Can you get sued for posting a negative review of a business?

Apparently, yes, you can! According to this recent story in my local newspaper,  it is possible…though not very likely. (Thank goodness —  and thanks, Chris P., for keeping me updated!)

These days I’m enjoying the slower pace of summer, but still managing to keep pretty busy.  I am finally getting to work on a couple of papers about parody reviews that I’ve had in mind for about 2 years now.  Many of these texts are really funny.  This one is my current favorite  (posted under the “Delicious Women’s PhD Darling Sexy Costume”):

I wore this to my friend’s Halloween party. Everything was going fine until some jerk asked if he could see my discrete variables and if my f-value was significant. Some guy and his girlfriend asked if I’m into three – way ANOVAS. I was beyond insulted.

What can I say?…it appeals to my inner research geek.  Besides being humorous, parodies also have a critical dimension.  So from a scholarly perspective, I’m especially interested in how, with these kinds of texts, the review site becomes an arena for addressing gender politics, as well as a space for other forms of social critique.

And I’ve also recently launched the data collection phase for a very exciting new project.  This study will look at if/how/when/why local restaurants in my area respond to online reviews about their businesses.  Here’s a VERY preliminary finding: out of a semi-random sample of 50 popular local restaurants, only about 1/3 of them responded to reviews posted on 2 major sites.  My next mission is to find out why that is!

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