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Author Topic: Some ideas to help do more full length reviews..  (Read 5900 times)

mouser

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Some ideas to help do more full length reviews..
« on: October 23, 2005, 08:37:37 PM »
We started out doing a new full length review each week here and we've fallen recently to less than one a month.
I thought I would address that and start a conversation on how we might be able to improve that.

The first thing to acknowledge is that the scope, depth, and length of the reviews has grown tremendously since we started.
If you go to the review archive: http://www.donationc...s/Archive/index.html
and compare the first with the last review it's laughable that we thought that first review was "comprehensive"
so we've gotten to the point where our reviews are pretty big undertakings.

The second reason for the decrease in reviews is that I have focused more and more on improving the software here - ScreenshotCaptor has turned into a very popular program and has had tons of work done on it, and Find+Run, while not as popular, has improved steadily, requiring a lot of attention from me.  As much as I like doing the reviews, my main feeling is that I should probably focus on the things I can do best, and thats coding not reviewing.

I think we need to get back to more frequent reviews though - they are an important part of the site.  And the solution to that is to have members here write reviews.

So some concrete ideas to encourage that:

We now have an easy way of generating some ad revenue from reviews with the google ads, and it's extremely easy to get a report of all ad revenue from specific pages.  The main motivation on this site is not money, and you're not going to make that much, but a popular review could earn some money, and guest reviewers would get all ad revenue from their review pages.  How much - i really don't know, we need someone to be the first guinea pig to find out.  Zaine's archive review was extremely widely read and it's a shame we didn't have the ads set up then.

We now have a two-stage review process, where part 1 is just an overview of the category and a list of the main programs in the category along with screenshots and some info.  If you don't feel like you are ready to do a full review - what about just doing the part one summary of apps in the category?  This is a bit of work but it's not work that requires a lot of experience - you just search the web for related programs and take screenshots (official or your own), and add them to a table in a template we already have written, along with links to their homepage, the price, shareware/freeware etc.  It seems to me we could have several people building these part 1 summaries simultaneously - and that having them written would make life a LOT easier for a final review.  It gets the ball rolling and would go along way to getting reviews written.

Maybe we can find someone here at our forum to sort of spearhead the review writing process, to try to organize new reviews getting written?

Our poll here http://www.donationc...ndex.php?topic=482.0
has a list of top reviews wanted.

What I'd like to do is get some volunteers to start creating part 1 overviews of these reviews; when we have a few of those we can start filling in the details.

Maybe we can make some concessions to the difficulty in having our reviews focus on one best winner - and play off more of the strengths of our community here, in putting more focus on a comprehensive review of the various programs in a category; and while still choosing a best commercial app and best freeware app, shift a bit of the emphasis from focusing on the one winner, which would make it easier for us to write the reviews as a group effort.

Let's not underestimate the positive effect of a couple of people volunteering and spearheading a few reviews... the mini review section was pretty quiet until recently when nighted and a few others started posting and now its a wonderfull part of the forum.

So let's see if we can figure out a way to take advantage of the brains of the people here and find a way to still do those big category-winning reviews, but in a way that's sustainable here on a regular basis.  And my suggestion is we break up the job into a format that is more amenable to some team work and piecewise construction.

So to recap:
1) let's get some volunteers to write some PART1 review overviews; this requires real work searching the web for the good programs in a category and collecting information about them, but has no deadline, and doesn't require you to form opinions about the programs.
2) let's have our reviews focus more on a broader review of the various programs, comparing them, etc., which can take advantage of input from forum members about different features in each.
3) let's try to reward guest reviewers who put a lot of work in on reviews; one way to do that is to more formally make clear some rewards.  guest reviewers will get the ad revenue from the web page (we'll have to figure out a good way to divide and share if it's a team effort); plus reviewers will be garanteed some free software from donated copies.

