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[WSJ] Yelp Reviews Brew a Fight Over Free Speech vs. Fairness

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by YallMean, Apr 3, 2014.

  1. YallMean

    YallMean Member

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    http://online.wsj.com/news/articles..._hpp_MIDDLENexttoWhatsNewsThird&mg=reno64-wsj

    Should Yelp require users to register their real names and addresses, or may be even verify their identities before let them post. Should every post include time and date, and a description how the poster received service or product from the merchant they are reviewing? On the other hand, people say all kinds of crap on the Internet about anything or anybody on the Internet, including on this site? Libel, defamation, really? What's your take on this?

     
  2. Ziggy

    Ziggy Tastemaker
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    Yelp ranks high in Google for niche categories lately, better than it ever has, so this problem will only get worse. Small businesses hate Yelp.
     
  3. REEKO_HTOWN

    REEKO_HTOWN I'm Rich Biiiiaaatch!

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    I'm happy about this ruling. Internet reviews can make or break companies just like word of mouth. Anonymity in regards to reviews is bogus both in positive and in negative postings.

    There are people who extort businesses they've never even used by posting bad reviews and blackmailing businesses to have them change it.


    Ps: same goes with Internet bullying. If you're against that then you should be all for this.
     
  4. YallMean

    YallMean Member

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    Sure, but what's the solution? Shut down Yelp? I rely on Yelp a lot Some reviews are obviously fake, and I just ignore them. The same goes for reviews on Amazon. It is what it is. Should that be an understanding of a person who reads reviews on the Internet. On the other end, sites like Yelp do help bring customers who have not heard of a business to that business.
     
  5. Major

    Major Member

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    People have a right to free speech, but I don't think they necessarily have a guaranteed right to anonymous speech or to be able to commit libel. I'm not sure why anonymity should be guaranteed, especially when there are real-life consequences to the author's actions, so I tend to agree with the court rulings so far.
     
  6. REEKO_HTOWN

    REEKO_HTOWN I'm Rich Biiiiaaatch!

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    Anonymity used to be about protecting ones self from wrongful persecution.

    Now it's about being able to be a dick because well, you don't have any reppricuosions .
     
  7. Kim

    Kim Contributing Member

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    I don't know what the solution is. I don't know if there's a heaven, but fake yelpers whose sole purpose is to damage the lives of others should burn in hell.
     
  8. YallMean

    YallMean Member

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    Cyber bullying may be different in terms of the type of acts ... I am not worried about those bad actors who intentionally post fake reviews. Those are bad not only for the businesses under review, but also customers who are seeking honest reviews. However, my concern is what Yelp is supposed to do to weed out those reviews while not discourage real people from posting reviews. Are we going to require reviewers to verify every facts about their reviews before posting them? Review is a very subjective thing.
     
  9. REEKO_HTOWN

    REEKO_HTOWN I'm Rich Biiiiaaatch!

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    If you notice most if not all of Elite Yelp reviewers aren't anonymous. They freely expose themselves because it also helps them in regards to blogs, twitter follows. Eliminating anonymity doesn't discourage people from posting reviews. It discourages people from posting garbage. Most Internet comment sections know this and now don't allow anonymous comments.
     
  10. Duncan McDonuts

    Duncan McDonuts Contributing Member

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    I'm for removing anonymity regarding business reviews. Reviews can definitely destroy a small business and are absolutely devastating to their sustainability.

    I've heard that Yelp also extorts businesses' ability to advertise and address a bad review. I heard that Yelp will require a subscription fee to respond to poor reviews, and that if small businesses don't subscribe, the poor reviews will almost become front and center, hurting the small business.

    Not sure if that's true, but Yelp is helpful to consumers but really dangerous to owners.
     
  11. YallMean

    YallMean Member

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    What is your real name and identity? May I know? :)
     
  12. REEKO_HTOWN

    REEKO_HTOWN I'm Rich Biiiiaaatch!

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  13. YallMean

    YallMean Member

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  14. Rockets2K

    Rockets2K Clutch Crew

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    One does have a right to free speech, but the thing is you normally have to stand behind what you say because it is coming out of your mouth. People can come right back at you with dissenting opinions because they know who and where you are.

