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The Future of LTH

The Future of LTH
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  • The Future of LTH

    Post #1 - September 2nd, 2023, 10:24 am
    Post #1 - September 2nd, 2023, 10:24 am Post #1 - September 2nd, 2023, 10:24 am
    Moderator Note: The opening posts of this thread were copied from the Annual Picnic thread, where a discussion of LTH's future began.
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    Wow. I am one of those who intended to attend, but was waiting to decide what to bring. I never imagined that the picnic would be cancelled. Even 30+ friends would be nice.

    However, this does raise the issue of the future of LTH. And I say this with deep respect for Ronnie and his hard work (and for his friendship). This is NOT a slap at Ronnie or at anyone. But as we approach 20 years, we are not the organization that we used to be. Aside from the Evanston and North Suburban lunch group and the Small Household Exchange and the Dessert Exchange, we hardly ever meet as we once did. Will the GNRs ever happen again, the Thons, the meet-ups, the 24-hour Thon? What, if anything, is being planned for our 20th Anniversary? I realize that the way that we once used message boards has evolved, but LTH in the early years was a crucial part of my life and is less so today. I hope that, like the picnic, it is not time to call it quits. Perhaps Ronnie should arrange a gathering in which all of us who love this community can discuss how to revitalize it.
    Toast, as every breakfaster knows, isn't really about the quality of the bread or how it's sliced or even the toaster. For man cannot live by toast alone. It's all about the butter. -- Adam Gopnik
  • Post #2 - September 2nd, 2023, 2:12 pm
    Post #2 - September 2nd, 2023, 2:12 pm Post #2 - September 2nd, 2023, 2:12 pm
    GAF wrote:Wow. I am one of those who intended to attend, but was waiting to decide what to bring. I never imagined that the picnic would be cancelled. Even 30+ friends would be nice.

    However, this does raise the issue of the future of LTH. And I say this with deep respect for Ronnie and his hard work (and for his friendship). This is NOT a slap at Ronnie or at anyone. But as we approach 20 years, we are not the organization that we used to be. Aside from the Evanston and North Suburban lunch group and the Small Household Exchange and the Dessert Exchange, we hardly ever meet as we once did. Will the GNRs ever happen again, the Thons, the meet-ups, the 24-hour Thon? What, if anything, is being planned for our 20th Anniversary? I realize that the way that we once used message boards has evolved, but LTH in the early years was a crucial part of my life and is less so today. I hope that, like the picnic, it is not time to call it quits. Perhaps Ronnie should arrange a gathering in which all of us who love this community can discuss how to revitalize it.

    I very much appreciate the thoughts, Gary. I agree (or at least think that I'm agreeing with you) that the situation with this year's picnic is more of a symptom than a cause. Our community has lost steam over the past few years (more on this below) and the dwindling lack of interest in the picnic reflects it.

    As Cathy would be the first to tell you, the picnic does not organize itself. Among the handful of folks who volunteered to help pull this year's edition together, there was virtually no sentiment when we emailed each other last week that the level of interest warranted the effort required (or the sacrificing of the day). I'm not trying to be secretive about this but I also don't want to speak for anyone else. If any of those people would like to share their thoughts, I hope they will.

    What's next for LTH? As my message-forum-mentor and eGullet co-founder, the late Steven Shaw, once said to me, "suggesting is volunteering." So, this will be up to all of us, not just me. But, we do what we know. To that end, I'm happy to continue to take care of the administrative side of things, pay the bills, etc. Of course, I'd like to have some input and involvement in our future but these are not solely my decisions to make. Not only do I not want to make unilateral decisions on the community's behalf, I don't have the expertise or bandwidth to do so.

    If others have visions for the future or ideas they'd like to see implemented, I really hope they'll step forward, start discussions, etc. But ultimately, where the rubber meets the road, making suggestions for others to implement is of limited value. Great ideas are, well . . . great but without people to actually do the work, they're only worth so much. While others might disagree, it seems LTH needs more than idea people, we need doers. We need folks to step up and put in the time. And if they do, they'll have my support, financially and beyond.

    And I'm not saying they should do this for me (as owner of the site). I'm saying they should do it for themselves if the current state of community is not to their liking, and they think something should be done about it. You have my pledge that I'm willing to bankroll it and that I have no plans to ever monetize the site. Beyond that, other than my dedicated assistance as things come up, that's about all I can offer because I can't promise to do what I don't know.

