Website question: Geographic directory?

I've only been active on the site since January, and couldn't be more enthusiastic about the concept, the community, and the cooks. Are there plans to create a geographic index of food52 members, or other ways to search for members (vegetarian, by profession, interest)?

Burnt Offerings


Midge March 26, 2011
I'm not into the targeted content idea either. Food52 has helped me grow us a cook because I've been exposed to so many recipes I wouldn't have necessarily honed in a cookbook or elsewhere on the web.
fiveandspice March 25, 2011
Obviously I'm late to this conversation, but I'd like to chime in with another vote against targeted content. As Drbabs pointed out, we all have our background and the things we tend to cook, but like her I know a huge part of why I love this site is it expands how I even think about what I would like to cook. I love the other styles of cooking pop up right front and center and push me to try something new.
gigiaxline March 23, 2011
I agree with drbabs - ever since I started visiting food52 and food pickle, I have cooked things that I would have never thought I would be interested in before, like Indian [Mujaddara - thank you Rivka] and candy [pumpkin caramels]. Another vote for random content...
Peter March 23, 2011
Susan, the asterisks around words are a way of emphasizing a word in the absence of the ability to use bold or italic.

It seems like the general consensus is that people are *not* interested in our customizing the content to some degree... which is a bit odd because when I've discussed it in person with users they were enthusiastic about the idea. Maybe I chose my words poorly. Regardless, if we do anything along these lines you'll hear about it and be able to participate as you see fit.

As far as people having problems getting emails from us, I'd like to get some more feedback on that issue but I'd prefer to have that conversation in the other pickle that was opened. Please go take a look at this page:
innoabrd March 23, 2011
hate the idea of targeting the content to a user. Like the suggestions that pop up now based on what I'm looking at, but I like to think that if I want to look for something, the site will give me what I'm looking for, not what it thinks I ought to be looking for!

I'd rather the effort went into making it easier to manage saved recipes, ie. being able to append my own tags or notes, things only I would see. The ability to categorize my saved recipes and search only within the recipes I've saved.
lapadia March 23, 2011
@Burnt Offerings: guarantee if you switch to g-mail on Food52 you will get your messages! I opened and use my g-mail for Food52 purposes...only. Solved the problem of having to check all my recipes not to mention remembering comments left on other cook recipes.
boulangere March 23, 2011
I use my gmail account as my contact email, and I'm not receiving any messages. I did at first, may 2 or 3, but nothing since.
Burnt O. March 23, 2011
Hmmm - wonder if I should change my email address to my old blog gmail account? Especially since it's not publicized on the site (which I like BTW) I'm not getting any notices at my verizon address and it's a pain to check my recipes once or twice a day to see if there are any comments, not to mention all the comments I put on other people's recipes!
lapadia March 23, 2011
First of all, you are doing a great job with the site, it is much appreciated!
My vote is “no” to personalization.
Creeps me out that Food52 would be monitoring what an individual cook is interested in so that content could be *slightly* tilted towards what you think they like.
Unacceptable = following, noticing, targeting individuals likes and habits.
Peter, you wrote; as far as privacy, yes of *course* we would allow people to opt out of our customizing content to what we notice about their behavior. = Creepy….big brother!
Acceptable = targeting the overall % of *subject matter* Food52 has noticed by users as a whole.
How about a Food52 offering a site map, it would be great place for new cooks to the site, as well as the rest of us. A self-directed site map would give a sense of having autonomy; not subject to control from outside. The site map would be created out of what you at Food52 have noticed by users as a whole – and could include a geographic directory, too, among other things.
Anyway, thanks everyone…for the *brainstorming* discussion!
PS – FYI, I had to open a g-mail account in order to receive my messages (Outlook is not compatible).
drbabs March 23, 2011
@susan g--The contact the cook feature seems to be an issue with the cook's email server. I wasn't getting any messages--people would post to my recipe that they sent me a message and I wouldn't get it. I changed my email to gmail and it works fine now.
susan G. March 22, 2011
While we're getting all the inside info -- Peter, could you explain the asterisks around words?
I'd be another No to that kind of personalization. You have plenty of search tools, plenty of ways for people to tag, categorize, etc., to find what's of interest at the moment -- and yes, I want it all!
One issue I had was getting the hang of the site. Maybe a food 52.101? It took me a while to find out how things worked...and still learning.
Once I happened on something about 'meet-ups.' I couldn't find it again, but apparently people in some areas had gotten together...
And how about the contact the cook button? I've sent a few messages, don't know if they reached the person; and I remember a foodpickle about having trouble with this.
boulangere March 22, 2011
Burntofferings, did you have any idea all this would come from a 4-word question?! What a fascinating conversation. Yes, I also love the community and generous sharing of knowledge and experience and adventure that is food52. I'm not sure I care either for the idea of customizing content, though honestly, I spend so much time looking at recipes and ideas that people post on their own pages that I'm not sure it would make all that much difference to me.
Burnt O. March 22, 2011
Sadassa - that's precisley what I mean - for members/users and for vendors. Amanda and Merrill have often said they want food52 to be the etsy of food sites.
Sadassa_Ulna March 22, 2011
I know has (or had) a great geographic "finder," is that the kind of thing you are thinking about, Burnt?
To answer Peter's question about tailoring content per user's habits, I would personally vote for "no." One reason is that weird Big Brother feeling I get when using gmail and personalized offers show up in the margin. But another reason is I really enjoy that Food52 passes recipes (and stories and ideas) in front of me that I would never even think to look up. In other words I appreciate the randomness!
Or! Maybe it could be an option that one (knowingly) signs up for?
Peter March 22, 2011
Linda and Mary, thanks for the feedback. Keep in mind, we won't *only* show you the things we think you're interested in -- we'd just *slightly* tilt the content towards what we think you like.

