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Is Chowhound's original manifesto still relevant? Did you even know it existed?

Chowhound founder Jim Leff originated this site with a wonderful splash screen outlining exactly what Chowhound was, and why it was created.

https://web.archive.org/web/200206050...

At the time (late 90s-early aughts), the so-called "foodie" revolution had not happened. Chowhound was a relatively small, intrepid band of curious food enthusiasts trying to figure out where the best food could be found. No media was paying attention to us.

After the corporate takeover of Chowhound in 2006, the Manifesto was removed from the opening page of chowhound, neutered, and eventually relegated to a far corner of the site.

So, my questions to you, both old and new members, are:

How does Jim Leff's manifesto reflect or fit your current understanding of the Chowhound website?

Did you know the manifesto existed?

If you were previously unaware of the manifesto, does this change your understanding and interpretation of what the site is all about?

Is the manifesto still relevant?

Please state how long you've been contributing to this site so we have a sense of where you fit in Chowhound's timeline.

Mr Taster
since ~2001

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  1. Honestly, I'd really enjoy reading Jim:Leff's opinion on this.

    Here's my metaphor:
    When a founder (wasn't it co-founder?) comes along and shares his brainchild with a group of people and that simple idea grows up into an overactive teenager do we expect the same relevance? When that teenager becomes an adult with independent ideas now presented with the opportunity to fly the coop or grow or both...does the community then demand they never grow up or move on? Does the community have that right?

    The new owners inherited a brainchild but don't have the benefit that comes with child rearing. They won't ever act like they did.

    I've been around since 2004, my husband recalls much earlier CH/JL days.

    IMVHO, this brain-child you miss is aging in a different playground .

    1. No, I didn't know it ever existed and I don't know the history of the site.

      Yes, that's my understanding of the intent and why I think this is an interesting and valuable community. It's how I approach the site and food in general.

      I probably discovered CH about 4 years ago. I read and comment manically a few times a year (usually beginning about a month before Thanksgiving) and engage on other recipe-based food sites the rest of the year. But I still frequently pop by and see what's up year round even if I have long stretches of not contributing.

        1. I was not aware of the manifesto being a CHer only since 2008-ish (lurked before posting).

          Paragraph 5 is what I am all about. I think it is totally still relevant. I am not a foodie but I will turn to foodie resources now and then to assist my quest for perfect eating.

          1. I was a lurker for years before signing up. I can't remember how long.
            I always thought the manifesto was rather silly. I don't think it is relevant anymore. It might have been relevant before the "food as a hobby" concept really took off. When it was considered "weird" to talk so much about food.

            All kinds of people sign up to participate in the forum, not just the narrowly defined "chowhound" as defined by Leff years ago. I think it makes for a richer experience now.

            Of course, the manifesto certainly has no relevance overall to this big corporate site.

            12 Replies
            1. re: sedimental

              Most people still think it's weird that I talk so much about food :)

              1. re: sedimental

                I don't get everyone talking about how weird others think they are when they talk about food. Since when was talking about food NOT popular? My family always enjoyed discussing food, from my great grandmother down to me. And it wasn't just within our family. Whenever guests came over there was much talk about the food, recipes swapped, techniques shared.

                My friends and I love to talk about food. Whether it's a new recipe we found, or a great find at a restaurant, grocery store, etc.

                I find it to be a great conversation starter at business lunches.Who is the cook in your family? What types of food do you enjoy making most? Tell me about some of the best restaurants in your city?

                Maybe I'm just surrounding myself with like minded people, but I don't think anyone's ever thought it is strange that I talk about food so much!

                1. re: ludmilasdaughter

                  The difference may be cultural: my family considered talk about food, other than "good steak, Ruth," unnecessary and maybe a little bit ungenteel, like talking about your body in general.

                  1. re: Dempsey

                    What IS your family's cultural background? Clearly not French :)

                    1. re: c oliver

                      We were Protestant, Scots/English, Presbyterian, farmers then academics, and topics of conversation were politics, books, science, crop yields (and therefore weather), and sometimes the neighbors. Never religion, food, or money (except when it impinged on politics.

                      I would have liked a little dash of French!

                      1. re: Dempsey

                        I have the same background almost..Scots/Irish Episcopalians..and we never discussed food, politics, religion or money.

                        In fact we didn't talk much. LOL

                        1. re: sal_acid

                          Talking seems to be minimal in my husband's family. Farm, people in town, what's in the paper followed by long periods of silence.

                          Never about food unless I ask how to make something. Now it is often about food because they think I don't get it just because I'm not used to their food every little thing needs to be explained.

                          My family can plan the next meal while eating the current one!

                          1. re: melpy

                            This is one of the really good parts of the Internet and sites like this one. It allows those who have no outlet within their own families or communities to come and share and interact with other like minded individuals (anonymously if they wish) about something that really interests them.

                            1. re: Servorg

                              Really good point! We just returned from a ten day, escorted tour of Israel. We, mostly I, were THE only ones truly interested in food. The cooking of it and the eating of 'good' food. A family of five from East Texas were interested solely in quantity. One 70 y.o. widow cooks almost nothing, going out to eat (anywhere) and bringing home leftovers. Etc. And the tour came with all breakfasts and most dinners included at our hotels. All mediocre, except one, buffets. Bob and I could only joke among ourselves. The one morning I commented "was that dinner just the pits?" I was met with strong disagreement. So, yes, having a "soft place to fall" when it comes to discussing food is a luxury.

                              1. re: c oliver

                                There's a stupendous Israeli restaurant called Etzel Itzik in N. Miami if you are ever in that area. A five-star Chowhound delight. You'll see what you missed.

                                1. re: Steve

                                  We actually had a super dinner in Tel Aviv - thanks to a CH of course. Part of the problem was that our days were quite long and I was sick part of the time so it was 'easier' to just go along. Good to know about the Miami place. Thanks, Steve.

                2. It's not very relevant anymore. Chowhound is not the place it was even in 2006 when I became an active member after a few years of on and off lurking.

                  Heck, people here don't even call themselves 'hounds anymore. They're CHers. Many boards are overly chatty and the quality of content and level enthusiasm on my local board has gone way down. I read a lot of stuff I would consider "foodie" on the topical boards and even the regional ones. People here want to chat, trade recipes, find the latest fad grain or superfruit, gossip about TV chefs and discuss Olive Garden.

                  And that's all fine. It's not my cup of tea. It's not what I come here for. But it's what the people want and this is a commercial enterprise.

                  112 Replies
                  1. re: SnackHappy

                    "People here want to chat, trade recipes, find the latest fad grain or superfruit, gossip about TV chefs and discuss Olive Garden."

                    Yep, and tell silly jokes, pretend they're best friends when they've never met, and puff up their own egos.

                    Edit to add: it's gotten that way in the past 2 to 3 years of so.

                    1. re: carolinadawg

                      How long have you been on these boards, carolina?

                        1. re: carolinadawg

                          It's been that way for more than a decade longer than that...

                          1. re: JMF

                            I'll go a step further and say it's been the backbone of the community. Silly jokes-check. Best pals in a room full of strangers-check. Egos-double check.

                            Of course, not everyone is a stranger- many CH's have shared that they've met.

                            Without the room to be playful, the willingness to talk to strangers and an ego to defend, discuss and learn more about what you think you know this site would be worthless and dull.

                            None of this type of enjoyment offends me.

                            1. re: JMF

                              No, it hasn't. The mods have openly permitted, and admitted to, a relaxing of the ban on chit chat and off topic posting in the last couple of years.

                              1. re: carolinadawg

                                Like Godilocks and the three bears, moderation will never please completely; too much, too little....

                                1. re: HillJ

                                  To me, it's more about what types of posts are moderated, and how consistent that moderation is, as opposed to how much or how little moderation there is.

                                  1. re: carolinadawg

                                    Then that ties in with what I believe Mr Taster is getting at. If the scope of conversation has changed chances are good moderation will. The two go hand in hand.

                                    If you are suggesting that moderation is also guilty of favoritism towards certain posters and/or fairness/equal commenting field for all (which has also come up in Site Talk) then that's an entirely different discussion.

                                    1. re: HillJ

                                      Well of course the conversation and the moderation has changed. The change in moderation has allowed a change in the nature of the conversation.

                                      And yes, there are definitely favorites and cliques allowed to do pretty much do whatever they want on here.

                                      1. re: carolinadawg

                                        Oh no that is not what I said, even if that is what you mean. Moderation comes after conversation not before it.

                                        As for what you believe about favorites & cliques: that's a big could care less from me. Every community is prone to some sort of groupings, I don't hold the site responsible for how people behave or partake while in it. From what I can tell, Moderators deal with behavior nothing more.

                                        1. re: HillJ

                                          Respectfully disagree. Moderation leads the discussion...isn't that obvious? Anything that doesn't meet the mod's standard gets deleted; that which does meets the standard stays. Thus, moderation influences and guides the discussion.

                                          As for the favorites issue, it's great that it doesn't bother you. But it does exist. And to be clear, I'm not talking about people interacting with one another, I'm talking about how the mods treat posters. Your last sentence is the point...mods don't deal with behavior equally.

                                          1. re: carolinadawg

                                            I thank you for the clarification and you are correct, we don't agree on most of the points you're making.

                                            1. re: carolinadawg

                                              Moderation, at least as practiced here, deletes the most offending posts. It's a loose form of pruning. I've never seen a thread where moderation was so heavy as to guide and shape the discussion.

                                              1. re: paulj

                                                Your understanding of how moderation is practiced on this site, and my understanding, are very different.

                                            2. re: HillJ

                                              Another point to consider...many posts are never made due to knowledge of "fear" (for lack of a better word) of being moderated away and/or banned. I think you'd have to agree that would influence the conversation, no?

                                              1. re: carolinadawg

                                                hi carolinad, I have no way of knowing what influences conversation or moderation. Do you? When my posts are deleted I don't think too hard about why. What's the point?

                                                I do however hope that comment deletion doesn't change the overall discussion taking place too much so key points aren't lost or confused. And, I've made this comment about deletion before (and so have fellow CH's) and that's usually when a CH Team member joins in the discussion to remind all of us that if we have an issue about deleted comments we can email moderation.

                                                If I ever did take moderation personally during my own newbie phase of not even understanding how moderation around here works I assure you I'm wayyyyyyyyy over taking anything here personally now, least of all the need for moderation. It's a complete waste of time.

                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                  I don't think you really considered what I wrote, but I also don't think you want to. Which is certainly your prerogative. Take care.

                                                  1. re: carolinadawg

                                                    Maybe I just don't understand it. Sorry if you felt dismissed. Never my intention.

                                                2. re: carolinadawg

                                                  I don't know about others, but I never even hesitate to post because I'm worried about having my post moderated out of existence.

                                                  If one really does worry about that happening then I would suggest securing a copy of the post before putting it up, so even if the moderators don't send you back a copy of ones post, along with spelling out what you would need to take out of the post, before it's posted again to make it "street legal" - you at least have the option of trying to post again without having to recreate the whole thing from memory.

                                                  As to your second point, since getting banned is a much, much longer term process in which the moderators tell you why you are falling afoul of the site rules and what you must do to keep from being banned, I can't see that as a realistic problem.

                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                    I'm sure lots of people forego posting to avoid being deleted. I certainly do.

                                                    And in regard to: "...getting banned...I can't see that as a realistic problem."

                                                    Oh, I can. Trust me on that one.

                                                    1. re: carolinadawg

                                                      If one is going to ignore repeated warnings from the P's-that-B and go ahead with their own agenda then getting banned is not going to come as a surprise at that point and that means the poster isn't "worrying" about the banning, but rather inviting it because they are too hard headed to care at the time.

                                                      1. re: Servorg

                                                        My point is (jeez I don't know why this is so hard) that sometimes posts are NOT made due to to the fear of being banned. This obviously means those posts don't enter the conversation, and thus moderation can be a front end influence on the conversation.

                                                        1. re: carolinadawg

                                                          And I'm saying that I don't know what's in the heart or minds of others, but for me that never even crosses my mind for an instant. And moderation adds too much value to give your point much credence as far as I'm concerned. It's not that you may not be right in some instances. It's just that the good from moderation so far out weighs the bad by my way of thinking that to worry about the "path" or "post" not taken is a small price to pay, when and if it happens.

                                                          1. re: Servorg

                                                            One doesn't have to be omnipotent to recognize that most people will adjust their behavior to avoid being banned. For a rationally thinking person, it's known as working towards your own self interest.

