My Problems With Yelp.com

I use Yelp. I like Yelp. I contribute to Yelp. Yelp is there when I need to find a business without a site. Yelp is useful. Yelp also has problems.
I think my biggest problem with the site is how it has fallen in to the age-old problem of cliques. When it first started, it seemed wide open. You were there with these other people in a growing community and each new member was welcomed. Then something happened. There was a critical mass that was reached and all of the sudden the site seemed immense and unapproachable for me. And it’s not like I’m some newbie to the whole thing. I’ve been using it since November of 2005 (as you can see on my profile) and I’m even one of the “Elite” with “Friends”. Yet even still, the site doesn’t seem as tight as it once was and I blame this on the cliques. It is well-known to many that there is this very tight circle of people within the site who are what I call, Yelpores. Obviously just writing these words opens me up to a torrent of anger if this group finds this blogging.
The Yelpores go to every single Yelp event. And I do not exaggerate. I have gone to a few to find that while initially people are somewhat open, you quickly realize that it feels like you’re in San Jose and no one really wants to meet new people. Be your “friend” on the site? Sure, but they have their crew and they’re sticking to them at every. Single. Event. It’s this group that kinda closes off Yelp to everyone else because you can feel this inner circle and the fact you won’t be part of it. It’s just like High School basically and that’s the irony in this, is that I would bet a lot of these people are the ones who hated the cliques in High School because they weren’t part of them.
The Yelp staff actually seems to encourage a lot of this. I’ve known a few of them because I used to do contract work at a Sometimes Office they shared space with. They’re good folks and a lot of fun, but once they put up their Store section in a way that apes American Apparel naughtiness, I saw that they’re in to their inner circle. The girls in these made up scenes are girls from the site. While tasty ladies, they are the ones who go to every single event. Wanna meet ’em? Get a job at Yelp.
Beyond this though, which is generally inevitable (although not really on Craigslist for some reason…) another thing that drives me nuts are the Friendists. They are this group that must have fled Friendster or something and are now on Yelp. Their main drive in the world seems to be getting as many friends as they possibly can. You’ll notice that their friend count will far outstrip their review count. What they’re getting out of the site, I don’t know, since these people really aren’t “friends”. Will they loan you their car? No. Will they help you move? Doubt it. But, due to the number of reviews I’ve submitted, I seem to get contacted by them on occasion and it’s just weird. Do I turn down their offer of “friendship”? No, because I really don’t care, but maybe I should and do my part in stopping this perverse OCD-esque behavior.
My other major gripe with the site is the search. I understand that they’ve got to make money or this little fun site won’t be around for very long. They just need to learn from Google in that you don’t screw with the search. Maybe they aren’t messing with the results and giving higher placement to paying advertisers, but it sure feels like that. If I don’t know the exact name of what I’m looking for on there, then I’m most likely not going to find it. Although I’ll be “helped out” by friendly suggestions of other places I might want, but really don’t. It’s gotten to a point where I just use the site search function on Google. You know what I’m talking about? Say you wanted to find yelp mentions on this site, you’d type in ‘yelp site:hudin.com’ in to Google. Searching like this works a lot better than the Yelp search.
One last thing that is irksome is that if I find a place in say Berkeley on Yelp, then the next time I come back, my primary location has been set to Berkeley. This I do not want since 99% of my searches are in San Francisco. Once again, it’s an example of the search function not really working in a way that seems intuitive.
So, anyways, just a few of my gripes. I’m not going to stop using the system, I just wanted to put that out and see if there are others that agree with me, especially on the Yelpore bit.