Archive for the ‘crowdsourcing’ Tag

Do You Trust Strangers?   Leave a comment

Yelp logo84% of purchasers say their decisions are influenced by online reviews.

84% of purchasers don’t know who they’re listening to.

Yelp is the big company in crowd sourcing … they collect reviews from many, many consumers: the crowd. Most people (84%, apparently) trust that crowd to tell them what restaurants are good, what dentists are friendly, and what retailers deserve their business.

In its best case, having the crowd recommend good restaurants in a strange city is a wonderful thing. Velda introduced me to Yelp in Maui, and it was great. We were in Lihue for the first time, and by listening to the crowd, we were pointed towards some wonderful restaurants, markets, and shows.

However, the crowd is not perfect. As some have observed, Yelp is great for “normal” restaurants, but if your tastes are more esoteric, then you shouldn’t listen to the crowd. Ethnic foods, or spicy foods, have a much more unusual flavor profile … which may not be as easy for the crowd to evaluate.

On the other hand, some people are idiots. Perhaps you’ve noticed? Some members of the great unwashed public have unrealistic views of what service should be … and what they deserve in the marketplace. There have even been cases documented where people have demanded  blackmail from retailers … or they will give them bad reviews. One bad customer – one irresponsible consumer – can mess up a review profile for a small business.

So what’s a retailer to do?

Buy good reviews, of course!  There are companies that guarantee that they will submit positive reviews to Yelp (note that they don’t guarantee that the reviews will actually be posted on the website). Yelp is aware of this … and so they threaten retailers that if they buy reviews, then they will get this warning on their website:

Yelp Alert

That’s a pretty stiff punishment for anyone trying to build their business based on a crowd-sourced review site like Yelp. Who would go to a business that’s known to be a cheater?

But what if Yelp is gaming the system, too? There are stories about the sellers of Yelp advertising telling retailers they can “fix” bad reviews that come up. The other thing that’s known is that the Yelp software accepts some reviews … and ignores others. If it thinks that you might be a fake reviewer, then your review will never see the light of day. But what if you’re really, really a supporter of your local restaurant, and you wrote a 5-star review because you really believe?

If the Yelp algorithm doesn’t like you, then you’re not going to help your favorite retailer. There’s an LA Times article, link below, about this exact problem.

The bottom line is that crowd sourcing is a great thing when it works. When it doesn’t work … it’s not worth much at all.

And THAT is why we sometimes need people other than the crowd to tell us what’s what. Sometimes, an impartial writer is necessary for the rest of us to know what’s true, or what we can trust. Yes, my friends, I’m talking about real, professional journalists. They have a place … and occasionally helping guide their readers is why they get paid the big bucks to write their opinions.

Right, big bucks. Did you see the article about the most hated professions in 2013?  Newspaper journalists came in dead last, at # 200. That would be below lumberjacks.

I’m no journalist, and I’m no lumberjack. I do love Yelp, however. I’m a fan. I write the occasional review.

But I also subscribe to two actual newspapers, and a third electronic edition of a real newspaper, and I read the writing of actual journalists. They have names. They even have bylines and email addresses that I can write to when I choose. That’s good, because there are times that I remember what my Momma told me:

Don’t trust strangers.

And sometimes, anonymous reviews on the internet are very strange, indeed. Don’t you think?


LA Times: When Yelp Rejects Your Reviews

Managing Your Small Business Reputation

Huffington Post Interview With Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman

The Worst Jobs of 2013

Quora: How Reliable Are Yelp Reviews?

Mob Sourcing

Posted April 24, 2013 by henrymowry in Media

Tagged with , , , ,

Gathering Info vs. Reading a Newspaper   2 comments

Information gathering has become a chore.  Who do you believe?  I’m fast drifting towards a simple answer:  no one.  Research shows I’m not alone, as media savvy consumers are seeking more and more sources on more and more platforms.


As the Pew Research Center has reported, 92% of Americans now get their news from multiple platforms.

News ComsumptionOf those that get their news online, 75% get their news from emails forwarded to them, or from social networking sites.  52%, in turn, share that information even more broadly.

McKinsey found that consumers were reaching for as many as 16 different news brands each week.  Brand promiscuity has become the norm, it seems.  It’s not about one or two newspapers and your favorite network news show anymore. (Dear young people: it was that way within your lifetime!)

News is now mobile:  50% of Americans now have a mobile device (smartphone or tablet), and 2/3 of them get news there.  The evidence is also that the more devices a person has, the more sources of news they use.  More means more.

News Consumption by Device

Here’s my problem:  I don’t want more.  I don’t want an aggregator.  I want a curator.

I want a news brand that I can trust to get me the information I’m looking for.  I should be able to influence the kinds of stories I want (no more stories on abortion, gun control or the fiscal cliff part 2, please).

I’ve talked to Michael, my twenty-something news hound and talk radio listener … who has loudly proclaimed his desire to never subscribe to a printed newspaper.  He’s currently getting his news primarily on his smartphone, and he frequently uses crowdsourcing to get it.  He’s got journalists, friends and organizations that he follows on twitter, blog subscriptions, and email feeds from favorite sites.

No printed newspapers.  You won’t find him watching TV news regularly, either.  Old media isn’t part of his world.

I still cling to my daily newspaper, but I’m increasingly seeking email and online sources from a broad range of opinions.  I don’t trust either side of the political debate, so I’m reading some Huffington Post along with some Glenn Beck.  I guess I’m looking for more cringe in my news consumption.

And I’m getting it.  And I regularly cringe reading the LA Times, too.  Did you hear?  They’re not bankrupt anymore.  Too bad they had to fire so many and shrink their product to a shadow of what it was.

Journalism, I mourn for thee.

Google Ad Revenue

Most of Google’s ad revenues are for sponsored search results, not traditional display advertising. Journalists used to be trusted to report the news you wanted to read … now, you have to search for what you want. That’s apparently the only revenue model that’s working, as Google has surpassed ALL AMERICAN PRINT PUBLICATIONS in advertising.


Newspaper Deathwatch

Young People Don’t Read Newspapers

Tablet Owners Consume More News that Non-Owners

European Tabloid Results vs. Traditional Newspapers

Understanding The Participatory News Consumer

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