Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Yelp, Schmelp or Eater, Beware That Recommendation

Yelp is no longer a resource for me. If I'm in Uptown and I need a pizza, stat, I just spam qualified friends in Uptown until someone weighs in with a recommendation. "Qualified friends?" you ask? In this case, friends who only eat good pizza.

Yelp's lack of appeal is not about the obvious payola risks. On a side note, apparently the company has applied a new "strategy" to prevent the practice. The strategy seems to involve not selling merchants the ability bury negative feedback. This is remarkably similar to preventing the exclusion of certain people from serving in the military by not excluding certain people from serving in the military, and then calling it a strategy. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

My mistrust of Yelp has to do with taste: how can you be certain your reviewer is capable of steering you to the best frozen yogurt joint in Lincoln Park? Oh, that's not a good example; they're all the same. But mid-level Italian restaurants? Listen to the wrong person and you'll find yourself faced with a 10-page menu co-written by the Saturated Fat Farmers of America with nary a cream-free option. Side note: Volare, in downtown Chicago, is where I send anyone seeking basic Italian, as opposed to a never-ending pasta bowl or a "Celebration of Cheese."

Anyway, as with movie reviews, the person to take restaurant advice from does not have to be a professional reviewer, and should not be someone who loved something you wouldn't consider finishing, or starting for that matter. Like I recently told a friend who asked if I had a recipe for Creamed Chicken Chili, just because we're friends doesn't mean we share a love of Creamed Chicken Chili. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

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