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"Restaurants" Database To Be Eliminated

Subsumed under the topic title, "Change in the site header", http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/827384 , "jane" includes the news that Restaurant pages will be going away. While I have no recollection of major issues with the navigation header, there have been many discussions on this board of the Restaurant database. I wanted to re-post the info here in a separate topic where those who have paid attention to the iimplementation and use of Restaurant pages might see it.

"... It's the first step toward removing the restaurant pages altogether. This may be alarming to some who have used those pages to post restaurant reviews, tips, and reference data. But please don't worry: the pages themselves will still be around for a while, and any reviews that you posted will be available to you for quite some time. We'll have more information on that soon.

Why the change? We originally offered restaurant information in order to make the Chowhound boards more useful. We thought we'd forestall the slightly annoying need to continually reply to a post with the question, "Where is this place you're talking about?" However, those good intentions have not been well served. We have heard that our restaurant listings have not been particularly helpful to most people most of the time, and they've slowed down the performance of the site. So we're beginning the process to eliminate those pages. More on that as the project commences. You will be well forewarned before any of this takes place..."

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  1. To say that this news made my blood pressure go up would be an under statement. How about making the pages more useful to our community? The old question of posters asking over and over and over and over again, "Where is it" was shut down for the most part by the inclusion of the place links. I'd better double up on my my medication before I start blowing steam out of my ears...

    7 Replies
    1. re: Servorg

      Eliminating that seems shortsighted to me.

      Originally it seemed like eachrestaurant page included links to every topic that linked to it, which was very useful. At some point, that was broken, and now it's just a string search, which eliminates much of the value.

      If the restaurant db is eliminated, does the "Wanna Go" list disappear as well?

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Not broken, the change for the worse was intentional starting in the Fall 2009.
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6558...

        When auto-linking was introduced at that time, every mention was linked up, essentially becoming just a string search, and the Restaurant pages no longer provided a guide to more substantive discussions or way to cut through that chaff.
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/663117

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          Ah. Well, probably best to throw it all out and start over, then.

          It would be very helpful to have a set of restaurant objects with basic info (Web site, address, phone number) that linked to topics about each restaurant. That could easily be implemented without a major impact on the site's performance.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Well, that might be throwing out the proverbial baby with the bath water. So far, nothing that Chow implements is "easy" and it could be a long while before we see any replacement for the existing functionality. I'd rather focus on saving the parts that work and that don't belong to the data provider until something new can be set up.

            With autolinking currently turned off, one would think that overall performance would improve. Also, the accumulation of irrelevant links stops. I just took a look to see how many places in the SF Bay Area region might have overly bloated linkage. I sorted the database by "most discussed" and the top 100 is topped by Perbacco with 338 discussions and tapers down to 48 discussions for Della Fattoria on page 7. To me, that's a manageable number of links, and for most places, the number is lower.
            http://www.chow.com/search?query=&amp...

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              "With autolinking currently turned off, one would think that overall performance would improve."

              Auto-linking (with the "manage your links" box open is working at least - which is a change from the truncated functionality which I was seeing in the recent past where no restaurant would pop up unless you started typing a name in the box) seems to have been restored. Hopefully this points to a reconsideration of the planned termination of place links/CH database?

              1. re: Servorg

                Per my post in the other thread, no change there.

      2. re: Servorg

        I'm still so mad, I can't pull my thoughts together in a constructive way.

        I agree with RL that it's a shortsighted move. In this day and age, it would be pretty pathetic to have a dining and restaurant discussion site that does not have an address or geo-location feature. Maybe something else to replace it is in the works that can provide that functionality. Is a direct feed from Google possible for the address field and map, although that would take readers away from the site and land them on google's restaurant review page.

      3. I dont know this may be the last straw for me if implemented
        .

        Dont think Chow has really tried with the restaurant pages. They are very helpful where they have been implemented appropriately (i.e. led by users)

        for example, they are a big help in Italy where only houndish restaurants have been added. a

        there have been problems when Chow bought indiscriminate database content.

        If chow could peel back the data buys, I think they would see something useful emerge.
        Even if these pages were just retained as an adjunct to the boards it would be extremely useful to us.

        6 Replies
        1. re: jen kalb

          >If chow could peel back the data buys, I think they would see something useful emerge.

