templates for gear reviews

10:45 p.m. on November 11, 2010 (EST)
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I just read Alicia's "Backstop Gloves" review

http://www.trailspace.com/gear/outdoor-research/backstop-gloves/review/21265/

and a thought occurred to me ...

Have you-all considered creating templates for gear reviews?  e.g.. instead of each user just submitting free-form entries, they'd fill out each section (as appropriate) of a template?

Or, even better, have "smart templates" ... where the category of the gear being reviewed would dictate use of a specific template tailored to the points of interest for that type of gear ...

It seems like the consistency that could result from use of templates (if properly filled out) would lead to reviews that would be even more useful than they are now...

Just wondering... :) 

1:05 p.m. on November 12, 2010 (EST)
TRAILSPACE STAFF
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I recently was thinking about the same exact thing, bhesier1.

I'm all for finding ways to help people write good, useful, informative reviews.

The issue with a template is that it can restrict contributors, and we don't want to put up unnecessary barriers between users and them publishing a review. We've actually streamlined the form recently for ease of use.

But, I think you raise some good points. Perhaps we can find ways to suggest templates or points to cover in reviews. For example, if someone's writing a sleeping bag review, we might briefly suggest as a tip for that review that they consider points like temp rating, comfort, packability, etc.

The trick is having that info accessible for those who want it and want to write better reviews, but not cluttering up the form for users who want to get in and out quickly.

I'd also like to think that as members rate the helpfulness of reviews and move individual reviews up and down a product page, it will inspire some reviewers to want to write the best review they can.

I recently rewrote the Write a Killer Gear Review article, which is linked from every review submission form. I'm also planning to highlight it more broadly on the site. It's advice for all gear reviews though

I like the idea of giving reviewers tips for specific types of reviews.

Thanks for the food for thought.

Thoughts from others?

p.s. I changed the url in your original so it pointed directly to my review.

9:56 p.m. on November 16, 2010 (EST)
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Alicia, thanks for your feedback.  I do see your point, you don't want to make the review process too intimidating or too rigid.

What triggered my comment was that as I read your gloves review, I thought to myself, "if all reviews were like this, it would make product comparison much easier".

p.s. I don't actually wear women's gloves, but figure for many products the gender designation doesn't matter much, so I often read all the reviews to get lots of different perspectives :).

5:08 p.m. on November 17, 2010 (EST)
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Thanks, bheiser. I'm glad you found the glove review helpful.

I think the single most important thing any reviewer can do to write a good review (regardless of length) is to organize it. No one wants to read stream of consciousness thoughts.

Readers simply want to know: Did the gear work? Yes or no? Tell me how it did or didn't work then I'll decide if it might work for me.

I like the idea of giving willing reviewers some brief tips to guide them. I'll add it to my to-do list. Thanks for bringing this up.

If anyone else has suggestions, feel free to post them below.

Also, rate those good reviews to the top of product pages.

 

2:37 p.m. on November 20, 2010 (EST)
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I followed in your footsteps, Alicia, and practiced with a review of a ... mug :)

http://www.trailspace.com/gear/rei/insulated-mug/review/21393/

 

11:41 a.m. on November 22, 2010 (EST)
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Nice review, bheiser1!

I just checked it out.

12:29 a.m. on November 23, 2010 (EST)
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Thanks, now I need to get on to something more interesting than a mug :)

11:54 a.m. on November 24, 2010 (EST)
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I think having the option to use a template is a neat idea.  I say option because a template can limit what someone might want to put in their review (as Alicia said), but can allow those who are new to the sight or maybe just could use a little help in writing a review.  I don't know much about setting up or making things for websites, so I don't know if giving the option to use or not to use a template is easy, hard or even doable (I hope that is a word...if not I just made it one...LOL).

December 20, 2014
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