Monday, November 28, 2011

Why am I Blogging Now?

In this blog I expect to write about three main subject areas: (1) the food I eat in restaurants; (2) my criticism of what food writers, bloggers and LTHForum posters are saying; and (3) perhaps a wee bit about the mostly Italian cooking I do at home. I plan to write very little here about myself, but in this post I will indulge my desire to say something on that front.

I have written 4,791 posts on the food discussion website, LTHForum. Among members who have never had any behind-the-scenes role, I think that places me (kennyz on LTHForum) second all time in posting volume. It's been a significant part of my life for several years.

I loved being part of LTHForum. Many of its members were among the most knowledgeable food people I'd ever encountered. I got to know a good number offline in real life, and we became friends. Some of my enjoyment - I must admit - also came from a certain voyeuristic trait. I like having an audience. When I wrote something I thought was particularly insightful or funny, I enjoyed the feedback I often received confirming my probably-too-lofty opinion of myself at that moment.

In the paragraph above, I struggled mightily with the verb tense. Most of it is written as if my feelings are in the past, and I guess that is largely correct. A few links in this grubstreet piece allude to what one might call a battle I waged against changes that I saw happening at LTHForum. It was a smaller place when I started, and seemed more targeted at a higher level of food discourse - whatever that means - than Yelp or other similar sites. I saw that slowly start to unravel, and my perception was influenced by two factors.

First came the constant battle LTHForum moderators waged with me regarding what they thought were my overly snarky posts. The moderators would confide that they personally found these posts amusing and they acknowledged that in general my posts were interesting and filled with rich, useful content. I am being honest when I say that I really never believed any of my posts to be particularly personal or hurtful toward anyone. But the Moderators were making the case that my posts might make the Forum seem like an unwelcome place for newcomers. I began to sense a desire on their part to expand LTHForum's reach, even if doing so meant watering things down.

Next, many of the LTHForum contributors I found most interesting starting dramatically decreasing their participation or ending it entirely. Each surely had his or own motives, some to which I'm privy and others to which I'm not. But the fact remained that a significant percentage of the members who had been writing the most interesting stuff either weren't doing so at all anymore, or were doing so in other venues. As a whole, though there are certainly exceptions the content and the posters at LTHForum simply became less interesting to me, which - as pretentious as this may sound - gave me less of a desire to be among them.

So, I'm blogging now because I have loved writing about food and the "food scene" for many years, and the venue in which I used to do it doesn't feel like the right fit for me anymore. If they'll still have me I'll probably participate here or there in LTHForum discussions I find interesting, but this blog is what I'll use for the bulk of my own content. No doubt this will make some people over there happy. I'd be lying if I said I harbor no ill will toward any of the people I believe prompted me to make this move, but I do like and respect others that are currently involved, and I wish them well. I have no illusion that my blog will garner even a tiny fraction of LTHForum's readership, so that voyeuristic side I spoke of above will just have to work with what I get.


  1. Well said, Kenny.

    LTHForum is a victim of the revolution it started. We stood up and shouted about all the great food that was being under-appreciated in every corner. Taking pictures of your food to share with others was considered fringe behavior. Eating in a strip mall was thought to be a joke.

    Now, there's no such thing as under-appreciated food. My mother takes pictures of her restaurant meals. I know trixies who have "dim sum sundays".

    Current and former LTHers are recognized across local media as culinary experts and are sought out for their writing or consultation. Gebert won a Beard. Hammond is published everywhere. Gary has a book and runs a BBQ kitchen. It's over. We won.

    The problem is that the site never recognized that fact and grew with the community around it in a constructive way. The signal to noise ratio got knocked out of whack to the point of it being mainly useless. I can get more and better information elsewhere. Personality and opinion is trampled in favor of inclusiveness and MORE MEMBERS, MORE POSTS!

    Now I have one more trusted source. Thanks for blogging, Kenny.

  2. I'm a fan. Hence the name. But, and admittedly without knowing the details, I question whether the attempts to crack down on kennyz snark are really that related to a shift in the priorities of lthforum. I've lurked on lthforum before there was an lthforum and don't even really remember a kennyz, let alone a snarky one, from the early years. It's only in the last maybe 2-3 years I've noticed.

    I also don't know that lthforum is the reason trixies (if such a thing even exists today) have dim sum sundays. I also don't know that the growth in taking of food pics can be causally attributed to lthforum. Seems to have also increased a lot in other areas. None of this is to diminish the importance of lthforum, especially to those that are or have been active in the community, but I think it is easy to overstate its importance.

    Looking forward to the blog.

  3. Obviously, that achievement wasn't LTHForum's alone, nor was LTHForum the spark that started it all. I suppose the point I was trying to make was that we were on the side of good, now the war is won, and the site never adjusted to the brave new world of popular foodie-sim. Forgive my overstatement.

  4. kennyzfan: I don't know that the (over)moderation of my snark was related to LTHForum's desire to expand. I do know that the desire to seem more welcoming to newcomers was a substantial part of the explanation the Moderators gave me when they pulled my posts.

    It makes sense to me that you only started noticing me and my snark about 3 years ago. I've been a member longer, but that's probably when my posting - snarky and otherwise - became most active. I also tend to agree that there was no particularly turning point for the shift in LTH priorities. I think its something that happened slowly over time, and though there were probably some purposeful discussions about it I think it was mostly an organic change. I don't blame anyone for it, but I do think people could have made choices to reverse the change had they wanted to.

  5. Nitpicks aside, have enjoyed the posts so far and looking forward to future ones, especially the one that will provide a grand unified theory of the widely divergent reports on Cai, which I have not had the chance to try yet, but will.