          Agreed! I've deleted many hundreds of NYC dupes since those ill-advised data buys, and to this day I still run across duplicates every couple of days. If the place pages really are slowing down the site - and BTW shouldn't that have been a predictable outcome? - surely the many thousands of duplicate records can't be helping matters.

          1. re: squid kun

            When the purchased database was loaded in, I estimated that 20 to 30% of the entries for the SF Bay Area regional board were duplicates. I've removed close to 2,000 of them from the SF region, and that's only about 10%. Still can't believe that the product managers allowed that data into the system without doing a cursory data scrub. Over the past year, I've visited various parts of the country, always doing some research though the database for my chowing targets, and this same ratio still seems to apply, even in the smallest of burgs.

            So I'd estimate that the database is carrying about 25% excess pages. Add onto that the Papa Murphy's, Subways, and various chain establishments that no one has ever clicked on, looked at or added any info to, and that's another 20 to 25%.

            Selective deletion of Restaurant pages could yield a 50% improvement right there. I would like to see that part that's working saved. Yesterday I did a quick check of how many records had "reviews" entered. For the SF region, 1062 and for LA, 1120. That was determined by sorting by rating, and of course, that undercounts as that only picks up the ones that have stars attached to them. Some hounds like me have refused to use stars. Maybe that's fewer reviews than the product managers would have liked to see, but that's still something and quite a few more places reviewed than other sites have.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              I wonder if the P that B would be willing to set up a "It Takes a Village to Save a Database" type of deal (just like when the boards were realigned and we all pitched in to relocate records to the new and reformed boards) where all interested hounds can go in to scrub and ultimately "save the place links?" I'm sure that a lot more goodhearted hounds would work to make the system faster by eliminating all those duplicates and chainola records...

              1. re: Servorg

                I suspect the number of "goodhearted hounds" willing to take on voluntary chores for Chow - like the many who contributed to the restaurant pages at the site's request - is falling off fast.

                1. re: squid kun

                  Maybe, but then again there may be enough new contributors around that want to make this a better, more usable site that would join with the old hands to make this happen... You never know until you try and go...

                  1. re: Servorg

                    You know, there seems to be some issue about owning the addresses.

                    From another post it seems obvious Chow can identify who has inputted addresses whether it is a third party or a user.

                    I don't see where a third party owns address that users input.

                    So the data input by users, i mean address and most of the header info could easily be extracted based on user input and loaded into a new database that would simply be owned by Chow and maintained by users.

                    Go ahead and wipe out the address information. Seriously, the only thing put in there by third parties is the address and often not even the phone.

                    i'd be willing to put in time to work on a Chow-owned database. If only Chow would consider something like that.

                    My career has been IT and working with databases such as Oracle. While this is a black box for me in terms of knowing what is under the covers here, it would see to me the effort to create a new database would be significnatly less that unlinking so many parts of this site from the database. The third party input was always one of the biggest problems with the restaurant database.

        2. Sounds like the Restaurants section is more of a headache for the site administration than we're hearing in the top post. For me it's the reviews that are useful, much more so than the "where is this place". Google will find the place location for me but Chowhound reviewers are generally a whole lot more discriminating than the mass of reviewers on Yelp. Too bad they're going away.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Midlife

            I hope that 'hounds won't stop "reviewing" restaurants just because the database is going away, but once you put it that way, I see the risk. Although I will say that the end run of setting up a separate review function separate from the chowhound boards was a bad decision and invited shills and yelp-like rants. And I will not be sorry to see star ratings go away. It's a shame that Chow management did not improve the UI to make it more intuitive for reviews posted on the chowhound boards to feed to the Restaurant pages. Those were the ones worth reading, and I liked having them on one page for reference.

            I can see a PR disaster now --- Chow castrates Chowhound and whacks off restaurant reviews. Then what are we left with?

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Cooking and chat

              i'm a concerned about this

              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8273...

              It was a casual comment (threat?) like that which preceeded this annoucement about the database.

              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8144...

              To me it seems Chow fails to recognize what it has in Chowhound, despite the numbers you quoted in another post. To me that first link seems to say Chow is forced to put up with Chowhound.

              The numbers you linked to showed where the traffic is going. And in one way that is correct. There are only so many articles a staff can write.

