Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Are You Writing Good Reviews?

Now, just to get this out of the way, I'm not asking if you're writing all four or five star reviews. I'm asking if your reviews are any good. Sure, the main point of a review is to share your opinion on a particular thing, be it books, movies, art, whichever, but how well does your review really do that?

But first a little rant.

Ratings are NOT universal. The ratings shown here are from Etsy, and are pretty close to what you'll find in most places. Three stars is the middle with "It's okay". Less than three stars are varying levels of dislike or hate. More than three become Like and Love.

However, then you have ratings like on Goodreads.com, which puts the "It's okay" bar at two stars. Three stars becomes "I liked it", while four and five become Love and Praise Be To God This Was Written! The only negative rating is less than two stars and is limited to "I didn't like it". So, please, be aware of what the rating system on the site you're using means.

Back to the scheduled post. To start, I want to point you back to my review of Fallout 4 that I posted last week.

To be sure, this isn't exactly a bad review, but it's not a good one. I have a synopsis of the game, which is good, and I make sure to cover things like graphics and controls. I have a few things that didn't work for me, and the rating I would personally give it as a sit-in for my opinion on it.

I'm missing some important details though. There's no mention of the things that I really liked or enjoyed, and in spite of the high review I gave it, a reader of my review would not get the enthusiasm I have for the game, or the reason behind my review.

If you look through almost anything that can have reviews, most have a curve that either tops out at 4+ or 2-. Very few things have a high point of a review at the "It's Okay" point. That because if you think something is just okay, you're not really going to care enough one way or another to tell people about it. People generally leave reviews to encourage people to buy something or to warn them away from it, and that is the purpose of reviews, as much as just letting random people know your opinion.

So, here's my little list of the requirements for a good review.

1. A brief synopsis of the product. Keep in mind though, that for a good review on something like a book or a movie, you want to either avoid spoilers, or give fair notice. Like usually when I'm posting a review, I'll give a spoiler warning followed by a picture, to give people a chance to stop if they want to.

2. Talk about what you liked about the product. If there is nothing you liked about it, then say that.

3. Talk about what you didn't like about the product. Again, if you loved it 100% say that.

4. Include an overall opinion on it, including who you would recommend the product to or who you would warn against getting it. For instance, at the end of my Fallout 4 review, I recommend it for people who like RPG's, and some people who like FPS's.

5. Make people feel your enthusiasm/hate. Remember, you're sharing your opinion to help other people make an informed decision about whether or not to get this product. If you loved the product, but don't convey that to people, you're not writing a particularly good review.

6. Rate the product. Now, on some sites, this will be separate to the review, so you don't have to worry about it, but if you're posting on a blog or something, make it clear, because people like visual aids. Also, make sure you're aware what the ratings you're using mean.

So, what did you think of this blog post?

~ Shaun

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