Aleksandar • Vacić

iOS bits and pieces

ReviewMe review

ReviewMe characterReviewMe.com is service which got me thinking a lot. And not only me, as the buzz is rather large on my part of the blogosphere… I have seen a lot of online and even more paper “reviews” that are nothing more than a copy/pasted PR material received from the manufacturer. Sometimes it’s easy to sense that just from reading, and sneakier ones are written better - you sign-up/order and then realize that the reviewer did not even try the product otherwise you would not be asking yourself “how in the hell he did not notice this”.

However, this actually boils down to the reviewer. Such reviews would quickly diminish his credibility, which in turn will render the money advertisers give him a wasted money, as it has no desired effect at all. I have written quite a few reviews / thoughts here, with little care for politically correct speaking. If I like something I say it blatantly, if I dislike it I say it even more and if it really goes on my nerves I’m throwing stones.

In here lies the biggest potential issue for the ReviewMe. Will authors keep their self-respect or will they bend and soften the style in order not to scare off potential advertisers? Only time will tell that, but it’s an issue I believe ReviewMe should be aware of.

I damn well know I won’t change.

How it works

As future reviewer, you open an account first, during which you are telling them a minimum of information about yourself. The next step is to submit your blog URLs. You can submit up to 6 blogs, which is more than a reasonable number. Anyone actually running more than 6 blogs at once probably has “XX network” written next to each of them. Any of those sites can publish unlimited number of reviews.

The payment options are cheque or PayPal. I don’t know, maybe there are more for US people, but these were presented to me, as I’m from Serbia although ReviewMe country list still lists Yugoslavia, which stopped existing several years ago.

Quick and easy, as it should be.

The interface

For the lack of actual name, I will call the main page you get to, after login, a dashboard. That page, as well as entire interface, is clean, with crisp colours and nice large font size. AJaX is implemented at any possible place it could be, but with a lot of common sense - it loads entire page when it needs to, loads bits when it’s appropriate. Exactly as I would do it, so full marks here.

Depending on whether you click “Open account” on Bloggers or Advertisers page, you are probably flagged as such, since the link contains account type parameter (just look at your status bar). And since I signed up from bloggers page, I’m wondering what this large thing is doing on my dashboard:

Dashboard

Other than pure curiosity which is satisfied after one try, I do not see why would I, as blogger, be interested in the list of blogs. “Order reviews” is meaningless on this page. If I want to see the blogs and/or order review, I would click on the Advertisers toolkit - this is the place this box should be. On Bloggers page is just cluttering up the interface. One could argue that this box is not part of the toolkit, but the argument is mute - this feature should not be here.

The reverse search would be more interesting to me, the list of advertisers. However, such thing does not exists. Advertisers are the one that search and offer you to write a review of their product. While this sounds just fine on first thought, I believe it would kill the smaller bloggers. Advertisers would naturally want to target high profile bloggers and with ReviewMe ordering the search results per rating, the less known bloggers would hardly ever be paged-through to.

For instance, under Technology tag, there are 36 pages of blogs listed so far, 15 on each page. Just imagine yourself as an advertiser - would you really go beyond first page, checking each of the blogs and figuring out which one to send an offer? Yap, me too [would not].

Thus, the feature request: add internal messaging system (no actual email spamming) where bloggers can ping the advertisers. For instance, if I’m using/liking a certain web service and would like to review it, I can send a message to the advertiser and tell him about that. Possible message spammers would quickly be subdued by ReviewMe who could easily control this; any idiot actually pinging all possible advertisers, even those not remotely connected to what he writes about, can be easily put on hold, 3-6 months, if not ejected.

There are also some questionable icon decisions. Take a look at this screenshot, which shows alerts:

Alerts

Tell me, what do you think clicking on the red X icon does? I thought it means delete (as I’m certain most if not all would think that too), but it actually means “mark it as read and file in old alerts”. A folder icon or checkmark would maybe be more appropriate for that action.

It’s even more confusing and inconsistent because that same icon is used on the My sites screen:

My sites, listed in ReviewMe

And here it actually does delete the site.

Navigation is slightly confusing at moments. When you are not logged in, you naturally check out the site, click on Advertisers, Bloggers, etc. Then, when you login you get to the dashboard, but if you wonder off to some other page, like FAQ, there is no obvious link back to the dashboard. There is Logout at the top, but not My account or similar. You actually need to click on Bloggers again, which is the last thing I tried because I was there previously and I know that it has different content. Again, consistency problem - a certain link should always lead to the same page.

As you see, there are not too much to complain about. En general, the interface is really nice, web2.0ish. :)

Thoughts

How are rankings calculated? ReviewMe says it’s based on Alexa, Technorati and “Est. RSS” (have no idea what this is). My blog has a ranking of 3/5, which means (for ReviewMe) that my reviews are worth 100$ each, out of which ReviewMe keeps 50% and the rest goes to me. Ranking is not the only factor that influence the price, but it’s an important one, I’m certain. The tooltop says that price, as well as rank, is recalculated each month. Excellent feature, as it follows your blog progress.

Err…50%?! This is waaaay too big commission value and ReviewMe should really consider lowering this down. Note: this 50% is based on the only review I have enlisted so far, this one I’m writing. Maybe it’s a different value for other non-ReviewMe stuff. Don’t get me wrong - 50$ for this post is nicer than 0$ - but along the way will not prove incentive to write long, detailed reviews, especially in combination with the next point.

You see, the price of the review is known up-front - it does not depend on the quality of the review. The only thing I must do is to write at least 200 words. If I write a whole essay, with screenshots, analysis, offer feature requests, point to functional problems and suggest solutions - this is payed the same as if I simply mention the product, jumble in few sentences from the hands-on usage and submit. I’m not sure, but I think that advertisers can also refuse the review. Will have to check that.

Hence another feature request: implement a bonus system, so advertiser can reward the reviewer for the time invested. Or maybe implement a variable scope for the payment, where particular review will be payed, for instance, $50-150, depending on its quality. The actual value would naturally be decided by advertiser.

The most important issue, especially for small bloggers who do not get too much requests is the payment schedule. An absolute must is possibility to suspend payments until a certain amount is reached. I do not know how it is in USA, but here in Serbia PayPal does not operate and the cheque cash-in is often combined with not so insignificant fees, which are not always percentage-based. I would much rather receive one cheque on $500 than 10 on $50. This is the most important feature request, by a large margin.

In the end, it’s a service worth trying out. They are just starting, they have the buzz, they just expanded they $25k give-away to $50k. If ReviewMe proves to also listen to the feedback and implement requests, I think they will succeed.

[This review was sponsored through ReviewMe.com]