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I Want Our Community Back


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#1 DonRocks

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 10:45 AM

Thanks folks!

There's obviously a lot that goes over my head in here! I thought Don was upset that no one posted in this thread since Aug and as you know I didn't know who was the familiar face.

If anyone from Notting Hill(s)(?) is reading this, the website needs work. Most times it's called Notting Hill, but it's also called Notting Hills. The menu has no prices, the drink menu doesn't exist and it seems like there should be some text on the "About" page. Also, if I didn't know better, I'd assume the place was already open. The pictures looked very nice however and I'm interested to try this place. I'm going to be at Vermillion tomorrow night so I'll swing by and check it out.

Here are some photos of the place through the window. Tables are set, lights are dimmed, but there's no information on when they are opening.


Hey Bart,

[Sorry, I was just lamenting the general situation that sometimes I have to tweet to "call out to our members," so to speak; I wish people would dial into this channel as a daily routine, without being prompted, sort of like coming home from work and watching Walter Cronkite every night. But that's my problem and no one else's. This website has gone from being a Third Place to being primarily an informational resource over the years, and I think I largely have Facebook to thank for my woes - it pains me greatly, but what am I to do? If you (or anyone else) can think of ways to strengthen the sense of community here, I'm all ears, and am willing to make changes. I want to always put our members first.]

Your second picture looks like a publicity shot. Tablecloths! Yes! Praise the Lord!
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#2 Ericandblueboy

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 02:53 PM

I visit this site daily, even when I'm in Sicily. Right now I'm having dinner at the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento by myself! My family members weren't hungry - which never stopped me from eating.
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#3 DonRocks

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 06:39 PM

I visit this site daily, even when I'm in Sicily. Right now I'm having dinner at the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento by myself! My family members weren't hungry - which never stopped me from eating.


Eric, I know some people think you're a bit "direct," but if members of this website were half as engaged as you are, this would be a vibrant community once again. The optimist in me still thinks it will happen - I'm just going to keep plugging ahead and hope people come back from Facebook and come over from Yelp (*all* Yelpers are more than welcome here, and I'm certain this environment would bring out their best).
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#4 Night Owl

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 08:34 AM

I'm on here daily, too, just not posting often because I'm not part of the core group of posters/old timers. But It's 8:30am on a Saturday, I'm in Sarasota, FL and as usual, I want to see what's happening here. Cheers! ;) -Stephenie
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#5 dcandohio

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 09:21 AM

I am on every day! but since I am not in DC all the time, I don't post as much as I'd like. But the site is a primary way I stay connected to DC, and I enjoy it very much.
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Shut up and pour another glass of wine, please.


#6 Escoffier

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 10:13 AM

I really need to say something? From the forum topic, I thought we might be having a formal tea party.... :)

In memory of David Weber of Malvern Racing, Desmo4USA, and StephenB. Good friends gone forever.


#7 DonRocks

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 01:45 PM

I'm on here daily, too, just not posting often because I'm not part of the core group of posters/old timers. But It's 8:30am on a Saturday, I'm in Sarasota, FL and as usual, I want to see what's happening here. Cheers! ;) -Stephenie


Ah, Stephenie, I wonder if you're onto something. Your readership is *much* appreciated, and your presence here is such that I'm surprised that you only have 36 posts.

The "core group" of posters/old timers consisted of only about 10-20 people, and that group scattered over five years ago. Most are back, as individuals, but there are no cliques here (and I've tried for there never to be any). It's just me, you, and a bunch of other people on their own, and I hope people aren't scared off because they aren't "old timers." That would be the worst thing that could happen to this community.

I've thought about reaching out to new members personally, urging them to share their thoughts. I feel an immense responsibility to curate our members' writings going forward to infinity - I honestly believe that on many review sites and forums, all the hard work people put in will be entirely gone in 10, 20 years; whereas I'm taking proactive steps on donrockwell.com for the website to go on in perpetuity.

