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Yelp is an online local business directory service and review site that earns a majority of its revenue from local business advertising.
Yelp was founded in October of 2004 by Max Levchin, Jeremy Stoppelman and Russel Simmons. In February of 2005, the site was relaunched with a focus on unsolicited review writing. That year, Yelp launched the "Yelp Elite" category to reward super users on the site, who received invites to special Yelp events. By 2006, over 100,000 reviewers had joined the site. By February of 2008, Yelp was active in 24 major cities. In January of 2010, the venture capital firm Elevation Partners invested $100 million to increase Yelp's sales staff. On September 16th, 2011, the Harvard Business School published a paper studying Yelp's effect on restaurants, which found that positive Yelp reviews lead to an increase in revenue for small, independent establishments, while chain restaurants seem to have suffered as Yelp grew in significance.
Yelp allows users who have created an account to rate and review business listings on the site. Suspicious reviews are filtered by an automated algorithm to prevent manipulation of the system. The local search feature allows users to find listings for keywords in a specified area, which can be filtered by price, distance, category and neighborhood. With moderator approval, users and business owners can update listings with up-to-date information. Community features include a reputation system, direct messaging and a web forum.
The fairness of Yelp's review system has been called into question several times over the years, with many suggesting that friends and competitors of local businesses can attempt to skew ratings. In February of 2009, the Oakland, California publication East Bay Press published an article reporting that local businesses claimed Yelp offered to hide negative reviews if they payed for advertising. On November 3rd, 2009, a San Francisco bookstore owner confronted a Yelp user at his home who had given the store a poor review. The owner was subsequently arrested and given a restraining order. In March of 2010, a group of small businesses filed class action lawsuits against Yelp for "extortion and fraudulent business practices." On September 4th, 2012, Redditor cstaerns86 submitted a post to the /r/food subreddit, which claimed that Yelp had dropped his sister's restaurant rating by filtering most of the positive reviews after she declined to pay for the site's advertising fees. Prior to being archived, the post gained upwards of 3,200 up votes and 720 comments. On April 16th, 2013, the political news blog Daily Kos published an article reporting that Yelp was extorting small businesses by filtering positive reviews
Yelp Bombing is when users choose a business or entity on Yelp and leave false or exaggerated reviews. Often, this action is performed as a response to a political statement or opinion held by the business or its employees, and it's usually spontaneous, as opposed to being organized by a political leader or group.
Amy's Baking Company
The Amy’s Baking Company PR Scandal was an online feud that erupted between a restaurant owner in Arizona, United States and members of Reddit over an episode of Fox reality show Kitchen Nightmares aired in May 2013. The scandal was partly ignited when the restaurant began receiving poor reviews on Yelp as early as August of 2010.
Yelp Bombings Related to Religious Freedom Acts in Indiana and Arkansas
Indiana and Arkansas Religious Freedom Restoration Acts are two bills passed in March 2015 by the state legislatures of Arkansas and Indiana. The bills are controversial due to the fact that they allow businesses and individuals to assert that their religion is a defense in discrimination lawsuits, exempting them from federal non-discrimination laws.
March 31st, 2015, the owners of Walkerton, Indiana pizzeria Memories Pizza told local TV station WBND that, based on their Christian beliefs, "If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide them pizzas for a wedding, we would have to say no." Many national news publications, including TMZ, picked up the story as being the first instance of an Indiana business refusing to serve customers.
Soon thereafter, Memories Pizza's Yelp page was flooded with over 300 reviews both for and against the decisions of the owners.
Similarly, on April 14th, 2015, Brian Klawiter, the owner of Dieseltec Auto Shop in Grandville, MI created a Facebook post proclaiming, among other things, that guns were allowed in the shop and that gays would not be served.
Although Dieseltec is located in Michigan, users online still began to post on the business's Yelp page in a similar fashion to Memories Pizza. Many users posted humorous reviews of the shop that insinuated that the work done on their vehicles was homosexual in nature.
As of April 17th, 2015, most of the postings had been removed by Yelp.
Gary’s Chicaros restaurant
On February 6th, 2014, Gary James, owner of Gary's Chicaros restaurant in Enid, Oklahoma, was featured on the news after reports surfaced that he refused to serve African Americans, Hispanics, people with disabilities, and gays.
Soon after, the business' Facebook page was hacked and changed to say that it was a gay bar. Users then began to review the business on Yelp sarcastically, lauding it for it's wonderful gay bar atmosphere and congratulating the owner for being so accepting and interested in gay lifestyle and sexuality. Users left hundreds of comments, most of which were deleted by Yelp soon after.
Parody Reviews and Listings
On May 27th, 2011, Redditor msd2099 submitted a link to the Booty Trap strip club Yelp page to the /r/funny subreddit, calling attention to a satirical 5-star review by Yelper Orlando D. (shown below). Prior to being archived, the post gained more than 1,700 up votes and 150 comments.
I like to get my dick wet as much as the next guy, probably even more so. However, where the next guy and I differ are in our love of strip clubs. The general sentiment in the male community is "bro, tits and shit, strip clubs are money!"
