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Editor note: This post continues the conversation of small business’ experiences with Yelp after SEJ’s Matt Southern wrote about their pending legal issues.

Yelp is supposed to be the last bastion on the Web for honest reviews. It’s a place where consumers are allowed to honestly and thoughtfully discuss their experiences with a business, and help others find services that will be useful to them. The star system keeps reviews easy to read, and multiple users posting about a location seem to give the reviews some credibility.

But not all businesses are pleased with how Yelp presents their work.

Yelp Says: “You Can’t Pay Us to Remove or Reorder Your Reviews.”

Yelp, for its part, says that they separate the content and revenue side of the business. They aren’t clear on what that means for businesses and end users, which is exactly the point.

At least that’s the implied message. Yelp writes that they do not accept payment to remove reviews in their FAQ, but several business owners have claimed that Yelp sales people use negative reviews to drive conversions. The pitch involves paying for more control over a page, using terms like “controlling ad space.”

Some, like 64-year-old Randy Boelsems, say that the sales people will continually harass a business owner with offers to move bad reviews and buy up ad real estate for more control over a Yelp page. This pressure is very real. Business owners like Joe Hadeed in Virginia have even tried to fake reviews to raise their positivity. He tried to sue Yelp to reveal the identities of the defamers of his business, and the courts eventually ruled in his favor.

Solicitation And Sales Practices

Wall Street Journal reported that the Yelp receives roughly six subpoenas a month that request reviewer information. Many of these relate to businesses who feel they have been unfairly defamed, or poorly reviewed. When these owners pay for the privilege, Yelp is quick to help them establish a greater presence on the website, even selling ad space to them on competitor pages. If these owners cancel, Yelp is just as quick to push those good reviews into the “not recommended” category.

Yelp seems to be using their power as a database to force businesses into paying them. First, they recruit you without your consent. Then they mask your best reviews, effectively creating a pay-wall where business owners must pay out to retain some integrity.

Some Changes at Yelp

Yelp has quietly made a few recent changes to its design, layout and verbiage.  Back in November, the link to the filtered reviews, which appeared on the bottom of all reviews changed from “Filtered Reviews” to “other reviews that are not currently recommended.“

Last month Yelp also changed the layout to the review pages by showing scrollable images on top.

Is Yelp Guilty of Abuse?

A Possible Solution

If anyone from Yelp or other review sites should happen to read this, I do have some recommendations for them on how they could change things to keep their customers happy:

Display the full name of the poster, including their Facebook link, if they have chosen to link it.

Require cell phone authentication or some sort of other authentication to validate the reviewer’s identity.

Disclose the user’s identity, including email, IP address and any other data in the business owner’s dashboard or at least when a business owner requests it.

Provide an arbitration service for a small fee to resolve disputed reviews. The reviewer should have evidence such as a receipt or an agreement that they have been to the business or used their services. If not the review should be removed. The business owner should be able to submit documents to prove whether the review is false.  This service may also be outsourced to a few authorized companies, such as attorneys or reputation management companies.

What are your thoughts on Yelp’s practices? How would you keep Yelp honest for businesses and reviewers?

Featured Image: Deposit Photos 

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How Yelp Removes Fake Reviews & Fake Business Pages

Yelp published its 2023 Trust and Safety Report detailing actions it took against lead generators, fake review groups and businesses incentivizing reviews.

Yelp Cracks Down on Paid Review Groups

The report details the proactive approach to chasing down online review groups and breaking them up.

Among the tactics Yelp used is identifying IP addresses used for fake positive reviews, as well as connecting users to groups that are arranging paid reviews.

Yelp’s Trust and Safety report revealed that it fights online review exchanges by identifying the groups on social media and working together with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn to break them up.

In a 2023 blog post about their recommendation software, Yelp wrote that they monitor online groups and even conduct sting operations to catch the fake review rings.

Yelps newly released Trust and Safety report explains:

“Yelp strictly prohibits offering incentives or other compensation in exchange for writing, changing or removing a review.

To combat this on and off our platform, our User Operations team did the following in 2023:

– Issued 415+ warnings to businesses for engaging in compensated or incentivized review behaviors.

– As part of our broader Consumer Alerts program, we placed 88 Compensated Activity Alerts on business pages after receiving evidence someone offered cash or other incentives in exchange for posting, updating or removing a review.

We also placed 405 Suspicious Review Activity Alerts after our systems detected a large number of positive reviews coming from a single IP address, or reviews from users who may be connected to a group that coordinates incentivized reviews.

