Yelp! Boon or Bane?!

You know what’s awesome? Yelp! Yelp’s awesome.yelp-395

This is how an article by Lisa Barone on begins. Obviously, this article is written by one of those positively affected customers of Yelp. Why did I say that? Let’s see after we get to know about Yelp. operated by Yelp, Inc is a local directory service with social networking and user reviews (Spot on! Wikipedia it is). It was started in October 2004 in San Francisco, California. It generates  revenue through local business and brand advertising. Yelp grows by getting users to write reviews of businesses and also by engaging them through social networking features. The type of business varies from restaurants, shopping, beauty parlors, automotive,  doctors and other home services.

Yelp offers a platform for both consumers and businesses to find each other especially through reviews and ratings. A typical search on Yelp displays the best match of the keywords (if found), brand advertisements on top, sponsored local advertisements related to the search keywords, other local businesses related to the search  etc. The sponsored listing (paid advertisements) get to select a review of their choice to be displayed as a teaser along with the listing. Otherwise, all listings display the overall rating along with the name of the business. When a particular business listing is selected, it displays the details like location, website of the business, photos (if any) and all the reviews that it has got.

The following is the link to a small presentation that showcases the position of brand and sponsored local advertisements, the percentage of reviews from each type of business constituting the total number of reviews on Yelp, its revenue breakdown as based on a study in 2011 and the consumer traffic statistics as updated and presented by The data charts are retrieved from an article on Business Insider.

How does Yelp work?

Though business ratings and reviews are the primary features that people look for at Yelp, it also features daily Yelp deals – something similar to Group-on deals created by business owners, event listings – events happening in the locality with event dates, and also social networking options for Yelp users – rather known as Yelpers!

You cannot post a review or follow a reviewer on Yelp until you sign up as one of their users. Creating a user profile with Yelp is free and it gives you the option of connecting with other yelpers, follow their posts, show your interests for listed events and also chat in online forums. Yelp uses Facebook to find your friends as soon as you sign up. Yelp also utilizes google maps to overlap their local business locations and display to the user along with the business listings.

So far, so good! Yelp has helped the consumers find what they want with user reviews and ratings. It has helped businesses attract customers through their online presence, paid advertisements, offers and deals. Yelp also encourages the businesses to recommend other local businesses for linked advantages. Say for example, a florist or a gift shop in downtown NYC recommends or lists the bakeries, party halls and restaurants in the same area; a user who wants to browse for all these businesses to organize an event in that area is benefited on the whole. The businesses can help each other attract traffic too.

A business owner who set up an account with Yelp will be able to monitor consumer traffic, statistics, respond to positive and negative reviews and in short, speculate if the business is on the right path or not.

Now that I have talked about all this, let’s revisit what I said in the beginning of this post – one of the positively affected customer. I said that because there is another side of reviews and criticisms that is revolving around Yelp. Yelp claims to offer unbiased reviews to consumers and that it is Yelp’s specialty that other review sites are not offering. To achieve this, Yelp uses something called the ‘review filter’ that automatically filters out spurious and suspicious reviews. To understand better, please watch the following video that explains this technique.

Yelp has its official blog linked to too where it has a few posts explaining how and why Yelp uses this technique. It also mentions that the algorithm is continuously modified and improved to make it more fair and effective. Nevertheless, complaints and lawsuits keep increasing in this regard.

Especially, many small business owners complain that this is an extorting technique that Yelp utilizes. If more and more good reviews keep adding to a particular business, Yelp sales people start contacting the business owners to opt for paid advertising. The business owners report that the sales people even offer to remove the bad reviews from their listing if they accept this offer. Unfortunately, if they refuse the offer, it is reported that the good reviews are removed from the site leaving behind only the damaging ones and the rating of the business is also affected only by the visible reviews. Sounds unfair, doesn’t it?

There also exists a Facebook page called We Hate Yelp formed by individuals and business owners who feel betrayed by Yelp’s review filter and who think Yelp is biased and extortive. If Yelp claims to benefit local businesses and the consumers alike with unbiased and truthful reviews, why hasn’t it improved the review filter over all these years? Does this project the flippant attitude from Yelp’s side? May be! Because the complaints are on a steady rise and more customers and business owners are starting to move away from Yelp. There are so many lawsuits filed claiming defamation and extortion. The following links are examples of some of the articles published in this regard.

Think Yelp is unbiased? Think Again!! – Forbes

Yelp’s review filter plays games

Yelp Extortion

What’s more intimidating is that after all this confusion, if users still want to voice their reviews on this site, they are apparently risking a lawsuit too. To Yelp or Not To Yelp? explains the latest of this kind!

Considering all this, what do you think Yelp is to consumers and businesses? A boon or a bane?


Indian classical dance forms – an overview!

This is my first attempt to create a video for a purpose other than just juggling with pictures of happy moments! I have tried to showcase some basic concepts about the various classical dance forms that are available in India.

