Jump to content

Yelp.com (2004-) - A California-Based Review Website, Widely Accused of Extortion in Building Their Business


Recommended Posts

  • Replies 305
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

It bothers me that your feedback options are limited to "useful", "funny", and "cool".  They should add "unhelpful piece of poorly written hateful nonsense".

Just saw this absolutely great response to Yelp when they call for advertising.  If you have ever dealt with their advertising reps and complained about how they seem to emphasize the crappy reviews,

I finally have a burr up my butt about yelp.  For some years I've somewhat defended yelp in conversations among people who work in local SEO (search engine optimizing).  Its not that they are defensib

Posted Images

one negative one that's displayed. 6 positive and 1 negative that are "filtered"

Sorry, I didn't notice the filters (actually, it says a lot that I didn't notice the filters, because I was looking around trying to figure out what you were talking about.)

Link to post
Share on other sites

one negative one that's displayed. 6 positive and 1 negative that are "filtered"

I'm not affiliated with Yelp, and I've had my share of problems with them, but I've got to add my $0.02 here. As someone above mentioned, a great deal of Yelp's bad press and complaints is due to users and owners not understanding how the site works. From what I understand, reviews are filtered based on how much the reviewer uses Yelp. The 7 filtered reviews you're pointing to were posted by people with either one (6 people) or 2 (one person) reviews. When these users post more reviews, their reviews of Star of India will appear on the main page. Again, this is my understanding of the filtering system, but it seems to be holding true with my business' Yelp site, too.

Link to post
Share on other sites

So the more crap you post the more credibility you have on Yelp?

Recently I was on Yelp and noticed a particularly egregious review from a Yelp "Elite" and I clicked on the profile for the person. They had joined Yelp in late June, 2010 and had close to 100 reviews. This person averages nearly 1 review of a new place everyday.

Personally I use yelp merely as a source of information about the restaurant - especially up to date info on VA happy hours that can't be advertised online.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Recently I was on Yelp and noticed a particularly egregious review from a Yelp "Elite" and I clicked on the profile for the person. They had joined Yelp in late June, 2010 and had close to 100 reviews. This person averages nearly 1 review of a new place everyday.

Eh, this is pretty explainable. If I joined Yelp the first thing I'd do is put in reviews for all of my favorite places across the area, even if I hadn't been there recently.

Link to post
Share on other sites

one negative one that's displayed. 6 positive and 1 negative that are "filtered"

First of all, the one review that is not filtered is actually positive and gives the restaurant a 3-star rating. Secondly, I simply can not understand why you would want what appear to be shill reviews to appear on Yelp unfiltered. Six of the seven reviews that are filtered are first-time reviews and the seventh is a a second-time review. And by the way, they are still on the site for anyone to click on and read. I'm not sure how Yelp could be any fairer, especially to their users.

Link to post
Share on other sites

First of all, the one review that is not filtered is actually positive and gives the restaurant a 3-star rating. Secondly, I simply can not understand why you would want what appear to be shill reviews to appear on Yelp unfiltered. Six of the seven reviews that are filtered are first-time reviews and the seventh is a a second-time review. And by the way, they are still on the site for anyone to click on and read. I'm not sure how Yelp could be any fairer, especially to their users.

They should put out all the comments and let the user separate the wheat from the chaff.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Ferreting Out Fake Reviews Online in todays New York Times. Frankly, I am shocked to discover that there is dishonesty on these here internets.

I found this paragraph fascinating:

"Determining the number of fake reviews on the Web is difficult. But it is enough of a problem to attract a team of Cornell researchers, who recently published a paper about creating a computer algorithm for detecting fake reviewers. They were instantly approached by a dozen companies, including Amazon, Hilton, TripAdvisor and several specialist travel sites, all of which have a strong interest in limiting the spread of bogus reviews."

For years, this is essentially what I've been doing manually, and have thought many times (in passing) about developing an algorithm to do this (I have an M.S. in Computer Science, and it would actually be fun for me to work on). It's refreshing to see people actually developing such a program.

