Thursday, September 14, 2006

Chowhound Confounds

When You give to a Community & it Slaps you in the Face

chowhound san francisco and bay area

I used to be a regular contributer, to Chowhound circa 2004/5. Then they (Jim Leff in particular) annoyed me one too many times and I left. You can get a sense of my feelings about them and their book in the post and the comments you'll find here.

A few months ago, Chowhound was bought by CNET and I recieved an email inviting me to rejoin. I decided to give them another chance and have been posting regularly ever since, always happy to share information with fellow hounds.

On Tuesday I paid my first ever visit to Delfina and I was blown away by the whole experience. The food was all-round excellent and so I took some of my own personal time to write a post sharing my wonderful dinner for Chowhound. We were comped some dishes and I came right out and explained that fact in my Chowhound post. I had no idea why Delfina did that - it was my friend's birthday and another dining companion was a regular there so that might have been the reason. Whatever, being comped every dessert on the menu did not sway my opinion: I even mentioned that I didn't really like their profiteroles and that I thought Coco500's vacherine is better. Almost everything else got a solid stamp of approval from me. I get comped things all the time in all sorts of restaurants and so do others on chowhound and their posts don't appear to be deleted because of it. I went out to lunch shortly after writing my post and when I returned, I found they had deleted it and all the following replies. I was confused, why did they do this? It seemed unecessary to me. I wrote a post asking why I had been deleted but, of course, that was deleted as well.

I shouldn't be surprised. Checking in on the Chowhound small print the following disclaimer is found:

"We're a moderated discussion, so we reserve the right to delete anything at any time without notice or explanation. If you choose to participate in our discussion, please bear in mind these house rules, and don't expect every posting to be published and preserved. If you prefer a more anarchic discussion, check out one of the food Usenet newsgroups (but don't be surprised if you find them confrontational, spammy, commercial, and digressive... the hallmarks of unmoderated discussion)."

Although there are no clear guidelines as to what is acceptable and what isn't on Chowhound, this statement suggests that they will delete "confrontational, spammy, commercial, and digressive" posts. As you would expect from me, my post was not even remotely close to any of these things.

Because I do not know why I was deleted - I am not sure how to continue from hereon in. Time is precious. Maybe they are planning to delete all my future posts. Who knows? I can't run the risk of wasting my time trying to find out by putting effort into trying to give my time to a community that simply shows me their scissors and goes snip, snip, snip. No worries. Although I liked the very casual way I could make recommendations on Chowhound, I can just as easily continue to write my restaurant reviews here, on this blog. And I shall. Goodbye, from me, Chowhound.

Conversely I love the sister CNET website CHOW, reborn from the ashes of the magazine with the same name. They are taking a refreshing and innovative approach to writing about and photographing food. I am also really enjoying their blog The Grinder. But do you trust my opinion on this? CHOW kindly invited me to their swanky launch party, so maybe I'm just shilling them in return for the ticket they sent me?

What do you think about Chowhound? Do they rile you too? Or maybe you are one of those people who actually enjoys the mental abuse they doll out? I am sad to have to leave again, there are so many great contributors, but I just can't operate under their undefined terms. Anyway, one less thing to worry about. I am going to have much less time on my hands shortly and this simply means there will be one less thing to have to pay attention to on my long list of things to try and do every day.

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Chowhound Confounds


  • At 14/9/06 12:40, Blogger Anita (Married... with dinner) said…

    Sam, your Becks & Posh readers love your work and eagerly anticipate every post. Why give away your labours of love to people who don't care or respect it?

    Our blog was born out of frustration with food communities. We'd poured our hearts and souls (and hard work) into two different sites -- first eGullet, then MouthfulsFood -- over the years, and were ultimately treated like dirt for our trouble.

    It was a hard lesson to learn, but I'm loving the autonomy (and the clarity) of having our own venue. What it lacks in readership and community, it more than makes up for in pride of ownership and creative juice.

    I'd been meaning to re-investigate CH when I had a spare moment. But between what you've said and a conversation I had today with a friend, I don't think it's on my list anymore. There are plenty of other great resources out there that won't raise my blood pressure.

  • At 14/9/06 13:08, Blogger Rachael Narins said…

    Jim was (is?) bad news. Uhg. That man, I swear...

    I posted on Chowhound about six times years ago and was abused each and every time.

    Since then, I have never ventured back to their site.

    It just so happens, a few days ago I noticed people coming to my blog from a link on Chowhound. I got so riled up, I emailed the poster and asked that link to be taken down (it was to a review of a bakery I did) and it was. I just want NOTHING to do with those people. They just arent worth the energy.
    Post your thoughts here, we all love it, and its YOUR forum...

    Rock on.


    (Eek, was I over the top there? Sorry, I just still get upset thinking of the emails I endured from that, that, that, PERSON. Ick.)

  • At 14/9/06 13:15, Blogger wheresmymind said…

    Man...the only time I've been comped is when I went to starbucks and the guy behind the register had a crush on me! lol

  • At 14/9/06 13:28, Blogger Erin S. said…

    That's truly a bummer Sam. And Rachael--sorry to hear you've had such a bad experience. Perhaps it's that I'm relatively new to using chowhound (reading/posting in only the past 2 years or so) and only post occasionally, but I haven't had too many problems with it. Once or twice I've gotten a somewhat snide comment from a holier-than-thou type, but that seems somewhat par for the course in life in general.

    I find it a relatively useful resource for finding new places and if there's a specific type of cuisine I'm craving in a specific location, a quick post to the board often helps me out. But by no means is it my only resource for food in LA--just one of many.

    I wonder if different boards (mine is LA) have different personalities?

  • At 14/9/06 13:38, Blogger Guy said…

    Well, the fun thing about posting on Chowhound is that it's fresh every hour. Most of the people are fun to hang out with and your words get a far broader distribution that just your own web site, for hte most part. I do it for the first two. Plus it's something to do other than whatever else you were working on during the last hour.

    I know a few posters through email and know their posts get removed on a semi-regular basis as well and even been banned once or twice. You probably will never know why that post or others will be deleted or kept, it's a roll of the dice. If you choose to stay, you take that chance. If you choose to leave, as many have done, so be it. Clearly they don't care about you or the effort you put in to your review.
    We care about your time and effort and love you for it.

    xo - Biggles

  • At 14/9/06 14:22, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm with the group who thinks Chowhound is batshit stupid, over-moderated, and with a rather large stick up its ass.

    If you want proof of Jim Leff's mindset, read this:
    "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Artificial Flavors"

    He promotes genetic engineering, disses molecular gastronomy (throwing the baby out with the bathwater), and I really think his taste in general should be regarded with suspicion. He knows a lot of big words, but they don't stack up to spell "what an intelligent and thoughtful person."

    Nope, Chowhound is just another symptom of a very dumbed-down and mediocre America. The only thing different is that the site doesn't make you vomit when you look at it now.

    Whoops, strong feelings? Me?

