                          "This is why democratized moderation is a necessity. It will remove these burdens from the good mods. Even if the moderation is worse overall, it will be moderation "for the people, by the people" so to speak."

                          We already have moderation for the people and by the people. The folks who toil behind the scenes are all CH contributors. As has been said here by the Mod's many times over the years all moderation decisions stem from a collaboration of moderators looking at posts and coming to a team decision on how to proceed. Even then there is Jacquilynne looking at those decisions and her boss (and her bosses boss) having the option of looking on and weighing in on things if need be (this is an assumption on my part - but I feel comfortable in assuming it).

                          You say in your post above "Do these things and I believe we may experience a second Golden Age. Do them not and suffer through the pain of our inevitable descent to Twitter-style 140-character-or-less exchanges."

                          I don't find that to be even remotely the case. There is absolutely no reason it needs to be that way, or is true. I think with the moderation team being hounds who love this site and want it to prosper for the same selfish reason I do - that it will lead us to eat better - I logically figure that we are here for the same reason. Good tips given and received. Again, you want things "your way" because you think it will lead to a "better" site. Others want things "their way" because they think it will lead to a better site. Many of us here enjoy the site just the way it is.

                          As to the meaning of the word "verbose"...I don't find any definition that is other than pejorative (despite your protestations to the contrary) as used in your post above.

                          1. re: Servorg
                            tom in austin Sep 17, 2011 01:30 PM

                            Dang. I really thought that "verbose" could either mean either "overly wordy" or "thorough and complete." I apologize for asserting that you were being overly wordy. What I meant was that I appreciated your thorough and complete reply. I hope you'll take my apology as genuine, I meant no offense and the mistake was honest. In fact, given my turgid writing style, it is downright ironic.

                            I understand that mods are Chow users. That doesn't address my proposal, which means you actually don't understand what I'm talking about or that you're being deliberately obtuse. I'm saying that mods need to (at the least!) have their real usernames displayed; they should possibly be selected by the denizens of the forums they moderate - this implies that they should be trusted members of their local communities; finally, they should absolutely have their actions audited by a subsection of the members of the communities they moderate. In short, a system that emphasizes visibility, accountability, and democracy.

                            I think I'm coming to an understanding: either I'm a terrible communicator, or your mind was made up on this point long before you started talking to me. It is OK to agree to disagree. I had hoped you'd at least listen. Perhaps the fault is mine and I've somehow occluded my message, which you have evaded and left unaddressed.

                            To sum up your positions:
                            * I should love it or leave it -- I choose to use Chowhound so I must accept it as it is and never seek to improve it. Attempting to help it grow or evolve is an act that floats between crass oafery and some sort of treason.
                            * Chowhound is better than ever. There are no problems with mods or processes, only bad users.
                            * People who have their posts deleted are usually doing something wrong and should submit to an author-initiated iterative editorial process to improve their post to the point of mod satisfaction. This quality control is a net positive force for Chowhound.

                            Thanks for spending the day discussing this with me. I repeat from an earlier post: I can only hope that (these being your positions) you are not a mod, admin, or decision-maker in any capacity within the Chow oligarchy.

                            1. re: tom in austin
                              Servorg Sep 17, 2011 01:36 PM

                              "Thanks for spending the day discussing this with me. I repeat from an earlier post: I can only hope that (these being your positions) you are not a mod, admin, or decision-maker in any capacity within the Chow oligarchy."

                              As Jacquilynne has posted on Site Talk before, no Moderator is allowed to post on Site other than using their Moderator Team handle. So if someone answers you as I have we are simply another "hound" at large...

                              1. re: Servorg
                                tom in austin Sep 17, 2011 02:13 PM

                                Good to know. I'm new to Site Talk.

                              2. re: tom in austin
                                Servorg Sep 17, 2011 05:00 PM

                                "I understand that mods are Chow users. That doesn't address my proposal, which means you actually don't understand what I'm talking about or that you're being deliberately obtuse."

