Thursday, April 08, 2010

What's your say?

I was reading the post "The Meaning of A Food Blogger" today at this website and it sparks a whole new discussion for me on the definition of a Food Blogger / Flogger. For conversation sake, how would one define a food blogger? For me, to be labeled as a food blogger, one has to be blogging about food most of the time or was it only exclusive to those whom always get the invites for food tastings and reviews.

And how different is a food blogger compared to someone whom write food reviews for a magazine or newspaper? I would say that there is a difference. A food blogger has no restrictions because it's his/her own blog, basically they can write whatever they want and there will be no one to screen through before hitting the "publish" button. However, for a mag/paper, one might have his/her article read through and edited before it is deemed appropriate to be published. Both have been invited for the free food tastings. So who should we trust?

Well, for me, I like to find out more about a restaurant through the internet because it's easy and convenient. However, there might be tonnes of reviews of the same place and how do I know whether the review is reflecting the honest scenario of a restaurant? Actually, I wouldn't know. Come on, taste is something subjective and it might be tasty to one and terrible to the other. Or the service might be good to one and the other whom have higher expectations would think it's crap. Therefore, I usually have a practice that I follow food blogs that I find suitable for myself. I've read the posts, went and try it on myself and find that the writing is consistent to what I experienced and the taste is almost similar and so I continue to follow them. That's the best way to trust a food blogger I should say.

I know many food bloggers out there get frequent free food reviews and they will never run out of restaurants to blog about but that does not mean that they are free loaders and crap floggers. I believe that they have a passion for food and they just love to share their experience in their blogs. I sometimes do get some free food too although I don't really run a food blog because this is more like my personal blog, I'll still be very frank with my reviews. The thing about inviting a food blogger to blog is that there shall not be an obligation to blog but most of the times, we'll be nice enough to write about it or just a mention about it (if it's bad and perhaps recommend only the good and skip the rest!).

There's no such thing as to whether accepting a free food review and blogging about it even though it's not good is ethical or not. Everyone has its own view and as readers, if we don't like it, then don't read it! Why should anyone take our personal reviews so seriously and started to insult one's blog? Why do they not write in and complain about the reviews in the papers/mag even though it's not as good as it seemed in the article?

I think everyone here is entitled to their own views and after all, getting a blogger to spread the word is by far cheaper than advertising on printed medias or trying to invite a celebrity food critic to do the review.

Don't you think so?


zewt said...

in the blogging world, there are no hard rules, certainly no specific definition. the beauty (and sometimes sad) is that everyone can be who they want to be in the blogging world.

but there is one thing i have to say about food bloggers, i have yet to read a bad review... after a while, particularly those who get invites to review certain restaurants or cafes, i feel they are compelled to write good stuff... after a while, i think there is no independence. but that's just what i think.

Anonymous said...

agree with u until the part of insulting one's blog. perhaps insulting is too strong of a word. to you it may be an insult, to others, it is a criticism. cant take the heat, then stay out of the kitchen so to speak.

if you take your own review seriously, then u owe a courtesy to your reader a fair review. it is always good to mention that this is a "paid for" review rather than waived it off.

one man's meat is another man's poison. looking back at your free food tasting and ask yourself this:- how fair is it to the readers if you skips all the arsenic parts? you dun wan to read a fake review, why do you expect others wanting to do so while reading yours? a few place you have raved and recommended, i know have been overly glossed. sometimes it is better to follow a more humble food blogger than those high flying ones. you just dun know how much is real and how much is glossed over.

if someone were to found out for themselves the actual inedible fact after trusting your blog, now can they come back and express their dismay?

Sean said...

i like how some people describe food blogs as "photographic food diaries." so i'm a food diarist. =)

CUMI & CIKI said...

it fine as long as you STATE is a review. i know many blogs that DONT

uLi.佑莉 said...

Agreed on your last statement :)

thule a.k.a leo said...

Until today, I still pay for each and every meal.. And I always stay true to my words. I had of course a bad experience for giving out honest opinion :) by someone who couldn't take criticism with open heart. I threw tantrum but later realized that I shouldn't do so.

One interesting point is that when you are invited for food tasting or given free meal.. I salute that you give honest opinion (maybe the restaurant appreciate that too) but the choice of words are important here :) I'm sure u k pw what I'm trying to say

TheGunner said...

Whether you are a amateur/full-time food blogger, or journalist, you are human. Therefore, you are naturally biased in your review.

