Pretty neat... I thought the online reviewing space was going the "reputation" route, becoming more "social" by allowing more highly weighting reviews from people in your group of friends (as well as entries in your "feeds" when friends visit a place). This seems to be the route of stuff like Foursquare... and... well, other similar services that I ignore because I don't have a very extensive network of friends who dine at the same sorts of places I go to.
The other route is to just have a place with reputable journalistic integrity do the reviews, which works OK in big cities. But then you pretty much have to know which journal to use in each major metro area, and deal with the reviews possibly being a year or two out of date. And, of course, probably little to no app integration with your favorite map search engine. http://www.washingtonian.com/s... is a great example for the DC area; we'd pretty much cycle through the entire "Cheap Eats" and "Dirt Cheap Eats" section for nearby neighborhoods, and maybe a few of the "100 best" for special occasions.
Other than that, I really do like Yelp for local recommendations, and have had great experiences using it. So much so that I downloaded the app when Google Maps switched from Yelp to Zagat for local search.
As an aside, I tried to like Zagat, even paid for a subscription back in the PalmOS days. But ultimately, Zagat reviews and ratings always seemed to be biased too much towards decor and not at all enough towards food quality, authenticity, and "interestingness", which Yelp excels in.
So it does suck to hear that Yelp is starting to extort business owners for listing good reviews, since I do make go/no-go decisions based on relative rankings. I dunno, maybe Yelp could start charging users extra for "journalistic integrity" mode that turns off some of their extortion effects, while the "free tier" of user gets rankings based more on advertising.
Anyway, articles like this do make me upset with Yelp. But a lot of places do seem to have yelp sticker on their window, so perhaps it's just part of the cost of doing business these days. I applaud this italian joint for lashing out against it in an entertaining way, and I'll start searching for some of the lowest reviewed places too, since I mostly use Yelp to find the exceptional places anyways.