G is taking local search in new directions, essentially telling small businesses that either they hand feed G their business's profile data (to G places) . . or they may not appear in the G local results. (Further infor here -> [webmasterworld.com ] )
G local is also embedding reviews with local G-Places results. Though I don't have great trust for anonymous reviews, or even name-given reviews, I can see where this is going: Reviews -> ^value added . . at least perceived value.
So, you run a directory. You want it to also have perceived value. Do you add/allow business reviews to your directory's listing capacity?
What if you don't have G's legions of lawyers to deal with the challenges to reviews? Also, doesn't allowing reviews create other headaches, such as having to explain the safe harbor provisions that (supposedly) protect you from suit but don't stop people from filing lawsuits which you must answer or be subject to default judgments, etc.
Is failing to include or allow company reviews going to be one more nail in the coffin on the independent directory?
Anyone choose to allow reviews of listed companies and then come to regret the decision and retreat from the practice?
Anyone now experimenting have any insights to share?
From an SEO perspective, Google seems to place a lot of weight in sites which allow/provide reviews of businesses. It appears to be one of a number of features which enable a webmaster to differentiate their content sufficiently to achieve some good rankings -- for business directory sites, merely displaying Biz Name, Address, City, State and Phone are not all that sufficient in Google's eyes to allow good rankings of the page -- multiple online directories showing the same basic listing info could engage duplicate content filters in search engines.
So, enabling reviews seems to help with this.
It's possible that your concerns might be out of whack with the actual risks. Particularly, if you try to build a reviews system/policy which provides some level of balance. Good policing of obvious review manipulation attempts, allowing businesses to respond in some way, etc.
There's definitely some need to police reviews coming in, but it's possible to do on a low-cost basis algorithmically, and perhaps in combo with some lite human interventions.
These practices could reduce liability and expense.