Yelp has--once again--been accused of forcing businesses to pay for better reviews, or else they'll look horrible on their site. This isn't the first time. Sometimes they directly offer to let you pay for good reviews, or to pay for bad reviews to go away. If you refuse, you might find that your good reviews are being filtered to the bottom, or bad reviews are showing up work.
In an online economy of review based businesses, this isn't uncommon. Angie's List is all but bankrupting itself with similar practices. BBB has done it, too. Why are we continually surprised?
While I want some sites to be tailored to fit my needs or likes, I don't appreciate the utter bullshit that is the lies on most online restaurant or hotel review sites. It's just simply not to be believed. Filtering content is one thing; filtering reviews or extorting businesses to change them is another.
In theory, it would seem that Yelp's algorithms hide low effort reviews or reviews from low count accounts. Businesses have their friends go on the site and write review for them but they don't show up and people cry foul. They accuse Yelp of writing false reviews but that got thrown out of court. Reviews can be sorted multiple ways, including by date, meaning even the algorithm based "recommended" reviews can be neutralized by users.
But I just don't see this: you see "recommended" reviews that are from brand new users. You see users with long, thorough reviews that are not on the list. How does that possibly work?
What about you--where do you go for restaurant reviews, and do you trust Yelp?