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Yelp: Yuseless. 
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Joined: Wed Apr 09, 2008 12:17 pm
Posts: 2402
Location: The Quiet Earth
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Post Yelp: Yuseless.
Yelp has become one of the biggest general review sites on the web, and I have generally found their listings useful. However, in posting a particularly critical review and then following up on its reception, I discovered the secret trick - and, surprise, surprise, it's not in the reviewers' and readers' favor.

Long story short, there are NO decent restaurants within a ten mile drive of my house. There are half a dozen paper-ad-placemat diners and pizza places, a Dunkin' Donuts (the Starbucks of New England) and a Subway.

So when a significantly upscale restaurant opened here (in a deadly location that's killed three prior restaurants - middle of nowhere, side road, off the main drag) we tried it early on. Eh, serious teething problems. So we went back recently... they're not teething problems, they're basically arrogant proprietors who care about nothing but the kitchen; two hours for your entree is how we do it, buster, if you don't like it you must not know anything about fine dining, we suggest Olive Garden for you next time... etc. Many, MANY flaws in everything but the signature entrees.

So I wrote a review for Yelp, and Urbanspoon, and the local e-paper. Latter two are still in place.

But I followed the Yelp review because I expected that if there was any followup or concurrence or argument, that's where it would be. (The restaurant had three short 4/5 star reviews, and my lengthy 2-star one.)

Then my review disappeared, leaving the three 4.5-average ones. Hmmm. Since the restaurant hasn't even claimed the Yelp listing, it didn't seem likely that they had muscled it out. I hadn't used bad language or called names - just listed the specific faults we found on two visits, damning ones.

Then I saw it - a tiny, washed-out, gray link at the bottom: "13 Filtered"... no label, context, anything to indicate what this webmote might be. So I click...

...and there are thirteen more reviews, covering the time from the restaurant opening to recently. All one and two stars. All complaining about exactly the same meal- and pleasure-killing flaws. All "filtered" and removed from the listing's aggregate rating. Not a one was illiterate, anonymous, ranting, or used inappropriate language. But all consigned to oblivion, invisible to all but the savviest and most dedicated review-reader. (I managed to miss it on repeated and focused visits to the same listing.)

If you follow the explanatory links you'll find a FAQ that opaquely explains that Yelp's bots try to weed out bogus, paid or inappropriate reviews, that there is no way to "game" the process, there is no appeal or query system, and the filter itself reevaluates things periodically. Very Google-ish full of themselves is how it reads.


So next time you use Yelp, feel free to use the location, hours, menu, etc. components but skip the public review list and look for the toad at the bottom of the garden... and make up your own mind about what ratiing it really deserves.

"Hier stehe ich. Ich kann nicht anders." - Luther
In the end, I found Heinlein is finite. Thus, finite analysis is needed.

Sun Sep 09, 2012 8:28 am
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