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The Super User Blog has reviewed in the past a few products from other companies. I would like to propose that we expand this even further. I would like to setup a system whereby either users or companies can request reviews of products for the blog. The basic process flow would be as follows:

A User has a desire to review a product:

  1. The user expresses interest in a product they would like to review/be reviewed
  2. The request is placed in a 'queue' to be processed
  3. Either a SE employee or designated blog.SU editors contact the companies asking if they have any products to be reviewed
  4. We get the product, and the user reviews the product

A Company wishes for a Super User to review their products:

  1. A company wishes to have blog.SU review some of their products
  2. This is placed into a 'queue' where blog editors/authors can connect with the company and select the products they wish to review
  3. The product is shipped to the editor/author, and they review the product on the website

This intermediary 'queuing' systems can be as simple as meta questions tagged or, if enough interest from both sides is expressed, something like Careers.SO is created but called Reviews.SU. (personally I would prefer creating a Review.SU site, but I know that would take a lot of work from SE)

What's in it for me?

If you're a Super User:

  • You get stellar reviews from trusted Super User's where we aren't biased in our assesment
  • You get the opportunity to try out new/upcoming tech for free!

If you're a company:

  • You get honest reviews and feedback of your products
  • You get to share your products with a site that has significant traffic
  • I don't think your last post needs to be closed; it's still relevant: meta.superuser.com/questions/6856/… Though I do like how you've structured this one to address previous concerns. +1 – Tanner Faulkner Jun 7 '13 at 15:11
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    The one thing I'm worried about is that the "product is shipped to the editor/author" will be restricted to the U.S. and maybe Canada for obvious logistic reasons. – slhck Jun 7 '13 at 16:01
  • @slhck if necessary, we may be able to get around that by proxy shipping through Stack Exchange, if they are willing to do that. Hopefully a company would see the value in paying a little more for shipping to send it elsewhere though if it means the opportunity to participate in a review. – nhinkle Jun 7 '13 at 16:18
  • @nhinkle If they are willing to do that… But you are right, for a larger company this should not be such a big issue. They could even declare it as a gift (for customs). – slhck Jun 7 '13 at 16:36
  • @slhck Jeff is not a company though, and he was doing that just to be nice, not as a marketing tool. Most large companies have a marketing budget that includes review samples, part of which is shipping costs. – nhinkle Jun 7 '13 at 16:38
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    Whats stopping companies from sending products from different regions? All big companies are represented around the world are they not? – Ivo Flipse Jun 7 '13 at 17:56
  • @IvoFlipse Given that SEI is based in the U.S. and most partnerships would probably be established from there, I expect it to be a little more complicated to communicate internationally. But of course that shouldn't be a show-stopper… I just mentioned it as something one should consider. – slhck Jun 7 '13 at 18:02
  • @KronoS - This peon of a Superuser agrees with a review process described in this post. – Ramhound Jun 10 '13 at 14:15
  • So how/when are we going to establish a system for this then? – Dynamic Jun 13 '13 at 14:12
  • @Dynamic I was hoping to get a little bit of feedback from SE Employees and they're stance on this before moving forward with it. – James Mertz Jun 13 '13 at 14:55
  • @KronoS Chat event? – Dynamic Jun 13 '13 at 15:18
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I'm going to have to say, I don't like the idea.

On the one hand, people would appreciate honest reviews of products, but I don't think that's really what we had in mind when we envisioned the scope of the blog. While it's one thing to write about a gadget you happened to purchase and like, it's another to actively solicit or entertain solicitations from companies on a community blog. The blog extends the core of the site, which is to share expert information. Reviews, which when positive become endorsements, get too far away from that.

That's not to say you can't do them; if you bought a new SSD and you were so enamored with it that you felt simply compelled to tell the world how much you liked it - go for it. To me, that's as honest as a review can get. I think codifying a means to make these happen systematically takes away from that value, and possibly credibility. I know these are envisioned to be completely non-biased, but you'll frequently get the hecklers that say you rigged the tests.

There are just too many potentially icky things that could go wrong, I don't think the idea is bad, but this isn't the best platform for it.

  • Other sites are able to pull this off (i.e. AnandTech, and Tom's Hardware) and I feel that they are pretty unbiased, even though they're "sponsored" by companies giving them products. Ultimately it will be up to you guys, but I was hoping that we could put together a system to help get products to our users, that they may not be able to get otherwise, and then honestly reviewing them. I can understand your hesitation though as if not done right, this wouldn't turn out very well. – James Mertz Jun 18 '13 at 15:11
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    We talked about it, but everyone had so many reservations about the idea that it just doesn't seem to be tenable for us, and we didn't even touch on the legal side of it. It's not a horrible idea, we're just not the platform for it. I don't mean to be such a buzzkill :( – Tim Post Jun 18 '13 at 15:20
  • No I completely understand. I knew that this was a shot in the dark, when I posted this. That's why I was waiting for your 'official' word, before pressing it any further. – James Mertz Jun 18 '13 at 15:24
  • I completely agree with this viewpoint. Opens up a whole new can of worms and just not worth it. – Sathyajith Bhat Jun 19 '13 at 10:23
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I'll write some more thoughts later, but on first glance, this seems like a good solution to the "should we seek out partnerships" discussion. I think a lot of people were put off by the phrase partnership, as it implied some sort of corporate relationship that might give outside companies an unfair influence on the site. I think we can all agree, that's not what anybody (here) wants.

A system like this would give us a formal method of conducting reviews and contacting companies, without needing to form any permanent corporate partnership.

I would suggest a rule that a blogger cannot put a new review request in the queue until they've published any previous reviews that they have requested. This will help ensure that blog posts get published on a more regular basis, and not leave companies hanging.

  • That's why an actual system would be great in this case. We'd be able to control the number of requests and what not. – James Mertz Jun 7 '13 at 19:24

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