How to Yelp Properly

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I had to write this because I am a frequent Yelper and because I feel Yelp gets abused many of times.  I Yelp pretty much every place I eat at because I want to contribute to giving a business the praise it deserves, or giving it the criticism it deserves.  Yelp is a great guide that can give you, as the consumer, an idea where to eat and where not to eat, and to get menu suggestions.  As I read up on the criticisms and praises of fellow Yelpers, I get disgusted with some of the reviews made by some of the idiots out there.  People truly abuse Yelp severely to the point where I start to wonder if there is a brain incased within their thick skulls.  Some people are rather immature and irrational and want to retaliate upon a business because they feel they were wronged for something so petty it is insignificant.  The problem is when they trash on the business they ruin things for other diners who may have had a great experience if they would not have listened to someone else’s petty rant.  And let’s face it negative reviews stand out way more than positive ones, it’s just human nature to read the negatives first and foremost.  From this piece I am writing I may hear some people complain that they can Yelp about what they want and say what they want.  Well of course you have the right to, but I am just here to tell you how stupid you sound and how ignorant you are for Yelping like a fool.

I have also added some guidelines that will help the consumer decide what to look for when reading Yelp reviews.  Yelp can be confusing because the consumer will have to read over reviews that are both positive and negative.  It can be frustrating and make you want to tear your hair out trying to decide if a place is good or bad based upon contradictory reviews from diners.  I will try to help you figure out what to look for and what to exclude.

First of all let me proceed to bash those Yelpers that Yelp about stupid stuff as I will point out Yelping Don’ts.  If you want to sound like you know what you are talking about and not embarrass yourself when yelping consider these Yelping do’s and don’ts:

DON’T: Yelp about a place you have never been to: Seriously don’t be an idiot, do not talk bad or good about a place you have never been to.  You have no right to Yelp about  this place since you have never even set foot in the door or sampled carryout, don’t be stupid!  I saw one woman talk bad and give 1 star for one of my favorite Mexican restaurants because she “heard” the bathrooms were gross and saw a picture online.  First of all the idiot never even set foot in there, second you don’t give 1 star because of bathrooms!  C’mon what about the food!!!?.  I saw another fool give one of my favorite pizza places 4 stars because he saw it on TV and thought it looked good, even though he never ate there!  If he would have eaten there maybe he would have given 5 stars!  Moron!  That lack of a star hurt the restaurant’s overall average!

DON’T: focus on stupid stuff that is not food related.  Food should be the main focus of the review not parking, lines, cost, or appearance.  Indeed I do agree other things beside food need to be taken into consideration but should not take tons of points off.  If the food is really good, the place should automatically get at least 3 stars despite the fact the service was bad, or parking sucked, or if you payed too much, or if the décor is aweful.  Focus on the food first!  Indeed you should point out non-food related flaws, because diners need to know, but don’t let that completely destroy the review.  Parking, lines, and décor should not cause ANY points to be deducted for those things.  Bad service should remove minimal points like maybe 1 star.

DON’T: take points off for lines, parking, or cash only.  Please don’t be a moron, the best ma and pa places do not take cards.  Why not?  Because it costs them money every time they run your card through their machine.  See, they have to pay a third party to do that which cuts into their profits.  Be prepared, anytime you are going to a hot dog stand, beef place, gyro place, Asian carry out, authentic Mexican carryout get prepared to have cash handy.  Lay off talking bad about the parking and lines situation, please, they can’t help the fact they are popular!  Moron!  Just because other diners want to eat there, does not mean you should be a Yelp bully!  Most times when you go to a place that is cash only or has lines you will probably be in for a treat (unless it’s a chain restaurant).  I got steamed one time when I saw some snooty jerk trash on one of my favorite Tex Mex places and give 1 star because of his valet parking problems.  Oh Mr. OOOhhh Laaa Laaa with your fancy car, do you have a brain in your skull or are you that much of an egotistical jerk?!!!!!  He made himself look stupid and he hurt the business because of his selfish immaturity.

DON’T: take points off for the GOOD features of a restaurant that most people like.  For Example, one yelper gave only 3 stars on one of my favorite burger places because her bun was too soggy.  Are you F*@*$N serious!!!?  The bun is soggy because the burger was so juicy, the juices absorbed into the bun, which a good thing dumb ass!  This same idiot took points off for the long line to get in, you can tell she’s kinda stupid.

