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Old 06-26-2009, 12:26 AM   #1
Rob Williams
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Default A Testing Hypothesis

Should content posted on a website be decided by its readers, or companies? Rather than have typical advertising sustain a site and support its growth, are there other avenues worth exploring? These are the questions on the table, and Senior Editor Brett Thomas has taken a hard look at both, analyzing the pros, and the far more important cons.

You can read Brett's full in-depth analysis here and discuss it here! We'd love to hear what you guys have to say about this one, so let's have it!
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Old 06-26-2009, 02:03 AM   #2
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Default And the solution is?

Once again a well written (but way to long) Op Ed that clearly illustrates a problem that has been around forever in one form or another and offers no solution...

Online review sites have the same goal as the companies selling us parts--revenue. That's a fact. The trick might be to follow the lead of Consumer Reports type publications. The review site does not accept advertising from companies. Readers provide revenue for the review site by subscribing. The problem is that readers--online especially--are spoiled and expect everything to be free.

The REAL solution is actually quite simple. If you review PC parts, you do not accept ads from companies that SELL PC parts. Your ad sales team gets off their lazy arses and sells ads to industries that sell different products to the same demographic. It is not like people into PC's (let's face it, men 14 to say 45) is not one of the most sought after demographics to start with. If you write reviews about computer parts, sell ads for Ax body spray, the latest 24 blade uber razor, synthetic motor oil, Cars, etc. etc..

Maybe spend half as much time on LONG and mostly pointless filler editorials and use the time to go sell some ads?
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Old 06-26-2009, 10:10 AM   #3
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While I appreciate your (not-so) constructive critique of my OpEd, writing it serves a purpose. I don't write to just propose unlimited solutions - instead, I'd prefer to put something out to people who haven't necessarily been brought up to speed regarding industry moves and hopefully encourage a more public discourse on the options.

The suggestion you pose is actually pretty fascinating, and to be honest I never really considered it as a direct solution. Neither has anyone else in the industry at large, guessing by the lack of other sites doing this, either.

Really, though, rather than trying to insult the fact that I actually wrote something that poses an industry conundrum, couldn't you have just said "Hey! I have a pretty simple solution to this..."? A little courtesy goes a long way...
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Old 06-26-2009, 01:30 PM   #4
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if companies start paying for the reviews and u give the product a bad review then it will really hard for the reviewer to honestly say: ' i dont recommend this product' or 'i give it a 6/10' !!

i hope this does not happen, even the crappy products might start getting editor's choice awards!!
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Old 06-26-2009, 04:24 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unregistered
Once again a well written (but way to long) Op Ed that clearly illustrates a problem that has been around forever in one form or another and offers no solution...
Hmm... I'm not sure what you mean by 'offers no solution', as Brett's previous editorial clearly offered one. The goal of an editorial isn't to always offer a solution, because in situations like these, it's not easy to come up with one. Editorials can accomplish other things, like raising awareness, starting discussions and getting feedback from our readers.

This editorial was written with a purpose. When I was asked what I thought about such an idea, I didn't even know how to respond (and for the record, the 'F___ that!' quote was real). It turned on a light bulb... I thought, "maybe things really are headed down this road", and it's not a good thing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unregistered
Maybe spend half as much time on LONG and mostly pointless filler editorials and use the time to go sell some ads?
These editorials aren't fillers, and they're certainly not pointless. This article isn't about us selling ads, either. The various subjects just happen to be intertwined. That aside, your suggestions regarding relevant ads is great, so thank you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doomsday
if companies start paying for the reviews and u give the product a bad review then it will really hard for the reviewer to honestly say: ' i dont recommend this product' or 'i give it a 6/10' !!
Well as I mentioned, this is a real issue, and it goes on now (I know of sites now that happily accept payment for articles and awards), but whether the practice spreads is another question.

The reason Brett felt so inclined to write an editorial like this is because our experience raises a cause for alarm. Oddly enough, I had another bizarre conversation the very next day, with another rather sizable company. We were essentially talking about awards and the like, and he said almost verbatim, "You know why I like [website] more than your site? Because they give us awards.".

