September 5, 2010

If you aren’t aware of Yelp, you should be. As a traveler, I find it unbelievably helpful. Even as a non-traveler, I can’t count the number of times I’ve looked up local restaurants and bars. It doesn’t quite take the place of a personal recommendation – but if you pass by a random bar, it definitely aids in the decision-making process. Unfortunately, it works best in major cities – where lots of people will be contributing. And it suffers from the normal recommendation problem – a lot of people are only willing to review places they love or they hate. So you end up with a somewhat skewed image.

But now that I use Yelp quite regularly, I realized I was way behind on contributing. Then I realized, that if everyone was like me, the site would be totally unhelpful because no one would be reviewing anything. And I couldn’t be THAT person. So I have made it a new goal to actually post reviews of the restaurants, hotels, and other places I visit. I’ve started mostly with restaurants, but hotels will definitely begin to make it on the list since I’ve started getting pickier about my hotels.

While writing my reviews, I’ve learned that I dislike writing bad reviews. I tend to assume my experience was a fluke – a bad waitress or bad timing or whatever. Or I assume, it just wasn’t the kind of place for me – and I don’t think my review should really reflect a place I would never really choose to go in the first place. It seems misleading to me, even though as an audience, I can pretty easily pick out which unhappy reviews are relevant and which are just ranting. Classic example: Amazon reviews that are one star because the package never arrived. You can’t comment on your purchase it you never got it! Or it’s possible that I just have relatively low standards, so most places come out on top.

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