                                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                                Yes they do. You might have noticed my use of the word "most", as opposed to, say, the word "all".

                                                                1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                  And that's called separating the wheat from the chaff...for which you need farmers (moderating farmers) to do that.

                                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                                    That's not at all relevant to what I have been saying.

                                                                    1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                      If I find myself reading a post that over a few days of discussion has been moderated or the CH Team has commented that portions of the thread are off topic it's hard to ignore. I see it, I read it. That kind of moderation stands out because as readers, not just the participating members, we can see what's happening. But how that influences the community weighing in on the topic is very hard to determine. Because I can't read hesitation if it's not entered into a comment box. An overly moderated topic can sometimes result in the topic wrapping up quicker OK but how do I know what is causing a change in comment if the comments aren't there to begin with. Front end that you are describing is where I come up empty of any examples.

                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                        Let's consider for a minute one very big difference between Yelp and Chowhound. One can find reports of bugs, hairs and a number of other things being reported as found in food by Yelpers.

                                                                        Here most of us know those reports are not allowed on CH, but those posters recently arrived here may not know that. So they report a "foreign" object in their food and their post gets redacted.

                                                                        Even if they don't learn the first time, or forget, eventually their behavior will either change so they don't report said objects. Of if they just can't control themselves and keep reporting that type of thing over and over, despite the moderators telling them to stop, it's possible that a time out or ban of their posting privileges may be instituted.

                                                                        So in this sort of case learning that ones post is going to be redacted could be looked at as "chilling speech" but since this is a moderated forum that chilling is a good thing, not a bad one. The same goes for personally flaming other posters for their views. I'm sure we could all come up with a number of other examples of so called "personally enforced prior restraint".

                                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                                          It also seems to help cut down on the trolls. There are more trolls on loosely moderated sites of all kinds. When you are visiting a forum for information (and not just lively debate) then the trolls don't add anything at all, IMO. We don't "need" them to direct the flow of conversation in a more interesting direction.

                                                                          Flame wars are entertaining sometimes, but I think most people that stick with chowhound for a few years are here for the chowish information and discussion.

                                                                          1. re: sedimental

                                                                            Neither what you or Servorg describe is hard to follow or reason out so I remain unsure why it would be unless you take deletion of your posts very personally.

                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                              One issue that crops up for posters when it comes to deletions is those that are "collateral damage." In other words they have replied to a post, not knowing it has transgressed the CH site rules, but has not yet come to the moderators attention. There may be several posts, or even more, by the time the offending post comes down. As far as I know the mod's only email the OP (and even that courtesy is not automatic and may not happen at all) of the offending post. So all the posts caught up as collateral damage leave those posters either frustrated, puzzled, angry or just wondering what the hell happened.

                                                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                                                Yes, another CH on this thread mentioned it. I believe John E. I've been caught in those scenarios from time to time. But, I'm not writing the next great food novel on CH so while a bugger in the moment, I'm already reading another thread..and moving on :)

                                                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                                                  Frequently the mods will post that they've removed threads for a few assorted reasons.

                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                    Maybe we could have a "Deleted Board".

                                                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                      HA! With all the deleted posts over the years collected in one place. Out of context. That would be hilarious indeed.

                                                                                      1. re: linguafood

                                                                                        The successor to the "Banana Board"?

                                                                                          1. re: linguafood

                                                                                            Instead of Chowhound's Greatest Hits, call it Chowhound's Greatest Misses.

                                                                                  2. re: Servorg

                                                                                    It's one thing to wonder where my post went, but quite another to get angry or be devastated. My postings aren't that valuable. Or if they are, I should be saving copies.

                                                                                    Would it help if the mods replaced the deleted subthread with a brief 'deleted by moderator' post? Come to think of it, I have seen posts by 'Chowhound Team', saying 'we had to delete some posts ... please moderate your speach'.

                                                                              2. re: Servorg

                                                                                I'm afraid your Yelp contrasts is wasted on the likes of me. I don't participate and I don't read it.

                                                                                I don't find CH moderation difficult to understand at all anymore now that I've been moderated and seen moderation taking place on this site.

                                                                                It seems in spite of our own person habits or tendencies to comment the use of moderation keeps the entire community happier most of the time.

                                                                                I know...YMMV (a commenting term I learned on CH).

                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                  I don't find the moderating hard to understand. It's the NON-moderating. When, to me, something has attained a life of its own, self-perpetuates and has nothing to do with food - yet it remains. And in remaining gives others the impression that it's fine to go off on these OT tangents. While CD thinks there's a teacher's pet list, I think it's that it's generally a small group who do it regularly. So while it may look like they are singled out for special treatments, it's rather that these few do the majority of it.

                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                    I follow you. But other than alerting the mods through the flag feature and accepting the mods decisions what options do CH's have?

                                                                                    It wasn't that long ago that many of us asked for looser guidelines, less babysitting, less moderation.

                                                                                    Goldilocks and the Three Bears....where's the a happy ending?

                                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                                      That IS the option. Flagging. And when a food thread goes off into worldwide, esoteric, financial discussions and the like, then to me that a repeat flaggable offense. Or when one-off, vulgar, double entredres just for the sake of being clever are post, one can continue to flag.

                                                                                      I was one of those Goldilocks.

                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                        It's fair to assume there are hundreds of Goldilocks and bears in a community of thousands. Moderators encourage members to report what they read.

                                                                                        So back to the OP. Does the manifesto (dislike the term applied to CH) still call your name? When we're talking about food-yes. When we discuss the talk about the talk-no not so much. I do not recall ever spending a great deal of time discussing how this site is moderated until CBS took over. I also don't know many sites that openly encourage members to share what they like and dislike about how a free site is structured, designed or administered.

                                                                                        Gotta check the lamb stew.....

                                                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                                                          Never did. Always seem to be a "legend in his own mind," superior statement. If I had seen THAT before joining, I doubt I would have.

                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                            That's an interesting statement. I don't recall when I read the manifesto but it was probably because a CH talked about it and that led me to the page where it resides. I know I was posting long before I read the words.

                                                                                            But, since I wasn't here from day one and don't know Jim Leff, I didn't have the benefit of early CH that many today appear to miss. You can't miss something you never experienced...

                                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                                              Oh, trust me. Any of his posts are quite similar in tone to the manifesto.

                                                                                                1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                  I thought the manifesto had been re-written a number of times since Jim penned it. No?

                                                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                    Now I hear it's the "Mani-pedi-festo"

                                                                                                    1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                      I give you credit. Most people would be too proud to make that joke.

                                                                                                      1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                        I'm proudly in touch with my femichowhound side...

                                                                                                      2. re: HillJ

                                                                                                        It did get edited a couple of times but I believe that happened after the site was sold.

                                                                                                        1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                          Yes, that's what I meant; after Jim sold the site. So, does the current manifesto reflect the current community?

                                                                                                          If the original is part of the original community (pre CNET, pre CBS) what about since?

                                                                                                        2. re: HillJ

                                                                                                          There absolutely have been changes. Here's the blow-by-blow list of changes (at least as of the 2008 incarnation)

                                                                                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5325...

                                                                                                          Mr Taster

                                                                                                          1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                            Thanks! This 2008 thread is a good reminder just how long and how many x's this question has been raised (and often raised by you) It also reminds me how often limster's posts made me smile and nod. Limster really knows how to get to the point! Also valuable because Jim weighed in as did a number of CH from the early days of CH (confirmed by my dh). I appreciate the reminder, Mr T.

                                                                                                            Back to the soup pot...

                                                                                                            1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                              Did you recall when Jim stated this:

                                                                                                              "Hey, I'd think it's obvious. But if anyone really needs it said directly: one of the things that happens when old labor-of-love owners, on the verge of impoverished exhaustion, are bought out by a large corporation, is that the mission statement changes - a little or a lot - and that even parts which are to remain the same get filtered through deadly serious business people and lawyers."
                                                                                                              ~~~~~~~~~~~~
                                                                                                              ..because that statement, written by the co founder, pretty much succeeds where so many of us have failed to accept or notice change.

                                                                            2. re: carolinadawg

                                                                              That's like saying people adjust their driving habits to avoid getting tickets. A mature driver tries to be safe and polite even when there's no policeman within sight.

                                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                                You don't think some (most?) people adjust their driving to avoid being ticketed? Seriously?

                                                                          2. re: carolinadawg

                                                                            carolinadawg is referring to a phenomenon often called "chilled speech."

                                                                        2. re: carolinadawg

                                                                          Oh okay, then I did not fully understand what you were referring to. I only recently learned that members can be banned from one specific board. I am not familiar with the circumstances that would generate a banned decision.

                                                                        3. re: Servorg

                                                                          Oh I've seen CH's say so during a discussion. Something like, "hey, we better quit cause we're going OT" or "how long before you think this will vaborize" or something commented on that clearly the thread expected deleted. But, that doesn't mean we have any control or influence over moderated discussion when we are in a thread with dozens of people and any post could potentially be afoul?

                                                                          If there is something I'm not understanding, please clarify. What I don't experience is the feeling of being singled out. So perhaps that is why I don't fully understand carolinad's point.

                                                                          Isn't this OT off the OP? :)

                                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                                            Don't get me wrong. Hounds do post those sort of "black humor" things, knowing full well they may not last long. I'm saying it doesn't give me pause to know that a post may evaporate and it would never keep me from posting.

                                                                            1. re: Servorg

                                                                              Oh okay. Then no, I do not post on CH or hesitate for fear of deletion.

                                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                                I don't not post because I think my post might get deleted. That does not seem to happen all that often. Curiously, I just attempted to reply to a post that was deleted while I was typing my reply. That has never happened to me before.

                                                                          2. re: Servorg

                                                                            I sometimes write posts and then don't actually post them. Sometimes it's because I decide it's off topic, other times I just decide it won't add anything of substance to the conversation.

                                                              2. re: carolinadawg

                                                                All that was still there. Just now there is more of it.

                                                                1. re: JMF

                                                                  Very little then, lots more now. The difference is staggering.

                                                                  1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                    The older you get, the better things were.

                                                                    1. re: linguafood

                                                                      True for some things, not in this case.

                                                                      1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                        Sounded like you liked things better in the "good old days" -- guess I misunderstood.

                                                                        1. re: linguafood

                                                                          I don't know if you misunderstood or not, but the site has changed for the worse. And that's not due to some sort of nostalgia on my part, the change is real.

                                                                          1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                            Yep. Most things tend to change for the worse. Or at least, we tend to remember things as having been better in the past.

                                                                            1. re: linguafood

                                                                              I don't agree that most things change for the worse...it's certainly not inevitable. What a sad point of view. Many things change for the better and improve over time. In fact, the whole human experience has. And as I said, the change that has taken place on CH is real, and not because I'm remembering some sort of idealistic past.

                                                                              1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                                It's not a (nor my own) sad point of view. I don't think this site has deteriorated since I've joined, you feel differently. 's all.

                                                                                1. re: linguafood

                                                                                  Well, I was only going by what you said...you repeatedly said most things get worse...if that's not your point of view then I'm not sure why you repeat it so much.

                                                                                  1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                                    That's funny, because that sentiment (which I stated *once*, btw) was what I understood your post to mean: that this site had made a turn for the worse.

                                                                                    Also, this: "Or at least, we tend to remember things as having been better in the past."

                                                                                    So, to clarify -- *you* thought things had gotten worse here, not I.

                                                                                    Sorry to now actually having to repeat myself here, but perhaps you understand now?

                                                                                    1. re: linguafood

                                                                                      No, sorry, you are not clear at all, but this seems to be going in pointless circles. To hopefully end it, yes, clearly I said I think the site has gotten worse. The difference, as I see it, is that you ascribe that change to the fact that I simply can't remember what the site used to be like, or have some nostalgic view of the past. That's not the case. The site has actually changed, and for the worse.

                                                                                      1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                                        I've been posting here for just under four years. My question is, do you wish for more moderation (removing posts) or less moderation? Which boards do you frequent where you think the quality of the posts has declined? Are you referring to your regional board where the discussions are supposed to be about food and restaurants in a specific geographical area? I have spent little time in the regional boards. We don't eat out as often as do many on my regional board and we really don't travel all that much so I don't have anything to add to any other regional boards.

                                                                                        I understand that this site was started as a way for people to seek out good restaurant food, but I ask again, is that not still accomplished with the regional boards?

