It’s sometimes interesting how things come full circle; well, at least half circle. I’ve been introduced to a concept that I hadn’t really thought would or could occur, but in retrospect I believe I might have thought about it and just didn’t think all that much about it until now. Confused? Let me get more specific.

In yesterday’s post that talked about being positive while pointing out negative things, I shared a review I’d written on a local restaurant. In that article, I mentioned how I found it interesting that the bad reviews for the restaurant had been hidden and only one good review was showing, but that I’d found the bad reviews anyway.

That review site is called Yelp, and truthfully, I’d never heard of them before looking for the reviews on the restaurant in question. It turns out, through another friend mentioning it to me, that they have a process of filtering out reviews and only showing what they believe are “proper reviews”. In essence, I came across this video, which is also on their site, which explains their filtering process.

At the same time another local friend of mine, a lady named Trisha Torrey, sent me an article she wrote on Yelp that explained how not everything you see on their site is accurate either. It seems that, according to her, they’ll contact business and, for a fee, remove the bad stuff in some fashion, only leaving good things. In her case she’d seen some physicians that had received bad reviews and suddenly those things were gone. She also mentioned, in another article, how not seeing all reviews alters a potential consumers perception of whether a physician is good or bad, and of course that argument extends to other types of reviews as well. By the way, the comments on the second article are pretty interesting as well; obviously some folks missed the point of the article.

Whereas I understand Yelp and what it’s trying to do, I think the implications are questionable across the board. Their position is thus:

1) We know some reviews are fake and we want to catch those
2) We know some reviews are spur of the moment and thus are skewed
3) We believe that people who use our website over and over are far more valuable than other reviews because they put up a profile so we know who they are

Not a bad position overall. But here’s the downside:

1) Just because a person only writes one review doesn’t invalidate the bad behavior, nor support the good behavior
2) Filtering leaves you open to be suspected of nefarious behavior, whether you do what people suspect or not
3) You already have a process where people have to create an account so they can leave their review; shouldn’t that be enough?

I’ve been told by a few people that I should write a review on both Yelp and Trip Advisor about what happened. Based on questions about Yelp, I don’t fully know that I can trust them to leave my review up. Trip Advisor is another issue entirely. They don’t even have the restaurant listed, so I’d have to jump through hoops to get them listed, then go back and write a review. Frankly, I’m not that mad, and I think my initial restaurant review stands on its own for now. At least I know I can’t be bought off, and if I’m asked to remove it we all know it ain’t happening.

Now that I’ve written this it begs the question as to what we can believe and trust when we read reviews on sites like this. And that’s too bad, because I’m sure many sites give us the truth, but now they’re all up for being questioned. What do you think?

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