    As for the diminished community to which I alluded earlier, there are probably a variety of reasons for it and I'll take as much blame as anyone wants to give me. When LTH's existence was in jeopardy over a decade ago, three of us (myself, David Dickson and the late, great Steve Zaransky) got together and laid down some cash to make sure the site -- and our collective history together -- didn't disappear. To some degree, that was achieved but between the three of us -- and the ownership group that followed -- there wasn't the level of technical expertise needed to keep the site properly updated. Now it's just me and sadly, I know very little about how to run the back end of this site. This is problematic and has undoubtedly contributed to our weakening as a community.

    On the tech side, I have some paid, outside help for urgent matters but generally speaking, it's hard to come by. My repeated efforts to hire someone to move us forward have not come to fruition. As far as I know, none of us Moderators possesses the knowledge either. phpBB is a quirky and fading platform. Even some 'experts' with whom I've consulted, have been baffled by some of the issues we're facing. But I cannot express strongly enough how open I am to finding us some skilled technical help -- and I'm also willing to pay for it. So, if anyone can assist in this effort, please let us know.

    But in the end, I'm not suggesting that our woes are only technical in nature. I think they run deeper and broader than that but I'm unsure how to fully identify or address them. Certainly the rise of of social media, which didn't exist when LTH was founded, has contributed, as has covid, which seems to have had a permanent effect on the way we all dine out. And there's obviously more, too. However, by addressing the technical side, perhaps we can at least control what we can theoretically control . . . and maybe that would help illuminate the rest.

    As for the future; the N-Thons, holiday parties and picnics, etc., that's for all of us to decide. I'm no more or less a stakeholder in this than any of us. I did what I could for this year's picnic (and what has been enough in the past) but the fact that we're having this discussion now makes it pretty clear that it wasn't enough this time. I have some ideas but I'm not sure how effective they'd be. That said, I'm guessing there are some LTHers out there who have sound ideas about how to best proceed on this front.

    I think the ship has sailed on this year's picnic but nothing has been planned yet for a holiday party this year. That could certainly happen. What do you all think? Would anyone like to take the lead on that? If so, let's discuss it.

    Okay, I've rambled on long enough. If anyone has any questions or would like any additional information, please just let me know (here or by pm). I sincerely hope we can convert the concern shown here into some forward momentum for the LTH community.

    Thanks, and have a lovely Labor Day weekend.

    =R=
    for LTH
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #3 - September 2nd, 2023, 5:19 pm
    Post #3 - September 2nd, 2023, 5:19 pm Post #3 - September 2nd, 2023, 5:19 pm
    Thank you, Ronnie, for this detailed and thoughtful discussion. It might well be the case that what was exciting in 2004 is less so in 2023. Blame changes in the internet and the decline of discussion boards (eGullet - and Opinioned About) are good examples. It was also a time when the founders enjoyed having open dinners and events and in time people developed friendships with a close-knit set of friends, rather than having open gatherings. Some of us from the old days recall that this was part of the justification from splitting from Chowhound.

    But Ronnie is precisely accurate to suggest that if this community is to continue and to thrive many of us need to step up. About a decade ago, an Advisory Board was set up, and I (and others) agreed to join, but that Board has not be used in the past decade. That could be one way to develop loyalty. Several of us offered our services, and even though I am likely to move from Chicago in 2025 upon my retirement, I will be happy to help until then. None of us want to step on the organizers' toes, but we are here. Further (more ancient history) when we had a transition in ownership from GWiv (our social butterfly or honey bee) to Ronnie's team, I suggested that ownership be vested in the members of the site which each of us who wished would take a share. Perhaps that was an unworkable idea, but it would mean that those who contributed a share had certain obligations, rather than simply having Ronnie generously supporting the Board.

    Myself, I would like to see a time set up for those of us who care about LTH to meet and to commit to doing what we can. This need not change the ownership structure (and I VERY MUCH APPRECIATE that the Board has not been monetized - as at least one potential bidder once suggested), but it will alter - as it should - our moral economy. Ronnie mentioned that Steven Shaw was his mentor, and, for a time, eGullet thrived with Steven in charge, but perhaps we need to learn from its failure.

    This Board has been very important in my life, and I am happy to give back, not just through the Evanston Lunch Group. I have developed so many good friends, even if some of them I no longer see often. In the big picture, the cancellation of the LTH Picnic is a small matter, but what it stands for is more important. Let each of us consider how we can work with Ronnie in making this both an informational site and a social one.
    Toast, as every breakfaster knows, isn't really about the quality of the bread or how it's sliced or even the toaster. For man cannot live by toast alone. It's all about the butter. -- Adam Gopnik
  • Post #4 - September 2nd, 2023, 5:55 pm
    Post #4 - September 2nd, 2023, 5:55 pm Post #4 - September 2nd, 2023, 5:55 pm
    Perhaps we should start a new thread for this discussion -- Save LTH? Just so people understand that we're talking about more than the picnic.

