Hack-Flack Smackdown

Self-promoters are getting a serious schooling on Chowhound and Mouthfuls, reports Gothamist. Several recent posts on the two foodie boards have been undisguised and thinly veiled attempts to push one website in particular, and some are even wholesale repostings of content from that site. The message-board users aren’t having any of it. When Shiftdrink posted a request for Gordon Ramsay’s contact info on Mouthfuls, user Nuxvomica had some choice bits of advice for the promo-happy poster:

enough with the push for the website, ok? if you want help, don’t just use this board–get to know it, contribute, ask your questions nicely and go easy on self-promotion

When the promoter decides to play dumb (“I don’t understand why is everybody so upset”), user Hollywood responds, “when you’ve been around a while longer, you will realize that you have not seen ‘upset’—yet.”

Shiftdrink’s posts led one ‘Hounder to raise the issue of self-promotion with the top dogs, who responded with this interesting take:

As long as posters are not violating copyrights by reprinting material from blogs/sites, we permit such reproduction as long as the post is adding chow information of value to chowhounds.

I agree with the spirit of the CH team’s policy—allowing republished content that’s of value to the community—but part of me worries this is the start of a slippery slope toward horrible Myspaceiness, where every third message is from some promoter trying to get “u” to go to his stupid club. Granted, more professional PR types would probably avoid these promo methods once it became clear they were pissing off the targeted online community (and Shiftdrink does seem pretty unprofessional, not to mention schizophrenic—it’s a social-networking and restaurant-reviewing site for people in food service and also a place for “artists promoting their work”). But with all the food media startups out there these days (ahem, yes, including us), wouldn’t it only take a few hacky ones to ruin things for legit message-board users?

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