FAQ

Be sure to read our general Posting Guidelines before you join in the discussions. For general questions about CHOW/Chowhound, or for technical help, check out Site Talk, where you’ll find answers from both CHOW staff and fellow users.

Basics

I’m new to CHOW. What should I do first?

Start by exploring the different sections of the site. We have videos, recipes, stories, and 70 Chowhound discussion boards. Our boards cover geographic regions (like Los Angeles and Manhattan) as well as specific topics (like Home Cooking and Wine). Once you have the lay of the land and have signed up for an account, you can then participate in the discussions and post comments and reviews on every part of the site. Before you post, please read our Posting Guidelines.

Why should I register an account on CHOW/Chowhound?

Anyone can view CHOW content and browse discussions on Chowhound, but being a registered user allows you to do more. After logging in you can comment on videos and stories; rate, save, and comment on recipes; see which Chowhound conversations and posts you’ve previously read; save Chowhound boards and conversations; create a reading list of conversations to follow; and participate in Chowhound conversations.

How do I register?

You can register for CHOW here. When you register a new account, you should get an email from moderators@chowhound.com with the subject 'Confirmation instructions'. Click on the button, or copy and paste the URL into your browser's address bar in order to activate your account.

How do I know where to post?

You can comment on a specific CHOW video, recipe, or story on the page where you view it.

You can find Chowhound discussions on specific boards. If you want to post about food in a certain location or region, do it in the appropriate local Chowhound board (see full list here). If you want to post about a topic of general interest, you can choose from the topical boards. If you are still not sure where to post, you can email moderators@chowhound.com for guidance.

How do I start a new conversation on Chowhound?

First, choose the type of post you’d like to make. You can start an in-depth Discussion, ask a straightforward question using our Q&A feature, create a Photo Story to share a meal or recipe, or post a Link to something interesting you found elsewhere on the web.

You’ll also need to know what board you want your post to appear on.  Chowhound has more than 70 boards, each filled with hundreds (often thousands) of discussions. Major U.S. cities have their own boards; regional boards cover the globe. Topical boards cover a wide range of food subjects, from cooking to wine to gardening. Click here for the full list of Chowhound boards

You can either post from the main Chowhound page, or from the index for any of the boards. Just pick the type of post you want to make and get started with adding information or uploading photos.

How do I reply to a conversation on Chowhound?

To reply to a specific post, click the reply button below the post and type your response. If you’d like to reply to the discussion’s original post, start typing into the open field that appears just below it.

For Q&A conversations, you can either offer an answer or ask a clarifying question about the original post. If you’ve got a good answer for the question, just start typing in the open text box, upload any photos you want to include and hit ‘Post’. If you need more information from the original poster to be able to answer the question, choose ‘Ask a Clarifying Question’ instead, and a new text box will open up where you can enter your questions or clarifications.

What are the different Chowhound boards?

Chowhound has more than 70 boards, each filled with hundreds (often thousands) of discussions. Major U.S. cities have their own boards; regional boards cover the globe. Topical boards cover a wide range of food subjects, from cooking to wine to gardening. Click here for full list of all Chowhound boards.

How do I add photos to my posts?

Click the field or the camera button at the bottom of the posting area, and then select the files you want to upload. Photo uploads are limited to 10 MB each.

Can I edit my posts?

You can edit your discussions, photo stories and replies within two hours of first posting it. If you’re the original poster of a Q&A post, you can edit your original post as long as you need to to clarify and expand on your question. Click the ‘Edit’ link at the bottom of your post.

After you can no longer edit your post, if there’s something important you need to change, email moderators@chowhound.com with a complete new copy of the text. We’ll replace it for you, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the conversations around it.

Can I remove my own posts?

You can’t delete a post, and we rarely remove others’ posts on request. We think it’s unfair to others who have taken the time to reply.

If it’s a straightforward request and your post has no replies, you can flag it, leave a note, and we’ll take a look. If your post has replies but you feel your situation is an exception, email your request and an explanation of the situation to moderators@chowhound.com, We’ll do our best to help. Make sure you send the request from the email account you registered with.