    LTH has been an important part of my life for most of the nearly 20 years it has been around. So I definitely would love to see it continue. However, because it is not the only organization in my life, my contributions have largely been limited to participating in events and posting information. So I do understand the difficulty of not getting more people to jump in with running the show. And most organizations have taken a hit because of COVID. But some are coming back to life, so I'm hoping we can, too.

    That said, perhaps we need to adjust our expectations. Maybe expect less from some of the events and projects--less size and less work for those who do the work.

    But I think having its own thread, so folks can see that this is an issue, might get more to jump in. Or confirm that we're fading. That said, this is such a remarkable resource, I would hate to lose all this information, all the articles, reviews, revelations. So definitely hoping it can be salvaged.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #5 - September 2nd, 2023, 6:11 pm
    Post #5 - September 2nd, 2023, 6:11 pm Post #5 - September 2nd, 2023, 6:11 pm
    And want to add a note of thanks to those who do run this site -- including Ronnie and all the moderators. Whatever happens, know you are appreciated.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #6 - September 2nd, 2023, 7:19 pm
    Post #6 - September 2nd, 2023, 7:19 pm Post #6 - September 2nd, 2023, 7:19 pm
    Thanks for the thoughts, Gary and Cynthia. I'll try to figure out the best way to highlight this discussion for all to see. I'll either move our recent posts to a new thread or edit the subject line of this one. One obstacle is that the Site Chat forum -- where a new thread would most logically reside -- requires a login to view and this one does not. "Save LTH" might be a little too drastic but maybe "The Future of LTH" would be appropriate.

    Gary, this is strictly my opinion but I've always felt that the failure of eGullet -- the absolute moment of its demise -- came when tptb monetized the site in morphing from .com to .org. With the change-over to a non-profit came a host of problems that, perhaps, no one anticipated.

    The perception among many eG members was that the founders would benefit financially from the change (via salaries, benefits, etc.), even though the change was ultimately in the service of becoming a charitable organization. There were smaller changes before that (like completely prohibiting Event discussion) but in retrospect, it seems clear that those smaller and earlier changes were made in service of the larger one that was soon to follow.

    Once people feel that the content they've willingly provided over the years for free will be used by others for their own financial gain, it's easy to understand why they'd flee. On top of that, asking for donations to use a service that had always been provided for free is another reason people would likely bolt. So, there are definitely lessons to learn from eG but I'm not sure they apply to our situation.

    =R=
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #7 - September 2nd, 2023, 7:57 pm
    Post #7 - September 2nd, 2023, 7:57 pm Post #7 - September 2nd, 2023, 7:57 pm
    My honest assessment of what is happening from someone who sees things from many angles in an objective manor:

    1 - Reddit Chicago food forum has taken much of the traffic from LTH in the same domain space. They have the advantage of complementary participants from a subset of Chicago topical forums which basically creates a snowball effect.

    2 - Not to offend anyone, this just from my observation there is a lack of growing a younger demographic on this forum and so its hard to obtain new eyeballs to the forum. I don't know what the average age of the participants who are regulars or just browsers on this forum but one can assume(this not to take offense as this is just observation metric). Its ok to have a certain demo but it seems like its not growing either way from a traffic/posts perspective.

    3 - Lack of updating the technology behind the forum software. I read above that no one is actually technical enough to update/maintain the software and the job is currently being outsourced on a as needed bases.
    Last edited by polster on September 2nd, 2023, 9:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #8 - September 2nd, 2023, 8:32 pm
    Post #8 - September 2nd, 2023, 8:32 pm Post #8 - September 2nd, 2023, 8:32 pm
    Thanks Ronnie, et al, for all the thoughtful commentary and background.
    For what it’s worth, @Coops and I were looking forward to the LTH picnic again and actually were planning to add a few more (younger) folks to our entourage. We have become active in LTH more recently, and in particular with the Dessert Exchange.
    We will be interested to see how this conversation continues to unfold.

    and, We would be interested in (and willing to help with) the holiday party, if there is momentum for that.
    "A party without cake is really just a meeting" ~ Julia Child
    "There are only four great arts: music, painting, sculpture, and ornamental pastry." ~ Julia Child
    "Build a Longer Table, NOT a Wall..."
  • Post #9 - September 3rd, 2023, 6:47 am
    Post #9 - September 3rd, 2023, 6:47 am Post #9 - September 3rd, 2023, 6:47 am
    I would like to work towards supporting the board.

    I am not a good leader, but I am a good worker. For example, I have no idea where to hold the Christmas dinner, but if others can up with a couple of ideas of where to have the dinner, I would be willing to coordinate getting it set up.

