The federal government wants you to review it on Yelp. Don’t do it.

People have been leaving unofficial Yelp reviews for the Transportation Security Administration and various dreadful DMVs around the US for a while, but now the government says it’s reading those reviews. Yelp has started a partnership with the federal government to create review pages for a variety of government-run places and services.

From Yelp’s announcement:

We encourage Yelpers to review any of the thousands of agency field offices, TSA checkpoints,national parks, Social Security Administration offices, landmarks and other places already listed on Yelp if you have good or bad feedback to share about your experiences. Not only is it helpful to others who are looking for information on these services, but you can actually make an impact by sharing your feedback directly with the source.

This sounds good in theory: The government gets a way to review feedback, people get a way to express their frustrations with how things are run. But I can’t imagine these reviews will have a substantial impact beyond temporarily placating the people who write them. Aside from the window dressings of a more engaged government, they’re meaningless.

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Government services can now claim a Yelp page and potentially use the page to gauge feedback, but haven’t announced any actual plans for responding to the feedback. And I doubt they will.

It’s not like the federal government has to fret about the ratings. People who work for the government could easily follow in the tradition of most businesses with Yelp pages and balance ratings back in their favor by writing positive reviews. Yelp, like other review sites, doesn’t have a foolproof way to vet who writes in, and it’s riddled with fake reviews.

Anyways, the apex of usefulness for these reviews has already happened. Carly Fiorina (or, more likely, her PAC/campaign team) used the new Yelp tool as a channel to promote the GOP presidential candidate, leaving a 1-star review for the TSA.

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It’s a novel way to campaign, but I’m guessing Fiorina’s “take-down” will have minimal impact on the TSA’s policies. Unless you’re trying to stump for political office, if you actually have a serious problem with a federal field office or the IRS, leaving a Yelp review is unlikely to do anything.

[The Hill via Yelp]