Yelp: Filter Genius or Flawed System

As many business owners know, hearing feedback from their customers can be a great advantage. Yelp is one of the top sites, where people can review businesses, sharing with the worldwide web their personal experiences. They are able to rate each business they have tried with a ranking system ranging from one to five stars (five being excellent). These reviews can be positive or negative, or a little bit of both; just as long as the review describes the customer’s direct experience with that specific business. The reviews that do not follow these very simple rules, are supposed to be filtered out by Yelp.

This all sounds well and good, but is Yelp’s filtering ability flawed? With recent events earlier this week, the answer to this question seems to be yes. Let me give you an example, Big Apple Pizza has recently made it to the spot light on Yelp when the owner, who is a Republican, gave President Obama a hug. After this event, Big Apple Pizza’s Yelp page has been hammered with reviews. But the majority of these reviews have absolutely nothing to do with pizza, and they still weren’t filtered out. Now correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t Yelp supposed to host reviews about customers’ personal experience with the business, and not a political debate? Last time I checked Big Apple Pizza was not holding a Republican Convention, but instead making New York style Pizza. So this begs the question, why were some of these political reviews not filtered out?

“Heard about what was going on here and decided to leave my own 10 cents. While, I have yet to try your establishment, I will gladly stop by the first opportunity I get.” This is a snippet of a review that was written earlier today. Once again, I will repeat that reviews are set up to EXPLAIN YOUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH A BUSINESS. The second sentence in this review says that he has never tried even this establishment. This should be a red flag, and should be filtered out right away because clearly it does not follow the guidelines of writing reviews.

Now let’s take a look at these three reviews, all of which gave Big Apple Pizza a five star rating:

1, “Never have eaten there but sure it is good…  The nerve some people have to boycott this place because he hugged the president!!!   So what!!!!  Ignorance will not get you anywhere in life…”

2, “I live in Los Angeles and while I haven’t eaten at Big Apple Pizza, Scott made me smile on Sunday. I applaud him for standing up for his beliefs, no matter what they may be, and being true to himself.”

3, “Congratulations America. We have officially become ridiculous. God bless you Scott Van Nuzer. Thanks for showing compassion to your fellow man. The next time I am in Florida, I will make it a point to travel to Fort Pierce.”

Now take a minute and read these three short reviews and ask yourself, are these legitimate reviews? If the answer is yes, you just wasted your time reading this blog, and have no idea how to write a review. All three of these reviews have absolutely nothing to do with eating at Big Apple Pizza. All three of these people have never even eaten at this place and yet their reviews are not filtered out. Why is that, you ask…because Yelp’s filtering ability is without a doubt flawed. The reviews that were not filtered out, including the three above, all gave Big Apple Pizza a four or five star rating.

Reviews are supposed to give customers the opportunity to voice their opinions and personal experiences with a particular business. It gives the chance for potential customers to read the pros and cons written by past customers about a certain business. But clearly with the whole Big Apple Pizza debacle, some of the reviews on Yelp are just unreliable. Yelp needs to do something to improve filtering out irrelevant reviews, whether they have a positive or a negative rating. Reviews are a great way for customers to voice their opinions and for business owners to make changes and accommodations to improve their customers’ experience. But until Yelp improves their filtering ability, reviews will become irrelevant and pointless.

-Joseph Giorgianni

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