This doesn't fit internet conventions
Posted by: Waterbird on Oct-11-12 9:19 AM (EST)
commonly accepted by most people. People who review products for a specific organization, often with some type of compensation (e.g., Backpack Gear Test) are prescribed specific things to talk about. Ordinary consumers post "more or less" whatever they want, with a few, but very few limitations. They may be given some general pointers (e.g. LL Bean), or boxes to check off, but they're free to structure the narrative part as they wish.
Then it's up to the rest of us to make sense of each review and draw a conclusion from the bulk of them taken together. If "rear hatch leaks" shows up in 15 out of 20 reviews, it's a good possibility it's true. If only one person out of 30 claims the Loon 111 is too narrow, you know it's probably not. You have to read the reviews with discernment and compare the opinion offered with the level of knowledge and experience that is clear from big hints like "used three times on 50-acre pond." That's the reader's job.
Some people write a lot. Some people write very little. That doesn't matter. It wouldn't be good to disallow those who choose to write less, or who don't feel like addressing each of 8 prescribed categories.
Manufacturers and retailers have a role to play by providing all necessary information. How many of those clearly describe the hull design of a kayak? Very few, yet that's one of the first things I want to know. One of the most comprehensive and helpful websites is Frontenac Outfitters in Ontario.