Listen Up, Yelpers! Here's Some Sage Advice From A Pro

Leslie Kelly
Hannah Raskin Yelp Help Seattle magazine

To many restaurateurs, Yelp is a nasty four-letter word. But to tons of devoted Yelpers, it’s a thriving community, a fun forum to air beefs and shout out spots that shine. There’s no denying its power, so why not make Yelp even better by dishing out advice on the best way to write these citizen reviews?

That’s exactly what former Seattle Weekly critic Hanna Raskin has done in a brand-new ebook called Yelp Help.

According to the description on Amazon (where it’s already ranked No. 4 in Kindle gastronomy essay cooking-related titles), this is “is the first how-to book for online restaurant reviewers. Whether they’re motivated to climb the Yelp ranks or assist their fellow eaters by writing clearer, fairer reviews, citizen critics will find the tools they need in Yelp Help, a comprehensive guide to reporting, conceptualizing and writing compelling short-form restaurant reviews.”

So, what inspired Raskin?

“A Seattle friend's dad, who takes enormous pride in crafting Yelp reviews, which accurately capture the restaurants he visits. His dedication made me realize that not every eater with a Yelp account is out to sink restaurants or parade his or her ego. There are plenty of online restaurant reviewers who want to do a good job, but nobody's ever told them how. I decided it was time to stop moaning about the caliber of online restaurant reviews and start helping the folks responsible for them,” says Raskin, who’s soon to be back in the professional reviewing ring in Charleston, S.C.

The premise of the book is dang brilliant and I’m kind of surprised nobody’s written anything like this before. Beyond offering how-to advice, Yelp Help covers the history of food criticism and includes excerpts from pros and Yelper reviews, along with a review meal checklist and an overview of the eight most common online reviewing errors. Test your skills with the handy practice exercises.

Adding additional cred to this nifty title, Hanna wrote most of Yelp Help at Gossip, a coffee/tea shop in the ID, which gets 3.5 stars on Yelp. That part of Seattle is one of the things she’s going to miss most when she heads South.

“I’ll miss King Noodle, Gourmet Noodle Bowl, Canton Wonton House, Kau Kau, Tsukushinbo, Pho So 1 and all my other ID standbys. Charleston does right by most kinds of foods, but there's nothing on the rice-and-noodle scene to match what we've got in Seattle. I’m doing my best to stockpile ID experiences before I go,” she says.