“Thank U! We have received your review. It will be published after our editors’ approval, which will take a few hours to 2 days at most.” Yes, those are the exact words that pop up on your screen after you work on a long post ranting about the poor food quality at yet again, another one of the disappointing restaurants you just visited, after reading all the positive reviews on OpenRice.com. For a website that claims to be a platform where Openricers leave comments “…regardless it is positive or negative.”
If you scroll further down on the FAQ page, you will see the answer to the question you were wondering most about, “Why were some reviews removed? Or why the number of reviews dropped?” Yup, OpenRice gives you a fairly simple answer for that. “For quality propose, OpenRice reivews all comments and restaurant reviews before they go public. Visitors will be able to report any unsuitable review. OpenRice will see then investigate and remove the review if it is inappropriate.” Yes, they made those exact typos. Here’s another question: What is considered an appropriate post? An email is already on its way to the OpenRice editors.
Here are some guidelines for why OpenRice removes users’ reviews (also found on their FAQ page):
- The review is written by restaurant owner or staff—true, that should be removed.
- The review submission is benefit-driven—I see your point.
- Duplicate reviews or reviews with similar content is repeatedly submitted or with different OpenRice account—so pretty much to prevent restaurant owners from submitting positive reviews with multiple accounts, again, I see the point.
- The review is submitted by the same person more than one time under same visit—to prevent users from accidentally submitting the same review more than once, okay, I get this too.
- The review content is insulting or provocative—what? What happened to “regardless it is positive or negative?”
- The review content contains profanity or personal attacks—does this include attacks on the poor food quality?
- The review is false or misleading—As OpenRice already stated that they acknowledge our individual tastes, who is to judge what is false or misleading? Is this a nicer way of saying, “We don’t want your negative reviews on a restaurant who has paid us enough money for us to do PR for them?”
- The review or part of the review content is not original or is copied and submitted without permission from copyright holder—So OpenRice is also operating as a plagiarism detector now.
- The review contains commercial text, picture or link—fair enough.
- The review contains self-promotional text, picture or link—Food bloggers, please don’t steal our OpenRicers away from us.
- The review contains abusive or valgar language—sure, we don’t want any negative influences on our children. We want them to learn proper language, except it’s “vulgar.”
- The review is not based on personal experience—hmm. And you would know?
- The review has insufficient information on how food taste and look—Which one of us has master tastebuds that can distinguish every ingredient used to make our dishes?
- The review contains relatively serious complain or other legal matters but without proper proof of evidence—again, this is to protect that restaurant that paid OpenRice heavily?
- The review is responding to a particular review/comment—okay, sure, I get it.
- The review contains photos only and lacks content—But a picture is worth a thousand words!
- The review contains restaurant information—and shouldn’t it contain restaurant information?
- The review contains external photo links—People who love to take photos of their food, don’t expect any of us to go check out your photo-blog anytime soon!
- The review content contradicts with rating—Hmm…
- The review content contains private and confidential material that needs to be removed—Huh?
This is what the real problem is. There is no real, transparent platform where foodies share their dining experiences. The posts you are reading are all censored posts that have received an editor’s approval for the lack of negative comments before they reach your eyes. The frowny faces you see on OpenRice? I have two theories for that. One, the restaurant that received the negative review did not pay OpenRice enough money for them to do “quality control” for them; two, the comment made is only slightly made so it is not actually as negative as what some of the unapproved posts have.