Hiding certain reviews has always been a slippery slope for Yelp. The stated goal is to remove fake reviews from their ranking system but of course people want to look behind the curtain at how these reviews are selected. The inherent conflict of interest in selling advertising to these businesses is a legitimate concern.
Instead of focusing on reviews & ratings, CityGusto has created specific ‘Best Of’ Lists for neighborhoods across Greater Boston that are determined entirely by year-round user voting. As a company that hopes to become an alternative to Yelp & other review sites, we don’t pretend to know whether these FTC complaints are warranted but do know the steps we're taking to avoid a similar problem.
1) Business Model
CityGusto decided early in our development to avoid an advertising based model. Not only did we feel ad clutter results in a less enjoyable user experience, but we were also mindful of early complaints about Yelp’s advertising model – a problem we hoped to avoid. Instead, we focused all of our attention on creating a simple, yet powerful restaurant & event discovery platform.
Only recently did we begin looking for ways to build revenue generating products that add value for both restaurant owners and their guests. Our first such creation, a sensational new Wait List product that was recently approved for both iPhone & iPad, is set to be released next week. Not only will it eliminate the need for annoying pagers by sending a text message when your table is ready, but it also allows anyone with a smartphone to track their place in the queue throughout their wait, send and receive messages, view menus & nightly specials and much more.
On a site like Yelp or CityGusto, there will always be questionable posts by people with ulterior motives (owners and competitors) but we felt trying to find and hide these opinions was the wrong solution. Instead of hiding what we think might be inferior content, we decided to highlight what we know is superior content. A friend’s opinion or recommendation will always trump that of a stranger and this couldn't be truer when it comes to restaurants. That’s why ‘Personal’ makes it easy to see the votes and reviews of your Facebook friends and people you follow across our site.
For many people, relying solely on the online recommendations of friends would result in some pretty limited dining options. In order to expand that ‘circle of trust’, CityGusto also highlights the opinions of food bloggers and people we have identified as location Experts. Location Experts are regular users who seem to best know that particular neighborhood based on previous activity. By identifying the opinions of bloggers and experts, we hope to reduce the feeling of uncertainly that exists when taking advice from a stranger.
CityGusto is focused on making it easier for people to enjoy their city. Check us out today.