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An over-enthusiastic monitor...

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...deleted a post inquiring about an NYC restaurant simply because it included the restaurant's Health Department rating, which as every New Yorker knows is conspicuously displayed in every restaurant's front window.

I think this is overdoing it, and the post should stand.

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  1. It's a long standing rule that health issues are not allowed. If it's good today, it could be bad tomorrow and the reverse. Makes sense to me.

    1. Health department inspection ratings are prominently displayed virtually everywhere in the US. CH doesn't allow discussions of health violations/issues. <Shrug>

      6 Replies
      1. re: carolinadawg

        Agreed - on public display, covered on TV, radio, and print media, but to CH, Lord Voldemort. Stupid!

        1. re: greygarious

          I really disagree. The fact that someone has a low score or even got shut down temporarily IS generally a temporary, single occasion thing. These posts hang around forever and someone can take that one piece of totally outdated and worthless info and make a "buying decision" based on it. Hurts the restaurant and the diner can be deprived of some really good (and safe) food.

          1. re: c oliver

            I've always disagreed with this policy. A health violation is no more a singular event than a restaurant having an "off" night and thus trashed via a Chowhounder's review. However, health issues *can* have more serious ramifications for the patron. I don't know why it's something we shouldn't be talking about.

            1. re: PegS

              They CAN but that's not a given. Why brand a place forever? And if one is that concerned they can check it out themselves. Right?

            2. re: c oliver

              Who even said it was a low score? And at what exact point in the alphabet does this public information become censorable?

              1. re: knucklesandwich

                Has nothing to do with censorship. As long as the city health department makes the information available, then it's not censored. This is a privately-owned site; the owners get to make the rules. You don't have to like them; god knows I can't stand many of the site's rules. But it is what it is.

        2. personally I think a good strategy is to go somewhere that just re-opened after a bad rating. that's when it'll be the cleanest until the old habits creep back in.

          1. T minus…

            1. It's an idiotic policy, and one that I hope will change sooner than later. The letter grade might well be "temporary," but so are any number of things diners could report about a restaurant, including (but not limited to):

              "I had to wait a half hour past my reservation time."
              "No one told me how much the specials cost"
              "My burger was not cooked to my specifications"
              "The music was too loud"

              I could easily provide dozens of extant examples of any of the above, all of which are ephemeral complaints, and none of which (as far as I can tell) gets deleted.

              40 Replies
              1. re: small h

                Thank you.

                1. re: knucklesandwich

                  You're welcome.

                2. re: small h

                  And others may or may not counter those comments. But a ding from the health dept seems to live forever. I live in a "magic house" but clearly many don't.

                  1. re: small h

                    All of your examples are unverifiable personal experiences that can be subjectively evaluated by 'Hounds.

                    Health Codes are a "Legal Status" and have a genuine impact on business.

                    1. re: Kris in Beijing

                      Both those things are true. Neither of them explain why it is Chowhound's policy to protect businesses from the "genuine impact" of publicly-available information.

                      1. re: small h

                        In the Land of Litigation, could you imagine a restaurant with non-US locations suing Google and CHOW to erase a thread mentioning a low grade when/if there was proof that the low grade only existed for 48 hours, based upon the European Right To Be Forgotten?
                        I don't have a problem with CHOW staying away from Health Dept issues.

                        Someone, somewhere, would probably assert that CHOW is a "mandatory reporter" on food safety like teachers are for child safety.
                        Not a morass into which ~I~ want TPTB to wade.

                        1. re: Kris in Beijing

                          <In the Land of Litigation, could you imagine a restaurant with non-US locations suing Google and CHOW to erase a thread...>

                          Nope. I could easily imagine that restaurant asking, though. And Chowhound complying.

                          <I don't have a problem with CHOW staying away from Health Dept issues. >

                          So you've said. I do. Hooray! Two people have freely expressed their opinions.

                          1. re: small h

                            >>Hooray! Two people have freely expressed their opinions.<<
                            So, can I ask you to further elaborate without completely frustrating you?
                            Obviously, I see a legal ramification where you see, hmmm, maybe "freedom of speech whist presenting fully available public information"?

                            1. re: Kris in Beijing

                              <So, can I ask you to further elaborate without completely frustrating you? >

                              You sure can. And as luck would have it, I started a thread a few months ago that presents my position on this topic in (way too much) detail.

