Imagine a pair of shoes. The shoes in question are made of the cheapest, most toxic material available, labelled according to a skewed size chart, manufactured by the thousand in a sweatshop in some dark corner of the world and basically, they are destined to fall apart after an outing or two. As I'm sure you've had a chance to learn the hard way, the world is full of such items.
Still, the manufacturer coughs up a decent sum for a top-class photographer, so judging from the picture, the shoes look pretty decent. Good light philter turns rather dull shade of red into attractive crimson and with the complimentary angle used cardboard soles hardly show at all. The first step to economic success has been made.
Second, the manufacturer writes a professional sales pitch, aimed specifically at online shoppers. It is full of words like 'cool', 'beautiful' and 'bestseller', promises the future wearer a thing or two ('these fantastic shoes will turn you into a real princess!) and possibly is crowned with a high-sounding, but entirely meaningless slogan.
Third, price. It is really, really low and the manufacturer does not forget to tell you how it was lowered even more with your, the customer's, benefit in mind. No, it's not cheap materials. No, it's not slave wage paid to the workers. It all comes from the purest desire to make your life better and fuller and to protect your wallet from the dark shadows of global economy. Manufacturer's profit? Come on, gentlemen do not talk about money!
Fast forward a few weeks, our shoes hit the market and start to sell.
Some people won't buy them, but will pretend they have, or that they want to, and will rave about them all over the Web. They will probably enjoy the money they will have made by the cut from the sales, too. It's cool to have money.
Other people will buy them and will throw them away after three days (IF they fit, that is). Still, they will write a positive/neutral review, because it is so unkind to write about strangers in an unpleasant way.
Others still will silently froth when throwing the shoes into the rubbish bin, get over the disappoinment and move on without saying a thing (swear words exchanged with friends and family members don't count).
Now we're ready to meet the heroes of our story.
A small group of selfless, altruistic people, confronted with such a disaster, will jump online and write until their keyboard bursts aflame. They will go to the review section and produce a 200-word rant, warning potential victims away from the danger. They will tell the shoppers what exactly was wrong with their shoes - no need to use abstracts when you have some solid data.
Obviously, they will get no money for their trouble. No one pays for negative reviews. Individuals of delicate disposition might ever turn from the screen with distaste ('you mean the world is NOT all sweet and pink and good? But you MUST be mistaken!'). Some may call them rednecks for voicing their dissatisfaction - SO inelegant! SO unprofessional!
Fortunately, some lucky almost-shoppers will silently thank the negative reviewer for saving them from buying yet another piece of junk. I really, really do want to believe that karma exists and that the good deed will come back to them in some mystical form, because they cannot really count for any other reward.
Always a good piece of advice. Venom is not ok.
I think maybe the trick is to save the venom until you cool off a bit and can sound a bit more objective.
Agreed :) There are reviews and reviews :)
Well, there'll always be people who just want to vent off, nevermind how. I'd rather have them bitching about a product than taking a gun and going postal in a local school.
What I am mainly interested in here are honest reviews, subjective or otherwise, as a useful counterbalance to sponsored marketing.
I have mixed feelings on this subject. In the case of the shoes, yes, the negative review is called for. But I have read so many negative reviews for which I honestly don't understand the motivation. Some people can be just crabby. Sometimes they complain about things because it make them feel important, or they are trying to be funny. You see this in news stories, for example, or Youtube videos. I know you are talking about products, not news stories, but still, some reviews strike me as coming from that same mind frame. I appreciate honest reviews on a product, positive and negative, but like Sam, I ask myself, "What is my motivation in posting this?"
Yes indeed :)
That's exactly the attitude I try to promote :)
When reading a review you can usually see whether it expresses a subjective opinion (e.g. too many pictures - how many pictures is right, exactly?) or if it provides solid, measurable info (wrong size, shoddy workmanship).
I wouldn't enjoy throwing mud at someone just for the hell of it, but if I really don't like something - even something like a book etc. - I don't have too many doubts before saying so. It's just my opinion, after all, I can express it, people can disregard it.
There you go, so negative reviewers have saved you a penny or two as well :)
If it raises interest and deeper thought it's always a good thing in my book. If you get a mean review from someone who's having an obviously bad day, don't take it personal and remind yourself everyone is entitled to their opinion in an open discussion. :)K