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Has it gone quiet on here

32 posts in this topic

So I have been a regular - pretty much daily, reader of egullet for *checks profile* 8 years. This is definitely the period of fewest new posts and reviews in UK Dining I can remember.

I get the impression that those people who used to regularly post reviews and comments of meals aren't perhaps as affected by these austere times as your average joe, although that may be way off the mark. Some people have disappeared completely, some new ones have taken their place. Some of the oldies post very infrequently these data but still do form time to time.

What's happened...is it purely down to the rise of the blog in these 8 years, is everyone working harder with less time to eat and post, or have sites other than egullet taken their custom.

The only blog I ever read is David's - and thats because I feel I've got to know him a bit on here and like his photo's.

I'm not so interested in a single person's view of a restaurant. Its the discsussion, conflicting opinions and concensus that always attracted me to egullet.

What's happened?

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I believe there is a general decline in the use of discussion boards, with things like Facebook and Twitter (whatever they are!) becoming more popular. Like you, I enjoy the discussion and simply don't think you can talk about a restaurant adequatley in 140 characters - but we are in a minority. The decline in boards is something I've noticed in some of my other interests (although not with some others).

It may be that the egullet UK/Ireland board has always had a relatively few number of posters and, therefore, it's particularly hard hit when folk stop posting. Certainly I have a sense that the board is, indeed, verging on becoming moribund. In recent times, there's only been a couple or so people regularly posting their "reviews" of meals. It simply isnt enough to sustain the board, particularly if those reviews don't generate comment.

I have often criticised Chowhound (to which I also post) as being so London-centric and pretty much geared to the visiting American tourist, whereas egullet has always seemed to have a much wider interest across the whole of the UK and have most of its posters being "home grown". Clearly that has been the appeal of egullet for me, as I live and generally eat in north west England. My geography means that I am less likely to have shared experiences of places and I accept that but I've noticed that, recently, there's been more commentary about my posts on Chowhound than here. It really does make me wonder if continuing with egullet is worthwhile.

(EDIT: Actually it makes me wonder whether continuing with either egullet or Chowhound is a fun use of my time)


Edited by Harters (log)

John Hartley

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I am fairly new to the Egullet forum and I do also post on Chowhound where this week I have been introducing our friends over the pond to the delights of Bread and Butter pudding and Delia Smith.

Like Harters, I don't really get Facebook or Twitter - the latter to me seems to be narcissists and sycophants. I work in a fairly insular environment, so use forums to interact with like minded people in the same way others will chat with their work colleagues.

One thing I have noticed is that often a thread will get a lot of views, but not many comments which is a shame.


http://www.thecriticalcouple.co.uk

Latest blog post - Oh my - someone needs a spell checker

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I have refrained from posting any reviews on here to give others the opportunity to contribute. More simply because I have been accused in the past of dominating the forum.

Guess what ? No one has emerged to take up the mantle. Surprise, surprise.

In honesty I was very happy posting reviews on here and had no desire to start my own blog, but since starting my own blog I will not be doing so any longer.

Truth is there are too many trolls on here now, and that is partly why people are reluctant to post on here any longer.

However having said that I am more than happy to point out places to people on here who are interested but will no longer post a full review.

I do wish that those who make the most noise on here now would be constructive to the forum instead of the opposite. Everyone would then benefit.

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Truth is there are too many trolls on here now, and that is partly why people are reluctant to post on here any longer.

However having said that I am more than happy to point out places to people on here who are interested but will no longer post a full review.

I do wish that those who make the most noise on here now would be constructive to the forum instead of the opposite. Everyone would then benefit.

Who are these trolls David? Can't say I have noticed any myself. Just people with differing views - which at the end of the day, help keep a forum going. If everyone agreed, then there would be no discussion.


http://www.thecriticalcouple.co.uk

Latest blog post - Oh my - someone needs a spell checker

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Okay some long term perspectives (I think I am one of the few people from the "original" 2001 crowd still on here... though Gary Marshall and Scott Friar seem to drop by occasionally).

1) Yes the ratio of lurkers to contributors is very high. Its always like this on online boards - to be frank you need a reasonably thick skin to survive in these environments. I don't think its particularly a troll thing its just the fact that people behave differently (and more confrontationally) when they can hide behind a computer screen.

