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Yelp vs Chowhound Re-Examined

I pretty much ignored yelp for the first year or two I was aware of it, but in the past year have become a frequent user. Each site has its place.

Yelp is vastly more useful than chowhound in terms of the following features:
- easily pinpoint locations (down to the building number or zip code) and search for restaurants/shops nearby
- search by map view
- addresses, map views, phone numbers displayed for all restaurants and food shops
- website addresses, photos, operating hours also available for many places
- MUCH easier/faster to locate opinions on specific restaurants/shops, as well as restaurants/shops of a particular category
- more user-friendly bookmark and annotation features
- very easy to send private messages to other users, which the users can be notified of having received via their regular email account, making it fairly easy to quickly communicate on topics that may be tangential (and thus discouraged at chowhound) to a specific review
- webpages load faster about 95% of the time
- the advertising *seems* less intrusive
- easier to trace other reviewers' reviews (when logged under a given account) for a specific place or a category of places (all of my reviews on wine shops in or near Dallas, for instance)
- webpage layouts just more attractive to me personally
- much more loosely moderated (comments about vermin don't immediately disappear from reviews, for instance)
- not just limited to food (the advantage is that you can easily find other shopping or attractions near to a food-related location you are researching; the disadvantage, obviously, is that people who are not particularly discerning when it comes to what they eat are more likely to submit reviews about food-related places than tends to occur at chowhound)

Chowhound is better for
- finding reviews (at least on some boards) that tend to be written by people who care very passionately about the finer aspects of food
- finding detailed discussions (not just isolated comments) about specific items on the menu at restaurants, as well as interesting discussions on many other food-culture topics
- getting tips on where to find hard-to-find food items
- searching for anything food-related outside the US and UK
- reading/viewing all of the other food-related content at chowhound (although I don't really use it)

Both sites are superior to the anonymous-comments websites because yelp and chowhound both make it easy to learn the food-related preferences of other specific users. Once you learn which users tend to share your tastes, you have a good idea of whose reviews you should pay the most attention to (or avoid, in the case of reviewers who tend to have very different tastes from your own).

The one feature sorely missing from both yelp and chowhound is a current-menu display for all the restaurants. And because of that deficiency, I regret that I still find myself scouring menupages pretty frequently.

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  1. yelp used to hve links to the menupages site, but that went away last year for some reason

    1. I would be very wary of trusting Yelp reviews. I have first hand experience that they can and will delete negative reviews. I once (negatively) reviewed a place on Yelp and strictly followed all the review guidelines (no cursing, etc). I later found that my review had been deleted. When I contacted a Yelp administrator, I was told that they sometimes delete reviews that they think may be spam. When I requested they reinstate my review (as clearly I am a individual and not a spammer) they refused with out explaination.

      Because of this I NEVER consider Yelp reviews. Chowhound, however, has been most useful and many people have generously provided me with great info.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Henrietta Stackpole

        The spam-filtering process used at yelp is far from perfect, and the situation you describe is indeed one of the drawbacks of using yelp.
        However, it is my understanding that the likelihood of a review being falsely identified as spam and removed from yelp is markedly reduced if the writer has contributed a certain number of reviews. (How many reviews is required to pass the threshold, I don't know. I can tell you I have written many negative reviews, in some cases in complete disagreement with what most other reviewers have written, and not had any of my reviews removed, so far anyway.) Note that extremely-positive reviews can be caught up by their spam-filtering process as well.

        Which is yet another reason that you can get the most out of yelp (and out of chowhound) by finding other users who seem to share your tastes. It tends to be very difficult to do that based on a just a single or handful of reviews.

        1. re: Henrietta Stackpole

          I've written many reviews on Yelp as well, some negative ones and none of mine have ever been removed. I know they delete reviews they think are shill reviews or if you write a review that disaparages someone else's review. I once flagged a review that didn't review the restaurant, but rather slammed me and my review, and that review was removed.

          I think in the beginning Chowhound said they ahd the right to remove reviews as well.

          I've met alot of people who live in my area through Yelp, and we have gettogethers, which is something that is harder to do with chowhound.

          1. re: Henrietta Stackpole

            Back in the day, Chowhound used to delete negative reviews as well. Based on CH, I once went to a restaurant in suburban Virginia that was positively awful (cooked my medium-rare steak well done, awful). I wrote up a detailed description of my experience on the extremely positive thread about the restaurant, and found it deleted a few days later. But these days, Chowhound seems to keep up negative reviews, even ones that disagree with majority viewpoints (see any of my posts about George's in La Jolla).

            1. re: Indirect Heat

              Chowhound never deleted reviews because they were simply negative. Those posters forget about the types of things they put in their reviews that ARE against site rules such as reports of finding things in their food that should not be there (hairs, bugs, etc.) or saying something about how the food made them sick. And if that happened the moderators, then as now, email you about why your post was taken down and suggest you repost without the offending portion of the review.

              People also forget when they should not be commenting on certain restaurants. Either because they have a conflicting interest either for or against that restaurant. That's another common reason for taking posts down that hounds tend to forget about.

              1. re: Indirect Heat

                Not per se, they didn't. I've been on the boards since '01 and negative reviews have been as common as positive ones. Either can be deleted.

              2. re: Henrietta Stackpole

                reviews generally get deleted as spam because if follows an algorithm to detect spam just as your spam filter does in your mail program. and just like your mail program it sometimes thinks something is spam that is not. They prefer an aggressive program that sometimes deletes real reviews over a less aggressive one that might a few slide by -

              3. I do not trust Yelp. I've found that at least in the cities where I've lived or traveled (and am familiar with the restaurants), Chowhounds know what they're talking about. I've been disappointed on multiple occasions from trusting Yelp reviews- this hasn't been the case w/ Chowhound- even with reviewers I don't know. As far as the convenience of maps/location, etc. - I find the reviews on GoogleMaps to be better than Yelp!

                2 Replies
                1. re: QSheba

                  My hope, in opening this discussion on chowhound, was to encourage the chowhound folks to work toward improving the site.

                  With the exception of menus, practically everything you need to know about a restaurant can be found in a single place at yelp. But if you use chowhound, more often than not, you not only will find yourself wading through multiple threads to get information about a place, but you will also need several other aids to find a restaurant -- you will need to find the address, possibly find the phone number, look up the location on a map, etc. There is a function for keying in restaurant details like location and phone number, but it is somewhat cumbersome, and it is totally optional, so most chowhound users seem to ignore it. The result is that someone recommends a wonderful place by the name they remember and a general location, but then you as a reader who would like to try the place have to jump through a few hoops to find out exactly where the place is.

                  As for google maps, my experience has been different than yours. If you already know the address (see my comment in the previous paragraph), google maps is extremely useful. If you only know the name and the general location, depending on the restaurant, google maps may provide you with an erroneous location (or worse, several erroneous locations), presumably uploaded by other users rather than by the owners.

                  1. re: racer x

                    I use Yelp occasionally. It is sometimes a good place to start if the restaurant doesn't come up on Chowhound. If it doesn't, chances are it is a lesser, cheaper, poorer restaurant.
                    It is very seldom that I find restaurants misplaced on Google Maps. I use Google Maps to find and place a lot of restaurants on my user-content maps (as Scargo).
                    One thing I noted, and mentioned earlier today, was that of nine posts about X restaurant, all those that gave it four or five stars had no more than fifty posts or much fewer. Those that gave it three stars or less had many more posts to their credit; sometimes into the hundreds. These people's comments seemed to better mirror the posts I found on Chowhound or elsewhere.

                2. I use Google, Yelp, Chowhound, and Menupages all the time.

                  The only thing I find Yelp best at is finding information on new and obscure restaurants.

                  The only thing Menupages is best at is searching menus for particular items, though sometimes when it comes up blank I find what I'm looking for on Yelp. And Menupages is useless outside of the few cities it covers.

                  1. Re: menu-display for restaurants, Urbanspoon has this feature although not all listings have menus available.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Gigi007

                      The plus of Menupages is that if there's an entry, it has a menu. Lots of other sites are set up to handle menus, but in most cases only a small percentage of listings have them.

