When the sitting President of the United States visits your smalltown, swing state restaurant and you give him an elevated bear-hug, it may be very good for your establishment's publicity. Apparently, though, it has a terrible effect on the quality of your establishment's Yelp reviews. Just ask Scott Van Duzer, the pizza shop owner who bear-hugged Prsident Obama, whose restaurant has since seen a deluge of thousands of emotionally and politically charged reviews that have bear-ly anything to do with his pizza joint.
So much for the Noise Level of the restaurant being listed as "Average".
Since President Obama visited the pizza shop and got a bear hug on Sunday, Big Apple Pizza in Fort Pierce, FL has garnished more than 3,000 Yelp reviews. Hardly any of them are actual reviews of the restaurant.
For comparison's sake, the pizza shop in question had two reviews prior to the President's visit. It now has 3,024 reviews.
"If I could give these negative a million stars I would," reads one review, placed from more than 2,000 miles away from the restaurant's location. I do not even know where to begin with a review that reads, "I'm quite sure that george bush is rolling in his grave right now due to the fact that obama is getting all the good press in his own state of fla."
The pro-Obama reviews are winning by a landslide, but most of these reviews admit something along the lines of, "I've never been here."
Personally, I did not sit and read all 3,024 (and counting!) Yelp reviews of Big Apple Pizza. But a statistical analysis of 200 randomly selected reviews left on Big Apple Pizza's Yelp page in the two days since the President's visit shows that fewer than 10% of the reviews actually attempt to review the quality of the restaurant, and 90% are politically motivated.
Of the reviews left since the President's visit, 83% of the reviews were politically motivated and pro-Obama, while 7% were politically motivated and anti-Obama. Only 10% of Tuesday's reviews were non-political, and only 7% of the reviews were registered from within Florida.
Hilariously, one of the out-of-town Yelper wrote a poltically motivated review linking to a Change.org petition demanding the removal of poltically motivated reviews from the page.
Sure, this is all just funny and stupid and will blow over by Thursday. It points to an issue, though -- Yelp claims in their Review Content Guidelines reviews should not assess the "business’s employment practices, political ideologies, extraordinary circumstances, or other matters that don’t address the core of the consumer experience."
What does Yelp do if reviewers violate these guidelines? Apparently nothing.
As VentureBeat points out, OpenTable requires that you actually eat at a restaurant before reviewing it. Yelp makes no such requirement.
With Yelp's lax content guidelines, don't be surprised if you look for advice on a pizza place and instead find a 500-word diatribe about global warming.