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A Question of Integrity

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I received an email last week from one of my readers calling into question the editorial integrity of TrustedReviews. Mr Paine (I kid you not, that was his name) suggested that over the past year the quality of our content had dropped to the level where he felt it looked like paid advertising. Mr Paine insisted that this assertion was backed up by the excessive number of products that receive 10/10 scores, while making a point of labelling me as the biggest culprit. While I’m a firm believer in freedom of speech and fully encourage all my readers to express their views, I couldn’t help but take umbrage with Mr Paine’s comments, and decided to do a little research, when I should have been enjoying a very rare, sunny Sunday afternoon.

Now, a great many of you have requested an improved search engine in TrustedReviews, especially the ability to search only for products that received either Recommended or Editor’s Choice awards. I have always seen the logic behind that request, but I’d never realised just how useful it would be until today, because today I had to manually check every review for the past 12 months in an effort to see just how excessively we had been dishing out 10/10 scores.

After much trawling, much clicking and much RSI inducing mouse manoeuvring, I found that over the past year we have awarded a grand total of 19 products a perfect 10 score. Whether you think that number is high or low will be entirely dependant on your personal point of view, but it’s worth remembering that during the past 12 months we have reviewed almost 800 products! I’m sure that Mr Paine will also be disappointed to hear that I am not responsible for the majority of those 19 instances either – in fact the total is spread pretty evenly across the team.

Having worked in technology publishing for a very long time, I know exactly how much damage a journalist can do to a title by not playing by the rules. I’m sure that there are publications out there where the editorial policy is dictated by the advertising sales department, but TrustedReviews isn’t one of them. In fact, that kind of model is ultimately self destructing, because if a magazine/website does tailor editorial to help a certain advertiser, the only thing it will accomplish is to alienate that company’s competitors. For this, and a whole plethora of other reasons, the sales and editorial departments of TrustedReviews are completely separate – so much so that we don’t even share the same office; seriously!

But despite Mr Paine’s misguided accusations and assumptions, his email did highlight an issue that’s been playing on my mind for some time now. For the past couple of years I’ve become all too aware that the vast majority of products we review are, at worst, average. It seems like we’ve come to a stage where there simply aren’t any truly bad products anymore, or at least none manufactured by any companies who’s name you might recognise.

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