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Rllink
08-31-2015, 04:47 AM
I thought that I would post this in the Beginner's forum, because beginners probably depend on reviews more than those who are more experienced. Friday I was at the coffee shop, and I talked to a college girl who was making extra money writing reviews for a company that pays her to write "positive" reviews on different products. I asked her if she ever did one on a ukulele, and she said that she hadn't, but it still makes you wonder if someone else is. I told my wife about it, and she used to be a tech writer. She said that some companies write positive reviews for their own products and post them on-line. Interesting.

DownUpDave
08-31-2015, 05:10 AM
Great points. I know a girl who writes "postive" reviews for the travel industry.

"Don't believe what you hear (read) and only half of what you see". Old saying but still holds water. This site is the very best place to get educated.

RichM
08-31-2015, 06:04 AM
I recently purchased a car charger for my iPhone 6 from Amazon. The charger was advertised as "Apple certified" but stopped working almost immediately because, you guessed it, it wasn't actually Apple-certified. When I posted a brief review on Amazon, stating basically "The charger stopped working because it isn't Apple-certified," I immediately got dozens of "Not Helpful" rankings on the review. Since I can't imagine anything more helpful than "this doesn't work as advertised," I can only assume that the dealer arranges to have negative reviews down-voted so they don't rise to the top of the review list. Pretty creepy, but that's the internet for you.

I think all-positive reviews of musical instruments are not necessarily shills (though no doubt some are). I think it's often a new owner who is delighted with his purchase and only sees the positive. We musical types tend to get excited by shiny new toys. :)

Booli
08-31-2015, 06:07 AM
The Help-Wanted section of Craigslist is deeply infected with ads looking for folks to do this kind of shill review, as well as fake-following on twitter, leaving 'likes' or 'thumbs-up' on Facebook and YouTube, and even shill-bidding on eBay.

These companies that do this seem like evil to me. Moral and legal questions come to mind.

I had seen one time across 5 different online-retailer web sites, while looking at reviews for the same product, on all sites, hoping to see the different opinions, and noticed 2 reviews, VERBATIM, across all 5 sites. This has happened more than once. So I can confirm first-hand that this seems to be a real 'thing' that people do. Most people in reality are too lazy to actually do this thing for honest reasons - across so many web sites.

I realize there is nothing I can do, but I do not approve of shills.

Rllink
08-31-2015, 06:24 AM
Well, I know that they aren't all shills, because I've posted reviews on products before. But also, I've posted positive reviews with products that I am quite happy with, only to realize six months down the line that they are not at all as good as I had originally thought. One particular ukulele book comes to mind.

ukeeku
08-31-2015, 07:43 AM
I could write a book on this!
No one wants to hear their baby is ugly, trust me. I have called a few ukes out for issues. I have been threatened twice with legal action to take the reviews down..... I refused and nothing came of it.
BUT.. I have seen sites that do reviews of ukes (I will not call them out) if they have positive things to say about them. Most companies think that since they sent you a uke to review that you will only write positive things about them. But I took this reviewing stuff very serious and told it how it was.
Honestly after a while I got sick of getting crap ukes and found that in the end it is better to go to a seller you can trust, like Mim! Reviews only tell you about the one uke that the reviewer received, and if the company was smart (not many were) they sent the best of the best.

Louis0815
08-31-2015, 10:06 AM
the dealer arranges to have negative reviews down-voted so they don't rise to the top of the review list. Pretty creepy, but that's the internet for you.And that is exactly why I almost always read the 1star reviews as well - and I never trust the "most useful" reviews anyway, I prefer to see the most recent ones first.

Nickie
08-31-2015, 05:18 PM
I could never write fake reviews for cash the way that gal does. It's just plain dishonest. I've been real cash poor before, but I wouldn't sell out like that.
I wrote my own review (for no money) for a floor cleaner I bought cause we have pets. It's kinda old now, but I still like it. When it's shot, I'll buy another one like it.

VegasGeorge
08-31-2015, 06:23 PM
At least with a Ukulele review you can usually tell whether or not the reviewer actually knows anything about the instrument. Beyond that, you just have to watch out for those "reviewers" who are just trying to sell the thing. Most players reviewing one of their own instruments are going to be truthful, if a bit over enthusiastic. That's just human nature.

Purdy Bear
09-01-2015, 04:18 AM
I did get caught out once by an Author putting in a great review of a book under a different name. It was an English Grammar text book, and the two reviews were great, but the guy had a screw loose, his explanations for simple terms were just bonkers. The book went to charity, with a strong note written inside the front cover to beware and double check it's contents. This did teach me to cross read websites for reviews. Now I try two or three websites to see, or just go with my gut feeling, which is rarely wrong. I also check forums to see if any other members have it and what they think.

RichM
09-01-2015, 04:36 AM
I agree with much of what's been written here about reviews. I do think that musical instrument reviews can be tough to parse, though, as there is so much emotion and personal preference involved. One person's "too bright" is another's "lively." My "beautiful inlay" may be your "too blinged-out." And your "mellow & sweet" may be my "too wimpy and quiet." But more than anything else, if you've been playing a mediocre instrument and get a good one, your first reaction may be "best uke ever!!!!!" because it's the best you've ever played.

