How should we deal with product recommendations and mentions?

I don’t think its an issue as long as you are not related to product recommendation is a large part of the discussions, no? Thoughts?

Well, it gets tricky; I mean, I think we can trust one another to post only in response to a request for info, and because we all know one another and are not one shot newbies answering only to sell something. That’s what worked on CH, too. But going forward?

The alternative is to say, “I have a source; message me if you want the info.” Spammers do that, too, but it’s not public where you can find it.

I like that idea too. What I am struggling with a bit is whether posting about a product sold online is different from posting about a great find at a TJ, farmer’s market, etc.

any recommendation on how we draw the line?

I see no issue with StoneSoup’s link to the site. Perhaps a decent barometer could be whether someone’s first post comes seemingly out of nowhere with a link to a site. For whatever reason, people selling tea used to do that fairly regularly on the other food site where many of us used to post. Most people seem NOT to have an agenda other than direct people to good food, be that sources to buy it online, a restaurant where it’s served or a recipe. Agree?


I don’t see any issue with posting about stores markets that are local or national chains; few of us are proprietors. :smile:

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For that matter, I’d prefer if proprietors felt free to talk about their business, as long as they made the connection to that business clear (as in “this is my shop” and not “here’s a great shop I found, you guys should try it”). Disclosure, and all that.


I’ve always thought that the rules in this area should merely be disclosure-based. I other words, “I love and always shop there” is fine if you have no affiliation; however, if your brother-in-law is a stock clerk you must inform the boards. Let the other peckish alliums decide what level of importance to assign to the fact. Knowing failure to disclose should warrant suspension (or maybe a good, old fashioned, backalley ass kicking).

I’ll forgo elaboration for now and would be happy to see what thoughts are out there on the basic notion.

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I’m fine with on-line links for products being allowed. Certain ingredients can be hard to source locally depending where you live.

Full disclosure of relationships with companies should be required.

To stop spam perhaps a profile must be completed or terms of service must be read before links can be accepted in posts?


In the past I’ve used links to various sites for various reasons like sourcing an ingredient, linking to a soon-to-be-published cookbook, or an on-line recipe rather than cutting & pasting, and to confirm information. This was accepted and welcomed.

It might be wise, though to have a statement regarding copyright infringement and recipes not being allowed to be copied verbatim. Ingredient amounts are apparently OK, but we may not copy and paste directions or methods.

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I agree - the recommendations on CH almost always seemed to be legitimate ones from satisfied customers.

One way to avoid shilling might be to prohibit posting to this site for one or two days from the time a new person registers.

I tend to think more people come to sites like this to have an honest food discussion than to shill. So I’d hate to have a waiting period apply to anyone like you or me or probably 99 percent of the people we’ve come to know from the other playground.

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Yeah, I agree. If people have to wait 2 days before posting, they’re likely to become impatient and go somewhere else. Even the 5-post limit for the first 24 hours was a bit frustrating to me.

Did you run into this limit?

I looked and so far haven’t found it.

Sorry, it was at Food Talk Central. My bad.

People definitely should able to mention products source as long as there isn’t a obvious conflict of interest. Otherwise, what? We cannot even mention restaurant names if you think about it. Sometime, misbehavior is so obviously wrong. In that case, we should remove these links. This is particularly the case that if a poster demonstrate extreme bias or neglect facts and science, or a first time poster who post nothing but only a particular product.


My thoughts are that there really isn’t any purpose in worrying about whether a participant on these boards is the owner of a business and “hawking his wares” because I don’t think it takes a genius to figure that out. Caveat emptor, and all that jazz. I would like everyone to have the freedom to share news about a great flavor they have discovered, a rare fruit now suddenly available by mail order from Joe’s Bangkok Farmer’s Market but the postage is a killer, or that they tried a Julia Child recipe and it was a total flop because of bad editing on a web site. I would call these “coffee klatch” discussions, and for the most part I personally find them useful, and if I don’t I just don’t bother reading that “thread” (or whatever the flavor of the day term happens to be) anymore and move on to something I do find interesting.