One day I dream of having everyone here use real names, but the reason I allowed member names back in 2005 was because a few of our female members requested privacy, and I wanted to respect that. I do think that real-name communities (like Facebook) have the potential for more camaraderie, although some people will disagree with this. I won't be making any Draconian changes in this regard, however, so much as perhaps asking people to voluntarily do it one day - some people have legitimate reasons for wanting to remain anonymous.

I also want a charity as a rallying point. In another post on this forum, I expressed a strong, personal desire to help the elderly (who could possibly not want to help the elderly who are sick, hungry, lonely, or depressed?), but perhaps a hunger-related charity makes more sense - I'm open for suggestions. Whatever it will take to get people together again (and a shout-out to DanielK for all his efforts with DC Central Kitchen).
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#8 DaveO

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 03:58 PM

I'm a new member, circa this year. I found the forum by accident, started reading and find it fascinating. Interesting threads, tremendous expertise on various topics, lively disagreements, some spectacular writing on the topics of local restaurants, food, and associated and non associated topics. More than anything its the wonderful writing, expertise, and interesting comments on topics I find interesting that keeps me here.

Needless to say I can't comment on the "old community".

I have been a very active member of other forums on totally different topics. The time span is roughly similar to when this forum was started. In general since that time period most forums have lost active membership, stimulating interaction, and the loss of key commentators within communities. The changes across the board are probably a function of all the changing natures of communicating across the web. With regard to food and restaurants, Yelp has changed things since the mid 2000's. Facebook has changed things. Twitter changes things. I see changes coming out of google+ People communicate differently and new technologies keep changing things. Finally to the extent that forums rely on a thin body of critical commentators when a couple of critical folks drop out for whatever private reasons they have, it can seriously reduce overall activity and the community.

Don: Its to your credit you work so hard on this forum and have kept it alive with the interesting commentary of so many people. Its clearly difficult to do so in light of all the changes in technology and opportunities to communicate in different environments.

Off the top of my head there is one technilogical element that could help to bring in more folks let alone spur more types of debate and discussion. Of course it could be brutally time consuming.

Things like google alerts and methods that track commentary in various social media enable one to follow and track all sorts of communications across the board. You could probably track all the references on twitter and facebook with regard to a restaurant or type of cooking or on some topic. Then you could comment on all that and draw folks here.

Damn that would be extensive and time consuming. Big businesses can afford to pay people to do this. Businesses that work on their public awareness all the time do this. OTOH monopolies like cable companies couldn't give a rats ass and have the worst reputations around. But what do they care. They are monopolies. :D

In lieu of personalized responses since it could take incredible time maybe you could have template responses to topics you see in social media and send them out while inserting a link to a relevant thread here. Just a suggestion. Probably wouldn't work in Yelp or maybe not facebook but it might grab tweeters.

Just a $0.02 suggestion. Meanwhile thanks for all the great writing. Very lively interesting and stimulating.
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#9 ktmoomau

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 08:15 PM

I check in daily, except when I am swamped at work :(
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But I learned fast how to keep my head up 'cause I
Know I got this side of me that
Wants to grab the yoke from the pilot and just
Fly the whole mess into the sea. The Shins
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www.katelintaylor.com


#10 DonRocks

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 10:20 PM

Gang, *everyone* who has posted on this thread is awesome. I'd love it if you could recruit some fresh meat! :)
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#11 SeanMike

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 12:46 PM

I still recruit anyone who hasn't heard of the site. I'm like, DUDE, I am so funny and awesome, imagine if you could read my words ANY TIME I ACTUALLY POST THEM, which means don't follow my blog, because I'm very lazy. But I post on DR when it's not being blocked by Chrome (still is!) or being hellaciously slow at work (it's not the only site that does that at work so I blame our Bluecoat Proxy).
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#12 Marks

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 01:13 PM

I am on this site at least once a day. I dont post as often as I could and should, hopefully that will change. As my focus has gone from eating to eating, fitness and wine this site is still very good to me.
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#13 DonRocks

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 01:51 PM

I still recruit anyone who hasn't heard of the site. I'm like, DUDE, I am so funny and awesome, imagine if you could read my words ANY TIME I ACTUALLY POST THEM, which means don't follow my blog, because I'm very lazy. But I post on DR when it's not being blocked by Chrome (still is!) or being hellaciously slow at work (it's not the only site that does that at work so I blame our Bluecoat Proxy).


