Yelp Says Outright Lying is "Personal Opinion"

Categories: WTF?

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​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.

And Yelp won't. Here's the email I got today:

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You want to know the difference between Yelp and professional media? If you point out to me that I'm wrong, I'll correct it and maybe apologize. Yelp, on the other hand, apparently thinks lying about one's job is a "personal experience and opinion."

At SF Weekly, we worry about our credibility. Yelp apparently has none.

If you're curious, here's the full Yelp review. Apparently Yelp will literally allow anything. To quote their mendacious but excitable reviewer, it's just A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

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50 comments
AVulcan
AVulcan

This story is completely false.  You can edit your review on yelp at ANY time.


Oh and, YOU CAN'T BELIEVE EVERYTHING THAT ALL THE TROLLS POST ON THE INTERWEBS?! ORLY?!!!!

Connie
Connie

Yelp is based on user-generated content. If you require Yelp to start fact-check this particular review, it's going to open a door to fact-checking the thousands of other reviews it gets. And your comparison to Yelp as a professional media is unfair. Yelp is not the "professional media" that you seem to be holding it against. It's a forum for everyday people - from the really educated to the really stupid.  So it's not like Yelp doesn't care about credibility -- it doesn't have to!

John
John

I think you missed the point completely, it is YELP's manipulating their so called "filter" and selectively choosing what is seen or not seen that allegedly makes them culpable and liabel for the billions in losses. If YELP did not manipulate on their servers by controlling their filter and transmitted every review untouched be it good or bad, there would be no issue. It is that sole act of manipulating and controlling and then publishing under your business name, the alleged libelous, slanderous data, while filtering good reviews from similar reviews, that ultimately has destroyed businesses estimated to be in the billions of losses allegedly single handedly caused by YELP.

David Silver
David Silver

YELP in HELL!We pray to The LORD that YELP EXTORTION is exposed in Federal Court! Manipulation of reviews is extortion! We pray that our LORD shows no mercy for all the emotional damage and EXTORTION they have inflicted upon small business owners and the children they support. YELP is a brood of snakes and scorpions and deserve to BURN ALIVE for their  extortion, lies and slander. PRAY PSALMS 119 FOR THEIR DESTRUCTION!Say five times: "Archangel Gabriel destroy YELP! Now!"YELP WILL BE BANKRUPT SOON! ALL PRAISE TO ALLAH! The Merciful and Just LORD OF MAN and EARTH!

capncrunch
capncrunch

Anonymous people bitching about anonymous people bitching. You are true models of internet behavior. At least Yelp encourages people to use their real name and real photo, and has a community that ignores those who don't. Plus, businesses can publicly respond to any review and the reviewer can't hide their comments. Like Pimco said, they can't police every discrepancy and determine what's fact. Do you blame your phone for allowing solicitors to call?

pukey
pukey

you'd think an alleged food writer would know how to spell ravioli. 

Sam5cox
Sam5cox

This article is laughable.  I'm sure Maya C. just made an honest mistake and didn't intend to "lie" about writing for SF Weekly.  I mean, WHO THE HECK READS SF WEEKLY and why would anyone lie about being a writer for this local rag that's mostly used for blankets by the homeless sleeping on Market.  People don't "lie" about writing for the SFWeekly.  A job there is journalistic suicide and should only be admitted if you DON'T intend to be a writer for your next job. 

ahem
ahem

speaking of being flamed by a former employee...

Sam5cox
Sam5cox

Nope, I've never worked for SF Weekly.  I've met many currently unemployed writers who have though.  lol. 

Samantha Bryan
Samantha Bryan

Everyone knows that YELP is where people go to bitch.  I am hard pressed to find a decent review, be it truthful or good.  

Spysea
Spysea

Go to craigslist , you can get folks to write fake reviews for a minimum sum of cash.... 5 stars for everyone!!!

Bacchus
Bacchus

As soon as you become a Yelp sponsor, you are guaranteed certain perks aka lousy reviews being buried and the ability to respond to shitty reviews but I rarely see those. It is a poorly ran business and his claimed algorithm sucks. Elite? Don't even get me started on those turd scrapings. 

Istateyourname
Istateyourname

Information wants to be free, right? It also wants to be inaccurate, misleading and false sometimes, and the idea that the "wisdom of the crowd" will prevail is stomped by the reality of hysterical human nature over and over again. Everyone who cheered the demise of media outlets that made their living by being accurate and responsible ("We're all reporters now, whee!"): Smile when you swallow.

looloo
looloo

It's just as well the reviewer doesn't write for SF weekly.  Horrific writing -- mispellings, grammatical errors ... the worst.  Sounds like a real dunce

Pimco
Pimco

Big fracking deal.  So what if I write a review saying I'm the Queen of England?  Or a professional chef?  Or a nice guy? (all lies)  Yelp can't police every single thing.  The shitty reviews eventually get weeded out while the trustworthy ones rise to the top.  Yelp owns your soul, fools.

