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The Peril And The Promise Of Online Reviews

The wild and woolly world of online reviews – and how they make and break businesses.

Top online review sites Yelp.com, Epinions.com, tripadvisor.com, and Angieslist.com

Top online review sites Yelp.com, Epinions.com, tripadvisor.com, and Angieslist.com

Once upon a time in the world of restaurants and retailers and travel destinations there were only a few ways to establish a reputation.  There was advertising.  There were newspaper reviews.  And there was good old word of mouth.

Today, the word of mouth piece has exploded into millions of voices in the enormous world of online reviews.  Yelp.  TripAdvisor.  Amazon.  Angie’s List.  On and on.  Online consumer reviews can be really helpful.  They can be useless.  They can be bogus.  They can make or break a business.

This hour,  On Point:  the wild and wooly world of online reviews.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Alan Henry, writer at LifeHacker.com, which is owned by Gawker Media, and covers software and new technologies.

Brad Tuttle, a writer for Time magazine, he has been covering the proliferation of fake reviews for Time.com.

Justin Brookman, director, Center for Democracy and Technology. Former Chief of the Internet Bureau of the New York Attorney General’s office.

Wilson Wang, owner of Baba Sushi, a 5-year-old restaurant in Worcester that has 41/2 out of 5 stars on Yelp.

From Tom’s Reading List

Time “The net result is that while the Internet should increase transparency and give shoppers access to loads of information and the honest, unbiased assessments of the masses, consumers often feel engulfed in a murky web that’s not entirely trustworthy.”

The New York Times “In the brutal world of online commerce, where a competing product is just a click away, retailers need all the juice they can get to close a sale.”

Businessweek “The proliferation of fake reviews is a huge problem for e-commerce and recommendation sites that depend on user ratings. “At the end of the day, if consumers don’t trust the content, then there is no value for anyone,” says Vince Sollitto, a spokesman for the local review site Yelp. ”

 

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Tina

    You interviewed James McBride a few years back when he had just completed his book, Song Yet Sung.  I called into your show and told Mr. McBride how excited I was to start reading his book because my African-American grandfather and generations of his family were from Eastern Shore Virginia, just south of where his story takes place in Maryland, and for years, I’d been doing research of my own, trying to picture what life was like there for those who were both enslaved and Free People of Color.  I started re-reading this wonderfully researched and realized book recently, and so I went to find any additional information about the book and the author I could find.  I could not stop exclaiming out loud about the complete ignorance of one on-line reviewer!  The individual  demonstrated no understanding or curiosity about the historical background of this work of historical fiction.  She wrote as if she were a bored and selfish fourteen year old, and I wondered, how does her review affect the sales and, therefore, the appreciation of this book?!  This book also brings to light many subtleties about life under a slave economy, in dramatic form, so, it could help the citizens of our nation understand misunderstood aspects of our country’s policies and politics.  The book is beautifully written:  McBride uses words like the musician he also is.  The power of online reviews has the potential to be extremely damaging, especially when the reviewer is not intellectually qualified to do the work they place out on the web!  Thanks!

    • Roy Mac

      So…you liked the book and someone else didn’t care for it.

      • Tina

        No.  The PROFESSIONAL reviewer was not, as I said, intellectually up to the job.  The site I’m referring to was not one of these consumer reviews that were discussed thru out the show.  

  • Hidan

    NPR had a guest a couple month’s back whose paid to scrubbed  and knocked down bad online reviews of companies.

    So how does the above disguises between real reviews and people that maybe paid by such companies to provide the corporate side of reviews?

    • TFRX

      Which show? I sorta remember something on the larger subject of Yelp, but can’t pin down the title.

  • gemli

    I buy lots of used DVDs from Amazon Marketplace sellers, and I won’t buy from a seller that users have given less than a 95% positive score.  On the other hand, user reviews of the actual movies are not nearly as reliable.  You’ve got to consider the number of reviews and the thought that went into them.  The more reviews there are, the more “collective intelligence” kicks in, and the more you can rely on the rating.  On the other hand, reviews that say “I thought the movie was stoopid and boring” might indicate that the reviewer wasn’t up to the task.

