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Delivery App DoorDash Steps Into Yelp's Turf With New 'Objective' Restaurant Ratings

They're based more on cold hard data than Yelp reviews


Delivery service and In-N-Out Burger nemesis DoorDash launched new versions of its app and website today, and the most notable feature is a new ratings system for restaurants that the company is calling an "industry first."

The new star ratings are called "Delight scores": "By combining a number of data points including restaurant popularity, customer feedback, and much more, the Delight score can help you discover new restaurants in your neighborhood or help you decide between two different spots with similar food," the Bay Area startup explains on its blog.

As VentureBeat explains, "the system is designed to be superior to Yelp’s on several counts." While Yelp star ratings are highly subjective and can be based on various unpredictable factors, such as a waiter's attitude or a diner's mood on a particular day, DoorDash has designed a ratings system that's intended to be more "objective": It uses algorithms to produce a numerical rating (one being the worst, 10 being the best) based on customer satisfaction with the restaurant's food that arrives to their doorstep, and how frequently people order from the restaurant.

"Frequency of orders is a fact and so can’t be gamed easily," VentureBeat writes. "And while DoorDash’s customers’ provide feedback on a 1-5 scale, that score can be tracked to real user accounts, and DoorDash can verify much of the feedback itself by asking follow-up questions." The ratings also take into account delivery time, which is something that's automatically tracked by the DoorDash app. This all stands in contrast to Yelp, where users with a personal vendetta against a restaurant can write a bad review even if they've never actually been there. (DoorDash does not feature customer-submitted reviews.)

Of course, DoorDash and Yelp aren't exactly competitors: The former exists solely to deliver restaurant food to customers' doors, while the latter is the most popular review platform in America and only occasionally delves into delivery via partnerships with delivery services such as Eat24. But Yelp's star ratings, however skewed they may be, have more or less become the gold standard for diners seeking quick advice on where they should eat — and DoorDash's new system is an interesting experiment in how said ratings systems can be revamped to be less subjective and, potentially, more useful for diners.

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