- Rules for Posting a Negative Review
- Why we have this policy
- About negative reviews on the BPN website
- If your business has a negative review
- Why don't you accept negative "unsolicited" reviews?
- Why don't you accept negative reviews of individuals?
- Why can't I post a review of a school my child didn't attend?
- Why can't I post about license violations or illegal acts?
- Tips for posting a negative review
When posting a review, BPN subscribers agree to follow the Negative Review Policy and they affirm that their review does meet the following requirements:
Must be replying to a question: Negative reviews are accepted only in response to a relevant question in Parent Q&A. Unsolicited negative reviews may not be posted to the profile page of a school or business (why?). (Note: If you previously posted a positive review, and you've changed your mind and now want to post a want to post a negative review, see Updating a review.) Questions posted to Parent Q&A may not contain criticisms, and questions may not solicit negative feedback.
Must demonstrate first-hand experience: Negative reviews and criticisms must be based on the first-hand experience of the BPN subscriber who is posting, or their child's experience. Your child must have actually attended the school, camp, or class you are reviewing, not just visited or applied. If you are posting a negative review of a neighborhood, you must have actually lived in the neighborhood. BPN does not accept criticisms heard from neighbors, friends, co-workers, or relatives or from people who have worked at the school or business they are reviewing. (Why is first-hand experience required?)
Individual people who are not businesses: Negative reviews are not accepted of individuals who 1) work for you in your home, under your direction, on a regular basis, or 2) work under the direction of someone else. This means BPN does not accept negative reviews of nannies, housekeepers, teachers, playground supervisors, receptionists, waiters, etc. (Why are these not accepted?)
Must be neutral and factual: Negative reviews must describe the events that caused you to have a bad experience as objectively as possible. Please use a neutral tone without getting personal, name-calling, or using inflammatory language. This gives other parents the information they need to form their own opinions rather than asking them to take the word of someone they don't know. We require and assume that BPN subscribers who post negative reviews are posting a true and accurate account of their own first-hand experience. This is the case 99% of the time, but we do follow up with the subscriber who posted the review if there are any questions later about authenticity or accuracy.
Multiple negative reviews from the same person: BPN does not accept more than one review from the same subscriber, or their spouse or partner, about the same negative experience.
Reports of law-breaking or license violations: BPN does not accept negative reviews that seek to report unlawful situations such as license violations, abuse, or malpractice. Please instead report these to the appropriate authority. See "Why can't I post about license violations and illegal acts?" below.
Other BPN policies: Negative reviews and comments must also follow all the policies for "Parent Q&A." For example, a negative review must address the original question that was asked: if someone requested reviews of a specific school, negative reviews about a different school are not accepted.
BPN's main goal is to be helpful to parents. It is useful for parents to read about other parents' bad experiences as well as the good so they can make better decisions. However, we don't want BPN to be a platform for venting, for spreading rumors and gossip, or for threatening a school or business. This policy is intended to balance usefulness for parents with fairness to schools and businesses in the community. BPN moderators make every effort to make sure that all negative reviews meet this policy and that the policy is applied fairly.
We do not remove negative reviews from our website except in very specific cases. All reviews are checked by a BPN moderator before being published to make sure they follow policy.
Prior to 2016, all reviews appeared first in one of the BPN newsletters, which were emailed only to BPN subscribers. We eventually archived many of these newsletter reviews, both positive and negative, to our website. We continue to add archival reviews as time permits. We can't guarantee how fast these old reviews will be archived, or even if they ever will be archived.
In 2016 we rolled out a new website that allows parents to post reviews directly to the website. Once a post is reviewed and approved by a moderator, it is available to the public on our website.
The current negative review policy was developed in May 2005, and has been revised several times since then. The BPN website has been online since 1995. Therefore older negative reviews may have been posted under previous policies. We update older reviews as time permits, but please be aware that some older reviews may conflict with the current policy. We also occasionally overlook a review that does not meet BPN policy, despite our best efforts. Please Contact Us to tell us about a review on our website that doesn't appear to meet the current policy.
If your business is reviewed on our website, you can respond to the review or ask us to remove reviews as outlined below.
Please Note! If there is a negative review of your business on BPN that contains factual errors or misinformation, or doesn't meet our policy in some other way, please Contact Us to notify us and we will investigate. We usually reply within 24 hours.
Your options if your business has a negative review on BPN:
Post a response. You can write a response to the review and we'll add it to the website directly following the negative review. Responding to a negative review can be a good opportunity not only to set the record straight, but also to let parents know more about your school or business. Contact Us if you would like us to post a response.
Older, non-compliant review. The current negative review policy was developed in May 2005 and has been revised several times since then. There may be older reviews on the website that predate the current policy. Please Contact Us to let us know about this situation.
Professional standards exception. If you are prohibited from responding to a negative review because of privacy laws such as HIPAA or some other professional regulation, please Contact Us to let us know about this.
Remove all reviews. You can decline to be reviewed on BPN. We'll remove all postings about your business that are currently on the website, good and bad, and add a note that you've asked not to be reviewed on BPN. We will not accept further posts about your business. Please Contact Us to request this.
Most reviews on BPN's website were posted in response to a question from another parent. BPN also accepts "unsolicited reviews" in a few specific situations. Parents can post unsolicited reviews directly to the profile page of a school, camp, class, pediatrician or other child-related business. But these unsolicited reviews cannot contain criticism. BPN used to accept unsolicited negative reviews, but we stopped a few years ago after receiving too many heat-of the-moment rants. These aren't useful for other parents. We also heard from schools and daycares about parents threatening to post a bad review on BPN if the school didn't do what the parent wanted. We didn't think that was fair. So we decided to stop accepting negative reviews unless they were responding to a question.
