Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Anonymous Commenter

One of the beauties of comments is that you get to hear feedback from others very quickly about what you write. However, it can also cause anguish and pain when commenters get nasty. It's rare for someone with a known identity (even if it's a psuedonym) to get really nasty as they are "known" and have a reputation to protect.

However, with the Anonymous commenter, they are able to write pretty much what they wish without fear of retribution. Often, people will want the Anonymous person to confess up to their true identity, as it seem cowardly to hide behind this Anonymous tag and throw stones at people. I don't need to know who these Anonymous people are but I do agree with others in that I feel slightly vulnerable. I post my full name, photos of myself and details events in my life. But that's how I've chosen to communicate with others, I want to share these information so cannot then change my mind when someone else makes fun of it.

I've recently got some Anonymous comments on my post about Bar Lourinha. Nothing good has come out of that innocent restaurant review. First Matt McConnell sends me an email threatening to sue me and now this Anonymous commenter who clearly has something against me. Although, in the Anonymous commenter case, it hasn't been all made. What they have made me realise when I read back on the post from more than a year ago, is how much more I've learnt about food since and how I do much more research into posts before putting it up on the web. My speeling and gramar is still such as bad as I don't doble chek it.

The Anonymous commenter is probably reading this and smiling that he/she has been able to get me to write a whole post about him/her. Well, they can smile all they want. I just wish to discuss this topic as it's an interesting exploration in the psyche of why people post critical Anonymous comments and I want to talk about it. By chance, I happen to just read The Gobblers post today about the exact same topic.

I, like the Gobbler, do not mind differing opinions to mine. I draw the line when I get insulted for having an opinion. This hasn't really happened with my current Anonymous commenter, with the worse being called "idiot" in another comment. Otherwise, in all the other posts in which they've posted comments, I don't really mind. In fact, some comments are funny and I laugh even.

My point of view is that if they can be bothered to go to all the effort of reading my posts to try and pick up tiny errors or things to criticse about, I'm more than happy. That means they read everything I've wanted to pass on to others, which is the whole purpose of this blog anyway. What their reasons for posting as Anonymous are theirs and theirs alone. It could be insecurity, or wanting to not have people speak to them in real life about their opinion, retribution, affecting their real jobs and a number of different other reasons.

For my part, I have to try and not take offence to most things. It's easier said than done, but it's a challenge. You can't have the pros of having comments so that you can discuss things with others, and also stop people from saying what they want to say. I will only draw the lines if totally unrelated insults are thrown at me for no apparent reasons, in which case I will just delete the comment. After all, this is still my blog, and that is one power I have over the Anonymous commenter.


  1. Hi Thanh,

    Mel and I have come across abusive comments as well. Just read the hate mail Mel received for Jackie's restaurant, and the negative comments we received for Yeah Maan (from the owners), and Hook.

    It is inevitable that if you put your comments and opinions out in an open forum, you are bound to receive negative feedback or dissenting opinions. That is fine - everyone is entitled to their opinions - but not when they become abusive or personal. to use a footy analogy, people should play the ball, not the man.

    some of the comments from the Bar Lourinha post got very personal towards you. that is unacceptable and, in many other moderated websites, it would result in a ban against the poster. believe me, I used to moderate a Collingwood bulletin board, so I have some appreciation of this. you can just imagine all the lurking trolls and flamers that I had to deal with, all of whom are just waiting for a chance to anatagonise, often under anonymous usernames.

    To me, that is just cowardly. if you want to debate someone, identify yourself and not be a sniper behind an anonymous post. if you abuse/flame someone under an anonymous name, or get personal, well, that is cause for reporting of the IP to the relevant anonymous poster's ISP.

    it's easy to say "don't take it personally" when the flames often hit a nerve at something which you might have a passion in. imagine if you had written a post about abortion pro or choice. imagine the crap that the post will elicit, from both sides. also, think of it this way - you can't reason, argue, rationalise, debate or placate an internet troll. there is no point trying to find a reason for what they do. remove these notions from your thinking and you will be better able to deal with these posts. You will be clearer in your thoughts about whether to ignore them, rebutt them, ban them or whatever.

    picking up on spelling and grammer is petty, juvenile and laughable. claiming that one needs expertise/experience in order to comment and write opinions is crap - how many people comment on footy without having played it? just because your photo's are not professional quality doesn't mean you should stop taking them - the proliferation of camera phones, digital cameras etc are evident that the amateur market is being targeted. does this flawed argument imply that if you can't cook, then you should always eat out and not try receipes?

