What’s the Cost of a Bad Restaurant Review?

If you’re unfamiliar, Yelp.com is a darn useful web directory service that can help you find a nearby business of any kind by proximity, address, phone number, and user review. TripAdvisor is similar, but provides a narrower focus from a traveler’s perspective.

Yelp also offers users the ability to rate a business between one star (poor) and five (exceptional) as well as to provide written comments.

In the restaurant industry, where written reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations are necessary evils, putting this power into such a concentrated—and anonymous—form has literally life-changing consequences.

Yelp has a filter that suppresses a small portion of reviews it analyzes as suspicious, but it can be circumvented with enough desire. The Internet is full of trolls, and someone with an agenda, even a direct competitor, can use it to draw blood.

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