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Menupages censoring negative reviews of sponsors?

Was just wondering if anyone else has noticed this? I posted a pretty negative review of a burger joint called Twisted Burger on 14th St. a couple of weeks ago. I gave it 2 out of 5 and wrote up my experience with their food. I only went there once but have heard other people who have had similar experiences with the place.

Anyway, I didn't think much of it when my review didn't post, thinking perhaps they have moderators review the postings for obscenitiy, invective or lack of relevance. After a week it still hadn't posted, I also noticed when I checked back on the site that Twisted Burger seems to be a menupages sponsor - their listings appear with little promotional by-lines in the site's directory and search results. I emailed their contact address for feedback to ask what their policy on sponsor reviews was and so far haven't heard back.

Just wondering if anyone else has had similar experiences? I resubmitted the review today to see if it was a technical glitch. If they censor reviews I have to say the site will have lost what little credibility it still had for me.

PS - Am also wondering if anyone else agrees with me about Twisted Burger? It was about the worst hamburger I've had in New York, and that's saying something.

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  1. I just checked on the 'Manhattan' board I couldn't find it. I know I've been censored for some odd stuff from time to time. Nothing rude or obsiene just opinions or questions that they didn't like for what ever reason. That's fine they have a philosophy that they are trying to adhere to. But censoring views on sponsors is another issue altogether...lets see how long this stays up.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Withnail42

      I think the OP is talking about menupages.com - not CH - apologies in advance if I misread your post though.

      1. re: MMRuth

        Whoops my mistake, sorry. Never been to menupages.com guess I'll go have a look.

    2. I think this type of thing is very common place on forums of all types that have advertisers paying the bills and this wouldn't surprise me at all. I used to visit a travel forum that started deleting posts related to crime on the island. Bottom line is it's not good for their advertisers. I do believe it ultimately backfires as people aren't stupid and catch on quickly. All it does is give a forum a bad reputation. Most of the people who posted on the travel forum I mentioned got tired of being censored and have left. That's not good for advertisers either.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Axalady

        You are right about people catching on. It is one of the many things that ruined Citysearch. When it started as sidewalk.com it was a great site.

        It removes credibility from a site. I'm not sure if Yelp deletes bad reviews of sponsors, but it does sort the favorable reviews to the top for advertisers. When you have a few lousy meals after that, the site is not one that gets relied on and only used when there's no other info elsewhere ... and even then you take it with a grain of salt.

        There are so many restaurants and sources of advertising that to do this seems pointless. Let the few bad restaurants advertise elsewhere if they don't like the negative reviews. Why compromise a site for the few bad apples.

        That being said, I never read the reviews on menupages because to me the only point of that site is for menus that are no where else. I wish the Chow place record had a section for a menu for those places that don't have websites.

        1. re: rworange

          Exactly. I use menupages for menus- plus pertinent details, such as whether or not they deliver. I remember sidewalk.com. Citysearch bugs me- by the time you weed out the "sponsored results", there's very little left on the page.

          1. re: vvvindaloo

            CitySearch doesn't have meticulous moderators like Chowhound, and thus is completely useless: the playground of shills, nutjob diners, disgruntled ex-employees, and unscrupulous competitors.

            There's a Harvard Square restaurateur who very transparently posts negatively against his nearby competitors: he's so stupid he uses the exact same style for all his posts despite using different bogus identities. Many restaurant sites (and hundreds of other types of user-review-based sites) are similarly useless for the same reason.

            Chowhound is one of the rare places where you can build up some trust in certain reviewers. I completely ignore the voice of the undifferentiated mob (as in Zagat's reviews) and the anonymous individual poster (as on CitySearch, MenuPages, TripAdvisor, and so on.)

            1. re: MC Slim JB

              I agree with what you have written regarding Citysearch and MenuPages (it's like they're *trying* to attract illiterate crazies to post a review), but I actually find Tripadvisor very useful. I never plan a trip without it anymore! Then again, I don't use it for restaurants.

      2. I must say that I am not surprised. I got suspicious of menupages a while back when I first noticed that if there was a negative review, within the next day or two, there would be three or four or five positive ones posted right away, sometimes even directly invoking the negative review. I just assumed it was an owner/worker or some such person checking to be sure that menupages showed good reviews for their own restaurant (even more striking when several of the "positive reviews" would sound remarkably similar).

        Quite frankly, I guess I'm surprised anyone still takes menupages reviews seriously. As rworange said, I use it mainly just for the menus posted online. Or for the links to that restaurant's own website (along with address/telephone info).

        2 Replies
        1. re: LNG212

          Dittos. Menupages is a great place to see sample menus, but it is notoriously full of shill reviews. I know this based on first hand experience with a former restarant owner.

          1. re: chrisinroch

            Yelp and menupages seem to have formed an alliance. Yelp now has links to menupages and menupages gives a link back to Yelp for more info.

