Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Why Yelp! Sucks, Volume 2

I hate Yelp! I really do. I don't just hate what a lot of people write on the site, but I actually hate the site itself and everything it stands for. Which is essentially providing limitedly relevant information while exploiting a false sense of community for a profit.

But that's a rant for a much older post.

The principal problem with Yelp! is that there is no oversight or moderation. Unlike Chowhound, which is a moderated message board with specific relevance criteria, Yelp! is a haven for uncorrected misinformation and irrelevance.

I'm no longer working in restaurants, so I feel compelled to speak a bit more freely. Some things I've encountered on Yelp!:

1. T-Rex BBQ in Berkeley was given a one-star rating by a user because it's menu "didn't seem like barbecue."

2. The restaurant where I worked was lambasted for our french fries being "obviously frozen." We barely have a freezer (it has ice cream and a few odds and ends in it) and have never, ever, ever, ever, not once, ever, frozen our french fries. In fact they're cut fresh every day.

3. The restaurant where I worked was also "lambasted" because of our wine service. Nevermind that the professed "wine connoisseur" waited until all the glasses had been poured and his wife complained about the temperature of the wine before he tried to somehow finagle a free bottle. Sack up and know what the fuck you're doing and make this judgment BEFORE you nod for the waiter to pour the rest of the table. Here's what you do, you say, "Why that tastes fine but I think it's a little warm, could you put it on ice for a bit before pouring the rest?" Come on! Care enough about your wife's taste to know that maybe she likes colder wine than you do. Or just slap the bitch for making you look bad. That's what I would do.

4. A two-star review of the venerable Rivoli: "if they happen to have something you like that day-- bully-- otherwise your sort of SOL." Wow, no fucking shit. What do you want some fucking terrible shithole restaurant that has chow mein, ravioli bolognese, and steak frites? How retardedly retarded. "Hey, if this place doesn't have what you like than they won't have what you like." Fuck those fucking restaurants and their small changing menus! Curse their, freshness, seasonality and restraint from wasting food! Last time I checked Rivoli typically offers a chicken/duck, pork, beef/lamb, vegetable, and a couple fish dishes on every menu! That covers pretty much the range of menu proteins. What the fuck do you want? Falafel? Then go to a fucking falafel joint.

I'm getting to a point here.

On a place like a Chowhound, such asinine reviews or such blatant misinformation could be immediately responded to by other users and done so directly in a thread, not buried a dozen posts later on Yelp! Moderators could also redirect, clarify, or in some instances delete posts that are malicious or clearly false. But even an unmoderated message board allows for immediate user correction. This is why edits on Wikipedia declaring George W. Bush's penchant for a2m pornography don't last very long. And why Wikipedia might lock certain controversial pages from further editing.

Yelp! doesn't do that because Yelp! needs happy users to visit their site and see their ads so that restaurants will pay Yelp! money to pick which reviews a user sees first.

So I guess in the democratic world of the internet Yelp! is the ultimate example of American democracy. Keep the citizenry placated by pretending that their input matters and let those with money pay to create their own reality.

And so what if Yelp! might give you a lead on a good banh mi place in downtown Oakland? You could also just walk around downtown Oakland and look for a banh mi joint, eat a banh mi, decide if you like it, then decide if it's a place you'll go back to. It's called adventure and discovery. Take that big plunge and go eat somewhere without asking a dozen of your closest internet friends whether it's good or not.

Besides, they're probably just a bunch of ignorant assholes with poor taste anyway.

21 comments:

Zack said...

Reviews like these are what happen when you give morons the keys, and Yelp is happy to give everyone the keys. You're correct.

Yelp has to be easy enough and accessible enough for morons to operate it, or it would be exactly as useless as Chowhound.

These aren't encyclopedias of good places to eat; they're tools for gathering information, and Yelp is much better at that.

For example, try searching Chowhound Bay Area for okonomiyaki or kimchi jigae (I name these because these are two of my favorite foods, and not a sure bet in any given Japanese or Korean restaurant). Congratulations on your zero results. Now try Yelp. Even if both sites return results, Yelp drills down by neighborhood more effectively. And of course, Yelp covers luthiers, hardware stores, thrift stores, flower stands, and everything else in the world. Yelp is more useful that Chowhound because it has way more users, and it has more users because it is way more user friendly, and if that user friendliness must results in some reviews like your favorite T-Rex punching bag, well, small price to pay.