2) Yes the active posters in the forum is down, but to be honest it has been for a good few years. In the earlier days there were basically waves of posters who were on the board and tended to have bust-ups with the mods and move to other forums (e.g. OA, Mouthfuls, NIAC). I think they were probably 2-3 generations of contributors on the UK board who have come onboard and them moved on in this way. But I don't think there's been a vibrant community on the UK board for a good few years.

3) But as well as generational shifts there has definitely been a move from online food forums towards blogs and then Twitter. I've raised this topic a couple of times elsewhere on eG (see my comments on this thread in both 2009 and 2012). The bottom line is that big, set-piece food discussion boards seem to be losing out to blogs and Twitter. Blogs offer a more direct but far more fragmented experience. Twitter offers incredibly immediacy and the drug of constant newsflow, but it offers very little scope to have a proper discussion. There are some points which simply cannot be made in 140 characters. However from where I've seen the Twitteriat seem to have won the online war. That is a great loss.

My thoughts

J


More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!

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Truth is there are too many trolls on here now, and that is partly why people are reluctant to post on here any longer.

However having said that I am more than happy to point out places to people on here who are interested but will no longer post a full review.

I do wish that those who make the most noise on here now would be constructive to the forum instead of the opposite. Everyone would then benefit.

Who are these trolls David? Can't say I have noticed any myself. Just people with differing views - which at the end of the day, help keep a forum going. If everyone agreed, then there would be no discussion.

I am new to this forum and investigated it thoroughly before joining. I have not read every thread of course but have seen little evidence of outright "trollism". Which to me is when someone is provocative outside of normal discourse and is looking for a flame that ends up getting personal or is the seemingly inexperienced advice seeker who's extremely coy with their information and dribbles it out in order to string everyone along. Sometimes this is unintentional as there are people inexperienced in the ways of internet forums. But the flaming isn't. That's evil.

Also, forums tend to have their ebb and flow and life-cycle. One month may be slow then something happens and it picks up dramatically. One thing to remember is that if important members leave it needn't be a catastrophe. Usually someone steps up.

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[Who are these trolls David? Can't say I have noticed any myself. Just people with differing views - which at the end of the day, help keep a forum going. If everyone agreed, then there would be no discussion.

I suspect "trolls" is not the correct word (but what do I know, eh?) and I've no wish to put words in David's mouth. But I suspect I know what may lie behind his comment. In the past, he has taken some criticism from other contributors when he has posted about his restaurant experiences. Much of that criticism has come from folk who choose never to post about their own experiences. If I had been at the end of those comments I may well have formed the view that some folk get their rocks off by sitting in the background sniping at others, while not contributing positively to the point of the forum.


John Hartley

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Yeah it has become quiet of late, and yes David's lack of posting probably hasn't helped!

I don't post enough - quite honestly I've been far too busy the last 5-6 months and seem to have a backlog of stuff from the beginning of the year to write about, but never get around to it :(

The rest of the forum seems similar in a way too. I think in some ways it doesn't help that the forum is so granular. When you look at some of the topics from some restaurants that would require their own thread every year, you might now not find a single post from the last 6-12months. Is it a reflection of a shift in focus that Jon talks about? Probably.

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The main reason seems to be that there are far fewer opinions amongst diners. In the past you had, for want of a better term, 'connoisseurs'; individuals who knew what they expected from a meal. Chefs were still part of the hospitality industry had not yet become leading scientists and social activists. This dialectic led to a kind of normative gastronomic truce. However, in the past 2 decades, food PR has become ever more sophisticated and now the role of diner has been effectively reduced to that of sycophant who not only thinks himself lucky to have 'scored' a table, but is docile enough to be dictated to in terms of how he should eat and enjoy his meal.

Egullet 10 years ago was characterized by a normative debate between those compliant enough to accept that chefs should be their own judge and jury, and those that had faith in their own critical faculties. This latter group has all but given up; we've lost the battle. The eunuchs have won.

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Its all to do with the disintermediation of hosted opinions on forums to people owning their opinions on blogs

Informed People now by and large do 1 of 2 things:

1. Blog & tweet their own content

2. Not bother

many people didnt like the way forums owned all content & its a static environment - more dynamic platforms have replaced forums


A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

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I posted is is a similar thread some time ago:

"In Topic: The Demise of Online Food Forums

03 June 2011 - 02:02 PM

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."

In retrospect it's clearer than that. People who think twitter is about 140 characters are, sadly, mistaken. Twitter is about forming a passionate network of like-minded individuals through shared interests who direct you to fantastic content (be that personal blogs or professional content that was off my radar) either on a constant basis, or when you specifically need it.

