Tuesday, April 28, 2009 shuts me off

Attention all visitors and members of community review website This is to notify that I, Shrinidhi Hande (Mouthshut user name enidhi) am hereby disassociating myself from and do not own/approve/support any reviews or other contents/activities at the site under my identity. I requested them to delete my entries but they disabled my account instead-I can’t login and have no control over contents displayed/activities performed there under my name-hence this warning.

Initial days
I was a long term member of a leading Consumer Review website till my account was disabled last November (most probably because I asked them to delete my reviews-exact reason not communicated.) This post shares my experience with, review of recent developments at this site and few thoughts about ownership of your content when you contribute at third party websites., in its initial days was a pure play Product review website where members reviewed various products and Services, based on their personal experience. Members could select a product and write review of the same while other members would rate and comment these reviews. One can’t write detailed review without actually experiencing the product or service, so most of the reviews were firsthand experience accounts and were of very high quality. The member base was less and a new review used to stay on home page for several hours. I signed up at this site and became a MS member on Aug 3 2002 and over next 6 years have contributed about 80+ reviews, most of them rated “very useful” by other members. My MS member profile (Its live at the time of posting-not sure how MS will act on it if they notice this blog post)
Though I launched a blog, I continued to write at Mouthshut, because of some unique advantages I had there then- I had more readership in MS than my blog. Within minutes of posting a new review I used to get instant feedback in the form of some comments and rating, while same entry would take couple of days on my blog to evoke a response. Ready readership, a decent trusted circle (a closed group of MS users(MSians) who trust each other) forming a community of good writers made my stay at MS attractive. But slowly various negative/side effects started creeping in.

Couple of years back I won a “Review of the day” contest and was entitled to get a return air ticket from Mouthshut’s then travel partner flight Raja. Several months and multiple email follow ups later, my air tickets never came. I published a review to this effect on MS and both Mouthshut CEO Faisal and FlightRaja CEO commented that they’ll look into it. But nothing materialistic ever happened and I never got my air tickets. It is not about an air ticket, it was more about a promise made and not kept. [More about this incident in here and here]

Mouthshut started adding Google ad units all over the site and minting money. While MS made real money from adsense, its members, who contributed all the content on which these ads were put, were being granted some virtual points (which were practically useless -members can use these points to send virtual gifts i.e. just images of gifts to other members)

Evolution of
To earn more money by serving more ads they needed to have more pages and more pages can’t be had by reviews alone (one can review one product only once and he/she can’t review a product without properly experiencing it- so the content generated by reviews were not much) and MS management needed a mechanism to make its members spend more time on the site and create more pages. Thus the idea of “Diary posts” were introduced, under which members could write anything under the sun. While most of the members made judicious use of this Diary posts, few started spamming, by uploading email forwards and other junk in a quest to earn more MS points and become star writer soon (Star Writer is Mouthshut’s way of recognizing members who have written lots of (supposed to be of good quality) content, have good fanfare and express unquestionable faith in MS- No real life gain by becoming star writer, except for a star displayed next to your user name)

Mouthshut content team hardly made any attempt to eliminate spam or ban users publishing copy pasted stuff. Because of this, quality posts suffered a setback- it was difficult to identify genuine and quality entries amongst the heap of junk-this was a matter of concern for genuine writers and serious readers. As if diary posts were not enough, MS added several other features- SMS reviews (Spend 3-5 Rs per SMS and get it published in MS), Classifieds (known as MS Local), Photo Albums etc. Features such as bulletins, sending gifts to other members etc were introduced to encourage more activity among members. The core idea was to make people generate more content and spend more time at the site, but to me and several others it looked like Mouthshut is deviating from its USP of a serious product review site and trying to become a jack of all and master of none. The current looks like a kichdi of Mouthshut (product reviews) + Sulekha (regional classifieds)+flickr(photos)+blogger(diary posts)+ twitter (quick notes, via SMS in this case)+ Orkut (social networking). The focus on quality content got diluted and MS became more of a time-pass adda. Why don't they stay focused on their core competency as there're dedicated sites for other purposes- say orkut, flickr etc, with which MS will never be able to compete?

