Wondering, wandering, and making sense of the world.


1000 reviews on Yelp

I’ve been terrible about updating my blog. Moving to Japan has made my life so much more hectic, professionally, semi-professionally, and a little bit personally. Being able to speak the language fluently has opened up my world significantly, and I’m definitely chewing off much more than I can handle. But hey, it’s fun!

My blog has been the victim of my newfound busyness (my friends in Germany are probably wondering how I can be even more busy than before), but I am still Yelping! And recently, I hit the 1000 review milestone on March 12th so I decided to look back at my Yelp career (that’s a weird way of saying it). Just as a reference, my 500th review was on February 25th, 2013.

I started using Yelp around 2006, after I graduated from graduate school and signed up for an account in April 2007, but I did not write a review until 2009 which was for a sandwich store in San Francisco. Actually, back in the day (around 2007), my friend and I discussed creating a Yelp competitor that focused on map-based search because the Yelp interface was so clunky. They definitely solved that problem and expanded their empire significantly. I’m glad we didn’t start that company since we probably would have been a fishing boat trying to take on a battle ship.

Since my first review in 2009, I have now written 1012 reviews and amassed 156 compliments and 628 Useful, 562 Funny, and 465 Cool votes, gotten at least one “Review of the Day” (I thought I had another one but I can’t find it), and almost all my reviews are seven words long.

Why? I explain in detail on my blog post from 2009, but in short, I wanted to create a format that people can easily digest while challenging myself creatively. I still find many Yelp reviews too long to be scanned, and unlike TripAdvisor, there are no subject lines.

This has actually gotten some of my reviews removed because it doesn’t quite follow the content guideline of providing “enough detail about your customer experience.” I thought it was only restaurants using it as an excuse to get rid of bad reviews, but looking back, good reviews were taken out too.

Since I have them archived in e-mail, here are the five that got removed (there may have been few more):

I have broken out of style few times by writing near the Yelp character limit of 5000:

In 2010, I became a Yelp elite for the first time, not because I was finally noticed, but because I was living in Paris where Yelp was in its infancy and a new community manager was hired. Anyone who was active in Paris at that point pretty much became an elite. I’ve been an elite since, except for 2012 and 2013 when I lived in Frankfurt and there was no community manager.

Being an elite, even though I don’t like the pretentiousness of the name, has its perks in free food and drinks. I’ve eaten a lot of free meals thanks to Yelp, although I’m sure I’ve put in way more hours writing reviews than what those meals were worth.

Yelp’s international expansion has interestingly intertwined with my life. While living in Europe, Yelp pushed strongly their European expansion, ultimately buying out Qype, and a year before I moved to Japan, they launched there although I wrote that they will fail.

For the longest time, Yelp kept expanding to countries where I have been or was soon going, and once I visited Sweden for a few hours just so I can review a place there (I was in Denmark, just across the strait). However, I can no longer say that I have reviewed in every country where Yelp exists. I’ve never been the Malaysia and the last time I was in the Philippines, the USSR was still intact. 30 out of 32 is not bad though, and I’m sure I’ll head to Malaysia and Philippines one of these days as I don’t live so far away.

Onwards and Upwards!

P.S. I made it onto the Yelp podcast in Japan too (episode 27 on March 3rd).


Leave a Reply