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Continued Feedback on Moderation Changes, and More Guidance for Bloggers

Hey everyone, our announcement thread for the recent moderation changes has grown unwieldy and split off into a few side conversations. There also are a few other threads offering feedback. We're going to close those threads and ask everyone to use this thread for policy feedback.

Thanks to everyone who has weighed in so far. We’re listening to all of the feedback and considering how new examples fit the updated guidelines. It’s going to take some time for more industry experts to join the conversation and we’ll continue to share their posts as they come in. Some of you have already enjoyed Chef Mark from Little Jewel of New Orleans hopping in to discuss his plans for opening a New Orleans deli/grocery in Los Angeles (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/969778) and we hope to see much more of that type of engagement in the future.

Many of you have posted here about individual posts nearly as soon as they go up, wanting to understand how the relaxed moderation rules affect these specific examples, and we’d like to ask for your patience there. We are working with these posters offline to improve their posts and encourage them to join the conversations here on Chowhound in a variety of ways. It does take some time for that to happen, so we’d appreciate if you’d give these new posters some space to find their way around the site.

If you have concerns about a thread, you should continue to use the "Flag" option to alert the moderation team. Calling out a user for posting an advertisement or labeling them as a spammer will likely discourage them from posting again. We believe many will be eager to engage on a more thoughtful level if given the chance to learn along the way, like any new user to our community. While we understand the desire to air your feelings on this new direction for Chowhound, individual threads aren’t the place to do it, and we will be removing replies to posts which discuss whether it’s an appropriate post for the community.

We will not have extensive hard-and-fast rules on which types of posts are permitted. Each post will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to judge the quality of the conversation. An author sharing a recipe or answering questions honestly as Andrea Nguyen has done (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/985635) is extremely valuable even though the post also promotes a book. The creator of a new Kickstarter project could talk about what led them to invest their time in solving a problem instead of only asking for support from Chowhounds without engaging them.

On the whole, this will lead to Chowhound appearing less moderated, which has long been a request of many users. The good stuff will rise to the top as a result of your comments and recommendations. There will be more to ignore along the way, but we’ll continue to improve the site to make it more personalized, and easier to find exactly what interests you.

As new voices join the site, we’ll be working with them offline to offer them some suggestions, especially food bloggers and event promoters excited to share their work. In the past, we’ve asked these types of posters to cut and paste their content onto Chowhound. Going forward, we’d suggest that they do one of two things: either create a unique post for Chowhound, or use the “Link” post type to start a conversation with some original thoughts to help Chowhound users understand why they should click through to read more. For example, if the linked blog entry is a rundown of uses for zucchini, the original text on Chowhound might ask for more ideas that haven’t been covered in the post. If the link leads to an event’s agenda, the original text might describe the history or logistics of putting together that event.

Some great recent examples of this include Ziggy41’s “Georgia’s Eastside” discussion (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/984724) and gabandgobble’s “Flinders Lane” review (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/978899). We know that Chowhounds appreciate posters who are interested in making an ongoing contribution to the community, and this is reflected in the number of users who view and engage with original posts like these. Over time, we hope more bloggers join the conversation as they find that posting here offers greater exposure than an outside blog can offer, but we’d ask all posters to give these folks some time to get used to this way of engaging, and a chance to participate at their own pace.

Thanks for reading,

The Chowhound Team

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  1. "Many of you have posted here about individual posts nearly as soon as they go up, wanting to understand how the relaxed moderation rules affect these specific examples, and we’d like to ask for your patience there. We are working with these posters offline to improve their posts and encourage them to join the conversations here on Chowhound in a variety of ways. It does take some time for that to happen, so we’d appreciate if you’d give these new posters some space to find their way around the site."

    Wouldn't it make more sense to lock those threads until the posters can restate their posts as posts instead of advertisements?

    Frankly, this post raises more concerns than addresses the questions we've been asking.

    Now I get why the Link format was born. It's not for chowhounds, it's for people to advertise their businesses. I feel a little queasy. And sad.

    5 Replies
    1. re: MplsM ary

      <Frankly, this post raises more concerns than addresses the questions we've been asking.>

      Indeed it does.
      Personally, I'm not happy about this at all. I've waited a few weeks to see how it plays out and I've been largely unimpressed. My regional board hasn't been sacked yet but I can tell the barbarian hoards are fast approaching the gates.

      1. re: MplsM ary

        We're hoping to be inviting towards new posters, and locking their thread immediately after posting would not be the best introduction to the site. If we have real concerns about the motives of a poster, we'd sooner remove the thread and work with them to explain how best to approach Chowhound. We've done this on a few occasions, but hope that more threads can be improved over time without taking them down first.