General Etiquette

Do I have to be an expert to post? What if I say something dumb?

Everyone is welcome to participate, and you don’t have to be a food expert. Many of our users are extremely knowledgeable (not to mention opinionated), but we welcome users who have various levels of food experience and knowledge.

I have a great tip. What should I do?

If you’ve got a great tip or recommendation, dive right in and post it. The more details the better, but even brief tips on where to find a great taco or how to make the perfect lasagna are helpful.

Should I start a new discussion or post into an existing one?

It’s a good idea to search through conversations to see if anyone’s already talking about the topic you’d like to post about. If you find a discussion that’s still active, feel free to join in. It’s also okay to start a new discussion about a previously covered topic. As a new poster you may have fresh tips to offer, or updates on restaurants that might have closed or changed. By constantly revisiting topics, we keep our info fresh.

How can I get other users to respond to my questions?

Your posts will get better responses by being as specific as possible. "We’re visiting from out of town, where should we eat?" is probably too broad to result in useful responses. Better questions are "Where's a good place for lunch with kids in the Theater District, $20 per person or less?" or "Best sushi near 30th and 3rd?" If you're posting on a statewide or regional board, please remember to include the city you're interested in the title of your post. That helps others find your post and respond with relevant information.

What should I do if I see a post I disagree with?

Please speak up! Polite, friendly disagreement ensures a diversity of opinions and keeps Chowhound interesting. Bear in mind that experiences at the same restaurant can vary widely, even in a short period of time. This week's crispy frites could be next week’s sodden steak fries, so give other posters’ taste buds the benefit of the doubt! Be careful to keep your comments friendly, and please read our Posting Guidelines.

What should I do if I get great advice on Chowhound?

The best way to thank your fellow Chowhounds who gave you great advice about a meal, a recipe, or some other food experience is by reporting back. Tell them which suggestions you used and how the meals turned out, and add any information you discovered on your own. This lets everyone know you appreciated the tips and helps make Chowhound even more useful for everyone who visits after you.

How can I plan a meal with other Chowhounds?

In many cities Chowhounds organize group meals, either regularly or from time to time. Check the announcements at the top of your local board page (hover over the "i" near the title) to see if there's anything coming up for your area. Many areas also have special mailing lists for those interested in Chowhound meals. You can find a list of these here.

We have a couple of guidelines we ask organizers to keep in mind in order to keep the focus of Chowhound on food.

  • If you’re organizing a meal, please post invitations and information about the meal on the boards, but we suggest that you coordinate RSVPs, sharing of contact information, car pools, etc, via email. You can set up a temporary email address to gather people’s contact info if you don’t want to risk getting spam to your main account.
  • Please don’t try to use Chowhound to get special treatment at a restaurant.
  • After your meal, report back on what you ate, and encourage fellow diners to do the same.

Keep in mind that these events are all unofficial and totally driven by members. CHOW/Chowhound isn't a sponsor or an organizer, and we can't offer any support or accept any responsibility for any problems that might arise.

What are the links for Chowhound email groups?

Some cities have established groups for planning group meals, you can find them here:

I have a food-related item I want to sell or trade, can I do that on Chowhound?

You can post food-related items for sale or trade, but please include a way for people to reach you offline to arrange the transaction rather than asking them to respond directly on the site. If you’re worried about getting spam in your email address, you may want to use a web-based service to set up a temporary address just for you post. Once you’ve completed your transaction, please Flag the post and we’ll remove it.

Does CHOW have a private message feature? How can I contact another user from the site?

CHOW does not have a private message feature. Many users list their email address in their profile, and if they do, you can contact them that way. We ask that you keep food discussions on the site so everyone can benefit, but if you have something non-food related you want to discuss with someone, you can also leave a reply on one of their recent posts asking them to email you.

How will I know when people respond to my question?

