Happy New Year! Won't you make a resolution this year to suck less in your Yelp reviews?
Luckily for Yelpers, Christmas and New Year's Day fell on Tuesdays this year; the blithering goons who infest that corner of the Internet had two whole weeks to abuse good sense and the English language.
Now that we're a week into 2013, though, the Red Pencil Diaries are back with a vengeance. This week we've got self-declared experts, people who write bizarre updates to reviews, people who cadge invitations into the much-ballyhooed Yelp Elite, people who sound like shills (whether they are or not), and much more.
Wil C.'s 3-star review of the Yard House:
There's some backstory here that wasn't apparent until I clicked all the way through: the Yard House went through one of its periodic, corporate-driven menu overhauls, and it removed Wil C.'s favorite dish, so he went on Yelp and complained, which is a surprisingly effective way to go about getting the attention of a large corporate chain restaurant. The restaurant's social media watchers contacted him and walked him through the menu, and he tried it three months later and wrote a 5-star review.
That, at least, is what I'm assuming the backstory is, because the review itself is impenetrable in its English errors. It's fine to be a non-native speaker of English writing on Yelp, but it helps to emphasize what should be an ironclad rule of re-reviews on Yelp: always, ALWAYS write a sentence or two referring to your previous review or any backstory.
Also, don't create publicly visible groups with names trying to wheedle your way back into the Yelp Elite. It's awkward, and those of us who aren't rolling our eyes are embarrassed for you; you sound like the high school nerd who tries to get into the party. (Trust me, I know from experience.)
Nina S.'s 5-star review of Posch:
Restaurants have little recourse when angry Yelpers converge on them. Sure, they can write responses, but they often come across as hand-wringing and aren't nearly as visible as the original, often fiery rant. It's tempting to just try and temper the ratings (remember, Yelp is really only useful as an aggregate) by hinting to people that Yelp is out there for their use.
Now, I am not making accusations here, though most of the reviews for the place are 1-star: for all I know, Nina S. had a fantastic time at Posch and was inspired to join Yelp just to write about it. I've never set foot; I can't even say what the rating should be. So, too, I suppose, could the same inspiration have come to Charlie B., Lana N., Cory G., Amir M., and others who have only one or two reviews. I'll say this, though, after a decade of spotting shills on Chowhound: if these are authentic reviews, then they need to read a little bit less like an ad. Learn to write a positive review!
Dow L.'s 5-star (or is it 2-star?) review of Tulsa Rib Company:
Let me get this straight. You had an incorrect credit card transaction and you decided the thing to do was to go on Yelp and complain about it? What if they hadn't been reading Yelp? Why the hell would you not just call the restaurant the next day (pro tip: call between 2 and 5 p.m., when the staff will have the most time to help you) and spend ten minutes getting it straightened out? Is your time really worth $60 an hour even when you're not at work?
I'm glad they were consummate professionals--they're nice people anyway--but you need to stand up for yourself instead of whining like a quasi-anonymous idiot on the Internet when you're wronged.
Stacy P.'s 4-star review of Albertsons:
This is one of my favorite types of Yelpers: the person who studied something and is therefore an expert. The would-be expert's qualification of their bona fides usually takes the form of "Trust me, I studied this" or "I work in the medical [or whatever] field, so I know." I mean, I studied Portuguese and anthropology, but I'm not in high demand in either of those fields.
There's a little organization out there, Stacy P., called the Orange County Health Care Agency; they're the inspectors who make sure the people selling food are adhering to food service standards. They come by multiple times a year and do things like take the temperature of the holding units to ensure food doesn't come into the danger zone of 40ºF to 140ºF. The fact that the open-sided refrigeration units continue to be used is proof that they satisfy the professionals who do this every day. Your milk is not spoiling in there. Sorry to contradict your food handler's certificate or whatever.
Bryan H.'s 3-star review of Capital Seafood:
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Let's get this straight. You went to a Cantonese seafood restaurant famous for its dim sum in the mornings and its fresh-from-the-tanks seafood preparations in the evening; you ignored the entire menu, including the gwailo-friendly items like sweet-and-sour fried fish and steamed Alaskan king crab legs with garlic noodles, and ordered multiple kinds of fried rice? Then you decided only the pineapple fried rice was any good and called the restaurant mediocre?
Here's a little lesson in Chinese culture for you: at a Chinese banquet, fried rice comes out last because it's what you use to fill up any empty pockets in your stomach; the idea is to leave most of it in the dish to show the host that they served so much good food that you can't possibly finish the last course.
In other words, fried rice, pineapple or otherwise, is a complete afterthought in any authentic Chinese restaurant. Next time try some actual dishes; they're better than you'd think. If you're too squeamish to order things like whole fish or winter melon soup with scallops stuffed into the hollow cores of the melon slices, at least try some actual protein next time. Then update your review.