Yelp today declined to take down a comment about L’Oca d’Oro that used inappropriate language. After complaining about undercooked pasta, the user wrote “fucking noodles man.” This was Yelp’s reasoning:
“We’ve decided not to remove the review after carefully assessing it against our Content Guidelines, but thank you for bringing it to our attention.
We allow reviewers to tell their stories in their own words, which may include strong language or words we wouldn’t personally choose. If a review appears to meet our guidelines and reflect the user’s personal experience and opinions, it is our policy to let the user stand behind his or her review.
Business owners can address concerns via their Business Account by posting a public comment or sending a message to the reviewer.”
I respond to every review, positive or negative, and receive responses from less than 10% of yelpers. I regularly plead with folks to tell us, in the restaurant, when something is wrong so that we can correct the problem in the moment and avoid these virtual interactions. That is our job and it is one we take tremendous pride in.
It is Yelp’s job to make our job harder. And, it is apparently not Yelp’s job to hold their users to even the lowest bar of decency. Where they could encourage dialogue, they instead choose to support rancor. What did I expect.
While I understand that one swear word in a restaurant review is not akin to the 2016 election interference, I would argue that they are both the result of social media’s lack of interest in enforcing a code of conduct. In other words, this is what comes of the desire to attract users at any cost.
In the restaurant world, the closest analogue is McDonald’s. There are no principles of food quality for them to abide by on their march to make the cheapest meals possible on a global scale so there is now very little actual chicken or beef in their nuggets or hamburgers. They just want sales.
Is that any different than Yelp just wanting data? If they alienate any segment of a potential user base, they are that much less valuable even if it hurts or offends the supposed core of their business model, the businesses that these users are reviewing who never chose to be on their platform and can not opt out even if they want to. So, where McDonald’s promotes obesity, the Social Media giants promote a uncivil discourse and that’s where we are.
It is one more reminder that we are doing something principled that I can be proud of at L’Oca d’Oro. We have standards for the quality of food that we bring in & standards for how we treat our employees and this means that our prices may alienate some potential customers. Our menu options may alienate some potential customers. While I wish that wasn’t the case, it has to be and it’s okay because all we want to do is serve good food to real people, not good numbers to virtual shareholders.