In the wee hours of this morning, I got this email (which you can see in the Appendix) that said my Google Maps review wasn’t posted and which implied it was “fake engagement.”
Review in Question
Text of the five-star review:
“Even though I didn't personally love the flavors I think that it's a decent portion and probably quite good for the type of food it is.”
I see why this looks like a fake review. It’s pretty generic, it says something negative(ish), and I gave the restaurant five stars.
I got this email at 2 AM but posted the review much earlier in the day. This means there was probably some element of human reporting or curation here.
Why did I write the review like this?
Well, I thought the food was probably quite good objectively but the particular dish I got didn’t have flavors that I enjoyed. So I just wanted to give them a strong rating for having what’s probably authentic food with nice portions at decent prices.
A side note: The next review I posted for the walking tour I didn’t wasn’t posted right away. It said “pending” but 20 minutes later when I refreshed the page it was posted. I wonder if that’s related.
What The Internet Says
Not much. A few people are complaining on Google forums here, here, and here. Seems this started about a year ago but hasn't come up too often. I hope that means it isn't an issue so much for people posting legit reviews.
Why do I keep Using Google Maps?
I haven't found a great alternative for POI (Points of Interest) when traveling.
The photos of menus and food are very helpful.
I don't have an iPhone to use Apple Maps.
I use (and contribute to) OpenStreetMap when I can but it simply doesn't have an ecosystem yet to help you find relevant POI.
It's a net positive to my life right now.
They've gamified it to the point of being fun to contribute.
I'm stuck with Google Maps for now. If this is the main inconvenience I face (surveillance aside) because of it then that's not so bad. I look forward to the day an Open Source alternative finds some success and I can start contributing there more.
Update: 21 July 2023. I edited my review last night to town the stars and be more specific. The review was yet again "not posted" so now I'll just delete it.
Email from Google:
Text of Email:
“Your review isn’t posted”
Content that violates our policy on fake engagement isn't allowed. Fake engagement includes incentivized content, content intended to manipulate a place's rating, and other content that doesn't represent a genuine experience.
What you can do
If you think we made a mistake, you can submit an appeal.