The Yelp Conspiracy
Yesterday, I posted a positive message about Yelp. While searching for images I came across the following image:
I couldn’t resist a little digging and here is the story. My source is a Boston Food Blog. I do not know the blogger, one William McAdoo.He is a self-confessed foodie, whose mission is to help people have inspiring gastronomical experiences. He found himself quoted in the Boston Globe saying:
“Some restaurateurs and staff who do not have a favorable view of these sites spoke to me under condition of anonymity. “There’s sometimes a faceless nastiness on the sites,’’ says one. “People will sometimes attack chefs personally in a way that’s baseless and cruel.’’ A well-known restaurateur who refused to put a Google sticker on his door says, “They collect personal information and sell it. Why should I help? They can manufacture popularity with these sites, but it can go the other way.’’
This quote stimulated an underground movement of alternative review sites such as Chowhound and eGullet which are national forums. For all my readers in Boston (are there any?), or people planning to visit that fair city, there are North Shore Dish, Eat Boutique, and the well-named: Fork It Over, Boston.
But what fascinates me is whether in the fiercely competitive world of gourmet restaurants, are owners sending people to post negative reviews? The mind boggles with possibilities. How about training rats to cook exquisite meals. Oh wait, that has already happened.
The question remains, however: in this on-line world where we are all increasingly checking reviews before buying a product or service, who is watching the watchers? And who gives reviews on them!
Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).