What constitutes an "Expert?"

I've just now noticed the tag for "Answered by an Expert." and then the explanation "answered by one of OUR experts."

I'm curious why, after almost two years you feel the need to accumulate famous people to participate? Food 52 seemed to me to be a community of enthusiastic cooks, both professional and home, and I thought there already were "experts" here.

I can understand on Science questions, asking someone like Harold McGee or Shirley Corriher to weigh in, but lots of the questions seem to already have been adeptly answered by Food52ers.

What am I missing?



Sam1148 June 17, 2011
I posed the Laurie Anderson link because it kinda sums up the idea that 'only an expert can answer a question' and the concept that an 'expert' label can just be added to anything..carrying more weight as a valid response. Even tho, others here are 'experts' by having the same professional chops and experience.

Which is what some seem to be reacting too.
It's a tag....a label that some didn't ask for, but one the Admins decided for the site.

I also agree with AntoniaJames comment that the 'floating to the top' is a bit distracting.
And may discourage other input from the community--why clash with a 'expert'?

Which is probably the best, and most reasonable answer listed here.

Maybe a rating system based on 'likes" or 'respect point' posted by the users,

This site is evolving; when I first discovered it, I just lurked. Not even noticing the 'food pickle' Q/A section. Now, it's really growing and I'm happy to have found it.

Voted the Best Reply!

AntoniaJames June 17, 2011
I like it when the staff are identified, but would like it better if you just added a short line in regular sized text, perhaps in italics, at the end of the response (a format commonly used in magazine articles, on the editorial pages of newspapers, etc.), instead of having the big shaded bar at the top. I find the current method distracting. Also, it may detract from the answers of other members of the community not so designated (many of whom, I'm sure, have significantly more expertise on the topic in question.) I for one am in favor of not classifying contributors this way. If I find a foodpickle answer to be interesting, I can easily click through to the profile to determine the contributor's background, and then make my own judgment as to the level of expertise. ;o)
susan G. June 17, 2011
"Home cooks?" -- many of the non-tagged experts are food professionals, whether in providing cooked food (chefs, caterers, bakers, etc) or people involved from the theoretical end. Some of us have plenty of experience, others are willing learners. It's a beautiful mix! I have been impressed by the generosity and respect of all contributors.
ChefJune June 17, 2011
I'm sorry you feel that way, Anita. but you started out your pickler by saying "we are all one and the same." If you really believe that (as I also thought was the case) why would your "heart be broken" if food52 stopped singling out some folks as "Experts," which implies that the rest of us are not?
Anitalectric June 17, 2011
Funny to hear the conversation unfurl this way, with "home cooks" on one side, and "experts" on the other :) To me, we are one and the same. I think that for some folks, like Dorie Greenspan, who are actually famous and have name recognition, the process worked differently. They were asked to chime in based on known expertise that they alone posses.

For someone like me, it was a little different! I became a food52 enthusiast just like anyone else, by entering contests, commenting on recipes and blog posts I liked, and becoming a fan of cooks I admire...sometimes making friends. From there, when they started foodpickle, I became addicted to checking out, asking, and sometimes answering questions.

Somehow, the administrators of this site caught onto my enthusiasm and noticed that I had a particular spin on things . That thing, which some might call expertise, comes from the last 3 years I have spent, after starting out as a self-taught home chef; working in restaurant kitchens, a catering company, and as an all-night baker, and in running my own vegan baking business.

So basically, I am not famous by any stretch. I am just obsessed with cooking to the point that after putting in an 11 hour day in a professional kitchen there is nothing I want to do more after getting home than answer questions on a food website.

