Thursday, March 21, 2013

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How to Leave Meaningful Marketplace Reviews (Or More Accurately: How to Avoid Looking Like an Ass in One)

Gos reviews
Iris Ophelia's ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

The quick and dirty reviews availably on a lot of virtual shopping sites these days, including the SL Marketplace, can be a real gift for indecisive shoppers. At the same time, they can also be a curse for designers and vendors whose businesses can be jeopardized by one person with a less than thoughtful review.

Unfortunately there's no real guide on how to leave these kinds of reviews, so it's understandable that a lot of people get confused and make mistakes about what kind of information is useful and what kind is, well, garbage. So today I've got three easy tips that will hopefully shed a little more light on how to write a flawless product review on the SL Marketplace (or elsewhere), starting with...

3. Is the product as advertised, but you want it to be something it isn't? Too bad!

Wearing

When complaining about how a product looks, unless it truly looks different from the ad it's not really the designers fault if it's not wearable in absolutely every situation. If I buy shoes with gold buckles but then wear them in an outfit full of silver accents, that is not the shoe designer's fault. I can say "I wish you made silver buckles," and that's a great suggestion to send directly to the designer, but marketplace reviews aren't really the place for it, especially if you're going to take stars away for something that boils down to the fact that you bought something that was not right for what you needed. Look at all the pictures, read all the text, and try the demo if available before you buy, because this kind of complaint is not going to help most customers.

2. Real problems? Make sure they're actually the designers fault.

Not their fault

This can be really really tricky if you don't know absolutely everything about Second Life, and no one does. There are a lot of weird little issues that can spring up. If the textures on an item are blurry, maybe there is a problem with them... Or maybe you just need to rebake. If there is an issue with the alpha textures on a product glitching when overlaid with other alpha textures, maybe there's a serious design flaw, or maybe that's a bug that's been around basically forever. Maybe it is their fault and maybe it isn't. Thankfully, there is a nearly foolproof way to find out:

Just ask them. Nicely, please? I wrote a whole article about this a little while ago, and every scrap of advice in it applies to this as well. Just talk to them about it before putting up a review. It gives them a chance to fix the problem or at least discuss it with you, and...

Failed delivery

It might save you from looking like an utter fool when you blame something on a designer that is 110% not their fault.

1. Be Specific!

Vague review

When you review an item, you are attaching your name to your opinion. You are reaching out to other people and directly encouraging them or discouraging them from buying something. If you're going to give something 2 stars, tell me why. Tell me every gory detail! It's even worse is when people rate an item low, then don't even bother to review it at all. It's the equivalent of going on Yelp and putting a frownie face in the review of a local restaurant. That is almost completely useless information to anyone else.

If you care about something enough to rate it at all, commit to it and say your piece! Sorry for the brutal truth bomb here guys, but if you can't do that much you're just wasting your time as much as you're wasting mine.

I want to give a special shout out here to Gospel Voom. All my example reviews were taken from his brand's marketplace shop. Unfortunately for him, he seems to attract bad reviews like honey attracts flies, even though his products are damn gorgeous and you should absolutely check them out.

Please share this post with people you like:

Mixed reality iris 2013Iris Ophelia (@bleatingheart, Janine Hawkins IRL) has been featured in the New York Times and has spoken about SL-based design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and with pop culture/fashion maven Johanna Blakley.

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Vivienne Daguerre

Good tips! I have had only two reviews that irked me. One was actually promoting a competitors product, saying it was better. That was not appropriate. That was some time ago. The other was complaining about an animation that holds a basket on the arm is frequently over-ridden by animations in the person's AO. The basket animation was priority 4, and apparently were some animations in the AO. The fault was not in the priority level of my animation, but in the priority of the AO animation. AO animations should be a 3 at the highest so you can be animated to hold or carry something while walking or sitting. This is a prime example of the rater not knowing enough about animation priorities to rate me fairly. It is annoying, because others who do not know will think my product is faulty. It does not appear to have hurt sales of this popular item.

Arcadia Codesmith

when you read reviews, it's pretty obvious who's giving useful feedback and who's just trolling (or being a blindly uncritical and defensive fanboi).

Star ratings are useless and always have been. If it's not an alt army boosting them artificially high, it's trolls dragging them down.

And scales are subjective. I don't give out five stars for anything that's not both innovative and perfectly executed. Other people will give five stars because it's pink and they love pink.

Tips for reviewers are an exercise in futility. It would be more to the point to train customers how to evaluate reviews.

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