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Yelpers making threats to get comped?

Interesting blog post by the San Francisco Chronicle reviewer Michael Bauer about an email he received from a Berkeley restaurant chef/owner:

"Customers have begun threatening to 'Yelp' the restaurant if their ... comps were demanded with the threat that a harsh review would follow on the Yelp website if we didn't comply. ... People do follow through on their threats ..."


That email doesn't really put things in an adequate context. Did these customers make the threats as simple blackmail, or did the threats arise during a discussion regarding a complaint regarding bad food or service?

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  1. On Chowhound at least, it's pretty easy to spot someone who is just posting negative nonsense about a restaurant because they have something against the place. If the place is actually good, usually other people who have been there will pipe up and defend it. I agree that the restaurants can probably stop 90% of these dopes in their tracks simply by not being intimidated and asking for a business card or some other form of ID.

    1. I have issues if people demanded comps in order for them not to post negative review on Yelp. If they just threatened to post a negative review during a discussion without any expectation of comps, I find that okay. The prior is extortion. The latter is just a heated argument. If a person did receive a comp and decided to post about his or her experience, I would expect that the person to disclose that info.

      While I will post negative reviews regarding food, I generally think twice before posting something negative that happened to me specifically that's non-food related. I don't want one employee's issues/problems to reflect upon the entire establishment. I recently had an issue with a cashier not giving me the correct change on purpose (I'm pretty sure it wasn't a mistake). I dealt with the situation directly with the owner and did not post my experience on this board. As this place has two locations and is probably more of an isolated employee incident, I thought it would be unfair to the entire establishment for me to rant and rave on this board.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Miss Needle

        Yeah, I generally don't post about one-time problems.

        I had a ridiculous argument at one of my favorite restaurants over a wine mixup. I posted about it on the Wine board because it was such a bizarre story, but didn't identify the restaurant as I figured the novice who made the mistake would most likely either learn fast or they'd get someone else to handle the list.


        eBay recently changed its feedback policy to reduce the opportunities for abuse.

        1. re: Miss Needle

          I have chosen to only post positive experiences on my site. My feeling is that if a place is bad then it won't stay in business. I don't need to kick them when they are down. However if a place a really great I'd like to share it with others and hope that their business thrives. Overall i think a positive approach as a greater impact then being negative.

          1. re: hudsonvalleyfoodblog

            If it is food-related, I will post my experience, whether or not it is positive, negative or mixed. And as people have different tastes, what is considered bad to me would be considered great to others. On my local boards, I realize that certain posters have tastes more aligned with mine. Doesn't mean it's 100% of the time and doesn't mean that the posters who don't share my views are wrong. It's just different tastes. An example would be Momofuku Milk Bar in NYC. It seems that people either love it or hate it. I fall into the latter category. I'd probably be more apt to try a dessert rec from the people who hate Milk Bar than those who love it. I come to this site to learn. I don't want to hear glowing reviews about everything. I just want to read people's experiences for what they are. It does help when people explain why they didn't like a certain restaurant instead of reading, "Katz sucks." But if somebody wrote that they felt Katz sucked because the pastrami was too lean even though they ordered fatty, that tells me something. And it's not just one opinion but the aggregate of many voices on this board.

            I've been wrestling for a while whether to post this disgustingly unsanitary incident that I saw at a very popular place in my hometown. Has nothing to do with rats or roaches but how one employee treated the food. Because this was one incident I've seen, I decided against it. But I will never be going there again.

            1. re: Miss Needle

              I'd also like to add that restaurants can learn from constructive criticism. If they take the effort to read the blogs and see what others think of their food, perhaps they can correct their errors that may prevent them from going out of business in the future.

              1. re: Miss Needle

                Whoa, how can you dangle that and then not tell us?!

                Although that said I think the mods are very, very careful about anything to do with sanitary practice/health violations.

                1. re: tatamagouche

                  Yeah, the mods probably would have deleted it. And I think I would have caused a lot of hounds to be unhappy -- for various reasons.

          2. One of the nice things about Yelp is that they have a ratings aggregator. You see the average rating based on all reviews expressed on a 5-star scale. So, if the restaurant is good they would likely have enough positive reviews to render one or two malicious ratings meaningless. I also like to click on a poster's name to see what else they posted on other restaurants, this tells you a lot about how seriously to take their point of view.

            17 Replies
            1. re: Shane Greenwood

              Of course the flip side of this is the fake positive reviews posted in order to increase the aggregate rating. Often it is the owners/employees doing this, but there are "professional" services who will post positive reviews on an establishment they've never actually been to under multiple handles on multiple blogs for a fee. I was looking up restaurants on another site and noticed that almost all of the positive reviews on a particular establishment were all written in the same style (multiple exclaimation points, lots of caps etc...) by users who all joind on the same day and had only written reviews on that particular place. I stayed clear of that place during the time I was visiting the CITY i had SEARCHed.

              1. re: LabRat

                The key on sites that have that sort of rating is to scan through the reviews themselves and see who is giving what * rating. Yeah sure, it doesn't give you a nice pretty average score but you get a pretty good idea quickly of who the shills are and what the "real" average score is going to be.

                1. re: LabRat

                  I wish wish wish Yelp had an "ignore this user" button, which you could click when a user is either phony (as you mention) or just has tastes you don't agree with.... Then all other review averages would not include those users, and the reviews would appear greyed out.

                  1. re: LabRat

                    Yes, and quite often we see those style of reviews here on CH, almost always by, you guessed it, new users making their very first post.

                    Sometimes they're deleted, other times, only the posts calling them out as shills get deleted. C'est la vie.

                    1. re: Ralphie_in_Boston


                      Just wanted to let you know, we are a very small team here in the "back room", and we don't always see everything that is posted. If you feel that a given posting is suspicious, just click on the Report link and give us a heads-up and we will take a look at it. It is never a good idea to accuse another poster on the board of being a shill, just "ping" us and let us look in to it.

                      1. re: The Chowhound Team

                        I regularly report apparent spam posts. In most cases the posts are removed by the moderators within a couple of minutes.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          Agreed. I regularly report them and have the same experience, in most cases they are removed right away by the mods, who are doing a great job.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            Ah, so THAT'S why none of my posts have been appearing!

                          2. re: The Chowhound Team

                            jfood has also reported these as well and the TEAM does a great job in pulling the shills.

                      2. re: Shane Greenwood

                        How does Yelp treat advertisers in this aggredator. I'l bet you big time they trhow out the negativer reviews.

                        1. re: rworange

                          I believe they generally leave up anything/everything but a review can get flagged for breach of TOS.

                          1. re: jgg13

                            That seems to be the case. The...um...editorial policies at Yelp are pretty lax when it comes to reviews. I know I've flagged reviews for places that have yet to open (i.e., an actual violation of the TOS), only to come back weeks later to see those reviews still up, and as near as I can recall, these weren't all businesses that I would expect to be major sources of ad revenue over at Yelp.

                            There are aspects of how Yelp works that I find kind of lame and/or unsettling, but I do think that right now they are allowing the ratings to speak for themselves.

                            1. re: hohokam

                              In general I prefer the laxer moderation than the tighter policies here at CH, but I've said before that I'm more of a "live and let die" type when it comes to moderation. Plus, like I said, it isn't hard to mentally filter out the ones you don't like - I'd never go just on the aggregate rating anyways but rather would want to know how that was influenced.

