A couple of review scandals involving product reviews (on Amazon) have been in the news of late. The newest one came to my attention yesterday when David Pogue over at the New York Times uncovered biased reviews for a Carbonite product, written by employees.
In case you were wondering how Yelp protects against fake or biased reviews, I figured I'd mention that since 2006 we've had an automated system designed to protect against untrustworthy reviews, such as those written by an employee, business owner, or perhaps an ex-employee with a bone to pick. Having this system means that certain reviews disappear from (or return to) a business' page from time to time. Our software covers both advertisers and non-advertisers alike so every business is treated exactly the same (contrary to the ludicrous rumors we sometimes hear).
The fact that well established consumer product companies have been caught shilling underscores the importance of our vigilance. We will continue to weed out untrustworthy reviews so that consumers can safely rely on Yelp, but it remains a constant struggle. Your feedback helps a great deal, so please keep it coming!