Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

The Demise of Online Food Forums


Recommended Posts

One thing that occurs to me, and this may not be true in absolute numbers but just dilution due to the growth in the number of members, is that it seems to me that there used to be much more participation from professionals in the food industry than there is now.

I am not sure how the numbers work regarding members and posts. I do remember that back on 2005, I would quit checking eGullet when I left the office around 5:30 p.m., be back by 7:30 a.m. the next day, and I will have 8 pages of new activity in the forum. Now is 3 pages in the last 24 hours....

Threads that would have brought a lot more conversation, like this one, pretty much die right away. But others, like "stealing produce bags" flourish. Maybe it is not the demise of online forums as it is my own demise in this type of food community.

The online content and quality these days on food is a lot higher than a few years ago. I do not remember the thread, but somebody posted a link to a few lectures from Harvard on food and science. That was really interesting to me. In my opinion, a forum like this cannot produce that type of work.

I think it is an interesting topic though.

Link to post
Share on other sites

If there has been a demise in participation in specific forums, I think it has been mostly a function of time and the explosion of on-line culinary content. Between blogs (yes, I post here with markedly decreased frequency because managing my website has become so time-consuming) and the growth of facebook and other social media, there is less time and less of a reason for many to gravitate to a single site. That was much less the case 5-10 years ago. As an observation regarding the eGullet Forums, I am pleased to see what I feel has been a bit of a resurgence of late. It appears to be more vibrant and balanced than it has been for some time.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

Link to post
Share on other sites

As per some previous posters this is an issue I have thought about on a semi-regular basis over the last year or so. As a result of my pontifications I have two main points to make:

The first is that this isn't just a food fora issue. Amongst my other passions/addictions are architecture (specifically the urban built environment) and fantasy football and I also post on forums for these subjects which are near identical (scarily in terms of characters of posters as well as technical functionality) to eGullet. I hear exactly the same laments and have noticed the exact same tail-off in poster numbers/quality on www.skyscrapercity.com and http://www.fiso.co.uk/forum. It's an online fora issue across the board, gastronomy has nothing to do with it.

The second is social media. Forget it being a trendy buzzword, over the past two years it has come from nowhere to seriously rewrite my business models (I organise exhibitions and events) and it has also changed my own personal online habits beyond recognition. Social media is simply a more addictive way of finding new people and new opinions about subjects I'm passionate about and also sharing my own opinions (particularly twitter, I'm less convinced about Facebook). Sure the content within the social media is more limited than forums (140 characters for example) but it directs me to indepth content/blogs/forums I would never find under my own steam. I no longer need a "home" forum to be "based" at. I guess it's like cloud computing in a way.

I thought I was addicted to online forums dedicated to subjects I was passionate about. Turns out that largely I just like bantering with people I like about subjects I love in an online environment, whilst continuing to expand my "social circle" and exposure to new writing and other media. That time-slot in my day (limited by running a company as well as family and kids damn them) is now taken up by social media. The fact that it also a hell of a lot easier to use social media on a smartphone (particularly twitter) means I can fit my food-nerdism into snatched downtime on train journeys, in bank queues, in tedious meetings or whilst my kids run around a playground. In the UK at least this massive and continued switch to smartphones is driving internet usage.

I should point out that over time I have found more and more of the old "big beasts" of eGullet who were great posters (authoritative, interesting, altruistic and prolific) have been cropping up on twitter. Some I was in touch with anyway as friends and didn't realise they tweeted, others I never met irl but had read so much on eGullet that seeing their user names on twitter was like seeing an old friend again! Building up this database and keeping up to date with what they're eating and where has been one of my great recent pleasures (yes, I have a sad life...).

Why have none of my favoured forums got a phone specific app? It's the next step surely to ensure the many positives that sites like eGullet have (a real community, a massive bank of information) remain current, relevent and accessable as technology and people's interaction with it move on. I'm sure the eggheads at eGullet are ahead of the curve on this and are beavering away even as we speak (type)!

I lurk more and I post less on all my forums, but if you want to talk to me come play on twitter. That's the way it is, for me at least, and as a very late adopter to social media I could never have predicted this even 18 months ago.

Interesting times... (/inarticulate and meandering ramble)

ETA: Ironically I made my first post on here for a long time today (see Australasia on UK Dining) and thus noticed my horribly out-dated signature (wrong company etc etc). I updated it as you see it below, and subsequently saw this thread the very same day. Spooky bit of coincidence considering the points I outline above. Must have been why the title subliminally piqued my interest when I saw it on the homepage.

Edited by thom (log)

It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

Link to post
Share on other sites

Twitter is competing with and seems to be taking away much of the regional postings and celeb/professional participation from food discussion forums. Twitter's lack of topic continuity and conversational capability is outweighed by its spontaneity, timeliness, and freewheeling attitude.

No form of media - print, electronic or digital - matches Twitter for restaurant news. By following just four or five posters I am up to date on everything important that happens with Philadelphia restaurants. Newspaper food columnists post to Twitter so they won't be scooped before their story comes out in print.

