Wednesday, April 7, 2010

All Yelped Out

Over the past few years, I've posted reviews of businesses to Yelp whenever I had something - good or bad - to say. I figured it would be helpful to give others an unbiased view of companies they may be considering using. Since all customers can use Yelp, it would be unbiased in that a cross-section of their customer base would be represented in the total of all the reviews.
Well, I have slowly figured out that it isn't as un-biased as I had hoped. First, every time I have written a review that could even remotely be conceived as negative (and none of my reviews were out and out miserable), I immediately heard from the business owner who, in some cases, appeared to me to be displeased. To me, this is a subtle form of pressure not to do negative reviews...and this is where the bias starts.
Then, in today's paper, I learned that Yelp has been filtering out reviews using "automated software". Lawsuits have been filed contending that Yelp filtered out reviews - even positive reviews - in an attempt to pressure businesses to purchase Yelp advertising. To me, this puts even more bias into the review list.
Yelp has agreed to make changes to their software, but I have to wonder how many other forms of bias are built into Yelp - intentionally and unintentionally - that I have not even heard about yet.
I'm not sure it is worth my time to write reviews at this point, so I won't.

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