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Eater Now Requires Commenters To Sign In, Register With An Email Address


DonRocks
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In a *very* wise move, Eater has announced that they're eliminating completely anonymous comments.

Until now, their comments were pathetic, and this is the only chance they had at credibility. Now, finally, there's some competition for donrockwell.com. Very real competition. And I welcome it.

The Mark Squires wine board instituted this policy many years ago, and despite it becoming a male reserve because of requiring real names, this policy is absolutely what saved, perhaps even "made," the website into the most popular wine forum in the world (they have since locked themselves behind a paywall, and are no longer relevant to the general public - but the only reason they were able to institute that paywall is because of the long-term benefits of having instituted a real-names policy).

Times have changed, however, and females are no longer afraid to come forward and express their opinions (before you jump down my throat for that comment, I assure you that was not the case ten years ago). I thought long and hard about whether or not to enforce real names back in 2005, and decided it was more important to protect people's privacy who didn't want to be exposed to the dangers of the internet - as long as *I* knew they were real people - and believe me, we check *thoroughly* - that's all that mattered. Now, as then, I put my personal stamp of approval on each and every comment made on donrockwell.com, and see absolutely no reason to change our policy.

Eater is now something to be reckoned with. Welcome aboard, Eater. Goodbye, Yelp.

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I long ago decided that anonymous postings were the equivalent of sending a letter written in crayon with no return address. We've seen how that policy has degenerated into "trolldom."

You know what? They're not requiring real names; just for people to sign in. The Washington Post and many other online publications require the same thing, and their comments speak for themselves. This is not a big deal after all - there is no way Eater is going to verify people's identities the way we do. No way. Not unless they require a credit card to register (in which case, well ... maybe that's part of their long-term business plan; I sure as heck wouldn't give them mine).

Eater's is an unbelievably banal business model to implement. I wish them well.

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In a similar vein, Washington Post has launched "Service Alley," something similar to our Professionals and Businesses forum (or Angie's List, take your pick). It has some sort of "friend" thing built in, so you can get home-service reviews by people you trust.

donrockwell.com: ahead of the game, idea-wise; bringing up the rear, funding-wise. :)

I honestly think our entire website can be supported by the growth of the Professionals and Businesses forum.

Investors? Are you out there? there? there? there?

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In a *very* wise move, Eater has announced that they're eliminating completely anonymous comments.

Until now, their comments were pathetic, and this is the only chance they had at credibility. Now, finally, there's some competition for donrockwell.com. Very real competition. And I welcome it.

....

Eater is now something to be reckoned with. Welcome aboard, Eater. Goodbye, Yelp.

Definitely agree good that Eater has decided to eliminate totally anonymous comments. But must respectfully disagree with you, Don, about this now representing "very real competition."

Eater's a totally different kind of animal aside from being more media company than online community, as I think about DR.com. It's also a very different model from yelp, which is about crowdsourced reviews. Both are serious businesses with serious backers and ad revenue.

Eater is one of three web properties that fall under a company called The Curbed Network.  By the firm's own description:

The Curbed Network delivers intelligence on real estate & interior design (Curbed.com), restaurants & dining (Eater.com) and fashion & shopping (Racked.com). 

Eater covers nearly 20 cities and is growing fast.  It raised its first round of funding ($1.5 million) 6 years ago and has likely moved from Angels to venture firms since then.   The two founders are younger grads of Harvard Business School and Brown.  The CEO, a Brown grad named Lockhart Steele, was with Gawker and other businesses before Curbed. His Co-Founder is Harvard Business School and spent some time at Goldman Sachs.

Why does that all matter?  It doesn't so much except the short history, founder backgrounds and likely motivations are very different from dr.com.  Eater doesn't have anywhere near the food and wine background that Don does or, for that matter, what many of the longtime members here do.  It's a professionally backed and managed media startup. One of Eater's founders is a blogging and tech expert who gives talks on those topics. The other is a business person who no doubt understands capital raising and advertising stream revenue management but maybe less so wines of the Loire Valley, beautifully-photographed Thai dishes, Vitamix blender nuances, sad and significant passings, why we should all be so excited and hopeful about the Shield's new project in Georgetown and real and substantive debate.

Bottom line for me...and I suspect some others here...is about quality. Quality of content. Quality of knowledge. Quality of discussion. And, quality of community.  To me, those are big, big deals.  And they're central to how I found this website years ago and then hung around. DR.com has an insurmountable lead on those four measures for the DC food scene IF it chooses to maintain it; not just over Eater. Rather, over everyone simply because no other site has been as focused as DR.com has been traditionally.  There's an honesty and commitment here that distinguishes this community.  Make no mistake about it, the main goal of Yelp and of Eater is about maximizing shareholder value.  Decisions about everything from launch reflect that. It's not to say there there aren't some interesting bits on Eater.  There are.  But the histories and foci of those businesses couldn't have been more different from what dr.com has been.

Sometimes online businesses started by founders with sincere passion, expertise and with a real focus on quality can grow organically.  Wikipedia, Craigslist and Angie's List (which now sponsors motorsport racing teams) are good examples there. Amazon and eBay aren't.  More typically, small online content or community businesses stay small for many reasons.

Here's a blogpost that gives some perspective into the thinking of one of the two Eater founders.  Very different animal.

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