What if the gadgets in all those "best of" and "tested" articles aren't the best and weren't tested?

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2024/02/26/what-if-the-gadgets-in-all-those-best-of-and-tested-articles-arent-the-best-and-werent-tested.html


You really should write a book.

I like when an air filter company explains how to DIY an air purifier.


Reddit is the last remaining place where human opinions can be farmed for these lists, but it’s slowly being infiltrated by the marketers.

Yeah, I seldom visit Reddit but a few days ago I went there looking for opinions on washing machines. There were plenty of what were were almost surely real people’s comments, but there was also a truckload of long, rah-rah testimonials for one product or another. They all had the musty scent of ChatGPT or its brethren and they all seemed to say a lot without really saying anything specific.


Shocked GIF by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon


I find the most useful and informative reviews are actually right there on whatever site you’re perusing; the one stars. If there is no issue with the product, the reviews are all about shipping complaints, “I forgot to open it and now the return window is closed”, wrong color/size received, etc. Those can be dismissed. However, a persistent complaint from numerous reviewers such as “screw holes are misaligned”, “speakers begin crackling after x months of use”, etc. you can just about guarantee that it’s an issue that you’re likely to encounter.

They can also be indicative of how the third party vendor is going to respond to a complaint. For instance, I buy a lot of Anker items as they are generally cheaper and reliably built, but they also have fantastic customer service in my experience and will usually just replace an item outright instead of making you try a bunch of useless fixes. This is something you’ll see in both the 1 star reviews (bad) as well as the 5 stars (good).

ETA: Also, plus one for Consumer Reports. They don’t test every gadget, especially consumer electronics, but for big buys like appliances I always check them first. And it’s a strong possibility you may already have access via your library card.


Could this Google-spamming technique be used to boost negative articles on Republican politicians?


Yeah. I trust sites like Wirecutter, but it’s amazing how much crap you get if you just google something like “best refrigerator.” You get dozens of almost-identical sites with “The Best Refrigerators of 2024 - updated!” or whatever.

Yeah, I think that ship has probably mostly sailed. Many of those threads are, like, six people. It’s so damn easy just to create an account to shill for a product. And there is plenty of evidence of high-karma accounts being bought, or automatic karma-farming by bots.


Damn. I pretty much assumed that would happen eventually. So much for that one weird search trick…


This is why I buy all my gadgets at the Boing Boing store.


Can confirm. I’ve had a few Anker duds in my time, but their customer service has always been fantastic


So they need a site that ranks all other ranking site by how legit they are. And then when the spammers spawn spurious ranking sites, build a legiter rank ranking site that ranks rank ranking sites…


All of which goes to show that old-fashioned subscription/membership proper testing still has a place. Which? (which.co.uk) in the UK started life decades ago as a magazine. Today it has a website and many subscribers. You get free content on a lot of stuff but for the real insights you need to log in - be a paying subscriber. And whist they are a non-profit, they are still very much in business.


Thank you. If I ever come across one, I will definitely make a note RIGHT NOW to forward it to you, then. Just to look at it.

SEO has completely destroyed search engines for me now (and everyone else I’m sure).

I wanted to find an off-the-shelf glue for affixing Styrofoam to PVC and all I get is 20 websites that were just full of word-salad and no decent results.


SEO combined with AI-generated click farms are a scourge.


i was thinking maybe just start a brand new internet. call it the wonderul world wide web, or wwww for short.

now i know you’re probably going to say the first two internets, w and ww, both died this same way. but just think of all the lessons we’ve learned since then!

what could possibly go wrong?


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