Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Yelp gets hammered again; what say you?

For the second time recently, Yelp reviews are getting hammered, this time in Time.

First, it was the Travel Channel's "Bizarre Foods" host Andrew Zimmern, calling it "a tremendous forum for a bunch of uninformed morons" in his "Go Fork Yourself" podcast.

Here, Josh Ozersky takes a more measured approach (though he prefaces it with "in my experience, Zimmern is right"), and says Yelp's influence, for good or bad, is greatest on the most vulnerable: new, small, independent places that don't have a chain's PR budget.

Then he does something smart: He suggests how to use Yelp reviews -- which I'd embrace for any other online review system, too.

* "Look for believable descriptions of service lapses -- not 'the waitress was unbelievably rude,' but 'we stood at the bar for 40 minutes before we were seated, despite having a reservation.'

* "Look for specific descriptions of dishes, particularly those that involve texture and temperature, two qualities I find unlikely to be wholly fictive.

* "And, best of all, look at every picture you can. Because, unlike Yelp reviews, love letters and professions of faith, pictures never lie."

Love that. When, as in Charlotte, a search for "highest-rated" (with an unspecified algorithm) gives 55 restaurants before dipping below four stars (and No. 171 also gets four stars, with 141 reviews), you need other ways to digest the information. (Sorry.) His are an excellent start. And they apply to all online restaurant reviews, not just Yelp's.

Do you have more suggestions?


Wiley Coyote said...

You have to read the good and the bad reviews to get a concensus of experiences.

It's no different than reading product reviews for televisions or power tools.

One thing I have found and it drives me nuts is reading reviews for a particular recipe.

In nearly every review, You'll read "I tried this and loved it BUT I added this or changed that". Rarely do you find a review where a person made the dish EXACTLY as the recipe was stated.

Mr. P said...

I use Yelp. If a restaurants reviews are overwhelmingly good I trust its a decent place. If every review is extremely bad, I will probably pass on the place. Anything in between I will go and try myself.

On bad reviews it's important to read why they are bad. Very often I think they are petty issues. The individuals feel slighted for some reason. Usually service. For example look at Prices Chicken Coops reviews. Low rating due to cash only.

Anonymous said...

I use and contribute to Trip Advisor for restaurants, which I like better than Yelp, but they're essentially the same thing. You've got to read lots of reviews. Look for details about things that matter to you. General comments, like "This is a wonderful restaurant" are worthless. Regarding bad experiences, remember that every restaurant is bound to have a bad report now and then.

Anonymous said...

Yelp, schmelp.

I use Open Table.

Or sfgate.

Or Helen Schwab.

Or even Zagat.

Anything but Yelp.

hipQuest said...

I tend to only review the very best or worst on sites. Tripadvisor is one place I post reviews. Middle of the road is middle of the road, it won't make or break you to go there so I don't tend to post for those places, however if it's really great or bad I do take time to post MY opinions. I would love to see an interactive experince between sites-such as, make a reservation on a site and track from there-res on time, timely staff and delivery of dishes, etc. and comments from staff on the same issues. we could all get a more even picture with restaurants and patrons.

Anonymous said...

I use Yelp for info, as well as leave feedback on it. Likewise, I try to be on lookout for reviews that may be fake. If most reviews are all good (or bad) and a few swing the total opposite way, I look at the opposing reviewer's profile to see how many good and bad reviews they write for other places. For instance,I saw one lady's comments and she pretty much gave EVERY place a bad review; at that point, I take it with a grain of salt. As for me, I've started posting photos; a little more proof that you have actually been there. We ALL remember what happened to the Pizza guy in Florida when Obama came in. Same thing about the Charlotte restaurant where the owner asked the disabled veteran to leave since a redneck idiot was harassing them because they had on the opposing football team's apparel. Oh, and when most reviews for a restaurant are from way out of the area (as in the Florida and Charlotte incidents mentioned) that's always suspect to me. It's different if the reviews are for a hotel or something along those lines.

Carolinadawg said...

Yelp is a joke. and are far superior sites.

Anonymous said...

Haaaaha @Andrew Zimmerman's discription of Yelp, "a tremendous forum for a bunch of ununiformed morons". Excuse me sir, you forgot that some of them actually hold the title of "Elite" ununiformed morons.
Yelp is a scam as well as being a joke.
Agree^ Urbanspoon,Trip Advisor,Chowhound.