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Sep 22, 2013 06:06 PM

Future Cheese of the Month Planning

For the past seven months, our cheesehound community has participated in Cheese of the Month discussions. The last six have been organized by volunteers who signed up in this thread,
and relying on input from the larger community in this thread,

I'll note that the San Diego board took a cue from the system here to use volunteer "dictators" for their dish of the month program who make the selection for a three-month period.

As we come to the end of this initial period, it's time to reassess. Do we want to continue? And if so, do we want to make any changes? Please share your thoughts.

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  1. I hope the Cheese of the Month will continue. I've learned so much reading along but the detail provided by all of you on TASTE is really what makes the difference! I can't possibly be alone on this thought, right?!

    The only recommendation I have moving ahead would be to either select 2-3 cheeses in a given month or select one cheese category and let participants share what they're buying and enjoying and why.

    When we started out, one cheese selected was worthwhile but now with six months under our cheese loving belts the end of the month gets a bit worn out. And since the COTM is suppose to be different than any other cheese thread on the board....why not hit that "input" list HARD!

    1. Another suggestion would be to cover the COTM in the CHOW Blog from time to time. With the trend of mingling both CHOW and the CH community of late, it might be beneficial to promote the Cheese board and the monthly discussions from time to time.

      3 Replies
      1. re: HillJ

        The Chow blog has used the Cheese board as subject matter a couple times that I'm aware of. I fear that we're in a bit of a chicken and egg situation. The blog editors look for expert content to highlight in the blog that will be of interest to a wider population. The sparse discussion on the board may not have risen to that level. Without more active posters we're not going to get there. And without more content, there's not much of a reason for posters to become regulars here.

        A few guerilla marketing tips for promoting this board and ChOTM:

        1) Many of the participants here are active on other boards. Add a tagline WITH A LINK to this board. Here's an example (scroll to bottom),

        2) Start new topics. At the lower right corner of each page of this site is a "Discussion" ticker. It differs from the main Chowhound page in that it only picks up newly started topics. Also, it lags a bit timewise, so presents the new thread topics later than on the main page. I know that I often discover topics on boards that I don't follow regularly in this way.

        3) Post about cheese pairings or cooking with cheese on this board instead of Home Cooking, General, etc. Then add a pointer from the other board, e.g., Home Cooking to the thread here. In the past, the Mods would move the discussion to the Cheese board when flagged, but that's not going to happen now unless there's a strong reason it shouldn't be on the original board.

        4) Post about regional cheeses on this board. In the past I've posted about limited edition, regional cheeses on the board of origin. But with more opportunities to have cheese shipped, I realized that some are more widely available than I'd thought, and I changed to posting about them here. In time, some will have wider name recognition and would end up here anyway. Then add a pointer from the regional board to here.

        5) Talk up local cheese shops on your home boards to flush out the cheesehounds. Then direct them to this board.

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          Excellent suggestions and observations. Here's mine in response.

          Re CHOW's ability to help promote it
          -since the two sides of the site are cross promoting each other these days a CHOW video with cheese as a theme: a CHOW recipe, tip, shopping guide or a CHOW Blog post taken from a Cheese board thread would help bring CHOW readers here and help CH's keeping the Cheese board going a well deserved nod.

          When the Cheese board launched we were told to keep recipes on the HCooking board. If that guideline has changed or can change, I agree it would help broaden the scope and help attract people to this board. I read plenty of cheese threads on other boards still with our without recipes.

          As for the other ideas you've outlined so beautifully, well I don't think talking cheese for a cheese lover is difficult at all! "Inviting" a fellow 'hound over to this Board shouldn't be either.

          Thanks, MW.

          1. re: HillJ

            You might want to get in touch with Chow editorial with your ideas. I would also suggest that you nominate specific topics and link to threads that you feel are worthy of highlighting. You read this board more carefully than the editors have time for. In the past I've made suggestions via email in that way for the blog and they're usually grateful for specific input.

            Yes, the initial guidance was to keep recipes on Home Cooking. That may change. But in any case, many of the threads are more about what cheese to use for a dish, e.g., the current one on what to put on garlic bread. Selection from the world of cheese when there's not much cooking technique involved is probably more on topic for this board.

      2. Would be nice if we could get more participation. I only started participating in COTM during the Feta month. The latest COTM discussion is surprisingly lacking in participation, I would have thought more people would be into discussing goat cheese.

        9 Replies
        1. re: Ridge

          Me too. I thought the same CH's and same enthusiasm that existed before the COTM started or even when the Cheese board was just an idea would stick around.

          With each passing month the ebb & flow of the COTM is demonstrated. But, the number of threads moved under a Cheese board against brand new threads since the launch seems to be growing.

