Anatomy Of A Shill

Here at MenuPages, we get hundreds of user reviews every single day. Most are legitimate people who ate at a restaurant and want to tell people how they liked it (or didn’t). Some are unprintable on a family website. Some are from the non-functionally illiterate (a short excerpt from a unvalidated review that came in yesterday: “Itt ‘s amazinqq ii nevahh new somethinq dhtt qudd . Or ii nevahh tastedd in mei life.”) And some reviews are from shills, folks affiliated with the restaurant (be they publicists, owners, or family members). As we’ve mentioned before, shill reviews insult our intelligence and, generally speaking, piss us off.

“But Leila,” you ask. “How do you know a review is from a shill?” Allow us to show you what might be the quintessential shill: a review left for a New York restaurant that shall remain nameless. As with MP Chicago’s similarly-themed post yesterday, our annotations are in bold.

This is my first review (1)- but the 1st time I was so impressed that I wanted to tell other ppl. I went here with a few girlfriends(2) for dinner, the place was busy but not too much, the decor was so beautiful! Just being in there totally gave me a vibe of excitement. The food was crazy good(3). I was full and really was sad to stop eating. I think my fav thing was the drink I got its called the Nina Fresa(4), It this amazing fruity blend that is light and fresh and not loading with sugar. Super Yumm!(5)

1) No it is not. Fun fact! We can sort reviews by IP address and the shill had left the EXACT SAME review for another branch of the same chain.

2) Shills are the only people who use the phrase “a few girlfriends” (e.g. “I stopped into this place for brunch with a few girlfriends!” “A few girlfriends and me tried this hot new restaurant!” “A few girlfriends and I were looking for a place with great cocktails! Very Sex and the City!”)

3) Shills are also the only people who use the phrase “crazy good” in reviews.

4) Regular users do not reference the exact names of menu items.

5) Normal people do not talk in a manner that indicates that they aspire to become Rachael Ray.

We’re on to you, shills, and we don’t like what we see.


Anatomy Of A Shill