Monday, September 26, 2011

Feel Free to Lie in Your Yelp Review

Posted By on Mon, Sep 26, 2011 at 1:11 PM


I suppose the customer service people at Yelp get quite a few emails from people trying to change information in reviews, probably largely from business owners upset about a burst of negative publicity posted nearly anonymously. However, the above email isn't dismissive of a difference of opinion, but an actual lie that Yelp doesn't seem to feel the need to remove:

Jesse Hirsch recently brought to my attention a review of Tuba restaurant on Yelp, by a woman who claims to write for us. She wrote:

"This place totally rocks! The food blows your mind away. I also write for SF weekly and I definitely am writing about them this week!"

There's only one problem: She doesn't write for us. I'm the editor here; I know all of our writers, and what they are and aren't assigned to do.

As soon as I saw it, I set out to correct it. But talking to Yelp isn't easy.

I don't have any contacts at Yelp, so I had to go in the front door. I couldn't find a "contact Yelp" phone number or email address. You have to sign in to Yelp's system to access feedback. So I did that.

I sent the liar this message: "I am the food editor at SF Weekly. Who are you? We don't have a Maya C. working for us right now. Please explain why you cite us in your review of Tuba."

And I sent Yelp a message I didn't keep a copy of, saying that this woman claims to work for SF Weekly, but I am the food editor and she does not.

The liar sent this response: "sf weekly voice, I will fix it. I am very very sorry to cite your name, I haven't checked my reviews since." As of this moment, she hasn't fixed it.

Thankfully, the flagging mechanism on Yelp's site has kicked the review into the "filtered" category, but this whole debacle does point out a flaw in the Yelp phenomenon - that the reviews aren't really obligated to tell the truth.

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