As I was taking a break over Labor Day weekend SliceTruck got Yelp bombed.
Yelp bombed? I don't know what to call it exactly but I saw an article on someone getting Google bombed today and this seemed similar. Anywise...
We got three yelp reviews on Labor Day (all negative). This is peculiar because the truck hasn't been out selling pizza for 3 days and typically when we have a fully booked weekend and serve thousands of people we might get just 1-3 reviews at the most.
Its clear the reason is because we reviewed a Yelp review by Randi and it turns out the Yelp community did not care for this. They started by leaving anonymous comments at the bottom of the post and then moved on to posting Yelp reviews aimed at defending Randi and her review.
The other two reviews were not as obvious as this one but both tied in to the comments made on slicetruck.com and are a clear reaction to us reviewing Yelp reviews and particularly the one by Randi.
Now you might say, "Why would you even provoke these people? Its the biggest review site on the web and you want these people to be your friends. You're only hurting your business. People like positive and you're being negative etc. etc."
To this I say you're probably right and I'm sure it does appear to be a dumb business move, but we can't dwell on the past and the point I'm trying to make here is that Yelp is fatally flawed. Its a review site that can very easily be gamed or controlled by a mob. A group can decided they want to make a point and post a bunch of negative reviews or, more likely, business owners have all their friends post glowing reviews giving their business a false baseline to absorb any negative reviews. The result of this ends up providing very little help to the person who visits the site trying to find good restaurants in their area.
Another problem is that Yelpers tend to associate different values to their stars, three of five means good from some who think they're giving out Michelin stars, where three of five means average and forgettable to others.
For example if I do a search on yelp using my zip code "90291" for restaurants and sort to most reviewed and then look at the first 100 results 95% are between 3 and 4 stars. What does this mean to me? It means 4 is good and 3 is bad.
When I look at this chart that I pulled from Yelp it actually tells a similar yet different story. If I average it all out this chart tells me that 3.77 is the average rating given on Yelp. Formula:(.32*5 + .35*4 + .18*3 + .08*2 + .07*1).
Now if we use the classic letter grading system where a C is average and an average C is 75% we can call 3.77 stars average.
We're going to go off this for the letter grading:
F= less than 59%
Converting this to Yelp stars I get:
A= 4.46 Yelp stars and above
B= 3.96-4.45 Yelp stars
C= 3.46-3.95 Yelp stars
D= 2.97-3.45 Yelp stars
F= 2.96 Yelp stars and below
So basically on Yelp 3 stars is a D- or an F+. I don't think most Yelpers realize this. It doesn't matter though because the system is flawed and its too late to fix it.
Yelp is a great place for people to play restaurant critic and become virtual friends with other food writers and food picture takers, but the sum result of these peoples' activity provides little help for someone who's looking for a recommendation.