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Dec 15, 2012 11:43 AM

Why "categories" instead of "boards"?

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. 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

      "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

        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 least to me.

    2. "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

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

        15 Replies
        1. re: carolinadawg

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

          1. re: Servorg

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

            1. re: carolinadawg

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

              1. re: Servorg

                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

                  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

                    "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

                      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

              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

                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

                  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

                    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

                      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

                  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

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

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      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. "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

                    "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

                      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

                        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

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

                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                            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 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 us understand why you've felt it necessary to do thus or so...we just don't get it.

                        2. re: Ruth Lafler

                          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

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

                      2. 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

                            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

                                    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

                                        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.