When Keepin it Real goes Wrong: Yelp.com Part Deuce

February 15, 2006 - Get free updates of new posts here

Okay, so I got a LOT of people talking a lot of smack about my claim of how dumb users are for helping Yelp make all their money. I must publicly state that I totally agree that people want to write things for their own benefit regardless of what happens with that data. That is clearly proven from wikipedia, MySpace, Yelp, Standpoint and tons of other sites where there is no immediate benefit from one’s writings. You receive benefits from being a part of a community among other reasons. I asked my gf tonight about why she wrote a review on Yelp and she proclaimed:

“I would feel really good if I knew someone used my review to eat or not go to that place.”

WOW! I said as we were eating our delicious Valentine meal. Now that’s an immediate benefit for providing content. Why can’t Yelp and these user generated businesses provide more significant incentives to the users? For example, Yelp could supply stats on how many people actually ate at the restaurant cause of your review.

Another way to encourage data submission is to give revenue and value back to the users:

1- Revver: Put up a video and guess what…you get paid.

2- Newsvine: You write news, people read it & you get paid.

3- Squidoo: Not sure the purpose but yea once again you get paid:)

So what does this all mean?

the key

“Is Commission the Key?”

Commission is not necessarily the key but it appears like a good direction. What I am saying is that companies need to consider more ways to benefit users for providing content if they want long term success. However, benefits do not always need to be monetary but serve a larger purpose in the world such as: Firefox and Linux.

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6 responses to “When Keepin it Real goes Wrong: Yelp.com Part Deuce

  1. Josh Reply

    Commission is key??? No, community is key. Squidoo has to offer monetary incentives because otherwise no one would use it because it’s not a very exciting product. Monetizing also gives services a feeling that they are a little less genuine. Isn’t it possible that the real reason people go to services like Yelp is that they don’t like reviews from people that are paid to review and often come off as biased? They seem to think that by creating a pool of unbiased reviews we will all be better off, and for that they are willing to contribute without compensation.

    The second part is community. Have you forgotten why the facebook is successful? It’s about building communities and sharing things between multiple people online, which you can do with yelp. Maybe you’re not the type that would sit down and write reviews or spend all day socializing online, and I’m not either, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t people that really get into this type of thing.

  2. Devin Reply

    I’ll note, through Google Adsense you can receive “commission” on getting others to use Firefox. So, there’s monetary benefits eventually.. 😉

  3. Chris B Reply

    I think monetary incentives reach far beyond the domain of content providers. Very recently, TextPayMe.com is giving away $5 to join their web service. All of this something-for-something is reminding me of AllAdvantage (which seems to be a case of commission not working.)

    “The second part is community. Have you forgotten why the facebook is successful? It’s about building communities and sharing things between multiple people online, which you can do with yelp.”

    Communities are great, but it turns out that a good community alone will not keep users. I firmly believe in the Goldminer Theory of the Internet: when something more promising or shiny comes along, users will flock to it. It’s only a matter of time before MySpace gives way to something else. (TagWorld? Who knows.)

    Xanga, for example, built a great community then lost its market share to other community sites:

    Xanga.com vs. livejournal.com

    Xanga.com vs. myspace.com

    Xanga.com vs. blogger.com

    MySpace especially needs to worry about this problem- their site basically sucks (outages, no new features, more invasive ads, etc.), but people keep going back. Eventually though, they’ll start using something better.

    So yeah, keeping users that have to submit content to make a site is a hard problem to solve. Look at the sites that have withstood the test of time, if there are any.

  4. Pete Cashmore Reply


    I think community is key, but commission and community together are a powerful combination. I’ve been following these revenue sharing attempts for a while now, and in my consultancy work I’ve been advising social software (web 2.0?) companies to look at ways to incentivize their communities. However, community always comes first – if you build a poor product and then incentivize it, it feels like a gimmick. If you build a great product with incentives built-in (eg. Newsvine), you’ll do well. As I see it, most Newsvine users aren’t motivated by money – they’re motivated by a desire to be part of a community. The revenue sharing is not a way to attract new users to Newsvine – it’s simply a gesture to show their contributions are appreciated.

  5. Prudence Reply

    I agree with your comments about Network websites needing to do more for their users,
    though I must ask, why bother? These networks get customers no matter what they do as long as people are allowed to talk and show there picture. What is even worse is that places like Yelp, (I recently discovered) have paid reviewers. Yelp has their own employees review businesses that have paid them to do so. If you figure out which ones they are and then write a bad review they send you an e-mail asking you to reconsider.