                                I can begin to glean why some of your posts have gone missing from the Austin board by the way you shape your disagreements with others. I both understand what you've been saying and simply vehemently disagree with your ideas from the get go. I don't think they will be at all beneficial to this site, but rather drag it down into the mire. But hey, that's just me!

                                So your assertion that you "...seek to improve it. Attempting to help it grow or evolve..." is completely at odds with what I believe about what works best here to facilitate finding great food.

                                When you go on to put words in my mouth by writing that it's my position that "Chowhound is better than ever. There are no problems with mods or processes, only bad users." I find that the old "set up the straw man" argument and then you "knock him flat" is disingenuous at best.

                                I never said that CH is perfect. It's just that it makes me think of the Winston Churchill quote: "It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried."

                                Finally you say that I believe that "* People who have their posts deleted are usually doing something wrong and should submit to an author-initiated iterative editorial process to improve their post to the point of mod satisfaction. This quality control is a net positive force for Chowhound."

                                No. I said if you run into a site policy that results in your post being deleted you can normally suss out why. And if you take out the offending section - such as talking about a cockroach crawling across your plate in a restaurant you are doing a review of - that if you take out that bit your review can go back up without any further problem.

                                I hope that's all clear? I don't want there to be any possible question about my complete and utter dismissal of ever running the site as you've proposed? Because, to my way of thinking that would be a disaster for CH. I looked at the two sites you referenced in your post "Reddit" and "Stack" and both would lead to an "all noise" and "no signal" site that would have anyone interested in talking about food here abandoning ship as fast as they could get into the life boats.

                                1. re: Servorg
                                  tom in austin Sep 17, 2011 05:27 PM

                                  'Tis folly to continue trying to discuss this, since your perspectives are set in stone. My goal isn't to argue for argument's sake; rather, I sought to facilitate discussion between the frustrated Austinites and the mods. I know what side I stand on, but I was hoping to hear from someone (mods or admins of Chow) and this board doesn't allow it.

                                  By the by, it is utterly weird that mods aren't allowed to post in this board, yet any criticism of the mods is moved to this board by the mods. They're left unable to answer for their clumsier decisions, which might enlighten and improve both sides of the proverbial fence. This is a self-destructive practice that should change; mods and admins should immediately engage in robust discussion here. Discussing things with a lickspittle does not do me, nor Austin food enthusiasts, nor energized Chowhound contributors, any good whatsoever.

                                  Now, for your personal attacks: I have yet to treat you in any disingenuous manner. In fact, you have all evidence and every reason to believe that I'm a person who admits his mistakes and apologizes for them. Yet you continue to leap to conclusions and assert insulting things about my me; I'm disingenuous? Really? While you quote Churchill on democracy, all while defending a feudal organization that fails to provide any form of representation to the very users it gains from? You're either clueless or crass, and your desire to impugn my character is meaningless to me, as I'm operating in the light and with good intentions.

                                  Thanks, Servorg! I think we need to agree to disagree; your points are a broken record and your half-hearted invective doesn't move the ball forward. You're a True Believer, or at least represent yourself as such. Additionally, you have no capacity to effect change. I appreciate your time. Best of luck to you, keep enjoying amazing food and sharing your experiences.

                                  --

                                  (This section not for Servorg, but rather for Chow admins/mods perusing the board against the stated rules that Servorg shared:)

                                  Oh mods and admins of Chowhound, why not defend your methodologies directly? Don't force us, your contributors, to waste our energy dialoging with sycophants! Moving a critique of your execution of the Chow mandate to a board that, by your own stated guidelines, your staff cannot attend demonstrates no intent to achieve meaningful discourse.

                                  I think that Chowmick started this thread with the desire to talk to Austinites and possibly Chow staff about a problem that he perceived. The thread has been moved from Austin's board, and moved to a board in which Chow staff can't participate. Sad, silly, paradoxical. Please rectify! Be brave and good. We might even all make a great Austin board together!

