Reader: Yelp reviews are by real people -- that's the real problem

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Cafe Society had stooped to a new low with its list of the "Top five most ridiculous Denver Yep restaurant reviews,"Jennifer said. Obviously not, since we're going even lower by highlighting this response by Jay to Jennifer's comment:

50% of yelp reviews are:

A. "The portions were small, I'd rather go to __________ (insert chain restaurant)."
B. "I never actually ate there, I just had a PBR at happy hour, but the menu looked expensive and had no gluten free options so I don't think I'll go back."
C. "The food was not authentic. I know what authentic is because I studied abroad in ______."

At the end of the day, Yelp is real reviews by real people. However, most real people are dumb and useless.

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13 comments
Uncledave8
Uncledave8

Yelp is what it is - largely uncensored and often useless. However, there are many of us Yelpers who spend significant time and energy writing thoughtful (frequently more so than Westword) reviews that provide useful, intelligent reviews of a vast number of "real" restaurants in Denver that Westword will never get around to reviewing. Take it or leave it - it's here to stay. Smart restaurant owners watch it carefully because we are the voice of the people.

ToddBradley
ToddBradley

I must read totally different Yelp reviews than the rest of you, because I can't remember a single one complaining about (or even discussing) portion size. The reviews that come up for me on Yelp are usually decent quality - info about food styles, things to avoid on the menu, things to not avoid, etc. I can't say I always agree with them, but I've got different tastes than a lot of people. But am I the one person who got the Yelp iPhone app that automatically filters out the poorly-written reviews?

Mantonat
Mantonat

Given that most people aren't good writers and most people don't have training or experience in critical analysis, I don't know why anyone actually expects the writing on Yelp to be good. Yelp is not a bad source for data trends; if enough people say the same thing about a given business (even if they say it poorly), it's probably a pretty good bet that there's some truth behind the trend.

Professional food writers and restaurant critics are paid to entertain and inform based on their education and experience. Their salaries are (hopefully) commensurate with their writing ability and accumulation of knowledge. Yelp is the sound a dog makes when you kick it. For those who post ratings on Yelp, you are helping form a consensus that will guide others toward higher quality consumer experiences. You are not replacing professional journalists.

Dough2000boy
Dough2000boy

If you drew a Venn diagram of the universe of Yelp reviewers and the universe of Westword readers, I would have to believe that they're pretty co-extensive, so I find it incredible that Westword staff thinks it's a good idea to insult and mock Yelp reviewers. You just look petty and vindictive, especially since you seem to be rapidly losing readership to Yelp. Laura Skunk hasn't reviewed a restaurant that I've had any interest in reading about in the time that she has taken over from Jason Sheehan (Rodney's and Carmine's, really?!!! At least try to review something that has been open less than twenty years.)

REAL Funny
REAL Funny

Oh my.... i love that last line. It's true, most Yelp reviews are embarrassing to the authors but they're too stupid to realize that they should be embarrassed. They don't know what they don't know. Yelp - Real Reviews By Real People should read: Yelp - Real Cheap People Lowering The Standard of Good Taste Real Fast.

There's nothing like memorializing your bad ideas about being a critic on a free web site. AND, BTW, in case some Yelpers are wondering, it's unlikely that Patty Calhoun is cruising Yelp looking for the next Jason Sheehan on those pages. Your real audience is the rest of the herd...

Jay
Jay

You can't remember ONE single reviewer discussing portions size? Go to the Denver Yelp homepage and search "portions." Hundreds of reviews with the word "portions" come up. Almost every restaurant where the large portions are mentioned gets 4-5 stars. Whereas, almost every restaurant with small portions mentioned gets fewer stars.

Don't get me wrong, I sincerely like Yelp and I'm glad that it exists. I agree it's nice that people post what menu items to avoid or not miss. However, do they really need to wrap that advice in a 500 word poorly written narrative?

Uncledave8
Uncledave8

Like Laura Shunk and Lori Midson are professional food writers - puleeeze.

Jennifoodie
Jennifoodie

I could not have said it better myself. And another valid point that has been discussed is that Yelp "reviewers" are accountable to no one. Actual food critics, writers, editors and reviewers are. With the advent of social networking sites there is a massive sense of entitlement (it's a whole other argument as to whether this sense existed before and is just being fed, or access to online forums caused this...another time.) Being a food nerd is what I'm about, and who I am, speaking for myself. I want nerds who are into what they reviewing to be the ones who have the responsibility to discern and articulate their subject matter. When I go into a tire store, I want to buy tires from the guy who lives for tires, because he is the best person to give me the best opinion on tires. Folks deserve the best people to help them decide where to spend their bit of extra income, and in these tough economic times it's never been more important to me to do the best job I can, and the Westword Cafe staff are some of the best and most dedicated food nerds you could ever want.

Jay
Jay

Is "Yelp Elite" a cult that is unable to handle criticism?

There are some positive things about Yelp: Yelp's Android app serves as a great portable rolodex of local businesses. Yelp is also good for helping me find an adequate meal when I'm traveling or in an unfamiliar neighborhood.

However, many Yelp reviews are posted by cheap narcissists who are overly fixated on portion size. We get it, you're not special or talented. You became "Yelp Elite" so you could get invited to "Yelp Elite Events" and receive free food and booze in exchange for providing Yelp content so they can gain revenue by getting sponsorship from (aka, extorting) local businesses. To me, Yelp is no substitution for real food writing because it's too predictable:-Fogo De Chao = 5 stars because they have unlimited portions!!!-Everywhere else = Less than 5 stars. While the food was good, the portions were small.-Wherever the most recent Yelp Elite event was at = 5 stars because the food and drinks were FREE!!!Throw in some: "Nothing to write home about" "My Hubby likes..." "When I lived in NYC..." and you no longer even need to read Yelp reviews because it's all the same shit.

Dough2000boy
Dough2000boy

Um, Westword in fact did pull one of their Cafe Society writers from Yelp. Lori Midson was hired by Westword, probably not coincidentally because she wrote tons of engaging and informative reviews on Yelp. Dumbass.

Jon S
Jon S

Hope you enjoyed the all the mediocre food the LA Yelpers led you too on vacation.

Lori Midson
Lori Midson

Um...I was at the Rocky Mountain News before Westword -- and had stopped writing Yelp restaurant reviews in 2007, soon after I was hired by the Rocky. I appreciate the compliment, though -- thanks!

Dough2000boy
Dough2000boy

You're welcome; I meant it. I don't have anything against Westword, after all, I'm here reading the Cafe Society blog weekly. But I don't see what the point is in denigrating Yelp. I'd bet dollars to donuts that Yelp has more influence over Denver dining than Westword does; I was just on vacation in LA last week and used Yelp to find restaurants more often than any other source. Why do your colleagues feel the need to take potshots at Yelp, when even Westword asks for online reviews from the public? Is anyone going to feel any desire to write a review on Westword's site if they know that this is what Westword's writing staff thinks of the stupid public?

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