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Feb 7, 2012 04:48 PM

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

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  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.