Made 1,100+ reports to third-party sites, such as Twitter (150 reports were made by Yelp), Facebook (130 reports), Instagram (110 reports) and LinkedIn (70 reports), to warn them of content from more than 900 suspicious groups, posts or individuals we found on their sites participating in online review exchanges.

Third-party platforms took action on content at issue in approximately 77% of our reports.”

Yelp Closes Thousands of Fraudulent Accounts

The Trust and Safety report reports that Yelp closed over 77,000 user accounts for terms of service violations and suspected deceptive and abusive actions.

They also rejected over 32,800 potential new business pages for being associated with spammy activities that violated Yelp’s policies.

Yelp writes:

“Nearly 2,000 business pages removed for being associated with lead generators, violating Yelp’s policies.

Yelp User Operations Team Content Removals

The report notes that 2% of all Yelp contributions were removed by their user operations  team in 2023. That includes reviews, photos, review up-voting, and other forms of contributions.

Yelp Trust and Safety

The integrity of reviews is important to a recommender ecosystem like Yelp. Yelp uses a recommendation software as their first line of defense against deceptive behavior. The software itself is dynamic in that it keeps tabs on the users and businesses as they engage with the platform.

Yelp writes:

“The recommendation software is entirely automated and applies the same objective rules to every business. The reviews that are recommended for any business can change over time as Yelp’s software learns more about the reviewers and the business.”

It also employs human moderators in their User Operations team to follow up and manually review reports generated by users, businesses or their automated systems.

Read Yelp’s Trust and Safety Report for 2023

Featured image by Shutterstock/II.studio

How To Get Yelp Reviews & Respond Like A Pro

Picture this: You’re about to use your hard-earned money to purchase a product or book a service. You ask the business how they will guarantee your satisfaction, and they say to you “don’t worry, just take our word for it!”

The truth is, that would never happen because, luckily, we have online review sites to back up our purchasing decisions. Your audience is no longer blindly selecting your business. Thanks to online review sites like Yelp, you can let your customers do the talking for you. Today, we’ll explain how by providing answers to questions like:

How do you get reviews on Yelp?

How can you respond to reviews on Yelp?

How can Yelp help my business?

By the end of this post, your business will be ready to rake in raving reviews!

Why your business needs reviews on Yelp

Despite the rise of online review sites like Google My Business and others, Yelp remains the dominant force in online reviews. In fact, Yelp is consistently the top public directory site worldwide.

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Not only that, but there’s a strong correlation between visits to a business’s Yelp page and purchases. So much so that 97% of consumers make a purchase after visiting Yelp.

If you want to capture the attention of these high-intent searchers, you need a strong presence on Yelp. It’s all about getting reviews. The more positive reviews you have on Yelp, the more likely consumers are to view your business as trustworthy.

If you’re new to the Yelp game, that’s okay! It’s never too late to begin thinking about how to get reviews and respond on Yelp. Next, we’ll dig into a handy-dandy guide to taking your local marketing to the next level with Yelp.

How to get Yelp reviews: 6 tips

There are a few tactics to grow the number of reviews you receive on the platform for a top-tier Yelp listing:

1. Claim your Yelp page

Before you begin trying to get more reviews, you need to plant your flag on your little corner of the Yelp universe. If your business has been around a while, it’s possible it already has Yelp reviews on an unclaimed page. If you’re just starting out, you might be absent from Yelp altogether.

Either way, your first step is to claim your business profile on Yelp. To do so, head over to Yelp for Business. When you search for your business’s name, you’ll have the opportunity to claim an existing profile or establish one, if none exists.

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If your business has already accrued some reviews, Yelp will verify that you’re truly the business owner before they hand over the profile. If you’re just starting out, they will similarly ensure you’re legitimately in charge of the business before allowing you to create a Yelp account.

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Once your business’s Yelp profile is set up, take some time to trick it out!

2. Make it easy for people to leave reviews on your Yelp page

The next step is to make it simple for customers to find your Yelp page. A great online presence stitches together all of your multi-channel marketing assets so consumers can seamlessly travel from one to the next.

If you’ve linked up all of your social media platforms, local listings, and website properly, a prospect should be able to find their way from your Yelp page to your website to your Instagram (or vice versa) with no friction.

When you’re claiming your Yelp profile, add your contact information—including website, address, phone number, and social handles—to your profile.

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Once your Yelp profile is officially claimed, link out to it from your website, include it in your email signature, and remind social media followers they can find you on Yelp.