              There is no identifty crises anymore than there was a database crisis except in the eyes of the staff of Chow.

              Many people who contribute content are proud of the Chowhound identity. it makes it easier to explain away why Chow and Chowhound are different.

              People come to this site for info. Take away part of that info and there is less reason to come here.

              What kills me about this is that it is obvious that for a while now thare is a new engineering team that has fixed a good deal of the awful problems of the past. Lots of the huge things that were problems have become smaller. To remove the database on a phony premise because of problems that were introduced by Chow in the first place only leaves me to think Chow's only purpose to to get rid of Chowhound.

            2. re: Midlife

              I agree that a review is very useful. Consisting of a sliding scale for each reviewer on ambience, value, food quality, service quality, overall satisfaction. Multiple reviews would be summarized and drillable...can you tell i've done stuff like this before?

            3. >>> We thought we'd forestall the slightly annoying need to continually reply to a post with the question, "Where is this place you're talking about?" However, those good intentions have not been well served. We have heard that our restaurant listings have not been particularly helpful to most people most of the time

              I hope jane will address this in her post.

              Since the database has been implemented in 2007, IIRC, that is exactly what the database has done. I can not think of one person who has complained about this. EVERYBODY thinks this is extremely useful.

              The problem came when the restaurant records were revised with autolinking and other bells and whistles that never worked.

              The complaints have been about the non functioning bells and whistles.

              I am not aware of any consistant performance issuues for years now and those are usually tied to links to advertisers or rolling out new features that have nothing to do with the database.

              What is particularily shocking about this is Jacquelynne's post a few months back talking about discussions to make some fixes. We all knew this was on a low burner. That was fine.

              However, to pull the database makes me feel like i was lied to and strung along.

              Just leave the database as is. It has extreme value.

              I would suggest what simple changes would make sense, but it doesn't seem that Chow cares about anything posters say.

              Of course, should it be removed I can always hook to yelp when I want to provide an address and direct traffic away from this site.

              As far as I can see the reason for removing the database is untrue and I'd love to see one post about the database that says Chowhounds don't want it. There are many, many posts though saying that the Chow upgrades caused problems. I don't see why a simple database that allows links to the address and other pertinant info in the header is a problem.

              If every other restaurant site is able to deal with this, I don't see why it is so difficult for Chow.

              But, as always, I'm sure Chow has anticipated how unhappy this will make their customers and have decided it isn't important and this too will pass after having to ignore some complaining about it.

              4 Replies
              1. re: rworange

                I guess we are in the new state now where none of the restaurant info is any longer available, no website links, no mapping, no open day info, no nothing..

                I wanted to answer a question on the Italy Board with a suggestion and could not remember the name of the restaurant. Guess what, there is no way to find it any more on chowhound. Its back to the books and other online sites from which I had extracted the info to create a useful info infrastructure. and guess what I dont have those books where i am so Im not going to do it.

                I can understand why the site might not have wanted to deal with indexing thousands of pointless pages but not the insensitivity to chowhound board participants from deleting this info from the site..

                1. re: jen kalb

                  You can get to the restaurants through search.

                  However, the clear intention to remove the database is in the drop dow and restaurants is not listed there.

                  So in the search box enter the restaurant name and put in entire site and you will get to this page and currently you can narrow the search to restaurants
                  http://www.chow.com/search?query=sea+...

                  I think it is time for brainstorming beyond the immediate powers that be because of the abosolute disregard for posters.

                  Chow did upgrades to the restaurant database that caused multiple problems. Now posters are being penalized for reporting those errors. Then they were lied to with promises of improvements.

                  If the KISS approach had been taken or even considered in the future, it would have been better than what we will have ... nothing.

                  1. re: jen kalb

                    You may want to bookmark this page for now.
                    http://www.chow.com/restaurants/regions

                    If you use the search box in the upper right corner for "entire site", results in the restaurant pages do come up. The subheader above the results lets you select "restaurants". I've not tried it for Italy, but domestic restaurants do come up.

                    And if that doesn't work, on the link above for the Restaurants by region (not for Europe though), if you click on one of the cities below the line, you'll get a search box for finding restaurants. If you change the location to Italy, 2000+ entries come up. Is that about how many you estimate were there?

