July 02, 1997 to ***, 2005
(note: that's 45 years in dog years!)
MEAL'S END FAQ
Why did you close Chowhound?
We ran out of time, energy, and money. For context, consider that nearly all of our web contemporaries from back in 1997 are long gone. We kept going far, far longer than was practical (and perhaps sane), running on pure chowhoundish fervor. But labors of love can't last forever. The people behind them deserve to concentrate on their own careers and to enjoy some free time just like anyone else! :)
If we all chip in time and money,
can Chowhound stay alive?
Sorry, too late. ;)
To the conscientious folks who've paid, on the honor system, for their use of the site (per our frequent requests): we hope you share our pride in what was accomplished over the past eight years, and we apologize that we couldn't exist for you forever.
To those who didn't: consider more actively supporting the things you believe in. Very few people actively support good works...which is why there are so few of them out there!
Can I buy the Chowhound.com domain
and/or the data?
Sure...but only if you're going to do something useful with it. We'd rather let it die than have it misused. We even have a couple of unique, highly creative strategies for making Chowhound profitable. We lacked the resources and energy to implement them, having mired in day-to-day operations. If you're more entrepreneurial than we are and have the resources to give it a go, email email@example.com.
Where do we, Chowhound.com's users, go from here?
Chowhound tried to offer a red pill to awaken people from marketing hypnosis via the contagious notion that that we needn't settle for mediocrity. Rather than consume in robotic lockstep, we can make uncompromising choices to ensure that more occasions are special ones. Life can be savored more deeply, and greatness can flourish...just as long as enough of us care a little more.
We're truly sorry that we can no longer connect the good guys - unheralded culinary geniuses, kooks, and holdouts - with a network devoted to finding, evangelizing, and supporting them. Lord knows they could use support; big business will, in time, lock up all sectors of the dining market (perhaps never quite as as tightly as the hardware or bookstore markets, but this scene - a last bastion of the independent operator - will not look like it currently does for much longer).
But other approaches are more sustainable than the path we chose. What killed Chowhound was scale. As communities grow, they create problems way out of proportion to the rate of growth. In the end, we had nearly a million monthly visitors, 99% of whom were smart, generous, sincere, and a low maintenance pleasure to serve. The remaining 1%, a large group at this scale, ran us ragged. The more powerful our microphone grew, the more commercial interests, self-promoters, and general nuts were attracted. Plus we were paying $$$$ each month for huge bandwidth. Labors of love run by volunteers ought to stay small.
Chowhound.com's spirit needn't die. The solution would be for a plethora of small communities to flourish, with kindred spirits sharing notes via email, Yahoo Groups, etc.. Small groups can ferret out much treasure, and participants will learn to trust one another. And small groups minimize expenses, headaches and nuts, and offer less incentive for opportunists to subvert. Small private groups would be better still. Resist the urge to consolidate. Eschew ambition. Keep things small and managable and in the spirit you value.
Can you link to my site on this page?
For the time being, we're not adding links to this page, sorry.
I'm appreciative of what I've gotten from Chowhound. Is there any way I can give back?
Yep we could use some help paying debts. Three ways to help:
1. For the next few months, at least, you can still make voluntary subscription payments for value you have derived from the Chowhound site over the years. Go to this page, or pay via Paypal to firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. You can hire (or suggest that friends hire) the swell people who brought this resource to you for eight years. Scroll down to "Goodbye From the Chow Team"
3. You can buy the "Chowhound's Guide to..." books.
Can you keep me in touch?
Send an email to email@example.com, and put your own email address on the subject line. We won't give out your address, and won't send more than a handful of emails...if even that. If you're not sure whether you're already on our mailing list, sign up again, we remove duplicates.
What will become of my
Check your email. We'll make right.
I'm a reporter. Can I contact someone for more information or to answer questions?
Sorry, but we really have nothing further to say.
Goodbye from the Chow Team
The following people ran Chowhound day after day without pay, using antiquated software, and without any budget at all. They accomplished the impossible: ensuring that one of the Internet's loudest open microphones was used solely for building a bastion of smart, friendly, non-commercial generosity. They fostered creation of the deepest, broadest, and most reliable trove of dining tips ever compiled in any media. If they could do that for Chowhound, imagine what their energy, smarts, and great work habits could do for your business! Click on a name to see a resumé or home page.
Jim Leff: Alpha Hound.
Bob Okumura: Web-Tamer. An extremely resourceful jack of all trades.
Bob coaxed decrepit software to accommodate nearly two million postings and withstand the pummeling of 450,000 daily page views. A miracle! And it worked; day after day, users could count on us (which is more than could be said of sites with sleeker and more modern software!).
Bob is also responsible for Chowhound's look, which was understated but by no means unthoughtful. Design and layout were crafted with great care to telegraph the site's values, and it focused an enormous audience surprisingly consonant with those values. From day one, chowhounds (previously an invisible, homeless subculture) surfing in immediately felt truly at home, and Bob's warm design was key to striking the right note with an innately skeptical crowd.
Bob's work in accounting, in establishing customer service policies, and in problem solving and overall management were vital to this operation for all eight years. He's also a talented photographer and - biggest secret of all - knows an awful lot about food, too!
Pat Hammond: Pack Management.
Pat has been the staunch heart and soul of Chowhound.com since its first year. She supervised workers behind scenes and was our first moderator. Pat did a great job editing General Topics ChowNews, and she played an important role in virtually every site decision.
Van Roderkriss: worked tirelessly to keep the discussion honest, focused, non-commercial, and friendly, and helped train newer volunteers to do likewise. Chowhound might have closed three years earlier if Van hadn't come aboard. We'd been running largely on his inertia ever since.
Caitlin McGrath: edited SF Chownews, copy edited all editions, plus helped run the site.
Mark Hokoda: edited NY Chownews.
Cicely Wedgeworth: edited LA ChowNews.
Leslie Huang: Bone Counter.
Helped with all accounting, tax, and business issues. Mother Theresa seems impatient by comparison.
Pierre Jelenc: Technical Attaché.
Contributed key bits of technical help over the years as needed. Expert on web, programming, health, nutrition, home-brewing, and pretty much any other topic, scientific or otherwise.
And (alphabetically): Abbylovi, Harrison Ardsworth, Eric Archer, Deven Black, Kirk Brewer, Barry Campbell, Xosé Castro Roig, Tim Dierks, Jim Dorsch, Wayne Frost, Melissa Garland, Seth Godin, Leslie Holland, Hilary Johnson, Julie, David Kahn, Jon Kalish, Mike Kilgore, Wonki Kim, Jake Klisivitch, Ruth Lafler, Cecil Lehar, Frank Leone, Limster, Fred Manny, Jeremy Osner, Karen Ostler, Joyce Park, Andy Penn, Beth Pizio, Jessica Nemeroff Ritz, Shuji Sakai, Robert Salsbury, Jacquilynne Schlesier, Reid Shane, Martha Shea, Annie Shao, Greg Spence, Tom Steele, Elisa Sunshine, Paul Trapani, Greg Vander Rhodes, Caitlin Wheeler, Melanie Wong, Lambert Yim, and Krys Zalaski. And thanks to the countless others we've shamefully forgotten, but whose hard work assisted multitudes in eating better and enabled countless conscientious restaurateurs to find a foothold.
Thanks to the forums built by the folks who left Chowhound (and the forums built by folks who left those forums) for kindly providing a home for those discontent with our way of doing things. This vastly improved our community and lightened our management load. We could not possibly have survived as long as we did without their efforts.
...and, of course, thanks to all the great users of Chowhound.com!