At the end of the day, when all of these tawdry issues play out, this website (dr.com) will remain strong. I've seen all of these problems coming for years, ever since I was forum host at eGullet, and have been eternally vigilant. It's possible to slip fake reviews in here, but it isn't easy because they have to pass a very strong community smell test.

One problem this article fails to address is The Cheerleaders - professional bloggers who refuse to say anything negative, accept all sorts of freebies (and in some cases, payment from PR agents), and therefore get all sorts of links, references, and attention by the restaurants themselves (creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of popularity). Personally, I've found it exceedingly difficult to get restaurants to link to my reviews because I refuse to whip out my pom-pons and dance for people. So it goes.

Link to post
Share on other sites
One problem this article fails to address is The Cheerleaders - professional bloggers who refuse to say anything negative, accept all sorts of freebies (and in some cases, payment from PR agents), and therefore get all sorts of links, references, and attention by the restaurants themselves (creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of popularity). Personally, I've found it exceedingly difficult to get restaurants to link to my reviews because I refuse to whip out my pom-pons and dance for people. So it goes.

There's not a whole lot of integrity on the web. It takes aggressive promotion or an airtight gimmick to have a successful (money making) blog. To make any scratch you either have to hustle cash from ads and product endorsements, or hope your gimmick is strong enough for a book deal, a la The Pioneer Woman. I looked into blogging seriously for a while and decided I wouldn't be able to get over the constant nausea.

As for restaurants, there are many, many PR firms that specialize in finding the "right" bloggers to promote their clients, and aggressive woo them with freebies and special events in order to drum up buzz on Twitter, Facebook, etc., and many bloggers who are perfectly happy to oblige. For every lousy Yelp review there is a "blogger dinner" to even out the karma.

This site is an oasis. Thanks, Don.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Ferreting Out Fake Reviews Online in todays New York Times. Frankly, I am shocked to discover that there is dishonesty on these here internets.

I don't even bother with Yelp. However, the reviews on Amazon are extremely helpful. To wit, Macy's had a terrific sale on Martha Stewart dutch ovens. So, before running downtown to buy one, I checked out the same items on Amazon. Surprisingly, quite a few mentioned that the INSIDE ceramic coating was chipping off and getting into the food. :mellow: So, I wound up buying an obscure, but Made In America, Tramontino coated cast iron pot on Amazon. It was not as expensive as Le Creuset, but just wonderful. And, in the news yesterday, Martha Stewart's wares were being recalled, investigated, or whatever, for interior chipping. Those one- and two-star ratings on Amazon are the real key, except for the stupid people who are obvious--sorta like the guy who sent his hamburger back because it tasted too "beefy."

Link to post
Share on other sites

The other day I got an outright offer from a vendor I use to buy a good Yelp review. The email (presumably which went out to the entire client list) offered a "free" item in exchange for a Yelp review. While the offer didn't specify that it had to be a *good* review, you had to bring in a copy of your review to get the free item, so there it is. Ugh. Apparently it's not just Yelp itself that is sketchy. Talk about leaving a bad taste...

Link to post
Share on other sites

The other day I got an outright offer from a vendor I use to buy a good Yelp review. The email (presumably which went out to the entire client list) offered a "free" item in exchange for a Yelp review. While the offer didn't specify that it had to be a *good* review, you had to bring in a copy of your review to get the free item, so there it is. Ugh. Apparently it's not just Yelp itself that is sketchy. Talk about leaving a bad taste...

Yelp specifically recommends not doing what the referenced business owner did. I can see how business owners would like to drive reviews (I have to hold my partner back from doing just this), but hopefully you're not faulting Yelp for this owner's poor judgement.

/not that I'm a Yelp-defender, necessarily

//although, I'm not anti-Yelp, either

///generally, it's done my business some good, with only minor hiccups

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yelp specifically recommends not doing what the referenced business owner did. I can see how business owners would like to drive reviews (I have to hold my partner back from doing just this), but hopefully you're not faulting Yelp for this owner's poor judgement.