And as for that banh mi paragraph presumably directed at me: Yes, I could just walk around Oakland. But this is just the generic anti-technologist's argument, appropriately Mad Libbed. Why not write a letter? It's called the personal touch. Why not make your own ketchup from scratch? It's called a learning experience.

Seriously, though, why not use the faculties your parents gave you and the DSL you're paying for and drum up some leads before stepping out the door? I don't take Yelp as gospel. It's just a tool.

David J.D. said...

Hey, I like banh mi's too.

I just find the time it takes to research where I can find a good $2.99 sandwich to be more valuable than the $2.99 sandwich itself.

Cookie Monster said...

Then there's the problem of total lack of ethics. "real" bullshit. Write an honest first person review of one of their advertisers, and your review gets deleted. WTF?

Complain about the mismanagement, write a negative review of them, and your account gets deleted. Of course the reason for your deletion remains a secret forever. They take your work for free when it suits them; then destroy it when you're not looking.

Point out their policy of requiring real names and real pictures is an open invitation to a stalker like the this one and you're banished from the site. It's just a matter of time before there's a story like this about some star bellied yelp sneetch http://www.startribune.com/templates/Print_This_Story?sid=11545261

Oh, but if you're a star bellied sneetch, it's perfectly OK for you to harass other users. In fact, Yelp supports and condones harassment against women, particularly those that have been victims of violent crimes.

Keep it up star bellied sneetches. Drink the free kool-aid at the parties. I'm waiting for the news story about the one who isn't so lucky.

And a private note to Jeremy S: may you rot in hell after your .com venture blows up in your face.

Cookie Monster said...

Looks like the URL didn't make it. Here it is again, broke in half...

http://www.startribune.com/templates/
Print_This_Story?sid=11545261

Cookie Monster said...

And those who have been booted, or have just had their fill of kool-aid, are welcome to join up here:

http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/
group/yelpsucks/

Basil said...

It's frustrating that everyone seems to think that Yelp is the only game in town- Brownbook.net is much better set up to avoid the weird problems and conflicts of interest you're describing.

Brownbook won't go out of their way to filter out honest bad reviews of advertisers because the advertisers only pay 10$ a year.

Kate said...

Having read this post today, know that an unknown woman in Sacramento loves you just a little.

Jack said...

Yelp is a scam! Your blog nails it perfectly. There's no accountability or any kind of quality control. Who knows who the reviews are actually written by...false raves written by the business owners themselves, false trash reviews by competitors and disgruntled employees. You're 100% correct, it gives a phony impression of some kind of democratic vox populi but Yelp has no credibility.

shadowiic said...

Totally agree that Yelp is a scam. Heard if you pay for their services that they will take off the worst review off the page, etc. Not only that i hate the people who review restaurants, they dont understand how restaurants are ran, dont know how to enjoy food,dont have consistant reviews from simular restaurants, and the list can go on forever. Hate yelp or more so all the so called wannabe critics out there.

SteveBody said...

Blah, blah, blah. Rant on. This is just the pathetic death throes of the old notion that restaurants were never vulnerable to dissatisfied customers before. In fact, they have ALWAYS been. People have ALWAYS talked about what they didn't like in restaurants, even if they had no freakin' idea what they were talking about and even if they were wrong. In the past restaurateurs could tell themselves that unhappy customers were just kooks and that they'd complain to six or seven friends and then drop it. And they were largely right, exception being motivated people who actively crusaded against certain restaurants. I am a current restaurant owner in Seattle, have owned a total of seven restaurants in the past, AND I write reviews for yelp. I'm not threatened by yelp reviews because the onus for their proper use is still exactly where it has always been: on YOU, as a consumer. If YOU read one or two yelp reviews and they happen to be either positive or negative, and you make your decision about that restaurant based on nothing but that, YOU are a fool. Just as when you read a newspaper review, there is a responsibility on you to decide if you think the reviewer is credible and whether there is a personal agenda at work. On Yelp Seattle, there is near-daily self-examination of the reviews we all submit. In the Talk threads, people are maybe even a little TOO quick to label a negative review as "flaming" and ask for its removal. I've personally had four removed as completely absurd, three negative and one positive. Is yelp perfect? No. There are, I'm sure, yelpers in other cities who routinely trash restaurants for personal reasons. But your mention of things like "used frozen french fries" is a mistake anyone can make and, if your french fries don't taste fresh, you should be prepared for people to think they're frozen.

