Restaurants Responding to Chowhound Postings
I am curious to the collective feelings about restaurants responding directly to issues raised on Chowhound. Do you feel it is a sign of respect for the medium and its contributors or an overstepping on the part of the restaurant?
I remember that a few years ago a couple of smart alecks assaulted a restaurant on these boards. They were hurting the place's business by their actions (as THEY described them) and were further doing harm by posting here. I was going to blast them, but I realized that, although that might be a fun thing to do, it did not help the restaurant. They would still end up smeared. I found the restaurant location (somewhere in Canada) and 'phoned them. They still remembered the snotty kids' (my term) behavior when I talked to them. And they had never heard of Chowhound. They must have gotten wised up pretty quickly because the thread disappeared shortly. In similar circumstances, a named restaurant needs to be able to respond, as long as the discourse remains civil.
And sometimes the general level of understanding goes up if an experienced restaurant worker or owner takes the time to explain why some things are done the way they are.
Restaurants are permitted to participate, as long as they do it within our guidelines at http://www.chowhound.com/topics/36760... , which we'll copy here:
If you are affiliated with a restaurant, caterer or any other food oriented business under discussion on Chowhound this section applies to you, even though we refer specifically to restaurants.
Those with a relationship to a given restaurant or other commercial venture must disclose their affiliation when discussing the place or its competitors. All we ask is that you talk to us like a civilian; do not consider us a marketing/publicizing opportunity for your business. We will not allow our community to be exploited.
You may post factual information in response to questions about the business or to correct misinformation. ("We are not open on Tuesdays." or "The mushrooms come from Oregon.").
Please don't recommend your restaurant (as a rule of thumb, you should never be the first to mention your business in a thread), offer opinions on the quality of your products, use us for customer service purposes ("We're sorry you had a bad experience..."), post promotions ("Join us for our annual lasagna festival next week!"), invite people to come to your restaurant or argue back re: consumer opinions or experiences.
We realize it's disheartening to see negative things said about your restaurant, but Chowhound prohibits customer service and "spin control". While there are many means for restaurants to message and engage their public, Chowhound is a rare bastion for pure consumer discussion. In the end, the dining enthusiasm we generate makes Chowhound a very good friend to this industry, and we ask commercial parties to help foster this environment by resisting the urge to join the fray.
Restaurateurs and food business owners (or their friends, employees, PR firms, relatives, etc) who post phony testimonials or recruit others to post for them will be uncovered. Any subsequent discussion of the restaurant -- from any poster -- may be removed. We fight hard to preserve the site's reputation for integrity and to ensure the trustworthiness of our resource.
Some businesses establish an account in the name of their business if they need to make one of those rare allowable posts. We allow that, despite our general rule against people having more than one registered username on the site. However, even if you have an 'official' account for your business, any and all comments from your personal account, or those of your employees, friends and family, must still follow the guidelines -- especially the requirement that you disclose your affiliation to the restaurant any time you post about it.
If you're anything other but an ordinary customer at a restaurant, please refrain from posting your opinion about it. If you're a friend, relative, investor or anyone who may receive special attention or treatment at a restaurant, your opinion won't reflect an unbiased view of the experience an average consumer would receive.
We know that the restaurant industry can be very small in a given city, and that industry privilege exists. As chefs, waiters, sommeliers, etc, you're probably friendly with your counterparts at other restaurants, and you likely get treated very well in a lot of places, so this may significantly limit what you can post about. But for the benefit of the many thousands of non-industry people reading along, we ask that you avoid posting reviews or recommendations for places where you've received 'industry insider' treatment.
If this is a community, then the restaurant has every right to speak up and add their voice.. especially if they are open about their identity. The two things I worry about on these moderated blogs is anonymous posting by restaurant "shills" and on the flip side, users hiding behind the veil of the internet, slamming a restaurant either with untruths, exaggerations, or vitriol based on a bad experience they likely caused themselves..