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Review-Wise Words from InsiderPages' Eric Peacock

Eric Peacock is the General Manager of InsiderPages and I was very grateful to Andrew Shotland for introducing us to one another while I was researching my recent piece on the Edit, Remove and Owner Review capabilities of the top 8 user review entities.
Eric was good enough to respond with what I think is wisdom worth reading about the world of reviews. InsiderPages was recently judged to be one of the top 10 review entities in David Mihm’s Local Search Ranking Factors survey, so if anyone knows a thing or two about typical concerns revolving around user reviews, it’s Eric Peacock.
I asked Eric about InsiderPages’ review deletion policy. Users aren’t allowed to simply remove their own reviews, within their account. As Eric explains it:

It’s rare that a user wants to delete their review entirely. e.g. Sometimes a user will write a bad review of a merchant but the merchant will resolve the issue for them and actually turn the interaction into a positive experience. When that happens the user just edits the review.
However, we have had users contact us and say things like, “I don’t know what I was thinking writing that review. I just want it removed.” When a user does want to delete a review they just email us and we do it for them. Like I said, that’s rare.
Most of the review deletions on our site are the result of our community of users (merchants included) coming across an inappropriate review and reporting it to us. When we get these we immediately delete any reviews that don’t meet our terms and conditions and follow a process for dispute resolution on all other disputed reviews.

Negative reviews have become a controversial topic of late, with reviewers being threatened with lawsuits by business owners. It is not illegal in any way to leave a truthful negative review of a business, but a litigious environment might make citizens hesitate to be honest when they’ve had a bad experience with a business. Eric offers these good thoughts and guidelines on the subject:

Constructive, negative reviews are valuable and we want people to know how to write them effectively. My advice to your readers is this:

  • Focus your review on the facts from your first-hand experience working with the merchant – the undisputable events from your experience that shaped your opinion of them.
  • Avoid alleging illegal activity or using profanity in your review as both things make your review a sitting duck for deletion. Why? Both violate the terms and conditions of our site (and many other review sites like Insider Pages.) We may not catch those reviews right away but our community does. In particular, merchants are quick see negative reviews about themselves and report any inappropriate reviews to us. The first thing we do when such a review is flagged, is see if it meets our terms and conditions. If it doesn’t, we have no choice but to delete it, even if the rest of the review contains useful information.
  • There are things the merchant can do too. For many years we’ve allowed merchants to claim their profile and respond to any reviews right on their profile page. A classy, professional response from a merchant, directly underneath a rant from a ticked off customer quickly reveals there are two sides to the story. It helps bring some balance to the conversation. But the best thing the merchant can do is get a lot more happy customers to write reviews and drown out the negative one.

I think those are good thoughts to keep in mind! Thanks to Eric for sharing his experience in the arena with us.