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Yelp.com (2004-) - A California-Based Review Website, Widely Accused of Extortion in Building Their Business


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This article claims that Yelp has offered to remove negative restaurant reviews for $299 a month.

I really want to make some sort of joke here about running a $249 special on donrockwell.com, but instead I'll just shake my head in disbelief over the accusations.

Cheers,

Rocks.

Dude, I have been hounded by a guy for like 3 weeks to advertise on Yelp. Basically, if you have good reviews on Yelp,(like I do :P ) they want to you to pay to promote your business even more. That newspaper article is a very accurate description of their business practices. I don't mind Yelp for it's user reviews, even though it seems most of the reviews on there need to be taken with a grain of salt. Crazy how the internet has really come to effect a lot of businesses both positively and negatively.

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This article claims that Yelp has offered to remove negative restaurant reviews for $299 a month.

I really want to make some sort of joke here about running a $249 special on donrockwell.com, but instead I'll just shake my head in disbelief over the accusations.

Cheers,

Rocks.

I'm sorry to hear this is going on (what is talked about in the article). It's difficult to see how they could be so stupid as to pee in their own pond this way if that is really what they are doing. Sites like this live and die on their credibility, and if they lose that through the revelations that inevitably will come (like this one), they will regret it.

I have found Yelp to be very useful, particularly when traveling. I used to troll Chowhound, and still do, to find local places when traveling, but it's too disorganized. Reviews here on DR Intrepid Traveler are also useful, but hard to access on the fly and not comprehensive in scope. With Yelp on my iPhone I can just use the GPS to search restaurants near where I happen to be and pick one. The whole process takes a minute or two. A few weeks ago I was in Coral Gables and left the meeting, was driving down the street hungry, pulled up Yelp literally while waiting at a stoplight, and found a Chinese place 3 minutes away that reviews said was one of the best in the Miami area. Checked the map showing how to get there, and went. Presto! It was great; some of the best dim sum I ever had. Tools that can do that are a blessing, and we need more of them.

Of course any site that relies on user-generated content is subject to all sorts of issues (present company excepted of course). The user has to take things with a grain of salt. Still, this seems over the top to me.

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Honestly, and this needs to be said--and this is coming from someone who has gotten literally tens upon tens of thousands of dollars of not always deserved free publicity from this forum (and please, anyone who has had a bad steak or crappy service from us--some times we really do suck--please say so here)--this topic really brings to light the often unrealistic integrity of the mission that Don has set out for himself and has outrageously and steadfastly maintained even at the expense of friendships and mental health over the course of some five years now.

And this integrity has been maintained by every member of this board even with our differences by the sheer force of will behind the guiding principles to which he adheres, just by the fact that anything else would just be so...wrong.

I love Yelp! and the real-world voices it provides and I don't really buy the accusations of this article except for the fact that salespeople (unless you're the really, really hot salesgirl with the nose-ring at Anthropologie in Georgetown or you sell roller coasters for a living--that's you Joe--by the way, how cool is that?) are basically scum--whether it's advertising or mortgages or over-hyped stocks or No Child Left Behind test-prep services (hello, Washington Post) or civilian-murdering "clean strike" missiles.

But if anyone, or anything, can be credited with elevating the DC dining scene from its Tiberian and RAMW-toadies miasma it is you all right here and this board right here that bears Don's name.

And honestly, and this needs to be said--Why the fuck hasn't he been nominated (at least, come on now, fercryingoutloud) for a Beard Award already? I can think of about three awardees off the top of my head that should give up their trophies--if Linda Roth would allow it--in protest, if they had the stones.

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I have had a complicated relationship with the new media landscape as it relates to restaurants. It has been both to my professional benefit (at times greatly to my benefit) and to my detriment. I am not unique in this regard as every good restaurant manager has an added component of his/her job that our predecessors could not even have imagined fifteen or twenty years ago. In the late 80s, the media landscape for restaurants had only the voices of the major critics to consider. Now a weekly Google search for blog posts and other references to his/her restaurant is de rigueur or should be.

This doesn't answer the question of the relevance of these voices. How important are the blog posts of someone with no professional writing experience or restaurant reviewing bona fides? How important are the message boards like this one? I don't answer those questions because they are no longer relevant; there is no way to put the universal access of the internet back in its bottle nor should one try.

