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 discussions and posts you’ve previously read; save Chowhound boards and discussions; create a reading list of discussions to follow; and participate in Chowhound discussions.

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 discussion on Chowhound?

First, choose the board where you want to post. For example, if you’d like to comment about a restaurant in Trenton, NJ, you should choose the New Jersey board.

From a board page, you can start a new discussion by clicking the field at the top of the page, just under the board title.

How do I reply to a discussion 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.

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 post on Chowhound within two hours of first posting it. Click directly on the title field to edit a discussion title. Click the word ‘edit’ below your post to change the body of the post.

After two hours, you can no longer edit your Chowhound 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 in Chowhound discussions, 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 discussions 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 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 follow in order to keep the focus of Chowhound on food.

  • If you’re organizing a meal, post an initial announcement to Chowhound, and include an email or contact for people to respond.
  • Use email (not Chowhound) to discuss specifics like who is coming, and to finalize arrangements.
  • 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:

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.

How will I know when people respond to my question? Can I ask them to email me directly?

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.

We don’t usually allow requests for fellow users to email you tips directly. A tip emailed to one user helps only that person, but one posted on the site helps everyone who is reading along. We prefer that tips stay public.

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: advertisements or publicity, 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.

Sometimes we lock discussions on Chowhound (often on Not About Food), if they turn into accounts of rude or generally unpleasant ways people have been treated by their friends, family, restaurant staff, etc. While it can be cathartic to trade these stories, the discussions can rapidly turn into name-calling and personal attacks.

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

Our policy on incidental vulgarity, obscenity, and general offensiveness in otherwise food-focused posts is that anything is okay as long as it's not said in anger or clearly intended to start trouble. CHOW does not aim to shield all users from anything they might find offensive. If we did, there'd be literally no end to it, since different things offend different users.

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. Please include the recipe here, rather than linking to your blog or website.

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 and might be wondering why.

I have questions about why my post was removed. Who should I ask?

If you don’t know why a post was removed, 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 very close friend) has a direct 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.

This is not to say that being an insider is a bad thing—it’s great to have friends in the food business. But if this is the case, please be careful in how you post. Factual and helpful posts are okay as long as you disclose your connection, but promotional, customer service, and defensive posts are not.

What am I allowed to write about my own business or a business where I have an inside connection?

Insiders should disclose their connection to a business each time they post. You may post factual information in response to questions about the business or to correct misinformation. (“We are not open Tuesdays.” or “The mushrooms come from Oregon.”).

As a rule of thumb, you should never be the first to mention your business in a discussion. You should also refrain from:

  • Offering opinions on the quality of your products
  • Using Chowhound for customer service purposes (i.e. “Sorry you had a bad experience…”)
  • Posting promotions (“Join us for our annual lasagna festival next week”) or offering discounts (“Use coupon code ch2013 for 10% off!”)
  • Inviting people to come to the restaurant
  • Arguing with another poster about his/her opinions or experience.

Some businesses establish an account in the name of their business if they need to make rare posts on behalf of their company. This is allowed, despite the general rule against people having more than one registered username on the site. Even if you have this account for your business, posts from your personal account must follow the posting guidelines. Please email moderators@chowhound.com to let us know if you create a second account, otherwise you run the risk of both accounts being deactivated.

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.

It’s great to hear the honest opinions and favorites from insiders, but be careful that your posting behavior is focused on sharing great food tips, not simply promoting your friends. If you have an inside connection to a restaurant that you’re writing about, you should disclose it and stick to the facts.

If I was given special treatment at a restaurant, can I still post about it?

The end goal is for the posts on Chowhound to represent experiences other customers could also enjoy. So minor special treatment just because you’re a regular customer doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t post about a place. But if you get red carpet treatment because you’re a very frequent customer or they know you’re a Chowhound or a food blogger, and it’s significantly different than what most customers are receiving, then please take a step back from posting. Your experiences may be amazing and fun, and that’s great if they are! They are just not quite the right fit for Chowhound.

I’m a business owner. Can I have a CHOW account and post on Chowhound?

Yes, business owners and others who are affiliated with a restaurant or business can create CHOW accounts and post on Chowhound. However, as explained in our Posting Guidelines, Chowhound is not the place for promoting a business or engaging in customer service. For more information about what types of posts are okay, see above.

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. If all you do is post links to your blog, we’ll assume you’re here to promote your blog, which isn’t permitted.

How can I tell people about my blog?

There are two places where you can include blog information.

One is in your user profile. There’s a field in the right hand column for your blog info. You can also add a one-line signature to your posts with the URL of the main page of your blog (just paste it in, it’ll automatically become a link) and (optionally) the name of your blog. There is no automated way to do this; you must type it on each post where you want to include it.

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 and of potential use to the community as a whole. Please keep the discussion on the site, rather than soliciting people to contact you by email or phone (the exception is our Chowhounds Wanted discussion). We hope you’ll credit Chowhound and its members if our news, tips, or quotes are used 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.

I want to post about an opportunity for Chowhound users. Where can I post about this?

Our Chowhounds Wanted discussion is the place to post about opportunities for Chowhound users to help with projects. For example:

  • Journalist requests for story subjects/interviews
  • Announcements about academic research projects/surveys
  • Casting calls
  • Consumer opinion surveys
  • Requests for feedback on a work-in-progress product/webpage/idea
  • Announcements about contests

Before posting, be sure to read the guidelines outlined in the discussion.

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.