Yelp On Fake Reviews: Don’t Worry, We’ve Got This

    September 30, 2013
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

Last week, a study from Harvard Business School came out looking at Yelp review fraud, suggesting that about a fifth of Yelp restaurant reviews are fake.

Do you trust reviews you read on Yelp? Let us know in the comments.

It received quite a bit of attention, even making it pretty high on the front page of reddit, where thousands have commented. Among those commenting are some people who claim to have worked at Yelp in the past.

Following is what reddit user ehenningl had to say about the controversial review filter:

As a former employee of Yelp, I was very intrigued by this posting and read through the entire study and while there was some truth to the research they missed some major factors that go into the review filter. First off, Yelp’s review filter is smarter than they think, I don’t know how it exactly works, but it just fucking works. While working at Yelp, I was unable to write reviews for obvious conflict of interest reasons, but wrote many before and after my employment with them.

Most of my reviews would stick because my USER ACTIVITY was frequent on their site and consistently used the site and mobile app to find businesses. The research paper points out; “For example, longer reviews, or reviews by users with a larger review count are less likely to be filtered.” Which is partly correct, but from what I know (they never let us know much about the filter when I worked there) USER ACTIVITY is the #1 factor that goes into the review filter, not the frequency of reviews. Which makes perfect sense because someone who frequents the site would understand the value of the reviews.

The second flaw in their study is “A limitation of our work is that we cannot control for filtering biases in attributes that we do not observe, such as the IP address of a reviewer”, which is probably has the 2nd most weight in the review filter. IP address is everything, especially when you claim that most of these reviews are coming from overseas. For example Yelp knows where my user activity is coming from. If I where to write a review for a random business in Seattle, but I’ve never searched for a business while actually being in the state of Washington, it would most likely be filtered because there hasn’t been any USER ACTIVITY from an IP ADDRESS with in the Seattle area.

The third area that the research didn’t address is the relationship of the reviewer to the business owner. All of my reviews have stuck on Yelp, except one. The one I wrote for a family friends business that I frequent. So how the did Yelp know that I know them personally and filter the review, Facebook. Both my account and the business owners account where linked through Facebook, which we are friends on….boom…filtered.

Now I’m not claiming that 100% of reviews on Yelp are legitimate, but I’m sure as shit 20% are not fake. This study is flawed in so many ways because they didn’t have the proper data set to really understand what goes into the review filter which happens to be Yelp’s greatest proprietary asset.

Yelp has since taken to its blog to address the study, saying that its findings “shouldn’t come as a complete surprise.”

“As consumers increasingly turn to online reviews to find a local business, the incentive to artificially improve one’s reputation also increases,” the company said. “But neither should the fact that Yelp has been on guard against these very same reviews from our earliest days.”

Once again, Yelp pointed to its review filter, sharing the following video from March of 2010:

As you may know, Yelp has often been accused of extortion by small businesses who claim that Yelp buries their positive reviews with the filter if they don’t agree to buy ads from Yelp’s sales force.

Reddit user drkstr17 claims to be a former Yelp employee who used to sell ads for Yelp, calling about 80 local businesses each day. drkstr17 writes:

I’ll be the first to say that it was about the worst job I’ve ever had. It was high pressure sales for very little reward. It was a shit job, but I will say that never once was I given the power to “blackmail” any of my sales prospects. Yes, we were accused of removing good reviews and posting bad ones, but if any other account executives did this, they were merely bluffing. The reviews that get “filtered out” have nothing to do with Yelp sales people. It’s an automated feature that is supposed to detect “shady” accounts in an effort to prevent what this news article posting is all about. It doesn’t do the best job at it; I always thought they could’ve done a much better job with their review filter, but its intentions are in the right place.

Another reddit user suggests that some sales reps could be “very pushy” with prospective clients due to the high pressure sales environment, and make suggestions that were not necessarily in line with company policy. drkstr17 replies:

“Exactly. I’ve actually heard the line, “if you buys ads your reviews would be better” mouthed by several employees. It’s vague enough to be interpreted in different ways. If you do advertise with Yelp, technically speaking, your reach is expanded and your exposure goes up. This would then bring people to your business, and hopefully their experience ends with a positive review. That’s what we were taught to explain to our prospects, but it sounds more enticing to leave it as simple as, “buying ads = more positive reviews.”