                                  1. re: tom in austin
                                    The Chowhound Team Sep 17, 2011 08:13 PM

                                    We ask our individual moderators not to explain, justify, defend, or otherwise comment on matters relating to moderation under their own nametags. As you can see from past postings on this board, including a previous response upthread, we do participate, under this nametag. However, it's a weekend and most of our moderators try to spend their weekends eating and making great food.

                                    If you haven't already done so, we do recommend you review our posting guidelines, which are linked from every board and can be found at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/367605 .They explain a lot about the way the site is moderated.

                                    1. re: The Chowhound Team
                                      tom in austin Sep 17, 2011 08:28 PM

                                      The Chowhound Team, what do you think of democratizing moderation, as well as adding some measure of visibility and accountability to moderation?

                                      1. re: tom in austin
                                        Jacquilynne Sep 19, 2011 02:16 PM

                                        There is user input into moderation via the 'report' system. We don't read nearly every post, and rely on users flagging potential problem situations to bring them to our attention. This results in some of our apparent inconsistencies -- if we don't see it and nobody flags it, one problem may go undetected, even though another similar problem was removed.

                                        We're not ever likely to move to a moderation system that relies on the crowd to make final decisions, and the results of the report function is one of the reasons why. We look at all of those reports and we see some users with a great eye for what is and isn't okay, but we also see users who flag a lot of things that are actually fine, or who use flags in an attempt to exact revenge on those that they don't like or are currently disagreeing with.

                                        As an example, nearly every new user who starts out on Chowhound with a positive report about a restaurant gets flagged several times as a shill. Some of them definitely are, some of them definitely aren't, and some of them can't be precisely determined either way. If moderation was driven by those flags, most of our newbies would get deleted right out of the gate. We're able to investigate the poster's history and can often make fairly definitive decisions one way or another, but even we can't always make a clear call based on the information available to us -- and general users have even less information available to them.

                                        When it comes to visibility, we try to keep moderation as low key as possible. We'll leave a note in a thread if there's a general problem with the conversation that we want everyone to know about, but we prefer to handle issues with individual posts offline -- no one wants to be singled out for public correction, and that's not the kind of moderation we want to engage in. And the more we draw attention to moderation actions, the more people get drawn away from talking about food into talking about talking about food -- and that's not nearly as informative or interesting.

                                        The volunteer moderators are accountable to each other (any moderator can review any other moderator's decision), they're accountable to me, and I'm accountable to the management team at CBS Interactive. If individual users need explanations for why their posts were removed, we're generally happy to reply to questions by email, and we do sometimes reverse decisions as a result of those conversations.

                                        We try to send mail when we think someone won't understand why something's been deleted and when they haven't previously been emailed about the same issue, though we recognize that doesn't always happen. But, in keeping with what I said above about not correcting people in public, we generally won't provide an explanation to one person about why we deleted another person's post. We understand that everyone feels ownership in the conversations they're involved in, and that it's natural for them to want to understand those actions, but it's an area where we're not going to be able to satisfy the desire to know.

                                        There's often a perception that a single moderator is responsible for each board, and can dictate the tenor of the moderation on that board, but that's not how the team operates. We don't assign specific territory to moderators to cover, and everyone works across the site. Our moderators are human, and the vast majority of moderation decisions require them to exercise their judgement rather than following specific, hardline criteria (there's simply too much variety for that) so there are differences in how each mod handles things, but those differences don't really filter up to affect an entire board, because all of the mods cover all of the boards. If you're seeing strong differences between what gets modded on one board and another, that's generally more a function of how "Report" is being used by the members of each board -- because we can't deal with things we don't know about.

                                        -- Jacquilynne, Community Manager for Chowhound

                                    2. re: tom in austin
                                      Servorg Sep 17, 2011 08:38 PM

                                      "Now, for your personal attacks:"

                                      Please point out one "personal attack" I've made upon you in any of my posts? I have attacked your ideas, no doubt, as I find them misguided and potentially deleterious to Chowhound as a community and a site. But personally I have not the slightest interest in attacking you.

