Sophie’s Choice, The Outlier And Sandwiches

(Not to make light of the subject matter in the 1982 movie, but it made for what I thought was a humorous title)

Anyhow.  Here’s the deal.

Recently, I’ve been doing restaurant reviews on Yelp.

I see it as my way of giving back to a site that has helped me tremendously in the past.

In addition, it is one of the many things I’m doing to try to shift from the “90% lurkers” group and into the  “9% frequent contributors” group (see 90 9 1 rule).

The Sandwich

I recently wrote a review for a brand-new sandwich shop in Austin.  I won’t name it, but if you want to do the legwork on Yelp to figure it out, by all means.

Regardless.  The place has only been open a week.  Maybe two.

I ate there and gave them a three star rating.

At the time of my writing this blog, there were eleven reviews; two 2 star, seven 3 star (including mine), one 4 star and one 5 star.

The 4 star review is from a user who has also reviewed eight other restaurants in Austin.

Then there is the real outlier; the 5 star review.

The Outlier

The first review on the page is this outlier / 5 star review, which is long and glowing with praise.  The user ID has only been active within the past month and this is the only review that this user has contributed to the site.

Just the fact that a place that has been open less than a month can get a 5 star rating was curious enough to me to pause to dig a bit deeper into the review and the reviewer.

When I was there, I (along with other reviewers) noticed enough problems they were having with general workflow (things like measuring sandwich contents, bumping into each other behind the counter and speed to deliver sandwiches to customers) that a 5 star review seemed a bit out of the ordinary.

The outlier review’s only negative comment; not enough seating because the place was so packed with customers.

The outlier in question can be one of two things:

  1. Legit, But Not Legit Enough To Quit: the outlier could be someone like me on the other end.  A 90%’er who is looking to move into the 9% club and decided to write her first review (this sandwich moved her).  She created a user ID, wrote a review but then got sidetracked with life (or whatever) and hasn’t contributed any additional reviews.
  2. “It’s A Fraud!” (say it like Admiral Akbar): The user ID is affiliated with the restaurant and it’s a “shill” review meant to set a positive tone for other reviews (which it didn’t) and/or get the attention of readers who might ignore the other reviews.  Either way, it should be flagged and removed and is an abuse of the community.

The Choice?

I’m being cautious here because I don’t want to yell “fraud”and scare off what very well might be a contributor who could help the community in the future.

But I also don’t think there is any place for this type of behavior in the community if it is indeed fraudulent.

Successful communities are in part based on information that can be trusted.

So, what say you?  Flag the review or let it go?

And I guess the better question: if you were a 9%’er and got flagged.  Would you hold it against someone?  Would you be offended?


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2 Responses to “Sophie’s Choice, The Outlier And Sandwiches”

  1. Allyson Says:

    Yes that is a dilemma. You could post something like “Wow, that was a really high rating you gave to XYZ. While many of us enjoyed the food, perhaps you were lucky enough to not encounter the problems all X reviewers faced? I sure would love to see more reviews from you about other Austin restaurants.”

  2. Noah Kuttler Says:

    As basic as it sounds, that is actually the best and most logical response. Engage the user and talk to them about the review. See what they have to say. Thank you for the feedback.

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