I used to love Yelp.
I remember when the Web 2.0 site meant that I could indulge my obsession with finding local gems. You know what I’m talking about…the type of place that you drive by every week and always wonder if it’s any good (it is). Crowdsourced reviews meant I could trust my neighbor to tell me what was good without ever having to actually talk to them. What? I’m shy.
Then something happened, people became assholes. Blame Food Network, Top Chef, or even American Idol. Going out to eat no longer meant checking out a new cuisine, culture, or neighborhood. Our newly formed Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives culture means the masses expect every dining experience to be unique and mindblowing; we expect to be floored with delight and convulse with adoration. Fuck local business if they don’t bend backwards for our hard-earned dollar…it’s a goddamn recession and we expect to be entertained.
Somewhere along this process we forgot that these local businesses are what make up the concept of a community. A beer at our bar on a Thursday night, a slice of pizza with the softball team, dishing about crazy girlfriends at the barber shop these experiences are a cornerstone of what brings people together. Local businesses are owned by people just like you and they make a living by providing for the community around them.
The problem is some people just don’t really give a shit. They don’t care that somebody owns a business that they pour their heart/soul into, and just how much it costs to run a business.
Instead what they care about is that somebody gave them a funny look while they were waiting in line and that Rebecca Black’s Friday was playing on the radio. One-star.
They go to a bar order a beer they’ve never tried and don’t like it. One-star. Well, the bartender was cute though…two-stars.
The untold story of Yelp is that the business owner has no recourse against these types of reviews. Yelp will occasionally remove a falsified review, based on the subjective opinion of somebody working at Yelp HQ. Even owner comments that you see under a review must be approved by Yelp, and only in response to a false claim. Bottom-line: Yelp is not built to encourage fulfilling owner-customer relationships. Quite the opposite.
In any case…that’s just my opinion. No, I’m not a local business owner. I’m just a guy who really loves the concept of neighborhoods and localism. But whatever, haters gonna hate right?