That Yelp is a leading provider of this equanimity is unquestioned. Yet I still have philosophical questions with unqualified opinions being a high profile source of information regarding restaurants. In a culture obsessed with notoriety as a proxy for ability to inform, entertain or enlighten, I have seen the changes in guest behavior. There are too many people who would rather write their review (or submission to an online chat) in their heads than participate in ensuring their good meal and good time.

Technology cuts both ways, however. OpenTable and various POS systems make it fairly easy to identify complaints on-line, to establish that the "30 minute" wait time was really ten minutes. That a manager touched a table several times rather than being "M.I.A." as stated in an online complaint. I can recall a dozen more examples without straining my booze addled brain, but knowledge of misstatements is small consolation as the words are there for any potential guest to read and opportunities to correct the record are few, and by management axiom, conciliatory.

The majority of people who participate in online forums, discussion boards, restaurant & food blogs are like the majority of all people: good, honest, and honorable, as are their intentions. They are also the influence makers and when the bad seeds among them misrepresent their experience it has disproportionate impact.

This newest information about Yelp does not shock me. For every emerging technological front there are always a few charlatans profiteering on the margins. I am only surprised that it took this long.

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Wha- juh... guh... bah... whaaaaaa???

The singular... absurdity... inability... cogent rebuttal... fahjoobawikiiiyaaaaaaaaaaaaa....

"I can't go to sleep NOW, honey; someone is WRONG on the INTERNET!!!"

Just spreading a little yelp amusement. If I took him seriously I would have sent him my favorite Richard Kuklinski video. :D

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Hahahahaha!! Scroll down about 1/2 way to the review of the establishment after Guarapo.

:D:blink::(:P

That's the one that convinced me that it's a parody, because I've been in the Royal Palace and " BOOTYLICIUOS!" (sic) is not a word I would choose to describe it.

His review of Marvin is excellent, though:

AMAZING! DOPE! HOT! OFF DA ROCKER! DA BEST SPOT ON U STREET!

If you'd like to find a place that hasn't been overrun by WANNA-BE, COKE-CRYSTAL-CRACKHEADS, GHETTO-FAB HOOCHIES, CREDIT CARD RICH, FAKE ASS, PUNK, ARABS, EURO-GHETTO-WHITE TRASH.....

GO TO MARVINS!! Not only do they have that cool, unpretentious, laid-back vibe, but they also have very delicious affordable food and drinks to match! Great place to take a hot date, or go with a group of friends. I'd get there early esepcially on weekends. My favortie night is Wednesdays after hour parties hosted by some crazy dope DJ Niko! If you wanna dance all night go when he's DJ, cause the music will be ridiculously and spectacularly HOT! So you can't go wrong with MARVIN'S!!!

The only thing I don't look forward to is when this place is discovered by those PUNKS ASS SUCKER CHUMPS from the K Street Club corridor!

5 STARS FOR MARVIN'S ALLL THE WAY CAUSE YOU WILL HAVE A BLAST! BIG SHOT OUT TO COLLINS....GOOD LOOKS BABY!

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Anyone who would give the Royal Palace a higher rating than Good Guys -- not to mention Five Guys a higher rating than Komi -- has a serious problem with his aesthetic sensibilities.

I think.

Maybe I better go double check....

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why on earth would anyone care about what this over-caffienated hyperbolizer has to say about anything?

The people who are truly horrifying are the ones who post HERE.

I truly cringe for Tom Sietsema whenever I read that forum. To think that someone of his level of accomplishment has to "play host" to such a group of people who so obviously HATE restaurants and look for any chance they can to absolutely revile both restaurants and the people who work in them--in an obvious, forced-from-above attempt to keep up with Yelp and DR.com--has to be just plain embarrassing to him.

Not to mention how scary it is to think that these are the people who, if it weren't for DR.com and Yelp, would be the only ones determining the public expectations of restaurants. I think if Tom Sietsema is going to hold on to his relevance to the restaurant world for much longer in the New Media Age, he is going to have to learn to stand up to, rather than coddle, these people, whose voice and influence have already diminished to the point of irrelevance anyway.

For what it's worth, I find a refreshing honesty on Yelp. In the past year, I have found more legitimate shortcomings, failures and things which need fixing or improvement from reading comments on Yelp than from any other source.

