HOME > Chowhound > Site Talk >


Why Some User Names are Red


We've been working on a way to clarify the users who work on the site, and starting today, you will notice that some user's names are red when they post. That means they have admin privileges on the CHOW or work for the site. Not every admin will be red--it's a personal choice for users to identify themselves as admins--but I wanted to just let people know why you might see names in red, like mine below!


Meredith (of CHOW, but I don't need to say that as much because of my red name)

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I like this. Transparency is generally a good thing.

    Mind you, Meredith of CHOW does sound a little like a noble house from "Game of Thrones". ;)

    7 Replies
    1. re: DuchessNukem

      DuchessN, have you noticed more than the usual CH admin folks identifying themselves? I see Meredith, Jacq., The CH Team and Engineering which has been identified by s/n for some time already.

      Meredith stated that "names in red" is strictly optional and so far, I see no new administrators listing their "working s/n" from blue to red.

      1. re: HillJ

        2nd it's not transparent if it's optional.

        1. re: drewskiSF

          Agreed. It is much less useful/interesting to this user if it is optional.

          1. re: Vetter

            I agree, be transparent for all, no lurkers. You admin, you "must" use red.

            1. re: Quine

              From 'Treasure of the Sierra Madre' : "We don't need no stinkin' badges."

        2. re: HillJ

          Haven't really looked for new red names. I simply think it's a good start, despite the "opt-in" aspect. Just a matter of different perspectives.

          1. re: DuchessNukem

            The red names for admin users is a terrific idea. If it's employed, even better!

      2. For all those who think that all moderators (who also post as ordinary, everyday Clark Kent's here on CH) should "out" themselves by having their screen names show up in red I just wonder how many of us would like to be put under a site microscope with every post we make? Our likes, dislikes and pov's scoured for any hint of bias for or against other posters. I don't think we would find too many happy volunteers for that sort of atom by atom parsing by those so inclined to pedantry.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Servorg

          I only know one anonymous mod, but I see a parallel between being a flagged mod and the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, in that by the very condition of being observed, it alters events that will follow.

          1. re: Veggo

            And to make matters worse, Heisenberg was so uncertain about whether Schrödinger's cat was alive, dead or just out of the box and wandering about in the alley behind his house looking for love, that it made Heisenberg even testier than normal... ;-D>

          2. re: Servorg

            Well I guess that's one way to out yourself.

            But, if there is NO bias for or against in the moderating, no worries, right? Oh. there's the rub,

            Being a member of Google + where users do need to use their actual name (and be closed up if using a fake one) as well as running (managing a page and project there : G+ LeapYear 2012 - Day in the life of G+) I can say, FAR less trolling, snipping, snark and name call is done. Seems, once folks can't hide behind cute made up names and positions, they lose the false bully attitude and behave in a far better and polite way.

            1. re: Quine

              "But, if there is NO bias for or against in the moderating, no worries, right? Oh. there's the rub,"

              That would be true ONLY IF there were no insanity on the Internet...Oh, there's the rub...

              1. re: Servorg

                I am going to agree with drewskiSF , when Those who are TPTB are visible, much better behavior is seen. As I said on G+ which has considerable more members than CH, the behavior is pretty darn civil.

                Sure it's an insane asylum out there, but it always has been, forever in all public discourse.

                If a Moderator fears being known (not by using real names or such) I do not believe they are a good fit. Invisible moderators and moderation is too much like the group Anonymous.

                If the Mods can't take the heat of being known, they should get out of the kitchen. Plain, simple, clear.
                It's hard being un-biased, but being so, let's one stand in the full light of day, when one can't stand that light, there are issues. Sometimes power corrupts, in fact, often it does. When you add the fertilizer of invisibility and no moderation, it does corrupt totally.

            2. re: Servorg

              the majority of other forums i browse have Moderators identified.

              they are mostly Auto & Tech forums so probably better behaved than foodies ;-)

            3. Update on this. We're going to tweak this change next week to be a little clearer. Usernames will still be black, but next to the people who work for CHOW will be a small button that looks like a CHOW logo, and it will say CHOW Team when you scroll over it. It is still optional, mind you, so not every admin will show up with the logo. But we would like to move towards a little more transparency in all we do over here, and this is a first step!