                                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                                          I am pretty sure cd has an issue with the relaxed moderating standards that mostly revolve around "chit chat" and a perception that the moderators play "favorites" with certain posters or groups of posters who appear to get away with things that other cannot.

                                                                                          I agree with the notion that the standards about chit chat have been relaxed, but not that the moderators play favorites. I think the "favorites" conspiracists think that because they are working from incomplete knowledge about exactly why some posts are taken down, and others are not.

                                                                                          1. re: Servorg

                                                                                            I've read many times the explanation you just provided, but I don't know exactly what it means. On what boards has this been happening? Do you have examples?

                                                                                            I suspect that I am on CD's list of offenders. I got a post removed because I made a wisecrack about a TV food critic and CD called me on it. in my defense, I was unaware that was breaking the rules. I have not had many posts removed lately, but I don't usually post anything deemed offensive.

                                                                                            I would be interested in specifics from
                                                                                            CD.

                                                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                                                              I've had notes from Jacq telling me that the rules on chatter has been relaxed and I actually found a post by her on one of the threads here on Site that actually said that. Obviously the moderating team still must look at the totality of a thread and all of the posts and make decisions about what needs to go and what is okay to stay. There is NEVER going to be perfection achieved with human endeavors and that goes with CH moderation.

                                                                                              Enough people have chimed in here saying "I want more stringent moderation" and "I want less moderation (or none - shudder)" (Tastes Great! Less Filling!) that we should stop with our cries of "I don't like this" or "Please don't do that" and just let the chips fall where they may and discuss the chow. Because in the end, it all comes down to whose ox is being gored.

                                                                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                I don't know how long you have been posting. I've been here almost four years. I have not noticed much of a change in moderation during that time.

                                                                                                It did take me awhile to figure out the dynamics here. I had been mostly posting on a news site that was not moderated, anything, including personal attacks, was fair game. I got several posts removed early on, not personal attacks, but some were argumentative. I even got put on 'double secret probation'. (I wish I could find those e-mails now.)

                                                                                                I'm just trying to find out where the problems are. I post mainly in the topical boards and I'm not seeing a problem with the moderation, unless I'm missing something which is entirely possible.

                                                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                                                  I've been on the boards since 2001 and once got into a "spirited" debate with Jim way back when. I still love the site and come here daily. But there definitely has been a change in the way that moderation is applied to what formerly would have been considered "off topic" (in fact I'm not even sure off topic is relevant as a report these days - joke - sort of).

                                                                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                    I understand there are complaints nout the site being used to 'trade recipes'. Isn't that the basis for Home Cooking? There was a complaint about posts about TV chefs, that sounds like a Food Media thread to me. Not About Food can get chatty. If none of those boards were included in the original site, isn't the easy solution to avoid those boards? That's why I'm asking about the regional boards. Are they a lot different than they were in 2001. If so, do you have specifics. I really am attempting to understand the problem, but so far I do not.

                                                                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                                                                      We aren't allowed to provide specific "bad examples" here as it is frowned upon by the P-that-B for any poster to hold another poster up as an example of something negative. And I banned myself from NAF long ago. I'm talking about wildly off topic banter going on post after post after post, without an end point in site, on local or regional boards. In the daze of yore that would never have flown. But now, all bets are (not) off (topic)...

                                                                                                      1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                        I was not asking you to name names. If the problem is the regional boards, then that is why I am not understanding the problem because I don't spend much time on mine. I don't think mine is all that active anyway.

                                                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                                                          Sorry. I thought you wanted me to post examples when you said:

                                                                                                          " If so, do you have specifics. I really am attempting to understand the problem, but so far I do not."

                                                                                                          And my local board (Los Angeles/Orange County) is very active.

                                                                                                          1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                            I was looking for specifics on the posts, not those who wrote the posts.

                                                                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                                                                              It's impossible to provide specific posts without also "outing" specific posters, which as Servorg says, is frowned upon by the mods. And I'm on thin enough ice with them as it is, I'm not going to tempt fate further.

                                                                                                          2. re: John E.

                                                                                                            My sense from other 'site' threads like this is that most of the complaints about change derive from medium size regional boards. Opinions about certain restaurants can be strong (pro or con). Individuals can develop a sense of expertise, and ownership, about what is good, or bad, in the region. Opinionated new comers stand out.

                                                                                                            Home Cooking is larger. Posters come and go, and few stand out. There is a steady stream of questions from new posters. Opinions aren't as strong.

                                                                                                            Not About Food (and too a lesser extent General) probably has more closed threads and major deletions, but we sort of expect and accept most of that.

                                                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                                                              As much as I really enjoy the Home Cooking board my favorite board has come to be a toss up btwn Spirits and General Topics. Spirits is so welcoming (probably the cocktails, huh) and General Topics covers a vast array of discussions without being overly political or gossipy. Friendly bunch.

                                                                                                          3. re: Servorg

                                                                                                            I agree. The banter seems to assume a life of its own and flagging it rarely make a difference. And it rarely has anything to do with food.

                                                                                                          4. re: John E.

                                                                                                            I think the answer is not only subjective but downright different person to person in any given thread on any board. What may offend you, doesn't me and so on.

                                                                                                            The only BIG difference I noticed in my years on CH, reading more than writing (if you can believe it) is the membership has exploded, grown so big we're tripping over each other. The rooms are large but the guests are filling every nook and cranny. So move over and give me some elbow room would ya!

                                                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                              I have noticed that when old threads pop up, I don't recognize a lot of usernames. I have noticed yours however.

                                                                                                              I wonder what the turnover is? I wonder how long a Serious 'hound lasts after posting here for at least a couple of years

                                                                                                              1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                Good question. There have been a few threads that included how many years have you been here along w/other membership questions.

                                                                                                                I know I miss a good # of CH's that haven't' been back for a few years. My husband stumbled in when Jim started the place and then introduced me to the community. My husband lasted five years, took a big break and now drops by on occasion. Mostly because work got very busy for him.

                                                                                                      1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                                                        It's in NAF. You could deem it pointless and just ignore it.

                                                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/926545 (Even if this post doesn't last you can get an idea of my thinking)

                                                                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                                                                            Same could be said for anything. It's an example. There are many others. Is ignoring the entire site your suggestion?

                                                                                                            Edit: I see now from a more careful reading of one of your previous posts that you have personalized this issue and are looking to attack me. Funny, but I have no recollection of the incident you cite, yet you seem to be carrying a grudge. Sorry now that I replied to you and restarted this. I should have known better.

                                                                                                            1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                                                              I pick the threads that catch my fancy. The probably means I ignore 99% of the threads on the site.

                                                                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                I am unable to ascertain the contents of a thread prior to opening it and reading it. But I guess that's just me?

                                                                                                                1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                                                                  That's what subject lines are for.

                                                                                                                  There's nothing mysterious about the threads on my current 'follow' list. I can see at a glance why I read and posted. And I don't worry about missing threads. This is recreation, not a job.

                                                                                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                    I think you're missing the concept of "off topic".

                                                                                                                    1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                                                                      Why should I worry about threads that go off topic? If I've been posting on a thread, and it goes off topic, I stop following it. I don't worry about threads that might stray on to some off-topic area of interest. I use the search function if I need to find every post about a particular subject.

                                                                                                              2. re: carolinadawg

                                                                                                                I don't hold a grudge at all. You pointed out that my post was against the rules and they were both removed. I learned the rules.

                                                                                                                The one question I have is about the regional boards, are they also too chatty?

                                                                                                                (A thread about getting together for a potluck meetup is by definition going to be chatty.)

                                                                                                                Mentioning you was not intended as an attack. I am sorry you took it this way.

                                                                                                                I guess since I was not posting here back in the 'old days' I'm not going to understand the problem.

                                                                                                                1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                                                                  I would say ignoring NAF will go along way towards sanity restoration :) I've heard the mods don't even like it!

                                                                      2. How does Jim Leff's manifesto reflect or fit your current understanding of the Chowhound website?
                                                                        Does not influence me.

                                                                        Did you know the manifesto existed?
                                                                        Yes, because many people will still start referring to it when they are losing an argument.

                                                                        Is the manifesto still relevant?
                                                                        No, food life has changed, online food life even more so.

                                                                        Please state how long you've been contributing to this site so we have a sense of where you fit in Chowhound's timeline.
                                                                        Since 2008.

                                                                        1. I am aware of Jim Leff and the beginnings of Chowhound. Today Chowhound is different, and I am sure there are those who were there at the beginning who lament the changes.

                                                                          I only started posting here in 2010. From the beginning, my primary goal was not only to seek out good restaurant locations, it was s to exchange ideas about food with others who have an interest in food, not just restaurant food.

                                                                          The regional food boards seem to accomplish what Jim Leff envisoned. Am I wrong about that?

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                                            IME, the regional boards do a good job. Sometimes a great job. And it seems most stay on topic.

                                                                          2. Yes, it's relevant.
                                                                            No, I didn't know it existed before stumbling upon this thread.
                                                                            And despite my despair over the heavy-handed moderation of this site, I think it follows the original manifesto.

                                                                            1. I think its relevance depends on how you interpret it. If you take it to mean "go out, find some awesome stuff, and share it," then I think it's a great guiding principle. If you take it to mean "you are one of the chosen, and can consider yourself an arbiter of taste and how people interact with food," I would just as soon see it go.

                                                                              I honestly don't know how long I've been posting. Been reading since at least 2004, back in the blue links on plain grey background days, but it was years before I actually created a name or "said" anything.

                                                                              1. I knew about it and it is what brought me here. I think I joined in late 2004. I was pregnant with twins at the time (hence my screen name) and spent way too much time on the web!

                                                                                Is the manifesto still relevant? Somewhat. I have no problem with the addition of recipe forums, chain boards etc. Boards I don't like I just avoid. I never understand why people complain about it.

                                                                                Also to me the boards have always had their share of blowhards who take themselves way too seriously. That is not new in the last couple of years.

                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                  Funny, I remember you. And your being pregnant with twins so clearly.

                                                                                  Blowhards also stir the point enough to turn a thread from okay to fun. When my husband plans parties he tries to include a few way too serious gents along just to keep the conversation lively. On CH there are members who you can tell know their subject well and keep close ties to certain boards. They share like mad and often own the board for hours. I read what they have to say and often delight in their energy. Blowhards keep the energy up.

                                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                                    They do keep the energy up, LOL! I think I need to do the same at my next dinner party.

                                                                                    The board can be a wonderful source of strength too. When I lost the twins and took a hiatus everyone was really kind. Of course the PTB wouldn't let me change my screen name so it is a bittersweet reminder of that time

                                                                                    1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                      This community can be incredibly supportive during difficulty. Maybe that's the unexpected bonus.

                                                                                2. Here's what I think hasn't changed and the #1 reason I enjoy the site: hospitality.

                                                                                  I have worked in hospitality for 45 almost 46 years. Different industries but always the same craft. I recognize it instantly and the very definition matters to me.

                                                                                  If that part of the manifesto; old or new, ever left the site so would I.

                                                                                  1. Its important that CH morph with its users (within reason). eGullet is an instructive case. The powers that be(TPTB) at eG decided to allow nothing that wasn't originally planned and even tightened the screws a few years ago.

                                                                                    Result-mass exodus. TPTB have since changed and things have improved.

                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: sal_acid

                                                                                      That's funny because eGullet formed when a few Chowhound posters got pissed that they were being moderated so heavily and felt that they were being singled out.

                                                                                        1. re: JMF

                                                                                          What were they being singled out for?

                                                                                          I found this statement of purpose
                                                                                          http://forums.egullet.org/topic/53063...
                                                                                          The things that jump out as possible violations of CHOW posting guidelines are talk of professionals, events and competitions. CHOW is quite strict about 'spam', promotion of your own business, even your own blog.

                                                                                          I see two types of complaints in threads like this:

                                                                                          - the moderators are too strict, restricting my freedom to discuss what I (and my friends) want.

                                                                                          - the moderators are too lax, allowing trolls and riffraff to pollute threads with poor quality reviews, jokes and banter (that I am not interested in).

                                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                                            I wasn't around eG back then, so I don't know. There was also some personal ambition involved, I think.

                                                                                      1. Hmmm. I've been on CH since 2002, at least. I lived in NYC, and distinctly remember dragging my DH to places in Sunset Park and the like, pre-kids. And now that I'm in Boston, I appreciate the appreciation of obscure cheapo places as well as the high-end stuff. I think that's the key to CH, then and now.

                                                                                        1. I was aware of it. It's of historical interest only. Once the site was sold, it became the prerogative of the new owners to make of it what they will.

