The Ethics of Product Review

A

av_phile

Senior Audioholic
After about a week-long sabbatical, I am not entirely surprised at the responses to my question. All your points have been well received.

It may be the policy of this forum to do so as its notion of courtesy dictates. I have no quarel with that. You've made your point. Now let me make mine.

Some have opined that a film review is different from a product review which is done for very technical products like the equipment we use in our hobby. But that is entirely beside the point. The objective of a review is the same, regardless of what is being reviewed. And that is to enlighten the consumer so he/she can make a more informed decision or choice. Doing so requires validating the claims of a manufacturer made on its spec sheet that is available to consumers. A reviewer works to test those claims.

To say that equipment reviews are often done by "technically illiterate" people is a disservice to consumers. Letting the manufacturers see the result of a review in order to check on the veracity of the results made by these "illiterate" reviewers who are not confident of their test results smacks of irresponsibility. Why allow a review to be done by incompetents?

But I have to ask, why do you have to have the manufacturer check on the results of your test? Are you not sure? What facts do you have to check with them AFTER the tests are done? Shouldn't you have done this BEFORE?

I submit that it is the responsibility of the reviewer to get his facts straight PRIOR to making a review. At this stage, a reviewer can liaise with the manufacturers to straighten his facts as part of what is called due dilligence. And he should ethically advice the manufacturer of his testing methodology and all the software and measuring hardware he intends to use in his test.

But once the testing is done to validate manufacturer claims, that's it. The knowledge and technical expertise of the reviewer bears down on how he conducts the test on the supplied data from the manufacturer. A reviewer is testing the Data supplied by the manufacturer which should be no different as what is made available to the public. Nothing more. And, because a reviewer knows what he is doing or not doing, stands by the results of that test for the benefit of the consumer. I don't see the point why any part of his review needs to be shown to the manufacturer after the test/review is made. The manufacturer can see it in published form and does whatever correction is needed to better the product. And in many magazines publishing such reviews, I often encounter published retorts from the manufacturers themsevles arguing an aspect of the test results. But the publishers/reviewever often stood their ground standing pat on their testing methodology.

The goal behind testing a product so that consumers are not led astray by their makers is simple: To validate manufacturer claims. When you validate a claim, it is like GRADING a student's test results (the claims a student makes on how well he has learned) It carries a degree of FINALITY that cannot and must not be altered by the subject of the test. To say that other reviewers do so fails to convince me that the practice is sound. Just because many are doing it doesn't consitute a valid justification. Perhaps within the ambit of your daily work, you do find them. But not in mine. I have previsously worked with film ratings and consumer advocacy groups and I don't recall submitting test results to manufacturers prior to publication. The reviewers I know submit their test methodology and the product data claims they will test PRIOR to testing. And if they hear nothing from the manufacturer after a certain date, they proceed with the test all the way to publication.

So I may be a odd man out decrying this. Fine. I am merely pointing out my obvious disagreement with the practice from my own viewpoint. And while I am very open to opposing views that can change my opinion on the matter or prove me wrong, so far I haven't read any that will. But like what Gene said, i've "vented my steam, nuff said."
 
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gene

gene

Audioholics Master Chief
Administrator
AV_Phile;

Hmm I wonder if it takes a film critic 40++ hours to review a film, and research the details of how the film was made, or do they just watch the film and voice their opinion in a cursory summary?

Obviously you have little to no experience dealing with hardware manufactures and the channels one has to go through (especially with the larger companies) to get technical details. Most of the time we usually don't have design schematics so we take our best guess based on logic, experience, and feeback (if any) from manufacturers.

