Jump to content

Are "Yelp Elite" Reviewers Worth Recruiting?


DonRocks
 Share

Recommended Posts

I know precious little about Yelp, except that a lot of people write reviews on it, and that it comes up high on Google searches. The reviews I've read seem extremely uninformed and amateurish, but maybe I'm reading the wrong ones - I understand there's an "Elite Squad," and I'm wondering if these folks are good enough to post here and earn respect. My initial impression is that Yelp is like community college, and I'm wondering if it's time for their best reviewers to take a step up, and start working on their graduate degrees, going toe-to-toe with the very best the Washington, DC restaurant community has to offer. Not knowing enough to comment one way or the other, I'd like to turn this question over to the rest of the members here for their opinions.

Cheers,

Rocks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know precious little about Yelp, except that a lot of people write reviews on it, and that it comes up high on Google searches. The reviews I've read seem extremely uninformed and amateurish, but maybe I'm reading the wrong ones - I understand there's an "Elite Squad," and I'm wondering if these folks are good enough to post here and earn respect. My initial impression is that Yelp is like community college, and I'm wondering if it's time for their best reviewers to take a step up, and start working on their graduate degrees, going toe-to-toe with the very best the Washington, DC restaurant community has to offer. Not knowing enough to comment one way or the other, I'd like to turn this question over to the rest of the members here for their opinions.

Cheers,

Rocks.

I check Yelp.com daily for various restaurants. Sometimes you win, sometimes you don't. It's immediate and it's brutally honest.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I check Yelp.com daily for various restaurants. Sometimes you win, sometimes you don't. It's immediate and it's brutally honest.

Honestly, too many of the good reviews read like they were written by publicists, and the average scores for places like Cheesecake Factory are ridiculously high. I treat Yelp for restaurants like I do Zagat's - good for the address, website, and hours, bad for rating.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Honestly, too many of the good reviews read like they were written by publicists, and the average scores for places like Cheesecake Factory are ridiculously high. I treat Yelp for restaurants like I do Zagat's - good for the address, website, and hours, bad for rating.

Don, I think your take is spot on. I check it out on occasion, but it is sometimes hard to find the good (accurate) reviews amidst all the bad.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Every time I read anything on Yelp, it always comes across as if it's either written by junior college graduates (thanks Don) for their clubbing buddies or some PR flack for the restaurant being considered. I think anything written on Yelp should be taken with a large grain of salt.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know precious little about Yelp, except that a lot of people write reviews on it, and that it comes up high on Google searches. The reviews I've read seem extremely uninformed and amateurish, but maybe I'm reading the wrong ones - I understand there's an "Elite Squad," and I'm wondering if these folks are good enough to post here and earn respect. My initial impression is that Yelp is like community college, and I'm wondering if it's time for their best reviewers to take a step up, and start working on their graduate degrees, going toe-to-toe with the very best the Washington, DC restaurant community has to offer. Not knowing enough to comment one way or the other, I'd like to turn this question over to the rest of the members here for their opinions.

Cheers,

Rocks.

Wow! Pretentious much? I hope you can find some folks elite enough to step up and earn their graduate degree. Then they can go toe to toe with the very best huh?

Maybe a textbook is in order to inform the amateurish.

Sycophants feel free to chime in.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow! Pretentious much? I hope you can find some folks elite enough to step up and earn their graduate degree. Then they can go toe to toe with the very best huh?

Maybe a textbook is in order to inform the amateurish.

Sycophants feel free to chime in.

Have you read many of the reviews on Yelp? It is, at most, one and a half steps up from the bullsh*t that is posted on the WaPo site.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sycophants feel free to chime in.

Let me be perfectly clear: When I talk about "the very best," I'm sure as heck not talking about myself (*); I'm referring to the nearly 3,000 members of this website, many of whom are incredibly knowledgeable about a variety of food-related subjects - from restaurants (as owners, chefs, managers, servers, publicists, and diners), to farmers markets (as farmers, managers, workers, and shoppers), to cooking (as professionals and amateurs), to wine and spirits (as producers, retailers, wholesalers, distributors, sommeliers, F&B directors, and consumers). Don't forget that around 25% of our membership is in the business, in one form or another.

Call me a sycophant if you'd like, but I'm humbled and proud to be but one small voice among this group of experts. That would include you, by the way.

Cheers,

Rocks.

