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A thorny subject

ONE man's meat, they say, is another man's poison.

That is what makes the rapid growth of online criticism such dangerous territory.

The old saw that everyone's a critic has become a truism with the rise to dominance of the TripAdvisor website. Few of us have not consulted it when considering booking a holiday, a business trip or even just a meal.

The figures speak for themselves: TripAdvisor carries more than 150 million reviews and opinions from travellers around the world, covering 3.7 million businesses in 139,000 destinations.

That is why unfavourable reviews can create widespread ripples that were previously unthinkable, and it is why proprietors increasingly feel they have to take to the ether to defend themselves. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the dispute involving the Crags Hotel in Callander, in an ideal world, complaints would be aired face-to-face and disputes resolved in the same manner, but criticism these days is often posted in the heat of the moment. The resulting fracas can often be entertaining, if seldom edifying.

Perhaps we should all take online reviews, like porridge, with a pinch of salt; though again, that may be too subjective for some.

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