For those who review for communities…


24/02/2012 by The Sorcerer

So.. someone contacted me via email from a company which didn’t really get a hold of the Indian market yet (strange, because the memory kits that you see are mostly G Skills around the state capitals to say the least- and then you happen to see Corsair XMS3- and then few value memory kits) but they have a track record of making good stuff Not the first time, in 6 months this is probably the second and in both times- I haven’t received a reply. They remind me of another Taiwan representative of another company a year back with similar tier 1 manufacturer (the guy I am talking about are from Taiwan too). An impression is made (it feels that way- yeah) that they are willing to give you that stuff “for free” (or maybe a favour) if you write favourable review and post it on all forums. Yeh -THIS is happening in India. Right now. I refused.. and someone else I know is refusing.. and someone else who is associated with lan gaming also refused it. So.. eventually they’re going to bump into those guys who will do stuff for free stuff. Yes- we have THOSE type of writers too- some of them are even reading this. I find it more strange that a company with a decent/good track record is asking folks to do this- maybe because companies who dont make good stuff do this? Nah- that’s the reason…or is it?

But I am talking from their perspective. This is from us as in writers and contributors and “contributors”. In short-term, maybe it’s not a “big deal” unless you’re using it to bash other brands to make this brand look good and to impress them long enough to let them keep it- or over-exaggerating facts/lying like an idiot. If you do that, that’s not cool. Let’s admit it: there are those who do not mind doing it for free stuff. Its more of a tradeoff according to them. In short-term, maybe…just maybe it’s not bad. I mean.. hey! it’s not your job to convince people. you’re an honest guy ((right?))

NNNNNnooooo… its a no for me.

Forum owners/moderators won’t come to know about it. They usually don’t. You end up relying on your instincts. But if a product is actually good and other reviews pretty much say the same thing, then its all good…or that’s how they think.

That’s why if you see international forums, the owners and mods are real enthusiasts who are involved deep in the community deep enough to know that 1 is writing for freebie or not. They keep a control on such people. You might not know, but if you are doing a special rig build on behalf of a company or a group of company -money is involved. So they ask for money in exchange of letting it to be published. That’s fair enough -community needs money to sustain itself. But there are those who get few hardware from companies and they spend their own money -like how Rakesh Sharma did…and he blew some stuff accidentally part and parcel of such rigs being built.

In long-term, it is a big deal. You spend a lot of time testing hardware and your own money to produce a content. It’s fair you should get something from it. Only way: ad revenues. There are some “promotional plans” that some people have and that’s fair enough as long as it does not influence the review.

It came on xtremesytems and The Overclocker that people who put reviews on forums 90% of them do it for freebies. Favourable reviews in exchange for free hardware. They don’t say it directly- I am not sure how you’re supposed to understand because I got 3 contacts like that- 1 stuff turned up to be a meh! and impression is made that they didn’t really like it so they cut communications -2nd…yeah pretty good stuff. I was happy (because it was genuinely good) and they were happy (not because it was genuinely good maybe…well…I don’t know how Taiwan PRs think..they’re a different breed that I feel intimidated with some of such PRs only because I get confused with what they’re trying to say and with what they’re saying in literal sense). 3rd…well..they’re trying to say (or at least that’s what I am able to understand) is that it would be nice to write a positive review and post on multiple forums. They’re trying really hard for few months and they asked someone else too. So.. maybe if you see such review from a guy who is in the forums for a very long time, I’ll know. I’ll not say it out loud- except maybe to few people. Its down on their consciousness so..yeah.

I am confused. Yes, usually I am confused in the real world but I was more confused than I ever was ask bikey and Machine man– THEY know. I think…

But my instincts were sort of in the right place because they made a similar pitch to someone else- and they decided not to reply it so I guess its fair enough because he does not intend to go down THAT road. I did reply (I always do….mostly) and I did say “in the same tone of language” (not very easy way of communication) that they were using that “you can go ahead and send the media sample but you need to acknowledge that if a product is genuinely good- why do I need to say something extra?”. They haven’t replied back. So…I guess they understand.

