Sunday, 14 March 2010

Whew!


Well – what a week this has been! To the casual observer it may have seemed like the proverbial storm in a teacup, but to me personally, being the human being I am, it has been horrendous. To baldly state, parrot-like, that I take my responsibilities on this blog seriously, is to very much understate my stance and attitude to my fellow mankind – which includes commenters, bloggers and, most of all, restauranteurs.

It was with much relief that I read in today’s Sunday Tasmanian the two mentions of Bill’s restaurant review on this blog last Monday. My extremely vivid imagination had the Sunday Tasmanian printing my name, address and photo on a Wanted Dead or Alive poster on the front page of this esteemed broadsheet!

I have read (and heeded) recent comments on this blog. I have spoken over the last few days to many, including fellow bloggers Stephen Estcourt, Steve Cumper, Victor, Reb and Maggie, commenter Christina, plus family and friends. Nothing essentially has changed from the way it was before the Bill furore, other than it causing a greater general awareness of blogger’s online responsibilities.

Having said that, I think it is on everyone’s minds constantly: the black cloud of defamation hovering just on the horizon over there. Depending on varying circumstances, all of us always have been, and always will be, cognisant of the prospect of facing up to a judge in order to justify a public airing of our opinion or thoughts. Hence the fact that Stephen Estcourt, a QC, is heading across to Melbourne to the Food Bloggers Conference next weekend specifically to present a paper on defamation and food bloggers.

In the case of the Bill restaurant review, there was a large amount of dealings behind the scenes which I haven’t shared with Rita’s Bite readers, but which, after the fact, indicated that Bill was not as he initially appeared on face value. I would like to point out that I am not trying to justify publishing Bill’s review as I regularly publish people’s reviews of restaurants they have eaten at – look at March 1’s readers reviews of Cooleys and Kuzina, for instance.

I encourage people to email in their dining out experiences, as we all have the right to discuss these experiences, and my opinion is that it’s good to have a mix of opinion here, not just me ramming my predictable thoughts constantly down your throats.

Being a mother of five, and the oldest of six siblings, it is the norm for me to not take sides in any argument, but to listen to everyone’s opinions, calm down someone who might be getting a tad more agitated than is necessary for the circumstance, then try to reinforce to all that they have been heard and listened to – which indeed they have.

My role on this blog is the same. I frequently don’t have a specific pro or con opinion about something because I am always open to hearing someone else’s view. I am broadminded enough to recognize that it actually isn’t ‘all about me’!

So – having installed the Comment Moderation function 4 days ago, and trialled it for that long, I have taken onboard Cartouche’s words in his comment last night, and Steve C’s opinion about it! I have taken Comment Moderation off, and added the Word Verification again. I have added the Disclaimer to the sidebar (cut and pasted from Reb’s Gutter Trash blog – thanks Reb), and will follow it more rigorously, but essentially, for my regular readers, all is back to normal.

Comment Moderation was handy – and it enabled me to reject 8 comments, but 4 of those were spam. Two were accidentally rejected, and two were deliberate rejects, which I can delete whether or not I have Comment Moderation anyway. I think Comment Moderation will stifle our generally tame discussions here, so it is gone.

“And now I go forth to wander under the cold, clear eyes of heaven; those weakness-despising stars – not me they scorn!” (If anyone can guess the origin of that quote, I will shout them to dinner with me!)


48 comments:

Christina said...

I know Rita, but only cause I googled it.
Haven't been to get the paper yet but will do soon.
Glad to hear all is right with your world again.
Very glad to hear about comment moderation.
So now I'm going to get the paper, then I'll get back to you.

Rita said...

Ah Christina - looks like I foot the bill for our upcoming dinner....! Well - who said it?

Nuf Sed said...

For better or for worse, Rita is our blog administrator and for better or for worse she often needs to make a judgement decision on the legitimacy of posts on this blog.

At the end of the day, you wont read the paper and see that 'ANON' got sued for defemation - Rita will get sued for defamation if her blog defames someone.