    I support you removing your generosity from an unappreciative and paranoid community, Sam.

    (Hi, Anita!)

    : D

  • At 14/9/06 14:22, Blogger Robyn said…

    I consider Chowhound a major "what should I eat?" resource, but I didn't know they treat valuable foodie minds like yourself in a poopy manner. :( THAT'S NOT COOL. It's horrible and stupid of them to toss your writing aside like that. You just want to help people. Good thing you have this blog that people luuuuurve!

  • At 14/9/06 15:21, Blogger Alice Q. Foodie said…

    This is fascinating. I was actually thinking of writing a post about my love hate relationship with Chowhound a while back, but I just haven't gotten around to it. I do post on the California board pretty frequently (since SD doesn't have its own) and I haven't had any problems with the site itself except for some glitchy splitting and moving of posts to other boards. I very rarely start posts though, mostly I respond to others' inquiries.

    I think the whole Chowhound v. Foodie thing that Jim Leff had on the website was stupid (it seems to be gone now) and I think some "chowhounders" really need to get a life. Endless debating and flaming of others over their opinions about a restaurant really is a waste of time. It's an opinion people! I also get annoyed with the whole issue of whether something is "chowish" or not - it's like a whole new level of elitism.

    Anyway - the community will be sorry to see you go - their loss, not yours. Just keep putting great stuff on your blog and we will keep reading it!

  • At 14/9/06 15:43, Blogger Dive said…


    Once again, I must bow down and worship the ground you stand on.

    I have had this EXACT same problem time and time again, each time leaving that board in utter disgust.

    I was a poster on Chowhound many years ago (soon after its appearance on the web) and found myself disgusted with the shit that happened on and around that board (of which you have eloquently detailed now and previously).

    In fact, I should thank them, since Bacon Press was partially born out of the frustration with Chowhound (and to an extent, Egullet, but mostly Chowhound).

    The shadowy "Chowhound Team" are extremely abusive of other posters who are new to the board or to those who aren't in their clique.

    I chalk this up to insecurity and pretention, although I don't know what they have to be insecure or pretentious about.

    One thing I do know, and I mentioned this to Jonathan Kauffman over dinner at the Oaks Club (when he was doing his hofbrau piece), is that there is a conformist train of thought that permeates the Chowhound Bay Area message board and those who post regularly to it. The culture there is so monotonous and dull that I really feel sorry for out-of-towners and other newbies who look to it for any kind of advice.

    I have no doubt that this culture is the direct result of their obnoxious practices and attitudes.

    However, like you, I gave it another chance after it had been acquired by C-Net. I was, wrongly, under the assumption that maybe things had changed (you can find some of my posts under the handle "siesta".)

    I learned very quickly that the old guard was still up to their old tricks, specifically when I challenged Robert Lauriston's infinite wisdom (it's "Hunan Homes", you arrogant prick) and tendency to be a snide, lazy pig-dog ("just do a search").

    I mention briefly in my latest post about returning to Chowhound, and finding out that I hated it as much as ever.

    I'm glad I'm not alone.

    In fact, it was a good kick in the pants to start writing again.


  • At 14/9/06 15:44, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I used to write on CH a lot, too--around the same time that you were writing, Sam.

    I ended up quitting, not because of any bad treatment that I got there, nor out of frustration from the flaming, though there was a ton of it, but because I didn't have time for it once I started writing my own blog.

    I have exchanged emails with Leff a few times--and he is an opinonated son-of-a-gun, but he's never turned his harsher opinions on me personally. In fact, he took up for me in a few flamefests when I let my rather opinionated opinions fly free and some folks got cranky over it.

    That said--Leff has an abrasive personality, and I can see where he has turned off a bunch of people with it. And that is not surprising, nor do I blame the people who were turned off by it. Abrasiveness is sometimes warranted and useful, but most often not.

    I can be abrasive, too, but I tend to keep it to myself. Most of the time. No sense in spewing it out to the world in general and affecting other people with it.

    I haven't checked out the new CH, and I probably won't. eGullet tends to have slightly more informed, intelligent discussion going on these days than I found on CH and so if I feel the need to go play in the traffic of a bboard, I will go there.

    As for why your post was pulled down--who knows. Moderators (a job which I have done elsewhere--a thankless job that gets one nothing but headaches and trouble) are often quirky, and are sometimes umpredictable. I think there is no sense in worrying about why--just don't write anymore reviews there.

    Keep writing here, and know that you are appreciated for your work here.

    BTW--pretty site redesign!

  • At 14/9/06 15:55, Blogger Anne said…

    Oooooh man. I understand your frustration. Although I do post reviews with links to my blog, I mainly use Chowhounds as a last-minute resource.

    That said, I've had posts deleted many times. And I've proceeded to write emails to the "moderators" many times...which turned into email battles many times. I understand trying to control SPAM, but I really think that these moderators are simply self-important people who think that by being a moderator, they are "in" a culinary profession which is hilarious. If some poor, unsuspecting soul posts about Cheesecake Factory (eek) on the Los Angeles boards (since they ARE asking about an LA location!) some self righteous moderator will instantly close the thread with "PLEASE POST IN GENERAL TOPICS BOARD" because it is a national chain. Excuse me, what if the person is asking about the food at a specific location?!

    I believe that since most people fully disclose the fact that they may have gotten free meals due to their profession, it's perfectly acceptable to post about their dining experience. There is no need to "moderate" the boards the way that Chowhound does- I'd hardly call it moderating at all.

  • At 14/9/06 17:08, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    My interest in Chowhound has peeked and dipped over the years, but overall I now find it much less useful than I did in the beginning. I do check the boards fairly often and sometimes post.

    I haven't really had any run-ins with the moderators, although once I had a post on the LA board removed that discussed (if I remember correctly) City Bakery NY in the context of the then to-be-opened LA branch. Apparently, since CB LA hadn't opened yet, I wasn't allowed to discuss what I liked at CB NY. Or maybe I just wasn't allowed to say anything about CB NY on the LA board. I thought it was a little ridiculous since it was relevant to what one might wish to try at CB LA when it opened, but whatever. My panties did get in a small bunch, but I managed to remain calm. The moderators can and will do what they want and there is no sense of shame re their completely and idiotically inconsistent application of CH's rules. Who ARE these people anyway? At least they've made it easy for me to decide to NEVER contribute anything monetarily to the site.

    In comparison, I haven't found the moderators at eGullet to be annoying at all. There are things I find irritating about the general chef/author/cookbook lovefest that goes on there, but that's a different topic, I suppose.

  • At 14/9/06 18:26, Blogger Kaer Trouz said…

    Moderators at eGullet, especially in the wine forum are horrific. I have found over the years, in general, that food & wine forums and discussion boards can be quite provincial and limited. there seems to be a pervading repression of ideas and anyone that does not fit into whatever mode is popular, for whatever reason is slammed. And both CH and Egullet do not like maverick posts, from people who may know more than the moderators and 'cool' people. So much like American high school and so ridiculous. Who cares about "Best cheap wines under $8 (Yellowtail???) and "Where should I take my folks for brunch on Sunday" Figure it the f**k out on your own.