                    2. You get a general idea of quality through Yelp though I prefer Chowhound. Yelp reviewers in my neck of the woods can be annoying, overly biased, and clique-ish. What I will say is if you travel frequently and have an iPhone, the Yelp app is great. It loads up nearby restaurants, will give you directions from where you are, show you the nearest subway to take, etc. It was fantastic to have along on recent trips to Boston and D.C.

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: Icantread

                        And Chowhounders aren't cliquish? I see all sorts of cliques. And disagreeing with the general consensus can be a real drag.

                        1. re: Joanie

                          How dare you say that about me and my friends. My dog doesn't like it either!
                          Throughout history going against the flow and affecting change has been a drag. If you are young (younger than?) you may think the whole world is against you. Hang in there.

                          1. re: Scargod

                            Oh, I'm an old bag so it's not that. I kind of revel in my black sheep status, christ it's been 7 years or so that it's been going on. Whatever, useful info can be found on both sites yet for me, Yelp is only for reading when I've googled something, not so much for posting.

                            1. re: Joanie

                              Hey, Joanie:
                              What's a Boston gal doing with a St. John's Church/O'Rourke's Diner pic from the North End of Middletown, CT for her avatar? Just a little shout-out to you...that's my hometown and O'Rourke's is one of my homes away from home.

                              Re cliques--I am either naive or just unaware. I communicate with folks off the board, but it's not as though we only talk to one another on Chowhound and avoid others. That, to me, would be cliquish. I "talk" to lots of people on the boards I've never met, though I feel like I know. And I've found it welcoming/nice when other people remembered my favorite things and said, "Hey, kattyeyes, I thought of you when I saw this recipe." I think of that as just being neighborly (virtually speaking!) or friendly. And I like it a lot! :)

                              In my neck of the woods, I rarely consult Yelp, but have found many wonderful restaurants since I found Chowhound.

                              1. re: kattyeyes

                                I think she was attending a punk-rock concert. They have those in Middletown, don't they? I don't believe the "old bag" line for a minute.

                                1. re: kattyeyes

                                  This was a stop on a burger/dog jaunt from Boston to New Haven and since I love diners, it made sense.

                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/161794

                                  Unfortunately, O'Rourke's was already closed that day then the fire happened. Are they open again? A friend from Middletown tells me that's the "bad" part of town but c'mon, it didn't look the least bit bad. And Scargod, no punk rock in Middletown I don't think, even for us seasoned veterans.

                                  But I digress, different kinds of cliques on these sites but still cliques IMO. Whatever, that's the way of the world (as Flipper would say).

                                  1. re: Joanie

                                    Quite the burger/dog jaunt--impressive! And I am a big fan of Guida's dogs, too. O'Rourke's is open again and ready for your return visit. The North End isn't the nicest part of town, but I've been walking through it since I was a kid and I've made it almost 41 years. :)

                                    Re cliques, I respect your opinion but can only say I wasn't in any particular clique when I was a teenager and I don't think I run with one now. I am an equal opportunity Chowhound. HA HA! Or maybe I'm cliquish 'cause I don't Yelp!

                            2. re: Joanie

                              I think you have a point, although I tend to think that the Yelp and CH cliques are different animals. Because CH is more food-centric, people align themselves based on opinions of certain restaurants, food, etc, (sometimes on the basis of long-standing interactions/online friendships), while on Yelp, the Talk boards and threads generate more "socializing" and "friendships" (I say this loosely) based on perceptions of who's cool or whose opinons are considered cool on a range of subjects, not only food. I'm not sure if I'm articulating this well, but it's how I see it (you kind of have to be there.) Regarding your point about disagreeing wth the general consensus being a drag, I definitely see that on local CH boards.

                              1. re: Joanie

                                Cliquish posts used to be explicitly banned. Moderators will still generally remove them if they're reported, at least on the local boards. Same goes when disagreement crosses the line into criticism of other posters.

                                Use(less)net groups such as ba.food are an example of what happens when that stuff is left unchecked.

                            3. Based on my experience (probably a bit heavier Yelp use than Chowhound), they have both pros and cons.

                              -There is no doubt that a much larger % of Yelp reviewers are untrustworthy compared to Chowhound. I would only follow a handful of the best Yelp reviewers after reading some of their reviews.
                              -It's also true (at least in Atlanta where I live) that the best 5~10 Yelp reviewers in a busy locale are just as trustworthy, if not more, than Chowhounds (for Atlanta, I don't even think there's a consistently posting Chowhound other than Ted). And they are easier to follow than Chowhounds.
                              -The best Yelp reviewers go out to eat a lot more, and a new place if very good quickly attract A LOT of Yelp traffic. Many Chowhounds seem to cook at home more and often give suggestions of places that are more long-established and well-known, without recent visits. Basically I feel Yelpers are more attuned to what's going on in the locale's culinary scene at the moment.

                              In the end, you *can* communicate with Yelp reviewers through posting on "Talk". If I visit a place, I would ask directly by posting instead of using their filter and ranking, inquiring about where to go. I would look at the profiles of people who replied and read a few reviews they wrote, decide who's trustworthy, then go with their suggestions. That would be as useful as Chowhound.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Dio Seijuro

                                Dammit, I just had a long post in response to you and it did not post!

                                I appreciate the info about Yelp and I will try communicating on there and finding like brethren.
                                I think that the average age of even good Yelpers is evened out by the age, experience and cooking skills of Chowsers. They might be a tad more "in the moment" than some of us geezers, but I get out once or twice a week. I try not to say too much about a place if I haven't been to in a while. I also don't berate a place on the first try if they are a little off. I also seldom give any place a five! I said elsewhere that it seemed to me that I could more likely trust a Yelper who had over fifty posts to their credit. Credibility goes down with the fewer post they have made. Many new Yelp posters give five stars or one star... They love hyperbole.
                                I will be paying a lot more attention to Yelp, given the way this site is acting up! I'm on there as Ed M. (Ed "Scargo" M)

                                1. re: Scargod

                                  Sometimes even Yelp reviewers with over 100 posts are completely untrustworthy. They can be just very active and social. It does come down to spending some time reading some reviews to get an idea who's knowledgeable, fair, and has similar tastes as you. Once you found them it's very, very helpful.

                                  1. re: Dio Seijuro

                                    I completely agree. In my Yelp-related experience, a specific number of reviews does not mean that a particular reviewer is trustworthy. And just because a reviewer is popular (with 100's of fans, for example) doesn't mean I agree with his/her taste or find their reviews valuable. I have found some Yelp reviewers to be trustworthy, but really not all that many. To be fair, I don't keep up with the site anymore. I'm more active here and on donrockwell.com. I find that a few of the reviewers I trust the most on my local CH board are also active on donrockwell.com.

                              2. About a year ago I read a review on Yelp of a restaurant that I go to quite a bit. It was clear from the review that the reviewer had not been to the restaurant. His description of the menu and the decor made it clear he had not been there. It was a small Thai restaurant and there are several others in town but none close to that location and none (that I've seen) that look like what he described. That bugged me. Oh, and he slammed the place. That was my last visit to Yelp.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: southernitalian

                                  Does Yelp not have a mechanism for reporting those posts that are inappropriate?

                                  1. re: Scargod

                                    Basically, you report via e-mail those kind of reviews to Yelp HQ, which may or may not look into it. I was also surprised to see that some reviewers who have huge numbers of fans and whose reviews are frequently recognized by Yelp as the "review of the day" post the type of reviews described by southernitalian. I know of one such reviewer whose reviews detail elaborate menus that are either seriously out of date or never existed at all.

                                    1. re: Scargod

                                      At yelp you can directly "flag" a review you feel is problematic and provide a description of why you are flagging it, just as you can flag a post here at CH.
                                      Alternatively, you can email yelp administrators concerning a review or a reviewer.

                                      1. re: racer x

                                        About the "flagging" mechanism, unlike here on CH where human moderators look at every report, on Yelp, only after a certain number of flags does someone take a look. Even then, flagging doesn't guarantee action or the removal of a review. And as I said before, you can e-mail Yelp HQ, but that route doesn't guarantee action or a response either.

                                      2. re: Scargod

                                        I can also say that on the Miami yelp board, at least, there are several board contributors who are very active in ferreting out suspicious-looking reviews and reporting them to the yelp administrators for further examination and possible removal.
                                        http://www.yelp.com/topic/miami-ymfd-...

