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Inviting Professional Voices to the Community

LOCKED DISCUSSION

The food landscape has shifted dramatically in the years since Chowhound was founded. The love of food and the pursuit of deliciousness aren't niche interests for an obsessive few with a drawer full of take-out menus, they're a broadly shared passion.

The lines between professionals and amateurs have been shifting, too. Diners have become bloggers and critics, enthusiastic home cooks have launched food trucks, suburbanites have become farmers, farmers have become artisan producers, and the professional chefs have become celebrities and personalities. And across the internet, all of these groups mix, sharing ideas and information. The food-obsessed are no longer disenfranchised and invisible.

On Chowhound, we've held back from that wider and ever-expanding discussion, in order to keep the conversation here pure and unbiased. And there's been merit in that -- creating a space that's free from marketing pressures has been valuable.

But there’s also so much value in a larger conversation. We’ve been working to make it easier for people to make different kinds of posts -- sharing photos and links and asking questions -- and we’d also like to see different voices participating in the community. Diners, restaurateurs, bloggers, producers, and everyone who is passionate about food should be part of the conversation here.

With that in mind, we're stepping back from moderating industry voices out of Chowhound. Instead of limiting them to answering only specific, factual questions about their business, we'll welcome them to openly join conversations, to let us know what they're up to and share their knowledge. This applies to restaurant owners, employees, and insiders, and also other industry folks like suppliers, cookbook authors, etc. It also applies to bloggers and website owners who may want to link information they've posted on their own site.

Of course, it's still important that the conversation remain honest and friendly -- we're not inviting angry restaurateurs to abuse users who post negative reports, and fake reviews are still forbidden. And while the merest whiff of self-promotion isn't going to get a post removed or a poster banned, outright spamming from people who never join the conversation will remain unwelcome.

Though we expect it’ll take some time to find a new equilibrium on the site, as people work out how best to participate here, we’re looking forward to seeing some interesting and creative posts from folks in the industry. We’d love to see bartenders sharing the recipes for their house cocktails, chefs posting photo stories about their new menu, and cookbook authors answering questions about their books on Home Cooking.

  1. Good call.
    It'll be interesting to see who it attracts though.

    1. Looking forward to this; it should make for interesting new conversations/content.

      1. I really don't know whether to be worried or excited. Depends on how it's pulled off. Anyway, I'm posting to follow the thread, and I'll start making some popcorn just in case there's an entertaining shit storm (i honestly don't know whether to expect one or not).

        Does this mean I can speak openly about my experiences running a competitive cooking league (which is essentially defunct now anyway)?

        Someone should call Jbannister

        11 Replies
          1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

            It was actually a pretty casual, small-time league. There are some write ups and info if you follow the link in my profile, but we were pretty lazy about writing anything up, and people who competed besides me and the other guy I ran the league with never wrote anything up, so they never made it to the web. Actually competing was both waaayyy harder and waaayyy more fun than you might expect though. Interestingly, the other guy running it with me was able to use the competition as a way to get his foot in the door in the restaurant biz (jumping almost straight into cooking under a James Beard nominee and sous chef-type positions), which I've often wanted bring up in threads where people wonder whether they should drop $50k+ on culinary school.

            I've mentioned it a few times on CH, but I've always had to be pretty cryptic about the details, or the post would get removed. So most of the time it wasn't worth bringing up, even if it was relevant to some thread or another. But next time it's relevant to some thread, I'll try bringing it up in more detail.

          2. re: cowboyardee

            That seems likely to be totally fine, yes. And I have to admit I'm intrigued by the idea of a competitive cooking league.

            1. re: cowboyardee

              Someone from Chowhound Administration should call Jbannister, apologize profusely and beg him to come back! Class act all the way, no bull sh*t & no net regurgitation. OK, I said my piece, now delete me!

              1. re: Tom34

                For that matter, does this mean that Joanie will be allowed to post on the Greater Boston Area board again? My understanding is that she was banned for having personal relationships with too many industry folks, even though she herself was not professionally affiliated.

                1. re: Allstonian

                  We've received one request already from a banned user, and we'll consider those requests on an individual basis. There are some posters who left or were banned because they refused to cooperate with requests that they not post about places where they had become friends of the house and received special treatment, and they'd likely be welcome to return at this point, though we would ask that they disclose any comps or special treatment they receive when talking about those restaurants. Neither of the people mentioned specifically is banned, though.

                  1. re: Jacquilynne

                    Without CH asking I mostly stopped posting about a place where we've established a bit of a relationship with the owner and I'm sure we at times are getting special treatment. I'm not sure I can be objective about it anymore. I think CH shouldn't change that stance.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      If you're a regular at a place, you'll probably get special treatment. Anybody else can do the same.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        You can be a regular but never establish any kind of rapport with chefs/owners. When that wound up happening, I couldn't in good conscience go all in. I'll still mention the place if someone says 'hey, I'll be visiting...."

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          I agree. There's a line in the sand between getting to know the owner, being recognized and warmly greeted by him/her, and receiving special treatment because you're a "regular." There are a couple of places in my neighborhood where I'm recognized, and even acknowledged by name, by the owners and servers. Maybe from time to time an app they're testing out is sent to the table with no charge. I don't think that changes my objectivity. If the place began to slip consistently, I wouldn't overlook it.

                          1. re: CindyJ

                            Oh, I definitely wouldn't overlook any problems, but I don't feel like I need to continue to praise them. When the owner gave me about a dozen morel mushrooms last year, I figured I really was an insider :)

              2. The risk here, of course, is in having restaurateurs and their PR minions posting endless niggling responses to defend against the tiniest criticisms. There are plenty of industry pros who are more sophisticated and tactful when it comes to responding to negative customer opinions in social media, but they're not the ones who historically have tried to post on Chowhound (where their comments were swiftly removed once the mods identified them as industry or industry-adjacent).

                In my experience, the chefs and owners who have tried to post here have been likelier to bring a John Tesar-like sense of decorum and restraint. I think it's going to take some assiduous moderation to prevent overzealous or hypersensitive industry folks from clogging up otherwise-useful discussion among actual Hounds.

                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                5 Replies
                1. re: MC Slim JB

                  We definitely see this as bringing new challenges to our moderation team, but they're smart, thoughtful folks, and they'll be able to help make this work.

                  When I presented these changes to our volunteer mods, one of the things we talked about was putting more focus on helping people participate well, instead of simply removing posts that don't meet a minimal standard. We expect to spend a lot more time in the future reaching out to folks and trying to guide them into being better posters, even if the posts they're making are not precisely against any particular rule.

                  1. re: Jacquilynne

                    "We expect to spend a lot more time in the future reaching out to folks and trying to guide them into being better posters ..."

                    I'm all for that, though I think moderating participation by people with vested interests will take more time than volunteers will be able to provide.

                  2. re: MC Slim JB

                    PR bullshit will be pretty obvious I think.

                    1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                      Obvious yes. To those who care. Will that number include the bosses here? I doubt it. Best guess is that this turns into shill city,

                      1. re: debinqueens

                        I'm not that skeptical -- yet.

                    1. Seems like a good idea, as long as people are upfront about their affiliations. I'm fearful of sock-puppeting. But I'd be very happy to see more discussions like this one:

                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/606792

                      19 Replies
                      1. re: small h

                        i am violently unimpressed so far. Because this:

                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/985152

                        is not an example of "inviting professional voices to the community." It is an example of "running an unpaid advertisement." How does that benefit Chowhound or its participants? If this is representative of the way the new policy is intended to work, Chowhound is destined to become the online equivalent of The Pennysaver.

                        1. re: small h

                          Oh my :( And how is the word getting out so fast? Is CH actually contacting food professionals and offering the site to them for free advertising?

                          1. re: c oliver

                            The sad thing is, the majority of the offenders that I've seen aren't even what I'd call food professionals. One in particular is just a smarmy dude looking for handouts and 10,000 to bake a chocolate cake.

                            1. re: c oliver

                              I'll reiterate here what I said elsewhere in the thread. We always got a bunch of these posts every day. You just didn't see most of them because the mods deleted them very quickly.

                              1. re: Jacquilynne

                                And they should continue to do so if this is the direction things are going to go.

                                1. re: Tom34

                                  As was said on 'that other current thread,' having professionals share their expertise (cooking, running the business) is fantastic. Having them promote their business is icky.

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    Yes and it seems to me the distinction is quite clear, easily recognizable & could be efficiently moderated if in fact that was the intent of the change.

                                2. re: Jacquilynne

                                  This http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/985152 is just an ad and it has been up for almost a day. Is CBS charging businesses not to delete spam?

                                  1. re: Jacquilynne

                                    So the Oktoberfest-type post is now allowable? Essentially, it's free advertising. Gotta agree with small h - VERY unimpressed if this is the way CH is now going.

                                3. re: small h

                                  Spam spam spam spam.

                                  I would have NO problem with ads like that if they had a "paid advertisement" disclaimer and CBS charged enough for them that they didn't overwhelm the real content.

                                  1. re: small h

                                    That is so blatantly promotional! Maybe the mods need a more discerning eye. If THAT'S the kind of stuff we're going to be seeing, I'll withdraw my thumbs-up on the new idea.

                                    1. re: CindyJ

                                      Certainly not what I envisioned from the initial presentation by the mods or the type of professional involvement that I enjoyed on Egullet or Chefs Talk forums. I can only assume if a broadcasting network owns CH then commercials will be part of the programming

                                    2. re: small h

                                      This is certainly not what the title of this tread lead us to believe. This is pure advertisement and since it's still there it must be what the higher ups want.

                                      If CH wants this type of advertisement posting then why not create another board and label it as such. Call it Post Your Ad Here. You can moderate it so only tasteful ads are presented to your hearts desire but at least the unsuspecting visiter here will not be exposed to blatant advertisements as we seek more meaningful discussions

                                    3. re: small h

                                      Minority view here. If I hadn't stumbled across the Oktoberfest ad from a long-time, esteemed [even revered restaurant in some people's minds], on the NJ board, I would NEVER have known about it. And frankly, I'd like to head over there for lunch one day.

                                      Having said that, isn't it sufficient for the restaurant to simply provide this information [or ad, as everyone is calling it], and then a moderator closing or locking the thread for comments? The MANY responses made the thread seem more important than it actually was. And frankly, the snark level was a bit unnecessary.

                                      This is an ad for an annual, seasonal event, not a weekly or daily ad for AUCE chicken wings or burgers, or waving daily specials in our faces. And that's what I think many CH-ers are concerned about. I certainly am. But again, providing basic information about a single annual, seasonal event doesn't seem to be a big deal, especially if no comments are permitted.

                                      1. re: jiffypop

                                        Yes, the pitchfork mentality is a bit disconcerting. I think I'd think twice whether to ever post here again about an annual event at my restaurant.

                                        But perhaps that was the intent.

                                        1. re: linguafood

                                          well, until a day or two ago, such a post couldn't have gone through anyway.

                                          and that WAS the intent.

                                        2. re: jiffypop

                                          I have zero trouble with ads if they are upfront about being ads, perhaps sporting a big "sponsored post" label (a la Gawker). And I'm glad you found the Oktoberfest ad useful - I often find ads useful, myself. What I object to is the ad masquerading as user-generated content, and in this instance, distressingly, it is (please turn down your radio) NOT EVEN THE ADVERTISER'S FAULT. It's Chowhound's fault, for inviting restaurants to advertise, free, on boards that were previously advertising free. As linguafood correctly points out, the restaurant risks alienating potential customers, because it's now perceived as intrusive and sneaky. It's also not a win for us Chowhound participants, because we now have an extra layer of distrust to peel away. And it's not a win for CBS, either, because CBS isn't compensated for the promo. As far as I can tell, everybody loses.