  • At 14/9/06 18:44, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    If I lived in say, Manhattan-- where every food establishment from Per Se to the hot dog cart on the corner has been discussed and overanalyzed to death--I think I'd find Chowhound totally useless because with too many opinions floating around, there's no way to get to the truth about a place.

    However, living in Queens, I find Chowhound is a valuable resource because we have a zillion (well, maybe not a zillion, but close) obscure little ethnic restaurants that are completely ignored by the New York media. The only way to find these places--save wandering past them on the street--is to log onto Chowhound, where you'll always find one person obsessive enough to compile a list of, for example, the best places for pork intestine tacos, or the best Kosher Uzbeki restaurant.

    Don't know what's up with those crazy moderators, though. Maybe they have a quota (must delete ten posts a day) . . .

    Glad you liked Delfina--my sister, Lauren, is the sous chef. A fabulous meal there is always one of the bright spots on my yearly trip to San Francisco. (I'm only a little biased.)


  • At 14/9/06 20:02, Blogger Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said…

    I love the new incarnation of Chow--it's much better than the print version. Chow is just another example of how online magazines are much more accessible than their print counterparts (Radar is another example). I don't think print will completely die, but if I were a media buyer, I'd place my dollars with online sites that daily provide fresh and attractively packaged information over a tired, paper-bound book. I work in magazines, so I could talk about this forever, but some products work better online than in print--Chow is a perfect example of this.

    I use Chowhound occasionally, but I had a similar experience as you. When I went to Tokyo and Chowhound posters asked for a link to my Tsujiki photos, the post was slapped down by the Powers That Be because it wasn't "on topic." Draconian, indeed!

  • At 14/9/06 21:56, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You seem to have a really classy blog and though I am not big on food - providing it fills the hole and does not get stuck between your teeth- it would seem that it is your passion and all politics should be cast aside. Write because you like to write and love your subject. This will attract other like minded readers and you can establish your own community that suits your needs.

  • At 14/9/06 23:48, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    you should not waste your time on chowhound, come waste your time for sfist! You know the door's always open. I'm sorry you feel slapped in the face. I have kinda turned into a chowhound lurker myself, not posting much, just trying to keep up with the new places that sometime gets mentioned there. I don't give much back to the community there, but at least, they cannot remove many of my posts...

  • At 15/9/06 09:01, Blogger s'kat said…

    I dipped my toe into Chowhound once, but found the waters a bit to bleak and chilly. Moved onto eGullet, which evolved into it's own little oddity...

    At any rate, Sam, keep up your insightful reviews- you know we'll keep readin' em!

  • At 15/9/06 09:16, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think you hit a nerve here, Sam! I, too, have had posts mysteriously deleted on Chowhound... and I've searched the Terms of Use to try to figure out why, to no avail.

    Now I just use it if I simply can't find the info elsewhere.

    Like you said -there are so many great food bloggers out there, why waste the time?

  • At 15/9/06 09:24, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    We need you.

    We don't need Chowhound.

    'Nuff said.

  • At 15/9/06 11:03, Blogger Unknown said…

    Honestly, I never even heard of Chowhound, but if this is how they act, then I guess that's why.

    Hope I can see a review of yours on Delfina though, I still never been and need to live vicariously through you.

  • At 15/9/06 11:37, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sam (or should I call you Sixy?),

    Sorry to see you leave Chowhound. You're posts are a wonderful supplement to your blog and you will be missed.

    Chowhound is like any other internet board that is open to contributions. There is great information and there is dreck. There are pedantic jerks and there are wonderful people. The key to enjoying Chowhound is to put on your filter goggles and not take anything, or anyone, (including yourself) too seriously. And for all the times I've been frustrated by obnoxious posters, I can't deny that many of my favorite food tips have come from Chowhound. It's a particularly valuable resource when traveling. I really hope these tirades do not discourage others from at least checking out the new Chowhound. It's not right for everbody, but many of us adore it.

    I've been deleted before, all the regulars have (including Jim). It would be helpful if the "powers that be" posted a more detailed FAQ on deletions. But in my observations, deletions are usually consistent with their unstated policies (which I’ve outlined below). I have never noticed an arbitrary deletion, and I think their deletion policies are quite reasonable. If they were more lenient, the board could easily go the way of unmoderated quagmires a la Craigslist and nobody wants that. If you checked the board as frequently as I do, you would realize just how much valuable work the mods do in deleting shilling, abuse, off topic posts, pornography, etc. Bunrabs, if you’re reading this, just try starting a community board because your empathy for the Chowhound moderators will increase exponentially.

    I imagine that you were deleted in this case because, lets face it, getting an entire round of desserts comped implies that one of your dining companions had some sort of special relationship with the restaurant. Being treated like a VIP will positively impact your dining experience, and may even impact the food you receive. Your average Chowhound reader will not receive that treatment when dropping in to Delfina.

    Chowhound is not about dining at the chef's table, it's about the experience of the common, food loving, outsider. And I can say that as someone who is not part of the food blogger community, there are times when I envy the insider's track that so many of you seem to enjoy (though that doesn't stop me from reading you religiously).

    For those of you who are interested in participating in Chowhound, here are a few basic rules. If you keep to these, and use common sense, you will almost never get deleted:

    1) Never mention a relationship with a restaurant owner, investor, chef or server. If you get something comped, don't mention it (unless it was in because the restaurant screwing something up).
    2) Keep your posts board specific. Chains belong on the chain board b/c the food at the LA Cheesecake Factory is basically identical to the food at the SF Cheesecake Factory. If your friends on the Tokyo board want to see your pics from dinner at The French Laundry then post a "heads up" on the Tokyo board linking to your TFL thread on the Bay Area board (where talk on TFL belongs).
    3) Do not use Chowhound as a sounding board for your blog. Don't just write, "I love Babbo, here's the link to a report on my blog." Copy and paste excerpts from your blog and then link your URL at the bottom of the page. If people like your writing, they will follow your link.
    4) Don't talk about fundraisers, even if they involve food.
    5) Don't just copy announcements about upcoming events from a restaurant's newsletter or web page. If you want to let people know about an upcoming event, summarize it in your own words and post a link.
    6) Relax. You aren’t in the driver’s seat here. You may lose a post or two, but you get an invaluable community of like-minded food lovers. Chowhound is a treasure trove, and I’m willing to tolerate errant posts and strict moderation in exchange for information.

    And, for the record, I have no official link to Chowhound and I am not a moderator. I’m just a regular poster and a big fan.

    -Morton the Mousse

  • At 15/9/06 11:39, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am going to have to side with Chowhound on this one. I don't know if you consider yourself a food critic or not, but in the eyes of most readers you have become one. With that said, you have forgotten rule #1: DONT ACCEPT COMPS!