If you posted a positive review in the past, and your opinion has now changed, you can post an update to your previous review. Please contact us for instructions about how to post your update. (Note: BPN does not remove reviews, so posting an update is the only remedy we can offer.)
- In very rare cases an unsolicited negative review will be accepted if the BPN Board of Directors decides that the review's usefulness for other parents overrides our restrictions on negative reviews. For example, we may accept an unsolicited negative review that points out significant license violations for a childcare facility that currently has only positive reviews on BPN if the review meets all the other provisions of the negative review policy.
Teachers and employees typically do not have decision-making privileges at their school or business, so they have little control over the way the larger organization operates. It isn't fair to publish negative reviews about them if they don't have the power to correct the bad situation described in the review. If you don't think they should be employed at the school or business in the first place, the right person to complain to is the person who can fire them - the director, principal, or boss.
As for people who work in your home, BPN does not wish to publicize the names of private individuals who have not chosen to be public. Furthermore, a negative review about someone who works in your home usually says more about your own personal preferences and beliefs than about whether they'd be satisfactory for another parent, so this type of review is not helpful for other parents.
See How BPN Defines a Business for the difference between "individual" and "business."
In its early years BPN accepted reviews of schools regardless of whether the person's child had attended the school. But we stopped doing that after learning a few things over the years by trial-and-error:
- We found we were sometimes publishing gossip on our website. For example a poster would say they "heard" a school has a bullying problem, or post details about an upsetting event they heard about from a friend. BPN does not have the resources to investigate reports like this and make sure what people post is true. Because of the damage that could be caused by a negative comment about a school, we only accept posts from parents who describe actual first-hand experience.
- We heard from parents whose kids attended and liked a school, who felt it was unfair for BPN to publish bad reviews from parents whose kids had never attended the school, but had visited for a short time or heard about it from friends. We agree this is not fair, especially in view of a negative review's disproportionate affect on the overall impression of a school, as discussed above.
- We occasionally inadvertently published a negative review of a school or summer camp that turned out to have been written by disgruntled former employee who wanted to retaliate. So we now require a description of a parent's first-hand experience.
BPN does not accept negative reviews that report license violations, abuse or neglect, illegal acts, malpractice, or any other activities that are regulated by law. If you think someone has broken the law, violated the terms of their license, or engaged in any other activity that could result in legal action, please contact the proper authority such as the local police, Child Protective Services, or the provider's licensing agency. If you need help identifying the proper agency to report this to, you may post your question to one of the newsletters or ask the moderator.
BPN has no way to investigate complaints to make sure they are true, nor can BPN take any action that will remedy the situation. Schools are overseen by school boards and preschools and daycares are licensed by a state agency. These agencies have the authority to investigate problems and make changes. BPN does not have this power. Therefore we ask parents to use these authorities to correct dangerous or illegal problems rather than post about them on BPN. BPN also does not accept posts that describe past or pending legal actions and violations. We do not have the resources to confirm or deny information like this, and we do not want to publicize unverified information that is potentially very damaging to a local business.
Childcare licensing violations: BPN only accepts reviews of licensed childcare and preschool programs, whether the reviews are positive or negative. Each childcare facility that has a profile page on BPN has a link to its licensing record in the state's database, so parents looking for childcare can review the state's records for that facility and find out about any past complaints or citations. BPN accepts negative reviews that refer to past violations that are available online in the state's database, as long as the review otherwise meets our policies. However, we do not accept descriptions of new violations. If you believe your daycare has violated the terms of its license, such as safety problems, unauthorized care-givers, exceeding its capacity, or neglect or abuse, please contact the State's Community Care Licensing to file a complaint. This agency is equipped and authorized to investigate problems, take any needed actions, and record violations in a public database that all parents can view. See About Childcare Licensing for information about how to file a complaint.
The goal is to write something that gives other parents a good picture of why you were unhappy with the school or business without getting too personal about anyone including your own family.
For these guidelines we'll use "school" as an example but they apply equally to a daycare, business, class, etc.
Follow the rules. Read the Rules for Posting a Negative Review before you begin writing your review. Moderators reject more than half the negative reviews submitted by subscribers because they do not follow the rules. It takes time for you and the moderator to revise and resubmit a negative review. The most common reasons for rejection are unsolicited negative reviews, and inflammatory language or personal attacks in the review.
Know your audience. Write your review as though you are talking to another parent that you don't know who is looking for a school for their child. They may know little about the school, and they don't know you. Your review will be most effective if it is balanced and objective, gives examples, and does not rely on a "just take my word for it" approach.
Lay out the facts. Be as specific as you can about your reasons for being unhappy with the school without getting into too much detail. Did you like the school at first? Was there an event that caused you to change your mind? Describe the event. Were there small things that happened over time that built up? Give a few examples. Did the director ignore a concern you brought up? Describe your complaint and what happened when you brought it up.
First-hand only. Your review should not include complaints that you've heard about from other people. It should describe your experience only, or your child's.
Keep it neutral. Don't describe your own emotional reactions to the bad experience, such as writing "we were shocked to find that ..." Don't make personal attacks or use inflammatory words such as "incompetent" or "disturbing" or "negligent". Don't provide your own opinions about anyone's personal qualities, such as commenting about their organizational abilities, empathy, intelligence, or truthfulness. Instead, just describe what happened as objectively as possible.
Keep it short. A long review with multiple complaints and lengthy descriptions comes across as venting, which is not helpful to anyone. In addition, busy parents will stop reading if you take too long to get to the point.
Feel free to contact us if you have questions about how to phrase your review so it meets these guidelines. We usually respond with a day or two.