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Yelp doesn't have many friends in the small business community and its latest blog post may not get the company invited to any neighborhood block parties.
In a blog post, Yelp is discouraging business owners from asking their customers to write reviews for them. Such an evil practice could not exist, could it?
Of course. There are some businesses out there that dare offer kick backs to their customers to post positive reviews about their experiences. Some simply turn to Twitter and beg for a little social networking love, while other sinister plotters simply create accounts to trash their competition (just ask one unnamed San Francisco creperie).
Yelp is going on the offensive to end the practice for a variety of reasons but at least two the company lays out. First Yelp considers the practice bad because "would-be customers might not trust you." And second "the solicited reviews may get filtered, and that will drive you crazy."
The later reason was a major issue during a PR nightmare the company weathered last year after a series of small business owners complained they were strong-armed into advertising on Yelp or told they would have positive reviews deleted.
After trying to fight back against the claims, Yelp finally agreed to partially reveal how a complicated algorithm it used could filter reviews out. The company said it helped them protect against "fake" reviewers.