And the beauty of it is, if all the other things we publish catch your eye and you look at them, we'd see that you're interested in a diversity of things and we start offering you even more of a diversity.

Burnt Offerings, we *are* reading your mind. It's a feature we have in beta right now and hope to roll out to everyone by Summer. Sort of like a twitter feed of your brain. ;-)

Seriously though, I think we cover a fabulous diversity of topics and we all just naturally notice the things that appeal to us most.

As far as privacy, yes of *course* we would allow people to opt out of our customizing content to what we notice about their behavior. I swear on a stack of David Eyre's pancakes.
SKK March 22, 2011
I have been confused about the like buttons - I keep pressing them because I like so much. drbabs has great points - not interested in customization, more interested in communty and learning. Peter, you work as hard as you want as long as you are having fun and eating great food!
MaryMaryCulinary March 22, 2011
I like seeing a random mix on the home page, and I'm a bit creeped out by Food52 monitoring what I look at and customizing my home page. Really, all I'd see are desserts and I have found many things on the home page I wouldn't otherwise have seen. I do love the ideas Burnt Offerings has and I can't wait for more speed--this site takes the longest of any I visit to load.
drbabs March 22, 2011
Peter, in answer to your question about customizing what each person sees--I don't think I'd like that. In the beginning, most of my recipes and views were of the southern/cajun variety because that's where I came from and what I knew, but I have grown so much as a cook because I look at the Indian and Thai and Italian and things I would never try like setting a drink on fire (because, you know, I would burn the house down). If you only showed me Cajun I would easily get bored. What keeps me coming back every week (day, hour, minute) is first the community, but second the chance to learn so much about food, cooking, and ultimately how we take care of each other.

And I love Linda's idea about having us tag ourselves by where we live and our interests--it could make organizing meetups so much easier!

Thanks for all you do and the long hours you put in, Peter. You and all the people at Food52 have added a lot to my life and I'm very grateful to all of you.
Burnt O. March 22, 2011
Honestly? I thought you were already doing that. It seems like you're reading my mind every time I log on. ;-) But specifically - yes, tailored content might be nice, as long as privacy issues are addressed, and I can't believe I'm saying that, because I have a problem with a lot of the Big Brother creepiness on Facebook.
wssmom March 22, 2011
I like everything that's been said!
Peter March 22, 2011
Well, the way that "like" button moves things out of order is just another example of one of the *many* things we'd like to fix on the site. ;-)

As long as I have all of you I'd like to ask a question. If we started to pay a little attention to the *kinds* of recipes and content you looked at and create... and we noticed a pervasive theme... would you like it if we started to show you a little bit more content related to that theme?

