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Participants on Food Media and News: Your Input Please

There's an ongoing problem in discussions on the Food Media and News board. It's particularly an issue with Top Chef threads, but it pops up in other threads about food shows and food personalities, as well. The moderators are having difficulties figuring out where to draw the lines on this issue and are turning to the community for input.

We have an existing policy against bashing Food Network hosts and other personalities ( http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/334317 ) which has helped slow down the number of 'Rachael Ray SUX' threads that get started. The problem we have with applying those same rules to shows like Top Chef is that the personalities of the contestants really do come into play on the show much moreso than on a straight cooking show. Whether someone is a jerk or not is a legitimate aspect of discussing the show.

But some people do seem to take that pretty far -- recent threads have involved calling contestants things like 'a skank', 'an obese cow', having long discussions about whether someone was mentally ill, etc. Other people get offended by those statements, and we end up with a flame war not about the content of the show but about whether it's appropriate to talk about the content of the show in that manner -- and that kind of "discussion about the discussion" has always been considered off-topic here. We don't want users jumping on each other for language choice or educating each other about sensititivity issues. Those are just not conversations that ever go well.

We're not looking to create a list of banned words. That wouldn't actually solve the problem, as people would just use other words that we hadn't thought of yet, and isn't in keeping with our policy on offensive language. Nor are we looking to allow the most sensitive members of the board to drive off all discussion they'd rather not see. But we are looking to find a way to draw a distinction between legitimate discussion of what happens on a TV show and pointless, personal bashing of the contestants on those shows, as well as a way to ward off the inevitable 'you're a jerk for saying that' follow-up discussions.

Our best thought at the moment is that if a statement is specifically tied into something that happened on the show then it's okay, but general negative statements about aspects of appearance or personality that don't affect what's actually happening on the show aren't relevant and may be removed. Along with that, we would also remove any 'that's offensive/inappropriate to discuss' tangents -- the remedy for something you didn't think was appropriate would be to report it and let the mods make the call.

We'd like to hear from you, though, if you're a regular participant on these threads. Where would you draw the lines?

-- Jacquilynne, Community Manager for Chowhound

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  1. When it comes to Top Chef and other shows like it, it's a competition. These people are putting themselves out there and many times are displaying horrible traits. While the editing may have a lot to do with it - we feel the need to comment on the contestants' actions - it's a big part of the show and I bet many of the contestants don't care what we say - they are just happy to see their names on here!!

    As for the personal bashing between posters - it's just ridiculous and yes, we should be allowed to flag them if it is consistent.

    1. I don't think that you can draw the line since it is a shape shifting monster whose dimensions are determined by what happens on any given week. I agree that personal attacks can sometimes get out of hand, but my feeling is that those are the things to moderate rather than creating an overarching policy that can never cover every direction that the discussion gets pulled in.

      There are individuals who do post on the TC threads who seem to be purposefully contentious and who seem to particularly enjoy getting into flame wars with other posters. Whoever moderates the TC threads probably knows who they are. So instead of creating new guidelines that can never cover everything and would only serve to squelch the fun discussions that do arise out of those threads, perhaps it would be best to continue to deal with the problems as they arrise. The same would go for individuals who are guilty of name calling when it is directed at the cheftestants. Other than that, I don't think it's fair to limit the discussion -- or the fun-- based on the comments of a few individuals.

      1. Well, as a regular participant and the non-elected live recapper of the Top Chef shows, I'm concerned about restricting what people say on those threads. It would disrupt the natural flow about the episode.

        What often gets discussed is based on what happens on a specific episode. Perhaps this has come *more* to light in the TC9-Texas season because of the nastiness coming from the cheftestants themselves. They *know* they're going to be on camera - the good, the bad, and the ugly. And unfortunately this season has gotten extremely ugly with the comments from the cheftestants themselves. THAT is what I think we should be allowed to discuss. They're saying it; why can't we discuss it?

        Yes. I agree - there have been *some* comments by Hounds that have gone *way* beyond the pale (a recent comparison of one of the chefs to the Columbine shooter was particularly egregious, and I responded with a "wow, did you *really* just say that?" comment when I should have just reported it). And some comments about the cheftestants' physical attributes this season have gone a bit overboard, I agree.

        But overall? I think the general tenor of the threads remains on target...discussing the episode AND what has been done and said by the cheftestants, judges, and guests on those episodes. Yes, we go a little free-form on some threads, depending on the fun we've all had watching the episode. I, for one, greatly appreciate the ability to go a little free-form.

        So getting a little silly talking about the show is one thing. But it would NOT be fair if the few who get rather contentious and are intent on starting arguments on the TC threads are going to end up directing what the majority can talk about. Allow us to report the posts that go down that contentious road.

        You said "But we are looking to find a way to draw a distinction between legitimate discussion of what happens on a TV show and pointless, personal bashing of the contestants on those shows, as well as a way to ward off the inevitable 'you're a jerk for saying that' follow-up discussions."

        If something is reported as offensive, can perhaps the Mods step in to say something? As on any moderated board, a comment from TPTB usually settles down those who are about to verbally duke it out on a thread. Or, if TPTB feel it's appropriate, as the person who does the Top Chef recaps, a reminder from me at the beginning of the thread to keep the discussion about what happened and what was said, and keep personal comments about mental or physical attributes (or lack thereof) *off* the thread.

        6 Replies
        1. re: LindaWhit

          And some comments about the cheftestants' physical attributes this season have gone a bit overboard, I agree.
          that's the kind of stuff i'd like to see the Mods call out...and yank. nasty weight- or appearance-based comments are completely OT and unnecessary, and often derail the conversation.

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            I'm confused. On a Paula Deen thread, I reported a post that called her something like a "fat, blowsy pig" and I'm pretty sure it stayed up." I don't think purely name calling posts, or posts that are insulting about appearance rather than behavior/actions/cooking should remain in any thread.

            I don't see this as an issue at all unique to the TC threads, not nearly as much as the crud that was allowed to stay on boards related to Paula Deen.

            1. re: mcf

              agreed. i meant that i'd like to see ALL of it deleted, not just on TC threads.

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                I know, and I think consistency by the mods in every thread will have the most impact on limiting such comments overall.

              2. re: mcf

                This issue also came up on The Chew thread and it got incredibly nasty directed at both the posters and the personalities on the show. I reported it but it seems most of the disturbing posts are still there.

                1. re: Manassas64

                  interesting...I had to report someone today for being rude...hhhmmm

          2. Right off, I think it's rather forward thinking that Mods are asking CH's for input on Moderation.

            Here's a thought, rather than delete a comment or a series of comments. Let a Mod step in, state why it's off track and let the discussion stand. Don't delete it, explain it. It's far easier to understand why a line needs to be drawn by showing it than just returning to a thread unaware of why a deletion or series of deletions was made. In other words, show us what you want BY EXAMPLE.

            34 Replies
            1. re: HillJ

              "Right off, I think it's rather forward thinking that Mods are asking CH's for input on Moderation."
              Right on!

              1. re: HillJ

                I think that's a great idea. I've been participating less and less in those threads these days because I just can't get how worked up people get over a reality show.

                1. re: Miss Needle

                  Sometimes people get worked up because their opinions have been deleted with no explanation. Frustrated wordsmiths...bad mojo!

                  A locked thread teaches nothing and it looks really bad to go back and read a CH Team comment that the boys and girls couldn't behave themselves, so we took the crayons away. Adults deserve to be treated like adults. Moderation is not always clear and often an invisible eraser. Explain, steer the conversation, offer examples but don't punish.

                  1. re: HillJ

                    "Adults deserve to be treated like adults."

                    So people that continually refer to cheftestants as Ugly John and Shrek are acting like adults?

                    Edited: Wow, talk about a Freudian slip. I meant Ugly Chris.

                    1. re: dmjordan

                      dmj, if you are actually asking for a response to what I said I was referring to the moderation policy and how it's applied to CH's who are deleted for their comments. Yes, I believe adults should be treated like adults and if you read all of my remarks on this thread and not just the one line that you highlighted above you would see the suggestions I made to the CH Team regarding remarks as well as those made by our fellow hounds. And for the record, I also addressed my perspective on bashing ANYONE.

                      1. re: dmjordan

                        The thing about 'ugly chris' was it wasn't really a joke about his looks. It was something he was called on the show itself, and it was more of a joke about how gorgeous the other fella named chris was or at least thought he was.

                        Eventually, that element of the joke wasn't clear to all, and most people again took to calling him chris jones or moto chris or jonesy. But it wasn't intended as a cruel comment on his looks by many or most of the people who used the term.

                        That kind of thing is why I hesitate to say that any and all commentary about someones appearance should be moderated away. In context, it is often clearer whether a post is trying to be mean-spirited or not.

                        1. re: cowboyardee

                          But he was being called Ugly Chris here way longer than he was on TC. Was that just one episode that Ugly Chris was used? It's not like he was being called that all season.

                          1. re: dmjordan

                            I'm not really sure what that has to do with it. It was a nickname that stuck for a little while, until it became clear that some of the people reading it and even some of the people using it didn't get the joke. That's not much different from how any other nickname works.

                            The important question is whether the people using the moniker had malicious, mean-spirited intent or not. Some people probably did, while others didn't. That's basically my argument on this thread in a nutshell - context is everything in this kind of discussion.

                          2. re: cowboyardee

                            "In context, it is often clearer whether a post**er** is trying to be mean-spirited or not.
                            I agree but to me it's more the poster than the post, if I'm reading that right :>/

                    2. re: HillJ

                      "It's far easier to understand why a line needs to be drawn by showing it than just returning to a thread unaware of why a deletion or series of deletions was made."

                      that's a valid idea, although on some occasions (don't ask where as I don't remember) I've seen comments so offensive they needed to be deleted and needed no explanation as such.

                      it's a tightrope they (the mods) walk.

                      1. re: hill food

                        hi hill food. I'm not suggesting that deletions aren't warranted. But I do believe that the dilemma the OP is asking us to comment on is a by product of deletion without explanation. And, as I've said here and several times before, the fact remains CHOW writers take the same liberty the CH community takes in being critical of Food Media and News topics. Why is one "side" of this website free to express their critical pen but the community is not? I believe that "do as we say, not as we do" has worn thin. As a member of this food community I recognize the tightrope and I question why some can step over it and many more cannot.

                        1. re: HillJ

                          my wording was awkward, it would indeed be helpful to occasionally see an explanation after a (harmless but questionable) comment rather than a void, but I have seen more and more cautionary comments from them lately posted when threads start "going off the rails" and it IS cool TPTB are asking for input on this grey area.