(*) which would, in fact, be laughably pretentious.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It might be a good idea to stay away from Yelp in general, the whole idea of Yelp and its business practices has left a bad taste in the mouth of many a restauranteur.

http://www.eastbayexpress.com/gyrobase/yelp_and_the_business_of_extortion_2_0/Content?oid=927491&page=3

These same actions have been reported here in the DC area, as well. I look at Yelp for the restaurants I'm associated with because it's immediate. I like honest feedback. The dishonest feedback is usually easy to spot.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

These same actions have been reported here in the DC area, as well. I look at Yelp for the restaurants I'm associated with because it's immediate. I like honest feedback. The dishonest feedback is usually easy to spot.

My two favorite criticisms of Ray's on Yelp are: "the food is way overpriced for a steakhouse" and, "go spend your money at a reputable establishment like Ruth's Chris."

Other gems:

They take advantage of the fact they are the only steak house in the area. -- What? If by "area" you mean that one particular block.

Free Mashed Potatoes and and spinach?? THATS ALL THEY SERVE FOR POTATO AND VEGETABLE??? -- And they only serve one kind of bread!!!

We called the next day to tell the manager... about our disappointing experience. His resolution was that if we came back next time to ask for him and he would make sure that our experience would be better. At this point, none of us would ever go back to Ray's the Steak [sic]... [We] were not happy with our experience nor the reaction when [sic] we received when we told them about it. -- What the hell? This one just doesn't make any sense. With all the people complaining about managers throwing food, yelling, and broomstick-sodomizing, this person is upset because the manager tried to make amends? What did they want the manager to do? Free blowjoys for everyone, and a side of Ferrari?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't have any first-hand knowledge of Yelp DC, but I got involved with Yelp Atlanta when I moved last year. To be perfectly honest, I was trying to find the closest equivalent to DR.com--in other words, an online community with both a forum/discussion aspect and a social aspect. After a few months of Yelping, I got an invitation to be "Elite." From what I understand, the Yelp staff in a given geography peruses the write-ups and looks for those that are particularly thoughtful, detailed, witty, etc. Those are the folks they add to the Elite ranks, and the benefits include a special icon by their user name and invitations to Elite-only events (usually hosted at local businesses). I went to a few events and didn't find them to be my style. But, they get GREAT turnout, and the folks who are really into it seem to have a great time.

In terms of the overall cross-section, I don't think you'll find as many food/restaurant professionals who are active on Yelp as there are who are active on DR.com. However, there are many Yelpers who would make great additions to the Don Rockwell community, and perhaps there are recruiting opportunities to be had.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The idea that the "Elite" Yelp-ers are invited to events with free food and drinks from the places they are supposed to be independently reviewing just makes the whole thing stink that much more.

I'm not trying to say that Yelp as an overall concept is the be-all-end-all. It is flawed, for sure (though I would argue that there are precious few reviewers, on blogs or in newspapers or on discussion boards, who can claim true and full independence and impartiality). I was merely trying to explain a little bit about why someone might get involved, what criteria are involved in calling someone "Elite," and whether or not certain Yelpers might add to our conversations here on DR.com. I have paid for EVERYTHING I have reviewed on Yelp, period, end of story. The one thing I got for free as a Yelper? Tickets to a sneak preview of "Star Trek," which were also given out to readers of our local Creative Loafing paper. The point is, not EVERY reviewer on Yelp goes about it the same way, so why generalize about the site's entire population and imply that their opinions are somehow per se invalid?
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not trying to say that Yelp as an overall concept is the be-all-end-all. It is flawed, for sure (though I would argue that there are precious few reviewers, on blogs or in newspapers or on discussion boards, who can claim true and full independence and impartiality). I was merely trying to explain a little bit about why someone might get involved, what criteria are involved in calling someone "Elite," and whether or not certain Yelpers might add to our conversations here on DR.com.

I appreciated the explanation of what the whole "elite" thing was. I had no idea about it at all.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am a member of yelp elite. I got the invitation to join the elite squad after I posted around 60 or so reviews and over 100 photos of local eateries. The overall demographic tend to be in their 20s and 30s, but they do value quality over quantity. In other words, if all of your reviews consist of "this was so yummy and everything was so tasty", then you are not going to get invited. Like Bettyjoan said, Yelp hires one person to "manage" a particular area (a person by the name of Kevin L manages DC area). I think they have a monthly event where you get free booze and appetizers, probably sponsored by yelp, but I haven't personally been to any of them yet. I am certainly not getting free meals out of this, and I don't see anyone become attach to a restaurant just because they got some freebies out of it yet. I use yelp to look at pictures of the restaurants and their food. I am one of those person who is more likely to go to a particular restaurant if I know beforehand what the food looked like (Check out the grill mark on the meat and the freshness of the sushi, etc). Another thing yelp does is very similar to $20 Tuesday, which consists of bunch of people getting together for good food. I know they have a pho group, a pizza group, and a carnivore group.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a curious fondness for the non-professionalism of Yelpers. There are preposterous raves about the quotidian, and unreasonable rants about tiny molehills mischaracterized (or misperceived) as mountain ranges, but the same can be found here, from time to time.

