I review restaurants and blog about the experience all over town and anywhere I go. It’s a great hobby and a great interest to me because I love to eat, I love to experience the ambience, and I love interacting with people and reviewing the level of service and food qualities. It’s a simple hobby that’s turned into a truly fun activity that has me as one of the highest rated reviewer in Travel Advisor. I started to do this for fun but realized that there is a tremendous responsibility to what I post online.
I’m aware that many people are reading my reviews and posts and taking my words to heart. This could be a great thing for the restaurants if the review is good (and mostly it is…) but when it’s bad, it’s on the internet forever. so I have listed some things for me to consider. An ethics list of sort. Here are some points I’ve come up with that I try to live by as a food blogger.
1. Be Responsible
I always try to be aware that I am a publisher and I must respect the responsibilities that come with that title. The minute I click ‘Post’, I AM the publisher so I put on my publisher hat and try to be unbiased, fair and objective as much as possible in what I’m about to write. If I’m pointing out one disappointing element of the evening, I try also to point out the positives as well. If the food was so-so, the ambience might be good or if everything was average but the superb service completely made up for it, that’s a huge thing to write about too. There’s always something positive to an evening. I have not yet experienced a total blow out.
2 Be Accountable
I Understand that I am accountable for my actions when I enter the restaurant and start to interact with the staff. I always try to walk into the place wanting to really enjoy the experience. It’s almost impossible for me not to have a good experience. I’m smiling, I’m excited about being there and completely enthusiastic from the start. What if I’m not? I get myself there…you can do it. Try smiling and being in a bad mood. Impossible! I try and make sure that the negative element is not me from the start because I’m aware that my mood affects the review.
3. Be Civil and Fair.
Sometimes, even if I’m entering with a positive attitude, things do go south. The service is slow, the food is cold, the ambience is not ideal…Like one time, right in the middle of our meal, the waiter very dramatically, took his apron off and threw it down and quit with a flare and left…First I thought, ‘Waoh, this is bad business…’ but then I thought, ‘Great…dinner theater!’ I rather enjoyed it though I’m not sure if others would like that kind of drama in the middle of their meal…and because I enjoyed it, I wouldn’t write a terrible review about it…it’s only one moment in time. So I try and try to give the benefit of the doubt to the situation. I try to look for other positive points to the evening.
4. Be Transparent
I am transparent about my relationship to the restaurant owner, about comps, gifts or samples. I generally go incognito and then write about them so I’ve not had any problems in this area. If I give a bad review,
I try to go again to give it a second try. I once wrote a negative review about a hotel and the manager asked me to contact him. I have not reached back to him but plan to go back to review it again, hoping for a more positive experience.
5. Be macro
I’m aware that my opinion is just that, my opinion. And so when I’m spewing my opinions especially when it’s not in such a good light, I try to pull back and look at the situation from afar.
What I realize then is that the evening of food experience is a dynamic thing, moving with the the mood, the situation, the personalities of all the people involved. So I try to take the sharper edge out of the review, even if I’m stating everything I felt and experienced. I’m writing about just one perspective…mine. From afar, things don’t look so bad.
Dianne Jacob August 11, 2009 (blog-7 Guidelines for Food Bloggers on Freebies)
Unknown Author MOR10.com (article-Code of Ethics for Bloggers, Social Media and Content Creaters)
Brooke Burton, Leah Greenstein The Food Blog Code of Ethics (article-The Code)
Melissa Clark The Splendid Table (Interview- It’s all about trust and ethics in food blogging)
Tim Hayward May 6, 2009 The Guardian (blog-Ethical Food Blogging)