Friday, January 25, 2013

Great Power =/= The Right To Be A Douche

Have you heard of the Reviewer Card?


Let me break it down for you. One day Brad Newman, founder of Reviewer Card, decided that all those self-important Yelp! reviewers really didn't have the power that he felt they should. Because giving self-entitled internet trolls really couldn't have any negative results, right?

As Gawker so lovingly put it:

"With this sleek black membership card you can finally exert some actual force on restaurants that were heretofore ignorant of your reviewing prowess.

No longer will you be treated by businesses like some non-reviewer whose opinions aren't even on the Internet. With this sleek black membership card you can finally exert some actual force on restaurants that were heretofore ignorant of your reviewing prowess.

No longer will you be treated by businesses like some non-reviewer whose opinions aren't even on the Internet."
Actually, I highly recommend you read the Gawker l article (and watch the video) linked at the top of the page because frankly it says it way better than I can. I'd like to say Gawker made the video as a joke, but no,it's a genuine ad for Reviewer Card. And it makes my skin absolutely crawl.
There's no real vetting system for who can have a card--if you have opinions on the internet, poof, you may have one! I mean, really, who has opinions on the internet? Only the most fair and just, obviously. Certainly no one could use this card for evil...
Oh wait except that's exactly what it's being used for.
And frankly it's the reason I can't stand most review sites--like Yelp!
Yelp! is an absolutely terrible service and frankly I'm a little surprised that they weren't the ones to come up with this card themselves. Why am I so anti-Yelp!?
I have quite a few friends who own small businesses, and have learned not only will Yelp! remove ANY review if you pay them enough money... but they will actually WITHHOLD good reviews if you don't pay them what they think you should.
So now we have people throwing down their Reviewer Card so they bully businesses for free stuff, who are really just writing for sites like Yelp! who bully businesses into giving them money so that the people who actually write good reviews are actually seen.
Now you may be saying, "Uh, Kiri, you write reviews, who are you to get grumpy about this?"
First, let me explain how I work as a reviewer:
If I am reviewing for my blog, I don't mention I'm going to review it. Frankly, I usually don't decide I'm even going to review a place until I get there. On top of this, my typical reason for reviewing on my blog is because I had an awesome experience and want to share it.
The Founders of Yelp!
It is incredibly easy to write a bad review--for one, humor is always on your side and for another, there will always be at least one person who wants to gripe about something as much as you do.
Misery, as they say, loves company, whether that misery be valid or not.
Now if I am reviewing for Crave Local, it's a slightly different story. I will let people know who I am out of respect for their business. This is so I can ask if they mind if I take pictures (ALWAYS ASK THIS) of the food/establishment or if I can record our conversation for my notes. That whole legal thing, you know? Also, if I'm reviewing a particular service (spa, hair stylist etc) I want to be able to give credit to the right person. Most beauty services are heavily commission based--so the more love I can get them from the review, the better.
Now let me explain how Crave Local works as a review site:
Our job is to connect brands with consumers (and brands with brands but that's a whole different blog post) and the way we do this is through testing product and giving honest answers about the experience. If the product is awesome, we review it, it goes up on the site and we recommend it. If the product is NOT awesome, we will write a list of bullet points explaining the issues we had and will privately send it to the brand. This way we are able to honestly communicate issues with a brand/company/business without humiliating them. They don't have to listen to our advice and we aren't obligated to recommend them to our readers. It's a nice balance.
I'm not going to quote Spider-Man at you, but I'm hoping you get the point. Just because you post on the internet, does not make you important. And regardless of your importance (self or otherwise) it does not give you the right to bully--especially with the intention of self-benefit.

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