SeanMike, if you reset your browser's cookies, things will be fine on Chrome!

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#14 thistle

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 03:06 PM

I check in daily, if you want us to recruit, does that make us old meat? (it doesn't bother me). I hope everyone (new & old members) had a peaceful holiday break & are looking forward to a new year...
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#15 DonRocks

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 03:10 PM

I check in daily, if you want us to recruit, does that make us old meat? (it doesn't bother me). I hope everyone (new & old members) had a peaceful holiday break & are looking forward to a new year...


Aged, like a fine claret.

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#16 thistle

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 03:51 PM

Sounds better than dry aged beef...

#17 weezy

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 05:00 PM

I m on the site at least daily, sometimes more often, popping in to catch up on a topic between projects at work. As far as recruitment, I try by linking to specific posts or topics to folks who express curiosity or an interest in whatever that may be. I think coming here and reading is the best hook to get folks to sign up for themselves. I wonder if new members wonder if their comments/reviews on established restaurants are worth posting? I try to at least briefly remark on any non-fast-food place that I've been to even if it is extensively reviewed by the DR community, because I think consistency and continuity of a restaurant's efforts should also be noted. As for conversation, nothing brings in comments on a message board than a crisis of a poster or an argument between posters....or a give-away of some kind. Maybe we can create a "Celebrity Chef Death Match" online battle....?
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#18 DaRiv18

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 08:23 PM

As for conversation, nothing brings in comments on a message board than a . . . argument between posters...


I was thinking the same thing the other day when revisiting my controversial Medium Rare business model post. http://www.donrockwe...550#entry185849

If Seitsema criticizes Range for an overly broad menu, maybe I'll bring out the hypocrisy paddle, for the good of donrockwell.com :-D
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#19 DonRocks

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 09:03 PM

I'm loving this. I'm watching the Redskins, on top of all the posts coming in, and man, this has been a great weekend for the website. THANK YOU everyone! I can handle ten times this capacity in terms of organizing and moderating - please keep it coming! In the meantime, I'm going through and grooming the Dining Guides to make sure they're current and in line with recent posts.
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#20 Night Owl

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 11:26 PM

Don, your earlier post gave me the courage to post more this weekend - thanks! And go Redskins... onward!
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#21 DonRocks

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 11:34 PM

Don, your earlier post gave me the courage to post more this weekend - thanks! And go Redskins... onward!


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#22 Lori Gardner

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 08:25 AM

I have to join the chorus of those who are on here almost daily- including while on vacation. I don't always add to the conversation - -particularly if I don't have anything of note to say- but I always want to see what others are posting. On a couple of occasions Don has personally encouraged me to post more often and while he shouldn't have to do this- it has served as a reminder for me to do so. I am making it one of my New Year's resolutions to join the conversation more often!
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#23 iolaire

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 10:38 AM

I'm a member of another site with a more modern forum software, with thinks like likes, status points and such using the http://xenforo.com/ forum system.

I have to say adding some interactivity and recognition for posts and comments is a huge motivator to be active in the site. The site: http://milepoint.com/forums/ allows people to "like" your posts and you get a nice stats. You also get alerts when someone quotes your post! Another nice feature is to be able to "subscribe" to a thread, via alerts or email - your choice.

Posted Image
Posted Image
Note that the account shown is a secondary account with no activity, I feel much better about the 2,600 likes on my primary account - but I did not have any active alerts on that account right now.

