I was talking with some Filofax fans recently and was mentioning that some reviewers don’t give any personal opinions in their reviews of items. And one person said ‘because it is not a review, it is a description’ and we went on to discuss whether this is because they received binders from the company or whether it was just the way they worked.
I have been thinking about it since then and yes, I know that some people receive binders free and may not want to be critical about the company. I also know that others, like Laurie at Plannerisms, feel that if they describe the item, their readers can form their own opinion because we all have different needs and likes/dislikes. Which is a very valid point. Since I read Laurie’s explanation it has seemed perfectly logical to me. She always describes things so very well that it would be easy to decide if I would like it for myself or not and whether it would suit my personal needs. She often offers her reviewed planners as giveaways on her blogs so in that sense it is nice that they are unused. She does also offer opinions on the planners she uses and is honest as to why they didn’t work for just her.
I guess I fall a little between that myself – I buy all my own items with my own hard-earned money so I expect them to be good. I also feel that because my blog is about me and my passions, I can be honest. I am never nasty but I do say for example if I hate the tag on a zipper or if things catch on a pocket or a clasp, or if I feel the item wears too quickly or is overpriced. I am the kind of person who, instead of saying ‘it doesn’t work’ says ‘it needs work’ and then describe as diplomatically as possible why. I never want my readers to waste money on an item I have featured. On the other hand I do offer mostly a description and photographs of the binder, offering opinions on just the features I think work or don’t work.
When I read magazines or articles, I always prefer reader reviews to the magazine’s own article about a product. The reader reviews are more honest about the product and whether it works/is overpriced/badly designed etc. , whereas the magazine article comes off as just PR. Not always but usually. I also always look at TripAdvisor if I am going anywhere. I am intelligent enough to balance the glowing reviews with the negative ones and look at the overall rating, as I think most consumers are. It is way more accurate to me than reviews by people who were given a free stay at the hotel before they wrote their review.
I have thought about it and if I were given products to review I would probably not want to say negative things about a company that was kind enough to give me a product. I hate myself for thinking like that but it is human nature I suppose. And I am very soft-hearted.
And don’t get me wrong, I like descriptions in blogs and videos because I feel that the companies themselves often fall short in really describing their binders or having nice photographs. But for me, having had the discussion with my Filofax friends, that is a description rather than a review. For me a review implies an opinion but that then could be pure semantics.
So I was wondering what my readers think. Do you like descriptions so that you can form your own opinion or would you like a review to be a critical analysis of a product and a service as regards packaging, delivery, quality and price?