If there’s one element that skratchworx built its reputation upon, it’s writing the best and most respected reviews in the DJ industry. And it’s time to build upon that solid foundation and write significantly more of them, and make them a lot better at the same time. So before we begin the process, we think it’s the right time to lay out how we plan to make them even better than before.
There are a number of ways that we plan to radically improve things, so there will be an across the board tightening up in a number of areas. We hereby set out our stall and draw the new line in the sand:
I come from a time of really crap DJ gear (you kids never had it so good etc etc), so to me, all gear is at the very least “good”. But we (probably I) need to tighten up, and be more critical where it’s necessary. You want to know what’s good and bad, and we’re going to tell you in no uncertain terms.
We’ll still dish out praise when necessary and even gush like giddy schoolgirls when called for, but it’s the other stuff that we’re going to drill down on. Adopting an “innocent until proven guilty” approach, we’ll assume that the units in front of us are at least fit for purpose, until we can show otherwise.
Reviews are supposed to be an informed opinion – a critical appraisal of a product. What they are not supposed to be are lengthy exercises in reproducing the spec sheet in a different font, padding it out with excessive verbiage and essentially offering little in the way of actual feelings. So our reviews will be wall to wall feelings from now on. Obviously we’ll offer in-context explanation of features to explain our feelings, but if you want to know every single numerical detail of a product, download the manual – it’s all there. We’re reviewers, not technical authors. It’s not about what something does, but much more about how well it does it.
My biggest failing in recent times has been getting the reviews to you when you need them i.e. at the time of the product hitting the shelves. But we’re tooling up and will now get the review posted when you really need it. We’ll work with manufacturers to ensure that reviews are created and published at the right time. Product will come in, get reviewed and go out again more or less at the time the retailers get it.
The thing to bear in mind about reviews is that more often than not, it’s just one voice for a specific and short moment in time. But wouldn’t it be better to have more than one trusted opinion? We think so too, so wherever possible we’ll try to add a second opinion to the review. It won’t necessarily be a full review, and might not even agree with the main one. But we feel having a variety and diversity of opinion gives a more complete picture.
As alluded to before, we only get to play with this gear for a brief window in time, after which point the review dropped off the page and got archived. But with DJWORX, you’ll be able to offer your own opinions in the comments, directly under the review. There are also plans to offer a way for short user reviews based on real experiences to compliment our own, but that requires some more thought. So any readers who discovers the review at a later date can see more than just what we thought, and based on longer term experience.
Fact checking is an essential part of the review process. We do our best to cover everything, but we will always pass the review back to the manufacturer to check that our words are factually correct. This however does not mean editorial control, nor is it seeking permission to post the review. But we feel it’s important for the manufacturers to have their say – a right to reply. This gives them a chance to offer explanations for things that we might think are a bit iffy, or simply to give you some info that you didn’t have before. For the very same reason that I post full press releases, their voice is vitally important in this process.
They get 7 days to respond, after which point we’ll go live anyway. They can of course decline to comment, or simply say that they’re happy with the review. But their involvement is vital.
When I first started skratchworx, it was aimed at turntablists, thus I reviewed from that viewpoint. But as it became more agnostic and we covered all sorts of gear, it became clear that we needed to review from the point of view of the target buyer. So we will actively write based on the intended market. For example, there’s no point waffling on ad nauseum about the intricacies of technology for a product with a £50 price tag. Nor will we gloss over important detail vital necessary for an expensive purchase. Nor will we pull a unit to shreds because it doesn’t do something that it wasn’t intended for.
Without trumpet blowing too loudly, our opinion is respected at all levels of the industry. And from time to time, we get asked for help with products, be it simple market intelligence, looking over designs or even getting involved with actual design. And because we value our integrity and your respect above everything else, we will always disclose any involvement. We know we can still do an objective review, but will get someone not involved with said product to do it, just to preserve the objectivity.
Money Talks – No
We obviously need a revenue stream, and that’s ads. Like or loathe them, they’re essential to keep DJWORX running. But regardless of how much an advertiser spends, it’ll never ever influence our opinion. I will walk away from revenue, no matter how lucrative, if there are editorial strings attached. I’ve done it before, and stipulate it as a condition of ad contracts. As I’ve said previously, I’d rather close the site than compromise our integrity.
The reviews are getting upgraded. They’ll have more opinion, less waffle, greater frequency, be on time and on point as well as being loaded with intelligent comment of the highest integrity with no axe grinding. Hell I might even start doing videos too. Well, not might – will, once I’m geared up for it.
There will be a short period of catching up, where we post some that have hung around for far too long which may not have all the features listed above. But in double quick time, we’ll be cranking up the new shiny DJWORX review machine and letting it chomp on unsuspecting fresh product.
Manufacturers – if you want great reviews, make great gear. It’s that simple. I hope we don’t make anyone cry.