The site also has membership levels, and actually gives out prizes (shirts, Starbucks gift cards) to high point based members. (Keep in mind this is business, not a hobby site, from someone who founded an earlier forum based miles/point site, successfully sold it and restarted the same type of business after his non-compete ran out.)

To me the likes are highly motivating to post – just like other sites it feels good as people recognize your contribution.

So if you want to play or look at Xenforo they do have a converter for your forum software: http://xenforo.com/help/importing/

Also it looks like IP.Board also has the likes functionality:
http://community.inv...tion-mode-like/
Turning that on and getting someone to help make the "likes" very visiable to the user would help get people more active.

#24 DonRocks

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 10:56 AM

Also it looks like IP.Board also has the likes functionality:
http://community.inv...tion-mode-like/
Turning that on and getting someone to help make the "likes" very visiable to the user would help get people more active.


I could certainly do this.
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#25 SeanMike

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 12:37 PM

SeanMike, if you reset your browser's cookies, things will be fine on Chrome!


I've done that twice!
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#26 Waitman

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 12:43 PM

As for conversation, nothing brings in comments on a message board than a crisis of a poster or an argument between posters....


I feel as though I've done more than my share in this regard.

Twits. ;)
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#27 DanielK

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 12:54 PM

I feel as though I've done more than my share in this regard.

Twits. ;)


See, now I want to click "like" on this post...
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#28 DaveO

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 01:53 PM

Don: This forum software does give you the ability to reference "likes" and "people who have cited your post". I'm in a different forum with the same software as this one and they provide that. I'm not an admin so I don't know where it is...but its there.
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#29 DonRocks

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 01:58 PM

Don: This forum software does give you the ability to reference "likes" and "people who have cited your post". I'm in a different forum with the same software as this one and they provide that. I'm not an admin so I don't know where it is...but its there.


I've already decided I'm implementing it for the New Year. :)

See, now I want to click "like" on this post...


So do it!
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#30 bookluvingbabe

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 02:23 PM

There were a lot of 2 am feedings that this site got me through. And 4 am feedings. And all the nursing sessions in between.

I recomend this site often to people at a loss as to where to eat.

I'm in a different space physically, emotionally, fiscally and spiritually and in almsot every other way you can imagine than I was in 2005.

And I still check in most days. I could post more but I don't find have much to day these days. My dining is often dictated by the whims and needs of a 5 year old. My resources to dine are limited.

But I'm still here.
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#31 iolaire

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 02:27 PM

I've already decided I'm implementing it for the New Year. :)

So do it!


That was fast, not quite working yet:

Posted Image

Good job getting the link up there in a few hours!

#32 weezy

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 02:46 PM

I got the same thing -- but waitman got my vote!

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#33 Tujague

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 02:46 PM

I'm on the site several times a day as a lurker, but with the crash-and-burn of my career--and thus income--this year, most of my dining experiences have been rather bleak. And even some of the better ones I eked out--dinner at Ripple, Little Bird in Portland--I found myself with little to say. (Ripple--good ideas and flavors gone amok; Little Bird--what am I missing? Drinks outdid the dishes.) But I do value most everything I read and learn here, and the kind condolences of Don, qwertty, and others when my brother died this summer were a genuine solace in a dark time--as sincere and heartfelt as anything I got on Facebook. And whether that amounts to community or not, I don't know, but I do look forward to continued lurking and dialogue and maybe enough of a rebound that I can put in a personal appearance at a gathering one of these days. Thanks all.
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#34 DonRocks

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 02:55 PM

That was fast, not quite working yet:


Thanks - it should work now.
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#35 iolaire

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 03:12 PM

Thanks - it should work now.


That's it, I hope it gives the members lots of warm and fuzzy feelings...

Posted Image
Posted Image

#36 Sundae in the Park

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 03:22 PM

I am on every day! but since I am not in DC all the time, I don't post as much as I'd like. But the site is a primary way I stay connected to DC, and I enjoy it very much.


