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Author Topic: Why I love product reviews....written by NON-TECHS  (Read 2842 times)

Josh

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Why I love product reviews....written by NON-TECHS
« on: January 10, 2011, 07:59:14 AM »
This is a short rant. Sorry, I am in a hurry or it would have been longer/properly spell/grammar checked.

So, while I was browsing amazon.com recently, I noticed one thing. The quality of reviews for products there was a lot higher than that of a few tech sites I frequent. Products are actually reviewed, discussed and the rating system actually used for what it was designed for, to mention if a review was helpful or not.

I've noticed a trend in most TECH reviews in that there is usually a lot of flaming about a specific product, most reviews appear to be from people who have never touched the product or only used it for about a half hour, and these same reviews even sometimes come off as a paid review which was discussed on DC before.

The reviews on Amazon.com, and likewise many other sites similar to it, are actually very well written, most of the times, and the authors take the time to actually put a decent amount of useful information in their reviews. The rating system is actually used to identify helpful reviews which is a huge plus.

That said, why can't techies get it right and start posting reviews that actually have to do with the product. I don't care what your favorite OS is, what grudge you hold against a particular software or product manufacturer, why you feel entitled to something for free, why you think your really flimsy definition of "Value" determines a product be rated a 1 simply because you cannot afford it. I want a review of how the product functions, not it's price, your beliefs on how the product should be developed, or your beliefs on the company behind it. REVIEW THE PRODUCT, not the company.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2011, 08:02:53 AM by Josh »

Renegade

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Re: Why I love product reviews....written by NON-TECHS
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2011, 08:46:12 AM »
This is a short rant. Sorry, I am in a hurry or it would have been longer/properly spell/grammar checked.

So, while I was browsing amazon.com recently, I noticed one thing. The quality of reviews for products there was a lot higher than that of a few tech sites I frequent. Products are actually reviewed, discussed and the rating system actually used for what it was designed for, to mention if a review was helpful or not.

I've noticed a trend in most TECH reviews in that there is usually a lot of flaming about a specific product, most reviews appear to be from people who have never touched the product or only used it for about a half hour, and these same reviews even sometimes come off as a paid review which was discussed on DC before.

The reviews on Amazon.com, and likewise many other sites similar to it, are actually very well written, most of the times, and the authors take the time to actually put a decent amount of useful information in their reviews. The rating system is actually used to identify helpful reviews which is a huge plus.

That said, why can't techies get it right and start posting reviews that actually have to do with the product. I don't care what your favorite OS is, what grudge you hold against a particular software or product manufacturer, why you feel entitled to something for free, why you think your really flimsy definition of "Value" determines a product be rated a 1 simply because you cannot afford it. I want a review of how the product functions, not it's price, your beliefs on how the product should be developed, or your beliefs on the company behind it. REVIEW THE PRODUCT, not the company.

+1 Josh!

Well put.

Quote
I've noticed a trend in most TECH reviews in that there is usually a lot of flaming about a specific product, most reviews appear to be from people who have never touched the product or only used it for about a half hour, and these same reviews even sometimes come off as a paid review which was discussed on DC before.


That is what pisses me off. So many reviewers do their reviews off of data sheets it seems. Tom's Hardware seems to be the exception.

Regarding:

Quote
I want a review of how the product functions, not it's price, your beliefs on how the product should be developed, or your beliefs on the company behind it.

Sometimes those are hard to separate. e.g. Lock-in from some vendors is a very real consideration, and hard to ignore.
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

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

f0dder

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Re: Why I love product reviews....written by NON-TECHS
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2011, 09:03:22 AM »
That is what pisses me off. So many reviewers do their reviews off of data sheets it seems. Tom's Hardware seems to be the exception.
TomsHardware is OK, but the best site I've come across is definitely AnandTech - in-depth articles by People Who Aren't Morons(TM).
- carpe noctem

Bamse

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Re: Why I love product reviews....written by NON-TECHS
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2011, 10:19:17 AM »
Flaming? The opposite have been the problem since Tech Review industry started many years ago. Trick is to limit personal opinion but deliver an article after same formula/template as all the others. So those who supply you/site with samples, including the handpicked ones!, continue to be happy - happy to advertise too. This setup works best with younger dudes who get to keep some of the stuff and can resell it later :) Short description of Tech reviews last 10 years, non-Techies own this area. Works much like Software rewards or journalism on crappy newspapers.