              Meredith (of the House of CHOW, family Arthur)

              7 Replies
              1. re: mudaba

                So...a smaller bullseye on their backs? Wimpy decisions by committee put innocent people in harms' way...;(
                True ever since WWII.

                1. re: mudaba

                  So, you are making it a more difficult to see and understand, still not mandatory, the red name works, it is clear, so not sure at all this is a step forward.
                  It is an issue to me that a Mod refuses to use the red. Moderating should be fair, honest and stand the judgement of full clear light. If mods fear that they will be judged because they are Mods, (judging others) perhaps they are not a good fir to be a mod.

                  WE are not saying that they should have to use real names or anything, but mods should be known. Anyone abusing a mod, should get the same treatment, other posters get, deleted, suspended or banned. But since no one knows who a mod is, no one is moderating the mods. And that is not good.

                  Plus it will for once and all remove that dark stain of Moderator favoritism and grudges. That is the kind of transparency that is needed and is a great first step.

                  1. re: Quine

                    OK I had NO idea that moderators were posting as "regular" folk, and that certainly explains a whole heck of alot that I've experienced and observed in the past few weeks.
                    I've never been on a site where this happens. Every other site has moderators that can post and add to the discussion but who are always identified as moderators.
                    Now I get it.
                    And yes, they should be identified.

                    1. re: freia

                      It does explain a lot, yes...

                      I used to spend a lot of time on CH, now I check in a few times a day to see if anything interesting on my local board and my posts. There's no mobile app, and the moderation makes this place a High school with bullies, teacher's pets and cliques.

                  2. re: mudaba

                    I think this is not well thought out. I think you either have a policy of identifying admins or you don't.

                    1. re: mcf


                      sorry to say, but this sounds like it's going to be another "Eliminate the Restaurant DB" decision debacle.

                      1. re: mcf


                        I don't personally care if you do or not, but have the courage of your convictions, folks.

                    2. Since it was Meredith, a staffer, that brought this new admin option to light I have no reason to overly concern myself about it. This appears to be a thought out decision by management for reasons that have not been made fully clear to the community. I don't need to know why the options was made.

                      We're suppose to be civil to one another know matter who we are. Nothing's perfect.

                      CH is the only online community I frequent that permits anonymous moderation and permits Mods to also contribute to the discussion as "regular' members. To wear two hats. If there is a conflict or "rub" for me, it's that allowance. But I don't work "here" so there's plenty I don't know or understand.

                      26 Replies
                      1. re: HillJ

                        HillJ, Google+ staff post personal (regular member) posts and are known. Works well. Transparency is a good thing.

                        Anonymous moderation is never a good thing, Because moderation it is a power and a judgement, invisibility should not be a factor. You basically have someone hiding behind the curtain making judgement calls.

                        1. re: Quine

                          You know I always wondered if the style of moderation at CH, including the anonymous factor, began with something as simple as Jim Leff's preference. As I recall it, Jim would cover his face during interviews back in the day; never saw his face in print. A few stories he was wearing a dog mask. Do you recall that?

                          But, today I would much prefer knowing who the moderators at CH are.

                          1. re: HillJ

                            Jim did protect his anonymity so that, when he dined out, his face and online reputation didn't affect the service or food he was provided...

                          2. re: Quine

                            The moderation at my job is also transparent and it works very well. But the Mods do not contribute to the topics; they post discussion statements and the community engages in the topic at great length. Moderation is more about accuracy than behavior though.

                            1. re: HillJ

                              HillJ what kind of job do you have.
                              I sen to recall something about Jim's dog mask/cloak of invisibility but thought it had to do with being a restaurant reviewer.

                              1. re: Quine

                                I work in continuing education within the food industry, Quine. NYC.

                                When I have read interviews given by Jim Leff he was talking about Chowhound. Doesn't matter, just a small thought I had about moderation style and the founder's style.

                                Anyway, whatever happens regarding blue/red s/n names I'll be interested.