        The link format was not born for the purpose of advertising, but to give a clear indicator that the poster wants to discuss an off-site article or post. As we mentioned above, we know we'll always see discussions around link posts, but we hope more bloggers embrace the discussion and photo story post types to create something original on Chowhound.

        1. re: The Chowhound Team

          When barbarians are at the gates you send out soldiers. You don't invite them in and say "play nice," after they have already started sacking the village.

          I guess the CH team just wants to see the best in everyone, I'm more cynical.

          1. re: The Chowhound Team

            Why would I bother flagging posts any more as spam or other one time indesirables? I know you don't care and that the new policie invite commercial posting without any other participation.

            I don't have a stake in CH any more, the only reasons I once preferred it to any other site specifically were its no flames, no spam policies.

            Since those are clearly no longer priorities, I'm not wasting any energy investing effort or concern.

            1. re: mcf

              good point. it's kind of hilarious that the executives are pushing the word "community" while getting rid of what was a very vibrant community already. kind of like the vietnam war era "destroying a village in order to save it."

        2. I have to agree with MplsM ary. More questions instead of answers. How can it be so obvious to all the CH'ers that someone is just using the site to spam, but the threads stay up? Some of the individual posts I mentioned in my thread have been doing it for months - not participating, responding, or forwarding the conversation - just posting their ads and leaving. They may come back to say "Thanks!" or "No, I don't work for XXX company, I just love my XXX so much I post links to the website here once a week!" I know I sound sarcastic, but some of these are so blatant... It's just frustrating. Some I've tried to engage politely (Kakemann ring a bell?) and that turned into a total goat rope. Some I've asked (politely) if they work for the company, and they just (I assume) lie and say no. Well I don't believe that poster actually has 9 different models of XXX appliance that they keep posting and linking about. The kickstarters, well - I don't see many come back once they've put their ad up.

          Another good point has been made that the "real" advertisers - the ones that pay the bills - may leave as soon as they realize they can just have an intern spam the site for free instead of buying ad space. I don't see it working out in the long run.

          One "blogger" posts every blog he/she writes, and never participates in any other conversation. And the creeeepy guy who wanted people to contact him outside the site so he could sell stuff? Craigslist murderer, I'm almost positive. Yes, I'm exaggerating. I have a blog myself, and I'd love to post about it here every time I update to get a few cheap clicks, but I don't, because I like this site and don't want to bug people with my nonsense. That's not why I'm here.

          But the point remains - Chowhound has made a huge change that is hugely unpopular. Regulars are confused and upset and feel that our input and objections are being ignored. I'm glad to hear that you're contacting these spammers, but I'm not seeing any changes from the ones I've been watching. If someone comes here to spam, they're unlikely to become valuable members - they'll just drop their ads whenever they think nobody's watching. Just my two cents, FWIW.

          Edit: I see that XXX appliance lover, who claimed to not work for the company, has had ALL of their posts removed. Even the one where he/she joined another random thread just to bring up XXX appliance. Hooray! Thanks, mods. You've restored my faith just a little.

          4 Replies
          1. re: NonnieMuss

            AH HA HA HA HA, appliance lover! Excellent, I had noticed that in disgust, too, and am glad to see "her" gone, however many days later.

            1. re: kattyeyes

              Don't know how many times I flagged that one. Ridiculous.

              1. re: pikawicca

                I especially love how many of these wonderful new additions to our community fully embrace features like "photo story" so they can really promote whatever they're promoting full-on with LARGE PHOTOGRAPHS, truly like a multi-page fold-out ad in a magazine. Oh, yeah, except for free.

          2. WOW, that's a whole lot of post to digest. Good thing it's on a holiday weekend.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Bellachefa

              Ah yes, the classic PR trick of Hollywood and businesses alike. Release the info late on Friday, all the better if it's a long weekend….

            2. Sorry to be blunt but, please get someone new to write for The Chowhound Team. The posts that are supposed to be informative seem like they've been written by a CEO's PR flack. Cheerfully telling us "All is well because we say so," without addressing specific concerns is doing real harm here.

              While I'm here...

              "...we’d ask all posters to give these folks some time to get used to this way of engaging, and a chance to participate at their own pace." Their pace seems to be linking to their blog and nothing else.

              1. Regarding ads, actual ads, posted as discussions or as a reply to a discussion, some have been taken down (the illegal tuna guy, the German restaurant in NJ, the lobster roll shill), yet others (links follow), are left up. This is very uneven moderation. Are we to believe that CH is working with these posters to help them engage with us?
                Pizzeria http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/1187...
                Squid ink pasta http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/987158
                Catering Kickstarter http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/987157
                Knife http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9239...

                1 Reply
                1. re: EM23

                  I don't have a problem with any of those posts. I thought the squid ink was a little silly but whatever...