                              The bit about pre-reviewing is usually so people can pump up their "first to review" numbers, which I think is pretty silly ... I'm not a huge fan for the encouragement towards status (# of reviews, first to review, elite, etc)

                              1. re: jgg13

                                I've yet to see a perfect moderation scheme, but I suppose that's a topic for another board. ;-)

                                When I attend to the reviews on Yelp, which is about 1/2 the time, I too read individual reviews and then do "meta-reviews" of the posters who provide something other than vacuous 2-line reviews. I've noticed that once the bandwagon starts rolling, it's hard to slow down. So, we end up with a lot of mediocre-to-good (but not great or excellent) places getting 4.5- to 5-star average ratings. And due to demographic differences, a lot of worthy places that might appeal to the over-35 crowd are ignored and languish in ratings obscurity. C'est la Yelp, I say.

                                The "encouragement awards" you mention are some of the lame aspects I was referring to. I have a whole rant about how Yelp is exploiting narcissism for commercial gain, which I'm sure will someday appear in my Curmudgeon's Manifesto. ;-)

                                1. re: hohokam

                                  Yeah, I wasn't trying to start a moderation tangent - both sites do things the way they do things ... was just saying that I tend to prefer things a bit more "wild west", but obviously I still like this site the way it is or I wouldn't be here :)

                                  On the bandwagon though, the same thing happens on both sites ... how many times do you see some poor sod get piled on by the regulars of a locale's board for daring to knock one of the board darlings? I think it is just the nature of the beast. You raise a good point about the demographic - I've got one foot in each of what I consider to be the target demographics which is probably why I like both so much ;) I've seen some Yelpers deny that they swing to a more younger/hipper (for lack of a better word)/raucous group but others embrace it saying that they don't want to know what the old fogies drinking prune juice have to say about anything. *shrug* Again, it is what it is. My personal experience is that I'm a bit too old/stodgy to really enjoy the review style that a lot of the "into it" people do but I do tend to like the sorts of places they'd review (and remember, it ain't just food!) that wouldn't really get coverage here.

                                  As for curmudgeon's manifesto ... i've been that old guy shaking his fist at "those damned kids" since I was about 15 ;)

                                2. re: jgg13

                                  I agree--I think the Yelp reviews are pretty transparent to anyone with a bit of common sense. So much gets censored here that I'm finding I'm relying on CH less and less.

                                  1. re: newhavener07

                                    I take exception to your remark. I usually take quite a bit of time with the reviews I write on Yelp, albiet with a sense of humor. Of course I'm one of those old fogies...........

                        2. There have been a few threads on Yelp Boston that have touched on this sort of thing. It seemed like a lot of people were semi-joking but it really left a bad taste in my mouth if they were being serious ... in these cases they weren't threatening a bad review so much as hoping to angle in on free stuff to sweeten the review:
                          to a lesser extent:

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: jgg13

                            That's really gross—& immature, which goes to show the potential median age difference btwn. Yelp/CH that has been discussed before.

                            So much (yet again) for the revolutionary power of the internet.

                          2. As a business owner , my employees and myself have been threatened with being yelped , a few times !
                            What we do is when the threat is made, we make the complainer give us a written account of everything that went wrong and what we should do to fix the problems. In almost 99% of the cases, they walk away with a threat but no written account. Since all of the complainers who threaten yelping are in the 20-35 age grp., writing down something with a pen on paper intimidates them and they just give up.
                            I believe every business owner wants to provide the best service , afterall he/she has money, time and reputation invested in the business.

                            1. This entire thread is a very good example of why I'm glad there is no star or points rating system on CH!

                              1. i find yelp to be a good site overall, and have known of yelpers threatened by business owners for bad reviews - as if the reviewer, and not the place is the problem. the way to not get bad reviews is to give good service.

                                some people have a real bee in the bonnet about yelp that i find mostly unfounded

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: thew

                                  There was a girl on Boston Yelp who came in to complain about a certain business - she claimed that she and her friends were banned from the establishment for their reviews, and had an initial groundswell of support on the talk thread. Well, something was fishy about the story ......

                                  Turns out, they had talked in the reviews about how they stole a beer glass (this place is meticulous about matching the proper beer glassware to the beers, theft is at times an issue). So wow, golly gee, someone admits to committing a crime is confused as to why it might be that the establishment they committed said crime in doesn't want them to return? But I was surprised that after that came out that half the folks still didn't see why they were banned.

                                  1. re: jgg13

                                    It's the mentality of a lot of people these days. I attribute it to a society-wide trend towards non-responsibility for one's own actions. These are the same people who check out of a hotel room and walk off with everything in it that wasn't bolted down.

                                2. This in some ways reminds of me of the Hotels.com commerical seen everywhere where the guy says just because I got this from hotels.com doesn't mean I'm going to give you a good review ... and then the bellhop, shoe shine boy, pool guy, whatever does something extra.

                                  Maybe it gave the Yelpers the blackmail idea. Who knows, maybe it's the Yelpers gave some one the idea for the commerical. Either way, this thread sure reminds me of that.

                                  As for Yelp itself and this new "social media cyberbullying" or "social media blackmail". Gee, another wonderful new thing the Net has added to the human experience! An electronic Lord of the Flies mentality that permeates and reaks.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: HarryK

                                    I like Yelp a lot, but I think this all goes back to the "real people, real reviews" thing. I *like* being anonymous for a variety of reasons (and really it wouldn't be *too* hard to break the anonymity if someone really cared for some reason), but one is that I think that reviews should be anonymous for just this reason. An establishment can't hold negative reviews against you and they also can't pander to you.

                                      1. re: rockandroller1

                                        You don't *have* to be a "real person", they just won't make you "elite". I do use my real first name and my real last initial but that's not a whole lot to go on ... I use the same pic from my CH avatar over there.

                                        Like I said, if someone really wanted they could track me down (heck, I got 10 tons of info, including addresses & phone numbers in about 45 mins about a couple based solely off of knowing her first name and a few details about the hobbies they were interested in, purely due to whim ... what can I say, I'm a loser like that) but most people wouldn't want to bother.

                                  2. thats pretty bad, however gauging from the amateur, and childish restaurant reviews I have read on Yelp it does not surprise me.

                                    1. there's a flip side
                                      ther are some anti yelp sites out there started by business owners demanding people be held liable for giving bad reviews lie ihateyelp.com

                                      people do not understand free speech

                                      17 Replies
                                      1. re: thew

                                        But doesn't free speech imply that we should also allow these business owners to express those demands?

                                        1. re: thew

                                          "free speech" as it is used in the US only applies to the government/private citizen relationship.

                                          There is no such thing to a right to free speech when you're talking about private entities.

                                          1. re: jgg13

                                            Also, false, slanderous statements are not covered under free speech.

                                            1. re: Buckethead

                                              you all know what i meant. people will get bad reviews. this is the same as that thread on the boston board, i think, where chefs complained about Chow. you can ignore bad reviews, you can try to improve based on bad reviews. but you cannot stop people from writing bad reviews, nor does it make a site bad because it has bad reviews. what good would be a site that only posted glowing reviews (that's what citysearch is for)

                                              owners can express whatever they want - that is a far cry from saying people should be liable for saying bad things about a place they didn't enjoy.

                                              if i have a bad meal in a restaurant, and i say so, that is not false slander, that is my experience

                                              1. re: thew

                                                I agree completely, the reason I mentioned false statements is because the thread is about Yelpers whose review is dependent on whether they get comped or not, regardless of their actual dining experience. I don't want to stop people from writing bad reviews, just false bad reviews. Or false good reviews, for that matter.

                                                1. re: Buckethead

                                                  Slander is difficult to prove. It has to be proved that the person said something false with the intent to do harm.

                                                  If you think about this, threatening to get comped is the internet version of "waiter, there's a bug in my salad" where someone puts some foreign matter intentionly to get a meal comped. Or even worse the finger in the fast food meal.