    Sites like Chowhound and Yelp are meant for non-professional food writers to share their opinions. Sam, you are held to a different standard as you have made a career out of food writing. In order for your reviews to be trustworthy, we need to know that you receive no personal gains from writing a positive review. When a restaurant gives you free food, that is a personal gain. How am I to trust that you aren't writing a positive review because you want to be friends with the owner and get free stuff?

    I don't mean this as an attack on your credibility as a food writer. I enjoy your blog and will continue to read it, however now that will be done knowing you receive free gifts from those you write about.

  • At 15/9/06 12:11, Blogger Dive said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At 15/9/06 12:36, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At 15/9/06 12:47, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    1) Sam's not a professional food writer.
    2) Her frieneds got comped, not her.
    3) Your concern about the objectivity of writers applies to every single post on Chowhound; you never know the motivation.

    If a person has an affiliation or has received a comped dish, it should be stated up front so I know when I read the review. Morton the Mousse's advice to hide it is ridiculous, and it degrades the quality of all the reviews.

  • At 15/9/06 13:35, Blogger Dive said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At 15/9/06 13:35, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I would like to personally apologize if I offended anybody with my previous comments. I have a ton of respect for Sam and her blog and always considered her work to be very “professional”. Because this blog is so wildly popular, I assumed the same standards were followed as those of professional food writers. I feel this is where the difference between blogs and professional writing is blurred. I apologize for confusing the two.

  • At 15/9/06 15:32, Blogger Anna Haight said…


    I've been enjoying your blog silently for a long time, and am sorry to hear of your treatment from Chowhound. I've recently used Chowhound and find it rather boring, but useful when needing some specific advice on where to get a special ingredient. (I like Yelp better as a community in general - and the recommendations are more organized).

    Too bad Chowhound was so inept as to lose such a valuable member of the food community. Their loss.

    Thanks also for your note of my blog some years ago now, when I discovered it, I took my blogging on food more seriously, and have been enjoying the whole experience.

    One of your quieter fans,
    Anna (Mill Valley)

  • At 15/9/06 18:07, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    There is a lot to respond to here. Thank you every one for weighing in.

    I am not going to answer each comment individually or at length but I will weigh in on some of the comments and accusations that I think need addressing.

    I would like to thank everyone who has been supportive.

    First things - it is clear that a lot of different, reasonable people have been upset by chowhound in one way or another. That in itself is not a positive testament to the way that it conducts itself.

    It is interesting that Ced and a few others point out that they use CH to 'take' information, but they give little back in return. This may seem heartless but I agree that CH opens itself to being used in this way. You can be sure that every restaurant columnist in town reads it to get scoops and stuff.

    garrett - i hope to go back to Delfina again before I review it. And if I do I will be totally transparent and mention the comps.

    Morton - you make a lot of valid points and I thank you for taking the time to come here and make the case for CH. However, there is just one point you make that worries me immensely:

    "Never mention a relationship with a restaurant owner, investor, chef or server. If you get something comped, don't mention it"

    Since I clearly aim for transparency on this blog, and I am an honest truthful person, I could not have written that Delfina review without mentioning the comp. We actually ordered all the desserts on the menu. I did not know that they were a comp until after the time came to pay the check. By that time I had already decided that most of the food I'd eaten that night was fantastic.

    Getting comped the desserts did not make me change my mind to pretend I liked the profiteroles. I didn't and said so in my initial review on CH.

    I did not accept a free meal in return for a review. The staff had no idea who I was. They only thing they knew there were 5 other girls sitting with their regular and that one of those girls was celebrating her birthday. At least this was the situation as far as I am led to believe.

    I refuse to lie to the forum and pretend this didn't happen just so my words can remain on the board.

    This proves CH is not to be trusted. The regulars have obviously worked out how to get around the system of moderation.

    I am not surprised - I have witnessed this happen before because I am party to information about some contributors on CH that the moderators clearly don't know about the backgrounds of. Just because other users play 'the game', doesn't mean I should have to lower my standards.

    That's fine - they clearly prefer to have reviews written by people bending the truth than by those upholding it. It doesn't matter, I'm gone from there anyway.

    Later on the comments, I see that you, Morton and Bacon Press have had a disagreement. I can moderate these comments. However, unlike CH I am not going to behave like a juggernaut. I don't like to halt the flow of such a ripe conversation without your permission, but if you request I can delete the comment in which he mentions your appearance on 'Check Please', along with the following replies from both you and him. I am afraid I will not be able to delete your first comment, however.

    Nick - I confess I am disappointed most by your comment and perplexed by your naievety on this subject.

    1) I call myself an amateur food critic, it is true, but I try and behave in a serious and professional manner understanding that I have a responsibility. I do not ever review in exchange for free meals as many professional publications around town are known to do.

    Do I accept free stuff on rare occasion? Sure - If someone doesn't bill me for drinks or something I am not going to argue with them. Why do they give me free drinks to us occasionally? I have no idea? We are friendly diners. We ask lots of questions about the food and wine. We are enthusiastic. We are pleasant customers. We can speak French, and the French servers like that. We are interested. I think it would be rude of me not to accept such a gift graciously. When it happens I leave extra tip. Maybe they do it for that - slip us a free drink in the hope of getting a bigger tip for their pocket? You never know why you are getting something for free.

    I book tables under a false name.
    I do not give my real name.
    As far as I am aware, no one knows or even cares who I am, I am just a lowly blogger, someone who is hardly embraced by mainstream traditional press or taken seriously by restauranteurs. After all I have never seen one of my reviews posted on the window or on the website of a restaurant, they only deal with the big guys.

    Nick - my career is not in food writing. I do all of this for LOVE not money. I recieve no personal gains AT ALL because of it and it costs me a bloody fortune, believe me. I often revisit restaurants in order to give a fair assessment, all at my own expense. If you don't trust me then just don't come here any more. Simple as that.

    However, before you leave I would like to point you in the direction of a few posts I think you should read which will help you understand my morals on the subject of writing my blog:

    Resteraunt Reviews Rating System in which you should read the section entitled "Why read me in addition to the professionals?" in particular.

    tabla review please read this to see how I was recognised in a place I used to frequent. See how bad I felt when I was given a gift of free food. See how I admitted it publicly.

    How do you know professionals aren't recognised, how do you know they are getting comps too? (They actually do recieve preferential treatment, I have witnessed it with my own eyes), do they write about it? Of course not, duh!

    Nick - newspapers write about recipe books - do you think they ever ever pay for one? No way - they receive them for free from PR people. I don't accept these gifts even though they are offered to bloggers. I tried it, I didn't feel comfortable with it at all.

    Show me some respect and read this: a comment I made a while back on Blogher and then I think you will understand me better.

    Also read this post here, including the comments. You will see that I am in a minority, so don't expect all bloggers to have the high standards I do. But please don't accuse me of something I am not just because you haven't taken the time to really understand me.