          Not sure why its a fairly quiet board.

          1. re: HillJ

            My take on much of the early enthusiasm was that many were interested in reading and learning about cheese. But there seemed to be few who felt they had much to contribute in posting. The rub seems to be that novices don't know what they don't know, and the more experienced need some guidance on what is of interest to others. ChOTM was an idea to help draw in novice and experienced posters.

            Nearly 500 older threads were moved from other boards, mostly General, to this one. That required a poster to find, read and decide to flag each one of those, and for a moderator to move it. The mods are backing off from wholesale transfer of threads in that way now.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              True. Some CH's have said same occurs on other boards; Wine board comes to mind. But it ebbs & flows there too. If the Cheese board turns out to be a small but mighty group-so be it! Quality over quantity :)

              I volunteered to move threads to the Cheese board; happy to do it. Did the same when NJ became one board.

              The population of new threads on CHEESE has been wonderful. Maybe the holidays will bring on a surge of questions and suggestions.

              1. re: HillJ

                You probably won't see me around here much for a reason that I think limits participation in this board -- availability. When I lived in Baltimore, I had numerous places to get really good cheese. Now I'm (temporarily) living in Oklahoma City, and the availability of decent cheeses is very limited. No more picking up Cabrales or aged Mahon on a trip to the supermarket -- here I'm lucky if I can find President feta.

                Wine is appreciated by much greater numbers of people than cheese is. I would bet that there are lots of places like that in the country -- there's not much point in participating because good cheese isn't readily available on the scale it is in more populated areas. Yes, there's mail order, but no going to the cheese shop and sampling and discovering new things.

                I'm not trying to be discouraging -- I'd really like to see this board succeed. But until I move back east or there's a cheese renaissance in Oklahoma, I won't be around much.

                1. re: JonParker

                  I'm not discouraged in the least and I thank you for offering an opinion. I'm sure yours aligns with many people who have a similar situation.

                  I haven't tried even a third of the cheeses talked about on the board. I have never made my own cheese. I haven't experienced a great number of cheese shops in the scheme of things. But I have read this board since the launch and learned a great deal--in some cases reading several times to have the info sink in the ole noggin'.

                  When CH's were discussing the idea of a Cheese board, availability came up as did price. It was bound to. I wish I had the kind of access to cheese (& wine) some CH's have! I make do and explore..and often am surprised what comes along. But yes! It varies depending on where you hail from.

                  I hope you'll read along and contribute. If you are interested in cheese, there are multiple ways to contribute and enjoy this board.

                  1. re: HillJ

                    I do check in here from time to time. Cheese is something that I dearly love. Part of the reason I don't check in here is that it's painful to read about all this wonderful stuff I don't have access to. We do have one Whole Foods in this city, but it's a long drive from me. Remember that OKC has a land area as large (or close to it) as big as the entire DC/Baltimore/NoVa area.

                    1. re: JonParker

                      Oh my husband would call your "painful" the big when we read the Regional boards but don't have immediate plans to travel to some exotic locale...until we do...and then we're glad we read the boards.

                  2. re: JonParker

                    Hey, Jon. Did you try the local cheese challenge I posted. I think it would be interesting to find out if there are small producers in your area.

          2. Let me make this clearer. September is the last Cheese of the Month on the books. There is currently no plan for an October 2013 ChOTM or any future months. If people want to continue this feature, they need to speak up and put something in motion.

            31 Replies
            1. re: Melanie Wong

              You took time to explain COTM, created threads to support it and checked back on progress over the first collection of COTM's. 'Bout time someone said thank you.

              Maybe the folks who enjoy this board are expecting you to facilitate the next round of COTM's. Maybe who's "in charge" remains the unclear part. While you haven't taken over, you most certainly have taken part in coordinating the rest of us :)

              1. re: HillJ

                How about we start a thread for nominations which might get the ball rolling and encourage participation?

                1. re: fldhkybnva

                  Go for it, fldh. I'm still covering Sept's COTM. How about you spearhead Oct! Thanks!

                  1. re: HillJ

                    I'd e willing to but I have no idea what I'm doing.

                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                      Okay, you were def. playing me, ha! You know a great deal about cheese and are trying new cheeses all the time!

             idea what you're doing--too funny!

                  2. re: fldhkybnva

                    Please feel free!

                    I'm just not sure of the time period for nominations. We used 6 months the last round, and I feel that 12 months might be better to cut down on repetition. But what do others think?

                    And I'll repeat that there's been no voting, unlike other "of the month" processes on this site. Volunteers each month make their selection from the list of nominees. Is that how folks want to continue going forward? If no one objects, then let's keep on with the silent majority's opinion.