                                    2. The CEO of yelp addressed the issue of their automated review filter in a blog entry yesterday:

                                      "Why Yelp has a Review Filter"
                                      http://officialblog.yelp.com/2009/10/...

                                      1. i am so fracking sick of the yelp hate on this site. i assure you there is no chow hate on yelp.

                                        here in NYC yelp has many users who understand food and restaurants as fully as anyone on chow. there are also plenty of people who's opinions are not worth a plugged nickel - just like on chow.

                                        just like in every other avenue in life, you need to use your discernment and good sense to separate the wheat from the chaff.

                                        personally i find chow a better place to discuss food. to discuss restaurants. yelp is a better place to find places to eat. each informs the other in my experience. In yelp the talk and the reviews are completely distinct and the talk boards are not food discussion boards. they are social chat boards, inhabited by people drawn to a restaurant review site. in chowhound there is no separation between talk and review, and this is a food/restaurant discussion site, that includes reviews. the focus is not the same.

                                        to hate yelp because it is not chow is like complaining that lobster isn't steak. only neither site is either lobster or steak.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: thew

                                          I don't understand why you are so riled up. I don't think many hate Yelp. I think the majority see it as a valuable alternative, where you have to be a little more discriminating about who and what you believe.
                                          There is now a separation between review and talk if you want there to be. I hope more people will use the "This is a review of a specific restaurant" option. Chowhound is incorporating some of the better aspects of Yelp, as I see it.

                                          1. re: Scargod

                                            as always it isn;t the moderate majority, but the more extreme viewpoints that drive the conversation. and i see so much yelp bashing here. all the time. Maybe NY yelp is qualitatively better than all the rest and my view is thus skewed, but the site doesnt deserve the hate.

                                            1. re: thew

                                              Can you point out some of the hateful posts about Yelp? I'm just not seeing them, but I don't immerse myself in the Manhattan board.

                                              1. re: Scargod

                                                Other than this post, I can't remember the last time I saw any Yelp hate. Maybe a year ago? And because I grew up in and still visit NYC frequently, I'm on the Manhattan board all the time.

                                                1. re: southernitalian

                                                  oh it has definitely tapered off and is nowhere near as bad as it used to be. but still yelp and yelper are used as derogatory terms sometimes, or someone will use yelp as the negative example when discussing food reviews, foodies, and/or websites

                                            2. re: Scargod

                                              "Chowhound is incorporating some of the better aspects of Yelp, as I see it."

                                              I would agree with this, and hope they continue in that direction.

                                          2. I have just one question. Would an entire discussion featuring Chowhound as it's central theme (along with copious discussion of the pluses and minuses of Yelp) be allowed on Yelp, like it is here on CH? Maybe someone who posts on both can try it out and report back or possibly link to one such discussion that has already taken place on Yelp that covers this territory?

                                            23 Replies
                                            1. re: Servorg

                                              That's an excellent question, Servorg! I tend to think that the degree of civility and objectivity and overall tone of such a discussion would depend on the particular city's Talk threads where the discussion would take (or already has taken) place. I could be wrong, but I think the topic itself would get different treatment in say, San Francisco vs. Chicago or Boston.

                                                1. re: racer x

                                                  Wow! I admire your effort, but glancing at several of those threads, I see that a few are a year or more old (the NYC one is 3 1/2 years old). I wonder if there have been discussions on the subject more recently, which may better reflect what the current attitudes are on various Yelp city boards about CH and Yelp itself.

                                                  1. re: Gigi007

                                                    If Racer x's work is comprehensive then there is not much that is very current. Many were 2007-2008.

                                                    1. re: Scargod

                                                      I could be wrong, but I don't think it's possible on Yelp to do a comprehensive search of all city boards' Talk threads for any given topic. I think you need to go city-by-city. At least that was my experience when I was searching for information there.

                                                      As for the years of individual threads cited, a few years is a long time since in that time, there have been new developments on both sites and as you can see on some of the threads cited, Yelpers who posted there aren't even on the site anymore. So, I guess I don't see the sample as sufficiently representative (especially of the major city boards that I'm familiar with on Yelp). In fact, there are tons of references to Chowhound in various Yelp threads not necessarily focused on CH or Yelp that could shed some light on attitudes. It's not practical to post all of them though b/c one would have to read through a lot of stuff to get to one or two posts to get to snarky, neutral and positive comments about CH. I actually think it would be more accurate and valuable to post threads on various Yelp city boards and ask people what they think.

                                                      1. re: Gigi007

                                                        I do see one big difference. Yelp closes threads that are old to new comments. Interesting. At least they allow the discussion to go on, as CH obviously does here. I also guess I enjoy the threaded conversations on CH more than the seemingly stand alone comments that the Yelp set up generates.

                                                        I do use Yelp for contact information at times but I have to admit I hardly ever read the comments as, when i do, a lot of the posts seem less than serious about the food and come across as trying to score points by being glib and oh so hip. Probably (undoubtedly) an age thing (mine being AARP and the Yelpers being X or Y gen for the most part).

                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                          The expiration date of threads on Yelp, I believe, has changed various times. You can see threads that are several years old and long running, and then those that end. What I understand more recently is that if a Yelp thread hasn't been posted on for over 3 months, it is automatically closed to new postings. Here on CH the revival of old threads is at times problematic, especially on local boards that refer to restaurants that have closed, etc.

                                                          I do think both sites have their strengths, but these days, as I posted earlier, I'm finding more what I need here on CH and on donrockwell.com than on Yelp. There are some trusted Yelp reviewers whose opinions I rely on and I find the site user friendly in terms of getting basic addresses and the like. But I pretty much agree with you on the glibness and the hipness on Yelp. It does have a lot to do with the age, and I would argue, more precisely, the maturity or the reviewers and posters as well as the environment promoted and behavior permitted on the site by its leadership and management.

                                                          1. re: Gigi007

                                                            The glibness, the hipness, the oneupmanship of Yelp leads me to ask, "Who, in this environment, is credible? Why do sophisticated Yelpers participate in this high school like environment?"
                                                            I do think Chowhounds, in general, are more mature, sophisticated and believable. Both require separating the wheat from the chaff.
                                                            Now who cut that fart?

                                                            1. re: Gigi007

                                                              Yeah, a few months back yelp began closing threads more than 2 months old to new posts.
                                                              I find that policy very annoying. I MUCH prefer chowhound's open policy on thread longevity. It can often be extremely useful to be able to revive chowhunting discussions that may be a year or two old.

                                                              1. re: racer x

                                                                but the old threads are available for reading, and one can always start a new thread on the same topic. there are often part 2's and redux's of threads popping up on yelp

                                                          2. re: Gigi007

                                                            That's right, Gigi. As far as I know, you can't search the all of the yelp talk threads at once from within yelp. You have to go city-by-city.

                                                            I wasn't trying to perform a comprehensive search when I posted earlier. I was merely trying to show that a very wide range of discussions are tolerated at yelp, including discussions about other review sites.

                                                            There are also a surprisingly large number of somewhat anti-yelp discussions at yelp, from time to time. I haven't noticed yelp administration removing those threads as violations of their terms of service simply for being anti-yelp. What they do do in some cases is have a yelp representative join the discussion, mainly to correct inaccurate statements that some posters may have made, but also to try to present yelp's official stance on various policies.

                                                            1. re: racer x

                                                              Sure, a wide range of discussions is tolerated on Yelp, which at times, go into a free-for-all mode and cover anything from the intimate details of a poster's personal life to what they think about another poster on the site. Not everyone does that, but it's not difficult to see what I'm talking about on any number of Yelp city boards. It is what it is.

                                                              Here on CH, I appreciate the work being done by the human moderators and the environment being promoted on the site. However, I sometimes question the overly narrow focus of discussions on some threads--I think it varies according to who is doing the moderating. I mean, if someone asks for a recommendation in your city and there are few or only mediocre options, I don't see the harm in someone suggesting places in other cities/parts of the country. On some threads, the mods allow this information to remain, but in others, the information is completely removed (and deemed OT) and not even moved elsewhere, where it might be useful. In any event, overall, I appreciate the work of human CH moderators here, a feature, which in my experience on Yelp, is sorely lacking.

