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Since the early beginnings of this site I’ve enjoyed writing product reviews. Whenever I go back and look at the monthly stats I always find that product reviews rate the highest of all articles. There’s lots more to cycling than product reviews, but they are something I enjoy and the stats indicate that you find them useful and/or interesting. Our job is only to plant the seed, and your comments along with your experiences is what really adds value.
Unfortunately people have come to distrust product review and feel that they’re paid advertisements. Personally, I feel that if I don’t have credibility with product reviews, I don’t have anything left at all. The reader’s voice is much louder than mine, so it keeps me as honest as I can be. That’s not to say that conflicts never arise, but I do my best to put discosure statements whenever I feel necessary.
I’ve taken steps to ensure that any advertiser relationships are kept completely separate from most of the product reviews on this site. As most of you know I’ve hired Matt Wikstrom as the Tech Editor of CyclingTips (Matt does not get paid). I let him choose the products he wants for reivew write whatever he feels. Sometimes an advertiser will ask for a review and I will often oblige if I feel that it will be of interest to you. On the other hand, sometimes I go asking brands for their products to be submitted for review if I think it’ll be of value to you. We always expect to send back the product to the distributor, but sometimes with small items they allow us to keep it. It’s never expected, but a very nice gesture.
The other step I’ve taken which I’m hoping will gain traction is adding “user reviews” to most of the products we review. We allow owners of a product to login and rate the product against the same criteria as the reviewer did (as well as a text review to make it more complete). I feel that this is where the true value in the product review will lay. If you don’t trust the review, simply look at the owner reviews (see this Garmin 800 example). Give it a shot and let me know what you think. If it catches on, we’re onto a winner.
Unfortunately the conversation in most of the product review posts have descended into criticisms about the review procedure or wording, accusations on conflicts of interest, or feelings about the reviews being paid. I’ll never please everyone, but I’ll have to begin deleting these comments from now on because they do not add any value to the review itself. You’re more than welcome to email me directly if you have any concerns and I’ll be sure to respond. As always, you’re more than welcome (and encouraged) to leave comments with constructive feedback and criticism with regards to your thoughts and experiences on the product.
I’ve taken these steps becuase I want CyclingTips to be a place where you can come for trustworthy reviews. If I haven’t achieved that, I’ve failed miserably. Please feel free to make suggestions on how we can do this better. Thanks for reading.