                          1. re: hill food

                            So have I (seen a few CH Team comments) but that is not what's being asked here now. The CH Team is asking for opinions on writing behavior.

                            It's never a slow food news week on CH. What about the week of Paula Deen bashing site-wide? Man, that was brutal. And allowed and went on for days (and days in CH time is long and hard!). But there it was bashing, breaking the "sticky post' rules left and right. How do you explain the tolerance for bashing PD?

                            Well...I can't explain it.

                            1. re: HillJ

                              >>> How do you explain the tolerance for bashing PD?

                              Yeah, I got sucked into one of those.

                              Did I learn anytthing? Nope
                              Did I really have fun participating in that? Nope
                              Did i look at a few posters with less respect so i will no longer care to read what they say about food? Yep
                              Will Paula Dean feel shamed by the comments here? Nope
                              Did anything in that thread matter? Nope
                              Will I ever search for it in the future? Nope
                              Was it a waste of my time? Yep
                              Should I get a life instead of discussing food celebs that care zero about my opinion? Yep.

                                1. re: rworange

                                  I guess the only question left is why did you bother knowing all that?

                                2. re: HillJ

                                  We spent a lot of time reading those threads, and while we did remove some things, a lot of those strongly expressed opinions were on point to the news story being discussed. Those threads weren't a case of someone starting a "Paula Deen sucks, amirite?" thread and pointlessly piling on to her for the sake of something to talk about. We tried to tread lightly in terms of removing things from them, but certainly they are part of the reason why we're asking this question now.

                                  1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                    I have no doubt you did. The story ran sitewide during a week of highly publicized national attention. The thread also allowed for a great deal of discussion and debate on the medical implications of diabetes (another topic which has been deleted on CH boards in the past) and lifestyle choices which also brings up hot buttons for all of us discussing it. And corporate sponsorship and, and, and. The door was wide open on non-food discussion.

                                    It's not easy to make everyone happy but it's The CH Team we count on to make decisions that ARE hard.

                                    1. re: HillJ

                                      "...but it's The CH Team we count on to make decisions that ARE hard."

                                      And then roast them slowly over a hot fire when we don't like the decision... ;-D>

                                      1. re: Servorg

                                        Over hardwood, *not* charcoal, of course. The smokiness from the hardwood is always nice.

                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                          Just trying to provide them some of the "smoke" that sometimes gets blown...

                                          1. re: Servorg

                                            I don't understand the snark reference or the remarks Servorg. When the CH Team asks for input from the community they receive it. There was nothing disrespectful in my reply. I do count on the Team just like they count on the community.

                                            Shall we tip toe around the hard questions? Why?

                                            1. re: HillJ

                                              You made a general and valid point that the community does rely on the Chow Team to make difficult, contentious deletion (or even failure to delete something we hate) decisions. Simply pointing out that "we" (the royal we) like the decisions when the other "poster" is getting their just dues. But when things don't break "our" way we tend to (how to say this nicely?) take it out on the Powers that Be for not seeing it "our" way... (no snark to you either meant directly or implied).

                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                I appreciate the clarification, I wasn't clear on your view. I wouldn't know how the folks on the CH Team handle/react/respond to difficulty. I can only offer input when asked.

                                              2. re: HillJ

                                                HillJ, I didn't see it as snarking at you at all. Just, as Servorg said, "the royal we" in general sometimes turn and aim towards the Mods should things not go the way *we* feel. It's a tough job they have, walking that tightrope, and sometimes "we" take things personally and the only way we can lash out is back on the Mods - right or wrong.

                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                  Thanks, LindaW. I do understand Servorg's reply now. *Most* agree it's a tough tightrope and all I see here are CH's offering requested input.

                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                    why do any posters use the term "we" in the first place? or the term "most," for that matter?

                                                    1. re: linus

                                                      I'm not sure what your question is really asking, but my initial response is that when several someones feel the same way, grammatically it becomes "we feel" vs. "John and Mary and Fred and Ginny and Sam and Matilda and I feel...."

                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                        but how do you know how other people feel? are they sitting right next to you? grammatically or no, shouldn't posters post their own thoughts, and not the thoughts of others?

                                                        i think the term "we" and "most," when used on the food and media boards on chowhound, is used mostly to intimidate or scold. as in, "WE don't think that way. how dare YOU?"

                                                        1. re: linus

                                                          Welllllll....I would use it when it's seen that John and Mary and Fred and Ginny and Sam and Matilda all felt the same way as I did in *their* posts. When the majority of whoever has posted on a particular thread has posted in a similar manner about a particular topic, does that not become "most"? Regardless of whoever is lurking and not posting. If those lurkers want to post their own thoughts, they are more than welcome to do so to sway the "most" their way.

                                                          I'm not really sure what this has to do with the OP's question, so I'll leave it here with my grammatical responses.

                                              3. re: LindaWhit

                                                I prefer a cedar plank, myself...

                                      2. re: hill food

                                        actually after thinking about it, adding a caution to a specific post that's allowed to exist might derail a largely innocent thread into this conversation. appropos for Site Talk, but not in the middle of "Who's the Biggest Doofus on TV?" or "Why is My Neighborhood Place now Run by Malicious Idiots? (your town)"

                                  2. re: HillJ

                                    I like this, and Linda's suggestion to wait for reports.

                                  3. Here's how I feel: Personal bashing against posters--absolutely inexcusable and unacceptable. Everyone who visits the board is entitled to his or her opinion--whether or not one agrees with them is also personal but there is no need for bullying or inappropriate language or ill words toward one another. If a poster continues with that sort of behavior, they should be blocked.
                                    Opinions on media personalities: That is a different issue. These media "chefs", "cooks", "contestants" are well-aware that they are public figures of sorts. If they did not want to draw attention to themselves, they would never put themselves on display. They are fully aware that with public attention comes public opinion--and some of it is just not nice. Many of these personalities (I use that word in a vague sense) are arrogant, unlikeable, and, at times, jerks. As long as racial slurs and cuss words are not used--well then, it's anyone's game and all posters should be able to voice their opinion.

                                    1. When does it become okay for us to sit behind a screen and bash contestants? They're taking a risk, and some are clearly unlikeable, and THAT gives us the right to sit behind a screen, judge, and bash away? I've never participated in these threads except for one, and truly felt I needed a shower after having done so. I respect TPTB for asking what we think about the matter, but always felt they were on the right track for steering us clear away from this sort of thing.

                                      1. Again, I thank the CH team for asking for input on the matter. I understand the bind you guys are in, because I feel negative comments about contestants are just a natural part of discussing shows like Top Chef, but I also must admit that some of the comments come off as unnecessarily mean-spirited and can be disruptive to the threads as a whole.

                                        I feel that a particular kind of comment can and probably should be moderated away: negative comments about a contestant's weight, race, and sexual orientation (thankfully, I don't recall seeing any of the latter two) are problematic in a way that's different than negative comments about a contestant's behavior, personality, and skill - mainly because people reading along are often personally insulted by said comments. I can imagine hypothetical comments about a person's weight that are on-topic and harmless, but in 99% of cases where it's come up, it just comes off as mean-spirited and derails the thread.

                                        In other areas, I feel it's just going to have to be a judgement call. A long rant about how ugly a contestant is adds nothing to the discussion; at the same time, many of his fans (or at least people who didn't hate him) took to affectionately calling one contestant 'Ugly Chris' this season as a kind of joke, and I thought that was harmless. Comparing a contestant's game face to 'the expressionless dead-eyed glare of a dairy cow or ax murderer' comes off as lighthearted and funny(ish); comparing a contestant in all seriousness to a real-life mass murderer is probably going to derail the thread.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                          Still wondering why many of the CHOW articles encourage this sort of perspective to a degree. Celeb stories appearing on CHOW can be unkind and unflattering too. And, once again I wonder how the CH Team can separate articles written by the staff @ CHOW against comments and topics raised by the community. Lead by example?

                                          1. re: HillJ

                                            Very good point, HillJ. To note:

                                            "Guy Fieri actually swanned through the kitchen today, looking uncannily like a deeply sunburned chicken. Robert Irvine, Restaurant: Impossible host and noted embellisher of the truth, was with him, as was his freakishly muscular torso."

                                            A little pot/kettleish?

                                        2. I've never understood the general prohibition of bashing TV chefs and food personalities.

                                          You put yourself out there for public consumption, then you have to be prepared for both the good and bad.

                                          And while I disagree with that general Chowhound rule, I will say that if you are going to enforce it, then enforce it uniformly across all threads -- Top Chef included.

                                          If the Mods think it inappropriate for certain threads, then it should be absolved entirely.

                                          Don't pick and choose when it's ok to bash a TV personality.

                                          22 Replies
                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                            Making oneself a public figure does mean accepting the likelihood that people will be out there saying things, bashing, etc. However, understanding that risk is not the same thing as providing a platform for that to happen.

                                            I think that the ugliest side I've seen of hounds whose input I generally appreciate has been on the Top Chef threads. The attacks on another individual give me insights into a character I'd rather not know, and that kind of thing is off-putting and unnecessary on a site where people can talk about food and the dishes prepared in a challenge.

                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                              Our interest in prohibiting bashing isn't particularly to protect the food celebrities. We assume they see that stuff and more all over the web. But it makes for lousy conversation, gets people here riled at each other and has generally been bad for the site.

                                              1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                I have a different take on this. My assumption about most chefs who are first-time participants on Top Chef, is that they haven't had media training or extensive experience with being on camera. Most have seemed to be people who have been back of house working hard for years, who may think they know what they are getting into, but really have no idea.

                                                Then they are immersed in a situation where cameras are on 16-20 hours a day, and snippets are shaped into a storyline that may or may not resemble what actually happened.

                                                I feel the bashing guidelines should be stricter for first-time reality show cooking contestants than already established food celebrities who have had media training and have committed to a media career.

                                                1. re: souvenir

                                                  And yet we're in Season 9 of Top Chef. Anyone going on the show will have invariably done research or talked to colleagues about what it's like or heard the scuttlebutt. I can't believe they remain completely unaware of what it will be like after 9 seasons.

                                                  And setting various levels of "bashing guidelines" is virtually impossible in two ways - first, to get people to not step over that "first-time reality show cooking contestant" line, and second, it makes a LOT more work for the Mods to have to ensure it doesn't step over that "first-time reality show cooking contestant" line.

                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                    I didn't say they were completely unaware; my words:

                                                    Most have seemed to be people who have been back of house working hard for years, who may think they know what they are getting into, but really have no idea.

                                                    I continue to believe this. I may be in the minority, but this is my opinion.

