We sent out a survey recently to people who had participated at least a few times on the San Diego board in the past 3 months, asking them survey about the state of chat on the San Diego board. The survey was open for about 10 days, and 33 of the 50 people we emailed filled it out -- which is an amazing response rate. Most people also provided thoughtful comments.
In terms of numbers, results were mixed. About 40% of posters felt there was too much chat on the San Diego board, but a much smaller number, only about 20%, are bothered by it. Some of the responses were what you'd expect -- people who like chat think the amount of it is fine and people who don't like the chat think there's too much of it. Less obviously, there were also several people who said they felt like there was too much chat, but they weren't really bothered by it and some members who admitted they participate in and enjoy the chat but feel like it sometimes gets out of hand.
On the positive side, many people noted in their comments that the chat helps them feel more connected to their fellow hounds and makes it easier to tell if other hounds are likely to have the same taste in restaurants. They also said that it makes the board seem more fun and that knowing the people here as a community is what keeps them coming back.
On the other hand, some people mentioned that the chat can seem a bit cliquey and they don't feel as welcome to post if they don't regularly chat. Some have stopped visiting as often, because they aren't interested in the chat.
There isn't a clear love it or hate it message we can take from the survey results, so our plan at this point is not to make any major changes to how we deal with the conversation on San Diego. We'd ask posters to be conscious of how their posts are coming across to those around you; some personal chat is obviously healthy and can lead to more food chat, but please try not to overwhelm or derail discussions. And for anyone, whether you see yourself as a chatter or not, if you see a chance to welcome a new member to the community or let someone know their contribution was helpful, please take that chance. We all win when more people feel comfortable sharing their knowledge on Chowhound.
I want to say thanks to everyone who participated in the survey -- it's obvious that San Diego posters care a great deal about their community. Not everyone agrees on exactly what the perfect San Diego board conversation would look like, but it was really clear from the responses that everyone wants the board to be friendly, welcoming and helpful.
Thanks everyone, and feel free to add any further thoughts you have in this thread.