A post on http://wired.com , dated April 6, 2010, entitled "Yelp Fights Fraud Allegations by Unfiltering Reviews", by Eliot Van Buskirk, contained the following statement from Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman; "review filters take action on all types of suspicious content — both reviews that may have been written by a business owner or a business owner’s friends ...".
What Stoppelman is talking about is a computer algorithm that Yelp uses to remove reviews that it thinks may be bogus. While his comment is understandable, it may also prove Yelp to be incompatible with small businesses that provide very personalized services.
My wife and I have operated Ventura Chiropractic & Massage since 1983. We truly like, if not love, our patients, and care about their wellbeing. Not too surprisingly, our patients like/love us, and truly care about our wellbeing. Sound anything like friendship? Well, it is!
So, when Stoppelman says that Yelp intentionally filters out (makes invisible) any review that appears to be written by a “business owner’s friends”, that means that virtually all the reviews of our practice have been, and will be removed, because they were, and will clearly appear to be written by our friends.
As of today, May 4, 2011, 17 reviews have been written about our practice, by patients who happen to be friends. Most of them, we met as new patients; they accidentally became friends. One review has been completely erased from the site, 15 have been filtered (made invisible), and one is left visible as though it were the only legitimate review.
Maybe Yelp was not made for us, for our practice, nor for our patients who would wish to share with the world, their experience of our office. It is important to understand that the issue is much bigger than our little office. We are not the only business that is rewarded with friendship as a byproduct of the caring interaction that accompanies the service that we provide.
We are not giving up our friends, but we may have to give up on Yelp.