Got Bashed on Yelp? Now There's Help

For small businesses who have felt the sting of criticism on Yelp, there will now be some recourse. According to a report in The New York Times, beginning next week the website—whose users post reviews of local businesses—will let small-business owners publicly respond. This is a big change for the site, which previously did not allow businesses significant access to its pages.

“Business owners for years now have been asking for more and more voice on the site,” Geoff Donaker, Yelp’s chief operating officer, told The Times. “As long as it’s done in a respectable way, it’s good for the consumer and good for the business owner.”

Yelp has angered some small businesses because it has not allowed them to respond to reviews, as TripAdvisor and other review sites do. Yelp’s co-founder and chief executive, Jeremy Stoppelman, has said that to protect the voice of the consumer, the voices of businesses, many of which advertise on the site, had to be muted.

With the change in policy, Yelp requests that business owners use the public comments to correct inaccuracies, provide their side of a story or explain how they have fixed a problem. They are not supposed to use comments to advertise or make personal attacks. Yelp will not screen comments before they are published, but users will be able to flag inappropriate comments for review by Yelp’s customer service team.

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