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Question regarding a Chow board policy.....comments/opinions please.....

There was a topic about an Italian deli on my local board which there were several posts on. The OP was asking some questions about the place and I posted my honest experience with the place which consisted of my getting a pre-packaged to go salad from there and upon opening it in my office finding a dead fly in it. My post was pulled and I'm copy pasting the reason chow gave me below:

"We don't allow reports of bugs, cooties, foreign objects found in food, etc., on Chowhound. Here's why: food, service, and ambiance are things anyone can opine on, and in time a consensus emerges. But while different chowhounds can balance each other's opinions - pro and con - for a restaurant's pasta or chocolate cake, once someone reports a bug, cootie, or foreign object, that warps the gravity of the discussion. It can never be balanced. And while we trust your sincerity, many people who report such things do so out of a motivation to smear a place."

While I can completely understand if I went on a tangent about the place being filthy blah blah blah and completely tearing it a part....OR.....if under my profile this was my only post/review about a place there is reason to be suspect of the post. But I for one DO want to know if people are finding, bug, fly's, ant's or dare I say roaches. In my opinion insect infestation or something of the like is very common in the industry and should be shared within the community here. (I understand a dead fly in a salad is NOT a sign of infestation.

My question in short is why would Chow have such a policy against allowing posts like this? It seems to be a valid point. If not being exaggerated or posted by a newbie in an obvious attempt to smear a place.

Your thoughts?

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  1. This is a private site and they can censor you in any way they see fit (and do). You can post about dead flies on Yelp, though.

    1 Reply
    1. re: olyolyy

      I'm not trying to start an uprising against the Mod's I understand they can do what they want and I respect that completely.

      Just in my opinion that is something I would find of interest to hear about in a review. I've never looked on Yelp to know much about it.

    2. I think the explanation given makes sense, when applied to isolated incidents. However, they once seem to have applied the policy to the case of food business which was in the mainstream press for having been closed due to rodent infestation. My opinion is that if it's in the newspapers, it should be postable in the "food media and news" forum, but it's their call — they can moderate the forums anyway they please.

      By the way, cockroaches are not particularly dirty. They are not a vector for human disease, just creepy.

      6 Replies
      1. re: GH1618

        Yes, they are vectors for disease and allergy:


        "Disease-producing organisms such as bacteria, protozoa, and viruses have been found in cockroach bodies. Different forms of gastroenteritis (food poisoning, dysentery, diarrhea, etc.) appear to be the principal diseases transmitted by these cockroaches. These disease-causing organisms are carried on the legs and bodies of cockroaches, and are deposited on food and utensils as cockroaches forage. Cockroach excrement and cast skins also contain a number of allergens, to which many people exhibit allergic responses such as skin rashes, watery eyes, congestion of nasal passages, asthma, and sneezing."

        1. re: mcf

          Ok, I'll buy that. Thanks for the link

          1. re: mcf

            I'll tell you what.....I'll agree with everyone they are creepy and disgusting!!

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                No, not the cockroach in Wall-E...adorable :) I do believe that is the first time I have ever wanted to cuddle a cockroach!

          2. re: GH1618

            I agree that anything such as a violation should be postable, It's not my site, however.

          3. "My question in short is why would Chow have such a policy against allowing posts like this?"

            Because once you open the door to one exception you have a downhill slide to the bottom of the abyss (in other words you have Yelp)...And do the moderators really want to take up more of their time instead of looking out for shilling and other in your face crapola trying to "split hairs" over which bug report is allowable and which isn't? I don't think so.

            1. As the rest of the email we sent to you said:

              We don't want to leave anyone with the perception that they'll get an accurate gauge of possible safety issues by reading Chowhound. When it comes to food safety issues, it's absolutely imperative that information be accurate, complete and up-to-date, and the the hit-and-miss reporting on Chowhound is none of those things. So if someone has reason to suspect a restaurant is unsafe, it's best that they report it to proper authorities, who can do something about it, not to Chowhound.com. Health authorities have power to investigate, authenticate and solve problems. Our site is not an appropriate venue for dealing with such urgent and serious issues.