                                      1. re: Servorg
                                        nsxtasy Sep 18, 2011 06:45 AM

                                        >> Please point out one "personal attack" I've made upon you in any of my posts? I have attacked your ideas, no doubt, as I find them misguided and potentially deleterious to Chowhound as a community and a site. But personally I have not the slightest interest in attacking you.

                                        Servorg, I'm completely with you on this. I don't see a single opinion you have expressed that comes across as a personal attack.

                                        Most of us hope that this site in general, and the Site Talk forum in particular, is a place where we can discuss things respectfully, including differences of opinion. Unfortunately, sometimes one poster prizes "winning" an argument rather than merely discussing it; when he/she fails to convince the other person of his viewpoint, he goes on to attack the person (not the argument, but the person) for disagreeing, rather than simply respecting the difference of opinion and agreeing to disagree. It is a shame when someone takes a respectful argument and turns it personal and petty, such as with specious and sophistic accusations of a personal attack where none existed. Turning an argument personal is one of the most common reasons why the Chowhound Team deletes posts, and I am very grateful that they do so.

                    2. re: Servorg
                      a
                      addlepated Sep 17, 2011 08:20 PM

                      Unless something has changed radically recently, I have my doubts about this. I've had posts deleted before and emailed the mods to try to find out what the issue was and it was like I was issuing my email directly to /dev/null. Never heard anything back. This is precisely the kind of thing that turned me off of becoming a more frequent and dedicated poster.

                      I hate to mooch like I do off the site, but the risk:reward ratio of trying to post on here just isn't worth it to me. (Note that I say _to me_ - that may not be the case to others.)

                      1. re: addlepated
                        The Chowhound Team Sep 18, 2011 02:38 AM

                        Our records show that we have emailed you a couple of times. Spam filters and incorrect email addresses (we use the address provided by people during registration) are common reasons why people do not receive our emails. You can contact us at moderators@chowhound.com if you need further clarification.

                        1. re: The Chowhound Team
                          a
                          addlepated Sep 19, 2011 09:55 AM

                          Yeah, that's the thing, you email back sometimes and not other times. It's directly out of the "How to Frustrate Your Users" handbook.

                          There was also the time I got the note from the moderator saying that I wasn't allowed to email a restaurant owner a link to a thread about their restaurant, as if Chow could dictate what I could do with my actions off their site, but that's another manner.

                          If I sound peeved, I am, but I still find myself coming back to the site for the occasional gem of a tip. And I still live in hope that the mod team will lighten up and head to some of the moderation panels at SXSW and figure out that if their policies were less draconian, they would be attracting (and RETAINING) one hell of a lot more posters.

                          1. re: addlepated
                            rworange Sep 19, 2011 11:28 AM

                            >>> There was also the time I got the note from the moderator saying that I wasn't allowed to email a restaurant owner a link to a thread about their restaurant

                            I made that mistake when I first started and I think it resulted in the restuarant eventually being banned for perceived shilling.

                            I didn't get a note from the mods though and it took me years to guess that might have happened.

                            Here's a few of what I can see as the problems with doing this and maybe the Chowhound team can clarify

                            - some restaurants might not be aware of the report and start having their friends post and shill the place.

                            - the poster gets special treatment from the owner and freebies which isn't the experience of anyone else

                            - the yelp blackmail syndrome ... I'm going to (or have) written a lousy report, so give me something so I will write something positive

                            I was really new to Chowhound and wasn't looking for anything. I just thought it was a cool restaurant and was just saying so by emailing that.

                            I personally never saw that restaurant shill. They never gave me a thing free or any special treatment than any of the customers at surrounding tables. Quite frankly, this was pre-yelp and this never would have occurred to me.

                            I moved out of the area for a while and when I returned the restaurant was banned, so who knows the reason. I asked a few times thru emails and never got an answer. I loved that joint and would have loved it no matter if there was online stuff to report or not.

                            When CNET took over, they got reinstated ... and went out of business a few years later. There you go.

