I've been reviewing for over 6 years now, and it appears a week doesn't go by without me dropping at least 5 reviews( for the moment), so I guess it's safe to say that reviewing is a solid hobby of mine, and I know that I'm not quitting any time soon. Not until my personal goals are made anyway. Along the way, I have been on many different review sites with Amazon being the most notable, and after their big change some three years ago, in combination with all the nonsense that comes with being on that site, I found myself just having to leave. I don't remember how epinions came into the picture, but that was my next destination though.
I've been on epinions for a total of three years now, but this is my second run on the site, and I've been there now for a year. Although it has gotten on my nerves in the past, I must admit that it's a site that I respect more than others out there. And the reason is because reviewing comes before anything else. That is their top priority and they never lose sight of that either. So let me go ahead and speak about the site a little, and give all my personal thoughts on it.
What is Epinions?
Epinions is a price comparison review site. Its motto is, " Unbiased reviews by real people". They have the same mission statement that Lunch, Viewpoints, Amazon, etc, has. They take their mission statement to heart, as you will see some of the most knowledgeable reviewers on the Internet in their respected categories. When I truly want quality reviews on well... anything. That's the site I go to because epinions does not fool around. If you have people on this site telling you that you're a great reviewer, go over there and find out for sure, because the community is going to let you know in a hurry.
The way it works is like this. When a person writes a review, it's rated almost immediately by the community, and the person's name is left on your review with a link. There's one out of five ratings you can earn; Very Helpful(the best), Helpful, Somewhat Helpful, Not Helpful (the worst), Off Topic( not helpful). There's a sixth rating out there called Most Helpful, that can only be given by hatted members such as Category Leads and Advisors, I'll cover them later. When your review hits the just ins, which is very similar to Lunch, it will be rated no matter what, therefore, you'll learn in a few minutes where your review stands. Should your review receive any rating other than Not Helpful or Off Topic, it will be seen by the public. The latter ratings will cause your review to be invisible to everyone who does not have an account, and this means no outside hits which is your bread and butter, and it's very important to achieve high ratings because it works into review placement.
The community is very strict with their ratings, and if they vote you down, a majority of the time they will tell you why. The reason for all this is because epinions pays you for your reviews in the form of IS, which is Income Share. And the community is not going to allow you to make easy money off subpar work. You can just forget about that part. It's not like Lunch where someone will give you a perfect score; either to be nice or in hopes of you hitting them back. They can care less if you take your ball and go home. They live and die by,"if you can't take the heat, then get out the kitchen". If you live by," if you can't take the heat, then turn off the stove and serve it raw." You're not going to last there very long.
The way earnings work is like this; based on how many hits your reviews earn, you gain IS in the form of pennies, but can eventually turn into dollars. Epinions is not a site you're going to show up "pop", and then get rich on (though I know of folks who really are caking it). However, you will earn something as oppose to sites that give you nothing. Once your IS hits $10, then you can redeem your money and the site sends you a check that never bounces. At least it has never happened to me or anyone I know of.
The categories are overseen by Advisors and Leads. The Advisors are reviewers who earned those hats by meeting certain requirements. They rate your reviews, and give you advice to help you earn Very Helpful ratings. Some take this as them telling you how to review. They're actually trying to help you, and help shoppers who are coming by to read your stuff. They're not trying to tell you what to do. But when egos get in the way and that monster in the corner of your mind is talking, reason is normally shown the back door.
The Leads look out for their categories and in the process search for more individuals to either become Advisors or Top Reviewers. Top Reviewers are people who heavily contribute to a specific category, for example, if you post about 20 movie reviews a month, or maybe even more to include some of those reviews are first reviews on products, then you'll likely be selected to become a Top Reviewer during a selection. Some may say, so, who cares about that? Well those hats multiply your IS, and when I was an Advisor in games, I was pulling in some good cash. So there's a reason to care about that.
Creating an account is very easy, but if you plan on setting up shop on that site and cross posting reviews. Then you have to leave a notice in your profile stating you're so-so from Lunch.com, so you're not accused of review theft. And believe me, there's folks on that site who spend all their time catching plagiarizers. And just like that, your review career can be over, unless there's someone you know who can vouch for you not being a thief.