3. Try in-person promotions

If you have a brick-and-mortar business, you should announce your Yelp presence in the real world. Yelp makes official stickers and window clings for businesses to display in their stores. Be sure to order some for your location.

Advertising your presence on Yelp in your store has a few benefits. When a Yelp sign hangs in your front window, it encourages passersby to look you up online and see what previous customers have said about your business.

Additionally, it’s a subtle reminder to those who just made a purchase to share their experience online.

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4. Remind your customers to review your business on Yelp 

Once someone has made a purchase with you, it’s time to do some targeted outreach to get Yelp reviews. You can plant the seed right after the purchase is made.

For example, you could include a link to your Yelp page in an e-receipt or mention that you’re on Yelp on a physical receipt.

5. Ask for Yelp reviews over email

You could also reach out to your customers via email a few days later and ask them to review you on Yelp. Try incentives like offering a coupon to encourage them to leave reviews.

However, when employing your outreach avoid them to write a nice review. Consumers rely on Yelp being unbiased, and any communication that comes across as an attempt to sway customers’ statements about your business online will reflect poorly on you.

Aside from simply growing your business’s Yelp presence, sending an email asking for feedback can also catch people who are upset before they write a negative review. Often, people post negative online reviews because they don’t feel heard by a company. They’ve had an issue that’s gone ignored, and they feel that griping publicly is the only way to get the business’s attention.

However, if you take the time to reach out via email shortly after purchase, you give these people a chance to privately share their concerns rather than blasting you on the internet.

Related: Get free email templates to simplify asking for reviews.

6. Follow up to get even more Yelp reviews

If you don’t hear from your new customer right away, that’s alright. People are busy, emails get lost in the shuffle—don’t take it personally or get discouraged, but do follow up.

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Since it’s not necessary to get responses from every single person, and you don’t want new customers to feel like you’re harassing them, two follow-ups are more than enough.

How to respond to Yelp reviews

You should respond to every review you get on Yelp, from the glowing to the glowering.

Responding to negative Yelp reviews

Business owners often hate the idea of responding to negative reviews. The biggest tip here is to take a deep breath and search for constructive criticism in the review before responding. Often there’s a legitimate concern behind the review, even if it’s the spicy language that catches your eye and spikes your blood pressure.

Related: Check out our guide on how to handle negative reviews.

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Responding to positive Yelp reviews

Don’t get so caught up in thinking about bad reviews that you ignore the great ones! These happy customers need your time and attention, too. If someone has taken the time to say something nice about you online, that deserves a thank you. Your kind, simple, sincere expression of gratitude goes a long way to cementing the positive feelings they already had about your business.

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Respond to reviews publicly first, then move to a private conversation

The last thing to keep in mind is that you should keep your responses to reviews public. Luckily, Yelp gives business owners the opportunity to directly message reviewers. But, before you respond privately, post a response that others will see.

This is especially important for negative reviews. If handled properly, your measured and thoughtful response to a bad review can actually turn that customer’s negative opinion into a positive for your business.

When you respond publicly, other consumers considering your brand see you responding with integrity and kindness. That can sway them to do business with you despite the original reviewer’s negative experience.

Once you’ve responded publicly, it may be appropriate to take things offline. For example, if you’re following up on a negative review with a coupon code for the future or to share the process for refunding them their original purchase, that is something to send one-on-one. Just be sure to mention in the public post that you’ll be following up offline with specifics, so others don’t think you left your unhappy customer hanging.

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Use Yelp to promote your business

Yelp reviews remain a powerful source of social proof for small businesses. Claiming your business on Yelp is a relatively painless process, but it has tremendous upside. Take the time to establish yourself, get reviews, and respond on Yelp. With a little bit of effort, you can build out a robust online presence that wins trust and drives sales.

Want more details about how your online listings are performing? Try our free business listings grader for instant insights.

Amanda Rodhe

Other posts by Amanda Rodhe

Yelp Lawsuit Could Mean Guest Reviewers Can Get Back Pay

A recent class action lawsuit filed in California could result in getting unpaid wages for Yelpers, or Yelp Reviewers. The lawsuit states that the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) law has been violated by Yelp. Although the lawsuit seems ridiculous, the attorneys of the case believe otherwise. If the lawsuit is successful it could set precedence for numerous similar lawsuits. Next, people might sue any site that accepts free reviews or guest article posts!