    In short, if they want to debate you, they should not hide under annoymous names. if they get personal or are internet trolls, ignore them, delete their comments, ban them or report them (for serious cases, like personal threats). you only need to go to sites like bigfooty or even some of the Age blogs to see how prolific trolls are, and how the moderators deal with them.

  2. Thanh, I'm sorry to hear you've been having this trouble! Going over your Bar Lourinha (OMG, did I SPELL THAT WRONG?!?!?) post, I was impressed with what a cheerful tone you maintained in your responses. I count myself lucky that Michael and I have not been hit with too many malicious commenters.

  3. Simple advice for all you whingy-can't-take-a-critism-wannabe-food-reviewers.

    If you can't take the heat GET OUT OF THE KITCHEN.

  4. Hey Danny,

    How have you and Mel been lately? I've missed checking your blog because my RSS feed wasn't working on your site and I thought you hadn't updated anything. I've re-signed in to your feed again and it looks to be working.

    I read your reviews for Jackie's Kitchen, Yeah Maan and Hooked (which I remember reading previously and commented even). The Jackie's kitchen one was a bit strange, a lot of Anonymous commenters. It's quite strange to have such divided opinion on a place. Maybe the service and food really depended on which staff were present. As for Yeah Maan, is that waiter for real. You wrote a positive review of the place, with a few comments on dryness and spicyness. Geez, that's just unbelievable. Finally, for Hooked, I guess that was just a difference of opinion.

    I don't mind negative comments and in fact enjoy a lot of them. They point out errors that I've made. But to be abusive is when I don't like it. Definitely play the ball and not the man, like Barry Hall.

    The Bar Lourinha comments were still ok with me. I didn't take them personally at all. In fact, I tried to get this person to converse about food as they obviously have some industry experience. But I guess you're right in that its hard to try to reason with them.

    A friend did write a post about abortion and got flamed really badly. He ended up taking it off, so your example is very true. I can see that if the topic was more serious, I would be upset. I will try to reason with people to start off with, but if it's not going anywhere, then I will just let it be.

    Picking on spelling and grammar is when you don't have arguments for the topic and it's the easy way out.

    I said the same thing, does a film review know how to make a film? This is just my own review of something. I never said it was the only right opinion and that I was a professional. It's funny how some people get so upset when someone else disagrees with them.

    Cindy, hahaha, you better double check your spelling every time now. This particular response on the Bar Lourinha post didn't worry me as I just put forward my arguments which I thought were really strong. The only one I didn't like was in another comment where he/she called me an "idiot" because I said Marsala was a chocolate type wine. I admitted I didn't know at the time but now know.

    Anonymous, are you reading the comments at all. I've taken the criticism well and have replied reasonably to all of them. Only when the attacks are personal is where I draw the line. Therefore, I will continue to stay in the kitchen and keep writing.

  5. Hi Thanh, Mel and I have been well thanks. Mel has recently redesigned the look of our site and transferring stuff across to WordPress, so she's been busy working on that.

    Barry Hall is a thug but he's somewhat entertaining. I always love awaiting his next boneheaded act ;)

  6. It seems to be an unfortunate fact of the internet and sometimes the wider world that it's easier to 'play the man' than to think about that ball. Aggression comes cheap. Using brain requires too many calories.

  7. If that is the fact, why is Fat Do still so wide?

    He obviously doesn't use the brain.

  8. Hi Thanh,

    I understand that the internet had created a freedom of expression that wasn't available before.

    You are free to write (badly written) reviews of restaurants. I am free to provide my opinion and provide that opinion anonymously!

    I'm glad that I stumbled across your pathetic blog. Why, you ask? Because now I know what you look like so if you ever walk into my restaurant, I can turn into Barry Hall on your ass!!!

