1. QualiTReviews
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    QualiTReviews New Member

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    Combining Product Reviews With Humour

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by QualiTReviews, Feb 24, 2014.

    Hi guys.

    I run an online business where we continually look for professional writers that combine humour with fact. I'm finding that this can be difficult to find.

    Why is this? I know that when you research facts for products, you become focused on delivering the information in a particular way. What I find hard to understand is that combining good humour so that it works with the article seems to be quite a challenge for most writers.

    I'd love to know what other writers think on this topic.

    Thanks
    Heath
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    having a well-developed sense of humor and using humor often in my writings, i know firsthand that it can definitely help in getting a point across to readers...

    but, yes, it's not something easily learned and few writers have an innate ability to do it successfully, just as most otherwise talented actors find comedy hard to do well...
     
  3. QualiTReviews
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    QualiTReviews New Member

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    That's a good point, about the comedy being hard to do by talented actors. I guess not all writers have humour so there combining it in writing is moot. Cheers for that :)
     
  4. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    When I read the OP, I immediately thought of P. J. O'Rourke's work for Car & Driver magazine. Informational, but very funny.

    Or did you just mean fiction ?
     
  5. David K. Thomasson
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    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

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    You say on your site, “QualiT Reviews stand out because they are entertainment.” Have you done audience research to find out what readers want?

    When I think of product reviews, I think of things like automotive reviews on Youtube, or customer comments about products sold on Amazon and similar sites. When I read such reviews, I'm not looking for entertainment. I'm looking for information that will help me decide whether to buy a product. Consequently, I find humor distracting.

    Some readers might want to be entertained. I don't know. That's why I ask if you have any audience research.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    good question, david!

    i don't see how humor can help a product review, as it could make the readers think the reviewer isn't being serious about anything s/he says about the product...
     
  7. MrReliable3599
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    MrReliable3599 Member

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    I'm in a publishing industry where we write about accounting-related topics. Before I started in this field, I never gave much thought to the left-brain/right-brain discussion, but it is almost impossible to find a person who is good at both accounting and writing. We can find great accountants all day long, and we can find great writers all day long, but trying to put those traits together, you'll find a long line of people whose response varies between simply being annoyed with the task and complete mental breakdown.

    Many years ago when I started in this business, I was suspicious because everyone treated me like a star. I didn't feel I had any special knowledge or superior traits. I finally learned what it was about many years later when I was put into the position of having to recruit, identify, hire, and train new writers. It's like finding a needle in a haystack.

    Analytical people have a different mindset than creative people. Seldom do the two mix comfortably. Over the years I've interviewed hundreds, and brought dozens on board for a probationary period. After many years, we're left with four people who can do this job. The rest either ran away because it caused them pain, or were weeded out because as skilled as they might be at their profession, they were not able to effectively communicate the ideas in writing.

    We have found a common thread among people who can do this. The people who are good at this all have significant experience as musicians, either past or current. It makes sense, considering reading music requires math-type skills, but also combines creativity. We ask prospects at interviews if they play a musical instrument.

    That having been said, I would be very careful about using humor in product analysis. Humor, especially in writing, is highly subjective. I read the front page of your website, and being completely honest, there were some passages I know were supposed to be funny that I found annoying. It could be my frame of mind, getting cut off on the highway on the way to work, etc. How is a reader supposed to make the distinction between something that is part of the factual analysis and something that is supposed to be funny?
     
  8. David K. Thomasson
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    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

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    To annoying I would add confusing, silly and, in places, nonsensical. I don't know what the writer of that page intended for it to do, but based on the effect it had on me, I would have to give it a solid F.
     
  9. QualiTReviews
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    QualiTReviews New Member

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    Hi Steve. I don't know what P.J. O'Rourke's work is about. I'll check it out.

    I meant non-fiction. Like articles and reviews, i'm finding that people are less likely to read an article that is full of fact unless it's also full of humour.
     