Besides, this whole brouhaha about extortion on Yelp is a little bit disingenuous, not to mention overblown. A substantial portion of our local economy is based on the extortionary costs of buying or providing access to media and power. Further, how many local restaurants get any press coverage without a paid PR Agent? Is that not paid access? And most of all, no group is more extortionary to local restaurants than the RAMW--yet everyone laps up the bought-and-paid-for praise that comes from the RAMMIES.

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For what it's worth, I find a refreshing honesty on Yelp. In the past year, I have found more legitimate shortcomings, failures and things which need fixing or improvement from reading comments on Yelp than from any other source.

Are you implying the people here are just a bunch of fawning sycophants (I prefer to use the word "nuthuggers" but the usage of big words is highly encouraged here)?

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That's the one that convinced me that it's a parody, because I've been in the Royal Palace and " BOOTYLICIUOS!" (sic) is not a word I would choose to describe it.

His review of Marvin is excellent, though:

This guy reminds me of a lot of kids I went to college with, unfortunately.

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Are you implying the people here are just a bunch of fawning sycophants (I prefer to use the word "nuthuggers" but the usage of big words is highly encouraged here)?

Not at all--psycho ants, yes (come picnic time); but sycophants, no.

The community here is, however, too knowledgeable (paradoxically and counter-intuitively), too sympathetic and too forgiving to be a useful tool in discovering and measuring a restaurant's shortcomings and failures. (This is a great place to find out what you are doing right, but not a great place to find out what you are doing wrong. Of course, many would argue that my strong arm tactics and intimidation, and those of my adherents, are largely to blame for this, which is unfortunate and also the subject of a different debate).

The people who post on the Post or send comments to Tom, on the other hand, are too dishonest, hysterical, hostile, and vengeful.

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Not at all--psycho ants, yes (come picnic time); but sycophants, no.

The community here is, however, too knowledgeable (paradoxically and counter-intuitively), too sympathetic and too forgiving to be a useful tool in discovering and measuring a restaurant's shortcomings and failures. (This is a great place to find out what you are doing right, but not a great place to find out what you are doing wrong. Of course, many would argue that my strong arm tactics and intimidation, and those of my adherents, are largely to blame for this, which is unfortunate and also the subject of a different debate).

The people who post on the Post or send comments to Tom, on the other hand, are too dishonest, hysterical, hostile, and vengeful.

HERE! HERE! You sir....are CORRECT :D

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We stopped by yesterday when we only had a few minutes. I left fully Tiki-fied with Velvet falernum, St. Elizabeth allspice dram, El Dorado gold demerara rum, and a bottle of agave syrup that Mr. lperry grabbed on impulse. He likes tequila.

I didn't have much time (which may be good for my wallet), but the rum selection is the best I've seen outside a Caribbean duty-free shop. Lots of fun!

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I know precious little about Yelp, except that a lot of people write reviews on it, and that it comes up high on Google searches. The reviews I've read seem extremely uninformed and amateurish, but maybe I'm reading the wrong ones - I understand there's an "Elite Squad," and I'm wondering if these folks are good enough to post here and earn respect. My initial impression is that Yelp is like community college, and I'm wondering if it's time for their best reviewers to take a step up, and start working on their graduate degrees, going toe-to-toe with the very best the Washington, DC restaurant community has to offer. Not knowing enough to comment one way or the other, I'd like to turn this question over to the rest of the members here for their opinions.

Cheers,

Rocks.

NUFF SAID...............

Los Angeles Times or

East Bay Express (click here for a thread discussing this article) or

Digital Street Journal

I can't even begin to count how many PR firms have pitched me on their own "Yelp" squads to pump clients and bash competitors. Certain restaurant companies employ bloggers in India ( call center down time) to pump their restaurants. ummm think chains with unusually high comments and stars...........

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NUFF SAID...............

Los Angeles Times or

East Bay Express (click here for a thread discussing this article) or

Digital Street Journal

I can't even begin to count how many PR firms have pitched me on their own "Yelp" squads to pump clients and bash competitors. Certain restaurant companies employ bloggers in India ( call center down time) to pump their restaurants. ummm think chains with unusually high comments and stars...........