Same here. I had to wean myself away for a while because I was so homesick, but it's better now and I can be genuinely happy for all those who still get to eat at my favorite places. Back to the cooking and travel boards!
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#37 Tweaked

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 04:00 PM

We need to have more $20 Tuesdays in 2013. We were going pretty strong in the beginning/middle of 2012, with turn outs in the 12-20 people range. But I don't think we have had one since before Labor Day.

Perhaps the $20.13 Project. A goal of 13 $20 Tuesdays during the 2013 calendar year (one a month + 1).
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#38 DanielK

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 04:01 PM

We need to have more $20 Tuesdays in 2013. We were going pretty strong in the beginning/middle of 2012, with turn outs in the 12-20 people range. But I don't think we have had one since before Labor Day.

Perhaps the $20.13 Project. A goal of 13 $20 Tuesdays during the 2013 calendar year (one a month + 1).


You volunteering to chair this committee? :P

#39 DonRocks

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 04:38 PM

You volunteering to chair this committee? :P


Hell I'll chair it if you'd like, but I think we'll get better participation if it's someone other than me. That having been said, I have no problem working behind the scenes with the chairman, making initial contacts with restaurants, etc.

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#40 DanielK

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 04:59 PM

Hell I'll chair it if you'd like, but I think we'll get better participation if it's someone other than me. That having been said, I have no problem working behind the scenes with the chairman, making initial contacts with restaurants, etc.


Since I did it a couple of years ago, I'll just point out to any potential volunteers that it's really not a lot of work - you just moderate the topic, and coordinate with a couple of the restaurants, as usually others will volunteer to run individual dinners.
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#41 jandres374

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 05:23 PM

I am also on here ate least daily but don't post reviews nearly often enough since unfortunately our dining out revolves our kids, which involves one very picky eater. We often eat out in Bethesda which we all know is a wasteland of mediocrity. I try to post our better meals but don't have the sophisticated palate of most on this board, plus my wife is not willing to try many new things so we are kind of limited.
Making it a New Years resolution to post more often.
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#42 DonRocks

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 05:31 PM

I try to post our better meals but don't have the sophisticated palate of most on this board, plus my wife is not willing to try many new things so we are kind of limited.


Objection! Your palate is *just fine*.

Plus, we have a lot of readers here with small children who would very much appreciate knowing about child-friendly restaurants, and I don't care if we're talking Lauriol Plaza, Uncle Julio's, Wendy's, or what-have-you.
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#43 iolaire

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 05:41 PM

We often eat out in Bethesda which we all know is a wasteland of mediocrity. I try to post our better meals but don't have the sophisticated palate of most on this board, plus my wife is not willing to try many new things so we are kind of limited.


Im good with Bethesda As long as you plug Matuba's lunch time rotary sushi:-)

More $20 Tuesdays sound good, I'm on the form to benefit from member orgaized events...

#44 bookluvingbabe

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 06:09 PM

Objection! Your palate is *just fine*.

Plus, we have a lot of readers here with small children who would very much appreciate knowing about child-friendly restaurants, and I don't care if we're talking Lauriol Plaza, Uncle Julio's, Wendy's, or what-have-you.


Good. Because I just had NYE lunch at Uncle Julio's!

#45 Escoffier

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 08:41 PM

We just got back from a great New Years dinner at Del Ray Cafe and tomorrow I'll post about it but tonight, I'm going to enjoy the afterglow and wish everyone a great 2013. Happy New Year to all the Don R. folks.
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In memory of David Weber of Malvern Racing, Desmo4USA, and StephenB. Good friends gone forever.


#46 DonRocks

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 12:12 AM

Happy New Year everyone!
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#47 darkstar965

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 01:39 AM

Happy New Year back at you, Don! And to everyone! Wow, it's 2013.

I'm also on here most days and post as much as I'm able (sometimes probably too much :wacko: ). This is much more a community than other food and restaurant related websites imho.

#48 The Delicious

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 10:09 AM

Happy New Year!

