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I did not know that Yelp removes reviews it does not alike. Yesterday I wrote about a hotel in New York, the Union Street Guest House, and its disastrous policy about fining its own customers $500 if the customer posted a negative review online anywhere.

Of course, this went viral, and by the end of the day, 900 people had posted their feelings on Yelp, most of them were 1-star reviews, and a number of them were 5-star reviews as jokes. I also posted a comment, basically blasting the hotel for their terrible social media policy and reminding them that if they wanted to get positive reviews, they should provide excellent service.

This morning I received this mail from Yelp:

Hi,

We’re contacting you about your review of Union Street Guest House. Though we understand this business has recently received media attention and that users may have strong opinions, your reviews should be focused on your own everyday customer experience with a business. While you are welcome to post your comments on Yelp Talk, please note that at this time we will be removing any repostings from you to this business listing.

Please visit our Content Guidelines for more information (www.yelp.com/guidelines). We hope you’ll help us keep Yelp fun and useful for everyone!

Regards,
Clarence
Yelp User Support
San Francisco, California

Yelp Official Blog | http://officialblog.yelp.com
Yelp Frequently Asked Questions | http://www.yelp.com/faq
Yelp for Business Owners | https://biz.yelp.com

I did not know that Yelp removes reviews it does not like.  I checked this morning, and there are less than 100 reviews on Yelp, but the adverse ones are building up again, same as yesterday. People are pissed.

Yelp has just sunk in my estimation by quite a few notches. I don’t think Yelp should be censoring reviews. As a review site, they should let the market drive the ratings, not some censor.

If the Union Street Guest House wants business, it should clean up its act, treat its customers special, and the positive reviews will start rolling in.

With all the controversy, I am almost tempted to book myself there for a day and see what the hubbub is all about. I have a visit to the Catskill area planned to go to some art museums in the next month or so. Do I dare?

But then – I won’t be able to write an honest review if it’s adverse, for fear of losing $500 and being banished by Yelp.

What should I do?

 

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I love reviews, both reading and writing them. But there is a dark side.

I review every book I read and every movie I watch. You can check my ratings key page for details. I try to be clear, but I know I am subjective. I have watched 4-star movies and didn’t like them, and stated that. I have read classic novels and I didn’t like them.

Before I buy any book, I read the Amazon reviews. There are always many 5-star reviews, some in the middle,  and there are some 1-star reviews. And here is the dark side: No matter how good the author, there are always 1-star reviews that blast the book. I could be looking for a sequel to a series written by one of my favorite writers, and there will be 1-star reviews. And I let myself be persuaded not to buy the book.

It’s the same with restaurants while on business trips. I am not one to splurge during business trips. I am fine with a good food-court meal at the local mall to end a work day on the road. Every now and then, however, I need something decent. So I check the local restaurants on Google Maps and then check the Yelp reviews.

For every excellent review, there are some 1-stars that blast the chef, the food, the prices or the staff. Yelp can really ruin dinner choices. After half and hour of searching the map, hungry in a hotel room, reading Yelp reviews, I have ended up many times with no place to go to eat.

Reviews are great, but the 1-stars that invariably show up represent the Dark Side of Reviews.

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