Is food forum becoming dinosaur?

This is an interesting topic.

I find this site to be a true barometer for food. I don’t trust Google, Yelp or Trip Advisor. Absolutely not to Facebook or Instagram. I read something recently about the absurd number of fake bots on sites that are designed to mimic real users through clicks, searching and mouse movement. Combined with your phone listening to you and targeted ads; I just don’t believe content that is pushed to me. Now, all of my personal musings aside, it raises interesting points about if people will search out information rather than just idly letting content be crammed down their throat.


Amen to this, @gracieggg. Pushed content has an ick factor for me.


I realize I am replying to my own post but I had another thought. My husband is very active on online forums for his hobbies. I am blown away by the amount of unique content for auto detailing that exists. YouTube famous people that have millions of followers talking about technique or products in EXCRUCIATING DETAIL. There may be a perceived (either real or fake) downward trend of these forums, but perhaps it is just a slow down before ‘the next big thing’?


I think you are really on to something. There’s been a fragmentation of media channels of all kinds. Some things are lost in the process, others gained. My observation is that things are still morphing and changing at a fast pace.


My opinion is that if you want chit-chat, social networks like Facebook, Twitter, IG is great for that. If you want in-depth discussion about a particular passion, forums are it. Social networks don’t really have any information organization capability to allow in-depth discussion to take place. and they are primarily mobile app driven so its not easy to type on a phone.

When social networks came up, it peeled away a lot of the casual chat traffic from forums because they do a really great job in keeping people engaged, so some forums started to struggle. And they got apps that make it really easy to engage. So forums, with most of them just run by hobbyist and not deep pocketed corporations, can’t really match the resources when it comes to social marketing, user interface, etc. So the only forums that remain are used by really passionate people who really want to go deep in a particular topic.

More than 60% of users on this forum are 44 and under. Based on this evidence, I don’t buy the argument that food forums are becoming dinosaurs. Loads of younger consumers are posting on Yelp, so they are willing to write about food. Forums, and this forum, just need more help in marketing themselves by building a better social presence on FB/ Twitter/ IG, and carve out niches.


Yeah, I think that’s pretty much it. Or Googling, then posting what are basically drive-by questions when - I assume - their Facebook/Instagram/Twitter friends can’t solve their problem-of-the-moment with a link to a Youtube video…

Obviously not “every” millenial or GenYer feels that way, and its not just that age-group that has fueled the explosion of social media usage, but I think it’s a pretty clear trend in “Web usage” in general. (I haven’t even logged into FB since my brother’s kids got old enough to not care if I looked at their posted photos or not::wink:, but I gather they’re pretty much the same as the “old” Yahoo groups, just on Facebook… And from comments I see on some other topical forums, some of them are relatively active, but it’s basically the same sort of “the same people saying more or less the same things about more or less the same stuff over and over again” that seems to be norm on most forums these days.

But it’s very definitely not just food forums. I’ve participated on quite a few “topical” forums over the years - from food and computer-related tech (first and foremost) to knitting/crochet/fiber arts, home repair/improvement, (“foreign”) language-related, and “bargains/sales” sites and its pretty much the same story on all of them. The “topical” areas see relatively minimal activity - mostly of the sort I mentioned above - and the rest of - sometimes surprisingly large amounts of “chat” comes from diehard, longtime posters who just hang around schmoozing… (Though interestingly enough, they do attract a small, but steady stream of “new” schmoozers, who often barely mention the subject matter of the parent forum at all. Which is always a little weird, but…) In short, it seems that pretty much all web forums are becoming “social” sites with a general leaning to a shared interest in particular subject.

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Agreed. And it’s useful way of showing a review online to a friend or family member who has asked about a meal

wouldn’t a blog post or facebook serve the same purpose?

imo, that’s not a very meaningful statistic. if you have 10 people in a forum, that leaves 6 people under the age of 44 and the forum is done.

there’s not really a debate about naf’s question, is there? I’m sure month-over-month, year-over-year forum statistics (pageviews, time spent on forum, active users, etc.) make the point. I don’t know a thing about the mission and goals of HO but if the endgame is to monetize the platform, why not try to monetize your own posts on a blog? I’d guess in the U.S. there is a tax benefit.

we’re retired and travel a lot. Plan to meet with my tax advisor in march or april to talk about this.

p.s. I have to say, I’m impressed this thread has not been deleted…

Since you are not familiar with this site may I suggest the following to give you an idea of why it was started:

