I wish I could be more surprised about this news, but there’s a local/social media site in the US (and as of last year I believe over here now too) call Yelp who have been accused of some, let’s say ‘anti-social’ business practice.
There are a few sources for this, but this article in the East Bay Express (with thanks to them for the excellent illustration I’ve borrowed here) sums up the allegation pretty well.
Sandlines has a lot of interest in the intersection of local information with reviews/user generated content and to me this is up a level from what I’d feared about this intersection. I’d been concerned about customers using their ability to post bad reviews as a negotiating stick as something that fundamentally undermined the integrity of review services – much as happened on Ebay before ‘negative feedback’ was banished.
But Yelp appear, from this article, to have taken this to a whole new level.
Qype, who’ve been cast as a company who’ve, erm, borrowed liberally from Yelp’s business model have, I hope, left this element Stateside?
As I was writing this article Yelp’s CEO published a response on the Yelp Blog – sandlines is not qualified to offer judgment on which side of this dispute is correct.
However, I remain firmly of the view that – if your business is publishing customer reviews (whatever the business) – then editorial integrity should dictate that you do not mess with those reviews for reasons other than decency and accuracy. You certainly should not (IMHO) massage results in return for commercial consideration.