How I rate Online Stores and Services reviews

Jun 30, 2002

The Bottom Line If your review tells me what is offered and your experience in a readable format without being offensive or off topic, I will rate it at least helpful.

In the last round of Top Reviewer and Advisor picks, I was chosen as both for Online Stores and & Services. Suddenly, my ratings have taken on new significance after participating in writing and rating reviews for two and a half years at Epinions. In case I have rated one of your reviews lately and you're wondering why you received a particular rating here is what I am looking for when I rate a review in Online Stores and Services.

As both a Software Engineer and a Criminologist, I have a particular perspective on Online Stores and Services. I am interested in reading about both the technical and personal aspects of your shopping experience at a website and why you found it beneficial or negative. Almost always, it is best if you have purchased a product or service at a website before you write a review about the website. However, as someone who is intimately involved in crime prevention, I encourage people to follow their first instinct in regards to online fraud. If someone feels that a website is not credible in anyway, they should not purchase there and I encourage them to let us know why through a detailed review. Many bad experiences online could be avoided by following one's gut instinct about a website and warning others about the dangers.

The Website

Tell me about the website.

* What products and/or services are sold or provided by the website?
* Are the descriptions of the product(s) and/or service(s) complete or is the website primarily a list of testimonials?
* How well organized or easy to navigate is the website?
* Is the website cluttered and full of ads or is there a clean presentation of the product(s) and/or service(s)?
* Is there an effective search tool available or do you have to manually drill down through categories?
* Does the website have reasonable prices or discounts?
* What are their shipping and handling charges?
* Is help readily available if you have a problem?
* Is the privacy policy acceptable?
* Is the company reputable?


Tell me about your experience interacting with the website.

* Why did you go to the website?
* Did you have any difficulty finding what you were looking for?
* Did you encounter any technical problems using the web site?
* If you ordered from the website:
What did you order from the website?
Was the shopping cart reliable and easy to use?
Did your package arrive on time and in good condition?
Are you satisfied with the quality of what you received?
* If you did not order from the website, what stopped you?
* If you're using a website that you don't have to pay to use, is it worth your time to use the website?
* If you interacted with customer service either by email or phone, were they helpful to you?
* Why would you recommend or not recommend that someone else use this website?

Grammar and Spelling

I don't mark off directly for spelling or grammar. However, if I have trouble reading the review or following your argument I won't rate you highly.

* Take advantage of the spelling checker and
edit your review to correct the mistakes.
* Capitalize appropriately.
* Use multiple returns to separate your paragraphs.
* Don't bold, italicize or capitalize your entire review.
* Don't try to disguise offensive words, choose another way to express yourself.


If my questions about the website are answered and your grammar and spelling are okay, I will rate your review very helpful, unless it is off topic or offensive. I would rather read a simple review that answers my questions in three or four paragraphs than your life story, but I won't lower your rating unless I have trouble finding the details about the website I'm interested in. However, I will lower my rating if there's a long story and not much about the website itself.


If you don't use pronouns or try to express your experience with the website in less than five sentences, your review will probably be rated Somewhat Helpful at best. The things that are most likely to get your review rated Not Helpful are being offensive or providing incorrect information about a website. If you write about the brick and mortar store, instead of the website, or don't discuss the website at all, I will rate your review Off Topic.

Most Helpful

I only give Most Helpful ratings when I have read every review in a category and a review is truly exceptional. See my review "Most Helpful Not So Helpful," at for full details on my thoughts about the Most Helpful rating. My feelings about the Most Helpful rating haven't changed since becoming a Top Reviewer and an Advisor.

Bottom Line

You don't have to answer all of the questions above to get a very helpful. If your review tells me what is offered by the website and your experience of the website in a readable format without being offensive or off topic, I will rate it at least helpful. If you go above and beyond to describe the website and your experience with it in a thorough, well written manner, then I will rate it very helpful. I'm always willing to rerate updated reviews. Email me with any questions or concerns you have about my ratings of your reviews.

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About the Author ID:
Member: Janine White
Location: Chandler, AZ
Reviews written: 195
Trusted by: 142 members
About Me: Criminologist turned Software Engineer