                                                              1. re: Gigi007

                                                                "Here on CH, I appreciate the work being done by the human moderators and the environment being promoted on the site. However, I sometimes question the overly narrow focus of discussions on some threads--I think it varies according to who is doing the moderating."

                                                                We often consult each other as moderators, and decisions are often made collectively/collaboratively. However, because we don't see every single post, we do rely heavily on reports from hounds and it is possible that reporting can vary. If you see a post that you think is OT has remained, please report it to bring it to our attention.

                                                                1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                                  I guess I'm referring to some posts from the CH team about information being removed as it deems that such information isn't relevant and/or belongs on another board. Coincidentally, I just saw a thread on a local board where the CH Team posted this, yet half of the posts on the particular thread would need to be removed if the same criteria is evenly applied. As you requested, I've reported the issue to bring it to mods' attention. However, the thread in question discusses both the dining experience at a particular restaurant and service issues, which in the minds of many, are related and relevant to the discussion at hand.

                                                                  1. re: Gigi007

                                                                    Thanks for letting us know via the reporting mechanism, as we don't always read everything in a single thread. We do also wish to note that small (and sometimes not obvious) differences in each situation or the in the content of the posts may lead to differences in moderating decisions. In certain cases, the criteria we use might be complex (hence consultative/collaborative moderation).

                                                                    1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                                      I now see that the moderators have re-visited the thread I mentioned, and now the criteria seems to have been applied more evenly. Thanks for your responsiveness and efforts.

                                                                  2. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                                    Doesn't this infer that you might be influenced when someone reports an OT post? A ultra sensitive (or vindictive), Chowhound might be offended and a moderator go along without consensus? Often is a nebulous word. You don't have liberal and conservative moderators and moderators don't ever talk about who's a good Chowhound that you can identify with?
                                                                    I certainly don't want you to slack up a lot; just work towards more evenness. I like the general tone of Chowhound, but it seems there are a few really up-tight members affecting deletions.

                                                                    1. re: Scargod

                                                                      The major influence is whether we look over the post or not. We don't read every single post that appears on the board, but we look at every post that is reported. If we're not aware of a shill or a piece of spam, we can't delete it. However, we don't automatically delete or move everything that is reported, we consider them individually.

                                                                      We want to note that we do not (and cannot) promise 100% consistency and we state that upfront in the site posting etiquette: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/367605

                                                                      We can only promise to keep the signal to noise on the boards as high as reasonably possible, based on the resources we have.

                                                                  3. re: Gigi007

                                                                    I have to admit that one of the things I like about Yelp is that you can focus on an area and not get recommended to an area in other parts of the country. I know that on my local board, people frequently ask about restaurants in one area and will be referred to places a good 45-60 minutes away in good traffic. In many of these cases, people will state specifically that they are in town for a day or two and don't have a car and/or the time to venture more than a few miles away. I don't tend to report those types of posts, but if they get removed I can't say I'm complaining about it.

                                                                    I have to say what I like about Yelp is that I can search for a certain city/area within a city and don't have to worry about getting referred 20-30 miles away. It's definitely more useful to me if I'm just passing through town on a longer drive and need somewhere to eat relatively near my hotel. I'm not always looking for something that is a culinary revelation, and in that case Yelp does very well for me.

                                                        2. re: Servorg

                                                          yes. it would certainly be allowed on yelp's talk boards. they talk boards on yelp are far ranging, as they are a social network type thing, and not a focused food only discussion board like CH. The reason you don't see those discussions on yelp is that yelpers don;t seem to have the been in their bonnet about CHounds that some CHounds seem to have about yelp and yelpers.

                                                          1. re: thew

                                                            Or not.... at least based on those discussions linked above. I particularly enjoyed the comment that called Chowhound a "Yelp wannabe".

                                                            1. re: Chris VR

                                                              i stick mostly to the NY boards, and i remember very few mentions of CHOW other than to share links and threads.

                                                              1. re: thew

                                                                I gotcha, but as the links above show, the "Chowhound sux" discussions do happen on Yelp even if you don't see them. Whether it's a bee in a bonnet or just hometown pride, every food discussion site I've seen has people who spend time discussing how much the other sites suck. Yelp is no better, or worse.

                                                        3. i like lots of opinions. chowhound, other sites are fun and useful. is one site better than another? sure.

                                                          1. It appears that the Yelp writers in jfood home base are less than in agreement with many of jfood's opinions. They seem to be younger and just leaving the Olive Garden womb. Their ides seem to revolve around the liquor versus the food. Likewise, the number of data points are such that you do not have a feel for the quality of the posters. For jfood it just does not work, just yet.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: jfood

                                                              Let's party somewhere... we don't care where?
                                                              I like your mataphor. "just leaving the Olive Garden womb". Or, perhaps they are just pulling out of the drive-thru and putting roadfood behind them?

                                                            2. Again, jfood's said something better than I can say it myself.

                                                              Yelp's demographic is young. And outside of large cities, there seem to be an inordinate number of complaints compared to good reviews. And many of the good reviews seem like shills.

                                                              Yelp's a good way to get a "ballpark" idea of what one's getting into before visiting a restaurant, however, Chowhound's far more useful for the inside scoop, offered up by mature, experienced (and level-headed, usually) posters.

                                                              1. Sometime I have found that people post for the wrong restaurant if it has a similar name on the Manhattan Yelp site. I have seen a number of postings on the Momofuku Ko page that should have been posted on the Momofuku Noodle Bar or Ssam Bar page (big difference in restaurants even though I like all of them; I like Ko best). I try to post on both Chowhound and Yelp (as well as eGullet and Menupages) when I've been to a restaurant. There are some restaurants that I don't post about on Chowhound since no one seems interested in them, whereas I'll post on Yelp since there is a specific page for the restaurant. It is much easier to find reviews about a particular restaurant on Yelp since each restaurant has an individual page. I do question the reliability of some of the postings on Yelp (it sometimes seems that "friends & family" of a restaurant post on Yelp whereas I've never seen such "glowing" reviews of the same restaurant on Chowhound.

                                                                25 Replies
                                                                1. re: ellenost

                                                                  "friends and family " posts: I have seen what I thought was that on Yelp (and here). Just too unbelievably positive and sounding like an advertisement (sometimes with details people don't ordinarily include).
                                                                  OTOH, on Chowhound, it is easy to either get them deleted, expose them or discredit them. Here, you have the ability to have a discussion if they are for real. If they are shills they seldom respond. These shills are usually first time posters or made one or two posts to create a semblance of credibility while they plug a restaurant in the same time period. I always look up a suspicious poster and check out their other posts, if any. Some will slip through, anywhere. Again, here, on the same thread, you can counterpoint what is said. The new restaurant rating system adds a new wrinkle to Chowhound.

                                                                  1. re: Scargod

                                                                    That's why I prefer Chowhound since we can engage in a "discussion", whereas on Yelp you can't.

                                                                  2. re: ellenost

                                                                    What kind of restaurants would chowhounds not be interested in? If there's good food to be had, I would think there would be interest. I'm curious.

                                                                    1. re: E Eto

                                                                      I haven't seen that much interest in the "second" or "third" tier restaurants that have been around for a while. (I had recently posted about hosting a busines dinner, and other than one of my CH friends trying to help me out, I had no response from anyone else. I did turn to Yelp to see the reviews for the two restaurants in question, and was able to pick a restaurant that was good. I did post on Yelp, but not CH, since no one seemed interested to begin with).

                                                                      1. re: ellenost

                                                                        ellenost, I think I saw the thread you're talking about regarding a venue for a business dinner. I did see that RGR made some comments and recommendation, and didn't post b/c I wasn't familiar w/ the restaurants you were considering. I'm not very active on the Manhattan boards these days, but during the time I was, I came to rely on the recs and opinions of a few hounds like RGR whose taste seem similar to mine. Perhaps the lack of response you experienced was due to people not being familiar with the restaurants you were considering or an appopriate venue, or even that like me, people thought that RGR's recommendations adequately addressed your question.