I'm not going to reveal the names of the sites discussed, because for the most part, there's far more than one (and they're also pretty obvious), but I was struck with the comment. Never before have I had a press representative put it so bluntly. I raised the point that while we don't liberally hand out awards, we write what we feel to be some of the best content around, and his response was simply, "but you don't give us awards", so clearly, that's all that seems to matter.

That's the nature of the beast, I guess.
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Old 07-12-2009, 11:20 PM   #6
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My experience:

I was part time reviewer for one tech (paper) magazine, where I use to shoot photos and make some design.

We (they) had few policies. Who don't advertise, can't have product reviewed. And if we really don't like something, we just return that.
But, as our market is small, and a lot of manufacturers is just represented by importers, we asked from importers to pay ads, so that was bit simpler.

During 5 years, i reviewed more than 300 digital cameras, projectors, DV cameras and so.
Very rarely, I put in a magazine something i bought for myself and waned to share with people. Mostly because we were unable to survive without ads. Circulation was not enough to cover even basic expenses. So, if somebody pay's us an ad, we should take their products and get them reviewed. We were not able to treat equaly those who pays and those who don't support us.

I buried only few things.

One (first) Samsung LED digital projector, which was really useles crap, and one HP projector, which was another piece of crap.

I return one Panasonic camera, which has really bad, bad picture. But that happened late 2002 year, so now every manufacturer of DC have almost same imager inside, and most of tham has crappy photos, mostly because of bad CCD, overwhelmed with uselles bilions of small pixels.

So, i guess you should try to review mostly things you like and are good. That way, you are not lying your public and on the other hand, don't confrontate with advertisers. And don't loose your time on useless products.

We all must pay our bills, let's be honest. You should be compensated somehow for your work and efforts!

Or we should pay site subscription, but i would like to see which mainstream site going to be the first one with that!

I paid sub. few times at GameSpot, when i got Broadband access in my country, to be able to download those HD videos. Just for example.

Awards:

Rob, from my experience, manufacturers are mad about awards. Especially Taiwan and China based.
They LOVE to literally fill every empty square inch of their childish product boxes with few dozen of various awards. So, i guess you are supposed to give away some more badges, as soon as it's possible

They simply can't live without that!

p.s.
Most razor and body spray manufacturers don't care and don't want to advertise on average technology web sites, simply because they can get 1000x more coverage on mainstream sites, like nba.com, gq.com or so....
To be honest, even Anand or Tom's H. don't have that kind of ads!
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Old 07-13-2009, 01:38 PM   #7
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I couldn't disagree more...

What's the purpose of a review site or publication that only publishes content of great products? It's no longer a review site at that point, but rather an information guide and a venue for advertisers to shill their product. If a site refuses to post content of sub-par product, what reason do readers even have to visit? I know this exists, because there are many sites on our radar who seem to award almost everything they touch (even the lackluster product), but it's not for us. It'd be a major disservice to our readers to ignore all product except what's considered good or better.

Simply put, readers of our site should be able to completely trust what we say, and if all we do is bring in great product and sell the rights to reviews, our credibility drops to 0. If Techgage ever becomes this, it's because I died and lost control.
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Old 07-13-2009, 03:14 PM   #8
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Yes Rob, but that is a hobby than, not a business. Business must bring some income. Your site is really great, but you have only 2 or 3 banners on your home page. (I'm not sure about that Logisys, can't click on it.)

And we, readers are well trained by now to read between the lines.

If some MoBo, or Graphic card is well received among reviewers i trust, get great comments, why should i care about some product i never heard about. Most reviewers do that way. Simply, you can't do anything against majority. Especially in this economy, when everybody cuts their advertising expenses.

Visitor (me for example) visit your site because of great, detailed and useful review, with even better charts, clear and easy to read!

I found you when I search for "lightroom" and 920, (check, you are No. 3 at Google) to see if anybody get tested "Nehalem" with Lightroom, and stay later with your site, because i found valued information here. Information that i really need.

I don't care for bad reviews, i need somebody for me to chose good products and review them. I really don't want to waist my time to read about bad product!

I really don't have anything with that concept.
If I trust you, i will trust yours choice, too. So, basically, that way, you can have both adds and visitors.