                            I had suspected maybe all this had to do with me emailing the restaurant about my report.

                            I never did it again, though it is tempting for some little mom and pops because they might get a kick to see their joint get a little applause. But even these little joints can get aggressive.

                            A few small places found my reports on their own and sometimes they send in the friends to beef things up and it always makes me sad to report those.

                            Still, it would make me sadder to see the boards overrun by shills and blackmailers.

                            Again, I never heard anything from Chowhound, so this is my gusss about how sending a restaurant a link to your report could have some negative consequences

                            1. re: rworange
                              Servorg Sep 19, 2011 11:45 AM

                              This reminds me of how someone on the LA board let me know that a restaurant I had written about in a very positive manner had printed out my post and taped it up by their front hostess stand. I hadn't seen it, but when I left after breakfast one morning I searched for it and "low and behold" there it was. While it gave me a chuckle I didn't mention to anyone there "Hey, I see you liked what I wrote." Nor would I ever do so.

                              I take it seriously that any such self aggrandizement would be both in bad taste, and leave me open to charges of shilling that restaurant if my actions became known. I don't want even the perception that I would do such a thing for a couple of reasons. a) I don't want to be banned from being able to write about said restaurant and b) I would hate to see said restaurant get in trouble here and get banned from being mentioned.

                              1. re: Servorg
                                rworange Sep 19, 2011 12:37 PM

                                >>> I don't want even the perception that I would do such a thing

                                You know, until this post I never connected the dots ... though there may or may not be dots to connect.

                                When I moved back into the Bay Area and that restaurant was banned, I also found myself in moderator radar. Believe me, this ain't Cheers ... its not a place where you want everybody to know your name, if everybody means moderators.

                                If you get the perception of being a problem poster ... once that happnes ... too late ... it ain't ever gonna change ... (I guess that wanna button is sublimanally influencing me)

                                I was just clueless back then. Nothing in the rules about emailing links to joints. Also ti was before the days when restaurants took anyone but a professional critics words seriously.

                                Even worse when I started ... and I never would have thought about it back then ...was a now closed restaurant called Bizou. I loved that joint, eating there weekly, years before I even started posting on Chowhound.

                                So while I knew the great stuff there ... and the duds which I also reported ... I knew the staff quite well, often got freebies (long BEFORE Chowhound) it never seemed a place not to report because I knew personally I ws being objective ... good or bad.

                                Damn, I even told the staff about Chowhound ... in the general context as a great place to find good food as they were into good food. I didn't ever mention my reports or name because that would have embarrassed me. I knew these people too well to want them to read what I said about them ... especially since I was reporting the bad. They never seemed to follow up on the site anyway. Again ... in the times before a customers opinion meant much except as return business.

                                But .. yikes ... yikes, yikes, yikes ... really, really naive and clueless.

                                But after a while, I got it ... what can happen in terms of objective reports. I'd rather do all I could to keep the site a place where you can rely on the info. There's a reason behind all those rulses though I didn't see it at first.

                                By the time a few joints started posting my reports on their websites or walls, I was less clueless and needed to evalute if they knew it was me or not. If I thought they did, I stopped writing about them.

                                That was the great thing about being in Antigua, GT for a year, a country more than 10 years behind the times. Not one restaurant would know or give a damn that one of their customers wrote about them on the web because

                                - even the professional reviews are few and far, so there's no real impact if someone loves or hates you ... the NY Times or other mega giants excepted.

                                - most of them don't speak English anyway

                                - snap, snap, snapping photos was just taken as another damn clueless tourist about to bore their friends at home (ok, I bored my virtual friends here ... and a few real friends)

                                - people just don't use the internet as much .. many don't have pc's. Its a lot of text messaging

                                Anyway, it was fun living a while in the past before anyone took oneline reports more seriously than just being a way to find good eats.

                                Downthread Duppie wrote of the mods ..

