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Yelp Reviews And Their Filtering Process

Posted by on Apr 29, 2011

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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One of my colleagues mentioned Yelp about a year ago. I think the reviews are honest and all are written by people. I think before it was just related to places in USA. I hope they move to the next level and include more locations.

April 29th, 2011 | 10:34 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

I think some reviews are honest, Carl, and possibly more than I think. I also think the filtering process leaves you wondering about the way the company treats people who write reviews, though.

April 29th, 2011 | 11:23 PM

Definitely I think that have great filtering system. Very similar to Trip Advisor a couple of years ago, but today everything get approval.

May 1st, 2011 | 12:02 AM

Interesting…but I have a question for you..

Did you put your review on Foursquare? Since you’re the one who mentioned it at that presentation and FINALLY convinced me to check it out:-)

BTW- how are you listed on that site?

April 30th, 2011 | 9:37 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Carolee, I’m not on Four Square. I believe it’s for businesses with locations that people can sign up for and people who go to businesses and want to highlight that they’re there, as you know. I don’t have a smartphone, or a phone with an internet connection, so I can’t check in anywhere, and since I work out of my house I certainly don’t need anyone popping that address in there. lol

April 30th, 2011 | 10:49 AM

…and for the record, I am hesitant to rely totally on the recommendations of those on the Internet as I don’t know their values and the reason behind what they are it an honest review or not?

Plus, it may have been an emotional issue…and some people gripe about anything & everything.

If someone I know gives me a review, then I know based on how they are whether to take their recommendation 100% to heart.

April 30th, 2011 | 9:42 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

I usually will give people a try, Carolee, but sometimes I’ve been suspect of a quickly written review as well. I’ve been to places where the food has been wonderful to me. Still, I look at what the gripe might be and will consider it somewhat.

Of course my review had pictures, which you saw. 🙂

April 30th, 2011 | 10:50 AM

I’ve never heard of Yelp Mitch, but if they are going to moderate, sorry filter, reviews then one just has to wonder as to the accuracy of the ones they leave. Also if they’re willing to remove reviews for monetary gain, well that’s something else all together.

May 2nd, 2011 | 8:15 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

That’s true, Sire. And I’m not saying they’re actually taking money, although my friend did say that, but the implication of filtering seems to make it a possibility.

May 2nd, 2011 | 11:21 AM

I know Krystal (my daughter) writes reviews for Yelp! I did not think it was hard to get something listed on TripAdvisor. I did on a couple of years ago with them. You have to be a member but then the addition process did not seem that hard. Of course, things might have changed.

May 2nd, 2011 | 3:14 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Scott, the issue with Trip Advisor is they don’t have the restaurant listed since it’s new, so you have to mention it then wait 2 to 3 weeks for them to decide if they want to add it or not. Not that interested. lol

May 2nd, 2011 | 4:14 PM