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Yelp's Elite Review Mafia: Influential and Hungry For Free Shit

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Members of Yelp's Elite Squad, the avid reviewers who get invited to all sorts of free food and booze events, were recently scolded for some feeding frenzy-style misbehavior. However Businessweek says these "personal entitlement issues" persist within the group. While Yelp limits the information it shares about the "chosen people" of the "strange, exclamation point-laden netherworld of online restaurant reviewing," the article includes interviews with a number of Elite Yelpers:

"I like to tell my friends that my opinion is important," says 29-year-old research scientist Kristin Patrick. "When I go into a restaurant, the owner says, 'You're here to write a review, aren't you?' I'll say, 'Don't worry, I'm Elite.'"

How does Yelp find these people? Why, through "a clandestine Skull and Bones-like process" by a secretive governing body known as The Council. For real.

Other than free dinners, Elite members also get to go on comped winery tours, a "4,000-person Yelpapalooza" (this summer in the Bay Area), and "goofy parties where people dress up like cupcakes." That last one sounds really dirty. Anyone have photos?

· Yelp's Online Reviewing Mafia [Businessweek]
· All Yelp Coverage on Eater [-E-]

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