The 5 most common Yelping mistakes
I’m bored to death with meal selection.
Whether fuel, sport, or feelings, I’m simply tired of the entire proposition of trying to decide what to eat. For years, these were always split-second decisions, ones made while driving past the nearest Taco Bell. Not today.
Today they’re informed decisions, the result of internet research to learn where the closest pho restaurant is, or where to find ribs so delectable, I’d actually sacrifice a nut to the barbecue gods.
This is why I use Yelp.
Yelp provides me insight, not only in terms of making smart restaurant choices, but also in knowing which of their menu items are the most popular. There’s one small drawback.
Most Yelp reviewers have few basic writing skills, making it difficult for me to interpret their shitty reviews without wanting to put a gun to my head. It’s not that they don’t get to the point, eventually they do, but slogging through what are at best, verbose rants, can be excruciatingly painful.
For this reason, completely unsolicited, I present some observations that might assist the novice Yelper, pointing out what I consider to be some fairly common reviewer mistakes.
1. Make the review more about the restaurant and less about you.
Many reviewers feel the need to make the review about them and not the experience. Try focusing on the latter, making the overall experience your subject matter and not your life’s story.
“Oh my god, this place is sooo amazing, I love Mario’s Pizza. My boyfriend and I came here after losing our dog…”
Let’s start with the opening statement; ‘Oh my god’. This particular term is best used to describe a pre-orgasmic, genitalia-wrenching, coital maneuver and not a Yelp review. But then if you watched a little more porn you’d already know this.
Also, never invoke the term boyfriend, husband, or bff. I don’t want to know about them or how you interact. It does nothing but slow down my research at a time when I’m hungrier than all fuck.
Writing your significant other into a Yelp review is similar to how I go to pick up a cute hitchhiker and her boyfriend is hiding behind a tree or something, then wants to get in with her at the last second.
I hate you both now.
2. Get to the point, and fast!
Wasting time by writing a preamble into your review, a short story about how you settled on this restaurant is the kind of shit I really don’t care to know. It’s not germane to the review and will quickly lose reader interest. Again, make the review less about you.
“Sooo I had just finished taking my LSAT’s and was totally fried. Just then, my guy friend called to see how things went, and I was all, I’m so fried, I just want some Grey Goose and sushi right now”, and he was like, “Cool baby, I know this place….”
Boyfriend, seriously? What the fuck? What does he add to the story other than my conjecturing how you’ve been studying for weeks, putting everything on hold including sex, and will buy you just about anything to separate you from your whale tail. Also, I think it’s noble that you wish to get into law school, but again, I don’t really give a duck fuck and neither does anyone else. It doesn’t get me any closer to a decision about my supper. I’m hungry now, and I don’t want to read your fucktard diatribe about studying for tests or going out for sushi with your potentially blue-balled guy friend. If you insist on setting-up the review with some background, go with an attention grabber.
Try using something like this instead:
“Well, I’d been on set for almost four hours because the fluffer got sick and left early that day. So there I am, stuck with fluffing my co-worker before every take. It was murderous, especially with his Secretariat-like cock. I practically had to kick-start the damned thing to get it going. Anyway, when we got done shooting, the cameraman asked if I liked sushi, and I was all….”
Alright, now I’m interested.
Notice how she didn’t invoke a boyfriend in this example, but instead gave the reader someone they could identify with. In this case, someone with minimal camera/lighting skills (porn) and who could very easily be, well, me? I like this. It captures reader interest.
Also, did you see how she referenced one of the most famous racehorses of all time? Give me a 1-10 favorite who holds the fastest time ever in the Kentucky Derby and you’ve got my attention.
The bottom line is this; open with an interesting story, then quickly move onto the review and I’ll be your fan for life. And oh yeah, stop using sooo as your opener. A misspelled and misplaced conjunction makes you look like you’re twelve, talking on the cell with your bff. Jesus fuck!
3. Don’t waste time on ambiance or decor.
Writing about ambiance is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Your review is going down faster than Sasha Grey with a sack full o’ dicks.
“Alby’s Fish Taco’s soooo feels like Hawaii with its fake palm trees and Endless Summer movie posters all over the place. They even have coconut soap in the ladies room. I just love the feel of this place.”
I’m fucking hungry, that’s what’s wrong, and here you are telling me about plastic palm trees and fancy soap while I’m trying to figure out what to order. Well ‘feel‘ this. The name of the restaurant is The Islands. I already expect to see palm trees and old men in Tommy Bahama shirts plaguing the joint. I don’t need your take on it. What I need right now is for you to tell me which is better, The Pipeline burger or the Big Wave and stat, before I eat the ass out of that server who just sauntered by.
