As of today's release, we have a new way of posting and participating on Chowhound. We're calling this new format "Workshops" as a way to differentiate these pages from regular Chowhound discussions, and it will allow users to share experiences and provide advice in a different structure. There are some similarities with regular Chowhound discussions, but I wanted to highlight some differences.
For the time being, this new 'Workshop' format is limited to the new Food Quests board. You can read more about this board here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/965018 So if you see a topic in Food Quests (or any discussion marked with the red lightbulb icon), you'll know it's a Workshop as opposed to a regular discussion.
Here are the main features that distinguish "Workshops" from regular "discussions"
1) Increased photo size in the original post. So if the original poster uploads at least one photo, it will appear full-size within the post.
2) Two levels of responses to the original post: Top-level posts, and lower-level comments.
3) Top-level posts can be voted up or down by all users and readers, including those who are not logged into the site. We have controls in place to limit voting, and these may continue to evolve. Voting is anonymous. The idea of the voting is to surface the most useful and helpful responses to the top.
4) The original poster can choose their favorite response by clicking a checkbox. If a response gets chosen, it will be displayed first regardless of how many votes it has, trumping any other responses. Otherwise, the Workshop will always be sorted by vote count of the top-level response.
5) Lower-level comments are text-only, and will appear in chronological order underneath their respective top-level post.
6) We're testing out some new strategies with moderation, and giving more power to users to self-moderate these Workshop posts. We're counting on users to up-vote helpful, useful, and thoughtful responses, and encouraging users to down-vote any responses that don't meet this criteria. We do still have a flag option in case there is blatant spam or truly problematic material, but we're encouraging users to only use this in extreme cases.
We are going to be continuing the development of this posting format, and will be refining and adjusting as we go. It will be very helpful to hear what users think about this posting experience, and I would encourage everyone to give it a try. Eventually, the plan is to roll out this workshop format as well as regular discussions across all boards, meaning that when you start a new discussion on any board, you'd have the option of choosing which type of discussion you want to start.
If you see any bugs with this new format, please report them here. If you have any feedback about the format, please let us know as well. We'll be announcing updates and changes here as well, so stay tuned.
Thanks very much,