                                                  A restaurant would have to prove the person brought in the bug.

                                                  To prove slander for a bad review the restaurant would have to prove the person actually did like the food and trashed the place with the intent of getting free eats ... or some other intent of doing harm to the business.

                                                  A bad review is just what it is. Someone hated the meal. The rest is just ego talking ... there is a sense of entitlement or self-importance.

                                                  1. re: rworange

                                                    Oh, I think we have gone way beyond the "self" administered bug in the salad trick:

                                                    Diner: "Waiter, what's this finger doing in my chili!"

                                                    Waiter: "Let me give you a hand with that, sir"

                                                    1. re: Servorg

                                                      Wait, shouldn't this be on the 'upselling' thread?

                                                    2. re: rworange

                                                      The rest is just ego talking ... there is a sense of entitlement or self-importance.

                                                      This is so completely true. I don't yelp at all but the managers routinely look to see what people are yelping about our restaurant. In one recent review ..a woman who was a regular under prior ownership had come with her husband to have a drink. They were coming from across the street where they just had dinner. In her own words she states that she KNEW we were closed but went in anyway. Long story short..she trashed the place because she was turned away from the bar because we were closed & made it seem that the bartender & manager were "rude" to them. Because they were regular customers & therefore they are entitled to walk in after closing & demand that the bar reopen just for them!
                                                      She also mentioned how she was good friends w/ the owner of a local magazine in which we advertise. Puh-Leeze!
                                                      Now we have this nasty negative one sided stupid review on Yelp that you know some dimwit will consider before going there.
                                                      Maybe if her husband hadn't called the bartender a c**ks****r things would've turned out differently for them because he's a guy that goes out of his way to be nice to everyone.. she forgot to mention that in her "review".
                                                      Most yelpers seem to have this sense of entitlement to them & that's what I hate the most.

                                                      1. re: sugarbuzz

                                                        That's crazy for any customer to do that..any owner of a liquor license can have it taken away for serving after hours.

                                                        1. re: sugarbuzz

                                                          Guess who just got a comped meal for her "troubles" !!

                                                          My chef is a great guy but he got suckered into that one.

                                                          1. re: sugarbuzz

                                                            Would Yelp allow you to post a response to her Yelp and state what you said above as a member of the staff/witness to what happened? That would at least rebut what she said and might make others realize she was just trashing you.

                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                              her original nasty review was taken off Yelp..I think because her "friend" at the local magazine is also a friend of the chef's & a compromise was made.

                                                              This is what she posts"Having restaurant owners and sommeliers within our circle of friends, this is generally the appropriate courtesy in such situations,"
                                                              So..you have an elite list of friends including restaurant owners & that entitles you to treat restaurant workers like crap,call the person who won't serve you after hours a c***s****r, lie about it to make yourself look like the victim & get a free meal worth about $125.
                                                              Yes..I hate yelpers

                                                              1. re: sugarbuzz

                                                                to demean a site of thousands of people, because a tiny % are a-holes is ridiculous. a tiny % of people here are a-holes too. and everywhere else too.

                                                                i'm a yelper and a chowhound. i love both sites, for different reasons, and use them differently.

                                                                1. re: sugarbuzz

                                                                  This is what she posts"Having restaurant owners and sommeliers within our circle of friends, this is generally the appropriate courtesy in such situations,"
                                                                  Well - she just looks like a butthead to those in the know about the restaurant biz.

                                                                  And the response can easily be as someone said above - there's a legal liability serving to outside customers (not staff - that happens all the time) after hours, and "generally" doesn't mean "always."

                                                        2. re: Buckethead

                                                          I just want unbiased reviews from honest people that have no conflict of interest (actual or perceived).

                                                          1. re: limster

                                                            i have to say that that is mostly what i find on yelp, at least the NYC yelp.

                                                            yelp and here are my 2 most used webites these days

                                                2. The Yelpers in jfood's town are pathetic.

                                                  The most recent review gives 4-stars to the worst resto (term used lightly) in town and then goes on to say why he liked it. To paraphrase, he drank so much that he puked in the bathroom and then passed out in the men's room, only to awaken the next morning sleeping next to the toilet. Yup that sounds like a 4-star place to jfood.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: jfood

                                                    To be fair ... as I mentioned above it should always be remembered that Yelp isn't just focused on "the chow" but really everything. For someone looking for a raucous bar, that could be just the thing to make it a 4 star affair even if one wouldn't want to eat there!

                                                  2. This "yelpers making threats" doesn't surprise me. I have looked at yelp off & on for a number of cities I've traveled to. Most of what I've read seems to be largely posturing with out much real useful (for my purposes) information. Perhaps I'm just older than most of the posters, who seem to be more interested in the atmosphere surrounding the place rather than the food itself. And the impression of self entitlement can be strong on a lot of the yelp posts. I rarely look at it any more. There are other sources, such as this, which deliver plenty of usable info without having to wade through so much silliness.

                                                    16 Replies
                                                    1. re: meatn3

                                                      I've noticed the same thing in my very limited experience in browsing posts on Yelp.

                                                      Don't they also have a status thing with their usernames too--you know, how many "Friends" they have and how many reviews they've posted? That sort of thing is bad news IMO. People become obsessed with being popular and posting as many reviews as possible---becomes a big popularity contest instead of a true opinion-based message board.

                                                      1. re: Ralphie_in_Boston

                                                        while that may be true on the talk boards, that attitude does not spill over into the reviews.

                                                        the reviews have pretty much been solidly right on in my experience

                                                        1. re: thew

                                                          It spills over into the reviews, but not in ways that actually would matter to anyone. You see a lot of people reviewing stupid stuff and even made up stuff as a joke/means to pump up review count/etc. But that's not the same as someone reviewing a real institution that someone might actually care to read a review

                                                          1. re: jgg13

                                                            It spills over in some useful ways too - Yelpers vie for the first-to-review tag on their posts, so they uncover new places with astonishing regularity.

                                                            1. re: condiment

                                                              Uncovering new places is a great thing. Places that can afford to hire PR or do PR on their own will have sufficient media push ensure that they are covered in all the usual media (newspapers, blogs etc...) But it's only through combing through neighbourhoods on one's own that allows people to uncover places that would otherwise never be mentioned in any media source, and that is a major value of grassroots efforts. Not specifically referring to yelp, but it's easy to read about imminent openings of places that are media savvy on various local papers, blog etc. It takes someone a bit more hungry to pound the pavement or drive to neighbourhoods in search of something new.

                                                              The flip side is that often reports on places may not cover everything. It's not only important to be first, but also go deep. And by that I don't mean merely eating everything on the menu multiple times. (I'd rather not escalate the CH vs yelp etc sentiment here, so I'm using the following just as an example of going deep, not of one being superior to another.) I remember the SF chowhounds discovering that a very well trained Sichuan chef was cooking at a certain restaurant. Instead of merely stopping after eating the brilliantly executed sichuan dishes on the menu, they went further, asking if the chef would do serious high-end banquets. The result was dishes that would otherwise have never been available.

                                                              I would say that personally, I prefer the people who report on places to be hungry for delicious food, not for first place, because it's easy to do a superficial first review on any website or blog. It's slightly harder to do an in-depth report (first or 100th) that goes beyond what the average person would accomplish, and that requires a serious hunger, not trophy-seeking.

                                                              1. re: condiment

                                                                My experience has been that anything worthy of a "first to review" (read: not something silly or useless that someone puts in) is already pretty well known to be opening on the talk boards, here on ch, etc.

                                                            2. re: thew

                                                              I find the reviews on Yelp to be useless, lacking in maturity, and usable, relevent content.