                                                                                          1. I've been around as long if not longer than Mr. Taster. Sadly, I have been noticing a steady deterioration of the quality in posting and an increase in unexplained actions by over-zealous Moderators in removing postings at will. As such, a large number of regular and seasoned hounds world-wide ( whom I know personally ) have left the forum due to sheer frustration!!
                                                                                            What a sad affair!!

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                                                                                Is that a serious question? If so, you can use Google or an online dictionary to find an answer.

                                                                                                  1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                                                                                    Well thanks so much for the clarification.

                                                                                              2. I've been subscribed to chowhound since 2009 but I've been lurking long before. In a sense I'm still way more a lurker than a poster.

                                                                                                I chose chowhound because it looked more dynamic than egullet (what used to be my other lurking ground) and more friendly (egullet had some kind of barrier to entry if I remember).

                                                                                                I never knew the manifesto and, to be honest, I don't like it. These quotes turn me way off

                                                                                                "...and they never settle for less than optimal deliciousness..."

                                                                                                "They are the one in ten who live to eat."

                                                                                                "If you, too, fret endlessly about making every bite count; if you'd grow weak from hunger rather than willingly eat something less than delicious"

                                                                                                So you don't like foodies but would rather be a weird hipster elite that would die of hunger before eating something "less than optimally delicious"? That's just a bit too weird to me.

                                                                                                The way I see chowhound is a group of very friendly food enthousiasts, each with their own particular quirks or obsession but each with their own view of what "good" is and where to find it. They are usually fun to read, fun to discuss with, pretty curious and open to try new things.

                                                                                                This manifesto doesn't do a good enough job of representing what I like about chowhound.

                                                                                                94 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: CaptCrunch

                                                                                                  >> So you don't like foodies but would rather be a weird hipster elite that would die of hunger before eating something "less than optimally delicious"? That's just a bit too weird to me.

                                                                                                  Well, to be fair, when this was written, the "hipster" phenomenon hadn't fully metastasized.

                                                                                                  But what this quote says to me is that if I feel like having a bagel, but the only bagels available are terrible Einstein Bros. bagels, I will not eat a bagel.

                                                                                                  I will instead find the most delicious thing to eat, even if it is not a bagel. It's really ok that I want at that moment is not available to me. (I won't "grow weak from hunger"-- I think that was written an exaggeration for comic emphasis.)

                                                                                                  Mr Taster

                                                                                                  1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                    Fair rebuttal.

                                                                                                    The "hipster" phenomenon has most certainly colored my perception of the manifesto. In the same vein that I have always prefered chefs who saw themselves as artisan (or craftsmen) than artists I have a hard time with statements that sound too elitist or snobbish.

                                                                                                    1. re: CaptCrunch

                                                                                                      The hipster phenomenon rubs me in all manner of unsavory ways, too. This is not that.

                                                                                                      Chowhound was around well before it became fashionable to obsess about food. (Consider that today's hipsters were 5-10 years old when Chowhound began.)

                                                                                                      When Jim Leff says in the manifesto that no media outlets serve Chowhounds, that was not hyperbole or elitism. That was a factual statement accurately reflecting the times in which it was written. There was Gourmet magazine, and newspaper critics rating expensive, fashionable restaurants, but very few people were talking about where to get spectacular street food or techniques for really improving ordinary home cooking.

                                                                                                      Chowhound served a totally untapped outlet for what most people at that time saw as a lunatic fringe-- the food enthusiast. Not a gourmet, not a critic, not a professional chef, just ordinary people who thought about food (a lot) more than most people. Now that it's become fashionable to do so, there's the inevitable bandwagoning, and the hipster phenomenon has glommed on to that (in an attempt to be unique-- that always gets me... they uniquely express themselves by doing similar things... tattoos? Ironic facial hair? NPR? DIY? Using terms like "flavor profile"? And I like some of these things, but I'm not declaring myself to be a unique and creative.)

                                                                                                      Anyway, my point (which I think you got) is that today's food & food media environment is very different, and Chowhound is a part of that history-- the pre-hipster, pre-fashion era. We were just a bunch of semi-compulsive people who had been really interested in food for a long time, and for the first time ever, Chowhound allowed us to find others who shared this particular mental illness.

                                                                                                      Mr Taster

                                                                                                      1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                        I guess its difficult for me to relate because I don't come from an environment where food enthusiasts are strange.

                                                                                                        My sisters turned out to be great cooks, my mom was always a competent cook and my father was this OCD weekend gourmet who used to wake up at 6AM on a saturday morning to go shopping for his next great cooking obsession. Most of my friends want to be good at cooking, they are curious about trying stuff and I used to get tons of points growing up by cooking to potential girlfriends.

                                                                                                        If anything, I'll always be less of a gourmet than my old man because there are some food I don't enjoy for conceptual reasons (I don't like offal and I know its not because it taste good or bad) where he would gleefully eat brains, sweetbreads, testicles if they were well made.

                                                                                                  2. re: CaptCrunch

                                                                                                    Those very quotes that you cited are just plain yucky. Too darn precious. Blech.

                                                                                                    1. re: CaptCrunch

                                                                                                      I agree with all of that.

                                                                                                      I've been posting on CH since 1999. Even in those days, at the very dawn of the food revolution, the manifesto was overwrought. On the positive side it inspired a welcome enthusiasm. On the negative side it fostered an overcharged environment that led to food cults on the New York boards. A restaurant wasn't just good, it was mindbendingly lifechanging fantastic.

                                                                                                      Please.

                                                                                                      People just didn't love a restaurant, they embraced it with all the fervor of the Taliban. And God help you if you posted a dissenting opinion. You got swarmed by the true believers.

                                                                                                      In hindsight those early days were a period of immature adolescence for CH. Today the site has grown up. I rarely see cultish posts on the NY boards any more and I'm damn glad about that.

                                                                                                      1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                        I read something recently, not food related, about overused words. "Amazing" was one of them. I just returned from Israel and saw many amazing things. I hope I never again refer to food as amazing :)

                                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                          Especially when it's pronounced a-MAAAAAAAYYYY-zing.

                                                                                                          And let's talk about "awesome". The sun's nuclear fusion, which generated all of the elements that make up the earth along with every human being (and all things), is awesome.

                                                                                                          Your trendy pop-up restaurant, your ironic facial hair, and your retro t-shirt are not (unless, perhaps, you're referring to how nuclear fusion created the elements that they are comprised of.)

                                                                                                          Mr Taster

                                                                                                            1. re: sal_acid

                                                                                                              There's nothing more attractive then telling other adults which words they should or shouldn't use.

                                                                                                              Shame I'm married already.

                                                                                                              1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                I think that's why it bothers me. It doesn't sound like adult language. They're lazy terms that mean very little, and do not elevate the conversation. It's filler.

                                                                                                                Consider explaining why this particular thing is "amazing". Why is it "awesome"? Describe it. You don't have to wax nostalgic or use flowery language. (In fact, it's better if you don't.) Just give an honest description. Describe the taste, the flavor, the texture, how it makes you feel, why you like the sensation of it, why the aroma appeals to you (or doesn't). Why it reminds of your grandma's cooking. How the smell reminds you of a date you went on in your 20s.

                                                                                                                Or, you could just say "amazing" and let everyone guess. (By the way, I'm not referring to you specifically, linguafood).

                                                                                                                See what I mean?

                                                                                                                Mr Taster

                                                                                                                1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                  Since I'm agreeing w/linguafood, I'll share why I have.

                                                                                                                  Using myself as the guinea pig (not because I'm miffed)
                                                                                                                  You just managed to call me (I use all sorts of quick terms) lazy, contributing very little, not adult in my writing skills and filler all in the hopes of helping me contribute something else: something more to your liking. That's not moderation or the manifesto that's asking for a specific type of member to contribute; one that fits your manifesto.

                                                                                                                  I find your comment about what bothers you a lot like what bothers me about the Recommend feature. It's quick, easy and rarely tells me what the CH using it is agreeing or not agreeing to. The Recommend button only allows me to guess.

                                                                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                    Hi HillJ,

                                                                                                                    Thank you very much for taking the time to post an unemotional response, even though you were offended by my words. That's speaks very highly of your character, and I respect that.

                                                                                                                    I'm sorry I offended you with my bluntness. That was not my intent, though I understand why you felt that way. Collateral damage, as it were.

                                                                                                                    My real goal was to try to express why I feel this kind of writing doesn't belong on a forum (my own personal manifesto, as you accurately say), where all we have is each others' words to go on. After reading your reply, I realize that my approach was not exactly the most effective way of achieving this goal. I'm not a very politically minded person... I'm not considering the angles, I'm just expressing my honest feelings, directly and bluntly.

                                                                                                                    Again, sorry to have offended you. I'll attempt to be more constructive in how I communicate my feelings in future posts, with a clear goal rather than just charging headlong through the china shop.

                                                                                                                    Mr Taster

                                                                                                                    1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                      You missed where I said I was not miffed just willing to use myself as a guinea pig? I'm neither offended or taking it personal actually just willing to participate in your honest point of view. Read as written is so much easier.

                                                                                                                      But, I'm glad you are agreeing that it is your personal manifesto to wish such rich wordsmithing from others.

                                                                                                                      I do have a question though.
                                                                                                                      Do most CH's come here with the intention of being read by a larger audience or just to shoot the breeze about an outstanding dining experience?

                                                                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                        >> But, I'm glad you are agreeing that it is your personal manifesto to wish such rich wordsmithing from others.

                                                                                                                        Yep. That was an accurate observation, and I'm glad you brought it to my attention.

                                                                                                                        Mr Taster

                                                                                                                  2. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                    Amazing and awesome are lazy terms?

                                                                                                                    That amazes me.

                                                                                                                    And no, sometimes I don't want to go into a lengthy explanation WTF was so awesome about a burger I had somewhere. My friends and co-eaters generally know what I mean by that, like, you know, like it was like totally amazeballs great.

                                                                                                                    If anyone wants me to elaborate on my dining experiences in no less than 10 paragraphs, they're on their own. Sorry.

                                                                                                                    1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                      Thank you for your remarkable reply :)

                                                                                                                      Mr Taster

                                                                                                                      1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                        HAHAHA!!!!! "Amazeballs" was another word :)

                                                                                                                        1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                          Straw Man Argument. There is some room for maneuver between 'awesome' and 10 paragraphs.

                                                                                                                          And if someone calls things 'awesome' or 'amazing,' how will I really know they are not simply an easy mark? It certainly leads me to think the poster is prone to getting carried away.

                                                                                                                          Just like when someone says "Sister Act 2 was an amazing movie."

                                                                                                                          1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                            Might there also be room to describe something quite well, using 'awesome' in conjunction with more specific and less hyperbolic language?

                                                                                                                            1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                              The problem with 'awesome' in Chowhound is that it 'ups the ante' for hyperbole. Once something is awesome and you eat something better, what do you call that? Is the first version still awesome?

                                                                                                                              I think some things really are awesome like the Grand Canyon, Godzilla, or Godzilla falling into the Grand Canyon. But two of those things aren't real so we are running out of things to call awesome.

                                                                                                                              Naturally, we turn to the cheesesteak.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                It seems to me like you're confusing the literal and understood meanings of 'awesome.'

                                                                                                                                It is understood to mean 'very good.'

                                                                                                                                And just about every expression commonly used to mean 'very good' has another literal meaning. Which was the point of my post below.

                                                                                                                                "Amazing," "incredible," "unbelievable," "fantastic," "wonderful," "remarkable," "awesome" - all used to mean excellent or very good, even though all of them have very different literal meanings.

                                                                                                                                Don't get me wrong - I enjoy writing that uses words carefully, writing that plays with connotations and implications of words that are often left out of ordinary speech.
                                                                                                                                But, let's be honest - we don't generally hold professional writers to that kind of precision. There's plenty of daylight between Franz Kafka and Dan Brown. And with good reason - some professional writing is more casual, less weighty than other writing, and density is not always a good thing.

                                                                                                                                So, uh... how dense and weighty should posts by amateurs on an internet forum for foodies aim to be?

                                                                                                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                  That's why I asked this question yesterday:

                                                                                                                                  Do most CH's come here with the intention of being read by a larger audience or just to shoot the breeze about an outstanding dining experience?

