Blogging

Food blogging – Why lie?

I have been blogging for quite some time now and have tried food from hundreds of restaurants and cafes. While some experiences have been amazing, some have been average and some have left bad memories that I probably can’t get rid of.

The purpose of this post is not to complain but to share the thoughts that I have when I read some fellow blogger posts. When I say posts, these can be Instagram posts, reviews on a website or probably a blog post. I can categorize some of the bloggers that have made blogging challenging in the recent past.

Being around for about 5 years in blogging has helped me identify what is true and what is not. I can probably read a review or 2 of a blogger and can easily identify the amount of truth in the post. Not saying that I have never toned down a review (due to the laws of course) or just skipped a blogpost for a disappointing experience, but I just know when a review/post is just for the sake of it, that is, it misguides the followers or readers.

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Starters from the set menu lunch at Amala, Jumeirah Zabeel Saray

1. The I like everything blogger

We all follow a blogger who loves everything. Either the blogger has an amazing choice and has amazing luck. Probably needs to try his/her luck winning a few jackpots or lucky draws.

It’s possible that one posts only about the things they liked but not everything can be the best right? If you tried a Chocolate Cake from one place last week and it was the best, how can the one you tried the very next week be the best again? Scroll down a few posts and there is another best Chocolate Cake! Please make up your mind 🙂

2. Only negative reviews blogger

There are platforms that allow one to post reviews and give their ratings too. I have come across some reviewers of so called bloggers who just post negative reviews. The purpose of this is to get attention of the restaurant to get freebies. Disappointing!

One can have bad experiences but if you just post about the negative ones then you’re surely not helping anyone. One needs to balance it out. Be informative if you critice something. Writing things like “It was just bad” doesn’t give me anything as a reader. Define bad to me. Was the Chicken dish you ordered too salty? Was the Chicken undercooked? Was there too much spice in it, even though you had specified that the food shouldn’t be spicy?

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Cannoli from Bice, Hilton JBR

3. Bloggers who don’t separate marketing from the normal food posts

Yes, there are bloggers out there making money out of Instagram posts or even blog  posts and there is no harm in that. Blogging can be a good business. There are however laws to be adhered to. Apart from that the bigger issue is not informing your readers.

You see a post wherein a food blogger starts promotion detergents or even washing liquid soap. Of course you know these are marketing posts. So why not disclose that?

Not only this, some restaurants also pay hefty amounts to the bloggers to post and no one discloses anything. The purpose of the post is solely marketing, regardless of the fact that the food was good or not. Anyone can take fancy photos with a good equipment and experience but not letting your readers or followers know is wrong. You are basically misleading them.

A lot of these so called influencers also have bought followers and likes to grow quickly. They might say that’s their personal choice, which it is, but for me it’s lying!

4. The blogger who barely eats

Yes, there are those ones too! Some food bloggers go to multiple events in a day and sometimes barely taste any food. However, when you check their Instagram accounts later, they comment on the food.

How can you comment on something you haven’t tried? Unless you eat from your eyes and nose! Can you please teach me that technique? It might just help me lose a few kgs.

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Spicy Tuna Tartare, Bread Street Kitchen at Taste of Dubai 2016

5. The blogger who wants to be everywhere

Please don’t get me wrong; actually you can if you want to :P, but there are food bloggers who just want to be everywhere regardless of the fact if they know anything about the cuisine or if the food is meant for them.

For example if I were to eat vegetarian food, I would surely not go to a steak house to review it. Yes, the steakhouse has some good vegetarian options but for God’s sake, its a steakhouse and should be promoted for being one!

There’s no harm learning about new cuisines either but take your time to experience and understand it first. I barely went to sushi places when I started blogging as I wasn’t fond of sushi. Now, you probably can’t stop me from having it. It is fair enough that I started going to more sushi places in the last 2-3 years, that is, after I developed a taste for it and understood the food better.

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Sushi and Sashimi from Manga Sushi

I was fairly active, accepting invites every now and then, however with time I realised that this wasn’t why I started blogging. I have taken a step back and barely accept food review invites. If there’s a party or opening, then you might see me around but food reviews invites probably not. I however do have some pending reviews from previous invites and I shall surely publish them on the blog. Will try to be as honest as I can.

The point is to be true to yourself and to your readers/followers. If you can’t do that, then just mention that you promote food and products and you are not exactly a food blogger. If you want to be an influencer, be one, but be a real and honest one.

You can also read what Eat Drink Stay Dubai has to say about trusting Dubai reviews.

