We’ve spent a fair bit of time recently thinking about Top Chef threads and other similar discussions. We found they were often flame-filled, with a focus on other hounds and their opinions rather than on the show. In a previous thread ( http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/834894 ) we asked people who frequent the Food Media and News board, and in particular the discussions about TV shows, especially the Top Chef threads, for their feelings about the content of those discussions.
There was some support for the idea of treating food personalities as if they were hounds and disallowing the same kinds of personal comments we don’t allow between members, but it was clear that this would be untenable. Discussion of the personalities on shows is the basis of much of the conversation, and we’d eliminate nearly all of it by following that path.
On the other end of the spectrum, people argued that because they are public figures, it should be open season on television personalities and contestants. And while we’re not that interested in protecting the feelings of celebrity chefs, the worst, most personal comments are bad for Chowhound discussion, and we are interested in protecting that.
Based on our own thoughts and those of the users who participated in the feedback thread, we’ve updated the guidelines thread ( [BROKEN LINK REMOVED] ) to reflect some new policies. You can read them there, but here’s a summary of how we arrived at each of the three points.
- The existing policy on not starting threads just to bash food personalities remains in place.
- Strong opinions, in and of themselves, are not the problem. But when they’re made in a dismissive manner, without a clear link to what was happening on the show, they tend to drag the conversation off topic. We don’t think it’s a significant burden to posters to ask that they connect their negative comments back to the show or explain how they are relevant.
- We’ve always had a few mantras for moderation, and two of them are ‘Rate chow, not chowhounds’, and ‘No discussion of the discussion of chow’. We’ve found them harder to enforce when it comes to food TV discussions, but we think drawing narrower lines there will help keep those discussions focused and friendly. Those of you who are familiar with the Television Without Pity forums will recognize this as similar to their ‘boards on boards’ rule.
There’s lots of gray area in these situations, so we hope you’ll report things you think are off-key, and let us make the final decision on what actions to take. We’ll do our best to curb the worst situations while allowing the conversation to flow freely.