Getting Over Yelp

I sat at friend’s friend’s restaurant (Cav– rocks, check it out), drinking a great Italian wine, polishing off an excellent ravioli, and discussing Yelp with the staff. Fellow patron, who is a bartender in Oakland, talked about how her boss’s bar doesn’t quite work the Yelp right. In usual digerati showoff mode, I got my iPhone out and we reviewed each one of her reviews. Her bar had 35 reviews, and the first one, where she was called the c-word for cutting off someone who was drunk, was accurate, and she even remembered said patron. So we agreed, if there was a critical mass of serious reviews in general it sustained the project of a user-based review site.

What I think would rock is if the restaurant could also be part of the discussion on Yelp. Not just paid sponsorship, but perhaps flagged as a “from this restaurant” on the user profile, or “associated with restaurant.”

I got an email from a friend the other day asking for a good place in North Beach. He pointed out a new restaurant, and told me it had gotten rave reviews on Yelp. “Well, there’s friends & family planting reviews, so cancel out all 5-stars right away…” I told him (and see first line of this article haha)- so you almost have to either have a large number of reviews, or wait a year and see how the reviews are.

Eater SF has a hilarious “how to circumvent the evil that is Yelp” post. The reason we were all talking about it was that one guy’s girlfriend was coming from the annual party, and I was heading out to go any second. Then, I got a report from another attendee who had the same RSVP as me, that the line was “half an hour long” to get in. This has been an issue in the past with their events- poor crowd control, event estimation of attendance, whatever- that I experienced at a miserable Supperclub Yelp event. (SFist voyeur photos as usual, there is resident press Flickr photographer to catalog the depravity: remember the ’06 party.)

As for Yelp in general- I think it’s a great idea, but personally stopped posting a lot on it because a general loss in the idea of the project, spurred on by a series of juvenile subjective reviews that are essentially an SMS conversation between girls on their way to the bar, as a review of the bar. I was also hounded by Yelpers who thought my 1-starring a restaurant was mean, illegal (?), and wrong.

I think it’s time for a new kind of Yelp, in the world of Web 2.0 this is right around the time for innovation.

Eater SF: Yelp wanted encore…
Yelp: It’s Official: SF Loves Yelp
SFist: Yelp Flaunted

2 Comments so far

  1. Scott (unregistered) on December 6th, 2007 @ 4:57 pm

    Yep, some notion of reputation or social equity would help a ton. The girls-on-their-way-to-the-bar reviews would sift down to the bottom and the thoughtful reviews from reputable participants would bubble to the top.

    I recently used Yelp extensively in L.A., where adoption is but a fraction of our fair city’s. Interestingly, the reviews, while fewer, seemed to be less tainted by "friend’s friend" noise, perhaps reflecting a pattern of fleeting value during the adoption phase of social networks. This is the anithesis of the network effect – call it the anti-Metcalfe law.

  2. Yelp This (unregistered) on December 11th, 2007 @ 12:28 pm

    As in relal life, Caveat Emptor etc.

    Yelp! is just a dotcom scam perpertrated by young-ish well connected entrepreneurs snorting up VC dough, and letting their users do all the work for them. Their real dream is to sell it and get the hell out…

    Yelpers be damned…

    With 20 something egos soaring and constant connectivity all the rage, while literacy rate & thoughtful discourse are on the wane, is it any woonder reviews are useless, and even done on the fly?

    I think it’s ridiculuous the status stat of how many reviews one has posted, as a redundant ten word blurb added anything to the quality of collective opinions gathered…

    I can’t wait for the Yelp! debates, where the political candidates are reviewed on how cute they are, how much ass kissing & smiling they do upon meeting 20 something dweebs, and whether their bathrooms have a wait during happy hour.

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