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20% of all Yelp reviews are written by paid shills

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20% of all Yelp reviews are written by paid shills

Postby john_titor » Thu Sep 26, 2013 8:49 pm

I use Yelp a lot when I go to a new town. Yelp seems to have a lot more reviews for places on the Coasts versus here. Do you trust Yelp? What's up with the local Yelp guy on NBC15? What about Urban Spoon? Who do you use? So many questions.

20% of all Yelp reviews are written by paid shills

How many of the Yelp reviews you read would you guess are forged by the companies being reviewed? MarketWatch reports that 20% of Yelp reviews are fraudulent, typically written by freelance writers from the Philippines, Bangladesh and Eastern Europe who receive between $1-10 for each review. New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman eventually stepped in with “Operation Clear Turf,” a year-long investigation that is culminating in an agreement with 19 companies to stop their practice of forging reviews. The companies will also have to pay more than $350,000 in fines for astroturfing and false advertising.

http://bgr.com/2013/09/25/fake-yelp-reviews/
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Re: 20% of all Yelp reviews are written by paid shills

Postby bdog » Thu Sep 26, 2013 9:30 pm

The negative reviews carry more weight with me, but I take them with a grain of salt.
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Re: 20% of all Yelp reviews are written by paid shills

Postby rabble » Fri Sep 27, 2013 9:17 am

Not just yelp. Amazon, and anything with a rating in it.

They'll probably start training the shills better one of these days but it's usually pretty easy to tell the fake from the real. The fake ones never seem to find fault with anything, or if they do it's like, "I got a red one when I wanted blue but everything else was absolutely perfect!"
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Re: 20% of all Yelp reviews are written by paid shills

Postby Stebben84 » Fri Sep 27, 2013 9:25 am

john_titor wrote:Do you trust Yelp?


No. Online reviews are as bad as the Youtube comments section in my opinion. If I go to a new town, I'll first see if I know anyone who's been there and get their opinion. Zagat and other published reviews carry more weight for me if I need further advice. If all else fails, I'd rather gamble and walk into a place I don't know then rely on some dipshits comments on the interwebs.
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Re: 20% of all Yelp reviews are written by paid shills

Postby snoqueen » Fri Sep 27, 2013 10:03 am

I ask 3-D people first. I completely distrust the online stuff. Who are these commenters? If I met them in person, they might be total idiots, fourteen-year-olds, disgruntled employees, people who are only interested in bright shiny objects, people who were coaxed to write positive reviews by the business in question, or otherwise worthless as guides or advisors.
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Re: 20% of all Yelp reviews are written by paid shills

Postby Kenneth Burns » Fri Sep 27, 2013 11:19 am

I assume someone was paid to write the Yelp review of Isthmus that says I'm consistently lousy.
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Re: 20% of all Yelp reviews are written by paid shills

Postby Galoot » Fri Sep 27, 2013 12:39 pm

Slightly off-topic, but still about online reviews...

At the website for International Schools Review, for a small subscription ($29 per year) international teachers can read reviews of the hundreds of international schools around the world. It's a moderately useful site, though it gives the impression that most of the schools are run by tyrants who are only in it for the $$$.

And as one might expect, when a really horrible review is posted, the school admin threatens the website owners with defamation and libel lawsuits if they don't remove the poor review. The website owners usual response is to post a copy of the letter from the school owners as the next review of the school.

So some owners try another tactic, and post reviews in horrible English, praising the school and the best international school in that country, if not in the whole world. They are so over-the-top it is actually rather funny.
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Re: 20% of all Yelp reviews are written by paid shills

Postby LindsayNicole » Tue Oct 01, 2013 1:11 pm

I've used Yelp to get ideas in small/underserved towns, but I'm skeptical.

I'm especially suspicious of Yelp events that appear to encourage restaurant owners to shmooze groups of "high profile" Yelpers -- it feels like buying a positive review.

I'm most likely to trust a restaurant critic whose work I admire, a food-aware friend or a Chowhound. The 'hounds have steered me right in a half dozen cities or more.
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Re: 20% of all Yelp reviews are written by paid shills

Postby massimo » Wed Oct 02, 2013 9:15 pm

What isn't clear to me is WHO is paying for these? Is that hole-in-the-wall taqueria paying someone to write a glowing review? No. Would a place like Forequarter (just as an example), likely staffed by smarty pantses, need to pay $10 for content that is much better faked by someone who actually knows the menu and space than someone in Bangalore? Chilis? People know what Chilis is like (and if you don't, it's like shit).

Ok, from TFA:

In this example, a nightclub in New York City was looking for people to post the reviews "without getting flagged":

Need Review Posters for Yelp, Citysearch, Google

Hello…We need someone to post 1-2 reviews daily on sites like: Yelp, Google reviews, Citysearch and any other similar sites. We will supply the text/review. You must be able to post these without getting flagged. This will be a long term assignment that will last at least 3 months. You are bidding per week. We are offering $1.00 dollar for every post. Thank you


A dollar?! That's two hundred bucks for 3 months of work. I guess, were I a business owner, I could see paying for that.
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Re: 20% of all Yelp reviews are written by paid shills

Postby gargantua » Wed Oct 02, 2013 9:27 pm

Imagine how poor you would have to be to accept that deal.

To the point, I have never, ever, read a Yelp review. Even if you discount the paid reviews, most people who are likely to review had a bad experience and are using the review as the only way to get back at the business.

That's why I discount super-negative and super-glowing reviews on sites like Tripadvisor. The preponderance of evidence will lead you to the truth, not the outliers.
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Re: 20% of all Yelp reviews are written by paid shills

Postby john_titor » Wed Oct 16, 2013 7:36 pm

Do you trust the reviews submitted here? Outside of the obvious? (I have a theory on that; it is not so much the owners coming here to pimp, more well meaning friends with good intentions.)
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Re: 20% of all Yelp reviews are written by paid shills

Postby rabble » Wed Oct 16, 2013 7:52 pm

gargantua wrote:To the point, I have never, ever, read a Yelp review. Even if you discount the paid reviews, most people who are likely to review had a bad experience and are using the review as the only way to get back at the business.

That's why I discount super-negative and super-glowing reviews on sites like Tripadvisor. The preponderance of evidence will lead you to the truth, not the outliers.

When I'm checking out a specific business, Yelp manages to jump to the top of google's list pretty consistently so I've used it several times to research.

To me, in just about any review-type website, the fake reviews seem to almost jump off the page. Some are better than others but it seems to be impossible to duplicate the style and language of a real review if you're trying to spread disinformation. Most fake reviewers can't bring themselves to say anything more negative than "I wanted a blue one and I got green. But otherwise it was PERFECT!"

If there are no glowing reviews at all, I worry a bit but otherwise ignore them. Likewise the super angry bitchy whiny ones. There have always been at least a few objective well worded ones that seemed realistic.
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