Some bigger sites might be exceptions since they have resources like paid staff to do actual reviewing - but I would still be careful trusting too much. Amazon reviews or even Neweggs can add useful info reviewer somehow forgot to mention. But non-Techies rarely have useful input though. They either cannot get anything to work or they are so amazed they succeeded getting it to work they praise the day product was launched. Insight know-how from experience or deep thinking comes from techies but hobbyist often knows more, unlike pro-reviewers they have no problem focusing on weak/unpopular features. That is why they bother posting anyway.


Josh

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Re: Why I love product reviews....written by NON-TECHS
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2011, 10:25:43 AM »
While vendor lock-in is a real issue, and one which should be mentioned, I do not think stating that, and only that, in a product review is helping anyone. As I said, on amazon you see consumers rating products in a manner which proves most useful in determining which item to purchase, if it is even compatible with an accessory or primary product. My point is that while these are typically not "software" reviews, I wish that techs could use this style of posting when writing reviews.

Also note, this is not directed at larger review sites or entities, but individuals reviewing software. This is where you would normally see comments in the "feedback" or "discussions about product" section of a larger review or posting (I.E., CNET, Betanews, TomsHardware, etc). This issue does plaque larger reviews mentioned earlier in this paragraph, but nowhere near the extent to which it does the individual techie reviews.

Renegade

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Re: Why I love product reviews....written by NON-TECHS
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2011, 10:31:30 AM »
Quote
But non-Techies rarely have useful input though.

That's not the case in some product areas. Higher end cameras are a good example. Consumer level cheap cameras... Yeah... Useless...
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

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

superboyac

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Re: Why I love product reviews....written by NON-TECHS
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2011, 10:43:17 AM »
The techies tend to obsess over minor things that hardly anybody cares about.  While they may have valuable things to say about that minor point, they end up writing a lot that ultimately ends up being useless to most people who come across the article.  It's the quantity over quality thing.  It's hard to be consice and to also be able to be sensitive to what most people would care about.  It's the difference in reading a pop magazine (like Time) and an academic journal.  The scientists scoff at Time because they don't get into the hardcore details, and claim it's pop rubbish.  The pop culture crowd picks up an academic journal and thinks, "What the fuck is this, and who gives a shit.  Oh, and it's super boring."

Which is why the most valuable people as far this stuff goes, are those who have a clear grasp on the technical stuff, but also can break down the important points to the non-techies, non-geeks, whatever you want to call them.  Guys like Stephen Fry are very gifted at this.

40hz

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Re: Why I love product reviews....written by NON-TECHS
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2011, 11:40:52 AM »
+1 on AnandTech, followed by Phoronix.com  :Thmbsup:

Bamse

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Re: Why I love product reviews....written by NON-TECHS
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2011, 01:21:25 PM »
Renegade, with non-techies I was referring to pro and amateurs who don't know what they talk about or worse have agenda guiding them. Could be getting clicks to their site so Google money or affiliate deals kicks in. Attempts to seek "Always flame" label could be part of that of course. Techies don't necessarily have credentials other than they don't blabber too much. Years of experience don't mean crap if you are stupid and not able to consume new knowledge. Did certainly not hint you should look for credentials  :o or if none available what X person say is useless. Closer to the opposite in tech area I think.

superboyac

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Re: Why I love product reviews....written by NON-TECHS
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2011, 01:26:27 PM »
Renegade, with non-techies I was referring to pro and amateurs who don't know what they talk about or worse have agenda guiding them. Could be getting clicks to their site so Google money or affiliate deals kicks in. Attempts to seek "Always flame" label could be part of that of course. Techies don't necessarily have credentials other than they don't blabber too much. Years of experience don't mean crap if you are stupid and not able to consume new knowledge. Did certainly not hint you should look for credentials  :o or if none available what X person say is useless. Closer to the opposite in tech area I think.

