Is Yelp.com Paying for Positive Comments?

Nov 18, 2008 • 9:32 am | comments (42) by twitter | Filed Under Social Search Engines & Optimization
 

Yelp.com, the review site, is reported to have been engaging in some shady activity with business owners. In one example quoted by the linked article, a business owner was told by telemarketers that if she paid $300, reviews can be rearranged where the negative reviews would be essentially placed "below the fold." However, Yelp doesn't actually allow that.

At Cre8asite Forums, it's suspected that Yelp.com's employees may even have a hand in writing bad reviews for local businesses to encourage them to purchase into the paid program. If this is true, that would make for a pretty shady operation, don't you think?

In fact, if telemarkers engage in a practice that Yelp obviously approves of (they're reading from a script, after all) and Yelp gets a negative review by business owners for actually engaging in these shady operations, is it legitimate for Yelp to remove those negative reviews? In another article, a business owner states that her negative review about Yelp itself was removed by Yelp.com. (But wait, she can't remove her own negative reviews, so why doesn't it work both ways?)

Is this practice extortion? Is Yelp.com legit? Is it time for a new company to take over and do it better and ethically without greed of money being on the mind?

Forum discussion continues at Cre8asite Forums.

Update: We received an update from Yelp saying that reviews are purely algorithmic and that only one positive review can be emphasized. Reviews can come down if the person writing the review closed his/her account or the account was terminated due to violations. A third reason why reviews would be hidden is due to suspect behavior; the review is removed from the actual business but not from the reviewer's profile page.

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