Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Too Much Hype or Much Too Hostile? Reviewer Bias

yesterday goes away Posted by Hello

I don't blog-for-hire, per se, but I am, as I said, reviewing a book that a publisher sent me for that specific purpose. Is it "blogging for hire"? :-)

--from a comment at "Dave Taylor: Blog Quality and Ethics" post.

[STREIGHT]: If somebody actually paid me, in a timely and complete manner, for doing something, anything at all, I'd prolly be so stunned, my ethics constellations would seem like Alpha Centauri and I'd have to analyze it in my spare time.

I'm afraid to point out to myself, with due regard and extreme reluctance, that it may all pivot on the rusty hinge of inner intent as manifested in outer credibility and consumer protection orientation.

If we as reviewers, [though I exclude me (for I do not know how to review products, only how to deconstruct them)], truly desire to speak truth, help and not manipulate your audience, and feel the product really is a boon to humanity, then that's better, but what impact of ...

Invasion of the Body (and Soul) Snatchers pod of "paid" opinion?

soporifically subsidized thinking?

somnambulant sponsored pondering?

deep sea fishing for compliments?

hivingly incentivized hype?

the twirling, fiery baton of objectivity?

the contemplative, jurisprudentialized ballast of perception?

the "that"?

Now, free copies of books to review: is the reviewer reviewing just to accumulate free books?

Or is the reviewer due to receive a potlatch economy, or strange ritual of free book, thus be polite, so the free books can continue pouring in.

Yet, why should the reviewer have to buy?

If you want me to read it, analyze it, and review it, don't expect the reviewer to have to buy it too.

At least provide comp copy.

If reviewer bought the to-review products, and they were bad, he wasted his money.

Chances are, this negative side of buying and reviewing vs. receiving free and reviewing is the largest obstacle to over-simplified idealism scorning free sample as a form of bribery and generator of bias toward company providing the samples.

But the company would be suicidal to demand or imply bias, since then the critical analytic powers of the reviewer are hampered, and the company would be shutting its eyes to follow the inner blind man to eventual evaporation.

The company providing the sample, needs the objective opinion, not the PR, mktg, or sales persuasion of the reviewer.

A reserved, detached, genuinely objective point of view should be easily for the audience to discern true indifferent, blase, thus more rational, realistic, jaded, despairing, cynical...like a typical consumer.

The reviewer should be as and as if a typical customer, average costumer, putter on of the costume of customerization.

A product review should be always projecting online community comrade fellowship, eccentric, unaffiliated, uncensored, unanswerable, cold, tentative rather than dogmatic, hypotheses rather than hyperbole, winces and squirms, about the product.

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate aka Leopold the Told


steven edward streight said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
steven edward streight said...

Cathy emailed the following:

[Cathy writes...]

> Steven,
> I know this is hard to believe but I don’t have a blogger account, and I
> don’t want one. So, I would have posted this comment on your site, but was
> prevented by not having a password.
> Perhaps you can put it into comments yourself. With my name as cathy only.
> Why do people get upset when a blogger figures out a way to get paid to do
> what he/she is doing all day long? It seems to me that’s the goal of life—to
> earn money at the thing that you are passionate about.
> I get paid by [snip]. One of my many duties is to post an occasional
> blog. Most of what I post is "housekeeping": Here are [snip]'s slides, here's
> our next [snip] interview, and so on. But, if a topic stirs me, I can
> post that, too.
> I have never changed my opinion of anything because I'm paid (though I might
> temper the way I expressed an opinion in the presence of higher-ups), and I
> don't know anybody else who ever has. Let me go back to your lead-in para.
> Is the opinion of the commenter on Taylor's blog going to be influenced by
> the fact he is paid? If you would say yes, then you'd be invalidating every
> bit of review copy ever published in any newspaper, any time, any place, any
> topic. I.e., people have been paid to give their opinions forever, what's
> different now? If it's clear they're paid, let's cheer 'em, not condemn
> them. If it's not clear, that's where the trouble lies.

[Steven replies...]

I tend to agree with you, though I admit I'm still somewhat confused. Can't figure out all the issues related to this, but it's probably multi-faceted and prone to lopsided critique pro and con.

I have been an ad writer, in-house and agency.

I have been paid to write complimentary toned marketing material for a company.

I personally decided to never lie, distort, exaggerate.

So it may be a personal integrity thing, rather than a context or parameters oriented consideration.