Forums: Forum Home > Watercooler > Should reviews be allowed at all in wiki?

After reading and editing many articles I perceive a bias issue which IMO severely detracts from the purposes of this wiki.

Most reviews I have read are negative ones. I believe this is an inherent bias in human beings.

Most of us are extremely likely to tell others when we have a negative experience and highly unlikely to tell others when we have a positive one.

This is a known phenomenon in business and customer service.

I do not see a way to edit, categorize, or sequester reviews in a way that would successfully resolve this issue.

Also, when information in an article is limited even a couple of concise reviews consisting of no more than a paragraph or two are enough to dominate an article obfuscating relevant data.

In my opinion these are critical issues negatively affecting the clarity, objectivity and credibility of this wiki as a whole and of each article which contains reviews.

I now strongly believe that no reviews should be allowed in this wiki from here on and all previous reviews should be deleted from articles.

This stands as a change in my opinion to my previous post on the subject of bias where I stated I think there is a place for reviews.

As an active supporter of the Utah state skill toys scene I want to be able to recommend this wiki as a credible and useful resource to everyone.

Please let me know where you stand because when I edit an article it is a trivial effort to remove reviews and I would like to begin removing them immediately.

Sixtoe 04:11, May 9, 2010 (UTC)

I can't see the problem, provided that they are carefully labelled as separate from the rest of the content, and the basic information should always be at the top so it gets precedence. If you look at Yomega Extreme Yo-yo Video, the entire article is a review but you could easily extract all the facts from it (the first paragraph). I think the Dif-e-Yo Bare Bones article really benefits from the review. There's also the humongous YoYoFactory F.A.S.T. 401k Espionage Edition review, which is astonishingly thorough.
It's also an entry point for some younger editors, who want to talk about their favourite yo-yo of the moment. This seems to be a natural yo-yoer inclination, many forums are inundated with discussions over whether yo-yo X or yo-yo Y is better. We can fix grammar and spelling of the review and some of these editors stick around and contribute elsewhere.
Another angle: Would you miss the reviews if Amazon removed them? --Wilfred (talk|contribs) 17:01, May 13, 2010 (UTC)

Let me start by acknowledging your points that I find worth consideration towards a compromise in policy. Young people do like to proselytize or bash products they find emotionally impacting. A chance to post a review is one way to draw young people into editing the wiki and becoming more involved in general. Young people do not have their opinions or feelings validated often enough and are quick to take any chance to speak their minds. I also agree that reviews can provide data and can be trivial to extract.
Now I will do my best to illustrate the problem inherent in reviews as I asserted earlier as well as propose a compromise to complete removal of reviews. The problem in its most basic description is this: Reviews obscure an article. The reasons for this are numerous. Visually, articles can and do appear as a review per se. The significance of inherent human bias toward reporting negative vs positive value is not to be disregarded. I am sure it is an evolutionary trait to apprise others of the red berry that should not be eaten under any circumstance as well as protection of ones resources like a good fishing hole. It is a serious bias issue that can and does trend reviews strongly towards the the negative. This seems against the purpose of providing a repository for unbiased information. To leave it to the reader to extract fact from implied meaning and value does the same thing. To provide objective information provides a service to the reader by not requiring them to do this very thing. Can you expect a child to make these mature evaluations? What about a mentally disabled person? It seems to the severity of this issue is not "on fire" obvious but is insidious and undermining in its effect. To me this is a serious issue worth in-depth discussion and consideration.
As to your thought experiment "Would you miss the reviews if Amazon removed them?". Sure I would! This seems a valid argument on the surface but quickly falls apart on these points. One: Amazon is a retailer and their motives for providing reviews are to sell product more efficiently to their customers and in turn this is biased towards selling more product. Two: YoYoWiki is not a retailer. It is as an open encyclopedia and it would seems to be no room for product bias either negative or positive. This seems to violate the fundamental principle of objectivity in a wiki.
Understanding of a review to be simply one persons opinion and nothing more obscures the fact that a review is bias. In the context of a enthusiast magazine for instance they receive payment from selling ad space and therefore are not to be considered an unbiased source of information for whatever subject they cover. Therefore in that context bias is to be expected. An encyclopedia on the other hand is expected to be objective in their presentation of information due to the implicit nature of an encyclopedia being an unbiased source of data. I think no one would disagree that any single review==opinion==bias. What is expected of this wiki? Are we to have the standards of a gaming or fashion magazine or one of a reputable repository containing an encyclopedic volume of data on our beloved sport and pastime?
Here is my proposal that would allow reviews without also allowing overwhelming bias in articles themselves, severely damaging the wiki's credibility and usefulness, or removing the opportunity for young and new users to express themselves by writing reviews.
  • Let us completely separate reviews from articles and allow only 1(one) link in any article to an aggregate reviews page for that article, IE "Review:YoYoManufacturer YoYoName"
  • Let us also make a template that clearly delineates an article as review biased, IE "Template:Review Bias", that highlights clearly at the top of an article as the stub template does, that the article needs editing to move reviews to that article's review page.
  • Finally, let us make a category that tags review pages as such so it will be easier to find reviews overall, IE "Category:Review".
All of these things will serve good purposes and will not be difficult to implement or maintain.
I am in no way saying I expect these actions to be done for me. I am willing to undertake the process, make templates and categories and begin moving reviews. I am actively interested in but am not willing to take action and make edits without this policy being changed because they would be quickly undone likely without discussion and would be a waste of my time as well as the undo-er. I am formally requesting policy change regarding reviews here not simply asking for informal discussion on this issue.
I also need to point out that any edits ought to be backed by a written policy or this affects the "open" status of this wiki by removing from view the editorial policy surrounding the reason for said edits. I am also making a call for all unwritten policy to be clearly available and have clear references for understanding the policy's benefit. I mean, does someone own this wiki or is it everyone's wiki that is simply being overseen by others? The clarity on this is muddled by this particular issue. Is this a dictatorship or is there a clear method of forming policy that affects everyone? Good questions or am I ruffling feathers and stepping on toes here?
Sixtoe 23:32, May 13, 2010 (UTC)