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For those of us who use Chowhound for real research in a new city, THIS NEEDS TO BE IMPLEMENTED

When I visit a new city, I always head first to Chowhound.

But, when I visit a new local board, I don't know the reputations of the posters or how well their opinions mesh with mine. In these cases, I collect aggregate data, in order to try to get a pulse on the local Chowhound cognoscenti.

In other words, I basically do the scan-and-tally system. I look for repeated mentions of a restaurant, and if it comes up often enough, I take notice. The idea is that I'm using the collective Chowhound brain to make decisions, rather than rely on individual strangers' opinions.

So I continue to scan more and more posts, and when I see multiple mentions of a place, I'll jot it down in my notes. I'll then look deeper, to find recommended dishes. I'll do this for perhaps 5, 10, sometimes fifteen places, depending on where and how long I'll be staying.

But here's the problem. That's a really messy system. I'm basically counting on anonymous Chowhounds vouching for other anonymous Chowhounds, with no really efficient way to track what I've been reading. By the time I've sifted through hundreds of posts, I may have missed that that those 6 recommendations I've seen for "Le Grand Petit Choux" are all from the same poster. Or, the seconded recommendation came from someone that raved about grilled roadkill in another post that I brushed off.

It occurred to me that it would be an incredibly useful thing to have a Chowhound personal (and searchable) "researchpad" for just such an occasion. In other words, when I'm searching for Chinese food in Flushing, I could open a new researchpad (which would be saved to my profile) titled "Upcoming trip, Dec 10, 2013, Flushing Chinese". To use it, I'd find a post that interests me, let's say it's from "POSTERGUY11". So, first I click on his name, which would transfer immediately to the researchpad (perhaps a vertical whitepad column in the right) along with the time and date of his original post. I would then then click-and-drag text within his post, which would instantly transfer over to my researchpad.

When I find another interesting post on Flushing Chinese, let's say it's from CHINESEYUM66, I click on his name, click and drag the relevant lines from his post, which would transfer instantly to a new entry under his name in my researchpad.

But here's the important part. If I ever unknowingly circled back to some new comments from POSTERGUY11 (without realizing or remembering it was him), a new line will be automatically entered under his main researchpad entry (again, date and time stamped so that I can see how often he posts, and how his opinions have changed over the years-- that can be really important too). This way, I can now see at-a-glance that he actually recommended "Eggrolls-A-Gogo", 5 out of the 6 times I saw it mentioned on Chowhound.

These researchpad entries should be archived for return trips (every time I go to Vegas, for example, I have to re-research the dishes I liked at Lotus of Siam. I would LOVE to have a Vegas researchpad that I can go back to without having to redo the work every time). You should provide the option of making them sharable.

This would be an insanely useful upgrade for traveling Chowhounds like me, who do our due diligence, and will make the volumes of data here that much more manageable to work with.

Mr Taster

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  1. That's a lot to ask for free. It's like the restaurant equivalent of Angie's List, which is available to paid subscribers.

    1. Wow. Just wow. I don't put 1/100th of the effort @Mr Taster does into my research. I'm either a real slacker or @Mr Taster is an over achiever.

      1. Wow! I thought I was asking a lot that CHs say the last time they ate at a recommended (or not) place :) What's the old saw? If wishes were horses, beggars would ride. Maybe CH will hire you to implement that. Great ideas.

        1. That's a pretty ambitious request for CH. You probably need to use another program that will help you save and organize links and cut and paste text.

          Evernote, is available free (at least a sample version, that I know of) and works across computers and smart phones. If you are Microsoft Office user OneNote is kind of the same idea.

          You save your links, notes, photos, etc. and organize them however you want.

          1 Reply
          1. re: pamf

            I use Evernote & even Evernote Food and they both work out well for saving anything on this site.

          2. I would also like Chowhound to give out the weekly winning Powerball numbers to the most active poster.

            3 Replies
              1. re: ipsedixit

                For anyone who wants next weeks Powerball winning numbers, I'll mail them out. Please send $5 for postage and handling in advance. I also have a great deal in Nigeria to offer.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  I get mine from a fortune cookie :-D

                2. I'm wondering why Mr Taster didn't apply for the Web D job posted for a few weeks on CH!

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: HillJ

                    If this idea goes forward there will be a new opening for someone in the field of multivariate regression analysis. Maybe one of those stat guru's from the Obama campaign is looking for a new gig?

                    1. re: Servorg

                      Still won't satisfy the masses..besides, I like ipsedixit's suggestion better.

                      1. re: HillJ

                        No problem giving out the winning numbers...available on the net every week and in your local newspaper. Oh, you don't mean after the drawing? ;-D>

                        1. re: Servorg

                          Oh, I was hoping for a new game: Powerball for Chowhounds!

                            1. re: HillJ

                              Porto's in Glendale or Burbank offers Potato Balls? Will that do? (at least everyone is going to be a winner)

                              1. re: Servorg

                                At least Porto's understands how to keep customers happy standing in waiting LINES!