  9. I believe that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but those who cannot accept an opinion different to their own, or who insult the writer purely for the hell of it, lose that right immediately, in a moral sense.

    The people who post nasty anonymous comments (of which there are several examples just in replies to this post) are some of the most pathetic excuses for humanity. With your serial anonymous poster, I'm curious why he even bothers to go to so much effort to pen ridiculous and juvenile comments against each post you publish. It's a shame that you've been targeted by such an idiot.

    I enabled moderation on my blog because of spam comments - so that nothing gets published until I approve it. Might be an idea for you too, that way the anonymous poster and their vitriol will never see the light of day.

    Chin up, Thanh. I might not read your blog as often as I'd want to, but I enjoy hearing about your foody adventures. Anonymous posters can get f-ed. If they don't like your blog so much, why do they spend their time on it?

  10. Maffy,

    Anoynomous doesn't hate Fat Do's blog. He simply wants to point out some of his pathetic opinions and attitudes to certain topics that he post.

    So far I don't see him getting angry about his opinions being challenged and therefore I feel that he has every right to ravage through this site and make let his voice heard.

    Without him, this blog would be more dead than Mr.Do's brain cells.

  11. And I don't think Do needs to put his chin up (which needs lots of energy to do). I think he is quite fine and being a good sport about it.

    Besides, public blogs attracts attention from both sides. The good and the bad. The positive and the negative.

    If you think you can only get good and positive, you're living in a fantasy world. Here take some POT.

  12. Thank you my anonymous friend!!!

    And like Maffy said dude!!!

    Chin up!!!

    I think she meant chin's up!!!

  13. Hey Maffy!

    Stick your moral's up your ass, we each have an opinion and we're entitled to voice it however we choose.

    Bad reviews of restaurants by people such as Thanh are far more insulting to the people who pour their lives and in to the restaurant than the shit we're writing!

    Your blog is next when we're done with Thanh

  14. Wow...I never really read your food blog because it didn't involve Perth!

    But Go Thanh!!

    I love super harsh criticism. From me, to me, whatevever! Criticism is important. The harsher, the better.

    In this day and age of sensitivity, everybody is too afraid to really blast anybody else and give their real opinions.

    At least you know that although their unhappy with your review, they'll now be thinking to do a better job!

    Everybody has a right of free speech. Including Thanh and Anon. Just need to harden up Anon. I think Thanh has taken it quite well by maintaining his rationality.

  15. oh one last thing! I can't remember exactly how page rank workds but:

    the more they comment on your blog, and the subsequent increase in traffic, makes google rank your page higher.

    by doing that they draw more attention to your quality review...

    Go Thanh!

  16. Danny, I like the design of your new site, very cool indeed. Barry Hall is entertaining for sure.

    Duncan, I need to use my brain more to decrease my fat.

    Anonymous, see above.

    Anonymous 2, you are definitely free to write your opinion. Hence I won't delete any of your comments. Unless they say things insulting me really badly or my family. In which case, all bets are off.

    Can I ask you a question though? Why don't you think people are allowed to say bad things about a restaurant? Does that mean you will try and stop every diner who didn't like something about a restaurant from telling their friends? Isn't the way to improve is to take feedback from customers and think whether it is true. If you truly think it isn't true, then continue doing what you do. In the end, people vote with their wallet. Why would you want to shut me up, at least I'm providing feedback. Diners that didn't like soemthing about your restaurant will just not go back, but they won't let you know so you don't know what went wrong.

    Maffy, I don't mind if people disagree at all. It's all part of this blogging deal. I don't like personal insults though. I will stay away from comment moderation as it stifles discussion. If a comment is really offensive, I will delete it, but that's a last resort.

    Anonymous 3, I agree, keep writing your opinions.

    Anonymous 4, thank you, I am being a good sport about it. In fact, some comments have been really funny and some have been enlightening.

    Anonymous 5, join the queue. My friends have used the chin's up joke so many times already.

    Anonymous 6, again see my comments for Anonymous 2. If you really care about improving, why would you not want feedback from people. Like I said in that comment, people will vote with their wallets. If you don't know what you're doing wrong, how can you fix it. Not that you have done things wrong. Maybe your restaurant is one of the best in Melbourne. On the flip side of the coin, have you read how many positive reviews I've written for places I absolutely love. Won't people be interested to go there after reading my review?

