The major benefit and main point of Yelp is the ease of communication most yelpers experience -- the site is like word-of-mouth for the digital world, and with Yelp communities popping up in most American cities and other places around the globe, it gets easier to find hot places to go to and see what other people think.
But Yelp isn't just reviews: There are also events, event reminders and special offers from businesses and you can even make friends with other yelpers, just like Facebook or MySpace. This allows you to send messages to other users or even "follow" them, which allows you to see a specific reviewer's posts before any others when you're looking at a business. If you want to post your personal reviews on Facebook, you can import them directly from your Facebook profile -- by logging in and clicking on the settings link below the status update field, you can select "automatically import activity" to upload your most recent content and inform an even wider audience on your good taste.
And with the perception of the Internet and social networking as a place where some people go simply to troll around and start flame wars, Yelp appears to be a place where users go to give a balanced opinion about their personal experiences. For the most part, the site isn't a destination for Web surfers to rant wildly about their least favorite restaurant -- in fact, out of all of Yelp's reviews, 85 percent of them have ratings that are three stars or higher, meaning many people come to talk about their positive experiences rather than the negative ones.
And although there are "Sponsored Results," which show up when you search for a company that has paid to include advertisements on the site, the Yelp team does its best to treat every business in a fair manner and keep an eye on any suspicious posts. Yelp also won't remove bad reviews from a sponsored businesses page, and they try to make sure employees aren't posting good reviews for the company at which they work or negative ones for competitors.
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- Yelp.com. "Frequently Asked Questions." Sept. 1, 2008. (July 6, 2009)http://www.yelp.com/faq