Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Site Talk >
Aug 4, 2014 12:46 PM

The Q/A format is odious


People do not seem to understand that there will be no discussion if this format is used, and why should discussion be limited, anyway?

If anOP wants to disregard discussion, she should just ignore it.

I was rapped on the knuckles for saying this on another board , apparently that feedback is not welcome, particularly because others concurred.

  1. Hi, magiesmom,

    I apologize for the fact that my email left your knuckles feeling raw. We're trying to keep feedback about the new format here on Site Talk so that threads in the Q&A format can focus on the question being asked. We've been reaching out to people who are posting about the format on Q&A threads to answer their questions or direct them here, depending on what their posts said.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Jacquilynne

      I haven't seen much in the way of answers to the numerous posts about negative reactions to the changes.
      Have I missed something?

      1. re: magiesmom

        We're not replying to all the feedback as it is coming in, but we're definitely reading it all and discussing it. We're also watching the Q&As themselves to see how they're being used and how the threads are going.

      2. re: Jacquilynne

        Well since you, sorta, asked and I have recently been annoyed by the Q&A protocol...

        A few days back I went to an unfamiliar board to seek information. Seeing the ask a question choice I did so and only then discovered that there was no practical way to respond to someone who provided information. Although annoyed, I learned the lesson and will not consider that choice again. Clue: when you annoy users, they either work around you or go away.

        Over all, I think Chow is approaching or perhaps past the typical point in the life of a utility where it has provided 95% of all the USEFULfeatures that it ever will. There is not much that people want to do that they cannot. Unfortunately, virtually all creators of softwares firmly believe that if they do not produce Word version 1095EXTRASUPERSPECIALWITHALLNEWFORMATS the universe will be corrupted. For a company selling software, they at least have the excuse of that being the only way to make their previous versions useless and extract more money from their customers. That not being where Chow's income is generated, I don't see the reason for continuous churn.

        The "board" I frequent is poorer for the number of long-time, very knowledgable, contributors who have dropped out; some stating a reason and others joining them. In most cases the announced departures were prompted by changes in Chow policy/practice that appeared to me to have no support within the board's posting community.

        1. re: akachochin

          I appreciate your sharing your and others opinions on all the changes. I also have seen people leave, some to other sites, some just gone.

          1. re: akachochin

            I think this is a good a place as any to point out that there's membership churn in ALL online communities. Chowhound is by no means unique. People's lives and interests change and they move on. Some devote their time to a blog. Others move to other food sites. Some just get bored writing about food.

            I've seen it happen on 3 other food boards that I've posted on over the years. The explanation for the departures are by no means always sinister.

            Yes, people sometimes do leave as a matter of principle although the introduction of the Q&A thread format or blue hearts would seem to be an overreaction. The potential for management sanctioned shilling, however, is another matter entirely. I'll be watching that closely.

        2. I agree. The Q&A format is misused and even if used correctly is not needed. Seems like just another bell/whistle that no one really wants.

          1. Here's another good example of the problem with Q&A.


            Scroll down to the bottom post by jammy. Perfectly good question, and seemingly appropriate for the thread, but it's not getting answered since the format doesn't allow for it. The question invites discussion. Should/could that query be moved? How should it be dealt with?

            17 Replies
            1. re: JoanN

              Yet the OP itself is not truly appropriate for the Q&A format. The moment you put in words like "favorite" or "best" it's no longer Q&A appropriate. Q&A works well for matters of fact or location, black & white issues.

              Favorite and best are matters of opinion, therefore, they invite discussion and debate. Not every sentence that ends in a question mark Is appropriate for Q&A.

              1. re: mcsheridan

                I think the exact opposite. The "favorite" or "best" questions are actually well-suited for the Q&A format. They're straight-forward simple questions, with answers based on personal tastes. Debating over personal tastes is not always useful.

                1. re: mcsheridan

                  As the OP to whom this subthread refers, I thought the Q&A format was *perfect* for my question.

                  Whether I agree with people's suggestion of 'best' or 'favorite' is completely irrelevant. I was simply looking for suggestions.

                  1. re: linguafood

                    I think this kind of brainstorming is a pretty good use for the format -- people can throw in the way they've used it and other people can vote up the ones they think sound good or that they've also tried.