    Alan, my friend, welcome to the food blog. You must be a glutton for punishment. I don't mind criticism, as long as it's about the issue and not personal.

    You're really right that people all try to play it nice. But having said that, if someone hasn't done anything to offend you, there's no need to be nasty to them just for the sake of it.

    I think my Google ranking would be down in the millions if I'm lucky. :-)

  17. To the usual Anonymous poster (he of the "Fat Do" comments) my remarks weren't directed at you, but at the OTHER anonymous poster.

    Oh, I'm so scared - my blog is next? Please, just go away until you grow up.

    I never said people can't have their opinions, or voice them. It's only those who are intolerant of others opinions that lose that right. If someone goes to a restaurant and does not enjoy the food or the experience, they are entitled to their opinion of it. If you have a differing one, based on a different experience, then good for you.

    At least I am not afraid to put my name against my opinions. What have you got to hide?

    And I refuse to stoop any further to your level by responding to any more ridiculous comments.

  18. "At least I am not afraid to put my name against my opinions. What have you got to hide?"

    Big Deal Maffy. You think putting your nickname and your gorgeous photo reveals more about you than our Anonymous friend.

    If you really want to be brave, reveal your Full Name, Address and phone number.

  19. It's quite sad that our Anonymous friend doesn't come out most times of the day.

  20. oblivion, you can't get a date or women's phone numbers on Do's blog. if you are lonely, please go to

    at the same time, please come up with a more grown up name. oblivion sounds like a spotty 12yo trying to be tough on the Net.

    cheers, your cousin Oblivious (to you).

  21. Uh, doofus (aka oblivion), you can click the link to Maffy's very own blog, where you can find out all about her and contact her. What about you and our lovely anonymous person? How do we find out more about you? Where is your link?

  22. My link.

    fire away

  23. No the name Oblivion comes from The Elder Scrolls 4 PC game which I blogged about on Do's other blog site. Please check.

  24. just as I figured. a nerd who watches internet porn and spends 24/7 playing video games, e.g. a dateless wanker.

  25. Well I could always start a food blog instead couldn't I?

    And again why are people knocking wankers? It's better than the blow up sheep you use Oblivious.

  26. not a blog. for you, it would be a food flog.

    Oblivious can lend you his sheep if you need company on one of those lonely nights in front of the pc.

  27. My cousins Oblious and Oblivate, how happy I am that you two have joined Fat Do's blog-trolling.

    Now we have teams.

    TEAM DO - himself, Ed, Maffy, Obviate & Oblious (assuming they are different people)

    TEAM TROLSS - me and Anoynomous

    This is going to be wild.

    And thanks for visting my webpage. The gay and lesbian channel counter just went up after I revealed to you TWO sheep shaggers.


  28. I wouldn't say 24/7 video games. In the past I would play long hours in a day. Games don't usually interest me now.

    24 hour porn?? hmmm well one can only take so much before they are totaly drenched!

  29. Great blog. Being a cafe owner myself, i find reviews such as yours helpful and take it to be constructive criticism. I don't believe there is such thing as a "professional food critic" because everyone has their own preference and are in their own right a food critic. If one does not like the service/food/atmosphere of a place the solution is simple - don't go back.

    The hospitality industry is a difficult one to be in and at the end of the day the business exists to serve the customers. I have to constantly remind myself that my taste isn't the same as others taste, which means that I do need to listen to the feedback about the food, service etc and create a menu which is going to bring people back.

    I read your review of Bar Lourinha and thought it was quite a fair one. A business can't always be perfect and there if always an off day.

    It is easy for business owners to take your review personally because the industry is hard work but they should take a step back and realise that what you say also has substance and reassess what they are doing.

    I've had some regulars at the cafe who have commented that their meal was great last week but just ok this week. Consistency, along with high quality food/presentation/service/ambience etc is hard to achieve but the only way to perfect it is to take on board what customers such as yourself have to say.