    If there is a meeting of people looking to help the board, I would liked to attend.
  • Post #10 - September 3rd, 2023, 7:04 am
    Post #10 - September 3rd, 2023, 7:04 am Post #10 - September 3rd, 2023, 7:04 am
    Count me in
    I'm not good at getting things started, but I see them through to the finish.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #11 - September 3rd, 2023, 12:07 pm
    Post #11 - September 3rd, 2023, 12:07 pm Post #11 - September 3rd, 2023, 12:07 pm
    polster wrote:My honest assessment of what is happening from someone who sees things from many angles in an objective manor:

    1 - Reddit Chicago food forum has taken much of the traffic from LTH in the same domain space. They have the advantage of complementary participants from a subset of Chicago topical forums which basically creates a snowball effect.

    2 - Not to offend anyone, this just from my observation there is a lack of growing a younger demographic on this forum and so its hard to obtain new eyeballs to the forum. I don't know what the average age of the participants who are regulars or just browsers on this forum but one can assume(this not to take offense as this is just observation metric). Its ok to have a certain demo but it seems like its not growing either way from a traffic/posts perspective.


    At Polster's suggestion, I checked out Reddit Chicago Food Forum. There I found a post from "Openmindedshithead," a lot of photos with little text, and ads for Hellman's Mayo. Let us save LTH at all costs!
    Toast, as every breakfaster knows, isn't really about the quality of the bread or how it's sliced or even the toaster. For man cannot live by toast alone. It's all about the butter. -- Adam Gopnik
  • Post #12 - September 4th, 2023, 7:16 am
    Post #12 - September 4th, 2023, 7:16 am Post #12 - September 4th, 2023, 7:16 am
    I am grateful for this conversation, all who contribute to this (my fave) board and very much so to anyone, now or in the past, who puts money out of their own pocket to sustain LTH.
    I am awkward socially, so I could never conceive attending an event, but if that would help drive the vitality of LTH, I certainly would give it a go. Further, I am a bit uncomfortable utilizing such a meaningful resource all these years without any cost to me. That is a reality of living in 2023.
    May I contribute financially in any fashion, please?
    Sincerely,
    Jilter
  • Post #13 - September 4th, 2023, 8:17 am
    Post #13 - September 4th, 2023, 8:17 am Post #13 - September 4th, 2023, 8:17 am
    jilter wrote:I am awkward socially, so I could never conceive attending an event, but if that would help drive the vitality of LTH, I certainly would give it a go.


    Unless your awkwardness is of an especially severe kind, I think that you would fit right in!

    But each of us engages in the way that feels most pleasant.

    And I agree that members of the board should not have Ronnie bankroll us. (Thank you, Ronnie). Those who wish can contribute on a voluntary basis.
    Toast, as every breakfaster knows, isn't really about the quality of the bread or how it's sliced or even the toaster. For man cannot live by toast alone. It's all about the butter. -- Adam Gopnik
  • Post #14 - September 4th, 2023, 11:26 am
    Post #14 - September 4th, 2023, 11:26 am Post #14 - September 4th, 2023, 11:26 am
    I can't say how much I appreciate the offers of financial contributions but I want to reiterate that they are completely unnecessary, and I would never accept them. In fact, I don't see how they would move the needle for our community at all. We're facing problems that money will not solve. It is not -- and has never been -- about money.

    To me, it's obvious. What the site needs more than anything else is quite simple: Content. That is our fuel and everything follows from there. As important as the Events and Community have become to many of us, they are merely a by-product -- a wonderful result -- of what we do here in the forums. Without getting to 'know' each through the content we post, there are no meaningful get-togethers or gatherings. There is no community. And I think that's where we're at right now. Lack of content has led to a weakening of our community. We're no longer connected to each other like we used to be.

    We've got a few groups that meet regularly. Those groups came together organically only after their participants interacted here and decided they wanted to advance things. But how/why would new groups form if no one is posting about their experiences? How would their potential participants even connect? Of course, this is just my opinion but I just don't see how any non-content-supported gatherings could possibly be sustainable. There have to be actual reasons why we want to get together. Community is a result of the forums serving their purpose. It is not conceived or planned.

    First and foremost, we're a message forum. If that ceases to exist, what are we really left with? We can analyze, strategize, meet and plan all we want but if the content isn't there, we're pouring water into a bucket with a hole in the bottom of it. On the other hand, if we post salient content, I sincerely believe that the rest will fall into place.

