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Why "categories" instead of "boards"?

Robert Lauriston Dec 15, 2012 11:43 AM

The standard term is "board" or "forum." "Category" seems like misuse of the word to me.

It's as ill-conceived an idea as the bizarre fonts, lack of contrast, and massive white space.

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  1. Servorg RE: Robert Lauriston Dec 15, 2012 11:51 AM

    Local or regional board are categorized by location, US, Canada or International vs the separate category of Topical boards. I'm not sure how that is a misuse of the word?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Servorg
      Robert Lauriston RE: Servorg Dec 15, 2012 11:58 AM

      "Categories" is the right term for the groups of boards on the /boards/all page (California, Pacific Northwest, etc.)

      It's the wrong term for the boards themselves (SF Bay Area, Site Talk, etc.)

      The My Categories menu has boards, not categories. CBS staff also misused the term to describe the new Cheese board.

      1. re: Robert Lauriston
        Servorg RE: Robert Lauriston Dec 15, 2012 12:34 PM

        Again, to my way of thinking, there are categories for the US, Canada, International and finally Topical. Now if you are talking about "Saved Categories" I can see the issue since it ought to be "Saved Boards" more properly. But once one looks at the overall list it is pretty easy to discern how the site is generally laid out...at least to me.

    2. g
      GH1618 RE: Robert Lauriston Dec 15, 2012 12:51 PM

      "Standard"? Can you give me the ANSI number for that?

      Of all the criticism levelled against the new design, this one is the least substantive. The owners of this site can use any term they prefer for this function, and in my opinion the term they have chosen is a perfectly good one, consistent with the ordinary meaning of the term. Whether it is used similarly on other sites is of no importance at all. Nobody who is clever enough to use a computer of any kind will be puzzled by this for long.

      1 Reply
      1. re: GH1618
        Robert Lauriston RE: GH1618 Dec 15, 2012 01:20 PM

        They've been called boards for 15 years. 70,000 of the site's topics include the phrase "this board." 8,000 topics contain "SF Bay Area board." Zero contain "SF Bay Area category." They're called boards in the URLs and HTML source. When moderators move posts from one board to another they add "moved / split from ______ board" to the new topic's title.

        Switching to "category" is ridiculous.

      2. carolinadawg RE: Robert Lauriston Dec 15, 2012 03:01 PM

        As always, context is crucial. In this context, "categories" is nonsensical.

        15 Replies
        1. re: carolinadawg
          Servorg RE: carolinadawg Dec 15, 2012 03:50 PM

          Since the boards are loosely grouped or categorized I still have trouble seeing what is so problematic with using the term.

          1. re: Servorg
            carolinadawg RE: Servorg Dec 15, 2012 03:57 PM

            There's nothing "loose" about "Manhattan", "Philadelphia", etc.

            1. re: carolinadawg
              Servorg RE: carolinadawg Dec 15, 2012 04:21 PM

              Sure there is. Each one is a subset or "category" of a larger surrounding area.

              1. re: Servorg
                carolinadawg RE: Servorg Dec 15, 2012 04:26 PM

                The word "subset" implies greater specificity, which is the opposite of "loose". In any event, Manhattan, like Philadelphia, refers to a very specific place. As Ruth Lafler points out below, it makes no sense to refer to a specific place as a "category".

                1. re: carolinadawg
                  Servorg RE: carolinadawg Dec 15, 2012 04:34 PM

                  The category is restaurants in major metropolitan areas (for example) in the NE United States with populations over 5 million. One such city that would fall into that category is Philadelphia.

                  While CH doesn't define it's boards that way, it is simply using other parameters to set out those areas it lists as part of its local or regional boards.

                  I see nothing nonsensical in calling them categories. Just because that is not a word that is generally applied doesn't mean it's not a word that can't be applied.

                  1. re: Servorg
                    carolinadawg RE: Servorg Dec 15, 2012 04:40 PM

                    "The category is restaurants in major metropolitan areas (for example) in the NE United States with populations over 5 million. One such city that would fall into that category is Philadelphia."

                    No, the "category", as CH is using it, is very specifically Philadelphia. Its not one of many possible cities (which would be a category). It is, in fact, one very specific city. You are attempting to redefine the "category" in order to make it fit your definition.

                    In any event, this is growing tedious, so I think it best if agree to disagree, as they say.

