There's an ongoing problem in discussions on the Food Media and News board. It's particularly an issue with Top Chef threads, but it pops up in other threads about food shows and food personalities, as well. The moderators are having difficulties figuring out where to draw the lines on this issue and are turning to the community for input.
We have an existing policy against bashing Food Network hosts and other personalities ( http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/334317 ) which has helped slow down the number of 'Rachael Ray SUX' threads that get started. The problem we have with applying those same rules to shows like Top Chef is that the personalities of the contestants really do come into play on the show much moreso than on a straight cooking show. Whether someone is a jerk or not is a legitimate aspect of discussing the show.
But some people do seem to take that pretty far -- recent threads have involved calling contestants things like 'a skank', 'an obese cow', having long discussions about whether someone was mentally ill, etc. Other people get offended by those statements, and we end up with a flame war not about the content of the show but about whether it's appropriate to talk about the content of the show in that manner -- and that kind of "discussion about the discussion" has always been considered off-topic here. We don't want users jumping on each other for language choice or educating each other about sensititivity issues. Those are just not conversations that ever go well.
We're not looking to create a list of banned words. That wouldn't actually solve the problem, as people would just use other words that we hadn't thought of yet, and isn't in keeping with our policy on offensive language. Nor are we looking to allow the most sensitive members of the board to drive off all discussion they'd rather not see. But we are looking to find a way to draw a distinction between legitimate discussion of what happens on a TV show and pointless, personal bashing of the contestants on those shows, as well as a way to ward off the inevitable 'you're a jerk for saying that' follow-up discussions.
Our best thought at the moment is that if a statement is specifically tied into something that happened on the show then it's okay, but general negative statements about aspects of appearance or personality that don't affect what's actually happening on the show aren't relevant and may be removed. Along with that, we would also remove any 'that's offensive/inappropriate to discuss' tangents -- the remedy for something you didn't think was appropriate would be to report it and let the mods make the call.
We'd like to hear from you, though, if you're a regular participant on these threads. Where would you draw the lines?
-- Jacquilynne, Community Manager for Chowhound