Saturday, August 17, 2013

Why I don't write electronics reviews on Epinions anymore...

A few days ago, a new reviewer on Epinions wrote an electronics review and got low ratings.  She took to the messageboard to ask why the ratings were so low since, as usual, no one had bothered to leave her any comments.  She got the usual advice about emailing the "hatted" people, advisors and leads, for tips.  More people chimed in.  The electronics lead left his usual spiel about how no one is "owed" a comment from anyone.

Frankly, I heartily disagree.  Back in May, I wrote on this blog about my last experience with the electronics category.  For the first and only time in ten years on Epinions, I deleted a review because it was downrated with no explanation from the hatted folk.  Since then, I have avoided the electronics category, because Epinions income share is no longer what it used to be and it's neither fun nor profitable to write electronics reviews for Epinions anymore.

I left a comment, reiterating that I think anyone who has a lead or advisor "hat" has the obligation to engage reviewers with supportive and/or constructive comments, even if they are very brief.  They are actually paid extra to do that.  Granted, they reportedly aren't paid a lot extra, but they do get a small financial bonus and increased clout in ratings weight.  Moreover, they don't have to accept the responsibility if they can't be bothered with it.  I have never had an "advisor" hat myself because I don't want to deal with the drama that crops up when one rates properly, which means occasionally leaving lower ratings and constructive criticism.  Many people, myself included, tend to take ratings and comments personally.  Even as I logically understand that Epinions is not worth getting in a tizzy over, bless my heart, I do anyway.  An overall "helpful" rating, while technically a "good" rating, feels like a blight to me, no matter how many times I tell myself that "helpful" is "good".

Certain members of the electronics clique seem to think that their category is the only worthwhile one on the site; therefore, their standards have to be higher than everyone else's do.  It's true that big ticket items like televisions, phones, stereos, and cameras do bring in a lot of readers and therefore money.  But my highest paying review ever is actually a music review, not an electronics review.  Indeed, my second highest paying review is also a music review, followed by reviews in home and garden.  In fact, I even have quite a few book reviews that have earned more income share than the electronics reviews I have written, though I will admit that the odds that electronics reviews will earn more are much greater than they are in the books category.

I have top reviewer "hats" in books, travel, and music, while I have no prayer of ever having a "hat" in electronics.  Epinions recently stopped rewarding people for writing reviews outside their areas of expertise.  It used to be that a top reviewer in any category would enjoy a boost in all categories.  Now you only get the boost in your area of expertise.  Given that, the elitist bullshit that often goes on in the electronics category has just become more than I want to deal with, even though electronics reviews are very valuable to the site and to consumers.  To me, anyway, writing in electronics became more of a chore than a challenge.

Epinions is also not getting the hits it used to get.  I reposted my deleted camera review on my travel blog.  So far, that review posted on my own blog has gotten 77 hits from all over the world.  My last review on to get more than 77 hits was posted June 27th.  It was a book review that I had  promoted on Facebook and the Recovery From Mormonism site; without that promotion, I doubt it would have gotten as many hits.  It helped that I am now Facebook friends with the author, who also promoted the review.

Prior to that review in June, I had another book review posted in February that has 107 hits.  All of the other reviews I have posted since then have fewer than 77 hits. is a big site that used to get a lot of traffic.  That's no longer true today.  Therefore, I am left with the impression that my review is better off on my own site, which could use the traffic.  That content attracts hits to my blog, whereas on Epinions, it might never get seen because it might be buried by low ratings or the generally paltry traffic Epinions is getting these days.  Moreover, if on the off chance someone actually buys a camera through my blog, I get the whole commission instead of sharing it with everybody else.

One reviewer who used to be a travel lead and was very friendly with me when he was around Epinions a lot, commented in the newer thread about low electronics ratings that it took him years to stop worrying about pleasing everyone.  He came to understand that for most people, simple really is preferable-- certainly for the people who read Epinions, who don't tend to be techies.  Hell, techies can read complex reviews that go on for days in many places online and off.  Most folks probably neither need nor want to read four pages of technical specs, particularly if neither the reviewer nor the reader knows what the specs mean and never actually use them.

Anyway, I'm not going to go back and read the usual apologist spew that many of the hatted electronics folks leave when they are criticized for their ratings practices.  It's not worth upsetting my peace or screwing up my weekend to read that stuff.  I've done it too many times over the years and it never goes anywhere.  Suffice to say that if I feel the need to write about something that has an on/off power button and isn't a kitchen gadget or computer gizmo, you're now more likely to read about it here than on  That's now how I roll.


  1. They're bastards even if their parents did happen to be married at the times of their births. Do it your way.

    1. LOL... you are funny, Alexis. I ended up reading more of the thread and left one last comment indicating that those folks who are more concerned about the reviews than the people writing them should probably step aside. I don't understand why it's so difficult to help people who want to contribute. I mean, it's not going to hurt the category to offer assistance and actually advise, which is what advisors are supposed to do.

      It would be one thing if people were being paid for a specific type of review, but they aren't. Why should anyone bother to try to do better if the hatted folk don't? Someone said in a pissy way that ratings don't matter... and my response was that he was right, which is why I'm going to put my electronics reviews on my own site, where I know what the standards are.

  2. I'm looking a several newer books right now, trying to find reviews and where I might leave my review. I cannot even find reviews, nor any place where they can be created. All the search comes up with is Kobo and Amazon linkes. When I do find the link on where to find reviews, they are buried under a ton of these ads. It's been awhile since I've been on epinions, but whatever they changed, they pretty much just made their site useless for the purpose of finding and sharing reviews. It's basically just another online mall now, which has never been a winning formula on the internet.

    1. Yeah, I agree. I usually post my links on Facebook or this blog, but I think if I were a consumer actually looking for reviews, it would be difficult. That, and I usually have to request that new products get added. It's best to use Google with Epinions in the search box to find reviews; Epinions' own search engine sucks.


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