Yelp Covers Its Y’Ass

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Yelp says everything is legit, but define "legit"? Photo: iStockphoto.com

After the New York Times published a story about companies paying people to post positive reviews on sites like Yelp, the corporate Yelpers responded with their own short blog that is very lovely and appropriate, but sort of beside the point. They remind us that, " ... our users help us police the site to enforce our content and review guidelines." Not too reassuring considering these "users" could be psychopaths, but that's okay (so are some professional writers). Second, they look carefully at "objective data that gives clues about a reviews reliability." Okay, whatever. The truth is, anyone can write a review, real or fake, paid or not; it's how the world works. The real question is, does it do more harm than good, or vice versa? In today's Insatiable Critic newsletter, even Gael Greene admits to asking friends and family to comment on her books, Blue Skies, No Candy or Delicious Sex: "Of course I wasn't offering money or even a free dinner. Me? Tightwad that I am, pay for a rave? Guess I was born in the wrong generation. I wouldn't insult my friends or in-laws." [NYT, Yelp]