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E Gullet on Eater's Deathwatch


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excerpted:

. Does it get the DW stamp? Is it even eligible? How to come to terms with how cliquey and insulated it's become? Can it evolve into something useful again? Finally, the committee ruling has come down: respectively, yes, yes, we deathwatch is how, unlikely.

There was a time when eGullet was important, such as in 2004, when Grant Achatz chronicled the opening of Alinea for all to see (hat tip, JL). Lately, however, and much to our chagrin, it's devolved into something far less valuable......Plus, ... there is a utility problem emerging: how is it possible that a gazillion eGulleters rushed to Death & Co. ....... yet there is still not a post about Akhtar Nawab's new E.U. menu, despite the two venues being a handful of blocks apart?

I'd say eater.com has misunderstood the utility of egullet.

I dont know what egullet was designed to do, but its not now primarily functioning as the source for 'the happening restaurant'. Its much broader than that. Certainly, I've found it educational as well as entertaining. I've learned techniques, terms and been introduced to the completely unfamiliar. Based on the number of new members I encounter regularly, egullet is alive and strong.

Yes, ego gets in there, and some threads are interminable with it. There are a lot of threads to choose from, and those so affected are but a small percentage.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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Simply the Pot calling the kettle black.

"there was a time when E-gullet was useful"

*When* was eater useful... :huh:

I thought deathwatches were reserved for restaurants that may close.

Attaching it to internet websites with followings in the thousands strikes me as silly, people arent going to stop participating in the forum WORLDWIDE just because some egotists on what amounts to a restaurant gossip website have reached thier own silly conclusions.

It's like GAWKER saying the New York Times lacks serious editorial content...... :laugh:

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For those not familiar with it, Eater focuses mainly on the NY forum. Whatever one may think of it, the NY forum is only a tiny fraction of the eGullet community.

I know of only two online communities somewhat similar to the eGullet Forums: Mouthfuls and Chowhound. Mouthfuls is quite similar, and actually uses the same software. As it is much newer, it doesn't have eGullet's extensive archive. In terms of current content, I don't see the case that Mouthfuls is any better. My rough impression is that Mouthfuls has fewer people posting, and even if the posts are of roughly similar quality, there just aren't as many of them.

Chowhound recently got a new user interface, which means it finally emerged from the early 1990s. Although much improved, it's still an inferior UI to what eG and Mouthfuls are using. Despite the obvious improvement, many of the CH old-timers hate it anyway. The clueless moderation policy—with perfectly legitimate posts routinely disappearing for no good reason on a whim of the anonymous "Chowhound Team"—is the one thing that hasn't changed.

I always found Chowhound to have a much higher posting volume than eGullet, but a much worse signal-to-noise ratio. I quite happily got myself (deliberately) banned on Chowhound. I then satisfied myself that it was trivially easy to evade the ban by rejoining under a new name. Having proved that, I stopped regularly visiting.

So it eludes me why eGullet, among the three, would be Deathwatched. To be fair, Eater has ripped Chowhound plenty of times, though he has never DW'd them—not that the Chowhound Team would give a damn what Eater thought.

Edited by oakapple (log)
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So it eludes me why eGullet, among the three, would be Deathwatched. To be fair, Eater has ripped Chowhound plenty of times, though he has never DW'd them—not that the Chowhound Team would give a damn what Eater thought.

I had never heard of Eater before this thread. Granted, I don't look for stuff within this milieu, but just the same. . .

The result of Eater "deathwatching" ( :laugh: whoa, serious stuff there!) eG, with the subsequent link posted here, made me go clickety-clickety. . .and therefore be aware of it.

Great job of free advertising. :wink:

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"Eater" is actually kind of hot these days. I know about it - and I live in Florida. Can't remember exactly where I read about it - but what I read was a recent lengthy AP article (maybe I read it in my local paper - which picks up a lot of AP stories). You can find the AP article on Google news.

As for this and other food boards (Chowhound - Mouthfuls - OA - even Flyertalk - which deals with travel destinations) - all I'll say about them here is that except for Chowhound - they have miserable coverage of Florida. Which is where I live and spend most of my time. Strikes me as curious since Florida is the 4th largest state in the US - soon to be the 3rd largest.

The new Chowhound interface is a huge improvement (of course - it was simply awful before) - and I have posted a fair amount about restaurants I know in Florida there since there is now a reasonable - albeit imperfect - way to navigate in the site. I've never had a message deleted from Chowhound. And there doesn't seem to be much of that going on in the Florida section - perhaps because people spend most of their time simply exchanging information about restaurants. Which is necessary. When you talk about Florida - there are large metro areas scattered across a huge geographical area. People who know about Miami don't know about Tampa - and people who know about Orlando don't know about the Panhandle. It would be like taking the population of the NYC metro area - dividing it - and relocating large parts of it in Buffalo - Albany - Lake George - and even Montreal. Anyway - it is good to have an active user base of people in many parts of Florida.