                                                    1. re: souvenir

                                                      Fair enough. That's what CH is all about - varying opinions. :-) I'll just have to disagree that they don't have any clue about what they're getting themselves into. The first season? Yes - *they* had no clue. I'll even give that to the TC2 gang. But after that, the popularity of the show leads me to believe that anyone applying is going to have some clue it's not going to be coasting - that they'll be worked just as hard as they do IRL (if not harder) on odd challenges they don't normally see in their kitchens.

                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                        maybe this is why we don't see relentless bashing of the poor schlumps on "Worst Cooks" now THAT would just be mean and too easy to be any fun.

                                                        1. re: hill food

                                                          So, are you saying you don't want someone to recap that show?

                                                          1. re: FoodPopulist

                                                            nah I want to save all that schadenfreude (sp) for myself, but thanks anyway!

                                                            1. re: FoodPopulist

                                                              So, are you saying you don't want someone to recap that show?

                                                              That would entail actually *watching* the show. [shudder]

                                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                It would be interesting, just to test how people can talk about the show without turning it into a discussion of the personalities of Anne Burrell and Bobby Flay. I actually think there's some useful info for the skill level of some of the more primitive cooks asking basic questions on this forum.

                                                                1. re: FoodPopulist

                                                                  critiquing the screen presence of Burrell and Flay w/o stooping into pointless invective I would find ok, sure call them smarmy or Full of S***, just no speculation about their private lives unless they've been documented in the press behaving like a young pop/movie star with an obvious drug problem. speculating who are the 'teachers' pets' would be alright.

                                                    2. re: souvenir

                                                      I absolutely agree with souvenir.
                                                      Food show hosts do that for a living. That is their fame. They should expect to be criticized. I think season should be open on them and tightened up on these first time cheftestants.

                                                      1. re: Firegoat

                                                        Here's the issue with that: food shows like those on the Food Network are ostensibly not about the host's behavior but about the food, the places visited, etc. The host is supposedly acting as a guide or a teacher, etc. And so, just about any lengthy conversation about their behavior winds up being off topic.

                                                        The focus of Top Chef is to a much greater extent about the behavior of the contestants and their interpersonal dynamics. That's the show, for better or worse. Discussions about their behavior is endemic to discussing the show in a very different way than discussions about Guy F.'s behavior is to discussing his show (OTOH, Gordon Ramsay's behavior very much IS the focus of his shows, and fairer game IMO).

                                                        I think the only useful guideline for the mods would be to ask if any given comment is on-topic and makes for interesting discussion or not. Making moderation judgments based on whether or not a TV personality should know better is sort of ridiculous. They're all adults and all on TV by choice. Do we give extra leniency to the stupid or sheltered ones?

                                                    3. re: Jacquilynne

                                                      But it makes for lousy conversation, gets people here riled at each other and has generally been bad for the site.

                                                      Then you'd be better off banning any threads on reality TV cooking shows, or cooking shows in general.

                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                        and don't stop there because NAF could use the same guidance.

                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                          True, maybe. But the fact that the word 'bashing' keeps appearing suggests a very limited range of discourse and a recourse to the lazy viewer/commenter. Perhaps if the bar were upped a little, this site would be more about the food aspects and more entertaining to read. At this point, many of these discussions of personalities are producing a degree of nastiness that really isn't conducive to fostering a collective site of discussion.
                                                          That I'm even participating in the boards at this point is more a function of my desire to make this place more appealing. Because really, with all this bashing (and not a gentle, intelligent, humorous mocking a la Portlandia) it's just boring and ugly.

                                                          (That said, I won't envision a more appealing past as I remember pleading with the mods to remove discussions about certain people described as 'ugly dykes' and so on. Free speech does not mean obligation to host.)

                                                          1. re: Lizard

                                                            re Lizard's last paragraph: whoa - I've seen nasty comments, but happily I missed THAT one.

                                                            1. re: Lizard

                                                              hi Lizard. I agree that these remarks exist, I also feel they have and do exist on CHOW (magazine articles) with no deletion and a quasi comment section for the CHOW community to respond....which has resulted in a double-standard and I still believe if you're going to ask posters to behalf in a certain way then practice what you preach.

                                                              1. re: Lizard

                                                                fwiw Lizard, (imho) some of the laziest discourse has appeared in the "pages" of CHOW articles and so-called reporting. Great liberty taken there under the guise of "funny" "edgy" and "first to know." These short stories (again, imho) have weakened the language bar around here.

                                                          2. re: Jacquilynne

                                                            "But it makes for lousy conversation, gets people here riled at each other and has generally been bad for the site."

                                                            I think it's an all or nothing solution. Either allow any and all comments to be posted or have very strict rules and adhere to them without fail. Anything in between will eventually result in your posting this kind of survery again sometime in the future.

                                                          3. re: ipsedixit

                                                            >>> I will say that if you are going to enforce it, then enforce it uniformly across all threads -- Top Chef included.

                                                            God yes

                                                            I wasn't going to respond because i don't care, but it makes following the rules more complex ... do this ... except top chef ... and the next similar tv show.

                                                            looking how a nasty period on not about food spilled over to other boards that would be my only other concern.

                                                            it seems one aspect of moderation is to create less work for the moderators. only you can decide if whatever benefit of this would result in more or less work for the mods or more or less confusion for posters with the possibility of board creep.

                                                          4. The moderation in the Food Media forum is a complete failure IMO. You have a sticky requesting that there be less bashing and then you allow threads that are dominated by name calling and personal attacks. It's not even worth posting in this forum as a result, and I rarely bother anymore.

                                                            Only saw this because it was on the recent posts list on chow, when I logged in.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: rasputina

                                                              rasputina, I couldn't agree more. How come the existing policies aren't enforced? What difference does it make if it's an established chef or a newcomer to a reality show? Bashing is bashing. Draw the line at what exactly? Credentials? Populariity? Those endorsed by advertisers? I don't understand why that matters. A personal attack has no place on CH period.

                                                            2. The moderation should be along the Supreme Court's definition of pornography. You know it when you see it. When a comment crosses the line, delete the post and that's that.

                                                              5 Replies
                                                                1. re: kubasd

                                                                  Unfortunately that type of "situational moderation" is exactly the type that drives many on this site to new heights of angry charges of "uneven moderation" and "not having hard and fast rules" so that everyone knows what will stand and what will get pulled down, each and every time. It has even spawned posts on Site Talk that some of the moderators even have it "in" for certain posters and delete them to get back at them because they don't like them personally.

                                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                                    Nothing's perfect. Having hard, set, carved-in-stone rules as to what gets moderated and what doesn't leads to harmless posts being moderated away while other much more problematic posts get by on technicalities, and then people getting pissed off about that. You can't please everyone.

                                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                      Without any doubt I'm in total agreement with situational "subjective" moderating standards that get applied as the P that B see fit...

                                                                2. So, here's the basic rule of thumb I would consider using. No using language to describe television personalities that users would not be allowed to use to describe each other.

                                                                  1. Thank you for asking. Regarding censorship in any form, it always comes down to subjectivity. What may be amusing to me might be offensive to you. If I get the final say, the board would look a lot different than if you get the final say. But I do agree that a series of "you're a jerk..." vs "...get a life..." back and forths doesn't do anyone any good, and eventually hurts the reputation of the entire community.

                                                                    I think that any post that attacks any other poster personally should be taken down. If I venture an opinion and someone disagrees with that opinion, all good. But if I venture an opinion and someone else calls me stupid because of my opinion, not so good. That is the line I would draw with bashing between posters.

                                                                    Regarding descriptions of TV chefs, that's not so easy. It seems to me that you would have to be at least somewhat subjective there. It's like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart's famous quote about pornography: "Perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so [defining pornography verbally]. But I know it when I see it..."

                                                                    Basically, I don't think there is a foolproof way to eliminate postings that might be problematic. I think you can only continue to do what you do now — monitor all the threads and delete any that are not up to Chowhound standards.

                                                                    Good luck with a difficult task...

                                                                    1. you know what Jacquilynne, I'm not sure any words written here could help with your quest. some people seem to have opinions that won't be squashed. they won't be told what to say or how to say it. others think they own the words they post and it's freedom of speech so to speak. there are several I don't care for on tv. started discussing the show called the Chew then completey changed what or how I'd said what was posted and thought > "nope. that's going to get me in trouble" < or at the very least mean spirited jabs back at me, I don't need that. plus what's the point?

                                                                      these people are who they are and we have to face it, they have tv shows and we don't. I don't anyway. so part of it is perhaps jealousy. Jacquilynne, as I type this, I'm in a rampant editing mode. with this web site and foodie haven "chowhound dot com", you are damned for saying one thing and same for saying the opposite. believe me, I know.

                                                                      I hope you can work this out. "the remedy for something you didn't think was appropriate would be to report it and let the mods make the call"

                                                                      ^^^how many times I've done just that^^^. hit the report button and hope it goes away. usually it does but too many times it doesn't, but that's your [the MODS] call.

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: iL Divo

                                                                        >>> then completey changed what or how I'd said what was posted and thought > "nope. that's going to get me in trouble" < or at the very least mean spirited jabs back at me, I don't need that. plus what's the point?


                                                                        It got me of NAF more than any note from the mods and has significantly cut my participation on the general boards.

                                                                        >>> "the remedy for something you didn't think was appropriate would be to report it and let the mods make the call"


                                                                        If it's not broke, don't fix it. i think you just should re-read the OP because the answer is screaming there about where to draw the line.

                                                                        1. re: rworange

                                                                          >"If it's not broke, don't fix it. i think you just should re-read the OP because the answer is screaming there about where to draw the line".

                                                                          I've somewhat reluctantly come to this same point. I would be very interested to read the most recent thread on the TC 2/22 episode moderated to the same standards as the rest of the boards. I realize that this isn't an accurate representation of what would have happened in real time, but I think it would be very illuminating.

                                                                        2. re: iL Divo

                                                                          sadly there will always be (and I believe almost all of us - and I include myself - have been guilty of these at one time or another) those of us who either are unconsciously looking to be offended or are thoughtlessly offensive.

                                                                          not that that answers the question as posted, but those are the perils of the medium.

                                                                        3. I don't participate in these threads since I stopped watching these shows after season 1 or 2, but I wonder, do people actually go back and reread these mega-threads after the show is over? Like the thread for season 4, episode 3? My proposal is to have a place where posters can air out all their viewer reactions, but give it a shelf-life. Say 3 months, 6 months? And then get rid of the thread altogether. It seems like dead weight on the Food Media board. Moderators can give it "light" moderation while it's active. I'm sure readers will be entertained by all the colorful commentary and there will be good traffic to these boards, but after the commotion is over, let's just nix it and move on.