Not really, but I think we've covered pretty thoroughly on this thread how Yelp is subject to abuses from both sides of the table. So I think many here, including myself, take Yelp reviews with a healthy does of skepticism. It was a good idea, but it has limited usefulness in execution. Though I still scan Yelp for eating ideas when on the road and I haven't gone in armed with DR recs.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

It was a good idea, but it has limited usefulness in execution.

Then why are they so rich and I am so poor? :mellow::angry::rolleyes:

(Sometimes wonder if they scanned the eGullet DC forum when forming their business - the model is very database-like, and that's how I tried to do eGullet.)

Link to post
Share on other sites

It was a good idea, but it has limited usefulness in execution.

Ok, ok, limited for us. Or just for me. I don't trust it! I guess I'm spoiled, having always had Egullet or DR before Yelp came on the scene, where I could get repeat opinions from a regularly contributing group of only semi-anonymous, mostly local, people.

And Don, you should be rich.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok, ok, limited for us. Or just for me. I don't trust it! I guess I'm spoiled, having always had Egullet or DR before Yelp came on the scene, where I could get repeat opinions from a regularly contributing group of only semi-anonymous, mostly local, people.

And Don, you should be rich.

Indeed. (And the minute you want to charge a fee to belong, I'd pay in heartbeat.)

When doing my jaunt to FL this summer, I checked here for ideas. Then I went to Road Food. Their suggestions were generally inedible. I actually had good luck with Trip Advisor's rankings. Urbanspoon wasn't too bad.

It never once occurred to me to look at Yelp.

Link to post
Share on other sites

And Don, you should be rich.

I will never argue with this, but ...

Indeed. (And the minute you want to charge a fee to belong, I'd pay in heartbeat.)

The thought of charging people to be members here is inconceivable to me.

The one and only time I solicited venture capital, they told me, "you need to whore yourself more."

FYI I'm running this website for Matt at this point, who will have no idea this message was ever written, until he randomly stumbles on it ten years from now. I'm burying treasure for him to find later in life.

Link to post
Share on other sites

My first review on Yelp was very positive, I got a call from them wanting to know if I was interested in advertizing with them, I said no I wasn't, immediate ridiculous negative ads, started showing up. Yelp can KMA!

Maybe we all should just post glowing reviews of your place (even though I don't think I've been in Emmitsburg) just to counteract the ridiculousness of Yelp. I'm quite in the mood to stick it to the man, so to speak. :P

Link to post
Share on other sites

all they can get from me is chef`s special : `roof dried fishbones in 25 day old fryer oil`

If this was Facebook or Google+, I'd be giving this all kinds of "Like"s and "+1"s.

Instead, I will redouble my attempts to avoid negative thinking about Maryland and venture that way to try out Fishnet. (Especially given the last time I was in College Park, it was because I got lost leaving a building not far from where The Passenger is now, and ending up there looking for 495 so I could get back to Bailey's Crossroads. I am doubleplusungood at DC driving.)

Link to post
Share on other sites

No defense of Yelp here--clearly it's been very harmful for many small businesses while giving very inconsistent/variable levels of guidance to consumers.

But, on the narrow point of reviews that disappear, just a reminder that Yelp sometimes (usually? have no idea.) "hides" certain reviews which can be seen by clicking on the link below the last post and typing in the "captcha" (squiggly text) to reveal them. Again sometimes (not sure if usually), those hidden reviews are by posters with very limited posting volume or that haven't posted in a very long time. FWIW.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yelp reviews can be flagged for removal by readers for a variety of reasons, including personal attacks and mis-information and offensive language.

this makes sense, of course, however I didn't read any negative or personal attacks in any of my reviews. 2 more disappeared as of today. So from 18 we are down to 14 reviews. I have a lot of negative words to say to yelp, if it was a real person. First one starts with F.

Link to post
Share on other sites

this makes sense, of course, however I didn't read any negative or personal attacks in any of my reviews. 2 more disappeared as of today. So from 18 we are down to 14 reviews. I have a lot of negative words to say to yelp, if it was a real person. First one starts with F.