I love being a member of the food52 community and the "expert" title they granted me is a title I carry with pride! Honestly, it is one of the few acknowledgements I have for all the hard work, burn scars, wrist problems, sleep-deprivation, stained clothing, sweat and tears I have put in over the past few years to hone my craft. Working in the food world is not glamorous nor extremely well-paid (well, at least at my small-scale stage of the game). It would break my heart to have it taken away.
boulangere June 16, 2011
Actually, one of the many aspects that I appreciate about food52 is that it welcomes all regardless of how they got here, and that it doesn't ask a lot of questions upon registration. That always makes wary; I feel more like a walking marketing opportunity than a participant.
ChefJune June 16, 2011
Sorry Sam, that has nothing to do with food52.
Sam1148 June 16, 2011
Off topic. (maybe?)

Laurie Anderson's: Only an Expert.


nutcakes June 16, 2011
Also I'm happy to answer questions from Twitter folk, it would be crazy for you not to have the twitter--it's huge and some peeps will find there way here, register and stick around.

I'm not sure I recall how I heard of it, but I'm pretty sure it was from a long time food discussion board I'm on. I going to try and get them to come on over. They are my 'go to' people.

I might be helpful to you if you asked how people heard about you when they register, if you don't already.
nutcakes June 16, 2011
I have never seen an answer from an 'expert' I recognized, and didn't know Dorrie was posting. (But then, I'm posting a bit less here.) That's nice. But it does imply the other people can't give you expert answers, and that isn't the case.

I like chron order.
ChefJune June 16, 2011
That's what I meant, latoscana. Some of us may even be "Experts" on other food sites, but here we'd rather just be part of the community. So, to single Dorie or Anita, etc. out as "Experts..." I'm still not sure why that's important. They're most welcome here as Food52ers if they want to be.
latoscana June 15, 2011
Thanks for asking this question, ChefJune. To me, the experts on this site are the many wonderful chefs and food enthusiasts who answer these pickles! I have learned so much just reading these answers - often to questions I have never before considered.
innoabrd June 15, 2011
On Twitter: usually the question is, perhaps because of how it is posted, so incomprehensible, and because I have no idea who's posting it, I just ignore it. Plus, I'm still smarting from that mention foodpickle got on some UK website a few months back when suddenly every hipster wanted us to give them a recipe for curry just like their local curry shop makes.
innoabrd June 15, 2011
Thanks, Peter. Love the chronological change. keep it, please!

And the expert thing is OK, but given value this community places on community, I don't think those answers should be given preference in the listing, nor, frankly, highlighted on the list of questions page.

I like the sense of egalitarianism here. Please earn respect *here* through what they contribute *here*. I don't always know who some of these 'experts' are, but if one of them posted an answer and betteirene said different, I'm gonna do what betteirene says.
boulangere June 15, 2011
And I don't *like* this answer ; )
boulangere June 15, 2011
Yes, I agree. The twitter comments are more drop-ins than participants, with no criticism intended. Just had to incorporate and to follow.
susan G. June 15, 2011
Very often, questions asked via twitter are too general; or refer to a previous post with no way to refer to the antecedent; maybe it's the learning curve? In my ignorance of how Twitter really works, it appears not to allow the give and take of follow up that characterizes most of our exchanges, which are pretty close to real conversations.
Peter June 15, 2011
Susan, thanks so much. We're just doing our jobs of course, but appreciation is always... appreciated I guess.

As far as Twitter, we have no plans to "drop it" as you say but I am interested in what issues you have with the questions that come in from Twitter. Are they too vague? Too brusque? Too anonymous?
susan G. June 15, 2011
Peter, you and all the staff are so responsive! It wouldn't do to suggest dropping twitter, now would it? Or make them provide context?
boulangere June 15, 2011
Especially about Peter.
boulangere June 15, 2011
Yes, agree.
Queen O. June 15, 2011
I do like the ones I'm seeing now, like Peter's, which just give extra info on who they are.
boulangere June 15, 2011
Thank you for maintaining chronological order. It was getting difficult to follow the logic of answers with priority for experts and likes, genuine or false.
Peter June 15, 2011
Susan G -- sharp eye. Indeed, just a few hours ago, in our global navigation we changed the language from "Foodpickle" to "Ask a Question".

