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A Conversation with Yelp's Jeremy Stoppelman

Kim Hart

Jeremy Stoppelman, co-founder and CEO of Yelp, was in town today for a few quick meetings. So I had the chance to grab a bite to eat with him before he jetted back to San Francisco.

What's new in Yelp's world? Well, besides a swanky new office in New York opening soon, Yelp's moving into the Miami and Houston markets. The local-review site is working on a iPhone application that leverages GPS-capabilities -- that means you'll be able to find reviews of businesses near you, wherever you are, without having to enter your zip code or type your location (which isn't always the easiest thing to do on a cellphone). Stoppelman said he's not quite sure when the application will be available, and Yelp will decide from there whether to make similar applications for other handsets and wireless carriers. And, like a lot of people in the mobile industry, he's waiting to see how Google's Android service pans out.

The latest to-do for Yelp was over business owners giving other businesses rave reviews to combat some negative consumer reviews they felt were unjustified. Yelp took the reviews down, causing some of the owners to get testy. Stoppelman said he made the call to yank the ranking because it went against the nature of Yelp -- it's supposed to let real people speak their minds, rather than business owners slapping each other on the back, he said.

While he was in town, he even found time to review a few local establishments near his childhood home of Great Falls. Check out his latest picks here.

By Kim Hart  |  July 8, 2008; 2:24 PM ET  | Category:  Kim Hart
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Yelp's been criticized for sanitizing reviewers, which is a real shame because the site is great. The balance between user generated content and editorial control is a tough one.

The Brownbook (www.brownbook.net) just launched in USA (27million businesses listed worldwide) and its taking a different approach, being totally open for consumers and businesses to say what they like, no sanitizing.

If you own a business that's getting reviewed on local review webistes - or if you own one of these sites - I think you have to credit humans with a little more intelligence and allow them to exercise a human judgment on reviews shown, if a business has ridiculously flattering reviews from EVERYONE it gets pretty suspect. It seems that technology companies always try to 'program' for every problem, forgetting that us human users can actually make a judgment.

What happens in the real world? Your plumber always recommends his mate the electrician, and he always recommends his mate the carpenter - that's real life. We humans listen to others' opinions but we don't just blindly follow them do we? So why is there a need to sanitize reviews on local review websites? I don't believe there is.

Posted by: Dave Ingram | July 9, 2008 12:11 PM

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