However from where I sit, I understand you cannot possible sue anyone for defamation unless what they are saying is untrue. So accurate comments backed up by real facts are what we need here folks. Not 'this restaurant is shit'.

"Slander is slander" as Maggie said last week.

Of course some people wish to remain anonymous for obvious reasons, and that's fine. But puting a name with our posts and trying to establish an identity makes the blog look better!

Anons arguing over nonsense minituae that does not matter anyway often means Rita needs to delete comments - and these daft comments also make Ritas Blog look like a casting call for the Beverly Hillibillies remake.

LOL. Anyway all that's just my opinion. Have fun with it guys, this blog is great.

Rita said...

Thanks Nuf Sed - I'm still chuckling about the Beverley Hillbillies casting comment, because that's what it's like sometimes!
But you're right - if anon's could stick to resisting the urge to starkly state that 'this restaurant is shit' would contribute much more than the recent spate of "you're a wanker"'s I have been deleting of late!

bri said...

The article is online here:
http://www.themercury.com.au/article/2010/03/14/133805_food-wine.html

Maggie said...

Hmm. I better get out of bed to get the paper, and sharpen my quill if need be.

So Rita, does this mean you will only publish a reader review if it is positive?

The biggest problem with the Bill review is we had no way of knowing if it was true. If you write a negative review, we know this came from your actual experience and you are giving us a first hand account, and taking responsibility for it.

I don't trust reader reviews on blogs because I don't know them. I've been to appauling restaurants others think are brilliant because we have a different set of expectations.

And now is it likely we will only see fluffy, gushing, positive reader reviews here?

Christina said...

Well Medea said it to Jason Rita.
Understandable really. I just read her whole speech to him and now I'm fascinated.
The part I found is from a Robinson Jeffers adaptation of Euripides "Medea".
There, thats my homework done for the day, now can I go and play?
No free dinner though, because I didn't guess it, I looked it up.
But I've learnt something new today which is wonderful.

The Mercury articles were okay I suppose. Nothing in their I didn't already know.
Stuart Prosser managed to get his head in there though I see.
Not slagging him off though. When I visited Prosser's it was lovely. It was also six years ago.
Personally I still think you did the right thing posting the email in question. You've done it heaps of times before. It is after all what this blog is about. Dining experiences.
It only turned out to be a questionable decision in hindsight. Which apparently is a wonderful thing!

As for anon commenters, thats hard.
I comment under my name, but that still tells you nothing about me. Then again maybe, over a period of time it does.
You will get to know a little about me, decide whether I'm full of shit, or maybe trust me a little. Putting your name to something lends continuity.
We don't know who Cartouche, Sir G, Nuf Sed etc. are, but after a time, we learn how they think, and how they are perceived by us is set.

Maggie, I have enough trust in Rita to continue doing what she has always done so well. She has put her name to both good and ordinary reviews and I trust her judgement. I also trust others who comment, even though I don't know them, but in the end will ALWAYS make up my own mind.
I know I love some places that others loathe and vice versa. That's why there are so many different restaurants, to give us choice. I hate peas, my husband adores them.
We have no way of knowing if any review by a commenter is true. But what a way to live, never believing any thing said by another, just in case.
I think it shows Rita's trust, that she took that email at face value. Why wouldn't she? Should she have to second guess every comment put up, or let us decide for ourselves?

Keep up the great work Rita.

reb said...

So The Mercury headline screams "Hobart restaurateurs have their knives out for "nit-picking" foodies who slag off their cuisine on internet blogs."

And then proceeds to quote their favourite representative of the restaurant industry that banker of bankers on the beach.

Honestly, is one restaurant's business really that fragile, that it risks complete ruin, because some bloke Bill claims to have had a lousy meal on a blog?

Mindless drivel once again from The Mockery...

Snuva said...

