Criticism of Criticism of Criticism
May 5, 2013 5:32 AM   Subscribe

"One can almost hear the anticipatory echoes of something like Yelp in the context of José Ortega y Gasset’s The Revolt of the Masses (1930). The multitude, he wrote, once “scattered about the world in small groups,” now appears “as an agglomeration.” It has “suddenly become visible, installing itself in the preferential positions in society. Before, if it existed, it passed unnoticed, occupying the background of the social stage; now it has advanced to the footlights and is the principal character.” The disgruntled diner, now able to make or break a restaurant through sheer collective will. Against this leveling of critical power, the old guard fulminates. Ruth Reichl, the former editor of Gourmet, recently harrumphed that “anybody who believes Yelp is an idiot. Most people on Yelp have no idea what they’re talking about.”"—Star Wars, by Tom Vanderbilt, in The Wilson Quarterly posted by Toekneesan (38 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The thing about Yelp is, people who review restaurants have been doing it for a while. And there is a skill to reviewing a restaurant, and an etiquette. Most very negative Yelp reviews focus on a single unpleasant experience such as an order coming out wrong, flavors being off, or meat not being cooked thoroughly enough. In most of these cases, the professional reviewer would have asked the server to send the food back and given the restaurant a chance to fix its mistake. I've seen chefs come out and apologize at some places when an order goes miserably wrong. A restaurant should be commended for doing everything in its power to make it up to a customer when an order inevitably gets screwed up.

But the amateur reviewer is all too quick to thumb his nose and write a nasty one-star Yelp review when the soup is too salty, even if it would take ten minutes to get a new soup, simply because it's fun to write a mean review. You can imagine yourself as the powerful Los Angeles Times food critic, sitting behind your mahogany desk, spewing vitriol at any who dare overcook your steak.
posted by deathpanels at 5:59 AM on May 5, 2013 [5 favorites]

Near the bottom of the comments on the page with Vanderbilt's, Star Wars essay, I came across this sublime little gem:

I don't usually like reading articles but my partner made me read this. It was much better than I expected although there were some long words. I would recommend reading some of it, although the middle bit was a little long for my taste. Hope this is helpful.
Posted by: Peter | 5/2/13

posted by Toekneesan at 6:09 AM on May 5, 2013 [15 favorites]

If there's no cost to set up an account, and no penalty for being 'wrong' or outright lying any online review system will be only of minimal value. Astroturfing is easy.

That said, any post that includes a link to Mencken gets a +1, "like" and favorite from me!
posted by DigDoug at 6:11 AM on May 5, 2013

The problem of overreactive Yelp reviews ("My fork had a bent tine! One star!!") is one of the reasons I prefer Urbanspoon, which focuses on amassing simple thumbs-up or -down votes.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:23 AM on May 5, 2013

Anyone else hear these reports about Yelp extorting payments from businesses in return for positive reviews?
posted by orme at 6:31 AM on May 5, 2013

Does no one read criticism critically? Yelp is very helpful for certain questions, a single gushing rave by a young lady that you guess is the cooks girlfriend gives a certain kind of information. A batch of short comments saying something similar to "I live a block from this coffee shop and really want to love this place but ..." give another bit of data. Picking a high end impress the gf's parents venue from a couple of Yelp comments may not be a good idea. Is there a coffee shop close that's not a chain, is a very useful question.

And could someone start a MetaTalk thread to review this discussion, plz.

(Need more meta)
posted by sammyo at 6:32 AM on May 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

Most very negative Yelp reviews focus on a single unpleasant experience such as an order coming out wrong, flavors being off, or meat not being cooked thoroughly enough. In most of these cases, the professional reviewer would have asked the server to send the food back and given the restaurant a chance to fix its mistake.

I've read plenty of professional reviews where an incident of that sort becomes a centerpiece of a negative review. "The soup was so salty we had to send it back" or "the meat was so undercooked as to be dangerous to eat" would not be considered minor glitches in the dining experience that do not warrant a mention in a professional review.

But in any case, the point about Yelp is not the particular comments of individual diners, it's the aggregate result. Yeah, sure, there are ultra fussy people who will complain about anything: but there's no reason to expect 90% of the reviews of restaurant A to have been produced by those people and only 10% of the reviews of restaurant B. If restaurant A has two stars and a quick sampling of the reviews features a very high frequency of people saying "the flavors were off and the steak was still frozen in the center" while restaurant B has 4.5 stars and a quick sampling of the reviews features a high frequency of people saying "this was just a perfect dining experience" then you can be pretty damn sure that your chances of an enjoyable evening are a LOT higher at restaurant B than at restaurant A.

