Addressing the anonymity and Integrity of Reviews

There has been a lot of chatter lately on the great worldwide web, about reviewing conduct. Rightfully so, it is a bit of a circus out there. The reason I started reviewing in the first place was because - well a) I was bored but b) I found it increasingly hard to trust reviews. At the time there were fewer bloggers and internet reviewers, and mainly reviews driven by corporates. I did not trust their intent, but I also rarely trusted their taste to be quite frank. I saw several cases of "complacent journalism" - where a writer who had earlier been penning down articles on various other subjects, was now writing a restaurant review. No wonder I ended up eating so many bad meals based on those weightless reviews; they couldn't tell their congress from their confit. Not that the slew of bloggers, such as myself, may be any different. But isn't that the internet for you? Hoards and hoards of bad information you have to sift through to find a few juicy slivers? A bit like entering a Tesco or a mega mall -  lots of junk - but you identify your favourites, make your own assessment of what is worthy. Favourites will differ - thats the good, bad and ugly of consumerism.
In the case of my reviews, some might find them too harsh, some spot on - that is a right each individual has to decide for themselves, and in that sense no one review may be entirely wrong. It is subjective after all. But that is where my qualm lies - how subjective should a review really be? Is it fair to criticise a dish simply because you don't like or understand certain food? Even if it is actually a perfectly authentic and delicious dish? Someone rightfully pointed out, a reviewer should know and understand a cuisine to some degree before reviewing it. Of course to some extent subjectivity comes in - for instance not liking a certain combination of flavours, how salty, or seasoned you like your food, etc. And then there are those cuisines you will bump heads for the first time - there always has to be a first doesn't there? But for the most part, a good review has to be able to objectify something as subjective as taste.
The other big topic to address is paid reviews and free meals. Do I or would I ever take money for a review? Most certainly NOT. Are all my reviews anonymous? No. Even though I do eat out a lot (anonymously), there are reviews I also conduct on invitation. Sometimes I am just too broke to spend on a hunch! I am often asked if that coaxes me somehow to write a little more favourably? No, not in the least. I don't force myself upon any establishment - they take a chance to invite me despite what the outcome may be. Does that alter my experience ? Well for any of you who do follow my reviews, I am annoyingly hard to please. From my experience, either they can cook or they can't. Either they have the palate, or they don't. Most of the time, I do try and go again on my own accord to gage it better. Unless of course the food is god awful, in which case how much better can it get anonymously! What does get skewed is the sense of service. The kind of service I will receive anonymously and from that on an invite, will certainly be quite different. They will be more attentive, but again they cannot fake the knowledge they may or may not have on the food, menu or establishment. Though I rarely comment on service, it's just too boring - unless it is exceptionally bad or great. On that note however, I will start mentioning on each review, whether it is paid for by me or not. I think that is a fair inclusion you all deserve to know of.
On that note I bid you adieu, until my next review - Artusi, coming soon!