As darkstar says above, you can see the filtered reviews by clicking on the link at the bottom left of the last post and entering the captcha. It's a nuisance to have to do that, I agree, but of the four posts that were filtered, three were the people's first posts on yelp. The woman who had 6 posts didn't give any detail at all about why she liked your restaurant, so that may be why hers was filtered.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Saw this, made me think of dr.com -- no paid positives here, all genuine. Yelp, on the other hand (which we all knew already, but a fun read and reminder): http://eater.com/archives/2013/05/13/shady-craigslist-ad-offers-cash-for-fake-yelp-reviews.php

Interesting.

Are there no paid positives here? Are they all genuine? Are you sure?

I'm not saying the opposite is true - but - how do we know? Where I'm going with this is that Don might consider a "term of use" that requires such - that the review was not compensated for or something to that effect. Such a condition could be used to describe the site. It wouldn't be necessary except for the damage Yelp is doing to the excercise as a whole.

But where does that lead us? Don makes something off the ads that run here - and while no one is disparaging that - can he be said to be "not compensated" for his own reviews? Yelp itself certainly makes some money. And professional reviewers certainly make money. What's wrong with a restaurant paying for reviews? Isn't it just fighting fire with fire? (note - I realize Night Owl that you are not saying otherwise. I'm asking more undirected rhetorical questions).

I especially don't understand the end of the article where it says Craigslist will certainly remove the advertisement. Why? This is a free market, what's wrong with a restaurant's offer to pay someone to write a positive review? Interestingly, I don't see that it comes with a free meal - so is it any different than a $25 coupon, except that it has a 'string' attached? As in, "come eat and post a positive review and I'll give you $25 back"

Yelp started this. And as we all know, it doesn't have to be that way. They seem to have lost the sense of where the value is really coming come from - the unbiased reviewers - and they biased it all. So they're being gamed on that front.

Part of me wants to get into Yelp and begin to game it in my own little ways. But part of me knows that a large part of their money making is simply based on traffic - traffic I'd be contributing to if I spent time gaming it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I could, quite literally, write a book in response to jayandstacey's post. As far as I'm concerned, every single point raised is fair game for discussion.

I promise everyone here that my hands are clean. If I ever breached my own set of ethics, I'd be uncovered within days, weeks, maybe months, but I'd be uncovered eventually, and then this website would be worthless. My goal is to have donrockwell.com be considered a valuable document 500 years from now, and the only way to do that is to reflect reality as closely as possible (*)

Honestly, I appreciate jayandstacey's scrutiny, and wish there was more of it from different people - the more people learn about the way this website is run, the more they'll like and respect it.

(*) I may be the only website owner on the internet with this long of a long-term outlook. :)

Link to post
Share on other sites

And I only poke the bear because I know the answer - that this site is clean. I know that through mostly indirect means and (relatively) extended paticipation here. I don't know any of you personally.

But how would an outsider know? I believe Yelp is doing harm to the whole concept - much the way a game-fixing scam can ruin the reputation of an entire sport.

Have you thought about having posters here sign some 'blood oath' before being allowed to review? Or does that kind of shine light on something that doesn't need highlighting (like a menu item saying "this burger is the best ever made!"). I don't know the answer here, or even if the question matters. But this Yelp crap is like a darkening cloud on the horizon, no?

So Night Owl says "no paid positives here, all genuine" and it leads me to ask - how can this be proven? Need it be? Reputation is a finicky thing.

I guess I'd say that I'm not scrutinizing you, Mr. Rockwell or your site - rather I'm curious how one can say "I'm clean" and be believed in a situation that seems increasingly fraudulent. I then realize that when it comes to reputation and proving such things, actions typically speak louder than words.

You have written a book sir, right here in these pages.

Link to post
Share on other sites

But this Yelp crap is like a darkening cloud on the horizon, no?

So Night Owl says "no paid positives here, all genuine" and it leads me to ask - how can this be proven? Need it be? Reputation is a finicky thing.

I guess I'd say that I'm not scrutinizing you, Mr. Rockwell or your site - rather I'm curious how one can say "I'm clean" and be believed in a situation that seems increasingly fraudulent. I then realize that when it comes to reputation and proving such things, actions typically speak louder than words.

You have written a book sir, right here in these pages.

