Thread: Are Review ratings a popularity contest?

Posts: 9

Post by SnaggS July 5, 2007 (1 of 9)
I've been trying to make a concerted effort to review every disk that I know, since many are Japanese imports and there is nothing on SA-CD.net to tell you anything about them.

Now I knew that I'm newish to classical music, but owwww.. people seem to hate my reviews? Are people using this to say your reviews are crap, please stop. Or are people using these a vote as to whether they agree on your opinion?

Maybe the lurkers could give me some feedback on what I'm doing wrong?

Daniel.

Post by akiralx July 5, 2007 (2 of 9)
I find some of them useful having just read them, but maybe some are too short? The style may be a bit original for some.

Also for example in the Trout Quintet review you acknowledge that you've nothing to compare it to performance-wise. That would undermine its usefulness for me.

I just try to describe the performance, usually with reference to other recordings, say specifically what I like and don't like about it - and why.

For the sonic assessment describe the sound and try to be specific. That's what I want to read when I see a review - not a history or biography of the work or the artists, for example. I want information that will give me an idea whether I will like the disc or not if I buy it.

You're right in that some will erroneously say your review isn't helpful because they don't agree with it, but there's not a lot you can do about that.

Post by SnaggS July 5, 2007 (3 of 9)
akiralx said:

I find some of them useful having just read them, but maybe some are too short? The style may be a bit original for some.

Also for example in the Trout Quintet review you acknowledge that you've nothing to compare it to performance-wise. That would undermine its usefulness for me.

I just try to describe the performance, usually with reference to other recordings, say specifically what I like and don't like about it - and why.

For the sonic assessment describe the sound and try to be specific. That's what I want to read when I see a review - not a history or biography of the work or the artists, for example. I want information that will give me an idea whether I will like the disc or not if I buy it.

You're right in that some will erroneously say your review isn't helpful because they don't agree with it, but there's not a lot you can do about that.

You are right, but I guess my train of thought was that I had to order these disks totally blind, and I would have at least liked to see a review that at least let me know that the disc wasn't totally lousy!

Its obviously no conclusive, but at least you know that you can rule out the worst case scenario. The Trout Quintet is still playing and the piano sound is quite captivating!

I'll try and add more..

Daniel.

Post by pgmdir July 5, 2007 (4 of 9)
It's easy for many of our long-term Classical devotees to seem impatient or even disdainful of a relative newcomer's thoughts. This is what scares away many who would like to share thoughts. I run into this attitude in virtually every field-- Certainly mine, which is broadcasting.

I, for one, am interested in what everyone has to say about a recording. If I find there's something lacking, I can skim or go on to the next. A review which is crammed with minutia, no matter how erudite, is less valuable than one which gets to the point in a succinct manner

I hope you will continue to pass your thoughts along.

-Bill

Post by Arthur July 5, 2007 (5 of 9)
SnaggS said:

You are right, but I guess my train of thought was that I had to order these disks totally blind, and I would have at least liked to see a review that at least let me know that the disc wasn't totally lousy!

Its obviously no conclusive, but at least you know that you can rule out the worst case scenario. The Trout Quintet is still playing and the piano sound is quite captivating!

I'll try and add more..

Daniel.

Daniel:

I appreciate that effort. I also have tended to sit on the fence quite often, in particular about Japanese releases that tend to not be reviewed and also tend to be expensive. So your efforts to shed some light are to be applauded.

I did not rate you reviews, but my appreciation was dimmed somewhat by your statement that you didn't know the music hence the lower rating. Did the music making feel too fast? Too slow? Did the disc transport you somewhere special? As you become more experienced you will learn to better describe your impressions.

You have a brain and can write: that's obvious from reading the forum here. You have ears and a heart: that's obvious from the fact that you are listening to some of the world's greatest music and you are responding to it. So continue letting us know your impressions. The more you do it, the better you will get at it and the easier it will become. And don't let a few stuffed-shirt naysayers bring you down with their ratings of your reviews!

Bret

Post by seth July 5, 2007 (6 of 9)
SnaggS said:


Maybe the lurkers could give me some feedback on what I'm doing wrong?

Daniel.

