Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Advice columnist takes on Internet rants against businesses, and problem of "online reputation"

The “Miss Manners” columnist Judith Martin has an interesting letter and response today Wednesday March 17, p C9 of the Washington Post, “To Yelp or not to Yelp?”, list here.

The letter writer points out (or at least alleges) that many businesses (including but not limited to restaurants and physicians) have their reputations ruined by customers who rant about them online, instead of bringing complaints directly to the businesses. There are specific websites set up to do accommodate rants, and some even “extort” businesses to rearrange reviews to show the most favorable first (a kind of perversion of “online reputation defense”).

Miss Manners does not completely agree with the writer, but the visitor can read both sides.

As noted before here, some physicians have started making patients sigh “gag order” agreements that the patients will not “complain” about their treatment online. Of course, physicians would have to get court orders to prove the identity of anonymous posters?

I would wonder if some posters (if they don't keep anonymity) could find it difficult for people to work with them? Many landlords would check to see if a perspective tenant has an inclination to complain online. Employers have been doing this for several years, as we have discussed here.

The absence of supervision of individual postings has indeed created novel ethical issues.

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