Engineering Blog

Engineering Career Series: How we onboard engineers across the world at Yelp

Like most companies, Yelp has had to make substantial changes to the way we onboard new team members over the past year. Yelpers have always been naturally good at fostering a welcoming and supportive atmosphere for new employees. Translating this into a welcoming and supportive virtual atmosphere hasn’t happened organically. As we grow distributed teams across the United States, Canada, and Europe, the new ways in which we prepare, welcome, train, and support our employees have become, and will continue to be, important for the advancement of Yelp’s Engineering & Product organizations. Going into 2020, we knew we were already...

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Moderating Promotional Spam and Inappropriate Content in Photos at Scale at Yelp

The trust of our community of consumers and business owners is Yelp’s top priority. We take significant measures to maintain this trust through our state of the art review recommendation algorithms in order to maintain the integrity and quality of the content on our site. Albeit popular, review text is only one of the many types of user-generated content at Yelp. Photos are also a key piece of content and they are increasingly becoming an attack vector for spammers and inappropriate or other unwanted behavior. In this blog post we show how we built a scalable photo moderation workflow leveraging...

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Engineering Career Series: Using structured interviews to improve equity

For years, Yelp continued to use an interview process that was created when we were a 50-200 person Engineering organization, with only a handful of interviewers: Each interviewer wrote their own interview questions A few senior leaders gave overall hire/no hire decisions for every panel Interviewers received ad hoc feedback from senior leaders when it seemed like they were too tough or too easy in their interviews A few things went well: there was a strong sense of personal responsibility for both leaders and interviewers turnaround time for offer approvals was quick and Yelp values could be preserved by senior...

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One year later: building Trust Levels during COVID

From its devastating toll on local economies to its impact on the little things like handshakes and hugs, the COVID-19 pandemic seemed to leave nothing unchanged. Local businesses were especially impacted and forced to make big changes, many overhauling their operations overnight in order to adapt to the new normal. Businesses turned to Yelp to communicate operational changes brought on by the pandemic. They kept their communities in the know by updating the COVID-19 section on their business pages, which was launched at the beginning of the pandemic. They indicated new health and safety precautions, such as wearing masks and...

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Engineering Career Series: Hiring a diverse team by reducing bias

Compared to where we started, Yelp’s technical organization has made a lot of headway over the years when it comes to diverse hiring. While our approach to this work continues to evolve, we’ve made significant progress in improving the diversity of our organizations by, among other things, reducing gender and ethnicity bias in our interview process. We’re here to share some of what we’ve learned to help others in their own efforts. If you’ve come looking for the secret formula to emulate our success, I can’t help you there, unfortunately. Anyone offering otherwise is probably selling you something. And, to...

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Engineering Career Series: Building a happy, diverse, and inclusive engineering team

I considered writing this as a clickbaity listicle: “7 secrets of engineering team management - you won’t believe number three!” Unfortunately that’s impossible, because it’s a much harder topic, and anyway, number three is: “many years of ongoing investment in building the right team culture, making a lot of mistakes, and learning from them.” Less catchy, but much more what this series is going to try and cover… I’ve been at Yelp for eight years now, and I’ve been leading engineering teams for almost 25 years in both the UK and the US, at a wide variety of companies, at...

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Powering Messaging Enabledness with Yelp's Data Infrastructure

In addition to helping people find great places to eat, Yelp connects people with great local professionals to help them accomplish tasks like making their next big move, fixing that leaky faucet, or repairing a broken phone screen. Instead of spending time calling several businesses, users can utilize Yelp’s Request a Quote feature to reach out to several businesses at once, receive cost estimates from those businesses, and ultimately hire the right local professional for the job. This post focuses on how Yelp’s Data Pipeline is used to efficiently compute which businesses are eligible for the feature, and also introduces...

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Passwordless Login: Reengaging Business Owners with Less Friction

As various teams at Yelp were focused on developing features to help businesses adapt to COVID-19, some teams were looking ahead and developing features that would help businesses in the later stages or after the pandemic. The Challenge Early on in the pandemic, we saw some businesses pause advertising on Yelp as government regulations required many businesses temporarily close or limit their operations. However, businesses quickly adjusted to the local regulations, while implementing health and safety precautions to keep their staff and customers safe. Through this adjustment we wanted to ensure it was easy to restart advertising right where they...

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