I spoke to Daniel Bernath, one of the attorneys at “The Yelp Class-Action Law Firm,” the law firm created just to bring this lawsuit forward.  He felt that Yelp is violating current laws by the way it treats its reviewers. The lawsuit claims that reviewers are encouraged to write free reviews and  instead of payment, they are awarded badges, such as “Elite” Status, “First to Review,” “Review of the Day,” “Duke,” “Duchess, ” “King,” and “Queen.”  In addition, Yelp often holds parties for their Elite reviewers where they offer them free drinks and food. The lawsuit also claims Yelp has a cult like environment.

“The argument that voluntarily using a free service equates to an employment relationship is completely without merit, unsupported by law and contradicted by the dozens of websites like Yelp that consumers use to help one another.”

I also talked to a couple of attorneys to get some legal expertise regarding the chances of this lawsuit prevailing.

“This lawsuit is doomed to fail.  It’s a broad-based attack on the user-generated content (UGC) ecosystem, and there’s no chance that courts will say that every author publishing their content online are employees of the publishing websites.”

However Mr. Goldman feels that the Elite users may pose a more serious challenge, as “its Elite members check off more factors on the various multi-factor tests for classifying employees.”

Mr. Goldman has written about a similar case. In 2012, the Huffington Post won a case brought forward by unpaid contributors.

Aaron Minc, a Defamation Attorney, has a detailed analysis of this case on his blog. He states:

“Yelpers sign up for Yelp pursuant to its “terms of use” and are not “hired” or “fired.” Yelpers write content how, when, and where they want. Finally, Yelp users are neither given nor promised any formal monetary compensation.”

If this lawsuit prevails, many online review websites and news websites that accept guest posts will need to revise their business practices. Review websites may actually have to start paying reviewers a small fee or come up with some solid proof agreements with their reviewers to avoid getting sued in the future.

Screenshot of chúng tôi taken November 2013.

When Does It Pay To Outsource Your Small

To paraphrase the old saying: The road to China is paved with good intentions.

For many businesses, outsourcing work overseas promises a road to business success, offering low-cost production with high quality results. For some, a business wouldn’t be financially possible at all without outsourcing.

But outsourcing isn’t easy, and trusting your business to someone half a world away takes a giant leap of faith that many aren’t ready to take. And many times, that leap has indeed ended in disaster.

How do you ensure you aren’t making a huge mistake when you start an outsourcing program? We talked to numerous entrepreneurs who’d been down the outsourcing road before, sometimes with great success stories to share, sometimes with miserable failures (“Never again!”) to report. Their collected wisdom can be found within.

What work to outsource

While outsourcing of just about everything has been attempted, it isn’t always successful. One of the big determinants of success is what exactly you’re attempting to outsource, as certain tasks are generally easier than others to offload overseas. Here’s a guide to the most common outsourcing options.

Manufacturing

Offshoring began with manufacturing, and it remains perhaps the most common target for sending overseas. Why? Cost, pure and simple. “Made in America” may be great for the country, but for many small businesses, it’s simply impossible to use a local factory or production center to make tangible goods and still turn a profit.

oDesk is among the popular sites that connect would-be bosses with overseas workers.

That said, outsourcing manufacturing is not an endeavor to be undertaken lightly. Colleen Lloyd-Roberts of Top Notch Nail Fileshas been outsourcing production of her products for nine years to both China and European factories. She says a comparable U.S.-manufactured nail file would cost 100 to 150 percent more to make—the equivalent of the price she charges her wholesale clients. Says Lloyd-Roberts, “I feel bad with all of the Americans who need money and employment, but they all want to charge so much. As far as manufacturing however, I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to get costs as low in the U.S. as I am getting now. I have made peace with the idea that I am employing people all over the world, because at the end of the day, all people have families to support, and no matter where we live, we all need money.”

Her key to success? “Settling in to a long-term relationship with a particular manufacturer,”Lloyd-Roberts adds. “My manufacturer will take back any products that are flawed. In nine years I’ve only had two issues.”

Technology Work

Again, success varies mainly based on who’s doing the work. Professional comedian Dan Nainan says he has two virtual assistants overseas. “They do amazing work,” he says. “One charges me $1.25 an hour, the other one charges two dollars an hour. Would you believe when I got the resumes, their English was better than those of Americans?” Thanks to VOIP, there’s no international calling barrier any more. Adds Nainan, “One of them has a Vonage account and they can call anywhere in the States for free. I had one of them call Costco to return a couple of items for me. If you call Costco trying to return stuff, they keep you on the phone for at least half an hour!”

Selecting and vetting providers

So many factors go into picking an outsourcing service provider, but in our discussions with those who’ve done it successfully, a common theme kept coming up: Take your time.

