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Even though I’m a yelp-litist…

8 Apr

I still gag when I read this.

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Yelp, attacked again.

9 Mar

yelpAgain, I’m disappointed by the response of Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman.  The Yelp debate has reminded me that life isn’t about actual wrongdoing, it is the shadow of impropriety and then the subsequent full force denial that can get you into more trouble.   In general the only thing I think Yelp is doing inappropriately is failing to communicate what their angorithm process is.  Otherwise, I do not believe that Yelp does anything wrong, but I do believe that they are making some unethical decisions by refusing to explain themselves fully. They should take a play out or Craigslist’s book.  Check out their blog that fully explains what they do in terms of ‘erotic services.’   Case in point, a new group of outcries from business owners comes — this time from the Chicago Tribune.

The owner of More Cupcakes, Patty Rothman, said that last fall a Yelp Chicago staffer walked into her Gold Coast shop and “guaranteed us good reviews on the site if we catered one of their parties for free.” Offended but resigned, Rothman complied. And just as promised, positive reviews bloomed for the business right after the party, Rothman said.

The phenomenon of catering a Yelp Elite event and then getting tons of good reviews does happen.  The sales people know this and obviously use it to their advantage.   I mean, it is pretty hard to not review a place positively after they gave you something for free.  But everything we do in life has an Ayn Rand esque tendency about it — we go because we get free stuff, the restaurant gives us free stuff to show off and hopefully develop some street cred.  Pretty easy quid pro quo and not at all unethical.  I recently went to a wine tasting at a wine store that I wouldn’t normally have checked out last week for a Yelp Elite event, it turned out to be a great store.  The staff was knowledgeable and the alcohol reasonably priced, so ya I’ll write a good review about them.  That is what Yelpers do.  But when you read the above blurb, it sounds like Yelp is being completely unethical.  The CEO really needs to work on his PR.  People don’t know how Yelp works and they just want to know — minus all the algorithm talk.

Another Yelp phenomenon mentioned is this new article is the business owner email.  I personally don’t really want to hear from a business owner and at times am afraid to write a bad review because I assume I’ll be contacted.  But, I am writing in a public forum and therefore don’t complain about it unless a business owner is really rude — then I think that person should be banned from Yelp.  I guess that happened to one such business owner.

But as the Tribune learned during a chefs round table last summer, citizen Internet review sites have proved mixed blessings to many merchants. These sites, they say, can be sources of praise and constructive criticism but also vicious attacks.

Consequently, many, especially restaurateurs, have developed a strained relationship with the site and its Yelpers. Chicago chef Graham Elliot Bowles is one of them. He says he has had his “account removed” for personally contacting those whom he felt posted reviews that were “baseless, lacking in truth or intentionally hurtful.”