                                1. re: HillJ

                                  Cool! Here if you ever head toward the "Jersey Shore" Let me know, catch a meal or so.

                                  I hope we get transparency. It would improve the looks and feel of this place.

                            2. re: Quine

                              I don't care if they're anonymous or not; they post the mission, the posting rules and they will explain their actions if you ask, sometimes without being asked. If you post here, that's tacit agreement to play by the house rules.

                              I've never noticed bullies or cliques here.

                                1. re: Quine

                                  Absolutely. I hate bullies and cliques, so I'd think I'd notice them, but it might be a difference in which boards we read, too, and who frequents them.

                                  1. re: mcf

                                    Absolutely! I have stopped reading and posting about one of my favorite subjects because of a certain clique of holier than thou folk. Was told that I did not have or hold the high standards that they did because I disagreed with one. Yes, that was allowed to be said by the Mods. I was harried for about a month by them all over my posts. Very passive aggressive. I know other CHers who have experienced the same, and even had those harpies follow them on FB to continue the comments. It happens often but complains about it in comments or posts disappear. I know many folks who save their posts because things disappear. And it is VERY rare to get an email with a reason why.

                                    1. re: Quine

                                      If you email them to ask, they won't ignore you. It sounds like you've run into a rough crowd. Sound like wine folks. ;-)

                                      1. re: mcf

                                        Ah! The infamous wine folks! I don't go on that board but I've heard a lot of stories.

                                        1. re: mcf

                                          It would be nice to think it worked that way, but it doesn't. The bullies are angels when called to the principle's office. Since CH has no exit interview, they have no idea how many people leave due to this. In fact, TPTB, do not survey/ get user input to see where problems and issues exist.

                                          1. re: Quine

                                            Exit interview? We're not employees, sheesh. I think TPTB solicit user input more than most places. Some folks don't consider it input if things don't go their way, though. Honestly, it's a job I'd hate to do, half the crowd is always pissed off. Since TPTB read the boards and some participate, I don't think there's any principal's office dynamic going on.

                                            1. re: mcf

                                              ah but it is a business. and "most" of us haven't any idea how the business works.

                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                OK. I'm not sure why that matters so much...

                                                1. re: mcf

                                                  Because Quine wasn't referring just to chowhounds but chowhounds that are also reporting to the business office of CHOW. The idea that this community just functions for fun and food play and not profits is silly-yeah, that matters.

                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                    I'm sure it matters. But I guess I'm thinking we have an understanding of that, we know CBS owns chow. I don't expect them to report on every nuance of how that affects their duties here. I do appreciate it when they solicit user opinion and collaboration about the boards, though.

                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                      Yes, exactly HillJ. The level of moderating here is beyond pretty much any site I have used and I have been using social media since before Al Gore invented the internet via the BBS, dial up slow modems. I created the Food chat room for Byte Magazine's BBS known as BIX. So this is not a new deal for me. I have been there and done that. In those days, being a Mod, (also in two other rooms) "earned " me free use, otherwise there was a membership fee.

                                                      This IS a business and some of *do* know how it functions as well as how Good businesses function.

                                                      1. re: Quine

                                                        I too post on 3 other chat forums where all the Mods are volunteers,Identified by name and participate along side it's members. One particular firearms blog can get as contentious as the NAF and Wine boards combined but we police each other other and I have not been deleted once in the 5 years I've been a member. On the flip side, I get deleted on CH at least weekly for some perceived slight , vague violation or honest reply to one of CH's chosen ones. The members who actually gave a life and energy to these boards have all moved on in frustration or been banned so as to create a safe, tasteless gruel for the remaining toothless favored denizens.

                                                          1. re: Duppie

                                                            Different boards have different posting rules, so you really can't compare your experiences with deletions. I've never been deleted on any other moderated forum, either, but none of them had lightheartedness and fun as major moderation goals, across boards/topics.

                                                            1. re: mcf

                                                              Agreed but do you actually believe that CH's moderation guidelines promote lightheartedness and fun?....... you're going to go with that?
                                                              I respect you and love the depth and enthusiasm you bring to every one of your posts but I rarely get lightheartedness or fun from your measured words.