I approach any opinion - food, movie, political bletherings - knowing that the reviewer is giving me their impression. Which won't necessarily be my own because other people approach things differently. Even my own impression of something can be different at various times because I'm in a different mood or because no experience can be exactly replicated. So I read or hear the review, take it on board to varying amounts depending upon the source, and always still expect to form my own judgment. As much as I hate admitting to being one, isn't this just what you'd expect from a normal adult?!

Anyway, I was amused when my husband got to the part of the paper discussing this. According to him, the article was so badly written that if you don't already know what happened it is incomprehensible. (Please note: this is neither the opinion of myself nor of Rita; please direct all law suits to my husband.) So not only did they not give out your name and address, people who aren't already familiar with the story are all thinking 'Meh?'.

Maggie said...

My apologies Rita I don't mean to offend. I did not assume you knew the people who's reviews you publish, that is my mistake.

We do things very differently, and I should be more open minded. I'm afraid years of journalism school have hammered in some ideals that do not always reflect the reality of the situation at hand. I'm often quite torn as to what is the right thing to do.

As you have learned from this experience so have I.

On another note... Shall we go to Prossers for dinner and review him? Let's show him what real food blogging I about! It is not, as he implies, a vehicle for hate and bias.

Am I forgiven?

Anonomouse said...

Restauranters are princesses in their own little world sometimes... If a dish is not good then a previous guest has every right to complain. You provide a service, and part of that service is a dish you send out. If it's not good enough then complain. If you get bad service complain. Why is it in this industry restauranters are so precious? If someone came and painted my house, and missed part of the detailing, you would complain somewhere. Do restauranters actually think other industries don't have blogs on their own industry?

I'm so sick of chef's, maitre'd, waitstaff and bar staff wingeing and complaining if someone pulls them up on making something incorrectly and giving bad service. For example, a chef overcooking a piece of fish or steak and saying it's right, and when it comes back to the pass they say it is right when quite clearly it isn't. Or they make a regional dish that is completely wrong. What about a bartender who makes you a cocktail, and forgets a key ingredient or a sommelier giving you wrong information about a wine. What about the waitstaff & maitre's who give you really bad service or try to be "charming" and come across as sleazy. How often does my glass of water go empty, or there is big thumbprint on knife and so on and so forth. I'm sick of the I'm qualified so I'm right attitude. Sometimes you aren't.

Get over it! I'm sick of going to so many great restaurants, and then going somewhere where some part is so completely wrong or the whole experience overall is completely wrong, complaining and then having articles like the one in the Mercury come out.

Why shouldn't bloggers be allowed to be anonymous? Why can't restauranters look at the comments and take some key points out of it? Sure, some people are there to just cause trouble, but why not make the CHOICE to ignore those and take those key points in.

The simple fact of the matter is that bloggers are here to stay, and anonymous bloggers are here to stay. IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT DON'T READ IT!

On Rita posting the article... Maybe in hindsight she shouldn't have. But if enough comments are made about the restaurant to say it is bad then... Otherwise refer to above...

reb said...

Well said Snuva.

I'm with you.

For example whenever I read Stuart Divell's movie "reviews" in the Mockery, if he bags out a movie, then I think there's probably a good chance that I'll enjoy it.

Likewise if he raves about some other film then usually it'll be crap.

And like you say, the article about the food bloggers and Stuart Prosser was really just a mish mash of inane ramblings.

I got to the end of it, and thought "what was all that really meant to be about?"

Rita said...

Thanks all, for your constructive observations and comments.
I had assumed everyone who reads this blog had the same attitude as Snuva mentioned.
Maggie - naturally you're forgiven. I'll email you re your invitation.
Christina - how wonderfully accurate. It was indeed Medea. My kids hate the frequency of my quoting her, but I felt that particular quote appropriate today!

John said...

I would have thought the photo of Stuart brandishing a knife was borderline illegal in itself.

But stop commenting on anything for fear of legal action? No way. Wasn't that the whole reason The Gourmet Farmer moved to Tassie?

