How to respond to criticism | Food | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

How to respond to criticism

Pointers and guidelines for bar owners and restaurateurs on how to respond positively to reader reviews on The Coast's restaurant pages.'s restaurant and bar listings provide a wealth of useful information about everywhere to go out to eat and drink in greater Halifax. As a business owner, your restaurant or bar location page on our site is a valuable tool to promote your business on the internet. If managed well, it will bring Coast readers through your door.

On the subject of our readers: We know Coast readers love to go out, and since we love our readers, we consider their candid reviews and ratings an integral part of restaurant profiles on our site. That said, is a private website and we reserve the right to remove any comments we find offensive or slanderous. While we strive to maintain an atmosphere that encourages free and open conversation, inevitably some comment threads can spiral into negativity and personal attacks. When this happens, we may close the thread to further comments.

As much as we try to monitor all comments on the site, we rely on readers to inform us of any comments posted that they consider offensive or slanderous.

Under every comment on the site, we provide an option for you to report abusive comments. Simply click on "report comment," and choose the reason why you find the comment offensive in the pop up box.

Alternately, you can email If you email us, don't forget to include a link to the page the post is on.

If a commenter repeatedly abuses our comment policy, we may ban their IP/email address. If you have questions about this policy or about about a specific comment on the site, please email us at

If we missed your business altogether and you'd like us to create a location page for it, please email us at

New businesses, please note: The Coast restaurant critic gives new establishments a three month grace period before reviewing it. In the same spirit, while we will allow reader reviews to go up immediately after opening, we will delete all comments monthly for the first three months after a business opens. This ought to give any business a reprieve from any initial first bumps.

Responding to criticism

If your business or your work in the service industry receives criticism on, keep a cool head. Resist going online and making an angry retort. If you are a business owner, treat it like any other customer service complaint. If you are a reviewer, ask yourself: what is a constructive response to this critique? If you post responsibly, other people will do the same.

We encourage business owners to defend their establishments or respond to criticism in the comments section of each location's page. However, in the interest of fairness, we feel owners and/or people who work at the establishment in question ought to declare themselves and their interest in a business. Nothing devalues a comments site like fake customer posts and in any case, these posts tend to be revealed for what they are (padding) rather quickly, and may be removed.

Encourage regular clients to post positive reviews online. This lets people know you have a loyal following. If you want to build a good following, encourage new fans to post a review. If you have a newsletter, let people know about your presence on our site. If you want promotional materials to distribute at your business, contact and we can arrange for a salesperson to drop some off to you.

Abusive comments can be reported as abusive. Abusive content will be taken down and reviewed by the web editor and may or may not be reposted, depending on the severity of the abuse.

If you notice you are getting repeated negative comments over a particular point of service, when you fix it, logon, address the issue, and say it is fixed. By the way, we encourage business owners to post news and/or special events in the comments section.

We highly recommend you read this New York Times article Managing an Online Reputation for inspiration and guidance on how to approach online criticism and promote yourself successfully online.

Good Responses

Good responses articulate experiences, give examples or respond constructively to a comment left by another reader. Good comments never insult the critic.

Good responses are descriptive, have a positive/constructive tone, and are open to being contradicted by other readers.

Good responses stay on topic, and never contain spam or spam-like content.

Good responses are rarely anonymous or pretend to offer a positive review because business owners stand behind the integrity of their brand.

Bad Responses

Bad responses insult the writer of the post, other commenters, etc. Often, reviewers write a decent critical review, then sign off with a lame personal insult. Why bother? Personal, unprovable insults will always ensure a comment gets removed.

Bad responses are angry, contain threats, needless swearing or abusive content.

Bad responses make unprovable accusations about people or businesses.

Bad comments go off on tangents or go-off topic, and often contain spam or spam-like content.

Bad responses are almost always anonymous, and usually contain fake contact information, because negative commenters are almost always too cowardly to stand behind their opinions.

Now you've read this, go on, go to our restaurant and bar section and read some reviews!

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