Yelp’s Troubles: Keep the User-Reviews Community Strong

According to recent news reports, user-reviews site Yelp has been served with lawsuits by businesses accusing the company of extorting advertising dollars in exchange for the suppression or removal of negative reviews. As a result, Yelp, historically known for its vigilance in upholding the purity of user reviews, has had to own up to the fact that some of its business practices leave everyone wondering whether the company has a double standard when it comes to keeping things above board.

True or not, the allegations are troublesome because they cast a shadow over the larger online community of people helping other people, which is what this industry is all about at the end of the day. At Judy’s Book, we sincerely hope that these allegations are false and that Yelp will be able to sort everything out before further damage is done to the online community that we’re all part of.

In the meantime, we want to reassure the Judy’s Book community of reviewers and business partners that Judy’s Book has never, nor will ever, use negative reviews to pressure businesses into advertising with us. In fact, we have been known to turn down advertising dollars if businesses refused to accept the fact that we only remove negative reviews if they clearly violate our terms of use. We realize that unless user-generated reviews remain unsullied by external influences, the recommendations swapped by people in our community will be called into question, eroding the honesty and trust that are the foundation of this business.

That’s why we like to keep things simple and straightforward at Judy’s Book. Reviews are strictly for shopper benefit here – never used as tools to get money from businesses. While we encourage businesses to leverage our marketing packages in order to enhance their profiles, business owners cannot edit or otherwise influence shopper reviews.  They can, however, engage in the conversations about their business by posting public responses to reviews via our team of representatives. That way, everything that’s said about or by them is available for anyone to see.

What we’ve seen is that these simple practices nurture a thriving online community of people swapping recommendations about local businesses.  That’s how it should be, and we want it to stay that way, not just for Judy’s Book but the entire online community of shoppers. User-review sites wouldn’t exist without honest people making honest recommendations, free from influence by advertising dollars. We’re going to keep fostering that in the Judy’s Book community and hope that it will continue to be upheld in other online communities. Thanks for being part of ours.

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