                                      2. I'm curious to see how this actually is implemented.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: JMF

                                          Hopefully like orange names or something. Or having names be certain colors depending on who the poster is.

                                        2. Is that change why this ad wasn't removed as spam?

                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/985022

                                          Allowing businesses to post ads as discussions seems like both clutter and pointless lost revenue. Why not create some new types, such as "focus group" and "help wanted," that they have to pay for, the way Craigslist charges for certain categories?

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                            Yes, that's why we didn't remove that poster's posts. We expect we'll see some flat out advertising, especially in the early days, and we know it'll be different to not see it instantly removed but we do think that if we want industry voices to participate, it's important not to immediately moderate them out as they're making their tentative first steps onto the site.

                                              1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                But that's not a "tentative first step", Jacquilynne. It's taking full advantage of free advertising.

                                            1. Great news! Now that you’re giving a little, I’ll ask for more…can we request that CH issues invites to specific authors or chefs to do a Q&A on CH (like IAMA on Reddit)? See the most interesting man in the world’s IAMA.
                                              http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments...

                                              Or to do a specific dish thread? Or a holiday cooking thread? See Kenji from SE’s Thanksgiving subreddit. http://www.reddit.com/r/AskCulinary/c...
                                              Maybe invite farmers, wineries, seafood vendor’s to do a q&a for a specific area?

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: EM23

                                                We have done some Expert in Residence threads in the past where we asked different people to come in and answer questions.

                                                Small h linked this one about herb gardening above: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/606792

                                                Here are a few more:
                                                The Nimans: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6334...
                                                Michael Ruhlman: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6572...
                                                Mark Bittman: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6410...
                                                Martha Foose & Virginia Willis: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6549...

                                                1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                  Thanks. I guess I misunderstood what inviting professional voices to the table would mean.

                                                  1. re: EM23

                                                    I WILDLY misunderstood what this would mean as well....WILDLY!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                                    1. re: EM23

                                                      The expert interaction threads are several years old now. There were problems, I think, in terms of how much time the experts were willing/able to devote to posting on CH and answering questions. Also, certain Hounds tended to jump in to answer questions with their own take on things, before the expert had a chance to respond. Suggestions were made for topics for other expert threads, but were not acted upon. (E.g.: a canning/preserving expert for August/September)

                                                      1. re: greygarious

                                                        It looks like those threads went on over the course of a few days, so I imagine that the flow might be difficult. The IAmA chats on Reddit are scheduled and usually last only a couple of hours. When the guest is done with participating, they can edit their op to say they are out of there and won’t be answering any more questions.

                                                2. I'll pull up a chair and enjoy. Cheers!

                                                  1. This sounds like the end of Chowhound.

                                                    7 Replies
                                                    1. re: Barry Strugatz

                                                      As we know it, maybe. The end of one era the beginning of the next? We'll see.

                                                      1. re: Barry Strugatz

                                                        That was my first thought, but to a great extent it depends on whether the moderators are up to it.

                                                        I the fundamental problem is that what CBS owns is a compilation copyright on the archive of posts produced by the Chowhound board communities, and most of the ways they can monetize that are contrary to the interests of the community members who wrote and maintain that content.

                                                        In the meantime, I'm reading up on Discourse.

                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                          "it depends on whether the moderators are up to it."

                                                          Those moderators have spent the better part of 17 years heroically staving off exactly what's now being embraced.

                                                          Chowhound's original goal was to foster savvy, earnest food lovers as they swapped tips in an environment with a minimum of noise, agendas, and commerciality, so they could compile the savviest and most trustworthy food tips and info possible. In the first few years, we managed to build a national brand and a huge audience (with neither funding nor revenue) by tenaciously sticking to that goal.

                                                          More thoughts, fwiw: http://jimleff.blogspot.com/2014/08/c...

                                                          1. re: Jim Leff

                                                            Thanks for the link. I just sent a very profitable hour starting with reading your current post and then through the saga up through Part 23 ending in "to be continued".

                                                            1. re: Jim Leff

                                                              Jim, thanks for posting with such dedication on the new Chowhound. I'm a huge fan of yours, and I owe my career as a professional restaurant critic and food/drinks feature writer to the old Chowhound. But I'm having trouble deciphering what specific kinds of content that are enabled by the posting rules change that worries you so much.

                                                              I expressed my concerns about what I initially read as the impact of the change: restaurateurs will be able to respond directly to criticisms by Chowhounds here, which strikes me as a potential morass if not assiduously moderated. Freedom from industry niggling about frank Chowhound opinions was something I valued here, and I worry that allowing it will clog up useful discussions among actual Hounds.

                                                              But you appear to be concerned about other things, and I can't tell from reading your posts exactly what those things are. Some examples would really help me out. Thanks!

                                                              http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                MC, if you didn't spend a decade delving into the copious dark matter perpetually battled by managers of online communities, it'd be difficult, extraordinarily time consuming, and ultimately non-useful to catalog the wide and surprising spectrum of ill behavior that is (just barely) fended off.

                                                                Perhaps my concerns will prove misplaced, and the quality of this operation can and will survive this (I'd love to be proven wrong!). So I'd suggest waiting-and-seeing. I understand that you want me to dissect the issues for you, but even the managers have expressed uncertainty in precisely how this will be managed, so it's impossible to pre-predict exactly how it will play out.

                                                                But I'm very keenly aware of the problems that have been held in check, and how much excruciating labor has gone into keeping them in check, and how impossible it will be to reverse entropy once it arises, and how foolhardy it is to roll dice and experiment on a proven formula. That formula has worked for seventeen years, yielding a culture that's authentic, honest, and non-commercial, thereby attracting the sort of people who contribute primo chow tips.

                                                                The cultural vibe of Chowhound is NOT the natural way of communities, online or off...hence its uniqueness. And it's not accidental. There is an insanely difficult and unlikely balance struck via insanely difficult work by an insanely dedicated group of moderators following a set of proven principles.

                                                                Those principles constitute a very tight Jenga, and pulling pieces off it is not advisable. And they're fooling with a crucial piece.

                                                              2. re: Jim Leff

                                                                I just started reading your blogspot- very interesting, informative, and helpful in understanding the workings of Chowhound and its changes

                                                          2. I don't actually mind this as long as--just as in the case of other sites--their affiliation is clearly stated in their username or via some other method. It's hidden agendas I'm most worried about.

                                                            13 Replies
                                                            1. re: PegS

                                                              People talk differently when the people they're speaking about are standing right next to them. There are lots of ways agendas can work, many of them quite subtle.

                                                              As a food lover, the only agenda I'm interested in (hidden or overt) is sussing out good places with other savvy, passionate, sincere food lovers. The greater focus a site can apply to fostering precisely that, the better the discussion and the more reliable the tips. And hence the greater the attraction for someone like me.

                                                              When you don't foster precisely that, then the hardcore people (i.e. chowhounds) quickly split. And when they split, what's left is weak broth ala Yelp, where Wendys or your local shitty Italian deli get five stars 'cuz the counter guy's cute.

                                                              1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                Like you, I've seen this coming for a while. The disconnect between stalwart, enthusiastic chowhounds who instinctively grok the original intent of the site "...for those who live to eat!" and the owners who are no longer content with providing a service to the stalwart has been growing. The disconnect has actually become noticeable to everyone, not just the die-hards.

                                                                Thank you for posting.

                                                                And Robert Lauriston - please let me know if you need help with your venture.

                                                                1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                  "When you don't foster precisely that, then the hardcore people (i.e. chowhounds) quickly split. And when they split, what's left is weak broth ala Yelp"
                                                                  _______
                                                                  That is a risk, but it's not a given. I think it's important to look for examples beyond yelp.

                                                                  Namely, EGullet in its heyday had a stronger professional presence than Chowhound. It did not allow for advertisements, but business owners and affiliates were more free to mention their businesses if it was relevant to a conversation. And it didn't have problems keeping the hardcores - it was an excellent place for discussions about cooking techniques, cookware, general cooking theory, and general food discussions.

                                                                  OTOH, I don't think it was ever as good for restaurant reviews as chowhound. That might have been in part due to some unrelated (and stupid) policies by the managers of that site, but it's certainly plausible that the industry presence had an effect in that area.

                                                                  If it were me making the rules, I would consider allowing business owners and other professionals more leeway in discussing their businesses in the general boards than on the regional boards. That would limit the potential chilling effect on restaurant reviews, and also allow professionals to speak openly in sharing information that might be useful to the community at large.

                                                                  In any case, I think the EGullet example can show how the devil is in the details for this kind of policy. The thread Robert Lauriston linked to above, for example, doesn't seem to serve as anything but an unpaid advertisement. And I am worried that this is what's being invited to the site. But name-dropping your restaurant in the course of an otherwise interesting and informative conversation might be a positive thing if it encourages knowledgeable pros to participate more.

                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                    I was exactly thinking about my experience with eGullet as I thought about this policy. I don't think there (unless things have changed since I last visited) the professional contributions were allowed to become advertisements or otherwise overwhelm the site. Instead, their contributions often elevated discussions around cooking or the ins and outs of restaurants. Granted, we'd still need tight moderation.

                                                                  2. re: Jim Leff

                                                                    That's exactly why I NEVER use Yelp! It's nothing but fluff and mindless opinions.

                                                                    1. re: CindyJ

                                                                      "It's nothing but fluff and mindless opinions."

                                                                      Rather harsh. Now, see, I used to blindly follow people who said that but no more. I live in the Lake Tahoe/Reno area and the posts generally are GREAT! To the point that I haven't felt the need to weigh in on places I've been to.

                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                        Maybe I should have qualified my response, c oliver. I know that Yelp is more helpful in some locations than in others. In NYC, for example, I know a few people whose opinions regarding restaurants I trust, who turn to Yelp for restaurant recommendations. In my own part of the country, the Philadelphia area, Yelp is all but useless to me. Or, put another way, many of the rave reviews I've read on Yelp for local restaurants are for restaurants that are just not raveworthy.

                                                                        1. re: CindyJ

                                                                          We're pretty off-topic, so this will be my last comment to this branch of the thread, but the pockets of value on Yelp are not a function of city-by-city. It's finer-grained than that. For example, any Asian restaurant (or take-out spot) near any reasonably large sized University with a grad school will be reliably reviewed and rated on Yelp. Same for places of a given nationality in a neighborhood hosting an insular community of that nationality. Never use Yelp for mainstream types of places (slice pizza, takeout chinese, italian delis, famous places). EXCEPT: do look at the food pictures for such places (ignoring ratings/reviews).

                                                                          One uses ones chowhounding skills to psyche out the sorts of places that will be well-reviewed on Yelp, and to find the right reviewers. Online or off, it's all about winnowing, and whenever I fail to winnow successfully, I blame my own winnowing - aka chowhounding - skills, rather than the data pool.

                                                                          1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                            If I favor New York pizza I'll pay more attention to Yelp reviews (here in SoCal) from people who are from New York or go there often. It's not perfect, but it's something.

                                                                            Reviewers are only really valuable resources if you have a way to calibrate their tastes with yours. Problematic on a site like Yelp. That's why CH is so much better.

                                                                          2. re: CindyJ

                                                                            I preferred your first response. I never use Yelp anywhere. If it isn't 100% mindless fluff, there is nevertheless enough of it to make it useless to me.

                                                                          3. re: CindyJ

                                                                            I'm with C Oliver on this. Nothing's all one way. Lots of people insist that Chowhound's all fluff and mindless opinions, too, but the following thread's as good as any we had back in 1999 (I LOVE being made to feel uneducated!): http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/984889

                                                                            There's good stuff on Yelp, too.