Writing reviews on epinions is very easy along with adding links, you also have the power to delete your reviews (there's sites out there you can't). However, you can't add pictures and videos like you do here, which I have no problem with. The only gripe that I have is that you can't add reviews yourself. You have to navigate to a Lead's page of that particular category you want to review a product in and fill out a form. This is how they control the same products from entering the database. Now one thing about epinions I hate is the search engine. It really does suck and it's by far the worst search engine I have ever had to deal with. Amazon is light years ahead there. Then again, Amazon is beyond everybody in that. Another issue is that they just don't have enough reviews for all their products. Epinions is definitely lacking in coverage, but they work on that every chance they get, in fact, they been working on that for the last three months. Their categories are just like here. They have movies, books, games, cars, magazines, travel, hotels, and even discussion boards. Almost everything you can think about.
Last but not least, epinions has something called the Web of Trust. It's exactly like Amazon's old interesting person list, where you add a member whose contributions you like. The person who you add will know that you added them. Sometimes they will add you in return, sometimes they'll make you wait to feel you out, and sometimes they'll just never add you. Just keep an eye out for those who have a Web of Trust something like this; they trust 99 people, and 999 people trust them. That should tell you how serious they take their Web of Trust and the chances of trusting you back is low. Doesn't necessarily mean ego is an issue(which I think is the case a lot of the time), but they probably only add power reviewers.
Purchasing a product.
I only did that once. I went to Amazon to compare a price, and the price on the site Epinions had linked to had the cheaper price by far. I clicked on the link and it took me to Hot Movies. Making the order was quick and easy. I didn't have any issues. Many of the products have links that send you to some other site like Amazon, Ebay, or other ones I can't remember.
Well, I'll just come straight out and say, that I was one of those individuals who was told that my reviews were great. I went to epinions and found out by their Advisors and even one Lead that my reviews were far from that, and they needed quite a bit of work. I will admit that the truth did bother me. But it didn't last long though; instead of packing my bags and going back to amazon so I could hear how great my reviews were once again. I took all of the advice and critique given to me, and I began reading a lot of reviews written by people who were clearly a lot better than me. I'm not saying that I'm this super reviewer today, but I won't bite my tongue and say I didn't get a lot better. One thing I know is that my reviews are very far from garbage. I know there's folks out there who don't like them, or perhaps they just don't like my style of reviewing. But if you're in the reviewing biz expecting everyone has to like everything you say, and like your reviewing style, then you're living in your own little world I want no part of.
I use to have a serious issue with the epinions community. I really didn't like their mob mentality for a long time, and to a certain degree I still don't. When it comes to down rating someone's review, you'll see folks rating outside of their normal categories just to bury a person. There's even some on the site, who are the first ones piling up on a reviewer who's trying to get a grasp of things, and once they begin to catch on and write better reviews. These individuals will never return again to highly rate anything that reviewer does. I don't like that shit at all, because they did drive a friend off doing hat. On another occasion, one friend I invited posted a review for a different game system, and instead of helping her out to find the real system, they used that mob mentality to gang up on her with Not Helpful votes, and that pissed me off enough to want to leave. On the other hand, that type of community cohesion is actually a good thing, because that's also how they deal with review thieves as well, and support each others reviews. So I guess it has its advantages, but they really should be more mindful on who they choose to tear down.
I enjoy that the reviewer doesn't have the power to delete comments, therefore if he's stealing someone else's work, or just posting false info, then he has no choice but to delete the review. Trolls have very little to no power there. They can vote Not Helpful all they want on someone's review, but if 25 - 40 people all rated that review Very Helpful, all that troll did was waste his time and give you hits, thus, increasing your chances for making money. And when the person is reported, their account and Not Helpful votes disappear, but the hits still remain. I also appreciate that they don't require a real picture of you just to feature your reviews, or to be chosen for hats. They care about your reviews and not your smile.
Despite some of the issues I've had there and the atmosphere can become pretty dull sometimes, I still consider the site my favorite. They focus solely on reviewing, trolls aren't an issue, there's community unity, there's no friendship destroying competition, and on top of that you get a little cash too. I only wish the daily community hits would increase. I have a person on my Web of Trust who I really do trust by the name of TheWisefool, and she mentioned back in 2005, that reviews use to get between 50-80 community hits. I really hope it goes back to those days. I'll probably spend a lot more time there then I do now.
Overall, epinions is a very good site if you can leave your ego at the door. If you truly take reviewing seriously, then I say give it a shot. If they happen to criticize your reviews, don't take it personal, just fix your review. Here's something to think about; if a member takes the time to give you advice, then that means they see potential. I know several who won't even waste the key strokes if they feel they're wasting their time. If you're interested in the site at all, I highly recommend writing at least five original reviews first before cross-posting anything.
-Takes reviewing serious, will help you become a much better reviewer, can earn a few pennies
-Mob mentality can rub some folks the wrong way, awful search engine, can't add your own products
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