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Thoughts From a Yelp Elite

Donald oversees the operations of GOMO enterprises, a software development company in Newport Beach, CA. Simply put, he is a businessman. But, when he’s not busy working, Donald loves to write about his experiences with local businesses. To date, he has written 342 reviews for a wide range of businesses including restaurants, hotels, barber shops, and limo services.

You see, Donald is Yelp Elite. We recently caught up with him to hear his perspectives on Yelp and online reviews.

Yelp: Tell us about your first experience as a Yelper.
Donald: Back in 2008 I started writing reviews, and it went kind of viral. A couple of people read my reviews, and I started getting some positive feedback. I write all my reviews on Microsoft Word first then paste them to Yelp; I’ve written over 300,000 words now.

Wow, you’re a busy guy, how do you find the time for that?
This is therapy for me. I’ve been in the business world for decades, and you don’t write anything entertaining in the business world– mainly white papers, proposals, and budgets. So, Yelp really allows me to scratch that itch, and put something out that’s witty and informative.

What do you look for when reading other reviews on Yelp?
I look at the status of other reviewers. I give active users more weight. If someone has taken the time to build out their personal Yelp profile, it’s usually an indication that they will take a bit more time and consideration with the content they’re putting out there.

Like business owners, Yelpers can flag inappropriate content. Have you ever used this feature?
I flagged something in a talk thread once that was inappropriate. I’ve never had any of my stuff flagged. I swear in real life, not so much in my reviews. You never know who’s going to read these things. I like to be thoughtful and considerate with what I put out there. Even when I write one star reviews, I try not to rip anyone too badly.

How do you decide when to leave a review?
I look at things with a bit of a different eye than I used to. Before, if I went into a place and the service was average I would think “meh” but I wouldn’t necessarily write anything about it. These days I try to review most things. But I really look for the smaller chains, or the one-off kinds of businesses, or the service businesses that I’ve interacted with. I look at the [customer] experience and try to put that into my reviews. If you read several reviews on a Yelp page, you can get a pretty good feel for what a business is about.