This review is full of my opinion, like all my reviews are. I try to fill them up with as much of my personal thoughts and experience as possible, to make sure people that read it have a clear idea on whether or not they want to buy whatever it is I have written the review on.
My personal guidelines that I tend to follow when writing a review are:
*Firstly I talk a little about why I bought the product in particular, and what I expected to get from it. This is so that the reader can relate to my situation and decide for themself whether or not they have the same needs and think the same thing about the product in particular.
*Then I talk about the price of the product, what shades/colours/sizes etc it is available to buy in, where you are able to buy it from. This is just some general information about the product that I think the readers would probably want to know
*Then finally I talk about whether the product was worth buying, whether or not it lived up to my expectations and whether I would recommend it for someone else to buy. This is my conclusion to my review and I try to fill this up with as much opinion as possible, after all personal opinion is what the reader really wants to know.
I don't know if you'll get anything out of reading this review but nonetheless it has been a good way to set out to myself how I need to write reviews in future. I try to follow these guidelines and I'm not saying you should too, I'm just saying how I do it. :)
Ironically, I have specific ideas what I want from reading reviews and opinions, and I don't necessarily follow it myself! So this might seem a bit hypocritical in a way, but this is more a focus on what I like to read and what I think makes good opinion writing.
Firstly, balancing facts and opinion is a crucial part of getting your point across. I've read reviews where there is so much opinion I don't even know what the product actually is (it doesn't help that some makeup items have really obscure names and pictures). On the other hand, I've also read reviews which are a list of technical specifications. Neither of these things alone are helpful to me, for obvious reasons! So it's important to get the vital facts across but also what you've thought of the product to a) convince me you're very familiar with what you're writing and b) so I understand what you're actually saying and why.
Secondly, giving reasons for your opinion and supporting your argument makes it much more convincing. Disliking something is one thing; disliking something because it smells like feet or it contains too much salt which affects the taste gives me something to consider and perhaps avoid. Or look out for. If it's great, tell me why.
Treating all opinion pieces in the same way is another thing that drives me crazy. If people aren't listing useless things, then they are breaking their writing up into the same headings, even if they're writing about a shampoo or a trip to Egypt. Strucuting all your opinions so rigidily almost makes them into fact by default and you're trying to cram things into tiny boxes that they may not fit into. If you have headings - and they are lovely when used properly - make sure they are relevant to both your category and your product.
Contradicting yourself is perhaps the worst thing you can do in opinion writing. I've not read too many reviews here like that because people tend to stick to the same theme of 'I like it!' or 'I hate it!' throughout their review, but others seem to make one point and then two paragraphs down completely contradict themselves in another point. This makes me lose faith in the writer as they clearly haven't read the review back or planned it properly, or their argument seems flawed.
So, just a few key ieas of what opinion writing I like to see :)
Last night, I went to see a film called Doomsday. It was terrible. Really, eye-bleedingly, hilariously terrible. But the trailers looked good, the synopsis sounded fine ("a bit like 28 days later" my friend said) so we went. And I will NEVER GET THE TIME SPENT IN THAT MOVIE THEATRE BACK.
Had I bothered to actually read some reviews of the thing first I might have known better.
The thing about reading reviews is that they give opinionss. Opinions are subjective, and sometimes you NEED subjective more than you need facts. A synopsis is fine but sometimes you need someone's opinion to know that what they've done with a film will make your eyes bleed. Similarly, a list of ingrediants in a chocolate bar is fine, but not until someone has eaten it will you know whether those ingrediants put together taste divine or terrifying. Honey and lemon soap SOUNDS lovely, but how does a human nose think it smells?
It's all opinions, but that doesn't mean they're any less needed.
Different people like different things, which is why it's good to put a bit of "why I loved or hated this". Me, I've got a high metabolism, which means I couldn't care less about the high calorie counts on some of the foods I eat - they're not going to make me put on weight! What I care about is whether they taste good to me, and whether they fill me up for a while. As that's an opinion unlikely to be shared by more diet conscious folk, it's important that I SAY that.