    So, before anything else, if you really want to do something to help improve LTH, post salient content on a regular basis. Support, engage and interact with others who post and if you disagree with them, treat them respectfully. If it's really all about LTH, differences of opinion should not be an obstacle to bolstering our community.

    In my opinion, there's nothing to solve here aside from the obvious lack of activity and content. If we each address that in our own way and it ends up not being enough, so be it. We'll have our answer and we'll go from there. But I sincerely believe that without boosting our content, putting effort and energy into meeting, planning and problem-solving won't get us where, it seems, many of us want to go (or return to).

    Thanks,

    =R=
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #15 - September 4th, 2023, 1:07 pm
    Post #15 - September 4th, 2023, 1:07 pm Post #15 - September 4th, 2023, 1:07 pm
    I do think we face one area where perhaps, a more significant financial investment might make a real difference and that’s the software/platform issues —photo posting is still very difficult if not impossible (from cell phones, particularly, which I’d guess is how most people access the site), and I’m sure there are other issues as well.

    I know this has been an ongoing need and one that could get costly, particularly if it meant migrating to something new—would that be something for which community contributions could be beneficial?
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #16 - September 4th, 2023, 1:43 pm
    Post #16 - September 4th, 2023, 1:43 pm Post #16 - September 4th, 2023, 1:43 pm
    boudreaulicious wrote:I do think we face one area where perhaps, a more significant financial investment might make a real difference and that’s the software/platform issues —photo posting is still very difficult if not impossible (from cell phones, particularly, which I’d guess is how most people access the site), and I’m sure there are other issues as well.

    I know this has been an ongoing need and one that could get costly, particularly if it meant migrating to something new—would that be something for which community contributions could be beneficial?

    As I posted above, this is absolutely not about the money. This is a complex and multi-layered set of technical issues that no one I've contacted so far (3 separate phpBB experts, one by direct referral and 2 via Upwork) has been able to resolve. If we can find someone to actually help us resolve it, we'll resolve it. It absolutely is not about the money. But I'm all out of viable leads.

    =R=
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #17 - September 4th, 2023, 3:56 pm
    Post #17 - September 4th, 2023, 3:56 pm Post #17 - September 4th, 2023, 3:56 pm
    ronnie_suburban wrote:
    To me, it's obvious. What the site needs more than anything else is quite simple: Content. That is our fuel and everything follows from there. As important as the Events and Community have become to many of us, they are merely a by-product -- a wonderful result -- of what we do here in the forums. Without getting to 'know' each through the content we post, there are no meaningful get-togethers or gatherings. There is no community. And I think that's where we're at right now. Lack of content has led to a weakening of our community. We're no longer connected to each other like we used to be.

    =R=


    I could not agree more. Many other valid comments in this thread (about need for younger demo, the competition from Reddit and others, etc.), but you hit it, Ron, with the emphasis upon content.

    It sounds like the problem of loading photos may be insoluble, which is very unfortunate. Photos, of course, are a kind of content, and if that particular content channel is closed, the content deficit can only deepen.
    "Don't you ever underestimate the power of a female." Bootsy Collins
  • Post #18 - September 4th, 2023, 6:20 pm
    Post #18 - September 4th, 2023, 6:20 pm Post #18 - September 4th, 2023, 6:20 pm
    David Hammond wrote:I could not agree more. Many other valid comments in this thread (about need for younger demo, the competition from Reddit and others, etc.), but you hit it, Ron, with the emphasis upon content.

    It sounds like the problem of loading photos may be insoluble, which is very unfortunate. Photos, of course, are a kind of content, and if that particular content channel is closed, the content deficit can only deepen.

    The internal photo upload issue is vexing but it's not insurmountable. Eventually, we'll find the right person to handle it. Not being a commercial entity -- or one with that kind of volume -- seems to immediately push some possibly-qualified folks away from us. They feel that we're just not big enough to bother with. Other people who do have the time don't have the expertise or experience. But I'm hopeful that someone (here or in one of our networks) can help us identify the lead we need to make it happen.

    In the meantime, there are literally dozens of free work-arounds for uploading photos and linking them so that one's images appear in posts here. Several of our members upload photos here on a regular basis. It's certainly not the shortest path but it's relatively easy and definitely do-able. And I'm also happy to assist in any way that I can, including uploading member images myself and providing links to our members for embedding their images.

    Given our format, we're never going to be the instant gratification platform, irrespective of the image upload situation. But I'd love to have it resolved and would be more than happy to allocate whatever resources are necessary to make it happen. I just haven't had any success thus far finding someone to handle it for us.