                                                                            What I like, and what you presumably like as well, is the highest possible proportion of smart useful stuff. That's what Chowhound was originally devised to foster (and Yelp wasn't). That's what attracted kindred spirits. The moderators worked tirelessly to preserve that value for years. And it's being unravelled for a desperate short-term traffic boost.

                                                                            The entropy can't be reversed. However, there will continue to be good stuff on Chowhound. Just not in the same proportion. And, again, proportion (to me) is everything.

                                                                      2. Why am I reminded of...
                                                                        "Come gather 'round people
                                                                        Wherever you roam
                                                                        And admit that the waters
                                                                        Around you have grown
                                                                        And accept it that soon
                                                                        You'll be drenched to the bone
                                                                        If your time to you
                                                                        Is worth savin'
                                                                        Then you better start swimmin'
                                                                        Or you'll sink like a stone
                                                                        For the times they are a-changin'."

                                                                        1. Ah, this explains why this discussion was left up:
                                                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/969778

                                                                          I thought the promotion by the owner was over the top, but the LA board seems very enthusiastic about it.

                                                                          1. Does this mean a review written here and duplicated verbatim with a link on a blog, yelp, etc. is now cool?

                                                                            "outright spamming from people who never join the conversation will remain unwelcome."

                                                                            Does that mean a business owner who writes a post about their new Kreplakistani restaurant, and cultivates the thread, is allowed to add a link to the 300 extant posts about Kreplakistani cuisine?

                                                                            49 Replies
                                                                              1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                                                Oh, gawd, I'm with you. I've already signed up and posted on eGullet. Something like that, I'll ask to be unregistered here. PS: The mods will LOVE that :)

                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                  I'm a longtime lurker over there, I just need to actually sign up..same with Chefsteps, been lurking around there almost since day 1.

                                                                                  Thing about that thread is that I flagged it immediately, and posted "reported" in the thread. The mods deleted my post and just left the thread up. Seems like it's quite apparent what is going on. I hope this is changed.

                                                                                  I really want to see industry people and actual experts on here but I don't want people just coming in to drop a link then leaving. If they don't want to participate they shouldn't sign up.

                                                                                  1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                                                    Hadn't heard of Chefsteps. Will check it out.

                                                                                    Yeah, the announcement sounds 'relatively' benign but the fact you were deleted and the post remains speaks volumes.

                                                                                    We already have industry experts on the site but they're not promoting their businesses. One was but he got deleted to the point he left. I'd love to have a restaurant owner weigh in on issues about the industry. Same with a chef. But to mention their business? No.

                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                      I had to go back and read some stuff to figure out what happened to that JB bannister guy. No good, no good at all...

                                                                                      Definitely want to hear their opinions about stuff from tipping to minimum wage laws and how it impacts their business, how they're dealing with it etc.

                                                                                      1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                                                        Well, as I understand it, they felt he was promoting his business and that wasn't allowed. So is this new plan going to make that okay?

                                                                                    2. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                                                      Yup, I even hearted your "reported" post because it was so clearly the correct response (and I've been pretty deliberately using the heart for only limited purposes given that it's so inferior to "recommend" or a thumbs up.

                                                                                      1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                                                        Well, whatever/whoever that thread was about has been deleted as well.

                                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                          Took some digging, not all on CH.

                                                                                    3. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                                                      Yes, if that's the way it goes, I'll be gone.

                                                                                      1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                                                        We're not immediately deleting promotional posts at this point, but we have reached out to the poster about that one because it's not a very good post, even for a world where we allow some promotion on the site. Some things that we might have deleted out of hand previously, we want to try and work with the poster to see if there's a way to make their contribution better.

                                                                                        So, please have a little patience, especially right now, as we're first starting out with this. It'll take some time to establish the best ways to avoid annoying everyone while also not driving away new people who don't get off to a great start here.

                                                                                        1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                                                          The flacs in Chicago clearly have heard of CH's policy change. This just went up, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/985182

                                                                                          1. re: masha

                                                                                            This is completely ridiculous.

                                                                                            Comment, Jacq?

                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                              This isn't good. Why weren't posters consulted, polled on this new policy? CH has since the corporate sale been used as the bait to get Chow traffic. We posters create the content but are denied simple common sense features like a listing of restaurant addresses, cross references, mapping of eateries. Moderators have a tough job but they are serving management who doesn't understand the democratic broad based expertise and groundbreaking uniqueness of CH.

                                                                                              1. re: Barry Strugatz

                                                                                                Barry, I was one of many who were asked to 'vet' the most recent rollouts. It seems that most of us thought that they were going to make changes based on our opinions. Turns out we were just wanted to show them technical glitches. So, forget it, you and nobody else is going to be consulted.

                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                  That had everything to do with how we were asked to participate. The first thing a tester does is sign an agreement that states that though the company welcomes feedback, what they are searching for is bugs. Had this been made clear in the original email and the testing threads... Well, we would have been resigned to the changes. I think a large part of the problem was that the mods were put in an impossible situation.

                                                                                                  We could have handled the truth, I think.

                                                                                                  As for this development, I'd like to know if other CBS Interactive sites have been made to embrace this open model for professionals. Do the gaming, tech and music sites allow the pros to hawk their wares or defend against reviews? I wonder.

                                                                                                2. re: Barry Strugatz

                                                                                                  "Why weren't posters consulted/polled on this new policy?"

                                                                                                  :::snort:::: Nothing against you, Barry, but for those who were involved in the recent roll out, virtually all suggestions about the look of the site went ignored. We were solely used for tech vetting, despite being asked to give our opinion on everything.

                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                    You guys (all the testers) got completely burnt, definitely sucks. While I may disagree with individual testers on certain things, you guys really did a great job of representing all the interests of CH users with your feedback. Too bad it wasn't taken seriously...

                                                                                                    1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                                                                      It was one of the most frustrating things I've ever had to do.

                                                                                              2. re: masha

                                                                                                Wow...

                                                                                                Gonna have to see how this plays out I suppose, I just hope the "correct," decisions are made.

                                                                                                I assume these posts will go, nobody wants a torrent of that messing up the regional boards.

                                                                                                1. re: masha

                                                                                                  I doubt that kind of stuff will stay up in the long run. It obviously shits up the site, and it will attract more and more of the same by virtue of its presence. I've read plenty of internet forums, and none of em allow that kind of nonsense.

                                                                                                  But it's worrisome that it hasn't been removed already. Are the mods allowed to moderate?

                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                      I'm thinking the site could save some time and space by eliminating the flag function. It's only purpose now would seem to be pointing out vulgarity.

                                                                                                      1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                        I'll disagree there, M. I don't hesitate to flag things for whatever reason and sometimes they're deleted and sometimes not. And occasionally I'll even get a note explaining why it wasn't.

                                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                          >I don't hesitate to flag things for whatever reason and sometimes they're deleted and sometimes not. And occasionally I'll even get a note explaining why it wasn't.

                                                                                                          This has been my experience as well.

                                                                                                  1. re: masha

                                                                                                    The speed with which this and similar posts went up yesterday, following hard on the heels of the announcement, leads me to believe that there was some advance back-channeling going on. Also, that the recent changes were directly related to this effort.

                                                                                                      1. re: mcsheridan

                                                                                                        "The speed with which this and similar posts went up yesterday, . . ."

                                                                                                        Did seem awful quick. Sad thing is, most of the more casual, regular users on the local boards are still quite blissfully ignorant.

                                                                                                        1. re: mcsheridan

                                                                                                          What you're seeing is less about the speed in which these things went up, but about a change in the speed in which they came down. We've always received a moderate number of advertisements every day. Before, only a small number of people would see them before they were Flagged and removed.

                                                                                                          Boring advertising is not at all our goal in inviting professionals to the community, so if we were to solicit content from professionals, this would not be what it looked like. But we are willing to demonstrate a bit more tolerance for it than we have in the past as we reach out to these people and try to get them to a place where they're using the site in interesting and informative ways instead of just advertising.

                                                                                                          1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                            So it's cool if we "flag" such posts by identifying them in replies? "Tag" them if you will?

                                                                                                            1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                              If you think something needs to be Flagged, please Flag it using the Flag button so the mods will actually see it.

                                                                                                              1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                                Given how vague the rules presently are, how do we know when they're being violated?

                                                                                                                1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                  Well expressed, M. What IS the purpose if not to promote themselves? If they're talking about their own place, then of course that's what they're going to do. There's an agenda here that, as usual, we're not privy to. Perhaps the site IS dying. Then let it go rather than bring it down to this.

                                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                    it seems like a very strange decision from a business perspective -- drive away the core of your participants/readership/visitor base in a hurry, in the hopes that you can replace them with a whole new group of users.

                                                                                                                    it also seems to fly in the face of what's gone on in recent years in media like this. most places are moving towards participatory -- if not pseudo-crowd-sourced -- content. this looks like a step back into the old days of "here's something to look at/read and something to buy." less interactivity, less involvement, less interest.

                                                                                                                    1. re: debinqueens

                                                                                                                      It doesn't strike me as a measured and sound business decision. It strikes me as more of the same thing as the Q&A format rollout: someone in management decides to 'shake things up' and goes ahead with their new ideas, not bothering to consult with people who understand the community better than they do, and disregarding plain-as-day evidence that their experiment isn't working as they push forward.

                                                                                                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                        Well, cowboy, I guess they saw what they got when they asked our opinions before the rollout :)

                                                                                                                        I'd like to know if these "professionals" are going to be required to identify themselves as such. If it's not completely obvious, I'd like to flag it and have a mod contact them to add that info. I think the term these days is "transparency" :)

                                                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                          Yes, they are required to identify themselves, and if it's not completely obvious, please do Flag them for our attention, and we'll touch base with the user about adding the disclosure.

                                                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                            More information on how professionals are expected to disclose their relationships is in the updated FAQ, at http://www.chow.com/faq#insiders

                                                                                                                            1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                                                                                              Looks good.

                                                                                                                              Is that "Munich comes to New Jersey..." one then going to come down since it's just advertising their event?

                                                                                                                      2. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                        Well, I'm still holdin' the hat in hand, hoping not to have to place it over my heart.

                                                                                                                    2. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                                      This whole conversation is depressing. The focus of Chowhound is now not about finding the best restaurants and food but how to interact with food industry professionals who may wish to contribute in a tastefully promotional way. Servicing the CH community with site improvements is obviously not a goal. This shift of focus/values was done at what corporate level?

                                                                                                              2. re: masha

                                                                                                                As of right now both "Kakeman"'s and "AnitaGumbo"'s blatant self-promotional posts are still up on the Chicago Board despite their lack of any content that would come within the parameters of what I understand to be the standard for posts by professionals. The only thing that the mods took down were some comments posted by Chicago hounds on the Kakeman post that objected to its content!

                                                                                                                1. re: masha

                                                                                                                  How many times can you flag a post? Maybe if we all keep flagging it and flagging it, the mods will have to take action. I'm not trying to start shit with the mods - they're doing the best they can and I'm sure they have to answer to TPTB also. How many times does a post have to be flagged before they take a look? One? Five?

                                                                                                                  But I really don't like posts like that. I think they drag the site down and I'd like to see less of them. They've given us the "Flag" button, so I guess let's use it.

                                                                                                                  1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                                                                                    We see all Flags pretty quickly, so flagging a post multiple times doesn't really do much except waste your time.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                                      Good to know Jacquilynne. Thank you. Like I said, I'm not trying to start shit - just trying to figure out the best way to handle posts that I find offensive.

                                                                                                            2. re: hyperbowler

                                                                                                              I don't actually understand your first question, sorry.

