Bizarre Foods host and goat burger monger Andrew Zimmern took to his podcast Go Fork Yourself to declare his official position on Yelp recently, which is: "Yelp is on my shit list." First he compares finding restaurants using the "tremendous forum for a bunch of uninformed morons" to asking his five year old son "which John Updike book is his favorite — because he'll just point at any old random one." Which does seem ineffective.
But that's not even the main issue: Zimmern's sick of hearing stories from people like Doug Quint and Bryan Petroff of New York's Big Gay Ice Cream about Yelpers using their "Elite" status to get free stuff and/or preferential treatment. It's stories like these that have led him to decide "that Yelp has become dangerously unstable. Because clearly they have people abusing the system, who are using the Yelp name to go out and graymail and blackmail restaurants." And while you're avoiding Yelper blackmail, make sure to avoid those degenerate feeding frenzies, too. Below, Zimmern's rant.
Here's something that really pisses me off: Yelp. I was against Yelp for a long time. I don't like the idea of Yelp. The problem for me is that crowd sourcing is very beneficial except when it comes to things like restaurant criticism and restaurant reviews and restaurant recommenders. Just the same way I don't ask my five year old to tell me whether or not I should go see the movie This Is Forty or Sessions or The French Lieutenant's Woman, I don't ask my son which John Updike book is his favorite — because he'll just point at any old random one. And while he might get lucky, and certainly most John Updike books are really good, Yelp essentially gives a tremendous forum for a bunch of uninformed morons to take down restaurants. That's a lot different than Pete Wells taking down Guy Fieri's restaurant.
Now, while some people may see that as being a fairly mild thing to talk about, some people may think there's Zimmern, another tempest in a teapot. No. What this is, is it's just further proof that after I softened my position on Yelp a year ago in an editorial in Minneapolis St Paul Magazine where I said look, some of that stuff seems to be fairly well managed. I have now decided after another six eight months have gone by that the number of stories that I hear like this from people who I trust, who I know aren't BSing me (and Doug and Bryan are friends of mine) that Yelp has become dangerously unstable. Because clearly they have people abusing the system, who are using the Yelp name to go out and graymail and blackmail restaurants. Yelp to me is something that just doesn't work. It's official now: Yelp is on my shit list.