                                                              1. re: swsidejim

                                                                i generally find here is a good place to find places i didn't know about, and yelp to then check out the details.

                                                                of course i did find some great places through yelp as well (kuma inn being the last)

                                                                1. re: thew

                                                                  That's exactly how I use these two sites, by and large.

                                                                2. re: swsidejim

                                                                  I really only spend a significant amount of time on Yelp's Boston board, so my observations are limited to that. Yelp's reviewers on average seem to be a lot younger. The raw number of participants appears larger than Chowhound's, so -- as in almost any crowd -- there's a larger number of not-so-sophisticated participants.

                                                                  But like Chowhound, it is possible to find posters who are adventurous, open-minded, dedicated to uncovering great chow, and good writers. Some even have some special or regional expertise that is very useful to tap. As on Chowhound, it takes some dedicated reading over a period of time to identify them, but Yelp seems to have a lot more dross to sift through.

                                                                  My biggest problem is the number of Yelpers who appear to think that making themselves the center of the review is a fun and cool thing to do. They end up devoting an annoyingly small proportion of their restaurant reviews and Talk board discussions to the food itself.

                                                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                    chow is a food site with a social component

                                                                    yelp is a more social site, mostly based around food

                                                                    1. re: thew

                                                                      On the SF Bay Yelp site, it seems to be a "scene" site with a social component. Food is a tiny part of it - the few interesting food threads are farrrr less popular than "Where the hot women at" or "why is FroYo so awesome" or "Guess where I woke up in a pool of my vomit last night".

                                                                      1. re: eeblet

                                                                        the talk threads are not the review section of the site

                                                                        1. re: thew

                                                                          I think too many people forget that point.

                                                                          As MC said, there's a habit among some folks (who often are also heavy users of the talk side, although by no means does that imply the other direction is often true) to do, well, what he said on reviews but by and large I don't think you can gauge the quality of the reviews from reading the talk threads.

                                                                          1. re: jgg13

                                                                            I'm well aware that the talk section is separate from the reviews, but over the last two years, it seems that the reviews have slid more and more in the direction of the talk boards: self-absorbed idle chatter that is totally un-food-related! It's the culture that Yelp is encouraging with their UFCs and eleet status.

                                                                    2. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                      It was Boston Yelp that brought me to a single conclusion about Yelp in general—that it was populated by a bunch of immature foodies, not serious hounds. And I still don't like that the format is monologic rather than dialogic. But just in the last few weeks, really, I've begun to come around w/r/t Denver Yelp; it's so much more active, hence so much more diverse, than I remember Boston's being.

                                                                      My loyalties will always lie with CH and the bulk of my time spent here. But I used to always say of the Boston CH board that it was like being on a squad with hundreds of really smart, engaged chow detectives, all of us helping each other uncover clues. Here, it's Yelp that...I won't quite say fulfills that function but at least compensates somewhat for its lack of fulfillment.

                                                                      In short, I suppose there's a push-pull between the two sites that varies in intensity from city to city.

                                                            3. The following musings are an expression of my surprise, not criticism. And, as others have mentioned I don't know the context. I enjoy participating in the discussions on Chowhound and a few others and have received good advice. However, I have to wonder whether the commentary on any sites really have any influence? Especially the unmoderated commentary on some. Do they reach a wide enought audience that posters feel they can make such demands?

                                                              The death of politesse aside, I have trouble understanding how a poster to an open forum feels entitled to demand special consideration by virtue of their participation in that forum. Perhaps I am hopelessly shackled by my upbringing but nobody in our family ever really complains, especially is such an aggressive manner, in a restaurant. Asking that they correct an error or, once or twice politely asking whether they can replace a dish that really doesn't appeal. We just don't go back and, when asked, say that we tried a few dishes that we didn't love and move on to greener pastures.

                                                              1. I know someone that opened a food joint that is doing well and he credits Yelp with being a big influence in the success. I also have friends who use Yelp to look for new places to try out, so assuming they're not the only ones that do that I'm sure Yelp has some bearing on bringing in or deterring business, "Virtual Word Of Mouth" so to speak.

                                                                That being said this isn't the first time I've heard of Yelpers doing this "I'm a Yelper!" to try and get special treatment. That's bush league and reeks of a spoiled child trying to name drop to get what they want, equivalant to walking up to a nightclub and telling the doorman "I know the owner" to avoid the line to get in. Whether it's Yelp or Chowhound (or any other site), the armchair amateur reviewers/bloggers should take the experience as it is and then write about it honestly.

                                                                1. A restaurateur emailing Michael Bauer and then MB placing it on his blog. Not sure what to make of that. Certainly what he mentions is newsworthy, weird and disturbing but it happened twice out of how many meals?

                                                                  I'm not saying it's okay because it's not and I'm not defending the perps because it's wrong but the mass review/social site is a new phenomenon and that brings weirdness and new behavior. Restaurants need to roll with the times and or use common sense. They should have just refused. As mentioned, Yelp is an aggregate score and if the place is popular, things will even out.

                                                                  MB makes a great point about getting a business card. I'd go further and have them fill out a complain form with contact info. I think that will call most people's bluff and I'm guessing it's 98% bluff. Not only is this a very small minority 1/10th of percents. I'm also guessing it might have been students given the location (Berkeley). Call it a form of "dine and dash" or students/young people trying to sponge. It's nothing new, just a new form/shape.

                                                                    1. re: JiyoHappy

                                                                      Wow! Some article! So instead of Yelp becoming an unbiased site where people post reviews, it's turning into another Citysearch. A few years ago, I posted a terrible review of a hair salon on Citysearch. Generally, I don't make a stink about smaller things. But it was bad -- really bad. Worst service I've ever received in my life. As that salon was a sponsored listing, they had my review removed, which pissed me off to no end. And I wouldn't be surprised if Yelp had people on their payroll writing negative reviews of places themselves to extort money from businesses (as Citysearch hires people to click on ads).

                                                                      1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                        And *what* a surprise that Yelp removes negative postings about themselves!

                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                          this is hardly a forum that doesn't edit opinion, here

                                                                          1. re: thew

                                                                            Indeed, much like my take on CH's moderation policy: "Their site, their rules"

                                                                          2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                            Honestly, I don't see any problem with this. Yelp isn't required to provide a space for its users to bitch about its site.

                                                                            1. re: Chris VR

                                                                              I'm not disagreeing - but if they open it up to all comments, why not? CH doesn't *always* delete negative posts that comment on its site. But obviously Yelp does.

                                                                                1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                  Exactly. Only the good comments are allowed. Even tho plenty of blogs and articles will have more realistic information on them.

                                                                                  They're like an ostrich burying its head in the sand....what they can't see won't hurt them.

                                                                                2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                  not true. there have been several threads, at least oin the NY talk board complaining about yelp practices and policies, that were not taken dpwn

                                                                                3. re: Chris VR

                                                                                  Ok. In defense of Yelp, I found that this short conversation hasn't been deleted by them since yesterday:


                                                                          3. I had never seen this Yelp site - just checked it out and found it completely crass, self-absorbed, and immature. What a bunch of whining narcissists! Glad that the overall attitude, maturity, and level of taste seems much higher here.

                                                                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                    I am a sometimes poster on the Philly Yelp site, and have not found it to be as bad as some have described other city's Yelp sites to be. I try to put genuine thought into my reviews, albeit with some humor, and have found others to do the same most of the time.