Raymond
Raymond

Sounds like Pimco don't own a business and don't understand the pressure and burden that is on our shoulders. If you can't control "Yelpers" get out of business stupid. We can't afford to lose even one customer in today's market and people who are carelessly or for personal revenge pick on legit businesses are verbal terrorist and must be shut down. FYI; at least 20 respectful customers of mine were removed from yelp since they said good things about my restaurant and with 5 stars. Down with yelp and yelpers and whom ever supports them!

Pimco
Pimco

For every business hurt by help, there is a business helped by Yelp.  I've gone to so many  different places I never would have thanks to Yelp.  I've used it to plan vacations.  If you run a good business then eventually it will be recognized.

Hgphoto10
Hgphoto10

"If you run a good business then eventually it will be recognized"... so how do you explain 23 positive reviews being filtered off he front page and 3 negative reviews being left on the front page? Why not leave ALL reviews on the front page? reset the algorithm to only flag when 2 reviews are generated from the same IP address... why does the algorithm have to be so complex?

Raymond
Raymond

It is so obvious that respectful businesses wouldn't use them and work with them. "Yelpers are verbal terrorist" for sure and no other name deserves their illegitimate opinions. 

joshuack
joshuack

Can someone recommend another site/app I can use for finding places, getting directions and phone numbers?  I've been using yelp for years, and it has been very useful for me since moving to SF last year.  If there is a comparable or better way to go about town, let me know as I'd rather support an app who practices fair business...

Andrew Hoag
Andrew Hoag

If you are looking for business data, Google Places is pretty good, and even Yelp is pretty good as simply a "directory"-- namely one that anyone can scribble notes on anonymously.

(Disclaimer: I work here) For better recommendations, at urbantag.com we factor identity, trust and eventually social reputation into our service. We do not pretend to be a directory, but will help you keep track of your favorite places and share them with friends.

Amy
Amy

Yep. Yelp WILL allow anything, including their users (even an "Elite") to be harassed by business owners. 

Belinda
Belinda

Please define 'harassment'.

sharon
sharon

now it has been removed for violating yelp's terms of services and there is one re-posted (also filtered) that says sf weekly voice.  so, i guess success??? 

Christopher Victorio
Christopher Victorio

SF Weekly Voice is still violating trademark laws. 

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

Is the Voice of SF Weekly like the Voice of God?

(Also, hi, Chris! We miss you down here.)

fav
fav

How about an SF Weekly expose on Yelp's deceptive and predatory business practices, and the harm they are doing to the small business sector just when we need economic growth the most?  All you have to do is go read the reviews of Yelp Inc. on the Yelp system itself (they only have about a 2 star rating on their own system) and start contacting the reviewers.

Time4Justice
Time4Justice

Welcome to the Yelp nightmare of small business owners everywhere.  Basic problem:  there is no effective customer service support in Yelp... unless you are paying them for advertising.  Yelp allows "reviewers" to lie, post fake reviews, flame their former employer, flame a professional who declined service to them, "filters" away the good reviews, and refuses to even correct gross listing errors... unless you pay, and pay, and pay.  Do you get the extortion angle now?

HorhayB
HorhayB

WHY hasn't there been legislation stopping these profiteers from hacking off the backs of small businesses? HOW does this go on? Maybe a site called LEVELTHETABLE for businesses to expose the damage caused by these sites. I am not saying that restaurants should be protected from honest reviewing but YELPERS stand out as the most antagonistic and unregulated and slanderous as do their 'staff'. A 100% negative business model.

Tinas
Tinas

FYI:

Jeremy Stoppelman's father defrauded the US Marines out of millions of dollars and went to prison for several years.

His mother abandoned him and his siblings when they were kids.

He has a drinking problem.

Tinas
Tinas

^ just kidding

I was also 'outright lying"

lol

Codei
Codei

anyone surprised at yelp's response?  the place is the largest collection of douche bags in the area, ask anyone who's been through the sales training over there (and saw the light and got the hell out).

serious yelpers who get moist in their shorts at the prospect of becoming "elite '11" like they just graduated some prestigious school can only be described as "vapid turds".

Kimbav
Kimbav

Well, perhaps by "writes for" she means that she writes comments like the one I am currently typing out to post on an SF Weekly site, or even that she sends in letters to the Editor.  She didn't, after all, say that she was paid to do so. ;-)

W Blake Gray
W Blake Gray

Yeah, that occurred to me. Last year a community college teacher recirculated a blog post I had written, but she took off my name and put hers on it. I was furious at her, but when I spoke with her via email I learned she didn't know what plagiarism is. Sigh. Standards of identity have definitely changed.

