HOME > Chowhound > Site Talk >


CHOW Restaurant Data Export Tool Now Available on Your Profile

Dear CHOW users,

We recently decided to retire the CHOW Restaurant pages and their related features: reviews, CHOW Lists, and the “Been There / Wanna Go” lists.

The prospect of discontinuing these pages provoked one of the biggest internal debates we’ve had in a long time, because even though the technical reasons were indisputable, the prospect of losing valuable content -- content that users spent time and effort creating -- was difficult to accept.

Nevertheless, we ultimately agreed that we’re not able to continue hosting that content. We are, however, making sure that those users who contributed can save what they wrote. We’ve built an export tool to allow you to download your own reviews and lists and keep them in a text file.

Here’s how to find it: On your user profile page, you'll see a tab titled "Export My Data." If you click on that tab, you’ll see instructions for downloading your restaurant reviews, restaurant lists, and "been there, wanna go" lists. Recipes and saved topics will not be affected. This export tool will be active -- and your content will be available to download -- until 3/20.

IMPORTANT: You must download your content by 3/20. After that, you will not be able to access it.

Meredith of CHOW

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. The export feature you are providing is yet another useless feature that Chowhounds did not ask for and shows Chow did not understand what the protest is about the database.

    Few people cared about their reviews.

    The people who did their reviews there did NOT want to post on Chowhound.

    What is vaulable is the information about the data base such as addresses, websites, cuisine.

    if Chow even asked many of the people involved in the database what they wanted it would be an export of the restuarant name and data NOT provided by the data providers.

    Most of the reviews attached to ther restaurant record were shills. That was the least valuable part of those records.

    6 Replies
    1. re: rworange

      Unfortunately, we can't export address or website information legally, per our agreement with the database provider with whom we're no longer contracted to work. We deleted the other post on the subject because we didn't want any users to be confused by the subject heading, which we worried would alarm them unnecessarily!

      Meredith of CHOW

      1. re: mudaba

        Yeah, I changed my post because i realized you deleted the other topic completely.

        I don't understand how information the data provider did NOT provide belongs to them.

        They hever provided restaurant hours, freeform fields or some other data fields. If they are saying they provided website information that would be untrue because I have never seen that information ever filled in ... ever. .

        They never provided one foreign record, so how does that belong to them?

        I know Jen and i put in lots of records outside the US. I made the unfortunate decision that Chow was the best database for this information. It never occurred to me than anyone at Chow would consider this a 'nice to have' feature and just discard it as such.

        Collecting that information was not easy. A lot of it was because I was in those restaurants collecting that data. It exists no where else on the web. i don't even have the notes because i foolishly trusted Chow and thought that data would be safe here.

        Now you are telling me someone else says that information is owned by them>?

        1. re: rworange

          You can put anything into a contract if the other side is a bad enough negotiator. Perhaps the business and legal teams on that contract were clueless.

          I suspect instead that they couldn't figure out which address and website info was user-generated, but I'm just guessing.


          1. re: mdg

            Baffling as it may seem, I have indeed been told by private correspondence with the powers-that-be that there is no way to separate out user-generated information from the store-bought data. Not by date of entry (e.g., before the data load from the vendor, or post data load) or any other markers. Seems odd to me since there's an editing trail with each record for who has made changes.

            I hope that others will take the time to read this thread and add their comments,
            Restaurants Database to be eliminated

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              It doesn't baffle me that powers-that-be tell you there is no way to separate it out. It could mean either that engineering can't figure it out or the business folks won't let them, and neither would surprise me at this point. If I were trying to cut my losses I might do the same.

              It seems like a good time to run some tests of the local Chowdown lists...


        2. re: mudaba

          when you mean the database provider you mean the provider of the format into which the data is input, or the information itself?

          If the format belongs to somebody else and you dont want to license it any more, I cant see how any of the data I input into the form will help me or anybody else if I seek to extract it. Its not like I put up reviews on the 2000 Italian restaurants that are in the database.

          If its the content, tho, absolutely none of the data I input belongs to any data provider However there is literally no place for me to put it. It was a utility I built for CHowhound
          out of publicly available data to enrich CHOW. and now CHOW is throwing it away.

          this feels like the beginning of the end, frankly. I think more effort needs to be made not to subtract from the Board s' user friendliness. Maybe some clever way of linking board content with Google place pages or another restaurant locating resource would work. but we need this type of data and mapping utility otherwise volume will keep flowing away to other, greatly inferior venues.

      2. Where are the chow restaurant pages?

        2 Replies
        1. re: cajundave

          Look on every single topic where you post.

          The name of the restaurant, address and link to more information will disappear.

          you will no longer be able to link to a restaurant because there will be no restaurant information anymore.

        2. Why can't you export other people's lists? The functionality of the lists has been broken since I joined, and now that it's fixed, I'd like to be able to at least save what's now available.

          1. My only comment to this announcement is that the 4 restaurant reviews listed under my profile are totally unknown to me. I've never been to them and never heard of them. I believe I may have only attempted to write a review for a single restaurant over the past year and each time I entered my review it was deleted by "moderators." So I refused to write any additional reviews and confined my comments to discussions.

            The list of places I've been to does appear to be places I've been to. It's highly questionable that I'll find this list useful in the future since I didn't write reviews for them.

            1. >We’ve built an export tool to allow you to download your own reviews and lists and keep them in a text file.

              rworange said this best, but I'll reiterate that the user content most frequent contributors to these pages focused on was not reviews or lists, but info like hours, cuisine, photos, credit card policies, alcohol service, venue/chef history, and links to restaurant websites, menus, and relevant media mentions.

              To echo others here, the site's offer to let us take back what we put in, as if we saw it as our property and sought compensation, seems astoundingly tone-deaf coming from the managers of an online community—as does an earlier suggestion that users would be content to lose the database if they received public acknowledgment of their work. Our main motivations for contributing were to help the site when it asked for our help—remember, this feature was Chow's idea, and a sound one—and to build a trove of info usable by us and other hounds. That info is worthless once it's removed from the context of a community that can read it and link to it right alongside live threads about great chow.

              Offering users public props and an "export tool" to make little text files amounts to a corporate-minded response to this Chow-created fiasco. Any of us who expected a more community-minded response are learning the hard way how Chow chooses to treat some of its most committed users.

              1. As others have mentioned, the reviews are no big loss. The export of reviews that I got included a few one-liners but otherwise limited to content that was posted to the boards and fed to the restaurant pages.

                What I would like to have back is whatever I entered in the "Good to Know" sections and "Reviews around the Web" field. That should be easy to export. Also please provide the name and city for every restaurant page that linked to a discussion that I participated in. Hopefully that is within the limits of your agreement.

                As far as website info, if your data provider said it supplied those, it lied to you. The only place where website info came from other than user-input might possibly be the restaurants that were fed from Opentable.

                7 Replies
                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  Yes, if Chow will not reconsider how to keep the database or at least portions. I would like the information that i entered so I can put it elsewhere.

                  That would be all the information for the 200 plus records i entered for Guatemala as well has hundreds, if not thousands I have added info not provided by an outside agency. It is mainly San Francisco, but includes records country-wide and world-wide.

                  Saying Chow is unaware of who entered the other data on the database and can't recover some of it doesn't ring true. Anytime i questioned data being entered on a restaurant record, Chow was quick to tell me who.

                  As Melanie said, the data provider didn't enter website information. You can take a look at any other address book created by data providers on the web and there is never a website available. Exclude the opentable links.

                  As stated by another user any contract can be renegotiated.

                  Though it is highly unlikely that Chow will recondiser given its history and total lack of understanding of the value of the database, chowhounds or the forums, as an IT manager I would guess the new 'improved' site would mean tossing lots of code,.

                  Chow had no qualm with tossing years of IT work and the money associated with that.

                  So here were are asking for two things that actually would be useful had anyone bothered to inquire

                  1. Keep what can be kept of the database (unlikely)

                  2. Provide an export file of the data that belongs to the users who have spent over five years adding it.

                  1. re: rworange

                    'Chow had no qualm with tossing years of IT work and the money associated with that.'

                    We are actually engineers. IT people are the people we contact to ask for new computers, servers we need set up, etc. They perform a completely separate function from us, totally independent of this database other than maintaining the hardware it runs on.

                    We are intimately aware of your concerns and ideas about what we can do to save or salvage this dataset. Please believe me there has been a ton of discussion regarding our options for this. Unfortunately what you are asking is just not feasible at this time.

                    1. re: Engineering

                      >Unfortunately what you are asking is just not feasible at this time.

                      Seems to me the key words here are "at this time."

                      Chow set up this feature in '07 and asked users to contribute info to help build a more robust database—and they did. If Chow has since decided to make a U-turn and wipe out the database, it should do the right thing: Don't pull the plug "at this time." Instead, hold off until the user-contributed data that rworange and others are talking about can be salvaged.

                      That will mean putting in the time and resources to figure out how it can be done—just as users volunteered their time and knowledge to improve these pages over the past five years.

                      1. re: Engineering

                        As an iT project manager and "engineer' for a few decades I am well aware of what you do. I've worked the range of anything from the small business to Fortune 100 companies such as Charles Schwab.