There are two main ways to keep up with replies to discussions on Chowhound. The first is notifications, which let you get email alerts whenever someone replies to a discussion you’ve participated in. You can turn these on or off in your profile. The second is to regularly check the main page of your profile, which shows you all of the discussions you’ve participated in, and whether there are any new updates since you last visited.

Specific Posting Guidelines

Are there some food topics that aren’t permitted on Chowhound?

Yes, there are some topics that are off limits for Chowhound. Please read our Posting Guidelines, which outline the major categories of posts that are not permitted: shilling or spamming, copyrighted materials, personal attacks, and reports of food poisoning or insects.

What’s the Not About Food Board for?

The Not About Food Board is a place for discussions that are only tangentially about food, or that aren’t about food but are related to food or dining in some way. The board’s title may be tempting, but it’s not meant to be a place for all of the various non-food interests of Chowhounds. It’s a place for us to redirect useful conversations that almost—but don’t quite—fit on other boards.

Discussions on Not About Food, particularly those about etiquette and relationships can sometimes get unpleasant. Please consider whether food is really central to the question or if it would be better suited to a relationship site before posting. If a thread descends into too many personal attacks, we may lock it.

Is swearing (or other offensive language) allowed on CHOW?

We don’t remove food-focused posts that contain incidental vulgarity, obscenity or general offensiveness, as long as things aren’t said in anger or clearly intended to start trouble. Offensive language used in anger or directed at other members of the site isn’t permitted. If you see it, please flag it to bring it to the attention of the moderators.

What are the guidelines for posting recipes on Chowhound?

Please don't repost recipes that are under copyright protection. If you want to post recipes you've developed, or family recipes passed down from generation to generation, that's great. If you’ve previously published it on your blog, it is okay to link to it, but please include enough information in your Chowhound post so that people understand what makes your recipe interesting or appropriate.

If you're suggesting a recipe from a published source (a cookbook, newspaper, magazine, other website, etc.), the best option is to link to it, if it's available on the web. Try searching for the name of your recipe or a distinctive line from the instructions to see if there's an official source you can link to.

If there isn't an official source you can link to, it's still not okay to repost a recipe verbatim. You can post the ingredients list, but please put the instructions in your own words rather than copying them and note that you've done that in your post.

What are the guidelines for discussing food-related TV shows and food celebrities?

Discussions of Food Network shows and cooking reality shows can really get heated, so we have a few guidelines we ask people to keep in mind.

Please don't start new discussions just to rant about a food celeb you don't like. "I hate Rachael Ray" isn't going to be the start of a useful conversation.

If you're sharing a strong negative opinion about an individual's personality or appearance, please back that up with a substantial comment on why you feel that way and why it's relevant. Just jumping into a discussion to declare that someone is a jerk or ugly isn't enough.

Please focus on discussing the show, rather than dissecting your fellow hounds' opinions about the show.

One of my posts is missing. Where can I find it?

The first place to look is in your profile, in your activity. If the discussion still exists and your post has not been removed, it will appear there.

If your post was recent (among your last 40 posts), it will appear in the 'my posts' section, even if the discussion is closed or was split into a separate discussion. Click through to find your post.

If you still don’t see your post, it's possible your post has been removed. If you're not sure why, check your registered email address (including the spam folder) for an explanation, since we might have already sent one. Also, please check our Posting Guidelines to make sure your post was within bounds.

If you still have a question about whether or why something was removed, or you want a copy of it, write to us at moderators@chowhound.com from your registered email address. Please provide details about the post you're concerned about, what discussion it was on, when it was made, etc, to help us find out what happened.

My post was removed. What happened?

Chowhound is a moderated site. We remove posts to keep the discussion friendly, honest, and on-topic. We do our best to email users when their posts get deleted but it’s not always possible. If you’ve had something removed and don’t know what happened, please check to make sure it met our Posting Guidelines . If you still have questions, email moderators@chowhound.com

For Business Owners and Insiders

Who do you consider a restaurant insider?