However, these three articles are now six-months old, and Yelp seems to be as strong as ever. If there is any truth to these allegations, it won't be investigative journalism that uncovers it; rather, it will be disgruntled, ex-Yelp employees who blow the lid on the entire operation. And as far as I know, that hasn't happened yet.

But I've heard first-hand stories from restaurant owners who have received threatening phone calls from Yelp and are afraid to come forward. So maybe it's just a matter of time before the whole thing unravels?

I *think* that in the long-term, I'm going to owe Yelp a debt of gratitude for doing my own marketing for me, but I'm not sure. Regardless, Yelp reviewers will always be able to find a home here: This website is a permanent document, and nothing written here will ever be lost to the black hole of bankrupt cyberspace.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Oh the yelpers... you know, everyone is entitled to their opinion and in our new wave of technology, everyone is entitled to their public/internet/somewhat anonymous opinion. Trying to see the good in all of this, I want to believe that there are yelp members who just truly want to express their feelings and are educated in doing so.

Unfortunately, in my experience, this has been a uphill battle. I've witnessed firsthand some questionable behavior..."if you advertise with yelp, we can make your negative reviews go to the bottom of all of your positive revierws". and then when you don't advertise, coincidently 3 1-star Elite reviews appear the next day.

Since I work in a restaurant, a very hands-on restaurant, I can usually recall the person that posts a review. It's the Yelp reviews that are generally, well, most mean. And yes, I am a sensitive person and yes, I shouldn't let them get to me. But, well, they do. I am always open to constructive critism and use this information to help improve the restaurant. But when reviews are mean and spiteful, when they lack restaurant knowledge and tact, I just don't see the need for them. The immature gal in me just wants to shake them and say "I was the one who asked in you wanted an ice tea refill! I was trying to be polite!". This is our profession (as you all know and respect) and we do our damndest to make sure everyone enjoys themselves. If we fall short, we work to improve. Telling me our decor makes you lose your appetite? I'm sorry for your aversion to color.

PS this is the first real post i've put up...please take this a grain of salt. I'm coming off a recent yelp attack :(

Ria Freydberg

Assistant General Manager

Restaurant 3

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My latest Yelp experience.

We were contacted by a Yelp "advertising rep" a few months ago about paying to have our best reviews moved to the top of the page, the first to come up, better links, etc, etc... They wanted us to pay like $300 or so for this 'service'. I declined, saying I didn't think that was what Yelp was all about. The guy on the phone was very aggressive and called me back every couple of days until finally (very forcefully) told him to never call me again. Well, now everytime I get a new 5 star review, it mysteriously disappears the next day. It was happened twice in the past week, as I get a notification when a new review is posted. The next day, said review is gone. Vanished. I guess this is my punishment for not paying to advertise with Yelp.

Yelp can blow me.

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On August 4th, we had 20 five star and 33 four star reviews out of a total of 83 reviews. We now have a total of 89 reviews. The last 8 reviews included three four star and two five star reviews. So we should have at least twenty-two 5's and 36 four stars. Well, today, we have 18 - five star reviews and 35 four star reviews. So Yelp has taken down at least one 4 star and four 5 star reviews.

I also respond to the regular calls from Yelp with "I don't want to talk to anyone from Yelp. Them nthe next day more good reviews disapear and more bad ones that are months old or are suspiciously lacking in substance {like not mentioning one dish they ate} appear.

Why would ANYONE work for Yelp when this is their business model?

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My latest Yelp experience.

We were contacted by a Yelp "advertising rep" a few months ago about paying to have our best reviews moved to the top of the page, the first to come up, better links, etc, etc... They wanted us to pay like $300 or so for this 'service'. I declined, saying I didn't think that was what Yelp was all about. The guy on the phone was very aggressive and called me back every couple of days until finally (very forcefully) told him to never call me again. Well, now everytime I get a new 5 star review, it mysteriously disappears the next day. It was happened twice in the past week, as I get a notification when a new review is posted. The next day, said review is gone. Vanished. I guess this is my punishment for not paying to advertise with Yelp.

Yelp can blow me.

