Chowhound regional forums can be very helpful for finding good restaurants, specialty restaurants and anything related to food, especially hard to find ethnic items. It requires a little work to know who to believe or whose tastes match yours. (Clue: Look for how many people are reading a specific Chowhound)
Some Topical Forums, like Home Cooking can be very helpful and are full of skilled, knowledgeable home cooks to give you advice.
Other topical areas like "Not about Food" and "General Chowhounding Topics" can mire you down in irrelevant BS and get you in trouble with the moderators if you say something they (or others), don't like. The Chow side of the site is fairly worthless unless you are a beginner cook or wannabe foodie. Lots of advertising, fluffy articles and inane "help" videos. It all seamlessly bleeds over into Chowhound. A CBS property, the site is structured around advertising dollars and making money off the head count of those mainly drawn to the food forums (the "Chowhound" part of the site and what CNET bought that was originally created by foodie Jim Leff).
Chowhound is the best there is on the internet for the North American continent. It and Yelp (and eGullet), used together can work wonders. Yelp is easy to search (but full of a lot of young goofballs with varying motives for being on there), while Chowhound is usually more believable. eGullet is good, but coverage (participation in certain areas), varies dramatically. To participate, eGullet requires you to submit a minimum of 100 words personal statement which must include a specific acknowledgment of the member agreement. They are serious and most people that join are serious foodies, unlike Yelp and occasionally, Chowhound.
Chowhound is almost anal about shills and insiders, yet they let anyone join. Some join just to use the system (where can I find a good hot dog in NYC?), and don't contribute.
Very often the moderators throw out the baby with the bath water. Few good food writers stay on Chowhound for long because it is so repressive. If you know anyone in a restaurant or have ever expressed that you been friendly with staff in a restaurant they will deem your comments tainted and remove them. Thus it is hard for a respected, amateur dining critic with any creds to get anything to stay posted. Most go off to their own food blogs... This leaves amateurs and newbies of varying skills and knowledge. There can be some shrill voices and hyperbole just like Yelp. Just like Yelp, a Chowhound can trash a restaurant or extol it and be totally wrong. There is just less of it on Chowhound, and the moderators keep people from being acrimonious, to a fault. You can counter bad posts with your opinion, but it is hard to disagree with someone and get away with it. It is a tricky tightrope to walk. Things get dumbed-down because of moderation; intelligent, witty, funny, experienced foodie types, who want to speak their mind, get sent packing on short order. "You must behave" and do it their way or it's the highway! I know, I was banished.
Still, it IS the best that's out there. A few others are worth using. Some cities, like Chicago, Houston and Toronto have local forums that are very good and less restricted by moderators.