                                                                                    There IS a general slant towards the younger crowd (I am in my early 60s), but I have discovered a number of places on Yelp to try that I might not have tried otherwise. Although I have been invited to join Yelp events, I don't think I would feel comfortable due to the age difference. Another downside of Yelp is the tendency some people have to churn out "reviews" as though there were some contest for the most reviews ever posted. They will review virtually anything in order to keep their numbers up, but do not put much meat into the review itself.

                                                                                    On the other hand, I find Yelp useful because it contains reviews of places other than restaurants. As a matter of fact, I found a plumber who was recommended by another Yelpie.

                                                                                    It sounds to me as though the way Yelp functions is different from city to city. I can't ever imagine using the threat of a negative posting on CH or Yelp (or any other board for that matter) to get better/special treatment. I have, on occassion, sent the owner of an establishment a link to a set of postings if I feel it's something that owner needs to see -- I've done it for both positive AND negative reviews, and with both CH and Yelp threads.

                                                                                    1. re: PattiCakes

                                                                                      "Another downside of Yelp is the tendency some people have to churn out "reviews" as though there were some contest for the most reviews ever posted."

                                                                                      To some extent, there is. A lot of users misguidedly use the # of reviews posted as an measure of rank.

                                                                                      1. re: jgg13

                                                                                        but that ranking only effects the social chat side, and not the weight of the reviews themselves

                                                                                        1. re: thew

                                                                                          True, and while I (and I suspect most normal users of Yelp) will completely ignore the "elite" tags, those same folks tend to dominate the chat side, and they constantly chatter about ignoring people w/o 'elite' or N number of reviews.

                                                                              1. I actually really enjoy reading one star reviews on yelp! Especially for places that I love. They're so funny sometimes, and they illustrate the flaws of Yelp. For example one star for no parking (but valet parking available) for a restaurant in North Beach; or not liking the vegetarian entree (that she said was good) because it was butternut squash ravioli and it was "so last year" at a steak house.

                                                                                Very often the review is so off base or so ludicrous it's just plain funny. But they can be malicious in nature, which IMHO should not be given the same weight as an "honest" review, and should in some cases be removed. And sometimes it's obvious that the reviewer is thinking of someplace completely different, yet the review is never removed.

                                                                                Sometimes there's a service complaint, and frankly the reviewers attitude is can be part of the cause. Trust me, I worked for Disney and it was very difficult some times to be civil and nice to people, but I usually managed; except once, and that involved a parent abusing their child so i was off the hook. Don't get me wrong, service can be bad with out any fault of the consumer, but it is a two way street.

                                                                                But, heck, the one stars can be very amusing!

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: cosmogrrl

                                                                                  I can smell bogus from fifty paces. I like to ask these people more details, perhaps about silverware or some other odd qualifier to see if they have actually been to the place. I do not get why someone would knock a place they hadn't been to. Perhaps angry because they cannot afford a restaurant like the one they are bashing? Dunno.

                                                                                  1. re: DallasDude

                                                                                    such posts are rare in the yelp universe in my experience, at least here in NYC. most reviewers are competent and serious about it, even if the reviews are often framed in a tongue in cheek manner

                                                                                2. More alleged Yelper Elite mischief, as documented by a restaurateur and blogger: http://chezgeek.com/2010/02/09/yelpma...


                                                                                  15 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                    Interesting. Did you notice the comment posted which slammed both Yelp and Chowhound?

                                                                                    1. re: Servorg

                                                                                      He commented that CH banned him. Sounds like some lingering resentment in that comment... lol!

                                                                                      1. re: dave_c

                                                                                        True. I think his main gripe was that CH doesn't give restaurant owners/management a chance to respond to critical reviews. That is a long time policy here but I can understand why it would be tough to swallow at times.

                                                                                      2. re: Servorg

                                                                                        Yes, that's Patrick Maguire, author of this interesting, worthwhile blog: http://www.servernotservant.com/

                                                                                        He and I have disagreed on this subject in a few places: sometimes civilly, sometimes less so. One of his arguments is that removing industry feedback makes the discussions "sterile", but I think what industry folks and their advocates really want is a chance to respond directly to anonymous amateur-reviewer comments they perceive as unfair.

                                                                                        That would be nice if it actually worked, but I believe that too many restaurateurs would abuse a right to respond to criticisms, flooding the board with blow-by-blow feedback and diluting the value of amateur posters, the vast majority of whom are responsible here.

                                                                                        I think Chowhound mostly works the way it is, thanks to assiduous moderation that keeps shills (restaurant owners, employees, PR people, friends of the restaurant), negative shills (disgruntled ex-employees, competitors posing as unhappy customers), and plain rude people and nutballs off the boards. A few posters say things that are unfair, off-base or ignorant, but I think they are a tiny minority, not enough of a problem to justify changing the essential mix of opinions here. The fact that Chowhounds seem to be older, politer, and more experienced (as a rule) helps, and certainly accounts for why I value these boards as a resource more than Yelp.

                                                                                        I'd be curious to see a reviewing site that actually makes a restaurant feedback model work without tipping the balance too far in favor of the industry. I think opening that door is highly problematic when the goal is to focus on the consumer perspective. I sure don't hear anywhere near the level of noise about abusive Chowhounds or Chow.com folks that I hear about Yelpers and Yelp, Inc.


                                                                                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                          Oh, so that was his beef. I commented on the thread, just pointing out that the CH model doesn't allow for "calling out" posters, which is what he said he did, just for reporting them, so if he got banned for doing that one too many times, that was his error, not the mods' prejudice.

                                                                                      3. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                        Wow, what a convincing and even moving piece...did I miss the author's restaurant's name on the site?

                                                                                        Am I naive, or what am I missing? At some point I should think Yelp would want to get control of these rumors, because the more they spread, the less credibility the site has. The less credibility it has, the more Yelpers are just yelping to the converted, without influencing non-Yelpers, who distrust them, which means the less the site grows.

                                                                                        I wonder how all this got started. Assuming it's true in some places, some Elites would have to be in cahoots with Sales, yes?

                                                                                        1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                                          Hmmmm ... yes, what was the restaurant?

                                                                                          Like a fish past its prime, that article has the whiff of something being off

                                                                                          Don't get me wrong. There are yelp abuses. However, something just isn't right.

                                                                                          He says has he has a restaurant but he has a website saying he is a personal chef

                                                                                          His blog and twitter have his location in Dallas but his posts are SF Bay Area based

                                                                                          That may just be a matter of not updating old info ... but there are other warning bells about this

                                                                                          He complains about similar threats to write bad reviews from zagat and opentable diners. Not unprobable. However, with opentable you have the customer's vital info. Why not just report the threat to opentable.

                                                                                          Also that whole yelp tshirt thing reads false.

                                                                                          First of all, this is the Bay Area. People are too cool to do that. Perhaps at a dive, but at a restaurant with a supposed sommelier that "got his chops at L’Atelier in Paris"?

                                                                                          I so highly doubt that anyone would wear yelp tshirts to a restaurant of that caliber.

                                                                                          I eat out a lot in the bay area. I have yet to see someone wearing yelp elite tshirts at restaurants. I went to the yelp Christmas party which had a few thousand people and other than staff, even there ... at the St Francis ... no one was wearing those tshirts

                                                                                          Yelpers are sending him emails and voicemails. Really ... seriously ... really? That really isn't the profile of a yelper AFAIK. If someone is out to cause trouble they are going to write a bad review not personally dog the chef. What would be the purpose of doing that?

                                                                                          Also this guy keeps a pretty high web profile and seems to want attention.

                                                                                          Also, looking at the blog, this is a pretty busy guy who REALLY eats out alot. Where does he get the time to do that and run a restaurant?

                                                                                          1. re: rworange

                                                                                            Things that make you go Hmmmm.....