                    1. re: carolinadawg
                      Servorg RE: carolinadawg Dec 15, 2012 04:45 PM

                      Even though Philadelphia is a specific city I feel sure in saying that CH undoubtedly categorizes the boundaries in a totally different way than a standard map would since it also includes New Jersey suburbs. Then you have "categories" like "Mountain States" and "Great Plains" and "Southern New England" (among many others) which aren't cities or states, but rather categories created for this site.

            2. re: Servorg
              Ruth Lafler RE: Servorg Dec 15, 2012 04:07 PM

              Groups of boards can be a catagories, but the individual boards are not catagories in any meaningful sense of the word. "My saved categories" makes no sense at all, since what are being saved are individual boards, not categories of boards. "Topical" is a category; "San Francisco" is not. Furthermore, it's just an example of "fixing" something that wasn't broken to begin with.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler
                Servorg RE: Ruth Lafler Dec 15, 2012 04:22 PM

                Each one is a category or subset of their larger surrounding area (since they don't cover beyond the categorized region that is assigned to them by the P-t-B).

                1. re: Servorg
                  Ruth Lafler RE: Servorg Dec 15, 2012 05:21 PM

                  Well, sure, you can twist the word to mean anything you want -- but if you have to explain it, then it's not an effective word. The point being -- they had a perfectly good, specific, word that didn't have to be explained, and that everyone was used to, and they changed it for no apparent reason and for no observable benefit.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler
                    Servorg RE: Ruth Lafler Dec 15, 2012 05:45 PM

                    Hi Ruth. As I explained above, my thinking is that CH created these boards using their own criteria. Many of them aren't found anywhere else. So these can very well be seen as categories, ones that CH made up and is using only here. So I don't really think I'm twisting the word to mean something that it's not. But YM Can (and obviously does) Vary. I look at it in the old Chick Hearn "no harm, no foul" manner.

                    1. re: Servorg
                      Robert Lauriston RE: Servorg Dec 16, 2012 11:36 AM

                      The CBS employees who run this site have nothing to do with how it was created and evolved.

                      Jim Leff and Bob Okumura created Chowhound in 1997. CNET didn't buy it until 2006, and CBS Interactive bought CNET in 2008. Longtime posters have more invested in the site than CBS employees. Reportedly Jim Leff imposed some restrictions on advertising on Chowhound, which may explain why CBS's main goal for the site often seems to be to use it to promote Chow and other CBS content.

                2. re: Ruth Lafler
                  Ruth Lafler RE: Ruth Lafler Dec 15, 2012 05:23 PM

                  Plus, they have tabs for things that clearly ARE categories, but are not identified as such, i.e. "videos," "blogs" and "recipes."

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler
                    grampart RE: Ruth Lafler Dec 15, 2012 05:43 PM

                    "It's crackers to slip a rozzer the dropsy in snide".

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler
                      LindaWhit RE: Ruth Lafler Dec 20, 2012 01:44 PM

                      I agree.

                      Categories, to me, implies a group of other *specific* boards that fit into that category. Meaning there will be several individual boards that fit under that category - i.e., New England, which has Greater Boston, Southern New England, and Northern New England - all *individual* boards.

                3. j
                  John Francis RE: Robert Lauriston Dec 16, 2012 08:54 PM

                  "Boards" is geek speak, short for bulletin boards, which is what online forums used to be called back in the '80s. But they're hardly ever called bulletin boards or BBSes now. Old-line geeks like me have been way outnumbered by non-techie folks, and "boards" is just a relic.

                  There's absolutely nothing wrong with calling "boards" by another name. And I have no problem with "categories," which is quite clear. "Forums" is more common, perhaps, but less explicit.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: John Francis
                    Ruth Lafler RE: John Francis Dec 19, 2012 01:54 PM

                    "Categories" is not clear, IMHO. A category could be anything. As I noted before, "videos," "blogs" and "recipes" are all examples of categories that are listed on the same bar as "my saved categories." That's proof that the word "category" is being used to mean a specific type of category that's undefined in its context: you wouldn't know that specific meaning is unless it's explained to you or you already have experience using the site. It fails the basic test of a word by not communicating its meaning without additional information.

                    And as you noted, "categories" is not only unspecific, it's not one of the words traditionally used to denote this specific type of category, i.e. "message board," "discussion board" or "forum." I don't see any benefit to abandoning a specific term for one that is vague, at best. People who are smart enough to learn a new usage of the word "category" are smart enough to learn the term "board" or "forum."