I am sure the realm of Indian classical dance is so huge that I cannot capture in a 2 minute video. But I am not getting technical here. It is just an overview of those various art forms and their overall benefits (put in a simplified manner). I had this video length restriction component that did not allow me to go gaga about these dances and forced me to keep it short. So here it is – my novice attempt at digital storytelling.

Indian Classical Dance Forms

Dance Therapy… It’s all about letting go!

Why should a therapy sound melancholic? Why not recover in a fun way?
Is it always that the victims of most of the physical and mental trauma themselves are responsible for their conditions? Even if yes, they don’t have to succumb to it throughout their entire life, do they?

There are many ways to recover from a chronic illness or an inflictive mental depression. When you have different options out there, why not choose the one that is more fun and that also helps you identify with yourself? Dance Therapy or Dance Movement Therapy is one such option!

It is undoubtedly tough for a person who is experiencing any kind of trauma to just let it go suddenly, leave alone stepping into dance. Yet the choice has to be made one day!

A big part of letting go is recognizing when it is time to stay in a situation and when it is time to move on. – 
Darren L. Johnson 

Okay let’s start with this. To build hope in anything, we always look for some success stories, don’t we? Here is one! – Dance that Heals!

The story cited above talks about a girl (Shampa) who had been keeping with herself all through these years until she started to rediscover herself with dance. She was trained by Kolkata Sanved, an NGO based in Kolkata, India that works with people from many groups like trafficked girls/women, working women, mentally ill people, youth involved in problematic areas etc. Sanved uses dance as a therapy to help all these people deal with mental trauma.

To have a look at Sanved and its projects, please visit its website – Kolkata Sanved

Please do watch their promotional video too.

This is an example of an organization that is dedicated to and effectively utilizes dance movement therapy as a medium to help people recover from mental trauma. There are other such organizations that take advantage of dance therapy as a  supplementary method to help people with chronic illnesses and other diseases like Cancer, Dementia, Parkinson’s etc recover effectively. An article explaining the techniques of Dance and other forms of art therapies and how it can be used as an additional method of recovery for cancer patients is linked here – Information on alternative therapy.

People suffering from Parkinson’s disease have in fact mentioned that Dance Therapy helps to improve their mobility and reduce the symptoms. A news report about that is also attached here.

I feel an amazing positive vibe when I see all these articles and videos. Dance is always a wonderful thing and I am an ardent lover of dance. It is known as one of the best exercises also works as a stress buster. Especially when it can offer such wonderful benefits, then why not? Just let go! 🙂

Don’t call it therapy, it’s Dance after all!

Do you love to dance? I do, a lot!

I have tasted the power of dance through the lingering exhilaration it delivers every other time. I am a firm believer that dancing can provide many health benefits, the most important one being stress relief. I don’t think there is a better stress buster than dance.

I am glad to learn that dance is successfully being used as a healing technique for many mental and physical illnesses. Also known as Dance Movement Therapy (DMT), it helps in the recovery of a few chronic conditions such as dementia, autism, mental retardation, blindness etc. If not as a direct curing technique, it is used as a supplementary therapy along with recovering medications for diseases like cancer as well. The following description is found on the website of American Cancer Society.

Dance therapy is the therapeutic use of movement to improve the mental and physical well-being of a person. It focuses on the connection between the mind and body to promote health and healing. Dance therapy can be considered an expressive therapy.

There are a lot of theories and principles based on which this is carried out which in turn helps add credibility to the approach. Some of those principles as we find on Wikipedia are:

  • Body and mind interact, so that a change in movement will affect total functioning.
  • Movement reflects personality
  • The therapeutic relationship is mediated at least to some extent non-verbally, for example through the therapist mirroring the client’s movement.
  • Movement contains a symbolic function and as such can be evidence of unconscious process.
  • Movement improvisation allows the client to experiment with new ways of being.
  • DMT allows for the recapitulation of early object relationships by virtue of the largely non-verbal mediation of the latter.

One of the well-established organizations dedicated for dance therapy is the American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA). Please have a look at a promotional video of ADTA.

Considering that so many individuals and organizations are working relentlessly for making DMT an effective recovering technique, it is impossible for this post to encompass the enormity of the topic. As of now, I shall leave this post to be an introductory post for the topic and update later with success stories and more information about the organizations working in this sphere.

What am I doing here?

Here it is, my own blog site, after thinking for a long time about creating one. Now that I have created it, what am I going to write about? I have no idea.

I don’t have a specific interest to pen down all posts related to it, I don’t own a company to brag about in the entire blog, I don’t worship my job like crazy to write related stuff, I don’t have a visionary dream that I want you all to know from my posts but… I am myself! I have my own likes and dislikes. I wow at this, I frown at that and I wish everything else was like this and that.

I am on my way to find what I want in life. After all, I too have something that sounds like aspirations. It looks like I am figuring out but nothing concrete yet. So the bottom line is, you can also see me writing about all that I fancy to be in my future. I will share my thoughts with you and you too do the same please, for my sake ok? 🙂