Columbus Ohio real estate

Curious Comments - Is YOUR blog ever used commercially?

When you blog about local businesses, events do you get any comments that seem suspect?

Pizza Pizza from The Pizza Review on FlickrPizza Pizza Pizza

I had a pizza shop owner in Hilliard using my to advertise that his pizza was great. The comments were from Sean.  I called the shop that was glowingly recommended and asked to speak to Sean.  They said Sean was out.  I asked who Sean is.  Sean is the owner.  He did not ID himself as the owner of the pizza shop in his glowing comment.

Good use of social media? Good business?

Rabid Fans

In 2007 comments from a rabid fan (?) of a band based in Worthington Ohio left comments on both and Discover Columbus to denigrate the Columbus Italian Festival because that band was not playing .... the comment on  Columbus Italian Festival:

tony Says:

Columbus italian festa is gonna suck this yr-you ought to pay us to come. The idiots had to change the dates to try to get more money and lost ray massas eurorythems. That was the only good entertainment. I wont go and pay them and i only live 60 miles away. Save your money,,there is much better things to do!!!!!

That comment was the basis for another post about the Columbus Italian Festival:

Columbus Italian Festival Does Not Suck

An inside job?

I have a "group of people"  who use my Discover Columbus (now closed down ...)  to promote one Indian restaurant, let me call that restaurant X.  The person leaving the glowing comments then leaves a nasty comment on a post about another nearby Indian restaurarant, let me call that restaurant Y.  

Rabid fan or is it the owner?  Manager? A demented bus boy looking for job security?

In commenting back to a comment on Indian Restaurant Y and aknowledging that it is the same person (or at least the same computer is used and that it is not the first time, that comments on the two blogs were left at the same time.  More importantly that I do not appreciate anyone using my blog for their commercial purposes,  I got this commment:

Maureen, Quit trying to torpedo other reviews. One could say you worked for ______, and just logged on with ten different computers to bump up your restaurant rating.

I have tried _______ and after one time there decided to never go back.

The food is mediocre. The service is horrid. I went for a buffet, and half of the buffet dishes were empty and none were labeled. The restaurant was maybe 15% full. Severe lack of Naan bread.

And not a  true buffet. They bring out your meat and your naan, then the rest you have to compete with other customers for the leftovers on the buffet tables. So, even with a buffet, they limit you to side dishes.

If this was the only choice in indian food in town, I would go there becasue I am a big fan of Indian cuisine. However there are a number of other establishments that I have been to and, without exception, all had better food and better service.

What restaurant rating? It's a post saying I ate at the restaurant.

Is this commenter part of the same series of commercials? Maybe.  Maybe not.  The high drama and story telling matches the earlier comment spam but it is written from a different IP. I wrote one post about visiting  restaurant Y....  Why would this person say I worked for restaurant Y? Or have any interest in promoting it?  I ate there once. I am certainly not going out leaving comments promoting for them anywhere.  Nor comments attacking Indian restaurant X.

What would be the point?

I have eaten at restaurant X a few times.  The barage of comment spam made me say "no thanks" recently to dinner at restaurant X and share the story of the currious commercials comments.  What turns me off to restaurant X is the curious comments.  Owner? Rabid Fan?  Am I just going to let them use my blog to post glowing commercials?  No. 

The Sean, Tony, the fake commenters who love to hate restaurant Y and this commenter can get their own blogs. 

It's not a review  it's a comment on a post. It's fake.  My blog, my chance to point out to readers that someone is sprinkling commercials among the comments.



Photo Credit The Pizza Review  on Flickr.  Licensed with a Creative Commons License which allows commercial use



This post provided by Maureen McCabe HER Realtors*

Contact Maureen McCabe of HER Realtors* - 614.388.8249

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Information is deemed to be accurate but should be verified to your satisfaction.  Information provided herein is supplied by several sources and is subject to change without notice.  Opinions expressed are solely those of Maureen McCabe.



Comment balloon 19 commentsMaureen McCabe • October 23 2008 06:41AM



Does this commentary show the often abuse of blogs?

Or, does it, as I suspect, show the uselessness of testimonials?


Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) almost 11 years ago

Maureen,  As the author of that blog and the administrator who can allow or delete comments, can you be held legally liable if someone trashes their competition? 

Posted by Richard Iarossi, Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) almost 11 years ago

both... these don't get caught in the spam filter with the real garbage on but I am moderating 100% on Discover Columbus and I am not going to waste a lot of time with the Tony's, Sean's Nikki Luv's.  My blogs are abused. 

It makes ME hate blogging.

I just tracked down Sean's business by Googling what I remembered of it and found glowing testimonials on Judy's Book, Merchant Circle, etc. Left by Sean?   Calling the number for Sean's pizza parlor they are no longer in business.  Trying to promote your business by comment spamming did not pay off for Sean.

The lead singer of the band that Tony was commenting about?  Tony.  Probably just a coincidence.

