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The Poetry Of Yelp: How The Reviews Site Became A Massive Platform For Creativity


Stashed in: User Generated Content, Creativity, Yelp!

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"For people whose jobs don’t give them a platform for self-expression, Yelp is often treated as a creative outlet," Camilla Vasquez, a linguistics professor who studies consumer reviews, tells me. "Yelp reviewers often feel a sense of ownership over their work. They enjoy the feeling that they are an author, that their voice matters and that they are being clever in their style." Her hypothesis is that since I am a writer by trade, I already have a creative outlet, so I don’t need Yelp to fill that void.

For her recent scholarly book, The Discourse of Online Consumer Reviews, Vasquez analyzed thousands of reviews on TripAdvisor, Amazon, Netflix, Yelp, and Epicurious. She notes that each site has site has it’s own particular flavor, cultural norms and rules of engagement. For instance, since film appreciation is so subjective, Netflix reviews often reflect individual tastes of the writer, while Amazon reviewers tends to focus on providing an objective evaluation of products. Of all of the sites, however, she found that Yelp is most likely to draw out reviewers’ creativity. "Yelp has a very specific kind of ethos," she says. "It is the only site that asks readers to rate reviews on the basis of being not only useful but also funny and cool. That presupposes that reviewers are taking a specific kind of position as a writer: they are trying not only to be useful but also to be engaging and entertaining."

Yelp is self expression. I believe that. 

I didn't realize there are so many Yelp celebrities!

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