    It’s also fun to read the handful of 1-star reviews on movies that
    otherwise got hugely positive numbers, generally from
    ultra-conservatives objecting to movies depicting normal human behavior.

    The movie “Tree of Life” is an interesting case.  Never have I seen such polarized reviews, with almost the same number of “loved it” and “hated it” comments, with very few in the middle.  I’m looking forward to seeing that one.

    • Ray in VT

      I find similar reviews with books on politics or current events.  It’s always hilarious to see a book with 3 stars and 2 reviews.  Invariably one is a 5 that says that it is the best book ever written, and one will be a 1 that says that it’s a totally bogus piece of garbage.  I mostly find the customer reviews on books to be only suitable for entertainment purposes.

      • Worried for the country(MA)

        If you want a laugh check out the reviews on Amazon for Mark Levin’s latest book, Ameritopia.

        Apparently, he trashed Ron Paul on his radio program and hordes of Ron Paul fans are exacting payback.

        • Ray in VT

          That’s pretty funny.  A lot of the 1 star reviews have low ratings for helpfulness.  I wonder if any of Levin’s fans went through clicking on the not helpful button.  That’s a pretty large number of reviews to have things so dramatically split.

          I remember reading the customer reviews for a well reviewed academic press history title, and it seemed like the reviewers had not read the book, but that they had a political bone to pick on the topic.

  • Anonymous

    My experience with Yelp is a not good one. I complained about a shadowy car sharing company here in Cambridge, (mind you it’s not Zipcar)  which I tried out a few times, 
    my complain was deleted. I wonder how non-bias they are. I suppose if I pay them money then my voice will be heard.  

  • Anonymous

    I use Trip Advisor all the time to look for reviews of restaurants and especially hotels in Europe. It provides the consumer with invaluable information. I wouldn’t buy anything from Amazon without reading their reviews. The more reviews… the more credibility I believe the product has. 

  • The_Chris

    Amazon ratings move products directly but Facebook ratings  (Like/Dislike) will serve advertising only indirectly, if at all.  From what I can see, Facebook ratings reveal a person’s sense of humor, political stance, or their opinion of an opinion;.

  • MarkVII88

    My wife’s family owns and operates a local dry cleaning business.  On several occasions they have faced clients with outrageous complaints of misconduct that have no basis in reality.  They have even been taken to small claims court, but these complaints have always been found to be baseless or just plain wrong.  In a court of law it’s easy enough to defend yourself against the disgruntled, but when published online reviews whether bona-fide or spurious can live for years and are easy to find.  Someone with a negative agenda can easily smear a small business online for no good reason or because they feel like they’ve been wronged (whether true or not).

  • Goofyjones

    In my experience, too many Yelp reviews are outrageous and wrong, written vindictively in a bad mood. They must be taken with a grain of salt.

    • Tncanoeguy

       Isn’t it possible that a competitor gives a negative review?  Or that the owner or employee of the business gives a positive review? 

  • Anonymous

    I bought some poor quality jewelry and am motivated to complain about that.    

  • Tips Comix
  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    Reading reviews effectively is not an art, but it goes in that direction. You have kind of gestalt what might be hundreds of reviews, eliminate what might be noise, grudges, faked praise, take the rest and form an opinion.

    The big problem is that most people who read them don’t post their own – and those who do post are usually not specific. The way to make these resources more effective is to contribute.

  • Ellen

    We own a local Downtown business and ask our clients to review us on Yelp whenever they can.  With about ten clients having reviewed us recently in a positive way, we only have one visible review that hasn’t been filtered out?!?   Methinks Yelp is favoring their advertisers.

  • DBurkett

    I absolutely read the online reviews but I focus on reviews that contain specifics.  If someone is just like “I hated this” then I typically ignore it.  If, however, they mention specific issues and sound like they have considered their review then at least I have something to watch for.  Same is true for good reviews.  I ask myself does this person sound like they are just gushing about the product or do they cite specifics that I can use during my experiance.

