Ratings Sites Like Yelp and Angie's List in the Hot Seat

She explained companies' A-F ratings are the average of the consumer reviews. Companies that with A-B ratings are eligible to advertise with Angie's List, but they must offer a discount with that advertisement. If their grades fall below a B, we pull their advertising, she said.

"Over the years, our members have continuely told us that they want to see discounts from highly rated service companies first, so that is the default sort order," she explained. "Members can change the default to various orders including, ratings, number of reviews, alphabetical, etc. We're very transparent with our members on how advertising is displayed. We describe the sort order logic in several places on our site in particular on our search results page and also include an explanation in our magazine to our members each month."

She also said the company sets itself apart with an outside audit of its data handling process every year.

"That audit includes an examination of whether companies that advertise are treated differently than those that do not," she said. "The audits have always found Angie's List reviews are a fair, impartial and trustworthy resource."

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