I get exposed to more interesting and useful information, from a broader and equally committed and informed set of people, about restaurants that I'm interested in (Manchester restaurants for example) on twitter than I ever would on here in it's heyday, let alone now. Probably by a factor of about 100. The gulf is almost incomparable.

It comes down to fulfilling a need: i like to read and talk about restaurants, twitter does it better than forums. I see the same demise in other hobby forums I go on, from architecture to fantasy football to vintage watches. Every board has regular comments, if not specific threads, bemoaning the death of the forums, the lack of posts and the thinning of intelligent discourse.

It's just the nature of online interaction changing.

Interestingly all the old big beasts that used to post fanatically on eGullet (the David Goodfellows and Harters of their day!), some of whom are now good friends, others still merely avatars, are now on twitter: Bapi, Gary Marshall, Scott Friar, Vinosity, Andy Lynes, not to mention a BILLION chefs, food writers, critics (Jay, Marina et al). All bantering, constantly.

There's still a place for eGullet, it's asset-base is large, but at the minute it seems shut off from social media. As if always the case it should embrace the change, it could ride the new wave better than it thinks. At the minute it's nervously sipping it's glass of wine in the sparsely populated dining room of the Internet, when the raucous and compelling party is it the kitchen.

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".

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I said this too, in a previous post (apologies for lack of chronological ordering):

"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..."

In fact probably easier for you to read the thread, here it is (albeit already a year out of date, things move so fast...)

To be fair the eGullet management messaged me about it and we had an interesting chat. Still a shame to lock the topic, it could have been an interesting little brainstorming session.

Bloody hell, have I been on eGullet nearly twelve years? Seen so many arguments, splits, coups, software upgrades. Halcyon days, life was simpler a decade ago I swear (before I became a parent for a start...)

Cheers

Thom


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".

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Well Hello Mr E fancy you still lurking on here. I think you were one if not the first to communicate with me on here.

Some relevent points raised there. I too have moved on with my blog and twitter. The latter is virtually instant in getting a responce I never thought I would get into it but some days I'm hardly off it.

I'm still fond of egullet though, even though I rarely visit much these days.

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class of 2002.. but dropped out man.. too many rules! But seriously , moved on to twitter. works for me ..and as many have said you need to give it 2 goes before it clicks.Connects you to guests ,suppliers,chefs, the meltdown on bosi? yup watched it unfold..and put in my 2 cents.egullet was great.but moderation stifled me..twitter is free of that..self moderation is key.Met some amazing people..some from my early days here..but i feel we will always connect..whatever format works best at any time.

Blogs don't really enter my world. i drop back here know and again.. but day to day twitter will do the job.

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The Caterer.. our trade mag have engaged with twitter and made me continue to subscribe.. even tho most of the content i will have seen via twitter days before...why ? cos i can engage with them easily.simple.And on egullet. you basically have to listen to everyones opinion,, twitter i can listen to the people i want to

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The Caterer.. our trade mag have engaged with twitter and made me continue to subscribe.. even tho most of the content i will have seen via twitter days before...why ? cos i can engage with them easily.simple.And on egullet. you basically have to listen to everyones opinion,, twitter i can listen to the people i want to

Interesting. I like the forum format. I've only dabbled with twitter. My main fear was being flooded by tweets and retweets and my phone constantly buzzing. So I haven't delved into the media much at all. Probably have some misconceptions that need correcting.

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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.

I'm sure Thom is right in his general analysis. I have no interest whatsoever in Twitter or Facebook. Or blogs, for that matter. Heck I don't even own one of those new fangled mobile phone thingies. His posts serve to confirm to me that my time on egullet (and Chowhound) is probably drawing to a close. As I've mentioned upthread, if there are insufficent people here with whom to have a conversation about restaurants, then there is little point being a lone voice. Apart from a couple of posts, I note I've been the only person posting reviews on the Manchester City Centre thread for the last couple of years. I suspect I'll go back to how it was before I discovered restaurant forums - just going to dinner with my wife, having a nice time and, occasionally, firing off a review to the Good Food Guide.