  • Mikepiehl67

    I’m a musician, carpenter, stay at home dad and I just got an iphone so I posted on Facebook “What apps should I get?”
    My friends know me and I have thousands of music industry friends. The feedback I got was better than I could ever get from strangers online and they are REAL because I know the people that posted it!

  • MarkVII88

    What is the motivation for someone to leave a positive review online?  If someone buys a product or pays for a service that performs to expectations, then the buyer feels like they got what they paid for.  I think the motivation to post negatively is much greater.

  • Anonymous

    Ron Paul supporters have been known to post on forums under a variety of names. 

  • http://www.dpsinfo.com LaurieMann

    This is nothing new.  Amazon reviews, for example, can be very questionable.  As long ago as 1997, there was a writer who’d review his own self-publish book in overly laudatory tones.  And he wasn’t the only one!

  • Briel (Bree-L)

    You have to take the reviews with a grain of salt because some people have bad experiences but that doesnt mean you will have the same experience.

    But I LOVE Yelp because you dont have to waste hard earned money on bad restaurants and I can see pictures of the food before I get there.

  • Daniel

    http://www.amazon.com/Mountain-Three-Short-Sleeve-Black/dp/B000NZW3KC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1328803836&sr=8-1

    Don’t forget the pinnacle of ersatz reviews, the legendary “3 Wolf Moon T-Shirt Review”

  • Michiganjf

    At sites like Citysearch and Yelp, if you’re worried about the legitimacy of the reviews, don’t go by positive reviews, go by the negative reviews or lack thereof… few will bother to write bad reviews if they’re not warranted.

    • Social to Mobile Marketing

      This is just not true.  I work with businesses who get false reviews posted all of the time by competitors, ex-employees, and former lovers.  It is a huge problem and can ruin a business. 

      • Michiganjf

        So what does an ex-employee or lover account for?

          …. one, two, three reviews?

        When you’re talking about a business with dozens, or even hundreds of reviews, I think it’s easy to get a sense from negative versus positive reviews.

        • Michiganjf

          Also, I use this logic simply as a guideline when I believe the POSITIVE reviews may be suspect.

  • Ryan W

    This is one of my favorite Yelp commentaries (Sorry for the profane title): http://fuckyouyelper.tumblr.com/manifesto

    “Then something happened, people became assholes. Blame Food Network, Top Chef, or even American Idol. Going out to eat no longer meant checking out a new cuisine, culture, or neighborhood. Our newly formed Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives culture means the masses expect every dining experience to be unique and mindblowing; we expect to be floored with delight and convulse with adoration.”

  • Bin

    At least the feedback is from real people, and not from some marketing executive paid to “dress swine in silk”. As long as the reviews are not paid for with corporate money, they are the best a person can have. Yes, we are product makers – all reviews we’ve seen about our ThePlayChannel.com Word War III and Bubblenauts games have been from real people, that reflect their true opinions – the good, the bad and the ugly.

  • lindsay

    As a service industry employee, I have found that most of time, people are only fired up enough to write a review when something uncharacteristically negative happens.  
    People don’t seem as inclined to take the time to write a review on Yelp, etc. when their experience was what they expected it to be.  

    • BHA in Vermont

      True. Bad experiences will illicit a review, average will not.  But if it was above and beyond expectation,  I will post a review.

  • modamissfit

    I like to consult online user reviews when planning vacations. However, I do try to keep my eyes open, realizing that sometimes people like to make mischief or worse, just be plain mean or vindictive. Therefore, I try to take the general tone of the reviews, rather than any individual comments. I tend to discount anything TOO positive (possibly a “plant”), or TOO negative (possibly a rival business).

    It’s a crapshoot. But going with my gut when making decisions partly based on reviews hasn’t let me down so far (knock on wood). 

  • JAMESDTHOMPSON

    The problem with on line reviews, yelp or otherwise, is the authenticity of the reviewer.  I often wonder if someone who has an axe to grind with a company-or person in the case of servers-can write phoney scathing reviews or on the other hand if the places being reviewed have “shills” who are writing accolades for the business or product.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    Yelp has a feedback system for the reviewers as well – this helps, but not enough.