Of course, all of this presupposes a reasonably high number of reviews. If there are only a handful of reviews you really can't tell anything. But once they reach a reasonably high number they tell you a great deal.
posted by yoink at 6:39 AM on May 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

I like to use Yelp to see if a place has universally bad reviews. I also use it to judge noise levels (so many good Chicago restaurants are way too damn noisy for a pleasant meal) and figure out what are the best menu items.

Traditional critics would get more respect from me if they were ever capable of reviewing Indian food. The Michelin Guide's Bib Gourmand picks for Indian are very bad jokes.
posted by srboisvert at 6:41 AM on May 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

This, by the way, I find hilarious: "anybody who believes Yelp is an idiot. Most people on Yelp have no idea what they’re talking about.” Yeah, who ever had any idea if they enjoyed a meal unless a professional food critic told them that they enjoyed it?
posted by yoink at 6:45 AM on May 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Anyone who believes Yelp is an idiot because it's on the Internet and Internet reviews are dominated by vindictive single issue maniacs and those who argue with them. Heavy filtering and interpretation is always suggested.
posted by Artw at 7:05 AM on May 5, 2013

Internet reviews are dominated by vindictive single issue maniacs

But if that were the case, there would be no such thing as restaurants with hundreds and even thousands of overwhelmingly positive reviews. Which, you know, there are.
posted by yoink at 7:15 AM on May 5, 2013

Fuck You Yelper
posted by The Whelk at 7:15 AM on May 5, 2013

like anything useful in life, Yelp requires a little footwork. if there's one terrible review in a page of glowing accolades i sometimes read any other comments the hater may have left for other restaurants. it's easy enough to spot the negative crazy in the crowd and just as plain when a sock puppet has left a comment. i always assume that the truth lies somewhere in between. Urban Spoon also has it's uses, as does Menupages; both of which i use far more often than Yelp. i often work out of town and use all three when looking for a place for a fancy, end of job, company dinner. anything that describes ambience, or is filled with comments by regulars is pretty reliable in a big city and extremely telling in smaller cities.

it seems most people just don't have the patience or the reading comprehension skills to parse varied strings of info when it comes to the internet (imagine that Metafilter). you get out what you put in. like relying on CNN or Fox for all your news vs. scanning the Jerusalem Post, Ha'aretz,the Guardian, the Telegraph, San Jose Mercury News, Xinhua, the New York Observer and Al Jazeera and forming your own opinion.
posted by Conrad-Casserole at 7:50 AM on May 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Well, I think ethnic food is a weakness for Yelp: I recently went to a highly rated Chinese restaurant in Denver which people were raving was 'the best Chinese food in the city'. When we showed up, the waitress started apologizing in Chinese. "This is food for white people. It's very sweet." They served seafood noodles on top of a bed of La Choy chow mein noodles.

The other problem I have is that the star rating system means different things to different people; some people insist on reviewing the McDonald's by my house and giving it five stars. And I'm perfectly willing to believe that it's a convenient, clean McDonald's and that everybody there is very friendly, but on my scale that is still not five stars.
posted by Comrade_robot at 7:56 AM on May 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Some places, persons and entities suggest or strongly encourage customer reviews, at least to those who seem happy with the product or service (or plural). Or they round friends up a review squad. Media reviewers are doing their work for entertainment and info purposes as well, are not doing reviews according to strict or uniform, industry-grade criteria. But you typically know more about who you're dealing with, if you keep up with the columnist. Plenty of bloggers and local dining sites habe developed strong followings as far as restaurant revies go as well, and there's a similar dynamic going on with these. It's all about the reputation, the writing and presentation (or some clever hook in the reviewing style).
posted by raysmj at 8:11 AM on May 5, 2013

Yelp is useless. If you know food, try looking up the top Yelp restaurants for your city. It is dismal.

It is the opinion of the masses. The masses favor:
1) Safe food done in a style that they have been told is good. This explains why Gary Danko is #1 for San Francisco. Nothing wrong with Gary Danko. But also nothing great. Safe. Somewhere you take your grandma to.