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      Clicking on the restaurant search and entering Guatemala I get back 231 records. I haven't checked to see if they are all there as i was having problems before this.

                      However, it gives me a chance to go back to all the blogs and sites that i linked to Chow for the address and remove the Chow link and decide where i want to store this info for now. Probably foursquare ... which btw ABC has some sort of affiliation with as they occasionally send people over there on their shows like Good Morning American, etc. You would think CBS could have done something similarily useful with the Chow restaurant database wich would have also had the benefit of directing more people to this site.

                2. Hello Melanie, rworange, jen kalb, Servorg, squid kun, and everyone else who is invested in Restaurants pages,

                  First of all, thank you so much for caring about these pages so much, and taking the time and effort to give us your thoughts about this change.

                  We are all absolutely aware of the work and contributions you've made to these restaurant pages and our site. How could we not be? In fact, we've pulled numbers about who has contributed to the restaurant pages with the plan of properly acknowledging those of you who have spent time working on reviews, updating information, and generally trying to build the database. We DO appreciate you. You will hear more about that in the upcoming month, and in good time before we do anything with the data on those pages.

                  I would like to underscore just a couple of points right now:

                  1. We have made this decision because we honestly believe it will make the site run faster and better.

                  2. You will be able to export all of your review and list data. None of that will be lost. The address information, sadly, is not owned by us, and that will be removed entirely.

                  3. We are attempting to be more proactive and responsive than we have ever been before. Some evidence of this: we are alerting you to this change weeks and weeks before it will take place in order to give you lots of time to get used to it and ask questions. We have a stellar engineering team that is working to address every bug that may come up, and who is responding more than ever to board feedback. The reason we work so hard on this: because we know that our users are the lifeblood of the site.

                  We have known that this decision would be (justifiably) met with frustration and anger, but there are times when you need to make an unpopular decision for the health of the larger site, and this is one of those.

                  Again, I would like to underscore that I am writing to you here because I care about the site and your work on it. You'll hear more from us soon about that. Until then, we'll be working to get things right over here, and build products that are sound from the get-go,

                  Meredith of CHOW

                  16 Replies
                  1. re: mudaba

                    1. We have made this decision because we honestly believe it will make the site run faster and better.

                    What is faster and better about having to manually type in addresses?

                    What is better about having static data in posts that is constantly changing?

                    What is better about being the only restaurant review site not to have a database?

                    The site hasn't been slow for a long time. As I mentioned it is only slow due to links to advertisers, the facebook/twitter interface and temporary installation gliches with software rollouts. The current engineering team is great about addressing the latter.

                    2. You will be able to export all of your review and list data. None of that will be lost. The address information, sadly, is not owned by us, and that will be removed entirely.

                    I am happy to get my info about lists. To be safe I will be removing any recipes froy this site because I don't feel data can reliably kept on this site.

                    I'm not exactly sure what you expect me to do on restaurant info I've inputed. It wasn't a one person effort and I relied on the work of others as well as what I put in. Even if I exported the whole database to my pc it wouldn't do me much good in the long term.

                    Exactly who owns the address data? So this action is not being taken to give us faster and better but because Chow doesn't want to pay fees?

                    3. We are attempting to be more proactive and responsive than we have ever been before. Some evidence of this: we are alerting you to this change weeks and weeks before it will take place in order to give you lots of time to get used to it and ask questions

                    That may make you feel good about yourselves.

                    It is just a different flavor of we don't care how Chowhounds use the site as we have our own ideas of what works and it will be forced on you.

                    And you are the keepers of the site ... though not very good ones. So do as you like. Just don't say that you are being responsive. The only response I've ever seen is this is what we are doing and too bad if it really is useful or not. This time there's just a bit more time telling us too damn bad if it is useful or not.

                    1. re: rworange

                      Dear rworange,

                      I can assure you that there is nothing about killing a feature on the site that makes me feel good about myself.

                      To answer your question, the code underlying restaurants has an impact on the performance of Chowhound that makes the pages load more slowly than they should. The address provider was implemented in such a way that it was not possible to have incremental updates, hence, we had out-of-date information and no way of updating it. And finally, the way that auto-linking was implemented didn't provide a meaningful user experience.

