Separate names with a comma.
Asked by EPgrouch, Jul 6, 2020
I use Amazon, I read the user rewievs. Or YouTube
What sort of products?
Even within given products the needs and requirements vary massively -- I am not going to suggest the same drill to my uncle that wants one to use a few times a month to fiddle around the house and shed vs a client that wants to equip a fleet with ones that commonly go through 3 batteries a day vs a sole trader builder that might also do the 3 charges but just needs one for them.
I can similarly give an engineering perspective on a kitchen tool but if I (with forearms that come from using a drill all day) only use a hand drill style whisk to spin up eggs and milk once a month rather than everyday making thick batter whilst being someone's grandma it is going to be harder.
Amazon and youtube can yield interesting things but vary massively as well. Marketing departments have decades (if not the better part of a century -- the 1920s is when serious psychological and analytical things came into play in advertising) to perfect their pitches, pushes and whatnot. They will hire people to outright lie, and also give things to individuals they deem prominent enough which in turn makes it somewhat dubious (they are quite manipulative to such people -- see any number of stories there of advertising firms wanting it all) both in general (it is not impossible to be objective in such scenarios but it is hard) and down the line ("positive" reviews = more product* = more clicks/views = I still eat and have a roof over my head) and because even without that if said people also actually do stuff rather than just review you see the product in further things.
Standalone websites are also affected by things beyond that (they might have baseline advertising on a sidebar or something but that is another person to please) but still have many of the same issues.
*average product is what $50, say 30 for the year (and that is a low number) then that is $1500 just on products to look at per year. Bump that to 50 per year, maybe get a friend to do their own things (100 now) and of course $50 for a gadget is nothing even in consumer tier and that number only grows.
Print and once were print but obviously that is dead are not exactly untroubled (see the many woes of gamestop and ign) but also might be corporate owned ( https://gbatemp.net/threads/the-201...-troubled-media-collection-sold-again.535563/ ).
If you can learn to spot jokers (amazon is full of them), spot shills, personally I suggest ignoring those with awful writing and grammar, negate/lessen things mentioned, learn some of the field you care about (including the physics that underpins it), maybe find some cynical bastards (80% of the time these will be older people that have been around the block once or twice, though the 20% of younger cynical bastards are not to be overlooked) that know what they are doing, devise your own tests and things to look for, maybe see if you can get some hands on time with things (narrow it down online, then wander out into the real world to see the final deal).
Amazon has become a garbage fire when it comes to reviews.
Beyond the clearly paid positive reviews and some possibly paid negative reviews, the ammount of people reviewing the supplier instead of the product, the ammount of people reviewing a different product (because a million variants of something like are put together into one item, so you get reviews for the budget variant of a smartphone next to ones for the premium variant and you rarely know which ones are which) or review the 2018 laptop on the 2020's variant page.
it's just useless.
I don't know if I would go to useless.
The signal to noise makes it a chore to sort through, and you will probably want to do some additional research so you can additionally spot the clueless. Anybody that solely goes by star rating is a complete fool.
That being said I have however in recent times. and going back years, gained things, ideas and suggestions from reviews that have allowed me to solve problems and achieve goals that reading specs sheets, browsing general websites and reading long form reviews from wherever would not have led me to (or cost me a lot more) such that I am not inclined to drop them too soon. The element of real people solving real problems vs people that have not had to deal with the real world and wind up writing reviews or designing me products for things they think are cool or trying to tell me about cool stuff is not something to discount lightly.
Filtering such reviews in then an additional skill, this on top of skills you hopefully have as a baseline to even start down such a path, but it is one worth something.
Star rating averages as a whole might be useless but I will read the extremes, bulk and outliers to see what goes. Many times it is as mentioned shills, morons, jokers, counter shills, astroturfing and generally happy or negative people. Sometimes they can have a line or two that might illuminate a problem though.
I do skip awful grammar and style, however there are exceptions -- ALL CAPITALS SOMETIMES MEANS YOU ARE 60 OR MORE YEARS OLD AND MIGHT WELL HAVE SPENT A LIFETIME DOING SOMETHING, if I am buying tools I can usually spot a tradesman as writing as many invoices, quotes, insurance assessments and the like influences people as much a lawyers will write like they do and I write like I am writing a technical report.
There are certain phrases that are meaningless but popular among the clueless. Back to tools "feels good in the hand" is mocked frequently even if technically you do care and I am sure we can all spot the clueless games journalist that never plays games or kid on a forum that did not try to break the game or explore the depths.
More for youtube and picture based stuff. I can spot when something bends, twists or otherwise deforms in what otherwise might be a shot designed to illustrate a different point. In games I will occasionally seek a longplay rather than a hyper edited for action review or overview as it will tend to showcase how a game handles the slow sections and other things, someone immediately going to look at the menu in games might make for a boring video but is often indicative of how much care the devs paid to certain notions like general feel of the game, if doing a third person game I will typically run around in a circle and jump a few times to get a few for controls and lag and you can see that in some video (most gamers are pretty hot on timings so if they fall down a basic hole then you know there might be lag, that or the reviewer is a fool -- see various things with the modern Dooms and Cuphead though it goes back to Devil May Cry games as well). Games also have buzzwords and terms people might be particularly attuned to (see the ludonarrative dissonance thing a while back, and I assume various things are thought when a game reviewer might spend hours gushing about how the lead character has tits rather than telling us anything about the story itself.
This can go on for a while but these are some of the things I look for here when reading such things.