Sometimes I wish dooyoo had a system a bit more like eBay where rather than having all a member's past stuff it can be sorted by category. Sharing taste with a member in food doesn't neccesarily mean I like the same books or films. It would be nice to be able to say "Aha, another Jacqueline Wilson addict!" and search through to see what else they like to get ideas for my own reading. We can't do that right now, but it would be nice.
The important thing with reviews is to remember that they ARE subjective. Just because someone else hated a cereal doesn't mean it will be awful. If fifty people hated it though... it might be an idea to at least wait until you can buy it on offer.
The last month has given me much to think about in terms of "what opinion writing is all about". To put this into context for those who are reading this after the date on which it was written or who just don't know, dooyoo decided that October/November 2007 was to see a competition where members were challenged to write 30 opinions in 30 days with the lure of a couple of nice prizes at the end of the quest. Further, during this period I've also tried to use dooyoo to research some potential purchases. As a result I've had a month's worth of intensive activity on the site and have formed quite a strong view of what opinion writing is all about and what I think it should be about.
Opinions have always been held but opinion writing has only really been available to the masses since the advent of the internet. Pre-internet, the public were fairly limited in the ways in which they could share their opinions with other members of the public. There were letters to the press and radio phone-ins but that was about it. Now, however, the environment is completely different. We have many websites and outlets on which to vent our spleens, sing a product's praises or simply share our rather bland experiences. Over the last 8 or so years several websites have come into their own specifically designed for such opinion sharing, dooyoo being one such site.
What is the point of such sites and what, more specifically, is opinion writing all about?
I think the questions need to be tackled from two angles, that of the consumer and that of the writer. Unfortunately, as I found out this month, the two don't necessarily coincide.
I'm looking to purchase a couple of major kitchen appliances, an oven and a freezer. As a consumer I want to make sure I'm getting value for money and purchasing a product that is suitable. Of course, one can look at professional resources such as Which? But these don't always tell you what a product is like in day to day use.
As a consumer (and this is ME as a consumer, not necessarily what YOU want as a consumer) I want to know how someone used something. To me it's relevant if its in daily use or used only occasionally. I don't really care how much you paid for it or, unless difficult to source, even where you got it from. As a consumer I've probably already found the item and am just looking for additional information.
As a consumer I'm not looking for a review of a 40p chocolate bar - if I want to try one I'll just go out and buy one. I might be tempted to try something very new or different on the strength of an opinion but, once readily available I don't see the point. Some foods and drinks are different. Speciality products, wines and beers for example are things I'm interested in reading about and might actually seek out such a product after reading a review.
As a consumer I'm looking for validation for my purchasing decisions or maybe an idea or two. Other people may have thought about things that I haven't, what might seem on paper to be a perfect product might have a major flaw that you just wouldn't know about unless someone told you (the remote doorbell that suffered intolerable interference springs to mind now and had the owner opening the door to no one!).
So, how does that fit with what actually appears on site?
Well, from experience, it doesn't fit that well.
If you look back through the archives of sites such as dooyoo you'll see that, in the beginning, things were not quite as they are now. The majority of opinions were short and, sometimes, sweet. Opinions that were rated "very useful" back then would, in the main, not warrant much more than a "somewhat useful" today but were they really that bad?
I think not.
Over the years opinion writing had changed immensely and it's still changing from week to week, month to month as writers come and go. We go through phases where opinions contain every conceivable piece of information about packaging (including the position of a bar code at one stage), lists of ingredients, prices and so on. We've had short opinion challenges where the idea is to write a very useful review in a minimum number of words (90 and 120 spring to mind). We've even had poetic challenges on the go.
All of these things are all well and good and provide colour and interest to what, for writers, might otherwise be a rather bland platform. However, rarely do they coincide, in my opinion, with what the consumer actually wants.
