It’s Christmas time! Then again, by the time you read this, Christmas will probably be over for the year. Fortunately for you this post only has a slight relationship to Christmas. Every year as Christmas draws near my wife asks for something related to her gardening. Couldn’t be easier, I pull up Amazon and start browsing through pages of supplies. When I finally see a product that seems promising, I start reading the product reviews.

People, do you even read what you’re writing? The majority of the reviews fall into two categories, the ones that are so good you’d have to be stupid to buy anything else and the ones describing a product so bad that you can practically see the person foaming at the mouth as he writes the review. Common sense makes me immediately ignore both categories.

Let’s start with the obvious, most people don’t write reviews unless the product has disappointed them.   A little bit of frothing at the mouth is expected but could you at least make it readable?

“I opned the pakge & got paper cutted, so I’m givng this 1 ”, lacks any reason for me not to buy the product. I’ll probably ignore your review anyway because two hundred other people knew how to use spell check and avoided getting a paper cut.

How about the self-proclaimed experts out there that always start their review proclaiming how smart they are, “I work in the IT department so I know how computers are supposed to work.” Did you ever stop to think that if you feel you have to defend your capability, you come across as not being that sure about your capability? I tend to ignore those too.

There’s always a few people that give the lowest possible marks for a failure, “I’m giving this a one because it worked for six months then died.” Products die, that’s why we have warranties. The better manufacturers try to limit the number of returns because they lose money on returns. When I see people getting DOA (Dead On Arrival) products several times in a row, I start to suspect it’s the user doing something wrong.

On the other side of the spectrum, glowing reviews with no information are equally worthless. When the reviewer tells me “this is absolutely the best computer I’ve ever owned”, they are giving me no information. Maybe their previous computer was an IBM 286 running DOS 3.0. Nor does it help that I have no idea what they do with their computer.

Equally uninformative are the reviewers that seem to be pushing their own personal preference. I saw one review this morning that berated the product for high cost and suggested a product costing six dollars less. The product being reviewed was $200. For that kind of difference, I really like a better comparison.

As more and more companies see that people actually read product reviews, we’re seeing a surge in fake reviews. From offering a discount if you give them a like on Facebook to encouraging people to pan their competition on every review site possible, companies are doing their best to ensure favorable reviews. If you aren’t reviewing, someone else will be.

I’d admit that I’m not doing my duty either. Despite the frequent emails from Amazon suggesting I write reviews for products I’ve purchased, I’ve only written three product reviews, two negative and one positive. I try to justify that by saying I’d rather post reviews here but when I compare traffic, it’s far more likely that my review an Amazon will be seen. Maybe writing more product reviews could be a New Year’s Resolution for me.

With that, I’d like to share my guidelines for a review I would consider meaningful.

  • Say what you like about the product and what you don’t like. Very few products are so good that they’re perfect and very few are so bad you will throw them away that day.
  • Give details on why these traits are meaningful to you. I understand the Stephen King ruined you forever for clowns but some of us still like bright red and white colors.
  • Please try to make it readable. I appreciate the people writing reviews that don’t have an English language background but when your review is full of leetspeak, text abbreviations and missing words, rest assured your opinion is meaningless to me.
  • Finally, use spellcheck. It’s not that hard.

Your opinion is valuable. I’ve seen manufacturers change their design because of poor reviews. I’ve bought more garden equipment than I would care to mention based on your reviews. More and more companies are following up reviews with a customer relations person.

Make your opinion count, write a review. Please, I really need to know why my wife wants a hand spade with an offset handle.

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© Copyright 2013 Byron Seastrunk, All rights Reserved. Written For: Opinion by pen