Yelp “Controversy” Merits LA Times Editorial
The near-to-my-heart Yelp debate reached a new high over the weekend, as one San Francisco restaurant’s call for diners to “Stop the bully,” and, “boycot Yelp” inspired a Los Angeles Times editorial. Its reasoning was less about the ridiculous self-righteous reviewers (still my current stink-eye target) and more about its rumored practice of hiding favorable reviews of businesses that don’t advertise on Yelp. (For its part, Yelp claims it has an algorithm to automatically weed out potentially fake, too-positive reviews.) But as the writer dives deeper into Yelp’s usefulness, she notes that the site rewards those who create the most content, deeming their content more trustworthy, even rewarding them with a (cough, “coveted”) Yelp Elite title. What they’re forgetting, the author notes, is that a review from a Yelp novice could be deemed more useful because they’re moved to take the time to write about an experience they may not otherwise share.
Surely there is more to come as this topic continues to evolve and change. As I’ve said before, online, “regular people” reviews will always have a weight and importance. But it’s up to the reader to weight these opinions appropriately before judging a place based on others’ (often uninformed) opinions.
Mario Batali’s Not-So-Secret Thoughts on Yelp
Speaking of informed opinions, Mario Batali publicly weighed in on the issue, via Twitter. When a follower asked his opinion, he gave it.
We do not look at yelp!RT. @gregsignyc:If u know identity of customer/critic of a badreview on Yelp etc … Do you confront?
— Mario Batali (@Mariobatali) April 19, 2013
And then, in a series of Tweets, defended it.
Ive never found any positive in anonymous criticism RT. @carriehkelly:a good business SHOULD be responsive to constructive criticism.” — Mario Batali (@Mariobatali) April 19, 2013
Wow ! We are very different !RT. @beachykeen22: those anonymous critics keep your business going — their opinion should matter to you” — Mario Batali (@Mariobatali) April 19, 2013
Do We Need Another Mobile Food App?
Probably not. But, I like this one. Billed as “the simple way to share your food,” Foodia is a brand new mobile app that launched today. Similar to the food-sharing apps that have come before it, Foodia encourages taking photos of dishes, tagging them by location, and sharing them. What’s different about this app, though, is it allows you to take and share photos with greater social precision: save the only for yourself, recommend a dish or restaurant to one friend, or share them with a larger group.
Sure, there are already ways of doing this same thing: take your own photo, text a photo. But the attention to detail and thoughtfulness of this app makes it worth a download for restaurant-frequenters. (Public chef accounts would make this even better.)
Save-the-Restaurant Campaigns Take Advantage of Digital Media
An under-the-radar Upper West Side New York coffee shop is in danger of closing, and its taken to Vimeo to inspire patrons, potential patrons, or anyone who will watch to help keep it open. Sasha’s Coffee takes advantage of Vimeo’s Tip Jar function, promising a portion of all donations will go toward keeping the restaurant open.
Restaurants aren’t strangers to crowdfunding; plenty use Kickstarter and similar services to raise money for a cuase (like this SF restaurant in need of a new exhaust hood.) it works, thanks to food and restaurants’ connections with their customers and the current societal emphasis on supporting local businesses. Thanks, Internet.
NYC Startups Called Out For Awesome Food
There are technology start-ups about food, and then there are technology startups that simply enjoy food. New York Magazine’s Grub Street calls out 14 NYC startups and their foodie staff perks in this jealousy-inducing list. (Can’t complain about my reheated Pizzeria Delfina from earlier today, though.)