    Nick if you really respect me then your comment needs to be put into my perspective.

    "Because this blog is so wildly popular, I assumed the same standards were followed as those of professional food writers. I feel this is where the difference between blogs and professional writing is blurred. I apologize for confusing the two."

    Seriously - I try to follow HIGHER standards than professionals do as I think the links above will prove. The blur, actually, is that you dont have a clue about how the professionals are behaving behind your back, but here I am promising that I am trying to be transparent and I want to let you know how it is. Of course there are professionals who do follow the srtict rules, but for every one that does, there are many I am convinced that don't.

    Please have a good long think about this and throw out your misconceptions. be thankful that I would rather tell the truth and be deleted than lie so I could remain on Chowhound.

    Finally - Anna - I am so glad you commented. For years I have wanted to comment on your blog because it is commentless of course I can't. I am so sorry to have heard about your niece. My thoughts are with you. Thanks for saying hello.

  • At 15/9/06 18:48, Blogger Dive said…

    Dear Sam and B&P Readers,

    Morton and I have responded to each other in private and hopefully our differences are settled.

    He has explained to me in depth about the episode in question and I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. I also apologize, privately and here, to him for any hostility I may have expressed towards him and have promised not to bring up the topic again.

    Hopefully him and I can both forgive and move on.

    Any post deletion on your part, Sam, would be welcome by myself.

    And lastly, to Sam's readers, I apologize to you (I have already to Sam) for using this space to go beyond being reasonably critical to sounding hostile.

    Thanks to Sam for having this blog that is such a lighting rod for people who have so much passion for food (sometimes, like myself, overly passionate).

  • At 15/9/06 19:14, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sam, I would like to apologize for jumping to conclusions. It was not my intention to attack your credibility. The whole reason I started reading your blog in the first place is because I truly did trust your intentions. Perhaps it was my naïve or overlay idealistic nature, but this is why I was disappointed and questioned your ability to write objective reviews while receiving food comps. I was wrong to do this and appreciate you taking the time to discuss this in a professional manner.

  • At 15/9/06 21:38, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    As Bacon Press said, we have sorted out or differences and I would be happy if you removed the hostile exchange. It's so nice to be asked before being deleted.

    I truly respect your decision to remain tranparent. You're not wrong in saying that much of using Chowhound is about learning to bend the rules, but I do not think that means it cannot be trusted. There are shills on Chowhound, but there are also some excellent, impartial, reviewers who do not blog and whose opinions cannot be found elsewhere.

    I thought that some of the people who have been burned by Chowhound in the past may appreciate having some of the unwritten rules spelled out for them so they would know how to avoid being deleted in the future. Those rules may be ridiculous, but they are what they are. I prefer navigating through the bureaucracy to rejecting it. I also just couldn't resist the urge to defend my clubhouse against an outside attack.

    Again, you will be missed. It's always sad to see a good poster go. But I'm going to keep tracking you, just in case you decide to drop by with a tip now and then.

  • At 15/9/06 22:12, Blogger Civic Center said…

    Oh, please don't delete the hostile exchange. It was great. And f--- Chowhound. They sound like the foodie version of "The Huffington Post" which has truly terrible moderators.

    And please don't bother defending yourself, Sam. You ARE honest and it comes through loud and clear in every post.

  • At 15/9/06 23:49, Blogger Alice Q. Foodie said…

    Yeah, what he said! No need to explain yourself Sam. Heaven knows, you can do whatever the f---you want on your blog, that's what's so great about blogs!

  • At 16/9/06 06:27, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Sam,

    You are a delight – your blog is stunning and informative and fun to read. It’s also professional in the best sense of the word – expert and polished and painstaking. But it is a blog, after all – you are sharing your subjective views about food with us and that’s why we love you.

    I am a blogger and food writer myself and I grapple with all the issues you so thoughtfully discuss on your site. I really admire your approach and I subscribe to the basic gist – be as stand up as you possibly can be and disclose, disclose, disclose. With full information, intelligent readers can evaluate what a writer has to say for themselves.

    I don’t think any reviewer, even those in wigs and pseudonyms, can be wholly objective – we get to like a place, we wish it well, and that’s reflected in our writing. Frankly, a place that comps the birthday girl’s desserts is endearing (especially if the desserts are delish!) – I say give them a shout out and let their good will be known.

    I’m glad to see that the adults posting to your site decided to act like adults and make nice – it was big of you to give them the opportunity. If people came into my living room and started scrapping like that I’d be tempted to make them sit in the corner.

    Anyway, don’t sweat this too much. You do a great job. Those of us who get it, get it.

  • At 16/9/06 10:01, Blogger shuna fish lydon said…

    Well if no one is going to say this then I will:


    And for having more time HERE with US!!

    CH is difficult, we do know that. I agree that it's a great resource for specific information. And that when we have less time on our hands our own blog is the way to go.

    I'm just selfish: I love that you are here in OUR COMMUNITY, and staying put...


  • At 16/9/06 11:43, Blogger Anna Haight said…

    Hi again Sam,

    Thanks for your thoughts, they are much appreciated. I've tried to turn on the comments for my blog a number of times, but it just doesn't work right, and I've never had enough time to delve. If you ever want to reach me my e-mail is anna at annalou dot com.

    I think I'll be joining your Food Blog S'cool for some learning to make improvements to my Blog. Thanks for your efforts that benefit the whole community.

    Anna (Mill Valley)

  • At 16/9/06 15:24, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sam: I'm not the poster boy example for free rider on chowhound, though, I contribute some!

    I will send you the email I got from chowhound moderator because they deleted some posts of mine. The reason was the same: I was upfront about being a regular at a place (hamano) and thus the friendly treatment I receive there is not what the tourist from wichita would get. As if Robert Lauriston is never comped a thing, or has "a regular experience" at incanto or oliveto.

    Morton: you keep posting about aziza on chowhound, even thought the experience you receive there can obviously not be that of a regular, after your vouching for the place on TV. You don't mention that you get a different treatment there, so your post can stay.

    This is not a dig on Morton or Robert: they integrated the rules. But chowhound's rules form a silly policy which rewards dissimulation and omission, instead of upfront disclosure.

  • At 16/9/06 16:11, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    Theoretically, you're right. Except that I haven't been back to Aziza in close to a year (it's a great restaurant, but there are other places to try. The selections on Check, Please! have nothing to do with the guests' favorite restaurants. There's a huge list of criteria, and my top 5 picks were all rejected by the producers). My reports on Aziza, and the post you cited, are all dated before the infamous Check, Please! aired. And I can honestly say I've never had anything comped at Aziza.

    Getting back on topic: I'm not defending Chowhound's rules, I'm only clarifying them. They have a "zero tolerance" approach which will inevitably upset some poeople. They fear that allowing threads on comps and regulars to stand will set a precedent that future restaurant insiders will cite when doing flagrant shilling. The result of this policy is that some regulars have learned to bend the rules to avoid deletion. Sadly, this means less transparency than what would be ideal. But it does not invalidate the substance of Chowhound.

