Friday, May 31, 2013

An update about my camera review...

This afternoon, I got a Facebook message from another Epinions member who had read my comments on the messageboard and we had a nice chat.  She basically agreed with a lot of what I said and even sent me emails a particularly condescending advisor had sent her when she demanded an explanation for the low ratings he had given her on a couple of her reviews.  The advisor as much as admitted that he doesn't leave comments and accused her of having an "entitled" attitude.

I've "known" this writer online for a few years now and she's always struck me as being anything but entitled.  She's always helpful and encouraging to other writers, old and new, and takes a lot of pride in her work.  She's not intimidated by advisors or leads because she's been on Epinions long enough to understand how it works.  And those of us who have been there for years know that advisors are indeed supposed to rate properly, but they're also supposed to leave encouraging and welcoming comments to new members as well as constructive criticism to those who need help.  If you've spent any time on Epinions and know how it works, it's pretty hard to get less than a VH rating.  And every single one of my electronics reviews in the past have gotten overall VHs.  I don't imagine that the four page review I wrote, which to most consumers is overkill anyway, hasn't met the usual standard.  I know the score... and so does my friend.  

Anyway, after we chatted, I decided to go back to the messageboard to see what people had written.  The vast majority of folks had supportive things to say with one electronics advisor (who had not seen or rated the camera review) being a bit of an apologist.  I followed up with this comment...

It's not so much the low ratings that offended...
as it was the lack of comments. I am okay with lower ratings if they are given with some kind of constructive comment that gives me some insight as to what was lacking in the review and/or could be improved. That review was up for over 24 hours before the first advisor rated it; everyone who rated it up until that point had given it a VH. Then, I got the first H. I expect that, of course, since it's electronics. Then another advisor rated it low, so I went to the electronics messageboard and found a thread that listed what the "hats" look for in camera reviews. I updated the review with more information. It didn't help. The next five raters, three of whom were advisors and one of whom was a lead, left the same rating. No one left a comment. The overall rating dipped to lower than any of the reviews I've posted in ten years on this site, which to me is just astounding. I mean, my review writing skills can't have degraded that much. Usually when a review gets to that point, someone says something.

I got the impression that perhaps some of the advisors were rubber stamping. I don't know that for certain, of course, but they certainly didn't leave me any indication that they'd actually read the lengthy review I'd spent so much time to write.

You know what else amazed me about this experience? Minutes after I posted my comment in this thread, I got a very nice email from a former electronics advisor and current lead in another category who offered to look at the review and offer me tips. Not a single current advisor or lead in electronics has bothered to say anything to me in an email or otherwise. Not that I really expected them to, of course, but I do think it's pretty sad when a former electronics advisor reaches out and offers me help and the current ones don't bother.

I do still have the review saved and after I've had a few days to get in a better frame of mind about writing in general, I may just ask that former advisor for the help he's so kindly offered. It's nice to know there are still people on Epinions wearing "hats" who still want to do that for other members, even if it's not in their category.

I have a feeling that comment may cause some people to feel defensive. Maybe it might make some people feel ashamed-- though I'm not generally a fan of shaming. In any case, I think it drives home a valid point. When someone outside of the electronics category cares enough to reach out, and the electronics folks don't, it reflects pretty poorly on the job the advisors in electronics are getting paid to do. No wonder Epinions isn't attracting any decent new writers.

Quote: dtv_engineer

...I would have hoped that an experienced member would recognize this and have a bit more patience -- possibly asking for explanation or clarification before burning bridges and deleting reviews.

I'm sorry for the evident misunderstanding... but right now we're pretty busy stomping out the burning bags people are leaving on the porch.

-- Jeff

Jeff, you weren't one of the people who rated my review, so this comment isn't necessarily aimed at you personally as it is to your suggestion that I should "have patience" with electronics advisors. It seems to me that if you have time to properly read and rate a review, you have time to leave a one or two sentence comment as to why you're leaving a rating that is lower than what other "unhatted" people have left. It's not that hard. And I am a little troubled by your comment about "burning bridges". I hope you aren't implying that if I ever choose to write another electronics review that advisors will be negative from the get-go... because that would really be against the whole spirit of Epinions, right? Like I said, I don't make a habit of deleting reviews; this was the first time in ten years. Nor do I think of myself as a troublemaker. I would hope this one incident wouldn't lead to unfair ratings in the future just because I made a little stink this one time.

I understand you're busy with all the newbie electronics reviews. By all means, rate them all; we wouldn't want the new folks getting rewarded prematurely, right? :sarcasmsmileymoment: In all seriousness, I understand the importance of maintaining standards, but this site doesn't employ professional writers or technical experts. There are some people here who are professional level writers and/or could be described as "experts", but being an expert is not currently a requirement to be successful on this site. And it really shouldn't be, particularly given the fact that we're not attracting and retaining that many new folks lately.

Please don't try to tell people who have been here for years how things work around here. This site is for regular people who use everyday products. It's not CNET or Consumer Reports. We should be writing for regular people. People who want professional level reviews have plenty of places they can go for those. And, like I said, I can accept lower ratings if they are explained. If you have the time to read and rate a four page review properly, then you have the time to leave a couple of sentences with suggestions as to how a helpful review can be made very helpful. It doesn't take that long.

And I added this... which will no doubt piss some electronics folks off.

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