Monday, June 4, 2012

Things I Miss From the U.S.: Yelp

It's downright inconsiderate of Yelp to not have expanded into overseas markets yet. I desperately need a haircut but I’m not familiar with Swindon, the big city nearest us. I’ve had too many bad haircuts to just blindly pick any salon and trust them with my fine-but-curly-and-frizzy-but-also-weirdly-straight-in-the-back-with-a-cowlick-in-the-front hair. Without Yelp, there is no quick and easy way to find a good, reliable salon.

Yes, there’s the question of the reliability of user-sourced reviews (bias, truthfulness, accuracy, what-have-you). Yes, they have reviews for ridiculous things like gas stations and pharmacies and chain restaurants (aren’t they pretty much uniform?). And even if a majority of people give it good reviews, there’s no guarantee you yourself will like it. But it’s certainly better than blind luck. It allows you to get word-of-mouth advice from locals without being a local.

Until Yelp expands or another site emerges to fill the void, the only thing that comes remotely close is Google Reviews, which seem to be random, limited, and unstructured. The only salon that has any sort of feedback, with 7 positive reviews and no negative, is–I kid you not–called “O.M.G.” Doesn't inspire much confidence.

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