                                                                        1. re: Gigi007

                                                                          I do trust RGR's recommendations (and she has become one of my valued CH friends). My point about the comparison to Yelp was that even though the restaurants that I was considering are not popular here on CH, enough people had posted recent experiences on Yelp to assist me with my selection. FYI, I did select Park Avenue Autumn, and was very pleased with it. I have a funny feeling if I posted my review here on CH, no one would be interested.

                                                                          1. re: ellenost

                                                                            That's where you'd be wrong. I think chowhounds would be interested in your experiences at such restaurants that fall under the radar. It's unfortunate, and like you noticed, there is a huge gap of in the CH community's knowledge of restaurants for places like the "second/third tier" restaurants that you mention. In other threads, I probably criticized that a large proportion of posters seem to only know enough to post about the "first tier" or the hot, new, trendy restaurants, or the popular joints that attract 20 posts a month. I usually skip over those posts and gravitate to places that never or rarely get mentioned here, because I want to know about those places. I really couldn't care less about what David Chang or Mario Batali are up to. So please, if you had a positive experience with your choice of "second/third tier" restaurants, post it here. People are interested. Don't believe for a second that people aren't interested. Over the last decade, I've posted about restaurants that received no comments, but I know that's no indicator of interest.

                                                                            Just to get on point with the main topic of this thread, I do search Yelp to supplement the information I find (or don't find) on CH. This post summarizes that: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4658...
                                                                            Two recent examples of places I found a while ago through Yelp, which only recently found their way onto CH, are Tong Sam Gyup Gui and Don Bogam.

                                                                            1. re: E Eto

                                                                              ". I really couldn't care less about what David Chang or Mario Batali are up to. So please, if you had a positive experience with your choice of "second/third tier" restaurants, post it here. People are interested. Don't believe for a second that people aren't interested. Over the last decade, I've posted about restaurants that received no comments, but I know that's no indicator of interest."

                                                                              I couldn't agree more. In fact, I often think there should be a limit on the Babbo threads. If I were active on the NYC board, I'd be annoyed by how people constantly post trying to decide if they should go there or someone else; seriously, they should do a search before posting and perhaps spend more time finding out about other great restaurants! My two cents.

                                                                              And I also agree that just because there may be no response to a particular review, that doesn't mean that there's a lack of interest.

                                                                            2. re: ellenost

                                                                              I did get your point, but have the impression that you missed mine. I merely wanted to express my take on the situation--that there might have been reasons other than what you have assumed-- for people not posting on that partiular thread here on CH. If I were you, I would post the review as it might help someone looking for a restaurant like Park Avenue Autumn. I'm glad it worked out for you.

                                                                              1. re: Gigi007

                                                                                Okay, I've just posted my review on the Manhattan Board. (Doubt if it will attract much interest since I haven't seen much talk about this restaurant).

                                                                                1. re: ellenost

                                                                                  Good deal. And like a lot of people are saying here, it's hard to gauge the level of interest as sometimes people don't post or have the need to discuss. But they do read. I'm going to check out the Manhattan board later and will definitely look for your post. :)

                                                                          2. re: ellenost

                                                                            The number of replies does not reflect the level of interest -- on sites like these, the lurkers that never post significantly outnumber those who do post. For every person who didn't reply, there could be tens or hundreds who went off eating, based on the information. And often I would see posts so beautifully detailed and complete that there wasn't anything else to add.

                                                                            1. re: limster

                                                                              When I see such a post, I generally respond with a note thanking the OP for taking the time to post. After all, they're posting for our benefit/knowlege/enjoyment. They've already enjoyed (or maybe not) their meal.

                                                                              1. re: ellenost

                                                                                I'm one of those people who think it's important to thank other hounds for recommendations, but not necessarily reviews (it depends whether or not I'm interested in a particular restaurant or would consider dining there). There's a great discussion of opinions on the subject (more related to thanking people for recommendations and posting reports/reviews) here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/595014

                                                                                1. re: ellenost

                                                                                  The etiquette on the boards is a bit different. On the internet, a personal, one-to-one thank you note is relayed to thousands if not millions. Because that doesn't necessarily add more food-related information, it slows down the readers who use the site to find delicious food. Thanking one to slow down thousands or millions is not ideal. And if the tens or hundreds out of the thousands/millions add a thank you note for each good tip, the boards would be mostly thanks yous. I feel that the best thank you is to report back after one has eaten the delicious food -- at least there we're putting in as much as we're taking out. It's community resource after all.

                                                                                  There's been a few threads on this topic on Site Talk iirc.

                                                                                  1. re: limster

                                                                                    Other review sites, including yelp, try to balance these competing goals (showing courtesy vs using the internet efficiently) by allowing readers to rate the reviews themselves.

                                                                                    I'm not super-enthusiastic about yelp's specific approach with this because yelp only allows a reader to leave an indication that they found a review to be "useful," "cool," and/or "funny." In other words, a reader can rate a yelp review favorably but not unfavorably. Also, there is no indication of the number of people who are weighing in. Tripadvisor handles this a little better by showing the denominator (something along the lines of, "1 out of 2 found this review useful").

                                                                                    1. re: racer x

                                                                                      I think rating reviews is a complex issue - e.g. popularity vs quality of information, brief on the money one liners vs detailed but inaccurate discourse, criteria for usefulness etc.

                                                                                      As a pragmatist, I consider the most useful posts ones that tell me about a good place I haven't been to. Which means (1) I would have no information to rate such a post right away; and (2) if I ate there and liked the food, it would only be appropriate for me to give back to the community by posting my experience, and thereby providing more detailed feedback (rather than just a rating) in one fell swoop.

                                                                                      P.S. really really tiny issue, and perhaps not really the point, but I think that the competing goals aren't courtesy vs efficiency, but courtesy to one poster vs courtesy to many readers. It's not obvious at all, and took me a while to appreciate that broadcast mode of website really change the etiquette involved.

                                                                                      1. re: limster

                                                                                        Just crossed my mind, and no direct reflection on you, but a lot of our jawing is inconsequential and often hollow. Is that more valuable than "thanks!"?
                                                                                        I am one who will not add a thank you unless it is in the context of a reply of some other information (I hope worthwhile info).
                                                                                        Aren't we just howling at the moon?

                                                                                        1. re: Scargod

                                                                                          >>"Just crossed my mind, and no direct reflection on you, but a lot of our jawing is inconsequential and often hollow. Is that more valuable than "thanks!"?"

                                                                                          If reply talks about the food in the restaurant as much as the original post, then they're likely to be equally valuable. In such a case, if the reply is not considered more valuable than "thanks" then neither should the original post. If the original posts isn't valuable, then there's no need to have it around, which mean we would never have gotten to the issue of "thanks" in the first place.

                                                                                          My personal experience is that most posts on the regional boards are very useful to finding/making delicious stuff to eat. The opposite is often true on the boards that aren't directly food-related.

                                                                                          1. re: limster

                                                                                            Correct. They do tamp it down on the local boards. You can't do too much idle chit chat there without the gratuitous "toss the hound a bone" comment about food. Still, many comments are worthless. Thanks is starting to sound better to me.
                                                                                            I am going to go cook and then howl at the moon. Everyone have a five star evening! Thanks Chowhound for providing us this forum. I hope we do our part and that our part is "fair exchange".

                                                                                            1. re: Scargod

                                                                                              >>"Still, many comments are worthless. Thanks is starting to sound better to me."

                                                                                              Something that is worthy to some will be worthless to others and vice versa, as not everyone would have the same taste in food. That's the value of the food related boards -- if it contains food information, then there's something useful for everyone.

                                                                                              1. re: limster

                                                                                                Two distinct issues: (1) the "worthiness" or "quality" of a post, and (2) bogging down a board by praise for a post (something I was just guilty of doing on the Pacific Northwest Board -- oops). Quality on both Chowhound and Yelp is very mixed. We are all entitled to our judgments about which posters know their stuff. In general, there seem to be more knowledgeable posters on Chowhound than Yelp, but you have to separate the wheat from the chaff on both sites.