                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/967897

                              1. re: small h

                                That thread was interesting, and I had previously read only a few of the posts.
                                I guess since the (current) CHOW policy is agreeable enough to me, I don't frequent those threads.
                                .
                                Now, get me started on Zombie posts… I've probably made over a dozen suggestions about date-marking older threads!!
                                At any rate, CH isn't really our playground, we just get to visit as often as we wish.

                                1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                  <Now, get me started on...>

                                  I have so many peeves that I couldn't afford to keep them as pets anymore. They are now feral peeves, running in packs all over the neighborhood.

                                  1. re: small h

                                    Here's a current thread about other food sites that may please you more:

                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/981489

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      Is this an "if you don't like it, leave" post? If so (and apologies if not), that's rarely a helpful contribution to any thread.

                                      1. re: small h

                                        Why not? I've been looking into other sites myself. And there are many in that link I'd not heard of.

                                        I've never seen any subject that has people gobbling up wrong info more than food safety. Over the years I've begged the mods to not even allow those conversations. Turn 'em loose on a restaurant getting dinged by the health dept and they'll be passing that on forever. I've long wondered my CH's legal liability is.

                                        Have you come across a lot of places where you wanted to post about their inspections? Is it a real issue for you for that reason?

                                        1. re: c oliver

                                          <Why not?>

                                          Because it comes off as rude and dismissive, implying that rather than try to improve something I generally like, I should abandon it.

                                          <Have you come across a lot of places where you wanted to post about their inspections? >

                                          No, but I want to be free to discuss restaurant news here. That was the topic of the thread I linked to earlier.

                                          <I've never seen any subject that has people gobbling up wrong info more than food safety. Over the years I've begged the mods to not even allow those conversations.>

                                          I'm with you on this. But it's a different issue.

                                          1. re: small h

                                            But here's the part of my post that concerns me:

                                            "Turn 'em loose on a restaurant getting dinged by the health dept and they'll be passing that on forever."

                                            1. re: c oliver

                                              I understand your concern; I just don't share it. Here's why: I just plugged my address into Yelp and searched for "food poisoning." 35 restaurants came up in a one-mile radius (and a tailor - weird), all of them save two still in business.* Now, Chowhound's influence is miniscule compared to Yelp's. So how have these 33 restaurants survived?

                                              *And I am willing to bet cash money that their demises can't be blamed on Yelp.

                                              1. re: small h

                                                Hi,

                                                Out of curiosity I also searched Yelp for food poisoning in Reno. There were pages and pages of complaints including MANY of our often visited spots. So, yeah, I'll gladly acknowledge that that accusation, which as we know is impossible to really nail down, isn't going to put anyone out of business. I'm talking more about the health department inspection kinda stuff that I think - but don't KNOW - could hurt a place. I just don't think it's necessary for either type of thing to be here. But, hey, that's what makes the world go round, right? Sorry if I got grumpy. AND looking at all those Yelp criticisms made me REALLY grumpy :)

                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                  Whenever I think CH is getting out of hand, I read the comments in Yelp or a political board my Dad follows. Vitriol. Ad hominem. And the *%#*ing. Sheesh.

                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                    I just don't see how a Chowhound post that mentions a DOH grade would have an effect greater than the DOH grade itself. Perhaps there's some portion of the population that a) reads nothing but Chowhound and b) cares desperately about DOH grades. But I can't see those - what, 12? 13? - people being powerful enough to make or break a restaurant.

                                                    1. re: small h

                                                      Does that bring us full circle? If it doesn't matter, then why post about it?

                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                        <Does that bring us full circle?

                                                        No, no it most certainly does not. My point is that posting about DOH grades on Chowhound does not harm restaurants, and to use that as an excuse to ban those posts is stupid. My point has never been that posting DOH grades "doesn't matter." Of course it matters, just like posting about whether the food is good, or the music is pleasant, or the hostess is polite, matters.

                                                        1. re: small h

                                                          .

                                                           
                                                          1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                            Gosh, let's hope so.

                                                        2. re: c oliver

                                                          The deleted post was not about the Health Dept. rating. It included that information, but the subject was simply a request for info from other CHers who might've been there recently.

                                                          1. re: knucklesandwich

                                                            Sometimes the mods, when deleting something, will send you an email that includes your post. Then you may be edit it to be acceptable to the current policy.

                                            2. re: small h

                                              Quite a few Hounds frequent other food sites in addition to CH. It isn't an either or proposition.

                                              1. re: pikawicca

                                                Is it possible you think I don't know this? I know this.

                                                1. re: small h

                                                  Your post seems to have been deleted; now my response and yours make no sense.

                                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                                    Looks to me like it's there. At least when I click on his.