However, Yelp should know better. You'd think a company that big would have a grownup or two working for it.

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

What a cop-out—every college in the country has rules about plagiarism.

I feel somewhat cooler now, though... I was plagarized by Tila Tequila.

Glenn t
Glenn t

ANNOUNCEMENT:

We have recently implemented a system to outsmart yelp from hiding our filtered reviews:

Step 1- First of all, if you're advertising with yelp, we suggest you stop doing so and shift that money to optimize your own web site instead

Step 2- Have a graphic designer make a yelp badge that is placed on your web site. It should say "we have ...... filtered and unfiltered reviews on yelp".

Step 3- When a visitor clicks on the badge, it will go to another page ON YOUR OWN WEB SITE (instead of going to yelp's. (why help them get traffic and rank higher anyways)?

Step 4- On this page have your graphic designer get a screen capture (picture) of all your filtered and unfiltered reviews and have them pasted together onto one page (in 2 sections, the top section to be unfiltered reviews, leave a space, and then the lower section the filtered reviews). 

Now, all your reviews (filtered and unfiltered) will be visible to all your web site's visitors.

5- Add the following words on the top: 

"for your convenience, we have combined all of our filtered and unfiltered reviews on one page for you to view. If youd like to go to our live yelp page, please click here -------"

This is done so that your potential clients will not feel like you're trying to hide something or trying to cheat the system. 

6- Be sure to update your unfiltered yelp page every few weeks. 

Advantages of doing this:

1- Your visitors will stay on your web site instead of being re-directed to yelp's

2- Your visitors can't be redirected to your competitors page (unless they choose to go to your live yelp page). 

3- No more being a slave to yelp's algorithm

4- Yelp would not benefit from getting traffic from you and higher rankings on google. 

5- This system cost us only $150 to implement 

Just be sure to shift that $300 per month on yelp advertising and put it into KEYWORDS that people will search for. 

**Please pass this on to all small business owners that may benefit from this. 

Briansays
Briansays

and lying anonymously is the act of a coward

Charlie
Charlie

Since this is acceptable behavior by Yelp standards, you could actually have some real fun with this.  Simply create profiles with the pseudonym "Jeremy S." on all your favorite social media sites and claim that you work for Yelp.  It will then be the "personal experience and opinion" of people viewing the profile that it might be Jeremy Stoppelman, CEO of Yelp, who is known around town as a real ladies man/manwhore.  Much fun could ensue.  No need to let any "factual disputes" get in the way.  After all, any assumptions made by someone viewing a profile belonging to a "Jeremy S." are merely a matter of personal opinion. 

Robert Brust
Robert Brust

Maybe Maya has overstated her position with SF Weekly. You guys encourage "user reviews".  Is this Maya's position with SF Weekly? Our on-line "amateur" restaurant critics are now very confident and many place a great deal of importance in what they write.

LC11
LC11

Maya C. was 1 of 4 fake accounts created by the owner/staff of Tuba restaurant. I saw that all 4 reviews are now filtered.

HorhayB.
HorhayB.

And  YELPS day ONE competing and envious business owners will create a phony YELP profile and put business damaging reviews up on YELP. YELP is the hub for such , second is CitySearch. I moved from Chicago to a west coast city for 6 years and worked in the industry and this type of thing is common practice in California and Oregon. Never experienced it in Chicago in 20 years working in the industry. One owner I worked for had his attorney send YELP and 6 other such sites legal warning to remove their business entirely from their sites. He is still thriving. They make big money off the backs of small businesses with ZERO protection in case of a harasser.

Marlen_00
Marlen_00

We are a business here in San Francisco also dealing with the nightmare that is YELP!

Ali Alkhatib
Ali Alkhatib

The funny thing is that the review is pretty unnatural; it almost comes off as an advertisement rather than a review.

Oh, I just checked the Yelp review for Tuba at the address indicated and I'm not seeing the review. I looked up the user and found the review though. Maybe Yelp is quietly filtering that review out now that there has been some press/complaints against it?

Or maybe my searching skills are incomplete, heh.

guest
guest

It's now technically a filtered review, but you can still flag it (as I did, and as I hope other SF Weekly reviewers will as well). It still says SF Weekly.

W Blake Gray
W Blake Gray

I flagged it as soon as I saw it. Does anyone know how many flags it takes to get Yelp's attention?

MrEricSir
MrEricSir

There needs to be a way to review Yelpers. So many people have such stupid opinions/lies in their reviews that the aggregate becomes meaningless.

PickSomewhere.com
PickSomewhere.com

I hear your pain! Our site only allows reviews by our Crew.... all work for us and people can see who the reviewer is and why they should listen to what they say about the restaurant. Hope this debacle gets cleared up!

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