                    2. C'mon Mr Taster - this is just a pen name - you're Rube Goldberg. 130 years young and still ticking - in a very complex and humorous way I'm sure.

                      18 Replies
                      1. re: bulavinaka

                        I must say, I'm a bit surprised by reactions.

                        You'd think I'd just made a request that moderators verify all posts for veracity before publishing.

                        I outlined my ideal system, but I'd take a variation on it. Implementing a notepad feature is not an impossible feat, and would add immeasurable usefulness to the site. Or would you prefer the engineers continue to focus their time in doing things that don't really matter, like rearranging menus?

                        Mr Taster

                        1. re: Mr Taster

                          It wouldn't have come as a surprise if you'd had the "Chowhound personal (and searchable) "researchpad" (CpasRP™ sometimes abbreviated as CRP) at your disposal because you could have easily found that those responding to this thread are; a) a bunch of inveterate jokers and b) are just grateful to have any version of CH around to stumble, bumble and rumble through.

                            1. re: Servorg

                              +1. Oops - I mean I totally agree with your assessment. Just ribbing Mr Taster as Site Talk seems to encourage (rather than delete) roasting of the humorous kind!

                            2. re: Mr Taster

                              It's not your idea I'm knocking, Mr T. It's recalling the number of times I've read responses from the Engineering or CH Team simply stating the size of their staff & budget placed against the bucket list of suggestions and action items they'd like to tackle.

                              I have no idea what the back room deals with in a given week, but I've been left with nothing but the impression that there isn't enough money or hands working the ropes.

                              1. re: HillJ

                                Ah, the anguish that results from growing pains...

                                1. re: Veggo

                                  Thank goodness I have a nice brie to calm my nerves :)

                                  1. re: Veggo

                                    Although the size of the new product review budget has me scratching my head.

                                        1. re: Veggo

                                          Lice wouldn't have a chance in a head of hair like that.

                                          1. re: bulavinaka

                                            HillJ's avatar bears a strong resemblance to an agave pina. Might be a comfortable place for a mezcal worm to burrow in and raise a family.

                                    1. re: HillJ

                                      It took years to correct the description of the old "tristate' board to say "southWESTERN connecticut" instead of "southEASTERN" :)

                                    2. re: Mr Taster

                                      Oh, lord, if ONLY they could verify "veracity."

                                      1. re: Mr Taster

                                        mr taster- i LOVE your idea, for i travel often& try to " glean" the information , like you. .. i have been reading CH for close to 8 years and would like that option of seeing the multiple recc/ from same poster, as a " repeat" note.
                                        hope this comes to CH

                                    3. Ah, timing. I'm a long-time poster here on CH (mostly in NJ) and in the last couple of days, I've had a few friends and acquaintances texting or emailing me for restaurant recs in various parts of NJ. After I sent a short list of my favorites in one area (with urls, of course), the recipient commented that I should start a business with this b/c it's more reliable that Yelp or Zagat.
                                      My response was that when *I'm* traveling to a new area, I spend a bit of time doing the research, which generally involves a lot of CH reading--and I've done this for colleagues, friends, and family members when they're heading out of town on business/vacation/honeymoons, etc. When I read about a place over and over again on CH, I check out the restaurant's website, and I'm generally pretty good at getting a vibe and choosing from those 'regular' recommendations. MY feeling is that anyone could do this and on CH, regular users know they can click on a poster's name and see if they've posted in one thread or hundreds over a long period of time.
                                      Mr. Taster sounds like a smart guy when it comes to technology, but I suspect that unless he gets hired to create this product for CH, we're going to have to stick to the old-fashioned methods!

                                      1. Thanks for posting this Mr Taster.

                                        I think these ideas are definitely interesting, and I think you explained them well.

                                        Always helpful to hear what people are interested in seeing on Chowhound and how the site could improve the user experience, so while I can make no guarantees that we will decide to build out features that are requested, we certainly always read the ideas and think about them.

                                        So thanks!

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: Dave MP

                                          Dave MP,

                                          At the core of my lengthy post is simply a request for an integrated method of organizing and saving researched data, with certain checks to ensure that repeated endorsements for a particular restaurant are not coming from the same person.

                                          Thanks for letting me know that you've read this.

                                          Mr Taster

                                          1. re: Mr Taster

                                            This sounds like something that would work better as an app which interfaces with the Chowhound database and saves all your annotations and such locally. A few years ago I created a similar application using Microsoft Access which would periodically open a transparent IE window and navigate to a certain online forum to perform a search for specified terms. It would then screenscrape and parse the results and insert the data into the Access database. After the data collection phase it would execute an analytics module to run calculations and create a report.

                                            It seems I had a lot of time on my hands back then.

                                            1. re: pixelcat

                                              Yoowhoooooo, CH, I think you may want to consult with this person :)

                                        2. I think this would either be very difficult to do [like you will probably have to discount old reviews at a different rate on different boards] or would most likely suffer from garbage in/garbage out.