                                                    To me the point is that as we've always said it's their party and we are invited guests. They make the rules. We play by them. The health dept. inspection thing has been clearly prohibited, in writing, for a long, long time.

                                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                                      My post is still there. But you chiming into a conversation that was over and done with two days ago, just to state the obvious - yes, agreed, makes no sense.

                                                      1. re: small h

                                                        I don't consider a two-day-old post to be stale, and I only replied as I did because your post suggested that you didn't know that there was an alternative to "love it or leave it." Sorry you felt attacked.

                                                        1. re: pikawicca

                                                          Apology accepted.

                                            3. re: small h

                                              Spay and release?

                                              1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                Worth a try.

                                                1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                  ahh but TN/SR only solves a symptom, not the issue.

                                2. re: small h

                                  It's an idiotic policy, and one that I hope will change sooner than later.
                                  ______________

                                  And why do you presume that Chowhound policies should be anything but idiotic?

                                  Is there somewhere on the site that states that all Chowhound policies shall be non-idiotic? Link please. Thanks!

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    When they unveil the "Jr Board" everything will be 100% Non-Idiotic -or- we refund your subscription fee!!!

                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      I will thank you to refrain from suggesting that I have presumed anything. I have merely opined. Harrumph.

                                    2. re: small h

                                      You could also and description of the food being good or bad. Doesn't mean that will always be the case. Places change. Why not let readers figure out that relying upon an old post can be hazardous to your dining experience? Current info is what I crave.

                                    3. Actually, this is one of the few clear and unequivocal guidelines:

                                      "Reports of Food Poisoning, Insects, and Other Health Code Violations
                                      Posts alleging food poisoning and other restaurant health-code violations (like finding bugs or other foreign objects in your food) are not permitted. An online discussion forum is not the place to report urgent and serious public health concerns. If you notice something, please tell the authorities."

                                      I keep getting nailed for things that are not really clear (at least not to me) in the guidlines. Like "focus on food." Does that mean we can't describe the decor and comfort (or lack thereof), the quality of the service, and other details relevant to people who want info about a restaurant (they don't take res or res are a must), parking is a bear and they don't have valet, etc.

                                      So in a discussion last week about crabcakes, one person suggested a place in Baltimore. The OP was from out-of-town and so I mentioned that the place is in an area of Baltimore that urban renewal passed by. Perhaps because it spurred one of the other commenters to take a jab at me ("disneyland is 800 miles south), they yanked my comment and those in response.

                                      Frankly, if I ask for info about a restaurant esp in a town I know little about, I hope someone WILL take the time to tell me about decor, service, dress code, res policy, parking, and other relevant details.

                                      But my point here is that the guideline on this point is vague at best and leads to inconsistent and seemingly arbitrary moderation, which despite everyone's recognition of the travails of the unpaid mods, still generates a bit of friction that leads to less conviviality.

                                      And for me, as a person who wants info, it makes CH a bit less useful.

                                      39 Replies
                                      1. re: Just Visiting

                                        I didn't know the moderators were unpaid. Why do they do it?

                                        1. re: knucklesandwich

                                          For the love they get from us! Why else?

                                          1. re: knucklesandwich

                                            the puppet masters have serious dirt on them.

                                          2. re: Just Visiting

                                            I'm cribbing from my own past posts here, but here's how I've explained this issue before:

                                            This sounds like one of those topics that should be okay. And in theory, it should be fine. But in practice, it's just not.

                                            A side comment or two suggesting a neighborhood is less than a scrubbed clean, sunlit paradise amid a general discussion of the chow usually doesn't stir up a storm, which is why we let them slide.

                                            But when a discussion is point blank about the safety of a given neighborhood, it becomes one of those hot-button subjects where the conversation just does not go well. People who live or work in the neighborhoods being discussed feel personally insulted by the accusation that their neighborhood is too dangerous for hounds to even visit. And race definitely plays a role in these conversations, whether it should or not. The people suggesting a neighborhood is unsafe usually end up getting accused of being classist or racist, so they end up upset, too.

                                            And the end result of all that sturm and drang is ... not much. No consensus is ever reached on whether a given neighborhood is totally safe, mostly safe, safe during daylight, or not really safe at all.

                                            We hope every hound, whether at home or when travelling, will be smart about personal safety issues, but those seem to be judgments best made on the ground, since discussions here bring more heat than light.

                                            1. re: Jacquilynne

                                              And one person's definition of "safe" isn't someone else's.

                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                I find you are only as safe as you are aware of your surroundings.