Beware of “yes” men, says consultant Ransley Carpio.

Most successfull outsourcers stress that your best chance for success comes from doing far more due diligence than you think you should, and asking question after question until you’re satisfied you’ve found the right person or company to partner with.

Marissa Anwar, editor of Thirty Six Months, a debt-reduction website, outsources her design work overseas. Her tips: “Interview 10 to 12 people for each person you end up hiring. Make sure that interviews are done via both chat and Skype to make sure that there isn’t a communication barrier (verbal or written).”

Overall, language barriers are probably the #1 most voiced complaint with offshore service providers. A popular way to get around this issue? Many outsourcers suggest using contractors in the Philippines, where costs are low but where English is usually spoken as a first language.

The more questions you can ask your provider up front, the fewer issues you’ll have that arise once you start working with. Some good ones to ask, courtesy of Parliament Tutors’ David Greenberg: “Do you own your own computer? How often are there power outages in your area? Did someone help you write your response to me?”

Most outsourcers swear by third-party freelancing services to help vet knowledge worker providers, manage payments, and provide an intermediary if something goes wrong. Elance, oDesk, and chúng tôi are the big ones. On the other hand, some caution against using manufacturers’ representatives to communicate with an overseas factory. Says Lloyd-Roberts, “I use Alibaba, and every time I’d put in a request I’d get a response from the same U.S.-based rep company. Using a rep blows your margins.”

Outsourcing challenges

Once you’ve found the right overseas partner, the hard work still lies ahead, and plenty of challenges await the unprepared when it comes to actually working with this person or company.

After language barriers, discussed above, the most common issue cited in dealing with outsourcing providers is that of time lag. The time difference between California and Bangladesh is 14 hours. At the end of your work day, they’re still asleep over there. While some providers keep “U.S. hours,” many do not, and you’ll need to make peace with longer turnaround times and a lack of real-time communication. The typical strategy: Bundle up all your work, send it to the provider at the end of the day, and expect to have the completed jobs waiting for you in the morning when you get in.

Another challenge, closely related to the language issue, is one of the provider simply understanding the tasks assigned and the goals of the work being performed. This problem becomes compounded the bigger the project is. A local developer may understand well what the key goals of, say, a parking spot-finding iPhone app is, and can make certain decisions about the project without having to consult you, in case information has been left out of the design spec document. A foreign developer may have no clue what the real value of the app is, and his instinct about developing it may simply be wrong.

For any project outsourced like this, information is essential. You can’t provide too much of it, and the more organized it is, the better. This may take an exceptional investment of time up front, but it will pay off in the end. Unfortunately, as programming projects migrate toward agile development principles, this type of carefully-scoped, finite design is increasingly difficult.

One aspect of outsourcing that’s not overly complicated is tax considerations. Hiring an offshore contractor should create no additional tax headaches than hiring one in-country. In fact, outsourcing overseas may actually protect you from claims that a contractor is an employee, a common problem that can arise when hiring a local contractor. If paying people overseas seems daunting, use a third party like Elance to handle the relationship.

Finally, you need to ensure you understand the culture of the outsourcing provider you’re working with. Tom Antion notes that early in his outsourcing career he didn’t understand  the custom of giving a “13th month” of salary as a bonus. Until he took formal training on the local cultures he was working with, he says his outsourcing attempts were never successful.

Tips for successful outsourcing

Here’s additional wisdom on ensuring your overseas outsourcing engagement is a success.

Provide examples. A detailed plan is great. A picture of what the product should look like when finished is better.

Meet regularly. “Even if everything is going well,” says Saurabh Sharma of Indus Insights, “we have discovered many new opportunities when we sit down and chat.”

Set Limits. “I had one contractor that had an open number of hours for work to be done. He gouged me for 80 hours for something I would’ve estimated to take 10,” says Veritable Ventures’ Ransley Carpio. “I’m experimenting with flat rate jobs instead of hourly now.”

Don’t take yes for an answer. Adds Carpio, “Most contractors from overseas will say ‘Yes, I understand’ and ‘Yes, I can do that’” to any question. They may not necessarily be lying, but in their eagerness to get the job, they’ll say yes to anything hoping they can figure it out as they go.

Split a project Into pieces. Outsourcing manufacturing? You don’t need to outsource product design, too. Working with a local design firm to ensure you get the exact design you want can save time and offer better results. Similarly, if your product has both a hardware and software component, those projects can be split so that an offshore provider only handles one side.