                                                                                            1. re: rworange

                                                                                              1. "I went to the yelp Christmas party which had a few thousand people and other than staff, even there ... at the St Francis ... no one was wearing those tshirts"

                                                                                              Are you affiliated with yelp? In the interest of full dsclosure...

                                                                                              2. "Also that whole yelp tshirt thing reads false. First of all, this is the Bay Area. People are too cool to do that."

                                                                                              a. Not in my experience (at least not everyone); and b. the people who post reviews on the yelp website seem more than likely to do something like this.

                                                                                              1. re: StheJ

                                                                                                >>> Are you affiliated with yelp? In the interest of full dsclosure...

                                                                                                Not in the least. I just post over there

                                                                                                Every year Yelp issues an open invite to everyone. There's some sort of lottery and this year I won the yelp lottery.

                                                                                                I was expecting the worse but I have to give yelp credit. It was actually decent. I'd do this again if I win an invite next year.

                                                                                                Vendors gave out samples so food and drink did not cost yelp anything. It was a chance to try a lot of places I wanted to try and had not so far. . There were also some places that I just didn't know about. and it led to me seeking them out after being pleasantly surprised. For a few others it kept me from wasting my money ... one particular chocolate maker for example, who charges $18 a bar.

                                                                                                The St.Francis pays to put their messages on yelp, so they either gave yelp the room for free or there was some other bonus to that hotel. At most, I'm guessing yelp's major cost was the music.

                                                                                                Since I turned down elite status earlier and don't get too involved over there it was a chance also to check out yelpers and see what they were like up close ... in their native habitant so to speak. As expected 80 percent were in the 20 - 30 age range.

                                                                                                1. re: rworange

                                                                                                  I just don't get why this guy would make stuff up... The idea that he would want this kind of attention for his restaurant just does not compute.

                                                                                                2. re: StheJ

                                                                                                  i'm a NY yelper w/ elite status. I ahve been to quite a few yelp events - at NONE did i ever see anyone wearing any yelp gear - even at the events where it was being given out. in fact i used to wear a yelp baseball cap often, because it fit my head so well, and pretty much wouldnt wear to yelp events, because that's lame.....

                                                                                                3. re: rworange

                                                                                                  Hmm. Those are good questions, although he's hardly the first to raise the points he raises. I'm sure, rworange, *you're* too cool to wear the T-shirt (in fact I know so after reading your awesome posts all these years!), but people are people, even in the Bay Area...especially young people, heh, who tend to get drunk on their own perceived power and immortality. There *are* Yelpers who treat Elitism as a clique and wear that badge of popularity like a football jacket.

                                                                                                  I imagine there's a truth somewhere in the middle, no? The hard part is pinpointing it...

                                                                                                  1. re: rworange

                                                                                                    That blog post has the ring of truth to me. Also, I spend enough time on the Boston Yelp board to believe that there are Yelpers who are, as tatamagouche puts it, drunk enough on their own callow notion of power to engage in such behavior.


                                                                                                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                      The most likely offenders have pretty much all left boston yelp over time. That original bunch was chock full of folks that felt that their status could/should be used to obtain better treatment from an establishment, and that there was nothing wrong with accepting freebies from owners who would recognize them from yelp (in order to obtain better reviews)

                                                                                              2. 1. What jfood said is the case in my area too.

                                                                                                2. Looking at the general quality of the reviews/the reviewer's personalities as evidenced by their reviews on yelp, I can absolutely believe that some (not all) might use extortionary tactics to get free food, drinks, whatever at restaurants.

                                                                                                3. Let's just be thankful the alleged extortionists did not wear the "make me yelp" hotshorts instead of the totally lame "that's going in my review t-shirt"!

                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: StheJ

                                                                                                  Jfood gives yelp a chance about once a month. It is just so lame in his area. But in fairness the reviewers are getting a bit better. At least now they do not give a positive review because they passed out in the bathroom and the restaurant let them sleep in their own vomit. Can't make this stuff up.

                                                                                                  1. re: StheJ

                                                                                                    >>> I can absolutely believe that some (not all) might use extortionary tactics to get free food, drinks, whatever at restaurants

                                                                                                    Yes but restaurants need to take some responsibility too. If you feed the troll they don't go away.

                                                                                                    They need not to take reviews seriously. I don't know how the guy in the blog linked above could attribute for certain that yelp was responsible.

                                                                                                    He just may not have a good restaurant. He had little background from what I read. it was a first time venture. So at opening, many new places will get lots of people who are curious. Maybe they just didn't like the joint and didn't come back. And maybe they told their friends it was meh. IMO, word of mouth is still has the biggest impact.

                                                                                                    They need NOT to respond to negative reviews by sending the poster an email offering them freebies to make up for a bad experience. Yelp is littered with people editing their reviews saying the owner inviited them back for a free whatever and the place is really swell now in their eyes.

                                                                                                    They need NOT to give comps to people who they know post on yelp. You know this is almost like a business paying the mob so nothing bad happens to the business.

                                                                                                    One restaurant went so far as to close their restaurant, change the name and entire menu after 'consulting' with yelpers ... it closed at the end of 2009. Seriously, now nuts was that?

                                                                                                    I know I've mentioned it a few times on the site, maybe further up in the thread. Sometimes I get caught unawares. At one restuarant I said it was my first visit. The waiter asks how I found them. Not thinking, I said I read about them on yelp.

                                                                                                    I got a lot of freebies that night. I never reviewed them either here or on yelp. I didn't feel I had the average diner experience at that point. It is a shame too. The place was very good and they didn't need to tithe yelpers.

                                                                                                    1. re: rworange

                                                                                                      They need NOT to give comps to people who they know post on yelp. You know this is almost like a business paying the mob so nothing bad happens to the business.

                                                                                                      This get's to my problem with the whole situation here. As far as I'm concerned, people should not be going into places and saying anything about posting on on any review site on way or the other... it just completely eviscerates the bona fides of the reviewer and the site in general. I mean, how would the restaurant know if the person didn't bring it up? And if they do bring it up, then this is exactly like the mob coming into a business and demanding protection money. More so if the guy's suggestions about being called repeatedly by the sales department asking him if he wants to be a premium sponsor or whatever it was is true.

                                                                                                      1. re: StheJ

                                                                                                        I occasionally get asked by someone at a restaurant how I heard about them and I simply say (if I read about them on CH) that I saw something about them online and leave it at that. I've never been asked which site I was on, and if I was ever asked I would simply feign a hazy memory. Simple, yet effective.

                                                                                                        1. re: StheJ

                                                                                                          >>> how would the restaurant know if the person didn't bring it up?

                                                                                                          For the most part, a savy restaurant doesn't need to be told someone is writing them up ... somewhere.

                                                                                                          There's people who take photos of the food. That probably isn't happening unless those photos are going on the web.

                                                                                                          Someone may be taking notes. A few years back I stopped jotting a few notes during the meal. I'll ask for a takeout menu or ask if the menu is on their website and just strengthen my memory skills.

                                                                                                          If for some reason I do need to take notes, I cover it up by having a book and making it look like I'm copying something from that.

                                                                                                          But I'm guessing that the actions of many people are conspicuous enough that the staff can figure it out without being told.

                                                                                                    2. are there yelpers who are stupid or abusive? YES. Are they the majority? no. Should yelp and all yelpers be judged as such?

                                                                                                      analogy - if a jew is caught stealing does that make all jews thieves? if a mexican is unemployed does it make all mexicans lazy? If someone is mugged by a black guy does it make all black people violent criminals? no, no, and no.

                                                                                                      this is the tactic that all bigots in all times have used - taking the exceptional case and acting as if it proves the general behavior.