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler
                      Servorg RE: Ruth Lafler Dec 19, 2012 02:11 PM

                      But to what good end, Ruth. Are you of the belief that using the term category rather than board or forum is driving away potential posters? One quickly gets the lay of the land here after hanging around a bit and lurking to see how and what folks post what they do on the various boards/categories/forums. Perhaps some of the charm here is the quirky nature of our community and its "categories"?

                      1. re: Servorg
                        Ruth Lafler RE: Servorg Dec 19, 2012 02:26 PM

                        I personally don't believe in change for change's sake. To what end the change? That's time and energy that could have been spent on some of the functional problems with the redesign!

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler
                          carolinadawg RE: Ruth Lafler Dec 19, 2012 03:33 PM

                          Absolutely correct, not to mention that clarity is it's own end. There's nothing fun or quirky about confusion.

                          1. re: Ruth Lafler
                            Breadcrumbs RE: Ruth Lafler Dec 19, 2012 04:57 PM

                            FWIW, I believe that "My Boards" was far clearer in terms of describing the items I've saved to my profile. "My Categories" could be anything. While I have found myself saying, "I contribute to "x" boards or threads" (on Chowhound or elsewhere), I can't think of an instance where I'd say oh...by the way, I contribute to these categories"

                            Is this my biggest issue w the re-design? Absolutely not.

                            Do I have any idea why this change was made? Absolutely not. And I think that's the problem.

                            Change is never easy and good change managers engage stakeholders by explaining what problem they are trying to solve in making the change.

                            I believe what folks have been saying, on this thread and others in Site Talk is....help us understand why you've felt it necessary to do thus or so...we just don't get it.

                        2. re: Ruth Lafler
                          John Francis RE: Ruth Lafler Dec 20, 2012 02:55 AM

                          I'll say only that if the aim is to make Chowhound more inviting to new members, including those who are not into computers and don't know the jargon or care to learn it, the meaning of "category" is clearer, more meaningful than "board." "Forum" would be even clearer, but hey, I'm not making the decisions around here. :-)

                          If we don't care about attracting new members and just want to go on talking among ourselves, then of course no change of any kind is ever necessary.

                          1. re: John Francis
                            carolinadawg RE: John Francis Dec 20, 2012 05:48 AM

                            Category isn't clearer and more meaningful than board, by a long shot, imo.

                      2. Dave MP RE: Robert Lauriston Jun 14, 2013 02:37 PM

                        As of yesterday, we have made a switch back to using the word "Board" instead of "Category" on Chowhound. Thanks to everyone who provided thoughtful feedback about this over the past few months.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: Dave MP
                          foodieX2 RE: Dave MP Jun 14, 2013 02:47 PM

                          Woot! thank you!

                          1. re: Dave MP
                            Servorg RE: Dave MP Jun 14, 2013 03:02 PM

                            Is there any chance that, instead of changing the word "Board" to "Category" and then back to "Board" the Engineering Team might actually recreate and then relaunch a new (and hopefully improved) CH Site Restaurant Information/Web Site and Mapping database tool sometime this century?

                            1. re: Dave MP
                              Breadcrumbs RE: Dave MP Jun 14, 2013 04:43 PM

                              That is great news. Thank-you.

                              1. re: Dave MP
                                jen kalb RE: Dave MP Jun 14, 2013 05:38 PM

                                thank you

                                1. re: Dave MP
                                  Ruth Lafler RE: Dave MP Jun 15, 2013 12:28 AM

                                  Thank you!

                                  1. re: Dave MP
                                    Melanie Wong RE: Dave MP Jun 15, 2013 01:48 AM

                                    So happy to hear this! Thank you. And now I don't need to write and fire off the essay that's been kicking around in my head for months on why you need to do this.

                                    1. re: Dave MP
                                      LindaWhit RE: Dave MP Jun 15, 2013 04:53 AM


                                      1. re: Dave MP
                                        JoanN RE: Dave MP Jun 19, 2013 08:32 AM

                                        Glad to hear this. Such a foolish change in the first place. Sounded to me like the recommendation of some high-priced marketing consultant who’s advice had to be followed because s/he cost a bundle. Gotta say, there have been some other changes here that struck me as originating from the same source. At least the most objectionable of them get cleaned up eventually.

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