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Feb 28, 2013 07:30 AM

COTM - New Approach Incredibly Frustrating and Not User-Focussed - Feels Like COTM is Not A Priority Feature For Chow

Please restore the old "Sticky" approach.

This new method is a pain and, not effective.

Today I'm looking for the March COTM announcement thread. Previously there would be a sticky. Today I'm on a search mission and I'm fed up of looking.

I clicked on the light blue text on the Home Cooking Thread (why the COTM has to share a link w the DOTM has not been explained and, just makes the user experience more frustrating)

After expanding all the posts just to be sure I'm not missing anything, I only find a link to the March Nomination thread. Yet the Voting has taken place, and the winner has been announced.

It shouldn't be this difficult to participate in something that adds value to the Chow/Chowhound experience.

There have been numerous posts on this board and, in Home Cooking yet nothing has changed.

If those of us who know what we're looking for can't find what we need to participate, how are we to expect new members to join along.

Please address our concerns.

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  1. It's exactly ONE MONTH since Dave MP told us "they" were working on some sort of change that suggested it was for the COTM.. Nothing has happened since.

    COTM is THREE clicks away... and the dang blue font is practically invisible. Phooey!

    1. In the sticky system, coordinators were asked to create the threads and then let us know and we would sticky them. In the new system, they're asked to create the threads and then make a brief post in the link thread. It wasn't expected to be a significantly harder process for them, and it meant they didn't need to wait for us to keep the stickies updated, so we hope they'll do that.

      If they're not doing that on a timely basis, someone can flag the thread and ask us to make the post on their behalf, but we don't keep regular tabs on the of-the-month projects so without that, we don't necessarily know it needs to be done.

      5 Replies
      1. re: The Chowhound Team

        Sorry you misunderstood my post. My concern isn't with the Coordinators who are volunteers and for whom those of us who participate are eternally grateful.

        My concern is with the new system which is more cumbersome and, far less effective than its predecessor. As Gio points out, one month ago we were advised a solution was forthcoming.

        We definitely look forward to it and would appreciate an ETA.

        1. re: Breadcrumbs

          I apologize for the Team Post, which I actually wrote. Rereading it, it does blame the coordinators for not updating, and I really don't want to blame the coordinators -- they do what they do as a labour of love and I know everyone is grateful for it.

          If we've made it harder for them to do that, that's our fault, not theirs.

          We can try to find a better solution to the workflow so that things are easier to update -- perhaps they could just flag things and moderators could make the posts on their behalf, which would be a similar process for them as it was before.

          The problem with the old scenario with a wide assortment of Of-the-Month stickies was that newcomers and users who weren't participating in those projects were always greeted with nothing but a screen full of of-the-month related stickies when they opened Home Cooking and had to scroll down to see anything else. That made things easy if you were interested in those threads but unfortunately uninviting if you weren't. This was true on other boards with a number of stickies, as well, hence the design change aiming to make stickies available while not making them the whole first impression of a board.

          Given the software change, just stickying the Home Cooking threads no longer made sense. In talking about what to do, we settled on the approach of a single, go-to thread that wouldn't contain any of the back-and-forth conversation, just announcements and links to the actual discussion threads. My hope was that it would be easy for of-the-month participants to find, as well as easy for non-participants to skip.

          I do understand that it isn't working out as well as I'd hoped. Unfortunately, with the software as it is right now, I think it's still the best option. If we went back to stickying the actual nomination/voting/discussion threads, they would appear above the discussions in blue text, without the details you see on a regular thread. My sense is that most people would then find it harder to follow when those discussions had new things for them to read than it is with the discussions floating freely.

          1. re: Jacquilynne

            Thank-you for your post Jacquilynne, some context is always helpful.

            I hope others will weigh in with ideas or suggestions. Having read through your interests, and considering those of COTM participants I'll throw out a couple of ideas:

            - as an interim step, separate the COTM and DOTM items
            - add a "NEWS" QuickLink and whatever scheduled COTM event that was taking place at the time would automatically appear there and, disappear when the even is over. ETA: Use RED font for News Items to differentiate them from blue, standing Quick Links
            - or, create a new Board for Home Cooking Events that would include COTM, DOTM and maybe something new like a Home Baking Event of The Month...

            1. re: Breadcrumbs

              We could do the first easily enough, but is the fact that the two are comingled actually adding to the problem? We try to keep the outdated posts deleted so the thread is super-short.

              The second would require software changes, so not something we can do immediately, but it's something for our Product team to include in the discussions about how to change the function. Thank you for the suggestion.

              On the last point, we got very close to adding a board that we were going to call Collaborative Cooking to host these kinds of projects. And by very close I mean we were probably hours, maybe only minutes away from actually doing it. But then we changed our minds, because it was such a huge risk.

              The feeling was that these projects work because they are part of Home Cooking, and drawing on Home Cooking's wide membership. Our great fear is that if we move them to a separate board, the audience for them will dwindle over time, rather than being re-energized by new people seeing the discussions and getting involved. They also wouldn't end up being included in search results for someone who was searching Home Cooking for info.

            2. re: Jacquilynne

              this is a problem of information. Most people (I suspect) coming to the board dont even know to look at the stickies if they are unchanging and generic. they are a snooze and ignored on most boards. changing stickies do draw attention.

              I realize you are all focussed on mobile access now but I suspect most readers are still on desktops and can see more than the stickies.

              Maybe if there was one sticky for COTM and one for DOTM and the subject line changed frequently it would be more useful i.e Feb COTM Hamersley Bistro Cuisine, March COTM Nominations open. Then if there were underlying LINKS rather requiring the reader to scroll ways down to REPLIES it would be a lot more usable. As I found out, it is easy to miss that there are links, not just discussion, in the replies. And if you are concerned about folks having to scroll for content, this is that problem, in spades.

              Having been through the experience twice now of missing the nomination and phase for a COTM because it was not in front of my eyes, I know this is a problem. COTMs are stickied precisely because they are continuing, draw massive participation and are not ephemeral. Having a structure that does not draw in newbies or anyone else is silly and counterproductive.

        2. Someone must be finding it. March COTM already has 55 posts, and it is not even March.

          1. I hope while decisions to make these monthly threads more accessible is being discussed you'll keep these ideas in mind when the new project, Cheese of the Month launches.

            For posters who use the save feature to add a thread to their personal profile, keeping a personal archive is easy but older posts are a bit out of sight, out of mind for current members and probably a total stumble upon for new.

            I wasn't aware that having Sticky topics was such a turn off for the reason stated. I found them incredibly useful.

            2 Replies
            1. re: HillJ

              On mobile devices it was all one saw on the screen which I think was confusing for people making their first visit. I just scrolled as needed, but I knew there was more content.

              1. re: MplsM ary

                I don't enjoy 99% of the websites out there on a mobile device smaller than say a large tablet. Way too much scrolling and enlarging required.