Note that most of my posts are responses to questions about Florida restaurants - and I have always tried to answer questions about Florida restaurants here too (assuming I have something to say). But - apart from the occasional "where should I eat on South Beach this year" thread - there's not a whole lot going on in Florida here. I wish the situation was different. Robyn

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Simply the Pot calling the kettle black.

"there was a time when E-gullet was useful"

*When* was eater useful... :huh:

I thought deathwatches were reserved for restaurants that may close.

Attaching it to internet websites with followings in the thousands strikes me as silly, people arent going to stop participating in the forum WORLDWIDE just because some egotists on what amounts to a restaurant gossip website have reached thier own silly conclusions.

It's like GAWKER saying the New York Times lacks serious editorial content...... :laugh:

This isn't the first "Deathwatch" on the internet. This was the first to the best of my knowledge. Doesn't have anything to do with eating. But millions of people were involved in the entities involved in the first Deathwatch. Robyn

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This isn't the first "Deathwatch" on the internet.  This was the first to the best of my knowledge.  Doesn't have anything to do with eating.  But millions of people were involved in the entities involved in the first Deathwatch.    Robyn

Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Robyn.

The dot com memories are just flooding in...

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I had never heard of Eater before this thread. Granted, I don't look for stuff within this milieu, but just the same. . .

I'd never heard of Eater either. :huh:

Methinks they are, shall we say, a bit full of themselves? :rolleyes:

SB (Typical effete New Yorkyness, I guess?) :wink:

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Yes, as much as I heart NY . . . count me in those who never paid attention to eater, but if they (and WITH HUGE APOLOGIES TO THE NY FORUM!) disappeared tomorrow, I would still find value in eG, as I imagine would anyone who doesn't happen to live in NY, SF and LA.

Can you say "myopic"?

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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It seems to me that deathwatch is an interesting barometer of a certain type of commentary, though hardly a bellwether of all things food and internet. It's unfortunate that its superficial understanding of what the Society is all about misses a great deal of our content, our community, and our acceptance of food and drink in all their many manifestations.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Eater has mostly NY and LA content, true, but they also follow great chefs and food personalities. I'm guessing that the placement on Deathwatch has less to do with the influence/lack of influence of eGullet in NYC and more to do with what celebrated food people have said about eG lately. Meaning that eG will continue to be a great resource especially for home cooks, but perhaps not have the impact or number of food celebs posting that it once had.

The Eater guys are always at media parties here in NY - young, energetic, good looking. And they often have the scoop immediately. But they do care a lot about hype and what's hot.

The Kitchn

Nina Callaway

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I understand that there is a great tendency for members to praise the clubs that they belong to, so it would figure that most every post in this thread would pooh-pooh the idea that eGullet could be in any kind of trouble. This post is different.

There is of course some great content here. From my standpoint, I would particularly cite the threads on the cooking forums with great photography (notably the Dinner, Breakfast, Dessert, and Confection threads), the foodblogs, and the various "cooking at home" threads (on Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Korean food, etc.) and other such topical threads about cooking, with photos. Most of those threads are very active, and they are a joy to read.

On the other hand, while I don't know what the traffic is on some of the regional forums I don't frequent, I sense that there has been a significant falloff on the New York forum. At the same time, as has been noted in this thread, Chowhound has improved in several important ways. Their user interface (which could still use more work and I suspect will continue to be tweaked) is very serviceable now. And in their latest upgrade, the capability of linking photos directly into posts, one of eGullet's longtime advantages, was added. If you add the fact that the daily coverage of restaurants on Chowhound, and especially those in the "Outer Boroughs," dwarfs that on the New York forum here by a very, very wide margin and note that there is a "The Best" forum for New York on Chowhound while the "THE BEST" index in the New York forum, which not everyone knows about, is not being updated here, you can see how eGullet has largely lost out and is increasingly in danger of losing out even further to Chowhound, at least but I would say not exclusively in the New York area.

I would contend (and have tried to contend on Chowhound) that information is better organized here, but when you look at the sheer amount of content that's posted to Chowhound every day and the fact that they have a corporation that seems to be happy to pour money into the site, I'm afraid that the handwriting is on the wall. I hope I'm wrong, because I still like this site and wish for its success in fulfilling its mission statement.