                                                                                                              We wouldn't allow a regular poster to make basically the same post in 300 different threads (2 or 3 is usually about our limit, though that's a moderator judgement call), so even if the link was okay, posting it in 300 places would not be.

                                                                                                              1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                                My understanding was that, in the past, you could only write a post such as (C). Has that changed?

                                                                                                                (A) "I had dinner at Johnnie's last night. Great food. For a longer discussion, see my blog post at hyperbowler4567.com/jonnies"

                                                                                                                (B) "I had dinner at Johnnie's last night. Great food. hyperbowler4567.com/jonnies"

                                                                                                                (C) "I had dinner at Johnnie's last night. Great food. hyperbowler4567.com"

                                                                                                                1. re: hyperbowler

                                                                                                                  Thanks for clarifying. Yes, that's changed. We'll encourage bloggers to post more information here than 'Great food' and a blog link, and work to get them participating in conversations instead of just linking their blogs, but we won't automatically delete A or B as we have in the past.

                                                                                                            3. Curious. Are you going to notify any of these 'pros' about the change?

                                                                                                              1. I always value the professional contribution and think there is more of it than there may seem. I do think outright promotion needs to be carefully monitored and definitely don't allow bloggers to simply link without adding to the discussion.

                                                                                                                The one big but in all of this is how will comments and criticism be moderated. If there is promotional BS on the site will we be able to call it out? If someone is shilling on behalf of a vested interest can we highlight that?

                                                                                                                In the past robust criticism gets modded. I know we should "play the ball and not the person" but when people are self promoting it changes that paradigm a bit.

                                                                                                                I used to like eGullet and the level of industry participation. the discussion was robust and forthright and then they over moderated it and all the insiders headed to twitter. It will be interesting to see where this goes, are all the people professionals with good worthwhile opinions and insights already a lots cause to Twitter and we will simply see lots of PR's and attention seeking bloggers.

                                                                                                                Time will tell.

                                                                                                                10 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: PhilD

                                                                                                                  We are also trying to be more open to people commenting on some of this kind of thing, yes. We'd like to still have those comments remain reasonably friendly and on-topic. So, if someone posts a link to their really lame Kickstarter project or their menu of overpriced, overly precious comfort food, it would be totally fine to criticize the project or the menu.

                                                                                                                  It would be fine to ask someone who is posting about a business repeatedly if they work there in as polite a manner as you can muster, though a direct accusation is probably pushing the limits a lot. We would still like you to Flag those posts, though, because we are still investigating possible shills and dealing with them. Allowing professionals to participate openly doesn't mean we're allowing them to participate dishonestly.

                                                                                                                  In general, it's a bad idea to post about the fact that you think something should be deleted -- if you think that, please Flag it, rather than posting about it.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                                    So, a simple, "Please disclose your relationship to the establishment, its ownership, and/or staff", would be ok?

                                                                                                                    1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                      It would be better with "if you have one" tacked on the end.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                                        The problem is--and I appreciate you bearing with us, Jacquilynne-- as in on the nudo vino posts, such shill threads draw a lot of first-time-to-CH "one post and done" posters. And all of them deny any connection to the establishment, ownership, etc.

                                                                                                                        It's sort of a Pandora's box...the Powers that Be at CH played with a Ouija Board and invited some folk in who are about money first and food maaaayyyybe...now how to get them to leave??? If ever?

                                                                                                                        1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                                                          Why do you think TPTB necessarily want them to leave? This, I truly believe, is all about traffic to the site. The more the better. We'll just have to get used to it or find other yards to play in .... If this one gets too full of weeds.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                            Aw, man...hope it's not so.

                                                                                                                      2. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                        Or in the case of the Walmart Steak thread where two new/first time posters were proclaiming the superiority of Walmarts meat selection, you could have said; "Should I respond to you as Mr. or Ms. Walton".

                                                                                                                        (sorry for the asinine comment)

                                                                                                                      3. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                                        <<<"So, if someone posts a link to their really lame Kickstarter project or their menu of overpriced, overly precious comfort food, it would be totally fine to criticize the project or the menu.">>>

                                                                                                                        It would be totally fine to flag it and have it pulled from CH. Chowhound is NOT the place for Kickstarter promos. They simply do not belong here unless it's paid advertising, in which case it should be tagged as such.

                                                                                                                        1. re: CindyJ

                                                                                                                          I believe you're saying that, "lame" or not, it shouldn't be here and I agree.

                                                                                                                      4. This is so clearly about generating traffic and revenue for the site. That's obviously the reality, so the only thing to do is see how it unfolds. Hopefully the rougher edges can be somewhat controlled by feedback from users, but I'd tend to think not or the whole re-vamp wouldn't be necessary.

                                                                                                                        I've been here around ten years and just hope the value I receive continues. This site has been a major contributor to my world of food and I'd really miss it. Have to say that Jim Leff's blog post on this last change really gave me pause. There's no one else with a better perspective on what this is really all about.
                                                                                                                        :o(

                                                                                                                        Hopeful but having trouble convincing myself!

                                                                                                                        1. With this sea change, it's definitely time to initiate the long-desired and ever-so-useful "Ignore" button.

                                                                                                                          Filtering is going to be important.

                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: mcsheridan

                                                                                                                            mc, I think a "resign" button would be even better.

                                                                                                                              1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                                                                                                So if we have the heart for the good post, why not a toilet logo for the dodgy posts...? Obvious span could then be flushed down the pan.

                                                                                                                                Jacquilynne - be a sport and humour us by bringing it up with the team.

                                                                                                                            1. My first reaction was going to be "I wonder what Jim Leff has to say." My second reaction is to say "read what he wrote above and go to his link."

                                                                                                                              I've only been reading and writing here for 14 years. It's been pretty easy to spot the shills but the decline of Chowhound has been going on for a long time. Now it will be no better than TripAdviser and Yelp. :((

                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                              1. re: el jefe

                                                                                                                                you are forgetting egullet and Jason Perlow and its decline

                                                                                                                              2. "chefs posting photo stories about their new menu"

                                                                                                                                Are you collecting advertising revenue or placement fees from this?

                                                                                                                                57 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                  Otherwise we are the only ones who pay.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: MplsM ary

                                                                                                                                    If so, the pieces should be marked as advertorials. We see them from "guest contributors" in the local rag. In that case, we can at least use them for fish wrap.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                      We're talking about professionals starting a worthwhile discussion and being open about their interests or ownership: http://www.chow.com/faq#insiders

                                                                                                                                      They would do so at their own risk and we want them to join the discussion, e.g. answering questions about how food is prepared or how a menu is created, for example.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: patsully

                                                                                                                                        Then something like the Oktoberfest one wouldn't have qualified anyway. Good.

                                                                                                                                        I'm curious how many pros are going to start a discussion. And we already have those people present on the site but they don't necessarily ID themselves that way.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: patsully

                                                                                                                                          "How can I best talk about my business on Chowhound?

                                                                                                                                          Chowhound is a community and a place for conversation, and business owners and employees should remember that when posting. It’s fine to talk about your business, but please don’t just treat this as an opportunity to advertise. Answer questions about your business in an honest, straightforward manner and respond to reviews, even negative ones, in a friendly, professional way. Aim to be helpful and informative rather than simply hyping up your business."

                                                                                                                                          So as long as some "helpful" information is conveyed, hyping up the biz is ok.

                                                                                                                                          Here's an example from the San Francisco Chronicle's food blog from a restaurant owner that is essentially a press release and "come on down" promo. I hope this isn't what you mean. I was disappointed that the Chron published this.
                                                                                                                                          http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/blog/...

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                            Wow, I'm surprised also. And if the Chron did it then why would CH be exempt from that type of self-promotion?

                                                                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                              Note the complete lack of comments there - it's a one way conversation. I can't speak to why the Chronicle would publish it or what the author thought she'd gain from it, but that's not what we're hoping to encourage.

                                                                                                                                              We're hoping for a two way conversation between professionals and the Community. Many professionals won't realize what they're getting themselves into at first, but once they do, we're confident the discussion will be valuable because we've seen it occur many times on Chowhound in the past.

                                                                                                                                              Thanks again for the feedback and patience here.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: patsully

                                                                                                                                                So CH would love to have someone post the very same thing just as long as there are replies? That's terrible IMneverHO :(

                                                                                                                                                BTW, yeah, you're getting my feedback but my patience is long gone.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                  Thanks c, I'd ask you to read my reply again there, specifically "that's not what we're hoping to encourage."

                                                                                                                                                  If an owner, investor, chef, author, etc. wants to start a conversation here, we want it to have value. A press release, or anything intended as one-way conversation doesn't achieve that and we fully expect it will be either ignored here. Will some post and realize they're not up for a real conversation? Most definitely, but we're okay with that in order to find those willing to engage and share their expertise.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: patsully

                                                                                                                                                    "A press release, or anything intended as one-way conversation doesn't achieve that and we fully expect it will be either ignored here. "

                                                                                                                                                    But not deleted. Cause y'all want that kind 'stuff.'

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                      Again, we do not. We want real contributions. Let me refer you to one of Jacquilynne's several replies on this, which explained it quite clearly: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9851...

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: patsully

                                                                                                                                                        Please. If you're not deleting them, then it's tacit acceptance. Rest assured, I'm VERY familiar with the deletion process.

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: patsully

                                                                                                                                                      <...we fully expect it will be either ignored or shouted down here.>

                                                                                                                                                      This seems like shifting the burden of moderation to the users of the site, as if CH is inviting restaurants to advertise* and then sitting back and waiting for the villagers with pitchforks and torches (that's us) to show up and chase them away. That's a strange and passive-aggressive method of "encouragement." Wouldn't it make more sense to set up specific guidelines for the professionals you hope to attract?

                                                                                                                                                      *which is the only way to interpret the continued existence of everyone's favorite new-style post, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/985152

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: small h

                                                                                                                                                        As Jacquilynne noted there's going to be more moderation work ahead of us to encourage the type of posting we're hoping for: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9851...

                                                                                                                                                        Those guidelines are spelled out here: http://www.chow.com/faq#insiders

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: patsully

                                                                                                                                                          Please don't quote Jacquilynne to us any more. Believe it or not, except for girloftheworld, I believe we're all adults here and we actually have read everything posted on this subject that now covers multiple threads.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: small h

                                                                                                                                                          Exactly, small h. There's difference in my mind between not encouraging and not allowing. Isn't there?

                                                                                                                                                          And, I just CANNOT believe that thread is still there. I notice how great the exchanges are between the "professionals" and the CHs. Whoever made THIS decision should be BFLd :)

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                            CH adding the disclosure today about the Oktoberfest OP's id made it hunky dory in their new playbook.

                                                                                                                                                            what's next? The local Chuck E Cheese franchisee posts about their upcoming CleanYourPlateFest?!

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Foody4life

                                                                                                                                                              Yeah, I saw that. So it's pretty clear that's the direction they want this to go. So be it.

                                                                                                                                                              ETA: I hope as others show up that CHs will share them here.

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: small h

                                                                                                                                                            In the case of the Oktoberfest marketing director, they're dealing with a serial spammer. This is not someone who's likely to be converted to a member of the Community no matter how much remedial help is offered.

                                                                                                                                                            http://blogs.wickedlocal.com/beernut/...

                                                                                                                                                            http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserRe...

                                                                                                                                                            http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/53/112894...

                                                                                                                                                            Yelp sent him off to the "not recommended reviews" purgatory,
                                                                                                                                                            http://www.yelp.com/not_recommended_r...

                                                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                                              Well then! That shred of sympathy I had for the innocent lambs running the Black Forest Inn is now gone. This new policy just gets more wonderful every passing day.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: small h

                                                                                                                                                                I think this points out that trying to separate the acceptable from the unacceptable is just too big a job. I don't see a problem with blogs as they're identified as such. But restaurants? No please.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: small h

                                                                                                                                                                  And Foody4life pointed out in the thread on the NJ board that this individual has been shilling on Chowhound for some time under another ID.
                                                                                                                                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9851...

