Newest Review: ... for your payment that's not really on. So: write in a word processor first of all rather than directly on to the site, use a spellchecker (... more
"Never eat more than you can lift" - Miss Piggy
How To Write A Good Food & Drink Review
Member Name: davidbuttery
How To Write A Good Food & Drink Review
Advantages: Huge range of products to try, often a lot of fun testing them out
Disadvantages: More work than it seems, not everyone thinks these should be here at all
Ah, food and drink reviews. These are the cause of much wrangling here on Dooyoo, in my view rather unnecessarily. I can only state right up here my own experience, which is this: yes, I have used this site, and not only on isolated occasions, to research food products. I have bought some of them at least in part *because* I've read consistently positive reviews here. In other words, exactly what I might have done with any other product. Some of you may think this is strange, but in my turn I find it distinctly odd that anyone would want to write about Celebrity Big Brother, or indeed even to watch it in the first place. Strange creatures, humans.
While I'm on the subject, one particularly bizarre argument I've seen crop up more than once is that it's unfair for people to be paid for food reviews because quite often the cost of the product is less than the reward offered by Dooyoo. I say "bizarre" because if you followed this argument to its logical conclusion, you'd also have to ban payment for any reviews of tourist attractions - such as many leading museums - which offer free admission! Besides, some food and drink products (high-end chocolate bars or bottles of whisky, for example) are at least as expensive as the average paperback book or music CD. In any case, does anyone at all honestly think Dooyoo would offer the reward it does for these reviews if it wasn't worthwhile for them?
Anyway, let's assume for the sake of everyone's sanity (it may be a bit late in my case, but never mind) that you've weighed up the various arguments and decided to write a food review after all. I suppose I should briefly run through the requirement common to all reviews: good English. There's no need for this to scare you off, since very few people (not even me) will mark you down for the odd typo - but writing in an obviously rushed, sloppy way shows little respect for your readers or for the site, and since these two groups together are responsible for your payment that's not really on. So: write in a word processor first of all rather than directly on to the site, use a spellchecker (but remember it can't catch everything), use paragraph spacing and use proper capitalisation.
So, having got the foregoing in mind, you're now just about ready to write your review. The first thing to check, ideally before you've written a word of it, is to make sure you've got the category right: in almost all cases it does have to be an exact match, and simply assuming that one flavour of crisps is much like another - while sadly true in the case of some unfortunate brands - is just going to get you complaints if you're lucky and Not Usefuls if you're not. If the correct category doesn't exist, then you'll just have to submit it through the suggestion process and wait while it goes through the works: the waiting time can be frustrating, but at the time of typing it's generally only a few days.
Onward. One piece of information most people find *extremely* relevant, but which a surprising number of people leave out of their review, is price. You don't necessarily have to get it to the nearest penny, but some indication of whether this fantastic type of bread is 50p a loaf or £5 would be helpful. For general products I find the "Baskets Price Check" on the Tesco website extremely useful, as it's kept well up to date and always has at least one other supermarket (Asda at the time of writing) to compare with. Of course this doesn't work for other companies' own-brand products, so you will have to either look at a receipt, find an advert or have a better memory than mine! If the product is much cheaper (or much more expensive) than directly competing ones, you might want to mention this too.
There's disagreement about how much in the way of ingredients, nutrition information and so on is sensible to include. Personally I'm not fond of reviews that copy out every tiny detail from the ingredients list: as with all types of review there has to be a balance between thoroughness and readability, and I feel that great blocks of unannotated text like that tip the balance too far away from what is supposed to be in the main an opinion piece and not a dietician's notes. Remember also that Dooyoo require all reviews to include 150 words *of opinion*, so a simple ingredients list does not count towards your total. All that said, I will usually mention any allergy warnings, and pick out one or two highlights from the nutrition panel.
A few comments about the pack are usually a good idea - for a start, don't assume everyone knows how big it is! Even if there's nothing particularly special about it, you might mention if you think too much (or indeed too little) packaging has been used, whether it's recyclable, what you thought of the design and so on. If something's annoying you from the text on the pack (my particular bugbear is chocolate that doesn't give a country of origin other than "EU") then you can mention that too. Something that should always be mentioned if relevant is any difficulty opening the packet, perhaps because the product comes in one of those awful blister packs - so called because that's what they cause on your fingers! And, if relevant, what about cooking instructions? Are they clear? Are they accurate? Do they require special equipment?
Now, what about aesthetics? This is more important for some foods than for others, but as humans we rely a lot on our eyes, and many people will have trouble eating a horrible-looking meal even if it actually tastes perfectly nice. Any obvious flaws should be pointed out, but conversely you should also be ready to praise any nice touches which made you smile or laugh. Other senses matter too: smell is an obvious one in many cases, but touch is important too: does a biscuit crumble to pieces when you pick it up? And even hearing: a factor with some sorts of chocolate is how satisfying it sounds when you snap it.
Taste, of course, is the most important factor of all in any food, so it needs to be treated in reasonable depth. "It tastes very nice" tells us that you loved a product, but it doesn't tell us *why* you loved it; we really do need a bit more detail than that. There's no need to go overboard and try to sound like professional wine tasters with all their "pencil shavings with overtones of aluminium" and suchlike - not even when reviewing wine! - but some detail as to what it was like to eat the food in question will help. Does it, for example, leave a distinct aftertaste - and if so, was it a pleasant one? Does it tingle on the tongue? That sort of thing.
I think quite a few people on Dooyoo labour under the false impression that food reviewing is much easier than any other sort, perhaps because we all eat regularly - and, secretly, most of us consider ourselves experts on the matter. Not so. It is probably true that a very basic 150-word review on a packet of crisps is remarkably easy to write, but it's also likely to be mediocre at the very best - and remember, if any of those 150 words are simply copied from the wrapper then you're not crossing the required threshold for amount of *opinion* in any case. I'm a natural rambler anyway, but I struggle to think of any food or drink I couldn't write at least 250 words on, and I'd strongly recommend you did the same.
So, to sum up: if you choose to write a lot of food and drink reviews, you will need a reasonably thick skin, because some people will not like your doing it and will say so - or, more precisely, they won't like the fact you're getting paid for doing it. (I haven't noticed any particular rating down on individual food reviews, however, so don't worry too much about that.) You will also need to avoid kidding yourself that a good food review is trivial to write. Finally, as with any other category I'd advise against reviewing ten slightly different versions of the same thing in quick succession: you'll bore your readers to tears. Keep all that in mind, however, and you can have just as much fun writing about food as you can writing about phones or films or fashion.
Summary: Varied and interesting to write, but don't think you can wing it
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