Whilst I don't review food, there is no way I'll stop saying certain technology sucks when it does. If you can't say negative things when they are deserved, you are a advertisement not a reviewer.

www.uprun.com

Rita said...

You don't know me very well Maggie if that's what you assume you'll see here from readers from now on!
With previous readers reviews, I have known the author's identity, and as previously stated, am more than happy for readers to express their views on their dining out experiences. What makes my summation of a restaurant experience any better or more informed than any of my readers?

With Bill, I spoke to him on the phone. So as much as anyone could predict, my summation of him and his review was that it was written sheerly as the result of his unfortunate dining out experience on his wedding anniversary.

If I'm to return to your comment on that particular post last week:
"Rita, you shouldn't be afraid to publish the names of these type of restaurants. What is the point of reading about your experiences (and the experiences of others like Bill) if we don't know where you mean?"
I am left scratching my head. For a start, there is only one Spanish restaurant in Hobart so in reality no one needed to name it, as it was reasonably clear where it was. But on the issue of slander etc, it was obvious why I xxx'ed it out - and your professional job would have (I would have thought) made it obvious why I was so cautious and hesitant about being so directly slanderous in a situation whereby I myself had not been the recipient of the treatment Bill alleged he experienced.
And for me, it actually wasn't about bagging the restaurant concerned. It was yet another example of someone reporting back to us about a negative dining out experience.

(Posted by Rita to Hobart Food for thought at March 14, 2010 10:58 AM)

Christina said...

Not surprised your kids hate you quoting Medea Rita, as she killed her own children!
Maybe that was always in the back of their mind?

Anonymous said...

Assuming you aren't held accountable, I think the article in the paper was great because I had never visited your blog before and I now think I'll visit it reguarly!! Good publicity!

Anonymous said...

Huzzah for free speach. I love democracy.

Just a thing though, I find this comment moderator word all a bit Harry Potter. To leave a comment tonight I must type in and possible yell out the word "Lerastio"

And then I can communicate with all other fellow bloggers.

Cartouche

Anonymous said...

Great words of wisdom from Graeme 'I-never -read-the-blogs-but-trawl-their-sites-regularly for-info/goss' Phillips.
Like crumbs from the emperor's table they enlighten us serfs in the blogasphere.
Was it juts me who detected a patronising stern headmasterly tone in his appraisel of the 'Francisco's Affair'?

Anonymous said...

Off Topic:
I knew Flukes wouldn't stay at Home Hill.
I hope D. Chirico will cope with being told how to make bread?!

Tassiegal said...

Hey Rita/Maggie, Would love to be in on the Prossers thing....eaten there once pre renos and have hazy memories. Mainly as it was during the eastern shore fires so was mildly distracted by "OH BRIGHT SHINY" out the window.

kitty said...

poor rita, I bet you felt all this very deeply. Just remember you love blogging, and take the good with the bad....

Hotelier said...

Blogging is brilliant. A great way to express your opinion to whomever will listen. We can all be armchair experts and try-hard Matt Prestons and Matthew Evans'.
Hobart, we need to remember, is a small town. In Melbourne, there wouldn't be any chatter about a blog that attracts 600 people per day, regardless of what they were saying. 600 people in Hobart can actually be somewhat of a voice, especially if you do the maths on how much of the population would choose to dine on the beach with Mr Prosser. Words on here will have much more impact, good and bad.
Freedom of speech and opinion are great but slander and liable are still relevant. Mr Prosser has no choice but to be offended by negative comments, it is his name on the door and his reputation at stake.
Restaurants make mistakes. You will need to accept this. The staff we get through the industry sometimes have NO training, even by the time they get face to face with you. You would not expect some of these small mistakes from your doctor or lawyer, obviously, but if waiting on tables was a 6 year degree, your meal would cost a lot more that $15 you shelled out for a chicken parma.
People need to keep everything in perspective. The industry pays peanuts, so there are bound to be a few monkeys around. The weather report is quite often wrong, but I haven't yet stumbled on a blog canning the weather man for the showers coming in the evening rather than the afternoon.

