There have been an outrageous amount of complaints about a vendor using the name Smoking Everywhere both online and in kiosks at the mall. Bad products, worse service, no refunds, refused exchanges, sometimes never even getting shipped.
Obviously, we need to know who they are and avoid them, and let others know to avoid them, too.
But there are actually two companies using the name, or variations on it.
So, I've looked into getting it sorted out, and here's what I've found.
(For the remainder, follow the link):
I've been thinking for awhile about refining my review system. I came up with it when I was still a bit new to these things, and it hasn't always worked as well as I had hoped.
Combining Vapor output and ease of draw into one atomizer score has been problematic at times. The ease of draw often depends as much or more on the battery as the atomizer, for example.
And having scores averaged for the atomizer and battery, then averaged again for the total score, dilutes the value of each score.
Also, the overall reliability score often feels redundant since whatever I might have taken points off for has already been addressed in the battery or atomizer scores.
And the appearance and build quality score is an awkward pairing. Originally it was just going to be appearance and I kinda shoehorned in the build quality part. Now, I think the build quality part is more important, and don't think anymore that appearance needs a 1-5 score at all.
Some things have worked and will not change, though. For example I am keeping the same 1-5 scales, and using the same benchmarks for what is a 5, what is a 4, and so on. Also, I will keep the 5-second puff counts for a consistant measure of battery life.
That way the newer reviews will still be comparable on those individual performance measures with the older reviews.
But I am cutting down the number of performance measures, and will no longer do sub-categories or averages.
I would like a bit of feedback and suggestions.
Right now, the performance measures I am sure of are:
1) Vapor level; same one to five scale as before. But do you guys think I should allow bonus points for devices that go above the scale?
2) Ease of draw; same as before.
3) Battery duration; same as before.
4) Switch Responsiveness and Overall Performance.
That last one I'm a little unsure of.
Currently I rate switch responsiveness under the battery, and have a seperate overall reliability score which, as I said, is often redundant.
Switch responsiveness is an important performance measure, so has to be rated, but the question is should I combine that with the overall reliability score, as above, or keep them seperate?
And do I really need a build quality score? Other than e-cig.com, I haven't seen real build quality issues with anyone I can think of off the top of my head. It seems pointless to have a category that would seldom get a bad score. Which is what happened with it in the original system.
For the same reason, I will no longer rate appearance, just include that in the narrative portion of the review.
So that's 4 (or 5) performance measures, and I don't think I will average them anymore.
Instead, I am thinking of adding a seperate star rating. Totally seperate from the performance measures. This would be my personal and subjective rating, based on how satisfied I am with it, and how much I enjoyed using it.
Lastly, I want to throw one more thing out for discussion; when I first started this I came up with an idea (in one of my manic moods) to create a "smoke scale;" a Mythbusters style metered background scale to use as a visual backdrop against which the size of a vapor cloud could be photographed and measured.
Being in manic state, I WAAY over thought it and the scale I came up with was overly complex, visually speaking, and didn't work out as a measuring scale. But the idea still appeals to me, and a plain graph or grid style background, or even just stripes at regular intervals ought to work.
If it worked out, the benefit is that instead of a somewhat subjective comparison betwen the vapor cloud I just exhaled and ones I remember exhaling from other devices, we would have an objective picture showing a cloud of this exact size, which could be directly compared to ones made by other devices.
The only downsides I see to this method are, one, I don't have an easle to put the scale on. And two, it would be more work for each review. Both of those are my problem, of course, not yours.
The question is would you guys find that a useful enough addition to my methods for me to bother with it?
Over to you guys for discussion....
Thanks for all the input, everyone. I am surprised and gratified that there haven't been any negative comments.
I have decided to go for it.
Someonw much wiser than me once said the key to happiness is to find something you love to do, and someone who will pay you to do it.
I've never had that. I think, no, I KNOW I stopped even searching for it long ago.
My biggest lifelong love is Comic Books, but I have no talent for art or writing. Well, fiction writing anyway (I could never get into a character's head). Plotting I could have done, but that's something writers and artists get to do after they've proven themselves.
Sci-fi is another, but with the same lack of applicable talent.
And now there's this; e-smoking, e-cigs, vaping, reviewing, YOU GUYS, these forums...
You've opened my eyes that THIS IS MY THING!!
Doing these reviews can sometimes be a real chore. Yet I keep doing them. Me, who never started a project he didn't drop before finishing.
I've been dealing with and communicating with sellers, posting my keyboard off, taking questions via PM, Youtube, E-mail, in the forum threads, etc. Me, who has social anxiety and usually feel like I just want to be left alone. Yet, I keep doing it.
I've got problems I don't usually make a big deal of. Bi-polar, ADD, mildly autistic, insomniac, social anxiety, prosopagnosia, and migraines. All undiagnosed until the last couple of years. My subconsciously self-taught coping skills have been laughable; ducking, dodging, hiding, avoiding, these are how I've gotten through life. When effort and will fail me, I run.
But not here. Not with these. Not with you guys. For some reason, although I may hide from what feels like too much pressure for a day or a week, somehow I just keep coming back.
Hell, I'm actually organizing get-togethers!
THIS IS MY THING!
So, what will I do, and how will I do it?
Well, until I have a website to unveil I'm not going to go into details, but I have ideas beyond affiliate programs and ads. I will set things up so that by my approach and method I make it clear that I am NOT working for the retailers, but for YOU.
You are not my audience, you are my employers. YOU are my clients.
The "paychecks" may be sent by the sellers, but they'll just be passing along the money. It will (hopefully, anyway) come from YOU.
And I am going to make a real commitment to serving you well. I have a couple ideas brewing how I can be of more service to the community. And while most of it will have to wait until I have a website set up, I will start with doing more of the things I am doing already.
