Saturday, February 9, 2013

Foodspotting: What IS a Foodspot?

The latest robust discussion on the the Foodspotting site now is centered around what actually constitutes a "qualifying" spot on the site. Is it JUST restaurant dishes only? Does the cocktail or beer you have with it come under the guidelines? How about the bread basket? Water service? Menu?

Web Images Seem To Be Acceptable

Can homemade dishes, meals and other items be a valued part of the universe of spots? How about a slice of bread at work with Vegemite smeared on it? 50 of them? Grocery store food items whether they prepared in deli, bakery or eat in cafes, fresh meat, produce and seafood or items on the shelf?

Farmers markets? Roadside food stands? Food carts? Lifted web images? Google images? As you can see, the list can be much longer and it seems many of the Foodspotting members have a very different view of this and for multiple reasons. Some make sense, some are based on a member who has some deep seated control issues, some make no sense and of course there are others in between. You may be scratching your head on web images and google images but they are out there and actually some of them on the page of one of the most vocal members, who has since "taken his ball and gone home" while posting lifted web images from a blog to his profile. Talk about your control freak. And another question here is raised as you find out about the husband/wife teams. This will be saved for another article on the blog so stay tuned.

Two of the current vocal site members who are complaining could have their own spots put under the microscope as well. Is a beer photo a proper FS post? If so, why? It ain't food.  Are 20 something shots of the same Asian side dish at the same place appropriate? Just asking. How many skinny flat whites and long blacks need to be duped not by one but by two people with the same shots basically? Just asking. To me it is fine but when you enter into subjective land you can see anyone can complain about anything that does not necessarily jive with their interpretation. And when others see those spots go up and remain then it is assumed that they can also spot the same.

Is It A Reuben?
(No longer on FS site)

Same shot: Or Is It A CB and Pastrami?
(No longer on FS Site)

Quite a conundrum for Foodspotting to deal with eh? Now, to be fair, as part of my 7400 spots there are a mix of all of the above and I would posit, even more. Food is food to me and to be spotted as part of my hobby on the site. As you can imagine, being one of the top spotters creates the opportunity for others to question, complain, whine, cajole and some to get downright nasty about what THEY see as the proper Foodspotting content. And in reality, all of my spots have been an emulation of what i have or had seen on the site so......mea culpa. One other thing I will add is that I have a sense of humor too and every now and then will "spot" a satirical post just to have some fun or poke some. BTW, the suggestion has been made to potentially tab the different types of food spots.

The site has at any time over 200,000 members but have not seen lately any numbers on who and how many are the most active but would think the 80/20 rule probably applies here, or something like that ratio.

Example Of Those I Follow
I currently follow over 600 and am followed by over 650 members. This is a feature to allow you to keep tabs on and see those who you choose to and not others on the site. Great feature and should be used instead of complaining about the content they upload.

In recent weeks, Alexa has reached out to have some conversations about the site, some of the members and some admonitions for me as a top spotter, all of which have been ingested and taken to heart as someone who wants the site to do well and be here for the long run. One of the frustations is that due to being a top spotter you get more notice and those who might not be as prolific seem to slide for the same "infractions" you might be guilty of in the eyes of the site owners. Flags sent in for those seem to go unheeded, unread and cause some head scratching. Lately, two of those are......water at restaurants and packaged goods. I have ceased to spot those for the most part...unless the water is branded or in some way unique and the packaged item unique, new or something worthy of making it seen. Yet, untold numbers of these are posted regularly and nothing done to address them.

Dans Food Pix On Foodspotting
As far as members and their styles go, this is one reason I LOVE the site...many different personalities, many different countries with foods diverse and sometimes downright weird, funny, thoughtful, professional and beautiful people and pages. As far as some who I the hominess of a Robert J. Paul, an everyday Joe having some fun with the hobby, Tom Doran, an accomplished professional who travels a lot and posts pretty much ONLY gorgeous restaurant food around the globe and has high quality images, Dan's Food Pix, who has a high number of images and I emulated somewhat in my approach with a mix of everything on his pages. He also has his own site for the images as well. In future posts I will highlight some of these folks and many others as well since they ARE Foodspotting. Without them all, the site does not exist.

Another Beauty Shot From Tom Doran
I invite others to comment here and although the comments are moderated, meaning I have to review them, I welcome all points if view and discussion, just keep it proifessional and topical. Also looking for ideas for other subjects down the pike. I know I will be sharing some of the ways the site works, some bugs I have seen and more in the future. One tip for you.......before you begin to complain about other users, check your own inventory and see if it might contain some of the "offending" spots or invite scrutiny( you know the old log and cinder parable) AND see if the one you complain about is one of your followers and staunch supporters. I'm jus' sayin'.

Keep on eating and keep on snapping!


  1. Hey Gulf Coast Guy,

    Mark Hester here. I am a member of Foodspotting. I am one of your followers and you are one of mine.

    Just read your post and I have a few quick questions for you and then my take on the question of what constitutes a "spot."

    First off, where is this discussion taking place? I would love to find a place to get more in depth with food and Foodspotting. If nothing else, I would like to be able to contact people living in cities I am planning to visit (without posting to one of their spots) and get some advise on what I should not miss. Also I would love to arrange a dinner club with Foodspotters in my area.

    Thank you for your help with this.

    As for "What is a Spot" -- I have 3 very easy rules I follow:

    1. It has to be a food or drink. No shots of the restaurant, the scenery or the chef.

    2. It has to be something available to anyone. In other words, no home cooking. Package foods are clearly okay under this rule.

    3. It has to be something I personally eat or at least try. No shots of the whole table or the entire cupcake counter. I like to give my personal opinion. How can I do that if I don't at least try the food?

    Beyond that I have some "feelings" about what does and doesn't make a good spot.

    No water -- Unless it is bottled and unusual.
    No Ketchup packs -- House made? Sure.
    No huge fast food chains -- where is the thrill in that?

    Having said that. These are just my personal "rules" that I use to make Foodspotting more fun for me. I wouldn't try to hold everyone to them.

    I think my rule #1 is self-evident and should be hard and fast. But I'm not upset at all if someone "breaks" my #2 and #3 rules.

    It's all for fun (or supposed to be.) If that's what they enjoy - if that is what makes Foodspotting fun for them -- then so be it.

    And technically, if someone walks into a bakery, they do "spot" the entire donut counter -- even if they don't eat a single one. Some of the shots of Buffets in Las Vegas and Dubai, the street markets of Africa and Thailand and the cheese and pastry counters of Paris have been wonderful.

    Same idea behind home cooking. It is a food and you did spot it.

    That's my take on the subject. I am eager to hear your answers to my questions and your followup.

    Take care,


  2. Mark,

    Thanks for the thoughtful response and your take on FS. I believe you embody exactly what I am talking about in how we each interpret the site and develop our own guidelines for our spots. And when you say.....if others "break" some of your "rules' no biggie.

    That being said, the discussion is in one section you can get to at the bottom of the FS homepage. FAQ and Support tab. It is also going on one members page due to his unhappiness and another member joining in to complain there with others joining in. I had commented there but pulled them off since that is not the place for this type discussion.

    You also bring up a good point on asking other members questions and for info on their cities or restaurants. For now it seems you need to ask on one if their spots or submit as a topic to FS and see if they post in the idea section. You can also remove a comment from a spot once you have the info or question answered in the appropriate forum.

    Glad to help you out on anything you need if I can and enjoy your and everyone else's spots. And to me a spot is a sighting not necessarily an eaten dish. So, different donuts area fair game IMO.

    Will be interesting to see how FS evolves as part of Open Table.

    Let me know if I can provide more info for you sir.

  3. WHAAAAT!! No home cooked FS? Hah your joking right? Just because it isnt available doesn't mean it isnt worth seeing. Technically if you have a kitchen then it is just as available to you as someone that posted something from a restaurant in Bangladesh.

  4. Excellent point Joel. thanks for the chime in. As Dans Food Pix also said, too many whiners on FS. Just do your thing, follow who you want and have FUN with the hobby. For goodness sakes, it aint going to end hunger or cause world peace uploading food.

    Although I did have the thought we could have a hunger type effort on the site and get pledges or have some type way to donate to a cause like that since it IS about food and many people are in need of it around the globe.

  5. And I just ate a delish bowl of my "What Is In The House" beef soup. It was awesome with cheese on top and scotch bonnet pepper sauce kicker.

  6. LEts face it before Yummy House we have no good oriental food around SArasota so FS was my motivation to try to make something new! Keep fighting the good fight!

  7. LOL @ "What's in the House" soup.. I love those days.. when the creative mind starts performing miracles.. :) hope it was awesome.. BTW, love your blog and input.. I've chat many times over these subjects about FS with bunch of my fellow spotters and everyone has their own style of approaching the site.. But what I really love about FS is that everyone is generally COOL and NICE (& respectful) about our differences.. I love my friends on FS and the kind comments really drive me to be better.. AS for guys like Tom, You, Obi Wan, Coronaburg, Donkey Kong & of course Cesar, are all masters of the art that I follow so I know what I need to work towards.. collectively, that group of people are creating some genius food knowledge from all over the world and the most beautiful photos to go with it.. I just want to contribute.. good read bro! :) Paul Ryu

  8. Paul, thanks for stopping in and the input here. As for my homemade foods I am in creative marketing and I think this is where I get my spark for making good food from the stuff I have available. I will share here that the wife did not share my zeal for the beef soup. Normally she is a fan and a tough grader too. ;0)

    My Arabiata sauce for instance was a instant.....write the recipe down dish.

    As far as FS goes....I love the hobby but there are many others with more beautiful food. I am all about variety, even if that means some grocery items, etc.

  9. Your collection is great so don't sell yourself short. And do chime to FS with your ideas. We make the site what it is so.....

    Keep on spotting!