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Sep 4, 2006 01:40 AM

Article on how online reviews are changing restaurants/business

Interesting article on how online review sites (like CH, Yelp, etc.) are changing how restaurants (and other places) do business.

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  1. Thanks, that was an interesting article.

    1. After another recent news media article I decided to look into
      What a joke - half of the reviews there are uninformative, IM-like, AOL-like comments from non-foodies who haven't been out much in the world yet.
      UNLIKE most of the posts here.

      4 Replies
      1. re: DiveFan

        Agree - maybe part of the explanation is that is a general review site... so after reviewing your hairdresser and the club you hit last night, why not add one on fave place the Cheesecake Factory? (One such review starts "Who doesn't love the Cheesecake Factory?" - I've got an answer for that...)

        That said, there are some good reviews there too from people who love food. It's just harder to sort the wheat from the chaff. Anyway, the vibe and focus of the sites are totally different... I haven't seen many posts on chowhound that amount to "This place is sooo kewl! Coffee rocks!" Different crowd, different norms, different experience!

        1. re: Pincho

          The long Yelp thread on Cafe Grillades referred to in the Chron article had a lot of good posts.

          I think there's a critical-mass element there: once there are 20+ posts, you can usually get a clear idea of a place, even if most of of the posts are four- and five-star ratings by kids without enough experience to know that it's really only two-star quality.

          1. re: Pincho

            >maybe part of the explanation is that
            >is a general review site
            i think a more "occam-friendly" explanation is
            yelp is a social site, so people's objective functions
            are tuned to generating "cool points" rather than
            accuracy. e.g. somebody i know wrote a review of a
            place she had not even been to to get a "1st to review"
            point. she claimed it was better to have them listed
            than not listed [her review consisted of "i like the name
            of this place", so at least it didnt pretend to be
            substantive, but they do instantly get some numerical score].

            anyway, that's also why when they slam a place
            they often try to do it in some clever way ["worse than
            the school cafeteria down the street"] ... although in
            the article above the owner did cop to the playdoh polenta.

            i think having "fans", "elite" status, flagging review
            as "cool" and "funny" in addition to "useful" and presumably
            some reward system [like who gets invited to vip yelp events]
            perverts the outcomes a bit.

            i think going to yelp for the food reviews is a little bit like watching
            sex in the city for the food ... i guess fashion
            might have been a big part of tha show, but the food was just

            BTW, i think the real difference between yelp and ch is
            you can have more of a dialog here. this is thread-based
            while yelp reviewer-based in the "my-review-space" sense ...
            it's much more about the person than the place.

            1. re: Pincho

              There are a lot of people on Yelp who read Chowhound. I started posting reviews on Yelp a few years ago, but have been on Chowhound for a lot longer. I have to say that the tone of the site has changed considerably in the last year. There are now a lot of youngsters on there to socialize, which is fine, but I miss the more food-focused days of the past. That being said, I still enjoy posting reviews of my dining adventures on Yelp. I've been too busy/apprehensive (I mean, is what I have to say important or useful enough to put it out there on the web every day?) to start a blog, so it's my method of getting my word out there. I also like the mapping feature and find that it's a good resource for looking up places that I recall seeing near an establishment I know, but that I can't remember the name of. I find it useful to read a few reviews of someone that either raves about or rants about a place. If you notice they have a five star review of the Cheesecake Factory or Chevy's, you can tell that your tastes are not aligned. It takes a lot longer to get to know posters tastes on Chowhound. Once I find someone who writes quality reviews on Yelp, I bookmark them. It makes it easier to sort through the Cheesecake Factory lovers.


          2. "Someone like (Chronicle food editor) Michael Bauer gets a job as a restaurant reviewer because he has certain expertise." Ahahahahaha. He got the job because he was the editor of the section and forced out two much better restaurant reviewers so he could get the gig.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              What makes a good, or superb restaurant reviewer, in your opinion?
              Experience in the Kitchen or Front?
              No experience in Same?
              A mom who can cook?
              I'm just interested, because as someone who likes to eat good food
              but has never worked in the industry, I come on here to tell folks about tasty/new places in my area, or answer travel/dining questions, not to critique places that are less than stellar.

              1. re: bbqboy

                That subject definitely deserves its own topic, so I started one:


              2. re: Robert Lauriston

                Plenty of reviewers are journalists/writers first, food lovers second.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Yeah that was my implied point!

                    But then again I read Frank Bruno's column every week. He got "demoted" to the Dining section. And the guy from the New Yorker who wrote Heat, I enjoyed the excerpts in the magazine and have been thinking I gotta get that book.

                    The more I think about it...

              3. What I found fascinating was the "instant" review while the rest. was under a slow open. In fairness, traditional print/media reviewers wait until a place settles. It was also interesting how the owners recovered and intergrated the feedback. Still a bit scary how fast info moves.

                4 Replies
                1. re: ML8000

                  I get annoyed with people who go to a place the first few weeks it's open and post angry complaints about the bad service and other glitches. If you don't like rough edges, wait two months.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Exactly! That's what the critics do. If, on the other hand, the place still sucks, then by all means let 'em have it!


                  2. re: ML8000

                    That's what I love about chowhound -- continual and real time information about a restaurant. That's one of the most effective ways to know if a newly opened restaurant has gotten ride of its opening blues. The old guidelines about not reviewing restaurants until after it's settled down becomes irrelevant on sites like these because one anticipates/expects continual updates. Also applies to old places, especially since they can move up or downhill over time. I believe hounds are savvy enough to understand that a bad review about a new place merely means that it's still trying to get its act together, not because it's inherently bad, and vice versa, that a good review isn't forever, no resting on laurels allowed.

                    1. re: limster

                      Many Chowhounds are sophisticated enough to cut slack for opening roughless, but I regularly see angry posts from people who go to a place the first week or two it's open and are upset about the glitches.