I used to like Yelp, the product and services review site, but now I’m one of a growing number of former users who declare, “Yelp sucks.”
But before I reached that conclusion, I had taken some time over the space of a few months to write 10 thoughtful reviews, thinking that if I benefited from other people’s reviews I had an obligation to contribute some of my own. I also wanted to reward businesses that I found provided excellent service or products. Only a couple of my reviews were negative.
I recently even recommended Yelp to my brother as a good source for reviews of Asheville, NC restaurants. I then remembered that I had written a review of a taqueria (taco shop) that served delicious, authentic Mexican fare but I couldn’t remember its name. So I went to Yelp knowing that I could look at various Asheville Mexican eateries and, once I found my review, I’d know the name of the taqueria.
I eventually found what I thought was the right restaurant but I didn’t see my review. There were only five reviews so I knew I hadn’t missed it. I then noticed, at the bottom of the reviews: “(4 Filtered)“–like that, in light grey type. It turned out to be a link and by clicking it I found that my review had been “filtered” by Yelp. It was not visible to site visitors when they read about the restaurant and my rating did not count toward the restaurant’s overall Yelp rating.
Curious, I clicked on a link, Why were these reviews filtered?, and I learned that Yelp uses a computer algorithm to filter out reviews the computer thinks are not “reliable.” I couldn’t figure out why my honest, unsolicited review (I don’t know the owners of the restaurant) was filtered but I accepted Yelp’s explanation that the filter isn’t perfect and that “the filter sometimes affects perfectly legitimate reviews and misses some fake ones, too.”
However, my understanding soon evaporated when I began to go back and check to see if any of my other reviews had been filtered. I discovered that all 10 of my reviews had been relegated to Yelp’s trash heap–all 10 of them had been filtered!
Why did I spend a lot of time and energy writing 10 thoughtful, reasonably detailed reviews if Yelp is going to trash them?! Something is clearly wrong with Yelp’s review filter if a normal Joe like me writes 10 honest, heartfelt reviews and Yelp removes every single one of them.
A quick Google search led me to realize that I was not alone in my disgust and dismay at Yelp’s unhelpful review filter strategy. Although most of what I read was about Yelp business accounts, it became clear to me that many other people had the unfortunate experience of having legitimate reviews pushed down and out of the public eye.
I feel sorry for business owners who have customers write glowing reviews on Yelp, only to see them filtered out. Samara Hart describes the business owner dilemma quite well in her blog post, How Yelp’s Review Filter Plays Games with Business Reputations. And for a comprehensive review, I highly recommend Why Yelp Sucks–if you are a business owner, be sure to read the Comments for an ingenious solution to the filtered reviews problem.
As a consumer, my decision is clear: I will no longer write any reviews for Yelp.
What is your experience with Yelp? Please leave a comment.