Seattle is NOT a good restaurant town. New Orleans is. Why? What's different? In New Orleans, if people have a complaint, they call the manager over and demand that it be fixed. In Seattle, diners are very apt to smile and say, 'It was fine" and then go out and trash the place to everybody who'll listen. I've had everything in the world said about my restaurants, good and bad. Ultimately, it's up to YOU to use reviews like you'd use anything else: with a little judgment and discrimination. Calling yelp trash is shooting the messenger.

Nard5 said...

I am a business owner and I hate hate hate YELP!!!! Now on the new iphone commercial I can "gag" as they show the world the new phone app for Yelp!! Shoot me in the face!!! Anyone can write a lame ass review..lie, create, make up as you go along....it doesn't matter. When you call Yelp to complain about a review that is a flat out lie and you have proof they say...Ohhh to bad...have your lawyers call our lawyers. The only good thing is when they had their advertising dept call me I told him I would rather die than advertise on a site that is totally NOT for the business. Times are tough enough as it is...I dont need YELP making things worse!!!

Detroit Independent Restaurant Owners UNITE said...

So I am soooo happy to find a place where I can be heard about YELP! I basically just want to say that there are some legitimate reviews. Some consumers DO have different tastes and are entitled to their opinions. But it's when they go on and on as though they are the professional and get things completely wrong that irritates me. For example, a young woman in my area insists that "we all must eat organic and local food everyday" yet writes a 7 paragraph, 5 star review for a fast food chain. DOes this make any sense. WHat the hell do you stand for??? and then my favorite. The girl who was commenting on a restaurant that used only local (to the area) wine. She said "anyone who knows anything about good wine, knows that it must come from somewhere that doesn't have winter"..............ummm, excuse me sweetie, but EVERYWHERE on earth has a winter. Especially geographical regions notorious for great wine.

So what I am trying to say is that YELP! is a place for insecure people to rant and be idolized by fellow losers, I mean Yelpers. They think their opinions are actually useful to the masses. Let them carry on. There is nothing we can do about it. We can just have our own places on the web here and there to complain, just as freely. And as someone stated earlier above, there are intelligent people who can think for themselves and take the overly critical, culinary incorrect reviews on YELP! with a grain of salt and decide for themselves if a place is good or not, in their personal taste. And hell yeah to the guy who proposed that if people have a problem as a customer or an establishment.....why be a YELPER!, I mean coward, and only rant online, when you could give your legitimate complaint to a business owner and deal with it like a real person?

Thank you for your time!

Anonymous said...

Interesting point you guys make, the matter of the fact is that you cannot trust these sites because they make money out of reviews. But what if you could ask all your friends instead? That at least seems the idea of www.mappyfriends.com.

Anonymous said...

www.becauseyelpsucks.com

Anonymous said...

@ Nard
I totally understand you. I am restaurant owner in nyc, and get calls from yelp on a regular base about advertising. i told them my own opinions of the company many times, even shouted in the phone which promts them to hang up. but they still call. even though at times yelp does bring me customers, i will never apreciate what this site stands for. it literaly makes my life a hell at times.

Mara said...

If you want the worst of the worst, see Chicago Yelp.

Here you have a like-minded bunch of trolls who would not have any other friends if Yelp didn't exist. I went to one of their Yelp events and you talk about a clique of self-important idiots who tale their "Yelp Elite" status as seriously as if they were the Queen of England!

Then we have Chicago Yelp Talk. You know, the talk threads. Here is where Chicagoland's right-wingers, racists, self-proclaimed "libertarians", anti-government, paranoiacs, and generally socially maladjusted idiots come out to play. Heaven help you if your opinion of the world does not mesh with theirs. You will be labeled as a communist, socialist, or ironically a fascist (even though these idiots are facists themselves) if you don't follow along.