  • BEEZ

    I’ve noticed so many reviews where the poster is overreacting or seems to be the type of person who complains too much or has an over-inflatated sense of self-importance.
    So someone’s job is at risk because some snobby lady doesn’t think she was treated special enough.
    Or, like the caller alluded to, someone may not like them in a personal capacity, and write a bad review.
    And then there is the sabotage angle; coming from competition!
    Reader Beware

  • TFRX

    “Olympic-style scoring, where the high and low judges’ marks are discarded” is good stuff from the panelist.

  • Jodi

    I own a cafe in Burlington, VT, and overall am appreciative of the presence of online reviewing. However, if someone has a negative experience but doesn’t speak to us at the time but instead posts a criticism online, no one wins. Often, problems can be solved right there in the moment, easily and with very positive results.

    • TFRX

      Burlington can be a good place to run a great cafe.

      As a regular visitor to the region (who still remembers, and misses, the Vermont Expos), I have to ask: Did you go to NECI?

  • Sam

    When I leave negative reviews I try to be as specific as possible, describing the situation or particular thing that I didn’t like.

    When I leave positive reviews, I am less specific and more emotional, expressing my pleasure/like of something/someone.

    I also read product reviews on Amazon.

    I think the most helpful ones, are the more detailed ones describing WHY they liked or disliked something.

    Can you also talk about those sites that only post reviews after the owner approves them.

    Thank you

  • Amandatakemoto

    I think word of mouth is the best advertising, however I want to personally know the individual doing the advertising.  After all, most Americans vote for president  based on TV ad campaigns and we all know how inaccurate those points of view can be.

  • Sallap

    What I dislike about YELP is that the only labels you can click to reply about a review are these: USEFUL,  FUNNY, or  COOL. These are all positive in the vien enabling everyone these days with constant reinforcement of ill behavior.  Why not STUPID or SNARKY which many are?

  • BHA in Vermont

    I absolutely use consumer reviews when looking at products. But only those that have a LOT of reviews and only those that are specific in their praise/complaints.

    A product or business with 5 or 6 reviews is of zero value.

  • http://www.jonathansanders.net/ Jonathan Sanders

    When judging a review, check to see how many reviews the reviewer has left. This can lend some legitimacy to the reviewer. A user with one or two reviews is likely to not be legitimate.

  • Jon

    An example of an online review site being completely abused after a road rage video went viral! The “perpetrators’” business was not even mentioned in the video!

    http://maps.google.com/maps/place?q=sarah+duncan+bath&hl=en&cid=661293868612245431

  • Rmccloygtr

    I’d like to hear discussion of such services as “reputation.com”…also, I’m a musician, who works weddings all the time.  Your show moved me to do a search under my name and I was pleased to find positive postings :-)    I routinely get thank you letters from past clients, which I post on my webpage.  Many clients tell me they were moved to hire me more from my testimonials than music samples they hear on my site.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t usually look up restuarant review sites unless the restaurant doesn’t have their menu (including prices) on their own site. 

  • Sam

    In regards to that called from the restaurant, where the servers got let go because of yelp reviews.

    If the restaurant owner/manager valued the people that work there, then I would think that they would investigate those claims, just like they came from a real person and only take action after the incidents were proven true.

    I think as a fired employee, I would go back on yelp and leave a comment. There maybe people out there who would not want to spend their money at an establishment that treated their employees unfairly.

    Plus, if people/business owners acted ethically – they wouldn’t have anything to hide/have anything to be afraid of. And if they received an unfavorable review, it is also important how the business handles is as well.

    Thank you

  • Gretchen

    My husband planned a surprise 10th anniversary trip to Portugal and London for this past summer, and he exclusively used online ratings through trip advisor and yelp. We have both travelled extensively, and travelled well, and we both thought this trip was beyond our expectations, but just as the reliable and well-rated reviews suggested. We won’t travel without those reviews again.

