At some point in our internet browsing, we are becoming familiar with ratings and reviews from a variety of sites like yelp, patch, Google and many others. If one has a business, one will have to confront negative reviews by vandals and others who do not care to smear one’s good name for their desire to let off steam. The worst of these offenders are anonymous posters and sites that encourage bad behavior. Many sites disclaim the content authored by its members. While I agree with this in theory, in reality it turns out to be a very different experience. This website gets all manner of comments whose links go to some magical pill that cures all ills, pornography, and advertisements. I filter these out. To a certain degree it makes the site a little more boring, but it makes it much more reliable. In other words, I monitor the site, and while I’m not responsible for what people comment I try to make sure that people stay on topic and not go overboard with their comments. This is not the case with sites like yelp and patch. While it may seem like claiming one’s online business listing is important, one must beware the cost. For example, editing one’s business information should be readily given to you (if you are the owner) as well as the ability to delete the listing. Not so with yelp and patch. These sites allow vandalism with little or no recourse for the business owner. Worse, businesses like yelp, may offer you a fee to “help” the negative reviews go away through some “proprietary” algorithm. Many claim that yelp extorts money from business owners by manipulating the reviews. If you don’t pay, the negative reviews will gain priority over positive reviews, and many positive reviews will suddenly disappear. A blogger I wish I had been able to credit put it succinctly; “Nice business you got here…shame if something happened to it…” So where does this leave us as business owners? These sites aren’t going away just yet, but they can still leave a lot of damage. I would recommend some type of reputation building service to help with vandalism. There is some advice I got which may be of some help. It’s such a good source of information that I’m going to link to the site.
While the lawyer seems to focus on California some of the information is applicable to anyone anywhere.