The internet makes experts of all, that much is certain. What is less so is how to know which items are worth the time they take to read. Just going for a walk has become “gear testing.” This should be condemned for two reasons. First, it’s bullshit. Second, it supports the talking before doing acquisitionalism which is a cultural poison; a subject I’ve thoroughly covered this year. Below I present some suggestions for judgement.
The first principle is personal credibility. Yes, you can know a lot without being deep in a given activity, and yes, narratives aren’t some peoples forte, but if life and/or preference prevents you from getting out and beating on stuff regularly you shouldn’t be writing gear reviews. Absent at least mildy compelling and regular direct evidence of your involvement, no one should take you seriously. The bent of the net requires such skepticism.
A review is predicated on either comparative analysis of a products place within the market, or a historical perspective on how it was developed and why it is worth attention. Ideally both, though neither have to be especially prominent, or even given many words. The writer should know a lot more than they’re putting on screen. Picking over a dozen websites and manufacturer specs on a spreadsheet is a public service, but not a review.
The obvious antecedent to this is that a review is not possible without extensive use. 30 days in the field minimum. “Unboxings” and the like are important, to get accurate specs for new products if nothing else, but should not be construed as reviews.
A long term review should occur only after a product has been broken, worn out, or used regularly for over a year. Your attention span can take it.
There are certain products which cannot be reviewed. 50 dollar flip flops would be a salient example; they’re just stupid, and the Form of stupidity is not subject to further comment. Engaging in such nonsense undoes a lot of good accrued under my first point.
That is all. Now go forth, break things, and tell us about it.