                                                              1. re: Duppie

                                                                I have a *very* dry sense of humor, and I am pretty silly in real life, but maybe you'll just have to take my word for it.

                                                                I think that moderation here strives for those qualities. Whether you think they achieve them or not doesn't negate the fact that their moderation criteria differ from the experience you offered as contrast. Not analogous since each group's goals and tolerances are different. It's up to each of us to comply or get deleted.

                                                                I get deleted plenty. I just don't let it ruin my day. And I have fun in a lot of threads here.

                                                                1. re: mcf

                                                                  I will respectfully take your word for it but somehow it still seems a bit hollow...

                                2. I just find it odd that a site that does not allow "Guest" or "Anonymous" posts, which is a policy I like, allows their moderators to function with anonymity. I don't participate here enough to really care too much, but since other moderated boards I belong to donot allow this anonymity, presumably because they want true transparency not just talk of transparency, it strikes me as a bit double standard-ish.

                                  14 Replies
                                  1. re: Justpaula

                                    Of course a lot (I feel safe in saying "most") of us who post on CH are anonymous, since we don't use our real names or have "identifiable" information on our profile page.

                                    1. re: Servorg

                                      The "most" you are referring to do not moderate the forum. I thought we were discussing Meredith's announcement.

                                      1. re: HillJ

                                        Simply replying to Justpaula's point above when she noted that "I just find it odd that a site that does not allow "Guest" or "Anonymous" posts, which is a policy I like, allows their moderators to function with anonymity."

                                        And I find it not that relevant that other sites may have "publicly" known moderators when those same sites don't have the same concerns about keeping their sites focused, useful and organized topically as CH does.

                                        This sort of site requires a higher level of moderation to keep those factors intact and the signal to noise ratio down to a low enough level so that we don't lose the very reason most of us came here for in the first place.

                                        The level of moderation here, which makes this site useful, also drives enough posters to such extreme levels of angst that I can see the necessity for keeping moderators identities under wraps. I find the "conspiracy theories" about moderators being either biased against or in favor of allowing some poster to write whatever they want to be without any credibility at all.

                                        1. re: Servorg

                                          Well you got my attention and you make several points I hadn't considered.

                                          Even with the # of deletions I have had over the years I don't ever feel targeted; that forum life and the odds of never getting deleted ....well,,that's silly.

                                          But my experience has no bearing on the experience had by another.

                                          I stand by my preference on moderation already stated but I like what you had to say.

                                          OTOH, Meredith posted the announcement. There must be some interest.

                                          1. re: HillJ

                                            I think that, if this site wants "public" moderators, then they probably need to hire and pay professionals who have no other connection to the site (in that they would not be hounds themselves). Jim Leff wrote here more than once over the years that good hounds made good moderators since they all wanted the site to be useful, focused and friendly. And the fact that no one moderator gets to just delete whatever they want without some other eyes looking at such actions makes me worry not at all about vendettas or biases, for or against anyone here.

                                            1. re: Servorg

                                              Yes, I recall Jim Leff's point of view on moderation very well. The site has changed in countless ways since then, moderation guidelines perhaps are next. However the new decisions come down, it will be another interesting evolution of CH.

                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                I don't really care what the new powers do to the Chow side of the ledger to make it hip and happening. But if they ignore what has made the CH side work well, and radically alter what has made this place into a site that drew so many passionate, intelligent and proactive posters here in the first place and end up "killing" CH through their belief that they can "do it better" then I'll be one sad and ex hound...

                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                  holy smokes batman, I've never heard u use the word ex.
                                                  So you do care. Hell, I think it's safe to say we all care (enough).
                                                  It seems obvious that without CHOW ad campaigns there is no CH.
                                                  Why would CHOW take measures to kill the CH community-makes no sense.
                                                  CH sells the whole freakin concept.

                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                    I don't think that the powers would intentionally take measures to kill the CH community off. I think that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. But if we start letting the lunatics guard the asylum in ways that make CH unusable then I doubt I would be the only hound to drift away from this site.

