Reviews are very common on Forum Promotion and elsewhere in the world. The types of reviews that we might receive on a daily basis vary widely, and with every review, there is a proper way and an improper way to use it. I find that the reviews on Forum Promotion are consistently misused by the people who request them. Being an ex-reviewer, I have a lot of experience with giving reviews and being dismayed when people receive them the wrong way. I am going to go through some myths related to reviews on Forum Promotion and dispel them.
Myth #1: People who have never run successful forums* cannot review because any advice they offer will be invalid.
This is the biggest myth that I see. Ignoring the fact that some of our reviewers have run or helped run many successful forums in the past and the fact that there is no universally accepted definition for “success,” a reviewer does not need to be a successful forum owner to review forums. Every person on our review staff has been a forum user for a long time and has seen thousands of forums, both successful and unsuccessful. Looking at what makes these forums successful and unsuccessful makes these people aware of what characteristics make a good forum. Reviewers don’t have to look at the admin control panel of these forums just to see what makes them successful. Also, with every review, you see your forum through a slightly different lens. The reviewer may see something that you and your users never noticed because you use your forum so much, and this particular thing may very well be deterring members from joining.
Myth #2: Scores are a very important part of reviews.
This is absolutely false. Because reviewers have differing perspectives, a forum that scores ninety in one reviewer’s opinion may score seventy in another reviewer’s opinion. Due to this, the scores earned in Forum Promotion reviews are not good indicators of how your forum stacks up against other forums reviewed. Even if the review was done by the same person, you can’t necessarily compare the two reviews based on score. For example, I tended to be much harder on forums that I thought were good because I felt that if I gave them too high a score, it might make them feel that they don’t have much room left for improvement; I wanted to see these forums do even better than they already did. For example, Hcfwesker’s Brawl Domain (an excellent forum by anyone’s definition) only earned an eighty-nine in my review. That doesn’t mean that Hcfwesker’s forum is worse than other forums that got higher scores by any means; it simply means that I emphasized his weak points a little more to try to coax him into doing even better than he already was.
Myth #3: If one reviewer gave your forum a high score and another reviewer gave your forum a low score, it means that the latter is biased or wrong.
As I mentioned above, each reviewer has a different perspective and different idea of what he/she thinks a good forum is. I know that I gave low scores to certain forums that had already been reviewed on Forum Promotion before and received very high scores. I almost undoubtedly got marked down in the “Rate Your Review” topic because of this, but I certainly wasn’t trying to be unfair or biased against the forum in question. I simply have a different perspective (and perhaps I’m a bit harder, admittedly). You must also take into account that different reviewers have different strengths. For example, I consider myself somewhat knowledgeable about grammar (I’m not being conceited; it’s just an interest of mine). Because of this, I can spot grammar mistakes more easily than other reviewers. Some other reviewers have been knowledgeable about graphics, so they may be a bit harder on forums’ styles. Reviewers who are very organized may be slightly harder on the layouts of forums (I admit that I was a bit hard on this section of the review as well). Just because two reviewers have differing perspectives of your forum does not mean that one is wrong or biased.
Myth #4: If a reviewer gives your forum a low score, it means he/she hates your forum or thinks your forum is bad.
During my time as a reviewer, I gave low scores to a lot of forums that I thought were great. For example, I gave Anathema’s blog a relatively low score (mid-seventies if I recall) when I reviewed it. Although I marked her down a lot in some areas, I thought that her blog was actually very interesting, and I believe I mentioned that in the review. Reviewers may also not care about certain areas of the review despite the fact that they still deduct points. For example, I do not care much about the styles of forums, but I still review them and deduct points because many people do care about styles.
Myth #5: Reviews mandate that you take all of their advice. We think that our reviews are more important than what your users think.
This is absolutely false. I have always said that active users are the most important reviewers that forums have. Also, I recognize that many people disagreed with what I said in reviews; I never expected everyone to take all of the advice that I gave. However, be advised that if you request a review and simply disregard the whole thing, the reviewer who wrote it for you may not want to review your forum the next time because it’s a waste of his/her time.
* – Although we review forums, websites, and blogs; I’m using “forums” because it seems more efficient for the purposes of writing this. We also review forums much more than we review websites and blogs.
I hope that reading through my explanations will make you more likely to properly use your review the next time you request one.