One might ask why there's such a mismatch and I think the answer's fairly easy. Peer review.
We're a fairly opinionated bunch here, by our nature, and those who last more than ten minutes on sites such as this tend to strive to achieve the nirvana that is 100% very helpful and a crown (or its equivalent elsewhere) for every piece that we write. What this tends to mean is that we get a whole bunch of formulaic opinions that follow a lead opinion. One person adds a detail about packaging and suddenly it's de rigeur for all opinions on similar products to include such details. Opinions get longer and longer and, dare I say it, further from the kind of opinion that most consumers are looking for.
Now, of course, not all long opinions are bad. It IS possible to write a novel on certain things, keeping it relevant and interesting. Unfortunately that 1000 words on a Mars Bar isn't such an opinion.
And then there's the navel gazing! Alongside those useful or not so useful product reviews a big side of opinion writing seems to be directed towards opinions, such as this, on how to write opinions, what's right and wrong with opinion sites and so on, almost all of which seem to lose sight of the fact that the people who should be benefiting from the sharing of opinions are the consumers and NOT the other writers on the site who are just trying to garner favour and get return reads, trust or, dare I say, nominations.
We're so self-centred here that we write "great opinion - nominated" everywhere. This adds NOTHING to the consumer's experience. A string of comments expressing agreement or disagreement with the reviewer or adding additional information is far more useful for the consumer.
I can't think that this will ever change and there's a simple reason; opinion sites such as this pay for your opinions. For as long as this occurs the site will never focus on the consumer because we're all too desperate chasing that extra 1.5p to care whether we're actually helping the consumer. If we could all forget the money, accept that what I want from a review isn't the same as what everyone wants from a review (and thus accept that we should be getting a range of ratings on opinions) and forget that we're just trying to get attention then maybe, just maybe, we could get an opinion site that actually focuses on the consumer at whom, supposedly, the opinions are directed.
A few years ago my "trademark" on opinions was to write a "bottom ten tips". On a product opinion these would be directed towards questions that one might ask if looking to buy, on an advice opinion it would be my ten most pithy bits of advice on the topic under discussion. Thankfully, both for me, and consumers at large, this has not been copied full scale. I think now is the time to resurrect this trademark!
*** Bottom Ten Tips for opinion writing ***
*10* - Before writing a product opinion, decide whether you actually have anything to say.
Sounds obvious but it's not daft. Before starting the 30 in 30 challenge I wrote a list of products I could write about intending to knock them off one at a time. It didn't work out that way because, if your heart's not in it and you don't feel inspired to write you're not going to churn out anything that's much use. It's also worth not trying to review a product after just one use....
*9* - Think what YOU would have wanted to know about a product before purchasing it and include that in your opinion.
Do you really care what the packaging was like (you might, if it is excessive or hard to dispose of)? Would you have bought the product if you knew it worked in the way it did? It also helps to set the scene letting people know how you use a product along with any other information that might put the review into context for a potential consumer.
*8* - Decide who you are writing for.
Are you looking just to attract reciprocal reads or do you genuinely want to impart information to potential consumers.
*7* - If you're feeling creative go and have a look at Speaker's Corner (on dooyoo or equivalents elsewhere) which is an excellent place to let your creative juices flow.
*6* - You can be creative in a consumer opinion but don't do it at the expense of the information.
I can think of a few, very, very, creative consumer opinions but I can point you to so many more that just miss the point and make it very hard to extract the relevant information.
*5* - Keep your comments on opinions relevant to the opinion content.
The only real exception I can think to this is if you are rating against the grain and want to explain why. Consumers can (well, at least I did) look at comments sections and garner much additional information.
*4* - Use the peer review system properly - rate according to how useful YOU think the opinion is, not how long, detailed or funny it is.
Remember that your opinion is just that. It's unrealistic to expect that everyone will find your work as useful as the next.
