Yelp Evens Out the Balance of Power



In the recent past Yelp has ruffled some feathers about business practices that appeared to be, well, yelpquestionable at best. It had to do with the possible sale of the ability to remove negative reviews from a business’ profile on the local review service.

In a move toward a more even approach (read not considered extortion) Yelp is now allowing business owners to publicly refute the negative reviews that are posted on the site. Starting next week the previously one sided approach to business reviews will balance out a bit more, reports the New York Times.

“Business owners for years now have been asking for more and more voice on the site,” said Geoff Donaker, Yelp’s chief operating officer. “As long as it’s done in a respectable way, it’s good for the consumer and good for the business owner.”

This step toward reconciling with business owners is big for Yelp who for years has been accused of being more contentious with businesses than they needed to be. Jeremy Stoppelman, Yelp’s co-founder
has said

that to protect the voice of the consumer, the voices of businesses, many of which advertise on the site, had to be muted.

Now for me I really don’t see how muting the business owner does anyone any good unless of course you try to get more money from them by running a “remove your bad review for a fee” service. Looks like Yelp is asking that this part of its past to water under the bridge. They are not going to screen these business owner comments but users will be able t flag them for inappropriate comments etc. of course, how you define what an inappropriate comment is go a long way to seeing how this will work.

All in all it appears that this move will be a positive one but as you may expect there will be growing pains. If the following assessment is any indication, however, there may be a bit more harmony in YelpTown.

Peter Picataggio, the owner of Tart, a Los Angeles restaurant, and an advertiser on Yelp, has been frustrated by false reviews in the past.

He said that although he and his staff responded privately to almost every Yelp review, he welcomed the chance to do so publicly. “I think that’s great that I get to tell my side of the story,” he said.

I know, I know. It’s a Yelp advertiser speaking on behalf of Yelp but, hey, you have to start somewhere, right?

  • blogorama

    It took yelp six years to even consider giving small business owners a voice on their website, and only after a flurry of negative media attention threatened the viability of its own business. Yelp has never apologized to the small business community for its actions, nor did it bother to even announce this change to the business owner community. Instead, they send a message to their reviewers, which seems more like an apology for “giving in” to the demands of business owners. If yelp truly cared about the small business community, it would have included its needs in the original business plan, it would not have waited six years to respond to the needs of business owners, and it would not be apologizing for taking the first step toward creating an equitable site. Why on earth would any business owner advertise on a website that begrudgingly supports their needs? Yelp has offered up far too little, far too late, and it simply won’t be enough to recover from their long term mistakes.