Megnut

Reader Feedback Day

It's been nearly four weeks since Megnut went full-time food. I feel like I've gotten a bit of a rhythm going now and you've got a sense of what it's like as a food site. So now I'd like your thoughts on how it's going. I've gotten some emails about some problems with the RSS feed, those should be addressed now, and I've received some requests to turn on comments.

I'm interested in hearing what you think of things. Are there too many links a day? Not enough? Just right? What would you like to see more of? Less of? Does the design work for you? Can you find what you're looking for on the site? What trips you up? What else do you want to tell me? I see this site as an ongoing process (hopefully a continuously improving one at that) and plan to make adjustments as I go along. Your suggestions will help me to do that and I look forward to hearing them. Thanks for taking the time to share them with me.

Note: comments are open

There are 42 responses

I think it's a good change for you to go all-food. Now you're one blog my wife can read every day. I esp. like your takes on buying local food, yet it's just too expensive for oneself to implement it.

Somehow the layout is harder for me to read though. I wonder if it's because the space between entries and between paragraphs are almost the same size.

...too many posts per day... can't keep up... feels too much like a gawker blog... quality not quantity... drowning in links...

Your site is a good visit for a round-up of the most of the important food news of the day. I would definitely be up for more feature articles though!

I would really be interested in hearing more about how your relationship with food changed as your career path changed over the past few years, much like that article with the diets of the teenager/dentist/executive/etc. Even though you've always had a strong interest in food, how would you compare your relationship to it when you were in the throes of the dot com boom to now, for example?

I'd love to see more about your personal experiences on a day to day basis. For all of us who are into food, we know how much of our daily lives revolve around meal preparations, shopping, finding new products, new restaurants, new recipes, etc. Especially in NYC, where the discoveries are limitless, I'd love to see what you're up to.

I've enjoyed it overall, but I think the barrage of links take away from the regular posts. Since the links are so succinct, I feel like I don't get to hear why the news tidbit is important or where it fits in the grand scheme of things. Your regular posts are always infused with your personal take on things but sometimes I read 5 links in a short time and wonder which ones are worth reading. I guess that's when it starts to feel like too much quantity.

I like it, but I too agree with the overlinking. Sometime it has a feel that you're trying to push through links just to make content. Review a link like you review a kitchen tool. Why would I want it, what would I do with it, do I really need it?

Also, why separate "features" and other content? why not just make expandable posts for more detail?

Overall, I like it. The colors in the design all kind of float together though, I'm more of a fan of black on white text.

The font is difficult to read. I'm reading your content in bloglines rather than on your site for this reason.

I agree about experiences. You live in New York City! You are a curious woman! You have a good mind! Go out and write when you come back.

I am fine with it .. kindof reminds me of other blogs I read, but like the others said, it isn't really *compelling* like something personal. It's more like skimming the cream for the best food news. Not a bad thing, necessarily. Either way is fine with me, but it's definitely a big transformation.

Interesting re: too many links. I didn't intend to start off with so many links, it's just that in my daily web travels I come across so much stuff I really find interesting that I wanted to link to.

> feels too much like a gawker blog

Peterme, ouch!

> Review a link like you review a kitchen tool. Why would I want it,
> what would I do with it, do I really need it?

I try to answer those questions before I post a link. All the links go through a vetting process. I certainly don't post all the links I come across, I'd say at most I post 3-5% of all the links I come across. But I don't necessarily want to write all that.

> Also, why separate "features" and other content?

Because I wanted to have a place for longer writing that was more like an article, with a different design possibly so there could be more photos, etc. I don't like expandable posts. I wanted the blog to be just that: a straight-forward blog with all the content on one page.

I intend to write more features but I don't know where the time's gone! Working on that...

I'm thinking about the links stuff and will post more about this.

Love the new focus and design. If you can keep up this amount of content go for it! Visually, I'd like a little more disctinction between the posts and links. I love reading about reciepes you've tried! and Go Sox!