                                                                                                1. re: Tom Armitage

                                                                                                  Agree that posters on Chowhound have more depth and breadth of knowledge than Yelpers, as a rough generalization. However, in the Seattle area, my impression is that Asian diners tend to post much more frequently on Yelp than Chowhound. One is more likely to find newer Asian restaurants mentioned and reviewed first on Yelp, especially those that are not marketed toward English speakers. Often there is a serious delay thereafter before a good Sichuan, Korean or Vietnamese place is first mentioned on Chowhound, if at all. I will confess to finding Asian reviewers' posts on such restaurants typically more valuable and credible, especially when they are able to discuss items listed on non-English menus, and make comparisons with home-cooked versions of the dishes.

                                                                                                2. re: limster

                                                                                                  After some flounder... I don't think you have gotten the gist of what I am saying.
                                                                                                  (I'm saying) It is easy to say nothing (worthwhile to anyone), and not have it removed. That kind of blabber is not information where there is something useful for everyone. It is in this context that I say there are many words wasted. I have been guilty of it. A "thank you' would be but a grain of sand on the beach, but a valuable one. There is no need for pleasantries, but when someone has really contributed I don't think an attaboy is bad.

                                                                                                  1. re: Scargod

                                                                                                    If you don't think a post is on topic, why not report it?

                                                                                                    Sure, a "thanks" is less bad than a long-winded post with no content, but it's still a net negative in the scheme of things. Don't get me wrong, I forget sometimes and type off a thanks once in a while, but as I've mentioned, it's an issue about courtesy to one vs courtesy to many.

                                                                          3. Shills and clueless reviews aside, I've been finding Yelp increasingly the best place to find hours of operation.

                                                                            I just noticed their "Open Now" and "Open At" feature (click Show Filters > More Features). That is a big, big plus. The only other place I've seen with that is Opentable, which covers only a small percentage of the thousands of restaurants in my area.

                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                              I agree that yelp's listing of hours of operation is very useful. (Menupages also often lists hours of operation.)
                                                                              However, the listed hours often need to be taken with a grain of salt, especially for smaller restaurants. If your visit entails a long drive (or ride) to reach the place, it is probably still worth a call to confirm the hours. I've found a number of times that the listed hours are incomplete or incorrect (eg, no mention of closed on Wednesdays; or open 11am - 11pm, BUT closed 3pm - 6pm).

                                                                              1. re: racer x

                                                                                Yelp's time-search is particularly useful for getting a list of places that are open late in a particular area. I just copy the list to my phone and then if one place is closed I have a few more to try.

                                                                                I would never go far out of my way without a reservation or calling to check hours.

                                                                                I use menupages only for menus and the find-a-food search. I don't think they're at all competitive for basic information.

                                                                              2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                Keep in mind that sometimes hours change at a restaurant. Just spoke to a restaurant owner yesterday who apologized profusely that the hours on yelp were wrong. He said they won't change the hours unless he pays for it. But that's another thread...

                                                                                But yes I agrees the OPEN feature is very useful, and it's very useful to find places nearby on my iPhone, especially the new augmented reality "monocle" feature.

                                                                                But i do tend to value the reviews here at CH more. Yelpers can be a bit immature, and a little more focused on what's hot in food as opposed to what's just good food.

                                                                                1. re: cosmogrrl

                                                                                  Thanks for the pointer to menupages, never heard about it before.

                                                                                  Yelp is a very good site.

                                                                                  1. re: cosmogrrl

                                                                                    What that restaurant owner told you just sounds weird, cosmogrrl.
                                                                                    Here's what yelp says about owners updating info on their businesses:

                                                                                    "business owners do not have to pay to update their listing. Actually, it's quite the opposite. We're really trying to encourage business owners to claim their free business owner accounts. Like a yelp user account they have a private log in and can access a whole bunch of cool features (uploading business photos, messaging reviewers, and filling out an 'About This Business Page.' More info here:
                                                                                    http://www.yelp.com/business/using_yelp

                                                                                    1. re: racer x

                                                                                      Since discovered that the owner wasn't internet savvy and couldn't seem to figure out how to change the hours. We changed the hours for him and he was very pleased with us.

                                                                                2. Dead horse beating time!

                                                                                  To me, Yelp seems infinitely better in the larger cities, much like chowhound. However, even for boards that are not city specific, ie the "Central South" board for where I now live in Birmingham, AL, you are much less likely (on CH) to see reviews for chains (vs on Yelp). People on my local Yelp feel the need to offer their insightful reviews on just about every chain and mediocre restaurant in town. And there also seems to be a LOT more comments about how expensive places are, even if they're not necessarily very expensive. These comments increase sharply with dissatisfaction. Some yelpers, like some chowhounders, are excellent reviewers. Some slam a place for stupid reasons - "like OMG, the food was fabu but they stuck us nr a door when the whole resto was full and I got cold, so 2 stars for u!1!1111!" It seems almost like citysearch at times and disproportionately filled with singe review people slamming a place.

                                                                                  Or I see a review that's like "5 stars, it's SAKS OMG do I need to write more?" - huh? Why write a review if you don't need to explain your review.

                                                                                  I'm not always the most descriptive person on ch reviews, but even I can do better than "chkn sux" etc.

                                                                                  With that said, I still read/use yelp.

                                                                                  1. I don't trust the restaurant reviews on Yelp as much as I do on Chowhound. I think people on Yelp are mostly the "foodieism is a cool trend, I'm into it"-type that doesn't know as much of what they're talking about. Add to that the fact that everyone on Yelp seems to be trying to entertain the audience/sound really cool so reviews sound a little bit exaggerated for effect. Here, who am I trying to entertain with "lolz!" remarks? no one, i just talk about my experience.

                                                                                    1. Just looking at the ratings for my home area, yelp/the yelp reviewers are very much off base. The top restaurants are listed too far down on the list for yelp to be credible and so many sub-par restaurants are ranked highly, that I am very suspicious of the rating/ranking system and have to wonder if the reports that yelp makes restaurants pay for good reviews is true...

                                                                                      Honestly, I really have to question the competence of the average yelp reviewer... What I like about chowhound is that by and large people seem very knowledgeable and those that aren't, are easy to spot and discount.

                                                                                      I'm sure yelp may be good resource to find restaurants in a given area (although I can use the google) but trusting their recommendations (at least in my home area) would lead me seriously astray.

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: thew

                                                                                          Gotta be Outer Boroughs (based on their posting pattern).

                                                                                      1. I'd rather get restaurant reviews from people who are obsessed with food . Yelp is a good general review site but there is real food passion here at Chowhound. I would trust a review more at Chow and Egullet than say Trip Advisor or Yelp. That's just me

                                                                                        19 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: curej

                                                                                              As far as lawsuits go: Innocent until proven guilty.

                                                                                              Yelp admin has responded to similar accusations on their website
                                                                                              http://officialblog.yelp.com/2009/02/...
                                                                                              http://officialblog.yelp.com/2009/02/...

                                                                                              Even if the allegations were true (and you can read in the links above yelp's official refutations), that yelp offers to remove or hide negative reviews for a fee paid by business owners, I'm not convinced that that would significantly negatively impact what I get out of yelp, since I tend to rely heavily on reviews written by users whose track records I am familiar with.

                                                                                              1. re: racer x

                                                                                                "I'm not convinced that that would significantly negatively impact what I get out of yelp, since I tend to rely heavily on reviews written by users whose track records I am familiar with."

                                                                                                But what about Yelp users who don't operate in the same way you do? My wife has a store here in Los Angeles (not a restaurant). It has some 10,000 sq. feet of showroom space and is probably at least 5 times as large as any other store in her same category in LA.

                                                                                                She has had wonderful Yelp reviews and, over the the 30 years she has been in business the people who come in to look regularly say "Wow, it's so beautiful in here. It's like a museum!" and my wife jokingly replies "Yes, but everything is for sale."

                                                                                                Suddenly one day a couple of weeks ago a Yelp review turns up that says "Dirty little store. I'd never buy anything here." When I looked at the reviews this person had done he basically smeared other businesses in the same category, with one notable exception. A store not too far from my wife's store was praised lavishly. We know the store. It's about 1500 sq. feet and, while it's fine it pales so far in comparison to what my wife's store looks like and sells as to be a bit of a joke.