                                                                          23 Replies
                                                                          1. re: E Eto

                                                                            This is actually a good idea.

                                                                            A 3-month window free-for-all, and then shut it down forever.

                                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                              Just reading these two posts send shivers down my spine.... Sounds like the Food and Media Board would become "chowhounds without pity", and end up spilling over to other boards.

                                                                              Since the television without pity Top Chef forums already exist, folks who want to make that kind of comment already have that as an outlet.

                                                                              mamachef's suggestions below make much more sense to me.

                                                                              1. re: souvenir

                                                                                Actually the TWOP boards are much more heavily moderated than Chowhound. The kind of angry back-and-forth we often have here, of which there is a good example in this very thread, would be earning posters the dreaded BOARDS ON BOARDS warns if not indeed bans over on TWOP - especially from Nikita (the Top Chef mod over there).

                                                                                1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                  Interesting. So moderation is careful on poster to poster interactions, but free-for-all on the participants or actors in the show being discussed...? From my periodic reads, it ends up feeling like the same thing.

                                                                                  1. re: souvenir

                                                                                    Periodically the mods will post a notice telling people to stop using nicknames of any kind for the cheftestants (or whoever on the TV show in question) if they feel it's getting out of hand. That has happened on Top Chef before, especially in season two. (The threads for some shows like the various Real Housewives or the Duggar family shows get locked pretty regularly because they get so ugly - but those shows are different from Top Chef. I don't watch those shows so I don't read those threads, or most threads on TWOP for that matter - it's a huge site.)
                                                                                    If you were a regular rather than a periodic poster, you would probably appreciate the limits on inter-poster hostility over there. Although the constraints sometimes really annoy me, I understand them. You are right, though, that the hatefulness about the TV people is way beyond anything you'd ever read here and can be exhausting - the current Top Chef threads have been pretty bad and what happens in some ways is what happens here - that the posters who don't like all the venom just post less and spend less time in the threads. I know I do.

                                                                                    1. re: souvenir

                                                                                      "Interesting. So moderation is careful on poster to poster interactions,..."

                                                                                      Not so much on this thread, which I find pretty confusing at this point.

                                                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                                                        At times the P that B leave things up to give us all a good, long look at what under moderated threads are like. That, in turn, keeps most of happy for the moderation we do have...

                                                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                                                          Or, the moderators, who are mostly volunteers, are living their lives. While the Community Manager, who is not a volunteer, is flying across the country on airplanes that do not have WiFi. We don't leave up things that should be moderated to prove a point -- we do leave up things we haven't seen yet, things that we need to discuss with other mods before taking action on, etc.

                                                                                          1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                            "Or, the moderators, who are mostly volunteers, are living their lives."

                                                                                            Who here authorized *that??* ;-)

                                                                                            1. re: mcf

                                                                                              Our corporate Legal team has repeatedly assured me that no matter how much I might like to, I can not chain the volunteer mods to their computers and force them to work. Something about the difference between volunteerism and slavery? I wasn't really clear on the details.

                                                                                              1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                Legal shmegal. We should have a special Site Talk thread where we vote on it. And NO time off unless the vote is unanimous.

                                                                                                I'm pretty sure we'd all be in agreement, no problem.

                                                                                                1. re: mcf

                                                                                                  As long as all Moderator decisions hew to my personal biases and whims I have no problem with this idea...

                                                                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                    Okay, so there may be a glitsch in that unanimity thing.

                                                                                                2. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                  We're willing to take our payment in contributions towards our secret lair.

                                                                                                  1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                                                                    Wait. You have a SECRET LAIR? Are there Cheesy Poofs there? And trampolines?

                                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                      Not yet. We're still taking up a collection.

                                                                                                      1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                                                                        I put my check in the mail, you mean you didn't get it? <*much involuntary batting of eyes*>

                                                                                                    2. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                                                                      I wish y'all'd told us sooner that you could be bought. So straightforward that way.

                                                                                                    3. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                      My non profit vs for profit education has never seen the use of the word volunteer assigned in a for profit company; intern sure. Volunteers are time givers at non profits and for profit companiese offer internships (many unpaid).

                                                                                                      Secret lair optional :)

                                                                                              2. re: mcf

                                                                                                "Interesting. So moderation is careful on poster to poster interactions, but free-for-all on the participants or actors in the show being discussed...?"
                                                                                                I believe souvenir was referring to moderation on TWOP, not Chowhound. At least I hope so since that's what my reply above was about.

                                                                                                1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                  Gotcha. In either case, my observation stands. A bunch came down, but I'm really surprised about a lot of what was left.

                                                                                                  1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                    Yes- moderation on recent TWOP Top Chef boards was what I was referring to... thanks for the additional clarifying comments you made, ratgirlagogo.

                                                                                        2. re: E Eto

                                                                                          Why not just a once-a-year Festivus airing of grievances thread in December?

                                                                                        3. You make some salient points, Jacquilynne. I don't play much on that board but when I have I've been amazed at the amount of venom directed at certain people. I'm not quite sure why the love affair with specifically, FN, but I guess that's y'alls business.
                                                                                          As in anything, there are things that are kind and appropriate, and then there's the other side - nasty, mean, unacceptable and inappropriate. Name-calling and personal bashing are ugly and serve no purpose. I find it interesting that people write what they would never, EVER to say to somebody's face.
                                                                                          So, where to draw the line. It occurs to me that what we're discussing is a standard of conduct that you want community members to adhere to, regardless of what's being discussed. And you all have already established that. When a flame-war occurs in the more-populated sites, y'all shut it down in a heartbeat and censure the participants. Name-calling and personal comments are the first thing to go, and I suggest that that is where the line be drawn. The fact that RR and other FN "celebrity chefs" aren't here or at least haven't identified as such, makes no difference. And the fact of the matter is, for all we know, they COULD be here. I'm not sure if it makes a HUGE difference to their lives if they read some negative commentary, but it could result in terribly hurt feelings and negative feelings about CH participants, and that's never okay.
                                                                                          So the standard of conduct that you have already established is the road you should take.

                                                                                          9 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: mamachef

                                                                                            I like what you had to say mamachef. Amazing what the light of day can do.

                                                                                            Another question I've had for some time is why a locked thread is left on the Board listing. If the value of the thread on whole ended with locking , why does the CH Team leave it up for readers after the fact? The post no longer appears in the list for CH's who contributed to it.

                                                                                            A locked thread to a lurker or outside (non registered) reader has no member context and looks shabby for the site and the membership on whole. That's feedback from my colleagues.

                                                                                            I dislike locked threads. Our food community boards at work remove threads deemed "no longer useful" rather than a physical lock and by doing so it also removes the stigma and reference made to them that locked topics can generate. Our Mod team steps in and adds to the discussion to steer it on track (when/if necessary) but otherwise leaves the thread alone. FFT.

                                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                                              Many of the threads we lock still contain useful information in them, or discussion people may want to return to and re-read. If a thread has gone off the rails and we can't keep up with the ill-will it's generating, we do need to lock it, but that doesn't negate the information already in it, so we don't necessarily want to remove it entirely. Locking is a compromise position between letting it continue and ending it.

                                                                                              For what it's worth, I consider the fact that locked threads drop off user pages to be sort of a bug -- originally it was done because user pages only held 20 or so threads, and taking up some of those spots with locked threads seemed wasteful, but now that user pages are paginated and you won't miss replies to other, still open threads because of the lock, it's not really necessary. It's just a minor thing we've never pushed to change.

                                                                                              1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                Jacq, perhaps you can encourage their return to user pages then. Because I do agree with your points regarding the value of the threads contents but a LOCK sends a diff message to a participant and loses it's place from view quickly in a Board listing.

                                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                  While I'm asking for the sun, moon and stars....I'd love for comments made on CHOW to be part of my profile post history again too.

                                                                                            2. re: mamachef

                                                                                              On the note of the above posts, I'll just say this: if we all just act right, there'll be no problems. We're adults here, and we know what that means. This is everybody's sandbox, so play nice.

                                                                                              1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                >>> This is everybody's sandbox, so play nice.

                                                                                                Unfortunately that isn't the reality.

                                                                                                On another thread, posters said they liked a specific thing for a specific reason and people were just hounded into the ground with absurdist posts. I don't want to get specific, but say someone wants three small eggs for breakfast, but gets 2 medium eggs instead.

                                                                                                The tone of that thread was over and over it was unAmerican for wanting three small eggs until people stopped posting because the illogical board bullies took over to skew what was being said.

                                                                                                And they did it under the radar of moderation.

                                                                                                I'm just saying ... if food talk can get so derailed ... when people get into personalities and their perception of them ... well, it's up to the mods what they want to do.

                                                                                                Sadly, I do wish people acted like adults ... they do ... like adults who cut each other off driving down the road and start flipping the bird at each other.

                                                                                                1. re: rworange

                                                                                                  >>>>>>>.when people get into personalities and their perception of them........
                                                                                                  True enough that we haven't any idea of what people are going through or why they are the way they are, but I know a bully when I see one, rworange. And I'm bettin' the mods do too.
                                                                                                  Of course, things in here devolve and run cyclically, like any other microcosm. And again, of course, it's under the radar of moderation. Everything here is. It's just a fact and we have to deal with it. They have their personalities and reasons for being the way they are and doing things the way they do too. Just sayin. They can't be everywhere at once, and this is a pretty big site with a lot of entries. I think that what looks to us sometimes looks like favoritism or inconsisitency is that there are quite a few of us, and quite a few less of them. I have the feeling they don;t all get together every.single.morning. to discuss what to do and how to keep things more consistent, "rules of conduct"-wise.
                                                                                                  Lest I sound like a total asskisser, they bug the shit outta me too from time to time. I haven't had a lot of contact, otherwise - I get bitched out by other CH'ers, not the mods. :) Maybe I just have to hang out longer so I can get super-frustrated and angry at them.
                                                                                                  I respectfully maintain that this IS everybody's sandbox. In a kindergarten yard. :)
                                                                                                  So there are fights and flames and bitchouts and name-calling and personalizing, and unfortunately that's the nature of some folk to this very day.
                                                                                                  Your last paragraph had me rolling, rw.

                                                                                                  1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                    it's just too predictable.

                                                                                                    in the thread mentioned, i bowed out at the point I saw it being buldozzed down a well too familiar path. \

                                                                                                    Sure enough. the people I expected to leap to action did and ground down anyone who didn't agree with them with some of the most illogical posts I've seen on the board to date. It was arguing to argue ... what some people call interesting dialogue.