Its right from my side because I write for long-term and I don’t want to belong to that 90%- and I try – so far its a success. I have a lot to learn so… yeah. I am sure the Indian enthusiasts have felt that when they read some reviews from a particular writer that it looks more like a marketing pitch. Sure, they will get +1s and likes and stuff from their peers. But hey, back of your head- you know. And eventually you lose interest. So such writer gets affected. That’s how the real world works. The things you do or willing to “compromise” has consequences.

We live in a shepard-sheep mentality- and we all follow it- in some way or the other. Besides, you need good enough hardware to use it on your test bench. Not “awesome” and “expensive” hardware- but something good enough that can be with you for…2-3 years atleast- or at least long enough like 6 months, especially when its done with the circulation. Some companies (that I’ve heard) would love you to use it on your test setup and mention it.

Why PRs do it? Because maybe times when some reviewers say “what if…” like how Eurozone replaced a drive in PS3 with a hybrid storage drive and that turned to produce good results…and then with an SSD which produced better results. When such reviewers put up articles, they mention the model so that people will know what did you use to get that result. I am using the word: maybe. Maybe there’s no reason at all. There are those who really would love you to use their product and know what you think of it. If THIS happens with you- that’s because of pure respect. I remember when Harshal said that someone came out of nowhere and gave a kit like that when he was in GOOC (I think it was GOOC) so…there ya go!

I am not sure how that favours PR in that sense, but I usually say thank you. I remember before I started BBQ, 1 specific person from Chip made an indirect/direct comment that “why would you thank someone for giving this?” well..I don’t say thanks because I got something for free. If one thinks that way, then life is going to suck. I know it’s a media sample and they have their reasons to do so- probably for the one above- and they know that I know. I am saying it- out of courtesy. I mean, if you’re saying this then I can’t imagine what goes through your mind if someone gives you a birthday gift. You’re not gonna flash that “mightier than thou” attitude. You’re gonna say thanks even if its re-wrapped old gifts (don’t boo me…people do that…and that’s why I believe giving a gift voucher makes much better present for birthdays and maybe weddings) . It’s not that you necessarily mean it. But you say it. Its courtesy. It still has the power to bring warm and fuzzy feeling on the other person (then again, it might suck if you bring fuzzy feeling on the person that you’re not interest so….yeaaaaah). Since YOU are the one who said it: You’ll never ever EVER get a cake!!! An illusion will be made that you are getting a cake and you’re eating it- but you and I know: dude, the cake is a lie!!!

Unlike regular users- reviewers don’t get a lot of time to have intimate moment with their hardware (no…not that version of intimate…behave, you!!!). All the more reasons it makes sense for reviewers to be in constant connection with a user who gets a hands on a lot of things and uses it regularly. You tend to learn good shit. Contrary to popular belief: Reviewers are supposed to have constant communication with readers and such users more than users interacting with reviewers. That’s the only way you learn from a different perspective. Yes.

I remember I put up a review of WD hard drive that taken some time to come out. It was a genuinely great drive and I said it in simple terms. Before putting it in forums itself, People contact me in email or via FB/Forum PM that they’re not able to find it. Yeah…I didn’t say the release date because shipping usually takes a toll- and it happens. Same thing happened with Seagate drive (2nd gen momentus XT 750GB). Then because of so much issues in price and all, I put a disclaimer that I’ll not be judging internal hard drives, based on price because of availability issues taken most of the stuff for a toss.  But it showed that people are reading it and they are genuinely interested in good stuff- far more than before. And I am honoured that people slowly are giving weight to my reviews and conclusion.

