Before I dive into this... you should read this Wired article from a couple years ago about Yelp and some "fraud allegations."

Very short version is that Yelp was being accused (by many) of strong-arming small businesses into paying up to bury negative reviews and "favorite" positive ones to get a better overall review on the service.

Those are some pretty serious allegations for a site that is supposed to be user driven based on real experiences. Why bother having people post their reviews if you're not going to post them or be bribed into deleting/removing bad and promoting good?

Anyway, on to why this is now a post on my site...

I've never found a need for Yelp. The first time I ever even looked at it was when I was in San Francisco a couple years ago for work. Figured it might have some good info on food and such. To be honest, I didn't care for it. Didn't really find it that helpful for my own experience. And then the story above broke and I figured I didn't need to bother with it anyway! Even if the allegations were "untrue" ... they had to come from somewhere, right?

Where was I... oh ya, so last month Jen and I tried a new restaurant in Corning called Effin Texas. Supposed to be a Texas BBQ place. We basically had a terrible experience (and I've talked to a few others who had very similar or worse!). When I have a crappy experience somewhere, I want to tell people... and in this case, Yelp came to mind based on how popular it is with other people.

So I added Effin Texas to the site and added my (2/5 star) review. I was the first one to review it (they had only been open a week). Since then, I've added a few other reviews to the site for various things - bowling alleys to pizza places. Some good, some not so good. All them have been legitimate and honest experiences.

On a whim today I decided to check my profile and see if anyone thought my reviews were "useful." Well, in doing that, I saw the link to Effin Texas and wanted to read of some other experiences. See if they have improved. Shockingly, their review average was now 4.5 stars. And my review was no where to be seen. Turns out it had been "filtered."

I wasn't the only one. There are a total of 8 filtered reviews for this place. ALL of them are negative (most complain about them not allowing kids). There are only TWO visible reviews. Both positive. I don't know about you people... but this looks to me to be EXACTLY like that first article described at the top of the page. I'm not saying anyone paid anyone for anything in this situation.

But how can it be possible that their filter system magically filters ONLY the negative reviews for this place and leaves the good ones? I don't know. But I'm done with Yelp. Until someone can explain to me how the hell that works... I'm done.

Anything good or bad to say about a place, I'll share on foursquare. If you have a smartphone, they have an app for you. Even if you don't check in to places, the Explore feature is amazing - though it will be even more awesome if you do check in to places so it can learn what you like.

2 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Hey Yelp, Fuck You and Your Horse”

  • Rachel

    January 24, 2012 at 9:45 am

    It’s not always negative reviews This one has 20 positive ones filtered

    The algorithms tricky. It goes by how many reviews a place is getting in a certain time and how many stars, to how active a person is on the site. You have to admit that there are a lot of random spam reviews out there. Heck go take a look at Google Places reviews. They’re atrociously solicited. Thats what Yelp tries to do, get unsolicited reviews. In your case it looked like that place was getting a bunch of low stars about the same time frame, to the filter it looks spammy, like its being bombarded.

    Read some talk threads from some areas and you’ll see it happens everywhere. Theres a plumber somewhere that has paid people off to write great reviews for their chain stores and neg for their competition. Most people that have been on the site for a while learn to tell those apart, but not everyone. But seriously, the best way to keep your reviews from getting filtered is to write more. The the filter realizes hey this ones legit and not some bot in Bangladesh, lets cut it some slack. I’m a Yelp Elite now, which means my reviews never get filtered 😉 as I’m a trusted real life person to the site. But in the beginning I too had both positive and neg reviews filtered, and it did make me want to write more, just to get away from that evil filter bot. And you know what… I got to 10 to 20 and noticed previous filtered reviews popping back up unfiltered and new reviews not being filtered.

    Yes it can be a bit disheartening at first, but don’t look at that way. And just like with any technology, there is a certain room for error, where it filters good and keeps bad peoples, but what doesn’t do that! I know you’ve seen the same on foursquare where some a-hole is a drive by mayor or writing completely irrelevant tips. They’re not always caught right away, and sometimes aren’t caught at all…

  • Juston

    January 24, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    Going beyond the strong-arm tactics, I think Yelp has two massive issues:
    1. Signal-to-noise. Their star rating system is fundamentally broken and the reviews are often devoid of credibility.
    2. Intelligence. Yelp simply cannot make good recommendations; they don’t have the data.

    There’s definitely companies out there well-positioned to take advantage of these weaknesses. A more complete post on this is here: