Monetized Whining: Yelp’s Dwindling Quality-Control Snacks on a Thriving Food Industry

There is a great showcase for the grown up temper tantrum and it’s called Yelp! It’s like a big Principal’s office in the sky. The Principal typically has little understanding of a particular situation, but commands the authority nonetheless. While Yelp can be helpful when I’m out of town and looking for a decent meal, the space it now occupies in the food community has become a tail which wags the dog. If “Tom G.” thinks Urasawa is stupid because they don’t sell Bud Light, should that one star Yelp review affect their star rating the same way as a legitimate review? Well it does, and that’s the problem.

If we are taught as children to address those we have a problem with, rather than say a bunch of ugly things about them behind their back, why is Yelp pre-IPO? Because we love to feel better than someone else. It’s why we watch the Jersey Shore, it’s why we say mean things about people we don’t really know. If I have a problem with the waiter, or the business in general, I tell them—even if via email. It’s the difference between complaining about your boyfriend to all your friends, and complaining about your boyfriend to your boyfriend. He needs to hear it, the whole neighborhood doesn’t.

If I am stuck in San Diego for the weekend, I can hit Yelp and probably find the least worst meal a town like this has to offer. The sheer number of reviews filtered algorithmically can usually surface something edible, and in this way Yelp is useful. It’s also occasionally a good way to surface relevant info about a small business that may not have a legit website.

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This article was published:
People Issue - Released February 2012
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