Mouthshut member base also increased and majority of new users are not serious about product reviews. Many of them just want to have fun uploading copied photos, email forwards or trying to make friends with others, specially female profiles. With phenomenal growth in volume of data created, a new entry, however good it might be, wouldn’t stay on homepage for more than few minutes. This means reduced readership and lesser number of comments. Even for a visitor it is tough to locate some good content worth his/her time. Though lots of readers come through search engines they never bother to comment, because to comment one needs to spend time registering at MS. The idea of trusted circle also started to become a joke, as new members started adding everyone else, irrespective of one's credibility, into their trusted circle, hoping that some of them will reciprocate.

Loss of Interest in Mouthshut
Due to above developments I started losing interest in Mouthshut. Also my blog was gaining some visibility by then and had a decent readership. So I started focusing more on my blog. Some of my MS entries started contesting directly with my blog posts for higher position in Google search results, due to which I had to downgrade/dilute my MS posts. Mouthshut wanted high quality, exclusive content for free and with their reduced focus on quality and dwindling readership my interest was heading downwards. MS was not comfortable with me leaving my blog URL in the review (Review editor had some limitations in terms of word count, graphics, photos etc and I used to say, "for more details visit here" and give my blog post URL). MS member head Jasmin sent me mails not to leave my blog URL and I promptly mailed back reminding them of the return ticket they still owe me. Since I couldn’t delete my reviews I asked Mouthshut to delete some of my reviews and they promptly disabled my access to my account. My account and my reviews are still retained at MS as they have lots of residual value (attracting search engine traffic). MS neither responds to my mails, nor deletes my content.
Impact of ban
I don’t have anything to lose. Since I have a reasonably successful blog I don't need to rely on 3rd party websites to publish my contents. If my account was active I would have logged in once a while and contribute something. Else it’s ok. ಕತ್ತೆ ಬಾಲ.But since contents under my identity still exists at the site, without any flag that my account has been disabled, I need to inform everyone that I have no control over my account and won’t be responsible if MS uses their admin rights to modify my contents as per their needs, or someone else misuses it in any other way.

I’ve also noticed several good writers gradually exit mouthshut, most probably because of similar reasons. But Mouthshut management may not feel the effect immediately- they’ve a huge user base, loads of content(some of them are very good) and traffic which ensures continued cash inflow through ad revenues. It’s the quality of content and quality of users which they need to focus, along with a fair and transparent operational policies, if they wish to sustain a long term vision.

MS had introduced a corporate blog section, which is almost a flop. Not many companies have cared to open a corporate account and few who’ve cared are not serious about acting on complaints (we only see a generic reply like ‘we’re looking into the matter’).

Allegations against
Further, there’re several allegations emerging against, which prima facie appear to be true but readers’ discretion solicited. (Some can be verified by close observation of MS, few can't be investigated without cooperation from Mouthshut management and rest need to be concluded based on testimonies of former members) Some of them are listed below:
1 Not curbing fake users
There’re lots of fake Ids in MS which are created for some specific purpose such as promoting a particular brand or demeaning a competitor or such malicious intentions. Created either by MS itself or respective corporate, these IDs are easily identifiable by observing their activities. But MS took no interest in eliminating such users.
2 Not discouraging members posting plagiarized contents, email forwards, third party photographs and other such stuff3 Not giving any warning or fair chance to members to present their case before terminating their account
4 Moderating reviews and inter-member communications to delete anything remotely unfavorable towards Mouthshut
5 Partnering with certain companies for financial gains and delete negative reviews written against the company
6 Maintaining undue secrecy in their policies and adopting several unfair practices
7 Giving undue preference to certain members who dance to the tunes of MS.

For the interested, below are some links which detail various allegations against Mouthshut:

This blog, among other allegations, claims that Mouthshut CEO Mr. Faisal I Farooqui who studied at the prestigious St. Stanislaus school in Bandra, Mumbai, cheated his institute by registering the domain meant for school in his personal name and refusing to transfer the same to school administration. This is something one should be able to verify without much efforts.

(It is a 5 year old petition and has managed to secure just about 150 signatures so far)

Seems Mouthshut launched an international version promising to pay users for their reviews and then cheating them by not paying

Another interesting reading:
Mouthshut CEO explains his attempt to reach Google India. Google doesn’t deal directly with general public and is not bound to keep its staff accessible to public. But while bloggers like Amit Agarwal are able to get Google sponsor his events with just one tweet, CEO of a popular site (and probably a premium adsense publisher) doesn’t have a single contact in Google- How pathetic. 9 months since that post its not clear if he is still able to contact anyone in Google or what deal he cracked with major corporates including Yahoo!