                      We certainly understand that many of our users would like up-to-date address information to appear alongside their posts. You've been heard, and if we are able to address this in the future, we will.

                      Thanks, Meredith of CHOW

                    2. re: mudaba

                      What proof do you have that the place links database is materially slowing this site? If you look at this little exchange http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/827816 on the L.A. board one can instantly see how useful just the mapping function and website linking is here to many, many posters. The result of this "change" will be a much less user friendly and practical site. As RWO says, you all will be slowing down every user of CH by forcing us to abandon putting up website information or address data without going off site and looking through Google for information on Yelp or other sites to put up the same information that is supplied via our current database.

                      1. re: mudaba

                        >>The address information, sadly, is not owned by us, and that will be removed entirely.

                        ALL the address information? I could understand if that applied only to the info purchased by the site from an outside data provider. But as you know, the Chow restaurant database predates the data buys.

                        In summer 2007, Chow asked selected regular users to help get the restaurant pages going. In New York, a bunch of us hounds split up a spreadsheet of hundreds of venues and added them to the site, addresses included. Multiply that by the other regions where the site asked for voluntary help. Add the many, many venues entered by users since then, including lots of useful info beyond addresses (menus, hours, media links etc.), and you've got a pretty good start on a robust community-created database.

                        I'd guess most regular users wouldn't regret losing the tons of venue info dumped here by the data provider. As has been amply documented on this board, that data set was rife with duplicate entries, nonfood businesses, brain-dead cuisine and geographical labels, and thousands of anti-chowish chain eateries.

                        But why would Chow not own the purely user-contributed info that it solicited from hounds? As others have suggested, there must be a way to separate that from the dubious purchased stuff. Toss the store-bought data; no great loss. But let's keep the irreplaceable info from Chowhounds.

                        1. re: squid kun

                          Yes, I know I personally have created maybe 100-200 records from scratch, using information I've googled. That's not much in the grand scheme of things and not as much as I'm sure others, more invested in the database have entered, but surely it should count for something. Isn't there a way to distinguish the records that have been created/edited from records that are a pure data dump from an outside provider?

                          1. re: squid kun

                            It's easy to separate the store-bought from manually entered by the numbering system in the restaurant page url's.

                            The manually entered ones from when the feature first launched have the lowest numbers, e.g., #2, is Vik's Chaat House in Berkeley, CA.
                            http://www.chow.com/restaurants/2/vik...

                            I don't know how high up these go, but that should be easy enough to determine.

                            Then the next series of url numbers are upper end of 5-digits or 6-digits for the store-bought data. E.g., #85105 is Gino's Tavern in NY or Sonic Drive In, FL
                            http://www.chow.com/restaurants/85105...
                            http://www.chow.com/restaurants/31503...

                            After that big data load and end of the moratorium on adding/editing restaurant records, the new places manually input seem to have six-digit numbers starting somewhere above 900000. E.g., #919025, Glaze in Manhattan
                            http://www.chow.com/restaurants/91902...

                            There are some records that were created by writing over store-bought duplicate records and therefore have a url that doesn't conform to this convention. But I doubt that there are that many.

                          2. re: mudaba

                            I understand Chow deciding not to continue to use database info provided by vendors.

                            However, None of the address data in Italy was purchased by CHOW from an external source. It was input by me and others. - the googlemaps linking feature was the only vendor-provided aspect.

                            It was often a lot of work to get addresses to map properly.

                            I am sure the Guatamala and other info is in the same category.

                            Is there an issue with Chow presenting information which was provided by site participants?
                            It should be possible to retain this info.

                            Explain, please.

                            I am not sure what you mean by List data.

                            I am really rather indiifferent personally to reviews which were input directly onto the CHOW Restaurant pages - very few in Italy and didnt generally take hold elsewhere- much more interested in retaining the interface/carryover from reviews posted in the Chowhound Boards and discussions there, for their utility and in the reference aspects (finding chowhoundworth restaurants in various geographies and being able to see them visually on maps.

                            1. re: jen kalb

                              Hello everyone,

                              I want to make sure I understand what you're all asking. Are you saying that you want the manually uploaded pages to remain while everything else is removed? Or that you want the address information that you manually uploaded to be made available for you to download the way the reviews and lists will?

