You address a very interesting topic - one that I have debated with people for a long time. Unfortunately there are many food blogs (urbanspoon.com, chowhound.com etc) which allow people to post freely. Add to that the exposure via twitter and other social media vehicles, and we as business people really don't have any control over what gets posted about our businesses over the Internet - good, bad, or ugly.
Prior to getting into chocolate, I was an internet expert who even went so far as to take one of my companies public on the NASD . I'm very aware of the damage that negative internet publicity for a business can create. Google "Choklat", and you will find a miriad of posts on us - some being terribly negative - calling us arrogant, over priced, etc, right through to "Oh my God! I've just found Heaven on Earth!".
As the Internet becomes more ubiquitous, people read the reviews, and many take them with a grain of salt. In fact, I've even had people come in specificially because we've been attacked in a blog post. (I chewed out a snotty customer, and she posted my reply. A few people read it and came in just to spite her! Haha!).
One thing I DON'T subscribe to, is contests, where a few high visibility, well respected community members judge a business's products, and then rate them. A lot of business is conducted on a trusted referral, and to have a trusted member of the community criticize a business for whatever reason, and have that criticism made public, that WILL have a damaging effect on the business. The bottom line for me, is I don't care about contests, or competitions where my chocolate is "judged" by a select few. God only knows what THEIR agenda's are!!! I care about what my customers think. After all, some hoity toity french chef with a name I've never heard, nor can pronounce, who's studied under another hoity toity chocolatier with a name I can't pronounce in a Belgian town I've never heard of, will never buy enough chocolate to keep my doors open. However the thousands of customers who already DO buy our chocolate will. My customers are more important than Mr. Hoity Toity.
Thanks for the response. I am really too small and unknown to get rated usually, although here and there I have, as for ex someone was rating Israeli chocolate- a chocophile, and she was neutral to begin with so I agreed. The rating was very good.
But really the discussion was not about my business.
I guess it does depend on who and what kind of review-you are correct.
I get annoyed when newspapers here, online and not, do exactly what you wrote-some Italian or French chocolatier who has the business of his great great grandfather etc, rates chocolatiers here along with other un named local judges. How can one know if PR people didn't pay for the article for some business? And then the local food or chocolate forums discuss the results and sometimes are a bit nasty. Fine to be neutral, fine to praise, but why get nasty and try to hurt someone's business? Not that I have any connection to such a business, but the issue just annoys me as I would never deliberately try to hurt someone's income and livelihood and I thought to see what other people think. SOmetimes the responses to this topic on other forums are almost mean (not here).