                                                                                                                                                                  Here are the posts from gmmaka,
                                                                                                                                                                  http://www.chow.com/profile/1312300/p...

                                                                                                                                                                  https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view...

                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                                                    Shouldn't that mean that person gets banned? Obviously not one to respect the rules of the road nor to participate with any interests but what pays his bills.

                                                                                                                                                                    Why are those posts still up there and the person permitted to post under another ID?

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                      That's the befuddling part to me. MW and ohers have shown beyond any doubt and yet it remains. Somebody's uncle perhaps :)

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                        Jacquilynne, can you explain why such posters are being tolerated when they've already annoumced their sole purpose and repeatedly posted in violation of CH rules, including new ones?

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                          In the past the person would have been banned and mentions of the restaurant in question even by others would be banned too.

                                                                                                                                                                          But now is now, and here's the current faq:
                                                                                                                                                                          "Normally we only allow one username per person, but you may have both a personal ID and a business ID if you represent a business. Please use your business account to talk about your business. If you comment about your direct competitors on your personal account, please remember to disclose your connections. If you’re connected to a business and you post recommend or review it without disclosing your connection, those posts will be removed, and you and others connected to the business may no longer be permitted to post on Chowhound."
                                                                                                                                                                          http://www.chow.com/faq#insiders

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                                                            And therein lies the problem and the complaints.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                                                              Yes, I understand, but a history of violating the spirit and intent of the rules is a clear indication of what to expect, posts lacking integrity, and a poor excuse for a "community" member.

                                                                                                                                                                              Of course, now CH is no longer a community, it's a commercial free for all and all the good intentions in the world from the mods won't stanch it. That's not what ownership wants at all, they just want traffic.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                                                                "here's the current faq:
                                                                                                                                                                                Normally we only allow one username per person, but you may have both a personal ID and a business ID if you represent a business."
                                                                                                                                                                                _______
                                                                                                                                                                                This policy is straight up embarrassing. It's not enough that you are allowed to spam the site? You can spam the site and pretend you are a useful contributing member of the community as well?

                                                                                                                                                                                ETA: I realize that not all business affiliates are necessarily spammers. Some people might post valuable content from the perspective of a restaurant insider/blogger/etc. My point is that the new policy seems to be less about welcoming businesses than about bending over for them. If you want to post about your business, own up to that shit.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                  Yup. While we're told it's for the restaurant etc. professionals to share their knowledge with us, that's not going to be the case at all.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                    But they will share their upcoming event with you

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                    "This policy is straight up embarrassing."

                                                                                                                                                                                    Not to mention without rational foundation. The only reason to permit alter-egos is to allow someone to state something while wearing one hat that they don't want immediately attributable to them while wearing another. On its face, it condones posting with a lack of conviction and/or veracity.

                                                                                                                                                                                    If, however, the policy does have a viable rationale that I fail to imagine, then shouldn't the Mods have two screen names as well?

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                      That's not a recent change in policy. We've long made an exception to 'only one account per person' to allow businesses to have an account in the name of the business, while not also restricting whichever employee happens to manage that account to posting directly as the business. We've made it more prominent in the current version of the FAQ, but it was also mentioned in previous versions. This is what the FAQ said about that before the most recent update:

                                                                                                                                                                                      ---
                                                                                                                                                                                      Some businesses establish an account in the name of their business if they need to make rare posts on behalf of their company. This is allowed, despite the general rule against people having more than one registered username on the site. Even if you have this account for your business, posts from your personal account must follow the posting guidelines.
                                                                                                                                                                                      ---

                                                                                                                                                                                      The general manager at Jim's House of Ribs might create an account named JimsRibs to respond to comments about the business. A few weeks later, the sommelier might use it to answer a question about the wine list. (Because Jim's House of Ribs is the sort of place that has a very responsive sommelier, obviously.)

                                                                                                                                                                                      But if either of those people also wants to ask hounds for advice about where to eat when they go to New York on vacation or get advice on where they can order molecular gastronomy ingredients for some experiments they're doing at home, it doesn't make sense for them to do that under the moniker JimsRibs. Those personal questions aren't representing the business.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                                                                                                        I think the example you provide as justification actually reinforces my point concerning approval of a lack of conviction. But, then again, I though the Hobby Lobby decision was unfounded in basic corporations law. . . .

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                                                                                                          Thank you for the response.

                                                                                                                                                                                          I hadn't realized the policy was so similar before. And since businesses were formerly so limited in terms of what they could post, the potential for abuse of the screenname policy was probably pretty limited. Back then.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Now that unpaid advertising is being allowed, the same policy seems more troubling. Seeing as there is now seemingly more impetus to separate one's normal posting persona from one's business PR persona, allowing extra screennames for businesses appears to openly invite abuse. Why bother limiting screen names for posters not affiliated with businesses? What if I wanted to have my normal screen name and also another Cowboyarfamily account so that I or my wife, mother, toddler son, or cat could all post from one account to better represent our own little family unit? Sounds dumb, right? Like my wife should just make her own account? Well, is it that hard to make a jimsribsommelier account? The same old policy seems newly improper because the site's entire policy towards business is now inviting impropriety.

                                                                                                                                                                                  3. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                                                                    That's perma- ban worthy. His posts are clearly in violation of the rules during the time of his posts. Regardless of the new policy, he broke rules/values at the very core of CH at the time (Who the hell knows what the values/rules are around here anymore) and deserves to be banned.
                                                                                                                                                                                    How was he not banned a while ago, before this rule change?

                                                                                                                                                                                    Nice work detective Wong.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                                                                                                                                                      "How was he not banned a while ago, before this rule change?"

                                                                                                                                                                                      I guess 8 hrs is not enough time to come up with an answer :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                                                                      I've removed those posts.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Unfortunately, no one ever Flagged anything he posted under that ID, so we never knew about it until today.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Shilling is still not okay and Flagging is still going to be important going forward, as well. We'll never be able to read everything, and it's often easier for local posters to spot those kinds of patterns since they're more on top of who is posting what on their favorite boards. So please, everyone, use the Flag button liberally when you think there's something not right. We do want to take a look.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                                                                                                        And the Octoberfest spam post is gone too. Thank you!

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                                                                          "And the Octoberfest spam post is gone too. Thank you!"

                                                                                                                                                                                          Funny thing about that is, in about a month or so, somebody will post a question on the NJ Board asking about where to find an Octoberfest offering. One of us will invariably note the Black Forest Inn - probably even post a link to the place. Or at least that's the way it always happened in the past . . . .

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                                                            Personally I would go west to the Pocono's... had a place there years ago... lots of good German eats & drink there.

                                                                                                                                                                                            I really don't know how effective the Octoberfest ad would be. Word of mouth is all a good established restaurant needs. Would I follow the advice of a long time Hound such as yourself if I was in your neck of the woods, ABSOLUTELY! Would I follow a Spam advertisement on Chow, NO!

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                                                              Well, in the past, any further mentions of the spamming restaurant were banned too. Flag 'em if you see them, and we'll find out.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                                                                                It's always taken a lot more than a spamming run to get a restaurant banned from all discussion on Chowhound. The point of our very occasional bans isn't to punish the restaurant for spamming, but to ensure the honesty of the discussion here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                It's a pain for our members who do want to discuss the place, and tends to be a lot of work to enforce, so it's something we only do if a restaurant is making a concerted effort to manipulate the conversation here and the mods feel that we can't accurately separate legitimate posts from dishonest ones.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: patsully

                                                                                                                                                                              How, specifically, do you intend to encourage a two-way conversation instead of one-way self-promotion?

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: patsully

                                                                                                                                                                                Actually, I was able to go quickly to that blog entry because I read it at the time and commented that it was an advertisement. But my comment went pouf. I probably wasn't the only one.

                                                                                                                                                                                None of us can know for certain why the Chronicle published that piece. But here's my theory. Gayle Pirie, owner of Foreign Cinema and Show Dogs, has been a featured columnist. Maybe Chron had to give her that latitude and veil a promo piece as urban renewal news to keep her.

                                                                                                                                                                                That's the kind of gaming I fear happening here.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                                                                  Interesting. At the bottom of the article: "No Comments Yet." Looks like they all (however many of them there were) *all* went "poof".

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                                                                    well it is called "The Comical" after all...

                                                                                                                                                                                    although a source of corn dogs is sort of trashnewsworthy ever since Pronto Pup closed.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                  Because it's crass and the Chron should reevaluate their guidelines for blog posts. I really hate the one post wonders that come on here to post their site for ex. "cheap vanilla beans". Never a second post.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Yeah it's good to have another site to check out but it's shilling. If you are joining the discussion, add more to the topic and to other topics. I don't want to see this place bombarded with one post wonders shilling their businesses. It's a slippery slope.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                                                          I don't have any special knowledge, but I think not, Melanie. This isn't even a revenue thing. It's simply a desperate ploy to increase traffic. Stupid short-sightedness.

                                                                                                                                                                          Nose cut off. Face spited.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                                                                                            Encouraging participation by permitting promotion seems desperate indeed.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                                                                                              I admit to knowing nothing about such things but I'll ask anyway. Does increased traffic then put them in a better position to draw advertisers and at higher rates? When the last rollouts were announced two weeks ago, there was some verbiage about "tens of thousands" of people visit CH daily. If that's true, how much more "traffic" can they expect?

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                Yes. The more people they have coming to the site, the more pages each person views on the site, and the amount of time the person spends on the site (as well as on each page - depends on how closely they're monitoring visitor behavior and what actions they take), are all factors used in bringing in advertising dollars.

                                                                                                                                                                                Basically, if CH can say "We have 'X' number of unique visitors each day, and they view 'Y' number of pages, and spend 'Z' minutes / hours, on average," and those are good numbers, they can attract higher paying ads.

                                                                                                                                                                                What I don't understand is why they're not monetizing the user data they have on each of us anyway. Even knowing our most frequented regional board and a few of our topical boards would allow a lot better targeting of ads (and the more highly targeted the ad, the more money CH can charge for it). For example, as someone who spends time on the L.A. board, and also the Vegetarian / Vegan board, why not show me ads for local vegetarian restaurants and such, or a Groupon ad for that?

                                                                                                                                                                                I'm guessing CH has at least three touch-points on all of the regular users (our email addresses, regional boards, and general food interests at minimum), but they need to actually use that data and sell it to the marketers. The fact that the paid ad at the bottom of this page - the one that I'm seeing is for JCPenney bedding for dorm rooms - is far, far from my list of interests, is pathetic.

                                                                                                                                                                                Give me an ad for a new vegetarian restaurant, or a sale on vegetarian cookbooks, and I'd likely click on it - and that's where the real money is made.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ElsieDee

                                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks for the great explanation and I agree.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                    You're welcome. By the way, I really appreciate all you bring to these boards - your passion is wonderful. Thank you.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: ElsieDee

                                                                                                                                                                                    No ads are acceptable to me. Good thing that even viewing them is essentially optional.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. Call me pessimistic but somehow I don't see this latest development as anything else except a downgrade of what was a unique, informative, educational, respected food site. I suspect any two-bit bar owner would jump at the chance to get some free advertising. Does anyone think that Mario Batali, for example, will be here discussing how to become a successful entrepreneur or Eric Ripert telling us how to achieve Michelin stars? I can't even envision cookbook authors here explaining the writing process of recipes.