I am not persuaded by one good (or bad) review, but a goodly number, clustering at about the same level of appreciation, with actual details, tend to entice me if they are favorable, and discourage me if they are not.

It's democratic, with a small "d". The people's voice. I like that.

Also, there is a well designed iPhone app. That's useful when far from a computer.

I do not write reviews for Yelp.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In response to the original question, my answer, based on personal experience with Yelp over about a year and those of business owers I know whose establishments have been reviewed on Yelp, would be no. I would also say that your observations re: Yelp Elites’ reviews are generally accurate, Don. That is not to say that some Yelp Elite reviewers' reviews and insights are not valuable, but the criteria for being an Elite reviewer (largely based on writing a number of reviews, going to events, and participating in that bash-fest called "Yelp Talk") alone plus as others have noted, the quality of reviews, leave a lot to be desired. IMHO, the most useful feature of Yelp may be updated basic information (such as whether or not a restaurant is still open and if it has a new chef, the address, website, and tel #). With few exceptions, I get much more helpful (and IMHO, accurate and trustworthy) information from Chowhound and from selected reviewers on Urbanspoon (I post reviews on both sites), and more recently, here on Donrockwell.com.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In response to the original question, my answer, based on personal experience with Yelp over about a year and those of business owers I know whose establishments have been reviewed on Yelp, would be no. I would also say that your observations re: Yelp Elites’ reviews are generally accurate, Don. That is not to say that some Yelp Elite reviewers' reviews and insights are not valuable, but the criteria for being an Elite reviewer (largely based on writing a number of reviews, going to events, and participating in that bash-fest called "Yelp Talk") alone plus as others have noted, the quality of reviews, leave a lot to be desired. IMHO, the most useful feature of Yelp may be updated basic information (such as whether or not a restaurant is still open and if it has a new chef, the address, website, and tel #). With few exceptions, I get much more helpful (and IMHO, accurate and trustworthy) information from Chowhound and from selected reviewers on Urbanspoon (I post reviews on both sites), and more recently, here on Donrockwell.com.

It's not as easy as it looks to get information corrected on Yelp. It contains a lot of mistakes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's not as easy as it looks to get information corrected on Yelp. It contains a lot of mistakes.

I can appreciate what you're saying, Mark especially since I started using Urbanspoon where "prime" users (frequent contributors to the site--which I happen to be) can correct basic data such as menus, websites, etc. With Yelp, you have to write to headquarters/customer service, which may or may not respond or act on your feedback. Still, in my experience, I really haven't had a problem with the accuracy of Yelp's basic information for the most part; my concern has to do with the poor quality and often inaccuracies of some reviews on the site.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is the quality of reviews that I find typical of Yelp – verbosity supported by vagaries.

So disappointing!!! How can the other reviewers have had such a good experience while mine was poor? First, the food was really not very good. While the pre-theater prix fix menu should -- in theory -- be a good deal, that is only true if the food is tasty. The soup, fish, and dessert were not. indeed, of maybe a thousand rhubarb cobblers I've had in my life, this was the worst -- really inedible. For me not to eat my rhubarb cobbler is saying something. I also could not finish the fish, which is also saying something. As far as service, coming to your table every three minutes to ask you "if everything is okay" is not good service. Good service is suspecting when someone needs something and checking, or taking care of it wordlessly. Also, when I arrived, I could see on the reservation screen that a colleague also had a reservation. I asked to please not be seated near him so everyone could have privacy. They sat me down on a banquette next to two women waiting for a third person. Fine. Five minutes later, guess who arrived? Yup, they had sat me directly next to my colleague. We literally could shake hands from our respective seats. I really regretted not getting in a cab and going to Kinkead's. For the same money, I could have had a delicious meal in a relaxed environment.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

While looking for an address for To Sok Jip, I came across a less than useless review from a yelp elite going by the name of "black p". For whatever reason, I decided to look at this person's (I use that word loosely) other reviews and my absolute favorite is of his neighbor's baby:

needs three things...
- my foot
- its ass
- a flight of stairs

Oh, child abuse humor is so funny, and wait, look how many of his friends thought that was 1) helpful, 2) cool, and 3) funny. When put into context of posts like these, I would say that the "histrionics" being bandied about this board are actually rather mild in comparison.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...