Monday, April 23, 2007

User Reviews

User reviews are, without doubt, one of the worst inventions spawned from the internet.

This morning, I read the following user review of the keyboard I ordered last week:

5 stars *****

This keyboard is awesome and totally worth the money! One of the best purchases I’ve ever made! I just hope it comes with a pitch bender and that the built in lessons aren’t too hard. Does anyone know if it comes with the power adapter?

Just in case the sheer stupidity of this hasn’t sunk in, someone ordered the keyboard, then reviewed it, gave it 5 stars…before they actually received it!

How the hell do you review something you’ve never actually used? Congrats, dude, you’ve just thrown off the rating curve by ‘reviewing’ something based on the sales copy.

Just in case you’re ever tempted to write your own user reviews, please keep the following in mind:

1) Just because your product arrived damaged or broken doesn’t automatically warrant a terrible rating.

Ok, you’ve been waiting for your product to arrive, and when it finally gets to you, it doesn’t work. You’re disappointed and a bit PO’d, but this doesn’t mean you should go to every shopping site you can find and give low ratings and terrible reviews. You don’t judge a product by a one in a million fault or a shipping accident.

This happened to me once with a video card, and I called the store and they shipped me a replacement within 3 days, totally at their own expense. The replacement worked fine and I was happy. I wrote a positive review, and praised their customer service.

Of course, if the whole line has a fault, or the customer service is terrible, that’s a different story…just check first.

2) Factor in your experience level with the product.

I’ve seen great reviews for truly awful products, all because the buyer has absolutely no experience with what they’ve bought. For example, if you’ve never owned an MP3 player before, your first one might seem totally awesome, despite the fact is has low sound quality, a tiny amount of storage space and a terrible battery life.

Just because you’re impressed doesn’t mean it’s a great product. “It holds about an hour of music, and the batteries last a couple of hours, which is great for what I need.” Is a much more useful review than, “OMG! This is TOTALLY AWESOME!!!!!”

3) Don’t be a fanboy.

Every review should have positives and negatives, even if the only negative is something totally minor. I’ve seen five star reviews for anything from gadgets to movies before they actually came out. Gotta love those fanboys.

Remember, you’re reviewing the product, not masturbating over it. Again, “This is a great product, and works exactly as advertised. The minor downside is it doesn’t come with a HD cable/power adapter/optional extra.” Is much better than “ZOMG! This is AWESOME, it’s the ROXXORS!”

4) Don’t be a hater, and only review products you own.

This is the opposite of the fanboy. These are people who ‘review’ a PS3 by saying “Playstations SUCK! Buy an Xbox, fags!”. They post these reviews despite the fact they’ve never actually seen or touched a PS3.

5) Post reviews, not abuse for the people who’ve posted reviews you disagree with.

UR a FAG! Buy a REAL console, u tard! This SUX!” is not a review.

6) Just because it’s not exactly what you wanted is not a reason for a bad review.

Say you buy a keyboard, and it turns out it’s not quite advanced enough for you. The review should be along the lines of “Not a very advanced keyboard, it’s missing , but would work well for beginners.”

Of course, if you’re sent something that doesn’t match it’s description (IE, something is billed as a professional level product, and turns out to be like a beginners product), say so. However, saying that is a lot more helpful than “These douchbags ripped me off, this product SUX!!!”

7) Remember you’re writing a review.

To write a review, you write what’s good about the product, what’s bad about the product, your experience with customer service (if applicable), if what you get is worth the money and a comparison to a similar product if you can. For example:

“The Radeon X1300 is a great mid-range card. It’ll handle games such as HL2 and Doom 3 really well, but don’t expect absolutely blistering performance. It installed on my system with no problems. The only downside I can think of is it comes with a HDI output but no HDI cable. The pricepoint is good, any cheaper and you get a far less powerful card, and you’re going to pay at least another hundred or so for a better card.”

That’s a useful review. The following is a review directly from CircuitCity.com:

its awesome
Reviewer: ant from brooklyn ny on Wed Jan 03 09:07:09 EST 2007
totally.

It’s ‘awesome, totally’? Thanks for that in-depth review. I now know that this must be the best card available, ever!

1 comment:

Saffyre said...

What happened to the geek blog???