OK Big Earl and his staff are cretins. That can be agreed.
They have managed, by virtue of being outspoken, bigoted and unthinking, to have put themselves in the middle of a media maelstrom and a subsequent flame war in the world of reviews.
The story, first reported by KLTV on May 27th, noted that a gay couple had fallen prey to the posted anti gay policy of the restaurant:
That waitress who used a derogatory term is Earl’s daughter.
“She’s a young lady, didn’t know what else to say, and they just kept on and she finally said we just don’t like fags,” he[r father] explained.
The story went viral, hitting most online news services earlier this month. While the reporting has died down, the review war seems to be just starting up. And yesterday it was reported that Yelp had publicly declared that these types of reviews were going to be taken down.
I looked at how many old reviews existed before the incident and how many new reviews were placed after the incident and whether they were supportive or not of Big Earl.
|Total Visible||5 star New||1 Star New||Removed||Old Reviews|
The stats are interesting and say a lot about the review world that we currently live in. People obviously have no qualms about expressing their opinions about a political issue via reviews. And as you can see on their Facebook page, have no qualms calling each other names in a public forum.
Clearly due to Yelp’s demographics, they are first place where a protest review of this sort might go and it’s apparently on the order of 5X more likely a spot than Facebook and 10X more likely than Google. Tripadvisor, YP.com and Superpages are also rans in this race.
Also it is interesting that of the 930 reviews removed by Yelp I only saw one favoring Big Earl (to be honest I got tired of looking after checking several hundreds of them). This would jive with my research indicating that Yelpers are younger and more urban and obviously in strong support of gay rights.
Facebook, while not having anywhere near the volume of reviews of Yelp, certainly had many more review comments and of the three sites they had the most supporters on a % basis of Big Earl. It is also intriguing that there were more reviews there than at Google. It could very well be that when no one was looking Facebook has built out a decent sized review corpus. Uncurated for sure and perhaps less than stellar quality but big none the less.
( Note: I am unable to load the page this am so perhaps it has been taken down?)
Google users seem to skew closer to Yelp than Facebook in political view. Although because of the lack of transparency of their filter we don’t really know if any reviews have yet been pulled downs.
Update 6/6 1:45 PM: Dave spotted the fact that Google has removed most of the reviews as of noon today. Interesting that they left 3 new reviews and removed the one review from a year ago. The 3 reviews they left are all somewhat suspect.
It would appear, although it isn’t certain in Google’s case, that most of the review sites have not removed these reviews.
It certainly raises some interesting questions:
Should review sites be used as a political forum?
Should these obviously political reviews be left to stand regardless of the fact that they never visited the business?
Does it make sense, as a political act, to use reviews as a forum?
What should the review sites do in response to a situations like this?
I certainly have my own opinions on these issues but I would love to hear yours. So before you read on, take a moment and think about what you think makes sense in the review world for readers, for the sites themselves and for any political/social movement that might think about using reviews in this way…..