> The font is difficult to read.

What browser and computer are you on? By difficult, what do you mean? Too small?

I actually like the "tight" design and the links -- if I read the blurb and it doesn't pull me in, I don't read further. Would love to know more about your personal experiences with food/preparation/dining, as others have mentioned, and I've enjoyed your restaurant reviews. Where DOES the time go? It's clear you spend a lot of time finding interesting things for us, thank you!

Congratulations on going full-time with the food blog, but overall it feels a little too newsy, not personal enough. There isn't that same joy that Chocolate & Zucchini exudes. I also find articles on pesticides and benzene and so on to be real downers. They're important topics, yes, I'm already bombarded by that stuff from other sources (and having gotten very into nutrition and healthy eating over a decade ago, I guess I've heard about all these problems enough :)

I find myself disagreeing with most commenters here, in that I a) love the flood of links and b) like the fact that this blog has been primarily news based, secondarily "experience" based. So many food blogs are completely experienced based (at least the ones I like), so it's nice to get a blog that features all kinds of interestings news and links about food. I'm also (mostly) bored at work all day, so sorting through lots of links is no problem for me! Bring it!

One suggestion I do have is making the hyperlinks a little more noticeable. The underlining/greyscale you do can make seeing the hyperlink a little difficult. Otherwise, it looks great. Keep up the good work!

Meg, I like the change - I read your blog only sporadically before the switch, but now check in regulalrly because good food is a hobby/obsession for me. I'm always on the hunt for new recipes, and I read Omnivore's Dilemma in part because you recommended it (now that I think of it, my husband and I regularly Googlecook because you recommended that too). I agree that there are more links per day than I expected, but I just catch up with them via my reader when I can. My only minor quibble is that the fresh/frozen fish feature didn't seem to answer the question you wanted to pose because you couldn't get the fish you expected - it's your site, why not hold a feature like that until you can get the fish you want? I'm glad you've come over the the food side.

Yesterday's link to the BBC article on food safety was a good opportunity to turn on commenting. It would have given your readers a chance to become a community, not unlike that of Slashfood, and swap questions, answers, and ideas in the area of food-poisoning prevention. I understand that moderating comments is a time-consuming task, but this would be a great opportunity for your readers/fans.

I enjoy the change in format. I used to only read the blog during the week, every couple of days. Now I have it bookmarked at home and work and check in a couple of times a day.
You seem to link to articles in a thoughful way (so I'm disagreeing with some of the other commenters). I can judge links for myself, I don't need a lot of discussion to get me to click.
The layout works for fine for me; easy to read but even more importantly, I don't have to look through a couple of pages to find a link I wanted to revisit. The livejournal style of cutting for more content is annoying.

I am enjoying the food links, but I also feel like it's too much at once. Maybe do a daily roundup of links? That way, RSS users only get one new post instead of 3-5. For some reason, that sounds like a better idea to me.

Aside from that small quibble, I'm digging things here. Megnut has a distinctly different feel from most of the foodblogs I read, which is a nice change of pace.

I second Pete Carpenter's comment above. I liked the personal cooking stories and recipes on the old Megnut so much, and I'd love to see them make a comeback here. I know it's not always possible every day, but even a few posts a week would be great.

Some posts do have a "rushed" tone, but I think that's a side effect of switching to the shorter link-based posts, and probably one that will disappear as you continue writing daily in that style.

I also agree with Rob's comment about comments. A single-topic blog creates pretty focused discussion and it might end up being worth the work of moderation to allow Megnut readers to become more of a community.

