One of the challenges we face with our Facebook Group is how to handle what we refer to it in the group rules as “Rant” posts. We try to walk a fine line with the group by allowing and encouraging honest commentary and reviews from folks about their experiences, without letting the group become a “Complaint Pit” where people automatically come to air grievances while filled with anger and spike for an establishment.
Here’s the guideline: “Rant” posts will most likely not make it past the moderators. If you have a bad experience, the group is not the place to come to “put them on blast” etc. You should take it up with restaurant staff & management, and then if you decide to take it online, it is most likely best-served as a post on your own feed or on the businesses Facebook page. There is a big difference between a fair post/review about an entire experience vs. a play-by-play railing full of hyperbole and extreme descriptions.
Mark it up to human nature but when it comes to reviewing, most people allow emotion to push them to one extreme or the other. Do you know what is the least used rating in a 5-star rating system? 3 stars, followed by 2 and 4. This would have one believe that every experience must be either the greatest ever, or the worst ever…when in reality the overwhelming majority of our experiences are probably what you would call average, with some very good points and some not so great. In other words… 2, 3, or 4 stars out of 5.
This plays out in group postings as well. Most are filled with massive superlatives and are glowing, or with incredible hyperbole and anger.
While we don’t expect everyone to come to the group and be able to provide a professional-level restaurant review, we do strongly encourage those who post to take a few minutes to describe the various different aspects of their experience to help give everyone reading a truer context. For instance; maybe the meal itself was exquisite, but the wait for service was inadequate. Or the service was perfect but your appetizer wasn’t up to par. Maybe meal and service were above average but there were some issues with the location itself that were worth mentioning.
That depth of context is what makes posts most valuable. That gives people a better idea of what to expect if they decide to goto that restaurant because the post has given them a real picture. Of course everyone’s experience can and usually will be different, but at least they know more vs. just a “EVERYTHING WAS PERFECT” post or a “EVERYTHING WAS A RAGING DUMPSTER FIRE” post.
Here’s an example of what we consider a “Rant” post:
“Tonight we were to Uncle Joe’s Oyster Shack for the Shucking Saturday specials. When we got there we saw there were 4 open tables and still some people were waiting. We saw 3 waitresses laughing at the bar. We waited 10 minutes and were told the empty tables were reserved, but we never saw anyone use them while we were there. So after 5 minutes the waitress finally gave us our drinks and took our order. After that it was 45 minutes before we got our food and everything was wrong. My food was the coldest I’ve ever gotten from a kitchen and the all the veggies must’ve came from cans. My husband said what he got looked like it was 2 days old. I’ll be surprised if they are open another 2 months. We’re NEVER going back!!!!”
Now, here is what a different post about the same place same night might look like:
“Last night we went to Uncle Joe’s Oyster Shack. They have a big special on Saturday’s and the restaurant was almost full when we got there. After 10 minutes we were seated and not long after the waitress took our order.
It took a little while for our appetizers to arrive. The kids were happy with the cheese fries but they left off the dressing from our salads. Besides that everything else was good and then when our main entrees came out, the oysters we got just didn’t really look worth what we were paying for them. Very small serving. The taste was perfect, I just wish there had been more. The sides were a little cold as well. Made me wonder if they had been sitting awhile waiting for everything else to come out.
It wasn’t the best we’ve had, but we really do like the atmosphere and the service was very good all around. Maybe next time we’ll try something else. Someone mentioned their lunch specials last week in here so maybe that’s what we’ll do next time.”
It’s easy to imagine those 2 examples describing the same experience. One being written right in the moment with a “play to play” mentality to it. and the other being written the next day. One trying to give a fair assessment and the other being written specifically to steer people away from that restaurant.
That’s why we stress that the group isn’t a “Complaint Board”. We don’t want weaponized reviews being shared in there with the expressed purpose of hurting local restaurants. If a “Rant’ is warranted towards a place, then it should be taken up directly with the business either in person, or via their social media, and the customer can always use their own social media feed to “Put the place on blast”.