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Bad Reviews - Read First !


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#16 James

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Posted 09 December 2009 - 08:24 AM

It's not libelous unles its both untrue and damaging.

You are correct to say that something is libellous if it is both (1) untrue and (2) damaging. However there is another angle regarding this issue... you don't have to be in the right to be sued. It costs money, time and stress to defend yourself in court so really you don't want to be there in the first place, so whether you are right or wrong is irrelevant to the task of staying out of trouble.

By restricting yourself to opinion and sentiment, rather than discussing facts and details, you avoid the issue as to whether something can be considered to be true or untrue, and this goes a long way to staying out of trouble.

The real problem is the libel laws need to be updated. It is quite ridiculous that a web site owner should be dragged into someone else's dispute. If you took away their liability for the action of strangers then people coould post what they like, but face the consequences for their own comments, rather than shouldering them onto the site they use to do so.

Anecdotally, I have been threatened with legal action over comments posted by members on more than one occasion. We've also had local businesses misbehaving on the site too. However one local business lost so much face after threatening VN that they changed tack and became a reformed character. They now embrace feedback and reach out to VN members with news and promotions.

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#17 sheff

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Posted 09 December 2009 - 10:17 AM

You can see the issues that a few comments can cause as well!

A year long thread about Tea West in West Dulwich and the associated one from the owners!

Complaint

Response

Edited by sheff, 09 December 2009 - 10:19 AM.


#18 Borgus

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Posted 09 December 2009 - 01:24 PM

If someone unhappy with food/service, then they should try to address the problem at the time. If no satisfactory solution is found, then they should be able to air their general views (“In my opinion, the salmon is not the best I have had locally”) in public as long as they balance it with any response they have had (“However, they did insist it was the finest quality”). However, they should bear in mind that such opinion is subjective (I like my meat very well done, but others are quite happy to eat something which a good vet could get back on it’s feet) and someone else may have been more than happy with everything.

If they haven’t complained in person, then they really forfeit the right to broadcast their views other than a simple "I was unhappy with the food/service and will not be going there again".

The bigger problem is the anonymity that such a platform provides. If someone chooses not to show their details alongside their damning criticism, then the whole thing is unfairly balanced against the restaurant. If people want to go into specifics, then they should deal directly with the restaurant and/or identify themselves properly. At least it would go some way to lessening the exposure of a forum and reducing the risk of a rival restaurant posting bad reviews to try to drum up trade.

The same should apply to other services. If someone has had building works carried out and they were unhappy with it, then a simple “I cannot recommend this company for building works” should be enough.

However, specifics do have a place. For her birthday, my mother-in-law wanted something shiny that would do 0 to 150 in under 4 seconds. I bought her a bathroom scales and all hell broke loose! :D
"It does not require many words to speak the truth." - Chief Joseph

#19 James

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Posted 09 December 2009 - 05:18 PM

reducing the risk of a rival restaurant posting bad reviews to try to drum up trade.

New legislation now makes it illegal to post positive praise under false pretences... and we experienced such a problem with one of our local restaurants shortly before that legislation came into effect.

Also why should a local restaurant be pandered to with removed posts just because it disagrees with what is said ?

My comments were intended to cover issues beyond these restaurant reviews and the VN web site. However on VN there are very few instances of intervention and Matt clearly has a more relaxed attitude to moderation than under my reign of tyranny. It's usually pretty clear if someone is posting something potentially libellous, rather than fair criticism. We see negative commentary on the reviews so the system works. The polls also give a good indication. I frequently defended member comments from businesses that sought removal - moderators don't just take comments down you know, they often help to get sensitive issues covered fairly.

However as a site owner you have to balance the freedom given to your guests to say something negative with self-preservation. I encouraged restaurant owners to get involved and mentioned the positive value of receiving criticism they may have been otherwise unaware of. Some take it on board and do something, others sulk and get stroppy. All the while you are left wondering why you are the one fighting other people's battles. A simple flippant remark can waste hours of time to resolve and that's not fair either.

Maybe one day we'll all have personal web space and post our comments there, and the forum will just knit them together, so that the forum owner doesn't have to get involved in anything.

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#20 MattVN

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Posted 09 December 2009 - 08:15 PM

However, specifics do have a place. For her birthday, my mother-in-law wanted something shiny that would do 0 to 150 in under 4 seconds. I bought her a bathroom scales and all hell broke loose! :D


This thread was in desperate need of a bit of humour!

Maybe one day we'll all have personal web space and post our comments there, and the forum will just knit them together, so that the forum owner doesn't have to get involved in anything.


Almost like what we have now with Twitter, Facebook and RSS feeds.

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#21 James

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Posted 09 December 2009 - 11:49 PM

Yes, except that use of Twitter and Facebook is still subject to their terms of service. Twitter is probably closest to what I have in mind, though it's not much use for in-depth discussions.

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#22 jamesl

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Posted 10 December 2009 - 02:40 PM

Seems to me that our local restaraunts get plenty of trade from a good review on the forum.

I don't see that they should benefit from that if they aren't prepared to take the rough with the smooth. If they don't like a critical post why not suggest you remove all posts good and bad and see how they feel then ? Bet they'd reconsider.

#23 James

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Posted 10 December 2009 - 04:30 PM

jamesl, maybe you should consider a career as a moderator... that's a perfect illustration of how to persuade someone that a 'fair' resolution will only put them at a disadvantage. However I'm not so sure you'd be so popular with the members!

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#24 Muffy

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Posted 03 July 2010 - 07:38 AM

Would it be possible to place the restaurant reviews in most recent order?
I get bored reading reviews from 2004 that have little relevance to what is going on in the present day.
Also it gives a false perspective on the places.
Please change it!

#25 MattVN

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Posted 03 July 2010 - 06:51 PM

When you go into the restaurant review forum the restaurants with the most recent reviews are shown first.
When you go into the thread for the restaurant you have to go to the last page to see the most recent review.

I guess it's the second point that you mean. I know it might be frustrating going through pages to get to the most recent, but if I quickly weigh up the pros and cons (and the practicalities) I'm not convinced that it's worth changing these threads to be newest post first (and then reading backwards).

One thing that I do when I'm in a forum and want to skip to the last page is click on the little number that is next to the thread title in the specific forum. This jumps me to the most recent posts.

If I've misunderstood what you're meaning let me know. Or if other people see an issue I can look into how easy changes are. Sometimes things seem to be an easy change but there are restrictions within the website software.

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#26 doowron

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Posted 03 February 2011 - 12:06 PM

You can't get anything worse than booking a nice romantic eve in the Exibition Rooms, only to arrive to find they have given your table to someone else--I was 5 mins early and I was offered an alternative by the dustbins. I wanted to write about this but it says I cannot add to forum--Why not?

#27 Summit Lover

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Posted 03 February 2011 - 06:21 PM

You can't get anything worse than booking a nice romantic eve in the Exibition Rooms, only to arrive to find they have given your table to someone else--I was 5 mins early and I was offered an alternative by the dustbins. I wanted to write about this but it says I cannot add to forum--Why not?

Maybe a mistake in their booking procedure? I would assume you made your views known and I would hope that they will learn from that.

Re not being able to post on the ER thread, I just added a test post and it worked fine. Could you try again if you still want to complain about the restaurant and let MattVN know by PM if it doesn't work?