                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                              1. Maybe the guidelines could be a little clearer and stricter? I've looked at some of the objectionable links posted in this discussion, and those posters aren't even trying to start a conversation - it's just "look at me" or "Come to feedbag.com". There was an annoying kickstarter guy a week or so ago (the app), but he actually tried to maintain a dialogue and ask questions. He was obviously just here to try to get some money, but made an effort to engage. Maybe posters could be blocked from posting links until they've been members for XX amount of time? I find it unlikely that most people are reading all the posting guidelines when they join.

                                                                                                                                                                                Edit: And why not stop all the abuse the Nude Wine schills are throwing around?

                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                                                                                                                                                  Maybe a 1 week, AND 10 post requirement before you can spam garbage all over our site....

                                                                                                                                                                                  Wait, why let people spam garbage all over anyway?

                                                                                                                                                                                  I realize there is a fine line, and that this could be done properly and bring engaging conversation, potentially. I just think that when you look at the expected value of a change like this it doesn't look good at all, dismal actually now that I've seen some of it firsthand. For every 1 good new poster this brings to our discussions, it's going to bring 30 morons who just want to drop a link and then bounce.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Hint: those 30 people who just drop a link and bounce are not clicking on ads, not generating content, not generating revenue, they're not doing shit other than cluttering up our boards. WHY WHY WHY bother letting them here??????????????????

                                                                                                                                                                                  What value are they adding?

                                                                                                                                                                                2. There is little doubt in my mind that there will be more traffic driven to CH due to this change while at the same time there will be less useful stuff to be found here. My participation has been dropping of late as I found myself being drawn less to food related topics as so much of the stuff being talked about had only a tangential relationship about finding good chow. I'm probably as much at fault as anyone else for the slow diluting of the value of this site. I fear its time to move on. So many of the other posters I have read over the years have already moved on. Some metaphorically others physically. Might be time to pull up the stakes.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Bkeats

                                                                                                                                                                                    Agreed. The only thing that may keep me on CH is Home Cooking, which I love as a source of supportive advice and information -- a true community exchanging ideas, not merely "experts" engaged in debate. My home board of Chicago has been dwindling over the last several years; many of the former active posters in CH Chicago have migrated to LTHforum, which is where I lurk to stay informed on the restaurant and food scene in Chicago. For the past year or so, CH Chicago has mainly been about advising visitors of where to eat in the downtown area -- with the same repeated recommendations by an ever smaller group CH regulars. Other than watching the train wreck over the last 24 hours of these new shilling posts, there is no reason to visit Chicago today -- not one new post of any food-worthy content for a City that is known for its plethora of good food and restos.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Bkeats

                                                                                                                                                                                      I agree. In the last few days I've gone to the main page and the HC page. It seems there's little that's new. Things from 2006 and 2008 aren't ones I'm going to even click on, knowing for a fact that anything worthwhile has long since been said.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. As long as it remains informational, rather than promotional, I'm all for it.

                                                                                                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: CindyJ

                                                                                                                                                                                        But now that I've seen the early results of this new policy I'd like to add this: early indications are that it's just too easy for those with promotional objectives to take advantage of the opportunity, and that is exactly what is happening.

                                                                                                                                                                                        So here's an idea -- why not create a new board where all of the "invited professional voices" post their stuff? That way, with all of the spam appearing in one place, it could be easily moderated.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: CindyJ

                                                                                                                                                                                          That is precisely how the lthforum -- which is a Chicago-centric food site -- has addressed the situation, with a separate category for postings by industry professionals.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: CindyJ

                                                                                                                                                                                            I suggested earlier in this thread that the regional boards maintain the previous hardline policy (or something close to it) while the general boards allow people affiliated with businesses to more freely reference their restaurant in the context of posts that are on-topic and useful to the community. I think that would be a sensible policy that encourages open participation in the site but maintains the integrity of restaurant reviews.

                                                                                                                                                                                            That said, the problem isn't that allowing blatant advertising is a side effect of the new policy. It appears that allowing blatant advertising IS the new policy. And possibly that the site has to go to shit before whoever made that decision decides to fix it and let the mods moderate sensibly.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                              "I suggested earlier in this thread that the regional boards maintain the previous hardline policy (or something close to it) while the general boards allow people affiliated with businesses to more freely reference their restaurant in the context of posts that are on-topic and useful to the community. I think that would be a sensible policy that encourages open participation in the site but maintains the integrity of restaurant reviews."

                                                                                                                                                                                              That is a GREAT idea.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. I was around for the early days of another food board in 2002. There was an all star team of posters - extremely knowledgeable about all levels of dining. Smart. Funny. Great writers. High volume posters too - they wrote constantly.

                                                                                                                                                                                          About a year into the site's existence the owners decided that they wanted to have food professionals - chefs, journalists, etc. - as guests on the site. Around that time there was a major restaurant opening in New York. The site's owners, who were also major posters, praised it to the skies the week it opened. Then some regular posters visited the place and found that some of the dishes weren't all that good.

                                                                                                                                                                                          The site owners fought back. "You don't understand the chef's vision. He's reinventing dish X." Well, no. Dish X just wasn't very good. Anyone with a palate could figure that out.

                                                                                                                                                                                          It turned out that the site owners were trying to get the chef to come on the site to do a Q&A session. They thought the negative posts would cause the chef to decline their invitation.

                                                                                                                                                                                          The site began to delete negative posts about the restaurant. The regular posters were incensed and within 6 months they left and formed a new food board. The original site never recovered and while it still exists today, it's a ghost town.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Chowhound is walking down a dangerous road. While it's certainly possible to have industry pros participate on the site the slightest hint that the moderators are discouraging critical posts will be fatal.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I usually try to refrain from the Chicken Littling that happens in the wake of every site change but I'm not a fan of the way this one is starting off. There are many interesting things you could do as far as including more insider voices, but none of these qualify. You have control over what you allow; you don't have to be indiscriminate. If Thomas Keller wants to write about his restaurant experience, you can let him do that without also allowing Betty Jo to write a "review" that is actually an invitation to try the $5.99 special at Betty Jo's All-You-Can-Eat Buffet and T-Shirt Emporium.

                                                                                                                                                                                            There are plenty of things on CH that I'm not interested in, and I know I participate in plenty that others don't care for. I'm sure we all have topics that we immediately scroll by. But seriously, I click on a topic about the world's best flourless chocolate cake and get not a recipe, not a recipe request, not even a recommendation. Instead it's a request for 10 grand so some dude can "develop" a product that is already widely available. I understand that you're trying to take advantage of the shiny new system, but all this garbage does is encourage more and more of the same. No thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Edit: oh, and now I see that people who don't agree with kickstarter guy's thoughts are being asked if they're communists. What a delightful new addition to the community.

                                                                                                                                                                                            37 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ErnieD

                                                                                                                                                                                              << oh, and now I see that people who don't agree with kickstarter guy's thoughts are being asked if they're communists. What a delightful new addition to the community.>>

                                                                                                                                                                                              That attitude and those kinds of posts have no place on CH. That post, and the "finger" the OP has been blatantly giving to people responding, has been flagged many times. So far the moderators have chosen to do nothing.

                                                                                                                                                                                              How long before the mods will be paraphrasing: "...Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me."

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: CindyJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                Shit's jumpin' off over there, yo
                                                                                                                                                                                                Need some mods to scrub that garbage away before somebody has to call in a 187 on that fool.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Edit: I meant the whole thread.....

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I think that's the hottest debate I've ever allowed myself to be sucked into on CH. :-) He's so NASTY! I've had posts pulled for a LOT less by the mods. Has there been a hostile takeover here that I'm not aware of?

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                      BRAVO!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Now let's see how much longer the Octoberfest post stays up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: CindyJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                        AFAIK, blatant advertising like the Octoberfest thread is still allowed. For those who didn't see it, it was relatively clear that the KickstarterCake thread was deleted not on the basis of useless self-promotion but because the OP was arguing and name-calling, and the resulting thread was a trainwreck.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Not necessarily so. The AnitaGumbos post on Chicago, which also was a blatant advertisement, was also taken down. Aside from one comment from a regular hound, there was no discussion at all on that post and certainly nothing uncivil.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                          So did the menu posting on Chicago by the business plugging its gumbo.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Aw shit :( I never saw it :) That's what I get for actually cooking!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Looks like all the threads are gone now.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              Kickstarter, Munich, and gumbo all got taken down completely and only the kickstarter one had posts that violated the rules.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Oh wait, that Munich thread is still up, hopefully on the chopping block, otherwise I'm seeing inconsistency.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Well, it will be interesting to see what follows. Clearly allowing everything that used to get deleted isn't the way to go. It would be great to get pros to weigh in on non-regional things but why should they?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I dunno, I just think of JMF and his posts, I wish there were more pros like him on here. I guess no changes are really needed for that to happen since it's allowed now, maybe this is just a bad idea altogether I dunno, really gong to see how the next few days play out. All eyes are on the CH team at this point, any missteps are going to be magnified.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And there are others. I know there are professionals in food, wine, spirts, all manner of things but they're not promoting their businesses. They're sharing their knowledge and expertise out of the goodness of their hearts :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      To tell you the truth. The only reason I come here much anymore is habit. I came here for many years before I became a industry professional, back when I was an unhappy psychologist. And it was definitely because of chowhound I got into the food/beverage industry. It was ch that first got me into food writing. Recommendations on which culinary school to attend. And a post here got me in touch with my first job in the industry as a assistant cheesemaker and baker on a rural dairy farm. CH also helped me to be friends with ch folks which led to me moving to Maine for a chef job, which I declined, but then consulted like crazy. And then led to me partnering with a winery to open a brewery, culinary program, restaurant, event center, and to start my first distillery. And in an offhand way, led to my second distillery. CH even led to me starting my current bar consulting company, and to getting some big clients.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      So maybe I can advertise my bar consulting here now?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I would stick with referrals.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Given past rules, I'm betting you never had the opportunity to share that professional history in detail here. They all sound like experiences that could make great in-depth posts here and I'd love to read them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          On your bar consulting, I'd love to actually understand what you do. A great discussion about how you turn a bar around, or a before and after photo story of the cocktails on a menu you worked on would be fascinating and worthwhile. Far better than basic, unthoughtful advertising that will generally be ignored here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: patsully

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Yeah, when I read this thread originally (see my first post way up top)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I thought of JMF and wanting to know exactly what he does and how he works. After his previous post, now I want to hear more about his story in detail. Would make a good post.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            If an advertiser is going to really add content tell a story, and contribute in a meaningful way, I don't mind them having some ad space and a plug or 2 for their business in their content.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: patsully

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              JMF, shows us these things all the time!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Which is why it's the perfect example! We want less restrictions so he can share personal experiences, with a disclosure if necessary. I'm looking forward to more.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: patsully

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm guessing I've read almost all his history cause I read almost all his posts. Again, I think it's unlikely that he's going to write his memoir here :) He's actually gotten paid to write hundreds of articles.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: patsully

