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Has it gone quiet on here


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Interesting insights! I have left the UK for quite a bit, but always remembered the UK Dining board as one of the best (if not the best) places to discover new places to eat in that "high risk high return" city that is London.

The board actually offered 2 things that I could not find elsewhere:

- anonymous discussion

- true expertise from experience and taste coupled with information impossible to find elsewhere.

The first may sound odd to many of the above posters, who post with their name, photo, blog link and ample reputation; but I do not know any of you bar one and as such really enjoyed only reading your arguments and way of thinking, without judgment being influenced by any personal considerations. Also meant my own meager contributions were suitably handled regardless of who I was, where I worked, who I knew, etc. - and by complete strangers who happened to be food geeks, not friends in real life who cared for my ego.

The second is still one of the best things about this board. I got on it from personal reference by an aforementioned "geek", and had to fill in a personal statement regarding why I joined. Talk about a culture! Maybe that is why everybody seemed so knowledgeable and enthusiastic about food. I still remember reading Matthew Grant's thread on Arbutus, with his detailed comments on what the chefs were trying to do, how, and what people ate, which probably brought them several dozen repeat visits from me and my friends (and how I wish Chiswick wasn't so far away, so that I could repeat with Hedone on my next trip). I learnt a lot regarding what to expect, what to order, how to think about a restaurant visit, how to spot truly worthy cooking from temporary fashions, how to make the most of my sterling from various discussions between vastly more experienced board members.

Do blogs replace the Forum? I'm not sure. I usually scan blog entries quickly to have a look at what is served; beyond that, few get into the level of detail, and shall we say more philosophical arguments that make many of the threads here worth a read. As mentioned above the discussion is the best bit.

I really do wish there was a similar group on the Singapore/SEA board, as the local food scene is otherwise dominated by PR agencies, and where every interesting meal has come via a personal recommendation.

Alright, back to lurking.

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To bring an international perspective, the activity on the main Italian food discussion site (Dissapore) shows no sign of abating. But that is not a forum, it has a collective blog format, run by a team of professionals and semi-professionals, with numerous posts by them on a daily basis, often more than one a day. Sometimes readers contribute posts. This stimulates very lively discussions among a vast readership. Individual blogs rarely if ever are good sites for discussion, but I think Dissapore have nailed exactly the right format. In the end there is only so much that one can discuss after a restaurant report, and in fact here many preferred engaging in slagging off the most prolific contributor David rather than producing substantive comments. General themes tend to be those which raise most interest and a team of dedicated 'initiators' is probably better at identifying good themes than forum participants. (Today it was easy: the Italian Michelin stars - a well deserved 3* for Crippa! :smile: ).

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Like Gary above, I'm also a member of another forum which shows no sign of decline over the 10+ years its been operating. It's a fairly specialist area - military history related to the Great War. Many thousands have signed up over the years and the site owners reckon that, at any one time, several hundred can be deemed to be active members. To my mind, it continues to be successful because the ethos of the board is one of friendliness and a willingness to respond to questions from other members. Many of us use our real names and there is a sense of "community"

I'm sure in my mind that the level of detail given in responses and the nature of debates could not easily translate to a Twitter format. That said, I would never have thought that sites offering similar levels of detailed discussions about restaurants would be in such decline.

John Hartley

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It is disappointing that activity is slowing, the standard of discussion here, and knowledge of the members is far better than many other places. There are clearly lots of reasons for the decline, I suspect it is mainly because the number of sources of information has grown so much. In the good old days I would read a few reviews in newspapers and that was it. Then came boards, blogs, on-line food sites like the guardians WOM and Time Out, and of course twitter.

I now find I skim a lot of sources and that i think is the issue - the lack of time to digest and respond. Or maybe it is a cultural shift, we no longer appreciate the depth and quality of the debate instead we want a broader, yet shallower, coverage. Is it not the same in music? Once we had albums now I sample from iTunes, or skip around the Radio 6 programs on iPlayer - browsing and sampling rather than truly listening.

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Personally I will prefer forums to blogs. I like the exchange of views and differing opinions. I know some bloggers will delete any comments made that don't match their own points of view.

We have a favourite restaurant and have eat there about four times a year. Once we had a meal that was not up to standard - I later found out the owner/chef was away on a personal emergency. Now what if I was a blogger and decided to give this experience a bad review and publish it into the domain.

Anyone can be a blogger - not many have the intelligence to understand not only the complexities of fine dining (me included) and also the ratifications of what a bad review can have. I did find a blog from a couple of ladies from Surrey who wont give a bad public review. How refreshing.

Totally off topic - did anyone listen to BBC2 Graham Norton on Saturday morning? He had a listener with boring Foodie friends Had us in hysterics.

Link is here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00tw2b9

Jump to 51 minutes and 1 hr 22 if you don't want to hear the whole show.

http://www.thecriticalcouple.co.uk

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

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