                  3. re: HillJ

                    Yes, thanks Melanie!

                    I love cheese and would be wiling to help start the COTM discussions. To me it's fun because when you are tasting the cheese for COTM it forces you to really focus on the cheese and what you like ANC don't like.

                    1. re: Ridge

                      Ridge, interested in volunteering for November?

                      1. re: Ridge

                        One of the things that I have liked about the cheese of the month discussions here vs. dish on the month on our home board in SF is that for the most part folks are going out and getting a cheese to taste at the moment rather than just regurgitating past finds. And as you say, really being conscious and thoughtful in that moment to focus on all aspects of the cheese to come up with an opinion.

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          Except if you hadn't included some of the cheeses (w/ photos) from some of your past cheese adventures MW, a good many comments within threads would have been missed.

                          For instance, seasonal cheeses.

                        2. re: Ridge

                          I have discovered not only cheese families but particularly cheeses through these discussions and think they should be continued.

                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                            Then you're in great company-because I believe we all felt that way!

                        3. re: HillJ

                          Thanks, and you're welcome, no one is "in charge" per se. At the outset, as stated in the threads linked above, we said we'd try it this way for 6 months and tweak as needed. I wanted to do this check-in to see if there's enough interest from either readers or active posters to continue. And also to solicit any needed changes.

                          I would suggest that a loop for setting up future months be put into the system.

                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                            And I appreciate it every step (you) took along the way. If fldh takes the rein for Oct and Ridge for Nov they have the past few months as a guideline and lots of freedom to be their own creative cheese guides.

                            Thanks for getting the ball rolling.

                            1. re: HillJ

                              Is that a suggestion that the nomination and volunteer cycle be one-month at a time rather than laying out a six-month plan? I would actually suggest a longer time period, maybe 12-months, to side step the rigamarole of repeating topics like this one so often. But with the recognition that a lot can change over the course of a 12-month time horizon.

                              And what I meant above about setting up a loop to make this self-perpetuating is this. If the six-month planning horizon continues, e.g., October 2013 to April 2014, then the coordinator for April would be responsible for setting up the next cycle by starting a nomination thread and asking for volunteer sign ups for the next six months. The person doesn't need to do it her/himself, just make sure that it happens.

                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                Have we even hit half the cheeses submitted to the first input list? I'm sure we can still refer to that long list for a few more months at the very least.

                                Can CH's commit to a six-12 month schedule well in advance? Because as you say a lot can change. I don't have the answer to that. I know a few of us, myself included, needed accommodating but it wasn't a big deal.

                                As for the last guy/gal on the list takes the reins to get the next cycle going--lol-I think I just did that :) !

                                Now if fldhk & Ridge step up we're on our way. If they both confirm for Oct & Nov, I can set up a new thread to highlight the next six months and fill in the volunteers as CH's step forward.

                                The question remains, do we all want to continue COTM.

                                1. re: HillJ

                                  No need for me to set up a new 6-mos thread with Ridge offering so generously. I hope more CH's weigh in!

                                  1. re: HillJ

                                    Yes, I was going to say that you did a good job of delegating to move to the next point!

                                    When I think back on the last six months, the landscape of human drama experienced by our volunteer crew was remarkable. Birth, death, medical emergencies, exciting job opportunity . . . but despite three swap-outs we did continue and kept eating cheese every month. One thing that would make it easier to shift when needed is to be sure that we have a way to email folks who sign up. The email addresses needn't be public here, but do share emails with another regular poster here who can get in touch.

                                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                                      Even when I was working, I was reading the board. I just had very ltd time to communicate on company time. Even w/out an email listed in my profile I have CH's on the boards who txt me when I'm being seached for.

                                    2. re: HillJ

                                      OK, I'm willing but I am so inexperienced compared to you guys but I'd love to put my foot in unless Ridge just did?

                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                        We'll still need volunteers for each month. Ridge can explain from here. I believe Ridge just volunteered for oversight of COTM for the next 6 mos.

                                        Do I have that right?

                                    3. re: Melanie Wong

                                      I would be willing to be organizer for a 6 month stint.

                                      1. re: Ridge

                                        Wonderful, I gladly pass the cheese knife to you!

                                        1. re: HillJ

                                          Before you do that, HillJ, could you please do a recap of the seven months? We should have a list in one place showing the month, cheese(s), and coordinator with links.

                                          Thanks, Ridge!

                                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                                            Sure! I'll print a recap with links now.

