Life reviewed with Yelp.com

I love YelpPersonal accounts of experiences, rants, or raves are often deciding factors prior to stepping foot into a dining / retail establishment or completing a business transaction. Not surprising considering the fact that as humans, we all appreciate certain levels of service and are often turned-off by anything less.

Why go through the hassle or apprehension of experiencing a new “hot” spot in town for the first-time when others may have already done so? The current state of the web is of a social & sharing nature; an internet comprised of users willing to share their feelings in hopes of persuading or dissuading you for or from a stellar or lackluster experience. Isn’t it time you saved yourself from experiencing less than stellar service?

Above and beyond stagnant censored reviews

We’ve all shared similar experiences at local restaurants, bars, retail stores, or the corner coffee shop. That elated feeling due in part to an excellent wait staff & meal, or that disgusted feeling from less than cordial service. We all contain within us an innate quality to share our experiences with others. Uncensored and unabated, Yelp.com serves as a social platform for sharing our personal experiences in a way unrivaled by any other service.

Prior to discovering Yelp, I knew of nowhere other than CitySearch or CityGuide to turn to for local reviews. A pity considering that the Yelp service was co-founded by Jeremy Stoppelman & Russel Simmons back in 2004 (about Yelp).

Yelp puts the power of real customer reviews back into the hands of users in an open environment featuring user moderation, voting, recommending, discussions, private messaging, and city focused forums where real locals mingle and organize social events. The simplicity of Craigslist mashed together with the Yahoo & Google API, photo sharing, and oftentimes brutally honest or witty reviews previously reserved for personal blogs.

Reviews are meant to be shared… and read

Yelp offers users an incredible array of features geared towards the social aspect of user generated reviews. It is incredibly easy to share reviews with others thanks to the convenient “Send to friend” option available with any Yelp review. Additionally, Yelp allows users to create specialized lists based on personal recommendations. Take for example Michelle’s thorough list of reviewed Wifi hotspots in the greater Seattle area.

Furthermore, Yelp also offers interactive maps [Blog Bling] generated off of submitted reviews. Additionally, these maps (as seen to the left), can feature venues from the aforementioned custom lists allowing members to share specific content with contacts through their blogs, MySpace, or Xanga pages.

Local users in your area

With the widespread use of Yelp, chances are that users are already actively reviewing and mingling in your locality. At current, Yelp offers review directories for major cities including Seattle, San Francisco, Austin, and New York among others. Point your browser towards Yelp and register your free account or take the tour. I can almost guarantee that once a few reviews are read, your desire to voice your own opinion will undoubtedly present itself. How can you resist with checking out a service which offers “Make me Yelp” underwear?

Full disclosure – Yelp Elite

For the record, no monetary compensation was received in exchange for this Yelp “review”. I would gladly point out that the service offers a realistic perspective of local venues based off of reviews from real people.

Blowing bubbles at a recent Yelp Elite party

To view more images from a recent Yelp Elite party in Seattle, feel free to check out the Seattle Yelp Elite Squad set on Flickr. You see, Yelpers stumble around like anyone else would after too many Yelp Cosmos.

Discuss - 11 Comments

  1. shorty114 says:

    Good catch. I’ve signed up and posted a few (2) reviews already…

  2. sarah says:

    Wow, this proves useful as I have not been around Seattle that much.. ugh.. considering I’m here for 2 years. Huhuhu!! Okay, need to go out more, need to check fab places reviewed by REAL people.. maybe do some reviewing myself. HAHA!!

  3. Bernie says:

    I moved to San Francisco about a year ago, and the combination of candid user reviews and a pretty slick interface has made Yelp my default city-exploring and restaurant suggestion tool.

  4. Derek says:

    I can definitely see how a service as great as Yelp can make the transition of moving into a new city easier.

  5. Kory Twaites says:

    I’ve been looking for some new places to try while i’m here in new orleans for school, and I think this is a great service for finding out some good quality restaurants.

  6. MON says:

    tHERE CUSTOMER SUPPORT AT YELP SUCKS. I HAD A REVIEW ON MY BUSINESS AND IT WAS VIOLATING THEIR CRITERIA BUT IT HASN’T BEEN REMOVED YET. I SENT IT IN 5 TIMES TO BE REVIEWED. I WOULD LIKE THEM TO GET WITH IT.

  7. John says:

    Nice article! I am a fan of Yelp! However, I seem to find myself using other review websites such as http://www.ReviewPage.com and http://www.InsiderPages.com more often. I am not sure why, I guess I am just a fan of the underdog. lol.

  8. ben says:

    Yelp censors reviews!!

    • Derek says:

      Maybe "censorship" has something to do with businesses sending in too many complaints about users being to harsh or inaccurate? I don’t know. It’s been quite awhile since I’ve read a review. Most of the time, I feel as though some reviewers write to be read, not to help others decide on whether or not the venue is worth visiting.

  9. NancyBoySF says:

    The is the ugly side of Yelp in the Wild Wild West of the Internet. Slander for Ad $$$$

    Reality TV and Yelp have a lot in common. It is *entertainment* at the expense of regular
    people. The only difference is Yelp is trying to sell advertising to businesses who’ve been
    hit by a few random negative reviews. In another world we’d call that blackmail.

    My former account was wiped out for writing positive reviews which reflected my experience.
    Shortly before my account was *deleted* on Yelp – I was solicited for a business advertising
    package. I was told I could move or remove a two negative reviews as well. I still declined.
    It was blackmail as plain as day. The negative reviewers have never made a positive
    comment on any business. It certainly makes one wonder if Yelp has staff who write negative
    reviews to stir up controversy and then targets the business to solicit advertising.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lawrence-coburn/is-the-yelp-controversy-o_b_169604.html
    http://sfist.com/2009/03/20/yelp_extortion_story_grows.php

    Anyone can be critical in a negative way. In every office or organization across the nation,
    you’ll find those negative people and they’ve found Yelp an excellent place to rip a barrista
    for not having a smile on their face as the complainers hand $5 for their frappacino.

    Apparently my experience is not unique. So IMHO anonymous free reviews are worthless.
    For now I’ll continue to rely on word of mouth from reliable people if I need advice.

    Thank you for posting – the problem with Yelp will be ongoing as their business model
    encourages negative reviews as a form of entertainment.

  10. drbone says:

    I don’t particularly care for Yelp myself. I’ve also read some of the negative things about yelp supposedly trying to extort money from businesses in exchange for highlighting positive reviews, etc. I think it’s a better idea to avoid them and stick with established sites like citysearch, and I’ve noticed a lot of new review sites cropping up like fairplayreviews.com