2) Restaurants that are hyped up at the moment. Sometimes because of good marketing. Frances is #15 in San Francisco. Again, nothing wrong with Frances. But its a good neighborhood place and not at all a destination for in-towners and especially for out-of-towners.

3) Restaurants serving food that is unfamiliar to the locals so they think they're getting good stuff but dont know any better. True of many ethnic places. But also, say, Rosamunde sausage grill which has mediocre sausages. But since most people have only had oscar wiener hot dogs, it comes as a revelation.

Then, yes, there's the people who give a restaurant 1-star because they didn't answer the phone promptly for reservations. Many of the best restaurants I know around the world are small places with rude staff. They're rude because they're tired of the masses who come there to be seen, complain about the service and fail to appreciate the food. These places serve amazing food, score low on Yelp and will always count on me as a customer.

Did I mention I hate Yelp?
posted by vacapinta at 8:37 AM on May 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Yelp is a tool and like any tool, you have to figure out how it works.

Like in my city, pretty much every apartment complex is rated "sub-livable hovel" on the online rating sites. However, if you go in and read the reviews...well, one of them on the new place I'm moving into is pretty much "I came over here to visit my friend and parked in an assigned parking spot because guest parking is too far away and they had the...the nerve to tow my car!!! 1 star!!" and that's the only thing anyone has apparently found to complain about, so that's pretty good as apartment complexes go.

But then you read others that talk about the mold in the walls, cars getting broken into on the regular, residents letting their dogs crap everywhere and not picking it up so it reeks in summer, that kind of thing. Or there was one that was low-rated because management just didn't give a shit, which I corroborated when I went to check it out and it was clear they didn't give a shit, so I took the rest of that guy's feedback seriously.

The problem I have with restaurant critics is I'm way less likely to eat at Chateau de Frou Frou than I am at Dive Bar With Tacos and my main concern is making sure the food is good and I won't get food poisoning. I'm not a gourmand but still like to know if the food is good somewhere, so Yelp suits me fine.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:47 AM on May 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

If you're looking for good Vietnamese food, a high Yelp rating is actually a terrible indicator. Vietnamese hasn't been as commercialized as Chinese or Japanese food, but there are certain things that are done to make it more accessible (more flavorful broths, changed noodles for non-Pho soups, reduced use of fish sauce, shrimp paste, cooked blood, and pepper). Highly rated Viet places always have these inauthentic changes... and the food just isn't as good. It often tastes like processed grocery-store crap.
posted by sonic meat machine at 8:57 AM on May 5, 2013

Rosamunde sausage grill which has mediocre sausages

Yelp has its problems, sure. But this is crazy talk.
posted by asterix at 9:16 AM on May 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

It does seem awfully like the critics of Yelp are themselves failing to read Yelp reviews critically enough to discern the useful ones, looking at aggregated quantitative ratings and falling prey to basic Sturgeon's Law issues, where what really makes Yelp useful at all is that it's a repository of very detailed qualitative written descriptions, some of which are great. The scattershot complaints in the "Star Wars" (ew) article are mostly easy to spot and excellent red flags that a given reviewer's opinion is to be ignored, except for the stuff the author for some reason (connected to his broader, very garbled argument about "elitism") derides as "signaling" — most of which really is useful as a signal that someone's opinion might be worth paying attention to. For people who actually read the reviews well enough to filter out the crap, Yelp is often very useful. With the main exception being, as several people have already noted:

Restaurants serving food that is unfamiliar to the locals so they think they're getting good stuff but dont know any better.

But then that's a problem with a lot of local restaurant critics who write for a lot of local papers, too; going on or staying off the Internet doesn't change a place's local food culture.
posted by RogerB at 10:17 AM on May 5, 2013 [4 favorites]

The other problem I have is that the star rating system means different things to different people

But this is what the people above mean when they talk about learning to use Yelp. You need to put in the minimum effort it takes to scan a few reviews and figure out what people are talking about and what frame of reference they're applying. Yeah, a certain McDonald's will get rave reviews; does anyone think it is being rated on the same scale as a $$$$ white tablecloth restaurant? Yeah you'll get some "Chinese food for white people" restaurant that gets five stars--well cry me a fucking river; people who like "Chinese food for white people" are allowed to like that food and to say "of all the Chinese food for white people restaurants, this one right here is the best in town." But, again, just read a few reviews and it will become glaringly obvious if that's the basic framework of reference here.

