Yelp Changes Site To Make It Less Extortionist

OK, you were right. We’re fixing it.

As we noted two weeks ago, local-business review site Yelp has been giving paying advertisers a huge advantage over regular non-paying schmoes, because it allows paying advertisers to submit and choose a “favourite” review that shoves all the actual user reviews way down the page.This benefit for paying clients led to charges of extortion after Yelp’s salesforce pitched the ability to bury crappy reviews as a benefit to becoming a client.

Was it extortion?

Unlikely.  But the judge will sort that one out.

In any event, Yelp has now changed its policies and site to make it less extortionist. 

Here’s CEO Jeremy Stoppelman:

We’re Increasing Transparency and Eliminating ‘favourite Review’
Posted by Jeremy, Yelp CEOUser trust is the foundation on which Yelp is built and the reason 31 million consumers turned to the site last month to find a great local business. Today we’re announcing two important product changes to reinforce that trust and make it even more clear that Yelp treats review content equally for all businesses, with no connection between advertising and reviews.

Specifically, we’re adding the ability to see reviews filtered by our review filter and we’re discontinuing the “favourite Review” feature that’s part of our advertising package.

Why? Because while Yelp has seen tremendous growth in just a few years, we’re still new to a lot of people. Despite our best efforts to educate consumers and the small business community, myths about Yelp have persisted. We’ve said all along we believe these incorrect notions stem from the combination of the filter and this advertising feature — and we’re practicing what we preach. Lifting the veil on our review filter and doing away with “favourite Review” will make it even clearer that displayed reviews on Yelp are completely independent of advertising — or any sort of manipulation. We also hope it will demonstrate the importance of a safeguard such as our filter and the unique challenge we face daily to maintain the integrity of the review content on our site.

Now you can take a look at any business listing on Yelp and see for yourself the work the review filter has done behind the scenes. Perhaps helping to protect one business from malicious reviews that might stem from a competitor. 

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