I've been blessed to own many super-high-end instruments in my life, and I've ended up moving most of them along, because for one reason or another, they didn't meet my personal tastes. And I've owned some more basic instruments that just suit me, and I've kept for years. When it comes to musical instruments, reviews might give you and idea if you're pointed in the right direction, but only your own ears and hands will tell you if it's "good."

billten
09-01-2015, 05:30 AM
Too many people fail to take their musical choices into account when selecting a uke IMO and this is also often not mentioned in the reviews. I bought and sold ukes for about 18 months until i found my sweet spot and i sold a few that others absolutely loved because when i played my choices of music they lacked the tone, clarity and separation of note that i was looking for. Interestingly this goes both ways, i recently tried to play my go-to uke at a play-along jam and it was terrible, i ended up putting it back and playing a soprano flea. The instrument that is perfect for classical fingerstyle can easily be muddy and overbearing for strumming but the reviewer will usually give their impressions based upon their specific requirements and comfort zone of music and not relate to what the instrument is well designed for.

As RichM says YMMV and you got to play it to feel it. I will not buy anymore without playing and if i do i will be prepared to resell if it is a bust. Reviewers give only a very specific piece of the story and usually it is biased, occasionally due to payment but often due to personal taste in music.

Highmiles
09-01-2015, 07:43 AM
Being new to the ukulele, I have had to educate myself even on video reviews. Two of the dealers I trust the most are Mim's and HMS. The problem with MIM, is that the playing sample is usually small, includes the same chorded progression, and little else. That is great for me as a beginner who mostly chords, but obviously is not suited for all circumstances. The problem at HMS is the opposite. Many times the review is comprised of Corey playing something that I won't try to emulate for a year or more, or possibly never. What I have learned to do, is be a more educated listener. Sometimes the most important observation, is what is avoided in the sound sample. If a Uke is only played up toward the nut, I conclude that it probably is poor in the upper register. If chording is excluded in favor of fingerpicking, I assume there is a reason. You get the idea. In all fairness, these companies are trying to sell product, and they are going to emphasize strengths and often avoid weaknesses. The reason I still hold both of these companies in high esteem, is that they try their best to honest even the face of trying to present the best quality of the Uke and avoid weaknesses. I know that if I were to do my part, and talk to them one on one telling them what I specifically wanted, they would do there best to steer me in the right direction. I guess the bottom line, is that I can't get lazy when I read or listen to a review, I have to do my homework in depth. I wish I could try them all in person, because that is really the only solution to what is really a complex problem. That problem being what is good to me might not be what any one else wants or likes. lol

Mivo
09-01-2015, 09:56 PM
And that is exactly why I almost always read the 1star reviews as well - and I never trust the "most useful" reviews anyway, I prefer to see the most recent ones first.

The one-star reviews could be written by the competitor's shills, though. It's not an uncommon practice to put down the products of the competition, so negative reviews aren't necessarily more genuine. (Not to mention people having an axe to grind with this or that company.) I think any kind of review on a high traffic, fairly anonymous site should be taken with a grain of salt. They're just yet another advertisement tool, on sites like Amazon.

KikonuMedia
09-02-2015, 05:06 AM
I actually knew a friend who had a gig to write positive reviews for companies on Yelp, lol. If I am looking to buy an ukulele I usually turn to the forums or average out reviews that I see online. I mostly trust reviews that give out both the positives and negatives, if they are giving out only one or the other I can usually tell if they are just being biased and whatnot.

Rllink
09-02-2015, 05:25 AM
I agree with much of what's been written here about reviews. I do think that musical instrument reviews can be tough to parse, though, as there is so much emotion and personal preference involved. One person's "too bright" is another's "lively." My "beautiful inlay" may be your "too blinged-out." And your "mellow & sweet" may be my "too wimpy and quiet." But more than anything else, if you've been playing a mediocre instrument and get a good one, your first reaction may be "best uke ever!!!!!" because it's the best you've ever played.

You are right. I got a Makala concert uke to start with. When I got it, I loved it. I wrote a couple of raving reviews on it. I played it for a year, and loved playing it, but then upgraded. OK, I still like the Makala, and I still think it is a good beginner ukulele, but I certainly would not write the same review now, that I wrote then.

ohmless
09-02-2015, 06:29 AM
I generally wait about 6 months of ownership to write or video a review for this reason RichM and Rllink

martinfan
09-05-2015, 10:37 AM
I thought that I would post this in the Beginner's forum, because beginners probably depend on reviews more than those who are more experienced. Friday I was at the coffee shop, and I talked to a college girl who was making extra money writing reviews for a company that pays her to write "positive" reviews on different products. I asked her if she ever did one on a ukulele, and she said that she hadn't, but it still makes you wonder if someone else is. I told my wife about it, and she used to be a tech writer. She said that some companies write positive reviews for their own products and post them on-line. Interesting.

The Amazon shill reviews are easy to spot. Because the company sends out free products to reviewers on the same day, or close to it, a whole bunch of 5 star reviews appear, all with hyperbole. Amazon is now wanting reviewers to add that the company sent this product free in exchange for "honest" review.

The majority of companies that do this are from China and can make 10-14 requests per week and do not like anything other than a 5 star review. Some of the material is incredibly junkie. They show a retail price very high, but the "big sale" price is 70% off.

You can look at "i phone covers" for an example of such shill reviewing.