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Mar 13, 2008 12:19 PM

Why is Yelp so wrong?

Not trying to level any personal attacks at people who like the site but I'm continually amazed at how useless Yelp is. The reviews tend to be inaccurate and mostly emphasize telling a story or being cool rather than simply giving an idea of what the experience of the establishment was. Review after review are filled with statements that are just plain wrong. Just wanted to put this out there and see what people think about Yelp.

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  1. I agree, I find Yelp useless. One prime example, a poster complaining that there were "too many posts" regarding a certain restaurant. I find the bigger the sampling of opinions the better.

    I rarely go to Yelp, but sometimes I need a laugh, and read some reviews. It seems like a site for kids in their early 20's (Im only 37)

    2 Replies
    1. re: swsidejim

      I've got to agree with your assessment. A lot of 20-somethings who like to hear themselves talk, preening online about the newest hip place. But then again, there are more than a few those in Manhattan, some of whom post on CH. You've just got to cut through the chaff...

      1. re: JungMann

        i'm a 20 something and i like to hear myself talk, so cool it. ;)

        with yelp, though, i think it has something to do with the fact that posts are rated for being "cool" (or useful). and everyone knows it's cooler to be cool than useful.

    2. I'm a fan of both sites and find the border war between the users of both to be fairly amusing. My observation is that the demographic is pretty different between the two sites. The story telling and emphasis on being funny does get on my nerves at times (although I've been guilty of it too now and then), but in general if I want to see something through the eyes of a crowd that are younger/hipper, that's where I'll lean. In contrast, the reviews on CH tend to be oriented toward more upscale (not necessarily by price) tastes.

      7 Replies
      1. re: jgg13

        I don't use yelp, but agree that overall it seems to be a younger crowd than on chowhound. I agree that I think it's just a different demographic -- not any better or worse than chowhound.

        1. re: Miss Needle

          In general, in terms of food & drink, I find Yelp's best at getting insight into bars, dives, etc and tend to increasingly trust the judgement of CH as you move up the scale. Also, Yelp covers things that aren't food, which is useful (although another thing that annoys me is the habit of reviewing anything and everything in an effort to get a higher review count). As with everything, you just need to read the reviews and you start to learn who tends to synch w/ your ideals and who doesn't.

          1. re: jgg13

            Wow! You folks obviously aren't regular readers/posters to the Chowhound SFBayArea board! Taco trucks, Grocery Outlet, BBQ places, Chinese BBQ, best bahn mi, etc., etc. are liberally mixed into the reviews of upscale restaurants.

            1. re: oakjoan

              I'm not a regular on the SF board, but am on the Manhattan one. And I understand what jgg13 is saying. For example, it was poster Lau who brought me attention to Madangsui, who learned it from Yelp. While Korean food is discussed extensively on the Manhattan board, it seems that most of the reviews are about a few key restaurants while there are so many other Korean restaurants in NYC. And if someone brings up a new place just casually (unless it's from a widely known poster or they have absolute wonderful writing skills or they speak in hyperbole), a lot of these reviews kind of get ignored. A lot of chowhounders have their favorites, and some of them seem unwilling to deviate from them. What you see are a lot of the same places being talked about over and over again. Yelp seems to talk about certain restaurants that aren't in the Chowhound circle (yeah, i know the whole point of being a hound is to blaze trails, etc -- but I also find that a lot of people just rely on the ol' Chowhound faves).

              1. re: Miss Needle

                This is by no means universal, but my experience w/ boston yelp is that, at least for restaurants, not much gets "discussed" (I'm assuming you mean the talk boards - as the reviews are much more 'pull' in terms of how one acquires information) that isn't already discussed on boston CH. If anything, from reading both boards pretty heavily, almost all of the "restaurant news" I see show up on boston yelp was posted on boston ch a few hours earlier (implying that this was the source, as most of the people who post those things also post on CH).

                The talk boards are a lot more people chit chatting, causing trouble, having fun, etc and sometimes useful information shows up.

                1. re: jgg13

                  Yeah, there may be differences of Yelp depending on city and type of cuisine you're looking for. For example, I don't think I've seen any posts for Madangsui on CH before Lau posted it.