                              If the former, I can tell you that keeping just a small number of pages up, while the majority of the pages are removed, would be bad user experience and not something we would want to do. It would be confusing for users to see a small number of pages and not be able to find others (in other words, more of the same problem we are looking in part to fix). If the latter, we might be able to figure something out as long as I understand exactly what it is you're looking to be made available. So any clarification on what you're asking will help me see what I can do.

                              Thanks, Meredith

                              1. re: mudaba

                                The restaurant database has not been auto-updated for some time. For the past two years, we've been entering in new restaurants and those that were not included in the auto-load, so I don't think it will be confusing to people at all if they can't find something. And even if it is confusing, I feel that's less of a problem than finding NO data at all.

                                As I noted above, about 50% of the 900K pages are irrelevant. By this I'm referring to the duplicates and the many chain restaurants that cannot be linked from the Chains board anyway. Can you tell us how many pages have been manually entered and the number from the data provider?

                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                  Looking back through old posts about the Restaurants feature, I found the approximate numbers. The data provider added 750K records to the database, I had reason to believe in this Oct 2009 post, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6565... . Prior to the load-in of store-bought data, the database had almost 60,000 records, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6565... . By trial and error, #56261, may be close to the last of the user-input records before the provider data was loaded in.
                                  http://www.chow.com/restaurants/56261...
                                  Records input by users post-data buy seem to be at least 7K, so non-purchased records would be at least 63K and maybe as high as 90K. That's worth saving, especially since those are more likely to be linked to reports and populated with other details, unlike the many empty store-bought records.

                                  Forgot that some records were fed from Opentable, don't know if those are counted as part of the data purchased from the data provider.

                                2. re: mudaba

                                  Meredith,

                                  Bad user experience after bad user experience has been the norm of this site for years.

                                  Now Chow is making the user experience even worse by removing this database in the name of it being helpful. It is not.

                                  While it is nice to say that maybe, someday there might be a spiffy, perfect restaurant database. I would have my doubts that has any priority at Chow.

                                  What will be a bad user experience is the next release with some wiz-bang feature like "wanna go" which lasted a hot few months rather than leaving a stripped down database.

                                  My life is IT. I've worked on almost every database there is IBM, Oracle, HP, DEC, UNiVAC an problably a few I'm not recalling.

                                  As a project manager the amount of work to change the code and strip out the database is not insignificant. It is probably less work and expense to keep whatever data is possible.

                                  Lose lists. Get rid of autolinking. My guess is that should solve a lot of performance problems.

                                  If "been there" and "wanna go" is easier to leave than keep, then leave it. If it is a preformance hog, strip it out.

                                  Probably every single person in this thread is more than willing to put in the effort to fix whatever glitches might appear with a modified database.

                                  We all have been putting major work into the restaurant database from day one. We do it not because we see it as a 'feature', but as an integral part of of this site. An extremely useful part.

                                  I know I have done it for years to draw people to this site because I value Chowhound and no matter how flawed, it made the site better for users.

                                  Please seriously consider the option of whatever stripped down database we can have.

                                  Then in the future if Chow wants to put a shiny new wonderful database on the schedule, well great. If not, well, we have been working with what has been foisted on us for years. If this is all we can have, that is fine

                                  1. re: rworange

                                    Merideth,

                                    I want to add this, should you catch the post above mid edit.

                                    I do want to say how grateful I personally am that so much is better.The current IT team is wonderful. Installations are almost flawless and any problems are fixed in a timely manner. We are no longer wondering for months and sometimes years if something is considered a bug and whether it will be fixed. .

                                    I no longer feel like I did a few years ago when it seemed like the IT team was made up of unpaid interns.

                                    With the exception of the removal of the restaurant section, this latest installation was intelligent and well thought out. Kudos to that.

                                    The announcement that headers had changed made me initially think 'so what'. I could care less.

                                    But as I said before, most of the navigation problems i had in the past cleared with this new design.

                                    i need to play more with search, but so far it is looking swell ... other than some minor things i mentioned elsewhere.

                                    So I don't want you to think the work to turn around some of the site problms is unappreciated. It is nice to finally have some thought about good user experiences and delivering a better experience.

                                    However, killing the current restaurant database prior to putting a new database in place would be the number one horrid user experience on this site.