But I have few issues that I wish I can vent out freely and there are times I wish I can mention their names- and be done with it. But I can’t because unfortunately the world is evolved in such a way that you cannot make horse out of donkeys, the person I refer to is irrelevant- the actions is what is relevant. Some guys here even in India who write for tech sources said that they didn’t like the way I write because I make them look bad. I was pretty flabbergasted at first but they didn’t the real reason- except maybe I was contradicting theirs- all the more strange. I know some people in this business who say “Why would I give anything more than 70 out 100 to someone who doesn’t give us ad revenues” or “why would I give an award to those who never even given us ad revenues”. I am not saying all do it- nor I am saying people do it with “full intensity”. But some people say it. That’s why power users don’t trust reviews. I know. This is what one guy I know told me and I do believe him because he has interaction with his crowd and he’s not one of those guys who will beat around the bushes.

Then someone in the forums has issues- and he’s a writer. He conveniently “mistyped” (yeah right!! A person who is writing for a long time is mistyping the words “ripping off”- cool story, bro!!) that I rip off/plagiarise content and he had issues with me using the BBQ watermark. Fair enough from their point. If you have such issues then: Pay me for my time, give me a test rig (most of the hardware that I use is something I purchased for my personal use) and you pay for other expenditures and give me a workplace plus an acknowledgement that I officially write for you- on paper- and with a condition that you will butt-off from changing/altering my articles without my consent. Correct me if I am wrong- fair enough? I mean if you want to bring that “publisher corporation” mentality it works both ways.

I haven’t told them because it was stupid. If I really told them they’re going to have the same point of view that I have about them. But here’s a simple fact: I am not running a forum. Unlike couple of guys (at least- I think its sumonpathak and some guy called power_user_ex) from OCFREAKS who are leaching members from digit and techenclave via PM (Deja vu- at least something like happened in India alone…5 times out of which 2 of them are now shut down… like battlestar galatica- someone has to be smart enough to break this cycle), I am not running a forum- nor I intend to. People read BBQ and then…that’s it, they do their thing. I don’t like the concept of starting forums. Too much work. Besides, that way I see how newer forum came out- they target the same crowd. Its silly and stupid. Its going to be the same conversation and stuff over and over. If you go and interact with lan gamers and few bloggers and even power users- you’ll be amazed that we have more end users who such hardware at least much more than the amount of users who joined the  forums. A company in Bangalore is setting up a small meet with bloggers and end users to have a discussion. Its not publicized and I was invited but unfortunately its in Bangalore and BBQ is not in that level that I can spend money from it to travel for such stuff…yet (To that particular person- yes he knows – wipe that silly smirk off your face- 600D is coming next month :D) . Before you think I am being arrogant- I am not. I don’t know everything but then again- communities should have that “life” that makes you want to come over and over. That’s how you learn. You don’t mug up shit, you learn stuff with that “zing” flavour. If you’re being a literate asshole then God have mercy on your soul because karma is a bitch.

What I am trying to say is that reviewers (even for short-term and non professional guys) are not PRs and not sales guys making pitches. If you want to be, I think there might be an opening in Star CJ (oooh please- don’t boo me!! ). If you are trying to be one: then there are consequences. You lose trust and you lose credibility. You also develop that “friction” where people don’t believe you and you lose readership (lose….looose…lose). Its not easy to be honest towards the readers because everyone has their own reasons to do what they do- to earn. But you need to learn the art of “balancing” by keeping those such people happy with one leg and 1 hand tied behind your back…. and producing honest, unadulterated and…downright to the point reviews.

This works but it has limitations. Sometimes they might not like it and even blacklist you. But if you’re a long-term reviewer and you eventually gain readership based on trust and credibility- that blacklist magically becomes into a whitelist. Your and your only goal are your readers. They spend their hard-earned money based on your recommendations -some of them are also PR guys (yeah well- all of them work their butt off so that they can earn money to buy something- its a cycle). I mean…whom you rather be? A writer who gets +1s and “likes” but in reality you are being used and people don’t trust you…..OR…a reviewer who many people hate for your attitude and arrogance/pride/whatever fancy word you want to use…but they can’t ignore you because: you’re professional and your credibility, conclusions and readership value cannot be overlooked.