DON’T: trash on the price just because you are a cheap ass.  If a place is not good and higher priced then by all means go ahead and begin the roast.  You get what you pay for and that’s that (or you are supposed to).  I will give an example of what I am talking about.  I recently ate at a delicious Italian sandwich place and in the Yelp reviews some moron said it was good but he did not like spending $10 on the meal.  He did not say it was not WORTH $10 he just complained about generally spending $10, what an idiot!  He was the only dumb ass to give below 4 stars too.  Indeed it is extremely important that the price matches the food, hence, why I am appalled at the costs at Portillo’s, but let’s be smart people, sometimes good food costs a little more money.  If you don’t like it go to Mcdonalds that is nice and cheap.

DON’T: trash on a restaurant because of the drinks or because of things they only have on their menu as extras.  I see people that go to sit down restaurants and complain about drink prices and the quality of their alcoholic beverages.  Stupid!  This is a sit down restaurant for eating and enjoying food, they are not equipped to load up your dumb ass with tons of alcohol because you could not find the night club or sports bar.  I saw one girl destroy one of my favorite burger joints and give 1 star because she went there on her 21st birthday and the drink prices were too high.  She did not even eat any of the food!  Idiot!  Also people don’t trash on food items that are just side things for picky weird idiots like you.  It makes me mad when I see people going to fish restaurants and ripping on fried mushrooms, or when people go to Mexican restaurants and rip on the French fries they have on the menu for picky children.  I saw one girl trash on a salad and ranch dressing from a pizza, gyro, and hot dog place!  She was pissy as hell about the ranch dressing, and gave 1 star!  Ranch dressing! Are you serious?!!!

DON’T: even bother yelping about large corporate chains.  Seriously you are wasting your breath, people will eat there anyway, because they are corporations and people are already droned to buy from them regardless of what Yelp says.  Yelping about your local Mcdonalds is like pissing in the wind.

DON’T: trash on a place when it is food you do not normally like.  If you do not like Mexican food, don’t go to a Mexican place and trash on it.  If you normally dislike seafood, don’t go to a seafood place and trash on it.  Believe me I have seen lame ass Yelp reviews from idiots that will simply say “seemed like a nice place but I don’t like seafood,” then give it 1 star.  Also please, if of you are special diet eater, do not go to a place way out of your diet and trash on it.  As an example I saw a Yelp review from a gentleman that went to a pizza place and complained that he was a vegan and there wasn’t anything good for him.  Dumb ass! Do not eat at a conventional pizza place and trash on them for lack of vegan items, use your head!  Eat at an establishment that you know has items that cater to your specialty.

DON’T: take off stars because a place is located in a rough neighborhood.  How dare you trash on a place because of where they chose to do business, the owners can’t control what happens in the streets around them.  Always warn other diners in your Yelp review, just don’t deduct points.  Now if there is riff raff right in front of the place and the business attracts it or allows it to happen then by all means take points off.  But make sure it is the businesses fault for allowing bad people to hang out around there frequently.  If you can’t tell then don’t take stars off.

DON’T: trash on a place you normally love, but went on one off day, geesh!  I see Yelpers that talk about how they normally love a place, but went on a bad day and got bad service now they want to give 1 or 2 stars.  If it’s your first or second time a bad review is in order, but not if you always go there and love it, and they screw you 1 time, c’mon grow up!  Definitely mention it but don’t trash on the stars unless they were unsanitary and not safe.

DO: always state why you are giving the amount of stars you are giving.  If you gave 4 stars say why you did not give 5 stars.  If you gave 3 stars then you really should say what happened because 3 stars is kind of a bad review.  I can’t stand it when I see someone talk greatly about a place and even use exclamations at the end of their sentences, then just gives a humble 3 stars, what went wrong?  I always wonder.  You took the time to write the review now finish it!

DO: do your homework before you eat somewhere.  As I mentioned before make sure you have cash ready, be prepared for items on the menu that they do not specialize in to either be absent or low quality.  Research if there are long lines (hint: if there are a lot of Yelp reviews then it will probably be slammed especially on weekend evenings).  Use Yelp as your guide, all it takes is a moment to google the place and find Yelp reviews.  Skim the reviews and gather your assessment.  Sound like a lot of work?  Ok fine do not do the research, but stay off Yelp and don’t trash the place because YOU were unprepared and lazy.

DO: point out anything that is unsanitary about an establishment, such a hair in the food, or seeing cooks not wash their hands, etc…..The consumer needs to be aware of those things.  Even if the food is delicious they should still get trashed for trying to make people sick, 1 star review is in mind.  But don’t get carried away either, if there is a tiny spot on your glass don’t go crazy.

DO: describe the food in as much detail as possible whether it’s bad or good.  You are taking time out of your day to Yelp, so why not throw in the details so the consumer can either fall in or out of love with this place.

