09-12-2015, 02:07 AM
#1
  • RobinK
  • I like things that work.
  • Munich, Germany
User Info
Full disclosure: I wrote the core of the article below several years ago. I am publishing this revised edition in the light of a comment Bruce made in another thread, and in the hope that you find it useful. 

So, review writing can be a rewarding pastime. With the resurgence of wet shaving has come a plethora of new shaving related products. Ranging from hones to strops to soaps and creams, they provide aspiring wet shavers and experts alike with an abundance of choices. The purpose of reviews should be to help readers make informed buying decisions. 

In order to achieve this goal, both the reviewer and the review ought to meet a number of criteria. 
  1. The review should be independent. That means, the reviewer should preferably have bought the products himself. Alternatively, he should clearly state who provided the products. Failure to provide this information may well result in a marketing technique called shilling, ie the practice of making gifts to induce a favourable review in order to promote one's product. Also known as collusion, it is arguably the single most annoying marketing technique commonly employed by manufacturers and vendors.
  2. The reviewer should be able to put a product into perspective. There are few things more potentially misleading than reviews written by a beginners who make wild claims about their latest purchases. If one has only ever tried product A, product A is inevitably "the best product ever tried." Ideally, reviewers should provide a benchmark product, and pit the reviewed product against similar products.
  3. Prior to accepting what is written in a review as objective, readers should quickly research the posting history of the reviewer in order to establish his perspective. 
  4. Superlatives and multiple punctuation marks are suspicious, as are reviews with less than 250 words. Also, a lack of structure is typically indicative of a lack of experience, or diligence. Either of which will make a review less useful. 
  5. The reviewer should have a proven track record of evaluating products. Yes, everybody has to start somewhere. But there are many ways of commenting on a product. A review is the supreme discipline. It should therefore be reserved for well researched, well written comments and recommendations, lest it become irrelevant or misleading. 
  6. The review itself should be about the product, not the reviewer. While it is useful to establish a reviewer's track record and background, a review should not be a vehicle for self promotion. 
  7. And the review should aim at making itself meaningful to a clearly defined audience. Certain razors are not meant to be used by beginners, but more often than not, reviewers fail to identify this audience. Suppose you own a custom razor, and you want to review it - will a beginner understand that this razor is not for him? Will an experienced user understand the risks associated with custom razors, both in terms of functionality and performance? Many reviews fail in this respect, and that makes them rather useless. 
  8. The price/performance ratio should always be clearly evaluated. A Red Tip Fatboy or a Filarmonica is just another razor, unless you are a collector. There is absolutely nothing unique about either of these, or most other razors outside the custom scene,  performance wise
Applying these guidelines and principles to any of straight (or wet) shaving related product review should help readers evaluate and assess its usefulness to their particular purposes.

0 197
Reply
 09-12-2015, 02:51 AM
#2
User Info
Well writen and great advice.

Sent from my SCH-I535 using Tapatalk

4 465
Reply
 09-12-2015, 02:55 AM
#3
User Info
Great read

18 654
Reply
 09-12-2015, 04:47 AM
#4
User Info
Agreed Robin. Many reviews are less than substantial. Hyperbole galore. Indeed, the ratio of good to bad reviews is suspect. Of course, this is my subjective opinion.  Wink

39 3,920
Reply
 09-12-2015, 04:55 AM
#5
User Info
I no longer read reviews that much. Experience has taught me what I like and don't like. I look more at SOTD for equipment that peaks my interest.

3 742
Reply
 09-12-2015, 07:16 AM
#6
  • Csd3
  • Active Member
  • Denver, Co
User Info
Great points.  I steer clear of reviews unless they are done by "vintage" members- with knowledge and experience and more than a couple of years enjoying wet shaving.  Some of the instant expert reviews- and there are more than a few- I consider them comments that are otherwise fun to read.

7 325
Reply
 09-12-2015, 07:34 AM
#7
User Info
Definitely a lot of great points made. Though I actually don't mind reading the more amateur reviews as well.

40 1,166
Reply
 09-12-2015, 07:40 AM
#8
User Info
I wonder how Jobs, Edison, daVinci, et. al. would have considered this subject. Recalling statistics, there are 2 types of errors: type 1 or type 2, sometimes know as alpha error and beta error. One error is accepting the wrong hypothesis. The other is rejecting the right hypothesis. Applying strict scientific rules & measurements may yield excellent results, maybe not. This is shaving, not bridge building. If I followed a strict 250 word review and/or a seasoned reviewer to try an item I'd probably not have too many items. As for the independence / integrity portion I totally agree, honesty is #1.

