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Fat Guy

New Approach to Events

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Dear Fellow Society Members,

Two years ago, the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters implemented the eG Calendar and Events policy for member-organized events planned in eG Forums. This past year, we invited five members with differing opinions to meet with Janet Zimmerman (JAZ) and me in a special forum, and they voiced these concerns:

  • The policy is negative, complicated, and thus a disincentive to planning events.
  • Less formal, more social events are important for a sense of community and fun.
  • Members don't want to ask staff for permission to plan events.
  • There's a "high bar" to start planning events: without a simple mechanism for vetting an idea, there's a perceived high risk of failure.
  • The pinned ISO (in search of) topics are ineffective, hard to find, and rarely used.
  • Because the Calendar is not used by most members, there isn't a good way to find out about upcoming (non-eGullet Society) events.

As a result of these concerns, we have replaced the old events policy with a more straightforward, easier set of guidelines for planning and reporting on member events. Going forward, members can plan events in eG Forums without host approval or complex mechanics. Of course, members must follow the Member Agreement while doing so, staying on-topic in both planning and reporting discussions.

To support the success of these topics, we've developed the following guidelines, with which hosts will be glad to help you:

Planning Topics

1. Start a new planning topic in the appropriate regional forum. The title should be in the format "Plan: [What] [Where] [When]," which will aid in identifying the topics and in searches. Once the event occurs or is canceled, the planning topic will be deleted. (There are no more ISO topics.)

2. Planning topics must extend invitations to all Society members and be transparent. They must state the number of seats available, the system for distributing seats (first come first served, deposit-based, tickets purchased up front, and so on), how much things cost, what, if any, Society donation is expected, and who's going to coordinate all of this planning and communication. Financial arrangements must be explicit. Finally, planning topics must state that the event is a member-organized event for which the Society disclaims responsibility, not an official Society event. (See below for the standard language that must be included in the first post.)

3. Since eG Forums is facilitating the event planning as a service to members, please consider making it a fundraiser to support the eGullet Society. Doing so can be quite simple: passing the hat to collect $5 donations at the end of the meal and then sending the total to the Society, for example, is one informal way to support the Society. We are ready to assist you in organizing such events, and have trifold color brochures that you can distribute if desired.

4. Once the event is confirmed, submit a post including all the relevant details to the moderated calendar queue. ("Moderated" means that your post will show up after a host has checked it over for you, which may take a bit of time.) Of course, you can always just submit the details via PM to a host for the relevant forum, who will add them to the eG Calendar for you.

Reporting Topics

After the event, create a new "Report: " topic following the titling guidelines above. As with all eG Forums discussions, events-related discussions must focus on food and drink. Notes of thanks, personal comments about social interactions, and other off-topic sentiments should be conveyed privately.

Planning and Reporting on Non-Society Events

Culinary events that are not directly related to the Society should be announced in the calendar as always. You can submit that information to the calendar as a moderated entry or to a host. Remember that discussing a non-Society event in eG Forums requires more thought and content on your part: announcements followed by queries about who's going do not belong on eG Forums, whereas food-related discussions concerning what to do and where and how to do it certainly may. A host can help you frame such a discussion topic productively.

A final note. When we convened the discussion group, we stated that we were "committed to taking what we discuss in this group and translating it into a better, more user-friendly, less restrictive events policy." Thanks to the work of Janet and the volunteer members, we have exceeded that promise. We encourage all members to plan interesting culinary events, to engage in the related culinary discussions in eG Forums, and to consider supporting the Society while doing so.

With relish,

Steven A. Shaw (aka "Fat Guy"), executive director

eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

Here is the standard language for inclusion in the first post of any new member-organized event-planning topic. (Yes, it's hideous, we know: due to legal standards concerning such notices, this language must be presented in upper case.)

THIS EVENT HAS BEEN ORGANIZED THROUGH EG FORUMS BY MEMBERS BUT IS NOT SPONSORED BY THE EGULLET SOCIETY FOR CULINARY ARTS AND LETTERS OR EG FORUMS. YOUR PARTICIPATION IN ANY EVENT OR ACTIVITY ARRANGED ON OR DISCUSSED IN EG FORUMS IS AT YOUR SOLE AND EXCLUSIVE RISK. BY USING AND PARTICIPATING IN THE FORUMS YOU AGREE AND UNDERSTAND (1) THAT IN CONNECTION WITH YOUR PARTICIPATION IN ANY EVENT OR ACTIVITY, YOU MAY BE EXPOSED TO A VARIETY OF HAZARDS AND RISKS ARISING FROM THOSE ACTIVITIES AND EVENTS; (2) TO THE FULLEST EXTENT ALLOWED BY LAW, YOU AGREE TO WAIVE, DISCHARGE CLAIMS, RELEASE, INDEMNIFY AND HOLD HARMLESS THE SOCIETY, ITS AFFILIATES, OFFICERS, DIRECTORS, AGENTS, AND OTHER PARTNERS AND EMPLOYEES, FROM ANY AND ALL LIABILITY ON ACCOUNT OF, OR IN ANY WAY RESULTING FROM INJURIES AND DAMAGES IN ANY WAY CONNECTED WITH ANY SUCH EVENTS OR ACTIVITIES. YOU AGREE AND UNDERSTAND THAT THESE TERMS WILL BE BINDING UPON YOU AND YOUR HEIRS, EXECUTORS, AGENTS, ADMINISTRATORS AND ASSIGNS, AS WELL AS ANY GUESTS AND MINORS ACCOMPANYING YOU AT THE EVENTS.

If you have questions, please ask them here.

With relish,


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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