Disclosure, third-party verification and going back to the fundamentals of blogging

At some point in the past couple of years, I started disclosing when I paid for myself for the meals I wrote about on my blog (which is the vast majority). But even before, I ALWAYS disclosed when I had a complimentary meal (I still do that). I figured that it was better for people to make it obvious that, generally speaking I pay for the meals I eat and then write about (though on rare occasions I get invited for free). Admittedly, this “disclosing even when you pay” may be seen as a little bit of an overkill, but I’d rather over-disclose than under-disclose. One of the reasons, the fact that there will always be a third-party verifier in everyone’s world (and the Vancouver food blogging scene just got one!) Let me introduce you to “Foodie My Ass” (aka Calling You Out).

Third party verification (influence)

The individual behind this Twitter account has taken it upon him/herself to keep food bloggers honest by commenting on certain practices that have given some food bloggers a bad name (and perhaps the whole Vancouver restaurant review scene). To be perfectly honest, as long as it’s done with respect (and I didn’t go back through the account’s tweets enough to see if there was any specific confrontation that got out of hand), I don’t see much of a problem with this approach.

I would, however, feel a bit sad if the origin of the account was some degree of bitterness from the restaurant industry with regards to the Vancouver food blogging scene. I remember a story on the Georgia Straight that basically pitted food bloggers against restaurant owners.

I don’t think there is a reason for this confrontation. Obviously, there’s value in having your clients talk about you. Admittedly, there’s always room for discussion and disagreement on what constitutes a good restaurant review. I think I called myself a foodie in a couple of blog posts and frankly, now that I think about it, I cringe at the thought that I called myself “a foodie”. I’m a lover of food, period.

Now, on to the issue of “calling out” (which I’m trying to call a bit more formally, a third-party audit). It’s my opinion that food bloggers (particularly those with large audiences) ought to exercise a solid degree of judgement when writing negative reviews about a restaurant. It’s also important (to me, at least) to disclose any potential conflicts of interest. For example, the author of ‘Calling You Out” sent me a tweet late the other night (which I answered as you can see on my screen captures). I also noticed the author also asked my friends Kevin (604foodtography), Mijune (Follow Me Foodie) and Sherman (Sherman’s Food Adventures) the same question. We all disclose (you can see an example of my disclosure statements on my food posts).

Third party verification (influence)

raul disclosure

Third party verification (influence)

Third party verification (influence)

I believe in disclosure, and I don’t believe in ridiculous confrontations (of which I’ve had my fair share). I hope that in 2012, people can move forward to being (a) more open in their disclosures and (b) the restaurant industry can look for many ways in which they could actually benefit from collaborating with bloggers and other social media folks.

Related posts:

  1. On photo credits, disclosure statements and higher-standards in blogging
  2. Pulling back and the concept of Slow Blogging
  3. Blogging about blogging, Twittering about Twitter…
  4. Live-blogging from Tanya’s party
  5. Time off blogging

Comments (2)

Johnny_neumonicJanuary 7th, 2012 at 11:28 pm

I agree with disclosure, but I’m not sure why you feel you need to prove yourself (and anyone else for that matter) to a troll such as @foodiemyass. The guy/girl clearly is out there to annoy food bloggers, and does not deserve anyone’s time. He/she can’t even put out their real name–so essentially you just gave attention to an internet TROLL.

Why should people answer to some pathetic twitter account? He/she is nothing on this earth. As an educated person, I’m quite shocked you felt the need to bring this up. People reading food reviews should have some of their own brains to notice if something was paid for, or was some sort of event.

RaulJanuary 8th, 2012 at 12:52 am

Thanks for your comment, Johnny. I used the context of the Twitter account just to tell the story of why I always disclose. We live in a society where there is a very broad variety of bloggers and I follow a particular set of norms, and just wanted to use it as context.

I think that, overall, the whole goal of food blogs should be to provide commentary on our experiences dining out, and we should aim to do it to high standards if at all possible. That was all :-)

Again, thanks for commenting! :)

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