Boston Globe's coverage on the Chowhound redesign


A much more thoughtful article than the previous LA Times piece.

I think the key observation was Ikeda noting CBS “obviously rolled out the new site too fast.” That’s what had me scratching my head. The Beta feedback threads had about 1,500 comments, many of them clearly explaining (and reiterating) the bugs, problems navigating, etc. They had 100+ dedicated and free members to perform their UAT for them. And they went ahead to production anyway. :disappointed:


helps considerably that they talked to people who have actually been posting for a long time (although no mention of the nasty moderation is made).

I also find it rather curious that they quote Leff as calling the change a “miasma of inexplicable flexibility,” while the LA Times article says,

“Die-hard Chowhounds have made do amid duress since the dawn of the
site,” says Leff, the Chowhound co-founder. “Bad interfaces can be
helpful; they filter out the Olive Garden set. The emigrés will make
room for new blood, fresh perspectives and a new crop of chow tips. A
bit of churn in a nearly 20-year-old online community might be a good

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The abolition of regional boards makes no sense whatsoever. We all have a limited amount of time, and why should we have to follow sites on things like “grocery stores” wherever they are in the world?

Not to mention the ads for crappy industrial dips that aren’t even available in Canada. I don’t buy those that are - few things are easier to make than a good dip if you have a bit of culinary background and something to mix foods with. I make my own dips as a matter of course.

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You’re not missing anything lagatta-- I’ll be the first to admit to buying a tub of French onion dip once or twice a year, and that Dean’s is one of the better brands.

But to buy it regularly or to use it recipes? Just nope.

Oh, Sampson!

Of the three media articles published so far, this one has the most negative tone

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Presented in the FWIW mode . . .

After reading the Boston Globe article, one specific line struck me – “CBS Interactive, which acquired Chowhound in 2008, is receptive to constructive criticism.” – and so I sent the following to the author of the piece:

Clearly you took CBS-I’s spokesperson Susan Lundgren’s word for that. It doesn’t seem as though you asked any USERS whether they took constructive criticism well . . . had CBS-I done so, then Sampson Shen would not have felt compelled to start Hungry Onion nor would Robert Lauriston have launched Food Talk Central

Within 45 minutes, I received her response:

I think the departures of core users speaks for how truly “receptive” CBS Interactive is to criticism. Users did tell me that Chowhound wasn’t positive to suggestions. Regrettably, I could not wade deep w/ limited space as I was also trying to explain CH to non-users. think the article reflects overall displeasure w/ the revamped Chowhound. Thanks for writing.

And so it goes . . .


Whoops, Siri should have said “go, Sampson!”

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And so it goes indeed, Jason! I think the Boston Globe writer’s response to you is pitiful. When did a publishing deadlne get turned into “one side of a story is better than none?”

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I don’t think its a coincidence that both LA Times and Boston Globe left out the censorship part. To write that, and have solid evidence to back it up, requires a substantial amount of investigative journalism effort that is not proportional to the magnitude of the story.

After all, they are writing about a unit of a conglomerate, and all those censorship evidence were already removed from the CH site.


Caroline, I respectfully disagree – principally for two reasons: a) there is only a limited amount of space that any article can fill, and reporters constantly fight with editors for more; and b) the demise of Chowhound is hardly as important as the Volkswagen diesel scandal, the latest twists-and-turns of the GOP in finding a Speaker of the House, or something required scads of resources and true investigative journalism.

And as dfk has already said,

That said, I remain surprised by the overall lack of coverage in other media, both print/online from other various newspapers (San Francisco Chronicle, New York Times, New Orleans Times-Picayune and other papers in towns with both active food scenes and Chowhound communities) and online (think various bloggers).

C’est la vie . . .


I agree with Jason that the overall lack of coverage is surprising. As a daily reader of the Boston Globe, it had seemed to me for a very long time that Globe reporters used the Chowhound Boston board as a source / key indicator for new places and food around town. So not surprising to me that they picked up on the exodus. I do find it surprising that other local papers did not similarly use their local boards and thus find out what was happening as well.

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You’re probably right, Jason. I do suffer from a longer “time Line” than most because “when I was young” ( :wink: ) it was a given that “the BIG (overall picture” was the standard for all reporting. But as the sayings go, “time changes all things”, “you can’t wade in the same river twice”, and allllll that jazzzzz…

As for how broad the media coverage of Chow’s implosion is concerned, I’m more surprised by how much it’s getting! But that’s because I am now and always have been a HUGE doubter of the number of active participants and/or “loyal readership” Chow claims. But there is also the possibility (probability?) that they use combined statistics for Chow AND Chowhound. I have never thought of the two as “synonymous.” Corporations ALWAYS figure out ways to make themselves look good. After all, CBS and CBS-i do have world class spin doctors calculating their statistics!

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If I were a local reporter for the Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, or ad infinitum, I would use Yelp, Google Search, Fodors, Michelin, even AAA long before Chow/Chowhound would even occur to me because there is no standardized evaluation criteria in for the CH evaluators. Granted that all food likes and dislikes are subjective, but on Chowhound there is a much higher risk of… hmmm… what’s the word I’m looking for? “unqualified?” No, that’s not it. “Inept”?" absolutely not! hmmm… Let’s just say that OVERALL, in MY opinion, there is a higher risk of “fish out of water” reviews on Ch than in those other sources. BUT! If I was heading for San Francisco or England, I’d search out Melanie Wong or Harters in a heartbeat! But overall, Chowhound would be very low on my list of resources for “food around town.” But again, it depends on which “town” you’re talking about. :apple: to :tangerine:

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I just checked the CH Boston board. This article was posted and the first response pointed people over here to Hungry Onion and had not been deleted. 19 hours at this point. And Marssy responded to a later post in the thread so it looks as though they may have changed the policy of deleting references to other sites. Maybe.

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Am I missing something, or did CBSi claim PRE-rollout visit data (i.e., August '15) to justify POST-rollout (i.e., 9/15/15) popularity? IIRC, that 10.whatever number cited was actually posted on CH as evidence of continued high activity.

Are they, in other words, cooking the books?

I just came here to post the same thing @GretchenS.


Maybe next year they can post Year over year traffic stats with this year stats from the post-rollout period, so they can go ‘look!! our traffic has grown by 30000% from Sep 2015!’

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Hard to interpret, but here are the most recent month’s stats:

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