Why would foursquare split their app in two?

Didn’t they learn anything from Netflix?

Video

How Chris Sacca hustled his way from $2MM in debt to successful angel investor


What an unbelievable story…

Ben Dunlap: The life-long learner

Yelp’s Review Filter Needs to Go

I am a big fan of Yelp. When they first launched, I was a big proponent of writing reviews for restaurants, gyms, shops, etc. because I knew as more users wrote reviews, there would be greater benefits for the users as a whole. Recently, I was scrolling down to the bottom of a review page and came across filtered reviews. I know this is the internet and not everyone is honest, but this is Yelp’s definition of what is going on:

We try to showcase the most helpful and reliable reviews among the millions that are submitted to the site. Not all reviews make the cut, and those that don’t are posted to a separate “Filtered Review” page. Filtered reviews don’t factor into a business’s overall star rating, but users can still read them by clicking on the link at the bottom of the business’s profile page.

Background

My girlfriend called me upset that the gym she used to frequent in Los Angeles – Joe’s Gym– has been charging her membership to her credit card after she canceled it four months ago. She has called and emailed the gym multiple times, and the manager assures her that he will take care of it with the billing and exactly nothing is done the next month. Bank of America has also done exactly nothing and told her to try settling it with the gym (they even admitted they have had the same problem with the same business).

I assumed that this has happened to other people and took a look on Yelp. 10 reviews – 4 stars. How is that possible? I scrolled down and came across “Filtered reviews.” – 14 of them to be exact. This is Yelp’s dirty little secret: all the negative reviews were in there, and precisely the same thing had happened to them that had happened to my girlfriend (few have even said the gym’s collection agency ruined their credit after their gym membership was canceled). As a disclaimer, 4 of the reviews were positive and they didn’t look fake. If we include the filtered reviews into the rating, Joe’s Gym would have 14 positive reviews and 10 negative reviews (right now it has 0 negative reviews), drastically altering their perception…

How does a filter that claims itself to portray “the most reliable reviews” eliminate 10 reviews of people who were robbed of their money by a questionably run gym?

The filter needs to go

Clearly, the filter has been wrong many times and Yelp even acknowledges this on their site:

The filter sometimes affects perfectly legitimate reviews and misses some fake ones, too. After all, legitimate reviews sometimes look questionable, and questionable reviews sometimes look legitimate. We think the filter does a good job given the sheer volume of reviews and the difficulty of its task, but it doesn’t really matter what we think — consumers will only use Yelp if we do a good job of showcasing the most helpful and reliable reviews.

I see how this filter can negatively and positively affect businesses, because positive and negative reviews are not factoring in the ranking. But, what if they are really legitimate? The users are the ones who should decide how good an establishment is based on their experience and isn’t that why Yelp was founded?

Takeaways

Yelp should learn from both Amazon and Facebook and get rid of the filter. Amazon doesn’t filter any of their reviews (their problems come from users being anonymous). Facebook also forces people to use their real identity to post reviews. It’s extremely easy in 2012 to verify every account using Facebook, text message, e-mail account, CAPTCHA (which is used to read filtered reviews, but not normal ones), etc. I get the feeling /that Yelp wants to maintain control and manipulate reviews. They use the algorithmic filter as an excuse. People don’t even know how many of their reviews have been filtered until they log out and do a search (and what is the point of doing a review if there is a chance it gets filtered?). There’s also the chance that good businesses are being portrayed negatively and terrible businesses are portrayed in a positive light (as what is currently happening).

Perhaps having an actual team of moderators is a better choice (i.e. what ESPN uses). This is only if Yelp decides to keep a filtering process; however, the current algorithm is clearly missing the boat on what it deems the most helpful reviews – a subjective process. There are certainly still subjective tasks a human can perform better than a computer. This team could also determine who is writing fake reviews and who isn’t – and penalize those who abuse the service and even kick them off.

Joe’s Gym needs to re-evaluate their management and fix their billing (or be reported to the appropriate agency).

Big banks are crap. Even worse is that if they are terrible to YOU, it’s actually good business for them. Read the linked article to see what I am talking about.

Your feedback is also welcome.

The Key to Interviewing

A Managing Director at Piper Jaffray recently sent me this in an email:

“The key to interviewing, from my perspective: I have never, ever heard a candidate say “I want this job so badly that I guarantee I will out hustle and outwork every other candidate.”

Elon Musk on entrepreneurship and changing the world

Invictus

I haven’t been posting as frequently as I was initially. I used to be hesitant because I was afraid that my posts would be “bad”, but I realize that the process might be a little more important than the end result. I’m going to recommit myself to this blog.

I also have been getting discouraged lately because I haven’t found my dream job yet. This is a feeling most job hunters experience when they face rejection. I feel as if the job search is all mental really.

The fact of the matter is that all humans possess amazing strength. It’s a shame that some don’t find it inside of them. “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley is a testament to that fact:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.