The Heartburn Of Too Many Reviews, Ctd

Gideon Lewis-Kraus has a series of grievances over Yelp:

The first is the nature of an algorithmic response to the world. As Jaron Lanier points out in “Who Owns the Future?,” the hubris behind each new algorithm is the idea that its predictive and evaluatory structure is game-proof; but the minute any given algorithm gains real currency, all the smart and devious people devote themselves to gaming it. On Yelp, the obvious case would be garnering positive reviews by any means necessary. …

Yet, the biggest problem with Yelp is not that it’s a popularity contest. It’s not even that it’s an exploitable popularity contest. Those, [The Lonely Crowd author David Riesman] himself would have conceded, are the costs of an other-directed person’s freedom to roam widely in pursuit of useful authority figures. Rather, it’s the fact that Yelp makes money by selling ads and prime placements to the very businesses it lists under ostensibly neutral third-party review. … Yelp’s valuations are always possibly in bad faith, even if its authority is dressed up as the distilled algorithmic wisdom of a crowd. For Riesman, that’s the worst of all possible worlds: a manipulated consumer certainty that only shores up the authority of an unchosen, hidden source.

Earlier Dish on Yelp here.