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Monday, October 26, 2009

What Are You Yelpin' About?

Or, About What Are You Yelpin', if I want to be grammatically correct?

Have you seen or tried Yelp? Here's how the people at Yelp define this free online service: "Yelp is the fun and easy way to find, review and talk about what's great - and not so great - in your area."

What that means for you: let's say you'd like to find a good dry cleaner in town, or learn if it's worth waiting in line for over an hour at Paradise Pup, or who can give you a nice manicure for your wedding day. If you believe, as many do, that the best way to find out is through referrals from other locals, you will love Yelp.

How it works: people register for free Yelp accounts and start writing. You can add reviews to businesses already listed on Yelp (see a full Des Plaines listing here). I do not as yet see a way to add a new business. I'm guessing Yelp provides that information to keep people from overpromoting their own businesses, and also as a way to ensure listings are current and accurate. Unless a review violates Yelp's terms of service, it will be posted, whether a glowing tribute or a bilious rant. You can lend 5 stars to your favorite local restaurant or give a 1 star "thumbs down" to that dental clinic with the poor hygiene standards.

Go ahead and try Yelp. It's fun and gives you the opportunity to boost our local business community. A string of positive reviews on Yelp can bring new traffic to a small business, because the reviews come up in Google searches and other sources. Businesses are also very aware of what people are saying on Yelp, so if you've got a gripe with a place, particularly one that used to be better, flex your typing muscles and let them know what you think. (Believe me, we read what people are Yelping about the Library!) If you're worried about getting a load of junk mail along with your free account - hasn't happened to me yet. Yelp sends out occasional emails featuring a particular type of reviewed service, but that's about it.

Want to make use of Yelp's reviews without contributing your own? Here's a link - happy browsing.
Or you can visit the main Yelp site, to search cities all over the world - great for the next time you're planning a trip.

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