4. Don’t compare the food with your mom’s home cooking
If in your twenty-something short years, your only point of reference is your mom’s cooking, then you really should put the laptop down and go the fuck away. For all we know, you’re flattering her in your review so she’ll back-off on that whole “get a job you lazy shit” thing she’s been stuck on the last few years. Here’s an example of what not to do:
“Nobody, and I mean nobody makes Sunday gravy like my mom. That said, Putanesca Fran’s is just ok. I mean, I like it and all, but it’s not really true Italian, not like my family’s anyway.”
You’re an asshole, that’s what’s wrong.
Suggesting that because your reader is not of your ethnicity they won’t know good Italian from bad, well fuck you dry! I’m Italian too, and my mom could probably beat your mom like the hairy-lipped soul-less bitch she is for even attempting to make the slop your family calls ‘Sunday gravy’. THAT SAID, it does no good to brag on your family cooking. Anyone with a mom who spent time in the kitchen got used to her cooking, no matter how good or bad. Using her cooking as a comparative means dick unless you intend on having your readers over for Sunday supper.
Writer’s tip: Try using common flavors to compare dishes, analogies can be powerful tools.
“The aromatics in the dish could use a little work, but otherwise it’s right on par with my mom’s sauce, which is very similar to Beefaroni.™
5. Mind theatre—a little subtlety goes a long way.
Yelp likes its reviewers to be colorful, but not too. I know this to be true having had several dozen reviews removed by Yelp staffers. The use of expletives is fine, it’s when you start comparing a bad fish dinner to your girlfriend’s vagina that things will take a sudden turn for the worse. Here’s an example of what not to write:
“The aroma wafting from my Evil Jungle Princess was just that, an evil jungle princess with no access to soap, water, wash cloth, vinegar, douche nozzle, hot-water bottle, cauldron of boiling oil, or toaster with which to electrocute herself in an effort to rid herself and the planet of her evil jungle pussy fumes.”
Try this instead:
“My Evil Jungle Princess smelled like my Aunt Mary’s underpants. Or at least I think it was her underpants. Or maybe she had a medical condition that gave-off that horrific stench. I’m not sure. Anyways, it was pretty bad.”
See what I did there?
A little subtlety goes a long way. In this example, I never really made the direct comparison between the dish’s aroma and Aunt Mary’s vag, but rather, left my reader a shred of doubt by using a naivé, schoolboy-like charm. Was it her underpants? Probably not. But coming at it from the Holden Caulfield approach will both delight and confuse your readers. This is important, since it also confuses Yelp staffers who are pretty goddamned quick to remove anything deemed as even remotely inappropriate.
My point in all of this is how you don’t have to come right out and say how bad cooter was driving the bus. Your reader already knows this. Someone tells me about a stinky fish dinner and my brain immediately goes to sour crotch, mainly because there are only two things on earth that smell like bad fish—and only one of them is fish!
This is where mind theatrics come into play, by letting your reader do some of the heavy lifting.¹
From: Yelp HQ <email@example.com>
Date: September 6, 2013 11:36:32 AM MST
Subject: Message from Yelp HQ [ xxxxxxxxx]
SEP 06, 2013 | 11:36AM PDT
We wanted to let you know that we’ve removed your review of Portillo’s Hot Dogs. Our Support team has determined that it falls outside our Content Guidelines (http://www.yelp.com/guidelines) because it contains inappropriate content.
We hope you will continue to participate on Yelp while keeping our Content Guidelines in mind.
Portillo’s is where I spend a good deal of time these days.
Let’s say you lost a good sized chunk of your manhood in a dreadful snowmobiling accident as a teenager, you’d probably make it your life’s business to avoid anyplace serving footlong anythings, let alone hot dogs.
After the accident, just the opposite happened.
I began craving phallic foods, almost like a homo in heat.
My therapist says it’s the reptilian brain’s response to losing such a massive amount of dick, hoping that by eating phallic shaped foods, Nessy will someday reappear.
I think she’s wrong.
Fast forward twenty years.
Still loving phallic shaped foods and still not gay, Portillo’s is my Freudian retreat.
I visit regularly, eating mostly sausages and hot dogs, but every now and then, I’ll have an Italian beef sandwich whenever the phantom limb pain isn’t dogging me.
Chocolate shakes are every bit as addictive as heroin.
Anyways, Portillo’s as I said earlier is where I spend a lot of time contemplating how different life could have been for me and Nessy had it not been for a fifth of Jack Daniels, the Ski-Doo Corporation and one very large, misplaced pine tree.
Since Portillo’s came to Scottsdale, I feel so alive again.
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San Francisco, California
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¹Props to Sue Healy and her insightful writing tips