I really like the focus and direction you have going on now. I find it really inspiring that you've been able to make the leap into merging two major passions in your life, a merge that I think all fans of megnut probably have seen coming for the last several months, at least. I like the links, but like another commenter suggested, I think I would read more of them if there were a daily roundup or were all posted together somehow, with the longer pieces on their own. I also like the suggestion another person made about allowing regular readers to become more of a community through comments. There is a food blog in the NW that I like a lot (extramsg.com) that has original content like restaurant reviews and farmers market features, and also a message board that gets quite interesting! Maybe a message board isn't right for Megnut but impassioned discussion about food seems to be one of Megnut's goals. I've really been enjoying this change -- I'd love to see you revisit the fresh vs. frozen fish debate sometime. I just ate some frozen fish from TJ's last night and it was rather tasty!

Thanks for all the feedback so far, this is really interesting. I really had no intention of not doing personal cooking stories, it's just that they haven't happened so much. I'm working on getting the recipe section up again, so this is good encouragement for me to do so.

On the frozen fish issue, I definitely plan to revisit that again, especially since I had a conversation with a fairly well-known chef who said there was no difference between fresh and frozen and said restaurants use frozen all the time. So it's an on-going interest of mine, one that I just haven't had a chance to revisit.

About the personal vs. newsy feel of the site: back when blogging first started, there was a big to do from the online journaling community because blogs were being conflated with online journals. Ultimately the distinction between the two types of sites was lost and a blog was whatever you wanted it to be. But I've noticed that a lot of food blogs are really kind of food journals: people write about what they've eaten, post a recipe or thoughts about an experience.

What I've been doing -- at least how I see it -- is more traditional (food) blogging. I'm linking to various food-related articles that I find interesting around the web, and adding commentary to the links as I see fit. And for me it's been really fun because it's reminding me of the olden days of blogging, when you could just dash off a link and a comment, and you didn't have to write a long essay every time you posted something on your site.

But it's also nearly new again for me, because I haven't done that kind of linking in years, and as such, I think I haven't found the right balance yet in terms of personality with the commentary. And I've been having so much fun, and learning so much, reading all these food articles online that I haven't had time to do some of the longer writing I'd anticipated.

I have thought long and hard about comments, and again, intended to open comment more once I redesigned. But I haven't felt like there was a whole lot that people would want to comment on. I guess I was wrong about that! :)

Please keep the suggestions coming, it's very helpful and I appreciate them.

I do like the design and I enjoy your writing, but as I can't even properly dice a vegetable...I find myself only coming back here on a less-than-weekly basis and hoping for updates on the meg.hourihan.com site.

I wish you the best of luck with this, though. Everyone should be passionate about their content and I'm thrilled that you love what you're doing with the site now. :)

>I try to answer those questions before I post a link. All the links go through a vetting process.

You do a better job than most at giving a snippet with your links.

>I intend to write more features but I don't know where the time's gone!

This is one of those things that feels like a good idea, but the reality of writing features is that it's hard work! The fresh/frozen picture is so prominent in the design, that it's a constant reminder that there isn't a new feature.

i didnt see this so i sent you an email instead. Good Luck!

I'm a big fan of the change. I read your blog a few years back, got bored (my interests shifted), and was pleasantly suprised to see the new flavor (har-har) of content.

Love it! :-)

I don't have a problem with links. I think readers place a certain level of trust in the blog author; since I "know you" in this virtual way through years of readership, I'm much more likely to click on your links with little to no lead-in.

That being said, I've unsubscribed from other food blog feeds for lack of content, or for lack of full-text feeds, etc.

Ditto peterme's comment. I'm not too interested in link blogs; if I were I would subscribe to a del.icio.us feed of some kind. I would rather read one well-researched and edited post per week with photos than 20 daily links to sites on the web. I care more about what you think than just what you find on the Internet.

I came here from kottke, so of course I love it.

I found your blog when my husband pointed out your extended trip to Asia. I loved the writing and the feel of that period. Maybe you can't afford to travel the world so frequently, but maybe you can bring back some of the detailed writing you did then about your food experiences.

Please start using absolute image urls. Safari RSS chokes on the relative image urls you are using now.