                                                                                                    It seemed more like the discussion after an all night drinking binge and you are suddenly Aristotle pontificating about eggs. Actually a lot of the worst stuff does get posted late at night.

                                                                                                    If I were new and I saw that, I'd never post here or probably want to read further.

                                                                                                    But I'm starting to get this off topic about posting in general and it really is about people who participate in the Top Chef discussions and what they want to discuss.

                                                                                                    My only original comment was keep stuff consistant accross all threads ... if it is a sandbox where everyone is allowed to throw sand in each others eyes ... then it just seems easier to make it a site wide thing ... open up the playground and tear down the gates.

                                                                                                    There was a time when people who wanted a free for all were told the parimiters for participation. If you threw a tantrum and stomped your feet you had a choice to stop or take it elsewhere and as a result the site didn't attract more of that.

                                                                                                    It really doesn't concern me. Chow will do what Chow will do and the mods need to deal with whatever decision.

                                                                                                    And so I bow out of this thread having got too caught up in it.

                                                                                                    1. re: rworange

                                                                                                      rwo - I think I saw that one (wasn't FNM but a regional or general one IIRC) and just kept my mouth (hands?) silent, wondering at the irrational level it reached, thinking 'that's not fair'.

                                                                                            3. I don't have a dog in this fight since I neither watch any of the Top Chef shows nor read the threads about them, but I suggest you move all discussion of FN shows and personality driven cooking shows to the Chow side of the board and let the fur fly over there. That will loosen up the moderating team over here to hunt down shills and herd the cats roaming the CH landscape on a more leisurely basis ( the "leisurely" aspect of things is being typed tongue firmly planted in cheek)...

                                                                                              1. Jacquilynne, I think you and the Chowhound Team have a tiger by the tail, and I'm not sure there is an easy answer. Personally, I think you guys are doing pretty darn good the way things stand. Do I think Hounds are going to make it any easier for you? Well, let's just say that my suspicion is that the Hounds who are the biggest offenders are probably not the Hounds who are going to contribute to this specific discussion. Or at least that's my guess.

                                                                                                The other side of the coin is that from the earliest days of broadcast, a show's audience has always praised, damned, and nitpicked it in a "less discriminating way" than the tone set by the broadcast, and I think that's simply the case here, soooo... As an alternative (and possibly more effective) way of addressing the problem, have you thought about asking Bravo to knock it off?

                                                                                                Might be easier. '-)

                                                                                                1. Call Jim Leff. Ask him how he would have handled it.
                                                                                                  Never stressed him out. ;-)

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: Bobfrmia

                                                                                                    And he never dealt with this number of participants.

                                                                                                  2. Here's a thought that may (or may not) have merit. I've been looking through different threads in different discussion lists and, while it seems more true in some discussion lists as well as in some threads, that some of the "problem children" seem to be people who do not provide any information about themselves on their profile page. It's as if not sharing any information is license to be rude and confrontive. Of course there are exceptions to every rule, and I am not stating or trying to imply that everyone who does not share information about themselves in their profie page is a rogue, so to speak. But there have been a couple of times when I've wondered if these weren't new identities for old posters, because they have seemed to jump in with guns blazing. What do the rest of you think? Jacquilynne, have you guys thought about requiring more information on profile pages? Just a thought.

                                                                                                    8 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                      Since members are moderated on their post; not their profile I don't follow your idea, C1. Long detailed profile pages are an indication of what exactly? And a "blank slate" profile means what? Because the profile page holds little interest or significance for me and my CH buddies I don't see how requiring a public profile be completed would change the dynamics around here. We focus on the threads; the topics and Mods focus on the problems. As this idea relates to the OP, I don't think it matters at all.

                                                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                        Maybe I'm just peculiar, but if someone enters a thread and seems "different" in some way, whether that way be extremely interesting or extremely rude or all shades between, I often go to their profile page to learn more about them. The next thing I do is look over the boards they participate in most. This often serves as an indicator of where they live. If they stick to regional boards, I probably will not add them to my reading list. If they are intersting and seem knowledgeable, then I often do add them to my reading list. When I come on the boards, I most often go to my own profile page to check the threads I've been active in for new entries. If I have more time, or if its shortly after a new Top Chef show has aired, then I will search out Linda Whit's synopsis for some fun reading (and often not bother with watching the show) or browse the Chowwhound boards for interesting threads. Usually I only go to the main Chowhound boards once or twice a week.

                                                                                                        There have been a couple of times fairly recently where I have wondered if a particularly abrasive NEW poster was assuming a new identity to vent hostilities. Doesn't happen often, but when someone has an air about them that says they've been around the boards for a while, yet their profile page only shows three or four threads they've participated in EVER, it sort of makes you wonder, you know?

                                                                                                        It's been so long since I signed up for Chowhound, I don't even remember what kind of personal information I had to enter! And if it's as easy as gmail or hotmail, it's easy enough for people to create "alternate identities" there.

                                                                                                        And yeah, lilgi, I know anyone can be "in your face" and rude, no matter how well you know them. Boy, do I know! <sigh> On Monday, I had to fire a much needed and trusted housekeeper for theft. BOY, do I know...! '-)

                                                                                                        1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                          Oh no way would I call that peculiar, C1. Just your style and your way of using the tools in the toolbox. All I was responding to was the question you raised regarding filling out a profile as a new requirement and as the "form" stands now I don't think it would change how posters post. You know we all have good days and bad days. Days we should not have logged on. Days we bit off more than we could chew. Human days. If I took each and every thread as gospel or aimed at me the site wouldn't be fun. And on whole, it still is. :)

                                                                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                            :-) Nice call, HillJ. Nice call.

                                                                                                          2. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                            Well Caroline I can't agree with your post, and that would put me in the "different" category. Many long time posters participate in those threads that I normally shun, what comes across as rude and bored from older members comes off as angry from the newer ones. I would hate to generalize and form biases towards older members because after all, there are many long time posters that have been here forever and say nothing - at all. Just as many are extremely knowledgeable, thank goodness.

                                                                                                          3. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                            This behavior is NOT exclusive to newer posters, or those who lack info on their profile page. There's plenty odd behavior from both worlds.

                                                                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                              I don't provide any info on my profile page, and I'm a chronic Goody Two Shoes. I don't even get deleted enough for the mods to consider me "bad." (Not for lack of trying). Some of us are just privacy nuts.

                                                                                                            2. I agree with those who have said that bashing or attacking other chowhounds/posters is not acceptable, but the FN contestants, like any "celebrity chef," are public figures and people can say what they want. I don't feel it's up to the CH Mods to try to police people and tell them to act nice or follow the golden rule when it comes to discussing personalities. And that includes the sticky at the top about not bashing FN personalities. I think if you think RR sucks, you should be able to say so, as long as it's relevant to the post. I wouldn't see the point in simply posting that, say, she's an annoying whiner, but could see saying, "I don't know why she's a FN personality, she is a talentless 'assembly' cook and I find her whining annoying." But either way, I'm not a big fan of censorship so if both posts were made, I think they should stand. JMO.

                                                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: rockandroller1

                                                                                                                LOL! Love your post. I just had a hell of a time figuring out who or what "RR" is! When TV chefs/cooks bug me, I just don't watch them and rarely read threads discussing them... Rachel Ray.... Ina Garten.... Mark Bittman... What's-her-name, the diabetic?... So where are all of the fun cooks of yesterday, like Martin Yan? And why does Anthony Bourdain NEVER do a show where he cooks instead of eats???? Vast wasteland indeed.... '-)

                                                                                                                (Another off topic post brought to you by ME!)

                                                                                                                1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                  To me, it's like asking someone to watch the Oscar preshow but not rip on anyone. I mean, that's half the point. Sure, I ooh and aah over people's outfits I really like or acceptance speeches that really hit home, but if you can't get the humor in a twitter account suddenly appearing called "AngieJoliesLeg," where is your funny bone? This is kind of the same thing with FN. I mean, when we watch ICA, we rip on one thing or another people do, but equally ooh and aah over cool things. If everything has to be Postive Polly or nothing, it's rather bland IMO.

                                                                                                                  1. re: rockandroller1

                                                                                                                    r and r, I get that. Discussion offered with respect to fellow posters I believe was the point Jacq. was trying to get to all along though. She's not asking us to settle for bland, or suggesting PollyA--but we shouldn't beat on one another. Some of the threads have gotten shitty btwn. posters; we've all seen it. So how do we get down and dirty, lively convo. going without brow beating a fellow hound for a differing opinon? THAT's the million dollar ?

                                                                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                      So, as I wrote above, move the whole shooting match over to the Chow side where moderation standards are considerably looser, and let the posters have at it...

                                                                                                                      1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                        Awwww.... Then I'd miss all of Linda's recaps because I NEVER go to the Chow side of the curtain! What's over there? '-)

                                                                                                                        But seriously, wouldn't that just be a take off of the Bravo website blogs for Top Chef?

                                                                                                                2. re: rockandroller1

                                                                                                                  this is where I am at on this issue. I dont participate on these threads but I see plenty of nonfood recaps and snark and celebrity bashing is totally part of the game. sure, sometimes it goes pretty far, but these are public figures so there is no obligation to stay "nice". Sure if a statement is totally gross and obscene it should go, But generally the line should be drawn when personal attacks on other chowhounds

                                                                                                                3. Or (as I channel my Mother and her pearls of wisdom) the whole point of this OP was to make us THINK about what we say before we say it and SELF EDIT rather than the need for yet another rule to moderation enforced by the PTB.

                                                                                                                  1. First, thank you for seeking community input, it is appreciated.

                                                                                                                    Second, I have found some of the TC discussion problematic. A lot of it is unproductive thread crapping, with people not discussing the show, the episode or providing valid criticism, but instead posting torrents of "this show sucks now, I don't even watch it, I only read this thread" which gets very tiresome. I don't mind criticisms at all, I enjoy the show but don't love everything, but too many posts just bash with nothing that makes for interesting discussion. I also agree that too many of the posts about contestants are vitriolic and unpleasant.

                                                                                                                    That said, I don't know how to moderate any of this, it is a very fine line that I am not sure you can draw. However, one problem with the moderation is that posts are simply removed, with no explanation, and thus nobody learns when a line has been crossed. I have had a number removed, to the point where I was beginning to wonder if I had a CH stalker who was reporting all my posts. And I still have no idea why (I was emailed only once about a post being removed), and because I don't remember every post I have made and what I said, I learned nothing about how to avoid post removals in the future. Maybe instead of simply removing posts, moderators can edit them with a message saying that it is inappropriate and no posts should be made in response, or something like that?