        2. You can't post negative reviews of anything anywhere anymore. Try giving a negative review of a recipe on the Food Network website - paritcularly if the recipe is a Rachael Ray recipe.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Avalondaughter

            TFN hasn't allowed negative reviews in awhile - I think those that were posting about Shamdra Lee prompted TFN to more closely monitor anything on the website. Their forums *used* to be a lot more open.

          2. It doesn't surprise me if that's part of the "deal" that they make with sponsor restaurants. Having said this, I know first-hand that sites like Yelp and Gobbl (which I use) are censor free...what you see is the true word on the street!

            Dru's NYC Eats

            4 Replies
            1. re: druz99

              Oh come on ... what you see is the true word on the street at Yelp ...NOT

              Keep in mind when I'm looking for info about a restaurant I'm unfamiliar with, Yelp is one of the first places I go BUT ....

              - sponsors get positive reviews sorted to the top
              - there are all those pre-opening parties courting yelpers with free eats
              - posting positive Yelp reviews on websites and in restaurant windows give some people who are more interested in getting attention than getting good eats to give accolades to joints that don't deserve it.
              - Yelp PAYS people to post reviews and doesn't call attention to the fact. They look like regular posters. If you check craigslist you'll see Yelp looking for people who are familiar with an area and want to be paid to stir up excitement and do reviews. This usually happens in an area where Yelp is trying to expand
              - there's a lot of ego going on with the opening of the latest upscale or midscale restaurant of the moment. The farther you distance yourself from the opening, the more reliable the word.

              Given that, as I said, I still like Yelp. Just know what you may be reading. I was burnt too many times by Yelp and as I got familiar with what was going on ... I don't get burnt so much. Still better than stuff like citysearch or ... name it.

              However, reading Yelp is like reading real estate ads. You have to deciper what is really being said.

              And one thing that isn't false advertising. The name of the site sums it up. It is about Yelping and making noise. That doesn't always translate to reliable reviews. Creative writinng and in-your-face hip reviews and more important than the content itself.

              1. re: druz99

                What good exactly is the "word on the street", druz99? You'd take advice from a bunch of strangers whose favorite restaurant might be the Cheesecake Factory?

                The Yelp restaurant board in Boston seems to be dominated by young college-age or barely post-college age nitwits with very unsophisticated tastes. I'm not looking for advice from people whose idea of swell restaurant includes casual-dining chain outlets.

                The other thing I dislike about Yelp is that it's a bunch of monologuists showing the kind of self-aborption that makes so many food blogs so insufferable. Typical example, from a Yelper reviewing Clio, a popular high-end place in Boston: "The hardest part for me is that [chef] Ken Oringer could of been my brother in law. He dated my sister for years when he was in college. She dumped him.....like an IDIOT! He is amazing." This fool has nothing to say about the restaurant other than it is "heavenly". Tell me about the food, not your utterly dull and irrelevant personal life, please.

                My bigger problem with Yelp is that there's no dialogue, no back-and-forth, which is one of the more valuable things to me about Chowhound.

                1. re: MC Slim JB

                  No. Yelp is more than that. You have to look beyond the noisiest posters. Inspite of itself, it can give up some great tips.

                  There are even 70 year olds that are featured reviewers. Its not all 20 somethings. They just happen to be the loudest and what Yelp's 30 something owners push.

                  IMO, a Chowhound will look beyond the hype and pick out the gems. A lot of times when I see something interesting on Yelp, I'll ask about it on Chowhound to see what the feeling is here.

                  The Chowhound analogy about M & M's applies to Yelp. Say you hate green M & M's. The larger the bowl of M & M's the more green M & M's you see. That often is applied to Chowhound in terms of too many repetitive inquiries ... the green M & M's so to speak.

                  As far as Yelp, the bowl is maybe 70 % green M & M's, in this case that is noise ... empty ego-yelping, so to speak. But if you sift through it, there's some good stuff because it is a big bowl.

                  I do agree with the problem of Yelp is there is no back and forth. That's where the best Chowhound info comes from ... the discussion. Any Yelp back and forth happens offline through the message system and only between two people. It doesn't benefit the community at large or yeild surprising information that comes from more people participating.

                  I love ... really love ... the new Places option on Chow/Chowhound. It gives the Yelp easy quick restaurant info while allowing people to explore the more detailed discussions about those places. Best of both worlds, IMO

                  1. re: rworange

                    green m&m's happen to be my favorite, and I am confident that they taste better than any other color.

              2. I wrote a negative review on menu pages and it was never posted. It really pissed me off. I registered with chowhound just to show my displeasure with this and confirm it but I am also a chow hound fan!

                They have done this to others as well. What is the point of having reviews if you can only have positive ones?

                Whenever i travel, i look up where to eat here. I went to hawaii twice. The first time the food i had was almost all horrible. The second time i looked up where to eat here, and i was in heaven!