Yelp is trying to educate users more about how its review recommendations work. As the company acknowledges, most people probably don't really even think about it, but others certainly wonder how they come up the ones that they do.
"Well, for starters, imagine you were trying to find a great new restaurant in town way back before Yelp existed," says Vince Sollitto, Yelp's VP Communications & Public Affairs. "You’d probably try to get as many word-of-mouth recommendations as possible. Then you’d sift through them, deciding how to value each one. You would probably place more weight on recommendations from people in the know who have tried every place in town, and from people whose tastes you share, than on recommendations from folks who rarely go out to eat, who seem like they might be too close to the owner to be unbiased, or who you’ve just met and don’t know much about."
"In a nutshell, that’s how Yelp works," he continues. "Every day our automated software goes through the more than 47 million reviews that have been submitted to Yelp to select the most useful and reliable ones to help you find the business that’s right for you. Unlike many other sites, our stance is quality over quantity when it comes to reviews. As a result, we only recommend about three-quarters of the reviews we get. More often than not, these reviews come from active members of the Yelp community, and from those we’ve come to know and trust."
He notes that reviews that aren't recommended appear in the link on the bottom of the business' profile page, and don't factor into the business' overall star rating or review count.
Yelp says it doesn't recommend reviews when it doesn't know much about the user, or thinks that they could be biased or fake.
Here's a new ideo Yelp has put together to illustrate the process.
CEO Jeremy Stoppelman did a reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) last week to address these things and more. Here are some highlights.