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July 11, 2019

My friend Rachel did something badass, and I didn’t even see it until months after it happened. The only reason I found out was because of her recent interview in PR Week.

If you don’t want to read the story, she is the Chief Communications Officer at Impossible Foods. If you’ve heard of the Impossible Burger, that’s in part due to Rachel’s hard work. But that’s not the cool part.

What got me fired up was how she got into a war of words with a bunch of hostile moms.

Rachel wrote a screed on Medium she called, “Setting the record straight: How ‘Moms Across America’ lies to promote a dangerous, fundamentalist agenda”. In the interview with PR Week she said this response was her “trying to be measured and calm.” In that post there’s a link to a point by point takedown of an incendiary post accusing Impossible Foods of selling a dangerous product entitled, “The Unofficial Correction of ‘Moms Across America”.

Best practices would advise against feeding the trolls. Perhaps you’ve seen the classic XKCD “Duty Calls”. Sometimes you have to let outrageous false statements go. Focus on your base. Don’t give any oxygen to conspiracy theories or wackos.

It’s refreshing to see someone throw convention on its ear.

Within this context, perhaps my decision to engage with a troll of my own makes a little bit more sense. Imagine my surprise when I happened to click over to the Albany subreddit, and found a thread named “Daniel B from Yelp is leaving…”

I didn’t realize the news was reddit worthy. But then it turns out that the OP is not one of my admirers. Which is totally okay. I don’t need to be loved and admired be everyone. I know of a few people who hate my guts, and I imagine there are additional folks out there who hide their loathing better than others.

Believe it or not, but I actually like when people come out and express their displeasure in what I’m doing, or present an opposing argument. Because then we can have a dialogue about it. And maybe, just maybe, I can move a person a little closer to my way of seeing the world. Or perhaps the exchange could reveal an angle I hadn’t considered.

Anyway, I wrote a response.

For what it’s worth, I don’t think the reviews I write on Yelp are my best prose. But I also don’t think they are quite insufferable. My Yelp reviews are often thought starter pieces for the blog. I’ll bang one out to get my fingers moving, and my thoughts on food flowing. Occasionally, as I’m writing, the review will help me identify a larger issue that might be worthy of a blog post.

Some of my reviews though, I think are quite helpful indeed. There’s this one about the bread at Perreca’s. Then there’s the one about how to make Brooks BBQ chicken even better. I even reviewed the city of Schenectady, and gave it five stars, because Schenectady is awesome. But as of today, I’ve written 946 reviews on Yelp and they can’t all be winners.

But I think some of the loathing wasn’t entirely directed at me, but also at my former employer, because there are some people out there who think that Yelp extorts local businesses. Yelp does not extort local businesses. Nor do advertisers get preferential treatment.

While Rachel had the gumption to take on Impossible Foods’ wingnut critics, Yelp takes a different path. The truth is out there. It’s even on Yelp’s own site. One of my favorite party tricks to show those who erroneously think that advertisers can remove scathing reviews is a simple search query. You can find it on Yelp here if you scroll down a bit.

But all you have to do is type [ “Yelp advertiser” AND “rude staff”] into a browser. Or get creative with it, and insert any horrible phrase in place of “rude staff”. I’m partial to “f*ck yourself” because that’s pretty darn negative.

This trick works because the words “Yelp advertiser” actually appear on pages of businesses who are Yelp advertisers. If advertisers could remove these nasty reviews, they would. But they can’t. Because advertising on Yelp only buys ads.

And I’m saying all of this as someone who is no longer employed by Yelp. I just have a deep love for the platform, and I’m really looking forward to using it as I begin to explore Ann Arbor in earnest come August.

Now, I’ve got to get packing. But it would be rad if GhostOfAlSmith came to the Tour de Downtown Albany on Sunday. Then we could hash out all of our differences over beers. And really, that’s my preferred way for settling disagreements. I’m a bit less insufferable in person.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. m. dave. permalink
    July 11, 2019 9:49 pm

    Don’t sweat it. I think I’ve caught some guff over there when I used to weblog… It’s a small, strange, and silly place.

  2. Cindy permalink
    July 12, 2019 2:07 am

    Daniel, the haters can just go “f*ck themselves!” Neither you, nor your Yelp reviews, nor your blog entries are “insufferable.” I’ve learned so much from you about hidden gems in the Capital Region, important criteria for a restaurant’s quality and success, and just how to truly enjoy food & drink whether plain or fancy. And you’re fun and charming in person, to boot. I just regret that I never joined you on one of your “Tours de ____” or sat down with you for beer and conversation before I moved away from the Capital Region. Best wishes on your upcoming move to Ann Arbor, and long live the Profussor!

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