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conflict of interest: Manufacturing V review
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Richard Matthews
(food) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Credibility for sale on 01/20/2006 06:27:15 MST Print View

The BPL subscribers actually are buying Dr. Js credibility. One lapse in integrity and BPL might not survive in a very competitive environment.

The members are the fact checkers. When a member/staff says something that does not agree with other members experience, then the difference is debated.

The members of this forum are not kool-aid drinkers, in fact they are very independent and opinionated. We have the wrong demographics to start a cult.

Stephen Parmenter
(parmens) - F - MLife

Locale: OH
Re: PJ Speaks for? on 01/20/2006 07:49:41 MST Print View

For what ever reason, you seem to have an agenda. You say "many would find it hard to believe...." I doubt that it is "many". I certainly understood PJ's use of 'we' to mean the forum posters and not BPL.

I also find your reasoning illogical. There is certainly the potential for abuse in many settings but in my opinion, doesn't seem to fit the situation here.

Just my non BPL associated 2 cents.

Tony Burnett
(tlbj6142) - F

Locale: OH--IO
Isn't scale an issue? on 01/20/2006 08:24:59 MST Print View

While I can see this on-paper "conflict", we need to put it into perspective a bit. BMW has what, 4-5 products? A insulated top, pants, a bivy sack, some expenstive sticks, and a few (way too small) tarps. And, I'd hardly call NANO stuff sacks a "competive" product. They don't even sell a pack (yet).

While we obviously don't know what sort of Volume of sales BMW gets, I suspect its a very small percentage of a very, very small market (lightweight backpacking).

If The North Face ran this site, I might understand your concerns. Think about this way, if MacLaren ran Consumer Reports, would we care?

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: conflict of interest: Manufacturing V reviewing on 01/20/2006 08:50:06 MST Print View

I would imagine Ryan and his crew are about the most honest out there. Heck, he even takes negative comments about his gear in stride and encourages feedback.

Why worry yourself with these matters? Go hiking or something.

Edited by jshann on 01/20/2006 08:50:59 MST.

Neil Bender
(nebender) - F
Re: conflict of interest: Manufacturing V reviewing on 01/20/2006 09:30:24 MST Print View

My 2 cents. I don't get too bothered by biases I can identify. Some opinions are more informed than others, and although I appreciate the weight reducing fanaticsim here on this site, I always balance what I read with what I ALREADY KNOW about gear, materials, and the wildcards dealt in the boonies.

This is a manufacturer's website, yeah. Probably the best mfg's website out there. If this site weren't here, some things I've tried in the last few years would have been delayed. Let the controveries roll...

Mike Storesund
(mikes) - F
Re: conflict of interest: Manufacturing V reviewing on 01/20/2006 11:18:22 MST Print View

I am now into my second year as a BPL subscriber. I have found the reviews posted in BPL articles, techniques and products to be very informative and I believe unbiased. If you look back, you will notice the products usually undergo the same test criteria regardless of the manufacturer. Articles written by individuals are always subjective to one level or another, for whatever reason. (I like GoLite products because they are a local company.) I also respect BPL for not including their affiliated BMW products when conducting reviews.
I like the fact that members / subscribers have this forum to discuss, debate, question and discover what possible gear or techniques are being used and experienced out in the real world. I believe ‘we’ as members / subscribers all have our opinions and when expressed should be considered with ‘a grain of salt’. It goes back to the old adage ‘everyone has an opinion, just like everyone also has a rectum… most (if not all) of them stink.’
As far as a “Conflict of Interest” is concerned, I do not believe one exists on this forum. There are many products reviewed and discussed that BMW does not even produce. If someone chooses to purchase an item sold by BMW rather than another manufacturer’s product, or vice versa, I would hope that they do so on an informed basis rather than what one focused agglomeration opinion may state.
Just my 2 copper pieces worth.

Sunny Waller
(dancer) - M

Locale: Southeast USA
Re: Re: conflict of interest: Manufacturing V reviewing on 01/20/2006 11:30:26 MST Print View

conflict of interest?? yeah right. I was a happy camper trolling through the other outdoor websites and then I bumped into this one. I resisted the urge to "pay the money" to join up until I just could not stand it anymore. Since joining several months ago and reading the "totally biased" gear reviews I have purchased the following list of gear: 6 Moon Designs Lunar Solo Tent, Solomon XA Comp Shoes, Patagonia Micro Puff vest, Granite Gear Virga backpack, Aqua Mira, Mt Hardware windshirt, Photon Freedom Micro light, Western Mountaineering Highlite sleeping bag, Western Mountaineering Ultralite, Gossamer Gear Spin Shelter. My birthday present..the Gossamer Gear in the mail :) None of this stuff was purchased from BPL. I did not have a clue any of this gear existed until I read about it on this website. Yes..I have bought gear from fact I would have bought more but its so hard to get. YES I am an addict..but it's cheaper than therapy and I am sure all those vendors were happy to get my business.

Edited by dancer on 01/20/2006 11:32:52 MST.

Benjamin Smith
(bugbomb) - F - M

Locale: South Texas
Re: Re: conflict of interest: Manufacturing V reviewing on 01/20/2006 11:58:15 MST Print View

Mike, I agree 100% with your comments. I'll simply add my voice to the chorus that finds BPL to be, along with, the only source of useful gear reviews on the internet. As a previous poster pointed out, BMW is not BPL, though RJ is obviously associated with both.

Personally, my experience with BPL's site has been very positive, and my level of confidence in the people associated with it is very high. I feel confident that even if they did review their own gear, it would be fair (see RJ's "reader review" commenting on the value of a BPL subscription), and I'm frankly dissapointed that there's not a good place for me to read a detailed review (like the ones that BPL publishes) about the Cocoon pullover, for example.