First, we're not changing the name of the feature -- promise. Second, this is an experiment. Third, we did this because while regular 'Picklers get it, we've heard from a number of people who are new to the site that they had no idea we had a feature where you could ask a question... or offer answers. When we pointed out the Foodpickle in the navigation they said "Oh, that. I saw that and thought it had something to do with pickling. I didn't click it."

So... we're gonna see if the language change increases the number of people who visit the feature (and in turn the number of answers and questions.)

Susan, you're also correct that when first introduced, "expert" answers were appearing at the top. So were the most "liked" answers. No more. No everything is purely chronological.
boulangere June 15, 2011
The richness of conversations never ceases to fascinate. Information generously exchanged usually far exceeds simple facts, and often extends to peoples' philosophies about food, even about life. That Dorie Greenspan, Sara Moulton, Jenny, AnitaElectric, and most certainly yourself, Amanda, and Merrill are willing and interested in hanging with little old us is yet another remarkable aspect of the great community that food52 has become. And growth is by definition never stagnant.
susan G. June 15, 2011
A bit off topic: Is FOODPICKLE becoming "Ask a Question"? FP is such a taut, quirky name -- keep it! I'll admit I had a long slow learning curve to understand how food52 works, but don't lose your personality. Maybe a Help section, or a FAQ area, or a newbie & confused tutorial?
Queen O. June 15, 2011
It seems the trick will be making the special insights just that, something additive rather than nothing beyond the rest of the Food 52 experts.
susan G. June 15, 2011
I think the "expert" status would be kept in perspective if the answers are kept in chronological order. I think when this first appeared, they were put at the top and stayed there, which seems to give their answers precedence. (And I believe you have stopped having the 'like' answers go to the top, which was quirky, both for the logic of the discussion and because of the false 'likes.')
ChefJune June 15, 2011
Boulangere, you should have heard HER squeal when she won Cookbook of the Year for "Around My French Table." She really didn't think she had a chance of winning!
boulangere June 15, 2011
I love the idea, Amanda. When Dorie Greenspan's name and her adorable photo popped up, I squealed! I love the opportunity to rub shoulders virtually with people I deeply admire. The same goes for Sara Moulton. I loved your video with her. More sharing of more knowledge and experience enriches us all.
Amanda H. June 15, 2011
Thanks for your question, Chef June and SKK. Our expert system is very much in a testing phase, and feedback is welcome, as always. Our intention has been to simply add a new and helpful layer to the discussion -- as well as to give our community a chance to interact with people whose work they know and respect. For instance, I'm a huge fan of Dorie Greenspan and I'd love a chance to hear her thoughts on any of my baking and pastry questions. We thought other food52ers would feel the same way.

This doesn't mean we don't value other community member's answers. We absolutely do -- that's why we built foodpickle! The point is not to arrive at a definitive answer but to have a rich conversation, during which the question is answered thoughtfully by people with a variety of experiences. And for food52ers to have the opportunity to have a conversation with people whose work has been recognized by the larger public for its quality.

We've been working on the language around our expert system and, in fact, there's been a raging debate among the food52 staff about the word "expert." Also, "Answered by an Expert" may evolve into something else. If you have ideas for either, we'd love to hear them.

All we ask of you is that you see site changes as a work-in-progress and trust that we value everyone here and want nothing more than to build the best food site and community.
SKK June 15, 2011
I agree wholeheartedly!
ChefJune June 15, 2011
I don't know Myhrvold or McGee, but Shirley Corriher has been a friend for many years, and I know she doesn't.... But we do.. and they have scientific knowledge that the local experts here at food52 might struggle to explain.
SKK June 15, 2011
I have been asking myself the same question. Thanks for bringing it up, ChefJune. My thought was also asking Nathan Myhrvold. And interestingly, I don't think McGee, Corriher or Myhrvold would call themselves experts.
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