    =R=
    for LTH
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #19 - September 4th, 2023, 7:21 pm
    Post #19 - September 4th, 2023, 7:21 pm Post #19 - September 4th, 2023, 7:21 pm
    Have tried a few work-arounds but found them hit-or-miss. It's very generous of you to offer to post pix for people, but it seems a lot to ask, and what many are hoping for is a way to insert pix into posts, seamlessly. Maybe not possible, I get that, but maybe.

    Whatever, thanks for all you do.
    "Don't you ever underestimate the power of a female." Bootsy Collins
  • Post #20 - September 5th, 2023, 8:29 am
    Post #20 - September 5th, 2023, 8:29 am Post #20 - September 5th, 2023, 8:29 am
    I'm relatively new here, showed up during the pandemic when I was looking for online communities. I haven't attended any in person events, not sure that I will even though some have been conveniently located and many sound interesting. For me, being behind chips (the electronic kind) and wires seems to work better.

    There are some quirky aspects of the BB software along with some benefits. Not displaying ads is, of course, a huge benefit. Another is the old-school-style anonymity. Posting links and quotes is fairly simply once one learns the lingo. With a computer, photo posting using Imgur doesn't seem that difficult to me. It's worse than on Facebook or Insta, true, but there's a procedure that always works once it's learned. On a phone, though, agreed it's more of a hassle. Perhaps someone could work out an easy third party phone-based process? To me, a more annoying drawback is the lack of upvote/downvote. Replying simply to agree, or disagree, seems like a waste of space in the thread, plus it doesn't seem to be the custom here. But there are many times when I'd like to give a +1 to a comment or link.

    One alternative to continuing to use the current software would be to start an LTH subreddit. The closest model to this would be a public sub, where any user, joined or not, can post. Moderation, mainly deleting posts, can be done by multiple appointed moderators. There are also restricted and private subs but in my opinion those feature a level of gatekeeping that seems incompatible. Reddit discourse varies sub to sub, ranging from the joviality found here to outright brawling. On the whole, threads are shorter lived and replies shorter, though there's no limitation. Notably, Reddit doesn't include inline picture capability in replies, only in the top level post.

    Anyhoo, huge thanks to Ron, Cathy and the other folks who work hard to keep LTH going. It's amazing to be able to participate in an independent, non-commercial corner of the web.
  • Post #21 - September 5th, 2023, 11:36 am
    Post #21 - September 5th, 2023, 11:36 am Post #21 - September 5th, 2023, 11:36 am
    Posting more content is something I can try to do, but there are hurdles to links and photos that make me feel like an idiot and give up in frustration after a few tries.

    Being disabled and unemployed means we only very rarely eat out, so most restaurant discussions are not applicable.

    The fact that my body has changed so that I cannot eat gluten, beef, oxalic acid, most sugars and carbs, etc. cuts out a lot of the baking and cooking discussions.

    Both of the above means I must eschew nearly all of the gatherings (though we love the holiday party and picnic... there's enough variety so I can always find something to eat, and of course it's the people that make it worthwhile).

    This means I wind up scrolling past page after page of posts that don't pertain to me, so I find myself coming to the site less and less.

    I know I'm not indicative of the majority, but I do feel a significant pang of guilt hearing about the site's struggle to survive.

    Watching eGullet, LiveJournal, and other beloved discussion venues crumple and dissolve over time, I wonder which forums have managed to reinvent themselves. If they exist, could we pattern LTH after them, perhaps?

    For my part... I can work on being more active as a participant and poster, and I am willing to help with the holiday party.
    “Assuredly it is a great accomplishment to be a novelist, but it is no mediocre glory to be a cook.” -- Alexandre Dumas

    "I give you Chicago. It is no London and Harvard. It is not Paris and buttermilk. It is American in every chitling and sparerib. It is alive from tail to snout." -- H.L. Mencken
  • Post #22 - September 5th, 2023, 11:40 am
    Post #22 - September 5th, 2023, 11:40 am Post #22 - September 5th, 2023, 11:40 am
    The social media platform I use the most is Facebook. The LTH presence there does not allow members to post (I'm certain I would be far more active in that venue if it were allowed), but perhaps whoever does have posting access could link this discussion there to goose people into coming here and sharing their thoughts.
    “Assuredly it is a great accomplishment to be a novelist, but it is no mediocre glory to be a cook.” -- Alexandre Dumas

    "I give you Chicago. It is no London and Harvard. It is not Paris and buttermilk. It is American in every chitling and sparerib. It is alive from tail to snout." -- H.L. Mencken
  • Post #23 - September 5th, 2023, 12:56 pm
    Post #23 - September 5th, 2023, 12:56 pm Post #23 - September 5th, 2023, 12:56 pm
    FWIW I am willing to help plan events
    We used to go as medium groups to restaurants from time to time, and that was really nice.
    I am pretty good at this since I am regularly planning dinners for 40ish people at work, although we go to more mainstream restaurants.