                                                                                                My wife was more than a little mystified, and personally offended since she has put her heart and soul into this store for the past 30 plus years. I was puzzled too, since the description in the Yelp review was so far from being factual. Almost like someone hadn't even come in, but just written a scurrilous smear.

                                                                                                Then my wife gets a call from someone up in SF who tells her that the "review" is by the owner of a chain of stores who sells the same type of merchandise. This guy told her he was also in the same business and the same thing happened to his store, by the same Yelp poster.

                                                                                                This guy said Yelp is aware of this situation, but does nothing about it unless the affected, smeared store owner makes an absolute stink and encouraged my wife to contact Yelp and to complain vociferously, long and loud, which she has done.

                                                                                                So far the "review" stands (and this is a couple of weeks later at this point). I have to believe that Yelp operates in a very uncaring manner (and probably an unethical one as well) and that this type of story is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Yelp allowing business competitors to either smear their direct competition, or shill their own businesses without anyone at Yelp caring or taking action to rectify the situation.

                                                                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                  not discounting your experience, but i have seen such reviews removed, and such users accounts deleted, at least in NYC yelp. and the community of yelpers is pretty quick to jump up and point out such users to other yelpers so they can get flagged and taken off.

                                                                                                  1. re: thew

                                                                                                    Well my wife did call her Yelp representative, who is the person who is attempting to sell her a fairly expensive ad package on Yelp. He said that he couldn't do anything about it, but encouraged her to contact someone else to report it, which she did. We'll see what, if anything, Yelp does. But the fact that this is a known smear / shill and yet they continue doing this to other businesses (when it is so obvious by looking at their posts) is very disconcerting to me. I know that CH would have pulled something like this down immediately (to their credit).

                                                                                                    1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                      send me the info. i'll flag his reviews, and try to get some other elites to do the same....

                                                                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                          Just a brief follow up on my wife's "Yelp review" that smeared her store. It continues to stand. Yelp tells her that despite what she reported to them (that the person who smeared her is an owner of a chain of stores that sells some of the same things she does) they refuse to do anything about the posting.

                                                                                                          I have seen what CH does to rectify these types of situations over the past 9 years. I have now seen what Yelp does in the same situation.

                                                                                                          I am distinctly and completely unimpressed with Yelp's handling of this issue.

                                                                                                      1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                        "Well my wife did call her Yelp representative, who is the person who is attempting to sell her a fairly expensive ad package on Yelp. He said that he couldn't do anything about it ..."

                                                                                                        Servorg, It sounds like your wife's experience lends credence to what Yelp administrators have been saying in their defense: Yelp sales staff are not supposed to have the authority to get reviews pulled. (Although, granted, a single case does not make the rule.)

                                                                                                        If you are a Yelp (or, for that matter, a Chowhound) reader who tends to trust reviews written by posters whose tastes you are familiar with, you probably would have discounted the review written by the chain store owner. (And btw other than for the factual errors in that person's review of your wife's store - which I believe are the crux of the matter in this case, how does Yelp know for sure that the person who wrote the negative review is a shill? From the info you've provided so far, how do we know that the person in SF is not a shill with an ax to grind against the person who wrote a negative review?)

                                                                                                        As for readers who blindly accept all reviews as being equally valid, all I can say is Caveat emptor.

                                                                                                        1. re: racer x

                                                                                                          I "flagged" a Yelp review a few weeks ago about a store that was not a review of the store itself, but a political/social rant of nonsense on the NY Yelp board. I just checked and the review is still posted. I tried "flagging" it again, and the response from the Yelp site is that I've already flagged this review. Obviously the Yelp moderators are asleep at the wheel!

                                                                                                            1. re: thew

                                                                                                              Any idea as to how many "flags" before the Yelp moderators do anything about inappropriate reviews?

                                                                                                              1. re: thew

                                                                                                                That's a broken system, in my eyes. Why would it take more than one flag for a moderator to review something and see that it's obviously problematic? The "review" ellenost describes ought to be removed pretty immediately after one flag is reviewed. And sure, mistakes can be made by moderators and sometimes moderators may not agree with flaggers, but if the system is set up that a review needs multiple flags before it's even looked at... well that's broken.

                                                                                                                This is what gets me about Yelp. I question their commitment to the integrity of the data, and hear enough to make me feel their first priority is the income, and quality control is a distant second... if it's even a priority at all.

                                                                                                            2. re: racer x

                                                                                                              "(And btw other than for the factual errors in that person's review of your wife's store - which I believe are the crux of the matter in this case, how does Yelp know for sure that the person who wrote the negative review is a shill? From the info you've provided so far, how do we know that the person in SF is not a shill with an ax to grind against the person who wrote a negative review?)"

                                                                                                              First of all the person from the SF area who called my wife had already prevailed upon Yelp to pull the negative/smearing review which this poster put up against his store. So he had nothing to gain by letting my wife know that this jerk was smearing her for business reasons (other than being a good Samaritan who obviously feels strongly about this issue of Yelp turning a blind eye to a problem that is much broader and deeper than it appears).

                                                                                                              Secondly, when you read this smear/shill posters reviews ALL other stores which sell the same thing his chain does are excoriated/smeared - and the review for his chains store is 5 stars and a glowing review.

                                                                                                              I don't claim to be Mr. Monk when it comes to solving mysteries. But this one didn't take someone of his skill level to uncover.

                                                                                                              1. re: racer x

                                                                                                                "Servorg, It sounds like your wife's experience lends credence to what Yelp administrators have been saying in their defense: Yelp sales staff are not supposed to have the authority to get reviews pulled. (Although, granted, a single case does not make the rule.)"

                                                                                                                Of course they don't have the "authority"... At least until the business ponies up the cash for the "advertising package"!

                                                                                                                1. re: StheJ

                                                                                                                  StheJ, my reply to Servorg was based on the allegations in the lawsuit, as reported in the newsmedia:

                                                                                                                  "The lawsuit essentially alleges that [Yelp] runs an 'extortion scheme' ... in which the company’s employees call businesses demanding monthly payments in the guise of advertising contracts, in exchange for removing or modifying negative reviews."

                                                                                                                  http://techcrunch.com/2010/02/24/yelp...

                                                                                                            3. re: thew

                                                                                                              As I mentioned upthread, the same is true on the Miami yelp board. The community of readers have little tolerance for what appear to be obvious frauds. Take a look at these recent threads, for instance.

                                                                                                              http://www.yelp.com/topic/fort-lauder...
                                                                                                              http://www.yelp.com/topic/miami-ymfd-...

                                                                                                              Chowhound and Yelp are both powerful tools, each useful in its particular way. One shouldn't be forced to choose to use one or the other - it's not an either/or proposition.

                                                                                                              I would hate for us to completely lose access to the info available on Yelp because there are a few rotten apples among the reviewers.

                                                                                                    2. Yelp is a pay-to-play site. I will not support any website that gets money from the places it reviews if it can change content. Participating in Yelp only encourages this type of behavior. I appreciate that there are honest people on Yelp, but I can get along just fine without it.

                                                                                                      11 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: Steve

                                                                                                        steve - just as chow is supported by ads, yelp is. it offers business a package opportunity , but it does not charge to be listed or reviewed, or to use. most businesses do not pay a cent to yelp.

                                                                                                        1. re: thew

                                                                                                          Yes, I understand that websites just like newspapers, tv, radio, and magazines take ads. Hopefully, the ads are not changing what the reviewers say about the movies/restaurants/theatre.

                                                                                                          If you look at the Washington Post Magazine ads, you'll see a bunch of restaurants that receive mediocre reviews, so if they are manipulating the content, I 'd say they are doing a poor job of it. And if you do see an ad, at least you know upfront that money has changed hands. Not sure if Yelp notifies its audience every time a business signs up for one of its 'packages.'

                                                                                                          The issue is that Yelp openly offers businesses preferential treatment for a fee, does not disclose this relationship, and in some cases it seems that this treatment includes manipulation if not outright making up stuff. Once you have established this as part of your business model, it leads to all kinds of abuse, including posting fake negative reviews of places that don't sign up.

                                                                                                          What would you think of a newspaper doing this?

                                                                                                          1. re: Steve

                                                                                                            what you get for paying as an advertiser is the ability to pick which review appears first on your page. you do not get to pull negative reviews from your page.

