Monday, March 2, 2009

No help from yelp?

According to a New York Time's article, it appears that Yelp, the online review site, isn't playing nice with the business that are reviewed by its contributors. Unlike other review sites such as TripAdvisor, Yelp doesn't allow reviewed business to respond to posts.

Instead, CEO Jeremy Stoppelman's stance is almost militant:
“Business owners want to control their reputation, and we’re just not going to let that happen,” he said. His top priority is “to make sure the community is protected and can share without fear of being publicly spat on.”

“We can’t referee factual disputes,” responded Mr. Stoppelman. “Why believe the business owner who has skin in the game?”

So if I understand this correctly, it's OK for the community to spit on businesses with no opportunity to respond or address an issue? That sounds more like a one-way and very Web 1.0.

He appears to have a large bias against the integrity of businesses. What's most troubling, however, is lack of faith that users of the site can't make up their own minds after reading both points of view.

For example, on TripAdvisor, reviewed hotels can post responses to reviews by users. I can read all the reviews from multiple contributors as well as the hotel management before making an informed decision. If there are several consistent posts about bad service and the response from the hotel doesn't seem reasonable, I can take that information and form my own opinions. It works for TripAdvisor, so why not for Yelp?

There's always two sides to every story and every review. There's no need to remove any reviews, but let people decide for themselves after hearing both sides.


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