                                                                                                                                  Soon I'll have to buy tickets www.chow.com/tickets to even read what some of our outstanding (too vague a word?) have to say about burgers, pizza and L.A.'s fried food scene.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                    Probably the latter. But even if it were the former, non-literal use of 'awesome' would still be appropriate. We aint writin literature up in ere.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                    "It is understood to mean very good" is more an argument than a fact.

                                                                                                                                    If you look at how often some people use 'great' perhaps that too now means very good, and that very good means good., and that 'ok' means it was pretty bad.

                                                                                                                                    I too use the word 'awesome.' Somebody says "I'm going to the drugstore." I say, "awesome."

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                      I think about that when I write "it was fine." "Fine" should mean pretty good but nowadays it probably means "meh."

                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                        Yeah, I think "fine" means "meh". I am not sure why...fine should mean fine...but it doesn't anymore.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                                          This reminds me of an old episode of the Dick Van Dyke Show, in which a guest at a party tells Rob Petrie that he thinks the Allan Brady Show is 'great.' Then Rob's dentist-friend, Jerry, grills the guest about what he means by 'great.'

                                                                                                                                          What did you think of Ben Hur? 'Great.'

                                                                                                                                          Is the Allan Brady Show as good as Ben Hur? 'Uh...No...'

                                                                                                                                          Half as good? '....Not really.'

                                                                                                                                          One Quarter? One eighth? 'Maybe one eighth.'

                                                                                                                                          So it really isn't great, is it?

                                                                                                                                        2. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                          You know where all this is leading: I would consider crossing town for something 'great.' But if something is 'very good,' I might have a version like that right around the corner.

                                                                                                                                          The end result is that folks who hyperbolize can't be trusted.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                            Good grief Steve. The only message (massage) I'm getting is nothing changes including folks who delight (dance) in pointing out some lack of value.

                                                                                                                                            Can't be trusted? Lighten up.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                              CH isn't about the adjectives. It's about finding out which posters share your taste (and which don't). That way you can figure that, if a like "tasted" hound recommends a place or a dish, you probably have a much better chance of liking it too. Adjectives are taste free but a well dialed in CH poster is worth his or her wait in a taco truck line...

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                The NJ Board is filled with recommendations. I don't know any of the CH's posting personally. I read their reviews, I make my own choices. But reading what they ALL have to say about restaurants, bars and hot spots is valuable and I've learned more about what's in NJ's food scene because of it. I'm not evaluating the words or placing some 'trust' button on any thread. I'm the one that has to trek out there, taste the grub and decide for myself.

                                                                                                                                                And the last time I stood on a taco truck line was at a NJ food event and I didn't know a soul. AWESOME taco.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                  "The NJ Board is filled with recommendations. I don't know any of the CH's posting personally. I read their reviews, I make my own choices."

                                                                                                                                                  I didn't mean to know them in the "personal" sense (nor even in the Biblical) but rather I am always on the lookout for other posters who have eaten at restaurants I know, and either like or dislike. I can then dial in my belief/agree system with a much greater ability to "fine tune" my "foodar" to those who I can usually trust vs those who have divergent tastes.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                    Of course, I thought that was obvious actually.

                                                                                                                                                2. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                  I agree, and people who hyperbolize are so easy to tune out...

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                    Complainers are much, much easier to find.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                      Absolutely, as I pointed out in my response to donovt, sites all over the web are filled with disgust as well as amazement.

                                                                                                                                                      Witness the outrage devoted to service issues in restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                      What's your frequency, Steve?
                                                                                                                                                      Michael Stipe

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                                        Dan Rather has left the building. KWIM?

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                        Awesome! So what's the problem, then?

                                                                                                                                                    3. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                      I am willing to travel and pay good money for great food, so I would very much appreciate it if people don't find the 'amazing' in the ordinary.

                                                                                                                                                      But I have learned: the 'amazing' people are just mouthing off.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                        Good for you Steve. You're not alone.

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                        HillJ,

                                                                                                                                                        Steve is simply making an appeal for people to say what they mean without unnecessary exaggeration.

                                                                                                                                                        We're surrounded by overstated, exaggerated language in the media, and people inevitably have picked up on it. Exaggeration has become an imbedded, central part of modern American English.

                                                                                                                                                        Sincerity, without exaggeration, is always preferable to me than overstated, overblown exaggeration.

                                                                                                                                                        By way of illustration, which of the following statements helps you the most, as a Chowhound?

                                                                                                                                                        "That was the best burger EVER! It tasted AMAZING!"

                                                                                                                                                        "I really enjoyed that burger. It was cooked perfectly and the bun was freshly baked."

                                                                                                                                                        Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                          I was in a very sarcastic mood at the time, Mr T. Steve was a GREAT sport.

                                                                                                                                                          But to answer your question neither reply. Neither is rich in much detail leaving me to wonder about the bun, meat, toppings, how it was cooked and directions to the joint!

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                            The question wasn't "which of these is a great review"- it was "which of these is more helpful". I wasn't trying to write a detailed review of a hypothetical restaurant. I was attempting to illustrate, by example, that you can write an equally uncomplicated statement using words that actually mean something, because they give some measure of detail, without exaggeration.

                                                                                                                                                            Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                              And I answered neither. Not enough information. More of a tease actually. No measure of detail, quite dull. Review or not I was bored. You can thank CH for spoiling me.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                Tease or not, the second one was better because it did more to inform you, without exaggeration. That was my only point.

                                                                                                                                                                Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                            Right. Because no way anyone would or could ever possibly write "that burger was fantastic: a perfect med-rare, great quality cheddar, nice bun."

                                                                                                                                                            It's not always either/or, at least not where I come from.

                                                                                                                                                            YMCV.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                              Let's just say Chowhound has spoiled me as much as it has spoiled you...but in different ways.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                I think Chowhound has helped me, in no small part, to write what I mean. In my very early Chowhounding days, I used to be prone to hyperbole, and was called out on it by senior hounds. Of course, I was defensive at first, but in the end, they were right because ultimately this is a forum comprised entirely of words. Since words are all we have to go by, the meaning and intent (and our reputation as Chowhounds) on these boards is made or broken by the words we use. And as Steve implies, someone prone to hyperbole is likely to fall victim to the crying wolf phenomenon. (How many times can you call something "awesome" when it really isn't, because it simply can't be?)

                                                                                                                                                                Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                  I am aware of that. And let me take a brief pause from this point to say thank you Mr T for writing some of the most fun and interesting posts. Real keepers!

                                                                                                                                                          3. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                            But what if they meant "large" when they said great? How am I supposed to know? I only trust someone who says "this taco tasted better than the average taco by a large margin."

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: donovt

                                                                                                                                                              Size doesn't matter. At least that's what I keep telling myself.

                                                                                                                                                              I think it's a question of self-aggrandizement, and it pervades the internet. Everyone wants to contribute meaningfully, so if they say they ate something 'amazing' they increase their own feeling of value. That's why people on movie sites, food sites, and all over the web write in such extreme terms. People want to artificially disparage or promote based on their own experience.

                                                                                                                                                              Sorry for the sociological analysis, but you do have to admit it is awesome.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                "People want to artificially disparage or promote based on their own experience."

                                                                                                                                                                Q.F.E.D.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                                                  I don't know what QFED means, so I'll take a guess:

                                                                                                                                                                  Quit Feeding Eskimos Dung

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                    Quod (effin') erat demonstrandum.

                                                                                                                                                    4. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                      < Once something is awesome and you eat something better, what do you call that?>

                                                                                                                                                      That would be the teeth-gnashingly obnoxious
                                                                                                                                                      "amazeballs".... ;-) I may miss out on some well-founded suggestions and information by doing so, but I automatically disregard the posts of people who use pointless, nondescript descriptives.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                                                        I'll see your "amazeballs" and raise you an "awesomesauce".

                                                                                                                                                        Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                              2. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                The thing I read was actually saying these were words/terms that no one over the age of 30 should use.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                            Furthermore...
                                                                                                                                            "Incredible,' 'unbelievable,' and 'fantastic' should be reserved to describe only the most improbable of wonders. When someone describes a meal as 'incredible,' I'm quick to correct them. "Better to say, 'it was very good, to the extent that food can be good,'" I tell them. And then I tell them about the time when I was 5 and think I might have seen a UFO - that was incredible. Soon people avoid describing anything at all to me, which is one very surefire way of ensuring no adjectives are abused.

                                                                                                                                            Better yet, it is safest not to use any adjectives at all except 'remarkable' - because the fact that we're having a discussion about the subject at hand justifies the use of the adjective.

                                                                                                                                            This is a remarkable thread indeed. See - my semantic logic is unimpeachable. Or, that is to say that it cannot be faulted correctly. At the very least, it is remarkable. 'Remarkable' is itself remarkable. Remarkable.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                Remarkable means worthy of remark or comment. It can be a negative thing as well.

                                                                                                                                                'His tendancy to hyperbolize is remarkable.'

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                  Yep.

                                                                                                                                                  And a diehard literalist would have to contend that 'unremarkable' is a nonsense word as soon as you use it descriptively in a sentence. You could think something is unremarkable, but you should never actually say so, lest you negate yourself.

                                                                                                                                                  I propose that maybe there's room for literal and figurative meanings, both.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                    'Unremarkable' can be a very useful and upbeat word, commonly used to describe medical test results that don't reveal anything that will kill you soon.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                      That's hyperliteralism. "Unremarkable" means that there is nothing further to say about it.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                        I'd thank you for enlightening me, except I'd like to go to sleep and would prefer the lights stay off.

                                                                                                                                                2. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                  I don't have quite the same visceral, negative reaction to "incredible", "unbelievable" or "fantastic" because they are not nearly as overused as "amazing" and "awesome". However, I do appreciate that observation, though I hope I will not become as sensitive as you on this matter. I have enough pet peeves already :)

                                                                                                                                                  Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                    How can this discussion have come so far without anyone mentioning the Y word?

                                                                                                                                                    Yummy.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                                                      Ahem. The proper term is "yumboski", please. Or _maybe_ "yumbosky."

                                                                                                                                                      But never yummy or yum. That would just be childish.

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                      I don't regularly accept incredible or unbelievable (same thing, btw), because usually I can believe it. I accept great, terrific, superlative, and all kinds of adjectives that I really experience, if used appropriately.

                                                                                                                                                      Sometimes I am filled with a sense of wonder, but that's a pretty special experience that doesn't quite fit with a Panera Bread Bowl.

                                                                                                                                                    3. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                      And, that would be double plus ungood.

                                                                                                                                                3. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                                                  What events mark the "dawn of the food revolution"? I would place it in the early 1980s, even late 1970s.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                    The seeds of the food revolution were certainly around in the 70s and 80s. Julia Child. Jaques Pepin. James Beard. Alice Waters. But those people all operated on the edges of popular culture. Their following was relatively small.

                                                                                                                                                    Then in the 1990s things began to go mainstream. The Food Network started in 1993. And the Internet - it changed *everything*. Leff and Okamura started CH which begat lots of other food boards and blogs. Did I mention Eater and Grub Street? And the ugly elephant in the room - Yelp.

                                                                                                                                                    CH kicked down the doors of the food world. Suddenly there was a two way conversation. You just didn't read what some wizard was saying, you had multiple people sharing their tips and insights.

                                                                                                                                                    People began demanding better restaurants at all levels, not just fine dining places, and the market responded. And high end food markets took off. Whole Foods, Fairway. Farmers markets.

                                                                                                                                                    Virtually all of that really took off in the late 90s.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                                                      Not sure if you mean to or not but it sounds like you think CH had a lot to do with that. I find that it's the extremely rare person who has ever heard of it, even among restauranteurs. But that may not be your point at all.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                        You did read me correctly - I definitely think CH played a major part in changing people's attitudes about food.

                                                                                                                                                        CH democratized food by celebrating well prepared cheap eats and great ethnic food. Before that newspapers and magazines focused on expensive fine dining places. People learned that you didn't have to spend a fortune to have a great meal. And better still, you had a small army of people running around scouting for these places and posting their finds on CH. It had a snowball effect.

                                                                                                                                                        For better or worse TV shows like Diners/Drive-ins and Man vs. Food and No Reservations are the lineal descendents of CH.

                                                                                                                                                        Are things perfect? Certainly not. CH's early days were marked by an over-enthusiasm for the weird and offbeat for its own sake. Some people confused a good story with good food. Food cults were born.

                                                                                                                                                        But that was the exception. CH has done far more good than harm. It still does.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                                                          Another significant influence early on, at least in Los Angeles, were the "free" papers such as the LA Weekly and the "Counter Intelligence" column that sprang up.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                            In NYC, where I've lived my whole life, we had Robert Sietsema's great Counter Culture column in the Village Voice. And Sam Sifton was writing in the other free weekly, the NY Press.

