Amateur Restaurant Reviews Still Raising Some Restaurateurs' Hackles
from the you-burnt-my-toast dept
Restaurateurs are faced with a swelling number of amateur critics, thanks to a proliferation of sites giving users a forum to write reviews. As we’ve noted before, the response to this isn’t to try and clamp down on the reviews, but to make sure all customers are treated well, not just “real” critics from newspapers and other outlets. Sadly, that message doesn’t seem to be getting all the way through, with some restaurant owners frustrated that user reviews aren’t edited or filtered. The implication here is that everyday people can’t see over their own biases and deliver objective reviews — but there’s no assurance that professional reviewers can, either, while in many cases, people don’t particularly care about objectivity in reviews. For instance, people like particular movie reviewers not necessarily because they’re “objective”, but rather because a reviewer’s tastes generally match their own. In the same vein, a restaurant review from the New York Times’ critic may not mean a great deal to many people, either because of the choice of restaurant, or because of how that reviewer’s background and preferences differ from their own. One freelance restaurant writer says that Yelp could or should “broaden its credibility” by expanding its pool of reviewers beyond its current and generally young-and-single crowd. But if Yelp’s audience is mostly young and single, and finds contributors’ reviews resonate with their point of view, what’s the problem? While none of this is to say that online reviews shouldn’t be taken without a grain of salt, the desire of some restaurateurs (and “professional” reviewers, apparently) for some sort of filters and controls on them smacks of little more than a reluctance to compete.