THINK OUT LOUD AFRICA (T.O.L.A) allows users to contribute different kinds of content, including reviews, photos, videos, events, votes, tips, private messages, and more. Playing nice isn’t rocket science, but just in case, we’ve put together these general guidelines.
- Inappropriate content: Colorful language and imagery is fine, but there's no need for threats, harassment, lewdness, hate speech, and other displays of bigotry.
- Conflicts of interest: Your contributions should be unbiased and objective. For example, you shouldn’t write reviews of your own business or employer, your friends’ or relatives’ business, your peers or competitors in your industry, or businesses in your networking group. Business ownersshould not ask customers to write reviews.
- Promotional content: Unless you're using your Business Owners Account to add content to your business's profile page, we generally frown upon promotional content. Let's keep the site useful for consumers and not overrun with commercial noise from every user.
- Relevance: Please make sure your contributions are relevant and appropriate to the forum. For example, reviews aren't the place for rants about a business's employment practices, political ideologies, extraordinary circumstances, or other matters that don't address the core of the consumer experience.
- Privacy: Don’t publicize other people’s private information. Please don’t post close-up photos or videos of other patrons without their permission, and please don’t post other people’s full names unless you’re referring to service providers who are commonly identified by or commonly share their own full names.
- Intellectual property: Don’t swipe content from other sites or users. You’re a smart cookie, so write your own reviews and take your own photos and videos, please!
- Demanding payment: Beyond simply asking for a refund to remedy a bad experience, you should not use removing or posting your review as a way to extract payment from a business, regardless of whether you’ve been a customer.
1) Review Guidelines
The best reviews are passionate and personal. They offer a rich narrative, a wealth of detail, and a helpful tip or two for other consumers. Here are some additional thoughts for conscientious reviewers.
- Personal experience: We want to hear about your firsthand consumer experience, not what you heard from your co-worker or significant other. Try to tell your own story without resorting to broad generalizations and conclusory allegations.
- Accuracy: Make sure your review is factually correct. Feel free to air your opinions, but don't exaggerate or misrepresent your experience. We don't take sides when it comes to factual disputes, so we expect you to stand behind your review.
- Review updates: Review updates should reflect a new experience or interaction with the business. Don't tell the same old story you've already told. If you'd like to add new insight to an old experience, just edit your review instead of creating a new update.
2) Photo and Video Guidelines
Business photos and videos should be broadly relevant to the business and reflect the typical consumer experience (e.g., what the business looks like, what the business offers, etc.).
We may remove photos that showcase a more unique personal experience (e.g., your smiling group of friends at the bar, the fly in your soup) as well as lower quality photos (e.g., too blurry or dark, just a hot mess).
3) User Profile Guidelines
Don't be shy — use your account profile to let people know who you are and what makes you tick. Users want to read reviews from people they know and trust (not those with profiles that are empty or laced with inappropriate content).
4) Talk Guidelines
Talk is a place for fun, open, and honest conversations about what's going on in your community. While it's easy to engage and post on Talk, take care with what you post since you can't subsequently delete it. A dash of common sense goes a long way. And since user trust and transparency are important to us, anonymous users who are disruptive to the community will probably be dealt with more sternly than those who stand behind their words.
5) Messaging Guidelines
T.O.L.A has a handy messaging feature to keep you connected with your fellow T.O.L.A users. First off, please don't use this feature to harass other users or send other inappropriate content. Second, user accounts are for personal, non-commercial use only. Business owners should message reviewers using their free Business Owners Account. In order to do so, we ask that they upload a clear photo of themselves to help personalize their message.
6) Event Guidelines
Heard about a great event in the neighborhood? Great! Post it to the Events tab on T.O.L.A. Please don't use Events to post your recurring promotional announcements and sales. We also like to keep the content fresh, so please don't post events more than 6 months in advance.
7) Business Owner Guidelines
Business owners should be getting in on the act, too. Some words of wisdom:
- From the Business: You can use the "About US" tab to tell people a little something special about your business. Please keep it relevant: don't use this feature to attack your competitors, reviewers, or T.O.L.A, and don't use it to seed keywords or post special offers or promotions — we'll remove them if we see them.
- Public Comments: Private messaging is often the best way to resolve a dispute with an unhappy customer, but business owners can also address issues publicly by posting a public comment. As with private messaging, we ask that business owners upload a clear photo of themselves to help personalize their message. Don't use public comments to launch personal attacks, advertise, or offer an incentive to change a review.
- Video: Videos are a great way for advertisers to promote themselves on T.O.L.A. Be as creative as you can, but please keep it clean. We're not big fans of imagery showing violence, drug use, nudity, near nudity, or suggestive acts. Also, please don't use your video to disparage other businesses, users or T.O.L.A; request or solicit reviews from users; or respond to user reviews.
- Don’t ask for reviews and don’t offer to pay for them either: Don’t ask your customers to review your business on T.O.L.A. Over time, solicited reviews create bias on your business page — a bias that savvy consumers can smell from a mile away.