                                                    1. re: Servorg

                                                      All because/over current moderators electing to identify themselves? If those individuals have no problem using a red s/n than why should we? Well, you have a point of view I can understand Servorg but I don't see how (once again) change is avoidable. Sites go through all sorts of growing pains continually.

                                          2. re: Servorg

                                            "those same sites don't have the same concerns about keeping their sites focused, useful and organized topically as CH does."

                                            what other forums do you frequent? most sites have Mods to keep their forums "focused, useful and organized"

                                            you're level of defense of this makes me think you are an anonymous Mod here :)

                                            1. re: drewskiSF

                                              I post in quite a few different places and except for one I used to be in, where mods were identified and hand moderated to prevent inappropriate posts from ever appearing, I've never, in two decades, found a forum where moderation contributes so much to maintaining the intended focus and tone.

                                              1. re: drewskiSF

                                                I've mentioned this on other threads in the past, but if the moderators have a comment on a moderation related issue on Site Talk, they use the "The Chowhound Team" username to make that comment. They're asked not to comment on moderation-related threads using their personal IDs.

                                                1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                  And there are ways around that. Just get a second account, different name, open another browser and ta da, yes you can do personal stuff on a thread about moderators.

                                                  So in this perfect world, are you saying that no other moderator posted here beside you and mudaba?

                                      2. I just want to clarify that it isn't even an option for our volunteer moderators (who are different from administrators from the perspective of our software) to tag their profiles this way. Moderators who are making official statements use "The Chowhound Team" nametag -- which is tagged, so those statements will be easy to spot. Their individual accounts will remain untagged.

                                        12 Replies
                                        1. re: Jacquilynne

                                          Now that's a horse of a different color! Thank you for the important clarification. The message was clearly lost in the original OP.

                                          "We've been working on a way to clarify the users who work on the site"...
                                          This statement gave way to my missing the point.

                                          1. re: Jacquilynne

                                            So these "volunteer Moderators", are then in fact, our very own Neighborhood watch? What is the selection criteria? How are their held to the standards? We have all seen posts and comments disappear SO fast, it is clearly not done by a committee/jury but rather than by a single person. So we have the neighborhood watch only, known only to admins, who clearly cannot keep watch over all of what is done by these volunteers. Skittles and an Iced tea anyone?
                                            Clearly that is a BIG issue to many.
                                            So let's think, CH is a pretty big place, a city, not a village, with many neighborhood to watch. Does the watch person patrol their own neighborhood(so has a bias of how it should be) or do they patrol a neighborhood across the city (so has another stranger/danger bias)? And I am sorry, people are people, with bias, with feelings and emotions, and with the secret power of control, left to do as they will. Everyone does things that are "wrong", develops favorites, pets and dislikes. Saints do not exist. And the longer these watch person stays, the more this happens, I do not think that on a daily basis each watch is reviewed to make sure that all was done to "standard" If that was possible, then no need for these "volunteers" because paid staff is all ready double checking, so better to leave it to them.
                                            Allowing these neighborhood watch folks to be unknown, with control with no oversight, then also post in the same place is rather (fill in the blank). From posts here and over various other threads, it is clear it is a system that fails. And there is no way (and perhaps no desire) for TPTB to address the issue. And it's not like, we the user can complain to the "Mayor" nor can we vote a new set in.

                                            1. re: Quine

                                              I do understand that people are concerned in this area, but the volunteer mods don't act without oversight. I personally oversee them and their actions, along with two part time contractors who help me. To address a couple of your questions/comments:

                                              Moderators are not assigned specific territories to moderate -- everyone is responsible across the site. They are asked not to moderate disputes they're personally involved in.

                                              Much of what does get moderated is a result of reports from users, which wind up in a list for us to investigate and action. Because we don't read everything (or even close to everything), our moderation can be uneven. The best thing users can do to help make moderation of the site better is to use the report button liberally to bring things to our attention, even if you aren't quite sure if something is definitely a rules violation. We'll take a look and make the call, whereas if no one reports, we'll probably never see the problem.