Rita, keep up the good work. Just keep in mind how influential your blog may be.
Everyone else, look for the good points in your hospitality experience. If you go out looking for issues, you will find them. If you do, have a quiet word to the wait staff or manager, we will be more than happy to fix it for you, unless you act like a turd.

Hotelier

Anonymous said...

last anon
I wish more managers & staff were approachable on negative feedbck but the very reason why people comment here is because most aren't.
I'm no try hard armchair critic but I if I see something not right I dont need to be a 'Hotelier' or 'Chef' or a 'Maitre 'D' to have the right to an opinion. At the end of the day I'm paying you & if its no good I wont just not come back-I'll let as many people know as possible & blogs like this one enable me to do so.
Why should Mr Prosser take offence that I may not like a dish or something about my experience? Is he always right? As you point out, restauants smake mistakes so instead of getting 'offended' why not take the criticism positively & make the neccesary changes to enable a better experience next time? Failing that, he could answer his critics on this blog?

I dont wholly agree with your notion that poor service is a result of little training & crap wages. People who have an aptitude & attitude for this business stand out no matter how much they get paid.
Do you pay the new fair Work penalties? I would hardly call getting $25 on a Sat, #35 on a Sun & $45 ph on a public holiday crap money.

Hotelier said...

Anonymous @3.13pm,
I wasn't disputing your right to comment, I agree that it is very valuable, some people just take it too far.
Of course we pay the penalty rates, even though Generation Y think it is not enough!
Chef's typically have low self esteem, they see themselves as artists, so if you criticise a dish, they see it as a direct attack on themselves. Some are very delicate little flowers indeed.
Aptitude and attitude are sadly lacking in the current crop of Hospitality professionals. Head down Collins Street to the very well known hospitality training school for lunch. How many of them would YOU hire?
These blogs needed to be treated as a marketing opportunity. Well worded responses on sites like tripadvisor shows that the management take care in what is being provided and about the guest experience (I agree with you). I respond to each and every comment, rewarding not only the bad, but the good reviews as well. Everytime Mr Prosser gets his knickers in a bunch it seems to make the news. He may have some good friends at The Mockery, or it may just be a slow news day. After all, isn't any publicity good publicity?
If you are looking to make a complaint to a manager, go about it the right way. Be polite and the right response should be forthcoming. Don't lump us all in the same basket, please.
One point that Prosser did make that was quite relevant is that most of the good young kids coming through, the ones with the aptitude and attitude you mentioned, are very hard to keep in Tasmania. There is a very big wide and wonderful world of food out there!

Rita, this is my first day reading this blog. I will be sure to keep up to date with the news and reviews you write so well.

Rita said...

Hi Christina - I think the kids weren't too fussed about me murdering them, but more that I can always find a place to use a Medea quote in any conversation!
Anon 11.05 - thanks for that
Cartouche - you usually comment anyway, so don't worry about the Word Verification!
Anon 8.12 - yes, I think I got a rap on the knuckles - but that's OK. I'm a big girl!
TG - we're not going to Prossers, but if you'd like to come along to other venues with us, would be happy to have you along. Email me and we can talk about it.
Kitty - overjoyed you're still trawling every now and then - thanks for the words of encouragement. I use you as a source of inspiration!
Hotelier - welcome, and thanks for your kind words. Any time you have something to say, please do so here. I like your approach and attitude.

sir grumpy said...

Rita, the thing that got me was that my lame paella joke about ``we don't sell pies and my name's not ella'' was scrubbed.
But seriously, more power to your elbow and let's hope debate isn't wholly stifled and we all behave and keep a sense of humour.
(Even a crappy sense of humour like mine).

Rita said...

Sir G - your lame paella joke wasn't scrubbed! I just checked my Deleted files and it's there, so that means it went up! If I'd rejected it, it wouldn't be there!

sir grumpy said...