Posted by Maureen McCabe, Columbus Ohio Real Estate (HER Realtors) almost 11 years ago

Richard I don't believe so.  They could actually post a blog called "Restaurant Y sucks" legally.  Of course they would want to check if the pockets of Restaurant Y are deep before doing so because the owner of Restaurant Y could make their life difficult even if they could not legally get them to take down the Restaurant Y sucks blog, or at least that is my understanding of it.

I would prefer they start a "Restaurant Y sucks" blog than litter my blog with their silly stories. 


Posted by Maureen McCabe, Columbus Ohio Real Estate (HER Realtors) almost 11 years ago

At least you know people are reading your blog. =)

Some people are very obnoxious on the internet and I am not sure if it's the anonymity they have when writing on a computer screen as opposed to talking face-to-face but I have never met people as rude in the real world as I have seen on the internet in different capacities.  They feel they can say anything.

Posted by Jenn Neumann Deer, Surfside Beach Real Estate (RE/MAX Southern Shores) almost 11 years ago

I know people are reading my blogs.  StatCounter.  Most people don't bother to comment.

I agree Jenn... the comment "Quit trying to torpedo other reviews. One could say you worked for ______, and just logged on with ten different computers to bump up your restaurant rating." seems rude to me... but I had a really rude series of comments on a post about my favorite local Mexican restaurants too.  None of them read like the highly dramatic stories on the two Indian restaurants though.

Posted by Maureen McCabe, Columbus Ohio Real Estate (HER Realtors) almost 11 years ago

Maureen '

Like the "hate blogging" as a descriptive term.

Yes, it seems, in an open forum, as people can say anything they want, comments can get out of hand on an otherwise-informative blog.

Moderation is needed, of course, here - but there is benefit to a local community for feedback on local businesses.

The difficult thing - how to you "moderate" without censorship - apparently, the "honor system" sometimes doesn't work out.  And the author of the blog has to be prepared for potentially libelous claims - "Don't eat at this restaurant - my whole family got food poisining, etc." - comments that can really hurt a business.

Keep us posted on how things play out.


Posted by Dean Moss, Dean's Team Chicago IL Real Estate Team (Dean's Team - Keller Williams Realty Partners Chicago IL) almost 11 years ago

Maureen - I suppose there will always be people who will try this.  It is also important for us o keep a careful eye on comments to make sure people don't post stuff that could land us into legal trouble.  Thanks for sharing your experience.

Posted by Jennifer Fivelsdal, Mid Hudson Valley real estate connection ( JFIVE Home Realty LLC | 845-758-6842|162 Deer Run Rd Red Hook NY 12571) almost 11 years ago

Thanks all for the comments.

Thanks to  Orlando & Lake Mary Real Estate Agent, First Time Home Buyers & Luxury Homes (RE/MAX Central Realty)   I went back and forth about using the name. I did not mean to publish this.  I thought it was still a draft and I was looking for a photo when Lenn's comment showed up... there is another typo I kept getting my X's and Y's mixed up.

Heather wrote: Not sure if you meant to mention the reasataurants name ____ but you did. Comments and posts like that would get old me real quick. I would stop the blogging on those topics all together because of that.

The real blog has the name of the restaurant because I wrote about that restaurant.  The comments on the post have the silly, dramatic stories and name the restaurants. 

I don't like censoring comments.  I don't like having to  babysit blogs because of garbage like this. 

Off limit subjects... Indian restaurants? Local festivals.  Pizza?  You could find Sean's comment spam and reviews all over the internet when he left the comment on my blog.

I am all for people leaving comments saying they had a bad experience at a restaurant or prefer the chile rellenos at one restaurant over another ... or the naan.  I don't like fake comments hawking a restaurant written by the owner.  I know they think the ends justify the means. 

This is just so obvious.

Thinking about it.  I took down a series of comments on a post about Mexican restaurants because it got icky.  I may have to remove comments or even my content if it is attracting this.

Posted by Maureen McCabe, Columbus Ohio Real Estate (HER Realtors) almost 11 years ago

Kelly I am no expert on the subject so I won't try to answer your question here.

Jeff Turner is an expert.  He has a couple of good posts about Flickr.  Use the ActiveRain Search button to find posts about using Flickr.  Or search for Jeff Turner and look at what he's offered about using images of others and letting others use your images for the link juice it gives you.

You can't use all images on Flikr you need to look at how they are licensed.  This one has a Creative Commons License, it required attribution.  This photo is from The Pizza Review.

Posted by Maureen McCabe, Columbus Ohio Real Estate (HER Realtors) almost 11 years ago

Kelly's comment (answer above) was deleted.  In reading the email of the comment I realized that her pretty little name graphic is a link to her website.  Not that AR reads the link because of the no follow tags , but it is comment spamming same as if she posted a link promoting herself.

She is not a newbie.  

Actually I used the Report as spam.

Kelly was looking for help with Flickr.


