I ran across this interesting post at The Consumerist last week. It piqued my interest for a few reasons. First of all, I’ve never liked Yelp. I have friends who swear by it, but I am highly suspicious of ANY website providing consumer reviews. It’s difficult to determine if reviewers have the same expectations and needs, and then there’s the simple fact that, on the whole, people tend to leave reviews when they are 1) very satisfied or 2) very disappointed with a product or service.
If claims of review extortion turn out to be not only true, but widespread and part of Yelp’s ethos, I’ll be very disappointed, but not surprised.
So, how does one research products, hotels, restaurants or services? Is it possible to find un-biased reviews?
In a word, no. Of course not. Everyone has a bias. Personally, I try to combat this by spreading out my research. I might take a look at TripAdvisor when researching a hotel, but I take those reviews with a grain of salt. I make a habit of hopping online and bookmarking sites for hotels, restaurants and products I see reviewed in magazines. Ditto with blogs. Angie’s List is a good resource, as is The Consumerist, where I generally type in a key word and check out posts/comments.
What about you? How do you researching products and services online? Do you trust reviews on sites like Yelp?