I've said before, and still believe, that Yelp is doing our marketing for us. But boy, it sure would be nice for this tree to bear fruit during my lifetime (I'm not counting on it, however).

Thanks for your kind words - please keep discussing this as long and as often as you'd like. I'll answer any questions I can - the only thing I can't do is prove the negative. Also, I can't prove that nobody here hasn't colluded with a restaurant in the past (and, in fact, have questioned some people about this very thing). With freedom comes the potential to disrupt, and I value people's freedom and privacy very much.

So, as Eddie Kendricks once said, I guess I'll just Keep On Truckin'. :)

Link to post
Share on other sites

One of the big differences between this site and that four letter word that begins with Y is that the topics are threads where people can have a back and forth. This minimizes the impact of a single review whether it is overly positive or negative. It also allows people to negatively scrutinize other's opinions, what are your choices on that other site? You get to rate the posts, but only in a positive (yet useless) way such as the ability to note that a post is this funny. Come on, how is that in anyway useful?

I also think that the whole star system feeds into this, what makes something a three to you might not be the same as warrants the same rating from someone else. The best example of the uselessness of the star system is not at the Y site, but at Amazon. There are many times where I will read a three star review that really is not negative, but not glowing either and people respond incredulously to the reviewer wanting to know why something without any glaring issue is not getting a five star review.

By the way, I have always suspected that the Great American Restaurant group has been paying Kibbeh Nayyeh for his glowing reviews - especially his undying love for the short smoked salmon...

Link to post
Share on other sites

This topic sort of died out and lost popularity before I joined this forum. It's interesting and also to reread the comments relative to the dates when they were made. Yelp is notorious to business people (not just restaurants)...but it seems to have modified and eased up on its actions vis a vis the restaurants and businesses in the last year or two.

You don't hear about them arm twisting or threatening the businesses as much or pursuing advertising via threats. This might have coincided with when they went public a little while ago and raised a ton of money. It might have coincided with the fact that they didn't want to encourage law suits once public.

They still are adversarial and antagonistic when trying to get advertising.

Meanwhile while yelp might have mitigated its "mafia like" approach to potential advertisers in the last couple of years...one thing hasn't changed. Reviews are still faked. Its a big big issue.

Reviews are faked in yelp, they are faked in google+ local pages for businesses and they are faked elsewhere. There are various businesses and sources where you could buy reviews. They are all over the web.

There are faked positive reviews and faked negative attack reviews. Our different smbs of various sorts which are not restaurants have been the recipients of faked reviews planted by competitors. I've seen them in google, yelp, and yahoo. There are notorious review sites where you can complain about the business. Some of them were getting huge visibility in google search.

Google has a forum monitored by its staff for small businesses to try and work through the issues with getting your record straight and appropriately shown in google.com when they insert maps and brief descriptions of those businesses. That data highlights the reviews.

That forum over time has been full of complaints via businesses who claim faked attack reviews by competitors. Computer repair stores in one Arizona city and auto rental places in some Florida cities were full of complaints abt competitors generating fake attack reviews. Those 2 come to my mind. I reviewed the details. They were striking. I spoke with some of the businesses.

There were hundreds more similar experiences.

Reviews on review sites are a modern web way of life. They are often faked. Alternatively businesses try and "manage reviews" to get a lot of positive reviews. There are businesses that operate to generate positive reviews. Its rampant in the dental and auto repair business.

While there are people trying to pay "elite yelpers" to write positive reviews....there are all sorts of alternatives out there. Yelp will police those if they can...but yelp won't remove faked attack reviews no matter how much you address it and how much info you give them. Meanwhile review management firms and seo's have found how to "manipulate" yelp a little to try and get more positive reviews showcased and not filtered and hidden.

One interesting thing today relative to the DC market. OpenTable is very big here. Its one of the markets that OpenTable is strongest with a large percentage of restaurants using them (larger than most cities). If you currently scan review volume for a significant number of restaurants you can find that there are roughly as many reviews on the restaurants on yelp, google + pages, and opentable. If the restaurants don't use opentable you might find as many google + reviews as yelp reviews.

On your mobile you have apps that give you google local results or yelp results or opentable results.

