There is such a thing as too clean
“Retail Democracy (Even bad reviews boost sales)” by Jennifer Alsever (Fortune Small Business Magazine, 28 September 2009). First, please pardon the delay in sharing this with you but FSB is one of those publications that does not post their articles on their web site when they street their print version. Yes, print still has its low tech place (i.e., convenience, no need for a wifi, etc.)
In short, great article! First, it reiterates one of the common AU themes — it’s not about you, it’s about your guests and their expectations. The focus should be on what they are looking for (e.g., authenticity, honesty, information, etc.), not on what you want to supply. They are not going to care if you’re meeting your needs. They will however care very deeply about if you are meeting their needs.
Think about it. When you visit a web site and see only glowing reviews, what does that do for the credibility of what you read? Do you not expect something more realistic? The irony is many people have the same expectation of other sites but when it comes to their own they want to scrub them so clean that they might as well be a faux Hollywood movie set. In short, context matters — there is such a thing as too clean.
Second, for a bit of positive spin, there is also the SEO (search engine optimization) aspect. In this case it basically comes down to the old PR adage, “bad press is good press.” In other words, comments become content; content gets indexed by search engines; the more content you have indexed the more likely a search engine is to connect you with someone doing a search. Granted, not every visit is a good visit. But as long as the click in is not costing you, via a pay per click (PPC) campaign, then it might not be so bad either.
Remember… Context matters — there is such a thing as too clean.