  • Austin Grimes

    I received some reviews online for my piano service business and recognized their value immediately. Over the past months I’ve solicited reviews for my business from legit clients and the majority are filtered by Yelp for unknown reasons…
    Austin Grimes piano servicing.

  • Kate

    Reviews can be fabulously helpful if you know how to read them– and you need to READ them, not just look at the stars.  I gravitate to the 3 star reviews whether on Amazon or TripAdvisor or Yelp and see what the underlying feeling is.  With a critical eye you can figure out which reviews may be relevant to what you are looking for.  I also see what other reviews the writer has posted on that site– are they excessively chipper?  Always a downer?  Need to know the reviewers as well as the reviews.

  • Patrik

    I always have a good laugh when I read the negative reviews on Yelp!, very humorous. 

    For minimal cost things, like resturaunts, I dont trust review sites at all. For small deal decisions, just go and experience, minmal cost and you get a first hand experience.

  • Matthew

    What about 21 year olds who think they know good wine and food:-)

  • jac

    I use reviews for buying shoes and clothing. I really appreciate knowing how things fit or what does the material feel like? Bad reviews just make me question the reviewer – are they expecting a $30 item to be the same quality as a $150 item? would what bothers them bother me?

  • Sam

    And those 1-act obscenely overblown reviews will be discredited when those people didn’t list or provided information on how they tried to resolve this issue.

    If they said “the server/manager tried to help resolve the situation, but I just decided to leave negative feedback anyways” then you KNOW the person is being ridiculous!!!
    And they are being a drama queen.

    You also have to keep in mind that what you think is overblown, to others may not be.

    I once waited for my cold brunch food for over an hour and a half, while 3+ other tables got seated, ordered, ate, paid and left.
    I felt pretty compelled to leave, what you call, an “overblown” description of the event and I haven’t been back to that restaurant since then.
    We had 6 different attend to us during this insane 2 hour experience. 1 took our order, 1 came to refill our coffee, 1 to take our order, 1 to serve us food and 1 to clear our plates. All different people!

    • Merrypickford

      You should write another comment after you’ve worked in a restaurant

  • Tncanoeguy

      Yelp – a shakedown operation? 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    I like Yelp better then BBB, which I’ve found next to useless.

  • BHA in Vermont

    It would seem that the issue of fake reviews is more a problem with ‘local’ businesses than product reviews on a site like Amazon. Unlikely thousands of people will be paid to put specific reviews (positive or negative) on thousands and thousands of products.

  • Ironman

    From NYT:Yelp,
    one of the most popular Web sites that let people post opinions about
    restaurants, shops and local services, is being sued by several small
    businesses that claim they’ve been pressured to advertise on the site in
    exchange for getting negative reviews quashed,

    http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2010/03/19/yelp-under-fire-from-lawsuits-citing-ad-pressure/

  • MarkVII88

    Where is the accountability on the part of those posting comments (both negative and positive)?  For their criticism to truly help the service or business improve itself, information like date of service, items/services purchased, and specific information surrounding their feedback should be included.  If not, then these reviews are nothing more than a forum conducive for broad-based smearing of businesses.

  • http://twitter.com/execnomad Eric McNulty

    I run a recommendation site for business travelers as a hobby (www.executivenomad.com). It is based on my experiences and those shared with me by people whose opinions I trust.

    I try to avoid the Yelp pitfalls by making it clear that I only recommend business-appropriate restaurants and hotels so my standards are clear; I rarely write negative reviews — if it isn’t worth recommending, it isn’t worth writing about; and I use journalistic standards in reviewing — no comps, no free upgrades. I try to be fair and consistent.

    I do some research before traveling using Yelp and Trip Advisor and find them of limited use because it isn’t clear if the reviewer is a backpacker or a business person. I don’t know if they share my taste in dining or not.

    Sites like mine may be small but we offer a service to like-minded people who want advice they can trust.

  • paul

    Who writes reviews on yelp etc.? Men? Women? Age? Income? Mental state? I find all forum reviews to be useless. If you look for review listing from newspapers or other independent sources you will be better off.