OK, who wants to volunteer to take on which of the PART1 overviews? see the poll for a list of what people want to see reviewed.

mouser

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Re: Some ideas to help do more full length reviews..
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2005, 09:47:23 PM »
another thing -
i would really like to try to make november a special month for us - nothing would say that more than being able to do 2 reviews.
so if we could get 2 volunteers to spearhead 2 full length reviews for novemeber, one, that would make my day  :-*

zridling

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Re: Some ideas to help do more full length reviews..
« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2005, 12:39:54 AM »
You know I would jump on this, but I'm extremely busy for the next month moving. I'm not even updating my own website because I'm not home much of the time now. For those considering it, dive into a software category you love, take one program at a time, and use it for full day or two, and takes notes along the way. The move to the next and so on.

I'd like to do a review of NewsReader software early in the year (around February 1, and then DCC can publish it when it fits their schedule) since several of those programs have recently seen significant upgrades, and then follow that up with a brief review of Usenet services. But like the archive tools review, I'll need to rely on others' expertise. And if someone else has broad experience with Newsreaders, by all means, beat me to it or let's join together for a great review!

zridling

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Re: Some ideas to help do more full length reviews..
« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2005, 05:17:51 PM »
Another approach is to attack a class of software as a group, splitting up the review duties and submitting them over a period of time. This might get really fun now that I think of it!

mouser

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Re: Some ideas to help do more full length reviews..
« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2005, 05:41:56 PM »
hmm.. maybe we could use a wiki for this...
so that different people could add a different page for different apps in a category, with their opinions?

Carol Haynes

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Re: Some ideas to help do more full length reviews..
« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2005, 07:18:04 PM »
A wiki for this sort of thing is a great idea, but for a review a conclusion needs to be reached too. Having lots of people contribute is nice but we all come from different places and so it would be difficult for someone to draw conclusions and recommendations from disparate entries.

Could be a great starting point though for discussing why people like particular applications and what they don't like - would require a lot of discipline  8)

mouser

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Re: Some ideas to help do more full length reviews..
« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2005, 07:40:19 PM »
right, the wiki would not be the final review - i was only playing with the idea that as a group we could fill in pages for all the apps in the category, with different people adding info about each app and screenshots, and people adding opinions, and then one person writing the review proper, using the wiki as a kind of appendix of sorts...

the only thing this raises is again the same issue with the blogs and the issues raised with wikis in the past, and that is, would we be better off just using the forum for this.. and i think the answer may be yes..

Carol Haynes

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Re: Some ideas to help do more full length reviews..
« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2005, 04:16:48 AM »
Ah I see.

Actually a wiki might be a better way as it would be easier to get to the information and the final review could point to the individual app pages being discussed.

The reviewer could also be the editor for those pages, correcting any mistakes and bringing it all together as a whole. It would also make all the information more coherent and easily accessible.

The wiki itself could form a replacement review section (the other reviews could be eaily moved there as they are on their own page, or just linked where they are now with a link back).

Once set up it could also be used for other things too ...

mouser

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Re: Some ideas to help do more full length reviews..
« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2005, 10:40:39 AM »
and another advantage of using a wiki for storing info about the alternative programs is it would be easier for people to add info after the review goes live.

Renegade

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Using a Wiki for Collaborative Reviews
« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2005, 09:03:11 AM »
A wiki might just be ideal for a couple other reasons.

Consider a category like audio editors. That is NOT something that 1 person could possible do a good job of for many reasons. I've used a lot of them out there and know most of them pretty well, but the scope is just massive. It's like trying to do anti-virus software or databases. They're just big topics that require a lot of research and time - LOTS of time.

With a wiki, the wiki-view could evolve over time with multiple contributors.

Back to audio editors... You've got everything from very basic things like Audacity to competent things like Gold Wave, to dedicated simple wave editors like Sound Forge, to 3D software like Maven3D, to industrial strength stuff like Pyramix, Pro Tools, and Saw Studio. Reviewing Pyramix requires a dedicated workstation. Pro Tools is hardware driven. Saw Studio can work in a networked environment to "outsource" CPU load kind of like you'd find in a Beowulf super-computer. Trying to tackle just one of those applications is a massive task in itself.

A wiki would allow multiple contributors.

Good idea Mouser!

Cheers,

Ryan

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Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

mouser

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Re: Some ideas to help do more full length reviews..
« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2005, 04:20:41 AM »
anyone have any more ideas for how to encourage members to take on a review?  we need to get back into doing more frequent reviews i think - it's too much to bear to wait for a full month for each review!