                                                                                                                                                            All that was nice but the volume of articles was ridiculously low. One a week. Sort of like trying to fill up a bathtub with a water pistol.

                                                                                                                                                            Actually, once CH came along Sietsema often used tips from here as a basis for full scale reviews. (He also found plenty of restaurants on his own.)

                                                                                                                                                            There are plenty of people and things to credit for the food revolution but if we're making a list I think CH belongs in the top 5 causes.

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                                                            Oh, not in any way am I saying that CH has done harm. I just rarely - very rarely - find anyone who's ever heard of it. Anywhere I go.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                              I agree. Except for the person who introduced me to CH in the late 90's, and folks I met through CH in around 2000, or I introduced them to it, I don't know anyone who has heard about CH. (Except for one time in 2008 in NOLA at Tales of the Cocktail someone I didn't know ran up to me, asked me if I was JMF from CH. I have no clue who the person was, or how they knew it was me. We were both somewhat inebriated at the time. To be expected at TotC.)

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                Or, maybe Chowhound is like the first rule of fight club....

                                                                                                                                                                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2lmFC...

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                  Except our gang would say "The first rule of bite club"

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                                    I was leaving that bit for you, S. I can't do all the heavy lifting! Make one hell of a chef apron logo....

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                                                          I would say you are describing the World-Wide-Web revolution more than the food revolution. And "taking off" is not the same thing as "dawn." Anyway, it's a continuous process.

                                                                                                                                                          For me, the significant markers are these:

                                                                                                                                                          1. Although I'm from the West Coast, my first encounter with espresso was in Greenwich Village in 1965. Then it was only found in such hipster enclaves, and the brew, with a strong bite, was not designed for the masses. By the time I got back to the WC in the early 1970s, there was a coffee house in the University District serving an espresso with broader appeal and making proper cappuccini and such. A cross-section of U-District denizens were drinking espresso, not merely the aging beats. I count that as the "dawn" of espresso. Now I can drive through Oregon and find espresso in every small town.

                                                                                                                                                          2. In the mid-1970s enough urban people were starting to want better produce, in more varieties, free of poisons, that co-operative food markets were formed to supply them. Small plots of public land were converted to "pea patches" to allow urban dwellers to grow their own food. This was the "dawn" of the "organic" food movement. Whole Foods did not create this, it capitalized on the trend. The original seed of this trend was planted by Rachel Carson in 1962 in her book Silent Spring, an event of considerable note.

                                                                                                                                                          3. The first time I had sushi was on a business trip to San Francisco ca. 1980 (we were staying near Japantown). By the mid-1980s, several sushi bars could be found in the midwestern metropolitan area where I then lived, and a lot of people in my generation were eating sushi. I'm not sure exactly when and where the "dawn" was, but nowadays sushi is everywhere, even in supermarkets.

                                                                                                                                                          None of the above had any dependence on the Web. I'd say perception of the "dawn" depends on one's age, unless you are a historian. Someone twenty years younger than I would not be aware of the history of the food revolution prior to the development of the Web.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                            I agree with you. Looking back I saw changes in culture in the US concerning food as far back as my childhood growing up in NYC during the 60's. The first Japanese restaurant serving sushi in the 60's. I remember eating sushi and Japanese dishes in the late 60's. My parents weren't "foodies", just curious about Asian and other cultures. they were poor immigrants from Europe. I saw the NYC suburbs getting real quality Japanese restaurants that were BUSY in the mid to late '70's. I went to restaurants with friends as soon as I had a job and hit driving age at 16 in 1978. Supermarkets started getting new and interesting produce around that time. Right around then was the start of high end fine dining in NYC with a focus on seasonal ingredients. And in the other extreme, mid 70's/early 80's seeing ethnic food of all types becoming very popular in NYC. Korean, Thai, Latin, etc. restaurants becoming very popular in the NYC 'burbs in the early 80's.

                                                                                                                                                            The so called food revolution started way earlier than stated here in comments, and in articles I've seen lately.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                              Or, had a library card.

                                                                                                                                                              CNET in 2007 filed a trademark for the name Chowhound and at sale title went to CBS. Prior to that, trademark for the word Chowhound as it applies to this site, didn't exist.

                                                                                                                                                              But, back to your point. Which is based not on age entirely but where you live, what your background is, what you were exposed to, economics and down right curiosity to try new (food) things.

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                                                              Bob, I mention it downthread, but I have to disagree. Food appreciation went mainstream in the late 70's to early 80's, at the latest. Maybe a year or two earlier.

                                                                                                                                                              The internet had its effect, that is unquestionable, but I think tv, and then cable tv had a much larger, and much earlier effect.

                                                                                                                                                              And I don't think that "CH kicked down the doors of the food world." I think the numbers of people effected by CH were, and in some ways are, rather small, compared to the "foodie" population as a whole.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                I thought that was the WHOLE point. That CH's weren't the mainstream food settlers but a small group quietly soldiering on to discover and uncover those food finds no one else paid attention to...except fellow CH's.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                  A lot of people, myself included, were chowhounds long before we ever heard of Chowhound and before the Web had been invented.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                                    Did you have a secret handshake? (smile) Keep a wooden spoon in your back pocket?

                                                                                                                                                                    Really? I had no idea. You mean to say an entire world actually exists outside this wee site where you're claiming..make sure I'm getting this right.. that you and "a lot of other people" pre Internet communication were chowhounds. You mean that really exists?

                                                                                                                                                                    Now I can get die happy.

                                                                                                                                                      2. Still relevant to me and other long time posters, but not relevant to most posters on the Toronto Board, it seems. People seeking out all sorts of deliciousness seem to be in the minority on the Toronto Board.

                                                                                                                                                        The current top 10 thread exemplifies how the majority are listing the same restaurants that have been vetted or previewed by others, rather than seeking out new experiences.

                                                                                                                                                        A few posters have been bashing/slamming restaurants they haven't tried, based on sloppy handwriting on a handwritten poster on the restaurant window,the looks of the other clientele (scary/sketchy/too old/too many suits). They've been condemning the food or restaurant after looking at a bad online photo linked to a post, criticizing lack of plating (even at a cheap hole in the wall), criticizing the presence of pasta or Caesar salad on a 'French' menu (as if French people don't eat pasta, and this act takes away the essential French quality of the restaurant), criticizing a restaurant's location in an ugly part of town and predicting its closure, kvetching about chains, insisting chain food by its nature is automatically less tasty than non-chain food, etc.

                                                                                                                                                        We have lot of 'grass is greener' posters whining that Toronto doesn't offer what can be found in Paris, Tokyo, San Francisco, etc.

                                                                                                                                                        Other posters seem to ask/expect the Board to try new restaurants on their behalf, rather than just trying something unknown/unreviewed.

                                                                                                                                                        Since 2003.

                                                                                                                                                        1. Dang, I can't remember when I started reading/posting - but the manifesto was there and I was glad to see it. It matched what I wanted/hoped.

                                                                                                                                                          So fed before 2006 but not as early as 2001.

                                                                                                                                                          I remember trying to find food info on Craigslist and getting so frustrated - then I found chowhound and felt like I was home.

                                                                                                                                                          1. Yes I remember. Betty- since 1998 or so. When I was working in a cubicle on Lincoln blvd in OKC and prowling around 23rd street at lunch. I found chowhound when I came back from lunch one day and did a search for preserved lemons & ended up explaining something to somebody about pecans. One guy who posted from time to time was writing crime novels I'd order & read. Then he wrote one about restaurant kitchens & got famous.

                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                            1. Been on Chowhound since 2003, and I've always been aware of the manifesto.

                                                                                                                                                              The manifesto is still relevant. In my area of Washington, DC the public at large is flocking to the latest and trendiest restaurants leaving old favorites and holes-in-the wall deserted. They are looking to spend money, drink designer cocktails, and feel that buzz of being in a crowded, noisy room.

                                                                                                                                                              At this point, low prices and/or traditional cooking are a distinct disadvantage.

                                                                                                                                                              A Chowhound can take so much more advantage of what's out there if they keep in mind the manifesto.

                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                And as another DC denizen, I think CH helps us to find those great ethnic joints that are all over the burbs, which themselves are distributed around the region. You tend to know only your own burb. So having a way to communicate with people in other burbs helps you to find great places all over the area. For instance, we were on the way home from a long day in the country, knew the fridge was empty, and we were too lazy and hungry to even pick up a pizza). I knew that two exits ahead, there was a great Thai place in a burb I virtually never visit. And I knew this because of CH. It is not trendy, it is not a place where the power-hungry young things would go. Just great food at a good price in a tiny restaurant in a suburban shopping center.

                                                                                                                                                              2. Not aware of the manifesto. Yes, I think it is still spot on. Sure, lots of people who are not really hounds by his definition have joined but that's still the heart of CH. And those folks are covered, too, by the final 'graph. And bicker, opine, rant? Yup.

                                                                                                                                                                I don't remember when I joined. Maybe 2007? I've dropped out at least once that I can recall (due to a grievous injustice, of course).

                                                                                                                                                                1. Chowhound.com's Alpha Dog, professional restaurant critic/author Jim Leff, along with Bob Okumura, launched this site to provide a non-hypey haven where their fellow hounds can opine, bicker, and rave to their hearts' content. Anyone who eats is welcome to stop by for unbiased, savvy chow advice or to just sit back and watch in amazement
                                                                                                                                                                  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                                                                                                                                                                  How does Jim Leff's manifesto reflect or fit your current understanding of the Chowhound website?

                                                                                                                                                                  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                                                                                                                                                                  No longer true.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. How does Jim Leff's manifesto reflect or fit your current understanding of the Chowhound website?

                                                                                                                                                                    It no longer does.

                                                                                                                                                                    Did you know the manifesto existed?

                                                                                                                                                                    I’ve been around here since about 1999/2000 and was a regular poster, not a 25 posts a day kinda poster, but a relevant poster to the manifesto. Jim Leff and his writings on the lost Greek food of Astoria Queens were a popular read amongst Chowhounds then. "..anyone can get a good meal at a 5 star celebrity chef restaurant. We are seeking the back alleys and hidden treasures of hyperdeliciousness.." (paraphrased with much liberty)

                                                                                                                                                                    I lost interest in Chowhound.com around 2005 when many of the best Chowhounds got frustrated with a lot of things going on and had already left to start their own sites.

                                                                                                                                                                    I almost gave up in 2006 when an ad free site became a site for ads. and i posted very rarely. not finding any Chowhounds posting about Chow anymore. Emails from this new site to "save my posts" went straight to the email trash and i saved nothing.

                                                                                                                                                                    The original manifesto was about eating out at hole in the wall dives around NYC 5 boros, finding deliciousness, even seeking "hyperdeliciousness" was a profound Chowhounds determination.
                                                                                                                                                                    It was not a cooking site, but occasional matzah brei recipes were exchanged by Jim Leff and others.

                                                                                                                                                                    I found that with the exception of Jim Leff who was very comfortable sharing new found places in nabes around NYC, most were hesitant to reveal any newly found joints they may have stumbled upon. I guess, still, it is/was in fear of losing their treasured palace of food to the masses.
                                                                                                                                                                    This is still very true on my local board where finding something to eat on this site has proven very difficult and i occasionally have to check out other sites to find a place to eat. Today’s chowhounds aren't as open to sharing places to eat as some were a decade ago.

                                                                                                                                                                    The saddest, and most disappointing of all is, there are really very few Chowhounds on this site right now. many even call themselves "chowhounders". I’ll equate that with boredom at home or work and have an interest in food solely via the interwebz, eating generic mediocrity breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days a week.

                                                                                                                                                                    53 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                                                                                      "I almost gave up in 2006 when an ad free site became a site for ads. and i posted very rarely."

                                                                                                                                                                      That observation struck me as significant, because there would be NO Chowhound site if that old ad free site had not morphed into one supported by ads. And if that had happened (CH going dark) it would have been a monumentally sad day for me...

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                                        "...and i posted very rarely. not finding any Chowhounds posting about Chow anymore..."