Yelp has defended itself against extortion and blackmail accusations, denying all of it, but the accusations have not gone away. The subject even came up on a recent episode of The People’s Court.

It has also come up in Yelp-hosted events, which the company holds around the country to aid local businesses with their Yelp presences.

Yelp Event

As far as fake reviews go, Yelp is not taking them lightly. The company has been actively engaged in lawsuits against those creating them. Last week, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced that nineteen companies agreed to stop writing fake Yelp reviews and pay over $350,000 of fines.

“Consumers rely on reviews from their peers to make daily purchasing decisions on anything from food and clothing to recreation and sightseeing,” Schneiderman said. “This investigation into large-scale, intentional deceit across the Internet tells us that we should approach online reviews with caution. And companies that continue to engage in these practices should take note: ‘Astroturfing’ is the 21st century’s version of false advertising, and prosecutors have many tools at their disposal to put an end to it.”

Yelp, in a separate blog post, discussed the AG’s dealings as well.

“We think it’s great the New York Attorney General took action against these businesses that try to mislead consumers. In fact, we helped him,” wrote Yelp Senior Litigation Counsel Aaron Schur. “Because Yelp uses sophisticated software to filter reviews and weed out less reliable ones, we identify — and take action against — concerted campaigns to game the system quite frequently. As a result, we were able to give the NY AG’s office some solid leads on which businesses to go after.”

“And we have more,” he added. “We would love to work with law enforcement officials in other states to crack down on this unethical practice.”

Of course, the site has allowed reviews from Breaking Bad characters to remain on pages for fictional restaurants, but I guess that’s not hurting anybody (except those looking for fictional restaurants to eat at as though they’re real).

As mentioned, there is a massive conversation about Yelp on reddit. To read through the comments, one doesn’t get the sense that Yelp has a very great reputation these days. That hasn’t stopped the company from growing significantly.

As with what you read on Yelp, things we read on reddit often need to be taken with a grain of salt. We don’t have any proof that the comments above are actually from people that worked at Yelp, so take them as you will.

Do you believe Yelp to be a credible source for online reviews? Share your thoughts in the comments.

This article has been updated from its original version.

Images: Yelp

  • http://www.denverinternetmarketing.org/ Ken Fry

    So based on this article Reddit users must all be giving accurate information and reviews for Yelp. Let me get this straight…you just wrote an online article supporting the validity of online reviews by using…. drum roll….. Online Reviews! Really… Really…. SMH

    • http://www.webpronews.com/author/chris-crum Chris Crum

      I don’t see how this was in support of the validity of online reviews, and I believe I made it quite clear that we could not confirm the authenticity of said reddit users’ claims.

      • Brandy Brady

        Every article that I’ve seen you write on webpronews are PRO Yelp .

        Why didn’t you ADD the stories from ex Yellp employees stating that they agreed with the Harvard report and had written more dirty secrets about Yelp environment.

        What about ADDING other Redditt comments stating that the Harvard study didn’t go far enough and that Yelp does more underhanded tricks,etc..

  • Charlene

    Honestly, I don’t believe they are a trustworthy business.

    There are tons of complaints from companies, even competition giving bad reviews and you can do nothing about it. There are no protections for the business listed.

    I recently asked to have my business taken off their network and they said they legally did not have to do this. They were very curt and in no uncertain terms, let me know I had no “legal” rights where my business listing was concerned. I could unsubscribe but my listing stayed.

    Also, their advertising gimmick is really shady. If you don’t pay, they put your competitors not beside you or unobtrusively above like Google, they actually overshadow a search and basically dissuade you from visiting the business. When I spoke to them about this and why I wished to retract my business listing, they said, that is why you should pay us to advertise.

    Overall, I just don’t trust them on any level at this point. So no, it doesn’t surprise me that they are cooking the results and reviews.

    Thank you for asking.

  • Mitch Fredricks

    The damage has been done and I do not believe the trust factor can be rebuilt.

  • http://bulwarkpestcontrol.com Thomas Ballantyne

    Do I trust Yelp reviews?… In general I don’t trust yelp if the review count is too low. But Yelp does seem fairly consistent when review counts are high enough. So I do trust yelp reviews to some extent.

    Being that I am a marketer and knowing the crap Yelp puts me through and the number of fake reviews that yelp has let through onto my pest control service over the years, I have a very high distrust of yelp’s filter. Having seen the filthy review schemes that goes on, I can believe that a large number of reviews on Yelp are indeed fake.