    If you post stuff online that can be damaging to a real person or business, you should not have the right to be anonymous. If your words are true, stand behind them with your name.

    I have never made a secret of who I am online, thats because I stand behind what I say when I say things.
    I may be wrong, or misinformed, but I will always admit saying what I say...and I dont think it unreasonable for others to have to do the same.
     
  15. REEKO_HTOWN

    REEKO_HTOWN I'm Rich Biiiiaaatch!

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    See! I even make it a point to meet folks from CF in real life. You approach the site differently that's for sure.
     
  16. YallMean

    YallMean Member

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    So you guys don't think this is draconian?

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technolo...ves-to-control-Sina-Weibo-social-network.html

     
  17. Major

    Major Member

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    I think there are a lot of easy things Yelp can do to minimize it. For example, put "newer" reviewers (those who just registered or have only a few reviews) at the bottom of any sorting algorithm. Or require people to verify their account with a phone number or link it with a Facebook account or whatever. You'd still be able to scam the system, but it at least becomes more burdensome and especially harder to do in large volume.

    I agree it would be difficult to impossible to stop completely without discouraging legitimate reviews.
     
  18. iconoclastic

    iconoclastic Member

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    Uh, Yelp is involved in extortion and bribery business, not the public reviews business. They don't make anywhere enough money from advertising revenue or whatever else they legitimately sell on that site. Why would Yelp want to help make things more transparent? I wouldn't be surprised if the bad reviews actually came directly from Yelp to get more businesses to pay up.
     
  19. YallMean

    YallMean Member

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    ^^^ Agree.

    But ..., still, to me there are two different things here that we should not conflate. One is posting false information on Yelp, and the other is remaining anonymous on Yelp. Libel is libel. I do not think one should be required to disclose his/her identity for making a public speech because it is so against the spirit of founding principles of this country. My humble opinion.
     
  20. JuanValdez

    JuanValdez Contributing Member

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    No, you can respond publicly or privately to a reviewer without giving Yelp anything. I think the source of a lot of discontent is that they have a secret algorithm to filter out 'fake reviews.' My wife's business has had a number of good and genuine reviews filtered out in this way and a bad review or two we believe to be plants to pass. You can't tell how the algorithm works exactly beyond some broad drivers, and it certainly feels from an anecdotal level like the filters work more favorably for companies that advertise with them than those that don't (which of course they deny). So, there are conflicting incentives to (1) advertise with them to get better treatment and (2) not advertise with them to punish a perceived injustice.

    I think there's also a built-in Gen-Y bias in their algorithm because one of the filter's drivers is the posting patterns of reviewers with special treatment for the Yelper Elites. If you are a small business owner with many plugged-in friends who Yelp anyway, it's an easy thing to have them throw a good review your way that will pass censors because that reviewer is otherwise reputed by Yelp. Or the opposite, non-Yelpers who hope to game the system get mad that the censors have weeded their fake review out.

    Or, if your business appeals to many plugged-in customers who Yelp, by sheer volume bad actors will be diluted and your true value will come out, while an unplugged sort of business may have only a handful reviews in which any 1 person can knock a star or two off your rating all by himself. Now, you'd say a reader who sees there's only a couple of reviews would account for that, but my wife's business has about a dozen reviews and we see a signficant impact on click-thrus from half-star changes.

    In all, I appreciate their free speech and I think they should keep it (and keep anonymity too so long as billionaires can make anonymous donations to super-PACs, which is 10 times more stupid and a hundred times more damaging). But, I hate Yelp and I wish bad things for them. I think Yelpers are unfair because they'll assassinate you on the internet before calling management to address their problem (we have yet to have a negative reviewer respond when we reached out to discuss or correct a problem). And, I think Yelp's algorithm is on the one hand imperfect and unfair, and on the the other too easily manipulated at low volume. (We've already told Yelp that we don't like what they do and they declined to change, so it's not hypocritical for me to say so.)


    That sounds a bit menacing because it's China. I really don't expect the US Government to make me disappear in the night because I told everyone the service at Dominoes was terrible.
     
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