Yelp is a grassroots-driven business review website that has exploded in popularity in the last few years. That popularity has come with a fair share of troubles, from a lawsuit against a reviewer to shrill cries of extortion by businesses. In fact, Yelp has established a Myths page to dispel some of these misconceptions. However, the truth remains that Yelp is a very powerful guide for tourists and locals alike to find great restaurants and business wherever they might be. And soon, businesses might be able to have a public voice on the site for the first time.
Since the beginning, Yelp was built for the consumer to use and contribute to. Although Yelp staff are encouraged to review businesses as often as they can, the bulk of reviews in the database come from regular people who wish to share their experiences with others. That's great for you and me, but businesses have complained loudly that - especially in areas like San Francisco where Yelp is a big force - a few customers could potentially drive them out of business with a few very negative reviews.
USA Today and AriWriter, to address this perceived injustice, Yelp has been discussing the option to let businesses have a say on the public review page. Up until now, the best a business could do is privately mail the individuals posting the bad reviews and hopefully get the reviewer to change their mind enough to update their review. With the new process, a business can, after being authorized as the listed business in question, register a follow-up comment on a negative (or positive) review.According to
All we have today to look at is a screenshot (link to a larger version here) of what this might look like in an upcoming version of Yelp. Yelp will have to tread carefully with this as its user base, although fiercely loyal and protective of the service, is also usually very pro-consumer as well, and any move that looks like a concession or sellout to business interests might end up being harmful to its image down the road.