If you or someone close to you (relative or close friend) has a financial stake in the business (owner or employee) you are likely considered an insider. Additionally, if you regularly get special treatment at a business because of who you are (i.e. the food, service, or prices you receive are noticeably different than regular customers), then this is also considered insider status. Insiders should disclose their connection to a business each time they post about it, or post with a username clearly identifying themselves as a representative of the business.

Normally we only allow one username per person, but you may have both a personal ID and a business ID if you represent a business. Please use your business account to talk about your business. If you comment about your direct competitors on your personal account, please remember to disclose your connections. If you’re connected to a business and you post recommend or review it without disclosing your connection, those posts will be removed, and you and others connected to the business may no longer be permitted to post on Chowhound.

How can I best talk about my business on Chowhound?

Chowhound is a community and a place for conversation, and business owners and employees should remember that when posting. It’s fine to talk about your business, but please don’t just treat this as an opportunity to advertise. Answer questions about your business in an honest, straightforward manner and respond to reviews, even negative ones, in a friendly, professional way. Aim to be helpful and informative rather than simply hyping up your business.

I work in the food industry, so I am an insider at many places. How can I participate on Chowhound?

We know that the restaurant industry can be very small in a given city, and that industry privilege exists. As chefs, waiters, and sommeliers, you’re probably friendly with your counterparts at other restaurants, and you likely get treated very well in a lot of places. You are still encouraged to participate on Chowhound, but do so while keeping your privilege in mind. We’re happy to hear the honest opinions and favorites of industry pros, but please be sure to disclose where you’ve received special tastes or comps. Your posts should be focused on sharing great food tips, rather than on promoting your friends.

Can I get CHOW to remove a post about my business?

In general, we don’t remove reviews at the request of a business being discussed. However, all reviews on our site must comply with our Terms of Use and Posting Guidelines. We take the honesty and integrity of the reviews on our site very seriously, and we will investigate any situations where a review may fall outside our guidelines.

If you’d like us to investigate, send an email to moderators@chowhound.com with a link to the post in question, as well as the username of the reviewer and any information you have that might aid in an investigation. If we’re able to confirm that the review falls outside our guidelines, we’ll remove it.

Can I buy an ad for my restaurant?

You can purchase advertising on CHOW.com using the CBS Interactive Self-Service Campaign.

For Bloggers and Journalists

I write about food on my own blog. Can I also post on Chowhound?

Definitely! We welcome bloggers to join our community to talk with their fellow Chowhounds about food. All we ask is that you join the conversation for the sake of the conversation, rather than to promote your blog. Ask and answer questions, comment on other people’s posts, engage with the conversation.

I am a journalist. Can I post on Chowhound?

Yes! Journalists are welcome to post on Chowhound, including the gathering of story information, provided the discussion is on-topic for the site and the board you’re posting on. We’d prefer that you keep the conversation on Chowhound, rather than soliciting people to email you offline, and we hope you’ll credit Chowhound and its members if you use news, tips or quotes from the discussion in your story.

If you're gathering information for a story, we recommend you say so upfront; many users will be happy to help if you're open about it. They are often less happy to help if they think you're trying to hide an intention to use their information in a story.

I need to cite my sources by name. How can I get that info?

If you want to quote a Chowhound’s post and need a real name or other follow-up information, the moderators can help you. You can send us a brief introduction (who you are, who you’re working for, what you’re writing about, your contact info) and a short list of users you want to reach out to, and we will pass your message along to the users you want to follow-up with, so that they may contact you if they choose. Send the details to moderators@chowhound.com.

Sign Up and Account Settings

I didn’t receive a confirmation email, what do I do?

If you don't receive an email within 15 minutes of registering, please start by checking your spam folder. It's very common for these emails to end up there.

If it's not there either, please send an email to moderators@chowhound.com from the address you used to register, letting us know your username and that you're having difficulties, and we can activate your account for you.

How do I choose a username?

Your username is displayed on CHOW every time you post on Chowhound or comment on a story. Some users choose to use their real name as their username, while others create a username using a combination of letters and numbers. A unique username will help others get to know you and your preferences.

Can I post on Chowhound under more than one name?