                                    That database, no matter how flawed, was the best thing Chow ever did for Chowhound.

                                  2. re: mudaba

                                    "I can tell you that keeping just a small number of pages up, while the majority of the pages are removed, would be bad user experience and not something we would want to do. It would be confusing for users to see a small number of pages and not be able to find others (in other words, more of the same problem we are looking in part to fix)."

                                    I strongly disagree that this would result in a bad user experience. What would be left is the type of restaurants that users of this site come here to find. Chow and Chowhound are not Yelp. Every little place that sells food does not need to be listed.

                                    Time after time there are requests for a CH app. Why? Because folks want to access the hard to find place they read about here and something huge like Yelp is of no help. Most of us don't want to wade through a zillion Denny's listings - that is why we are here!

                                    Get rid of the purchased stuff and keep the ability to allow US to add places which we find significant. The contributors are the heart and soul of the site and are the essence of what keeps CH unique. Let this list grow organically and it will become more valued and useful.

                                    This continued talk of "branding" is counterproductive. That view point wants the new bells and whistles which end up not working for whatever reason and essentially is a lot of time, energy and money being flushed down the drain.

                                    If the powers that be could understand that there is a user based force which by its very existence is pointing the way then things would be much better. The media constantly quotes from posts here - they understand that CH posters are often exploring concepts quite a bit ahead of the general public's interest/awareness. Why continue to try to dumb down the site? Realize the true value, manage it with wisdom, prune carefully and provide the conditions to support healthy growth and then get out of the way. The community will do the rest - and it will be better than anything a team of pR (oops, my capital p won't type) folks could dream up.

                                    1. re: meatn3

                                      Good post, Meatn3.

                                      I don't really know a whole lot about the restaurant database or exactly why it has caused technical problems for the site, but I can say that when I've used the database, I've always ignored restaurants that had no reviews and no discussions. The value of chowhound is more in the depth of discussion than the breadth of it.

                                      1. re: meatn3

                                        I only heard about this today when I was emailed about a tool to export my content due to the restaurant pages going away. At first I thought it just meant the reviews and been there / wanna go, and thought no great loss. It took quite a while to realize they meant the database is going away - because who could possibly think that removing a restaurant database feature from a restaurant site is a good thing?

                                        The mind just absolutely reels, and the replies about resistance to change pour more salt in the wound. I eat change for breakfast. The offer to download your own data is utterly clueless - I don't need my own data, I need another people's data about new restaurants worth trying.

                                        How exactly is the database slowing down the site? (How could it possibly be slowing it down more than the ads that crash the browser?) I can easily believe that the bells and whistles around the pages, like auto linking, could cause problems - so get rid of them until you can do it better. But leave the database! Just let a topic have a nice useful map of the places being discussed alongside it, and let there be a place you can go to find the discussions associated with any single restaurant.

                                        I can also understand not wanting to renew a contract to include poor-quality data. So remove the purchased data and keep our user-generated data. Any new place I've reported first is something I've added to the database.

                                        The advice that rworange and meatn3 have provided seems quite sound. Naturally we can't understand all your implementation issues looking from the outside, but we can assure you that the Chowhound user experience will be far worse if you go through with removing the database - and it just could be bad enough that the site will not survive.

                                        If I can't tell where a place is on Chowhound, I may have to go to a competitor that seems to have a better handle on basic technologies for a restaurant site. It seems like it might be easier to move the core community of local contributors to a new site then to stay on what is looking more and more like a burning platform.

                                        Michael

                                        1. re: mdg

                                          >>> and it just could be bad enough that the site will not survive

                                          Exactly

                                          Chow does a lot of talk about wanting to attract new people. The Chow part of the site is set up to attract people who like to eat but don't know how to cook. They have 'irreverent' topical headlines to draw this group. Read under 30.

                                          i can think of few 20/30 somethings who would be attracted to this site without getting easy info.

                                          Effectively, removiing the database is like taking a shotgun and killing the restaurant part of Chowhound.

                                          Chow does nothing to promote the restaurant discussion forum and then takes away the one valuable thing that keeps it somewhat up to date.

                                          But you know what? When you kill off the restaurant traffic, it significantly cuts down the traffic to the site in general. It is as bad for Chow as it is for Chowhound.