Start small. A modestly-sized sample project can go a long way toward making sure you and the provider are a good fit.

Discussion: Would You Pay For A Jailbreak?

Even since the first jailbreak for the iPhone launched back in 2007, tools have historically been free for end users to download or use. Despite being free, jailbreak users could generally donate to jailbreak developers if they wanted to provide gratitude for the tireless work that went into making it.

Obviously, jailbreaking isn’t as popular today as it once was, and consequently, the size and frequency of the aforementioned donations have shrunk proportionately as well. You can only imagine what a smaller reward system does to the motivation of jailbreak developers who spend hours, days, weeks, and sometimes months developing these tools, only to release them for free.

The idea of charging for a jailbreak has always been somewhat taboo because jailbreakers wince at the idea of ‘paying for freedom,’ however that idea might keep jailbreaking alive in the long run, especially as cost of living increases have left many developers using their free time to work other jobs instead of coding jailbreak tweaks and tools as a hobby or a source of side income.

Comments made by jailbreak development titan CoolStar on Discord about the lucrativeness of making and selling modded drivers for ChromeOS as opposed to jailbreaks for iOS & iPadOS sparked conversations all across the internet by those willing to pay for a speedier release, and of course, not everyone fell into this category.

The conversations opened the community’s eyes to the very real fact that jailbreak developers are selling their time and talents to the highest bidder and deprioritizing free releases that yield little to no reward. In this case, it seems like CoolStar could be making good money in her ChromeOS side gig, and making hardly anything at all developing the Cheyote jailbreak tool. That said, she hasn’t actually touched the project for a month, hence the delays.

While CoolStar later affirmed that Cheyote would be a free release, Pandora’s Box has already been opened, and now many jailbreakers are now taking to sources like /r/jailbreak and the Discord servers to offer payments for jailbreak tools. As it would seem, some parts of the jailbreak community are now eager to provide compensation to motivate developers for faster releases. But will they accept?

It remains to be seen what would be considered a fair price for a jailbreak tool assuming this trend were to take off. After all, since jailbreak tools have always been, and currently are free, there’s no established baseline. It’s also worth noting that Cheyote will likely be CoolStar’s final public jailbreak release, so it’s entirely possible that other jailbreak developers will continue releasing free jailbreaks despite these monetary offers.

Jailbreakers have been able to donate to jailbreak developers this entire time, however it goes without saying that when paying isn’t required, many people will pass the opportunity to support our jailbreak developers by and simply use the tool for free.

The argument for paid jailbreak releases

Under a paid release system, jailbreak developers may find themselves more motivated to work harder and complete projects faster, rather than prioritizing work on other hobbies over jailbreak tool development.

It’s worth noting that developing jailbreaks is getting substantially more challenging as Apple tightens its controlling grip on iOS & iPadOS in ways that we’ve never before seen. In fact, this is the primary reason why Cheyote will be a rootless jailbreak when it launches.

It also seems as if the pool of willing individuals who’ve demonstrated the talents required to break Apple’s enhanced security mechanisms is shrinking. This limit in supply affects demand, creating a circumstance under which jailbreak developers could technically command any price they wanted.

Jailbreakers split on the idea

Users are certainly split on the idea. While some have expressed that they’d be willing to support jailbreak development by buying a tool that they didn’t have the capability to make themselves, others have shared that they wouldn’t buy a jailbreak tool and would stop jailbreaking altogether if the community switched to a payment-based release system.

Another obvious concern is that when payment methods come into play for a high-demand product, so too does piracy. The demand for pirated copies would, in theory, perpetuate the distribution of malware by bad actors who might wish to bundle it with with the pirated copy of the jailbreak. This could potentially put more users at risk of infecting their devices, which are already running outdated version(s) of iOS or iPadOS with known security flaws.

Even if one jailbreak developer released a paid jailbreak tool, it remains to be seen if competing jailbreak developers would follow suit. No other jailbreak developers or teams have expressed interest in releasing paid jailbreaks at this time.

Wrapping up

Given the scarcity of jailbreaks these days, it certainly seems like we could be reaching a pivotal point in the jailbreak community where we may soon have to pay to play. It will be interesting to see where the tide goes from here, especially as waits for jailbreak tools increase at the rate that they have been.

Note: To be perfectly clear, all jailbreak tools to date, up to and including iOS & iPadOS 14 and 15 are free. Do not pay for any current jailbreak tool. Donations to jailbreak developers, on the other hand, are always appreciated.

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