                        i have been out of the coutnry for a year, If the definitions have changed again in the past year I need to catch up on that.

                        Yes, what we are requesting is feasable at this time even in my black box view of this. I am well aware of how 'engineers' can feed a line to the people they report to and are less tech savy. My job has been to debunk that and i did quite well as an international project manager opening IT departments in Canada, Mexico and Asia.

                        While engineers are the people who sit in are all the phases of a project, they are not the idea people who come up with the ideas. Your job is to work with the technical team and make it happen.

                        1. re: rworange

                          This is not an issue of writing a complex select statement and dumping 'your' data into a file. This is an issue of ownership legality and convolution of what has been contributed by whom. The definition or job role of engineering has not changed in the past year. We are not trying to feed a line to the people who make decisions. We are not the people who designed and implemented the feature, but somewhere along the line it became unclear who contributed what content. It is not cut and dry like you are implying.

                          We do however have a very clear and concise view of who contributed review data, hence we created a tool for you to get review data back. I am sorry if it is not sufficient in your view, but it is what we were able to do.

                          1. re: Engineering

                            Thank you for correcting the identification of restaurants I reviewed.

                            1. re: Engineering

                              Listen guys (and hopefully ladies), I'm not out to make enemies with you. As I've said a number of times major thumbs up for the work you have done recently in terms of virtually bug free implementations. I love you folks for that.

                              It doesn't make sense for me to get into much detail about what or what is not owned.

                              The big cloud for me blocking the clear sunshine is the contract. For all I know even records never touched by the data provider might belong to them. That would be clearly the foreign records.

                              What i was hoping for was some sort of creative workaround using a database that would not be complete. Melanie has a file created in 2007 by Chowhounds before any data provider. We have the foreign records that are not touched by data providers. Those can easily be extracted.

                              So we create a database that that starts with only that. The programming works with the fact that it will not find records in the database. Chowhounds woulld manually input new and maybe missing information.

                              That is just brainstorming. Again, I don't know the details of the contract and maybe Melanies file and the foreign records somehow belong to the data provider.

                              As Melanie has said elsewhere, if the database goes away completely there is aboslutely no commitment I can see by the people who make these decision to replace it with a home grown version.

                    2. The export feature as it stands does not provide a mechanism to save the most useful content that's about to be eliminated. I explained my thoughts more here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8274...

                      1. For what it matters, once the restaurant reviews are unavailable, I'll be deleting CHOWHOUND from my browser as I'll no longer have a use for it. I'm surprised and disappointed the decision was made because CHOWHOUNDS has been my first "go-to" source.

                        Hope things work out for you but color me "outtahere."

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Steve2 in LA

                          Steve, it doesn't seem you've ever submitted any reviews to the Restaurant Database ( http://www.chow.com/restaurants ) that's being phased out. There's been a lot of confusion about this announcement, and we want to stress that, as discussed in various threads here on the Site Talk board, the Chowhound discussion forums are not going anywhere.

                          1. re: Steve2 in LA

                            this underlines the fact that the Reviews as such arent on very many Chowhound's radar screen,

                            Steve its not the discussion and reviews folks post on LA and other Chowhound boards that is going away, its only the separate Restaurant Pageswhich you may never have looked at at all.

                          2. Just an alert - the 'Export Lists' function is erroring out at this time. If it continues for me I'll open a separate topic.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: DiveFan

                              What IS going away? Are you saying the Restaurant database ISN'T the community restaurant reviews and restaurant locations? I thought that WAS the restaurant database.

                              Well then, please forgive me for being strident but re-color me CONFUSED. (Please advise)

                              1. re: Steve2 in LA

                                This is a page from the Restaurant Database

                                It has address, hours, possibly website link. possibly pictures, etc.

                                This is a forum post that has a link to that Restaurant Database entry

                                The restaurant link, address, and map in the 2nd link will no longer appear in forum posts after this change is implemented because this data is being purged.

                                There are many posts where people have just augmented discussions with links to the Restaurant Database. I guess these will now appear to be completely blank forum posts.

                                1. re: drewskiSF

                                  Thanks for clearing that up, drewski. I was sorely confused.

                            2. Just wanted to share the update that we've added a new export tool to everyone's profile page. It's for Restaurant Records. Take a look for more information here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/836587

                              Thanks, Meredith of CHOW

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: mudaba

                                I am in Torotno an dI think I found what the discussion is about for Torotno and the info for Toronto is crap or rather scheissdreck. What's the loss?

                                Didn't know that this stuff existed even though I have bee at CH for ten years. Maybe I saw some bits of it as it popped up an didn't pay attention to it.

                                Why not just post? Th erestaurant can be found.

                                Initially I thought that he posts were disappearing.