    Chowhound is flawed. Ideally, the moderators would have the time and energy to give each post due consideration before deletion. But "zero tolerance" is also the only practical way to do moderation on such an incredibly large scale.

    None of this changes the fact that I've found countless wonderful tips on Chowhound and that I enjoy posting on it and directing others to my favorite eats. I am willing to accept Chowhound's flaws in consideration of its overall value. I respect Sam and other bloggers' decision to stay away, but I think anyone who is interested in food should give Chowhound fair consideration before rejecting it outright.

  • At 16/9/06 20:58, Blogger Catherine said…

    Anyone who has spoken to Sam for 5 minutes knows she's super-concerned with comp. issues and being completely and totally unbiased/swayed by comps.

    She's a totally honest reporter and the community can count on her objectivity.

    example: Being from the publishing world, I recently tried (with help) to encouraged her to accept review copies of cookbooks, which made her uncomfortable.

    Nick - Sam is a wondeful and highly professional (except for the money bit) food writer, with extraordinary standards, which is why her blog is so "wildly popular". I don't know who you are, but I know I have 100% confidence in Sam's credibility and frankly, I'm so insulted for her in reponse to your comments. Honestly, you should be ashamed of yourself.

    Sam -I'm so sorry you, of all people, feel the need to defend yourself. Of course, everyone knows it complete and utter rubbish.

  • At 17/9/06 07:45, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Sam,

    I'm really shocked that they delete threads and comments. Not just move a thread if it's in the wrong place? And, no posted guidelines?

    Unlike the other commenters, Chowhound is not a board I post on. I don't know if what surprises me this most is whether threads/comments are arbitrarily deleted or that people keep going back after it happens again and again. How long does it take a foodie to realize that they must have something better to do with their time?

  • At 17/9/06 09:20, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hello every one again!

    Isn't is great - at last - to have a place where Chowhound issues can be discussed as reasonable aduults without your thoughts and questions on the subject being deleted as they would be if you tried to have this conversation on CH itself!

    Ced - didn't mean to make you into poster boy - thanks for the email you sent me.

    everyone - thanks for your continued input into the debate and for all the further support.

    Perhaps I should have explained why I left CH the first time round over a year ago. I am friends with one of the owners of a chain of french restuarants in SF. I don't hide this fact and CH knew about it because they admitted to checking my blog out for evidence. Yes, apparently I was investigated. After an initial mistake during my first week on CH (I think, where I said I didn't like the fries at one of these places and then had my knuckles rapped for mentioning the restaurant of a friend, even though I had used negative terms), I stopped mentioning this friends restaurant at all as they asked me to.

    Some while later, I asked for a clarification of some of the CH rules (yes there used to be rules) and Jim Leff started a conversation with me via email. The conversation continued in a friendly, personal, explanatory way until I suddenly received a cold email from him, not alluding to our prior conversation or the threads of it thus:


    We need to ask you not to post about Chez Papa, Plouf, Baraka, Chez
    Maman, Cafe Bastille, Voda, B44, Chou Chou, Alma, or any of the other
    restaurants in your friend's group.

    And please refrain from posting negatives about places in Pascal
    Rigo's group, with which this group is in heated competition."

    I found that to be rediculous. The friend in question has nothing to do with Chez Maman, Baraka or Chez Papa which at first illustrates Leff's ignorance on who owns what restaurant in SF, in fact my friend and the owner of those 3 particular restaurants are also in fierce competition themeselves.

    And to tell me I can only write about Rigal's restaurants in positives terms is the thing that got me the most. I mean - if that's not an invitation to encourage biased opinions, what is?

  • At 17/9/06 16:17, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What? What? What's this all about??
    I don't understand.

    (DISCLAIMER: I am Cookiecrumb, being a scamp here.)


  • At 18/9/06 08:45, Blogger Dive said…

    "I don't hide this fact and CH knew about it because they admitted to checking my blog out for evidence. Yes, apparently I was investigated."


    A. HP investigates Cnet journalist for her connection regarding leaks about HP.

    B. Cnet-owned Chowhound secretly investigates Sam for her connection regarding leeks prepared in the kitchen of a certain restaurant-chain owner.

    C. I have eaten French food in close proximity to Cnet headquarters and I'm a former Compaq/HP computer owner.

    Weird. This is like one of those movies like "Crash", where everyone is freakishly connected in someway.

  • At 18/9/06 12:25, Blogger Owen said…

    I probably shouldn't join this thread but I have a few contradictory comments.

    1) I think Chowhound is ONLY useful for finding out what a decent place to eat in is in a neighbourhood where you have never been.
    2) The signal-to-noise ration on Chowhound is axtraordinarily high.
    3) For a very non-professional site Chowhound really does have a ridiculous attitude about comps and 'reviewing' a restaurant and mot letting professionals have a say.
    4) I know Robert L very well - have worked with him in the past etc. and while he can be cantankerous and difficult, he really isn't a bad guy - and he does know about food.
    5) This is a typical food reviewing mountain out of a molehill. It is dinner - it isn't a new car. People learn pretty quickly who they can trust and who not - for example I trust Sam more than any official reviewer (Michael Bauer) who I trust more than people I have never herad of on Chowhound. On the other hand I do trust the combined opinions of six people on Chowhound.
    6) Where is it written that you must go to a restaurant three times anonymously before writing about it? Sure - it is great to have standards that tight and adhere to them and be completely openly impartial. But it is NOT a requirement. The only requirement is that you tell the truth. 'Il Fornaio paid me to write this review' is just as valid as anything else - although perhaps not very valuable. I can still learn that they make their XYZ using a particular set of ingredients and style.

    Some disclosure about me - I have spent more years of my life than I care to think developing professional reviewing systems and standards for high tech equipment publishers. I know a LOT about media standards and integrity and reviewing.

  • At 22/9/06 12:23, Blogger Pyewacket said…

    I read and post on Chowhound sometimes, but less since I've discovered blogs. I found the attitudes pretty annoying - particularly Jim Leff's disdain for home cooking. I also found that just a few commentators can ruin a whole board. There is someone (not naming names) on the Home Cooking board who is so self-important, condescending, and ignorant, I cringe every time she posts, which is in every thread. I prefer reading bloggers - I can picki those who know what they're talking about and have a style that suits me. I also don't have a lot of money and can rarely afford to eat out, so I found the intense snobbery about restaurants very irritating. I remember distinctly one poster asking is there was "any restaurant in Boston where I can find a good birthday dinner for under $100 per person." Dear god, I should hope so!

  • At 25/9/06 14:02, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I don't know if there's anyone, or a group of anyones, in your area who would take on the work of developing a local food discussion forum, but it Chicago it has worked out better than anyone could have hoped or predicted. Take a look at and then check out the Chicago pages on Chowhound to see the difference. We had a picnic yesterday that drew more than 90 people--probably 95% of whom knew none of the others two years ago.