                                                                                                            I have never heard of a substantiated instance where yelp wrote fake reviews either positive or negative.

                                                                                                            here are 2 articles from the yelp ceo on the this very topic:

                                                                                                            it begins here (from friday):
                                                                                                            http://officialblog.yelp.com/2010/02/...

                                                                                                            and continued here on monday:
                                                                                                            http://officialblog.yelp.com/2010/03/...

                                                                                                            1. re: thew

                                                                                                              "what you get for paying as an advertiser is the ability to pick which review appears first on your page." But then, sure enough, you're paying as an advertiser for the ability to moderate content.

                                                                                                              1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                                                                you can move ONE ad. you cannot delete any negative ads. having one clearly marked ad of your choice on the top of your page is hardly nefarious

                                                                                                                1. re: thew

                                                                                                                  I think you meant to say "review" rather than "ad".

                                                                                                          2. re: thew

                                                                                                            But when have you EVER seen an ad on Chowhound from a restaurant reviewed here?

                                                                                                            1. re: BobB

                                                                                                              I've never seen that I and I think that this is something that thew above and other yelp posters tend to ignore. Chwohound has no conflict of interest wrt restaurants vis a vis its advertising while yelp clearly does. Yelp seeks advertising dollars from restaurants and businesses reviewed on the site, while chowhound has advertisements for (let me scroll up the page) metacritic. mary j blige concerts and cbs marketwatch.

                                                                                                              1. re: StheJ

                                                                                                                The simple fact remains, too, that while we all have our occasional beefs with the CH mods, we all know they're human beings who do their best to keep this site all about the chow. I don't care what the Yelp CEO has to say in his own defense, there are far too many stories like Servorg's. The evidence from so many people nationwide is hard to ignore.

                                                                                                                I use Yelp too, but I simply don't trust it the way I trust Chowhound.

                                                                                                                1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                                                                  I'm curious to see how the lawsuits turn out, but I'm with tatamagouche in that the carefully-crafted, rote denials of Yelp's CEO don't do anything to inspire confidence in me. Many CEOs get to their positions partly through their ability to be glib spokespeople, and with the help of expensive PR and legal professionals, CEOs of good companies and criminal ones tend to sound exactly the same.

                                                                                                                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                                        2. Here's an article on this topic I came across today: http://www.heraldnet.com/article/2010...

                                                                                                          The most interesting quote was:

                                                                                                          "I was eating out with a friend last week, and she expressed a strong opinion about the restaurant I chose.

                                                                                                          I told her to go tell it to Yelp.

                                                                                                          “I don’t know -- does Yelp really matter anymore?” she asked."

                                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: StheJ

                                                                                                            i'm really curious about why yelp nips your ass so much.

                                                                                                            1. re: thew

                                                                                                              Don't know about StheJ, but in my case it's not that it "nips my ass," it's just that the few times I've looked at it in search of restaurant-related information, I found the level of discourse (if you can call it that) to be overwhelmingly juvenile and uninformed compared to Chowhound, so I no longer bother with it. If it tickles your fancy, go for it!

                                                                                                              1. re: BobB

                                                                                                                StheJ seems to have a bee in the bonnet. as to the level of discourse you seem to confusing the reviews with the talk threads on yelp - on CH those things are not separate - on yelp they are unrelated beasts -

                                                                                                                1. re: thew

                                                                                                                  Speaking for myself, thew I find Yelp to be ethically challenged as a Corporation. i would never have known anything about their lack of corporate ethics if the situation with my wife's store had not cropped up (with her store being smeared by a competitor).

                                                                                                                  The subsequent complete and utter lack of action (refusal) on the part of Yelp to do anything about my wife's situation lends credence to the stories showing up online (such as the one StheJ linked in their post above).

                                                                                                                  I can only contrast Yelp's way of hiding their eyes in a parody of "see no evil" to the way that I have seen Chowhound respond when someone reports suspected shilling or smearing. Night and Day.

                                                                                                                  1. re: thew

                                                                                                                    I have to say, thew, and I've said before, that while I do use Yelp for certain things, and while I appreciate your input as an advocate of both Yelp and CH, I don't understand your repeated claim that people must be confusing the review pages with the talk threads. It's not that hard to understand the difference, and the sort of discourse to which BobB is referring can be found across the site. IIRC, you are in NY, and your experience with one board in one especially dining-savvy city may be very different than in the rest of the country.

                                                                                                                    1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                                                                      maybe so. it just seems to me that i find little of the juvenile level of discourse in the reviews and a lot in the talk threads (which is what makes them fun)

                                                                                                                      1. re: thew

                                                                                                                        Fair enough. Here in Denver, the advantage to Yelp is that far more people use it than in Boston, so that I can get usually get quicker answers to questions on the talk threads. When I lived in Boston, though, the CH community was so thriving and knowledgable I never used it.

                                                                                                            2. Thew wrote upthread, "what you get for paying as an advertiser is the ability to pick which review appears first on your page. you do not get to pull negative reviews from your page" and "you can move ONE [review]. you cannot delete any negative [reviews]. having one clearly marked [review] of your choice on the top of your page is hardly nefarious."

                                                                                                              As reported elsewhere, beginning today this will be changing. Yelp will no longer post a "favorite review" at the top of search results lists. And they are adding the ability to see which reviews have been hidden by their automated review filter.

                                                                                                              http://officialblog.yelp.com/2010/04/...

                                                                                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6997...

                                                                                                              It's currently possible to sort Yelp reviews by date, by how highly the reviewer rated the place, or by whether the review was written by a reviewer with an "elite" memberships (elite memberships are gratis and by invitation only). The default sort order is the "Yelp sort," which is described as taking into account "recency, user voting, and other review quality factors." The Yelp-sort method is said to be applied to all businesses, sponsors or not.

                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: racer x

                                                                                                                  just went back and read the filtered posts, the programmer should have stayed awake in class more ofter, OMG

                                                                                                                  And the choices for feedback need to include "worthless" or "report" since 80% of them fall into these two categories in jfood's town.

                                                                                                                  yelp is just a low end chalkboard in New Canaan, CT.

                                                                                                                  www.ctbites.com

                                                                                                                  1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                    Agree, a large percentage of the "reports" here in Birmingham fall under the following catergories

                                                                                                                    a) smiley face/emoticon "review" of some place
                                                                                                                    b) review of a giant national chain (yes, we had some taco bell reviews plus how chilis is the best restaurant in the world), or
                                                                                                                    c) complain that a place is too expensive yet doesn't give you enough food.

                                                                                                                    Yelp can be for serious hounds, but for smaller cities, it's a bit on the lame side.

                                                                                                                  2. re: racer x

                                                                                                                    I think the steps toward transparency in the Yelp filtering alogorithm are laudable, as is ending the practice of bumping up a rave at a paying business's behest.

                                                                                                                    From what I can tell -- and Yelp still isn't completely opening the kimono on its algorithm, a step I understand as being necessary to thwart folks who'd like to game the system -- most filtered reviews seem to be from posters who have reviewed few or no other places. Lots of would-be shills, competitors writing fake pans, ax-grinding former employees, and plain nutbags fit this profile. Hiding reviews, at least until a newbie demonstrates some substance in the form of a few more reviews, seems defensible.

                                                                                                                    It will still be interesting to see where the class-action suits go. These changes are clearly a pre-emptive strike against them.

                                                                                                                    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                                                  3. A class-action lawsuit alleging that yelp is a pay-to-play site may be about to die. A federal district judge has ruled to dismiss, giving the plaintiffs a month to refile.

                                                                                                                    http://sanfrancisco.grubstreet.com/20...
                                                                                                                    http://blog.ericgoldman.org/archives/...

                                                                                                                    1. Responding to the original post, with regard to Yelp v. Chowhound is that I seem to be able to find the one or two good places in a town on Chowhound because people will take the trouble to write them up. I was in Kearney Nebraska a couple of weeks ago. This is a town off the interstate with many, many chain restaurants. A few people had taken the time to write up a tiny little Thai place that I would never have thought to try otherwise (Nebraska? Thai? Really?) and it was terrific, just as they'd described. You tend not to see that kind of thing on Yelp.