13 comments

  1. Very well written, and all valid points. Bloggers definitely should disclose when any reviews were part of a meal they did not pay for – it’s certainly something I, and many other bloggers I respect, have always done. I used to not write about disappointing meals because of fear of repercussions, and just wrote about ones I enjoyed. Now, the pressure is off as I don’t write about F&B in the UAE anymore, but nevertheless, I employ the same principles with my ‘food on travel’ blogging.

    1. Thank you Devina. I have skipped a lot of posts due to the disappointing food and service too. I understand what you mean. Disclosure is a must, since readers rely on what bloggers say. I am glad you are employing the same principles with your ‘food on travel’ blogging.

  2. Well written and observed. Do you think this is a particular Dubai/UAE problem or prevalent worldwide? I know disclosure laws temper some aspects in other countries

    1. Thank you Sally. I think this problem does exist in other countries too on some scale but given the size of the Dubai/UAE market (which is comparatively smaller), it is easier to spot such things. Plus there are way too many bloggers in Dubai/UAE who prefer not to disclose anything as there are no laws in place. Laws always help to keep the people in line.

    1. Personally, I think the issue is less any disclosure laws, it’s that bloggers are missing the opportunity to position themselves and create a true niche. I disagree slightly about the infancy aspect, purely because one is only ultimately responsible for themselves, and their content.

      For example, IF laws were passed tomorrow, there’s still a sea change necessary in mindset, from clients, PR, bloggers, venues and so on to trickle down. Add into the equation, there then comes an issue of appliance of laws, compliance and impacts on audience etc. Don’t forget, just as some of us may have issues about lack of disclosure, other audiences and bloggers may not – that’s life, sadly.

      This is why it’s far better for each blogger to focus on setting their own standards primarily, bringing an audience and positioning a niche. Time has proven in any blogosphere this is the best and truest way – look at the ‘1000 true fans’ and ‘trust agents’ rather than big numbers.

      We all edit our own blogs and content, therefore we’re all primarily responsible – which is the excellent point I believe the blog indicates well. For those that don’t disclose, their may be several root causes – and not necessarily bad faith or deceptive, more a lack of education or awareness. That said, I do know of some bloggers who actively obfuscate the issue because they feel it may ‘kill the golden goose’ – and I’d view that as a lack of integrity that will only harm themselves in the long run, and their loss.

      This is why I admire those bloggers who actively announce measures such as – showing a receipt, having a full disclosure and being forthright about clarity etc. – because they ‘get it’. I also think audiences are getting far more savvy, and personally I’d rather have 1 of those savvy readers than 1000 sheep.

  3. All valid points. The issue we have here in the UAE is the lack of disclosure laws, unlike Europe and the US. Whether on a freebie invite or a paid post, these experiences should be disclosed to followers. I understand the Media Council is working to implement these; I just hope they would hurry up to avoid fooling readers!

    1. Thank you Samantha. I agree with the law bit. I think its easier for anyone to write anything they want to without a proper disclosure. I hope the Media Council does come up with strict laws real soon. At the end, I think it is the responsibility of the blogger too. Honesty and disclosure is always respected.

    2. It’s not just the disclosure; it’s this pathetic excuse some hide behind – that one cannot post anything remotely negative for fear of contravening UAE laws. The real issue perhaps is one can’t write well enough about issues in a constructive, witty, or positive way or worse still, one lacks the openness or will to do so.

      BTW thanks to ALL the commenters; really enjoyable reading folks, thanks 🙂

  4. This is a wonderful article – in fact, I think several guilty parties fit several profiles at the same times.

    My last article was about the fluff people write up as ‘reviews’, not just from a disclosure point of view but that as you say, it’s about informing the readers most.

    However, and this is where faith comes in. I honestly believe ‘like follows like’, that is people who are easily pleased will not have the discretion or judgement to objectively read that bloggers’ post of 6 similar venues all they call a favourite.

    Similarly, someone who likes the tone, style, judgement or whatever of another blogger will have an affinity and (dreaded word alert….) ‘trust’ (boo!! hiss!!) them.

    Fundamentally, it’s about awareness. Everyone should educate themselves better, not least some of the PR and venues that look for freebies from bloggers then complain their ROI is pants. The issue of expecting a ROI for a freebie is something for another day.

    Anyways, keep up the great work and thanks for a well-written and heartfelt article 🙂

    1. Thank you so much. I agree to every single point that you have mentioned.

      It does come down to awareness. However, I do feel that as a blogger one does have the responsibility of being true and honest to their readers.

      Freebies is surely another issue.

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