Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Site Talk >
Jan 10, 2012 01:48 PM


In the last month or so, i've noticed an annoying trend: concern trolls...i.e. people leaving replies and starting threads that serve only to disrupt constructive discussion...i'm not talking about bickering (which i consider fine as long as it's done intelligently) or expressing strong opinions (also fine in my book) and sarcasm (often fine)...but rather concern trolling:


-- When an OP asks for a hip romantic restaurant and a troll suggests a huge bland tourist joint...or suggests a place in a completely different area...or price range...etc...maybe fine if it's clearly meant as a joke, but a lot of time it's just a deliberately bad suggestion...

-- Starting a thread raving about a sub-mediocre restaurant...

I've seen a lot of the above lately, and it's disheartening to see well-meaning chowhounds either a) being misled by the info ("Wow, could that place possibily be good? Well i guess i could try it...") or b) wasting their own time questioning the concern troll and getting into a long pointless discussion with him/her/it.

Like all passive-aggressive behavior, concern trolling is hard to ferret out, as some of these people feign to be neophytes asking innocent questions (a fake example that's nonetheless close to a recent thread: "Wow, i had a great pizza at Pizza Hut. It's actually better than the slice i had at DiFara's. I know hard to believe, but you should really compare")...

Concern trolls are like the obnoxious drunks in a bar who are so well-practiced that they know *just* how out of line they can be without getting kicked out...but i hope the mods will take note...

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. If you see what you believe to be this behavior, please use the Report function and alert us to it. Be sure to leave a comment explaining what you suspect is going on, and we'll check it out.

    1. I'm 87% sure I know who you're talking about, and reporting won't help, as the suggestions are (as far as I can tell) sincere, if misguided - note the poster's respectful responses when s/he is corrected. But even if you're right, and this person is deliberately causing trouble, it's only a matter of time before s/he gets bored and moves on. I wanted to throw rocks at the person whose answer to everything was "The Boathouse in Central Park," and then one day he was just...gone.

      1. May I do you know that the so-called "trolls" in this instances aren't being sincere and/or stupid? In your first example, maybe they misread the OP's post or just plain didn't realise that their suggestion wouldn't be appropriate. And as for the second example, maybe they genuinely really like that restaurant.

        I just think people should be careful before accusing someone of being a "troll" based on the fact that you have a different opinion from them.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Muchlove

          To paraphrase Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, I know a troll when I see it.

          To Chowhound's credit, there are surprisingly few trolls for a site this big, and most 'dumb' questions and recommendations are more or less earnest. But there are exceptions that just seem qualitatively different from sincere but silly posts. For example, some of the recent threads on food safety wherein the OP presents a plainly ludicrous situation or idea and then blatantly asks for medical advice have struck me as trolling, most likely through an alternate account of a regular poster. I believe these threads have been removed, btw.

        2. I'm sure it occurs in all the tread categories but over the past months I've noticed a large increase in the New Jersey Boards. Usually a first time poster either overly praising or panning a restaurant and going out of their way to be contrary. I only noticed because their screen names seem to always include a series of numbers.I envision a dining table surrounded with bored and/or slighted CH members,empty wine bottles,slightly flushed smiling faces and a vague plan for adding some excitement and controversy to an otherwise static board.

          1. I haven't seen the particular threads you're talking about but I think you're giving people too much food cred. A lot of people I know like restaurants like Olive Garden, Carmines and Red Lobster. CH'ders remain a minority of the dining public. On another forum, a certain poster was RAVING about The Cheesecake Factory, Denny's and Bubba Gump's, peppering his or her review with "OMG food moments." This trip report was met with countless of other posters saying "great trip report!" or "OMG you're making me hungry!" It was funny that the only retort was from someone who also posts on CH.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Miss Needle

              Your post is very timely. On my local neighborhood Patch site (suburban NYC) there has been a thread asking people for suggestions of "what should go in the vacant spot on Route whatever". The vast majority are suggesting Outback, Olive Garden, Red Lobster,...... You're right; CH'ders are a minority. When my dad and aunt visited they wanted to take us out to dinner. They were dumbfounded that the only restaurants I could suggest were non-chains (we are chain-deprived here, not that I'd really noticed-- all I could offer was an Appleby's! I guess that's why folks want those chains here!)

              1. re: DGresh

                I thought the same as the two of you. Maybe someone is giving a genuine rec. It's one reason I don't agree with the "ask a local" advice when travelling. It's one thing when an unsolicited post shows up raving about Boston Market (I've seen it), complete with location, hours but another if someone raves about their chicken in response to a question about getting good chicken.