In short – not really reliable.
I was not really surprised to see this news piece (Yelp and the Business of Extortion 2.0), but it raises a thought about the quality of the information we’re getting from the Internet.
It is not a secret that many internet companies providing us with information for free do earn some money somehow. The “how” is by placing advertisements. And the road between just placing marked “sponsored links” or “vendor responses” in the links and just changing the reviews’ content or just hiding unpleasant reviews is very short.
I’ve written about my bad experience with NewEgg recently. And while I was refunded all my money for the bad product, my review submitted to NewEgg – never appeared in the product reviews, and my “1 egg” rating was not reflected on the otherwise almost perfect product rating for the faulty product.
So Yelp is definitely not alone in trying to screen and filter out information that would harm the advertisers, even when it is supposed to be unbiased. Next time when you look at reviews and ratings on various sites – you should also check independent blogs and reviews not affected by the advertisers’.
Be careful, and enjoy your shopping nevertheless
Your Little Advisor