The New York Times gives up its popular Facebook cooking group

The New York Times is fed up with hosting a popular private Facebook group devoted to cooking.

The private group, the New York Times Cooking Community, has grown in the few years since its launch on Facebook and currently has around 77,000 people, up from around 60,000 at the end of last year. But with so many members, the group seems to have become more than The Times can handle or want to invest in. Apparently the group is moderated by members of the Times’ relatively small cooking staff.

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Now the Times is leaving the group completely. It will remove its name and official relationship with the cooking community, editors said in a Tuesday message to the group. They also arouse the interest of people within the existing group who may wish to take over the moderation in the future.

As soon as new moderators become available, the Times editors will step down as moderators of the group, revoke their official affiliation with the New York Times, change the name and give it to members to learn all about cooking and eating. ”

A Times representative reiterated the editors’ note to the group, pointing out that “there is much more interest in the group than just recipes or the New York Times.”

“As it continues to grow and change, we felt it should be run by people who are an engaged and informed part of the community,” he added.

NYT Cooking has been a focus of The Times for the past two years. The publisher has launched a separate subscription option for the $ 5 per month section, which, along with the newspaper’s foray into games, has been cited as a successful driver of subscription growth. While the Facebook group undoubtedly generates interest in the section and what it has to offer, it is in no way paid and does not provide The Times with a direct source of income.

Ben Smith, the Times media columnist, posted comments on Twitter about the decision by Sam Sifton, a Times deputy editor-in-chief, to highlight the group’s lack of crossover with revenue generation and subscriptions.

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“There are a lot of people who want to post pictures of their dogs next to their soufflé” and “no place we people wanted to march towards NYT Cooking,” Smith quoted Sifton as saying.

Even so, there were a number of events that led to the Times’ decision to leave the group, which showed some tension.

Before President Joe Biden’s election in November, when the group numbered approximately 62,000, a political problem emerged in the group’s contributions. A man supported a candidate. There were other posts in which “vote” was written in different forms of food. The posts were removed as the group had clear rules for banning any political content, but this led to days of discussion and argument. A user quoted in a Buzzfeed story at the time said there was “a coup underway” and suggested to group members “not to have it, and made it clear that eating is undoubtedly political.”

Since then, other topics seem to have popped up in the forum, which began as a place to share photos and make changes to Times Cooking’s recipes. The group got essentially more trouble than it was worth to the Times.

Erin Biba, a science writer in the UK, went on Twitter after being informed of the new policy, saying the group “contains some extremely toxic elements” at the moment.

“It will be extremely interesting to see what happens when The Times washes their hands off it,” she added.

Biba also posted some comments from the private group in response to the Times’ decision to remove itself. One member of the cooking group wrote: “It’s been a slow-motion train wreck for at least two years.”

“I doubt a sane person would take the job of moderating them,” added the member, “even if they were paid.”

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