> The business sued [..] and subpoenaed Yelp to learn the identities of the anonymous reviewers. Yelp repeatedly refused to respond to it, however, leading the trial court to hold Yelp in contempt.
My first thought was, "Gee, that's either lazy or clueless of Yelp!" IANAL; was there a better strategy for Yelp, presuming they wanted to fight user info disclosure at all costs?
When you receive a subpoena that you don't believe is proper, what you are supposed to do is file a motion to quash the subpoena. Ignoring the subpoena is not usually going to go over well.
You can be in favour of a particular result in a court case for reasons of supporting a particular outcome in general, without any need to be biased in favour of any of the participants in particular.
IANAL, don't use Yelp, have never read their agreements, and don't know if this situation could even be construed to be a criminal investigation.
Isn't this a civil investigation?
I seriously doubt the solution in either case is to sue the people leaving the negative reviews.
I've worked in the service industry, and the vast majority of customers are great, but some just want to cause trouble and blame it on the business because they are in a bad mood or something. I really never understood it.
I went to go to a walk in place to get my blood drawn. They took appointments, but the vast majority were walk in patients. There were tons of people there, I could have left and came back, but I wanted to get it over with so I sat down and prepared to wait. There was one employee drawing blood. This other lady came in after me, sat down, then started FLIPPING OUT and making a scene "WHY IS THIS TAKING SO LONG!? THIS PLACE IS TERRIBLE, I AM LEAVING!" and stormed out in a fit after causing some trouble beforehand for a few minutes. It was a true temper tantrum. um I don't know did you see the waiting room? Did you have an appointment? No. Nobody can predict how many people are going to get blood drawn that day. The poor person drawing blood was so flustered trying to answer questions, she was like "I'm sorry, I'm not the fastest." After she left the whole waiting room just looked at each other and was like "what's with her?" Then a bunch of people appoligised to the person drawing blood, because it was out of her hands, and she didn't do anything wrong at all, and she didn't deserve to be treated like that.
Each time I've gone in there since I have been the only one there, and have been in and out in only a few minutes, so that day seemed to be an anomaly.
You would need much more data points to avoid the noise of fake reviews.
"Did you hear about restaurant x?"
"They suck. Don't go there."
If you've only got one friend who's been there, that's all the data you have. At least with Yelp, you can see reviews from people you've never met. The big difference between Yelp and any other form of word-of-mouth advertising is that the business owner can actually see the reviews people are giving to others.
I wonder if the people on yelp ever go to metal shows and wonder why it's so loud.
I'm not saying every negative review is uncalled for, but I can't count the number of times I've heard someone say, "Fine, I'll write about this on Yelp." It's supposed to be a recommendation tool, not a weapon for revenge.
I tend to ignore the negative reviews since 9 times out of 10 the people leaving them have a ridiculous sense of their self-importance.
It's more useful to focus on the positive reviews and if they're telling you the place has what you're looking for.
Man $2.95 in Vancouver that's unheard of! lol.
I'm not sure if this is so much looking for a culinary miracle as looking for something non-toxic.
If I know Bob has unrealistic expectations, I'll take his opinion with a grain of salt. I would only know that because I'm Bob's friend.
If Jane says "They suck. Don't go there." but in more words, I tend to take it at face value and place less significance on any individual review.
Beyond that - Googling the name of the business will almost always show a Yelp link below and will display the star rating within the search results. Bad stars = no business.
Boy that one worked out well.
Watch the whole video if you haven't seen it before.
The best solution is a combination of reviewer reputation and compatibility matching. First, very few people are going to go to the trouble of creating a bunch of valuable reviews just to build up enough karma to be able to smear a particular business.
Then, even if someone were that motivated, if Yelp weighted the reviews I see based on how closely my reviews matched the reviewer's past reviews, standalone smears would have very little impact.
 Yes, I know that sentence should be taken out and shot.
But what if real name was forced, like on facebook or google? There's plenty of precedent now if a judge wanted to declare that as a minimum amount of due diligence.
I can't comment at the Chicago Tribune without telling them who I went to high school with (through facebook comments.)
Facebook doesn't force real names in practice, I know a bunch of people who have Facebook pages under non-real names and a bunch of joke ones, ones for dogs, one for a trash can. Really, Facebook doesn't seem to care to enforce these.
If your real name is Ben Dover or Mike Hunt, or Mike Michaels-Michaelson, then you might have to use a fake name.
Frankly, I'm concerned for small businesses and raise a flag on using reviews as a leading source of authority.
It's a broken system that Yelp (and other intermediaries) should definitely be held accountable for perpetuating.
The issue here is that they claim the reviewers aren't legitimate customers, so the reviews are fake. If this is true, just verifying them would solve the problem without revealing who they are. If they turned out to be fake, then the business should be able to take some action at that point.
Small business owners invest lots of there personal money, time, sweat, and tears and don't need some stupid brat posting some garbage on Yelp because they were not happy with the $25 they spent.
Recently they bought and absorbed Qype, which in the absence of Yelp has been the dominant service in Germany at least. That should give them more of a foothold in Europe.
I'm shocked that a company's website has better reviews than an independent third-party review site. Someone call the lawyers.
Click close again.
Clickity, clickity, click. No dice.
Thank you CNet!
Smart tactic. Get their identity and then go harass them. That'll teach them to leave reviews about services and products they have paid for!
citation: I run a tor exit node.