Sorry, I can’t Yelp you out

Yelp is a website and an app that helps you discover places around the city through the reviews posted by their users…it merges Tripadvisor reviews and Foursquare check-ins.

I discovered it more than 2 years ago, but unfortunately it wasn’t available in Italy yet. I started use it in USA on holiday in August 2010, and it was the final replacement for my travel guide: if you’re lost in a new city, but you want to eat something good, Yelp helps you out, with lots of users reviews, tips and suggestions. I did find delicious places to eat or just have a good coffee.

I was really looking forward for Yelp opening in Italy to fill the website with reviews of my favorite places in town. The gates finally opened on September 22nd 2011 (remember it at the end of this post).

I started immediately to check if cafes and restaurants around my office where listed, and day by day I checked-in and I did a couple of reviews. Since I don’t work in the center of the city, I was surprised to find almost every little place already on the map and with at least one review.

My first impression was like: “wow! there are more italian reviews here after only 1 week, than you can find on Foursquare” (launched worldwide in March 2009).

Yesterday, searching for a pizza restaurant, I discovered the Yelp trick: reviews were made in italian, in July 2011, by (fake) users. Yes, fake users. As shown in the pictures down here there are different users writing about the same place, and all of them already posted the same amount of reviews (270). I thought was only a coincidence, so I checked 3 different places: they all have 270 reviews, just after 2 months on Yelp and no active check-in nor badges (rewards given by the website).

Very productive users indeed!

Maybe I’m too suspicious, but it looks a little bit strange, isn’t it?

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