First off, I would never speak that way, because I'm not a douche and I don't write "reading is for losers" in my Facebook profile under "interests." Second, I love boobs and butts, but the strip joint environment is teeming with daddy issues and shattered dreams. Make no mistake, I still get a boner, but it's a boner of shame. Your dick is behaving the same way a regular person behaves at Wal Mart; you're trying to keep a low profile, but you can't resist a $2 10-pack of undershirts. Erection is all, "ugh, I don't want to BE here right now, but damn it, titties."
I've been to a few strip clubs, usually because one of the guys has never been and wants to experience it, and no amount of me saying "I know you, you're not going to like it" is enough to talk them out of it. The premise sounds fantastic, yet in practice it's a clusterfuck. Let me explain.
I went to BT with two of my closest friends, one of which had just broken up with his girlfriend, the other had never been to a titty bar. It was the newbie's idea. We show up and immediately you're given a taste of the racketeering that goes on in there. The girl that's charging you a cover to get in starts coercing you into tipping her. You know the rules, you wanna see some fucking chesticles before you give her any green, but the powerbitch knows how to intimidate. She subtly motions toward the former XFL linebacker in a black suit in charge of deflating the nut sacks of anyone who gets a little too rowdy, and suddenly you realize the employees in this place have ALL the power.
Once inside, you're told about the drink minimum, and you awkwardly sit down and watch the girl on stage. The girls are a varied bunch. Sometimes you'll see a veteran with a glazed look in her eyes like she's wondering where her life went wrong. Other times you'll get the nubile thing with way too much enthusiasm – more on her later. After you watch them gyrate across the stage very unlike you see in movies, they get off stage and walk around collecting dollar bills. The guys sitting right up on the stage eating chicken wings are usually the ones to tip the most.
When the girls walk up to you to collect money, there are various maneuvers they use. One is flat-out asking you for money, another is to give you a pseudo lap dance, and the last is they notice the slight bulge in your pants so they grab your pump stick and pretend like you'll get a maximum of 3 tugs if you give her a dollar. Once you've got the money, some want you to put it betwixt their boobies, and the ones with smaller funbags like it when you sandwich it between their ass cheeks. Their skin is always cold. They're kind of like lizards. Lizards that show you their genitals for money.
One very enthusiastic girl on stage, probably 20 years of age, gave me the most "oh shit, this is new" moment I've had in any strip club. First, she was masturbating on stage. I'm talking finger-licking, bean-flicking, fake-moaning masturbation right there to a Mötley Crüe soundtrack. I'm guessing it was her first day. When she got off stage, she came up to us. My first friend tried so hard not to touch her he might as well have mailed her a check. The second friend did the ass cheek dollar sandwich. When it was my turn, I was having issues pulling out the single from my pocket, and while I fumbled for it she arced her legs over me splaying her vag right in front of my face. Had I been a gynecologist she'd be the one tipping me, it was that close. Then her poon landed right on my chest, and she slid allllllll the way down to my crotch. My friends tell me the look on my face was like I had seen Abe Vigoda masturbating over a photo of Betty White.
I thought I contracted chlamydia that had a tiny vagina infected with syphilis. We left soon after that.
If you wanna see some tits I suggest you go to South Beach, find a club, and hit on drunk girls. If you want to see some tits and know what shame feels like, head to BT.
PEOPLE WHO WOULD ENJOY IT: Guys who don't know how to talk to women.
PEOPLE WHO WOULD NOT ENJOY IT: ME.
On May 31st, the Internet news blog BoingBoing published an article about a fake listing for an "Abortionplex" inspired by an article on The Onion about an $8 billion abortion center opened by Planned Parenthood. On December 28th, the viral content site BuzzFeed highlighted several humorous Yelp reviews for McDowell's Restaurant in Elmhurst, New York. On May 23rd, 2012, Redditor thedigitaldork submitted a humorous review for an Indian restaurant to the /r/funny subreddit, which described the experience of painful diarrhea following the meal (shown below). Prior to being archived, the post accumulated over 10,400 up votes and 300 comments. On January 23rd, 2013, the Internet humor site World Wide Interweb published a compilation of notable humorous Yelp reviews.
Single Topic Blogs
On September 13th, The Next Web published an interview with the creator of the blog, who revealed that the site was inspired by his interactions with people who felt "entitled" about their dining experiences. Other Tumblr blogs curating notable Yelp reviews include "Fuck You Yelpers," "Yelping With Cormac" and "The Blank Elite."
Actor Review Readings
On July 27th, 2012, the web series "Real Actors Read Yelp Reviews" was launched on YouTube, with the first episode featuring actor Chris Kipiniak performing a dramatic reading of a one-star review of the Stratford Diner in Stratford, New Jersey (shown below, left). On July 30th, a second episode was released in which actress Therese Plummer read a four-star review for the restaurant Tamarind of London in Newport Beach, California (shown below, right).
 The Next Web – Yelp surged past 100 million unique visitors in January
 Huffington Post – Anti-Gay Restaurant Hilariously Pranked By Gay Rights Supporters