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Can You Trust the Reviews on the Internet?



Can You Trust the Reviews on the Internet?

The more we write our reviews, the more we are concerned about a growing trend for review writers—reviews seem overly positive, or seem absent all together.

Since we started putting together our reviews on Living Barefoot, we have always felt passionately that being honest about the products we review is key to our success.  We don’t want to be known as the place that has great reviews, we want to be known as the place that has great HONEST reviews.  After all, when you are researching a product, you want to know what people really think.  You don’t want to buy something only to find out it’s not what you expected at all.

So why am I concerned?  When I look around at the majority of websites that review minimalist products, I see a very concerning lack of negative or constructive feedback.  That makes me concerned.  When I did some digging I found out that some sites will simply send products back and decline to write a review.  I suspect this happens fairly often.  I also suspect that other reviewers will concentrate on the positive aspects of a product, thus giving it a positive spin where perhaps a more balanced approach would be more beneficial.

 

Why is this happening?

The answer is easy and choices as a reviewer are difficult.  Let’s face it, sites like ours rely on the good relationships we build with the manufacturers of the products we review.  Without those relationships we couldn’t do our job.  We also rely on the ability to review as much product as we can, so that we can generate as much traffic as we can, so that we can at least cover the cost of running our websites.  Therein lies the challenge.  Will writing a poor review of a product crumble the relationship with the manufacturers we rely on for products?  It may, but the bigger question is one of integrity.  Is it more important to report the truth or impress the manufacturers?

For us the answer is simple.  We feel that writing honest reviews no matter what the outcome is our duty.  It is our job to provide our readers with the real story, no matter how difficult that may be. This doesn’t mean we will be unfair, but we will be honest.

Should manufacturers fear having us review their products?  Not at all.  In fact, any manufacturer who wants to send us samples for feedback can do so at any time.  We are more than happy to provide specific feedback to manufacturers about a product they are in the process of developing.  Furthermore, during the review process we frequently contact companies in the hope that problems we find are in fact due to pre-production issues.  Often these issues are resolved easily.  We are not unfair.

So what made me write this article in the first place?  From time to time we receive products that have already gone to market, or that are about to go to market, that have missed the boat all together when it comes to minimalist shoes.  Some of these products are from major brands with huge R&D departments. All of them should know better by now, and so far, not a single one of these products has received a poor review on any site other than ours.  Something about that isn’t right.

We have entered a new period in shoe manufacturing.  We have entered a time when the shoe industry in this category is driven by consumer demand, and not technology and marketing.  Most manufactures want to tap into this market, but some simply aren’t doing their homework.  Shoe models that claim to allow natural foot movement, claim to be “like being barefoot” or claim to be a minimalist shoe should do so. Producing a stiff, narrow, anatomically incorrect shoe with a heel and calling it a minimalist shoe is almost fraud in my mind.  When companies do this, I’m very happy to point out the inconsistencies.  In fact, they should be called out.  It’s time that companies were honest. To all reviewers out there who review products in the minimalist category, I call upon all of you to not sweep these issues under the rug.  For those that are not willing to do so, your sites become nothing more than an extension of the marketing department for the companies you serve.  We have a responsibility to the public to be honest not only because it is our job, but also because we are, after all, the experts.

 

 

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About Living Barefoot Reviews:

As you read our reviews, please keep in mind that our reviewers review shoes in terms of their suitability for those looking to find the highest quality minimalist shoe products. All reviews are as factual as possible. In an effort to be transparent and ethical, we will point out any defects found, even if these do not affect the usability of the product. Not all defects will be present in final production shoes as we are sometimes offered “seconds” or pre-release products in an effort to provide you with reviews in a timely manor. In the event that serious issues are found with a review sample we will give every opportunity for the manufacturer to replace to explain the review samples before the final review is released. We never accept payments for reviews. We do not guarantee a good review for any products sent to us. We do not review products that do not claim to be minimalist or “barefoot like” unless we receive a significant number of requests from readers or listeners.




Should you have any questions about our review process or would like your product reviewed on our site, please do not hesitate to contact us using our contact page.