    And the Yelp user defending his company with “First off, Yelp’s review filter is smarter than they think, I don’t know how it exactly works, but it just f***ing works.” Wow. Well if you don’t know how it works then you may want to reconsider your false sense of security.

    • Brandy Brady

      Really sounded like the Yelp Board members themselves writing the Reddit comments for Pro Yelp. Ex employees wouldn’t take so much time writing online for “my ex boss

  • http://new-zealand-rental-cars.com David Morris

    In New Zealand we have a couple of similar sites and as a travel writer I use their services extensively. It’s not hard to do your own filtering. A glowing OTT review from a poster who has only made one post . . rubbish. The same for negative reviews. I just don’t take any notice.

    The reviews from people who have done several reviews are worth consideration. Even then I have a look at some of their other postings. You quickly get a feel for the competence and independence of the reviewer.

    Given that even “professional” restaurant reviewers often don’t know a damn thing about cooking why would you take too much notice of a self-appointed arbiter of god cuisine.

    • michael

      “god cuisine” is that special in new Zealand?

  • Dave

    Working in SF I have a few friends who are current or former Yelp employees. Hell, I even went through a few interviews myself, but decided on a different company.

    The people I know say the same as the folks above. Yelp isn’t trying to screw people on reviews and is always actively trying to block fake reviews. It’s a lot like Google’s fight with black-hat SEOs. The tech of the algorithms just keeps escalating on both sides.

    Personally, I think people just need to take some personal responsibility when reading ANY reviews. Can’t you read between the lines and figure out which are fake, who has a grudge against an employee or even just has an over-developed sense of entitlement?

    Be your own filter, be smarter than the algorithm.

  • daniel

    Yelp has filtered honest reviews of our business and kept only the bad ones up while blaming it on the “algorithm” that everyone in the black hat scene tried to reverse engineer. Truth is, they should really be fair to businesses too.but they’re more geared toward the customers POV. I hope they get slapped with a class action lawsuit of some sort and lose billions.

  • Jorge

    My company got 28 reviews, 24 of them have been filtered. Only 5 have been published. All those 5 reviews got 1 star on each of them. A year ago we were approached by a Yelp sales representative. We did ask why only five reviews were available to the readers and they were all 1 star. Yelp sales representative answered: If you pay us $300 week we will post all the reviews including the filtered ones, and also will promote your site. That is Extortion and Fraud. WE refused the offer, of course.

    • Brandy Brady

      This is extortion sir.

      If you and all other businesses complain and try to sue, you would need to:
      1- prove that you lost money from potential customers from them reading those 1 star reviews
      2- prove how much money you’ve lost from the potential sale

      Are these hard to prove?
      Of course it is and that’s why multiple Lawsuits against Yelp have lost, not because Yelp has been proven that they have lied and extorted businesses. The business owners still have to prove how much money they’ve lost from Yelps extortion schemes.

      • michael

        I always wonder why people that have no ideal what they are talking about try and sound so informed. Brandy the reason the lawsuits have failed against yelp have zero to do with “proving” if money was lost or not. That issue would only come up after a case was won. If you don’t win, then who cares about proving how much you were damaged.

        The courts have held that help is merely the messenger and not the author of the reviews and no one has been able to prove that they actually filter and unfiltered reviews based on whether or not a company advertises with them. If someone could show that to be true then they’d have a case. No one has so far.

    • Sarah

      I support exactly what you are saying Jorge. I was an executive in the Marketing department of a large company I word for and had direct dealings with Yelp. Their filter system is a huge problem. Even when I produced the internal reviews of the same customers who rated us on Yelp with positive reviews (but ended up filtered), they would not adjust the ratings by showing the positive reviews. I would NEVER trust Yelp for anything. They are all about money and nothing else.

  • http://ChefLeeZ.com Chef LeeZ

    I am not familiar with Yelp’s review controls.

    We are, that is Chef LeeZ is, Thailand Trip Advisor #1 cooking school with over 260 student reviews in just over 2 years. Has Trip Advisor reviews been put through the same testing as Yelp and if so how did they fare? We know all 260+ of our reviews are organic but wonder about some our competitors reviews?