On the overall topic of blogging, PR people are taking bloggers very seriously these days, as they represent a genuine alternative to the mainstream media as a source of news and information.

I've always maintained that readers need to read through several reviews from different sources before drawing their own conclusions. As you rightly pointed out in your post that what's crap for some may actually be good for others.

suituapui said...

Re. Zewt's comment: I have written bad reviews on a few places already...but I will always include a disclaimer: One man's meat is another man's poison. I may not like it, others may feel up to them whether they want to take my word for it.

Bangsar-bAbE said...

I try to give my honest and most un-biased opinions on food places. I generally am sceptical about accepting food reviews, as I don't want to feel obligated to write good things about food that isn't good.

To be honest, I trust food blogs more than reviews in the papers. You have no idea how some restaurants 'fluff up' their dishes just for the food writers.

And you're right about writing a blog and writing a newspaper food column. They may seem similar, but the latter goes through sub-editors and editors before going to print. Sometimes, your work gets 'cut-up', which happened to me once.

A disclaimer is good, but at the end of the day, you can't please everyone. Every one is entitled to his/her own opinion.

eiling lim said...

Zewt: Oh there are bad reviews for sure and I am sure long ago I've written a few that are bad. Yes, people might be compelled to write good stuff and eventually when the readers found out the majority of the reviews done are crap, they just don't read anymore la.

Anon: Yes, I think criticism is the word I'm looking for. But honestly, I don't have many free reviews. I think out of the 100 over posts I've done, less than 10 are invited reviews and I always state that I was invited so people knows. And so far I must say, I haven't been to a bad review. Fingers crossed!

Sean: And I like your food diary!

C&C: Yeah, it should be that way.

ULi: Thanks!

Thule a.k.a Leo: I try not to be biased towards invited food reviews because we have to be fair. If it's no good, we need to tell the owners and just don't blog about the place la until a revisit and that you find that they have improved.

The Gunner: Yep. One man's meat is the other man's poison. I do check out several reviews before I conclude whether the place is worth going or not.

STP: Yes, you have been very honest in your reviews! Keep up the good job.

Bangsar-babe: Yeah i've heard that story about your article being edited. That's why I like blogs. You publish what you want!

Cath J said...

wahhh now I know how good food photo taken... hihihihi...

eiling lim said...

Cath J: yeah... very pro one! haha

Anonymous said...

MSM food critic like Giles Coren can be harsh to restaurants too. If the reviewer is anonymous and paid for the bill, the review is more personal, impartial and less obliged, else can only take it with a pinch of salt.

On local restaurants scene, need to wait for a few more restaurants that were given excellent review by food bloggers (a few particular) to close shop before the perception change on local food blogs.

aimless thought said...

Interesting world.... just a thought or two which may or may not be related to this topic.

there are 2 aspect of floggers

- food review by the floggers

some restaurant are good and some restaurants are bad... but some good restaurants do have bad days...while some good restaurant becomes bad over time and vice versa of course... problem with food blogs is one must also read it within a reasonable time frame from the date in which the blog is written..

with endless variables i always read food reviews with a pinch of salt... And i do believe readers should do the same. Never take a review literally because it will not serve any purpose.

whether you go to a good or bad restaurant is your choice. If a flogger says this restaurant is good... but if you had a bad experience..surely you cannot blame him/her for that experience.. It is your choice... but this leads to the next point below.

- review of floggers themselves....

i leave this to another time

my thanks to all the floggers because they give me more choices of what & where to eat

~Christine~Leng said...

love your write-up.
I guess it's all about the passion.
Just write out what we think when we tasted something. It's subjective but that's what we think about :)

about reviews, I would definitely state it so that readers would know ;)

eiling lim said...

Anon: Oh well, I'm still standing firm on one man's meat the other's poison. Can't help it if people don't agree with with my tastebuds as I believe everyone is unique.

Aimless: You have your point. Like I said, a blog is a very personal thing so there's no right or wrong if you choose to read it.

Christine: I agree. But if it's a personal blog, why do I have to care who's reading it? I write what I want. And why conform to unwritten rules? Who sets them anyway?

TheGunner said...

I once had a chat with a senior motoring editor, whose magazine runs Car of the Year awards annually. His response to people who disagrees with his choice is simply, "F**k you, it's my award. You don't like, you do your own awards lah!"

I'm not advocating that you go rude on people, but you get the idea, right? =P

eiling lim said...

The gunner: Yeah, it's like "it's my blog, I can write whatever crap I like!"

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