We enjoy Yelp quite a bit. During our rare moments of free time, we often have fun slogging through the site's multitudes of oft-useful, oft-comedic opinions on local services, establishments, and especially restaurants (feel free to check out our vast  amount of reviews ). We were interested to hear more about the genesis of this community-based Web site, and wondered how Yelp's growth and evolution looked to those behind the scenes. The site's founders, Jeremy Stoppelman (who's the CEO, and talked to SFist once before) and Russel Simmons (the CTO), took a few minutes to answer three questions for us. Hey -- six answers for the price of three!
1) What kind of insights into human nature have you gleaned from creating a community in which people (or "real people," as your slogan says) communicate so passionately/vociferously? What has surprised you? Made you laugh?
JS: It's always interesting to see how each person's opinion sheds a nuanced perspective on the businesses they care about. Part of the human condition is to share advice, both good and bad, and we've found that each review adds real depth to Yelp. What's more, it's been a real thrill to witness so many of these folks taking ownership and pride in their city's Yelp page. As far as the biggest surprise? I never would have predicted that prolific yelpers would become mini-local celebrities both on and offline. The first couple of times that I heard about yelpers saying "business owners recognize me when I walk in door, because of my Yelp reviews," I thought they were joking.
RS: For me one surprise has been that contrary to many people's expectations, yelpers generally strive to be fair and useful in their reviews, rather than just ranting in a non-constructive way. Certainly everyone's opinions and tastes vary greatly, but it's cool to see the underlying vibe of contributing to the community, whether it be with praise or criticism. I've also been impressed by the ever-increasing
length, quality, and creativity of many reviews. Yelpers keep raising the bar as they one-up each other to win the coveted Review of the Day spot, and the result is great reading for everyone.