                                          I would personally settle for just a sane way to PRINT threads ... for example some people have done nice "Best Of" lists for their home territories. Or am I missing something?

                                          The best travel advice I've received here was by engaging in an active dialog rather than "scraping" [although i have done that too] ... I think if you are specific and signal that your have done your research, you get pretty good answers.

                                          And of course there is the cynical way of getting feedback on the internet, by posting something that is wrong and waiting to be corrected :-)

                                          Ok tnx.

                                          16 Replies
                                          1. re: psb

                                            You can copy and paste into Word, then print.

                                            1. re: carolinadawg

                                              As far as I know, one could cut-and-paste a *single post* into an editor, such as emacs (it is the best editor), but at indentation in threads isnt print-friendly.

                                              Again, in emacs, I could write a loop to re-justify, but this isnt straightforward.

                                              CH *has* a PRINT button, but it is not implemented reasonably ... like in this thread, some of the posts are printed three words per line ... fortunately it is a 6 word post, but obviously that doesnt work for meaty entries. It's unfortunate time is spent on useless features rather than useful ones.

                                              1. re: psb

                                                I don't understand what much of what that means, but I do know I have cut and pasted CH posts into word and printed them. Good luck.

                                                1. re: carolinadawg

                                                  Yes, I agree you can reasonably print out individual POSTS but THREADS are not reasonably formatted.

                                                  This thread has about 2000words aside from the initial long post and those take up 8 pages they way they are printed. And some long threads are much worse. And with all the white space, printing 2pp per sheet gets a bit undesirably small.

                                                  1. re: psb

                                                    Ok gotcha. I've never wanted/needed to print out an entire thread.

                                            2. re: psb

                                              I'm going to give this a bump - fruitlessly probably. I gather nothing has changed to make printing a whole thread any more economical (paper-wise)? We're going to be in Prague, Vienna and Budapest next month and there's so much great info. But I know from the past that printing a thread is a terrible waste of paper and just about impossible to deal with. Has anyone come up with a workaround? TIA.

                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                Are you bringing a device such as a tablet or smartphone on your trip? if so, you might try printing a thread to pdf (this capability is built into the chrome browser) and copying/sending the pdf to your device. I tried it with this thread and it renders quite well.

                                                1. re: Glicoman

                                                  That is an option but really it is a coping strategy not a solution/fix ... it's really a local cache of the data on your computer. i.e. "what if you have no network". A printout addresses "what if you have no computer" [as well as being able to write margin notes etc].

                                                  1. re: psb

                                                    I'm with you on this. I'll have my Chromebook but I'm really looking for a way to actually print.

                                                2. re: c oliver

                                                  I know you're looking for more of an on-site solution, but I recently came across this bookmarklet/browser extension that might be useful to people who are printing Chowhound threads for reference: www.printwhatyoulike.com

                                                  I've just played with it a little this morning, but it seems like it's fairly powerful.

                                                  1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                    Just got here and here YOU are! I'll check it out and thanks for the tip. Just printed some info yesterday that I had copied and pasted into a document. It's TWELVE pages long. Crazy! Being the Left Coast tree-hugger that I am, that makes me nuts (and I don't need any help in that regard!).

                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                      On the tree hugger front...how about copying and pasting into a document, then just keeping the document online (say, in Dropbox or Instapaper or Evernote), then pull up on your smartphone or tablet when you want to read it.

                                                      I do that with lots of things, including recipes. Really convenient when food shopping and cooking.

                                                      1. re: Elisa515

                                                        That works fine for domestic travel but a lot of ours is international and I don't use my phone then. In addition in a long, long thread I like to highlight, write on, etc.

                                                    2. re: Jacquilynne

                                                      I'm glad you're following this thread, Jacquilynne.

                                                      One thing I wish I had emphasized more in my original post was the incredible value of making fellow Chowhounds' researchpads shareable.

                                                      I can't begin to tell you how great it would be to have researchpads handy, for example, of ipsedixit's recommendations-- not just for Taiwanese comfort food in LA, but for when I travel to places that he has experience also-- Phoenix or New York, for example. Or GrayElf's wildly comprehensive recommendations for Vancouver and Portland.

                                                      Mr Taster

                                                      1. re: Mr Taster

                                                        Oh-- and making researchpads printable would also be totally radical, dude.

                                                        Mr Taster

                                                        1. re: Mr Taster

                                                          Thanks for the compliments, Mr T, though I dunno about comprehensive :-).

                                                          I still kick it pretty old school when traveling, which is making the link Jacqueline provided quite tempting. I tend to go to a thread and cut-and-paste the bits I'm interested in to a Word document. I then organize by geographic area and print two copies in case I leave one in a restaurant. Then I do up an eating itinerary in a separate document with specific restaurants I've targeted, actual reservations etc. This is much easier if you are traveling to only one destination of course.

                                                          There's something about having a few papers to scrawl on, and a masterlist organized by neighbourhood, that still appeals to me, but then again I am still on my first smartphone :-).