Of course Twitter limits tweets to 140 characters. Often that is not a bad thing.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

Twitter

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah Holly, that's pretty much it. Very much echos my own thoughts (albeit much more articulately).

I was a bit of a cynic about social media generally (I am still deeply sceptical about Facebook) and was thus late (begrudgingly late) to the party. I knew I had to get to grips with social media when it started turning my exhibition marketing campaigns on their head - my marketing team were using terminology I knew nothing about and that's never a healthy thing (or at least not when I'm a relatively young 37!).

Since then I haven't looked back.

I follow around 625 people and have about 800 following me, and I have built this community up organically over less than twelve months. As you say in terms of local/regional coverage it's unparalleled, and the mechanics that, with very little tangiable structure, tend to bring like-minded people and content on twitter together is uncanny. The vast majority of my followers are posting about restaurants in Manchester/England's NorthWest, on topics that are directly relevent to me, and are absolutely up to the minute and news-worthy. That is compelling.

Amazing new seasonal menu in a restaurant? Twitter tells me first, and probably has images of the signature dishes and a link to the full menu. A popular Mancunian restaurant closes? Chances are one of my twitter-buddies will walk past it that same day, notice, and tweet it, meaning word spreads within hours. It's the minutia, immediacy and relevance that makes it so addictive. The other thing I love about twitter is it always encourages you to reach out to new people and pursue new content (click through rates on links far outstrip Facebook) whereas Facebook seems to be talking to a group of people you already know (or knew).

Because of the way twitter works I can ask questions about a pub that does good steak and ale pie in the Peak District, or the best way stuffing for a belly of lamb, or whatever happened to the chef from a long-gone restaurant and have a pretty good chance of getting a constructive answer (or indeed answers) within minutes. Thinking about it (and most of my posts on here are a little stream of conciousness so apologies!) I have also noticed that the most prolific posters on eGullet UK tend to be older/retired, which wasn't the case five or ten years ago. It seems as an older generation embraces websites the younger folk (in relative terms) are moving on to social media. It was ever thus!

Also thinking about it the people who make up my twitter family are exactly the sort of passionate, informed and articulate people I would have seen all over eGullet a few years ago and now I know for a fact that the vast majority of them haven't even heard of it, let alone posted there. legions of fanatical foodies, chefs and restaurateurs (the net-worky "heads up" type who get involved in discussions, committees, charity work etc rather than those chained to their stoves!), consultants, and worse still restaurant media folk, PR's and journalists. These people should be all OVER eGullet, but twitter (and the websites it points them to to cherry-pick plumb bits of content) is more than enough for them.

It takes time to get into twitter (I had one false start before I went back to it months later and finally got a toe-hold) but try it, once you have a little gaggle of mates on there it really will revolutionise the way you exchange and consume restaurant information. I guarantee you'll end up better informed than you ever were before!

Right, semi-literate rambling over for the night. Bed is calling. My better half used to hate me keeping the lamp on to read (I stay awake much later than her) so now I keep the light off and tap away on my phone as a wind-down, perusing the BBC or catching up on sports articles on the Guardian. But guess what will be the last site I scan through before shut-eye, not to mention the first I check over breakfast the next morning, just to check I'm not missing out on the latest? Yep, it begins with t...

It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with everything said about Twitter, but the one relative flaw, is that to get the most info from it requires near constant contact. Once something has been tweeted and missed, it is essentially gone. Of course there are ways to stay on top of the most relevant tweeters and tweets, but that requires a fair amount of effort. eGullet and other forums remain useful even if they are no longer quite as shiny as they used to be.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll admit it, I don't have the time right now read all the posts here. I might be saying things said by others.

I'm only posting because I like eGullet and I don't see why it doesn't try to engage with food bloggers.

I went to a Chinese New Years Food Bloggers Potluck event with 30 of New York's most awesome and lovely food bloggers. I was the only one on eGullet. One of them said, "Oh they're still around?".

If you guys need help with blogger outreach let me know. It's silly that they aren't all on here with us. I told them about some topic and how many people were posting and they seemed excited.

There is an issue with you pissing them off if they post a link. You scolded me twice and I took it because I'm a grownup and I've been here since what '06? If you do that to a blogger in their 20's you'll never see them again. We are living in an open source generation. The rules are different now. They are used to things being simple and sharing data.

Grace

Grace Piper, host of Fearless Cooking

www.fearlesscooking.tv

My eGullet Blog: What I ate for one week Nov. 2010

Subscribe to my 5 minute video podcast through iTunes, just search for Fearless Cooking

Link to post
Share on other sites

Why have none of my favoured forums got a phone specific app? It's the next step surely to ensure the many positives that sites like eGullet have (a real community, a massive bank of information) remain current, relevent and accessable as technology and people's interaction with it move on. I'm sure the eggheads at eGullet are ahead of the curve on this and are beavering away even as we speak (type)!

