Consumers are depending on reviews more and more.
Small businesses are feeling pressure from Yelp to advertise and read a lot of sinister dealings into their filtering algorithm.
Who To Believe, and The Actual Truth—as it has been since the first Neanderthal sat in the center of two angry cavemen and tried to determine which one deserved the choicest cuts of the caribou carcass—isn’t easy to figure out.
Yelp needs to keep its reviews unbiased, unsolicited, and untampered with.
Small businesses need to feel they’re being treated fairly, and many currently feel they are being punished by not paying to play.
In the end, maintaining consumer trust in any review site—whether it’s Yelp or Urbanspoon or Angie’s List or whatever—is crucial or people will stop using it. So the Yelp sting operation (I’ll be honest, I do love the idea of a sting operation) will probably bolster user’s confidence.
But you know the stories in this New York Times article are all told by those receiving Badges of Shame with an air of indignation.