My participation in Internet social media has brought me knowledge, information, and the pleasure of interaction.
Since I'm emotionally and physically connected to food at an elemental level, one of the sites that originally captured my attention was CHOW.
I read and learned about Toronto food. Eventually I signed up and started writing my own posts. It was exciting to interact with the established Chowhounds that had a deep pool of knowledge about food in my city.
I spent significant time and energy researching my posts and making sure they were not inaccurate, offensive, or off topic. I excitedly awaited responses to my posted observations.
Nothing. When I checked the threads, there were no signs of my posts. Hmmm...
The volunteer moderators had 'black holed' my thoughts and comments.
This has happened with increasing frequency. Apparently I'm 'off topic'.
So ok, I check the 'rules'...
I can see that these are the killers for my comments:
1. Chowhound is about food, and it's supposed to be relaxed. We don't get into "big picture" issues. There are myriad online forums for debating politics, ethics, and other hot-button issues; please use Chowhound not to debate but to share news and tips.
2. Reports of health violations, including food poisoning, bugs and foreign objects found in food are not permitted, as our breezy forum is not an appropriate venue for handling such urgent and serious issues. Please report them to the appropriate health authorities.
SO WHAT IS CHOWHOUND ABOUT?
As their website says: "Chowhound's goal is to help people find great chow right now." and that the users dialog is to be 'breezy' and 'relaxed'.
So if you want to participate in the discussion, don't get serious about health and don't talk about nutritional concerns, just be fluffy and light.
The value of CHOW's content drops dramatically when most comments simply evaluate food based on taste and cost. We all have different tastes and we all have different restraints on our finances, but we all share health and environmental concerns.
I still subscribe to the RSS feed since quite often I get to read posts before the moderators kill them. These often contain the most useful information but it is a real trick to find out how to contact the individual posters since another Chowhound rule prohibits direct contact: "Please don't ask Chowhound users to reply to your postings via email."
AND WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT?
Pretty much nothing.
I don't post to CHOW anymore, which just denies me a place to share my knowledge and others to judge the value of it.
I will post here and my other websites, but they don't have the reach and depth of traffic generated by the corporately supported sites.