    • http://www.dpsinfo.com LaurieMann

      I’ve found Yelp reviews pretty useless. I had a very bad meal at a place once and posted the review to Yelp. My review vanished and was replaced by 4 4-5 star reviews. Interestingly, this place rarely has any cars, so it I expect the positive reviews were written by “friends of.” We travel sometimes and find reviews from Trip Advisor tend to be better.

  • Modavations

    All the phantom posters,paid shills,,feigned hate speech is also rampant on the other forum.It’s a machievellian(?) world kids.

  • Leslie belkner

    Yelp works! A gym was double charging me and my husbands credit card for months, I could NOT get them to stop…..until I finally wrote a scathing review on yelp, the owner of the gym figured out I wrote the review (because I used my first name and last initial) called me hours later and confronted me. He offered to sit down with me and go over the problem IF i took the review down! Right there is consumer power! So in this case, it made this business owner man-up. I too, am a small business owner and I welcome any yelp review because I know that I put out a good product and excellent service so I am not afraid of yelp. I DO NOT agree with wait staff being fired for one anonymous review. That is not judicious, both sides of the story should be given time. So ultimately, perhaps its the ANONIMITY that needs to change to make the system work.

  • Merrypickford

    I still like to just go somewhere and find good AND bad places on my own! Some of my best memories of trips are of stumbling into some place …

  • Lorenzo

    Do to a health issue I needed help finishing my home remodeling. I owned a business building homes with 17 employees so I know the field.

    I joined Angie’s List to review contractors.

    The best reviewed – checked his work, doesn’t have a clue, more things wrong than right and I mean serious mistakes.

    Second best – looked at his first job and noticed work didn’t match, when pushed he admitted he only did few hour work on a several month job but was claiming the whole thing as his. On his next job, a deck I noticed that it seemed to be sloped towards the home. I never travel anywhere without tool so out came the level and sure enough almost 2 inches in the wrong direction and only a few screws holding a 20 foot deck to the home and the wrong type of fastener. None of the rest were any better.

    Contacted Angie’s List to let them know. Their answer was we know there is a problem but there is nothing we can do about it. The common thing all these reviews had was how “NICE the person was”. Bottom line Angie’s List doesn’t work for contractors at least in my area. Do yourself a favor an ask a retired contractor to inspect someone’s work before you hire them. I know most of us will do it for free just to keep the quality at the level we can be proud of.

    Lorenzo

  • Anonymous

    Tom stop saying incentivize. 

  • Stephen Genova

    I own a NEW small business in Cambridge and have been harassed by Yelp for Months to advertise on their site. They promise excellent return on investment, etc. I have noticed since I declined their offer, Many of my “glowing” reviews have been removed after one or two days being posted. I’m now wondering if by declining their advertising offer, and revenue to their business, I am pegged as a top listed ” remove best reviews” business. I am just speculating and I hope it’s not the case, but it very well could be a determining factor in the eyes of Yelp.
     
    Steve G.
    Cambridge, MA

  • Armand qualliotine

    Related Topic: Rate your professor.

    • Dante

      You can review your doctor for instance, so yes, why not?

    • Lady Prof

      Don’t get me started on THAT, Armand. I have had resentful former students “bomb” my ryp page, in a way similar to how one guest described “yelp-bombing” his own place of business (only he and his co-workers did it to improve ratings). That includes an older man who followed me around after class trying to get somewhere with me. I was polite but distant, and THREE YEARS LATER he posts a comment saying that I am “totally incompetent” (he is identifiable from the turns of phrase). That site is a cesspool of grudges and put-downs. If you look at the most prestigious scholars, they tend to have the most embarrassing criticisms. Many are from envious colleagues or would-be colleagues. Right now I am contemplating getting a lawyer to address the poster described above; not sure if it is worth it. I hesitate to ask my nicer students to post there in my favor. It does not seem appropriate to the professor/student relationship. It’s different if your drycleaner or plumber asks you to “yelp” in their favor…

      • Robert Berube

        The reviews on third-party sites are inconsequential to university professors. It is the internal evaluations which get them most of the time. That’s not to say that internal evaluations don’t fall victim to the same problems as third-party sites.  