*3* - You can earn just as much money from opinion sites by writing consumer-specific reviews as by writing reviews aimed at your fellow opinion writers.
*2* - Don't be afraid to buck the trend and remember that your opinion is just that, YOUR OPINION.
If you think that something is relevant include it. If you think it's not, don't, even if all of the other opinions on similar items include that thing. If you think that you need to report in a certain way, chances are, someone in a similar position to you will think that too.
*1* - Enjoy writing.
I found that the 30 in 30 days challenge was not enjoyable. I had to write whether I felt like it or not as I did not have a stock of opinions that I had previously written ready to be posted. I wasn't prepared to compromise my standards though. I enjoy writing when I feel passionate enough about a product to share my thoughts, in my time.
Opinion sites can be such fun. There's nothing better than the warm, fuzzy feeling when you get good feedback from an opinion, a note of thanks or even a question that's genuinely relevant to your work. There's a chance to make real friends both online and off. I hope that these sites continue to flourish for many years to come and, dare I say it, become the consumer's choice for product information. Nirvana or just pipe dream?
What? Who thought up this idea!
Here read this.
Opinion writing inolves a he or she sitting down or standing up in a comfortable place and writing few words or few lines or few paragraphs about anything. There is no restriction on what you can write about. Although on this site you will find that not every thing is offered as an option to write about.
When you write you are telling other people of what you think about the topic you are writing about. It is that simple.
You can write as much as or as little as your ability allows you to write. You can write funny words or not very funny words. Whatever you write, make sure others can read it to understand what you have written. Use spelling checker if using computer.
Need I write more on this issue.
It is plain and simple. Write something that will help other people understand or form their opinions on what you have written. On a site like Dooyoo you maybe writing opinions to sell a product or to ask the reader to avoid it.
Don't write too much or too little when writing an opinion and make sure it is interesting read.
Opinion writing is about you or me writing to tell others what we think.
Simple as that. Some of us have strong opinions, some not. A well argued opinion probably has more people saying yes I like that and I agree with it.
Not everyone agrees with everyone, if they did it will be a boring world. Differing opinions create a base for people to discuss issues.
Writing opinions is different from talking opinions. In most written opinions person has time to think and write (often) to perfection. Talking opinions win the day if you are a good speaker.
Here on Dooyoo people write opinions to earn money and to pass on their knowledge to others. It is rare for people on this site to write something which causes arguments. Because this is a consumer site and whatever you write counts rightly or wrongly.
What is Opinion writing all about? A good question and a topic that requires some thought. It's interesting to read other peoples opinions on what this all about too as each of us will have a different one and different reasons for sharing this with us.
For me writing about things I have tried, places I have been and just really taking part in the fun of writing and expressing myself helps me to vent frustrations and express pleasure at a positive experience. Its good to share information too.
Really an opinion is defined as a personal belief or judgement that is not founded on proof or certainty. Thus it means that you will be expressing your perception of a particular place or product. Sometimes you are able to quantify your opinions with facts as in tried and tested products but sometimes when we have experienced things then this affects our overall perception of the company or person or place.
Different people will have different opinions and I think that this is the most important thing to remember when writing and reading others opinions. I could write an opinion on something (and indeed have done) where I have had a really positive experience and highly recommended it whereas someone else has either heard or had a bad experience so their perception is different to mine. It has also worked out differently the other way for example my house. The builders were awful and I still havent had repairs repaired properly however, others have had really positive experiences with the same builder!
One thing to remember about opinions is that they are exactly that and no one is wrong because they are your opinion. Ive seen some sites where people have been slated for an opinion that they have written is it wrong to have an opinion? No its not but there is a way in which you should go about expressing your opinion.
In our house my Dad is very opinionated and he is always right in his eyes. Nothing wrong with this but he wont listen to others opinions and is completely closed off to anything else. If we listen and take into consideration others opinions we just may end up being better people and making different choices in life.
