The Panguitch Rating RubricAug 7, 2007 Write an essay on this topic.
Popular Products in BooksThe Bottom Line Epinions Ain't Rocket Science
My feelings and practice have evolved in the five years since I wrote The Panguitch Manifesto. While I still endorse most of what I say there about rating reviews, my standards are becoming slightly more stringent, especially with the recent move by epinions to make Somewhat Helpful reviews visible to the public.
THE PANGUITCH RATING RUBRIC
Off Topic: The review has been misplaced, and in this case it can't be blamed on the craptacular epinions database.
Not Helpful: The review would, at best, be of negligible benefit if made public.
Somewhat Helpful: The review is worth displaying to the public, but this level of content and quality does not represent epinions well and does not merit income share.
Helpful: A useful review that should be rewarded with income share.
Very Helpful: These reviews are a credit to epinions. Their quality is what makes epinions different from other consumer review sites.
Most Helpful: These reviews not only serve epinions's purposes, but are superior to all other reviews of the item and make a lasting impression with their level of insight or artfulness.
As should be apparent, my ratings are subjective. Writing, even the writing of consumer reviews, is a craft. For me the difference between Helpful and Very Helpful is sometimes only a matter of strength and style - of craft. You are not my student and I am not your teacher. Do not expect me to give you a grade of 85 out of 100, with minus 4 for grammar, minus 3 for redundancy, and minus 8 for not addressing characterization. I am happy to give advice and happy to consider rerating revisions, but please maintain perspective. My rating is just one vote among many. It does not define your personal worth, or even my opinion of your personal worth. If you disagree with my rating it may simply be the case that the kind of review you want to write and the kind of review I want to read are two different things. That doesn't mean you should stop writing, nor that I should stop rating.
Things that can hurt reviews
Describing something without evaluating it.
Evaluating it without describing it.
Copying another source's synopsis, product specs or description just because you can't be troubled to write something original.
Poor presentation: bad grammar, bad spelling, and blocky text (please break up your paragraphs with a blank line!).
Using your review as a stage to approach a separate topic.
Reviewing something in which you have a vested interest. That's not a review, it's promotional material, and Off Topic. Put it in the Writer's Corner.
Basing your opinions on second-hand experience.
Giving spoilers without warning.
Being arrogant, offensive, or inaccurate.
Piling on barely relevant links.
Piling on unnecessary words, sentences, paragraphs, and pages.
Talking more about your life than about the item.
Talking more about epinions-insider stuff than the item.
Experimental approaches like writing reviews in verse, in the voice of an alter-ego, or in the form of fictionalized narratives can be refreshing and effective when done well. More often the review gets lost in the process and the attempt fails to entertain. Don't risk it if you don't have the chops to pull it off.
Not saying anything worth saying.
Things that can help reviews
Structuring your thoughts coherently and expressing them understandably.
Exploring the reasons for your opinions and recommendations.
Comparing and contrasting related items.
Considering how well the item succeeds at its intended purpose and not just how well it fits your purpose.
Placing the item or your experience in context, so long as you demonstrate how that context is materially relevant.
Being not only informative but entertaining, insightful, or artful.
And, since Books is where I live:
Addressing major elements like setting, style, characterization, tone, theme, structure, etc., can help you be concrete in your evaluation of a book. Just don't turn your review into a laundry list.
I do not want a plot synopsis, but I do think a well-written teaser or overview of the plot's premise is helpful.
Why are there more "hurts" than "helps"?
Writing, even in a context like this, is a dangerous prospect. It's even easier to prove yourself a fool when you set fingers to keyboard than it is when you open your mouth.
The bit of Common Sense that would single-handedly prevent more low ratings than anything else:
This is an amateur site where everyday consumers review things. But you should still have enough of a sense of professionalism, modesty, and forbearance to read other reviews in the category to get a sense of whether what you're writing is the kind of thing epinions wants to publish.
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