GMG - Las Vegas Weekly

November 7, 2013

Las Vegas Weekly

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AsWeSeeIt OPINION + POLITICS + HUMOR + STYLE A YELPING HAND ∑ A colleague once asked me, a food writer, why some food writers tend to develop outsize egos, if there's something about this gig that leads to an inflated sense of self-importance. Exactly what kind of power comes with evaluating a plate of pasta or an elaborate sushi roll, and is it corrosive? I don't know the answer, but the egos don't seem to be limited to professionals. A group of California Yelp reviewers recently filed a class action lawsuit against the popular website claiming their reviews of restaurants and other businesses are integral to Yelp's success, and therefore, they deserve compensation—even though all contributed content is clearly voluntary. The lawsuit states that Yelp's practice of labeling participants as "reviewers," "Yelpers" or "elites" is a form of reward to circumvent payment. It also compares Yelp to a cult and accuses the company of tinkering with reviews to please advertisers. A statement from Yelp calls the lawsuit frivolous and claims it is "probably a result of the enforcement action we were required to take against some of the plaintiffs for improper conduct rather than based on any real merit." The site's terms of service page includes a clear explanation of how Yelp works and how it uses its reviewers' content. Local Yelpers agree the suit is ridiculous. "Yelp didn't put a gun to their head. There was no job offer. It's all voluntary," says Nelson Queja, who works as a pastry chef in a casino bakery and considers Yelping a hobby. "To me, it's absurd." Queja says he uses the site to promote local businesses that he feels deserve recognition, and sometimes, through unofficial Yelp events and regular OUT TO LUNCH ∑ For the past seven years, the drive past 4761 S. Maryland Parkway has been a bittersweet one for longtime music fans. Despite the closure of Big B's CDs & Records in December 2006, its sign remained up, a reminder of how many of us built up (and pared down) our CD and vinyl collections there—and how its carefully curated stock helped update and deepen the collective musical pedigree of Las Vegas. It's where super-managers Alex Vaughan and Marco Brizuela sold me the import versions of what would become Sigur Rós' and The [Yelp] community, but I stay away from that, all the negative backlash. For me, it's about promoting businesses in the local community." Getting paid is just one difference between Yelpers and (occasionally egotistical) food writers. Since it's not their primary gig, Yelpers have less experience, spend less time researching Strokes' breakthrough albums, respectively, and where owner Brian Snyder—who died in 2009—steered me away from Bitches Brew and toward the underrated Miles gem, Get Up With It. But this past September, the University Square plaza finally found a tenant for the space: Firehouse Subs #960, its iconic logo replacing another—the neighboring Baja Bar & Grill has repurposed Big B's banner—and leaving this musicphile with one less catalyst for binpicking, wax-sorting nostalgia. –Mike Prevatt and composing their reviews, and don't have an editorial support system—or much support at all from the website that hosts their words. And yet with millions of viewers, Yelp reviews have an undeniable impact on the businesses they promote or criticize—with or without a company paycheck. –Brock Radke ILLUSTRATION BY LEX CANNON Firehouse Subs fills the old Big B's space, but memories of the record shop remain interaction at restaurants, he forges relationships with other local chefs. But not all Yelpers work in the food biz like Queja, who has a more wellrounded understanding of the impact of his reviews. "Some reviewers want to be food critics, even though they know nothing about the industry," he says. "There are cliques within the 10 LASVEGASWEEKLY.COM NOVEMBER 7–13, 2013 10_AWSI_Open_20131107.indd 10 11/6/13 1:14 PM

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