                                                                                                                    In other words, the issue is not simply moderating, but also educating posters on that moderation. Most people here are intelligent and civil and will conform to the boundaries that you establish, if they come to understand those boundaries. Moderation without explanation on a very difficult subject just won't get you there, I think.

                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: LurkerDan

                                                                                                                      I'll just say that, if one replies to a "problematic post" that is likely to come down (no matter how mild ones response to that inflammatory post might be) the reply post will be "collateral damage" when the inflammatory post gets yanked. I've lost a fair share of my own posts to that chain reaction situation...

                                                                                                                      1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                        That's probably true. Still, nobody learns anything when it all happens without a word.

                                                                                                                        1. re: LurkerDan

                                                                                                                          I can normally figure out why I lose something (by this time) and, even if I can't, I don't worry about it. If you make a long restaurant review and put something in it that triggers a deletion (foreign substance found in the food for instance) the mod's are sure to email you letting you know why and will send you the the complete post so that you can excise the offense part and repost (if you so choose)...

                                                                                                                          1. re: LurkerDan

                                                                                                                            I mentioned this point you're making LurkerD days ago. Deletion without a word is lacking an important teaching element: learning or unlearning posting behavior without example.

                                                                                                                            Learning by example is much easier.

                                                                                                                      2. Just wanted to leave a quick note on this thread to let you know that I'm going to be on vacation for a bit, so while there's no announcement of results from this thread, it's not that I'm ignoring your feedback.

                                                                                                                        It's that I'm ignoring everything, unless I can see it while snorkeling.

                                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                                          Some of us will *try* to be good without supervision.

                                                                                                                          Have a great trip!

                                                                                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                            And the others will run through the message boards doing naked cartwheels. :-)

                                                                                                                          2. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                                            whoo! watch out! ok we'll try to not to burn down the garage this time. (sorry about last year)

                                                                                                                            hey snorkeling, I never thought I'd like it but I do - roast some fresh urchin for us (screw Fish and Wildlife regulations if you're in PR as urchins are the poison ivy of the sea, well until ya split them anyway, use gloves)

                                                                                                                            1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                                              ooh, Mom's going on vacation and leaving us kids alone? par-tay!! time to raid the liquor cabinet, and i'll bake some "special" brownies...who's in?

                                                                                                                              have a great trip, Jacquilynne! and don't worry about things around here - if anyone causes trouble while you're gone we'll just keep 'em bound & gagged in the pantry until you get back :)

                                                                                                                            2. As far as I am concerned, the moderators may set the standards for what is acceptable, and remove any post which they feel violates the standard, without worrying about what the forum participants may think. We each have our own take on what is acceptable anyway.

                                                                                                                              I was surprised that the Deen threads were allowed to go as far as they did, but it's your forum and your business to moderate it. I prefer a strictly moderated site to a free-for-all, but I'm not going to be concerned about whether a particular post crosses the line or not.

                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                              1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                This is my feeling, too. We're adults and should act as such. If someone crosses the line, report it and let the moderators decide. We're all biased and moderators have to make judgements that won't please everyone. If the Supreme Court can't do that, we surely can't expect the moderators to, either. They're human.

                                                                                                                                As Top Chef and discussions like that go, I think, obviously, personal attacks on other posters shouldn't be allowed. Discussions/disagreements are fine and part of the fun. Attacks on contestants? Hard to say. Someone like Tyler Stone, who has been brought in, honestly, to be ridiculed? It's going to happen. I'll let the moderators decide when it crosses the line.

                                                                                                                              2. I think that the moderators do a pretty good job as it is. I think your initial thoughts are pretty good -- with competition type shows personalities definitely come into play and people will comment upon them. However, there is a pretty clear line IMHO. It is one thing to say "Contestant X proved to be a back stabbing weasel when he/she did this to Contestant Y during the elimination round". It is another thing to say "Contestant X is ugly, and stupid". It seems to me, also, that character can be debated and called into question based on specific actions of the individual involved, such as the Paula Deen discussion. Most of that revolved around the moral/ethical principles surrounding her particular situation and were based on her actions.
                                                                                                                                Where the complicating factors come into play is when one poster disagrees with another poster and makes it either ugly or personal. This is what is most frustrating, and I think the CH moderators have a pretty good handle on this.
                                                                                                                                Your moderators have a tough job as it is, but enforcing a list of "rules" instead of relying on their judgement of the tone and intention of a post might make it a bit more difficult for them I think? :)

                                                                                                                                1. i think this thread is quite disappointing. i know i've complained at other times about how the chowhound cliques... or pitchfork/torch mobs, as the case may be... tend to operate. crush all dissenting opinions by personally bashing posters with different pov, and all that. yes it makes for threads that start off on fun, light topics that can turn dark and actually become very upsetting.

                                                                                                                                  this thread seems to be a forum for a group of posters to personally attack and rip on a few individuals who are identified through quoting their posts, or through snide jokes playing on their screen names. this seems to be with the mods' full blessing, and handily obfuscated by being split off onto the site talk board and away from the original conversations, where a few people tried to keep the conversation civil, and the individuals may have been able to somewhat defend themselves or explain their pov. is this okay?

                                                                                                                                  i really question some of the recent mod-ing patterns and the generally dumbed-down baseline of conversation. serious topics are treated like jokes and very disturbing group-think seems to be encouraged. other times it seems like people compete as to who can get *most* offended by something and then everything just goes to hell. the race to deletion/thread-lock is of course a disservice to really important topics and i feel like as a result of thread-lock weariness, we're all just getting shallow and saccharine in our ops and responses.

                                                                                                                                  for myself, i participated in the top chef threads over the years because i liked the show and it was fun to rehash it w other top chef nerds (the term "nerds" meant affectionately) who picked up on different stuff or who had insights like going to non-local restaurants headed by the contestants. maybe our society has reached a point of oversaturation w reality shows-- this season people kept stressing that the show is entertainment, therefore the contestants on the show are "characters," not people, and so it's okay to sit on the couch and just rip on them... i don't really feel the same way. they are real people and this is a point in their careers. i would like to be on a forum that discusses people's food, techniques and/or professionalism, not their body type or lifestyle. unfortunately that does not seem to correspond with where i find myself. *shrug* :(

                                                                                                                                  40 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                    *Some* people stressed it was entertainment, and the cheftestants were characters. But certainly not all of us, soupkitten. I agree - I'd rather discuss the abilities of the chef; not their body type. But as for professionalism - the way some of the cheftestants acted this season (in some people's opinions) was not professional. I'd hope that you'd be OK with that type of discussion (i.e., Lindsay calling someone retarded - most certainly NOT professional!).

                                                                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                      Forget professional, it wasn't appropriately civil in a non professional setting either!

                                                                                                                                      I think that we had a few really mean chefs this year AND not enough cheffing going on a lot of the time to distract from how badly they behaved.

                                                                                                                                      Here's hoping that dynamic is flipped next year; I'd rather be talking about the cooking, too.

                                                                                                                                      SK, I have to object to your comment about cliques, and especially the reference to "pitchfork mobs" and suppression of opposing opinions. I've never seen any such activity here, just folks disagreeing and some folks unable to tolerate opposing opinions. Maybe I'm just so out of the loop that both exist and I don't even know it, but that's not the only possibility here.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                        except that it seems that was not what was said! a really poor choice of words by a stressed out person was apparently paraphrased by someone else. so the mob piled on and went ballistic--- (this is my point)-- this person has already been virtually drawn, quartered, the ashes scattered and the piked head placed on the ramparts... this is exactly how middle school cyberbullying plays out, with the victims feeling helpless, depressed, even suicidal-- based often on a picture, or a quote of something they may or may not have even said. the same treatment goes for anyone who defends them or even says "whoa wait a minute, let's take a deep breath here." in our case i believe it was several weeks before some intrepid soul had the stones to rewatch the ep where the phrase was supposedly uttered and say "hey, guys... that isn't actually how it happened."

                                                                                                                                        LW-- this response is not really "at" you, i'm just responding in a general way to the whole crowd, and i do share everybody's admiration for your awesome recaps of the whole season(s) and your opinions, no matter how we may ever disagree. i am just kind of trying to go "hey guys, reality check" here with regard to the most negative stuff that was expressed. just my own opinion on how the line was probably crossed, at some point, this season. stupid elves.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                          Are you saying Lindsay didn't use the word "retard" or "retarded?" Is that what you're referring to, because I sure heard it, unless I'm nuts.

                                                                                                                                          Which is always a possibility, I suppose!

                                                                                                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                            I heard her use the phrase, which is offensive, no matter who/what she was referring to. Whether she said, "you're fuckin' retarded" or "that's fuckin' retarded" is splitting hairs; both are offensive, even in the heat of the moment.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                              "I heard her use the phrase, which is offensive, no matter...what she was referring to."

                                                                                                                                              When I was young and liked to work on cars that I owned I can't count the number of times I talked about my ignition timing being "too far retarded" without being offensive in any way, shape or form. In fact, if ones ignition timing is too far retarded the exhaust valves and valve guides can be damaged..but a little retarding of the timing can be a good thing if you are trying to save some wear and tear on your engine for the long term.

                                                                                                                                              ADD: And while I'm not a baker the term can be found there as well, as in "The retarding stage is often used in sourdough bread recipes to allow the bread to develop its characteristic flavor."

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                You can retard bread dough w/out being offensive. But, it can also be used offensively, as Lindsay did. She wasn't referring to her car engine or her dough. Calling a woman a bitch is offensive, talking about dogs is another matter.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                  Simply pointing out that the term is not "...offensive...no matter what" but simply means to "delay" something. Even humans can suffer from retardation of sexual maturity and the term is not offensive but descriptive.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                    Point taken. I realize words have many meanings and was thinking of Lindsay's use of it only.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                      I read a lot of medical literature, including endocrinology, decades worth, and I have never seen "retardation" use in place of "delay" or "inhibition" or whatever other term applies. Not even once. Not saying it's never happened, just pointing out that it'd be uncommon, certainly in present day literature.

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                    context is so important. I can refer to myself as a 'tard' but not towards anybody else, I can refer to an inanimate object as being retarded. I can also refer to a process (within parameters) as such. but never lightly or unconsidered.

                                                                                                                                                    to use it in a pejorative, hurtful way is just over the top offensive (sheesh we'd never tolerate using other words that refer to someone's innate ID in a way that only causes alienation).

                                                                                                                                                    just speaking as someone whose favorite co-worker of all time was considered 'developmentally disabled' and I do retain a certain defensiveness to this day (14 years later).