Yelp is great, so long as you're willing to do more than say "hey, this gets 4.5 stars! Let's go!"
posted by yoink at 10:20 AM on May 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

You need to put in the minimum effort it takes to scan a few reviews and figure out what people are talking about and what frame of reference they're applying.

You have more faith in people than I do.

Let's take the #2 restaurant in all of London: The Regency Cafe

I've been to the Regency Cafe. I used to live nearby. First of all, I can tell you one thing: Their breakfasts are oily and horrible. The food is low grade. Nothing has much flavor even if you douse it with ketchup which you are encouraged to do.

Why is it popular? Because it is a) scenic and b) cheap. There are very few cafes like this in London. It is like stepping back in time. If you read a few reviews, as you said, it becomes obvious that for people this feels like and in fact has been a movie location. Layer Cake was filmed here. The way the place is organized with a queue and lots of screamed orders has its own peculiar atmosphere. And, for the amount of food you get, the place is a bargain. I agree with all of this.

Now, I ask you this important question: Is the food any good? The reviews say yes. Many people say the food is good. How can so many people be wrong?

They are. Go try it yourself. People are easily deluded. It is not enough to read reviews. You have to also be armed with an intricate understanding of mass psychology.

This will also help you explain why Gordon Ramsay is #1. No serious food person I know thinks Gordon Ramsay is the best food in London. But, hey, its Gordon Ramsay. You've heard of him, havent you? So you as a tourist come in expecting the best food in London and thats what you will believe that you got. Otherwise you'd have to admit otherwise - that you were cheated.

Give me an experienced food reviewer over this, any time.
posted by vacapinta at 11:14 AM on May 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

vacapinta speaks the truth. "Many of the best restaurants I know around the world are small places with rude staff." Not because their owners/staff are intrinsically evil people or Soup Nazi wanna-bes, but because they don't see the emotional labor of making every customer feel beloved as the mission of a restaurant. Korean restaurants are semi-famous for surly staff, but if the charcoal is blazing, and the banchan keeps coming, who cares? (except for Yelp'ers I mean.)

That said, sometimes surliness itself can become emotional labor. There's a delicious hole-in-the-wall joint in Honolulu run by a blunt, "don't ask me what all the ingredients in bibimbap are during the middle of the lunch rush you punk" woman who has been (self)dubbed the Angry Korean Lady. Customers are disappointed when she's not sufficiently angry enough.

Unrelatedly, I've been wanting to use Yelp as a way to gauge how car-dependent a locality is. I'm astounded at how many Honolulu Yelp-ers factor in the size of the parking lot to their ratings. Then again I cut my chops as a San Francisco driver so circling the neighborhood fruitlessly for 40 minutes is my baseline.
posted by spamandkimchi at 11:19 AM on May 5, 2013

Isn't the real problem here that some people self-evidently do care about parking, or decor, or service with a smile, more than they care about whether the food is good? (And of course also that people also disagree about what "good" means, and against what context of other food they're judging it?) And now Yelp serves all those people too; that is, there are Yelp reviews for people who decide where to eat based on the parking lot or based on the tourist experience or based on whether the place looks like a movie set, and there are other Yelp reviews for people who decide based on the quality of the banchan, with a connoisseur's sense relative to a hundred other Korean restaurants. There's nothing wrong with that situation on the face of it; the trouble is that there's no easy, automated, infallible way to tell the difference.

This is also just a problem of scale — a small focused community of chowhounds might perhaps be able to sustain a fair degree of consensus about the right critical criteria, but a global website with a zillion users just can't. Yelp now serves people who care about parking or service more than food and people who think it's all about the food (and people who have different ideas and different tastes and different contexts for what "good" food is), and so any given review isn't necessarily trustworthy for all those audiences. You have to find the reviews that seem to be written by people whose taste you trust. But again, that's true of non-Internet restaurant critics too; you can't agree simultaneously with Ruth Reichl's taste and with Jonathan Gold's and with Marilyn Hagerty's, but instead you have to decide who you trust to match your own standards for a good meal.
posted by RogerB at 11:38 AM on May 5, 2013

And I don't mean to be an absolute relativist about this.  I, too, think it's nuts that people post one-star restaurant reviews based on the parking lot or the lighting, or five-star ones based on the fact that they prefer oversweetened gloppy white-people Chinese food to the real thing. But the existence of people with crazy and/or bad taste is not a problem with the Internet, it's a problem with the world — and, presumably, all the people with crazy and/or bad taste are finding each other's Internet reviews entirely useful.
posted by RogerB at 11:50 AM on May 5, 2013

RogerB, I see your point that Yelp must contain multitudes. The "yay democracy" angel is duking it out with the "everybody must listen to me" dictator-devil right now. And there are times when I contain multitudes too -- I don't want surly service when I go out for our occasional fine dining splurge.