Posted by Maureen McCabe, Columbus Ohio Real Estate (HER Realtors) almost 11 years ago

How sad that the restaurants can't stand on their own denegrate another's is just plain pathetic.

Posted by Paula Swayne, Realtor-Land Park, East Sac & Curtis Park -Dunniga (Dunnigan, Realtors, Sacramento (916) 425-9715) almost 11 years ago

It is pathetic and I looked to see if I can see a pattern on other blogs and websites (the review type websites... like Yelp) Yep someone's (???'s) Got it in for the one restaurant.  I doubt the one restaurant knows anything about it.

Anonymous comments.  Innuendo. Same type of stories being told...

It's dog eat dog out there... 



Posted by Maureen McCabe, Columbus Ohio Real Estate (HER Realtors) almost 11 years ago

Hi Maureen,

As I was reading your post I just thought "delete, delete, delete...let them get their own blogs" - which is what you ended up saying. I have not run into that in my blogs, luckily. What I am seeing, which is in the industry but also creepy, is a local Realtor who hired someone to blog in his name but every single post is a glowing testimonial of this agent. It IS creepy and I can't imagine why he's paying someone to do that. (It's a poorly done blog in every regard.) I guess people just want the press, no matter what.

Delete away.

Posted by Mary Pope-Handy, CRS, CIPS, ABR, SRES, Silicon Valley (Sereno Group Real Estate) almost 11 years ago

Mary I believe I deleted Sean hawking his pizza place on CBB. 

Tony was so funny on both blogs blustering around condemning a festival that is basically a church sponsored eventl that has grown into a relatively big Columbus festival for the church, the Italian Village neighborhood, the Italian community throughout Central Ohio and those of us who just love the food, music, etc.  I was able to respond to his comment and another reader commended me on how I "handled" Tony. 

I don't think I have  deleted any comments about the Indian restaurant and in looking to see what shows up on other local sites, there is more to the story. Much more. It's pretty complex. Someone's stealth marketing or astroturfing or sock puppeting.  I probably will be deleting anything else that seems bogus on  my posts on the two restaurants. 

I think I'll  go to the 3rd and untried by me, Indian restaurant in the Polaris area this weekend.   

The RE thing sounds creepy.  Let him throw money away having someone write the glowing testimonies... 

Thanks for the comment.

Posted by Maureen McCabe, Columbus Ohio Real Estate (HER Realtors) almost 11 years ago

Can't you approve comments before they are public?  That seems like the safest thing to do!

Posted by Jean Groesbeck, Broker, CRS, e-PRO, ABR, ASP, CNE, IMS (Compass) almost 11 years ago

Jean asks  "Can't you approve comments before they are public?"

Can you on ActiveRain? Will you be able to on Localism?

I do have comments totally locked down on Discover Columbus because I am NOT posting there. I have to approve 100 % and I have for a long time.

Is not approving the comments the way to go? You decide on your blog.  I'll decide on mine.

I have approved the comments from the Indian Food restaurant people.  I don't think I have deleted any of them even though I don't approve of my blog being used that way.  I respond to them.  The comment here is in response to one of MY comments saying they are sham comments slamming the one restaurant and being a "shill" for the other restaurants.  The commenter wrote:"Quit trying to torpedo other reviews. One could say you worked for ______, and just logged on with ten different computers to bump up your restaurant rating.

Obviously the commenter does not like my answer? Tough.

Can you imagine if comments had to be approved on ActiveRain?

I have had comments semi open on for a few months but I have had a number of real spam slip through the way I have my comment moderation set up.   Think about conversations do you have to approve everything others are saying to you before they utter the words? Wouldn't that make conversation awkward? 

While I don't want my blogs to be used for commercials I don't want them locked down so tight that a legitimate conversation can't break out.

I retain the right to point out that

  • The two sets of comments are left at the same time, one a glowing tribute to restauarant X the other slamming restaurant Y 
  • That some nut has a vendetta against the Columbus Italian Festival
  • That a comment was left by the owner of a business
  • That they are bogus comments


Posted by Maureen McCabe, Columbus Ohio Real Estate (HER Realtors) almost 11 years ago

Maureen,  Wow this could get very bad if buiness was good in building...and for example, we wrote about a neighborhood and then had this happen with builders fighting over reputation.  What a mess.

Posted by asdf zcxv, Ann Arbor Area Real Estate (Keller Williams Realty) almost 11 years ago

There is a blogger in my market who got a comment slamming a condo development.  From a consumer?  A disgruntled consumer.  I believe the blogger decided NOT to post the comment.  I got an opportunity to read it.

The comment was from a disgruntled consumer in a condo development in many, many ways, or said it was.  Builder would not have appreciated the comment.  The neighbors probably would not have been thrilled. Any neighbor trying to resell in the community would have upset.  Not that there might not have been legitimate concerns.  Get your own blog.  They're free.

That could get really hairy.

Posted by Maureen McCabe, Columbus Ohio Real Estate (HER Realtors) almost 11 years ago