Tapatalk does work with eGullet (and a plethora of other fora). It is available for iOS and Android. I use it regularly for eGullet, KaffeeNetz (a German coffee/espresso board) and several other venues. There were some bugs in conjunction with eGullet (extraneous "Logged in" messages) that have been fixed in the latest Tapatalk release.

One annoying bug remains, however, namely that the setting to jump to the latest unread post when opening a thread does not work with eGullet (but it does with KaffeeNetz, which uses a different forum software). Other than that, it works flawlessly.

Addendum:

I just noticed that Tapatalk is available for several other platforms ad well:

  • Windoes Phone 7
  • Blackberry
  • WebOS

Edited by pep. (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with the sentiment above. I'm a staunch long-term supporter of eGullet (signed up since 2001 no less, ahead of my ex-company launching Restaurant Magazine) and although I havent always been the most prolific poster (though I'm sure my post-count got reset some years ago during upgrades!) I have always contributed, have always taken delight in lurking and reading, and have made some real and lasting friendships.

In short it saddens me that I just don't find the site as compelling as I did, and that I spend so little time here (this thread is ironically the most engaged I have been for donkey's years!).

I do think social media, and indeed blogging (most bloggers drive traffic to their blogs via their social media presence and contacts, have eaten away at eGullet's audience (and that of comparable sites), and the architecture and functionality here (as well as the underlying philosophy perhaps?) has stopped the site taking full advantage of these advances when really, as a long-established, well-populated, content-rich website social media should be a virtual panacea for traffic and profile (see how www.manchesterconfidential.com and it's staff work it in my home city).

I know you can link to twitter via your profile on here, and indeed that eGullet has a twitter account but - although I'm certainly no social media expert, just a passionate user - this doesn't seem anywhere near enough (almost a token effort, or at least misguided in it's execution) and is doing what eGullet is and could be a diservice. I'm sure there is tons of content generated on here every day that half my followers would love to be connected to but I haven't the time to dig around and find it. Make it easy for me, I want to help.

I would also echo another of the earlier points that at the minute this website is too broad and over-facing, a lack of focus which ironically has, I feel, contributed to a thinning of the fresh content. I know this is a chicken/egg situation with the volume and depth of postings but really although it's nice to keep up with UK dining (and indeed keep an eye on high profile international stuff) what I'm really interested in is information about the restaurants I do/could visit in my region, and the food I could/should be eating every day.

Not sure what the answer is but I know from twitter that there are more than enough informed foodies (and industry professionals) with the time and web access to constantly post and produce content about their eating experiences and opinions online and it must be possible in some way to leverage or channel this through what was, to me, the spiritual home of food-nerds on the web.

You're potentially a sleeping giant eGullet.

It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

Link to post
Share on other sites

Tapatalk does work with eGullet (and a plethora of other fora). It is available for iOS and Android. I use it regularly for eGullet, KaffeeNetz (a German coffee/espresso board) and several other venues. There were some bugs in conjunction with eGullet (extraneous "Logged in" messages) that have been fixed in the latest Tapatalk release.

One annoying bug remains, however, namely that the setting to jump to the latest unread post when opening a thread does not work with eGullet (but it does with KaffeeNetz, which uses a different forum software). Other than that, it works flawlessly.

Pep, thanks so much for this, I'll have a look.

The thing I love about having an app like twitter (on a smart-phone which generally doesn't allow multi-tab browsing) is that if I'm flicking through my twitter timeline and see a link I like I can click on it, which opens it in the phone browser, then still flick straight back to twitter as the app remains open whilst the page is loading. If I'm using eGullet on my phone browser and follow a link from the site then eGullet is gone (a whole "back" click away!) and thus has lost me.

So yes, an app to let me view eGullet sounds great.

The other issue is more fundamental perhaps (and I say this ahead of having checked out how the site actually appears in the app) which is that the massive bulk of content on eGullet is of no interest to me (at this current time) and it's tricky and time-consuming and click-intensive to drill down to the stuff that appeals on a regular basis (in contrast to skimming through a timeline of twitter which has what are in effect bite-size precis of content from people I have specifically chosen to follow because what they talk about tends to interest me).

To solve this might require a fundamental rethinking of how eGullet functions. Sure I'd probably like to have an app which let me choose which updates I saw as standard but would it only be on a forum basis (ie subscribe to the UK forum?). To be honest I miss out on good posts from people in other forums (Food Media for example) as I just don't have enough reason to pop in there, it could be interesting to choose to follow the posts of particular posters who I find interesting no matter which forum they are on? It would be nice to feel less wedded to my home forum.

Can this already be done on eGullet? Possibly, but if so it's a criminal failing that I, as a moderately web-literate nerd with too much time on my hands who has been using this site for a decade, doesn't know about it! Yeah, we're a lazy generation, we like to be spoon-fed and hand-held...

I'll have a look at the app thing this weekend though, thanks again Pep.

Cheers

Thom

It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for all of the feedback! We’ve been discussing social media and blogs quite a bit among the Society volunteer team, and now we’d like to invite members to join that discussion. If you’re interested in participating in a focus group about this, please send a PM to Chris Amirault or me.

We appreciate all your insights.


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...