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Chris Amirault

Regional Forum Reorganization

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Today the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts and Letters announces a new structure for its regional food discussions in eG Forums, designed to make reading, searching and contributing to these forums more straightforward and intuitive. After the coming weekend, all regional forums will be divided into two subforums: “Dining” and “Cooking & Baking.” The Dining subforum contains topics that discuss restaurants, chefs and menus; restaurant recommendations; media coverage of the local dining scene; and topics regarding Society events. The Cooking & Baking subforum will include topics that discuss regional recipes and techniques; local sources, including specialty stores and farmers markets; and regional foodstuffs and ingredients.

This new arrangement clear guidelines for posting cooking topics either in the regional forums or in the Cooking or Pastry & Baking forums. Topics that discuss general concepts and techniques -- poaching an egg, making macaroni and cheese, perfecting puff pastry, choosing the freshest fish -- will remain in Cooking or Pastry and Baking. Identifiably regional topics, however – finding Italian basil, preparing pad thai, locating a farmers' market in Philadelphia – will go into the regional cooking subforums. In addition, streamlining the forums will make them easier to peruse and to search, and we hope that moving regional cooking and baking topics from the Cooking and Pastry & Baking forums into the new subforums will encourage members to visit topics throughout eG Forums, learning and contributing more broadly.

In addition to create new subforums for regional cooking and dining topics, eGullet Society volunteers have used this opportunity to further streamline the forums by merging related topics and deleting topics which, over the years, had become outdated or irrelevant.

Our volunteers are committed to ongoing improvement of eG Forums accessibility and usability. We believe that this new organization will help both committed cooks and determined diners get more from eG Forums with less effort -- and make it easier for them to give back, through their insights and contributions.

You will find a list of Frequently Asked Questions below. Should you have an infrequently asked question, you may do so in this moderated topic. We look forward to hearing your response -- and especially to reading your posts in our new cooking & baking and dining subforums.

FAQs

Why did you split the regional forums?

We split the regional forums to make the eG Forums easier to use and easier to search. Before, someone wishing to discuss techniques for dried octopus, for example, faced a dilemma: post a topic either in the general Cooking forum or in the Japanese forum. Where would they most likely get the best response? Similarly, someone searching for a topic on that subject would be unsure where to look. Now, anybody interested in Japanese cooking knows where to look or to post.

We’re also hoping to encourage cross-pollination, to get people who spend most of their time in the cooking forum to read and contribute to the regional forums, and vice-versa.

Finally, it just seemed that the forums were divided between two fundamentally different tasks: helping people decide where to eat out, and helping them shop in their communities and cook what they bought at home. We wanted to put apples with apples and oranges with oranges.

When will this change occur?

We'll be closing eG Forums down this weekend (June 27-29) while we create new forums and move topics. You'll see the new organization on Monday the 30th.

I want to start (or search) a regional topic but I’m not sure what subforum I should be using.

In brief, if the main theme is home cooking, you should use the cooking subforum; if it has to do with restaurants, use dining.

How do I know if a cooking topic should be in a regional forum or the Cooking forum?

Trust your common sense. Most topics are easy to place: one on Vindaloo will go in India and one on fish sauce in Elsewhere in Asia. If you’re talking about a dish, a technique, or an ingredient in the context of a particular area (Clams and Cheese in Italian Cooking & Baking) or style (Southern Fried Chicken), that topic also belongs in the regional subforums. Topics that involve multiple countries or regions -- Olive Oil in Mediterranean cooking -- would go in Cooking, as would general topics focused on food and its preparation.

What about beverages?

All topics devoted to beverages will remain in the Beverages and Libations forum.

And cookbooks?

If a topic is dedicated to using a regional or ethnic cookbook, then it goes in the appropriate regional cooking subforum. If the topic is dedicated to cooking from a general cookbook ("Cooking from The Joy of Cooking" or "Baking from The Cake Bible"), it will go in Cooking or Pastry & Baking, depending on the book. Otherwise, the topic would belong in Cookbooks and References.

A topic I started or contributed to seems to have disappeared. What happened?

In the course of preparing for the split, Society volunteers looked over every existing topic. Where topics overlapped, they were merged -- the site is more helpful if all the information on a single subject is in one place. We discovered some topics in the regional forums that fit better in another -- Kitchen Consumer, Ready to Eat, or Cooking. Some topics, which had become irrelevant or outdated, were removed entirely. These topics have been saved, however, in a holding area. If you think there has been a mistake, please contact a host with your concerns and we’ll give the topic a second look and, if appropriate, restore it to the forums.

Have there been any changes to the regions themselves?

Yes! Correcting an unintended oversight, Mississippi has joined the South. In addition, topics formerly in “Southern Food Culture” will now be found under Southeastern United States.

Why do a lot of older topics have posts with 'user posted image' tags?

A recent server change prior to the reorganization produced some database errors with older ImageGullet photos. We are working with Invision and hope to correct this in the coming weeks.

My notifications aren't working. What gives?

The rearrangement of some forums and the creation of others may have disabled your forum notifications. (Notifications for specific topics should be unaffected.) Simply finding the forums you want notifications from and resetting them should solve the problem.

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Welcome to the new and improved eG Forums, with reorganized dining and cooking & baking subforums for each regional forum.

As you look around, you're going to notice consistent welcome and index topics pinned to each subforum (some of which still need additional entries), revised nonregional forums with clearer indexes and insight, and extensive regional cooking & baking subforums whose archives contain a wealth of information.

Though we've checked and rechecked most of those changes, we've surely missed some things and screwed up others. In addition, we know that we've more work to do here and there (especially in the new dining and cooking & baking indexes). If you find anything wrong or have suggestions, please just PM a host or manager, and we'll get right to it.

As you use this new structure, you'll have to make judgment calls concerning what belongs in the general Cooking forum and what belongs in the regional cooking & baking subforums. The basic principle is simple:

  • if your topic is devoted to the particular characteristics of one of our regional cuisines, then the topic belongs in that region's cooking & baking subforum;
  • if not, then it belongs in the general Cooking forum.

The same is true for topics that discuss cookbooks, but you've got two questions, not one.

  • First, does the topic discuss the use of the cookbook for cooking and/or baking? If not, it goes into Cookbooks & References.
  • If the topic does indeed discuss using the cookbook for cooking and/or baking, then it goes into a cooking forum. Topics devoted to cooking with regional cookbooks go into the appropriate regional cooking & baking subforum, and topics devoted to cooking with trans-regional cookbooks go into the general Cooking or Pastry & Baking forum.

It's that easy! Of course, don't hesitate to ask a host or manager for help in locating or placing a topic.

The contributions of Society members like you make eG Forums the most interesting and informative culinary discussion forum on the globe. We are thrilled to have improved eG Forums for everyone, and we will be happy to answer any questions you have.

We hope you enjoy the new eG Forums!

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