  • http://ChefLeeZ.com Chef LeeZ

    The above article says Yelp allows reviews from persons residing in the same city of the reviewers residence. Trip Advisor forbids users from posting reviews to anything in their residence city (i p controlled, I suspect). Example being: Kruzon , owner of Chef LeeZ, (Trip Advisor Thailand #1 cooking school with over 260 organic reviews), resides in Bangkok, Thailand and can not review anything in Bangkok! This makes T A reviews all from travelers not residents.

    Thanks for the article as I am now cautious of exposing Chef LeeZ to Yelp users!

  • http://ChefLeeZ.com Chef LeeZ

    The above article says Yelp allows reviews from persons residing in the same city of the reviewers residence. Trip Advisor forbids users from posting reviews to anything in their residence city (i p controlled, I suspect). Example being: Kruzon , owner of Chef LeeZ, (Trip Advisor Thailand #1 cooking school with over 260 organic reviews), resides in Bangkok, Thailand and can not review anything in Bangkok! This makes T A reviews all from travelers not residents.

    Thanks for the article as I am now cautious of exposing Chef LeeZ to Yelp users!

  • Doroteo Arango

    I was a humble worker in the claqueur economy. I wrote glowing reviews of restaurants, mold remediators, fertility doctors, and anyone else my boss could sign up for his internet-marketing service. I was paid five dollars an hour (!) for my work, so you can imagine that I never had the wherewithal to be a real customer of any of these services.

    My boss thinks he does “white hat” SEM because he had me file only positive reviews of his clients, not negative reviews of his clients’ competitors. I saw those, too, when I was working for this fellow. But it’s all fraud in my book and I only did it because my child needed milk.

    The world has come to a disgraceful juncture. Shame on everyone. We all need to take responsibility for this mess.

  • Mick

    Two of three reviews I posted on Yelp went straight to filtered. That being said, I don’t care what the reason was… I’m legit and Yelp’s system is clearly flawed.

  • http://www.backwaterstudio.com Kathleen Johnson

    While Yelp’s engine is based on peer to peer assistance with feedback on business’s they have used – the model was flawed from the onset in that there was no verification or validation in place for those supplying the feedback comment. There was an obvious flaw in the model as it the “paid” version made it ripe for extortin on the part of the Administrators where by direct extortion or default – and either/or scenario There also were no serious repercussions for false reports. As weak as this model is – it was ripe for failure leading to lack of credibility.

    And this round, nationally, with the Attorney General has dinged the companies credibility and I am not sure they can “earn” that back. What little credibility it had.

    Personally, I would never bother to check with Yelp for feedback – it a seriously flawed platform.

  • Ed Davis

    The issue with phony negative reviews is that such reviewers will click on one star which pulls down the average rating. I have not had issues with Yelp but have had issues with other rating sites where one individual can cause quite a bit of damage to ratings.

  • Brandy Brady

    Every article that I’ve seen you write on webpronews are PRO Yelp .

    Why didn’t you ADD the stories from ex Yellp employees stating that they agreed with the Harvard report and had written more dirty secrets about Yelp environment.

    What about ADDING other Redditt comments stating that the Harvard study didn’t go far enough and that Yelp does more underhanded tricks,etc..

  • Ellina

    nice post

  • Adele

    No I donnot believe Yelp reviews nor do I go to their web pages.
    Feedback from burned business owners over Yelp fake negative reviews, as well as positive reviews being removed or buried in the case of business not buying into yelp business model is already known.
    This just another variant on fraudulent PPC and other marketing tools all designed for the maximum profit of ad space provider.

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  • http://www.marketsharewebdesign.com/ Kathy

    Simple solution. If you want to post a review, you have to upload an invoice proving you did business with the company. No receipt, no review. It is so sad that a business can be destroyed by allowing anonymous reviews. This would solve it once and for all. The review company could then parse the scanned document and confirm they are truly clients. This never needs to be published, but would be an internal check by the review site.

  • Scottie

    Yelp is Full of Sht. It will filter reviews based on your payment to them.
    Any negative review is promptly filtered out, for a paying company.
    This is well known. How come you dont know about it WebProNews?

  • Eric Clark

    Yelp is using a fake complaint against small business and that’s the way they makes money. After adding fake complains for my business, they start calling and sending me emails about removing those complain. But in order to do so I have to pay them. Means, they add fake complains and I have to pay for removing it. Here is copy of email I received from one of the nuts of Yelp.

