Community kvetch

Posted by Anita on 09.14.06 5:52 PM

MF screengrabI promise not to do this very often, but I can’t resist a hearty “hear, hear!” to Sam over at Becks & Posh for her recent crankiness on a subject near and dear to my heart: The tyranny of online food communities. Reading about Sam’s recent (re-)disillusionment with the new-but-not-really Chowhound brought up a lot of old stuff for me.

Looking on the bright side — as Kevin from BaconPress quips in Sam’s comments — I suppose I owe the food-board troglodytes a thank-you note: This blog (like many others) was born out of our frustration with the politics and personality disorders that inevitably infest even the best-intentioned food communities, and from our desire to keep sharing all the fun food stuff we stumble across in our wanderings.

I dug up an email that I sent to a MouthfulsFood friend who asked me if I was ever going to return to the fold, after I staged a one-woman boycott following a vicious personal attack by one of the board’s resident nutjobs:

I am blessedly glad to be free of the axis of snivel; I hadn’t realized how much that negativity wore me down, day after day.

I do miss the community, and every now and then I have a pang of wanting to share something wonderful. But the more I think on it, the more I realize that (a) I’m not missing much in terms of useful info and (b) I don’t need the angst.

I’m lucky that I have the best parts of my online experience integrated into my ‘real’ life, now, and I realize that that’s where the biggest payoff is going to happen.

OK, rant over. Thanks for indulging me… not just today, but all the time.

Cameron says:

I’m so glad that Anita put this up. Superkudos and much admiration to Anita, Sam and all of those (special shout out to S. @ RG) who can absorb the acid and vinegar and still come out balanced and smooth on the other side.

food boards, other blogs



Comment by sam

hear hear back at you.
I have heard too many stories, from people I trust, about all of these forums. They are too inward looking. Blogs and places like Yelp are a better way forward.

Posted on 09.14.06 at 7:22PM

Comment by KathyR

I can’t agree about Yelp. I would trust the restaurant reviews on Chowhound far more, but in general Chowhound has an attitude so thick its impossible to cut through. The new software is horrible too.

Posted on 09.20.06 at 5:46AM

Comment by Liz

Haven’t had a lot of luck with Chowhound and find it pretty useless meself- oftimes vague and (as KathyR says) far too enamoured of itself. I prefer to look and see what local bloggers have to say.

Posted on 09.22.06 at 10:49AM

Comment by KathyR

Regarding Yelp, the owner of Destination Baking Co., a bakery I hold in very high esteem, told me today that a couple of people have posted very nasty remarks on Yelp claiming that Destination has rats, etc. The most egregious commentary was deleted, but one such comment remains on Yelp. I know for a fact that this claim is false. The person whose comment is still up also claims that the pastries “changed overnight.” A complete fabrication. This is a huge problem with Yelp. You can’t check anything but “Useful”/”Funny”/”Cool.” I feel the business owner is being hurt by these fake comments. I can report the post, but will Yelp do anything about it? Destination has something like a 99 rating with the city inspector.

Posted on 09.27.06 at 8:41PM

Comment by Steve

We miss you at Mouthfuls and I’ll never really accept that you stopped posting there. I am happy to be in denial. I tried Chowhound but when posters claim that chicken wraps from Taco Bell are better than actual Mexican food, and you are deleted if you gently challenge this notion, you know it’s best to move on.
Anyway, I’m catching up on your blog tonight and it’s enchanting. A perfect outlet for your unique voice!
Steve @Rancho Gordo

Posted on 10.01.06 at 8:49PM

Comment by Chubbypanda

Hey Anita,

Here’s my two cents worth about the tyranny of Chowhound.

I managed to get myself kicked off when I finally decided to stop self-censoring and just gave my honest opinion in a poll. I’m going to miss all of my friends on the site, but I’m also going to be much better off without the stress of wondering whether one of my posts is going to piss off the infamous “Chowhound Team” and get deleted.

I faced down Leff’s Stormtroopers tonight. It was everything I hoped it would be.

- Chubbypanda

Posted on 12.15.06 at 2:45AM

Comment by Anita

You GO, Panda. Sorry it happened, but take comfort that you’re not alone.

Posted on 12.15.06 at 7:24AM

Comment by Jerome

I post on chowhound pretty regularly and i’ve gotten some good advice from the site. I don’t work for them – and i get annoyed by the constant i’m coming to town tomorrow where should i eat stuff. i’ve also had posts deleted – one place in particular until it was explained to me that theowners had shilled their place. It’s Soleil in westwood (Los Angeles) that has a great wednesday special – $15 all you can eat moules frites. If you like mussels how can that be bad?

It’s a pity for other posters but even so, it’s a site with worldwide contacts and a good place to get ideas esp for travelling. Unfortunately, there’s a rift between self-styled “foodies” who want a multi-star high end trendy or classic meal and those who like to scrounge around minimalls for the best use of jaggery by sri lankan (i’m guessing sinhalese) cook.

but no site can serve everyone’s needs. I enjoy it, but can readily see why others don’t.

Posted on 12.22.06 at 1:26PM

Comment by lovelynugget

Dear Anita,
Count me among those who miss you and your positivity at Mouthfuls, but sadly I completely understand where you are coming from. Mouthfuls can be a wonderful community if not for the few who insist on carrying on every once in a while. It’s unfortunate that wonderful people like you are the ones to turn away. It makes MF a less attractive place to be.

I wish you enormous continued success on your blog and in life. Best wishes.

Posted on 06.23.07 at 6:00AM

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