A fellow blogger who focuses on wine recently got a hate letter from a winery owner who went a bit overboard with an email response to a review that he wrote of her wine. There was some pretty lively discussion around the letter, with people in support of either the author or the winery owner. But one commenter said something that struck a chord with me: “You reap what you sow…”
That saying couldn’t be more true, and which is why at the outset of this blog 5 years ago, I made the conscious decision to never post bad reviews. If I didn’t like some gear a manufacturer sent me, I’d let them know privately, and I wouldn’t write a review. My choice was to post reviews about interesting and/or “best in class” gear, as opposed to writing a review on something I find mediocre or just plain bad.
As a Wine Enthusiast reviewer, Steve Heimoff has to publish his reviews for the magazine, but I do have to question why he chose to publish this particular review. After all, he boasts tasting over 4000 wines per year; a huge amount from which he can choose the stellar wines. And though he defends himself in his article, and he’s right to question the sinister email, the question still remains why he chose to publish that. I suppose he could argue that he wants to give his readers the full range; a complete picture of what’s out there, but I don’t buy into it completely.
Part of the reason for me to publish only gear that I would rate 4 and above was time. Not so much now, but in the earlier days of this blog, I was reviewing LOTS of gear, and working full-time, I just couldn’t keep up, as my review policy had evolved to providing demo clips as much as possible. And so it goes with gear – and wine for that matter – that I wanted to buy. I just don’t have a lot of time to devote to searching, so I look for reviews of stuff that gets a high rating from a reputable source.
For instance, with wines, I don’t even think about buying wines in 80’s point range because I don’t drink wine everyday, and when I want to enjoy a glass, I want it to be good, so I tend to lean on the scores a bit in my search for wines. Admittedly, there are times where I question how the hell can this be a 90+ wine? But for the most part, the wines scored in that range have tended to be pretty damn good.
With guitar gear, I look to good, reputable sources for gear reviews. I’ll look at negative reviews as well, but once I detect ranting or unsubstantiated complaints, I’ll immediately dismiss the particular review. Stuff like, “This sucks…” or “This is just useless crap” with nothing to explain why are completely useless input for me in my buying decisions. That’s why forums are a bit dangerous. A lot of the feedback you hear – both positive and negative – tends to be plain opinion with no real testing. So buyer beware! Don’t buy into the hype if you can avoid it.
I know I talk about it a bit, but my Timmy pedal was a “hype” item. I originally heard about it on a prominent forum, and dismissed it because of all the hype surrounding it. But it wasn’t until I actually saw and heard it in action and got feedback on it by the player that I made my decision to get on the waiting list.
Anyway, back to reviewing, as a reviewer myself, I think it’s important to play nice. After all, at least in my opinion, you attract more bees with honey.