    Finally I have stop answering phone calls and email to Yelp reps. Since I am keep getting following emails from yelp.

    ———- Forwarded message ———-
    From: Vince Tornambe
    Date: ***, Nov 20, 2012 at **.** AM
    Subject: Yelp – **********************
    To: “**********@********.com”

    Hi *********,

    As you might guess by the subject line, this is the last time* I’ll reach out to you about Yelp. Over the past couple months I’ve tried to reach out to you with no response despite the traffic you’ve received on Yelp. In the past 30 days:

    – You appeared in Yelp search results 7 times when people were searching for Psychiatrists in Mill Creek
    – 9 clicks through to your Yelp listing (where people researched your business)
    – 1 clicks to your website from your Yelp listing by people interested in spending money with you
    – 4 views to your listing from smart phones

    While I’d love to spend 20 minutes showing you why Yelp can help you make more money, I have to respect my time.
    Having said that, if you’re interested and ready to talk, my door is absolutely open.

    Best of luck, and in the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2,

    Hasta la vista, baby


    *ok, I might call back in like 6 months…

    Vince Tornambe
    (480) 327-0459

    This sound like a open threat by Yelp

  • http://www.TrustworthyCare.com Tim Colling

    Here’s my experience: before we were contacted about advertising, we had one or two unfiltered favorable reviews and several more that were filtered. After we declined to advertise, all of our reviews became filtered. Maybe that is just unique to us and not others.

  • http://Yelp Sebastian


    • Dannette

      we dont advertise with them, after we started reading some of the bad things about yelp and their tactics we asked that our profile be deleted and this was their response:
      OCT 24, 2013 | 03:16PM PDT

      We don’t remove business listing information. While some business owners might prefer to keep a lower profile, this kind of information is publicly available and its use is protected under the law. More importantly, we believe that the public benefits from sharing their experiences with local businesses.

      Yelp User Support
      San Francisco, California
      What a crock of you know what!!!

  • D.J.A.

    In the last 1 & 1/2 weeks, we received 2 Horrible reviews from 2 people that have never been in our location. I can prove to yelp that they were never here, but they don’t care.

  • Michael

    I own a food tour company in San Francisco. We purchased Yelps advertising package for $350 a month, it was more because it included a promotional video. When we purchased my sales rep told me that if we saw no increase in sales after two months, that we could cancel our advertising contract with them. Because of that, I decided to sign up. At that time we had two reviews that were less than stellar, the salesperson told me that she would have those put towards the bottom of our list of reviews. The following day, the not-so-great reviews had been moved to the bottom of the list just as she said they would be. After two months and no increase in sales, I attempted to cancel our contract. To cancel our contract Yelp wanted us to pay the entire year’s worth of advertising costs. The sales person did say we could cancel after two months I told the Yelp person on the phone, who was extremely rude, she said, oh you can cancel but you will still have to pay us for the entire 12 month contract, she even snickered when she said it. We refused to pay.

    The following day, not wanting to waste anytime I suppose, the two negative reviews had moved up the list. Except now they appeared at the very top of the list. Soon we started getting customers who were Yelp Elites, the ones who write lots and lots of reviews, they have quotas to make, and need to write reviews that are negative as part of their Yelp quota system. This was told to me by the Yelp creeps themselves. Some of them were completely ruthless in their snotty entitled reviews as they attacked staff members of mine in the most vindictive cruel manner you or a 7th grader might imagine. Two of the Elite Yelpers were so nasty on a personal level that I wrote them personally and asked them to remember that they should not be making personal attacks on innocent people. Feel free to attack the business but not people were just trying to make a living. Both of them blocked me from contacting them again.

    Also, since refusing their offer of paying off the entire year, our account status with them must have really changed from bad to worse. Now 4 out of five positive reviews get filtered. We now have more filtered reviews than we have published reviews. The negative reviews get to stay up and always remain at the top of the page. I think that Yelp has allowed us 3 positive reviews to remain visible on the site, but they are pushed down below the negative reviews.

    Many of the negative reviews seem to be made up by people who have never even been to our business because they mention products that we don’t sell and tours that we don’t conduct. I emailed Yelp about this and invited them to look at my website and they would be able to see for themselves that the reviewer was discussing another business, but Yelp declined.

    It is coming eventually, and I cannot wait for the day, when Yelp get’s brought down in court. And until then, please review us on Trip Advisor instead.

