This is a tricky one – not least as both boards are only days old – but I have a feeling that there is safety in numbers. I have little doubt that the discussion board format has life in it yet but it is very much in decline. I’ve seen a number of boards, food and non-food, close under the pressure from other outlets whether it be the likes of personal blogs, Twitter, Facebook or, even, TripAdvisor restaurant reviews. For example, the eGullet UK board used to have a small but very active contributor base – almost exclusively fellow Britons who posted about restaurants all over the country. But, one by one, they disappeared and now there’s only been literally a handful of posts this year. Chowhound ignored an opportunity, back in the CNET days, to expand and establish a real presence in English speaking food communities outside of North America – effectively that would have been to treat the relevant international boards as something of stand-alone entities still within the family – a sort of first cousin relationship, rather than treating those boards as simply places where Americans asked other Americans where to eat in Dublin. But we are where we are.
Seems to me that “the situation” post Chowhound revamp is still settling down and it will be a few weeks before things become clear. CH may realise the disaster they have created for themselves and go back to a simpler more user-friendly format with community building moderating policies. It may be that other boards are created along the lines of this one and FTC. It may be that eGullet sees a revival of its fortunes and it forms the protection of the “safety in numbers”. It may be that HO and FTC do merge or stay separate. But, what I suggest is that there is no need to rush into things be way of a merger unless the respective site owners feel that there is nothing to be lost by it. It is, of course, their decision – as always, we play on a site by the owner’s rules or choose not to play (which is exactly how we come to be having this discussion).