Monetizing this platform has not been a goal of Hungry Onion. HO came about due to the decision of making money the first priority at Chowhound after CBS acquired it.


hey meatn3, I’m pretty sure we crossed paths on chowhounds when I stayed in the research triangle or, no, it was probably charlotte! You provided some great recommendations!

thanks for the article, when ch went down the tubes and ho got started, I did read 3-4 articles about what was going on so I’m familiar with the subject. I think all the articles miss the point, IMO it wasn’t the user interface change that spelled the death knoll for CH, it was Jim Leff’s decision to monetize the site. In return for $x, he ceded control of the site to a for- protit corporation and the end was inevitable.

the articles I’ve read, including the one you site, state that the raison d’être for HO was to provide a simple, clean interface for CH users. I’m sure that was one of the reasons, but perhaps there are other reasons including eventual monetization? Personally, I have no idea.


It would - except I’ve no interest in having a blog or using Facebook (or any other social media, for that matter. I’m pretty tech-resistent. The PC is as far as I go - I’m one of that tiny minority in the West who doesnt even carry a mobile phone)

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you have my undying admiration!


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Impressive. I bow to you on your resolve. I tried to resist but because of work though ultimately because of caring for a very ill family member for a time, the mobile phone won out. No going back for me now.

I’m in tech so I want technology to serve the person versus the person serving the technology.


Forums might be a dinosaur but so am I.

Seriously there is a level of intimacy here that is lacking on Instagram and Twitter. Even though you don’t really know the posters you get a feeling about who they are, right or wrong

As I’ve mentioned before, I have met forum members on a couple of occasions to break bread. But I see the appeal of Instagram. I’m a visual cook. I see something that looks interesting and will try to recreate it, often not looking at a written recipe or when I do look at the recipe it’s more for concepts than exact measurements or instructions.


I’m not sure what you mean by “monetize” the site? As far as I recall, Leff didn’t “cede control”, at least that’s not the way I’d put it, he just sold the site outright. (Iirc, he hung around for a while during a “transition” period, but there was never any question that site was no longer “his”…) And that happened long before the last round of changes that prompted so many people to leave… Not that things didn’t start to change shortly after he sold it, which is inevitable even when a new owner/manager takes over with every intention of keeping things the same.

But what prompted the mass departures a few years ago was a really total overhaul of the site’s basic structure in ways that - presumably the then-manager (who didn’t end up hanging around for long) thought would attract greater traffic. Whether there’s been an increase in traffic on the non-forum parts of the site, I have no way of knowing, nor do I know if there’s been an increase in lurking. But participation on the forums has certainly dwindled to a slow trickle. And while I dare say that’s not only due to the huge changes there, but the fact that in general, “topical” Web forums are definitely passé at this point, but given how quickly participation at CH dropped off, I also don’t think there’s any real doubt that the “VP George’s” changes were largely responsible for it…


It would be a shame. I’m new to food discussions and this forum has been like going to a cooking school, food magazine office and library all rolled into one. Without even paying a fee! Paying it forward more like it.


However, Yelpers seem to be much briefer in their reviews vs the longer, more detailed discourse from food forum posters that CH, HO, and eG have shown in the past. I’m :::cough, cough::: over 60, and I prefer the food forums specifically for the longer, more detailed reviews. But I also belong to a private FB group that is chatty about our lives as well as the meals we prepare and the restaurants we go to. I don’t do IG or Twitter, as FB and HO (and formerly, CH) are about all I can handle.


But if Leff hadn’t sold it, it would have died completely. He and his partner were paying for something that had grown so exponentially over the years they could no longer afford to keep it running. Charitable donations by users weren’t enough, and the system was running on fumes on a server that was barely capable of managing the content input by users.

CH was initially fine after he initially sold it. Yeah, there was grumbling a couple of times about changes made over the years by Chow-dot-com and CBS Interactive, but we survived. But when the doofus who screwed up other websites came in (can’t remember his name - a VP of something or other who knew jack-shit about what CH was really about) and made wholesale changes, introducing tags vs. specific boards for geographic areas, and ignoring the users who actually contributed content, and turned it into a blog with a few discussion boards, that’s when the exodus happened.


THAT’S his name. Georges Haddad. He’s at Walmart now. :::snort:::


Exactly. He sold it to allow CH to continue. He didn’t “sell out”. And it was fine for some time. I too feel the blame lies on VP Georges, may everything he eats give him indigestion forever more.