  • Joannecataldo

    I use on-ine reviews as a guide quite a bit, especially for travel. You really have to take them with a grain of salt. I usually disregard the extreme reviews entirely and look for the more thoughtful. I do dislike book reviewers on Amazon who give poor reviews to a book because they have an issue with Amazon which has nothing to do with the book itself (for instance pricing).

  • alex

    i too work at a restaurant in Cambridge and i cannot believe the the way difficult customers will inaccurately describe an interaction on yelp. a yelp representative calls us at least once a month to advertise and we always decline and then the next day a bad review often from several years ago will be back at the top.  customers say such mean and hurtful things about us on yelp that we made our own stickers that say “people hate us on yelp” and we just try to ignore it.

  • Robert

    Recently we’ve had an onslaught of negative reviews we’re certain that are from former employees with the intent to damage our reputation. Was wondering if you could address this issue.

  • Michele

    I’ve written many reviews on Yelp and other sites.  I have never been paid to do so, and usually only write one when moved by either really great service and products or the opposite.  When reading other reviews I always take what was being said with a grain-of-salt and take the middle line on most things.

  • Friendly

     This topic was extremely interesting and useful.  I hope you can bring the speaker from Lifehacker back; he was great, and I felt he was just beginning to address the topic about how some anonymous online review sites work better than others (e.g. how some sites such as Amazon allow merchants to address negative comments) but time ran out! 

  • BENBRAD

     Positive or Negative—We the people need a voice, at SLAMWALL.COM—You have a voice—You will be heard!!  Thank You!! For giving me a voice. 

  • Estraffie

    My realtor begged me to write her a review for week after she rented me an apartment in the comPetive Boston market. After I finally gave in and write it I found hundreds of similar forced sounding reviews on that specific realtor. I think it’s smart if her but it really made my trust reviews less. Also, while writing I was very conscious she would be reading my review and was almost intimidated to write anything negative.

  • Carol in Madison

    I had a bad experience with a used car salesman at the local Toyota dealer where I’d previously purchased 3 new cars. I emailed the president of the dealership to share what had happened but got no reply. I posted a review on Google about my experience 2 weeks later. Lo and behold I quickly got an email from someone at the dealership. Since then there have been numerous glowing reviews from folks who included the number of cars they’ve bought there. The dealership responded to the reviews online thanking them for being such great customers. Coincidence? I think not. Oh, I found that my review was filtered from Yelp.

  • Dante

    I have been reviewing in tripadvisor. insider pages , yelp and others for years and I have never onced been approached to write anything about anybody. I have put my comments most very good, some not so good, to reflect my experience. When I read other reviews of places I have been I see why and I identify with the comments. You can easily spot the people who had a bad day and they are angry. I can read pass that. I also can read pass the ones that are overtly suspicious like written by the business or a friend. We are in the 21st century, we all KNOW how to use this new media. For once we have some power to tell the world all the good things we expereince and the bad ones too. I never heard of anyone fired because of a review. Perhaps somebody was doing the wrong thing to start with? I would use the reviews to learn what my customers tell me and make amends if needed. The internet is now an old tool and it is here to stay.

  • christinej

    Online reviews have pros and cons – I use them all the time when choosing whether or not to purchase something.  I HAVE learned to sort through the reviews and see what the general pros and cons of the product are.  

    I work in a restaurant and the owner pays very close attention to the reviews – they do give us a good idea of our strengths and weaknesses as a business.

    However,  customers sometimes use online reviews to address issues that they should have brought up to a manager, which would have been immediately addressed when brought to our attention.  I don’t think people realize that reviews like that can have a real effect on our business.

  • Crux101

    On YELP you can double back and see what kind of reviews a particular person writes so if there is a particularly nasty review you can look at the rest of their writings and make a determination re bogus or just a negative person…also look at how many ‘friends’ they have and how many reviews they have writen.