              4 Replies
              1. re: The Chowhound Team

                Yes you are correct I wasn't trying to be selective in my copy pasting my primary question is regarding insects/cooties (I love the fact you actually used that word) that's all.

                As I said....it just surprised me because incidents of roach sightings etc. is of great interest to me when reading a review. To me it's just an overall cleanliness issue.

                But again I by no means were trying to taint my post by not including your entire email. As well as I'm not trying to be critical of the moderators/ing of the site.

                1. re: jrvedivici

                  You weren't trying to be selective but yet ... you were.

                  Fly-in-my-soup incidents like this can happen at any time to almost any place. No need that it should live on forever in one particular post about one specific place.

                  1. re: scoopG

                    Your not trying to call me out....but you just did. :-)

                2. re: The Chowhound Team

                  The one time i found water bug parts in my food, the first thing i did was get on the phone to the health dept. they were very responsive.

                3. I think, as the mods have often stated in my time reading here, that this issue is not a comment on your individual attitudes or behavior when posting about it.

                  It's about what they think is appropriate information for posting here; the policy against making sanitation claims and comments has been the most consistently applied of all, IME.

                  1. I understand where you are coming, but it is also chowhound policy to not "touch" any of these accusations. I know it is important to know if the foods from a restaurants are clean and safe. In fact, these are more important than anything else, more important than view, atmosphere, even taste. However, it is exactly because these are too important that chowhound decide not be a medium for these accusations.

                    It isn't so much what you wrote was untrue or not related to food. Free speech in fact is not free at all -- you may have heard of that. Imagine you post your food poisoning experience or insect experience on chowhound, and this restaurant go bankrupt. Who is responsible for this spread of news? It won't be you actually. It would be chowhound.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      What a completely baseless statement. If that is the case why does yelp allow people to post about insects or food poisoning?

                      1. re: olyolyy

                        Yelp also permits restaurant and food business owners to make their own comments and communicate directly to Yelp posters thru the site.

                        There are dozens and dozens of social networks and forums discussing and reviewing their experiences with restaurant bathrooms to flaws in published cookbooks.

                        So, the allowable discussion policy on Chowhound is specific to this site. Fair to say, Chowhound takes a different stance on such concerns.

                        1. re: olyolyy

                          What did I say which makes it baseless?

                          I know what Yelp does. Chowhound simply takes a different stance of no liability. There is nothing baseless about what I wrote. If you don't believe me, then maybe you should look up Chowhound policy. The argument of "He does it" is childish. This is what little kids do. We are adults. Children say things like "Well, Jimmy throw stones at squirrels" It does not matter what Jimmy does. It is about what we do. Chowhound has made it very clean that it is not a site for food safety reports. We don't want or need this responsibility.

                      2. I don't think they're being honest about their motivation to remove bug or rodent posts.

                        And it's really patronizing to assume that you can't tell the difference between a sincere eyewitness report and a "smear".

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: knucklesandwich

                          What do you think the true reason is?

                          1. re: knucklesandwich

                            <I don't think they're being honest about their motivation to remove bug or rodent posts.>

                            Probably not the entire truth, but doubtfully any untruthfulness.

                            <And it's really patronizing to assume that you can't tell the difference between a sincere eyewitness report and a "smear".>

                            I for one can say it is sometime very difficult to tell a smear from a sincere eyewitness. In fact a swear can come from a truthful eyewitness.

                          2. Legal consideration as well! Chowhound can be sued for 'defamation'!!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Charles Yu

                              Whoa, first of all defamation laws vary state to state.

                              And, keep in mind if the posts are comments of opinion ("it was the worst meal ever") then it's not defamatory, rather it's a statement of opinion. Chowhound exists to state our opinion on food experiences and food-related topics.