    I'm sure the anonymous post will not deter you from reviewing on your eating adventure but I'd thought I'd leave an "anonymous" post to encourage you to continue reviewing cafes/restaurants/bars etc and to ignore the anonymous commenter!

  30. Oh don't worry our other Anonymous friend.

    Fat and stupid Do will stuff his face reguarlu no matter what shit flies his way on this blog.

  31. Anonymous, thanks for you input. It's heartening to hear another point of view regarding my blog from another industry insider.

    I've written about how there isn't a definitive expert on food. Someone may know more about food and hence be able to describe the flavours better, but since taste is so subjective, no matter how many years experience you have in the industry, someone else will still disagree with you. Also, I totally agree that if people don't like something about your restaurant, they will vote with their wallets and not go back. The fact that you can at least find out what people didn't like via blogs would be an asset I thought. I don't just bag out a restaurant by just saying "oh, that was crap". I try to give my opinion on what was wrong with the food/service/atmosphere.

    I agree that at the end of the day, you are catering to the customers, not what you think is best. Of course, you have to stand by your own judgement and make decisions whether to listen to all feedback. Obviously, some feedback is not useful, and the choice is yours to take what you will. I'm not forcing my opinions on any restaurant owners out there. Just giving another point of view.

    I don't know what the objection was to that Bar Lourinha review. The fact that six of my other friends also didn't think it was good that night tends to show that the food was a bit lacking. Even then, at the end of the my review, I still said I would recommend it to people who enjoyed a crowded noisy environment.

    I'm wondering if one of my not so glowing reviews is of the restaurant that the other Anonymous commenter works at. He seems to be taking it really personally towards me, hurling insults left right and centre.

    Consistency is the key. My local Chinese/Vietnamese restaurant is only small, but the clientele return very consistently because their standards so are so consistently high. Of about 30 visits there, they have never mucked up my order. Food has never taken more than 15 minutes, even when the restaurant is fully packed, and I've never had a bad meal. I don't know even if the best restaurants in Melbourne can achieve that every time.

    It hasn't deterred me at all. I've taken it all really well. In fact, this Anonymous commenter has made me even more determined to keep blogging, that, I as the customer, should have a right to say what I think of a restaurant and not let intolerant chefs try to dictate to me what I should feel about their food. Thanks for your encouragement.

    Oblivion, you know it. I'm going to keep eating and blogging.

  32. Bloody hell Fat Do. Must you always pour your heart out like that everytime someone gives you encouragement.

    "Oh thank You oh thank you!!! This makes me so much better"

    Now put that hankerchief away and do something useful!

  33. Thanh.

    I have been reading your blogs (both of them) for a bit over a month now.

    I must admit that I do find quite a few of your articles inciteful and fun to read. However, I think Anonymous (Chef one) makes very good points about the flaws in your blog. Though I do not always agree on the tones of his opinions and the choice of words he uses, he does make very valid judgements.

    How I sorta agree with him is that some, and I do mean SOME of your articles are just random litter of pointless chit chat and mumbo jumbo. For example your article titled Delayed State of Shock was just freaking STUPID. Pardon my French but it really was pathetic. If it wasn't for Oblivion's funny comment at the end I would suggest you remove that article. I just wonder how you get these weird ideas in your head all of a sudden and then go home to sit on your muffin top in front of the PC.

    What's next? You write about how annoying it is to accidently peed on the toilet bowl or write about how the girl at the Hungry Jacks short changed you 5c.

    Ideas have to fresh and exciting. So far they are dull as a 5 watt lamp and as dry as your armpits.

    Please consider.


  34. Oblivion, please don't misquote me. Just like you don't hate Rumi, I did not say "This makes me so much better".

    Melanie, thanks for reading. I know that not all of my articles are exciting, but just for the record, the "Delayed State of Shock" post was not written by me. It was written by Afrobev early in the days when this blog was still a collaborative blog. Hence, I am not going to delete it as it's not my work to delete.

    I try to write things that always have a point to them. I will very rarely write a post just to say how bored I am or that it's a really slow day. Please help point out what is wrong with some other posts as I would like to hear constructive (not abusive) criticism.

  35. I will be happy to point out what is wrong with some of your posts though it will need a full time effort with full pay which I'm sure you can allow for given your recent raise. Yet again!