Jason, you are definitely not alone. I've heard the same scenario from a lot of other business owners. When I was reviewing on Yelp, one of the businesses I wrote a positive review of and had a good relationship with, shared with me the details of a number of conversations they had with Yelp advertising reps about this topic and offers to remove negative reviews. They actually did advertise on Yelp for a while, and even when they paid, they were still subjected to extortion and hardball tactics. Yet Yelp's CEO constantly denies (both on the site and in the press) that these kind of shenanigans occur. So, I completely agree with your sentiments (last line of your post).

OK, then. I'm not a lawyer, but I play one on DR.com. It's time to call in the FBI or the WaPo because this is, I believe, is the definition of EXTORTION. Time to call them out.

Actually, Yelp has been called out for extortion and "pay to play" tactics in the press a number of times (although to my knolwedge not in WaPo). One of the most telling exposés that came out earlier this year is by Kathleen Richards of the East Bay Express. See:

http://www.eastbayexpress.com/eastbay/yelp-extortion-allegations-stack-up/Content?oid=1176984

Apparently, the story was also picked up by the NYT and WSJ. See also:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/03/technology/start-ups/03yelp.html

http://www.pcworld.com/article/159839/is_yelp_manipulating_user_reviews.html

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Until more restaurant owners band together and expose Yelp, they will continue their practice of extortion.

I personally know of one restaurateur who pays them $300 a month and thinks the restaurant got moved to the top of their neighborhood listings - I was shown one search where it indeed came up #1, but when I went home and did my own independent search, it was nowhere to be seen in the top 10. Within the restaurant's own reviews, there is currently a five-star review from 08/09 listed at the top of the page, and also 2 three-star reviews from 11/09 listed below that - so it looks like they got what they paid for with the reviews being shuffled around. There is also a message next to the restaurant name that says "This business is a Yelp Sponsor."

Yelp is a direct threat to the existence of online integrity. Their reviewers are nothing but pawns in a corporate money-making scheme. I spend 60+ hours a week maintaining the very highest ethical and critical standards, value our members as the backbone of our website, and have the deepest respect for our posters as being the best and the brightest in the business - and I want to see Yelp eliminated. Restaurants sometimes ask me how they can pay me back for providing this forum - one way is to boycott Yelp, and also to actively post examples of Yelp's extortion right here, for all to see. If critical mass forms, and enough business owners muster the courage to publicly stand up to Yelp and expose their threats, then Yelp will not survive.

Sooner or later, this will be Yelp's downfall, and I predict that they will not exist ten years from now.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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An effective way to deal with yelp people is simply `the manager/owner is not here and please call back on Saturday around noon or Sunday evening`. This has been working for us perfectly since we opened last year.(nobody is at the restaurant on Sundays or Saturday noon) If they can not get to you there is nothing they can do but if they realize your idea about not paying them, it becomes a problem.

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While the corporate entity's methods are pretty deplorable I find the distasteful actions of some reviewers to be even worse, actively pawning their "status" for preferential treatment. Yelp reminds me a bit of the whole 'mommy blogger' phenomenon. There are a lot of self-absorbed, entitled people out there with way too much time on their hands.

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An effective way to deal with yelp people is simply `the manager/owner is not here and please call back on Saturday around noon or Sunday evening`. This has been working for us perfectly since we opened last year.(nobody is at the restaurant on Sundays or Saturday noon) If they can not get to you there is nothing they can do but if they realize your idea about not paying them, it becomes a problem.

Sheeesh! Sounds like extortion. Who ARE these people and how did they get so influential?

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I bet you could look at the DR.com dining guide and compare it to Yelp's ranking to see which restaurants have and have not paid the piper.

I'm not sure that would prove anything. Don's guide is completely subjective (as are Yelp's .... um, theoretically). This is what makes it so insidious. Yelp becomes something that people rely on as a trusted resource based on this collection of reviews from hive mind "experts". But they are being manipulated in a decidedly un-subjective way!

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I prefer to remain anonymous for the time being, but would like to share another Yelp-story. We are a recent DC start-up and like most restaurant owners, we have been following Yelp. We noticed several ratings popped up pretty quickly - five or six 5-stars, a 3-star and a 2-star. A few of these looked like legit opinions (I hesitate to call them reviews), but many (both 2-star and some 5-stars) seemed suspicious.