  10. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    There's a difference between humor and an informal, engaging voice. I think that you do want the engaging voice, rather than a boring dry pseudo-expert voice. But too much flat-out humor in a product review is likely to annoy the reader.
     
  11. David K. Thomasson
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    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

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    Finding it how? Personal anecdotes? Random sampling? I ask again because of my own reading preferences in the area of product reviews. When I'm trying to decide where to spend $27K on a new car, I don't want reviews filled with showmanship and rimshots. I want solid, reliable facts and intelligently argued praise and criticism.

    You're generalizing about what "people" are likely to read. Do you have a decent empirical basis for your generalization? If I sound skeptical, it's probably because I am skeptical.
     
  12. QualiTReviews
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    QualiTReviews New Member

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    Thanks for your candid point of view. It is for this reason I asked the question on this forum. I hoped to get insight into what other writers thought about some of the content that is put out on the internet these days all in the name of building traffic. This information is really important for us as we continue to increase our profile.

    To answer the question about whether research has been done, the answer is yes. Prior to launching the site, we tasked a marketing team to work on SEO keywords, consumer consumption demand and an analysis of the product reviews we intended to write. With a sample user base of 20 people, the higher rankings were from those who chose humour included in a product review or an article. The general consensus was that engaging a reader in today's social media driven world had to happen within the first few seconds and was often successful when humour was included. In a sample analysis where 10 different articles were provided to this group, the 5 informative articles given to the reader within the correct demographic without humour didn't rate the article highly. The same articles with humour rated much higher.

    What I have found in my own personal endeavours is that the inclusion of humour, well placed, can captivate a reader to the end of an article. The back button is all too often used.

    I have to agree with the comments regarding the front page of the website. While the content was written by a successful New York writer and delivers an important introduction to the website, I think to a degree it misses the mark because the humour may be misplaced. You echoed my own thoughts on this and subsequently this will be amended to tone it down a notch.

    The site is new and we will continue to focus on delivering product reviews/articles with humour, albeit with heavy consideration in its placement. Your feedback continues to be invaluable.
     
  13. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Twenty people is a very, very small number. And being asked to read an article about an arbitrary product that might not interest them, in a research situation, and rate it, is very different from encountering that article out in the "wild", after searching for information on that product.

    I can't feel that this research has a lot of relevance to your business. Of course a reader whose goal isn't to learn about a product will be pleased to find humor in an otherwise uninteresting article. A reader who is interested in the product may well find the humor distracting and annoying.
     
  14. QualiTReviews
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    QualiTReviews New Member

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    Hi David.
    Would you consider yourself the 'norm'? I'm curious because your comments go against the general consensus of the research we performed on test subjects who chose to receive information delivered with humour. That's not to say that the humour can't be minimal while still delivering an engaging article.

    With a new website and a target market to consider, and just being a new start-up who is trying to do the right thing, we value positive/constructive criticism and stay away from those who like to bag things because they simply like to bag things.
    We are aiming for the general consensus, catering to the 'norm'. Your comments do go against every single other one that I have read. So I ask the question, are you the 'norm'?
     
  15. QualiTReviews
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    QualiTReviews New Member

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    Really? I get dozens of queries about our products and have to date sold dozens of Product Reviews. When the client asks for humour, we provide it. When they ask for informational/engaging, we provide that.
    So far no complaints, no negative feedback and many thank yous.

    I think we are straying from the point of the article. Why is it difficult to combine homour (yes, I get it, we don't want it misplaced or too heavy) and a good engaging review.
     
  16. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Again, "dozens" doesn't sound like a lot. You seem to be working with pretty small samples.

    I feel the need for an example of what you consider humor. I don't really see the front-page text of your website to be humor--it seems to have more of a challenging, chip-on-the-shoulder mood, admittedly expressed in a somewhat whimsical way. The emotional vibe that I get from it is a mild anger. (Edited to add: That is, I get the feeling that the writer is angry.) Do you have any more examples?
     