                            2. Ridge, I just did a count of how many of the posts in the unwieldy 177-post-long nominating thread actually were nominations. Only 44 nominated a cheese, and some were duplicates and some we already used these past months. Since so much of that thread is off-topic, the title is no longer timely and actually discourages more nominations into the future, and we need to solicit more suggestions, I feel it would be a good idea to start anew with a fresh thread that's demarcated for six to 12-months. One can still link back to the old thread and use it for ideas and it's fine to renominate a cheese or category in the new thread.

                              20 Replies
                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                First order of new COTM assembly for CH, Ridge. A refreshed input list can only help.

                                1. re: HillJ

                                  So let me see if I have this straight, I should start a new thread for people to nominate a COTM for October? Then I pick the COTM? Or do people vote?

                                  1. re: Ridge

                                    Let me know if there is anything else I need to do.

                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                        thanks for volunteering, fldhk! I look forward to reading about your selections.

                                    1. re: Ridge

                                      Since you came to this process mid-stream, let me walk you through the two threads linked in my original post to this thread. The Cheese of the month is different from other boards in that there is no voting.

                                      There were some people who found the nominate/vote process too cumbersome and time consuming each month on other boards and were strongly against a voting process. There were also novices who voiced concern that they didn't know enough to nominate or vote on cheeses. In his higher wisdom, "cheesemaestro" came up with the current system that solicits nominations for cheeses from the broader community and folks show their agreement by using the recommend button. That's this thread,

                                      The list is used by the volunteer each month to select a cheese(s) of the month. Volunteers are free to apply their own experience in deciding each month's selection. Volunteers for the past six months signed up for duty here,

                                      So, you need to start a new thread for nominations for x-time period and a new thread for volunteers to sign up for the next x months. I would also echo HillJ's point that we might want to choose more than one cheese each month, a cheese plate, if you will. And it would be a good idea to add that the coordinator for the last month on the cycle needs to start the next cycle.

                                      Thanks again!

                                      1. re: Ridge

                                        Welcome aboard, Ridge. Looks like you've been given the full tour by Melanie W. Have fun with it!

                                        1. re: HillJ

                                          Yay, I'm so excited. Is it October yet? I can't wait to get a-cheese-tastin'

                                        2. re: Ridge

                                          Ridge, put me to work! Or do you do the work? Just clarify and whatever is fine with me.

                                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                                            I'll help out and get the volunteer board up??? If that'll help?

                                            1. re: Phoebe

                                              go for it, are we using the old nomination board or starting anew? if new I can add that

                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                I suggest that you wait to hear from Ridge. He's on the West Coast as I am and is probably stuck in commute traffic right now. Please give him a chance to do what he said he would now that he has volunteered. Thanks for your eagerness, but this is not an emergency. I know you'll hear from him soon.

                                          2. re: Ridge

                                            Ridge, sorry that I was too obscure. Since you have oversight for the next six months, you might be better off having a nomination period of six months (as we did previously) or even stretch it to 12 months, as I suggested previously. That will save the rigamarole of having to start a new thread each month, and people don't have to repeat their nominations each month because in truth, the world of cheese doesn't change that fast. Having the info consolidated in one place can be a good thing, if the content stays on topic.

                                            Here's the thread that was used to nominate for the previous six months to give you an idea.

                                            Edited to add: Also want to say that if you prefer to do one month at a time, that's ok too and your call. I'm trying to not butt in. I'll be here if you need me, but will bow out now.

                                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                                              That makes sense. So I will add to the COTM thread that people can nominate cheeses and then I will pick one for each of the next 6 months.

                                              1. re: Ridge

                                                I thought the volunteers pick the cheese? Right?

                                              2. re: Melanie Wong

                                                One more question. How are the responsibilities and duties delegated between the 6 month organizer and the monthly volunteers. Is there a lot of overlap? Am I in charge of organizing the volunteers?

                                                1. re: Ridge

                                                  First time around CH's stepped into the "open call for volunteers" thread and volunteered to cover a specific month.

                                                  Then, once it was their turn they selected the cheese topic that would be covered.

                                                  As oversight, Ridge, you just make sure the communication is clear; to both the volunteers and the CH's at large enjoying COTM each month.

                                                  1. re: Ridge

                                                    Here's the topic Phoebe started with a call for volunteers to head up each month. You'll want to baby-sit that and bump it up if we get to November without someone at the ready to take the next month.

                                                    If you have a public email address, you might want to put it into your Profile and ask each of the volunteers to email you. During the last cycle, we needed to swap out three times and luckily I had a couple people's email to be able to do that when personal emergencies kept them from checking back on messages posted here.

                                                    Basically, you just want to keep the ship on course so that everyone can keep enjoying cheese of the month.

                                                    I'll ask the Mods to change the topic title for the nomination thread to make it clearer what time period we're talking about.