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                      Language evolves. There was a time when the word idiot was a hot button and pejorative term. Now if we say something or someone is "idiotic" no one blinks an eye. I think one can use the term retarded without meaning any disrespect to those who are dd (and I'm sure in the situation on TC that the contestant who said it wasn't trying to demean any dd person).

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                        oh I claim the term idiot as mine much as some have reclaimed terms (fill in the blanks) that start in 'N' or 'Q'.

                                                                                                                                                        but idiot? - I own that one.

                                                                                                                                                        I truly can believe it wasn't meant with any real invective, just a lack of vocabulary. and that's almost as sad. (golly I can come up with excruciatingly offensive insults, maybe not clever ones but I bet I could get ya to take a swing at me (and no pejorative word in regards to a larger ID said)

                                                                                                                                                  3. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                    Whether she said, "you're fuckin' retarded" or "that's fuckin' retarded" is splitting hairs; both are offensive, even in the heat of the moment.

                                                                                                                                                    ^^^ That. It was said in reference to something Beverly did or was doing. It was clearly aimed at Beverly.

                                                                                                                                                    I don't disagree with what Servorg noted just above - that it *can* be descriptive without being offensive. In this case, however, it wasn't.

                                                                                                                                                  4. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                    Thank you, soupkitten. Well said. I have been well put off by the type of discussion had on those threads and gave myself a headache with all the eye-rolling and eyebrow raising done whenever a particularly vitriolic post referred to 'mean girls'.

                                                                                                                                                2. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                  "this season people kept stressing that the show is entertainment, therefore the contestants on the show are "characters," not people, and so it's okay to sit on the couch and just rip on them"
                                                                                                                                                  More specifically, that is an argument that I PERSONALLY made (i realize that it is against chow rules to call out a specific poster, but it is not against the rules to call out oneself AFAIK). I don't recall anyone else using that particular argument.

                                                                                                                                                  Here's the problem: you've taken my argument out of context and used it as a summation of quite a few posts that I actually disagree with. I don't support name calling, gleefully making fun of contestants as though they were fictional, crude comments about weight or appearance, etc. Just as tellingly - I don't MAKE those kinds of comments.

                                                                                                                                                  I do however think that people who go on reality TV shows have in effect agreed and acknowledged that their actions will be picked apart and criticized more severely than they would in their own kitchens. When contestants fight or disagree, it is only natural that fans will take sides. And I think that comments on those interactions are part an parcel of discussing a reality TV show. I have personally made critical comments about people's behavior and statements on the show. So have you (keep in mind that is not a condemnation coming from me - I don't think there is anything wrong with it).

                                                                                                                                                  Going back to the original context of the 'character' argument, there is one more thing I haven't elaborated: even though I don't agree with posts about contestants that are dripping with maliciousness, I also don't think that general posts in the thread chiding people for making nasty comments as though they were children leads to a thoughtful discourse. I think it's counterproductive. It re-focuses the conversation on negative traits and criticism, makes people defensive and angry. If a post falls outside the boundaries of civility, the report option is probably better. More so, if you think a contestant is getting more criticism than is warranted, make a thoughtful case for them in the thread. You might remember I did that when it seemed to me that Jonesy was getting an unfair shake. I think (perhaps self-servingly) that a thoughtful defense of a contestant by contrast enhances the level of discourse and breeds respect for contestants and what they have to do. It can even help to change the popular sentiment (at least on CH) about a chefs behavior or abilities. I remember when you thought Grayson's abilities were getting overlooked, and rather than ridiculing people for calling her a 'hack' or disagreeing with you, you made a case for her German-influenced touches - that was a good series of posts, and the kind of response that improves the discourse of these threads.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                    wrt your 1st paragraph-- largely, i agree with you. fwiw, i did not intend to call you out personally, i remember several posts saying essentially the same thing and was under the impression this was an opinion shared by at least several folks. i don't entirely agree w this sentiment or the implication that the contestants should have anticipated that the editing would be **so** unfavorable toward folks who in all likelihood did not deserve a "villain" edit. it really hasn't seemed this bad in past seasons, nor has the contest been as high profile w more cash prizes and media exposure for the contestants (and let's be honest-- the whole group of contestants seems to be basically friendly toward one another in the absence of contrived editing). but the difference of opinion is not so much my issue, as much as is the real objectification of people, and the "one strike, yer out" character assessments going on.

                                                                                                                                                    also fwiw, i think i usually mostly agree with what you say in your posts, and i just tend to quibble w you a bit about the details. e.g. i agree with your sentiments about making a thoughtful case for people-- i remember early on when everyone seemed to be piling on beverly for the length of time she was breastfeeding/pumping milk for her baby (whose medical needs none of us know and it's nobody's beeswax) and as far as i know, i was the only person who said that it was fine for whatever time/1 year+ that she and her family chose. apart from race/social class/culture difference in play... who cares. how people can possibly base a character assessment on something like that is beyond me.

                                                                                                                                                    i am perhaps coming off myself as a crusty old scold in this post? (i don't know if that is what your last para means). i do think it's unfortunate that some folks don't seem to be here to defend themselves, or perhaps they are smarter than i am, and are avoiding this thread. but i am as guilty as the next guy at cracking a joke about someone's appearance on a t.v. program. in real life my personality is quite similar to how grayson's personality was portrayed on the show. frequently mouthing off to folks, or coming out w a borderline inappropriate comment-- i can't tell you how many times i've said the phrase "jam out w my clam out," for example. i'm sure not trying to paint myself as a saint, or anyone who's ever made a funny quip, that i probably chuckled at, as a bad person. the top chef threads wouldn't be any fun without the kidding around. i don't know where the line was crossed, this season, but i feel like the mods are correct in saying it *was* crossed, at some point. i didn't watch the last three eps of the show-- but did comment on the threads, mostly because again, i have a problem keeping my big mouth shut.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                      "i am perhaps coming off myself as a crusty old scold in this post? (i don't know if that is what your last para means)."
                                                                                                                                                      Nah. Not about you. The post I originally responded to with the 'character' analogy was one of the scolding posts, hence my last paragraph to you. (I'm not trying to call specific posters out either - believe me, I understand where the scolder was coming from; but as I said above, I still think it's a counter-productive way of dealing with in-thread nastiness).

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                        " i am as guilty as the next guy at cracking a joke about someone's appearance on a t.v. program."

                                                                                                                                                        " i would like to be on a forum that discusses people's food, techniques and/or professionalism, not their body type or lifestyle. "

                                                                                                                                                        I'm trying tor reconcile these two thoughts from you. I've said this before in the recaps but I did laugh at your comment about Heather being like Shrek. When pointed out that it was insensitive, I rethought it and agreed. You defended it, saying something along the lines that's how things are in the kitchen and if one doesn't like that, stay out of the kitchen. Which is it? I hope this doesn't come off as attacking because it isn't meant to--I generally agree w/ your posts and, even if I don't, think they can be thought provoking. I'm trying to figure out what, in your mind, is acceptable and what's not. And, I guess also to point out that people draw the line at different places. Where some might find "Shrek" offensive, others don't.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                          sure thing. i don't mind being in the hot seat. in my experience, when people actually talk about difficult subjects they may actually stand a snowball's chance of getting somewhere, and when folks talk about fluff, they get fluff. so i appreciate the opportunity for a conversation.

                                                                                                                                                          first, i want to refer back to the op and state that i was the poster who got ticked off and called "wtf" on the use of "skank" in the thread that J refers to. although i have worked for publishers and am personally very very in favor of free speech, there are pejorative terms that should not be brought into any kind of conversation, or else the context better be pretty damned specific. in that case my pov was that if someone uses the hot-button term "skank" it should be specifically in reference to a very particular type of prostitute, and *not* all female people, or some female people that one does not care for, or females who in error didn't bus their own place setting from the table or failed to RSVP or other similar b.s. and. the pejorative "r word," spoken to another person in order to demean them, would definitely be one of the similar "hot button" words that are on the list of "not coming to the table," as far as i am concerned, just to be clear, for everyone here. not acceptable. there are some other similar words, & i am sure nobody needs my help listing them, and my hunch is that everyone is basically on the same page about what they are and why conversation just can't happen when they are thrown around. still, the mods have a valid position on not making a list of words that are verboten on the site, and i do draw the line at playing sounds like-same as. that is just hugely problematic for me, as is what seems to be a tendency by some posters to want to categorize people in neat little boxes/categories. i do not think that real people are simple and unmessy things, or that one person's experience is valid while another's is not.

                                                                                                                                                          to answer your specific question, i don't know what you really expect me to say. cracking a joke about someone's appearance on a t.v. program? it's generally along the lines of what the meteorologist is wearing or a comment on a haircut or clothing choice. i kind of think that every single person should have the right to sit on the couch with whomever loves and accepts them unconditionally, and say unmalicious stupid shit like "nice.hat.dude." to be clear, no comments about race, gender, sexual identity, body type, religious garb, men's baldness...most of this stuff is pretty much a non-issue with the way i tend to view others in society, and so 99% of the time the way somebody looks, on a completely shallow level, neither gets nor needs any comment. i am far more likely to have something to say wrt: what they say, do, or otherwise express. i do reserve the right to snark about how that tie looks with that shirt or particularly awesome mullets in a rerun at 3 in the morning :) aloud, in my own house, not on facebook or twitter or any other public forum. if people feel like that makes me a bad person and that i should apologize to the world, i guess it's a matter of perspective about what is important in the big picture.

                                                                                                                                                          (rambling, i know--sorry, but i am trying to reflect and be completely honest) i think i've also commented when a pregnant woman looks particularly good/healthy in a yay way but there is no comment if the inverse is true for that particular person on that day. and finally, i will unapologetically play "looks like"-- which i know some other top chef fans play, too... and folks will post head shots of a contestant side by side with some celebrity that i usually have no clue about and discuss whether or not they resemble each other. people have really focused on my comparison of heather to shrek. so i'll come back to that. but i've also stated that carla hall always reminds me of a big pretty giraffe. the young, pre-diet alton brown totally looks like a relative of ours, so on the rare occasions i see part of an old "good eats" i always have to comment on that... i watched american idol the other day and quipped that the older steven tyler gets, the more he looks like an iguana to me. i also said that one of the female contestants was only like 16 yrs old, but it looked like she got her dress out of joan rivers' closet. and that's about it. the rest of what i commented on during american idol, to my husband, in my pyjamas, on my own couch, had to do with the performances. not much else to talk about wrt people's appearances, sorry.