Opinion writing is also about making sure that you keep the reader interested. Theres nothing worse than reading a really long opinion on something if the actual writer cannot keep your interest. I have read some where I have been interested in the topic but because of the writing I have been unable to continue with it and skipped bits. Maybe I take it too seriously though!
In my opinion a good review should clearly outline what you are talking about, give useful information such as cost, results, things to do, where the product can be bought etc along with your experience of the place or product. Keeping it concise, free from grammar and spelling mistakes and spacing things properly will save your reader from having to scroll through reams of information to find key facts. Also if the review is too long then you may lose the reader along with making sure that the review follows in a logical order.
I suppose you could liken a good opinion review to a presentation with a beginning, middle and ending. A bit like reading the news really. Now Im getting on my soapbox and at risk of turning this into a written training session about opinion writing!!!!
One good thing about opinion writing is that you can share information on your experiences with a company or using a product that can help them to make a more informed choice about whether or not to use the company or the product. I have found that using others opinions of companies for energy companies I have been influenced over which company to use but only after reading several opinions and experiences so that I can make a balanced choice and not just plump for the cheapest. Ive often gone for the cheapest supplier and found out later to my cost that they were not the best company to be dealing with. If I had known beforehand of the existence of Dooyoo and other review sites then I could have read before I bought and this would have influenced me to go for maybe a better company that does charge a little more but is actually there in case of a problem.
I think sites where you can express your opinions in a constructive way are an excellent way of sharing experiences as so many people now research things on the internet as opposed to other more traditional methods. I certainly use these sites a lot more now and I am constantly on the internet.
The fact that you also get paid for doing it (albeit not much) is fantastic as it does allow you to get little extras that I might not be able to afford otherwise and it also gives me new things to express further opinions about.
The things that I generally tend to write about are hotels as I travel a lot and will be in the Isle of Wight next week so there's another review coming up. I have loads of makeup and other skin care stuff so have a fair few of those up my sleeve, I have bad experiences with power companies and generally disaster seems to follow my every move - honestly everything I put my sticky fingers on seems to go tits up. I've had a bash at some recipe reviews and a DVD review but I am fairly new to this sort of thing.
I do find it good to get feedback from other more longstanding members and taking this on board I have been able to produce some more quality reviews. I've not made a huge amount of money by sharing my opinions with the community but for me that's not what it's about. It's a chance to share my thoughts with others.
Thanks for reading!
Opinion writing is all about expressing myself by writing reviews or discussing issues.
Quite often I want to give opinions on things I like. I write reviews on things I don't like. Bad films, bad service from a company etc.
I am not always right in what I say or write however what I say is the truth in my opinion.
Opinion is giving your understanding of something. It could be anything from products you have used or views on things.
Opinions is what makes everyone of us different. We all have different views on things because we understand things in different ways.
Peoples opinions are formed by how they live their lives. What I see wrong someone else will see it as correct.
Educated person will have different opinion to a person who hasn't seen school gates. Rich person will have different opinion to poor person. Woman will have different opinion to men on sexual matters.
Our opinions are formed what we experience in life.
I can't write more because I will be repeating myself.
WHAT'S REVIEW WRITING ALL ABOUT.
We all see sites where makers advertise their gear. Of course, to them, their product is the best thing since sliced bread, and they tell you as much. Do you automatically believe what you read on websites before you decide to buy something ? Review writing takes all shapes and forms. On Amazon for example, a review is a small synopsis of what a book or record is all about. Anyone can write one if they feel strongly enough about a product. It tells the public what you as a consumer thought of your purchase.
When I first started my Internet experience, I was naive, and to a certain extent probably still am a little wet behind the ears, but I learnt what makes a review valuable to the public. Many times, we buy things. We enthuse about them, or get angry because they didn't live up to expectations, and review writing gives us, i.e. People that buy things, a chance to say what we thought.