                              CHOW/CH policy was decided with or without the boundries of potential defamation laws across the globe and I respect their right to decide that and to make life easier but if you're going to throw legal jargon around...at least understand the complexity of such laws.

                            2. if one is truly curious, usually the local health department has a listing of these violations, in DC the WaPo does an abridged weekly round-up in the food section. more papers should.

                              I have to agree with CH's policy, a source like that is far more valid and reliable. Managers, owners, kitchen staff (and equipment), even locations change but sometimes the name doesn't.

                              12 Replies
                              1. re: hill food

                                It's presumptuous to assume your fellow site users are so impressionable that they cannot even be exposed to posts about bugs and rodents.

                                1. re: knucklesandwich

                                  true, we don't need nannies, but how often have we seen 10 year old threads revived and responded to as if they were started last week? some people just don't look at the posting date and that's not fair if it regards an incident that occurred 6 years ago. chances are nobody involved still works there and the place might not even be open anymore.

                                  1. re: hill food

                                    Are you complaining about something that actually happened to you? Is this an anecdotal argument?

                                    1. re: hill food

                                      I started a thread similar to this about locking or blocking outdated posts. I can't stand when I see a post on my local board like "Need a great Italian place near Edison for a romantic dinner for this Saturday" and it's on the top of the page so I read it.....and a poster makes a suggestion like "Oh try Lou Cas on Rt. 27!!!"......then you look and the OP was from 2008 !!! Hahahahah my pet peeve.

                                      My idea was not well received though when I created the topic.

                                      1. re: jrvedivici

                                        It's just that an updated thread, even one updated by accident, is still helpful to others. And in any case the OP isn't the one we really reply for in the long run. It's for all the other folks who will come to that thread over the months and even years following who can benefit from it, or add something new to it that can benefit us.

                                        1. re: Servorg

                                          Yes, thank you for reiterating what most everyone else on the thread I started had to say! lol......

                                          1. re: jrvedivici

                                            Again, not only replying to you, but to all the others who will see this thread and get the reason behind leaving old threads intact and not locked.

                                            1. re: Servorg

                                              I'm on the fence about locking old threads because if keeping threads unlocked was working as well as we all wanted you wouldn't need to repeat yourself be it CH policy or OP's asked and answered board-wide. Many of the same questions are asked month to month and year to year but starting a new OP/thread discussion seems to be more popular and more natural. And, when an older thread is bumped back into the current mix the tendency seems to be to link old & new OP's of a similar if not exact discourse to the bumped topic.

                                              Is that search engine frustration, laziness or the enjoyment of creating a new OP...

                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                Just like with repetitive posts on the same places, over and over again on the more "touristy" destination boards (like LA where I live and post), I will sometimes see a new recommendation by someone that I've never seen before. Being a big fan of serendipity I'll never be in favor of locking old threads.

                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                  Completely agree, I did mean all boards have repeats of some sort or another.

                                              2. re: Servorg

                                                I know I'm just teasing you a bit, sorry if it came across any other way than that.

                                  2. Over on our local board today several posts were deleted. I didn't interpret them as too defamatory or out of line. I get that the mods can delete what they deem inappropriate but it would nice if there were more transparency as to why some posts are deleted so that the community could get on the same page.

                                    I think there is a place for negative posts. I would sooner trust the OP's negative comments on cooties, flies etc as he is a trusted member and not a one time poster with an ax to grind.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: angelo04

                                      ehh ostensibly (as I've read it) the point of the bulk of the site to is to mention superlatives, not negatives. every place has an off-day (or month), sometimes nearby construction has an effect on the vermin population in all the surrounding buildings, maybe the supplier crapped out that morning, new staff, etc.

                                      I'd rather hear 'DO go here!' than 'DON'T for all that's good and sacred!'. Whether here or through other sources it's so much easier to find out a great place has slid than to hear if a dump has pulled their act together.