We then registered as the owner mostly to prevent a third party from doing it. We received a phone call within minutes from Yelp trying to sell us adds, which we refused. A short time later, the 2-star was mysteriously deleted, almost as if to say "see how we can help you." They continued to call us every day - we can tell it's them by the caller ID, so we just ignore the calls. Then, the 5-star ratings began to disappear as well as the 3-star. I don't remember the order, but definitely the 2-star went first and more recently the 5-stars.

We were down to a single 5-star rating when an "elite" member (I use the term loosely) came in and did a hatchet job on us. Don't get me wrong, I feel everyone is entitled to their opinion. But this went way beyond opinion and was clearly intended to inflict pain, laced with sarcasm and untruths. A day or two later, the last 5-star rating was deleted and hatchet man was identified by Yelp as the "first review" even though he had been 9th or 10th. About a week later, we got another 5-star rating from someone who had dinner the same day as hatchet man, with the 5-star rater totally countering him.

Meanwhile, Yelp continues to call and we continue to ignore them. My guess is the latest 5-star rating will also be deleted soon and we'll see more "elites" do their handy work on us. I find it all a bit unsavory (no pun intended). It's hard enough to get a restaurant going without having to deal with this type of thing.

I have the deepest respect for Rocks who does indeed take the time to check everyone out. I also like the fact that if you comment here, positive or negative, you better be prepared to defend it.

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I would say Rocks should start his own company with help from people on this site, but I can't imagine it making any money. In this case, I think the evil geniuses at Yelp have the upper hand. It's brilliant. Terrible. But brilliant.

-Dan

"Will review for food/sexual favors."

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I'm not sure that would prove anything. Don's guide is completely subjective (as are Yelp's .... um, theoretically). This is what makes it so insidious. Yelp becomes something that people rely on as a trusted resource based on this collection of reviews from hive mind "experts". But they are being manipulated in a decidedly un-subjective way!

Here lies the problem. Anything posted on the internet should be taken with a grain of salt and that includes reviews on this site as well. I find Yelp's photo section to be very useful, and I also have about 300 pic store in my account. A picture speaks a thousand words. I can see what kind of food and what kind of atmosphere is offered at a restaurant. It is also helpful if you can identify other reviewers who share the same taste as you or have a passion for a particular region of cuisine.

I haven't had any reviews deleted, but I have noticed that I became a first reviewer on one of the restaurant I reviewed, which means the person that came before me got deleted. I think its helpful to mention that users themselves can request having their account deleted, so not all disappeared reviews are of sinister nature. Whenever I do read reviews, I sort the reviews according to dates rather than the default on the site.

Some of the shenanigans I have witnessed have more to do with "reviewers" themselves. There are always lots of fake reviewers with less than 5 reviews, either give a place 5 stars or 1 star without giving much details. I have also saw restaurant owners/managers reply to reviewers with insults, with the most popular being "if you don't like our food, then you should go to (insert name of crappy national chain) instead". Yes, its very tacky, but that doesn't mean this compilation of information online is worthless if used with caution.

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Where do the deleted Yelp reviews go?

I did some further checking after my post yesterday and found a Google cache of earlier Yelp reviews that had been deleted from our restaurant page. Google seems to save everything! Anyway, I found 6 reviews that had been deleted. It turns out that all six were first time posts. The reviews stayed up for a week or two and then were eliminated from the restaurant's page. However, the reviews were not deleted from the Yelp database, they can be found at the originating pages of individual reviewers. However, Yelp apparently feels that if you have only one opinion, it is not worthy and blocks that review from appearing at the restaurant's page. I don't know what happens if a particular reviewer later posts a second review - does that then make him a legitimate reviewer?

I don't know, but maybe this is Yelp's way of eliminating owners from reviewing their own place. I do believe however, that legitimate reviews/opinions are being blocked. Even if this practice by Yelp is well intended, eliminating reviews concurrently as Yelp actively and aggressively markets ads certainly and justifiably raises eyebrows.

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Although I'm sure the above stories are true, for anyone looking for Yelp's side of the story, it's here. They don't address the "conveniently timed Yelp Elite hatchet job" aspect, but they make soothing rebuttals on most points and offer up a token salesperson sacrifice who once violated their policies. I'm inclined to think most of it is BS, but it's worth a read for someone interested in this stuff.

