Is food forum becoming dinosaur?

(John Hartley) #41

I suppose he found the several million he got for it quite handy.

I used to come across his CH posts from time to time. What a fucking pretentious git!


But on the bright side, he hasn’t run for office.


I so much miss interacting with people who didn’t escape the trash fire that Chowhound became. But with the hindsight of seeing how social media has progressed in the subsequent time (and how fewer people internet with desktops), the epoch of message boards, certainly profitable ones, was dead. I’m glad George found a way to keep the site on life support— I imagine parties wanted to kill it all together.

Mainly though, I’m grateful @sck and Robert Lauriston created new venues while there was still energy amongst us. With modern luxuries like hyperlinks, wiki-abilities, and photo formatting etc., they’ve made our chatter more accessible than CH and may well have prolonged the communities. Plus, and unlike the Leff-era for practical reasons or CBS era for profit reasons. there’s no fear the lights are gonna get shut off.

It’s a shame Facebook has become a popular place for food “discussions”— those discussions are invisible to search engines and people not in the know.


I love my friends and acquaintances on FB, hate the format and their insane greed. I share food and restaurant content all I can for places and foods I care for because FB pretty much sticks it to business owners, and the ad inserts are so shoddy as to defy belief.


Yes. The discussions are in their closed ecosystem. You can’t google the discussions. But that’s just how Facebook wants it.

The good thing about modern technology is that with some diligent cost optimizations and declining hosting price, we can run the site at ~$20-25/ month. That of course, excludes the substantial amount of time and effort that all the @HOCollective volunteers contributed. The staff has done a wonderful, and at times, invisible job, in keeping this place running smoothly. Make sure you give them a warm cyber hug from time to time.

Jim Leff didn’t have that cost luxury at his time though. If he didn’t run it as a full time job and count on it financially, he wouldn’t have to sell. But those were the early days of dot com riches and nobody really knew how big these web entities could grow.


I’ve always cut him some slack because of the two poles, I can deal with reverse snobbery better than the regular sort - not to mention that he gets props for never using the phrase “hidden gem” in an Interwebz post, at least that I’m aware of. But his fetishistic idolization of “magic chefs/cooks” (whose mere touch turns ordinary foodstuffs into culinary miracles), “totally unknown” places, and restaurants where only three of the dishes on the menu are worth ordering at all (and only on random days ending with the letter Y in months not ending with R, or possibly ending in R :wink:) but it’s otherwise the Most Incredibly Authentic restaurant of its type, is rather notorious in some circles…:stuck_out_tongue:

“Unknown” to other notorious webloggers, at least… :grinning:
And if you feel differently, you were obviously there on the Wrong Day or benightedly failed to notice that the lineup of Miraculous Dishes had changed by then…:wink:

(John Hartley) #47

I think what did it for me was that I presume he was directly responsible for writing the “Chowhound Manifesto” which I had the misfortune to stumble across one day. It is the most awful “formalisation” of the points you make. And , in fact, a direct condemnation of most people who used CH effectively describing those of us who would not go out of our way to find the “totally unknown” as unworthies (his actual words, as I recall, were actually more insulting)


When CH first got going most of the content was directly in line with his interests. It’s been interesting how a forum organically begin to grow in different directions. It seemed the more the site became a distinct entity the more staunch J.L. became in trying to rein it back to his vision.

In some ways I think the best things that came out of CH were all the new forums. EG, LTH and more recently HO and FTC. I’m sure there are others which began due to similar frustrations with CH.

(John Hartley) #49

Certainly eGullet’s UK/Ireland board was streets ahead of CH or, indeed, HO. I’m sure that was because it attracted contributors, albeit small in overall number, from across the UK, rather than CH’s board which was, effectively, a place where American tourists could ask fellow Americans about London.


What is LTH?


It’s a Chicago based food forum created from dissatisfied area Chow-hounds.


Oh, yeah, as far as I know, the Manifesto was pure, unadulterated JL and was pretty hard to swallow if you took it at all seriously, but I mostly found it hilarious. I found the zeal with which so many Converts took up the banner to be kind of off-putting, but I have to admit to having a semi-soft spot for JL himself because he reminded me of certain of my high school classmates who made my eyes roll even back in the late 70s with heated arguments, never any less heated for being repeated several dozen times, about who had the Best Slice (of pizza, naturally, and at least south of 14th St in NYC :grin:), or the almost equally endless debates over the relative merits of the whopping two places you could get cheap falafel-to-go in Greenwich Village at the time…:roll_eyes:


One thing I definitely have to hand to Leff was that he saw which way the online wind was blowing when the Public Internet was barely off the ground and created one of the first, and certainly most enduring, of the Internet food forums… (I didn’t start paying much attention to CH until the Home Cooking board was created around the turn of the 21st century, so I don’t know exactly when came to be, but I do distinctly remember a few posts from Leff on a long-defunct AOL BBS forum, circa 1993-1994, outlining the broad strokes of his Master Plan for what eventually became Chowhound…) And for that matter, I also have to give him what I consider credit for not cashing in (or out) earlier than he did, when he probably could’ve gotten more for CH than he ultimately did, if he had wanted to milk it for all it was ever worth…


Ah, thanks.