                    I did move the fennel pollen vs. fennel seed question out to its own discussion thread:

                    1. re: Jacquilynne

                      Wait, what? I thought it was stated on another thread that Q&A couldn't be moved even if the OP asked to have it moved?

                      1. re: foodieX2

                        I'm not sure if you're referring to the fact that in the past, we were unable to move posts off the Food Quests board, or if you're referring to the fact that we can't convert a whole Q&A thread into a Discussion thread.

                        In this case, we split one answer out of a Q&A thread to become the original post of a new thread, which isn't quite the same as either of those scenarios.

                        1. re: Jacquilynne

                          so its ok to spinoff off a Q&A? can you post a link on the Q&A thread to the discussion?

                          1. re: foodieX2

                            I think that's what the mods did, actually: link to the discussion.

                            1. re: foodieX2

                              For the most part, we're trying to keep answers to Q&As focused on actual answers to the question, but if the Q&A prompts you to ask another closely related question, it's fine to post that question in another thread (whether as another Q&A or as a Discussion), and then drop a link into the Q&A like I did with the Chowhound Team post in this example.

                              We're never going to be able to have the answers be completely clean, and this is a situation where a non-answering answer makes sense.

                      2. re: linguafood

                        What if one person posts "my favorite use for fennel pollen is in this recipe <URL>" and another person wants to ask "did you make any changes to that recipe? because I tried it and it failed miserably."

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          That would be something for a discussion.

                          1. re: linguafood

                            Right, but it's derailed by the Q&A format, and you might end up cooking a bad recipe that you would have been warned about in a discussion UI.

                              1. re: linguafood

                                So there's a Q&A thread about rinsing Asian noodles. You give your answer, lingua, and mention that you have a great recipe for cold peanut noodles. I wanted to ask you if you would share that recipe, but I can't reply to you, and it's not an appropriate reply to the OP. What could have been a discussion (and the sharing of a recipe), and what might have engaged the OP, a first-time poster, is instead, stopped dead.

                                1. re: L.Nightshade

                                  Seems to be a recurring story with the Q&A threads. Last week the mods had to move a similar post inviting discussion over to the discussion format. Q&A just doesn't seem the best approach to encouraging new participants to hang around and engage.

                                  1. re: L.Nightshade

                                    Yah, I get that. I absolutely prefer the discussion style over the Q&A, but I don't know that it's entirely useless for some questions.

                                    Nor am I invested in making either of those options go away :-)

                                    1. re: L.Nightshade

                                      I'm pretty sure I flagged that one with a pretty strong note :) I don't follow that format deliberately but, of the ones I've seen, really all would do better in Discussion.

                      3. I agree with you -- I've read one or two Q&A, but I really don't like the format and so I just ignore Q&A

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: sunshine842

                          Same here. If I see something is in a Q&A format, I don't open it.

                          1. re: Multifoiled

                            Are there many - seems not to be getting much traction.

                        2. While we're on Q&A, it appears that previously read posts in Q&A are not collapsed and grey like in discussion threads. Is this just me, or is it intentional? Between the lack of chronology and the lack of condensing, it is difficult to determine what I have read, and I am quickly losing interest in re-reading the same replies.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: babette feasts

                            It's intentional. My understanding is that it is to discourage discourse. The expectation is that only the OP will return. You are supposed to post your answer and/or vote and move on. I asked because I thought if I or others had a similar question it would good to be able to follow along. Nope. Maybe it is really to encourage multiple posts of the same question in this format.

                            1. re: foodieX2

                              Hmm. Interesting. I can't pretend that makes any sense to me.

                              1. re: babette feasts

                                Me either but advertisers don't care about retention, it's all about unique visators to a site and the number of click thrus. Increase traffic and posts, even from drive bys and the hope is more click thrus.

                              2. re: foodieX2

                                " is to discourage discourse"

                                Which makes no sense, as it's a freaking DISCUSSION BOARD.

                                ::::head desk:::

                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                  Linda, Linda, Linda :( It used to be that all of CH was a discussion board. It's not any longer. God only knows what it is (:::head desk also:::)