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Contributing to the "Reader Reviews" section
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Ryan Gardner
(splproductions) - F - M

Locale: Salt Lake City, UT
Contributing to the "Reader Reviews" section on 02/14/2008 14:02:49 MST Print View

To all who post on BPL:

I believe the Reader Review section is one of the greatest assets this site has. A good number of people here are just as experienced, or more so, than any "Official Reviewer" of a magazine or website. I also know that a good portion of us are gear junkies and have experience with a good many products. Thus it is disappointing to me when I visit the Review section and see what I believe to be a very small fraction of the possible reviews that could be there.

For example, we all know that more than 4 people on this site have experience with the MB Down Inner Jacket. We know that more than 14 people have experience with Nunatak quilts. The MB UL90 Pad is being used by more than 3 people.

For the betterment of BPL and it's community, I think we owe it to ourselves and others to post informative, detailed, quality reviews of gear that we have had enough experience with to give a solid review. Karma will bless you when it is your turn to go searching for that product you are considering and there is a plethora of excellent reviews.

I plead with everyone here... please post reviews! And thank you for those who do post!

(NOTE: I am as guilty as anyone.)

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Contributing to the "Reader Reviews" section on 02/14/2008 14:12:52 MST Print View

What? People are contributing. Perhaps you haven't read the very illumining review on the Titanium Goat trekking poles? :)

Methinks if BPL can just improve the way these reviews are indexed, many more people will be drawn to using them.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Contributing to the "Reader Reviews" section on 02/14/2008 14:14:51 MST Print View

I would like to see more order in the reviews. It'd be nice if BPL would post an outline of what to include so we could make it better.

Ryan Gardner
(splproductions) - F - M

Locale: Salt Lake City, UT
Ben... good review... on 02/14/2008 14:25:54 MST Print View

Quality work Ben! I'm proud of you for doing your civic duty. I agree with you both. Some better organization would make it more appealing.

Let me tell you what I envision:

Instead of people (like me) posting to the G Spot and saying "Has anyone used..." or "Does anyone have experience with...", etc., people FIRST search the Reader Reviews. They A) get so much information that they no longer have a question, or B) get so much information but still want to ask further questions.

I see this improving the threads in the G Spot, both in the number of threads and the quality. It also saves me the trouble of saying "Didn't Ben post something once about product x? I wonder if I can find that in the giant pile of threads here on this site". Instead I say "Oh, he posted a review on it - I can look there. Rock on!"

Maybe I'm just being anal though.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Disagree on 02/14/2008 14:27:30 MST Print View

"I think we owe it to ourselves and others to post informative, detailed, quality reviews"

I spend too much time already on these boards. I don't know where I would find time to do informative, detailed, quality reviews on every piece of gear I have ever used. Plus I think the G-Spot covers a lot of this ground, it just needs the search and tree-structure to be improved so we can find the info easily.

I do short, non-detailed reviews of gear I feel strongly about, either 5 star or 1 star. The stuff in between just doesn't motivate me to spend time reviewing it...

Steve McQueen
(cpholley) - F

Locale: Minnesota Transplant
reviews on 02/14/2008 14:38:00 MST Print View

"The stuff in between just doesn't motivate me to spend time reviewing it..."

But its THAT stuff that helps new guys like myself! Don't forget about the little people!!!

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Easy for beginners on 02/14/2008 14:48:10 MST Print View

It couldn't be any easier for beginners. Stay away from anything below a 5, and run like crazy from things that get lots of 1's ;)

Ryan Gardner
(splproductions) - F - M

Locale: Salt Lake City, UT
The little people... on 02/14/2008 14:52:06 MST Print View

I feel you Casey. Compared to most here, I'm still a newbie too. And a lot of the UL gear I now have was due to reading about it on the Review sections (and obviously asking people on the forums). When you are venturing into uncertain territory, and expensive territory, you like to know more than manufacturers specs. You want to hear from real people who use it. There have been a few things I found online for a real good price that I almost bought - but then decided to read the Review section - and thought... Good thing I didn't buy that!

Richard Matthews
(food) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Disagree on 02/14/2008 17:08:12 MST Print View


I tend to use your system. There is no purpose in reviewing anything other than 1s & 5s.

However, the reviews need to have enough detail so that a person can determine whether the gear will fit their style. I offered to lend a Caldera Cone stove to a member of this forum that I consider a gear expert. He said "I don't like the Caldera Cone and you can't make me use it!"

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: reviews on 02/14/2008 21:04:28 MST Print View


You may already know this, but just in case you don't -- you should take a look at It doesn't have everything, but what reviews it has are very good quality. Three factors that come to mind:

1. Use of standard template to help ensure a comprehensive review.

2. Good indexing and organization.

3. Actively managed. All submissions are first reviewed for quality and then linked to ensure it is categorized correctly.

Until BPL performs a serious overhaul of its readers review section, I don't believe many will look to it as their first source of reference. In the meantime, maybe just keep pointing people to instead???

Edited by ben2world on 02/14/2008 21:21:49 MST.

Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
Only going with 5's way too strict on 02/15/2008 10:01:05 MST Print View

I disagree to only go with items that get a 5.

Many items get a 4 because of some perceived problem that may not be relevant to you. Also, sometimes products are given a 4 because the reviewer was unable to fully test the product, and is reluctant to give a 5 (I've done this).

Some items get an isolated very low rating because they failed and the reviewer is not happy, but no one else had the problem (could be rare manufacturing defect, or the reviewer may not have known how to use the item).

Finally, some reviewers don't know what they are talking about, or have strong biases.

So in general I would stay away from items with an average rating less than 4 except in special situations (your usage is atypical and the problems encountered are not relevant to you, reviews biased, etc). Best to read the reviews and decide for yourself.

Edited by ewolin on 02/15/2008 10:01:55 MST.

Siegmund Beimfohr
(SigBeimfohr) - M
Reviews / Only going with 5's way too strict on 02/15/2008 10:36:57 MST Print View

I agree with Elliot. Many items not rated as 5's by the reviewer still meet different needs. Also, the comments in the reviews (at least when done in detail) provide guidance on features and limitations to look for (and avoid) when considering other similar products. structured reviews force detail and is also a good resource.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Reviews / Only going with 5's way too strict on 02/15/2008 15:43:53 MST Print View

Yeah, I agree that, in an ideal world, all reviews would be stuctured and tree-d like backpackgeartest,org. In the real world, there are a LOT of users of gear that can't/won't don't have time to do such a thorough review. BPL provides a quick and dirty, sometimes gut reaction or bad experience feedback to help folks out. Backpackgeartest also sponsors a lot of their reviews, and if I was given something for free to test, I would make the effort to be a lot more thorough. I also have noticed with backpackgeartest,org (OK, I KNOW I'm gonna get flack for this), that if a manufacturer provides the gear-testers with free merchandise to "test" that there are a lot more positive reviews of that piece of gear.

I have proposed in this thread a group aproach to gear testing that I feel would be a lot more meaningful and honest,

though I don't really have a clear idea yet of how it would be structured.