19/02/2013 by The Sorcerer
I am posting this so that this gets out of my head and I can go ahead and do things peacefully. I am also posting this is because I fear that the hardwork and commitment by few pc hardware reviewers and contributors will be sabotaged only because 1 or small group of people are mis informing readers so that they can generate more content even if it comes to kissing ass. (not in the literal sense).
Please also excuse my grammatical and spelling errors as I am writing this out of anger and I am not thinking straight (but I am thinking straight enough to post it here). It should be also noted that I have not mentioned the PR agency’s name- nor the questioned company.
So this is what happened. I was once offered to review a premium memory kit by an Indian based PR agency but the condition was that I stick to synthetic benchmarks only and not to compare it or talk about the price because “it aimed towards enthusiasts”. Ironically, they wanted me to do synthetic tests.
Do note that companies don’t say what to review with, unless the methodology is wrong!
So this is the mail that I’ve received. Those who can’t see it properly thanks to the layout, click here. To note, this mail came to me on 1st august, 2012.
I pushed it away by saying I do not have any resources to test it, but I gave a called to another PR in the same team who kept someone else to take of the client saying that this is wrong!
The following happened.
There were few products that came to me and as many know that if its good, i say its good and if its bad- i say it is bad. The one product that I reviewed from them is where it was too expensive and I marked it down because of price. Second was good, but the product’s firmware had TRIM issue but I waited for the new firmware and did the re-test, clarifying that this SSD should be used with the newer firmware and then came a product where because of the software provider’s restricted implementations the product was not worthy to be made. Sending email to the country head was useless because throughout the time I used to send feedbacks, he never used to reply back or acknowledge, except the time when someone from Taiwan replied back due to a certain firmware issue with an older SSD drive. I emailed to someone I know in Taiwan and he forwarded the mail to the country head where he says that he doesn’t read any mails from me at all. The agency did not forward any mails to them nor the country head of the brand cares. Lets call this company as company “A”
There was also issues that I raised in the past that was unanswered, that included the wild claims about their memory kit with the ability to overclock from 1333MHz to 1600MHz and then “India specific” memory kit. To which both the queries were left unanswered.
I was blacklisted- sort of. They cut off the communication altogether and didn’t reply back to any of the information. I decided that its not worth being in communication with this guy and decided not to associate with any brands with this PR agency. I stood up for what is right and I am proud of it! I unsubscribed to their mailing lists.
And then a similar company (but they don’t make flash based products) started communicating with me and it was going pretty well- and then they hoped to another PR agency. Surprise surprise!!! its the same PR agency that created this issue. I told them that I will not associate with the PR agency because of the crap that was being done. The conversation happened on the phone and lets just say an impression was made I am bashing brands and one of their product was taken as an example. When I speaking about the specifics and compared to some of the units that I’ve evaluated the reply came back “lets not talk about the technical part”. I am sorry, but its a technical product so one has to speak about it?
Lets call this company as company “B”.
The problem was that there were many cons. But here’s the thing- I don’t mention likes and dislikes. I mention pros and cons- and due to the site’s framework design the cons come on top and pros come below (why am I saying this? You will know about it when you read). Nothing new, nothing biggie.
The cons I mention is because people can know clearly what to expect and what not to expect. Ratings are given on overall aspect, including value for money, warranty period- excluding service feedback history because different people living in different countries, cities, locations have different/opposite experience so its not possible to quantify it. If the cons does not affect you as a buyer, obviously you’ll consider it. That’s how the buyer thinks- irrespective of what one might claim. On top of it I write a detailed review as much as possible.
Unfortunately it was not looked that way from the company’s side. Conversation went towards power supply where another review which was done in another forum was brought in. I simply said that the review is misleading and I am not ready to do that. I used the word “it sucks” and I told the respected person of the company that if you want, I can post the link in my facebook page and I will not say anything, but you’ll get to see people’s opinion about it which will make your realize that such way of doing reviews will affect damage your brand’s reputation.
Lets be realistic, there’s only 1 testing methodology for a power supply that websites such as HardOCP, anandtech, Hardware Secrets ( I am a huge fan of Gabriel and he was one of the person I seriously wanted to meet in Computex 2012 when I won Tweaktown’s computex competition, among a shit load of people!!!).
It didn’t reach to a conclusion- atleast in my opinion. But I said that if you want to send, you can send it. The PR agency however told the person in the company that I blocked them. I’ve said no and added that I have only unsubscribed it- and I told the person from that PR agency who also given me a call, where I’ve bluntly said that I do not want to associate with your agency because of the issue you’ve made and she said “okay bye!” (I told not to take it personally, considering people use that as an excuse to divert from the actual discussion- and I genuinely don’t have anything personal with her).
I was then being told that the PR agency’s owner and one of the agents will be here to talk to me. I was being my one of a good friend from company “A” and contact that the company which blacklisted me was going to have a conference here- of which- as expected- not invited.
But still I’ve decided to meet up- with one of the contributors by my side.
We were talking about Brand “A” on most of the time and I’ve asked the question 3 times “Are the cons disputed”. During the time, these were being told:
“Can you talk about the positive part first and then about the negative part” (lulwut????)
“The person incharge of the operations only sees the pros and cons and ratings- that’s it. Because people don’t read the content and see only that” (lulwutwtuf this is not a movie review site)
Silence, with the sentence “we don’t have any problems with you” (riiiight).