There’re several websites on the net which survive purely because we, the users chose to contribute contents to them, for free. Most of them expect us to spend our time and effort writing for, engaging other users and promoting their site, in exchange for no tangible returns. Few sites like Sulekha give full ownership of contents to users while others declare that they own whatever stuff added to their site (Even facebook tried this recently and resulted in awareness of privacy concerns). While it’s good to have well defined guidelines and policies in place to enforce discipline, expecting absolute loyalty and cultism is not fair. Though well established sites give better readership than a newly launched blog, serious writers should work on building their own identity via blogs or otherwise and must evaluate content ownership issues and privacy policies before dealing with websites like

Similar posts: SEO: Writing for humans vs writing for search engines * My journalism experiences * Excessive blogging syndrome & compulsive writing disorder * Nishindra Verma on future of print media * TOI lifts my photo (and publishes clarification later) *

Nov 2009 Update: One year later, MS has still retained my profile and reviews, doesn't seem to have changed its ways and appears to have lost a level in Google pagerank (down from 6 to 5)

March 2016 Update: Mouthshut has started offering Rs 50 for 'Negative' review. I am sure the intention is to show them to brands, scare them off and extract a much bigger fee to take these reviews offline.


sandeep said...

even i've noticed couple of years back that mouthshut has been sending a few spam mails (obviously to improve readership, participation of members). had not been following it since then

there are a lot of sites surviving on content by others (some legitimate and some of them copied) and content seems to be the king :)

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Yes. Some sites survive solely by republishing contents derived from RSS feeds


Mohan said...

my 2 cents..

I got to know you through MouthShut.. even I was pretty active on that site for a while, I gave up my interest because of most of the reasons you have mentioned. Though I use adblock, I still hate myself going to their site.

Monetization is required to run a company on the web world, but making ads with minimal content overlapped between ads make it a bad place.

If they can't live upto their promise of airticket, why the hell they advertise such misleading promos? It is a shame on them that they are loosing genuine contributors like you and me. Evidence for that is their spam mails promoting people to visit their site. As long as they don't take care of user experience, they will never excell in what ever they do.

Thanks for sharing you story Shrinidhi.

Smita said...

Hi :-)

A very well written article and I so much agree with you. Having seen that comment from CEO's fake ID was very shocking for me. For reasons similiar to yours I had quit the site and whenever I visit it even now I feel disgusted.

Disgusted with the fact that how things can go bad from worst sadly there still are people who believe that the site is "the best". For me MS is niether here nor there...

It is pure garbage for me....

The Pack said...

Well, I was never a user of MS...only used to visit it for the latest movie reviews...and once for the review of Royal Enfield - TBird...I started marveling the site when one of the Bloggers at our Company's Corporate blog started to boast about his readership at MS.

Thanks to you, now I know about the underlying facts of the site.

The issues mentioned would annoy any user...and serious contributor!!

Hari said...

Sites like MouthShut which abuse user trust and participation are aplenty on the internet.

That's why I decided NEVER to contribute a single word to a third-party site without some form of monetary remuneration.

It's sickening that sites like MS use your content to get money and then ban your account for ridiculous reasons.

Sandesh said...

Too big a post. Even I'm a member of, dunno whether my account is active or not. I joined coz you sent me an invitation.

The only review I wrote was on my mobile (which I still use). After that I got periodical mails from Ms. Jasmine Ahuja, which I could make time to care of.

I didnt knew much about the internal dealings of MS, Thanks for bringing it to the notice. I dunno. I've forgotten my password too. Hopefully I might not log in again to that site. =)

Shrinidhi Hande said...


I didn't knew that you know me via Mouthshut...

Yes, the ad quantity on MS is just too much. They induce unnecessary space between paragraphs to lengthen the page so that more ads can be accommodated-makes reading difficult.

Smita (Chint25 on MS)
Nice to hear from you. You were doing very well at MS. Didn't knew that you also have quit MS. Will check your blog.


Appreciate your stand.

You were one of the 3 people I invited to MS long long back during good old days of MS. I regret that now, but luckily all those I invited didn't waste much of their time at MS. After that never invited anyone.

Thanks everyone for the support.

Prateek Dayal said...

Hi Shrinidhi

A very good post about how one should not ruin their user community ... I am sure there are lessons there for all of us

I think you can always send them a DMCA takedown request for your content as you don't want it there anymore (unless their TOC says something like they own it)

Prateek Dayal Please let people comment with their blog link and not just google id/openid .

