Saul Hansell writes in Bits that Yelp is succeeding in part because it puts citizen reviewers at the top of its list of constituencies to serve. This makes the site a poster child for user-centric design.
Responding to criticism from business owners that some user reviews are unfair, Yelp also recently introduced a way for the business owner to send a message back to a reviewer. If the reviewer doesn’t choose to write back, the business owner can’t send a second message.
But Jeremy Stoppelman, Yelp’s chief executive, said that the site deliberately tilts its rules to support the reviewers. “We put the community first, the consumer second and businesses third,” he said.