Posting Etiquette question
Say I am visiting a popular food destination, one that is often discussed on the board. Being a good poster I try a search first. And up pops lots and lots of threads. Some that are years old (2006, etc) some that are months/weeks old. Some that started years ago but have new replies.
As this is a popular destination each post has literally hundreds of replies, many that go off on tangents. I start to try to read thru but am easily lost. 40 people say a place is great, 30 say it’s bad. 17 say somewhere in between. And that’s all wedged between lots of chitter chatter. You get the idea. I could spend days taking notes comparing ideas but the one thing I find is that places that rI am eally interested in no one has eaten there recently-meaning in the last month or so. So would you prefer a poster
A) Start a brand new post basically saying I am going to (popular place here) and have narrowed it down to X, Y and Z. Anyone been recently? Also are any other places I should try?
B) Reply to whatever original post gave me the most info, even if it was started years ago, hoping that someone will have an update (or that matter the posters are still here) and are willing to give more advice?
C) Reply to whatever the most current post is (even if the places I am interested are not all mentioned) again hoping for a current updates and the posters who know this destination will read a somewhat older post and be willing to offer good ideas?
D) Something else?
The reason I ask Is of often see replies to posts (whether it about location, a recipe, and idea) with nothing but a link to another post. Another post that often has 500+ replies. I always see that as “hey dumbass-asked and answered”.
Chowhound is often a pretty testy place and you never know when you are going to step in it, KWIM?
This is a bit orthogonal to your question, but I think the best way to avoid a “hey dumbass-asked and answered” is go explore for oneself and report back, especially if it's a place that hasn't been covered before.
Because there's already a lot of information on the boards, there's a great temptation to mine that information first; but in reality the info on the boards (and all the food sites out there) are far from complete and comprehensive. Restaurants can be very fluid, plus much of the info on the internet only focuses on obvious stuff pumped out by the mass media, rather than from folks thoughtfully seeking out delicious stuff.
Most people have a better chow radar than they give themselves credit for. Thus, a few hours exploring a neighbourhood might yield more than a few days cross referencing the info on CH. When I travel I occasionally ask for general info such as what neighbourhoods are under explored or are there restaurants where one could get deeper into the menu (usually places with large menus or serving more than one cuisine). That helps to focus my explorations a bit.
"[I]n reality the info on the boards (and all the food sites out there) are far from complete and comprehensive."
I've noticed on the couple of boards where I'm a regular (Québec, Spain/Portugal) that we always end up discussing the same places, and very rarely does someone come in with a recommendation of something new and exciting. Of course, tourists are often looking for emblematic places and "sure things". It's not their fault if they're going to the same old board favourites. When in doubt you go with the consensus. This situation is especially true for the Spain-Portugal board where regulars are almost all foreigners with a taste for white tablecloths and Michelin stars, and there's practically no input from locals. It creates a feedback loop.
OTOH, although searching for yourself and using your chow radar can be very rewarding, it does take time and you run the risk of being disappointed. I don't mind that in my own city, it's what being a chowhound is about after all, but when I'm travelling, I don't want to waste any meals on bad food. So it's a though call, go to the places everyone raves about or try to "blaze trails". It's the travelling chowhound's dilemma.
EDIT: Sorry for going off on another tangent. In responding to this post, I also included ideas I had after reading another thread.
As for the OP's question, I'd say go with A, but do come back after your trip and post your impressions on the restaurant-specific threads. It's always good to get an outsider's point of view. And do tell us about the places you found on your own if they were good. Any new info is valuable to CH.
Oh I hear you. When I am going on a longer trip I always leave plenty of room for self exploring. That is often one of the greatest joys of travelling, IMHO. It’s how I have found many a memorable meal, often not just because of the food.
However the question really came from the idea of going on brief trip and you only have a the chance to have a couple of meals. Like when your company is sending you to New Orleans on business and you are going have only a day or two that’s not mandated by a group. Or suddenly your stuck in NYC due to weather or a layover and you decide to spend the weekend. Or your relatives are driving you batty so you decide to hop in the car and drive to the neigboring city you’ve never eaten in before (in my case DC). The idea that if I can only have one meal in New Orleans I don’t want to “waste” it so to speak.
The disparate opinions about some restaurants are as far apart as financial gurus guesses about the future of the financial markets. No consensus, very frustrating. Statistically, you want a large sample, and then discard the highs and lows. And along the way, things change.
End of the day, you gots to take some chances.
Just to chime in on this from CHOW HQ as well, our advice is to err on the side of starting a new thread if you don't find a discussion that seems like the obvious fit (or the discussions you find are years and years old). I agree with you that sometimes it can be hard to parse through all of the information that is already been shared, but the moderator advice is good: just showing that you tried to glean previous discussion info will help with community response. We're also working on a redesign now that we hope will help with scanning. It's going to be released in two stages, so hopefully that will help as well. Finally, we have plans to attack search in the first half of the new year, so we hope that will help as well. Thanks for your question!
Meredith of CHOW
From a moderator perspective, any of your options are fine. Different posters have different preferences, but there's no consensus and there's no enforced community norms on starting new threads vs. bumping old ones.
Most people don't get testy unless there's a sense that the visiting hound hasn't or won't read any of the existing information. If you can be clear in your original question that you've read some of the history and are looking for more personal advice based on what you've read, that usually goes over pretty well.
I would go with A and say "I have been reading the threads, but there hasn't been a recent consensus of these restaurants. Has anyone been recently? Also are their other places I should try?."
It shows that you did your research. And I would definitely keep active on the thread so that those who do respond don't feel like they are wasting their time.