                                                1. re: jrvedivici

                                                  My personal motto is "Don't be where you shouldn't be when you shouldn't be there." Held me in good stead so far. (Knock wood.)

                                              2. re: Jacquilynne

                                                As someone who's lived in a bad neighborhood, I'm afraid I disagree with everything you say, whether it's the appropriateness of describing a neighborhood, the race thing, or your point about "consensus".

                                                You seem to think you're something of an expert at deciding what's appropriate on CH or not. What qualifies you for this? And who is "we"?

                                                1. re: knucklesandwich

                                                  Umm, she is an employee of the site, Community Manager to be precise.

                                                  1. re: knucklesandwich

                                                    Sorry, I've gotten out of the habit of signing my posts since we got the red diamond for staff members. As carolinadawg noted, I'm the Community Manager for Chowhound, so in this case, I'm explaining our actual practices in this area.

                                                    1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                      "Area"? What area is that? Do you mean topic?

                                                      1. re: knucklesandwich

                                                        I mean area in the sense of scope rather than geographic region. So, "our actual practices around posts like these."

                                                        1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                          Posts that focus on a topic, or posts that simply include objective information about a restaurant's location, condition, or signage?

                                                          My original post was deleted simply because it mentioned that a restaurant posted a C from the NY authorities in its window. What if I'd said it'd gone down from an A to a B? At what point in the alphabet does this public information become so sensitive it must be deleted?

                                                          JV is right. Your language is vague, and the CH Team interference is arbitrary and inconsistent.

                                                          1. re: knucklesandwich

                                                            Back in the unenlightened 70s I had a boss who reminded us that "this is not a democracy." Neither is CH. We have a voice but not the final word.

                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                              I just posted 3 specific questions to the "Team". I don't think your reply answers any of them.

                                                              1. re: knucklesandwich

                                                                Golly, gee, I wasn't replying to those questions. I must have missed the memo :)

                                                                1. re: knucklesandwich

                                                                  No one is obligated to specifically answer your posted questions.

                                                              2. re: knucklesandwich

                                                                We really ask that people avoid including any health rating information in their posts, and that people instead turn to their local health department to find accurate, complete, up-to-date information about the health situation at restaurants they're concerned about.

                                                                It's important that any source that's going to include that kind of information be accurate, complete and up-to-date, and it's difficult for Chowhound reports to be any of those things. They quickly fall out of date and we have no mechanism to update them, reports of issues only exist for a few restaurants instead of comprehensively, and in many instances the information here is of unverifiable accuracy. Even when the report is initially about verifiable public information, a lot of speculation often follows.

                                                                We know health code violations are an area where we draw really hard lines around the conversation, and we understand how that can seem weird and confusing, but we really think it's for the best that nobody think of Chowhound as a place to get that kind of information and instead turn to more reliable sources for that data.

                                                                1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                  Jacq, do you think it would help people understand if instead of saying "ask that people avoid...." that you say "we don't allow posts that include any health rating info...." It seems that some people think you're being ambiguous and that it's open to negotiation.

                                                                  1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                    You're saying that simply mentioning a rating in a post, even if that rating is an "A" means certain deletion?

                                                                    What about critical comments regarding food quality, cleanliness of the premises and staff, variety of insect species (on and off the menu), or the habits of neighborhood residents?

                                                                    May I say that Elizabeth Street smells bad in July? Or that the aluminum foil at Grey's Papaya needs replacing, or must that information be suppressed? Please be specific.

                                                                    1. re: knucklesandwich

                                                                      Not sure if this from the CH Posting Guidelines got linked to here:

                                                                      "Reports of Food Poisoning, Insects, and Other Health Code Violations
                                                                      Posts alleging food poisoning and other restaurant health-code violations (like finding bugs or other foreign objects in your food) are not permitted. An online discussion forum is not the place to report urgent and serious public health concerns. If you notice something, please tell the authorities."

                                                                      1. re: knucklesandwich

                                                                        Evidently our "Community Manager" has been called away from the discussion.

                                                                        1. re: knucklesandwich

                                                                          I don't believe there's any rule that says any poster has to reply to all questions directed at him or her. There are times someone will ask me a question but by the time I see it, it's already been answered. I don't usually bother to weigh in unless I can add further to the answer. Or if the question has been "asked and answered" and the pot is just getting stirred, I ignore and move on. But that's just me.

                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                            I tend to do the same thing, especially in cases where the poster is replying to their own post, as knucklesandwich was doing.