John


Edited by Harters (log)

John Hartley

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More thoughts (random, in no apparent order)

1) Beauty contest vs. peer review: One disadvantage of Twitter / blogs is they tend to reward quantity over quality. For example if someone who doesn't know their arse from their elbow posts on a forum they tend to be shot down quite quickly (and sometimes too harshly, I might add - viz "trolling"). In contrast they can keep posting their blog as long as they want and curate critical away comments to their hearts desire. As the Twitter/blog world rewards weight of followers what is most popular is right, rather than whats is most insightful or correct. Of course in a perfect market what is most correct is what is most popular. Two words: Daily Mail.

2) Immediacy: Twitter wins by a country mile. Note this is part of a wider trend (viz "prosumer") where keen amateurs are closer to pros and have more interaction with them. eGullet was ironically at the cutting edge of this trend in the early 2000s (viz Alinea thread) in contrast to Chowhound which shut-down pro-amateur interaction via its shilling policies. However Twitter now spanks it in this regard (although not always in a good way - viz #chefunite).

3) Depth vs. breadth vs. control: Twitter gives very shallow, broad information and lots of interaction (although there is a lot of noise - info is definitely not presented in an optimal manner). Blogs provide in-depth analysis but little interaction. Forums provide something between the two. However the downside of forums is that they take control away from the user (viz comments about moderation) where as a blog you have complete control over your environment. Unfortunately people tend to prefer control over quality of interaction - obviously quality of moderation is also a variable here.

Happy Sunday. I'm off to research a blog post on Cooking for Geeks!

J


More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!

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Jon Tseng nails it again.


A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

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I'm not sure whether Jon does nail it, actually. For all the wonders of Twitter and blogs they are not conducive debate since people can, and generally do, unfollow, block and delete any coherent disagreement. Indeed, Twitter is similar to a school playground in which alpha individuals pronounce whilst betas and omegas tweet phatically; in other words it's fundamentally immature.

It strikes me that a moderated forum is, in principal, the only way to have a meaningful debate. Of course, a forum can be well or poorly moderated, but that's another question.

As I argue upthread, to debate requires confidence in one's own critical faculties. The fact that there is little debate is not caused by fragmented media, but by the near total reification of food as fashion. Out with the difficult questions and in with the 'in' seems to sum it up nicely. In this sense, it's understandable that people want to blog and tweet about their meals since the industry is now so geared towards ostentation.

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I'Twitter is similar to a school playground in which alpha individuals pronounce whilst betas and omegas tweet phatically; in other words it's fundamentally immature.

My view exactly. Now I am certainly not a technophile, but I really don't understand twitter. It seems to me a bit vain/stalkerish - and certainly there are a few celebrities that would be far better leaving it alone.

I thought it was going to be useful during the bad weather we had one winter, knowing if the road home would be clear. However all that happened was people tweeted rumour about roads being closed, which didn't help one bit.


http://www.thecriticalcouple.co.uk

Latest blog post - Oh my - someone needs a spell checker

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To be fair putty man you also argued that people have less opinions about food than before. which is certainly a curious take given the huge increase in blogs, and food related twitter activity


A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

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To be fair putty man you also argued that people have less opinions about food than before. which is certainly a curious take given the huge increase in blogs, and food related twitter activity

Although one might imagine that an increase in media possibilities might engender more diverse opinion, it appears to be the inverse with opinion being usurped by a kind of deluded consensus. So, yes, more opinion, but fewer opinions.


Edited by Putty Man (log)

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I think its a shame, like many I look back fondly on the early days when taking an over developed interest your dinner was an unusual interest confined to those in the trade and a few enthusiastic amateurs.

I remember coming back from France wide eyed and (partially) legless after my first Michelin starred bonanza with some actual photographs that I had to get developed (remember that) thinking 'everyone needs to see these' and being roundly p8ss extracted at work for them. Finding egullet let me into a community of like minded geeks, before they were really invented too.

I appear to have joined essentially the same core people across many boards and formats, I don't see why there isn't a role for boards anymore but twitter has certainly put it on the back burner, we can all tweet a photo in seconds, after however many years I'm still not sure how to post photos on here, and the last time I did do 'my bit', and post a whole collection/write up about Heston's Dinner (after the second night of opening when it was the hottest ticket in town), I got berated for going off topic asking how to post pics, not 'cheers for the scoop Gaz'. That doesn't help.

Neither did the virtual banning of off line social events many years ago, which is all history now, but the most vibrant forum I am a member of, wines pages, distinguishes itself by several factors - one it is all real names so no trolling or abusive behaviour, secondly a very active off-line planner, and thirdly off topic conversations are fine, all of which make it a pleasant place to hang out and post.


you don't win friends with salad

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