I understand the original poster's concern - however, I would challenge him to propse some practical ways that RJ and the crew could be more above-board in establishing their credibility and lack of bias.


Edited by bugbomb on 01/20/2006 11:59:19 MST.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Re:Bias on 01/20/2006 14:07:12 MST Print View

Mike,Sunny and Ben have already covered most of my intended comments, here is my take on it. Very simply I subscribed because I cannot get the type and quality of information I get here anywhere else. I have several other sites including some from individuals in my favorites, however I always start my search here.
Keep in mind that we all have our preferences, so in a way we are all biased. As an example I like that visual polluting version of yellow used by many tent manufacturers, so I possibly see a product in that colour more favorably than something in dark blue. Silly but nevertheless real.

Glenn Roberts
(garkjr) - F

Locale: Southwestern Ohio
Further reflections on 01/20/2006 15:17:23 MST Print View

After mulling this over all day (subconsciously, while doing other things), I've come to the conclusion that we're arguing apples and oranges again. There are two components to any type of opinion-based activity (be it issuing audit opinions on financial statements or writing gear reviews): Independence and Objectivity.

You can, in some cases, give up independence and still produce an objective, meaningful review (or financial statement.) Whether the reader can rely on that product depends upon his needs, and how he can overcome the independence problem. However, you can never produce worthwhile output if you give up your objectivity - regardless of how independent you are.

That seems to be exactly the position we (readers) are all in regarding BPL. We recognize that Ryan, et. al., may not be independent. But, they have demostrated an almost inhumanly-high degree of objectivity (see the BMW Pack Project thread Ryan started.)

For many of our purposes, this results in relevant, reliable information. However, despite the desire for a risk-free life, we have to realize that all of the information (reviews, reader forums, or whatever) is a tool, NOT a guarantee. It's strictly up to us to determine when and to what degree to rely on it. Don't ever forget that Ryan is our advisor, not our mommy.

The best example of a proper mindset was a sign I saw once at a National Forest trailhead: "You are now entering a wilderness area. The USFS does not guarantee your enjoyment or your return."

Edited by garkjr on 01/20/2006 15:19:44 MST.

Robert Ebel
(poop) - F

Locale: Earth Orbit
Re: Further reflections on 01/20/2006 15:46:28 MST Print View

I brought this subject up because it actually has come up in conversations. I thought me and my friends may not be the only ones wondering about it. This has been lively! Thanks. And thanks PJ!

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Further reflections on 01/20/2006 16:54:00 MST Print View


Is that a 'yes' to my offer? It sounds like it to me - am i mistaken? A one word reply is all that's needed. If you reply with a 'yes', i'll send BPL an email (actually, a "Support Issue") to ask how to obtain a Membership on behalf of someone else (i think, i could be mistaken, that they or i will need your email address in order to start the Membership, but i'm not sure). Sometimes it can take more than a day for BPL to reply. Please don't take a delay as a "reneg". If you want to contact me "off-line", so to speak, about this, you can email me at (that's the numeral zero, not a capital 'O' in my email address). Take care.

Robert Ebel
(poop) - F

Locale: Earth Orbit
Re: Re: Re: Further reflections on 01/20/2006 17:19:53 MST Print View

I did thank you because you offered and seem like such a great guy. Most of the thanks was for making such a great effort at my post.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Re: Legitimate question on 01/25/2006 02:24:17 MST Print View

Robert I forgot to mention that yours was a very valid question that came to me also when I first looked at this site. Comparing this to other sites and the many magazines I buy, Backpackinglight comes up squeaky clean. I do not always agree with what I read but I learn a lot and that to me this is the reward of being a member. I am looking forward to the day I can put into practice more of my newly acquired knowledge and maybe meet some of the great guys and too few girls I have come across here. BTW some of the comments I read here , mine for example, border onto the insane but I am having fun.

Ron Stoecklein
(rs7trout) - F
Reality check on 01/25/2006 10:38:51 MST Print View

As someone else previously commented--I wish that the BPL staff would do more to compare their own gear to like kind gear.

I have reviewed enough posts and reviews to believe that the staff goes "beyond expectations" in order to offer us, the subscribers, the best information available regarding UL gear.

And I can only hope that these posts only aid the staff in realizing how valuable their information is.

And I would hope ultimatley that BPL is successful in all their ventures including the sale of equiment sold under their name in oder that this site
continues into the future!!

Without BPL-quite frankly I'd still be carrying my ol' 7lb. Gregory pack with 45 lbs. of gear in it!!

Tony Burnett
(tlbj6142) - F

Locale: OH--IO
Re: Reality check on 01/25/2006 11:55:29 MST Print View

I suspect that will never happen. I do believe that BMW has started having their gear reviewed by which is probably the "best" you can get for reviews of their stuff.

Though sometimes I'd like to read a negative (or at least extremely critical) review from, but they seem to be a bit rare.

larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
Re: Re: Reality check on 01/25/2006 14:55:08 MST Print View

Until Consumer Reports starts reviewing gear we are going to have bias...all reviews do a combination of the subjective [I was cold...seemed tight...]and the observant [well made seams...nice pole fit]. "I think" there is a nice balance here. Go read a review in a magazine that derives it's ad revenue from manufacturers and you will come away realizing even when they compare equipment they'll couch the reviews in hyperbole afraid to offend no one. The underlying feeling I get from reviews here is of integrity, the only conflict of interest is that of any gearheads, to get their hands on the NGT [next great thing].
PJ, these are just opinions, if in the end someone doesn't like what we are saying they can exercise their right to go to