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Reviews: An experiment and ground rules

Over the years I’ve started to get more and more press releases that include an offer to review INSERT YOUR STUPID PRODUCT HERE. Most of these get tossed in my trash bin. Sometimes I giggle or roll my eyes before I delete them, like I did all three (yes three!) times they sent me the press release for the arm flab girdle. At first it was fun to get these emails because if I was getting PR spam it meant someone was reading my blog, even if it was only a computer program harvesting email addresses on web pages that use the word “lard.” But I got over that thrill really quickly and now they’re mostly annoying. (Yeah, I know, poor, poor, me.)

Sometimes though, I get sent an offer to review a product that genuinely intrigues me. It could be for a product I’ve heard about or something I think my readers might enjoy. This has always caused an ethical pickle for me because I don’t want my blog to become one long infomercial, but sometimes I’m human and I want to accept the free stuff. In the past, I’ve done the occasional book review and given away products for free, but those situations have always been an ethical gray area for me that I’ve never known how best to deal with.

So, I’m going to try something new. I’ve created an official review policy and I’m going to start occasionally reviewing products. I suspect the majority of you will not care one way or the other about this. You’re already sick of reading this entry and wish I’d get my nose out of my navel and stop blogging about the blog already. A small group of you will be so pissed off that you are right now composing emails to me debating whether I am a five-dollar whore or a two-dollar whore before you storm off in a huff. And another group is probably looking forward to seeing what I’ll review.

Before I do anything though, I thought it best to set some ground rules which I’ve also posted on my advertising page.

PastaQueen’s Official Review Policy – Updated December 13, 2008

  1. I will only review products which I might consider purchasing or that I believe my readers would find valuable.
  2. I will at maximum do two reviews a month, but am not obligated to do any in that timeframe.
  3. I will disclose any payments or exchanges that occurred, including whether I received the product for free. I will also disclose any other partnerships with a company whose product I am reviewing, such as past sponsorships or past exchanges.
  4. The full text of the review will not appear on the front page. Only the title will appear with a link to read the entire entry. Uninterested readers will be able to easily ignore these entries. People who read via RSS will see the full review. The review will clearly be marked as a review.
  5. I will give my honest and complete opinion. I will not leave out negative comments I have about a product.

Those are all the ground rules I could think of. If you can think of anything else that might be relevant, feel free to suggest it on the comments of this entry.

I contemplated creating a whole new blog just for reviews, but the amount of time it would take to design a template that I liked and set the whole thing up made my brain implode. It’s easier to post everything here. We’ll see how this goes. If the reviews don’t fit into the flow of the blog, I’ll stop doing them or post them somewhere else. However, I hope you’ll find them useful and also entertaining (This is me we’re talking about. I inserted Sailor Moon analogies into my freshman English papers.) I typically appreciate it when a blogger recommends a product they like or steers me away from something that is awful. I’m not going to be reviewing the Flowbee here. It will only be stuff you might possibly be interested in or will laugh your ass off hearing about. I promise to give you my full, honest opinion and hopefully not annoy you in the process. The first review is posted right before this entry. Enjoy (or not)!

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28 Comments

dg • December 17, 2008 at 8:11 am

That is a great policy PQ! Very clear and honest. I get offered books sometimes but worry about taking them – does this mean you’re guaranteeing them a review? what if you read it and don’t really have a strong opinion about it? what if you don’t get time to read it? (another slow reader here) dilemmas, dilemmas.

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Karen • December 17, 2008 at 8:29 am

I think you’ve got it covered and allowed us to opt in if we choose to read the review. Thanks for being so thoughtful.

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PastaQueen • December 17, 2008 at 8:34 am

@dg – That’s a good point. When I get home I’ll add another bullet saying that accepting a product does not guarantee that I will review it, though I will make my best effort to do so.

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Shelley • December 17, 2008 at 9:29 am

I would totally wear that arm flab girdle.

What?!? It’s either that or pump weights for my arms, and god knows I haven’t lifted my cute little 3 pound weights since I got them in June!

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EG • December 17, 2008 at 9:31 am

Ooh Ooh! I have another groundrule suggestion. The company must send a sample of what you’re reviewing for you to give away to your loyal readers. Heh Heh.

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Simon • December 17, 2008 at 9:40 am

You’re taking yourself way too seriously. Nobody cares.

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Pauline • December 17, 2008 at 10:48 am

I just enjoy reading your blog and am glad that you are writing on a regular basis. Thanks for sharing!

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Merry • December 17, 2008 at 10:49 am

@Simon – @Simon – Should this comment be taken seriously? (Do you care?)

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Karen • December 17, 2008 at 11:46 am

Excellent policy, I wish more bloggers had one! Great idea.

