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May 31, 2006

Nish's Word: On Reviews

There isn't a day that goes by that I don't hear from some yelper about what constitutes a good review on Yelp, and to an extent we kind of like the freestyle format we currently have. But as we continue to grow, and more and more new people discover the wonders of yelping, maybe it does make sense to at least offer up some basic guidelines. Keep in mind that these views are not necessarily the shared opinions of the entire staff, just one lone marketing dynamo trying to make it in this world called Yelp...

What should I review? Yelp’s goal is to build a community of local reviewers – yelpers if you will – who like to share their opinions, good and bad, about local businesses and services. So while you can review something like Starbucks, it’s better to review a certain location than the entire chain. Even better, try and review your friendly neighborhood café! Everyone knows Target has great deals - Yelpers want to get the inside scoop on thImg_0638_1e local scene.

Some categories that we’re most excited about include: Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Shops, Salons, Spas, Doctors, Accountants, Lawyers, Professional Services, Parks, Museums, Galleries, Real Estate Brokers, Chiropractors, Mortgage Brokers, Dentists…

Is there anything I shouldn’t I review? This is a tough one. On one hand, Yelp is about sharing your opinionated opinions, but on the other we are striving to be the go-to resource for everything local. While some people have chosen to yelp about products they like or dislike, that might better suited for a site like Epinions.com, or Amazon.com if it’s a book or new music CD.

That said, if what you’re trying to review doesn’t fit into an obvious category, feel free to suggest one; it could be something we've just overlooked!

What if a business listing is missing information or is out of date? If you see mistakes for a business listing, or can't find it, it really helps the Yelp community if you take the time to update the business information or add the business (you can also email us, and we’ll get right on it). Yelp doesn't have any stinkin' editors, but we do have great yelpers who help keep our content fresh and accurate, and thus more relevant to the thousands of readers who currently visiting Yelp.

What makes for a great review? Whether your reviews are funny, useful and/or cool, ultimately your opinions help others decide where to eat, drink, shop, etc.

The best reviews I've seen are written as if the person writing them is telling his/her friends about a given place or service. They’re personal and experiential, and tend to offer helpful suggestions, perhaps even an insider tip or two. Good reviews might also mention unique qualities that make the business special, or the type of person who might also like this business.

Here’s an example, using the fictitious bar “Russel’s House of Fine Libations”:

Good beers on tap, go on weekends.

I like going to RHFL, mostly on weekends. They have some great beers on tap, but myfavorite is their own local brew.

RHFL is everything a good local bar should be. They have one of the best beer selections I’ve tasted, and I’ve tasted quite a few! I’m especially a fan of their home brew - the owners are fanatics and try and come up with some seasonal variations too. Weekends are great if you like a crowd (mostly post college young professionals sans suits and ties), but weekdays are a solid time to soak up some atmosphere and actually talk to the people you are hanging with. It’s too bad they don’t have a liquor license for hard alcohol, but then again I think my liver is happier for that twist of fate!

Again, these are just guidelines on what we’ve seen our readers respond to best. Indeed, yelpers are encouraged to vote on all reviews, thus ensuring that ultimately the highest quality reviews come to the top.

Where will my reviews show up? One of the cool things about Yelp is that our yelpers are writing some really relevImg_0642_1ant and useful information about all manner of local businesses. Lucky for us, search engines love that sort of thing too, and they are probably the single biggest way people find Yelp in the first place. A helpful tip when writing your reviews is to start with a strong opening sentence. Imagine a funny title or hook that will draw readers into the review, and that manages to capture the essence of what you want to say. Some good examples are:

Russel’s House of Fine Libations is the best place in the Mission for local microbeers on tap.

If you’re looking for a great massage, look no further than the hands of Phil McBain, Male Masseuse.

I don’t remember what I had to eat but the waitresses were hot!

Another good way to get more people to read your reviews is to send them to your friends. That’s really what Yelp is all about – sharing collective experiences and advice on everything from a great doctor or dentist, to where to get your boots re-soled, to the best restaurants for a fun first date!

How does the Star Rating System work? Here’s a simple framework to use when considering your ratings, bearing in mind that it’s meant to serve as a helpful guideline as opposed to something that needs to be strictly adhered to:

1-Star – Never Again – this is the bottom of the barrel, you wouldn’t even recommend your ex-boyfriend (yes, that ex-boyfriend) to go there.

2-Stars – Mediocre – the business maybe and/or barely meets some basic expectations, and typically not with much flair. A good example is a restaurant that you don’t really like but you’d go to if your friends are going.

3-Stars – Decent – the business meets your expectations. You probably wouldn’t go out of your way to frequent this business but you don’t have a problem recommending them.

4-Stars – Very Good – this would apply to a business or service that exceeds most of your expectations. You have little or no hesitation in telling others about the business and are in fact quite loyal to them.

5-Stars – Yelperific – sort of the Holy Grail on Yelp, try and look at a 5-Star rating as what Tina Turner refers to as "simply the best" – you have absolutely no problem recommending this business and sometimes hit yourself on the head and wonder why you didn't start the business yourself.

Well that about wraps up my two, well five cents, on writing reviews on Yelp. Again, half the fun of yelping is playing by your own rules, so feel free to send me packing home as well, I'd love to hear any of your own thoughts on what makes for a dazzling review...

Comments

alexa

Looking for ratings of modes of public transportation. Just moved here to ValleyJoe, bought 10 ride Baylink Vallejo Ferry/Bus Pass (to/fro SFO Pier) and regretting it. Anyone like it as a mode of travel or tourism? $78 down the tube...

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