DO: mention petty things like décor issues, bad service, or all out strangeness, but please do not take off many points for these issues because they do not relate to the food.  By any means trash on them if you get bad service and average or bad food (1 star is in mind).  Bad service alone can cost a place some stars.  I do agree with removing some stars for that but accompanied by bad food is a huge no no .  My suggestion is this, if the food is 5 stars and there were just some little things that pissed you off with the service, but they meant well, do not take off any stars.  If they are being stupid or jerks then take off 1 or 2 stars.  If the food is 4 star or below and they have ignorant, and messed up service then trash away.  Just keep one thing in mind, food is king and if it’s that damn good and the place meant well, go easy on them.

DO: give menu suggestions for other diners to order when they make their visit.  This will help people decide what will be good so it increases their chances of having a good dining experience.

DO: mention prices, please tell everyone if it’s expensive or cheap.  Please also explain if the food is worth the price.  If the food is not worth the price, please proceed to remove stars.  There is nothing worse than a shitty place that charges too much.  Value is extremely important when dining, you should be getting what you pay for.  Now don’t be like the idiot I mentioned in one of my don’ts that complained about generally spending too much money, that is a personal problem that you must deal with, not the businesses fault.

DO: mention unique ways that a restaurant does things, such as, maybe the restaurant makes you eat with chopsticks, maybe they have a ketchup ban, maybe they cook your food right in front of you, maybe you get a number and it is called.  These details are great for diners to know about so they well prepared when they go to dine at this establishment, it will have minimize bad dining experiences.  Mentioning these can also sell good qualities such as live entertainment or fun loving staff.

DO: mention the neighborhood the restaurant is located in.  Some diners are afraid of certain areas and do not know how to act in some of the rougher neighborhoods in Chicago.  If they are not prepared, they will have a negative dining experience even if nothing happens to them (90% of the time nothing bad will happen) but no one wants to be in the state of fear, because then they act funny and it can draw negative attention.  Do NOT take off stars because of a restaurants location, I will repeat that from one of my DON’Ts above, it is not the business owner’s fault and has nothing to do with how they run their business.

Reader of Yelp guidelines

The DO’s and DON’Ts above can be guidelines for you as the reader to follow when deciding which reviews are relevant or not.  You can’t help it, you will probably pay more attention to the negative reviews than you will to the positive ones, we can’t help it we are human.  As you weed through all those reviews make sure you ignore reviews that are just one small sentence, reviews that have nothing to do with the food, reviews coming from a squirrely weird person, reviews from a cheapskate, reviews from someone with really bad grammar, reviews from someone who is a choosey eater (such as a vegan at a regular pizza joint), reviews on food that the business is not known for (such as French Fries from an authentic Mexican place), reviews from someone that seems like they are a blinded loyalist towny that will probably like the food even if they decided to start serving groul, or reviews from someone that seems like they have anger issues or seems immature like valet parking guy I mentioned above.  Look out for intelligent pieces or at least people that talk about relevant things and seem to have a halfway decent brain.

Yelp is a great source, and quick source for determining if a place might be worth a diner’s visit.  As a Yelper, you have volunteered your time out of your day to give a review of an establishment that you dined at.  Overall I commend you for taking the time to do such a thing, it can greatly help or destroy a business.  I have put together these guide lines not as an authority on what you should do, I am simply making suggestions about how you should be a refined, credible, and intelligent Yelper.  It is just like having good manners at the dinner table, it’s not required but it is polite.  I see people abusing Yelp badly and it makes me sick, and I find it to be rude to businesses and most importantly to other diners that would normally consider eating here.  I wanted to point out how some Yelpers sound like morons, and if you are one of those morons, maybe from this piece you will realize your folly and improve your critiques.  But there are some that can’t be saved and that is why I have a section that talks about which Yelp reviews to adhere to and which to ignore.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion and if you go to a place for the first time and you did not enjoy your food, even though it is a great place, then by all means give a bad review, you need to be heard, just because everyone else liked it does not mean you have to.  Inconsistency needs to be pointed out, just make sure it’s relevant to the food and you are not being petty or obnoxious.

About the Author:

Zach Jones has lived and breathed Chicagoland’s culinary scene for nearly his entire life. He am also very critical of food and not afraid of pointing out marketing scams like Portillo’s and Buffalo Wild Wings. When he splurges on unhealthy food,  he likes to take a trip to our wonderful city of Chicago to enjoy food from one of the best food meccas in the world.  He is also an avid Chicago White Sox fan and enjoys the food they serve at U.S. Cellular. He has a huge passion for food and loves to eat.  He gets appalled when people destroy food.  Or worse when a restaurant destroys food or buys food from some else then charges high prices.  He believes food should always be made fresh and with care when dining out.

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