                                " a few anonymous,select, souls who lord over a vast kingdom of ordinary food lovers that find at just about every corner a vague rule,ordinance,opinion and ever revolving dictate of what is right, true and appropriate...peppered with a small, blindly loyal cadre of bloodless supporters"

                                The reason for the support is the consequences. Do people want a site they can rely on or not?

              2. nsxtasy Sep 17, 2011 06:39 AM

                >> ATX Chowhound Board
                >> What happened to this board? It just vanished, and has been replaced by the incredibly lame and unreliable Yelp and the rest of that ilk.

                Just to clarify for those of us not familiar with the situation you describe... it appears ATX is supposed to refer to the board for Austin Texas, is that correct? And the board for Austin is still there; you are just saying that some of the longtime posters are no longer posting there, correct?

                1 Reply
                1. re: nsxtasy
                  tom in austin Sep 17, 2011 07:55 AM

                  I think that chowmick et al are offering the following observations:

                  * Some of the more interesting (as well as sometimes titillating and controversial) contributors are posting much less frequently or not at all.

                  * The posts are being made are trending toward a more brief discourse.

                  * The content of the posts are trending towards a poorer sort of quality; overall, they're less insightful, less descriptive, and less exciting to consume.

                  On the basis of those observations, I think chowmick et al are making the following hypothesis:

                  * Those observed trends are (in part) happening due to the heavy-handed involvement of moderators who are deleting posts w/o any community oversight.

                  (In other words: why spend so much time contributing when your efforts might be deleted?)

                2. tom in austin Sep 17, 2011 01:34 PM

                  Chowmick, I believe I've reached equilibrium in attempting to discuss this with someone who represents what is, in your case, the opposition. This has lead me to an answer, although it isn't one you're going to like.

                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8074...

                  In summary:

                  * Love it or leave it -- you choose to use Chowhound so you must accept it as it is and never seek to improve it. Attempting to help it grow or evolve is an act that floats between crass oafery and some sort of treason.
                  * Chowhound is better than ever. There are no problems with mods or processes, only bad users.
                  * People who have their posts deleted are usually doing something wrong and should submit to an author-initiated iterative editorial process to improve their post to the point of mod satisfaction. This quality control is a net positive force for Chowhound.

                  1. g
                    GulaSocordia Sep 17, 2011 06:19 PM

                    I should hope that people continue to regularly post in the ATX forum and that some sort of peaceful resolution is reached! I am relatively new to town, and Chowhound has been the only place to steer me in the right direction. The reviews on Yelp have just been useless. -.-;;

                    An off note, I'm glad to hear someone else is in love with Soumnajib/Rockin' Rice! I gorged myself on Korean Fried Chicken last time I was there. ._.;;

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: GulaSocordia
                      tom in austin Sep 17, 2011 08:29 PM

                      Soumnajib/Rockin' Rice leftovers gave me lunch and dinner today. So good!

                    2. malarkey Sep 17, 2011 09:03 PM

                      Uhhhhh wow. Interesting.

                      1st, a little history: Ever heard of a site called eGullet? Did any of you know that eG was created waaaay back in 2001 because of Chowhound's editing/deleting of posts?? That was 10 YEARS AGO, people. And that was back in the Jim Leff days. How can you be surprised that this still goes on??

                      2nd: Lesson 2: eG didn't learn ENOUGH from lesson 1, and has paid a price. Course, it could be said that the advent of blogs is what undid eG, but it was also a heavy handed approach to the community, and in turn that lost them their best content generators. But that's all beside the point.

                      3rd: If you want a serious ATX food discussion board, then someone needs to start one that isn't a commercial endeavor.

                      10 Replies
                      1. re: malarkey
                        rworange Sep 18, 2011 04:16 PM

                        Had you read the Site Talk posts when the founder of egullet wanted to change Chowhound, it was pretty clear he just didn't agree with the content of the site and not the moderation policy, for the most part.

                        I can think of a million rasons why egullet is the way it is today, and it has nada to do with moderation. One of my own major reasons for leaving that site wast not the moderation but the sheer nastiness of the community. There was a lot of backstabbing going on in that pm system.

