Possible Explanation Behind the CH Redesign

I don’t know why I didn’t think to do this earlier (and I’m really wishing I’d done it before the redesign in order to compare the two - does anyone know what it read before?), but I just looked at two elements of the new site’s SEO coding.

  1. The title for the main landing page now reads, “Recipes, Cooking Tips and Resources - Chowhound Food Community”

  2. The meta content description now reads, “Chowhound allows food enthusiasts to discover the best recipes and resources for cooking, eating, growing and making food. Find tips, tricks, and support by connecting to a community of food contributors.”

Notice what’s missing? Anything mention of review and discussion about restaurants / bars / markets / etc. It wasn’t our imagination at play: they really are decreasing (er, removing?) emphasis on the restaurant aspect of the site.

This explains the shattering of the various regional communities.

So if they’re not competing against Y*lp, TA, etc., then who are they competing with?

(Also, the editor in me is making “grrr” sounds at the inconsistent use of the Harvard / Oxford comma in the content description, as well as the alliteration.) (And the SEO person in me is wincing at the overly-long content description text, too.)

Make sense. I was thinking exactly that just a couple weeks ago too. This is why Chowhound is very resistance against adding the regions as tags. It was a decision on a high level. It wasn’t due to oversight.

Crave their own path. When I was an economic major, I learned that it is best for business to not compete the same space if they can. Basically, just to be as different as possible. This also explains why the higher end Chipotle will make McDonald even cheaper and more greasy.

My wild guess is that they want Chowhound to be indirectly competing with the likes of Martha Stewart Living and Yelp.


In term of subjects, the new Chowhound will be more like Martha Stewart Living. The community will offer people advises on recipes, cookware, tricks, trend…etc, but it will driven by a community environment like Yelp.

This will be an unique space for Chowhound, and I actually can understand why they did that.

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Archive.org (the “Wayback Machine”) grabbed this in June, 2014.

Title text: Welcome to Chowhound, where CHOW’s community of discerning eaters share information and opinions about cooking and restaurants. Before posting, you’ll need to SIGN UP (it’s free) and create a profile (it’s fast). Then simply start a new discussion or add to an existing one, enhancing the conversation with your own hard-won knowledge!

That’s from the main page, not the title bar. The title tag in the source just says “Food Forums - Chowhound”

Meta (from page source): The best food discussion site. Read regional and international restaurant reviews, ask questions and get answers about cooking techniques, find recipe advice, and discover ingredient information.

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I think you’re right. They’re carving out their own niche and that makes sense from a business standpoint. If you can’t compete in one area, find another where you can.

So I wasn’t imagining that there used to be an emphasis on restaurants. This really is a move away from Leff’s original vision of the site / community. Interesting.

Now that you mentioned it… if anything Jim Leff’s version is particular about restaurants, not about cookware or recipes…etc.


Exactly. The original CH was about pretty much anything other than home cooking - it was about finding incredible food in the most unexpected places (kind of reminiscent of RoadFood).

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Replying to myself to say it’s fun to look at much earlier captures at archive.org. Check out the one from 1998.

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The reason I’m not there. I like being able search restaurants but the home food culture was my draw.


They don’t have a food community at present, even the most hardy stalwarts are mentioning it, folks who don’t find the interface onerous.

They may find a way to rebuild one, but with all that offensive advertising that moderation has no control over until someone complains will prevent that, unless I miss my guess.

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I agree. Yeah, I don’t know what Chowhound will/should do at this point. They lost a lot of good people, and this is not a good place to be if they are really trying to rebuild the community. I guess I haven’t seen/noticed any offensive advertisement. It does seem everyone leaving Chowhound for different reasons – which makes it even worse – because that means they have more than one thing to fix.

Some were banned early on. Some hated the interface, and particularly the absent of the regional tags. Some hated the moderation including frequent thread-lock down.


Okay, remembering that I’m an old(er) user here – where the hell can I find this on archive.org??? The only thing I’ve ever used it for is the Grateful Dead stuff & I’m completely overwhelmed by the site. Thank you all for taking pity on the ancient.

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I am so goddamn proud of myself. Found it. It was really tough… I had to type in the entire http://www.chowhound.com address in the search box. Rocket science. So, never mind.


There was the “ad” about Obama infidelities.

The response (“Thanks, the Team will get right on it!”) made it plain that they don’t even know who is advertising what on CH.

Over the two weeks between 10/6/15 and 10/20/15, there were only 344 new posts, fully HALF of which were either in Site Feedback or Restaurants. Most topical and regional communities are not getting new posts (e.g., Wine = 4, Gardening = 0, Beer = 1, General = 22). There has been weak traffic in people responding to pre-Change threads, and my sense of the only three boards with many new threads (Home Cooking = 87, Cookware = 38, Restaurants = 94) are mostly-one-offs/drivebys, not discussions.

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Considering that they removed the regional tag (still so, right?). This will be the likely outcome.

Now, that is a true problem.

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Here’s what Marssy emailed to me about the ads:

​"We work with a number of partners and thousands of individual ads reach the site, too many to review beforehand. We have the ability to block individual ads or advertisers at will. The ads you see, will not necessarily be the ads we see internally, which requires us to rely on your reports if any ads are disruptive of your experience or off-putting to your appetite. If you happen to run into an ad that you believe is offensive, please take a screenshot and send it to us at moderators@chowhound.com and we will take a look."

So the kosher board gets pork recipes and ham ads, and tabloid slander can pop up anywhere. Can porn be far behind?

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It makes sense, now that you mention it. With their new focus on advertising and revenue, I imagine that it’s tough to woo restaurants to advertise on the site if there’s a good chance their ads will end up on a message board criticizing them.

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I sure hope they get it figured out. For now I’m not looking back, only forward.

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ElsieDee posted about this on CH, and marssy got all upset and locked the topic.

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What is “this”?

This topic, Possible Explanation Behind the CH Redesign.

ETA: http://www.chowhound.com/post/change-focus-1026747

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