Yesterday, Stock was rocking a healthy 4-star Yelp rating. Today, it fell to three — an average from 201 reviews.
The Fishtown southeast Asian restaurant rating plummetted since Tuesday, when Bon Appétit published a "PSA"-styled article and video accompaniment about the way chef-owner Tyler Akin likes his pho. In the video, Akin explained why you shouldn't immediately dump Sriracha and hoisin into your bowl, that you should taste it first (he worked on that broth for 8 hours, after all). He then showed how he likes to eat it, using a special chopstick-twirl. Bon Appetit packaged the video in a way that seemed as though Akin was telling people that his way of eating pho was the right way to eat pho. In response, Yelpers banded together to tank Stock's rating.
That video recieved over a million views before Bon Appétit yanked it from Facebook (they changed its accompanying article's headline from "PSA: This Is How You Should be Eating Pho" to "We're in Love with This Pho" to "reflect that there are many ways to eat pho, this is just one of them."). Akin said, in just one day, 60-100 1-star reviews were posted to Stock's Yelp page as a form of social protest due to a misguided media appearance. Then NextShark compounded the situation with a click bait-y piece called "Ignorant White Guy Tries To Tell Asians How To ‘Properly' Eat Pho — Gets it All Wrong".
Today, Yelp took over the site preventing anybody from writing any reviews, good or bad, what the company calls Active Cleanup Alert:
Akin said his Yelp correspondent recognized the situation immediately, which led to the Cleanup Alert. Yelp's Philadelphia Community Director Michelle Cassidy said there's a policy in place if Yelpers want a place to share their views on a particular subject:
Local businesses sometimes make national news, often about something controversial. Many people come to Yelp to share their views about the news.
We direct our users to Yelp Talk, which is an open discussion forum where people can share the full range of their reactions to the news. Users are also welcome to post photos and reviews about the businesses in question, but we ultimately remove the ones that appear to be motivated by the news coverage itself rather than a specific firsthand customer experience (even if it means removing points of view with which we might agree).
Because we sometimes receive hundreds and even thousands of photos and reviews in response to media attention, the removal process usually kicks in over the course of the week after the issue is brought to our attention.
Please note that we apply this same policy regardless of the business and regardless of the topic at issue in order to avoid injecting our own varied viewpoints into the debate.
As for Akin, he said he's just going to put his head down and go to work, the same work which landed him a spot on Philly's Eater 38. And that's not to say he doesn't have supporters behind him.