                                                                          2. re: knucklesandwich

                                                                            The community manager is not your personal babysitter in this discussion, and perhaps had some other matters to attend to.

                                                                            Seriously.

                                                                            1. re: linguafood

                                                                              I do however offer Chow baby sitting services in box me for details.

                                                                              1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                I thought you called it Chow Boot Camp. Not for the faint of heart :)

                                                                          3. re: knucklesandwich

                                                                            We look at posts in context, and consider a variety of factors in deciding whether or not to delete things, but in general, mentioning health code violations or health department ratings is very likely to result in us removing a post.

                                                                          4. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                            By the way, those questions are not rhetorical.

                                                                            1. re: knucklesandwich

                                                                              Did you miss this and does it answer your questions:

                                                                              "Posts alleging food poisoning and other restaurant health-code violations (like finding bugs or other foreign objects in your food) are not permitted."

                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                No. And no.

                                                                                1. re: knucklesandwich

                                                                                  Alrighty now, to help you out, here we go.

                                                                                  Para. 1 - violation of the rule

                                                                                  Para. 2 - " food quality, cleanliness of the premises and staff, " not a problem

                                                                                  " variety of insect species (on and off the menu),' Violation of the rule

                                                                                  "the habits of neighborhood residents?" Maybe okay, maybe not. Depends on who the residents are and what they're doing. I did mention once some years ago that on the block where the restaurant was located I saw two people shooting up.

                                                                                  Paragraph 3 - violations of the rule.

                                                                                  You're welcome :)

                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                    Seems to me that there is a big difference between someone posting " eww, this place is gross, roaches everywhere and maggots in the food" and someone posting: "The NYC board of health has posted a "C" rating on the restaurant's door." The first could be spite, the second is objective, verifiable fact. Anyone interested in such things should note the date of the post and look up recent information on official sites.

                                                                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                      But it's not allowed and I think the reason is a good one. Once it's there people are going to be influenced by it. Well, SOME people.

                                                                2. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                  Can we give a link to a published report such as a newspaper that describes the area? That way there is no need for consensus on safety and the readers have at least been given a heads-up. That way, it isn't my personal opinion or anyone else's personal opinion. The thing is that there is no reason for someone from outside the area to even know to think about the area.

                                                                  1. re: Just Visiting

                                                                    It's best not to make neighborhood safety the focus of your post at all, even via an offsite link. If you've got some great food tips for an area and make a brief aside about safety, that'll usually pass by without a problem, but having safety be the sole topic of a post almost inevitably creates problems.

                                                                  2. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                    Actually, although your explanation makes sense, two points: First, maybe you should amend the guidelines and second, it kind of feels like the issue was not my original comment but rather the inability of another commenter to refrain from making a snide comment. So the OP who asked the question gets less information because of a commenter who couldn't control himself and the person who took the time to respond and impart information that the OP might want feels like why bother wasting time answering anyone. Seems like maybe the answer might be a note to the commenter who took the conversation in the wrong direction and deletion of that one comment.

                                                                  3. re: Just Visiting

                                                                    Why would someone volunteer to make this a less interesting site?

                                                                    1. re: knucklesandwich

                                                                      Ask a moderator. Or read this:

                                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3780...

                                                                      In any case, I doubt they will share your assessment of their work.

                                                                  4. Agreed

                                                                    1. Out of curiosity, who monitor the Moderators? Surely they cannot have total free reign?!
                                                                      Considering no one is perfect and moderators are only human and can be biased or over-zealous, will deleted postings be 'over-turned' upon reviewed just like ball games?!

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Charles Yu

                                                                        Upon further review the poster had one adjective in bounds when he caught and controlled the ball. Therefore the call is reversed. Touchdown!

                                                                        My understanding is that Les Moonves reviews all Moderator decisions made here on Chowhound.

                                                                        1. re: Charles Yu

                                                                          I supervise the moderators, but all moderators can see all decisions made by all other moderators and we can and do discuss and rethink them. It's not really a question of bias, but the reality that every situation requires a judgement call and sometimes different moderators take different views of what the best plan is for a given situation. It's most common for the mods to decide among themselves that something needs to be put back, but we also do re-examine things if someone responds to an emailed explanation with an objection, and we sometimes put things back then, as well.

                                                                          1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                            the thing that was an issue was then not an issue, and so it later became an issue and appropriate steps had to be taken until once again it was longer an issue.

                                                                            get it?

                                                                            oh lord, I hate when people 2nd guess me, I can usually do that quite well myself (yeah I'm talkin' to YOU Mom), but a team of voices? yeesh.