Shrinidhi Hande said...


I've enabled all available commenting options, including anonymous.

No, MS user agreement clearly says they get complete, irrevocable, royalty free right to all the content posted there.


Smita said...

It is ages that I have quit that place. I decided that no TP is worth if it gives you unnecessary tension and specially with the crap the place was churning it was better to move out...

avdi said...

That was a good post. I was coolwater on MS and enjoyed my early stint there.

They surely realised that the 'social' part of their members was generating more traffic, and added more elements to suit themselves.

It didnt suit me much later for several reasons, the major one being that it was firewalled in my office. So gradually I dropped out of it.

They should have more transparency, or become less intrusive like the other social networking sites like Orkut or Facebook.

avdi said...

Of course, Lying about gifts is a crime. Either dont have a gift scheme, or honor the ones that are offered.

meenakshi said...

HI shri........
I am so sorry to know ur experiences with mouthshut.
I have never been to the site and now i dont wish to go there also.
Kool and all is for our wellness.
All the best for ur blog.

Work from home

Shrinidhi Hande said...


Ok. You did the right thing. Thanks for following.

Good to see you here (and several other former MS members)

Earlier Mouthshut was accessible in many companies that'd banned other sites like Orkut. Currently most of the companies have blocked MS too, most probably because they feel visiting Mouthshut can't be productive in any sense.

They could have started a separate social networking site, if they wanted to, keeping MS pure.

Its ok. thanks.

Francis Ouseph said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rekha said...

This is so shocking! I used MS to vent my anger on some services, but didn't ever think such things happen. Thanks for the post.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

well,its unfortunate-that's all I can say...

Ben said...

I am a member of Mouthshut since 2002. Today I said goodbye and came out of of MS (but keeping my membership). MS is not for descent people. My MS ID:livehappy

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Ben, anything bad happened with you? Or you just realized overall it is not good?

Please share your experiences

Ben said... is not worth wasting our time with mouthshut!

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Ok. Why not start a blog of your own?

Ben said...

I have to think over it..I am 65...and going to USA for 6 usual like last year
I am in many technical blogs and news letters

Shrinidhi Hande said...

OK Sir,
Thanks for visiting. All the best and take care.

Seera said...

Well.. I think Mouthshut needs these lessons.. I was thr on Mouthshut ID: Seera and i know hw fraud they r.. long story sometime will write a blog about it :)

Anonymous said...

I am the latest who said good bye to MS, but being pressurised by some close friends to stay back. Don't know what I will due in coming days. But one thing is sure, that Faisal needs to learn a lesson and time has come.

I agree with your post line by line.

Der said...

Hello Mr Srinidhi,

About mouthshut: it will be crystal-clear if you take a look at the religious-festival-related logos on the site.

Hindu: 3
Muslim: 2
Other: 0

The site obviously has an agenda; the CEO's name is "Faizal." That by itself may not mean much, but it raises flags of suspicion in my head.

Keep up the good work!

Shrinidhi Hande said...

I never looked at the logos from religious perspective... Not sure what is the conclusion you're trying to make... let us see what logo they display for Chrismas? It could also be because Hindus and Muslims have relatively more number of festivals and or Mouthshut team is not creative enough to create logos for Christian/other religious celebrations?

I've no idea and not interested either

salman said...

nice article.

Anonymous said...

Mouthshut has ruined and effectively closed my business. Trolls and competitors can easily review and shut you down. I remember that when googling my website mouthshut always came first and then my website!

Trolls often leave comments saying that the water was too cold and leave 1 star rating. Which is unfair!

I took the complaints to MS and they just ignored all my emails and calls.

I also read about some Tata Indicom customers negative review disappearing, possibly indicating a deal with Tata Indicom and MS.

All this was back in 2008.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Salman: Thanks

Anon: What business you were in?

Hope you were able to recover

JinayG said...

Thank you for the revealing insight. It really helped me by stopping me 2 waste time on the website

Shrinidhi Hande said...