  • http://www.chekplate.com Ursula

    We don’t trust Yelp or any online reviews that’s why we created Chekplate. It’s a social media app where users follow friends and family. When users upload restaurant reviews you know they’re real and trustworthy because they came from people you trust.

  • Joe

    Yelp is the #1 biggest scum bag company I have ever dealt with in my life. If there was a way to abolish it I’m all for it. The employees are slaves and Yelp is a bully. I would do whatever it takes to destroy these creeps.

  • Susie

    We’re suddenly a revenge nation – thanks in large part to Yelp. Think your waiter looked at you funny? Write a review! Mad because you didn’t get that job you thought you should? Write a review! Have a friend who wants you to write a bad review on their competitor? Absolutely!

    It’s not just the fake reviews but the sort of individual that has to write reviews. Think about the people you most look up to – either that you know or otherwise – can you imagine them Yelping? Exactly.

  • Nichrome

    Once it is finally disclosed that Yelp’s so-called “sophisticated review filter” is severely flawed at best and an outright scam at worst, Yelp will begin to suffer the perils associated with discretization. They will need to either correct the glitches in their software or do away with it altogether. Yelp doesn’t realize or refuses to admit that by labeling some reviews “recommended” and others “not recommended” they are aiding and abetting the manufacturing and manipulation of general opinion.

    Thankfully, there are competitive sites out there that do not attempt to arbitrarily filter reviews. They let their readers decide. This is why I always recommend crosschecking Yelp’s reviews with those found on other review sites such as Urban Spoon and Kudzu.

    One should assess Yelp’s reviews the way one should approach movie reviews. Don’t solely rely on the vast consensus. Instead, try to choose those tried and true reviewers whose tastes and opinions are seem to be the closest to your own. If I see an opinion from a reviewer I am familiar with, one whose judgements I value and often agree with, chances are I will have a similar experience and viewpoint.

    When on Yelp, be certain to read the reviews that do not make the grade as “recommended” by the algorithm that runs Yelp’s prized software. Any reader with average comprehension skills will be able to immediately detect irregularities.

    If as a Yelp contributor, you feel that Yelp’s review filter is bogus do not hesitate to write this within your review. Whether your review is deemed by Yelp to be worthy for mainstream viewing or not, your words may influence people to click on the link to Yelp’s non-recommended reviews. The more people who read these banished reviews the more red flags will go up, calling attention to Yelp’s inconsistent suppression of well crafted, insightful and legitimate reviews.

  • Shiva

    Yelp company should go to HELL!

  • Sunday

    I read the 5 star and the 1 star reviews. I feel people only leave reviews if they are really impressed or really pissed.

  • OwlMom

    “Algorithm,” my Aunt Fanny. A friend’s recently-opened (and very successful) business had all fifteen of its reviews – all positive – flagged as “unhelpful.” I queried the company, and got the same condescending “Oh, you wouldn’t understand how this works, dear” answer other users have been forced to swallow. I used to be an active Yelp user. Not anymore.

    • Neal

      I agree with you for so many reasons, OwlMom. First, Yelp has filtered out my long standing reviews of cafes, foold manufactuers and so forth. They were all POSITIVE reviews and I got NO COMPENSATION from anyone. Simply because a review is short does not mean it’s fake. Not every situation requires and epic review. And I think the long reviews are more likely to be professionally written ( who has time to write long reviews if a short one will do) than a short blub.
      In fact, I think a lot of YELP reviews are written by folks who fancy themselves food critics, business critics and they get YELP points for their reviews. Maybe they are young journalism or English majors using YELP for practice. I think their accumulation of YELP points strokes their egos and become a kind of compensation for being a frequent reviewer.
      I am not posting reviews on YELP nor am I using YELP to find new businesses. We have other on line review opportunites here in Los Angeles and I will use those.
      I 100% agree with what you say about Algorithms too. Basically, filtering software is nonsense. It’s the same garbage big corporations use to round file resumes from qualified applicants because there are not enough “buzz” words or there are bullet points in the wrong place.

