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The Power of the SCOTUS IV: Gays, Guns, and Immigrants, OH MY!

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  • Re: The Power of the SCOTUS IV: Gays, Guns, and Immigrants, OH MY!

    Originally posted by FadeToBlack&Gold View Post
    Most likely because it is difficult to prove their identities in the first place, and Yelp doesn't want to be forced to spend the money to do so. You could do an IP trace on the user account, but IP addresses can be easily spoofed and then relayed through several different proxies (using TOR, for instance), which anyone making money as a "reviewer for hire" would be wise to pursue.
    It's simpler than that: follow the $$$. There's probably a decent percentage of people who would stop posting reviews to Yelp if they couldn't do it anonymously, reducing Yelp's traffic. With fewer reviews, it would be less useful for people for learning about reviewees, so that traffic would go down as well. Secondly, of those who did continue to post reviews, they'd have to think twice about posting even a legitimate negative review, for fear that they might be sued anyway. The nature of the reviews would therefore skew to the positive side, making the site less useful, and driving down traffic even farther. Traffic=money for advertising-driven sites, so Yelp's revenue would decline significantly if they could not guarantee anonymity to their reviewers.
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    • Re: The Power of the SCOTUS IV: Gays, Guns, and Immigrants, OH MY!

      Originally posted by LynahFan View Post
      It's simpler than that: follow the $$$. There's probably a decent percentage of people who would stop posting reviews to Yelp if they couldn't do it anonymously, reducing Yelp's traffic. With fewer reviews, it would be less useful for people for learning about reviewees, so that traffic would go down as well. Secondly, of those who did continue to post reviews, they'd have to think twice about posting even a legitimate negative review, for fear that they might be sued anyway. The nature of the reviews would therefore skew to the positive side, making the site less useful, and driving down traffic even farther. Traffic=money for advertising-driven sites, so Yelp's revenue would decline significantly if they could not guarantee anonymity to their reviewers.
      Also an excellent point.

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      • Re: The Power of the SCOTUS IV: Gays, Guns, and Immigrants, OH MY!

        Originally posted by LynahFan View Post
        It's simpler than that: follow the $$$. There's probably a decent percentage of people who would stop posting reviews to Yelp if they couldn't do it anonymously, reducing Yelp's traffic. With fewer reviews, it would be less useful for people for learning about reviewees, so that traffic would go down as well. Secondly, of those who did continue to post reviews, they'd have to think twice about posting even a legitimate negative review, for fear that they might be sued anyway. The nature of the reviews would therefore skew to the positive side, making the site less useful, and driving down traffic even farther. Traffic=money for advertising-driven sites, so Yelp's revenue would decline significantly if they could not guarantee anonymity to their reviewers.
        Yelp could provide information on a good faith effort. Many (most?) sites require you to provide a name and email, and then they will display a screen name of your choosing. Yelp could simply provide that information to the group filing the lawsuit.

        Let's face it, most bad reviews won't be pursued like this. When/if I write a bad review of a restaurant for bad service or food, there's no way to disprove my experience. The number of honest reviews that could lead to a lawsuit is very small because the plaintiff would have to be able to prove far too much, including intent.
        "The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command." George Orwell, 1984

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        • Re: The Power of the SCOTUS IV: Gays, Guns, and Immigrants, OH MY!

          Originally posted by LynahFan View Post
          It's simpler than that: follow the $$$. There's probably a decent percentage of people who would stop posting reviews to Yelp if they couldn't do it anonymously, reducing Yelp's traffic. With fewer reviews, it would be less useful for people for learning about reviewees, so that traffic would go down as well. Secondly, of those who did continue to post reviews, they'd have to think twice about posting even a legitimate negative review, for fear that they might be sued anyway. The nature of the reviews would therefore skew to the positive side, making the site less useful, and driving down traffic even farther. Traffic=money for advertising-driven sites, so Yelp's revenue would decline significantly if they could not guarantee anonymity to their reviewers.
          To me, anonymity should be no different than that of a book publisher. If there is sufficient evidence to compel the info of an anonymous book writer then the same should go for Yelp. Slander is not protected, but it seems to me the burden is on the store owner. Otherwise you could unmask anybody with a simple claim.
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          • Re: The Power of the SCOTUS IV: Gays, Guns, and Immigrants, OH MY!

            Originally posted by St. Clown View Post
            Let's face it, most bad reviews won't be pursued like this. When/if I write a bad review of a restaurant for bad service or food, there's no way to disprove my experience. The number of honest reviews that could lead to a lawsuit is very small because the plaintiff would have to be able to prove far too much, including intent.
            That's an excellent point, and actually it is at the crux of the case at hand. One of the negative reviews was posted from a town in which the company did not even do business. Several of the other bad reviews could not be cross-referenced to actual work done (you get a review that says you did a terrible job last Friday, except that you had no orders last Friday, that kind of thing).

            Again, it's not enough merely to sue someone for posting a bad review, you also have to prove malicious intent ("preponderance of the evidence" standard, not "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard) and you also have to demonstrate actual damages.

            I remember a case once where a person won their suit and then was awarded $1 in damages.

            I did a quick search and found this case and this case but they definitely are not the one I remember.



            Anyway, if I ran a business that got a legitimate bad review, I'd want to know about it so that I could do something to mend things with that customer. We submitted a negative review on a comment card in a local restaurant, and they subsequently contacted us, offered us a free meal, and corrected the situation which we complained about. We still go to that restaurant as a result. Legitimate bad reviews provide valuable feedback that helps a business improve its customer service.


            It's amazing how much more responsive Comcast has become since UVerse started competing with them, though that's a different story.
            Last edited by FreshFish; 04-04-2014, 11:12 AM.
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            • Re: The Power of the SCOTUS IV: Gays, Guns, and Immigrants, OH MY!

              Originally posted by St. Clown View Post
              Yelp could provide information on a good faith effort. Many (most?) sites require you to provide a name and email, and then they will display a screen name of your choosing. Yelp could simply provide that information to the group filing the lawsuit.

              Let's face it, most bad reviews won't be pursued like this. When/if I write a bad review of a restaurant for bad service or food, there's no way to disprove my experience. The number of honest reviews that could lead to a lawsuit is very small because the plaintiff would have to be able to prove far too much, including intent.
              Most bad reviews aren't pursued because there is no claim if someone simply has a bad opinion of you or your business. That's just an opinion, and that is protected. Claims arise out of false statements of fact. You claim that a restaurant uses dog food to make it's hamburgers. If false, you can be sued for that.
              That community is already in the process of dissolution where each man begins to eye his neighbor as a possible enemy, where non-conformity with the accepted creed, political as well as religious, is a mark of disaffection; where denunciation, without specification or backing, takes the place of evidence; where orthodoxy chokes freedom of dissent; where faith in the eventual supremacy of reason has become so timid that we dare not enter our convictions in the open lists, to win or lose.

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              • Re: The Power of the SCOTUS IV: Gays, Guns, and Immigrants, OH MY!

                Originally posted by SJHovey View Post
                Claims arise out of false statements of fact. You claim that a restaurant uses dog food to make it's hamburgers. If false, you can be sued for that.
                +1. This is a perfect explanation of the case at hand. Well stated.
                "Hope is a good thing; maybe the best of things."

                "Beer is a sign that God loves us and wants us to be happy." -- Benjamin Franklin

                "Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy." -- W. B. Yeats

                "People generally are most impatient with those flaws in others about which they are most ashamed of in themselves." - folk wisdom

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