JinayG: You're welcome. I see that Mouthshut is doing fairly well at present

S. Ballav said...

Well let me add a bit to the mouthshut story, how mouthshut cheats the review writers and blackmails the business owners. I work for a real estate company as a manager, our projects are located in southern states of India. Few projects were delayed in completition, because of govt. approvals an other problems, as usual people started writing on so called , this matter came into our notice after few months when we got a call from a mumbai based organization, who told that we have got comments and diary against us in mouthshut, this is having a negatitve impact on our brand, so they can rescue us to save our brand image. They demanded a lumpsum of 15 lakhs rupees to delete few comments from mouth shut and one or two diary. they have got a strong customer follow up team, who used to call or mail us to get the money, we decided not to pay them. Few things why we took the decision - No.1) How can an other organization delete comment from ?? No.2) Comments were unrealistic .No.3) What is the guarantee after removing the comments , they themselves will not post back those comments ? Over all conclusion is most of the comments in mouthshut are written by themselves only to blackmail various organization and claim lumpsum amount of money from them. They are the biggest blackmailers of the country..

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks for sharing your experience sir

Precluder said...

I am not a person who regularly reviews but felt like reviewing for the first time for zovi, as the ratings appeared a bit suspicious.

Even replied politely, but within a day ! Boom!! My content is marked biased. Just for noting that zovi's reviews are a bit suspicious.

God ! I am very disappointed with the Mouthshut website.

Sunil said...

I was doing some research on unethical practices of mouthshut and came across your site. I was a regular visitor of this site and couple of weeks back noticed so many positive comments on an ecommerce site where I had very bad experience. I checked the profiles of each and every one who wrote positive comments and found that most of them created their account just to write those reviews. Also the ecommerce site had a corporate account with them, I believe their platform is giving an option to create fake accounts and post fake reviews. Also I could see hundreds of positive reviews written on the same company in few days time. I am sure running behind money will end their life soon.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Sunil: Thanks for sharing your observations. Yes, MS is not doing much to curb fake profiles. Most of the replies by corporate account is very generic "We'll check and revert..."

Anonymous said...

I recently deleted my mouthshut profile.Had been lying dormant since 2009.I joined this site in 2008 and over few months saw many biased,negative reviews and comments by fake profiles.One such fake is IlyasMd.

Raghavan said...

I have been reading bike reviews on this scam site for a long time.As said by the above person,there is a lot of bias.B-grade products like Hero Maestro which is a copy of Honda's bestseller Activa is given a 95 percent recommendation and most of the reviews are highly fake.They say its better than Honda Activa and Suzuki Access.There are many fakes like IlyasMd who create fake reviews of Hero Products and bash Royal Enfield,Bajaj and TVS.Every honest review I read about Royal Enfield,Bajaj and TVS motorcycles is spammed by these trolls.One troll even had the guts to call Royal Enfield an outdated vehicle but praised Splendor as a legend.There are so many bad reviews on xBhp with these trolls claiming the site shows a bias to certain companies.I visited xBhp and found all the claims to be false.

Raghavan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

MouthShut is shutting everybody's mouth.They are looking there profit only.
Few days before I have posted a blog and it was working fine and coming at the top of the search blogs.
Then admin has change the visibility to trusted circle and I was not able to see my blog and then I changed my visibility to everyone.
And again my blog started coming to top in search blogs.
And now after two days I could not able to even login. They have blocked the account without being given intimation.When try to login it says Ivalid email address.
I do not have any personal interest with
But just wanted to bring this to notice this site is not at all valuable to end users.

Anonymous said...

Today I found my MS account got disabled.
The reason could be that I have been commenting on various Snapdeal reviews after horrible experience with Snapdeal.
Is it possible MS is getting paid by companies to block bad comments ?

Anonymous said...

I think you should visit

Website Reviews said...

I know its a very old post but just wanted to let you know guys about alternative of Mouthshut i.e. It's review website for online shopping experience. We don't collaborate with site owners(neither we take any money for adding their website) hence no question of deleting bad review or adding good review for them. We closely monitor review to check if its real. In case of any issue we contact reviewer before taking any action. Please go to and give your feedback also if possible add some reviews.

Anonymous said...

MouthShut has deleted some of the reviews posted by ex-employees of a particular software company who faced sheer harassment.

We later came to know that the company paid some amount to MouthShut to delete the reviews.


Ben Ross said...

Mouthshut is an useless social network. The reviews are useless. I have come out, but mouthshut still keeps me in their useless site!

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks for your comments folks. Unable to reply individually.

In large websites, they don't care about few disappointed members

Gourav Gautam said...

Hi all,

I am Gourav Gautam,

I was created corporate account for our clinic It's been more than 3 weeks but not confirmation mail or call yet received. How much time Mouthshut generally takes to activate account?

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Dont think they care much about small brands. Look for other means to engage with your customer