I don't think yelp is as powerful with regard to restaurants today as it was a while back. That is my opinion.

DR.com is not yelp and yelp is not DR.com Yelp is hugely monetized. It raised millions of dollars. It has this enormous staffing. It has local DC yelp community people on staff. it has an enormous costly paid advertising staff. It has a sizable technical staff.

DR.com provides discussions, depth, expertise, fascinating writing, reviews, more discussions etc. yelp does not.

It appears to me that if only because there are dramatically more sources for reviews and alternatives to yelp it is no longer as much of a bugaboo and threat as it once was.

and that is good IMHO. meanwhile long live DR.com with its quality comments.

Link to post
Share on other sites

On a slightly different topic, I just got finished reading an article on washingtonpost.com (not food-related).

As so often happens, there are hundreds (there are sometimes thousands) of comments, the vast majority of which are breathtakingly stupid, about half of which are dominated by partisan politics (the topic could be about the Large Hadron Collider, and by the tenth comment, people are arguing about the tea party and Obama), a precious few are absolutely brilliant, and 100% of them are buried and lost.

When I think of how much time these commenters waste, sending their thoughts straight down through an internet garbage disposal, like darkness being sent into outer space, earthworms dropped into the Amazon, or a few bits of sand thrown onto a beach, when I think of this, I pity the stupidity of the commenters - not because of the comments themselves, but because they (the people) are completely wasting their time - especially the ones who have something intelligent to say. The "Comments" sections of major news organizations appear to be there to appease the readers, and serve almost no other purpose - I'm willing to bet the editor doesn't read too many of them.

I have dreams to make everything ever written on this website easily obtainable, and I plan to do just that with ... well, I can't tell you now because it would ruin the surprise. But no comment written on donrockwell.com is going to be lost to oblivion. When you're dealing with massive amounts of data, then organizing that data, and having rapid, easy-to-use search capabilities means everything. It's the card catalog in the library.

The comments written here are going to be read and studied centuries in the future. That is my goal.

Link to post
Share on other sites

If you want to see how reviews can go political look at the reviews for Max's Delicatessan in Birmingham Alabama. I think the guy initially spoke up saying that new laws in Alabama were going to make it tough for people and restaurants. He didn't rip the anti immigrant Alabama ruling...he said it was going to be hard.

It generated this attack on him...for political reasons and then it generated a review defense of his restaurant...based on politics again.

You can see it here: https://plus.google.com/102137604670770131103/about?hl=en

If you filter the reviews by Best or worse you'll begin to see all the politics involved. A lot of politics. not that much discussion of sandwiches

Link to post
Share on other sites

The comments written here are going to be read and studied centuries in the future. That is my goal.

Last Thursday I was preparing for a drive to Lexington KY and was reading reviews posted here about places along the way. I'd already gotten a good deal of great info about Lexington itself (thanks again Jackie/GoldenTicket!) and with an 8 hour drive we'd have to stop somewhere along the way.

I stumbled on a post written about 3 1/2 years ago regarding places in Western MD and thought "Well that's a useful bit of info and I'm not sure I've been to any of those three places. Maybe I'll check one out."

Turns out I had been to those places, because...I wrote the post. With a little memory jogging and re-reading, I could then remember the places and something of the food.

So...oddly...in some ways I'm using this site to talk to "future Jay" as he stumbles around looking for future food.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Last Thursday I was preparing for a drive to Lexington KY and was reading reviews posted here about places along the way. I'd already gotten a good deal of great info about Lexington itself (thanks again Jackie/GoldenTicket!) and with an 8 hour drive we'd have to stop somewhere along the way.

I stumbled on a post written about 3 1/2 years ago regarding places in Western MD and thought "Well that's a useful bit of info and I'm not sure I've been to any of those three places. Maybe I'll check one out."

Turns out I had been to those places, because...I wrote the post. With a little memory jogging and re-reading, I could then remember the places and something of the food.

So...oddly...in some ways I'm using this site to talk to "future Jay" as he stumbles around looking for future food.

