The question of paying internet writers, and how much they should get, came to the forefront again this week after an op-ed in the New York Times about it. And either inspired by that discussion of internet publishers’ responsibilities or just sick of disrupting food writing and not seeing much from it, a group of Yelp users has sued the company claiming to be uncompensated employees. Shrewd cash grab or ridiculous overreach?
Eater has the news, via TechDirt, and notes that the lawsuit alleges Yelp is getting fat off of the reviews written for free by frequent Yelpers. And while Yelp does offer an “Elite Yelp” level that gets frequent users into events with free food and free liquor along with Yelp panties (lolwut), this class-action lawsuit claims it’s not enough and that Elite members need to work too hard to keep up their status with the site. If Yelp somehow loses in court, it could affect thousands of Elite Yelp users across the country.
Loath as we are to accept that the idea that branded panties are a fair compensation for reviewing a restaurant, unless maybe they’re made of diamonds and you can sell them, the odds of this lawsuit succeeding are probably pretty slim. And why shouldn’t they be? Yelp never positioned themselves as an employer to anyone but their employees, and if there are web companies we should be suing for taking up too much time and making tons of money off of us, we should start with Facebook and Twitter.