Having had correspondence with people that wanted to know what review writing was all about through my site, I thought that a category such as this would be a handy place for members of the public to find information to enable them to decide if review writing was for them.
I would not purport to be the expert, though there are certain criteria that need to be met before you can write a review which will help those people that want information.
1)Know your product. That sounds a bit daft doesn't it, but it's not meant to. You cannot buy something one day, review it the next, especially if it is something complex, because by day 2 your review would lack experience of the product itself, unless of course it is something like food or drink that you either like or hate, a wash powder or something that is easy to describe and that one use would enable you to know it sufficiently to review it. Here, many people think that the moment they buy something, it's the time to write a review, and it doesn't always pay to do so, since after a couple of weeks or months, you may find that the product concerned doesn't live up to your first experiences, and people want to know long term how good something is. Writing a review before you know the product lives up to its promise doesn't give an accurate picture of its performance over a period of time.
2)Description of a product. Describing what you bought helps. Yes, makers have their own sites, but by doing a full review of the product in this manner with a description of what it is means that someone looking for information doesn't have to scout around for a little bit here and a little bit there. Full information is more useful.
3)Your experience. Explaining your experience of a product is of paramount importance, because what you think of it is more valuable to a consumer than what the makers think of something they are trying to sell. Trying to make a review clear and concise, so that a member of the public can find the information that they seek is imperative, and much more useful than random thoughts. Some are a little nervous of writing about products in a negative way, although negative reviews are every bit as valuable as positive ones.
So you want to be a review writer. How does one become one ?
There are many sites on the Internet that take reviews from individuals. Those that spring immediately to mind are this one, Dooyoo, Ciao, Trivago (travel reviews) and Epinions.
It is always a good idea to search around the site, get a feel for what review writing is all about. Read reviews. Sign up and become a member, but you don't have to start writing reviews straight away. For example on Ciao, as a site, you can be getting money simply answering surveys whilst you research. Researching is pretty easy. Read reviews on the kinds of products that you think you may write about, and look for what content gets the best ratings for each site, as each site has its own criteria. Remember always that you are not writing for members. You are writing to inform the public, and that really is important, but what is more important than that is that you develop your own style as an individual, although your reading around the sites will put you in good stead for learning what information needs to be included in a review.
Writing the first review.
Always write your reviews directly into Word or equivalent. Too many people write them on a site, and get cut off and lose all their hard work. It has happened to me a couple of times, and I don't do that any more. Spell check your work. Lay it out so that it is easy to read. For example, capital letters are not useful as they look unprofessional and bunching all the paragraphs together makes your work hard to read.
Once you are happy with your effort, post it onto your chosen site, and you will be able to gage from the ratings you receive whether you need to put in more effort. It takes time and experience to get it right. Never be disheartened by bad ratings, because they are a learning process and by people rating your work honestly, you learn what areas you are weak in. Besides anything else, on most sites, you do get a chance to edit reviews as and when you think you can improve upon the information contained there.
Ratings and why they are there.
What happens when you write a review is that other writers on your chosen site read it, and judge what rating it should have based on how helpful it is to the public. On some sites what this does is help the site to put the reviews in some kind of order so that the public get the top reviews to read. It doesn't work like that on all sites, but it does give an indication of the usefulness of a review, and that is why people rate your work, and it is important to rate back, thus creating a rapport with your fellow review writers.
It gets addictive. It's fun, but most of all one should never forget the reason for review writing, i.e. That the public need information. Look at areas in which you have expertise. For me, it thrilled me that many people read my reviews on animals because it meant I was giving them information that they were seeking about their pets. Likewise with illness, many of the readers contacted me by email to say they were grateful for the information, and it is these experiences that make the whole review writing worthwhile. You have a voice and should never be afraid to use it.
Earning pocket money in this way really is a bonus as sites do pay for your work, and this is usually based on the number of member reads that you get.
I hope that the information contained here will help someone to decide to become a review writer.