I would hate to see a carry-over to this new start of what I call “Leffisms.” I will always appreciate the fact that Mr. Leff started Chowhound many years ago, BUT… I have never been a fan of the malaprops and police state rules he set out. At the top of my list of objectionable Leffisms is the term “Moderator.” Chowhound NEVER had moderators! It had and has “behind the scene dictators.” A true moderator is ALWAYS known to the parties s/he is moderating, whether it be a legal dispute or a group cognitive therapy session. Keeping the identities of “moderators” secret from the group they are “moderating” is simply the formula for a really bad police state.

The Leff rules of who could talk business and how to define how/where/when commerce could be discussed at all seemed lame to me. If someone comes on and posts, “Hi, I’m Martha Stewart, and I’m offering discount coupons on my chinaware at Macy’s this week and I’d like to offer them to all of the members of this group,” I personally would probably not ask for the coupon because I’d be busy wondering what the hell is going on with Martha Stewart Enterprises that she’s coming on line here to market her stuff. In other words, I’d be highly suspicious it was some sort of hoax, and I think that the vast majority of the participants here would be thinking the same thing right along with me. So do we REALLY need rules to protect us from ourselves?

I greatly value learning about all food related subjects from any food discussion group, and my interests range from food history to recipes and all else associated with food, cookware, serving ware, eating traditions, and food as entertainment. I think that a successful discussion group will find its own discussion boundaries without the need of bans.

Just my opinion…

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I think we can discuss topics here by now, with so many voices, without invoking Jim Leff or CH, no? Just my $.02, change upon request.

My concern has nothing to do with known participants sharing product information, it has to do with shilling and using the site to sell, period, often disguised as posters and how we set a limit, understanding that some calls will have to just be made by moderators on their own or in response to flagging by users.

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Hear, hear! I’m just glad more and more voices are joining us. Sure, we may know each other from elsewhere, but all that matters is we’re enjoying the ride right here and now. May it continue for many miles without too many bumps in the road! I love talking about and learning about food, but don’t have much appetite for fighting about it. :slight_smile:


I agree with the sentiments of you, kattyeyes, and of Stone Soup, but… to toss in a line from one of my favorite modern philosophers, George Santayana, those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. I don’t think any of us want a repeat of recent Chowhound history, do we?

So in that spirit, I’d like to toss out a suggestion about how I think the “moderator/secret police” system of Chowhound could be improved upon here. What if a set of clear and simple “Rules” is published and posted on the site or in an FAQ, with the statement that everyone must abide by them, no exceptions. And it should be short clear list, such as “No abuse of other participants,” “No gratuitous foul language” (if members can’t figure out that there MAY be times when it is appropriate, then the guilty parties are more likely to avoid gratuitous use), and possibly a couple of more things that aren’t popping to my mind at the moment. And I still haven’t come up with an idea about how to handle marketing or contributors acting as a shill… That’s a difficult issue!

Instead of unknown secret police “moderators,” what if they were called “Arbitrators” here, and there was a committee of them made up of three to five (no tie votes among odd numbers) regular participants who could not serve longer than a month or so before they were replaced by another regular from a rotation list of volunteer that anyone can sign up for and that is open to everyone to read? And if any Arbitrator uses the function to deliver their own version of tyranny, then rather than kick them out of participation in HO, they simply were banned from volunteering as an Arbitrator in the future? As regional boards grow, when large enough to warrant it, they may need their own committee of arbitrators.

It is the nature of man to form cliques and alliances, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but without awareness of how to handle a particular situation and/or circumstance, does the collective “we” really want to go on falling into the same traps because that’s what we’re used to? It’s really difficult to improve things here without recognizing (and discussing) the problems we have all ran from there, me included.

I’m just trying to offer possibly helpful suggestions. NOT be a problem. That is NEVER my goal in any part of my life. Girl Scout’s honor! '-)

Caroline, weren’t you the one who started this thread?

Let’s keep some basic guidelines to keep things civil, but really, let’s not spend a lot of time making up rules to celebrate being free of rules.

(In my mind’s eye, I’m looking into a farmhouse watching the pigs sitting at the table playing cards…I think I speak for everyone that no one wants that to play out…)

ETA: For the record, I’m cool with links and mentions as long as the poster discloses his/her links with the company or product. After 3-4 posts, though, it’s not like it’s a secret that someone has a financial or emotional stake in a company or product.