Ok. I admit I don’t know if Mark Henderson, Google Local Guide Level 5 really did die from caffeine1 but I do know that he reviewed thousands of Starbucks across the Midwest, the Eastern Seaboard and the South last week.
And I know that he is a Level 5 Local Guide and that if he didn’t die, he should, at least virtually. To recognize his extraordinary efforts, he will be posthumously awarded entrance into the Google Spam Hall of Shame.
Clearly Mark is a spewer2. He and several other high volume spewers (aka review spammer persona) were brought to my attention by a reader who recognized my affinity for these sorts of things3.
Several very interesting things about this particular spewer.
- Two weeks prior he made a cross country jaunt to review Chick-fil-As from California to the New York Island4.
- He has written over 3000 reviews, almost exclusively about Starbucks & Chick-fil-A.
- He is not alone in his predilection for chain chicken and too much caffeine. He has at least two partners in crime, Jack Mitchel and Joe Mittler.
- Between them they have written over 6000 reviews of Starbucks, Chick-fil-A and other chains, including Olive Garden, Quiznos, Pizza Hut, Jersey Mike’s Subs and others.
- And the kicker, virtually every review written was previously posted at TripAdvisor circa 2012.
For me this is interesting on several fronts.
If it isn’t obvious TripAdvisor has as many issues as Google vis a vis fake reviews (duh5).
It certainly leaves one thinking that major chains could be involved in buying reviews along with the rest of American businesses. My spewer tracking software didn’t throw up huge flags but it is a possibility.
The other possibility is that these are test bots, posting in an effort to ascertain the limits of Google’s review filter.
What do you think?
1 – Who knew that you could in fact induce a fatal heart arythmia from too much caffeine? Apparently some poor teenager did just that in April after he consumed a Latte, Mountain Dew and an energy drink within 2 hours.
2- Review spammer is a mouth full so my wife suggested “spewer” as an alternative
3 – He wanted to remain anonymous but I am more than willing to throw a link out to anyone that provides a lead on a story that I publish.
4- Most of you are familiar with This Land is Your Land. But as children growing up, we never heard that Woody Guthrie was a fierce anti-fascist socialist and we often only heard the first few verses of this song. This one that was frequently left out seems relevant today:
There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me
A sign was painted said: Private Property
But on the back side it didn’t say nothing
This land was made for you and me
5- When my children were little they said “duh” (with dripping sarcasm unbecoming of an 8 year old) so frequently and annoyingly that we “banned” the use of the word in our house by executive fiat. Amazingly my children were of such an age that they actually believed that a word could be banned. That didn’t last long but at least we didn’t have to listen to “duh” every 30 seconds.Google Level 5 Local Guide Dies of Caffeine Poisoning While Reviewing Thousands of Starbucks Last Week by Mike Blumenthal