Most of the time, the internet is a convenient place to find information quickly, but is this information vetted? Back in the 90’s a common saying was “Don’t believe anything you read on the Internet.” But times, and how people use the Internet, have changed. Now more than ever, reviews of businesses can be the deciding factor if a shopper decides to use a service, and reviewing websites can be helpful. But a common site called Yelp has come under fire for how they use this power. Some would say, it can be compared to extortion or worse, a protection racket. Forbes contributor Jim Handy goes on to explain:

Many of us rely on Yelp for advice on restaurants, dry cleaners, retailers, handymen, gardeners, and so on under the assumption that it is a democratic site that supports all comments, good and bad, without bias. Nothing could be further from the truth. I found yesterday that Yelp filters result according to certain arcane rules that are not even disclosed to the reviewers who donate their time and efforts to the website’s benefit. When a business patron writes a review it may or may not remain on the Yelp site according to these rules. There’s no real way of knowing what will stick and what won’t…When I notified County Process Service that I had posted a good review (my first on Yelp), they replied: “We’ll see if yelp filters the review. All of our good reviews get filtered. I’m not sure why yelp thinks our good reviews are fraudulent. “When I checked a week later, Lo and Behold! My review had been removed. Did Yelp tell me about it? Not one word! My wife, a Realtor, had a similar experience: “They seem to be wary of first-time reviewers. If your first review is negative then they let you post other reviews, but if your first review is positive then they remove it. The same goes if all your reviews are positive.” She went on: “I called Yelp after a business associate posted a positive review about me which was later removed. They hinted that if I advertised on Yelp this may not have occurred. “But to put things into simple language, don’t believe Yelp reviews. Who knows how many of them have been deleted or obscured according to some secret policy?  Would Yelp be a prudent investment?  It appears that the company is in a position that could well be undermined by a competitor with a more honest approach.

Caveat Emptor – buyer beware, especially with the review you may be using to base your decision off of.