As a closing remark, I will note that the last two upgrades on Chowhound were accompanied by a high volume of ridiculously vituperative complaints by members who preferred the old, practically unusable user interface, yet the moderators did not delete such remarks. So while I note the remarks of oakapple and others and have had my own experiences with being annoyed at having posts removed on Chowhound.com (such as the suggestions for merging numerous threads about the same restaurant), I have to say that the mods there seem to have a high level of tolerance for personal criticism.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Pardon me for asking, but is eGullet supposed to be New Yorkcentric?

Some might say I'm guilty of not paying the city deference, but I haven't noticed any change in the coverage. Nor would I care.

The great thing about the internet is that communities don't have to be geographically limited.

SB (nor do they always have to be "full of energy and activity") :wink:

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Pardon me for asking, but is eGullet supposed to be New Yorkcentric?

Some might say I'm guilty of not paying the city deference, but I haven't noticed any change in the coverage.  Nor would I care.

The great thing about the internet is that communities don't have to be geographically limited.

SB (nor do they always have to be "full of energy and activity") :wink:

In some categories of businesses, there are areas where those businesses (in a certain form, at a certain level) thrive, more than they would in other areas.

New York, regardless of its detractors (i.e. the rest of the country? :smile: ) is a geographic place where the restaurant business, at a certain level, in a certain form, thrives. Moreso than lots of other places.

In that sense, New York is important. Deference given, or not.

(New Yorkers have never required deference, nor, as you mentioned earlier, are they particularly "effete". Not even the women. :wink::cool: )

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Pardon me for asking, but is eGullet supposed to be New Yorkcentric?

As I noted above, Eater is a New York-centric blog. Eater's view—whether right or wrong—was almost certainly based on their view of the New York forum.
On the other hand, while I don't know what the traffic is on some of the regional forums I don't frequent, I sense that there has been a significant falloff on the New York forum....

I would contend (and have tried to contend on Chowhound) that information is better organized here, but when you look at the sheer amount of content that's posted to Chowhound every day and the fact that they have a corporation that seems to be happy to pour money into the site, I'm afraid that the handwriting is on the wall.

I have also sensed a falloff on the New York forum, though I don't know how to measure it. I certainly think objective measures are possible—e.g., number of posts per day. You could also check whether more of the posting density is coming from just a handful of people, which was one of the things Eater implied. I don't know how you'd verify or refute Eater's other charges (higher proportion of ego-driven posts; failure to recognize important trends).

Chowhound always outnumbered eGullet in sheer number of posts, particularly (but not exclusively) when it came to the "cheap eats" category. That was partly due to the mindset of the people who started Chowhound in the first place. Also, in the old days CH didn't require registration, which made it easier for people to post there. But though it had higher volume, I always found a higher proportion of uninformative posts on CH. That's purely subjective and unmeasurable, but the fact is I had a choice about where to spend my time, and I chose to spend it here.

Edited by oakapple (log)
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It seems to me that deathwatch is an interesting barometer of a certain type of commentary, though hardly a bellwether of all things food and internet.  It's unfortunate that its superficial understanding of what the Society is all about misses a great deal of our content, our community, and our acceptance of food and drink in all their many manifestations.

Well, it's certainly New York-centric (or at least urban-centric), and their comment on the D&Co. thread is also indicative that they are evaluating eG as a resource for information on restaurant food and those who create it, not for a broader discussion of, as Chris says above, food and drink.

The tenor of the site has definitely changed and broadened, and those changes will obviously be viewed differently by different people with differing interests and agendas.

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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I think that alot of good people have left eGullet and no one is talking about it.

...

I think that alot of good people have left. Some have definately left because of changes in policy, etc but I also wonder if some of it is just a normal and ebb and flow of participation.

I hope that we will be able to start and maintain interesting discussions and continue to pull in good, new participants; maybe even "lure" some old posters back. The forums and some of the wider goals the society is trying to build up in order to make a society with "legs" are really a great resource.

I've been very impressed with the Daily Gullet offerings in the last year or so. I think that has been a good source of interesting new writing and discussion.

One thing I have missed is having more frequent "Q and A's" from professionals in the field. I thought the format in which a separate sub-forum was set up and people could ask questions for 4 or 5 days worked really well. I think this offered a great infusion of content from all sorts of professionals in food related areas. I see less of that now.

It is difficult to lose great managers and hosts that have been around for a long time, many of them from the beginning, but perhaps it is understandable that people may not be able to do this beyond a few years. It appears to be a substantial commitment of time.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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The discussion on this topic seems to have run its course, so we're closing it. New topics on the relative value of food discussion sites are welcome, as long as they: remain civil; focus on content rather than the personalities of those involved; and avoid speculation about administrative issues, whether it relates to eG Forums or anywhere else.

Thanks.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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