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5 Gripes
Grandpa Socks It To Yelp, Twitter and Recipe Sites

Posted by Charlie Recksieck on 2022-11-10
Here in this blog I try to focus on topics that would help businesses improve their web and tech lives even just a little bit better. This week, I'm just going to whine and get a couple of things off my chest. I apologize. It's petty. But if I at least tag my gripes with a suggested way to fix the problem or a workaround, then maybe it's not totally just a vanity complaint session.

The other positive is that I jam these five grievances here as five mercifully short sections in one blog post. You really don't need a 700-word tirade on one deceptive online ad.

Gripe #1 - Recipes Sites Making You Scroll

The other day I wanted a quick refresher on low-carb bread dough recipes. I thought I could just Google and see quickly. Nope. A lot of scrolling through pointless paragraphs about toothpicks, where to buy Hearts of Palm, a treatise on what you can use bread for, etc. - oh, and a lot of pop up ads as I scrolled.

Why? It's because all of these bloggers have had to play the Google SEO game and write more content that is needed (or humanly desired) about the subject to help get the article placed higher in the rankings.

I could go on but if you're interested, or want a good laugh, I urge you to read this absolutely fantastic article on the subject from Byrne Hobart.

Normally, I think Google does a good job of sniffing out the internet tricks to game the system and gives us all pretty good content. But this trend stinks. Google is making people give us worse content.

The Solution: Reward sites that avoid this trick. Bookmark sites like CIA Foodies and the well-named No-Scroll Recipes and go there when you want a recipe, instead of Googling a food dish and falling for whatever bad behavior Google is rewarding.

Gripe #2 - Cancelling Yelp Ads

Yelp seems like a reputable enough company. Small B2C businesses seem to HAVE to worry about their Yelp presence. Enough consumers will still seek out Yelp ratings and reviews, or Google searches will take them to Yelp. If you google a restaurant and wanna look at a photo, more often than not the photo is at Yelp and trying to view it will send you down their rabbit hole.

But their core business of having businesses pay for preferable listings on its own means that recommendations and ratings are being manipulated. A quick read of the Wikipedia section on unfair Yelp practices shows a history of some dubious policies.

Even so, we recently had a client of ours use Yelp Ads offer of $300 of free placements there go sideways at cancellation time. When they tried to cancel well before the $300 allotment of daily $25 ads would run out, they got no response from Yelp for 10 days. Just a bald faced stall tactic to allow them to bill our client, not entirely legally. Here's their predictably slimy response:

That's just one small experience here first-hand. Feel free to dive into some scathing reviews from over 500 people telling a similar story about their experiences with Yelp For Business.

The Solution: If you feel like Yelp is pulling something on you, report them! The Federal Trade Commission will take you seriously. And there are other government agencies to report fraud and scams

Gripe #3 - Deceptive Ads In Online Games

Even I feel embarrassed about include this one. It's about an ad I've seen in an online game I've played. For one thing, if you do play a game a lot - then maybe buy the ad-free version.

But this fraudulent ad fake-out isn't endemic to online games; it's endemic to asshole advertisers. Look at this ad here:

You would think that X at the upper right is a button that closes the ad. You would be wrong. And upon clicking you would now be opening their website.

Any company that runs that ad should be ashamed of themselves. If you have to trick people, there's something wrong with your product. It's a phone ploy for clicks.

The Solution: If you are an advertiser, don't be fooled by high reports of clicks if they're not leading to sales.

Gripe #4 - Customer Support With No Phone Option

We had another client last week having serious issues with their host site (a proprietary extension of WordPress) with technical issues that were costing them for a couple of weeks.

Like many online companies, there is no phone number to talk live to a human for assistance. As a result, submitting a ticket took 4-6 hours for a first response. Then each time that customer service didn't quite understand, it would be another full day to do one lap of emails to get each subsequent unsatisfactory answer. It then devolved into the god-awful "We just tested it and it worked fine when we just did it." Which helps the customer how? Do you expect him to say "OK" and just dive into a hole and disappear, when the problem isn't actually resolved?

As is turned out, their code was glitchy and the particular update in question could be done in the body of their page, just not at the very top.

I understand that not taking phone calls saves them some time, but customers aren't satisfied. And if they had a mechanism to call a client for walk-through help from a blocked number that couldn't be called back - they would have wrapped this problem up on Day 1 and with just 30 minutes of support employee time, instead of the 90-120 minutes of employee time and two weeks of aggravation for the client.

The Solution: Don't use a host or subscribe with a service that does not ultimately have a phone number and live chat option. It's not a good sign. If you have to pay $20/month for your hosting instead of $10/month, so be it. I can guarantee that you will have a problem with this more anonymous service provider down the road.

Gripe #5 - Twitter Non-Real Timeline

This section may not age well. Elon Musk completed his purchase of Twitter a couple of weeks ago and may complete his chasing off of the majority of users within a couple of months. We shall see.

But forever, Twitter has been awful about presenting a real timeline or a real feed. There's some well-meaning "curation" but more of this has been about their business of paid placements.

Their recommendations have been crooked for years. Read these summaries of how people cannot get rid of persistent "recommendations": Reddit discussion, Twitter "interests", and "random crap" .

And the notifications are supposed to be about your replies, likes or retweets - not something like this which I got this am:

You can manually uncheck types of recommendations on a Monday, and there will be a whole batch of unwanted ones back later in the week.

Twitter isn't a public utility, so boo hoo. But it was a great site, at least through Nov 2022 it was.

The Solution: Don't view Twitter through the Twitter app or the Twitter web site. Third party apps like Echofon, TweetCaster and dozens of others have full access to the Twitter APIs and will give you your real feed with no BS, more innovation and less phony business interests.


OK, I feel much better. Thanks for listening. Hopefully you took something from this other than learning that I can be a complainer and thinking that most powerful online companies are up to no good. It doesn't have to be that way.