    I am also happy to help plan the Winter Holiday Party

    I also liked it when we did "Iron Chef" type dinners at each other's homes.

    I am not willing to funnel any funds - (ie I pay and get expensed- I have enough of that BS going on with work )

    I would hate to see this group fizzle away
    I also find I am most frequently on FB as a platform
    "If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home."
    ~James Michener
  • Post #24 - September 5th, 2023, 2:09 pm
    Post #24 - September 5th, 2023, 2:09 pm Post #24 - September 5th, 2023, 2:09 pm
    David Hammond wrote:Whatever, thanks for all you do.


    mamagotcha wrote:The social media platform I use the most is Facebook. The LTH presence there does not allow members to post (I'm certain I would be far more active in that venue if it were allowed), but perhaps whoever does have posting access could link this discussion there to goose people into coming here and sharing their thoughts.


    I want to echo the overall thanks to R-to-the-S, and also endorse this modest social media suggestion in the first instance. I'm happy to help approve new community poster requests on Facebook if we go that route and don't see it as detracting or competing from the traditional forum view; we could have a thread here where moderators highlight any FB-only posts. I think we may need to be a multi-planetary / multi-platform species to thrive.

    While historically being an Imgur proponent (where images have lasted for 12 years and counting; still works), I always thought one weakness of the platform even in its prime was user-hosted images, since they frequently went offline and disrupted the archival record.

    An extreme suggestion someone else mentioned to me (on another bulletin board community) is just starting a new forum (with same URL) in the current photo-ready modern software without worrying about migrating content or users; everybody that cares just creates a new account and starts fresh. The old forum is linked in the headers for reference at an archival URL (lthvintage or whatever). I do worry that might do more harm than good in the short term but could help long-term (and functionality immediately).

    I do miss GNRs and took a few stabs at pruning / updating the existing alphabetical list with closures during the pandemic, but it needs another sweep, if not a new anniversary round in 2024. Places like Pho No. 1 Brewing Co. really deserve community attention through platforms like ours.
  • Post #25 - September 5th, 2023, 2:10 pm
    Post #25 - September 5th, 2023, 2:10 pm Post #25 - September 5th, 2023, 2:10 pm
    Per Katje's suggestion, I posted a link to this discussion over at facebook.

    I don't understand why anyone here is still talking about money. While the sentiment is kind and much appreciated, no one from LTH has asked for anyone for any money and no one ever will. That's not at all what this is about.

    Thanks!

    =R=
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #26 - September 5th, 2023, 2:25 pm
    Post #26 - September 5th, 2023, 2:25 pm Post #26 - September 5th, 2023, 2:25 pm
    Santander wrote:While historically being an Imgur proponent (where images have lasted for 12 years and counting; still works), I always thought one weakness of the platform even in its prime was user-hosted images, since they frequently went offline and disrupted the archival record.

    Cross-posted with you, Matt. I very much appreciate your thoughts and efforts.

    I don't want to dwell too much on photos/images because I think we're doing ourselves a bit of a disservice in reducing our issues down to just that. However, by the same token, I want to provide some additional information on the inline images +phpBB software combination.

    I post frequently at another board that is running an up to date version of phpBB and inline images posted there are not without frequent problems. Many times images only display correctly in thumbnail mode. Once an image is clicked on to enlarge it, it almost always displays in the incorrect orientation (turned 90 degrees, etc). There is no fix for this. So, even in the most 'ideal' phpBB software situation, posting images directly to the site will be frustrating and will remain problematic. I'm not saying this because I don't think our image issue isn't worth addressing. I would love to address and resolve it but I also want to temper expectations. The only way to ensure that your embedded images display correctly here is to upload them to a separate server (ftp or other type of photo hosting service) in the format in which you'd like them displayed. From there a link, ending in .jpg and flanked by
    Code: Select all
    [img]and[/img]
    will get the job done.

    But again, there's so much more to discuss than image uploads.

    Thanks again,

    =R=
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #27 - September 5th, 2023, 2:41 pm
    Post #27 - September 5th, 2023, 2:41 pm Post #27 - September 5th, 2023, 2:41 pm
    mamagotcha wrote:I know I'm not indicative of the majority, but I do feel a significant pang of guilt hearing about the site's struggle to survive.

    I'm not telling you how to feel but if at all possible, please don't. :)

    No one's health or livelihood is at stake here. ~20 years is a long time and we've had a damned good run. Most of us have made lasting friendships and connections that will continue to endure no matter what.

