An interesting tech geek brawl seems to have broken out in the blogosphere over the past 24 hours between MG Seigler and Joshua Topolsky. I find it entertaining. Both make good points. Both made a choice to use profanity for emotional impact (see my previous post on “Keeping it Professional In Tech”).
MG responded by dissecting Topolsky’s claims one by one and essentially claimed that Topolsky’s reviews are milquetoast.
Good humor. Great entertainment. I’m guessing the whole smackdown drove a lot of traffic for both of them. Does anyone outside the technology echo-chamber care about some insider baseball rivalry?
One quote in MG’s response got me thinking though. After saying that Topolsky’s review of the said Samsung phone was “vanilla”, “thorough”, but lacked a “stance”, MG says:
I don’t know about you, but when I read my favorite technology writers, I want an opinion. Is the iPhone 4S the best smartphone, or is it the Galaxy Nexus? I need to buy one, I can’t buy both. Topolsky never gives us that.
This is the problem I have with most technology reviews these days. Everyone seems so afraid to say how they really feel about the device. And more often than not, that’s exactly what readers want.
Is that what readers want? I find value to both approaches. But what do YOU want to see in your reviews?
MG’s acerbic style is amazing. He is truly a gifted writer, and I enjoy reading his posts as often as he write them. But, when I read MG, I know what I’m getting myself into. Thus, while absolutely entertaining, he’s not where I’m going to go if I want an honest to goodness product review.
Topolsky’s milquetoast lack of “stance”, which MG poked fun of as “vanilla”, has value and actually makes sense to me. When I want a full review, I’m NOT looking for a product reviewer to be declaring one product a winner over the other. The marketplace should decide that. Give people the facts in the review about the product, then let them decide.
Often, consumer electronics products are so similar, that there isn’t always a “black and white” winner. As Topolsky said:
The world is not black and white. It's really, really gray. You can see it and not care. You can see it and love it. You can see it and hate it. You can see it but need something else. You can see it, and yet see other things too.
What I like, another may hate and vice versa. With the gift-giving holidays quickly approaching, I’m currently knee deep in reading product reviews online. I’m rarely looking for someone to tell me what to think.
I’m looking for a reviewer to tell me the facts about how the product works and point out the pros & cons (with an emphasis on the cons). Then, I make my own decision based on what I think I’ll like better.
So, while I have a huge appreciation for MG’s style and content, I’m leaning towards Topolsky’s side in this spat. How about you?