36 893
Reply
 09-12-2015, 07:55 AM
#9
User Info
(09-12-2015, 07:40 AM)jackgoldman123 Wrote: I wonder how Jobs, Edison, daVinci, et. al. would have considered this subject. Recalling statistics, there are 2 types of errors: type 1 or type 2, sometimes know as alpha error and beta error. One error is accepting the wrong hypothesis. The other is rejecting the right hypothesis. Applying strict scientific rules & measurements may yield excellent results, maybe not. This is shaving, not bridge building. If I followed a strict 250 word review and/or a seasoned reviewer to try an item I'd probably not have too many items. As for the independence / integrity portion I totally agree, honesty is #1.

Surely you mean 'fail to reject the wrong hypothesis'.. 

Wink

18 654
Reply
 09-12-2015, 09:21 AM
#10
  • Gabe
  • Senior Member
  • Arizona
User Info
I agree with the OP as some reviews are misleading. I feel the reviewer should also state the days of growth, beard type, and duration of period he/she used the product.

As for the days of growth, this is meant more for days off from shaving. I get better shaves on 2 days off. If I review products after 2 days off, all of my reviews would be excellent. I shave for   work everyday so this rarely occurs.

 I would like to know how comfortable that razor is when used for a week straight, not just when used after a few days off when the skin has time to heal. 

For example I've read some reviews that the user had BBS comfortable shaves with the R41. And then admittedly could only use it for 3 days in a row.

75 1,324
Reply
 09-12-2015, 09:43 AM
#11
User Info
Great write up. There are a few things that will make me stop reading a review. The first one is a full blown review of a product after the first use or first couple of uses. That is first impressions not a review, I know a product doesn't perform it's best for me the first time I use it and I'm sure it's the same way with other people.

The second is failure to be honest. If a product is bad say it's bad . If your going to be in the business of helping spend their money don't be scared to say a product sucks. Sure sometimes honesty hurts feelings but you accepted that risk when you decided to review things. No matter what someone will disagree with what you write.

3 1,356
Reply
 09-12-2015, 09:54 AM
#12
  • evnpar
  • Emeritus
  • Portland, Oregon
User Info
Well written commentary. Reviewers should also have some experience with the product. Reviews of a soap or razor after using them once or twice aren't reviews, but initial impressions. I often read rave initial impressions about a product, and later see that the member listed it on B/S/T. I was much more interested in Primo's running review of a soap that he used daily for a month, than of someone's "review" of a new soap that they just received. On the other hand this is a forum encouraging individual discussions about wet shaving, and not a journal with an editorial board and strict rules regarding publication and all viewpoints should be encouraged.

38 5,115
Reply
 09-12-2015, 09:58 AM
#13
User Info
Excellent post @RobinK

All evidence has been buried. All tapes have been erased.

8 2,718
Reply
 09-12-2015, 10:02 AM
#14
User Info
(09-12-2015, 09:54 AM)evnpar Wrote: Well written commentary. Reviewers should also have some experience with the product. Reviews of a soap or razor after using them once or twice aren't reviews, but initial impressions. I often read rave initial impressions about a product, and later see that the member listed it on B/S/T. I was much more interested in Primo's running review of a soap that he used daily for a month, than of someone's "review" of a new soap that they just received. On the other hand this is a forum encouraging individual discussions about wet shaving, and not a journal with an editorial board and strict rules regarding publication and all viewpoints should be encouraged.

I agree, we said the same thing. For me I don't mind reading initial impressions of a product as long as the person writing it makes clear that they are his initial impressions.

I agree with you about reading things from members too. Sure I enjoy the big reviewers,but nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors and who has what motives. The guy that has no stake in a product or a YouTube channel or shaving blog can afford to be a lot for honest than someone who does it all the time so I do take them more serious.

3 1,356
Reply
 09-12-2015, 10:20 AM
#15
User Info
(09-12-2015, 09:54 AM)evnpar Wrote: Well written commentary. Reviewers should also have some experience with the product. Reviews of a soap or razor after using them once or twice aren't reviews, but initial impressions. I often read rave initial impressions about a product, and later see that the member listed it on B/S/T. I was much more interested in Primo's running review of a soap that he used daily for a month, than of someone's "review" of a new soap that they just received. On the other hand this is a forum encouraging individual discussions about wet shaving, and not a journal with an editorial board and strict rules regarding publication and all viewpoints should be encouraged.
I agree.  These are not "professional" reviews, these are basically opinions on certain product.  I don't put too much weight on reviews because of that reason, they are opinions.  I do believe they are made with good intentions, so I read them, and move on.