That's true also.  The majority of "reviews" out there are just plain spam.  I mean, the web is inundated with this stuff.  Finding anything is like a needle in a haystack situation.  The only time I actually find stuff is when people refer me to specific links.  Googling hardly gets you anything these days.

40hz

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Re: Why I love product reviews....written by NON-TECHS
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2011, 02:10:16 PM »
Warning!

@Bamse - love your new avatar.  :Thmbsup: Almost as evil as Josh's creepy little gnat thing.  

santa.png

Have you seen this yet?  8)
« Last Edit: January 10, 2011, 02:12:14 PM by 40hz »

superboyac

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Re: Why I love product reviews....written by NON-TECHS
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2011, 02:26:35 PM »
Warning!

@Bamse - love your new avatar.  :Thmbsup: Almost as evil as Josh's creepy little gnat thing. 
 (see attachment in previous post)
Have you seen this yet?  8)
I hope that's as good as the previews look.

Bamse

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Re: Why I love product reviews....written by NON-TECHS
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2011, 02:28:24 PM »
So Santa does come from Finland after all! Will look that movie up, looks fun. I have been playing Killing Floor http://www.killingfloorthegame.com/ to kill Xmas. They offered free Xmas DLC with bad bad Santa.

rjbull

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Re: Why I love product reviews....written by NON-TECHS
« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2011, 02:31:18 PM »
The reviews on Amazon.com, and likewise many other sites similar to it, are actually very well written

The reviews are often better than Amazon UK itself.  I went looking for translations of the Odyssey and the Aeneid recently.  In these cases, the particular translation is extremely important, even critical.  Amazon UK lumped all reviews of a book together, presumably linking them by title only.  You couldn't tell which review referred to which translation, unless the review author had taken the trouble to be specific.

rjbull

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Re: Why I love product reviews....written by NON-TECHS
« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2011, 02:44:14 PM »
Owing to an epidemic of influenza, the record for the maximum number of scuba-diving Santas wasn't broken this year  :(
« Last Edit: January 10, 2011, 02:46:53 PM by rjbull »

Renegade

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Re: Why I love product reviews....written by NON-TECHS
« Reply #15 on: January 10, 2011, 08:36:46 PM »
This guy rocks - Ken Rockwell. :D

http://www.kenrockwell.com/

His reviews are fantastic. But he's RARE. There are not many people like that out there. He's the sort of person that you want to read reviews from.

But, as mentioned above, you really need to get those personal recommendations from someone who's an expert (or sufficiently knowledgeable in the field) to point you in the right direction.

e.g. Want to learn some programming stuff? Go to "the Code Project". That place is gold. I'd point people there.

Where to go for information on aquatic sport? Got me. No clue. Not an expert in that field. I do know though (as pointed out above) that I'll have a hard time finding anything truly useful in Google.

Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

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

Renegade

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Re: Why I love product reviews....written by NON-TECHS
« Reply #16 on: January 10, 2011, 08:40:02 PM »
Here's just another reason to love Ken Rockwell:

F.A.R.T. First for Fantastic Photos

Fart jokes rule~! :D
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

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

Dormouse

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Re: Why I love product reviews....written by NON-TECHS
« Reply #17 on: January 10, 2011, 09:32:49 PM »
This guy rocks - Ken Rockwell. :D

http://www.kenrockwell.com/

His reviews are fantastic. But he's RARE. There are not many people like that out there. He's the sort of person that you want to read reviews from.

You do need to understand his biases though.

app103

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Re: Why I love product reviews....written by NON-TECHS
« Reply #18 on: January 10, 2011, 09:53:58 PM »
There are a lot of "software review" sites out there that do nothing more than install and run the app just long enough so they can make a screenshot (which they promptly watermark with the url of their site) and then rewrite the description of the application they found on the developer's website. You can tell they never actually used it. There is nothing about what's good or bad about the actual application...it's all just fluff and a listing of the features the developer mentioned it has and what they think it might be good for. Sometimes they can't even get that right.

I suppose there just as many that are doing the same for just about any category of products.