the IT city, the I.T. Baby


Nobody cares about your one Yelp review

Yelp LogoHey there nice to meet you. If you’re reading this chances are you’re pissed at some place and wondering why you bothered to sign up for Yelp and leave a 1-star review for the worst mechanic, chef, restaurant, contractor, babysitter or whatever only to find they deleted your scathing review?

Alternately You’ve had the best service of your life and have found that you can’t leave a 5-star review and have it listed for more than a hot minute. What the hell?

What I’ve discovered in five years of Yelping

So, there’s a bunch of muckity muck involved algorithmically that I could bother to explain, and the community managers will point you to it if you want to see it, but I figured I’d skip that and get right down to it and why your first review doesn’t matter and why if you think it does you’re probably thinking Yelp is something different than what it actually is.

First off you need to accept that a person who reviews only one thing is useless as a reviewer. That’s it. You could have walked in to Chateau Throatclearingsound and watched the chef murdering people and written a completely accurate description of what became chili later and nobody’s going to believe it because they don’t know you.

Alternately you had the best experience of your life at a place and want to tell the world how great it is but you know what, nobody cares.

Well, let me qualify both of these statements – nobody cares about someone they don’t know with no track record or history of reviews. This is what it comes down to when you’re looking at a real review site. Yelp is a community of reviewers writing reviews, not a place for someone to walk in say “hey guys, this mechanic’s really good 5 stars !!!!!1111!1oneoneoneeleventyone!” and have their statement matter as they walk out never to return.

Do you believe someone who posts that the burger joint that’s been shut down six times for health code violations this month is on par with the finest cuisine in Le Trendi area? Probably not unless you could see that that person goes to weird locations and searches out the best, most underrated dining experiences that other people overlook.

Do you trust someone who gives five stars to a place and has no other reviews? If you do, go to Yahoo Local, Google Reviews or some other place to get and post your reviews. They’ll let anyone review, even the owners of the establishment.

Yelp is a different beast, and you should bother to understand what that beast is before you attempt to fight it and fail. And don’t get me wrong, you will fail to change the thing unless you’re actually right on the money. You can call Yelp a POS all day long until, it’s not going to change the fact that nobody cares about or believes your one 1-star review unless you have other reviews to weight you.

As someone who reviews just one thing you’re useless to the Yelp community. You’re someone who could be paid, could be an idiot, might have a grudge out for the owner, doesn’t understand the star system, or might just be misguided. Nobody cares about your first review. Nobody cares about your first day. OK, some people do, but it’s a valid assumption if you have no other reviews you have no weight.

As someone who reviews a couple of things, you’ve got a very small track record. Imagine that first day of work. Are you going to promote someone and give them a raise based on how they show up for the first eight hours of employment? No. You’re going to watch them over weeks, months, see what they do, and see what they think, see how they work with their co-workers and customers.

Beyond a track record of reviews, there’s a sanity check system in place in the form of the other members of Yelp (imagine them as the above mentioned co-workers.) Someone parks on the street, has a fine experience in the restaurant, and gets a parking ticket and leaves a 1-star review based on getting a parking ticket, screw that review, it’ll get filtered as an unjust review/out of the bounds of the restaurant’s control.

15 people sign up for Yelp, leave a 5-star review for Bob’s Auto Shop, never come back, bye bye probably fake/purchased reviews. It’s discovered Stinky the Clown is offering 20% off birthday party gigs for a positive Yelp review? Bye bye all reviews for a while.

So, if you want your review to stick on Yelp, if you want your opinion to matter to anyone, you’ve got to understand what Yelp is. Yelp isn’t your opinion about one restaurant one day. It’s not a thousand one line reviews about a place that say “great food!!!! eleventy!” Yelp is a bunch of random people who all have a track record of reviews who are interested in promoting the good establishments, leaving constructive criticism of the bad, and not being dicks about their assumed right to post their opinion on the internet.

It’s Yelp’s game, you want to play it learn the rules. Want to spout off on that nonsense about Yelp as an advertising agency pressuring small businesses into advertising or leaving bad reviews up, go for it. If you believe that line of mostly disproven or debunked rubbish, you should believe that it’s not worth your time to post on or use Yelp.

You should also bother to check out those businesses reviews on other review sites. Odd how the only site that reviews them badly is usually the only one that has people who have ever reviewed another establishment.

But I digress.

You’d probably never blindly trust someone you never met who encouraged you to purchase something that they might have a monetary stake in, so imagine what your one random review looks like to the public who knows there are plenty of companies attempting to purchase fake reviews.

So that’s why your one Yelp review doesn’t matter. Oh, it might. There’s a chance the world saw through your random internet persona and discovered the beauty and wonder that was your post. It does happen occasionally and I’ve seen both positive and negative first reviews stick in some instances.

But generally you should assume unless you want to be a part of Yelp, you’re not going to be a part of Yelp. And writing two reviews so your first scathing review of a bad place sticks doesn’t work either, sorry, you’re going to have to commit or quit.

Paul has no commercial affiliation with Yelp, he just uses the site and is tired of reading random blogs in which people complain that their first, and only review which was a scathing review based on one visit to a place didn’t stick on Yelp. Also he had nothing to write about one day so wrote this up to put in italics and post on a day when he had nothing.

Paul King

Paul King lives in Nashville Tennessee with his wife, two daughters and cats. He writes for Pocketables, theITBaby, and is an IT consultant along with doing tech support for a film production company.