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October 03, 2011

Just Another Reason Why We Have a Review Filter

We’ve talked about our Review Filter at length on this blog, in addition to many references throughout Yelp.com, so we won’t go into further detail here. That said, an article came out recently in Bloomberg Businessweek -- A Lie Detector Test for Online Reviewers -- that we thought was a compelling example of why we have a Review Filter at Yelp.

The article starts:

“In February, the owner of a home improvement company in Texas posted an advertisement online for “a writer who can write and post 25 positive reviews” on eight popular websites, including Yelp, Google Places, and Citysearch. A man in Chittagong, Bangladesh, won the gig and agreed to do 200 fake write-ups for $100. Within days, rave reviews for the company started popping up online. The business owner, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, says he doesn’t feel bad about the deception. He says clients call all the time extolling his service, but they don’t post reviews.”

It concludes:

“Yelp runs its reviews through an anti-fraud filter, with impressive results; every fake review the Texan bought was flagged by Yelp’s algorithms, though his fraudulent reviews remain up on the seven other sites.”

We understand our Review Filter sometimes raises questions and even causes frustration, but it is important to keep in mind examples like the above to understand why we need it. The Filter is not perfect and some legitimate content can sometimes get caught, but we accept these high costs because we know the infinitely higher cost would be to not have an algorithm in place at all. And if people can’t trust the content, then Yelp is of no benefit to anyone -- consumers and businesses, alike.