Yes, a lot of people will hate you for it- so much that they’re going to behave like jerks and quote rules like patent trolls and say stupid stuff like “….oh that’s because back then there wasn’t such RULES that existed”. Some of those people will even ignore you- talk behind your back in one of those little gay groups online as if they are circling around a bonfire (or some shit)… but you have your readership. Besides, you become big and all, they’re gonna lick you from top to bottom (not in the literal sense). That’s how the shit rolls: the more readership you gain, the more power you get to be honest- and more honest you are and able to market that honesty (far more easier and takes least effort than marketing bullcrap- even products), the more readership you gain. A level of consistency and growth needs to be present as well.

I think I am the other guy (yeah…sue me for being arrogant now)…I mean..atleast one person said something like “we let THAT one slide because of the stuff and the way he writes”. Not the same set of words, but yeah something like that. You might say shit like “I am being too childish” or “you’re doing personal attacks” well..I rather say it on your face (well..maybe I might not get that chance all the time…but maybe by max via phone….) vent it all out and be done with it and not beating around the bush and behave like a sour-puss. Most of all, to that person whom I removed from my FB contacts, I rather be myself than to be a push-over who is commanded by his peers. Man, where’s your pride? Be a man and stand up for what’s right rather than telling me to understand. The way I see it, you’re not so different from those people who are unfortunately have to pretend to be buddy buddy on “the other forum”, huh? Think about it.

Its a tradeoff. You might try to justify it but…nah. A part of it that I do is for me is because I love doing it and the increase in readership is also a strong motive for me to push Hardware BBQ FAR more than before. Yeah, money will come once the crowd increases a lot and eventually i’ll earn from ad revenues enough that I can hire guys like me and make this as a proper thing- but like those reputed guys I know- ain’t gonna do favours. I’ll do things honestly and practice professionalism to the best of my ability, but you need to respect that as well.

What happened to those days? When mods used instincts and better judgement rather than rules and regulations like “the law of the land”?  Stupid trolls.. now people are getting jobs based on their trolling experience in forums. That’s how patent trolls came in picture. Lawyers and some managers….YEAAAAAH.

Sad world we live in: They hate you while you’re alive and pretend to like you and all that when you’re dead. Same bunch of people who throw that attitude that will not make you hesitate to kick in the balls so hard that they’ll spit it out their mouth. I am sorry if you’re reading this first thing in the morning- which all the more reason…..nah….or else this small little blog will lack that “personality”. Besides, I use this to vent it out. Either you ride the shitstorm (again!!) fille with cheesy cliche’s or stay away from the ROFLCOPTER tides.


6 thoughts on “For those who review for communities…

  1. Excellent point Roshan.

    My feedback is not about content but about lay out of blog.

    can you select a theme which allows wide perspective, and such a long post with black back ground is probably not comfortable. hope you can do something for it. 🙂

    • The Sorcerer says:

      yeaaah. Its been a while I posted here. I didn’t really want to post this but I am not really having a streak lately so I had to vent it out. Now…. yeah. It feels good.

  2. The Sorcerer says:

    Decided to delete couple of exotic comments. Forum’s internal politics is irrelevant with what I’ve said. If people are generalizing this then I am sorry if you fail to read it properly- I can’t make horse out of donkeys. To the person who said his blood is boiling (he knows who he is), I’ve deleted your comments, because you failed to read and understand properly. You want to go around, tell bullshitery about me and “how I do things”- that’s your wish. People know well about me and the only harm that is going to happen is to your site.

    What I said was forums and forums in general. You fail to understand, read it properly and if it still not possible, please wear glasses or ask the people who have read it. Looks like very handful of people who read it properly was able to understand this. Not my problem.

    Either that, like how they did before they simply want to troll around, make some stupid comments and derail the point that I made.

  3. Sachin says:

    the reason why senior members were forced to leave because they raised issues about the existing dealers on the forums so admins n mods were concerned about this will affect the funding that they needed to keep the site up and running. another reason is that some senior moderators wanted to commercialize the forum as well and earn money out of member’s expense. a lot of senior moderators were complaining and even went against this. this happened renegade created a photography forum which miserably failed. but at the end of the day all indian forum administrators are the same. the best thing to do is not to contribute for such forums…

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