Mara said...

If you want the worst of the worst, see Chicago Yelp.

Here you have a like-minded bunch of trolls who would not have any other friends if Yelp didn't exist. I went to one of their Yelp events and you talk about a clique of self-important idiots who tale their "Yelp Elite" status as seriously as if they were the Queen of England!

Then we have Chicago Yelp Talk. You know, the talk threads. Here is where Chicagoland's right-wingers, racists, self-proclaimed "libertarians", anti-government, paranoiacs, and generally socially maladjusted idiots come out to play. Heaven help you if your opinion of the world does not mesh with theirs. You will be labeled as a communist, socialist, or ironically a fascist (even though these idiots are facists themselves) if you don't follow along.

Silverman said...

They put "honest reviews" in the filters.

I had an account and wrote a few reviews, they were filtered so I stopped using it.

Forgot about first account, opened another. Started writing reviews....

Figured how to get around the filter. Put a picture in your profile, does not have to be you. Also write 10+ reviews, make sure at least a few are 5 stars. Much like CL, even if telling the truth, the flag nazi's will try to shut you down.

Posted on the threads, found people were petty and mean. Called me a "troll"-I made another account. Made up "funny" threads which offended the flaggits-wrote about Thads even though I had never been there. Had 70+ friends, all laughs, didn't think people were taking it serious. Got put in Talk Jail. (couldn't post in threads.)

My "serious" posts from the "serious" account got attacked by a maniac who would bend the truth to fit his political agenda. My comments and reviews got flagged. Got a message from the Yelp HQ that I had violated the TOS and my accounts were banned. hahahaha. They took down all the "free" content I gave 'em.

I guess it was against the rules to have more than 1 account......

Anyways I found out more about their devious ways of working by going against the grain than by following the rules.

Made another account and my IP address got banned-hahaha little good that did, first, ever hear of an anonymizer?

Second, I have a dynamic IP that changes every few days......

So, if you do use Yelp, realize that most of the reviews are sugar coated and the honst ones get filtered.

Now, if you must post and don't want to be filtered, as stated above, write 10+ reviews. Also have a pic on your profile. Avoid the talk threads-losers.


If you have multiple accounts, access them via an anonymizer or one only at a work location, another at home and the third at a different location or on your phone, don' criss cross.

These are the things THEY don't want you to know so cutt and paste, cutt and paste.

Pissing of one Yelp IT person at a time.





* Location: how to get around the BS
* it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

Silverman said...

They put "honest reviews" in the filters.

I had an account and wrote a few reviews, they were filtered so I stopped using it.

Forgot about first account, opened another. Started writing reviews....

Figured how to get around the filter. Put a picture in your profile, does not have to be you. Also write 10+ reviews, make sure at least a few are 5 stars. Much like CL, even if telling the truth, the flag nazi's will try to shut you down.

Posted on the threads, found people were petty and mean. Called me a "troll"-I made another account. Made up "funny" threads which offended the flaggits-wrote about Thads even though I had never been there. Had 70+ friends, all laughs, didn't think people were taking it serious. Got put in Talk Jail. (couldn't post in threads.)

My "serious" posts from the "serious" account got attacked by a maniac who would bend the truth to fit his political agenda. My comments and reviews got flagged. Got a message from the Yelp HQ that I had violated the TOS and my accounts were banned. hahahaha. They took down all the "free" content I gave 'em.

I guess it was against the rules to have more than 1 account......

Anyways I found out more about their devious ways of working by going against the grain than by following the rules.

Made another account and my IP address got banned-hahaha little good that did, first, ever hear of an anonymizer?

Second, I have a dynamic IP that changes every few days......

So, if you do use Yelp, realize that most of the reviews are sugar coated and the honst ones get filtered.

Now, if you must post and don't want to be filtered, as stated above, write 10+ reviews. Also have a pic on your profile. Avoid the talk threads-losers.


If you have multiple accounts, access them via an anonymizer or one only at a work location, another at home and the third at a different location or on your phone, don' criss cross.

These are the things THEY don't want you to know so cutt and paste, cutt and paste.

Pissing of one Yelp IT person at a time.





