* Like We Didn’t Already Know!!

Posted on September 25th, 2013 · Music/Events/Other

* Like We Didn’t Already Know!!

Just read this story in “Business Insider”…



Flickr / Robyn Lee

Yelp might have to reconsider its classic slogan, “Real People. Real Reviews.”

Sure, the people might be real, but apparently one-fifth of all the reviews are big, fat phonies.

The number of fake reviews on Yelp rose to 20% in 2013 from only 5% in 2006, according to a new report out of Harvard Business School.

The study, which we found on Market Watch, comes hot on the heels of The New York Attorney General’s bust of 19 companies that specialize in publishing fraudulent online reviews, a process called “astroturfing.”

These companies hire freelancers from places like the Philippines, Bangladesh, and Eastern Europe to write fake reviews for $1 to $10 each, and The Attorney General’s Office slammed them with combined fines of more than $350,000.

But this big reveal just scratched the surface.

“The problem is definitely more widespread than the Attorney General’s investigation,” the new report’s author, Michael Luca, warned Market Watch.

The rush for rave reviews may be growing as more businesses realize the power of Yelp’s 108 million monthly visitors. Boosting a restaurant’s rating on Yelp by even one star can increase its revenues by as much as 9 percent, according to a different study that Luca published in 2011.

So, what’s an honest Yelp user to do?

Pay close attention to the language and source of both one and five-star reviews, as those extremes are more likely to be fake. Also, Yelp tries to weed out professional reviewers by encouraging people to post with their real names, so if you spot an extremely sunny or negative review from a nicknamed user, proceed with caution.

5 Comments to “* Like We Didn’t Already Know!!”

  1. Carl L. says...

    I read YELP and Trip Advisor to get ideas. Just a gut feeling but I think that Trip Advisors’ reviews are much more legit than YELP’s.

  2. Lou Adler says...

    Just curious, how are Jeff Eats “COMMENTS” generated?
    Lou Adler

  3. JeffEats says...

    Lou Adler:

    Just had a chance to read your comments.

    Good question.

    One source of Jeff Eats’ “comments” — numerous readers’ e-mails received at

    Another source of Jeff Eats’ “comments”–are numerous comments that Jeff Eats personally “hears” from people who live in South Florida and elsewhere.

    Thanks for reading…

  4. AFR1982 says...

    Give or take, most of the YELP reviews Ive seen sound pretty legit. Go Figure!

  5. HerbK says...

    Sometimes it is easy to spot the phony comments. I have a big time mold removal site for the New York city area that I use to capture and sell leads to the mold inspection and removal companies up there. I noticed a Yelp listing for a mold removal company on Yelp and it had only 7 comments, all were 5 stars. By clicking on the names of the people making the comments I saw that 5 of the 7 never posted another comment for anything. I think in that case it was more likely family members pitching in. I can hire VAs from the Philippines to do nothing but make all kinds of comments on blogs, forums, and Yelp, for$1.50 an hour. There is even software that posts comments automatically in many cities at once and even spins the content so that it looks unique. The percentage of phony comments is much higher than 20%. Gaming the system is too profitable and too easy for it not to happen.

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