                                                                                                      as i've said time and again, at least here in NYC, most yelpers are quite serious about their reviews, even if they frame them with a humorous tone. Most are quite educated about food and restaurants. They are often uncovering new gems (making them perfectly Leffian chowhounds). again - i think yelp and chowhound in conjunction are far more useful than either alone - there's a real synergy in using both.

                                                                                                      16 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: thew


                                                                                                        please consider editing the second para. Very bad analogies.

                                                                                                        1. re: jfood

                                                                                                          they were intentionally over the top to make a point. the point is you cannot judge a group by the actions of the worst of it's individuals.

                                                                                                          1. re: thew

                                                                                                            Pointing out that these hateful and spurious analogies are the refuge of bigots reminds people of the need to not let these bigots get away with making remarks that smear an entire group over the actions of certain individuals who happen to be part of that group.

                                                                                                            1. re: thew


                                                                                                              I thought that the point of this thread, at least in respect to the blog post about posters at yelp, was an accusation that some posters or yelp affiliated individuals were guilty of bad behavior and there was a question as to why/if this could be true... So the analogies above seem to be totally inappropriate in this context. Although I agree that one can't judge a particular group by the actions of one individual.

                                                                                                              However, at least with respect to my home turf (yes, we have the same home turf), analyzing the reviews at yelp. I find more than 50% of them to be both wrong and just plain silly, misinformed or judging the quality of the food on ridiculous standards. This being the case, I have absolutely no problem discounting yelp as a quality source of information about restaurants, at least in terms of the reviews. I'm sure the address information and hours etc... is correct.

                                                                                                              1. re: StheJ

                                                                                                                i won't discount your experience - i just don't find it to be mine....

                                                                                                                1. re: thew

                                                                                                                  Alright... It looks like we respectfully agree to disagree...

                                                                                                              2. re: thew

                                                                                                                Can't judge a group by the actions of its worst individuals.

                                                                                                                Can judge a group by whether it or its underlying ethos ignores, tolerates, promotes or condemns these actions from its individuals.

                                                                                                                1. re: limster

                                                                                                                  true. but yelp and their version of mods speak out against such behavior whenever it is brought to light

                                                                                                                  1. re: thew

                                                                                                                    What else do they do beyond speaking out? What kinds of policies do they have in place to maintain non-sleaziness?

                                                                                                                    1. re: limster

                                                                                                                      I'm not really sure where the line gets crossed with yelp, but it is actually worse that Chowhound if you cross it. You don't get banned, you get totally 'removed' Because it is not a discussion format they can just take everything you ever wrote off the site

                                                                                                                      However, I think it is more about the poster in general rather than what they write. As the first rule of the terms says you may not "use the Site to threaten, stalk, defraud, incite, harass, or advocate the harassment of another person, or otherwise interfere with another user's use of the Site"

                                                                                                                      You cant write bigoted stuff against 'protected classes'. You can't write anything illlegal or pornographic ... though if the Supreme Court can't really define the last, standards at yelp are pretty lax.

                                                                                                                      You can sleeze all you want to on yelp as long as it doesn't cross over to pornography

                                                                                                                      As the site says "Does Yelp ever remove reviews?

                                                                                                                      And though shilling is against the rules, calling attention to it and getting it removed is like pushing a boulder up a cliff.

                                                                                                                      If you think about it anyone threatening an owner with a bad review in exchange for comps really would be violating the rules.

                                                                                                                      1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                        Sounds to me like there's no line and they don't do anything. The business about stalking or whatever is totally besides the point of this discussion... So, basically, "yelpers" can be as sleezy as they want with no repercussions.

                                                                                                                        1. re: StheJ

                                                                                                                          Actually it gets rewarded with those 'cool' and 'funny' votes.

                                                                                                                          In one sense, good stuff gets rewarded by being selected as review of the day or being included in the weekly newsletter if there's a good tip.

                                                                                                                          However, review of the day seems to have more with writing style, usually amusing, rather than soley on usefullness.

                                                                                                                          1. re: rworange


                                                                                                                            Your response delves far too much into the nuances of yelp with which I'm completely uninterested and seems more appropriate for a post on yelp itself than a chowhound post.

                                                                                                                            I think limster's and my question at the end of the day is: if yelp finds out that "yelpers" are doing sleezy things like blackmailing this restaurant or demanding free stuff from that restaurant, do they do anything? and it seems like your answer is no and the guy from the blog post's answer clearly is no.

                                                                                                                            So it's safe to assume that they do nothing, except perhaps call the restaurant and try to get them to be an elite sponsor for however much money or whatever to increase their ratings.

                                                                                                                            1. re: StheJ

                                                                                                                              Let there be no doubt what drives a site like Yelp: hit counts. Hits pay for the site through advertising, and content is content. Good or bad.

                                                                                                                              Unfortunate. Chow is probably a bit squeamish to the other direction. I get stuff removed weekly, and I can assure anyone that my intent is to help provide good chow. I own nothing, and I do not work for any entity that could possibly benefit from me giving a rec in either direction.

                                                                                                                              I have been known to bore my sacred cows once in a while, too.

                                                                                                                              1. re: StheJ

                                                                                                                                ive seen users banned for such behavior in NYC yelp.

                                                                                                                                also the review of the day is based on UFC vote counts

                                                                                                              3. re: thew

                                                                                                                Moved my comment below in case this chunk of the thread gets removed by the mods.


                                                                                                              4. I don't read the NYC board, but most Boston Yelpers would not meet the standards one poster here described: serious and educated about food and restaurants. As on every amateur-review site, you have to do some work to figure out which contributors have the desirable characteristics of an online critic: an open mind, a lack of bias, some depth in and enthusiasm for the subject, good Internet manners, perhaps some specialized expertise, and decent to excellent writing. I find those folks are a far smaller minority on Yelp than Chowhound.

                                                                                                                The younger average age on Yelp, I hypothesize, accounts for this. They're relatively inexperienced in dining out, traveling, reading about food; etc. (Typical rookie errors: blaming the server for a kitchen mistake, complaining about the lack of American-Chinese specialties in a traditional Chinese restaurant, etc.) Second, Internet-age youth are more likely to believe the myth that documenting the quotidian details of their lives in excruciating detail is of interest to strangers online: the reviews are more often about themselves than the food, service and ambience of the restaurant. Blame reality TV if you like, but whatever the reason, there are far more useless "reviews" on Yelp.

                                                                                                                Yelpers do review many new places first, but Yelp gives recognition for being FTR ("first to review"), so you get a lot of spurious reviews, first for the sake of being first -- often by folks who haven't visited the establishment at all. Those have all the value of someone posting a "First!" comment in an online comments forum. It's juvenile and annoying, not at all like the Chowhound impetus to draw attention to worthy food at underappreciated places.

                                                                                                                Further, some Yelper appear to believe that their Elite status reflects on their virtues as a critic. This is patent BS: there's zero correlation there. There are useless Elites and worthy non-Elites in about equal measure (i.e., less than 10% of the total in both cases).

                                                                                                                I agree it's ridiculous to tar all Yelper Elites with the brush of this incident, but it's still appalling behavior, and appears to echo similar, widely-reported, ethically-dubious behavior on the part of Yelp, Inc.


                                                                                                                15 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                  Agreed. The same is largely true in Denver. The Yelp crowd here is so much larger than the Chowhound crowd that I do read it, mostly for factual info—and I have found some reviewers who know what they're talking about. But they're fewer and further between than on Chowhound.

                                                                                                                  Honestly, though, I sometimes attribute the fact that the good ones are harder to find to the Yelp format. I can't read 67 views on one place in no particular order; my eyes glaze over by #8. I wish they'd organize them by star rating or something...