                        Eguellet is basically what the founder wanted tit to be. That wasn't what these boards were about ... in the past. Egullet is enamoured not with the opionion of the common man but the celeb food crowd. If you were a famous chef or food 'expert', egullet was in love with you.

                        1. re: rworange
                          Duppie Sep 18, 2011 05:32 PM

                          ...and CH has a dark curtain which behind hides a few anonymous,select, souls who lord over a vast kingdom of ordinary food lovers that find at just about every corner a vague rule,ordinance,opinion and ever revolving dictate of what is right, true and appropriate...peppered with a small, blindly loyal cadre of bloodless supporters that firmly believe that to evolve would be akin to mass suicide... Oh the irony.............

                          1. re: Duppie
                            jen kalb Sep 18, 2011 06:09 PM

                            I think pretty much everyone who posts here for a while has problems with moderation from time to time and lack of transparency around site decisions. There are situations where I feel a mod has made an error. But the mods are just well intended human beings not power freaks - and will often respond if you reply. You can use theReport button if you want to explain why you think a moderation decision went awry - whle you may not get an email response often something will happen if what you say makes sense..

                            1. re: Duppie
                              The Chowhound Team Sep 18, 2011 06:52 PM

                              This seems like a good place to remind people of the Interview with a Moderator, linked from this thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/378081 , which also has a transcript.

                              1. re: The Chowhound Team
                                Duppie Sep 18, 2011 08:23 PM

                                With all due respect..an obsolete interview of a poor , aged ,benign woman from 2007? hardly an example of the seemingly haphazard and uneven moderation of today's CH imho....

                                1. re: Duppie
                                  Jacquilynne Sep 19, 2011 09:18 AM

                                  Pat is very much still an active, valued member of the moderation team. She's one of our contractors and she helps lead our volunteer moderation team.

                                  Though we've evolved some of the rules over time, the process of moderating has changed very little since 2007.

                                  -- Jacquilynne, Community Manager for Chowhound

                                  1. re: Jacquilynne
                                    Servorg Sep 19, 2011 09:24 AM

                                    "Though we've evolved some of the rules over time, the process of moderating has changed very little since 2007. "

                                    Now there's some good news to take away from this thread!

                                    1. re: Servorg
                                      h
                                      HillJ Sep 19, 2011 11:00 AM

                                      But this topic isn't about Pat, it's about the ATX Board and the current moderation taking place there. Even in Pat's interview she talked about how a topic change mid thread was frustrating...and yet...

                                      Pat might have been comfortable to use her own name as s/n both as a CH poster and Mod but the rest of the volunteer team doesn't appear to share her free spirit, so how exactly does her interview apply to this discussion?

                                      I'm confuzzled as usual..and it really doesn't matter does it. The rules are the rules. They can change. They can apply to you one minute and not the next.

                                      So, good luck ATX Board. I thank you all for bringing some great eats to the boards.

                                      1. re: HillJ
                                        Servorg Sep 19, 2011 11:26 AM

                                        My reply was in response to Jacquilynne's point that the moderation hasn't really changed. So I'm just a bit confused about your response to me that "But this topic isn't about Pat, it's about the ATX board and the current moderation taking place there."

                                        Now, perhaps you meant your reply not for me, but for another poster? That would make sense.

                                        The main thing to take away from Jacquilynne's comment, at least as far as I'm concerned, is that the moderation is the same now on the Austin board, as it was in 2007 (as it both is and was for all the other boards).

                                        1. re: Servorg
                                          h
                                          HillJ Sep 19, 2011 12:18 PM

                                          Now, perhaps you meant your reply not for me, but for another poster? That would make sense.
                                          ~~~~~~~~Correct Servog, I didn't mean to attach to your comments~~~~~~~~

                                          I appreciate the comment by Jacq, I just don't see what it has to do with Pat's interview or the original post. Or, how it helps better understand what's happening to the ATX Board.

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