  • Crux101

    I had an old Yelp review(18 months!!) that I hadn’t finished writing or posting.  I remembered the restaurant clearly so when I noticed the unposted review (not a good one…dirty restaurant etc) I hit the Post Button.  Later that day I got a note from the manager saying that since he has taken over all that is now taken care of. I removed the 2star post and told him that I will go check out his managerial skill next time on that side of town…fair’s fair…good for him for following his restaurant’s reviews.

  • Pius Thriveni

    Tom, I am so disappointed that I am unable to listen to On Point on Fridays any more WFAE in Charlotte is not broadcasting the “the most wonderful program” On Point”, any more on Fridays at 7:00 & 8:00 pm.

    Please, please, help!

    Thank you

    Psthriveni2@gmail.com

  • Serenity Appraisals

    I’m very skeptical about associating with a business (Yelp) that refuses to answer ANY phone call.  A friend of mine who owns a painting business has his business listed as “CLOSED” at Yelp which conveniently appears near the top of search results on Google. When he attempted to contact Yelp there was no phone numbers that picked up available anywhere online.

    Shake down company anyone?  To me it seems like it’s just another ad dollar scam.

    • YelpReviewer

      Except businesses on Yelp can claim their businesses and remove that listing on the site. It seems like so many business owners complain about sites like Yelp with statements like this, or “oh someone left a bad review,” forgetting they have a say in it too. The problem isn’t Yelp, the problem is the business owner doesn’t know how to use the tool.

  • Bin

    I am an influential paid-for reviewer who got paid to review a video game called Word War III by ThePlayChannel.com. After installing the game and clicking “Start”, there was a loud POP from my laptop and the lights went out. “Oh well” I thought “here is someone who gets my dreaded ZERO star review”. It was probably the mulling of such vengeful thoughts that prevented me from hearing the growing subsonic buzz and seeing my neighbors go out on the street and taking pictures of the sky. So, I had no forewarning when a circular section of my ceiling vanished and I looked up to see a shiny metallic surface with multicolored lights racing around the rim… anyway, being a manly man, I will not bother to share with you the indignities of the probe I suffered on the saucer. On the upside, it turned out these aliens are not here to conquer Earth. This was just a standard recruiting trip, and thanks to their advanced technology they could zero on the perfect candidate right away without interviews. The job? Help them defeat a gang of slightly unbalanced robots that infest one of their better vacation planets. The pay? They did not give me the chance to ask this question, as I found myself airdropped on the island I was to conquer with a small bag of supplies and a standard-edition Webster dictionary. But the job has its rewards, since now it is my turn to kick bu-t-t. Recently my servants managed to contrive a charged particle projector that tunes into the internet back to Earth, so that I can post my ZERO star review…

    • shamra eubanks

      stupid idiot

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  • Lady Prof

    A year ago I was pleased with a meal at a local restaurant and gave it a positive review on Yelp. Its reviews were a trifle mixed at the time and I thought it deserved a boost. Soon the owner sent me a message to thank me and request that I identify myself next time I come so that he could give me some sort of “freebie.” I have to say I was horrified by this and despite liking the food I have not gone back!

    • http://twitter.com/aliasky1 car sales tip

      I reviewed my good car buying experience at :kardealerrater.com they thanks me by replying me in their own site  , and I was pleased.

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  • shamra eubanks

    I do alot of shopping with amazon, if my purchase lives up to what it claims, does what it is supposed to, I do not post a review, it is not needed. If it fails, i will post a review of how it failed. I will also request a refund from the seller.  I recently purchased an Item from amazon based on many positive reviews. Bad move on my part.   Some of the positive reviews went overboard and that should have tipped me off. This concerns the famous missha bb cream.  IT DOES ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. BUYER BEWARE.
    As far as Amazon goes – its best to ignore any positive reviews and steer totally clear of the extra-long positive ones, read ALL negative reviews for they have nothing to gain for it and these will also clue you into hidden problems. Amazon dumped my first review of the bb cream because I stated in my opinion the positive reviewers must have something to gain from the review, because the product is total JUNK. 

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