                                              When a moderator takes an action, that also ends up in a list, which all of the moderators can see and ask questions if something appears to have been a bad decision. I review it regularly to see if there are problems, things that need to be changed, etc. Double-checking actions is much faster than making the original decisions, so it is possible for us to oversee a much larger amount of moderation than we could actually do on our own. It might take an hour for a moderator to investigate a single report of shilling, but they leave notes about their work that I can check over in a minute or two.

                                              I know I'm asking you to take this on faith since you can't see it. But I can, and I know that the moderators are hyper-aware of the possibility of the issues you discuss, and work really hard to keep from falling into those traps. They're a group of people who love Chowhound and like chowhounds and they work in good faith to make the site a better place. We are human and we're not infallible, so we do make mistakes, but we don't make them deliberately or maliciously.

                                              1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                Jacquilynne, I do respect you and understand your fairness and desire to make this a good place.

                                                But it is true, I used to be on this site for hours per day and now I seldom spend more that a few minutes reading threads and posting on my local board. I never go in other topics that I used to frequent, because of issues laid out by several people in this thread. As for getting hounded across posts (and I know several people who have had this unpleasant experience) click report will not do much good. It is passive-aggressive behavior that can only be seen by the victim and those doing it. And it makes the reporter look like the person who cried wolf.

                                                I now know more Ex-CHounds on other sites than ever before. And the moderation was the issue for them leaving. CH and Chow used to be a good place, and maybe it can be again. But frankly, it's easier to post and share information and experiences in other places. And that is a shame. I used to recommend this site to others and encourage them to do so, but I can no longer do that with a good conscience.

                                                Perhaps this discussion will show the need for more transparent moderation vs. the opaque model that is running now.
                                                I am not gone yet, I will report more often, see if the experience improves, but I also know where the door is and what is on the other side in other places.

                                                1. re: Quine

                                                  Those situations of ongoing low-level problems are really tough for us to deal with. We try to be aware of where there are interpersonal histories when dealing with individual reports, and to watch for longer term patterns and deal with them. We also try to be understanding when someone who has been harassed by a particular poster or a particular clique eventually breaks down and lashes out, but we prefer that people not do that, obviously. There's a lot of back-and-forth in some of these situations, and who started it vs. who is just responding in kind is often really, really unclear as things escalate.

                                                  We recognize that it's not a perfect situation. If there was an easy answer to dealing with low-grade hostility, we'd definitely have done it by now.

                                                  1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                    I know you are not going to listen to me, so just register one more vote that the site is over moderated. Maybe the final tally will cause you to change you mind.

                                                    1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                      Well, I tried. I went on the board I must avoid and made a comment on a post and the person who starts the negative stuff started right in on me. I attempted a reasoned response, keeping only to the topic of the thread and was treated to a LONG snarky reply. I did report it, specifically mentioning in the report that it was for you, Jacquilynne, pointing out this issue as discussed here. So, back to square one with one foot out the door.

                                                      1. re: Quine

                                                        Has there been any action or communication about this post? I still think all we really need is an IGNORE button so we don't see posters we are better off avoiding for any reason.

                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                          No action nor communication, as per usual.

                                                          1. re: Quine

                                                            Quine, I work pretty regular, business-like hours on the East Coast. Sometimes I'm around in the evenings to deal with a few things as they come up, sometimes I'm not. Because you addressed your reports to me, none of the other moderators felt comfortable dealing with them, and I wasn't working at the time.

                                                            I'm not going to address your concerns here -- we try not to comment on specific complaints and incidents publicly -- but I will send you an email sometime today.

                                                            I've removed a few posts from here that were commenting on the specifics of the situation, as well. We understand that everyone meant well and was being pretty calm about things, but analyzing the behaviour of individual hounds is something we try to avoid on Site Talk. It's fine to talk about patterns of issues, but we don't think it's fair to put a single poster under a public microscope.

                                            2. Not sure if Engineering realizes this ... but the red names are only on expanded posts. On already read, collapsed posts, every user is listed in black.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: hyperbowler

                                                That's true. But if you open it up again to reread it for some reason it goes back to red.