Anyway, I care. And I love reading other people’s reviews. One of the very big ways the Internet has changed my life is, I buy nothing without looking online for reviews from reviewers I trust. Nothing, except maybe groceries. And reviewers I trust…That includes you.

PS hugs for the headache, don’t know what else to say about that really.

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s • December 17, 2008 at 12:55 pm

@Simon – yes, this was about the drier and more mechanistic aspects of the blog, but you’re just being catty. :p

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Ali • December 17, 2008 at 3:50 pm

@EG – I am all for that!

And once a year you should have a “Pastaqueens favorite things” post where all of your readers get one of your favorite things for free!

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Mrs darling • December 17, 2008 at 5:17 pm

Are we ever going to be able to pick up your book at the library. I have no diea how they get to librarys or what the qualifications are to be in a library but yours is not in our library and I am not happy. Is there a reason for this?

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asithi • December 17, 2008 at 5:25 pm

I do reviews all the time. I don’t think anyone cares.

When it is my own stuff or a book under $40, it would be a blog post. Sometimes it can be good and sometimes it can sound ugly.

When I get paid for a review, I have another template page set up in WordPress just for them. The only way to access the paid review pages are either from searching for them or through the paid review link on the top of my blog.

As you know, BlogHerAds does not like us to display paid reviews alongside their ads. So they have a detailed tutorial on how to setup the paid review page so that their ads does not show up on those paid review pages.

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Anon • December 17, 2008 at 5:30 pm

@Simon – I care. A blogger’s review policy matters to me, and is a significant part of the way I interpret the reviews. It’s an integrity issue.

Any idiot can write a review, or claim to speak for the whole world. A clear review policy can help in interpreting the former; nothing mitigates the latter.

PastaQueen: Love the clarity, love the whole concept. Thanks.

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Alexia • December 17, 2008 at 5:45 pm

Personally, I like hearing about cool things (or being warned from others!) Periodic reviews are interesting. Policy is clear. Thanks!

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Deb • December 17, 2008 at 5:51 pm

“Podiatric projectile of choice!” You have a way with words, girl, and I love it. Rock on!

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PurpleGirl • December 17, 2008 at 5:55 pm

PQ, you’re at least one of those expensive Vegas whores. ;)

Looking forward to reviews, you do have a way with words.

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Lynn • December 17, 2008 at 8:38 pm

Love the policy. Will this include all ED promotions as well? (For whatever reason, I seem to attract drug companies hocking generic Cialis and Viagra….lucky me)

And for the record, Simon is a twit. I will use any excuse to use the word twit:)

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Theantijared • December 17, 2008 at 9:56 pm

The Flowbee Rocks!!

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Mom • December 17, 2008 at 9:58 pm

@Mrs darling – Here is the way that it works in Indiana–Go to your local library. Stop at the reference or help desk and ask to make a purchase request for a book. Give the correct title and author name and the ISBN. For Half-assed: a weight-loss memoir by Jennette Fulda it would be

10:58005-233-9 or 13:978-1-580005-233-7.

Happy reading! PQ’s Mom

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PastaQueen • December 18, 2008 at 9:04 am

@Lynn – Heh, since I am not personally interested in ED products nor do I think my audience is, it’s safe to say I won’t be reviewing any of those.

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deanna • December 18, 2008 at 12:55 pm

ooohhhh I love it!

Can you try to review those MBT sneakers that are like 250.00 a pair?!?! I am dying to know if they really are that special.

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Nicole • December 19, 2008 at 12:48 am

But I would find a review of the Flowbee hilarious! Pretty please a review?

More seriously, good policy and kudos on the clarity.

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K • December 19, 2008 at 6:40 am

@Simon – given the way some readers tend to get up in arms about what PQ chooses to write about, I don’t blame her!

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Linda • December 20, 2008 at 1:22 am

@ deanna

I’ve been wearing the mbt’s since Sept. for the 10 hr shifts I work in an OR, and I LOVE them. Ugly fer sure, but my feet, back, and legs thank me….

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Calidaho • December 20, 2008 at 10:05 am

I find reviews helpful. I search the web for reviews of products so having some coming from a trusted source is a good thing.

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dg • December 20, 2008 at 6:40 pm

@K – that’s exactly what i was bloody thinking. i wouldn’t blame PQ if she felt the need to write a post to explain her decision to use a comma or exclamation mark :)

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Anna • December 20, 2008 at 10:54 pm

@Mrs darling – My library ordered Pasta Queen’s book for me when it first came out. I live just outside Chicago, and did exactly what PQ’s mom said. Mom’s are smart like that ;)

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Comments are now closed on all PastaQueen entries. The blog is an archive only so I don't have to deal with spammers. For fresh discussions please visit my new blog JenFul.

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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JenFul now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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