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Author Topic: Are software reviews important and effective? If not, why not?  (Read 5101 times)

urlwolf

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Are software reviews important and effective? If not, why not?
« on: October 13, 2006, 02:40:56 PM »
I joined DC because of the software reviews (but mind you, I have found a lot more and I check the site everyday).

I have seen many people swearing by DC's reviews. The software industry certainly has high regards for DC's reviews. I love them, I think they are great fun a good for the ecosystem.

But I found one thing that puzzled me: I don't really use the recommended soft!

Let me explain.
The titanic http://www.donationc...oteTakers1/index.php
Notetaking Software Roundup #1
Recommends not one, but three programs… I use a completely different one (oneNote).

The Best Email Client review, recommends the bat, I use Opera.

The Power-user Backup Guide recommends Genie Backup, I hate it with passion and use synchBackSE (although honestly, I'm not very fond of it either).

Ultraedit gets the best text editor award, but I use vim.

You know what I'm getting at?

Are we humans so variable that it doesn't make sense to make software recommendations? If so, what is the alternative? We sure like to read the comparison, but for some reason we end up having our own take on it… and using something else!

Comments? Are you in a similar situation? If so, what are the implications for the reviews?

nudone

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Re: Are software reviews important and effective? If not, why not?
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2006, 02:46:49 PM »
the reviews have never been there to dictate what to use. merely to offer comparisons and suggestions - i think it says that somewhere in the review section(?)


mwb1100

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Re: Are software reviews important and effective? If not, why not?
« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2006, 03:12:09 PM »
Well, everybody has their own likes and needs, and I think it's always clear that a 'best' award is only the opinion of the reviewer.  The value in the reviews is that they add information and may narrow the field of what you decide to look at.

I think this applies to any review, not just DC's and not just software reviews.

mouser

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Re: Are software reviews important and effective? If not, why not?
« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2006, 03:41:59 PM »
Also a review can help you answer the question:
Is there anything i'm missing to make me want to swtich?

Often what you wonder is, is there stuff i don't know or am not using that i should be, and the review can help you answer that question.

JavaJones

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Re: Are software reviews important and effective? If not, why not?
« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2006, 04:11:08 PM »
I definitely think reviews are useful and agree it's important to keep in mind that the "Editor's choice" or highest rated program is not necessarily the one for *you*. What they're good for - regardless of whether you choose "winner" that they chose - is giving you a (hopefully) good overview of all products in a given market segment and how their general features stack up to each other, how they perform relative to each other, what problems they might have, and hopefully some idea of how they are to use. It's up to the reader to read something like "I found the automatic file organization to be invasive and destructive to my existing filing system" and think to themselves "Well I have no existing filing system, it's all just a mess, so automating file organization would be great!" (this is something you would find in a review of iTunes for example, vs. Winamp). I think the commentary and information presented is useful in itself and of course just needs to be interpreted and filtered by the reader for their purposes.

On the subject of "winners" in particular, there are a number of publications that have multiple people work on reviews and each often provides their own "winner" in these cases. This can be a helpful moderating factor on the review and contribute to keeping it from being too one-sided. It can also be good if you come to identify with a particular reviewer's general opinions and style - you may trust their recommendations more in the future on that basis. So you see that John in this roundup of email clients recommended Pocomail, and he was also a former user of Opera and really liked moving to Poco, then you are inclined to try it.

Anyway, just some random thoughts. I definitely think reviews are useful, just not too much importance should be placed on winners and ratings, especially by the astute reader.

- Oshyan

jgpaiva

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Re: Are software reviews important and effective? If not, why not?
« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2006, 04:13:59 PM »
I think that the most important question on a review is not "which application is the best?" but "which application fits me the most?". Often, reviews give the highest ranking to the application that can fit more people better.
I personally usually first look at the winning app to see if it fits my needs. If it does, i usually don't look at others. If later i find that it doesn't fit me (or it didn't fit me in the beggining), i look at the features list. I love those big tables with each program and several features, and crosses on each of them. I think it's all about comparison, if one app has all the features i really need, that's the one i use.

An interesting fact: from that review, i started using pspad. I loved it. But then, i didn't like the way it indented code, so, i found myself a new editor, which although doesn't have some good stuff that pspad has (like its simplicity), features a way more powerful syntax highliting and indentation: VIM ;)

JavaJones

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Re: Are software reviews important and effective? If not, why not?
« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2006, 05:12:59 PM »
I loooove PSPad. :D I agree with your other comments about reviews in general though jgpaiva. Particularly about comparison charts. Which is why I loooove http://www.cmsmatrix.org/ http://www.wikimatrix.org/ and http://www.forummatrix.org/ They all run off a great common matrix engine too, which allows for filtering, dynamically adding and removing compared systems, notes, etc. Great stuff.

- Oshyan

tinjaw

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Re: Are software reviews important and effective? If not, why not?
« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2006, 06:00:42 PM »
Great comments. In a related manner, I used to do reviews for The Wargamer. Their policy is to not use any kind of rating system so the reader can decide for themselves if it is a game they are interested in. For many of the same reasons mentioned here. They also have yearly reader choice awards - which I think are good to have also.

mitzevo

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Re: Are software reviews important and effective? If not, why not?
« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2006, 09:45:12 PM »
The reviews are just great.. all though they are not "this is what we like, this is what you will like more than that" type of things.. ofcourse they are just general info for people who are looking for good software. Ofcourse every one is different and likes their own things. The reviews just pick some good choices or narrow the choices down so you don't have to start a big project for your self on finding the best of the best.

They run thru the most popular (and some least known/popular) software in each category so it saves yourself time having to test all programs yourself. I find this very useful as this saves a lot of time and you don't have to learn how to use each new program.
 :)
The clock is running. Make the most of today. Time waits for no man. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it is called the present.

JavaJones

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Re: Are software reviews important and effective? If not, why not?
« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2006, 10:41:07 PM »
I think that's an important point too - a review doesn't necessarily show you what exactly to use, but it can definitely show you what *not* to use. Without a good roundup you may have to consider every app in the field which is often hundreds. With a review you can at least narrow down your search right off to a few candidates and then investigate further.

- Oshyan

cranioscopical

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Re: Are software reviews important and effective? If not, why not?
« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2006, 10:45:13 PM »
When buying any product or service about which I'm less than a qualified expert I'll seek opinions from others who are better-qualified and whose judgement I trust.

The software reviews on DonationCoder enlarge the pool of well-informed opinion into which I can dip.  They save me time, and they inform me about items of which I may never have heard.
Comparative reviews are the more useful to me - and some of those here show an impressive amount of research - but monadic material can be informative, too.

nevf

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Re: Are software reviews important and effective? If not, why not?
« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2006, 05:09:18 PM »
Surely its just horses for courses. And the reviews are yummy fodder.
Neville Franks, "Save anything you see on the Web or on your PC" with Surfulater