  36. No Melanie,

    This next salary rise for Fat Do was promised to take me to the Top 5 places to eat as recommended above by our Anonymous Chef friend.

    Provided that he DIDN'T really send Fat Do's photo to these places that is.

  37. Oh BUT Fake George.

    I need a salary rise too.

    I've been coming to work 9:45am in the morning rather than 10:00am.

  38. Two questions by the way Melaine.

    1. How do you know Thanh has a muffin top? None of this photos show otherwise. He wears a very tight belly tube everday.

    2. How do you know he has dried armpits.

    I can assure you his armpits would not be so dry given that he sweats so much consistently.

  39. i find it so strange that people have resulted in this type of abuse..... to revisit back and forth just to leave snide remarks when they haven't even been personally provoked..just stop visiting the site.

    maybe there are some mental issues that needs to be resolved?

  40. Hey Stupid..

    This ain't abuse. It's good constructive criticisms from well wishers. Maybe you're the one with mental issues visiting sites leaving pointless comments.

  41. hahahaha how predictable another useless comment this is fun!

  42. Most recent Anonymous!!!

    It is fun isn't it!!!

    Thanh, I'm sorry it's been so long. Did you miss me fat boy!!!

    Your 'the anonymous commenter' post has definately generated much attention, from many other anonymous commenter's I might add. It just goes to show that anonymity is a right that we are entitled to on the internet!!!

    My slanderous comments on your shitty little blog have in fact created so much attention and possibly hundreds more hits that you should maybe even consider putting me on your payroll!!!

  43. Welcome Melanie!!!

    I'm glad you share my views of this blog and I'm sorry you don't share my method of expression at times!!!

    You inspired me to read Thanh's ' A State Of Delayed Shock' post.

    You are entirely correct. This is the worst one yet!!! How can someone who enjoys the odd "Quarter Pounder With Cheese and Large Fries" possibly be qualified to review a quality restaurant!!!

    Our only hope is that Thanh finds another drive-thru nearby and eats a Quarter Pounder With Cheese and Large Fries everyday until he has a cardiac arrest!!!

    Your's truly (the chef one)

  44. Anonymous Chef, your presence or absence neither excites or bores me. I'm sorry but you're influence isn't that great on me.

    You and Oblivion should start a "I have an ego that doesn't match my manners" club. I hate to burst your bubble, but there really isn't that much activity on this blog. Most of the comments are from very few people who keep reposting comments.

    I never disagreed that you don't have the right to anonymity. You have to improve your reading skills. You just don't have the right to abuse me.

    If there was revenue generated, I would consider putting you on the payroll.

    Melanie is a figment of Oblivion's multiple personalities. And like I said to him, I didn't write that "A State of Delayed Shock" article. It was written by Afrobev back in the early days of this blog and I didn't feel a need to delete it.

    Finally, your argument that you can't both enjoy a Quarter Pounder and fine food is just stupid. That arguments has more holes in it than Oblivions ten year old underwear. Seriously, that means that the only people who can review restaurants would be Pandas, who only enjoy eating fine bamboo. Everyone else has likes bad food too. Even your so called "professional" John Lethlean wrote an article once about enjoying cheap bacon and porridge.

  45. My ten year old underwear eh?

    You going through the brotherhood bins again are you fat boy.

    I'm afraid even they won't fit. You need to go to where they throw away old bed sheets for your size.

  46. Hi Anonymous Chef,

    It's been a long time. I was wondering where you been?

    Welcome back!!!

  47. Oblivion, if by the brotherhood bin, you mean your house, yes I have been rummaging through it. I also picked up a very nice, slightly cracked, 50 inch rear projection TV. If only I could work out which ICs to change to get the picture working again. You should stop throwing your Wii remote at the TV and breaking it.

  48. If you are talking the underwear you picked up in the bathroom, those were George's who left them behind after that wild fling you had with him after a few shots of the Ozzo.

  49. Thanh,

    Your over-the-top defensive comments to Oblivion and the Anonymous commenters does the mask the fact that your blog needs much improvment.

    Please address.

  50. uurghhh