Feeds

Yelp 'pay to play' pitch makes shops scream for help

User generated discontent

Security for virtualized datacentres

Personal Attacks

If it's nasty enough, a single negative review can seriously damage a small business. Kellinger, Deep Fried, and our anonymous San Francisco business owner - we'll call her Miss Lonelyhearts - were all hit by personal attacks that bordered on the slanderous. Kellinger and her staff were dubbed "racist". Deep Fried was hit with comments about his ethnicity. And Miss Lonelyhearts received an attack that focused on her physical disabilities.

Officially, Yelp does not allow personal attacks. "Feel free to explain your bad experience with a salesman," the site reads, "but Yelp's not the place for vicious attacks or name calling." And you can "flag" such reviews, urging Yelp to take them down. There's an on-site tool that lets you send emails to Yelp customer service reps and alert them to questionable content.

But Kellinger, Deep Fried, and Miss Lonleyhearts all complain that those blatant personal attacks were not removed from their Yelp pages. And this caused no small amount of anxiety for these small business owners.

But even then, all three repeatedly declined advertising agreements.

Kellinger, however, took matters into her own hands, asking longtime customers and friends to post positive reviews to her site. Yelp then removed some of these reviews, accusing Kellinger's Razzberry Lips of gaming the system.

Yelp director of communications Stephanie Ichinose accuses Mary Seaton's Sofa Outlet of much the same behavior, saying that both businesses are biased against the site because positive reviews were taken down. "They're creating fake accounts and writing shill reviews of their own business," Ichinose said. "They were both trying to game the system. If they weren't, their stories would be more legitimate."

Kellinger and Seaton acknowledge they drove the positive reviews. But they say this was their only means of fighting back. Kellinger wouldn't pay an advertising fee. And Seaton believes she was fooled into paying a fee that ultimately did her no good.

Yelp Logo

"Real People. Real Reviews."

Economics 2.0

For nearly four years, an army of clever marketers has trumpeted that Web 2.0 moniker. "User-generated content," the voices keep saying, will change the world as we know it.

In a way, they're right. There's no arguing with the runaway popularity of sites like YouTube, Flickr, MySpace, Yelp, and so many others. But Web 2.0 is haunted by the same question that brought down what we'll reluctantly call Web 1.0: How will all these sites make their money?

Clicks don't always mean cash. User-generated content may be wildly popular, but that doesn't mean it's wildly lucrative.

Yelp may or may not be a big money maker. But the site's business model is proof that Web 2.0 is only half a proposition. It may change the world. But it doesn't change internet economics.

Unlike Google's or Yahoo!'s, Yelp sales are dependent on old fashioned cold calls to people who may or may not understand how the internet works. At the very least, this is a tough way to make online money. At worst, it could undermine a site's reason for being.

Have you received a similar sales pitch from Yelp? If so, you can contact us privately here ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Scrapping the Human Rights Act: What about privacy and freedom of expression?
Justice minister's attack to destroy ability to challenge state
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Hey Brit taxpayers. You just spent £4m on Central London ‘innovation playground’
Catapult me a Mojito, I feel an Digital Innovation coming on
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
EU probes Google’s Android omerta again: Talk now, or else
Spill those Android secrets, or we’ll fine you
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.