For example, say we had a user named ChefBoyAreDee. And we noticed ChefBoyAreDee spent an inordinate amount of time looking at and interacting with all things Italian... he looked at more Italian recipes than the typical user, he tagged more of his recipes as Italian, he asked Foodpickles about Roma tomatoes and garlic presses, he entered 3 contests -- all of them with Italian recipes... clearly this guy is really into the Italian stuff. With that in mind, instead of the same all-encompassing mix of recipes and blog posts on the home page, we might include an extra Italian item or two. Note that we wouldn't hide any of the other content from ChefBoyAreDee, we might just... rearrange it a bit. Or highlight the Italian stuff somewhat. Or... we're not sure just yet. But the concept is as I describe: as we notice themes in an individual's use, we try to show you more related to that theme.

What do you think?

And for all of you telling me to stop working, well... that's life at a start-up. Late nights, long hours, little pay... but great food! :-)
Burnt O. March 22, 2011
Mrslarkin! You just cleared up a huge mystery for me! I have often wondered why on earth (or when) I "liked" my own comment. I just chalked it up to the extra glass of wine instead of hubris - LOL.
mrslarkin March 22, 2011
Whew! Burnt, I am so glad you mentioned that, because on my screen it says that *i* liked my own answer. Seems like we are still having that issue, Peter.

and I also agree, time to go relax now.
Burnt O. March 22, 2011
And Peter - get off the clock! It's late. Tomorrow is another day...
Burnt O. March 22, 2011
I think I confused Stockout when I "liked" mrsLarkin's comment and bumped it out of order, so the conversation didn't flow - my bad.
SKK March 22, 2011
Peter, you are the best!
Peter March 22, 2011
SKK, don't worry -- the speed improvements we're planning to implement will only take a week or two and we need the time to better plan the larger improvements.
SKK March 22, 2011
This conversation is right on track in so many arenas - community, knowledge sharing, face to face groups, conferences on topics, stability, wisdom, generosity ... Food 52 is brilliant, organic and nurturing. Hey Peter, I would go for community first speed second. These conversations are worth waiting for - I don't have a concern about the speed.
boulangere March 22, 2011
What a brilliant idea, Burntofferings! And I agree, the last thing we need is another Facebook, but I love your ideas. No pressure, Peter!
Peter March 22, 2011
Stockout, so sorry to have confused you. As I understand it, the user "Burnt Offerings" is suggesting several new features for Food52. Specifically, 1) she'd like to have a sense of where people live so she can talk about region issues with other Food52 users (for example, when will strawberries be in season in the Pacific Northwest?), and 2) she'd like to be able to search our users by certain attributes so as to have topical conversations (for example, she might want to talk to people who have developed a lot of knowledge on baking gluten-free desserts).

Does that help?
Stockout March 22, 2011
I think I have no idea what the hell you are talking about? Could someone talk to us in a level that we will understand?
mrslarkin March 22, 2011
I like Burnt better than BO. ;) Great suggestion!!
SKK March 22, 2011
Thanks for the idea, Burnt. Go Peter! Love the idea of knowing who the members are in the great NW, and anywhere else for that matter.
Burnt O. March 22, 2011
Burnt is fine ;-). Or you can call me Linda. I just realized it's not in my profile - thanks! Your priorities are in the right place! And I'm not suggesting we turn this into another Facebook (one is enough thank you), but it IS a social media platform at its core. I saw a video Amanda and Merrill did last fall at the Web2.0 Start Up Showcase (where they got grilled pretty intensely about their business model, and they handled themselves with a lot of class in spite of it), and they said they were hoping for a million uniques this year. Would be nice to know where they're from (I know YOU know, but us too!) Also, as you move to more of an e-commerce venture, and promote local growers and products, connecting with those users on a geographically local basis will be as important to the vendors, as it is to the consumer. Plus, it would be great for cooks to get together on bigger projects - much like Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Charcutapalooza project, or making cheeses or wines, or even sharing a CSA share.
Peter March 22, 2011
Burnt, I can call you Burnt, can't I? ;-)

What an interesting pair of ideas! And I can honestly say, they're both new ideas to me. We have a massive set of improvements in the early planning stages now -- I'll add these to the list to evaluate.

And for those who are dying to know what we're going to be improving, know that the speed of the site is our very first priority.
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