              2. re: oakjoan

                That's not really what I meant. In fact, most of the lowly "hidden gems" that I know of come from CH (and in general seem to flow from CH to Yelp in Boston). I was referring more to the refinement/demographic of the posters. For instance, on Boston Yelp I feel old, stodgy, etc. On Boston CH, I feel young, hip, etc.

                I'll say one thing though, I'd trust a review about a watering hole on Yelp 100x more than I ever would on Chowhound. Whenever I see people on CH asking for a bar that meets XYZ criteria, they're always being pointed to something that at *worst* (in 'divey' terms) is one of the new gastropub type places. Given that those are not what I think of when *I* ask for 'a bar', well ... :)

        2. Is a useful source to find out about new restaurants or unknown restaurants regardless of the review.

          6 Replies
          1. re: kare_raisu

            I can't stand it in Charlotte. There are reviews of restaurants in Charlotte written by people whose profiles say they are in California. There's a review of my favorite Thai restaurant by a guy who clearly has never been there. It's an online smear campaign weapon and I don't read it anymore. It also seems to have been mostly written by kids.

            1. re: southernitalian

              So people traveling shouldn't review places they visit? How does that make sense? Sure, things are different when you're a regular, but not everyone has that kind of patience or dedication, and want to know what a place is like the first and only time they go. I read up on places I want to eat at when I'm traveling, and if I learn that it's only good for regulars... I'll skip it. It's useful information.If a review looks fake or inappropriate, you can flag it. Say why and if it's a good reason, it will be taken down.
              Yelp has it's demographic. If reading someone's telling of their story is annoying to you, then Yelp isn't for you. Just like if people don't like sometimes ridiculous food snobbery, CH isn't for them. Yelp is way more searchable, and more easy to sort through the results. Putting in a restaurant name on CH may just lead you to a 5 year old discussion that's not what you wanted but had the same keywords.
              If you ask a friend for a review of a restaurant, they're going to tell you. If they think the waiters were rude or they have a funny story about the place, they'll offer it up. Same as Yelp. Not everyone is a food writer and can express their thoughts about a soup base or the over-caramelization of an onion. If you want to read a food critic's perspective, Yelp isn't for you.
              On the other hand, there's a lot of ridiculous chatter in the message boards. CH has interesting posts and you wont get sucked into reading inside jokes between a few members, back and forth. But, if I want to find good "___" in the city of "____" Yelp is way more user friendly than CH.

              1. re: Azizeh Barjesteh

                My point was that in a disturbing number of them, it's obvious they've not visited the restaurant. They make references to the decor or items on the menu that don't exist. It's the same 5 or 6 people. Really takes the legitimacy out of it.

                1. re: southernitalian

                  I could be wrong, but I think they have an option to ignore a user?

                  If so, if someone was too stupid to live in your eyes, you could effectively just killfile them.

                  1. re: jgg13

                    I've taken it a step further. I ignore the web site. Can't speak for your town but there are posts in mine that are false claims. Why would I waste my time?

            2. re: kare_raisu

              I totally agree. Yelp, like any/all information, is what you make of it. I can see why people see it as odd or don't like the format or any number of things. However as information I find it useful. Great for quick info and a quick sense of CH you have to filter and read between the lines.

            3. The longer Yelp is around, the less useful I find it for restaurant reviews. I find that the reviews for other local businesses like auto mechanics or locksmiths can be a little more useful. While there is still some obvious shilling in those categories, there seems to be less pressure to entertain other yelpers on such pages.

              1. Yelp used to be much more informative about 5 years ago. Now, there's just a bit too much off-tangent chatter. There are still good bits here and there, but more often than not the chatter drowns it out.

                One thing that makes Chowhound very much different than Yelp is that with Chowhound there's more of a dialogue between posters. At Yelp, it's generally one poster posting a review (not counting their forums of course); it's much more static in that respect.

                Not saying one is better than the other -- cuz, there's alot static chatter going on Chowhound ever since the move to Chow -- but clearly the two sites have different demographics and goals in mind.

                Sometimes you want to drive a Mini Cooper; other times you really want that Maybach.

                Not saying which site is which ...

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