    It's ironic that the excuse for the heavy-handedness on CH was always the old software and the limited bandwidth, yet here we are with new software and the same attitudes. At LTH we don't spend anytime dissing Leff or CH--and from time to time one of us will pop over there to answer someone's question--but we're having a great time discussing, and eating, Chicago food.

  • At 4/10/06 08:37, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    chowhound SUCKS. sorry to be so blunt. my experience has been terrible. i recently joined chowhound and have been *trying* to post all week. ALL of my posts have been deleted. NOTHING in my posts has been controversial — no comps, no bad words, just my take on local dining experiences (all positive, one neutral). it's hard to imagine what their editorial policy is, but from my pov it's a community of the damned. i am FINISHED with chowhound.

  • At 10/10/06 21:47, Blogger Chubbypanda said…


    After linking your article to one of mine, where I discuss my dissatisfaction with having one of my posts summarily removed by the Chowhound moderators, I received a very polite email from said moderators explaining why they removed my post. I have posted the full letter in my blog here:

    Chowhound Board Nazis Redux

    I believe that I received an explanatory email from Chowhound precisely because I linked to this article, which is now the fifth listed search result on Google for "Chowhound".

    Coincidence? Possibly, but probably not. The power of the blogosphere at work. You're making a difference.

    Cheers, my bonnie lass!

    - Chubbypanda

  • At 11/10/06 00:35, Blogger ChristianZ said…

    "If you prefer a more anarchic discussion, check out one of the food Usenet newsgroups"

    The problem about them saying that is that they have this weird idea that deleting posts like crazy equals good board moderation. I explained to them that there are plenty of well-run boards that aren't heavy on the Delete button but the logic just doesn't get through to them.

  • At 11/10/06 00:43, Blogger ChristianZ said…

    "I don't know if there's anyone, or a group of anyones, in your area who would take on the work of developing a local food discussion forum, but it Chicago it has worked out better than anyone could have hoped or predicted."

    Good to hear the success story. Let's see this happen for other regions as well.

  • At 13/10/06 19:17, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Fuck Chowhound and FUCK Jim Leff!

  • At 21/10/06 10:23, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I wouldn't quite put it like that Mary, but yeah, Chowhound, and Leff himself, do get very jealous of people who develop their own following. Every time a person gets to say over 1000 posts, and has lots of people following him/ her, they are mysteriously taken off the site. Usually, trumped up charges of abusing the site are used.

    Ah, what the hell, FUCK Chowhound! And Leff too!

  • At 8/11/06 04:10, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Chowhound's regime is now deleting entire threads after they have been up for days or even weeks. What's the point of expunging messages that already been visible for extended time periods? Clearly, with the increased traffic from the CNET acquistion, the Chowhound zealots cannot keep up with their "pruning" activities and instead embarrass themselves with ridiculous deletions long after the time of posting. A realistic way to deal with this would be to relax Chowhound's uptight policies a bit, but instead the censors continue to struggle to say on their treadmill to the detriment of everyone.

  • At 14/11/06 12:37, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I wrote that there didn't seem to be a Kaiser roll in California outside of Sacramento. I thought it was funny, and true. Arnold would laugh too. The post was deleted.

    That was after a few posts where I wrote of my own experiences with e.g. New York's Lower east Side restaurants. Someone mentioned the creepy crawlies on the wall. I concurred. The whole post was instantly deleted. Another post mentioned something about the dangers of certain food additives commonly used in restaurants. It was deleted. And more.

    Has corporate fascism has hit food networks. You can't say anything too bad about restaurants, about you can't be a human being and express a food joke, you cannot critize the US food industy.

    It appears the main value of Chowhound is to promote the corporate food business, and only a clique of simpering, pretentious idiots are allowed. And do NOT disagree with the Chowhound poster-plants or you will be "trolled" off.

  • At 1/12/06 05:01, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Chowhound seems to be on a treadmill and running out of energy. For months, the geographical distribution of the boards has been in disarray, with numerous assignments of cities to specific boards not making sense and endless confusion about where San Diego belongs. Chowhound refuses to deal with these issues and every complaint is met with a stubborn and rude canned response that basically says "We're working on it; don't bother us."

  • At 15/12/06 02:14, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    My Chowhound Board Nazis saga has come to an end. After a bit of peaceful resistance on my part, the moderators deleted my account and kicked me off of the boards. If you're interested, I put the details up on my blog.



  • At 16/1/07 15:16, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Reading your Chowhound comments make me feel sane!!! I totally agree with you, and hereby vow to stay away from the poisoness nastiness that can be chowhound, and the weird, but rigid habit of deleting postings by industry insiders, or anything remotely critical of it (chowhound)...

    Thanks for your comments!!!

  • At 9/2/07 13:27, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    One lesson learned about CH - never try to use it as a basis for researching places that no longer exist. I tried to once in New York and apparently "nostalgia" is bad.

  • At 11/2/07 18:29, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I have posted regularly on CH and been censured regularly. There was a thread about an L.A. sushi spot. It had been written that the owner had acquired a new wife who chnged everything and had prepares fired. I posted that it was my favourite place, but that I knew form workers there that everything changed with the new wife, that they had an air of defeat and cynicism since she came on board. The whole thread was deleted, along with nostalgic posts about how it once was the best in west L.A. Why? No explanation ever was offered and I received no email from them. I guess they believe in obeying orders and firing up the ovens...

  • At 13/2/07 13:35, Blogger May said…

    I'm glad I'm not the only one...I have had post after post deleted, for no apparent reason. Even the most innocuous of clearly food-related posts have often been deleted. While moderators can serve a valuable function in mediating abuse and keeping trolls at bay, I can't help but wonder what the advantage of having such a heavily moderated board is. I think that at best, it ensures that Chowhound is totally devoid of personality (a sad thing indeed, for a community supposedly for food people), and at worst, is a source of bad information and ill will.

  • At 9/3/07 21:14, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Everything I write gets deleted. I thought it was me doing it accidently until I posted a new topic and it was deleted. At 930pm!


    Goodbye to chowhound!

    I will do my own stuff!

  • At 17/3/07 13:54, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Chowhound has become a big joke. I gave up on it a few months back. The dictorial means by which some posts are deleted really ticked me off. The Toronto board is a prime example of a bunch of wannabe critics who have become a clique unto themselves. With so many restos in this city I can't understand how they keep blabbing about the same old places...and God help you if you disagree with all the 'experts'. So much for an open community! I've wipe my hands of the nonsense.

  • At 18/3/07 16:15, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Tony Bourdain once referred to them as the "People's Republic of Chowhound".

  • At 28/7/07 23:56, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "The tap water at Jack & Dyl's is great!"

    I made the above post at and it was censored. Admittedly, it was a sarcastic comment. Nonetheless, it was petty of the chowhound censors to remove it.