I have not rated your reviews, but from what I've read, you ramble quite a bit.

Post by Windsurfer July 5, 2007 (7 of 9)
Arthur said:

Daniel:

You have a brain and can write: that's obvious from reading the forum here. You have ears and a heart: that's obvious from the fact that you are listening to some of the world's greatest music and you are responding to it. So continue letting us know your impressions. The more you do it, the better you will get at it and the easier it will become. And don't let a few stuffed-shirt naysayers bring you down with their ratings of your reviews!

Bret

This was well said. Forget the ratings on your reviews. I will reiterate: Trust your own judgment to tell us how YOU feel about a recording....And thank you for participating!

Post by brenda July 5, 2007 (8 of 9)
SnaggS said: I knew that I'm newish to classical music, but owwww.. people seem to hate my reviews? Are people using this to say your reviews are crap, please stop. Or are people using these a vote as to whether they agree on your opinion?
dear daniel,

in answer to your headline question, yes, the review ratings are - to a considerable degree - a popularity contest. Many reviews seem to be judged on the basis of "do I agree" or "are they written in the only language I can read" or "do I like the person?". My recently ex-partner has had one person follow him from this site to amazon, depositing his negative judgements regardless of the quality of my partner's review. Basically, the review starring system is crap. Try and ignore it.

Having said that, - and whilst I appreciate your enthusiasm for the music you listen to, - some of your reviews are of only minimal benefit. The principal reasons are:

a) you are, - understandably as a relative beginner - unable to compare versions to give us an idea of just what traits characterise the performance you're reviewing compared to a "standard" or benchmark performances
b) secondly, some of your terms are just too general to be helpful. "I like this" and "sounds good" type comments just donít mean anything unless we know you intimately and
c) thirdly, you fail to give us any info on how you listen and what you listen on. I'm a science nerd myself, but some of the guys on this site are either vastly nerdy or are hugely informed and technically erudite (and sometimes other things as well, but you'll soon learn). It's a gross generalisation but some are almost as concerned IN A REVIEW (but not in life) with what makes a recording technically good or bad as they are with the performance. That's partly because many of them are long-term music lovers and can guess a performance but can't always guess the engineering qualities or the surround sound etc etc.

There's no way you can immediately overcome the first of the above problems. It's just a matter of experience and listening. Given your obvious interest and enthusiasm, I'm sure that'll come. As to the second, a bit more focus and specificity will go a long way, - but I do like the chatty style, so please donít throw the baby out with the bath water. The third problem is perhaps the most easily dealt with. List your equipment and listening conditions in your site profile and, in reviews, make more comment on sound, preferably compared to any benchmarks you feel comfortable about using.

Fourthly, read the review guidelines again, - I think they'll help you a lot. And, of course, troll through your own fav. reviews here and isolate and identify what it is that makes them useful to you.

Finally, yes, there are a couple of tossers on this site but hey, itís the net, what can you do? For the most part there are some really nice, helpful, pleasant and informed people. And you should do what they have done, - put your email address on your profile so that people can mail you with hints and encouragement (edvin, stvnhar, tream, dan popp, zeus himself, and others are great at doing that). You, in turn, can then email them about great recordings, recommendations, reviewing tips and so on. From my experience, most people on this site will be happy to help.

Iíve given up reviewing because I so strenuously dislike the whole review ratings concept, especially the elements I noted above, but you, as a collector of Japanese SACDs, have something extra and worthwhile to add to the site, so I hope youíll keep reviewing. Best wishes, B

Post by SnaggS July 5, 2007 (9 of 9)
Brenda, pgmdir, Arthur, seth, Windsurfer.

Thank you all for your constructive criticism or positive feedback. I'll keep opsting, doing what I can, maybe at the least it will encourage those more knowledgable to step up too the plate and show me how to do it right!

In the meantime, I've put in a profile.. I didn't remember them having these when I first joined years ago.. but then they didn't have a forum either. I'll try and express my points on sound a bit better..

Daniel.

PS. JSACD's arn't expensive at all from HMV. In the contest of the Australian market, they're cheaper than locally released CD's including the postage to get them here. The bulk of the Sony SACD's end up being about US$15 each including postage.

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