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Featured Interview: Christopher McDougall – Author of Born to Run

Listen HERE

Christopher McDougall is a well-spoken, humble man who has through the popularity of his book brought about some of the biggest changes in the perception of feet and running in recent years.  Join us in learning about how this talented author wrote his book, discovered his feet, and how he feels about barefooting and running.  This interview should not be missed.
We Talk about:
- Chris’s recent appearance at the TED Conference
- Thoughts on Interviews In General
- His first exposure to barefoot running
- How he came to find the Tarahumara while on assignment for the New York Times.
- He thoughts on his influence over barefoot running and ultra running
- How he struggled with writing Born to Run
- This thoughts on minimalist shoes
- And much more!
To learn more about Christopher McDougall visit his website: http://chrismcdougall.com

Buy His Book: Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen
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Discussion

7 comments for “Can You Trust the Reviews on the Internet?”

  1. [...] articles in particular struck a chord- this one by Birthdayshoes founder Justin Owings, and this one by Living Barefoot’s Al Gauthier.  Justin’s article touches on the reasons he prefers [...]

    Posted by Barefoot Running University » The Changing Barefoot/Minimalist Shoe Paradigm | March 23, 2011, 19:12
  2. Great post Al. Maybe we should start an accountability group.

    I give you permission to reprimand me (in private) if you think I have written a review that is “selling out” :-)

    Posted by Damien Tougas | March 24, 2011, 00:28
  3. Hi Damien,

    That’s a great idea! Perhaps we can put together a document outlining what we can all agree needs to be part of a review, and how we resolve and report on problems. If we all follow the same procedure than it will bring some better transparency to reviews in general. This might be a little too far for some, but it would be an interesting conversation to have.

    Posted by Al Gauthier | March 24, 2011, 06:48
  4. I was really glad to see this article, one of the other sites I usually go to just reviewed a product that CUT HIS FOOT while running in them and he scored them an 8/10. Granted, he did find a fix for the problem but really? How could that have made it into the production run design? Reading his other reviews more carefully it seems to be a site centered on offering positive reviews in the hope that companies will send him more “free swag”. I will not be visiting his website any longer after seeing the blatant discrepancy between the performance of the shoe and his ratings.

    I really was drawn to this site because I see that you offer real reviews, with real feedback and ratings. Thanks a lot for the great information, I went ahead and decided to donate a dollar a month because I feel you guys are really doing a service to people like myself who cannot afford to purchase a shoe which may not be the right model for them.

    Keep up the great work!

    Posted by Grant | May 26, 2011, 17:12
  5. Hi Grant,

    Firstly, thank you so very much for your donation. We put a lot of effort into our site and have a lot of great reviews and shows coming up very shortly. Thank you also for recognizing our commitment to be honest. It puts us in challenging situations sometimes, but we feel we have to be honest or we loose all credibility.

    Keep up the great comments! :)

    Posted by Al Gauthier | May 26, 2011, 22:31
  6. I love the reviews here and will use them when buying my minimal running shoes. However, when I first arrived, I was skeptical given all the ads. I think it can be hard to be objective when those you review pay your bills, no?

    Posted by Stuart | June 27, 2011, 07:05
  7. Hi Stuart,

    Thanks for your comments and your compliments. We do wish that we didn’t need all the ads. It is sometimes very uncomfortable to write a poor review about a product made by a company that we like. We have lost a lot of financial opportunity because of our honest approach and unwillingness to compromise. We believe that the very foundation of our success is honesty.

    Companies that send us product know that this is the way we function. We never accept money to write a good review and we don’t decline to review products that we think will review poorly so long as they are appropriate to review.

    Some companies no longer send us review product, Feelmax for example, because we have given poor reviews in the past.

    It is the only way we would consider operating. At some point we hope that reader and listener contributions will be considerable enough for us to reduce advertising on the site. Until then we try to make the ads as relevant as possible to reduce the annoyance factor.

    Cheers,

    Al

    Posted by Al Gauthier | June 27, 2011, 07:40

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