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Over the years I have actually shared a lot of my history, and its progression. I have been a professional mountain climber and licensed flatwater/whitewater canoe and wilderness guide and EMT, and a psychologist both adventure based and clinical counseling, and a corporate trainer and facilitator. I started in the wine and spirits industry at age 18, working retail, and then management. Then went on to many other things like personal and corporate security, banking, etc. and along the way multiple undergraduate and graduate degrees in several disciplines.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Going back to my first handle around 2000, and my slightly antagonistic ways and the verbal brawls that went on. To giving that up for the most part leaving for awhile to travel around the world on a cruise ship based university, as a food/beverage/culture professor and psychologist. Eating and drinking and teaching and writing. To my coming back around nine years ago and my present handle, and the progression to full time food/beverage writer, then...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                As for what I do now. I am a food & beverage consultant. I've worked with almost 50 small to mid-size family farms (many organic) up and down the eastern seaboard from Maryland to Maine, and to mid-state NY. I've worked with all kinds of small food/beverage businesses creating everything from yoghurts and cheeses, to chocolates, to cocktail syrups and bitters, to food menu's in restaurants with a focus of Japanese home style and izakaya cuisine. I've been partners in a winery, several breweries, and two distilleries, and consult on distilling. The past almost two years I have been focusing fine cocktail and beverage programs for bars/restaurants in the NYC metro area. One of my current, long term clients is one of the most prestigious, private member clubs in the world, who are just finishing adding on a $7-8M cocktail bar with a cutting edge small plates menu. I curate all the beverages: wine, beer, spirits, non-alcoholic, etc. and pick out glassware. Train the bar staff on skills, knowledge, and hospitality, design custom cocktails, adapt classics to modern tastes, create tinctures, infusions, and bitters, and just about everything there is in the cocktail world including barrel and bottle aging, modernist techniques, and hand carved ice programs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ha! I left out a lot... I was hungry and on my way to yum cha in Flushing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yup, had to hang out with my college buddy, an ex chowhound, Joe Distefano, who also became a food professional, (writer) largely because of CH.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Maybe he'll return now that the doors have been flung open.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Funny.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            But no, he is doing well with his blog, chopsticksandmarrow.com, and his food tours, http://chopsticksandmarrow.com/food-t..., and the other places he writes for, and his private tours for chefs and tv shows like Bourdain's and Zimmerman's. And some custom pr/marketing stuff for various food events and restaurants/businesses.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          There's definitely going to be some inconsistency in the coming weeks, as we navigate through these changes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I mentioned above that we're not immediately deleting ads, but we're not ignoring them, either. There's lots of discussion happening in the backroom with each new example of a previously prohibited post that goes up. We're reaching out to the posters, monitoring the resulting threads, reading the feedback in the flags, and generally taking some time to consider each situation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Some things will eventually come down, as the kickstarter thread and the gumbo thread did. Hopefully in other cases, we'll be able to get the post and the poster to a place where they're actually adding something of value and interest to the community.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            without going too far off topic, what about posts "not about chow"? for years, mods deleted posts they considered to be, well, "off topic" -- anything that focused on any social import/issue that a poster considered relevant, but the "powers that be" considered to be not directly about the taste of food or quality of service rendered. will those be allowed, now that ads are? after all, feisty interplay generates clicks....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: debinqueens

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              We've loosened up somewhat on this over the years, but there's no plan to do more loosening on that front as part of these changes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              May I suggest that you probably need to react faster to the blatant adverts that don'y offer any value add. If you do this, and take risk adverse conservative approach it will soothe the fears and quell the disquiet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The added value contributions could be really good. For example if I was launching Bavarian restaurant I could discuss the research I did, talk about how I recreated authentic dishes, searched for local craft beer that was as good as Bavarian etc etc. I could invite hounds to come along, share sample menus etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              However, I would need to steel myself against criticism, but be prepared for a constructive dialogue, humbly take advice and hopefully use the expertise of of the board to improve my offering.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              One thing that should be moderated against though is the "free meal" to address a complaint. The last thing we want to see is the professional complainer angling for freebies etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: CindyJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I missed most of the drama, but I take comfort in the fact that the last time I looked (which was right after the commie thing) his kickstarter had a total of $1 pledged.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: CindyJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          At least on the SF board, the mods slacked off for a while and were letting a handful of people I would categorize as trolls dominate topics, often with absurdly off-topic rants, but that seems to have changed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: ErnieD

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Oh, how joyous! Nothing like posts full of cell phone shorthand. I'm used to seeing full sentences & the occasional emoticon on the boards.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Expect to see more of the same.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. I'm guessing this one is one of the newly permitted:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/985234

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm pretty neutral on it. But wouldn't want to see a ton of them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I am actually just fine with food events getting posted. I don't see much difference between a Chowhound asking if anyone will be attending an event or the promoters starting the topic. Though I think the promoters will be surprised at the frankness of the responses, especially for known entities.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: MplsM ary

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm ok with events being posted in regionals as long as people are free to say the events are shitty or call out the promoters for doing shady stuff or something.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          That will make promoters second guess posting stupid shit if they think they'll get ripped up and down for it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: MplsM ary

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I can deal with them as well but they ought to be clearly be labeled "Sponsored Post" in the title. Eater.com, a site which has far less objectivity than CH, does that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Well on one hand I'm relieved I don't have to look over my shoulder when I'm posting about a restaurant I either have a financial interest in -or- a personal interest or friendship with ownership or management.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          On the other hand......I kind of got use to hiding in the darkness regarding my affiliations and from what I'm seeing thus far I'm not that thrilled with the advertising and recent increase in shill's I've witnessed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I graciously respected the rules because I respected this institution. I've got a sinking feeling that's not going to be the case of most others.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Time will tell, I wish Chow well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Solution: FoodieX2 and Pinehurst, on another thread in Site Talk, suggested setting up a Promotional Board - everyone could post whatever advertisements/spam/kickstarter/blogposts/crowdfunding/lookatme stuff they want. The real CH'ers could ignore the entire board if we so choose. The mods could move spammy posts over there when they're flagged or noticed. (Sorry I missed the rest of kakeman's nonsense. I tried to engage him politely, but the board was taken down by the time I got back online.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Edit: Kind of politely. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            15 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Because it takes up bandwidth and is just pointless. The end result is that nobody will look at the page and the advertisers will up and leave. That is the only real outcome, and since we already know that, let's not waste bandwidth getting there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I see that you guys are trying to come to a "deal," with CH but that deal ends in the same way as if we were to just get rid of all that BS in the first place it seems.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yup, that'd help create the traffic bump that's desperately sought. Also add a sexual fetish board, a meth recipe board, and an "I love/hate Sarah Palin" board, and we'd have all the traffic TPTB could possibly want. Fine by me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                But degrading the food discussion is the ultimate short-sighted move.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Hey, now that we have your ear/eye ---- did YOU create the Not About Food board?!?!?!? :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Still contemplating clicking that damn heart on this post.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Also, interesting blog. You sir have an almost uncanny ability to think critically of anything, refreshing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yeah, I know, interesting story how it all played out, from start to now.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I wish I was around here back in the days of the OG's, always the best time to be on a forum.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I would suggest a happy medium to having a useless "Promotions" board where nobody would advertise, because it's not targeted to any geographic area -and- nobody would go read because it's a promotions board. The happy medium is to create a distinctive Promotions Thread, similar to the currebt photo, discussion, Q&A etc. This would put the advertiser in front of their target audience and the target audience away to tell its a promotional thread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I understand not ideal but as good as it can get given the current climate.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Sort of like how Serious Eats does it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Need to get a script that I can run to get rid of those types of ads now as they are increasingly common.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It makes me wish that the owners of this forum would have decided to dedicate a portion of this site to be a place where the business owners, chefs, and promoters could post information about their restaurants. You know, important stuff like address, schedules, menus, specials, photos of their locations and so on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A place in the forum where we could then respond with short reviews, suggestions, and post photos of our own, and what not.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Something similar to the old Restaurant Database which the owners of this site gutted a couple of years back...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: deet13

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            But if it's not on its particular regional board, I doubt it would get much attention. I wish every CH who mentions a restaurant would give a link to their website. Almost all have them these days.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          If the goal is driving traffic, need to include videos of cats too

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: masha

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Add some dancing baby goats and fainting goats and we're in business.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: EM23

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Do not tempt me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I am always in favor of baby goats.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                And at risk to life and limb, I am always against cats - online or off.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. Back in the day it wasn't uncommon to see professional chefs and TV celeb chefs posting on Egullet. It was fun to interact with them. As long as they are up front and not shilling I see no problem with it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Yeah, looking back you can see some truly epic stuff going down or getting started on EG. Myhrvold posted on there a lot. It's neat that all the stuff going on back then, and in blogs is still around. You can still feel the excitement from it and the wave of discoveries and new methods of doing things. One that sticks out to me is when Dave Arnold discovered agar clarification. I wasn't around for it but when I read it, and the comments on his blog a year or so later it was still exciting to read.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I've spent some time today perusing EG. It doesn't seem terribly active on any boards I looked at, i.e., California, Cooking

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I mostly use it for the gear talk, it's pretty dead, mostly a place to lurk and/or dig up old threads from back in the day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It's active if you participate. It's my go to source for sous vide and other topics. I find quality over quantity in the information there

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The quality is definitely there. And I need to look how to search old stuff. I see they do archive things.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Not as active as it use to be but it's active if you participate. Stop lurking and jump in. It suffered from heavy handed moderation as well. Sound familiar?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I did my two post limit today!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Maybe the deal isn't that CBS decided to allow free advertising per se but that they can't get enough volunteer moderators to keep up with deleting all the spam.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  11 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Maybe the deal is to loosen everything up as much as possible, get the traffic up as high as possible, then dump it on some unwitting buyer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thats an interesting theory.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Remind me to tell you my theory on Jim Morrison some time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Honestly I've tried to maintain neutrality with these changes and tried to calm and set realistic expectations for the throngs that seemed so upset by them. But behind my calm I'm sitting here scratching my head trying to figure out what the true motivation is behind all of this. Nothing adds up to a long term outlook, to me this reeks of short term manic management, throwing as much shit against the wall to see what sticks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A company of CBS's stature wouldn't take that approach if it intended on keeping its name attached to the brand for the long term.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        To take it a step further, I think that could be the best solution, as I think CBS has demonstrated it doesn't really care about the venue.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'd love to hear the Jim Morrison theory, but your theory here is off base.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Again, we're not looking for advertising. We're looking for high quality contributions from professionals and want to remove the restrictions that made that difficult in the past. We want these new perspectives, as we believe they'll add a lot of value.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          We know that will take some time, so we're playing the long game here. We don't expect a huge influx of posts or pageviews as a result, but we do hope for in-depth discussions and beautiful photo stories. We hope you'll stick with us to see the result.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            What you say makes sense, jr

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm more than just a pretty face C. ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Never doubted that for a moment!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Kneejerk deletion of anything that smacked of advertising was a whole lot faster and simpler than what we're doing now. Trying to help people understand the site and use it effectively is harder than telling them to go away.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Eventually, we'll get much better at that, so that it won't be as time-consuming, but for the foreseeable future, this is going to require more work, not less.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Seriously?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            You think stuff like this: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/985234 is "adding to the conversation?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            If you need a writer to help you craft a paragraph that politely explains the difference between shameless self promotion and contributing to the conversation, I am happy to help. It's not really as time consuming and difficult as you all seem to think it is.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Or maybe you're just hoping we smile and nod and believe this tripe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: miss louella

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yeah, enough with all the eloquent B.S. Less than honest is a kind way to describe anybody who claims to need more time to analysis 985234 to determine its sole purpose.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. One Twin Cities restaurant has taken a pounding on the MSP board. The major complaints have been about the rude service and bad food. Their response so far has been to send shills to talk up the business. "The service was so wonderful and helpful. It's the best xyz I've ever tasted!" posts seem to run in threes with new posters touting this business. Chowhound has been great at deleting these responses when flagged.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          My question is this: Is this business now free to respond to individual posts and posters? My concern is the possible chilling effect this might have on honest reviews.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          15 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: MplsM ary