Maybe you should look elsewhere for your product reviews that will better suit your alleged needs. I certainly don't want readers whom think our review practices are unfair to feel "led astray". Perhaps cursory reviews found in other places will make you feel more comfortable.
 
zipper

zipper

Full Audioholic
What if the product in question was rattled during shipping & is now somewhat defective? I'm sure the manufacturer sent the tester a piece of gear that they were confident was good but if said gear was no longer functioning as intended wouldn't the tester want to verify this with the manufacturer before submitting his review for publishing? How embarrassing would it be to call something sub-standard(or worse) only to find out it was defective?
Audioholics did a speaker face-off for HT. I can't recall the brand name(atom or something) but the reviewer thought so poorly of them that he talked to a rep from that company who gave some BS excuse about setup or need for the matching sub to be used. AFTER giving them a chance for rebuttal or correction,it was published( in a courteous manner) that these were overpriced junk.
Face it,professional courtesy courts professional courtesy.If some clown continually thrashes a variety of gear in his reviews w/o checking to make sure he's got his facts straight,how long do you think it will take before he's got to BUY EVERYTHING he wishes to review?
I don't believe there is anyone in bed with anyone here.If Audioholics maintains their professionalism,I'm sure their reputation will afford them the opportunity to review more & more products,which will be a benefit for all of us.
 
gene

gene

Audioholics Master Chief
Administrator
I don't believe there is anyone in bed with anyone here.
Zipper, my wife often has this complaint since I am usually up late at night working on reviews :rolleyes:
 
surveyor

surveyor

Audioholic Chief
Zipper, my wife often has this complaint since I am usually up late at night working on reviews

Gene, I volunteer to use your test system so you can get some rest.
MuHaHa

Cheers :D
 
U

Unregistered

Guest
gene said:
AV_Phile;

Hmm I wonder if it takes a film critic 40++ hours to review a film, and research the details of how the film was made, or do they just watch the film and voice their opinion in a cursory summary?

Obviously you have little to no experience dealing with hardware manufactures and the channels one has to go through (especially with the larger companies) to get technical details. Most of the time we usually don't have design schematics so we take our best guess based on logic, experience, and feeback (if any) from manufacturers.

Maybe you should look elsewhere for your product reviews that will better suit your alleged needs. I certainly don't want readers whom think our review practices are unfair to feel "led astray". Perhaps cursory reviews found in other places will make you feel more comfortable.
You may have missed my point. I couldn't care less if it was 10 second review or a 10 year review. the objective remains the same. and the ethics behind it doesnt' change.

The more complex the product that has to be reviewed the more due diligence is needed to ascertain the facts about it PRIOR to any formal test is made. NOT AFTER the test. That's all the point I was making.

Other than the reviews you made on cables, I do look elsewhere for the product reviews I want. Certainly not here. Especially after learning about your policies. I had the impression this forum was about pursuing the truth in audio. I sincerely hope that is still the case.
 
Clint DeBoer

Clint DeBoer

Banned
OK, we get your point and appreciate your views. Thanks for voicing your opinion.

surveyor - if you want to come up here and do the next 3 product reviews I've got scheduled for this month, my wife and I could use a vacation! :D

This is going to be a very productive month I think for product reviews... lots of fun stuff coming up!
 
Yamahaluver

Yamahaluver

Audioholic General
gene said:
Zipper, my wife often has this complaint since I am usually up late at night working on reviews :rolleyes:
As my name suggests, my wife clearly knows I sleep with Yamaha.
:p
 
surveyor

surveyor

Audioholic Chief
Clint, I could not touch you guys!
If I could, my wife would not allow me to be around all that fine gear that you guys use ($$$).
Remember that I work in the DSP industry (tiny income).
Please keep up the fine reviews and continue with your straight forward ethics!

Cheers :cool:
 
gene

gene

Audioholics Master Chief
Administrator
Other than the reviews you made on cables, I do look elsewhere for the product reviews I want. Certainly not here. Especially after learning about your policies. I had the impression this forum was about pursuing the truth in audio. I sincerely hope that is still the case.
AV_Phile, we apply the same policies to the cable companies whose products we review or write about. So following your logic, you may wish to look elsewhere for cable reviews as well.
 
surveyor

surveyor

Audioholic Chief
Yamahaluver said:
As my name suggests, my wife clearly knows I sleep with Yamaha.
:p
I prefer the DAC's on my older DSP A1 compared to my Z-1 and Z-9.

Carefull with how many Yammies you sleep with you could get an AVR transmitted disease!

MuHaHa :eek:
 

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