I won't be selling anything, no merchandise at all.
Blog posts, answering questions, giving advice, and producing more reviews faster (but of course without comprimising on quality). These will be my stock in trade. I am going to comit here and now, publicly, to spending at least as much time at that as I would a job.
I already almost do, but to paraphrase Hancock, I can do better, you deserve better, and I will give you more and better.
That is my mission statement and my commitment.
Thanks, Smokey Joe! I think I'm going to give this blogging thing a try.
And the topic of my first post is something I mentioned in another thread: Reviewer ethics and free samples, affiliate links, advertisements, and sponsors.
When I first started doing reviews, I was purchasing all of my own products. I had two jobs at the time, and between them I had a healthy budget for buying gadgets and toys, and redirected that all towards e-cigs.
It wasn't too long before I began to be offered free samples, and the first time I was, I really pondered the question of ethics. Is a review copy a conflict of interests? Does it compromise objectivity, or create a bias?
I researched review ethics, and found a variety of approaches. Professional media organizations have rigid ethics policies, most of which prohibit receiving free samples, or require all samples to be returned after the review. Freelance journalists are expectd to abide by the ethics policy of the organization they are selling their work to.
Bloggers, OTOH, are generally independant, and so do not have any outside policy to adhere to, and typically are not getting paid for their reviews, so accepting free copies is more common, and is not generally considered unethical.
At the time it was an option for me, not a necessity, but in the end I decided to do it, since I had no real interest in the particular device, and would never have purchased it for review otherwise.
Time passed, and I lost my cushy second job, cutting my regular income by over a third, and completely eliminating the extra hours and pay I used to get occasionally.
Now sample copies are no longer an option, but the only way I can continue to review. I have enough of a budget to cover my personal e-cig supplies, but nothing at all to try new devices with.
So, I began soliciting review copies. This hasn't always worked out very well, however. For one thing, it puts me in an uncomfortable position if some of the parts are bad.
We all know these devices have a horrible failure rate. Even the quality brands sometimes have DOA parts. I don't think it's fair or useful to review a device based on defective parts, and always try to resolve any needed exchanges before evaluating the device.
That's a simple customer service matter if I've purchased it. But if I got it for free to begin with, I wind up either feeling a bit like a begger who's been given a dollar and asks for 25 cents more, or worried that the seller will think I'm just trying to get more free stuff, or both.
Another problem with soliciting samples is that it cuts me out of the normal customer service experience. I am dealing directly with the owner, or occasionally a marketing department. But they know who I am, and what it's for. I can't possibly extrapolate from that to how an ordinary customer is treated.
And it leaves open the possibility of them "cherry picking" the best possible unit, thus giving a deceptive impression. I haven't seen any sign of that yet. In fact, I am often surprised that they didn't seem to at least test them before shipping. But the possibility is there, and concerns me.
SO I am now starting to think about extablishing a revenue stream using affiliate links, and if I ever get a website set up, maybe advertisements. The primary goal would be to allow me to purchase devices for review, but of course I would hope for a decent surplus over that.
But that brings me back to the ethical question. Professional media separates their advertising departments from their content producing departments, but that's not an option for amature bloggers.
There doesn't seem to be any consensus on the ethics of bloggers or amature reviewers and advertising. Opinions I found ranged from "if you can make money talking about something you enjoy, go for it," to others who say it's Ok as long as it's clearly disclosed, to those who view it as an inherent and unavoidable conflict of interests.
It's that latter that concerns me. Without my credibility, my reviews are an exercise in pointlessness. I may as well be talking to myself. My whole goal is to help other people, help inform them about the available options so they can find the best device for them. I can't help anyone if they can't trust my opinions.
I have already had a couple people say they don't trust me because I receive reviewer samples. One said that whether its a paycheck or merchandise, I am in "their" employ, and not independant or unbiased.
I take a bit of offense at that, but it is a legitimate criticism, and I can't just dismiss it. Accepting free samples is a bit of a comprimise between ethics and practicality, and advertising, affiliates, etc would be a bigger one.
OTOH, I've had others tell me not to worry everybody does it. That's not a very acceptable answer to me. I want to be on firmer ground than "if it's OK for them..."
The middle ground, total disclosure and transparancy, is of course the way to go if I do decide to do this. Well, not TOTAL transparancy. I'm not going to open my books for public accounting, for example. But I would make it clear that this is an affiliate link, that is an advertisement, etc. And transparancy is also part of the reason for this post. I want an open discussion on this issue.
What do you all think? I am interested in everyone's thoughts, but there are a few people I especially want to hear from.
TBob, you were a professional journalist, I'm sure you have a good perspective to offer.
Smokey Joe, you aren't exactly in the same position as a webhost as if you were a reviewer, but it is somewhat similar ethical territory. You have advertisements, did you have trouble deciding to do that? Do you see any conflict, and if so, how did you resolve it for yourself?
KittyBurn, Pegaso, you all have your own sites, I imagine you have at least considered ads etc. What's your opinion? Do you or will you be promoting affiliate links? Why or why not?
Dusty, I know you have some affiliate links (and let me be clear I am NOT "calling you out" or criticising you on the issue), did you have similar concerns, and how did you resolve them? Have you received any criticism over it?
Parked, you're just beginning, but I KNOW you will soon be as influential a reviewer as Dusty and I, what's your opinion?
Trog, other than myself, you're one of the harshest critics I've had. You can push my buttons more than anyone I've ever dealt with, but I've never doubted you were being honest. If anyone would be willing to call me a sellout to my face, it's you. Would this make me a sellout?
Friends, foes, rivals, peers, admirers, critics, I really want to hear from everyone on this.
Have at it, then!
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