* Location: how to get around the BS
* it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

Anonymous said...

They put "honest reviews" in the filters.

I had an account and wrote a few reviews, they were filtered so I stopped using it.

Forgot about first account, opened another. Started writing reviews....

Figured how to get around the filter. Put a picture in your profile, does not have to be you. Also write 10+ reviews, make sure at least a few are 5 stars. Much like CL, even if telling the truth, the flag nazi's will try to shut you down.

Posted on the threads, found people were petty and mean. Called me a "troll"-I made another account. Made up "funny" threads which offended the flaggits-wrote about Thads even though I had never been there. Had 70+ friends, all laughs, didn't think people were taking it serious. Got put in Talk Jail. (couldn't post in threads.)

My "serious" posts from the "serious" account got attacked by a maniac who would bend the truth to fit his political agenda. My comments and reviews got flagged. Got a message from the Yelp HQ that I had violated the TOS and my accounts were banned. hahahaha. They took down all the "free" content I gave 'em.

I guess it was against the rules to have more than 1 account......

Anyways I found out more about their devious ways of working by going against the grain than by following the rules.

Made another account and my IP address got banned-hahaha little good that did, first, ever hear of an anonymizer?

Second, I have a dynamic IP that changes every few days......

So, if you do use Yelp, realize that most of the reviews are sugar coated and the honst ones get filtered.

Now, if you must post and don't want to be filtered, as stated above, write 10+ reviews. Also have a pic on your profile. Avoid the talk threads-losers.


If you have multiple accounts, access them via an anonymizer or one only at a work location, another at home and the third at a different location or on your phone, don' criss cross.

These are the things THEY don't want you to know so cutt and paste, cutt and paste.

Pissing of one Yelp IT person at a time.





* Location: how to get around the BS
* it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

Anonymous said...

I was a FORMER ELITE YELPER. Yelp is infested with self-righteous, "it's all about me" 20's to mid 30 year old wanabe professional food critics. The more reviews I read, the more disgusted I became at the increasing level of self-entitlement these reviewers portrayed. The elite (of which i was a part of) had a mob-mentality and were the biggest bullies of businesses and to fellow yelpers.

They have these yelp zombies competing for "first to review" badges, review of the day (ROTD), FUCs, "check ins", aiming for compliments from other yelpers, & elite badges. How honest can a review really be when it's one big popularity contest? What are their motives?

I never wished to be a part of it. If I did, I would have altered my reviews to receive the most "funny", "useful" or "cool" votes and changed all my pictures to me in a bikini with my ass and boobs sticking out. It's a f*cking popularity contest with fake reviews sh*tted all over the place.

Yelpers give businesses one stars because there was too much ice in their water, the "decor" wasn't pretty enough for them, or the waiter who was handling 10 tables took 5 minutes to take their order. MOST of the yelpers, and ESPECIALLY the elites, all they do is just BITCH, BITCH, BITCH. They hurt small businesses because they think they are entitled to the world. They think that by getting that red elite badge by their name, they have won the Nobel Prize or earned a Phd or something. It's a Gawd-damn sticker next to your name. That's it! Yet, they use that title to Threaten and bully businesses and other yelpers.

Note: I only became elite so my reviews would STOP getting filtered. I did not use yelp as a dating site, i did not use it to make friends, or to go to free parties and get free booze. I unfortunately thought it was a legit review site. My mistake.

The FINAL straw: I posted an HONEST one-star review about Yelp for many reasons. Subsequently, I was sent a NASTY and THREATENING email from the community manager saying that because i gave yelp a one-star (and rightfully so), they would strip me of my elite badge. I immediately closed my account.

Really? the elite badge revoked because i was a REAL person with a REAL review of yelp?? Oh, the irony.

How about monitoring the Yelp Talk threads for a week? 80% of those elite deserve to have their elite badge revoked for their nasty behavior. Speaking of which, Yelp is a cult. Ever try posting on the threads claiming that yelp is a scam? You will be harrassed, called a troll, and get flagged by the community. These people are gravely brainwashed.

Someone please create a .com website that rivals yelp. PLEASE. Yelp is getting bigger and bigger. The bigger they get, the greedier and more corrupt they will be.