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Bogus blog 'duped' website to remove bad reviews about Norwich firm, staff claim

PUBLISHED: 13:07 22 May 2019 | UPDATED: 10:49 23 May 2019

Dragonfly House on the bank of the River Wensum in Norwich where BizClik Media is based. Top left, a post from the blog claiming they could write bad reviews about the company. Picture: Archant

Dragonfly House on the bank of the River Wensum in Norwich where BizClik Media is based. Top left, a post from the blog claiming they could write bad reviews about the company. Picture: Archant

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2009

It is a world-renowned recruitment website where millions of staff have left reviews about their employers.

BizClik's profile on Glassdoor.com Image: Screenshot/GlassdoorBizClik's profile on Glassdoor.com Image: Screenshot/Glassdoor

But questions have been raised about Glassdoor being manipulated after negative reviews about a Norwich firm were removed when a mysterious blog appeared.

Glassdoor said it was already aware of the issue and was investigating after ex-staff of city publishing company BizClik Media complained that a blog duped Glassdoor into deleting their genuine reviews.

BizClik publishes business magazines from its offices in San Diego and Dragonfly House off Barrack Street in Norwich. It was hit by a spate of bad feedback from ex-employees on Glassdoor late last year and early this year.

But at least two former staff members, who left scathing reviews on Glassdoor, saw their genuine pieces removed in April after a blog was published on a separate website which claimed to be offering people money to write the negative reviews about BizClik.

BizClik Media publishes magazines for businesses. Image: Screenshot/BizClikBizClik Media publishes magazines for businesses. Image: Screenshot/BizClik

The person who set up the blog claimed to be an ex-employee who wanted to discredit the firm. Several comments appeared on it from people who said they had left their own adverse reviews in exchange for money.

They included a link to the reviews they supposedly wrote which were then removed by Glassdoor.

But this newspaper has spoken to two ex-staff members who actually wrote those reviews and have subsequently complained to Glassdoor.

They pointed out a series of errors on the blog which showed commentators on it could not have written the reviews as claimed.

Commentators on the blog claimed they were being paid money to leave bad reviews on Glassdoor about BizClik. Image: Screenshot/BizClikMediaLiesCommentators on the blog claimed they were being paid money to leave bad reviews on Glassdoor about BizClik. Image: Screenshot/BizClikMediaLies

The blog was set up in March 2019 but the people commenting on it claimed to have left negative reviews from 2017 and 2018.

The blog and comments are also written by someone with English as a second language and are full of errors, while the real reviews were posted by someone with native English.

When they complained to Glassdoor the company told them: "We cannot accept your review because we believe your review includes substantial quoted material from other sources."

But when they pointed out the errors in the blog the reviews were reinstated, although one has since been removed again.

Commentators on the blog claimed they were being paid money to leave bad reviews on Glassdoor about BizClik. Image: Screenshot/BizClikMediaLiesCommentators on the blog claimed they were being paid money to leave bad reviews on Glassdoor about BizClik. Image: Screenshot/BizClikMediaLies

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"You have been taken for fools by this bogus website," one complained to Glassdoor.

"The review was genuine and I have not been paid to post it," they added. "You must be able to judge this by the effort and detail I go into in the review itself - detail only a genuine employee or former employee can provide."

In a complaint to Glassdoor another ex-staff member said: "The blog purports to be created by a former chief journalist at the company. No such job title exists."

Commentators on the blog claimed they were being paid money to leave bad reviews on Glassdoor about BizClik. Image: Screenshot/BizClikMediaLiesCommentators on the blog claimed they were being paid money to leave bad reviews on Glassdoor about BizClik. Image: Screenshot/BizClikMediaLies

"Glassdoor is being gamed," they added, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Glassdoor's website states: "Your trust is our top concern, so companies can't alter or remove reviews."

A spokesman for the company said: "Some reviews were temporarily removed while we went through an additional moderation process.

"Reviews that are in keeping with our community guidelines and terms of use have been reinstated.

"Glassdoor is committed to maintaining the integrity of content posted to our platform, and we take allegations of attempted abuse or manipulation of the authenticity of reviews on our platform very seriously.

"We use proprietary technology filters and algorithms to detect attempted abuse and gaming."

The blog, some of which is written in Russian, has now been archived. It is not clear who is behind the site, although BizClik was not responsible for it.

BizClik, which also has a host of positive reviews on Glassdoor, has not commented.

Glassdoor is not the first review site where allegations of 'gaming' have been made.

The power of review sites means an industry has sprung up for 'reputation managers' who claim to be able to manipulate reviews.

On one website, where freelancers advertise their services for hire, we found a host of people who claim to be able to manipulate or even remove reviews from Glassdoor.

In one of the most famous examples of how review sites can be manipulated, a journalist in London managed to make a fake restaurant in his shed a top rated restaurant on TripAdvisor.

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