As a general rule, the answer is no—users can only post under one username. One occasional exception to this rule is for business owners who want to have a personal account, as well as an account for their business. For more on this policy, see here, or email moderators@chowhound.com with any questions.

Can I change my username?

Usernames are permanent and can’t be changed. If you need to change your username, you’ll have to register a new account. Your existing posts will remain on the site under your previous username. If you do create a new account, please email moderators@chowhound.com to let them know that you’ve made a switch, since having multiple usernames is not permitted. If you want to use the same email address you’re using now for your new account, you can also email the moderators for help with making it available for a new registration.

How do I change the email address associated with my account?

You can change the email address associated with your account in your Account Settings. View your profile then choose Settings and then Account.

I’d like to register a new account, but my email address is already in use on a different account. What should I do?

If your email is already in use, please email moderators@chowhound.com to let us know. We’ll be able to fix the old account so you can reuse your email address with a new account.

How do I deactivate my account?

Deactivating your account will prevent you from posting and from logging in, so you’ll lose all the advantages outlined here. However, it will not remove anything you have posted in the past, nor will it hide information in your profile.

To deactivate your account, please send an email from your registered email address to moderators@chowhound.com.

How do I start/stop getting email notifications about my posts?

You can change your email notification settings in your profile. View your profile then choose Settings and then Chowhound.

I’ve successfully logged in before, but I’m now having trouble. What should I do?

If you've successfully logged in before, but you're having trouble logging in, please try switching between your username and your email—either should work, but some people have more luck with one than the other.

If it looks like you've logged in, and you don't get an error message, but the site is treating you as logged out or sending you to your profile instead of letting you post, try these things:

  • Return to the page you want to post on and refresh your browser so it reloads the page. Just doing this will solve most of these problems.
  • Log out and log back in, and reload the page again. Try posting and see if it works.
  • If neither of those options works, there may be a problem with your cookies. Check that your computer is allowing cookies from CHOW.com. Cookies may be blocked in the security options in your web browser, or by your firewall or adware software. Remove any existing CHOW.com cookies, and try logging in, refreshing the page, and posting again.
  • An incorrect date and time setting on your computer can also make your cookies work incorrectly so check those, as well.

If you're still having difficulties, please email us at moderators@chowhound.com, with a detailed description of the problems you're running into and we'll try to help.

Here’s information on clearing your browser’s cache and taking screenshots of what you’re seeing.

Technical Problems

How do I report a bug I find on the site?

Bug reports on the Site Talk board can be a great help to the Engineering team. Many of you know the site quite well and notice quickly when something goes wrong. Your assistance in tracking down problems is always appreciated. To help make the reporting process easier, here are a few tips:

  • Use descriptive titles for bug-related discussions. “Error when adding new restaurants” is helpful; “ARGH! It’s broken!” is not. We can find bug-related posts much faster when they are labeled appropriately.
  • Keep each bug in its own discussion. Check recent discussions to see if there's already one about your problem before starting a new one, but please don't bring it up in unrelated discussions. That may get attention, but also makes it harder for us to organize the information we need to identify and solve each bug.
  • Find a happy medium between detail and brevity. Include the browser and OS you were using when you saw the bug, especially if it is different from the setup you normally use or if it only happens on one setup and not another. Providing the time and day when you saw the issue can also help. Finally, keep an eye out for patterns in the problems you are reporting. For example, if a bug only occurs for very large discussions, or when visiting recipes posted by only certain users, or when a certain ad is also showing on the page, then that information may be relevant.
  • Show us the issue. Take a screenshot and use the photo upload function to share it with us if it's something visibly broken. If an error message pops-up, copy and paste the message into your report.
  • Once we’ve stopped asking questions about a problem and/or identified the issue, please be patient. There are a lot of factors affecting the amount of time it takes to track down a bug, fix it, and apply the solution to the live site, even when the problem is simple.

How do I clear my browser’s cache?

Here is a very helpful link on clearing your browser’s cache for most browsers.

How do I take a screenshot of the problem I’m seeing?

Taking screenshots on a variety of operating systems.