                                                                                                                                                          okay, shrek. am i the only person who's watched this movie? i still haven't even seen the middle, but i can't believe they got away w stuff like waterboarding the gingerbread man--in an animated kid's movie that came out in 2001, holy cow. i originally actually started to watch it just this past year, because a friend of mine who had gone through a lot of crap... long story short... she reced the movie as something that had a message that was anti conventional-beauty. for the folks who have not seen the movie, i think the final wedding scene is very much about this message: "big (and green) can be beautiful! shallow beauty is skin deep." and i liked the message, fwiw-- i think it was as well done as it's possible to do for a kids' movie like that, not that i will run out and see any sequels, i know there were one or two... to me, it's ironic that people go on about me thinking heather looked a little like shrek...shrek was the good guy in that movie. other folks compared the same contestant to "jabba the hut"-- who was the bad guy, and did really horrible things like feed hapless dancing girls to big slimy monsters. someone please correct me if i'm off base, but i know that i'd rather be compared to shrek. and two other things happened, then. 1) all the fat-hate came out in people's posts, which people seem to think i also intended but i actually did not (shrek is not a fat ogre or a skinny ogre, just an ogre, right? and fooksake maybe this is the last time i'll attempt any kind of a pop culture reference) 2) people were so busy ripping in about "shrek" they glossed over the rest of my post, specifically the rest of my statement about how heather came off in the ep. i called heather out as if speaking to her: "you half-shrek megabitch, you." is it worse to look like a cartoon character, or have a serious character flaw? we all know what folks continue to focus on, but this was very surprising to me. that post was a longer one that contained brief musings/observations about how many contestants in the ep came off, based on my own impressions. it was not just about heather, and my statement re: heather was not merely a one-liner to gratuitously rip on her appearance, for me it was primarily about the "megabitch" behavior. looking back w 20/20 hindsight i don't really have any problem owning my own post nor see any inconsistencies in what i've said, though again i think folks may have focused on whatever other stuff. anyhoo i hope i covered what you asked about, because it looks like i'm out of time.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                            Thank you for taking the time to express your thoughts on that. I think it shows that many of us have "hot topic" words that irk us. I wouldn't ever use the word "skank" but don't put on the same scale as some other words that have been used to describe someone (although I'd say they should all be off limits and it is odd to start thinking of listing words in level of offensiveness--everyone's list would probably be in a different order, as would words that would make the list). Calling someone Shrek or Jabba the Hut IS talking about her body type and mean. That's what I was asking.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                              My thought was that no person, and prostitutes are people, deserves to be called a skank.

                                                                                                                                                              I thought the Shrek reference was a comment about Heather's physical form/shape and out of line. It was just one form of name calling, IMO. Not the most egregious one, maybe, but yannow, why do it?

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                I never knew a skank was a prostitute. I'm just not current enough w/ the urban dictionary as I should be. It's not a word I hear IRL that I can think of but I agree it shouldn't be used.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                  "I never knew a skank was a prostitute."
                                                                                                                                                                  I don't think it does, specifically. I think it's generally used as a term for a promiscuous woman. I don't know the exact origin of the word though.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                    See, I didn't even know it was for a promiscuous woman. I thought it was just someone poorly dressed, low class, maybe gum snapping, polyester. As I said, not a term I'd use but never knew it had that meaning. This is the problem w/ living in the suburbs.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                      It's more than that, and much worse than calling someone merely promiscuous (which some people make sound like it's *bad* thing!) ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                      Urban Dictionary: Skank 7425 up, 1631 down
                                                                                                                                                                      Derogatory term for a (usually younger) female, implying trashiness or tackiness, lower-class status, poor hygiene, flakiness, and a scrawny, pockmarked sort of ugliness. May also imply promiscuity, but not necessarily. Can apply to any race, but most commonly used to describe white trash.
                                                                                                                                                                      You know that girl Crystal that lives in the trailer park? She's a total skank.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                        Who was called a skank? Heather? None of that description sounds like her, at all.

                                                                                                                                                                        Anyway, I guess my thought of the word wasn't that far off then.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                          the skank comment was not on any top chef thread. it was on one of those "my relative was sort of a little bit rude, what would you do?" etiquette threads. in context using the skank term for a very minor etiquette infraction was about as necessary as using an uzi to kill a mouse.

                                                                                                                                                                          i know i said i wouldn't make any more cultural references, but here is a clip from "breaking bad" about why it's a bad idea to call any woman a skank:


                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                            actually skank was used on a top chef thread. I know because it really bothered me enough to ask for the comment to be deleted.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                It did like in 30 seconds of me reporting it so I think other people did the same

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: lbs

                                                                                                                                                                                  Good, no wonder I didn't see it. Thank YOU!

                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                            I don't recall skank being used.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                              I don't either.

                                                                                                                                                                              What I do remember being used is:

                                                                                                                                                                              "dumb bitch"

                                                                                                                                                                              and used in terms of X is an asshole.

                                                                                                                                                                              So this is chowhoundworthy? Because these characterizations are all still up there, representing.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: souvenir

                                                                                                                                                                                No, none of that is, IMO. But if they said someone *behaved* like an asshole, I wouldn't object to the use of the term.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                  nope. x is a turd appears to have been removed (or my brain has happily skipped over it). "x is an asshole" is still up on the 2/29 thread. "dumb bitch" is on the reunion thread.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                    its similar to the difference of saying these two things:
                                                                                                                                                                                    "I hate you"
                                                                                                                                                                                    "I hate that you did that"

                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                              mcf - that's how I always interpreted the 'sk' term. as in: God forbid ya spend the night and if you did jeez that's gonna be a nasty hangover and you need to check in with the doctor for a panel of tests as the result of an ill-advised evening.

                                                                                                                                                                              a term really not to be used unless one has an agenda and doesn't care how the hate spew makes the user look.

                                                                                                                                                          2. Pitagirl nailed it in the very first response.

                                                                                                                                                            These people are public figures and have elected to be in the public eye. As such, anything and everything one could say about them, no matter how odious, is fair comment and criticism and should be "hands-off" for the moderators.

                                                                                                                                                            The only things that should be deleted are ad hominem attacks on other posters that do not relate directly to a post.

                                                                                                                                                            Okay: "Sarah is a fat pig."
                                                                                                                                                            Not okay: "You are a fat pig. Don't you know how to read?"

                                                                                                                                                            Okay: "Your statement is baseless and without merit."
                                                                                                                                                            Not okay: "You are an idiot."

                                                                                                                                                            Okay: "Misinformation like this drives me crazy."
                                                                                                                                                            Not okay: "I hate you."

                                                                                                                                                            Okay: "I really disagree with your opinion."
                                                                                                                                                            Not okay: "Screw you."

                                                                                                                                                            The difference is pretty clear, and the line is quite easy to see.

                                                                                                                                                            16 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                                                              How about "Screw your opinion and the horse it rode in in on." Would that pass muster? ;-D>

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                                Technically that should be okay. ;->

                                                                                                                                                                I think the mantra has always been: Attack the post, not the poster.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                                  it's fine if you disagree with my opinion, but don't make me report you for bringing bestiality into this! ;)

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                                    Tell him not to worry, I'll do a "Roy Rogers" and be quick on the Trigger... ;-D>

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                                      well played. or should i say touché? ;)

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                                                                  "These people are public figures and have elected to be in the public eye. As such, anything and everything one could say about them, no matter how odious, is fair comment and criticism and should be "hands-off" for the moderators."

                                                                                                                                                                  I think this ignores the point that moderators make often, that they want the site to be fun and friendly. They've made it really clear that gratuitously harsh, negative, and especially "odious" comments are not considered CH appropriate. Whether or not those public figures are fair game in the wide open prairie of life, the way I understand it, they can expect a more refined and gracious tone here, as a central part of the CH mission.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                    I agree with you in theory. Unfortunately, the CH reality is often quite different. Anyone who voices an unpopular opinion could often find this site neither fun nor friendly. The problem is that part is really subjective; one's person's witty satire is another's vicious attack.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                                                                      ^ WORD (that's an arrow, pointing above to the preceding post btw, so there's no confusion).
                                                                                                                                                                      And sorry, but I don't think the statement "Sarah is a fat pig" is acceptable as it is a comment on the physical appearance of the person and strikes me as being derogatory in a manner not related to her work or task at hand. I do think, though, to say "Sarah gorked that cheese canapy down like a pig" is relevant.
                                                                                                                                                                      Semantics, I know, but it seems that word smithing IS the order of the day in online conversations.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                                                                        That hasn't been my experience. I think sometimes folks aren't aware of how harsh or negatively their communication can come across, though. We all can be guilty of that at times.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                          mcf - amen and a point we all (self included) need to remember

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                            So true. And, I also think the converse can be true, where we can read something attacking in a disagreement where none was meant. I can voice an unpopular opinion and should expect disagreement. Sometimes the disagreement can be stinging because I'm sensitive but was not meant to be attacking. In both cases, it's best to come back later and reread it to see if it was misread in the heat of the moment, and, to give the other the benefit of the doubt.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                                                                        Your statements are baseless and without merit.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: acgold7


                                                                                                                                                                          when people choose a lifestyle like television or radio or [name a career where someone is in the public eye] it comes with the territory [that those that choose to condemn will]. maybe those that sling mud aren't feeling that special about themselves. maybe the ones that say hideous things are simply negative people all the way around. as it's always been said, when someone points a finger at another, how many fingers are pointing back at you yourself.

                                                                                                                                                                          my retorts or responses would be all of your "not okay's".......... admitting is the first step right? :)

                                                                                                                                                                          some are more sensitive than others therefore it's easy for them to come up with kind and thoughtful words to say [even] in conjuntion with being called a name or whatever the case is. for me, I hate being attacked especially by someone I have no respect for [having read their posts or threads] simply because of the assumptions they've made about anything that could be objectionable.

                                                                                                                                                                          and for Servorg, I like that one, used it often in my life, but these days I go with:
                                                                                                                                                                          eat dog doo and die.............. >> no, I never mean it but it feels good at the time.... ;~(

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                            "...but these days I go with: eat dog doo and die..."

                                                                                                                                                                            When our son was little (he's 24 now) I used "eat dirty diapers and die" because it was "on my mind...and my hands!" ;-D>

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                                              I just say "eat shit and die." Replace shit with dirt if I'm being especially polite. (irony meter on).

                                                                                                                                                                        2. Here's the result of this process: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/839194

                                                                                                                                                                          I'm not going to lock this thread, so it'll still show up on your profile pages and you'll see this update, but please take follow-up discussion to the new thread. Thanks.