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                                                                                              Then set a good example and post more of what you want to see and talk about. Cursing the darkness but refusing to light a candle is not going to get you anywhere.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                                                very true. and i have tried that. for many years. to no avail.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                                                                                    thank you! at least you get that post was as informative about the food as any other we have read here

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm pretty sure Bob meant his post to serve as a rebuttal to your "...and i have tried that. for many years. to no avail." post above.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                                                                                          Yes. Always on the search for deliciousness, he is '-D

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                                                              Is this one of those "hoist on your own petard" examples? Like Chet the Jet might say "Pure and simple brilliance"

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                                                                                              thanks for following my posts. at least i find it amusing that you take interest in my funny posts.i wish there was some humor in not finding something to eat on my local board... lol

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                                                                                                                Just did a quick looksee at the first page in your profile. You seldom post on your regional board so I'm still not getting your point.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                  my first page has me posting or replying to no less than 8 topics on my regional board (as of the date of this post).

                                                                                                                                                                                                  and the past is the past. got Chow?

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Out of how many? About a hundred? And honestly what does it matter what others do?

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                      i fail at seeing your point.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      i mentioned in my original reply to the OP that they deleted all my posts prior to 2006 and i have rarely posted since. and yet, this is a site that is set up to share info about Chow. "what others do" is of little interest to me unless it has to do with Chow in my area. Got any?

                                                                                                                                                                                            3. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                                                              yes. i know. and i wrote that after i returned to this site "regularly" to find a lack of Chow being shared on my local board "New York State (exc. NYC)" , specifically Nassau County. it was as informative about the food as any i had read on this site. the frustration some people had with that post is the same many of us have with many other posts ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                                                                                                  I don't know how or why I'm showing up as having "recommended" this post (at least on my screen) because I am definitely NOT recommending it.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                                                    Click "recommend" again and it will remove your "recommendation".

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                                                                                                                                      Tried that and it didn't work. Your post is showing one recommend by 0 posters. What's that about? I think we are seeing a "recommend" button glitch or two all of a sudden.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                                                        "...If you get confused just listen to the music play."

                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                                                                                                  "The saddest, and most disappointing of all is, there are really very few Chowhounds on this site right now. "

                                                                                                                                                                                  And you know this how?

                                                                                                                                                                                  The two most popular boards are Home Cooking and Cookware which says that plenty of people are cooking. I scannned a few of the subjects on the NYC and SF boards (#3 and #4 in populararity) and they weren't about the 'name brands' by a long shot.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                    New York State (exc. NYC) specifically Nassau County

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                                                                                                        That board didn't even exist in the days of Jim and Bob, and the fact that it's underpopulated right now probably doesn't have anything to do with a change in the site... the traffic was NEVER there. I discovered Chowhound long after I'd moved from Long Island to Boston but I still would post occasionally on the Tristate board (which was a big catch-all even then) about chow in Long Island and Central New York. But even then, traffic on that board about chow outside of NYC was always sparse.

                                                                                                                                                                                        It covers way too much ground... Buffalo, Rochester, Utica, Lake Placid, Albany, Great Neck and Montauk all have completely different chow scenes, and posters with expertise on one of those areas don't often have anything to say about chow in another of those areas, but there have never been enough people sharing tips on any of those areas to warrant the establishment of a more area-specific board.

                                                                                                                                                                                        The trick really is to get more people posting, which, in theory, will attract more people to post. There are enough people on LI, I wish more of them would post!

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Chris VR

                                                                                                                                                                                          Well.... there's Symeon's near Utica :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                          None too shabby souvlakia.

                                                                                                                                                                                          And the Phoenician, but I've never been to that one.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                                                                            I remember hearing about Symeon's but that was before I knew I adored Greek food so I never made the effort. Dopey college kid that I was, I was all about the all you can eat spaghetti at Cavallo's for something like $1.25 (and really, NOT that good, again, this was before I knew about loss leaders.) I'm due for a college reunion one of these years, so I'll give Symeon's a try.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                                                                              thank you! i live about 4 and half hours drive away, but if i get myself near there i will stop in for a bite!

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Chris VR

                                                                                                                                                                                              Wait a minute! G's complaint is that not enough people are posting on his/her regional board????? I'd not had a clue what the point was :) MY regional board is a joke. We live in the Reno/Tahoe area and Reno is part of the Southwest board (AZ, NM and NV). Except Reno has nothing to do with the Southwest but that's another issue. I'm one of the few who posts about food in the area and occasionally someone asks who's coming for a conference or something. Big deal. And if G's posts cited here are an example of typical posts, then no wonder it's not active.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                Bob Martinez chose two of my funny posts that were posted to the "Not About Food" and "General Topics" boards.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                                                                                                                  But you ARE complaining about people not posting on your regional board...but you don't either.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                    c oliver, you wrote in this thread, "Just did a quick looksee at the first page in your profile."

                                                                                                                                                                                                    my first page has me posting or replying to no less than 8 topics on my regional board (as of the date of this post).

                                                                                                                                                                                                    and the past is the past. got Chow?

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Chris VR

                                                                                                                                                                                                "...There are enough people on LI, I wish more of them would post!"

                                                                                                                                                                                                Yes! I really wish they would too !

                                                                                                                                                                                                I want to believe that there is MUCH more traffic to that board than one might think at first look.
                                                                                                                                                                                                There are replies to posts by some that post very sporadically and if you check the "recommend" button, many posts are 'recommended' by Chowhounds that do not post all that much. We call them 'lurkers' here. I really wish they would share some good Chow on LI. Really. Actually, I would be happy with any post about anything to eat on LI. I am not driving to the other end of the state near Canada to dine. And since the Tri-State board got split up and New York State includes the entire state except NYC, it is a bit discouraging to some to post about a place that might have good Chow because it is in a populated part of the state.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I have a sister with great cooking skills from her living experiences in China, Thailand, India, and France. But she lives in Twin Falls, Idaho, a gastronomic wasteland, except for her small circle of accomplished friends. There is no way she could commit time to CH that would be worth her while, I have tried.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                                                                                    She might get some satisfaction from reading and posting on the Home Cooking board.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      She is a tri-athlete, tournament bridge player, and college professor. Sometimes when she says she'll call me right back, it can take a month. Boo hoo. Some people's schedules are really full, which is not a bad thing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Veggo, can you imagine being in the shadow of the great NYC and finding that the suburbs (Long Island in particular, especially Nassau County) are void of Chow?
                                                                                                                                                                                                      The five boro's, here on Chowhound.com split by the Manhattan Board and the Outer Boros Board, take all the fire.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      It IS true that the outer boros of NYC are a culinary Mecca and a gustatory wonderland filled with all too delicious Chow. A REAL Gustatory Dream Come True!
                                                                                                                                                                                                      But there has Got to be Something just outside the lines of Anywhere, no?

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                                                                                                                        G, I live in the Reno/Lake Tahoe area and there's some really GREAT food. But because of a relatively small population and also needing to appeal to tourists, they're aren't A LOT of great ones. So I frequent them and write them up but I can't write up the same places over and over and over again. Maybe that's your situation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                          i want to believe that. i have combed through all the board to try and find that one place, maybe two places. nope. it's not there. or nobody is sharing the Chow.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          (should I YELP ?)

                                                                                                                                                                                                          .

                                                                                                                                                                                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8725...

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I don't 'yelp' :) but I've had success on TripAdvisor when traveling outside the US. Maybe you should treat your area like a foreign country also.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I've seen a thread wondering why Orange County is a culinary wasteland (compared to Los Angeles). People worry about finding good food outside of Seattle and Portland.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Where have all the great restaurant reviews gone, the ones that you remember from early CH days (before my time). I bet they've all gone to blogging. There are many more ways of 'publishing' your writing these days.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                                            "Where have all the great restaurant reviews gone, the ones that you remember from early CH days (before my time). I bet they've all gone to blogging. There are many more ways of 'publishing' your writing these days."

                                                                                                                                                                                                            so... this site is no longer viable for seeking good Chow?

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                                                                                                                              For selected neighborhoods (e.g SF, LA, NYC) it might still be the best. It never was great for Juneau.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              It wasn't the manifesto and moderation (or lack there of) that made it great for the outer boroughs in 1999, but the particular concentration of posters.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                                                when i worked in Manhattan and the outer boros were my daily trip, i consulted Chowhound.com.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                so what you say may be true. and that is why i may be better off seeking advice from other websites when it comes to food in my immediate area. there really isn't much to go on on this site.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                other than YELP, and c oliver recommended Trip Advisor, where can one get good info on good Chow outside of the mega mecca cities ?

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                                                                                                                            http://www.eatoutlongisland.com/revie...

                                                                                                                                                                                                            it's a clunkier of a community site design but it is current and covers folks enjoying chow and talking about it all over LI.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm sure your reviews and comments would enhance the community!

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                              thank you. i just checked that site out.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              it is very "clunky".
                                                                                                                                                                                                              and worthless. it's not current, the latest review of any restaurant in my area is from 2010 and it's a "NO" to the return question.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              i still Chowhound the old fashioned way. you know, actually lunching and dining on my own without checking a website first. but that hasn't done anything but frustrate me more.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              thanks again for the help. i could sure use it!

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                                                                                                                                How about this?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                http://www.ediblelongisland.com/

                                                                                                                                                                                                                It's articles not reviews but our local one has turned me on to some things.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Oh yes! Edible publications are terrific. I read the NJ edition cover to cover. Gastron, you find Edible publications for free in markets. In NJ, Whole Foods and all the specialty markets have copies.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks for looking first. Two LI restaurants reviewed just last week came up on my husband's radar for when we head to Nassau Cty in Feb to see friends. I'm not sure I'd need to stop in a site of that nature to write a review but I did find it useful since I'm not overly familiar with the area.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  If you have a recommendation for two dinners pls share it on your home board and I'll def. check it out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. An interesting thread, though I respectfully dispute some premises in Mr Taster's opening post, namely "the 'foodie' revolution had not happened" and "no media was paying attention" to CH. I read in detail about CH when Calvin Trillin wrote it up journalistically, not long after it started IIRC. And the term "foodie" surfaced (rather obnoxiously) in my home region's mainstream media in 1980s articles that I still have on file.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  It's hard for me to know what "the foodie revolution" means. I grew up in a food-obsessed city family that made its own beer, yogurts, pickles, etc; roasted its own coffee beans for espresso, grew vegetables, kept livestock for food and milk, all in 1960 when those things were uncommon in town, if not downright suspect. But those activities were commonplace in 1900, and are slowly returning. In 1970, US restaurants were measured by Escoffier's "Guide Culinaire;" in 1995, by their distance from it. I have books and articles proclaiming New Ages of popular gastronomy since the 1930s or earlier. What exactly is a foodie revolution?

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Regarding timeline: I read CH for many years before registering in 2007, and would see the Manifesto whenever I went to the site, whose look and feel was slowly evolving all along. Since I have read about food on the internet longer than most people, including probably Jim Leff, I don't share the notion you see sometimes that CH was particularly pioneering (the truly original internet food discussions started 15 years earlier, before most people heard of the 'net). Rather, I see it as a timely adaptation, on the newly mainstream internet, to the longstanding human activity of sharing restaurant information. Actually, several US metropolitan regions knew an earlier dominant restaurant-comment site, but it faded away (before CH started) when its founder discovered that other appetites pay better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. i've been here since 1998, with a break in the early part of this decade. the original manifesto, which i agreed with whole heartedly, has very little to do with the overall chowhound vibe today.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    for me, the best analogy is punk rock. i was 12 or 13 for the first wave of punk in the mid-late '70s, and i was swept away. for me, it was something brand new, unique, something that most people didn't "get." by the time the 1990s rolled around, punk rock was cute, codified enough to be available at wal-mart, sears and used in ads for SUVs. 20 years further on, it's even further diluted, but recognizeable in a sense.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    it's hard to codify what's changed. i think the site's original disdain for "foodies" -- and disavowal of said group == was the biggest difference. early on, there was not nearly as much interest in instant gratification/flavor of the moment type stuff, ...more talk of where to find a great chicken adobo or steamed big bun, fewer threads about celebrity chefs sneezing, fewer stampedes in the direction mandated by self-appointed internet cognoscenti.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    some folks here write wondertully detailed, evocative reviews that completely transport me. for that, i will return, and wade through the 96th, 97th and 98th threads about Roberta's or Nakazawa.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I think I'll post Jim Leff's own post from one of the many times someone trotted out this very same old horse.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Hey, CCB

                                                                                                                                                                                                      "A few thoughts, in no particular order:

                                                                                                                                                                                                      We never aimed for this to be a "cheap eats" site, and I've been pleased that it didn't turn into one. When Ducasse (most expensive restaurant in NYC at the time) opened, we had several reports the very next morning...from the same people who'd been scouting tacos and knishes. Deliciousness is deliciousness, and we aim to chart the full spectrum. I strongly disagree that you've got to eat berry pie in Maine. Lord knows I would, but if tremendous zabaglione showed up in Kennebunkport, by all means we ought to know about it. Again, deliciousness is deliciousness! That was the hallmark of the old Chowhound and the new one, as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      But if you feel the mix is skewing one way or the other on a particular board, it's really important to bear in mind that Chowhound is not like a tv or radio station, where a set program is imposed on you. The site's what you make of it. Again, we try to cover the entire spectrum of deliciousness, so it's great that folks out there are charting the upscale. If you perceive a gap....fill it! Post about the sorts of places you like, and do so in such contagious, passionate style that you 1. make converts (who run to your places and make them their own favorites and post passionately about them themselves) and 2. attract kindred spirits (if blueberry pie lovers abandon the site because of a dearth of blueberry pie postings, then new blueberry pie lovers showing up will find no blueberry pie postings at all and leave, so the situation will never resolve).

