Confessions of a Newer Electronics Advisor -- Part OneFeb 13, 2012 Write an essay on this topic.
Popular Products in BooksThe Bottom Line Come have a glimpse of one man behind the curtain... as he pushes the buttons to rate Electronics reviews.
Disclaimer: this essay does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of Epinions, category leads, other advisors, or my cat. Use of suitable safety equipment is recommended, and your mileage may vary. No warranty, express or implied, is made regarding the content herein. Do not fold, spindle, or mutilate your monitor, and removal of the tag is punishable under federal law. Consider yourself warned!
Everyone knows that Electronics advisors are mean. Arbitrary. Specification Nazis. Grammar police. Technological elitists. Flamers of newbies. Impossible to satisfy. Insatiable in their quest for power. Guardians of a mysterious and impenetrable code that dooms an outsider’s reviews to mediocre ratings. Only the privileged few who know the special Electronics handshake stand a chance.
At the risk of finding myself tarred and feathered – electronically – I propose to draw back the curtain a bit and reveal some of the hidden secrets behind what I look for in an Electronics review. Bear in mind that I’ve been at this advising gig for less than a year – so my take on it might not be exactly the same as an established veteran’s. On the other hand, I haven’t gotten to the point where this has become so automatic that it no longer requires conscious thought before clicking a rating button, so these are issues I purposefully and constantly work through.
So for this first installment, it seems fitting to consider one of the first things I look for in a review:
DOES IT COVER THE PRODUCT’S MAIN FUNCTIONS?
Already I can hear a collective “duh!” – after all, who would bother to write a review that doesn’t touch on the product’s most basic facets? Yet this is where a surprising number of reviews fail.
Figuring out what to cover is pretty obvious for many products. A jar of spaghetti sauce, for instance: how does it taste? What’s in it? How thick is it? Do the mushrooms have the consistency and flavor of art gum erasers? Is it a reasonable value for the price? Does the label harmonize with the décor of my kitchen?
One curse of many electronic gadgets is an insane range of functions – some of which are rather diverse and easy to overlook. Consider the latest crop of smart phones: they play music, show HD movies, organize your schedule, tie into several email accounts, surf the web, play games, scan bar codes. You’ve got 3G, 4G, WiFi, GPS, accelerometers, inclinometers. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the next generation come with an adapter for Keurig cups with downloadable refills. With all of this incredible functionality just a swype away, it’s easy to forget a very basic thing in the review: this amazing hunk of brushed steel and silicon is, after all, still a phone. People do occasionally use these things to talk to one another, and might want to know if their phone works halfway decently as …a phone.
A review that doesn’t discuss the most fundamental aspects of its product isn’t likely to get a high rating. I want to know about that phone’s clarity, that television’s picture quality, that MP3 player’s sound. Yes, I know there are so many other things these products can do… but don’t forget the core stuff!
Here’s an idea that might help, free of charge: before beginning your encounter with the keyboard, take a moment with pen and paper (how old school!) and jot down a list of the main functions your product performs, and rank them in order of importance. Now write your review, using the list to help you tag all of the bases. But wait, here’s a bonus: this little bit of forethought will also tend to give the review a logical structure that’s easy for the reader to follow, and puts first things first.
Did I say free of charge? Feel free to consider donations – Heath bars are always welcome.
Next installment (as time and my cat permit): Who is Your Audience?
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