I read megnut back when...well when it wasn't a food blog. Those days the small tidbits of foodness you gave us was great. Of course i fully support you going to all food and I think so far you have been doing great. All this talk about too many links - eh - i like lots of links i get to scan and see what interests me. Still I agree with pretty much everyone that we want some more of the personal eating stories - i remember on the old megnut when you talked about the french laundry - it really inspired me to embrace the food world and since then i have been to so many amazing restaurants - have a food blog -and cook like crazy. So its all about balance i think - keep up the good work and let's bring the food bloggers out of the works and start doing new and interesting things.

I second the comments on the font being a little hard on the eyes. Which is odd because as far as I can tell you're just using Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif.

I too miss some of the more personal experienced based stories, but wouldn't want to lose the link thing you have going now.

I also like how you venture outside of New York for your stories. So many blogs are geographically bound.

Adam, I fixed the image URLs to be absolute in the RSS feed.

First - welcome to the world of food blogging!

As someone who reads a lot of food blogs, a good food weblog is something we don't have many of, and I know you can fill that niche better than most bloggers. (I use the term weblog as in the old news/link blog as opposed to the term blog - as it refers to a journal blog).

I for one really do care what you can find on the internet.

That said, food is very personal, and as the comments here show, we'd like to know what you're eating. Perhaps there's a format that can give both types of readers what they want, without splitting into two blogs.

Also, as you know blogs grow and evolve as we quickly as we do, so I'm sure you'll find what both you and your readers like over time.

I actually really like the links---I haven't found many other foodbloggers doing that, and I think you're providing a welcome service with interesting choices. I'm finding a lot of interesting info thru your site and it's a welcome change of pace from other "I ate this" foodblogs (mine included :).

As someone who's outside of NYC as well, I appreciate an expanded focus....not just on ny restaurants/opportunities.

I definitely pop in daily, but like many others have said, there are too many links and not enough original content.

hmm, i arrived at your blog via chez pim and stayed because it makes me feel i'm still in the loop with the ins-and-outs of my old city. i would love to hear more about your little nyc finds as opposed to the newsy stuff. in my blog i do a predominantly personal take on london food. some people may like that, others not. i suppose one can strike a balance between the two, but the great thing about blogging is that your site is whatever you make it!

Hi Meg,
As a chef myself, I'm happy for the all-food approach and in fact, terribly enjoy that it's not like most food-blogs which carefully document what the author made for dinner. I'd love to hear more of your commentary on the links you present, personal reviews of equipment, stand-out cheese varieties, etc.

My biggest gripe is with the font! I'm young, have good eyes but can barely read this (I'm using the latest version of Firefox). It's certainly not helvetica or arial- the "o"s are slightly taller than the other letters and it's not a clean font. Please look into this because this alone has kept me away from your site- and I've been reading for years.

good luck!

Hi Meg,

I think this blog is a wonderful resource. How can there be too many links? If I don't want to look at a link, I don't have to click on it, but I'm glad to have the choice.
Yeah, I'm having to squint a bit to read this font too.

Your site has become a one-stop-shop for me to get the latest news on the food front. I feel very informed after visiting your blog - sometimes I'm overwhelmed at the number of posts you've got but I just scroll through and read the ones that look interesting to me. I'm a new reader but I was reading some of the other comments and if you cook I'd be interested to hear about that - what ingredients, recipes, gadgets you use etc.
Keep up the great work!

I love that you're following your passion. Cool food, great discoveries, fine news. I'll be visiting still.
I admit to missing the archives...there are more than a few bits I cannot revisit and refresh my memory with.

Mark, the archives are available at http://meg.hourihan.com/archive.html for all non-food related content (going back to 1999!) and food content back to 2002 at http://www.megnut.com/archives.html

Hi there. I am a fan of your newly refashioned blog and so mentioned you on my blog, the epi-log on Epicurious, last Friday. Will check in daily! Best, Tanya

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