Wow, now that's fair and balanced (unlike me) anyway you cut it.

The Lone Piper said...

Having just read the Mercury article on the immense power of the Food Blogger I'd like to used this forum to engender some discussion on whether the MacDonald's Angus burgers are better than the Hungry Jack's version.

This is serious stuff - I'm planning to take the missus out for our anniversary and I need to know where's the best venue.

sir grumpy said...

Come on Whitey, that's you. Be sure to get a voucher deal and go for the combo.

Rita said...

Hey - that's funny Sir G, 'cos I was just about to accuse Lone Piper of being YOU!

sir grumpy said...

Nah, I'm a KFC wicked wings man, Rita.

Christina said...

Wish I didn't know the answer to this but I have it on good authority it's definetly the Hungry Jacks one!

Rita said...

GASP! Christina I'm gobsmacked!
Shame on you - chef extraordinaire!

Anonymous said...

I was always lead to believe that the angry anus was THE best burger!

Nothing like deep fried foods... mmmmmmmmmmmm

Christina said...

I know Rita, I know.
But there's a time and a place for everything, and sometimes at round midnight, after a few beverages, there's something magical about an ordinary burger, cold salty fries and a diet coke of course!

In all honesty I have tried both the Angus burgers from Maccas. Wanted to like the one with salad more but I'm afraid the cheesey, bacon one is better.
I haven't tried the Hungry Jacks one, the good authority would be my Phil. He's onion ring mad and apparently this burger also contains fried onion rings. Heaps more cheese too. Think I read somewhere only 26 grams of fat.
Bargain really!
Shame on me!!!

Anonymous said...

MMMMM CHEESE

High blood pressure, heartburn indigestion, and constipation. Also blocked arteries and 10 x the RDI of fat,

Your body will thank you for eating all this crap.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know when the new Dome coffee place in town is opening?

Looked thru the window today to see the place 95% complete!

even sugar on the tables etc but no sign to say when they open...

sir grumpy said...

Who is this anon having a go at fried food and cheese?
You should be on a health blog mate. Is you called Anne O'Rexia?

Christina said...

Maybe Rosemary Stanton?

Whitey said...

Sir Grumpy, it is definitely not me.

I would never shell out extra for Angus - I don't even know what it is. And dim sims are still way cheaper.

Rita, I am looking forward to every single reader reviewing the China Diner. That should be enough to provide an early retirement fund for a QC.

Whitey said...

And I was way to slow to get a free dinner.

Not that I knew the answer.

sir grumpy said...

You're still a hero of thrift to us Whitey. Others are emulating you but you'll always be THE ONE.

reb said...

Is now the right time to confess that I'm partial to the odd deep fried camembert with cranberry sauce?

Georgia said...

I've been to the new Red Bridge Providore and Cafe at Campbell Town twice now...and both times the coffee was very, very disappointing. My heart has fallen as I had really hoped it would give Zeps a shock and raise the standard in both places but I fear not....I'll give them one more go next trip. Rita..is it on your radar?

Rita said...

Whitey - a rare appearance on this blog! Thank god you're still alive! You need to post way more often.....PLEASE???? Or I'll get the mighty Radar to call round chez Whitey.
Reb - I'm with you - again! I am very partial to deep fried camembert & cranberry sauce. Yeah it's another 80's food but what the heck!
Hi and welcome Georgia - I have never heard or read of Red Bridge Cafe and Providore, but now you have me curious, and, as I'm off to Launceston next weekend, I will make sure I find it at Campbell Town and check it out. But I will be reserving my appetite for dinner at The Terrace on Sat night, and lunch at Ut Si's on Sun on my way back.

Anonymous said...

off topic: a note of reply to that kind person who made the snide comment about me teaching bread - I am flattered you care enough to make comment. However, I am going to learn not teach....
my apologies if i inadvertantly trod on your toes while trying to share something I love! - Flukes