When it comes to the Yelp empire, the San Francisco site is undoubtedly its crown jewel. There's no disputing that Yelp has plenty of positives; in fact, there's nothing else really like it. Regardless, a lot of people have some issues with Yelp. We're among the ranks that believe there's more than meets the eye with the Yelp world. Hence, Yelp Wanted. Enjoy the show as we pull back the curtain in this on-going Eater investigation. As always, feel free to share your thoughts.
One of the many features of Yelp is a little thing called Yelp Lists. In a nutshell, members have the option of creating lists of basically anything they want, be it a list of the Best Polish Restaurants with Cats or Places to Get Drunk. Users can't search for lists per se (as far as we can tell), so the logic is to find a Yelper you trust, read their lists and act accordingly. It's basically a way to find recommendations from the most respected Yelpers.
And who's more respected amongst those Yelp folk than their CEO/headman/leader Jeremy Stoppelman? Interestingly enough, nearly all of Jeremy's lists include and promote Yelp sponsors. This "advertorial" line-blurring would seem to be pretty unfair to both users and restaurants without sponsorships. What follows is a sampling of what would seem to be a glaring conflict of interest (Yelp sponsors in bold):
SF Date Restaurants: 1) Myth, 2) Salt House, 3) Maverick
SOMA For Dummies: 1) Salt House, 2) Oola, 3) Ozumo
Late Night Eats: 1) Oola, 2) Absinthe, 3) Cafe Maritime
Hot Russian (Hill): 1) Luella, 2) 1550 Hyde Cafe & Wine Bar, 3) Zarzuela
Hole in the walls: 1) El Metate, 2) Truly Mediterranean, 3) Submarine Center
Brunch: 1) Maverick, 2) Crossroads Cafe, 3) Universal Cafe
Please note that these are just the top three restaurants for some of Jeremy's lists. As far as we can tell, only the sushi list is sponsor-free on the top. We don't doubt that some of these restaurants may be Jeremy's favorites, but c'mon, at the very least, let's have some full disclosure. Perhaps a little star—that cute little Yelp asterisk, for example—next to which restaurants on the lists are sponsors? Lest someone think that restaurants can buy extra special treatment on Yelp.
· Jeremy S's Profile - Lists [Yelp]
· Yelp Wanted: Oakland Cafe Bans Yelpers
· Yelp Wanted: On the Issue of Pre-Opening Reviews [~ESF~]
· Yelp Wanted: Yelp Nation Responds ... Boy, Does It Ever. [~ESF~]
· Yelp Wanted: The Curious Case of the Magically-Appearing Five-Star Review [~ESF~]
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