    So many things in our lives, including discussion sites like LTH, have been disrupted over the past decade. Such is the natural order of things. I don't see any reason to fight it or change our model to "survive." We have no employees. We have no financial pressure. We have no need to generate a revenue stream. We're essentially a club and there's no reason we have to survive on anyone else's terms but our own. But imo, if we're not posting content, we have no raison d'être.

    I've said all along that we're not aspiration-driven. We're passion-driven. All we each need to do is decide to be active here; show that passion. If we do, we're here. If we don't, we're not. The more active we each decide to be, the stronger LTH will be.

    =R=
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #28 - September 5th, 2023, 4:30 pm
    Post #28 - September 5th, 2023, 4:30 pm Post #28 - September 5th, 2023, 4:30 pm
    It would be good to understand why people left the group. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to survey the people who left. I used to maintain websites for several non-profit organizations which were based on php and Wordpress. I can help update the content of this website if that would help. I agree that there are fewer people posting content than let's say 10 years ago. When I was looking at the list of GNRs earlier this year, I was wondering why the list has not been updated in the last couple of years. Are there any food forum websites that are thriving?
  • Post #29 - September 5th, 2023, 5:16 pm
    Post #29 - September 5th, 2023, 5:16 pm Post #29 - September 5th, 2023, 5:16 pm
    Santander wrote:I want to echo the overall thanks to R-to-the-S, and also endorse this modest social media suggestion in the first instance. I'm happy to help approve new community poster requests on Facebook if we go that route and don't see it as detracting or competing from the traditional forum view; we could have a thread here where moderators highlight any FB-only posts. I think we may need to be a multi-planetary / multi-platform species to thrive.
    <ponder>

    Santander wrote:An extreme suggestion someone else mentioned to me (on another bulletin board community) is just starting a new forum (with same URL) in the current photo-ready modern software without worrying about migrating content or users; everybody that cares just creates a new account and starts fresh. The old forum is linked in the headers for reference at an archival URL (lthvintage or whatever). I do worry that might do more harm than good in the short term but could help long-term (and functionality immediately).
    Nuclear option but viable and one that's been suggested to me as well. I've seen other forums do it but only ones that had a lot less collective history than ours. I don't love the idea of essentially archiving everything we've done thus far but if the site were to entirely cease operations, all we'd have after that -- best case scenario -- would be a time capsule. So, time capsule/archive + new-version-escape pod would preferable to that. That said, I believe, perhaps naively, that there is a way for a seasoned and experienced person to import our current database into a new version of phpBB but we are many versions behind and our database has some damage. The migration would be tricky and could end up incomplete, which would absolutely suck. After that, we'd still need an experienced Sysop/Admin to handle things for us.

    Santander wrote:I do miss GNRs and took a few stabs at pruning / updating the existing alphabetical list with closures during the pandemic, but it needs another sweep, if not a new anniversary round in 2024. Places like Pho No. 1 Brewing Co. really deserve community attention through platforms like ours.

    Thank you. I agree that the GNRs are an important part of what LTH has to offer to the LTH community, as well as the larger community around us. I'd love to see them live on in some form.

    =R=
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #30 - September 5th, 2023, 5:22 pm
    Post #30 - September 5th, 2023, 5:22 pm Post #30 - September 5th, 2023, 5:22 pm
    tjr wrote:I'm relatively new here, showed up during the pandemic when I was looking for online communities. I haven't attended any in person events, not sure that I will even though some have been conveniently located and many sound interesting. For me, being behind chips (the electronic kind) and wires seems to work better.

    Love your 'new blood' and greatly respect your perspective on this. :)

    tjr wrote:To me, a more annoying drawback is the lack of upvote/downvote. Replying simply to agree, or disagree, seems like a waste of space in the thread, plus it doesn't seem to be the custom here. But there are many times when I'd like to give a +1 to a comment or link.

    I post on another phpBB that has a 'thumbs up' feature. It's do-able. I agree that it would be useful. At that board, there is only up, no down.

    tjr wrote:One alternative to continuing to use the current software would be to start an LTH subreddit. The closest model to this would be a public sub, where any user, joined or not, can post. Moderation, mainly deleting posts, can be done by multiple appointed moderators. There are also restricted and private subs but in my opinion those feature a level of gatekeeping that seems incompatible. Reddit discourse varies sub to sub, ranging from the joviality found here to outright brawling. On the whole, threads are shorter lived and replies shorter, though there's no limitation. Notably, Reddit doesn't include inline picture capability in replies, only in the top level post.

    Based on what I've read on this thread so far, the image limitations would likely be a deal-breaker.

    =R=
    Same planet, different world

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