You are the editor, you can review just limited number of products, so first thing you are editing is what are you going to review at all.
I don't tell that you should not tell any minus side of product. I was very hard on any feature or missing one, which i don't like, but what is the point of reviewing something what is totally crap, except if it is some extremely popular thing, like i Phone or something.

If you do a review of OCZ Vertex and jump over not so good and old Core or Apex with those strange jmicron controllers, so it is really good sign for all of us to buy Vertex and just jump over those old product. And you will have good relationship with both OCZ and your public!
You are the one who needs to find good products for us, and we will visit your site, making your banners visible, and click thru, if you for example put newegg link for reviewed product on your site.

Hope i was clear now
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Old 07-13-2009, 10:56 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Misha
Business must bring some income.
Of course, but there are good ways to do that, and poor ways

Quote:
Originally Posted by Misha
And we, readers are well trained by now to read between the lines.
Readers of this site, sure. But I look through some other sites, all of which will remain nameless, who I personally think don't truly strive to deliver the best and more reliable content to their readers, and in looking through their forums or comment section, it's clear that the vast majority of consumers looking to buy into technology are very naive and don't know how to read in between the lines.

Either way, no one should have to read in between the lines if the reviewer is straight-forward and not stretching truths.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Misha
why should i care about some product i never heard about.
In the above post, I was talking about not posting a review because the product was lackluster, not refusing to post a review because no one's heard of it. Of course we're not going to publish a review of a product no one cares about, but the issue at hand was not posting a review because the product simply didn't impress.

We've been lucky for the most part here, and most of the time, we do receive better-than-average product (part in thanks to our small staff and the amount of manpower we have at our disposal), but if we receive a product, and it certainly doesn't do much to impress, we'll post a review about it. We've given a few 4's and 5's out of 10's in the past, and we'll continue to do so if some product deserves nothing more.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Misha
I don't care for bad reviews, i need somebody for me to chose good products and review them.
I can understand your reasoning here, and I don't completely disagree. However, if we received a product and it wasn't good, our readers deserve to know about it, because they could well be planning on purchasing the same product. Plus, if we don't post the review of the lackluster product, than who's to say that another less-than-credible site won't post a favorable review for it, simply because that's how they roll?

I agree in the idea that people like to read reviews of good product, but if a hyped product comes along and doesn't live up to our expectations, then everyone's going to want to know about it. We won't exactly go out and look for bad product to review, because as you said, no one wants to read that.

Anyway, this response has proven too long as is, so I'll just leave it at that. I do really appreciate your input though, and though I don't agree with it all, I do agree with a fair amount. Our ultimate goal is to publish content people want to read, and if we run into a product that sucked and wouldn't garner a lot of reads, we won't stress over it. In a situation like that, a news post about said product is the best way out (we've done that in the past).

As for the advertising, that's one area where we do lack, I admit. We'll focus more on that going forward, but right now we're focusing mainly on kicking the site into high-gear. We've just gone through some rather significant changes, and once I finally get these methodologies (which are killing me!) out of the way, I can focus more on things like ads.

As for Lightroom, what kind of tests would you personally like to see us do there? I'm sure you're familiar with what we do now, and it's rather simple overall, but I wouldn't mind expanding on that a little bit. Have any recommendations?
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Old 07-17-2009, 09:31 AM   #10
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Misha,

I don't have time for a long reply right at the moment but I wanted to say thank you for your posts. They've been an interesting read and I'm really quite sad I've not had an opportunity to reply until now. But as it stands, I think you see exactly where i was coming from with this editorial, and the problems we face.

Glad to see you become a member of this site, and I hope to see you post more often!
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Old 07-17-2009, 10:01 AM   #11
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We gotta give the negatives with the positives. I would bet money that 75%+ of everyone reading reviews looks for the negatives first and then decides if the positives outweigh them. Manufacturers may not like negatives, but it keeps them honest and I for one always look at both sides of the coin before I call it. Generally, my initial impression of something sets the tone of my review. This does not mean that if I have a bad first impression that I am skewed towards the negatives. In fact, it does the opposite. Same for a product that is full of flash and shine. It causes me to look for negatives. If you read through my reviews, most cases I have had in my hands have done well, but I can assure you that I thought more than a couple of them were complete failures before their true functionality spoke for them.
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