This is the part where I was being told that I am dangerously influential with a very serious face. An impression was made on me that these guys may have said something to Company B (well i had suspicion before too but at this point it was obvious). If being loved by most of the people for helping them (ignoring TE, chip, Digit and tech 2, I was in forums such as now defunct kawabonka, Indian Pro league and another forum) and by hated, trolled, meme’d by a group of people where in this line of work, if you have pissed them off in some form or the other, its an indication that you’re on the right path!!!
I wasn’t dangerously influential. Well.. I can be but I don’t see things that way.
I do have a more direct way of putting things across, but that’s what people read my reviews in the first place. I don’t have a degree in bullshitery and bling bling or misguide people to get more pageviews. If that was the case, I would have given one of the cases of the companies a 4 out of 5 rather than 2 out of 5…oh wait… a magazine did give an award to that same case after a month, a case where the HDD slider can snap off and the tray was made of tin foil. Some people have said that giving a rating for such cases itself shows that I am being biased (lol!!).
So why am I writing this? I am writing this because right now, in some Indian tech forum where one of the forum contributors posted that review of the product from company “A”- and its obvious that he agreed to avoid real world benchmarks.
Do I have something against the person? No!! If I really had that intention then I wouldn’t have hesitated to put his name online. Do I something with these companies? No- but I do have a problem when someone does this to promote their brand and have a problem if I am deemed as a brand basher! Model basher? depends on how people look at it- but no cons have been disputed- with the exception of 2-3 of them which was not a really big deal- but by these companies mind you.
Why I am writing this is for everyone:
Companies: This is how I am going to do things. I will not lie. I will be honest and if the product is good and if the newer product worked on the cons of the previous product- I will mention it, provided i’ve reviewed the older product. But I am not going to do this. I am not a liar. Not that I have a code of ethics or something, its because I am too darn lazy to lie. Remember Sheldon Cooper who makes detailed stuff up to tell a simple lie??? Yeah- that guy! If you ask me that you either do this or we’ll not send you samples, don’t send me samples!!! I am not saying this out of arrogance, but you need to understand that in line of work, lies can be found out and tracked down easily. That’s the reason why many online publication in India which used to do pc hardware reviews failed dramatically.
And please, read the entire review properly.
Readers: Dude, the cake is a lie!!! You’ve been warned. Apply brains and check multiple resources. Don’t be blinded by the amount of rend-ant bullshitery sprinkled all around the content.
Forum Reviews who do things so that they can get stuff to promote bullshitery: You should have seen this coming. “I am dangerously influential!!!!!”. Not my words, but the words that came from the PR who is sending you stuff. Besides, what are you getting out of this? freebies. Stop fooling the people.
Forum reviewers who are still honest: Be honest, or else I am sorry, but to protect the community where I and many have worked hard to keep it honest, you’re next. But if you feel that you feel that your work is at risk because of such people, don’t. People respect you for being honest and making efforts to be truthful. If you don’t do reviews of those products, whether you say it in public or not, obviously people will know that there’s something wrong in the picture. Public is not that stupid. Try to grow and implement testing methodology that makes sense to the people, not just for your peers- and cover your ass. Don’t keep blind faith on the forums so much. Today they’re friendly with you, tomorrow- no!!! Not everyone is the same, yes, but if you have observed the cases around the Indian forum scene, you know what I am saying.
Forum owners/admins: For your brand’s sake open your eyes. Else, I don’t care!
PR agencies: Most of the PR agents and agencies are pretty cool guys and they understand where I am come from and all that jazz. But those who don’t: Reviewers are not advertisers. Reviewers are not a tool for PR and marketing. If its good, they will say it. Why would they not! They’ll be happy, consumers will be happy and you will happy. If its bad, take the feedback and work on it- or dispute it. In any case, that how reviewers work (the real ones anyways) and respectfully, Deal with it!!! Some of them used words like “If you do this, how will you get ad revenues”, well- Hardware BBQ is an honest source and that’s why people will come back and read because of that honesty. Why do you think certain media doing this have failed miserably or changed their content type?
I have warned before that there will be an influx of contributors who will misguide the Indian community by writing crap so that they can get more media samples and use that as a sales pitch to attract other brands. Here it is now. Decision is in your hands- how do companies, people, reviewers, contributors, forum owners want to deal with it. Note that I did not mention anyone’s name out of respect. I also did not mention the name of the brand and people because this is something that anyone can do it irrespective of who he or she is- or which forum he posts or which company she or he represents.
Edit: I’ve disabled the comment section and deleted 2 comments. As I’ve said, I got nothing against the brand. Reviewers should be truth tellers and should stick to it. Reviewers who do otherwise, should be put in place irrespective of the backlash one would see.
(Edit): There is a serious after effects. In a new scenario “A” company did some setting with an unethical reviewer for promotion and he puts bullshit content. People put likes and say good comments. Why would they not? They trust you for new knowledge and unless someone equally knowledgeable who got nothing to do with reviews doesn’t challenge it, people will be fooled. Company “B” gets a ping from its superiors: “if these guys do like this, why not us?”. Eventually it builds up- and everyone writes crap.
So think before you do something. As far as I am seeeing things, honesty has no value and fear that reviewers and the tech forums will be used to promote so much marketing content even the reader will not know who is telling the truth.
Thank you for your time!