Thank goodness I'm not the only one. Or I'll find myself about to post something, especially about a farmer's market, and discover that I wrote the exact same thing 3, 4, 6 years earlier.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank goodness I'm not the only one. Or I'll find myself about to post something, especially about a farmer's market, and discover that I wrote the exact same thing 3, 4, 6 years earlier.

Hehe - My father used to play guitar in the church folk music group, the one that played music at 10:30 mass each Sunday. One Saturday he spent all day writing a new song that he hoped the group would use - and at the end of the day he played it for us. We began to sing along with it and he looked perplexed - "Dad, you spent all day to re-write a song that's already in the book!"

In grade school we called this "Vuja-Day" - an uncanny ability to predict the past. This skill seems to improve with age.

Back on topic - I don't use Yelp even in the most dire straits as there's always a McDonalds / Waffle House / Arby's nearby that I trust more. I tend to play the odds and this plan suits me fine.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's a prime example of my woes.

I just saw the Yelp review page for Notting Hill <-- note the news.

These people seem like perfectly decent, competent diners who got hosed, and I believe they got hosed because they relied on Yelp. So how do I get, for example, "Abby A" from Falls Church to find out about donrockwell.com?

It seems like such a simple answer ("Marketing!"), and it is sometimes deflating how many knowledgable diners have never even heard of this website - I'm not even talking about other parts of the country; I'm talking about from around here.

We need to break into the mainstream, and I believe we have the model to do it without compromising our quality - the question is: How? Should I go put on a bunny suit and hand out brochures in front of the Clarendon Cheesecake Factory? I guess I *could* pull a "Bedding Barn" (remember Uncle Sam in the background, doing a little dance during that TV commercial), but I'd rather retain a certain minimal level of dignity.

I guess I need to stop analyzing and start "doing," but my role is most valuable as a mentor, organizer, whatever you want to call it, but not as a marketer - I hate self-promotion, the people who do it annoy me, and I don't want to be one of "them."

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's a prime example of my woes.

I just saw the Yelp review page for Notting Hill <-- note the news.

These people seem like perfectly decent, competent diners who got hosed, and I believe they got hosed because they relied on Yelp. So how do I get, for example, "Abby A" from Falls Church to find out about donrockwell.com?

It seems like such a simple answer ("Marketing!"), and it is sometimes deflating how many knowledgable diners have never even heard of this website - I'm not even talking about other parts of the country; I'm talking about from around here.

We need to break into the mainstream, and I believe we have the model to do it without compromising our quality - the question is: How? Should I go put on a bunny suit and hand out brochures in front of the Clarendon Cheesecake Factory? I guess I *could* pull a "Bedding Barn" (remember Uncle Sam in the background, doing a little dance during that TV commercial), but I'd rather retain a certain minimal level of dignity.

I guess I need to stop analyzing and start "doing," but my role is most valuable as a mentor, organizer, whatever you want to call it, but not as a marketer - I hate self-promotion, the people who do it annoy me, and I don't want to be one of "them."

Have you considered taking the opposite approach, at the risk of being "elitist"?

Right now you have a mix of industry pros, skilled reviewers and a handful of general public folks like myself. What you don't have are anonymous jerks, games being played or questionable motives. I think that increased scale will likely increase those undesirable elements, or at least the perception of them.

You and the team already moderate heavily and for the good. Maybe you make membership much stricter - with a few hoops to jump through (and no anonymity) to make it a fairly exclusive club of contributors. I understand the risks that involves but it preserves the reputation of the site and reviews while making being here kind of "club like" - something that's desired.

But I sense that's the exact opposite of what you want. I sense it is NOT what you stand for here.

So how about taking some offshoots from this site and developing them into a wider scope. For instance, the DR.com meetups could be something that's touted when promoting the site to others, but built up to be a "big thing" - where getting an invitation is considered a big deal and a perk of being a participating member here; and is something that sets your site apart. Think of it as the real-world social club aspect. And I think you could monetize that fairly.

You might consider a "digest" that is sent once a week to members with highlights of recent reviews / events / VIP postings / conversations. The email digest would always draw people back to the site, AND be designed to be forwarded easily to others. This could ultimately evolve into its own media offering, a magazine or online thing...that could sell decent advertising.