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Finally, bear in mind "Jim's Green M&M Theory": if you hate green M&Ms, you'll hate a large bowl of M&Ms more than a small one, because a large bowl has lots more green ones. Anything you hate, in other words, you're going to see more of as something grows, and the aversion can grow out of proportion, in spite of great stuff quietly growing in equal (or near-equal) proportion.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      This is, BTW, why NYC (and other large cities) have a reputation for rudeness. You pass thousands of perfectly nice people on the streets of a big city every day without paying particular attention. The rude people you starkly notice, and their effect compounds...even if the proportion of rude people is the same as - or even smaller than - back home in your small town.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ciao"

                                                                                                                                                                                                      While Jim is referring to a particular post and some references are lost out of context, I think the general argument is pretty much the same. Obviously, many disagreed with this green M&M theory then as now. But I did think it would be interesting to bring out the main man's own words for this thread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I do think there are a lot of parallels between what Mr. Taster is bringing up and the gentrification of a neighborhood. I for one think the neighborhood has most certainly changed form when I started lurking in about 2004. Whether that's good or bad . . . I won't say. But I am one of those that believe that Jim's Green M&M theory doesn't hold water.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      In the end, I don't think it matters. Even if, contrary to Jim's belief, there are more green M&Ms, there are still plenty of other M&Ms and a search function to boot. Besides, I like green M&Ms.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Yes, I knew it existed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        No, it doesnt reflect my understanding of Chowhound. Mr Leff is entitled to his opinion and, back in those days, it was his site and contributors played here by his rules. Frankly, I regard the manifesto as pretentious tosh which doesnt reflect the current contribution of most users.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        No, it is not "still relevent" (see previous)

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Contributor since 2008 with this username and some little time before with another.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        40 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Could not agree more. With every word you wrote. Reverse snobbery is still snobbery.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Harters,

                                                                                                                                                                                                            In creating Chowhound, Leff carved out a comfortable nook for a subset of the disenfranchised-- those of us who felt left out by the very narrow ways in which the media (and the consuming public) of the late 1990s responded to food-- and he therefore needed to define what Chowhound was. He did this, in part, by defining what it wasn't (i.e. Zagat, "Foodies", etc.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                            This never struck me as pretentious. Rather, I've always felt it was a necessary means to define the parameters of what this brave new world was all about.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                                                              But given the rise of the Internet and Yelp (along with personal blogs) it seems that the manifesto and the rationale which you've just laid out are no longer necessary, or really even useful. The Chains board is proof enough of that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Maybe rather than cutting and pasting and still re using parts of the manifesto, after the CNET to CBS sale went through the new site owners could have taken the time to write their own mission statement and start fresh.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                One door closes, another door opens.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Trying to recreate, even through mission statement, something still familiar when so much would and did change was an unfortunate decision to make and seems to leave the folks who began with JL and still use this site trying to find the shreds that holds the old, comfortable/familiar model in tact. And folks (like me) who have been around long enough to get what some are missing but watched so much change while new members arrived by the hundreds, recognize this subject is mulled over a good deal because change is hard...especially held up against the idea that you can't miss what you never experienced.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I don't believe it is necessary to take a position on Jim Leff though. After all, he co founded this site and we all enjoy using it. I haven't a clue how difficult it was to keep this site running but it was successful enough to be sold off and continue operating today. Respect for that feat should come easy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Rewrite the mission statement.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The mission statement should correlate with the desired business model - whether optimal profitability would result from a smaller, more sophisticated base (think New York Times) or a broader, general base ( think U.S.A. Today). I think the die has been cast.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I have no idea, Veggo what has been cast. The number of changes that have taken place since 2004 are pretty significant. Change has been a constant on CHOW/CH. Staff, design, writers, boards, tech, you name it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Why should I believe the mission statement is not without an edit button.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  >> given the rise of the Internet and Yelp

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  But it wasn't written during the age of Yelp. It was written ~1997, and should be first read and understood within that context. Whether it is still relevant is the question I posed, and it sounds to me like I have your answer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Where I live, Chowhound performs the same service it ever did. Yelp may be helpful in some places, but not everywhere, and there is no discussion. I don't think there's a mechanism for me to directly question someone on Yelp. Is this discussion possible elsewhere? Only some places. And if I travel -across town or across the country- Chowhound is peerless.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The quality of chow opinions is generally good, but coverage is limited. And even in areas with good CH coverage (e.g. Seattle) the locals can get burnt out with repeated requests for 'what are the best local choices for someone who is jaded by all the choices in LA?'.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yes, most of my Chowhound friends don't post anymore. But many still read and follow along from time to time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It's important to point out the obvious: On Chowhound you can ask questions and discuss. Just like..... this thread! Some of the obvious alternatives, it doesn't happen. And if I am looking for an 'old School' Chowhound experience, yeah this is still the best place. Some experiences really are worth going out of your way for, and I think it's been pretty astonishing what I've been able to come across with the help of Chowhound. It's still the best place to spread the gospel, even if some aren't interested in listening.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It's enriched my life, and the manifesto is part of that. I think it's still valid to me, but obviously Chowhound has grown to the extent that there is a higher percentage of mainstream thought.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Do realize (and hopefully respect) that some/many of us don't view it the way you do. I joined CH in 2007 IIRC and the first time I read it I thought "yuck." And that's still my reaction.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      That is funny, exactly what I thought.... Yuck.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Still do.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        When I first read it (2007/8), my immediate thought was "But that's not how the real board is".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'd started reading Chowhound prior to a trip to America, looking for restaurant recommendations - and found them. And they were good recommendations - which Is why I've continued to use the board and contribute with restaurant reviews - but they were definitely not the sort of food experiences that one might have expected reading the manifesto.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        So, maybe it was once relevent to Mr Leff and the "disenfranchised" as Mr Taster puts it. But, by seven or eight years back, food life had moved on for most of us. The technology has moved it on. It's now also moving it on from discussion boards such as this - Twitter and Facebook are now the places to find the restaurant tips.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I see the need at the time for an alternative to mainstream food culture/media. I can see how that would be relevant even now. I like the idea of finding great cooking and food that has been overlooked by the mainstream. Lord knows there's plenty of it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        But the manifesto itself is a mess.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It's self-contradictory, for one - how can you 'blaze trails' and search for 'hidden culinary treasure' if you also 'never settle for less than optimum deliciousness'? Sounds like a real chowhound might have to kiss a few toads, so to speak.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        More problematic, it implies the vaguely pretentious notion that a chowhound-ish trailblazer cares more about what they eat than those lame, trend-following, sheeplike foodies. Really, those 'foodies' are just going where they've been told the food is good... because they want to eat good food. If anything, Leff's prototypical 'chowhound' is more adventurous, not necessarily more invested or even more knowledgeable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And in despising hype, the prototypical chowhound reveals himself to be... kind of a gasbag, at least if he still cares about 'optimal deliciousness.' When it comes down to it, some hyped eateries are mediocre... and some are great, hyped for good reason. Is there something about hype that makes the food taste worse?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        If Leff had just written honestly about the virtues of culinary adventurousness, and the need for an alternative media while the mainstream food media is myopic and overly sensitive to hype and herd mentality... I'd support it fully. Instead, he turned the manifesto into a treatise on how special, and savvy, and enlightened we are here. He turned a good point into a few paragraphs of transparent posturing. As such, it was never relevant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          "food that has been overlooked by the mainstream. Lord knows there's plenty of it."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I would disagree. The rise of technology such as local discussion boards, local review sites, Twitter, Facebook, etc means that it is all but impossible for food to be overlooked.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I give you one example from personal experience. A new restaurant opened in my village. Due to other committments, we couldnt consider going there until its second week of opening. By then, there were already several posts on the village discussion board and even a couple on TripAdvisor. It hads already hit the mainstream.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          So, that's an experience on my doorstep - almost literally - I can walk there in 10 minutes. And the technology helps when visiting a new area - I use all available resources. I would be a fool not. That includes all, or some, of guidebooks, local and other discussion boards, review sites, personal contacts. A restaurant's own website will tell me much that I need to know about whether the food interests me - and, in fact, on our most recent holiday (to America), restaurant websites were one of the the main sources of information, simply because there wasnt sufficient information elsewhere.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Interesting point. I guess it would depend somewhat on what you consider the mainstream. At any rate, the food media landscape has changed quite a bit since CH was founded.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'd tend towards thinking that just because few people are tweeting or blogging or facebook-ing about a new venue doesn't make it mainstream. There's still quite a gulf between Britney Spears and some new artist whose youtube video briefly made the top page of Reddit... and even more so some garage band that two dozen people wrote up on their blogs/facebook/etc. While it's true that you can find any of the above by looking for them, how likely you are to come across them on your own is a very different matter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Here is where I have problems with your post:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              " those 'foodies' are just going where they've been told the food is good... because they want to eat good food."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Those foodies do not necessarily have eating good food as an overriding priority. There is a huge trend right now to flock to places that have a lot of 'buzz:' room noise, lots of other people, designer cocktails, chic decor. I do not see them flocking to a hole-in-the-wall or any traditional restaurant or diner. Restaurants are being designed on purpose to be reverberative. Older places are being rejected for the latest new place. Good food -all else be damned- is not the top priority. Could these places have good food? Of course. But if the food was a priority, then they could also save a lot of money by looking elsewhere. It still is myopic.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "how can you 'blaze trails' and search for 'hidden culinary treasure' if you also 'never settle for less than optimum deliciousness'?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Easy. I blaze trails but I am careful with my recommendations. There, I accomplished both.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "And in despising hype, the prototypical Chowhound reveals himself to be..."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Obviously Chowhounds do not despise all hype- because posting on Chowhond is a form of hype. We all get that. You have to look at what the hype is about. For example, major critics in the DC area will still keep their recs guarded mostly to places where the decor is nice and the plating pretty. They like to be able to comfortably give blanket recommendations. They don't want to hear back from tons of 'foodies' about the oily food, the bones, the spicing, or the weird ingredients. if I want to know where to find a great version of X, no matter the decor, I still need Chowhound. If I want to eat something super delicious even if it's oily, even if it's strange parts, even if..... I still can't find other sources without blinders on. And other internet sites do not have the same question/answer format.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "If Leff had just written honestly about the virtues of culinary adventurousness..."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              There is no way to tell how things would be different. I suppose we could all engage in mountains of conjecture. You are here now. That's the important thing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                "Here is where I have problems with your post"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                _______
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Wait... which parts were you OK with?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                About foodies... I generally take people's word for it when they say they are into food. That might manifest itself in a lot of ways, and they might have different tastes or priorities than you or I do. But not many people claim to be interested in food because it's cool when they really couldn't care less. The guy eating only in michelin starred restaurants might be eating better on a daily basis than another person who makes a point of trying a new hole-in-the-wall each and every meal, and both might be eating better than a third fella trying his damnedest to learn to cook well at home, eating successes and failures alike. Which of the three cares most about food? It doesn't matter - they all do.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                "But if the food was a priority, then they could also save a lot of money by looking elsewhere."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                _____
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Of course they could save money while eating well by eating elsewhere... though that tends to imply that money is not their top priority.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                "I blaze trails but I am careful with my recommendations. There, I accomplished both."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                ______
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Huh?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Do you 'eat where you're told' or do you 'blaze trails'? Pick your poison.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                "There is no way to tell how things would be different. I suppose we could all engage in mountains of conjecture."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                ______
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Huh?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I wasn't speculating.