by Dennis Yang
Tue, Jul 8th 2008 3:50pm
Review site Yelp caused quite a ruckus this week when they deleted a bunch of user accounts that they deemed to be gaming the system. Many of the users whose accounts were deleted were business owners -- Yelp accused them of trading positive reviews with other business owners, quid pro quo. Yelp has had a tumultuous relationship with its merchants in the past because of negative reviews from Yelpers; some merchants had even tried to ban Yelpers from even visiting their establishments. This tension is unfortunate, since Yelp makes its money from selling these very merchants their services. That said, hopefully Yelp has not overlooked the larger problem that still exists on their site: an overwhelming number of reviews per establishment without any good tools for filtering or determining trust. Furthermore, Yelp has become quite a target for "Foodies," who complain that the reviews from users are pedestrian and inconsistent; Eater has an entire column devoted to the "shortcomings and nuances of the Yelp empire." Despite all of the negative attention that Yelp has been getting, the most important factor is whether or not it continues to grow as a useful resource for users. Yelp just recently surpassed Citysearch in number of users in March of this year, so perhaps they are on the right path.
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