Likewise, individual items from that digest could show up on social media, like facebook. In fact, I'm surprised you don't do more of this...kind of like Washingtonian does...Sample Facebook postings:

"Don Rockwell says harsh things about new bistro in Adams Morgan...(review)" (picture)(click to site)(share)

"Broccoli stems - Love em? Hate em? (discussion)" (picture) (Click to site) (share)

"Old Ebbitt Grill closing its doors tonight at midnight...(news)" (picture)(click to site)(share)

The "shares" are where you'll get new people to the site. It allows us (current readers) to do your legwork for you in an easy way.

Basically, I'm saying to consider making it less about being the best/perfect/biggest site, and rather have the site simply be the hub for a bigger, unique and desirable "swirl of good living" to which you grace your good name.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

So how about taking some offshoots from this site and developing them into a wider scope. For instance, the DR.com meetups could be something that's touted when promoting the site to others, but built up to be a "big thing" - where getting an invitation is considered a big deal and a perk of being a participating member here; and is something that sets your site apart. Think of it as the real-world social club aspect. And I think you could monetize that fairly.

You might consider a "digest" that is sent once a week to members with highlights of recent reviews / events / VIP postings / conversations. The email digest would always draw people back to the site, AND be designed to be forwarded easily to others. This could ultimately evolve into its own media offering, a magazine or online thing...that could sell decent advertising.

Likewise, individual items from that digest could show up on social media, like facebook. In fact, I'm surprised you don't do more of this...kind of like Washingtonian does...Sample Facebook postings:

"Don Rockwell says harsh things about new bistro in Adams Morgan...(review)" (picture)(click to site)(share)

"Broccoli stems - Love em? Hate em? (discussion)" (picture) (Click to site) (share)

"Old Ebbitt Grill closing its doors tonight at midnight...(news)" (picture)(click to site)(share)

Thanks for these thoughts! Two quick thoughts of my own, and then a request for clarification:

1) I think your perception of our membership is wrong. Those "anonymous jerks" on other sites would not be anonymous jerks here - we're not set up as an environment that fosters anonymous jerkitude. We've had our share, but they find out quickly that their games, or anterior motives, will be slapped down here. Quite often, people that have walked through our door with an agenda or an attitude have been "loved to death," and have become important members.

2) We don't moderate heavily at all; we just hyper-organize things. I just went back and looked at the deleted posts, and I'm proud to say that in the past week, only *two posts* have been deleted: a duplicate which was deleted at the request of Sthitch, and this one from Ericandblueboy (which just didn't make the laugh committee laugh): "When did communism take over? [just kidding]" That's it!

In other words, I believe that if these anonymous jerks on other websites flooded our gates, they wouldn't be anonymous jerks here. I think we could have 100,000 members and keep the same level of quality that we have now because the "model" is set up correctly.

Now my request for clarification: how do I get these things on Facebook other than writing them myself? I have a lot of Facebook friends, but don't want to use my personal account to pimp this website. dcdining.com has a page, but only has about 500 members. I'm all ears and open to suggestions!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's a prime example of my woes.

I just saw the Yelp review page for Notting Hill <-- note the news.

These people seem like perfectly decent, competent diners who got hosed, and I believe they got hosed because they relied on Yelp. So how do I get, for example, "Abby A" from Falls Church to find out about donrockwell.com?

It seems like such a simple answer ("Marketing!"), and it is sometimes deflating how many knowledgable diners have never even heard of this website - I'm not even talking about other parts of the country; I'm talking about from around here.

Did you read the filtered reviews* for that place? Oh, my lord.

I'd refrain from making generalizations about people just because they use yelp. How do you know the same people aren't on Chowhound, eGullet, etc., or have blogs of their own? Maybe some of them could actually be registered here too.

It is a basic contradiction in your very core that you do not want to appear to be promoting yourself but you need to promote yourself in order to advertise your website the way you want. Having a business manager handle some of that was a great idea. Maybe just leave the PR details to other people.

*especially the recent ones

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.




×
×
  • Create New...