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Last year, as a new bartender at an establishment in Miami, I asked the busy owner if it would be okay for me, as an experienced web guy, to run their Yelp page. Since then, I have found Yelp to be an invaluable tool for business owners if used properly-you can directly contact people who have commented, and have a private conversation about why they liked or hated your place and correct misperceptions, etc. I have never had a bad experience when contacting Yelp posters, and the contacts have always increased business. Also, posters are very likely to re-review, and it has always been in a positive light. Even though I am not in Miami at the moment, I can scroll through reviews and pinpoint who really liked or hated the place, and who was maybe just having a bad day. And then take appropriate action. This service is free to business owners, by the way, and I have never been contacted by anyone from Yelp, sales or otherwise.

I have also posted events on Yelp and have gotten great results with that as well. Posting events is also free. Again, never been pressured or even asked to pay for anything.

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For me it's not so much about reviews disapperaring. It's more upsetting that I can tell when the owner has declined an advertising offer, because random crappy "reviews" pop up.

Case in point, our latest craptastic review that mentions a cheese plate that hasn't been on our menu since early July. This review stayed at the top of our site even after decent reviews were posted after it.

Yes, you can contact yelpers privately with the owner feature, but, less than a third respond. Most prefer to remain anonymous and post with no responsibilty or accountability for their actions

Quite honestly it's a f@&ing joke.

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Case in point, our latest craptastic review that

mentions a cheese plate that hasn't been on our menu

since early July. This review stayed at the top of our site even after

decent reviews were posted after it.

Its not that unusual for someone to post a review months after they have been to the place. I just did a search and there were 3 reviews after the 2 stars cheese plate review, being 4, 3, and 2 stars respectively, with the 4 and 3 stars review written by someone who has less than 2 reviews total. Average rating of Restaurant 3 is three stars with very few 5 stars and 1 stars, a significant numbers of 2 stars, and over whelming majority being 3 or 4 stars. Its a typical bell curve distribution, since people are more generous giving out 4, 3, 2 stars and more reluctant to give out 1 and 5 stars (except when they want to purposely be a troll). Two stars means "meh, I have had better", so a 2 star review isn't as negative as you think. Overall, Restaurant 3 has more positives than negatives.

As for lack of response, it depends on how often the person logs on, how serious are they about reviewing the restaurant, and how much they felt like respond over the internet (there is a saying that argue over the internet is like winning the special Olympics). I agree people are free to post whatever float their boat without accountability, but that's what majority of the websites are like.

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For me it's not so much about reviews disapperaring. It's more upsetting that I can tell when the owner has

declined an advertising offer, because random crappy "reviews"

pop up. Case in point, our latest craptastic review that

mentions a cheese plate that hasn't been on our menu

since early July. This review stayed at the top of our site even after

decent reviews were posted after it. Yes, you can contact yelpers privately

with the owner feature, but, less than a third respond.

Most prefer to remain anonymous and post with

no responsibilty or accountability for their actions

Quite honestly it's a f@&ing joke.

When you go to Yelp for reviews of your restaurant, always click "date" just above the first review to get the latest review. They are not always listed chronologically at first.

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Its not that unusual for someone to post a review months after they have been to the place.

That may well be the case for Yelp, but it is highly misleading to readers. When someone on an individual (non-celebrity) blog makes a negative comment, that carries far less weight than when it is on a commercial site with aggregated reviews from anonymous reviewers.

For sites such as this one (and I'll guess CH, and eG), posting a review that is months out of date is frowned upon, unless the person indicates the time frame for the visit(s). I can see why this upsets restaurant owners/managers. Criticizing a restaurant for a dish they no longer serve or a policy they no longer have is not helpful to anyone.

I've looked to Yelp for information on some things, but I take it with a huge grain of salt.

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I saw something last week that linked to a Craigslist add where a restaurant was looking to buy favorable reviews from "Elite" members of Yelp.

So not only are the reviews displayed in a manipulative way at least some of the content is fake too.

The good news is that there is no way that the cost is passed on to the consumer.

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I saw something last week that linked to a Craigslist add where a restaurant was looking to buy favorable reviews from "Elite" members of Yelp.

So not only are the reviews displayed in a manipulative way at least some of the content is fake too.

The good news is that there is no way that the cost is passed on to the consumer.

Really? What about the folks that decide to dine at a place because of the Yelp "reviews"? Seems to me like that could cost folks money better spent elsewhere.

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