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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Maybe Yelp knows...finally...that Dorchester is part of Boston

Like many people, I occasionally visit Yelp to see what people are saying about local restaurants and other businesses. More often, I visit it to find out about out-of-town restaurants when I need that information. So Chris and Erin immediately grabbed my attention when they made this observation four days ago in their Lower Dot blog, which is on my list of RSS feeds:
The neighborhood of Dorchester’s hip establishments are rapidly growing, but you wouldn’t even know it was part of Boston if you regularly go to the popular user review website Yelp (www.yelp.com/boston) because it is not listed as so. After several attempts to contact Yelp about this, including a response telling us they are “working on it”, nothing has been done.

This omission seems almost purposeful. Several neighborhoods of the city that offer far fewer resturants and shops than Dorchester are listed (including Dudley Square, Egleston Square, Mission Hill, South Boston, Hyde Park, etc.). On top of this, many places that are not even in Boston are listed as neighborhoods of the city, including Central and Harvard Squares (in the city of Cambridge), Coolidge Corner (in the town of Brookline), Davis Square (in the city of Somerville), Arlington Center (in the town of Arlington), and Winthrop (which is a separate town in itself), etc.

We are asking our readers to take a moment and send a comment to Yelp that Dorchester needs to be added to their list of Boston neighborhoods. This simple action will encourage more people in the city to visit Dot (because Yelp is such a widely used website by people under 40), having a positive effect on our local businesses.
OK, so I followed their advice and actually sent two slightly different comments to Yelp: one to their San Francisco headquarters that assumed that they didn’t know that Dot is part of Boston, and one to their Boston office that assumed that of course they knew but had just accidentally overlooked it.

Then the effort heated up a bit when Adam Gaffin picked up Chris and Erin’s remarks and linked to them in Universal Hub later that same day, with an appropriate headline observing “Yet Another Online Guide that Ignores Half the City” (Yelp also ignores Roslindale and Mattapan in addition to Dorchester). I don’t know whether that made any difference to Yelp, but I was pleased to receive prompt responses from them. First of all, a few hours later (still on the same day), one Ligaya Tichy from the local Boston office wrote back to me:
Thanks for writing in. We’re on it! We currently have listings including businesses in Dorchester but we will be adding it as a neighborhood in the next few. Keep an eye out, and have a great weekend!
And then I received this message today from Stacy No-Last-Name at Yelp’s SF headquarters:
Thanks for contacting Yelp and for letting us know about our oversight. We’re in the process of getting that information updated as quickly as possible.

See you on Yelp!
So, now we just have to see what actually happens, if anything. As I said in my previous post, but in an entirely different context, stay tuned...

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