Reviewing the Reviewers

Kauffman Wants Critics, Bloggers, and Yelpers All to Live in Harmony

Jonathan Kauffman took a moment this week to respond to Robert Sietsema’s rather dismal view of the future of food criticism, attacking the notion that everyone trusts Yelp’s often biased citizen reviews at face value and the idea that bloggers and critics are working in opposition. Kauffman rightly asserts that the blog age has simply made most people more astute readers. “If the side effect of having their bullshit meters perennially cranked up is that people read professional restaurant critics like Sietsema and me, as well as bloggers who may or may not be accepting free food, with the same watchful eye ― good.”

Kudos, Kauffman. But we should also remind you that Yelpers sometimes like to attack/review established critics, so it works both ways.

Grub Street New York also offered their two cents when Sietsema’s essay dropped on Tuesday, so we’ll keep our additional thoughts brief:

The many-headed, overly talkative monster that is Yelp has had a solid grip on Bay Area restaurant opinion-making for a good four years now, and San Francisco’s trust in the internet as a sole guide to food and culture pre-dates most of the rest of the country’s. Sietsema may sound crotchety in his views on Yelpers and bloggers for sure, but we have to take into account how Yelp is still a relatively new phenomenon for New York. As recently as ‘08 hardly anyone there had even heard of it, and it had yet to start influencing public opinion of restaurants (or bodegas, or hair salons) in any significant way. So it’s really only been in the last year that the long established, ever-powerful critical apparatus in NY has taken notice and begun to feel anxious about their relevance.

Rest assured, Sietsema, the Yelp backlash on your side of the country is on its way soon.

Why Do Restaurant Critics Think Criticism Is Dying? [SFoodie]
Everyone Eats - by Robert Sietsema [Columbia Journalism Review]
Related: Sietsema Looks at the Past, But What’s the Future of Food Media? [Grub Street NY]
Yelpers Yak Up Pork Sliders, Call in Sick After Yelp Event [Grub Street SF]
Earlier: Michael Bauer Gets Reviewed on Yelp [Yelp]

Kauffman Wants Critics, Bloggers, and Yelpers All to Live in Harmony