Is like Trip Advisor, I have read some reviews that will scare the dickens out of me.  Then I go to the place and it is a home run.  
I make my own decisions, that way I can only blame myself.

61 3,796
Reply
 09-12-2015, 11:30 AM
#16
User Info
Well-stated, Robin!

83 21,081
Reply
 09-12-2015, 12:29 PM
#17
  • chazt
  • Senior Member
  • Bayside, NY
User Info
(09-12-2015, 02:07 AM).RobinK Wrote: Full disclosure: I wrote the core of the article below several years ago. I am publishing this revised edition in the light of a comment Bruce made in another thread, and in the hope that you find it useful. 

So, review writing can be a rewarding pastime. With the resurgence of wet shaving has come a plethora of new shaving related products. Ranging from hones to strops to soaps and creams, they provide aspiring wet shavers and experts alike with an abundance of choices. The purpose of reviews should be to help readers make informed buying decisions. 

In order to achieve this goal, both the reviewer and the review ought to meet a number of criteria. 


  1. The review should be independent. That means, the reviewer should preferably have bought the products himself. Alternatively, he should clearly state who provided the products. Failure to provide this information may well result in a marketing technique called shilling, ie the practice of making gifts to induce a favourable review in order to promote one's product. Also known as collusion, it is arguably the single most annoying marketing technique commonly employed by manufacturers and vendors.
  2. The reviewer should be able to put a product into perspective. There are few things more potentially misleading than reviews written by a beginners who make wild claims about their latest purchases. If one has only ever tried product A, product A is inevitably "the best product ever tried." Ideally, reviewers should provide a benchmark product, and pit the reviewed product against similar products.
  3. Prior to accepting what is written in a review as objective, readers should quickly research the posting history of the reviewer in order to establish his perspective. 
  4. Superlatives and multiple punctuation marks are suspicious, as are reviews with less than 250 words. Also, a lack of structure is typically indicative of a lack of experience, or diligence. Either of which will make a review less useful. 
  5. The reviewer should have a proven track record of evaluating products. Yes, everybody has to start somewhere. But there are many ways of commenting on a product. A review is the supreme discipline. It should therefore be reserved for well researched, well written comments and recommendations, lest it become irrelevant or misleading. 
  6. The review itself should be about the product, not the reviewer. While it is useful to establish a reviewer's track record and background, a review should not be a vehicle for self promotion. 
  7. And the review should aim at making itself meaningful to a clearly defined audience. Certain razors are not meant to be used by beginners, but more often than not, reviewers fail to identify this audience. Suppose you own a custom razor, and you want to review it - will a beginner understand that this razor is not for him? Will an experienced user understand the risks associated with custom razors, both in terms of functionality and performance? Many reviews fail in this respect, and that makes them rather useless. 
  8. The price/performance ratio should always be clearly evaluated. A Red Tip Fatboy or a Filarmonica is just another razor, unless you are a collector. There is absolutely nothing unique about either of these, or most other razors outside the custom scene,  performance wise
Applying these guidelines and principles to any of straight (or wet) shaving related product review should help readers evaluate and assess its usefulness to their particular purposes.


Robin, your post is thoughtful, well organized and well written. Thank you for bringing this up. I recently wrote my first product review on a brush and tried to anticipate the standards you set. Confused

7 2,164
Reply
 09-12-2015, 03:41 PM
#18
  • Mouser
  • Senior Member
  • Forest City, Florida U.S.A.
User Info
Here's my approach. I've identified over time which posters/members here and elsewhere whose opinions, preferences, tastes most closely match mine and then pay close attention to what they use regularly and look for any reviews they may post and I pay more attention to whether they like it or not rather than how they word and form the review.

7 2,328
Reply
 09-12-2015, 03:49 PM
#19
User Info
(09-12-2015, 03:41 PM)Mouser Wrote: Here's my approach. I've identified over time which posters/members here and elsewhere whose opinions, preferences, tastes most closely match mine and then pay close attention to what they use regularly and look for any reviews they may post and I pay more attention to whether they like it or not rather than how they word and form the review.

I guess this is pretty much the way I feel.

Well said Sir!

61 3,796
Reply
 09-12-2015, 04:23 PM
#20
  • Mouser
  • Senior Member
  • Forest City, Florida U.S.A.
User Info
Thank you. What really makes it easy for me is that I've found I like much much more in "wet shaving" than not.

Sent from my SCH-I545 using Tapatalk

7 2,328
Reply
Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)