  17. QualiTReviews
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    QualiTReviews New Member

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    Again, straying from my intentions of asking why it was difficult to combine, which incidentally has already been answered I believe. We don't publish any work which has been paid for by a client, and all reviews are only custom written. Unless they're on the website of course. BTW, we do not always write with humour, ONLY when a client requests this. We promote our abilities to do so, because a handful of the writers are actually very good at it.
     
  18. QualiTReviews
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    QualiTReviews New Member

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    BTW mammamaia, I love your website. Very good!
     
  19. David K. Thomasson
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    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

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    You've mentioned "product reviews" several times. There's an important distinction between reviews of products in which the reviewer has an interest, and disinterested reviews.

    Suppose I'm scouting, say, a new Honda Accord. I go on Youtube and search on Honda Accord reviews or test drives. Up come a bunch of videos. I see one that is a three-minute walk-around and test drive by a Honda dealer in Ocala, Florida. Another is a 20-minute walk-around and test drive by Alex on Autos. I'm not going to put much weight on the Honda dealer's review, because he isn't going to say things like, "I found that the Honda's CRV transmission is inferior to Toyota's CRV" (and then explain why). But Alex on Autos will render such judgments. He has no interest in promoting one car over another -- presumably just like Consumer Reports or CNET.

    I got the impression that you write reviews for clients who have an interest in the products you review. They might be manufacturers or vendors, but they have a stake. If my impression is correct, then you're talking about a a very different ball game than writing product reviews from a disinterested perspective.

    So, before we go any further, I think you should clarify this point. Are you doing "interested" reviews, or "disinterested" reviews?
    Whoa. You can stop right there. Even if you chose those 20 people randomly (which I'm inclined to doubt), you don't have anywhere near a large enough sample from which you can generalize.
     
  20. David K. Thomasson
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    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

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    I have no idea, and what's more important, neither do you. Your sample of 20 people can't establish any kind of norm among Internet users, no matter how you selected those 20. If you "tasked a marketing team" to do this and they only surveyed 20 people, you wasted your money.
     
  21. QualiTReviews
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    QualiTReviews New Member

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    Hi David.

    This discussion forum wasn't intended to be a lashing out at what you think of my services. I didn't ask for your opinion on that at all. Nor did I ask whether I have performed enough due diligence from your perspective. I have done what I could afford, given that it's a small business trying to grow.

    What I asked for is why it is difficult for writers to include humour with product reviews. 20 people may not be a big enough number to satisfy you, but it's all I could afford and I will continue to invest my time and money with the professionals who know how to use it wisely.

    What you want to see when you read a product review is what i'm interested in. What captivates you in those first few seconds.

    I am finding it increasingly more frustrating that forums are simply a way for people to vent their frustrations and aggressions on others and straying off topic has become the norm.

    Don't attack my business or my content. If you can do better, then please apply for a job and show me how you can do so. Otherwise, keep your opinions to yourself about what you think and why my small budget is not enough. At least understand that business like mine are simply trying to build a business out of nothing. Generate income and employ fellow writers. Just so you are aware, I have 6 fine writers I pay regularly for reviews and articles, including a web designer and editor. As I grow, I'll need more.

    In the meantime, I'm looking for talented writers all the time who can stay on topic and provide what QualiT Reviews is about and will simply ignore those who have nothing constructive to say.
     
  22. David K. Thomasson
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    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

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    Rock on. I'm outta here.
     
  23. QualiTReviews
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    QualiTReviews New Member

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    Can't say i'm sorry.
     
  24. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    One thing to know about the Internet is that nobody owns a discussion thread, not even the person who started it. If you wanted your site to be a secret, you could have chosen a different username and refrained from putting the site link in your profile. As it is, you talked about it, used its name as your name, and put the link in your profile. People are, therefore, likely to go look. And people tend to have opinions that they express without asking for permission.

    Now, if you really want a productive discussion of humor in informative posts, you could probably have that. But not as long as you try to control that discussion's precise course around every pothole and bump. A little more openness and a little less defensiveness would make that discussion far more likely to happen.
     
  25. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    thanks for making my day! :)
     

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