The Spectacle Blog

One Yelp Too Many

By on 5.1.13 | 3:21PM

Ever since I stumbled across a review of my local parish on Yelp.com, it has been in my mind to give the popular review site a taste of its own medicine. But then Stephen Colbert stole my thunder. He called Yelp a combination of “the critical palate of Zagat with not having anything better to do.”

Here’s the thing about Yelp: it’s wonderfully helpful and reviewers often post comments that can be very beneficial for those who heed them: advice on best times to go to a business, what to order, what to avoid, prices, atmosphere, etc. Very useful.

Then there are those reviewers who should just invest in a diary instead. They drone on paragraph after petty paragraph nit-picking the service, the person who sat next to them, the shape of their ice cubes… These are the neurotic reviewers with unrealistically high expectations and too much time on their hands who assume you have too much time on your hands too. One such complained that, “A couple other things that count against this place:-land of lakes half and half packets that don't require refrigeration are used in lieue [sic] of real dairy half and half with coffee.”

Then there are the amusing reviewers who seek to make an art of Yelping. They usually explain to you their reason for visiting a restaurant or other business, “My sister was in town for Labor Day weekend…” and go into great dramatic detail about the experience: “The meatloaf made it to my table and into my mouth…As I scooped the brussel sprouts into my mouth, it made up for the slight disappointment of the meatloaf.”

To each his own. Yelp reviews can be fun, and are rated as either “helpful,” “funny,” or “cool.” I prefer the short ones, which, brevity being the soul of wit, are usually the most amusing. “Drunk or sober, the half smoke is absolutely worth the wait in line. Get two of them. And some chili fries. You will love every bite.” – does it for me. Or: “yes its an institution and its a solid good old american meal.” What else needs to be said?

The review of the Catholic Church I attend, however, was a Yelp gone too far. Firstly, who felt compelled to write a review of a Catholic Church? (Answer: “Joanne B.” and four others.) And why, and who, would base his decision to attend Mass on a Yelp review? I am happy to say that St. Peter’s on Capitol Hill has a solid 5-star rating, much of which appears to be due to its “very short Saturday vigil Mass.” 

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