ChowHound Doesn’t Understand The Conversation That Is The Web

There I was, advocating for the power of the web to connect people. How ChowHound was this awesome site to connect people looking for food. I even posted a link on ChowHound to my blog review of Picchu. But apparently that’s unkosher on ChowHound. They don’t like outbound links. I just received this e-mail, indicating that my post was deleted:


We’re sorry, but we’ve removed your post (below).  Chowhound’s mission is to be a trove of opinions and information, rather than a nexus of outbound links to opinions and information. So please opine on the Chowhound site rather than direct our audience elsewhere for your thoughts. Please either cut/paste your blog opinions or encapsulate them in your postings.

We understand that there’s a fine line between sincerely wanting to point your fellow hounds to good info which happens to be elsewhere and plotting to steer our large audience elsewhere for promotion/ self-promotion. The problem is that we have far too many users and far too little time to draw this distinction. We need to stave off the considerable desire to use our loud microphone for promotion.

You can see more on our guidelines for bloggers and other journalists, including the appropriate ways to include your blog URL on Chowhound, in our Etiquette:

The Chowhound Team
For Those Who Live to Eat

I don’t really get this. Is ChowHound worried about serving extra-Google juice to the undeserving barbarians outside their walled garden? What if they implement a nofollow policy ala Wikipedia?

If they’re worried about keeping conversations “inside” their forums, then they don’t seem to be understanding the nature of the Web as conversations happen everywhere. After I post this I’ll send the link to Twitter, and then that will show up on Facebook, and maybe I’ll send it in an e-mail to a friend I know cares about ChowHound, and so on. Finally I’ll track responses and conversations via Pingbacks and Google Analytics. As Dave Winer says, “The web is a conversation, too.

ChowHound’s solution is to have me copy and paste my own work (raising questions about what would happen if I object to what rights they claim to my work) for no other reason than to help ChowHound police their own boards is also silly.

Finally, while I’m sympathetic to the idea that policing ChowHound for “self promotion” is difficult, I’m not sure killing outbound links (or directions to external information) really solves this problem. Why couldn’t I just talk about myself? Or my hypothetical favorite restaurant which I happen to own?

Admittedly the spam / promotion problem is one of the hardest to solve on the web. Millions of words and thousands of hours have been spilled on Wikipedia trying to define what is notable and what is not in an attempt to keep Wikipedia clean from mindless self promotion. But ChowHound is not Wikipedia.

What I ultimately object to is the mindless approach CH has taken to moderation. Instead of really basing the decision on a community standard, the choice to remove posts is made from the top down, using mercenary logic.

  1. It was big of you to keep their link. I would have written their name phonetically or used an animated gif.

  2. You’re right, animated gifs are almost always the solution.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.