post Disregard First Time Urbanspoon Reviewers. Really.

February 5th, 2012

Filed under: food blogs,local media,new restaurant,restaurant business — Andrea Lin @ 10:10 am

There’s a problem on Urbanspoon that is growing worse – it used to affect Yelp even more so but the ascendance of Urbanspoon has brought it back: any and all reviews that are posted by someone AS THEIR FIRST REVIEW should be suspect, even disregarded completely.

Consider a new Urbanspoon user. Why are they there? Often it is because they have signed up for an account in the heat of the moment – ANGER or ELATION about a restaurant. Many signup from mobile devices, even while they are at the restaurant, lobbing comments about the overall experience without the details that lead to their conclusion.

Based on observation rather than rigorous data collection, most wildly negative or wildly positive reviews are left by users that will never review again. But what builds credibility as a reviewer? EXPERIENCE. And not just general eating experience, but experience sharing one’s opinions with the world in appropriate detail. A review that simply says, “this is great” or “this sucks” is useless. In that case the “reviewer” should just mark the place as “I like” or “I don’t like” and be done with it.

Keep that in mind when you see things like this (one negative, one positive):


Then, do everyone a service and mark their review as “not helpful”. We all appreciate it and the quality and reliability of websites like Urbanspoon and Yelp can get better.


  1. Thanks, Andrea. This is a frequent discussion topic on the Prime’s forum on US. Here is my latest post to that (private) forum:

    OK. Here we go again:
    1. One liner reviews must be demoted to the bottom of the place page.
    2. One timer reviewers’ reviews should be demoted to the bottom of the place page.
    This crap is giving Urbanspoon a bad name.
    The leading press restaurant critic in Albuquerque, Andrea Lin, wrote a short post about this nonsense. She is a friend, and I agree with her. Please read her comments at…

    We heavy duty contributors have been fighting this nonsense for at least two years.

    Users can help us by, as you suggested, marking offending posts as Not Helpful. This, through some secret :relevance algorithm” moves them closer to the bottom.

    Most serious foodies ignore such posts as well as posts from system gamers, but the clutter is an eyesore.

    Thanks for bringing this up. Urbanspoon *CAN* be good.


    FWIW, I read every Albuquerque post. Many other cities, too.

    Comment by Larry McGoldrick — February 7, 2012 @ 2:20 pm

  2. Thanks, Larry. I mark as many as I can as “unhelpful”, but I have to read them first – I don’t mark ones that seem like a good attempt at critique.

    Comment by Andrea Lin — February 8, 2012 @ 1:00 pm

  3. We at Urbanspoon absolutely agree, and wanted to let you know that we are definitely aware of these issues, are seriously discussing them, and are coming up with some solutions. We can’t be too specific just yet, but we are working on the problem and should soon have some changes that will make everybody happy — shillers and haters excepted, of course.

    Comment by Ken — February 8, 2012 @ 1:22 pm

  4. Amen!

    Comment by Bob of the Village of Los Ranchos — February 18, 2012 @ 9:17 am

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