FWIW, I'm on the site several times a day.

While I believe I'm one of the oldest members, I have only made a laughable number of posts (less than 200) during this time. The problem is, I rarely go out to eat, and when I do, it's usually not worth writing about (case in point...we ate at Chevy's (!) yesterday. Guess what? It sucked! Whatever, I have a one-year old and the place is colorful and we can give him chips to snack on immediately).

I do, however, greatly appreciate the time and effort put in by the other members that post regularly (and even those that don't). Also, while I'm a rare-poster, and I've never met any members (wait, not true, i met EricOx accidentally one evening), i do feel like part of a community, and one that surpasses most of what I experience via Facebook et al.

#49 Choirgirl21

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 05:24 PM

We need to have more $20 Tuesdays in 2013. We were going pretty strong in the beginning/middle of 2012, with turn outs in the 12-20 people range. But I don't think we have had one since before Labor Day.

Perhaps the $20.13 Project. A goal of 13 $20 Tuesdays during the 2013 calendar year (one a month + 1).


I would love to see this, as well as a resurgence of other dining out events. It was actually the coffee tasting that Darkstar965 planned that drew to my attention so prominently how these types of events had dropped off. I can't generally make weeknight events, especially when they're not in MD so the Tuesday events wouldn't be something I could do frequently, but once in a while I could and weekend dinners would be a good possibility.

I'd also love to see more things like the coffee tasting. Would still love to have a DR tasting at Black Ankle when the winery reopens in February, or in the spring when the whites are released.

For the record, I do check the site pretty much daily, although perhaps not always on the weekends. I tend not to post restaurant reviews often because one, I'm too drunk when I get home and then get caught up in other things and it falls off the radar and two, often I don't think I can say anything that hasn't been said or at least not nearly eloquently enough. Suna is a great example - fully intended to write a review in that thread because that was by far the most thought provoking meal I've eaten, but by the time I checked in, several people had basically hit the nail on the head with what dishes stood out, which needed work, and the overall experience so I just never got around to chiming in. But I do appreciate this site and would love to see even more activity.

My more than two cents. ;)

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#50 PappyVanWise

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 09:28 PM

I'll throw in my couple of cents worth, now that we've pulled back from the Fiscal Cliff. While I check in with DR.com almost daily, it's almost exclusively in the Wine and Beer and Shopping forums. As my family has grown from a two top to a table for four, my dining money is spent mainly on cooking at home (and drinking at home, lots of drinking at home as I sip a Twisted Oak Murgatroyd).

The Beer and Wine forum isn't nearly as active, but when Joe H makes a wine recommendation my next stop is usually Google to find out where I need to go and how much I'd need to spend. In 2012, he can take credit for 20 or so new bottles in my cellar. I think I'd be more inclined to post if those forums were more active...but then again they'd be more active if I posted, so am I the chicken or the egg?

A while ago there was some discussion of an online tasting, which seemed kind of silly to me at the time. But after experiencing one over at the WineBerserkers forum, I think it's something that could work well here, too. I have much respect for Don's and Joe H's palates, and of course when Mark Slater and Kathy Morgan chime in with wine talk, I'm all ears.

I also like the beerspotting thread, which tends to pick up during Hopslam season, then lie dormant the rest of the year. "Rare" beers now seem pretty common, so maybe twitter and facebook have ruined that for us as well. I remember when Arrowine got their case of Canadian Breakfast Stout, 10 people were already in line when they cracked the case, thanks to social media. Luckily I was 11th for the 12 bottles, even without a Twitter account. ( I also managed to get a case of Westvleteren 12 on 12/12/12, but maybe I should post/brag over in the fourms)

I try to participate when I can, and I do frequent Arlington business who are active here (Artisan Confections, Screwtop, Arrowine), but I just don't go out to eat like I used to. So, for you Don and the rest of the community, my New Year's Resolution is to post more in the Beer and Wine forum.
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