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I find it interesting if these one-post raves have been deleted. I was just involved in a mass deletion of posts calling out a large number of one-post defenders of a business. We were told that the posters could not be proven to be shills (all 15+ of them). At least that's how I read the mod explanation. Granted... Some of the posters were pretty aggressive in personally charging others as shills. That could have been the difference. Either way, I find it all part of the same changes here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I read that thread with rapt interest. I wanted to see how long it would go on before Chowhound posted "knock it off" or closed the thread. It's a good tutorial on how to stack the deck.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I tried to be as clear as I could about this in my mod note on that thread, but apparently wasn't that clear. It is not that we can't absolutely prove those posters are shills; we genuinely believe they are not shills.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I still think there should just be a commercial/Ad board. Then if one wants to avoid advertisements they have the option. Just like I can now avoid the topics that don't interest me like chains and special diets

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In this instance it was an online company with an online community of their own. No doubt (at least to me) there was an ad hoc call to arms that arrived en masse to proclaim the greatness of the service and products.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I guess we disagree about the definition of a shill. I'm pretty certain that a lot of posters here do not believe that all those people just randomly came to the rescue of the company and made their one and only post here for that reason.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Companies, as I'm sure you know, subscribe to services that notify them when their name comes up on the internet and can also distinguish negative content. How hard is it to believe that they can also rally a few dozen 'supporters' to post opposite opinions. I now know that the site does not consider that to be what I would consider in 'bad faith'. People actually believe what they read ib these topics and some if feel an obligation to keep things fair.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I understand that thing are changing here, and don't necessarily pre-judge where it will lead. It just seems to me that, in the past, that topic would probably have been locked as opposed to removing all the posts that pointed out the single first-post 'phenomenon' and leaving most of the 'support' posts up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Of all the issues to be concerned with over the past weeks this one doesn't rank high. It's just disappointing. One reason I don't rely much on Yelp is because (besides there being no way of 'vetting' posters) that space is so prone to BS posts. It only has value to me if it corroborates other sources if input. I guess CH is now more like that now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Please define the difference between a shill and an advertiser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Shills don't pay to post their content. Just plug their goods/ services on free media.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: masha

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Isn't there a sneakiness factor involved also?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yes. The actual meaning of "shill" connotes a seemingly independent party who is actually working for the purveyor of the product. Think of the old time movies where the traveling salesman selling patent medicine has a plant in the crowd who praises the product.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I was being a bit facetious.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: masha

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I don't necessarily feel that Jacqui is being disingenuous when she says those posters were found not to be shills. Good PR people know how to make things appear normal, and all the right steps could have been taken to achieve that. Good job by the company. I'm just not buying it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: MplsM ary

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        They would be free to respond openly, provided they can do so in an appropriately friendly manner. Any fake reviews would still be deleted.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. Can you start the same advertiscussion 8 times on 8 boards at once?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        http://www.chow.com/profile/1490392
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It's been flagged as spam, so we'll find out soon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Okay, here's one:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/985379

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          How does this provoke a CH discussion?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            That's the same poster I mentioned right above. Initially he had posted something like 8 identical discussions. Classic spam.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It seems as though the mods have acted and left two just-shy-of-identical spam threads after removing the rest. I guess that's the line in the sand now?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I think (and no longer dread) that you're right. They're creating what they think will work. Quantity over quality?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                a few years ago somebody tried that on my local board, it was such a ham-handed attempt at marketing, I felt the need to point out to the poster how it most likely works against their favor in the long-run (I know, not my place and discouraged, but it was sort of like when a puppy runs into a glass door, the first impulse is 'awww who's a silly puppy?').

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                and then I flagged all the repeated spam.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. So does this mean I can now share anecdotes from my son who is in the restaurant business? 2 years ago I got deleted because I mentioned eating lunch with a relative who had just started working at a well known restaurant where she was in a training course regarding the wine list.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Berheenia

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yes, this is the type of interesting content we're really hoping to see. Lots of people who dine at restaurants aren't that familiar with what goes on in the back of the house, and we think there would be a lot of interest in those anecdotes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. That explains why the deletion of Chowhound down to Chow. And looking at Yelp and Tripadvisor along with the letting go of valuable moderation standards that made CH so superior, it's really easy to see the handwriting on the wall.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              So sad about this.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              IF ever something deserved a test, say, limiting it to one board, or just certain boards created for the purpose of such interactions, this is the issue.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                <That explains why the deletion of Chowhound down to Chow.>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                As I mentioned on another thread, Chowhound was purchased in order to provide a message board for CHOW. CNET bought CHOW to expand it’s market among 25- to 45-year-olds and then added Chowhound as a ready-made online community to supplement the CHOW brand.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                See this article from August 2006 in The New York Times:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8814...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  So I guess everyone 46 or older can just start chanting the mantra "I'm *not* their target audience. This is not meant for me."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  If we find anything worthwhile to continue participation, that's a plus. But like the "younger demographic" tilt to *every* year's summer movie selection, we may want to look elsewhere.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mcsheridan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'm too young, guess I better look elsewhere too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    As stated before this is a case of the tail wagging the dog. CHOWHOUND is an innovative, democratic, broad-based, vital use of the internet. Where critics and professionals go to learn what's really happening. Many of the places Bourdain, Zimmern, etc. visit on their shows were mentioned years ago on CH. CHOW is a lifestyle sales tool.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Barry Strugatz

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      All true. And the situation may have changed since that article was written 8 years ago and with the acquisition of CNET by CBS. But it seems as if the lifestyle sales tool is winning out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. So, what's to stop somebody from making an account as a restaurant they hate, and then just hosing the restaurant?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Seems like this could turn against advertisers real fast......

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Edit: It would be fairly simple to masquerade as a restaurant on here without anyone knowing (unless the restaurant found out).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This would be considered a violation of our posting guidelines, and we'd delete it if we saw it. We continue to keep an eye out for people using the site dishonestly, in any way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Well sure it's a violation but it could be done semi-easily without being caught, little tougher if you ban by MAC address.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Might want to have some sort of credentials for these "professional voices".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. A blogger is NOT a professional, and a banned member, especially a rude and argumentative one, should NEVER be allowed back. The rules either exist or they don't

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    11 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Why would you think that no bloggers are professional? And banned members can be let back in with restrictions on where and what they can post. I'm curious if you've ever worked for anyone. Rules get tweaked all the time - for better or for worse.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        "Why would you think that no bloggers are professional?" - Let's see...sign up at godaddy or wordpress, choose a template, and voila, you're a blogger. No cred, experience, or education needed. Just start blathering and pontificating.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        "I'm curious if you've ever worked for anyone" - Yes, I work for a living, and the rules I dance to are hard and fast. Banned is akin to being fired.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        "And banned members can be let back" Yes, I see a member on this very thread who was banned temporarily, until the meds kicked in or something. But a permanent ban, the participant had to really abuse the rules, and get all holier-than-thou, and that participant was separated for good reason.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          There are bloggers who make plenty of money having paid advertisers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm sorry you work in such an environment. Let's see, what's a benign example? How about "Casual Fridays"? A company used to require suits to be worn every day and then changed that so that Docker-type pants and a nice shirt were acceptable. Hard and fast?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Glad you're not going to be the monitor at the Pearly Gates :) If someone makes a Perfect Act of Contrition, they're still damned!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Casual Fridays is a rule for everyone, no? It spells out the day and the expected dress. Let's say you heavily abused your position at your company, and got fired for misrepresenting yourself. Do you think the boss would call a few years later and say, "awww gee, C Oliver, we've gonna take a hazy interpretation of company policy and let you back.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            But maybe you have a point...If the mods are prepared to loosen the rules for EVERYONE, we can all wear Dockers, everyday

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              No, but they could say that they've modified the rules and the reason you were banned is no longer an issue.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I wasn't banned, it was more like a "time-out".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Ha! We've all been to the "woodshed" as someone else here has said

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "Yes, I see a member on this very thread who was banned temporarily, until the meds kicked in or something"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              _______
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I think you might be surprised at how many people have been temporarily suspended. I have. Interestingly, I suspect the post that got me suspended would barely raise an eyebrow nowadays.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                You're right...seems to be a more lenient atmosphere

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  That's at least three in this thread, though I'm not among them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    i have too. some time ago, based on the fact that i continued to repost a complaint about a post i thought was, let's just say, "culturally insensitive." i did so because i complained to mods about it, was told the original comment passed muster, but my posted rebuttal did not. when i did it three times, i was hauled to "the woodshed."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3. A couple of times this morning, I've read a title that was rather effusive about a restaurant. I then check to see if it's a first/only time poster. Guilty until proven innocent is going to be my new guideline.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                You're still welcome and encouraged to Flag those. Fake reviews are still not permitted and we will investigate them to see if they're shilling.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Oh, they were established CHs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    So why is the guy Melanie Wong posted about above still permitted?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Dear Chow,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Good job in managing site's redesign. People are always resistant to changes, whether they wind up improving or diminishing the site, but at least you did damage control with a subset of users before launching it on the entirety of the site. That shows good foresight.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  However, this foresight was absent during the launch of Chowhound's new scope. This isn't a superficial site change--- it undercuts the culture of the site. Rather than target specific "professional voices" to the boards to act as role models for the site's new scope, Chow just opened up the floodgates to crap that would have previously been deleted. This is poor leadership and you're capable of better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The Chow side has contributed lots of good content in the past few months, including lots of interviews with local chefs, butchers, etc. whose restaurants get mentioned on the boards. These voices could add to the culture of the site, both due to their professional wisdom and general interest in food. I know some of these folks read Chowhound, and I'd love to see them interact rather than lurk. It would be great to hear SF's Italian chefs comment on, or ask questions about, their passion for mapo doufu that they never get to talk about. Yet, there are no visible examples of outreach to these folks, at least not yet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The change in scope is only a weekend old, but if you want people to be happy with the new changes, you have to give us something positive to latch on to.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: hyperbowler

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thank you, hyperbowler. I was readying a post to Jacq that instead of spending her time trying to rehabilitate spammers, perhaps there were other avenues for "Inviting Professional Voices to the Community" that would be more fruitful. My hunch is that those who land here to spam the community are tone-deaf to this environment, did not read the past or current FAQ, and/or are illiterate and did not understand those rules. None of those make for good contributors to our Community.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I like your idea to bring in those who have been featured in a Chow piece. That's a good place to start.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: hyperbowler

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      So, I've tried another tack and invited this new business poster, N0PALIZE, to engage.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/985581

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Way to extend the olive branch! You've offered many ways they can contribute, and I hope they do.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        There's a discussion above about having multiple accounts. We will need to be mindful of who out at the business is representing them on the site. If this isn't in the FAQ already, something indicating that people with food/restaurant knowledge of the business are The ones who can add value to the site not their publicists (unless they're the same person)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: hyperbowler

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I hope they do too, but if they don't, it's not the end of the world. If they choose not to be part of the conversation, I would hope that they ask that the posting be removed as a mistake, that they didn't know what they were doing. Otherwise it's the equivalent of pile of steamy crap dumped in the middle of this Community's hang out and equally welcome.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Don't get me wrong, I like N0palize's restaurants and personally, I support their media efforts in the cause of good, fair, clean food. I'm just trying to be clear that Chowhound is a place for dialog and not a one-way pitch. With the new policy change, businesses like this need to think through their Chowhound strategy and brand positioning, just as they do on twitter, FB, instagram, pinterest, tumblr, etc. in how they want to engage on this platform.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: hyperbowler

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It's a week later and no content or engagement from either account associated with that post have materialized, what now? Other spam/shill posts have been taken down in less time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Careful. I tried to engage Kake Man. Then I signed out for a couple hours and everything went very wrong.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Now this is exactly what I was originally expecting and excited about when you said "inviting professionals,"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/985635

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'd take 10 bad spam type posts (though the CH crew seems to be more on top of that now anyway) for every one of these and still be way happier than before.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This is going to be cool to have people like Andrea Nguyen on here if they're interested in dialogue, plus I'll probably be more likely to buy her book, though it is already on my list.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies