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New Wiki-Like System For Sharing Foods

As many of you know, currently when you choose to share a new food with other MyFitnessPal members, there can be extremely long delays before that food is available for use by other members.  Each day I'd receive hundreds of submissions to the database, and because I was manually checking each food that was submitted, it would be weeks, if not months, before I'd get a chance to review a food.  There just wasn't any way I could keep up with the massive volume of submissions.

So today, I made some changes to the way foods are shared and updated. Here's how the new system works:

  1. Submitting a food is now composed of two steps.  First, you tell us the brand name and description of the food you want to submit.  As you are entering the brand name, we'll suggest spellings to you from the brands we already have in our database.  If you see your brand there, make sure to choose it so that your brand name is consistent with the existing foods. 
  2. After entering the brand and description, a quick check will be performed to see if that food already exists in the database.  The goal is to reduce duplicate submissions so that we don't clutter the database with multiple copies of the same food.
  3. If your food is not already in the database, you'll see the same old screen you are used to seeing to enter the nutritional information for that item.  Now, however, if you elect to share your food with other MyFitnessPal members, it is immediately enteredd into the public database and available for all to use.
  4. Public foods used to not be editable - that is no longer the case.  You can now edit any brand-name food that is in the database.  So if you see a food that has incorrect information because it's outdated, a member made a typo or data entry error, etc., you can correct the error yourself.  If you edit a food, you won't affect anyone's old diary entries.  The changes will only take affect on entries made after your changes.
  5. The "confirmation" system remains in place.  You can still check the nutritional information of any food in our database and confirm it if you know it's accurate.  The confirmation system is a great way for you to get a sense of how accurate the information is - if it hasn't been confirmed by another member, you may want to check it yourself.  Then, of course, confirm it so that other members can benefit from your accuracy check.

Overall, the food database has become a lot more wiki-like.  It's easy to make new entries to the database so that everyone can benefit.  The danger, as with any wiki, is that the entries can be inaccurate.  But because editing foods is also easy, and because the confirmation system helps you easily see if a food needs to be checked, as a community we should be able to catch any errors quickly and correct them.

I'm sure the system will need some tweaks as we go along, so please try to be patient if it's not performing perfectly right away.  But in the long run, I'm optimistic that it will help us grow quickly the food database while still maintaining a reasonable level of accuracy.

If you have comments or questions, let me know!  Hope you are enjoying the site! 

Search the forums!

By popular demand, I finally added a search feature to the forums today.  You can access it by clicking on the "Community" tab.  At the top right of the forum list, you'll see a search box.  Just type in the phrase you want to search for and click the search button.

I really want to thank everyone who's been giving me feedback and letting me know what additional features you want.  It's so helpful to hear what you like and don't like about the site, and it's because of your feedback that I bumped up the priority of adding a search box to the forums.

So thanks for the suggestions, and keep em coming!  Let me know how the search is working for you.

Hope you're all enjoying the site!
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