It’s neat to see Yelp sending out a chill among businesses considering cheating the review process, by implementing a highly visible shaming system that points out in no uncertain terms when a business conspires to post fake reviews.
Critics of Yelp used to complain that Yelp was anti-business because they demanded payment (in the form of ad buys) in exchange for favorable reviews. Those allegations are unproven despite several court cases. Now some critics will no doubt imply that this latest move makes Yelp “hostile” to business.
On the contrary. Companies like Yelp must offer a level playing field and a safe and fun platform for consumers. That’s the only way to help consumers and to (ultimately) highlight great businesses. If that means being tough on abuse, then that’s exactly what Yelp needs to do.
We’re just glad they’ve finally taken the plunge.
As I announced here 17 months ago (!), HomeStars decided to take the lead in this area, and took an aggressive stance against perpetrators of fake or “suspicious” reviews. HomeStars was the first to highlight this prominent “calling out the cheaters” style badging, and continues to work (as we’ve been delighted to see over at Yelp) on making the entire process as transparent as possible.
As every consumer and every participating business knows, review sites are a work in progress – as evidenced by the give and take when new features like this get rolled out. But the debates themselves are signs of this space slowly but surely maturing.
All reviews are subjective. Yet people still find them incredibly useful. One of the most important tasks is simply to crack down on the fake ones.
Onward and upward!