The Ethics Of Reviewing Restaurants Online

There are none! Blog post over.

No, just kidding. Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal had a piece on just this topic, opening the article with a story about how some Yelp reviewers were wined and dined by Dine, and then proceeded to write positive reviews for the restaurant without divulging their lucrative, if temporary, arrangement with it. So basically, there’s rampant shilling on review websites. Furthermore, there’s rampant shilling in the food blogosphere, albeit less severe since it’s not an anonymous format like the review sites.

Where does that leave us? Well, as we often remind, we don’t review restaurants - no, our biases are much too complicated for a free meal to penetrate, anyway. As for the people who leave reviews on MenuPages, well, yeah: a number of them seem to be from employees or owners of restaurants. To the best of our detective abilities, we don’t let them on the site. It is fairly obvious that permitting non-critical reviews would decrease our credibility and indeed, our traffic, advertising revenues, and the whole thing. Good business practice dictates that we strive toward honesty and integrity over cronyism and graft, so we’re pretty anti-shill.

And so, if you see a review on MenuPages that looks like a fake, let us know and we’ll investigate. Because that’s how much we care!

The Price of a Four-Star Rating [WSJ]

[Photo: two shillings, a very low bribe indeed - Barry L. Atkins/flickr]


The Ethics Of Reviewing Restaurants Online