But what makes me still reluctant to accept this reality is that I think we've (at least in North America) let suburbanization colonize our preferences. That Bennigans and TGI Fridays and giant parking lots and the expectation that service comes with a smile and 37 pieces of flair have unwittingly shaped what we think is normal, so now even people who would scoff at such places and think of themselves as savvy foodie-types still get outraged when the waitstaff isn't chipper and the bathrooms aren't lovingly sprayed with some floral air freshener.

The dictator-devil must have won. I still want to shake those reviewers and remind them that even they say the food is the most important thing. And that Korean place they like so much has terrible banchan.
posted by spamandkimchi at 12:06 PM on May 5, 2013

I'll tell you why yelp sucks. The people in the suburbs and the people in the city and more upscale neighborhoods have both dramatically different taste and different options. You might see a restaurant that blows away everything that's available in the suburbs, but that happens to be in a ritzy part of town get three stars, while a TGIF out in the burbs gets five stars because its only competition nearby is a Cracker Barrel. Or you get provincial suburbanites trashing ethnic places because they don't understand the food.

Basically the only thing I care about in a yelp review is if a bunch of people say a place is dirty, but even that is suspect because yelp is basically an extortion racket that charges people to get rid of bad reviews.
posted by empath at 12:11 PM on May 5, 2013

RE: Yelp, I am a voracious user. That said, it frightens and upsets me.

The problem is not any one user, of course- it's the aggregate. Yelp deliberately caters itself to users who are the last person you would want writing a review of something. It awards attention-seekers: people who write cutesy, "clever" reviews or spend a lot of time "social networking" get a following, get front page mentions, et cetera.

It also does nothing to punish poor or ignorant writers. Users have little or no ability to police one another. I've flagged horribly unfair reviews before and nothing has happened... I've seen friends who own restaurants who are frustrated or devastated by a surge of idiot reviews written by half-literate morons.

That being said, the aggregate is still right... usually. And without Yelp, I wouldn't have been able to easily discover dozens of excellent restaurants and stores in my city.

Like Tom Vanderbilt, I've just had to develop my own Yelp filter. Any time someone talks about their "hubby" or "wifey" I stop reading. Any time someone compares a restaurant to Applebee's or Chili's I stop reading. Anytime someone mentions wholly irrelevant stuff I stop reading. Any time someone mentions the restaurant/business owner by name I stop reading (it's probably a fake).

Most importantly, any time a review spends too much time talking about negatives, I stop reading.

The reviews that are left are generally pretty good ones that pass along helpful advice and fun ideas.
posted by Old Man McKay at 12:24 PM on May 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yelp or any other reviews agglomerator is only useful if you're looking for something you know fuckall about, have nobody you trust to steer you right for and you want to get something safe even if this means going middle of the road rather than straight to the top.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:23 PM on May 5, 2013

Yelp or any other reviews agglomerator is only useful if you're looking for something you know fuckall about, have nobody you trust to steer you right for and you want to get something safe even if this means going middle of the road rather than straight to the top.

Not IME. I've found excellent restaurants based on Yelp reviews. Yes, you have to read them with a critical eye, but they really can be useful tools.

(Admittedly, I've found Chow/Chowhound to be even more useful, but for places where it doesn't have much coverage Yelp has come through in the past.)
posted by asterix at 4:16 PM on May 5, 2013

I use Yelp and Tripadvisor almost obsessively (as a reader - I've never written a review.) The rankings and stars are useless, but if you read what people say you can get a pretty good sense of a place, especially if there are a lot of reviews. There's always going to be people who miss the whole point of a place - the people who lament the lack of white tablecloths at the little sandwich shop, the people who visit the newest haute cuisine palace and complain about how it's too expensive and the portions are too small. But with a good amount of reviews - say more than 20, usually those people will be outliers.
posted by Daily Alice at 5:46 PM on May 5, 2013

Let's take the #2 restaurant in all of London: The Regency Cafe

I just went and read the reviews; people are calling a classic, cheap, greasy spoon diner. If you read those reviews and think "gosh, this'll be the most stunning haute cuisine breakfast ever" then, yeah, you have a lot to learn about using Yelp. Basically the Yelp reviews make it sound exactly the way you describe it.
posted by yoink at 9:25 PM on May 5, 2013

Or you get provincial suburbanites trashing ethnic places because they don't understand the food.