  • At 23/8/07 13:07, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I hate to say it, but eGullet and mouthfulsfood are just as cliquey and snobbish as anyone on Chowhound. But it's true, the Chowhound mods are awful.

  • At 24/8/07 14:42, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I expressed concern about ingredients produced in China only to find it had been removed minutes later. Then I complained about the moderation and it was removed minutes later. Then I was removed minutes later

  • At 14/10/07 04:38, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I just asked a question about imported food from China and it was removed from chowhound, I asked why & they would not tell me. You mentioned China too and your post was removed. What's up with that? Any ideas? I realize this is an older post but I'm hoping someone may have specific insight into this.

  • At 3/12/07 07:57, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'd been posting on the Austin boards for roughly 18 months when I was unceremoniously blocked after complaining to moderators about deleting what I considered to be topical posts well within the stated guidelines. I thought perhaps the tetchy CNET legal team had taken to moderating, but I see that this has been going on for a while.

    I totally agree with your point about spending time on your thoughts only to have them deleted for no seeming cause. And on top of it, they own everything you post. Free content that is then taken as dominion by a site? No thanks. I'll read the fine print next time.

  • At 3/1/08 14:51, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    So happy to know there are others who have been spurned by the arbitrary and dictatorial practices at chowhound.

    If one isn't one who talks about oneself in the third person, one's varying opinions aren't welcome there.

    A great big Bronx cheer to the despots at the helm.

  • At 15/1/08 21:21, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This is the first time I've read this site, but they must have a full time moderator censoring concern about ingredients from China. Jacquilynne the community manager for Chowhound was at the SF hound picnic. She seems to have eaten everything that has ever been praised, maybe numerous times. If you would like to read about the chafing of her thighs go to her blog at:

  • At 18/1/08 11:35, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    With lovely people like "Curmudgeon" (aka Dan Goldberg) around, it's no wonder he is not welcome on sites like Chowhound. Check his site out for some of his "highly literate" food writings. A particular treat is the one where he posts about how he drinks to get drunk (thinking it makes him witty- perhaps his posts on Chowhound and other blogs are examples of that wit?!)

  • At 13/2/08 12:40, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Actually I quit Chowhound. I didn't like that they consistently censored questions about the purity of food ingredients from Mainland China. I also expressed my nervousness to Trader Joe's. Today Trader Joe's announced that they will not be selling food products from China. I also no longer use CNET which owns Chowhound. I think they are in bed with the Chinese so who could trust them?

  • At 27/2/08 22:33, Blogger kaszeta said…

    I too am considering become a former Chowhound poster. I never used to have a problem, but in the past few months a majority of my posts have been censored, and, like the examples here, there's nothing objectionable about them... informative information following up another poster's comments? Deleted. Positive comments about an establishment? Deleted. Mild criticism? Deleted. Virtually anything I've posted outside of the New England board (which seems to have a less heavy hand by the censors)? Deleted.

    Kind of hard to have a "Discussion" board when a substantial fraction of the discussion is being squelched.

  • At 2/3/08 17:54, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Glad i'm not the only one who is left scratching my head over some of the stupid stuff that goes on at CH. Their "rules" don't hold water. While on one hand they'll readily quote the no nostalgia rule...take a look at the boards and you'll see plenty of the same. I've had many posts get immediatly deleted for what appears to be no good reason. Around V-day when there were numerous related posts on the board about where to go, or what to cook and what they did cook etc etc etc, i posted as a single person who celebrated the day regardless, and listed what i had cooked, what wine i had etc. I posted a question asking others who may have done the same either now or in the past, what they had cooked. This basically mirrored the hundreds of "coupley" posts up on the board around that time, and was not only directed towards singles. Got immediatly deleted. I can think of numerous examples that got deleted for no good reason, and left me thinking WTF!?!?

    Question or comment on this on the "feedback" board? forget it...gets immediatly deleted. There is absolutely no consistancy to the boards and i've seen some pretty crazy, off-topic or offensive stuff being left up there to fester, while innocent posts get deleted.

  • At 20/3/08 20:46, Blogger jeremypb said…

    I like reading and posting on chowhound but recently a good deal of my posts have been deleted. Especially ones that link to other sites. Apparently they consider that spamming. I consider it promoting food sites and blogs that I love and have good writing, yours included. I've started to not frequent chowhound as often because of it and chow as well on principal.

  • At 17/1/09 21:49, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I didn't even make it through my first weekend on chowhound before my bloodpressure hit danger levels and I vowed nevermore. My crime, I disagreed with a negative review by a regular. That apparently makes me a shill.

  • At 19/1/09 10:11, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You're right on the money with chowhound. It's a ridiculous board filled with utterly pretentious prats. I've never been banned or had a post deleted, so I can't speak to the moderators, but the pretentious, self-indulgent users on the site disgust me, and much of chowhound's culture is controled by the restaurant industry - the waiters, restaurant managers, etc. who seek to preserve their income by spreading propaganda that 20% should be the bare MINIMUM tipping percent (with an asinine justification based on inflation that ignores the fact that a PERCENTAGE automatically adjusts for inflation), justifying why wine that they buy at wholesale price should be charged to you at 200% what you'd normally pay for it retail in a wine shop, etc., and they try to shame anyone who questions their price gouging by accusing them of just not having the refinement to appreciate such restaurants. The pretentiousness and decadence of the food industry has gotten out of hand, but a silver lining of the current recession is that it is hitting the luxury dining market where it hurts - and right at the epicenter of high end dining - NYC - because it is knocking so many of its best customers, those in the financial services sector, on their tails. The foodies at Chowhound who so pathetically hitch their identities on their ability to afford (and supposedly appreciate) "high end" cuisine haven't figured this out yet, but they will.

  • At 15/7/09 08:01, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Chowhound is a joke. They remove tons of negative reviews and will ban you for no reason whatsoever. If a moderator likes a restaurant (or more likely, is getting paid) then you forget about any open or honest discussion. The tiniest negative review: insta-ban.

  • At 12/10/09 13:33, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Please be very careful and think twice before you post photos on Chowhound. If they like your images they claim they have ownership over your copy right and will not allow the removal of your images. Think twice before you submit ANY content to Chowhound.
    There are claims that they have even published a book and altered the posts of members as content.
    Chowhound stands for every thing a true hound should hate. Big corporate America running over the little guy with heavy handed moderation and what in my opinion amounts to little more than theft.
    I have emails from CH refusing to remove my images after I requested them to be taken down several times.

  • At 12/10/09 13:33, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Please be very careful and think twice before you post photos on Chowhound. If they like your images they claim they have ownership over your copy right and will not allow the removal of your images. Think twice before you submit ANY content to Chowhound.
    There are claims that they have even published a book and altered the posts of members as content.
    Chowhound stands for every thing a true hound should hate. Big corporate America running over the little guy with heavy handed moderation and what in my opinion amounts to little more than theft.
    I have emails from CH refusing to remove my images after I requested them to be taken down several times.


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