                                                                                                                  1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                                                                    >>> I can't read 67 views on one place in no particular order; my eyes glaze over by #8. I wish they'd organize them by star rating or something...

                                                                                                                    Directly above the first review at the end of the restaurant info there is a sort option. | Date | Rating | Useful | Funny | Cool | Total Votes | Friends' | Elites'

                                                                                                                    You can click once for last for first or click again to reverse the order.

                                                                                                                    I often sort by rating. If a place is getting mainly five stars I'lll look at the low ratings first. If a place is getting slammed, I'll look at the high ratings first. I gain a lot of insight into a place by reading the opposing viewpoint. Usually the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

                                                                                                                    Even tho some people abuse 'first to review', IMO, it is a great incentive for people to get as many places listed. That is the big value to yelp. You can almost always count on the place being listed ... and more importantly being discussed.

                                                                                                                    There are so many annoying sites which buy pre-loaded restaurant databases and have no info about them.

                                                                                                                    If you find a useful poster you can flag that user as one you want to follow or you can become a friend.

                                                                                                                    1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                      I'll be damned. I never even noticed that. I mean, I noticed you could mark a review funny cool etc., but not that you could sort them that way. That *does* make a difference. Thanks for the tip, esp. since I should've been able to figure it out myself.

                                                                                                                      "There are so many annoying sites which buy pre-loaded restaurant databases and have no info about them.'

                                                                                                                      True. I mean, the reason it always becomes a Chowhound/Yelp debate is that there's no other reader-driven forum worth mentioning. I know eGullet had its day but it seems long past.

                                                                                                                      1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                                                                        I hesitate to mention this on Chowhound due the a concern Chow might change the restaurant and bar database, but if you want another useful but really, really obscure feature on yelp ... you can search on time.

                                                                                                                        I'll give the reasons why I'd hate this on Chowhound but first I'll tell you how to use it on yelp using an example for SF

                                                                                                                        Leave the first search box where you put the restaurant name blank. Put San Francisco, CA or city of your choice in the 'near' box. Use a major metro area for best results in this example and hit the search button

                                                                                                                        Click on restaurants to narrow your search to restaurants

                                                                                                                        Click on the show filters tab

                                                                                                                        At the bottom there will be a link that says 'more features'. Click on that.

                                                                                                                        A pop up box will appear. Check the 'open at' box and select the time you would be interested in eating. For this example select Monday 1:00 am from the drop downs. Hit search.

                                                                                                                        It will give you a list of restaurants open at that specific time which have the hours filled in on the business info. The hours they are open on Monday will be displayed. The first place that comes up for me is

                                                                                                                        Open: Sun 10am - Mon 2am

                                                                                                                        1. Handy Delicatessen
                                                                                                                        Category: Delis
                                                                                                                        Neighborhood: Outer Sunset

                                                                                                                        There are 115 others open at that hour on Monday

                                                                                                                        Let me tell you why this isn't a good thing and why I'm glad Chowhound didn't go that route and hope they don't in the future.

                                                                                                                        First of all, not every business has hours filled in. So there are probably more than 115 restaurants open at 1 am on Monday. Yelp should have some sort of incentive such as 'first to post' so that people would record hours.

                                                                                                                        Hours change and don't get updated usually

                                                                                                                        Yelp hours are difficult to enter and not clear.

                                                                                                                        It doesn't jump out at you on the days the restaurant is closed. At least 20 percent of restaurants have freaky hours and it is difficult to note that.

                                                                                                                        It is really easy on chow to just go to a restaurant website ... or opentable ... or pick your site and just cut and paste hours.

                                                                                                                        Though .... hmmm ... maybe if Chow had the dropdown box with a optional freeform hour box so you'd have an option of putting in addtional info or just cutting and pasting from a website.

                                                                                                                        Anyway ... thought you'd be interested in that. I just learned about it recently.

                                                                                                                        1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                          Interesting. When it comes to hard info like that, I use not only Yelp but also Urbanspoon, which has recently begun to list hours...

                                                                                                                          but you've got to wonder about those hundreds of restaurant listing sites that are just useless. How do they survive?

                                                                                                                          1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                                                                            I don't see that info on Urbanspoon. When you edit a restaurant all that is allowed is to enter if breakfast, lunch, dinner or late. That is even worse than yelp because they have this really weird thing going where breakfast is defined as open at 9am .... etc

                                                                                                                            I detest Urbansppon. Mainly because it puts the actual word 'menu' on every resturant page. So if you are looking for a menu for a specific restaurant, this comes up in the search and it is usually not there.

                                                                                                                            Ditto with menupix which originally only had restaurants where the menu was available to view. Now most of their records don't have menus only the message "no menu available" ... or something like that.

                                                                                                                            Neither site has realiable or much info.

                                                                                                                            Seriously I don't know what's in it for most of these sites. They can't be drawing that much traffic.

                                                                                                                            1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                              I don't know either. I like Urbanspoon because it's so straightforward without being in your face, but then it's a wholly different kind of site from CH and Y; I shouldn't've implied I was comparing them.

                                                                                                                              Menupix I don't even know. Menupages was worthwhile when I lived in Boston but has no presence in Denver.

                                                                                                                              1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                                                                                menupages is sweet (as a bostonian). It isn't always up to date but it is a godsend nonetheless. Their new iphone app rocks too

                                                                                                                  2. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                    I fully admit to being less worldly than most CHers (and a lot of yelp folks too), and the viewpoints expressed in reviews and such that I make will attest to that. OTOH, sites like CH (and Yelp, to a lesser degree), various food blogs (god bless the internet) and well, simply having more disposable income have led me on a fun journey over the last several years. Life is a learning experience, and part of that learning has been identifying people who I trust that either know more than I do or seem to have similar interests.

                                                                                                                    Beyond that though, as you probably know, I dislike a lot of the things that you point out. The 5 paragraph personal anecdote that contains 1 sentence about the food. The people who review a place way to early (sometimes before it opens!) to get a FTR. All of the "elite" nonsense.

                                                                                                                    As far as the elite stuff goes, I take the same approach with yelp in general as I do when reading reviews - I simply don't pay any attention to if someone is elite or not. I don't care if they are, it doesn't carry any extra weight in my mind, and I think the whole thing is a bit silly.

                                                                                                                    1. re: jgg13

                                                                                                                      something that people often seem to not get about yelp is that the review side and the social network/talk side of the site are nearly completely separate entities in many ways, whereas in CH they are totally integrated. much of the silliness on yelp takes place in the talk section, while the reviews are just that.

                                                                                                                      1. re: thew

                                                                                                                        Yelp Talk in Boston rarely focuses on food, but when it does, I agree: it's pretty frivolous. My comments about Yelpers as restaurant critics in general refer to the Reviews section.


                                                                                                                        1. re: MC Slim JB


                                                                                                                          Another thing I don't like about the Yelp Restaurant format as compared to the Chow format—the ability to engage in a sustained conversation. If someone says, "So and so's green chile sucks!" then there you have it. I can post my review and say "So and so's green chile rocks!" but I can't respond, "Can you describe the sucking, sir?"

                                                                                                                          1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                                                                            They do have forums for such ongoing discussions. On the whole, I do not pay much attention to yelp.

                                                                                                                            1. re: DallasDude

                                                                                                                              Right, the Yelp Talk. I mean in the reviews themselves.

                                                                                                                        2. re: thew

                                                                                                                          I treat it as two separate sites. One site is a place where I kill time throughout the day lobbing bombs and trying to stir up trouble, or just being goofy. The other is where I get information about places that I'm interested in.