Boy, this thread is just asking for me to weigh in at length about the local Asian food like every other Chinese-American. Talk to one long enough, and some variation of "But the Chinese food here is not as good as it is in [OTHER CITY]" comes out. (All paths in my experience of this conversation lead eventually to NYC, SF, or Vancouver.)

Highly location-dependent, but I would not count on the suburbs being the provincial lands of helpless white folk unable to understand the food of the ethnics. The most famous ethnic enclaves are located deep in the heart of the major cities, but these days many ethnic groups live in the 'burbs now, and the food followed them.

Asian food in the Washington, DC area (the big three are Vietnamese, Korean, and Chinese) is a good example of this. If you're into divey, authentic ethnic food hurled at you by a harried server in a poorly decorated, brightly lit storefront where noise echoes off the tile walls as the Lord intended...there's more in Falls Church or Annandale or Rockville, not downtown.

Yelp reviewers of urban ethnic restaurants have a different kind of provincialism, their clientele is whiter, while the suburban restaurants are geared towards members of that ethnic group just because of how the population is distributed. The District is barely 3.5% Asian, and suburban Fairfax County is 17.5%. Chinatown hasn't had many Chinese people in it in decades. The Vietnamese and Korean communities didn't even stop in the city when they came, they went straight to the suburbs.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 11:06 PM on May 5, 2013

Wow, it amazes me that people get so bent out of shape about Yelp. It is so clearly not the venue for rarefied discussion of haute cuisine, so it's baffling to me why anyone would even pretend that that matters. So what if its purpose is (a) to let you know where restaurants are and (b) give the vaguest sense of what people think about it? Like it's such a huge outrage to visit a restaurant and, horror of horrors, have a mediocre-to-ok experience? If you don't like it, don't go back; if you like it, you learned a new good option. You're going to have to eat again tomorrow anyway, so you'll have three more chances to have a good meal.

I've relied extensively on Yelp while getting settled in a new area in the country and while traveling for business and pleasure. Invariably it gives me a list of local options that I never knew about and a vague sense of what I might expect to go there. That gives me a huge information advantage compared to "let's just keep going until we see the next restaurant and eat there." I guess I don't have hothouse expectations that every meal need be a culinary masterpiece, and a warning from yelp about how terrible/dirty a place is has steered me away from (what I presume would have been) bad experiences. Not bad for a free service. I have also found some real gems at home and away, for which I'm grateful--places that I really like, which I found from a nod via yelp, without having to read endless pages of pissing contest from overwrought foodies. Works for me.
posted by Sublimity at 5:39 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've got to say I'm a bit surprised that the focus of the thread has turned almost exclusively to Yelp. While Vanderbilt does discuss Yelp quite a bit, the article actually seemed to me to be about how we think differently about criticism when it's crowd-sourced rather than when it comes from a "legitimate" critic. This was not what I expected so for that reason, I can only give this thread three stars. ***

Helpful?    Yes     No
posted by Toekneesan at 9:59 AM on May 6, 2013

Reading that book (I didn't finish it) is kind of a jarring sensation, since today it is rare to see such a proud and unapologetic defense of Old World aristocratic conservatism. The people sympathetic to those views today seem to conceal them, but not Ortega y Gasset.
posted by thelonius at 1:10 PM on May 6, 2013

So the consensus (yes, I'm crowdsourcing my comment) seems to be that Yelp is good as a restaurant directory but not as a review site. If that's the case, then why keep the 5 star review system? Shouldn't it be best to just remove any sort of review system, junk all the written reviews, and let users define criteria such as location, hours open, pricing points, etc. and then provide a random list of restaurants within that criteria? And perhaps the list refreshes and cycles itself every time a refresh is hit?

I mean, that's kind of the way I use Yelp anyways. I find the site useful for location, closing times, price, etc., but the reviews are the weakest part...
posted by FJT at 9:10 PM on May 16, 2013

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