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Dish of the Month: Two years in review-- we need more exploration and eating!

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The SF Bay Area Dish of the Month (DOTM) has been running strong for 24 months!

Looking at stats, lots of hounds went out, ate the dish of the month, and reported back about a version they hadn't eaten before. These threads have been fun, and are useful for the community. But I don't know if DOTM is living up to its potential in terms of new discoveries and experiences:

Across the 24 completed DOTMs:
- 116 different Chowhounds tried versions of dishes they'd never had before. 40% ate more than one DOTM (see graph).
- each month, about 13 people go out, eat the dish of the month, and report back (see graph).

Are you wondering why DOTM threads are so long when only 13 people per month are eating the DOTM? For one, some contributors post about a few versions of a dish. DOTM posts are also filled with tips about past experiences. These tips can give valuable guidance, but DOTM is an opportunity to try new things and break out of the echo chamber created by past posts or earlier experience. The exploring aspect is what distinguishes the DOTM from thousands of other threads.

That brings us to the related issue of voting.
Only 2/5 people whose votes cause a dish to win actually eat it (see graph). Who wants to dress for a Halloween party when the hosts don't wear a costume?

Yes, things come up, but the pattern tells us that people are treating DOTM as a recommendation request instead of something people want to explore themselves.

What can we do to encourage more participation through active exploration and eating?

**My graphs got clipped by the image viewer, so stats for 7 DOTMs are listed on separate graphs I uploaded after the OP.

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  1. I guess I was not aware that DOTM was an invitation to sample something new. I'm definitely guilty of voting for dishes I want to hear about. And equally guilty of happily leaching ideas and suggestions for places to find some of my favorite dishes.

    One observation is that DOTM reviews keep coming after the month is up, espeically for the popular items. So maybe it would make sense to make it more of an open call to review maybe three dishes, with a new one added each month and one other thread closed. Time limiting each thread would encourage people to get out and experiment while the thread is open and active.

    1 Reply
    1. re: BernalKC

      Sorry if my words were unclear. DOTM is an invitation to sample something new ... to you! If it means following a tip and reporting back that's great--- your personal experience with the dish adds value to our collective wisdom. It also lets everyone know whether the dish is still as good as it used to be. If someone uncovers the dish at a place without a tip, at a place no one expected, that's a bonus but not necessary.

      For those same reasons, revisiting a dish from a new perspective during DOTM is also valuable. A good example of that was your taste-off between Sandbox Bakery and the Sofitel's croissants.

    2. I don't see this board as an echo chamber. I read about new places and new-to-me dishes all the time, so often that I can't manage to get around to trying more than a small fraction myself.

      The last thing the board needs is organized efforts to make that list longer.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Maybe we can chip in and buy you some blinders to shield your eyes from reading about tempting new-to-you dishes and places. :-J

      2. I really like this graphical summary. I would never have guessed that hamburgers were the most sampled DOTM, but now we know. I do think that although there are constantly new restaurants and dishes being posted on the boards, questions that begin with "Where can I find good..." are often answered with stale, echoey answers. I also feel DOTM has lead me to a few orders that I normally wouldn't order, for instance, I don't think I would have ordered wonton noodle soup when I went to Cooking Papa without good reports from DOTM (as I've always thought of it as okay takeout fare in the US), but it turned out to be one of the best dishes I've had there.

        1. I really like the DOTM thread. I don't vote, because we eat out so little these days I know I won't be able to participate very much. But I love to read about it, and will add to old DOTM threads over time.