      • http://www.rodong.rep.kp/en/ god bless MURICA

        they filter out the good reviews if they do not get their extortion money

  • Ancient Art Massage

    I thought it’d heard it all!!…until now. Last year, my massage practice “Ancient Art Massage & Bodywork” received a 1 STAR from a person who was unable to get on our schedule due to our busy Holiday rush in December. 2 weeks ago a friend suggested I reach-out to the reviewer ‘Don R.’ and offer to correct the situation. I messaged Don via Yelp and he and his wife both came in for treatments an Tuesday. They were so pleased they re-booked and pre-paid for 7 future sessions.

    They also updated their Yelp review from 1 STAR to 5 STARS and…you guessed it…YELP FILTERED IT OUT!! Any Advice???


    • elliefrost

      Frankly, Yelp doesn’t have a clue IMO about what goes on. Funny to that they say not to ask for reviews and yet any business who pays for service has a sticker on the window that says “Like us on Yelp.” Crazy.

  • Bob

    Personally I am getting tired of writing thoughtful reviews based on real experiences which are marginalized by Yelp.

  • elliefrost

    I have a small business and I opened my Yelp account several years ago with an email address I no longer have so I cannot respond to any of my reviewers. I have asked Yelp several times to help me with this and all I get is a canned response. Also, they have filtered out positive reviews from people I can’t even identify. They are absolutely not fake and yet I know someone who does terrible work because I have had to fix his mistakes a number of times and I know many of his reviews are obviously fakes as they are written by family and people he’s given “deals” to. He’s gaming it and if anyone in the same business who reads them knows that as some reviewers wouldn’t even know that much about the business and professional organizations, etc. unless he told them.

  • Dan S

    All of my review on Yelp have been filtered. Apparently they must think I don’t exist. Yelp has lost credibility as far as I’m concerned. I’m no longer going to write anymore reviews. Why bother to waste my time if they are going to decide which ones to post. Are the negative reviews filtered because the restaurant advertises with them? I think that is definitely a possibility.

  • http://www.rodong.rep.kp/en/ god bless MURICA

    just look at all the fake uber reviews.

  • Robert Pittman

    I found good restaurants in Daytona Beach thru Yelp, and thought I’d return the favor by reviewing others, good and bad, that I found on the same trip. I didn’t waste vacation time on this and waited until I was back in GA. I described what each member of the party ate and gave full critiques. None of my reivews were published and I discovered it was because I was a new user and not a local. Only local reviews in a tourist destination? Idiocy

  • Mrs S

    I own a small pet sitting service and all my reviews are real. Yelp filtered all but two. Last night I wrote a review about my business and how the reviews are real, and that was removed as well. My concern is with the wording yelp writes “15 reviews currently not recommended”. I take that as people will think my business is not recommended. I’m going to talk with an attorney to see if I have any recourse because of the filtered review language. I will not ask anyone to put reviews on yelp for me because they seem to get filtered.

  • Richard

    15 positive reviews on our company all filtered out over the years. Not one positive review has stuck. 1 negative (fake, false and posted by a former employee) posted in 2012 and no matter what we do it remains up. We have called and called and emailed. Same excuse every time, our algorithm ….
    Someone posted a horrible picture of our company truck, we asked them to remove this picture we did not post. Yelp said they couldn’t remove the picture. I asked them why they had no problem removing the positive post the viewer left at the same time.
    They had no answer, just excuses.
    Yelp is a joke. No credibility here.

  • Simple

    wrote a review about rotten food for one restaurant in Yelp. The next day I
    received response from the business owner and at the same time my review was
    DELETED by YELP. I reposted it and still it doesn’t show. I have proof of my
    original posting, the owner’s response and my reposting. Now I feel cheated by
    Yelp and am upset by their unethical practice compared to the actual business
    selling rotten foods. I did not find any ways to send my message across to
    yelp. Can anyone suggest me how do I complain against Yelp’s unethical

  • Tom

    Nope, not anymore. One of my legitimate reviews was hidden and upon looking at the other hidden reviews for that business I discovered that several other people had the same issue as me and were also hidden. Combine that with the borderline extortion that requires businesses to pay hundreds of dollars a month to display good reviews instead of bad ones and some evidence that business owners who don’t pay get good reviews hidden away soon after. In addition, Yelp is somewhat unique in that they WILL NOT fix the mistakes that their algorithm makes. Even if it is really obvious that the algorithm messed up, you will always get a blanket response if you try to get them to fix it.


    These guys work, offering more than Yelp reviews. And they us IP masking software. http://www.silvermanslim.com. They even sell Youtube views on Ebay.