Wednesday, May 29, 2013

I'm having an off week...

For some reason, this week, it seems like I've had issues with just about all of my writing projects.  Most of them are unrelated, so it's rare that they'd all go south at the same time.  It all kind of hit a critical mass last night.

A few days ago, I wrote a camera review on Epinions.com.  I don't often write camera reviews.  I'm definitely not an expert on the subject and would never claim to be.  I figure most consumers aren't experts either and aren't looking for really long reviews full of technical jargon.  On Epinions, members rate each other's reviews on their helpfulness.  The ratings are supposed to help determine where the reviews will fall if more than one is submitted.  It's desirable to have your review near the top of the heap, since that would mean it would be among the first consumers see.  The more hits your review gets, the most likely it is to earn money.  And when I say money, I generally mean just a few bucks... though if your review does well over time, those few bucks can really add up.  I've made well over $10,000 writing reviews on Epinions.  

Electronics is a very difficult category to write in, but at least in the past, the money you could earn writing there made the effort financially worthwhile.  The advisors in that category are notoriously tough raters.  I have gotten my share of lower ratings over the years and I'm mostly okay with that, as long as the advisors (who get paid a little something extra to advise reviewers) leave a comment explaining why they're leaving a lower rating.  Then the reviewer can go back and edit the review and email the advisor for an updated rating.

To be honest, I don't often bother asking for new ratings.  What really matters to me is the overall rating.  I want a Very Helpful overall rating.  I know it seems petty, especially since a Helpful review can still earn money, but it's just one of those things.  Call me "prideful" if you want.  In ten years of writing on that site, aside from a few low rated first reviews, I have never gotten below a Very Helpful overall rating.

Last night, my latest electronics review's rating dipped below the VH threshold and I decided to delete the review.  In ten years of writing on Epinions, I have never before deleted a review... not even the ones that embarrass me.  But last night was the last straw.  A few months ago, Epinions revamped its income share program and stopped rewarding top reviewers for writing outside of their main categories.  That has resulted in less money for most people, including me.  While I will admit that I do write, in part, for the money, I also write because it's a source of self-esteem.  It's what I do to to make my mark on the world, since I've proven to be a failure in the working world.

The review that I wrote was about four pages long, which is probably more than the average consumer wants to read anyway.  It was on a product that has only been on the market for about two months, so my review was the only one posted.  Wonder of all wonders, Epinions actually had the product listed in the database and reviewable, meaning that I didn't have to ask for it to be added.  I was excited about that... and I looked forward to writing a review that would help other people wanting to buy a new camera.    

Most of the people who rated that review left me a VH rating.  But then, the first advisor came in and rated lower.  There was no explanation.  "Fine," I thought, "maybe the next person who rates low will explain."  Sure enough, the next advisor also left me a low rating.

I went to the electronics messageboard and found a helpful thread about how to write camera reviews.  I updated the review with even more information.  The next rater, a non-hatted person who's a bit on the odd side and doesn't usually frequent the electronics category, also left a low rating with no explanation.  So did a category lead-- and I was really surprised by the lead's lack of commentary, since in the past, he has been kind enough to explain what information needs to be added.

By this point, I was getting really perturbed.  I mean, I know I could have emailed these people for advice; but it is, in fact, also an advisor's job to advise and leave constructive comments.  Moreover, since I went to the trouble of posting the review and, under the new income share system, would probably not even be financially rewarded for doing so, I kind of wondered why I should bother.  It really appeared to me that these folks were just rating the way others had.  I seriously doubted most of them had even read the review.

When I came back late last night and saw the overall rating had dropped, I decided enough was enough.  I deleted the review and posted a note on the main Epinions messageboard explaining why.  So far, one person has sent me an email... a really nice guy who used to be advisor for that category.  He asked me to send him the review so he could offer tips.  I wrote him back this morning and asked him to give me a couple of days to get in the right frame of mind.  I didn't really expect anyone to care that I deleted the review, so it was nice to hear from that one person.  

Some people might say what I did was a bit on the dramatic side.  I think if they were in my shoes this week, they might understand where this frustration is coming from.  It's not just Epinions; it's across the board this week.  The things I've been writing have been causing me strife and disappointment instead of making me feel like I've left a positive mark on the world.  This week, my writing has made me feel ashamed instead of redeemed.    

I don't even feel like going back and reading the responses people have left on the messageboard.  I just can't deal with the defensive bullshit and excuses I'm sure I'll read.  I'm sure I'll feel better in a few days, but this week has been kind of rough.    

2 comments:

  1. Hiya,
    Ack. I haven't reviewed at Epinions in a while, though I still drop in and read (and rate) every now and then. The place seems a lot less nurturing now than it was a couple of years ago. I'm not sure why. Still mean to finish up a few reviews that are left in draft there (for like forever!), but that site isn't pulling me back like it used to. :oP

    Anyhow! Glad to hear at least one good Epster stepped up for you via email. Hope it works out well! :o)

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  2. Hi Smorg,

    Yeah, Epinions is slowly but surely going down the tubes. A lot of people are disgruntled and quite a few have quit participating altogether. A good part of the reason people don't participate anymore is because they have to put so much effort into adding stuff to the database and then it gets "greyed out". And the new policies and payment scheme have also turned off a lot of people, as well as the continual silence from the powers that be. I still enjoy writing there, but I just don't see why I should bother with the more lucrative categories anymore. Some people act like they're in an elitist club or something.

    I was pleased to get that email from Bob. Too bad he's not an advisor in electronics anymore.

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