Newest Review: ... the product. I will not personally downrate an otherwise Very Useful review that contains padding *provided it's easy to identify wh... more
PRODUCTS, ADVICE AND DISCUSSION - A GOOD REVIEW ACCORDING TO MAGDADH
How To Write A Good Kids & Family Review
Member Name: MagdaDH
How To Write A Good Kids & Family Review
Date: 26/02/06, updated on 26/02/06 (150 review reads)
This review is *my* attempt at an answer to the question of 'What makes for a good opinion?' I placed it in this category as this is the one I guide, but a lot of the advice I am trying to offer applies to reviews in general, not just Kids and Family. I separated the advice for general points and those applicable to different types of reviews (product, advice, opinion). I assume that people reading this text will have interest in writing pieces useful for general consumer, but also in ratings they receive and the chance for a crown.
...should be placed in a correct category and on topic. An excellent review of Bella nappies will not be crowned if it's placed in 'Nappies in general' category. I might rate it as Very Helpful or Helpful if the title and the first paragraph make it clear what the writer is covering, but I would NOT recommend it for a crown.
... need to be structured. It means grouping together information that relates to the same aspect of the product (e.g. setup, play, cleaning). Reviews don't need headings, though I personally think they often help to find relevant information and skip the parts readers don't care about, especially in longer reviews. Remember, you should be writing for a potential buyer, not for dooyoo members. I sometimes start with headings - they help me write in a structured way - and then remove some or all of them before posting .
... shouldn't have padding. Yes, shorter reviews tend to get lower ratings. The temptation to pad a review that seems short despite containing all that it needs can be strong, but the main result is that a review becomes less useful as a source of information for a buyer.
- Don't add unnecessary descriptive information about the product (look of the packaging in detail, full nutrition information, list of possible side effects and safety precautions copied from a drug's leaflet).
- Remove unnecessary personal information (e.g. 200 words on family Christmas before describing a present that was then received) .
- Avoid general information about the whole category (e.g. how to make up formula milk in a review of one specific type) or masses of info on the company that makes the product.
I will not personally downrate an otherwise Very Useful review that contains padding *provided it's easy to identify where it's located and potential reader can skip those parts with no problems*. But I would think carefully about recommending it for a crown. I would definitely rate lower if the padding permeates the whole text and the reader has to wade through it to find the relevant information.
... should be easy on the eye and on the brain, written with basic regard for spelling and layout conventions:
- Use paragraphs. Long stream of text is impossible to read and take in. Non-paragraphed review will be Not Useful or Somewhat Useful.
- Don't use text speak or other shorthand method; most people will not understand you and your review will be clearly Not Useful to them.
- Don't write in capitals, anything longer than a few words in capitals is almost impossible to read and thus Not Useful.
- Spell check for obvious typos and re-read at least once before posting for inconsistencies, broken trains of thought and typos that the spellchecker doesn't pick up (there/their etc). I am not fanatic about spelling, I make a lot of typing mistakes myself and I would only rate down an otherwise Very Useful review if the spelling makes it hard to read. I would normally not recommend for a crown a review that contains lots of spelling mistakes and typos. Please, please use capital I for first person singular personal pronoun (I was born in 1907 NOT i was...) and at the beginning of sentences, they are there for a reason (the reason is to make reading easier).
...need to have HEAPS of personal experience and opinion: how was it for you? And why? This is the main point of a consumer review. A review is not a review if it just describes product. For some products the personal experience part would be short, but it needs to be there. A product review without personal experience and opinion will be in my books automatically rated Somewhat Useful or Not Useful. Opinion doesn't need to be separated from the rest of the review, I personally prefer when it permeates the whole text. I also love to see a short summary/verdict which would enable people looking just for that to still gain information from the review. Remember, you are (or should be) writing for a potential buyer, not for the dooyoo members.
... should contain brief(ish) but reasonably comprehensive description of the product. I don't mean a detailed spec and ingredient list!! But it's good to say what the product is, what it does and how it does it. It should not assume that the reader would know much about the product or service. I think this is really a difficult area in case of children's products, especially toys. Should we say what colour it is? Is it advisable to list all the tunes that a musical bar plays? Would it be useful if we said what happens when every button is pressed? In my opinion the answer to all these questions would be no. It's better to give an example ('It plays 'Old McDonald' when you press the triangle and other tunes on pressing other buttons').
...it's great when a product review says in what way the particular product that is being reviewed differs from others in the category. For example 'This steriliser can be also used as a steamer for food.' or 'Most strollers have a shopping basket but this one does not.'. I love reviews which provide comparison with other models, brands and types. I realise that it's not always possible as you might have only ever experienced one product from the category, but do it if you can.
...we often need a little context of the user's personal and family situation: an indication of an age range for which the product might be suitable is especially helpful with children's stuff and reviews of children's books, films and television programmes often lack this. I am definitely NOT asking for a detailed family and personality background, but something along the lines of 'my daughter is a physically active and courageous 3 year old and she enjoyed playing on this frame, while her 4 years old brother found it intimidating at first and never took much to climbing to the very top.'.
... have to give a price information. If you bought the product second hand, tell us how much you paid (often very useful info for bigger items); but please include a current price for a new item - I have yet to encounter a product whose price could not be checked on the Internet.
Such reviews usually come as 'my story' or 'advice bullet points', and often a combination of the two.
My personal preference is for the combination, with more of the space devote to advice/generalising and less to the story; or ideally, using the story just to back up the advice.
However, I know there are people who find such personal accounts inspirational and thus I can only say that, as with product reviews, try writing for people who are looking for information about the subject, not just for dooyoo members and certainly not 'for yourself' (to make yourself feel better by 'sharing' or something).
If you are writing about a medical condition, I think including some information about it is a useful thing, ideally it should be related to your experience of the condition.
What is exactly the point you are making?
The most important thing about discussion reviews is to actually have an opinion and be able to articulate it clearly in the review as opposed to vague rambling about in the area of discussion.
Why do you think so?
Arguments that support the opinion are necessary. If you quote research or survey data, it would be lovely if some indication of the source was provided (I don't mean proper referencing, I mean 'as seen in a Daily Mail article' or 'from several studies I found online').
Does it help the argument?
Structuring and layout of a discussion review is, I think, more important than in product reviews. I am looking for a clear argument, not a 'whatever I can say about the subject' mumble.
What does THAT have to do with the topic?
And finally, it's rather important to keep to the topic and avoid going off into side lanes that often can take the reader away from the main argument and leave them bored, confused and unwilling to continue. Going off at a tangent to an area only related (and sometimes vaguely related) to the subject really spoils many a good argument.
PS: This text was originally almost 2000 words long. I cut it down to just above 1500 and I think it's much better now.
Summary: Make it clear, informative, personal and to the point
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