Thanks for the heads-up
Yelpers - yet another band of web 2.0 user-generated crap I didn't know existed. And it looks like the crap starts at the head in this case. I will avoid them like the plague.
In an effort to deflect criticism of its business model - which one paper has called 'Extortion 2.0' - Yelp has added a public forum to its new-age city guide where business owners can publicly respond to reviews from the site's hipper-than-thou users. As we reported in August, several San Francisco Bay Area business owners …
While I'm not usually a supporter of legal action against websites owners, I guess this is what libel law was actually intended for.
Were I owning a restaurant and they offered to remove reviews for money then I would be inclined to get the local solicitors firm to write them a letter stating that if they didn't remove the offending "review" then I would be taking them to court for libel AND attempted extortion.
I think i'd have a fairly good case on both counts.
Because, at the end of the day they don't know WHO is publishing these reviews. It could well be your competitors giving you a negative "review" under the shield of anonymity to further your business, and if the company publishing the "review" doesn't know who is doing it then they can't even prove that the person visited your business! They might even be writing negative reviews for your business to then sell you the chance to move it down the listings.
I am really surprised that everyone is so "sensitive" to "FALSE negative" reviews. I have been using Yelp for years and I can assure you that "FALSE positive" reviews dominate "FALSE negative" reviews by an order of at least 10 to 1. There is a genuine shortage of TRUE negatives which are invaluable to consumers. The fact remains that it is nearly impossible for a small business to maintain (and the fact they do not at least try to be consistent also hurts them) consistent service so "TRUE negatives" are inevitable. Its just some people cannot handle the truth.
For the record nearly all my reviews are "TRUE Positive" with only one "EXTREMELY TRUE Negative".
Yelp has led me to some fairly mediocre restaurants due to reviews by users were "local" or were experts in cuisine "x". I think it's often a platform for people to satisfy their need to be some sort of restaurant cognoscenti.
However, it's good for anecdotal information, like whether a place is kid friendly, loud or quiet, etc. (though I think I've had more luck with chowhound in this regard)