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A Review of A Review of A Review: Applying Your Critical Filter On The Gunternet

So my friend Paul noticed a pretty glaring fault with Kel-Tec’s new tactiflashlight, as reviewed by Erin Palette.

Read his take, but in short, using the flashlight in the manner in which Kel-Tec suggests in concert with a pistol significantly increases the chance of a ND during use, especially under stress.

I also do not mean to pick on Erin specifically (again!), she’s an excellent writer and enthusiastic advocate for the second amendment in areas we might not be reaching ourselves. But with the slow death of the traditional gun print industry and the rise of the hobbyist blogger reviewer, this has been happening a lot everywhere and will happen more in the future.

I am not immune. I have received more than a few industry freebies in the past and been entranced at the idea of basically getting free stuff in exchange to shoot and write, things I normally do for free! But I’ve given up on seeking out more opportunities like this. It is essentially a conflict of interest and I felt my blog was slowly morphing into a means to acquire loot, rather than to entertain and enhance the hive mind. I do not wish the fear of jeopardizing future loot to decrease the odds of delivering an accurate, if harsh, review.

But that’s not even the biggest problem here. The real question is, what qualifies the reviewer to make a judgement on the object? Erin is not qualified to review this flashlight. It may be harsh, but it is true: Paul spotted the flaw, she did not.

I am also not saying that there is no value in hobbyist reviews. People who use these things because they enjoy them — not because they have a deadline to meet or product to sell — will give a different view than the manufacturer, and their perspective will be valuable to others. But do seek out more than one source for these things, especially if it is something you may use to defend your life or the lives of others. If you are reading about the item on forums, make sure it isn’t a forum dedicated to that item! The 1911 forum will always find something nice to say about any 1911, no matter how cast or Philippine or Taurus crappy it is.

Please bear in mind the qualifications of the reviewer and how it relates to the item in question. If there is a significant mismatch between A and B, proceed with caution. And above all: Don’t buy Kel-Tec stuff.

{ 6 } Comments

  1. George | February 21, 2013 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    There was an awful lot of low quality reviews in the “traditional gun print industry” too, pdb. :)

  2. pdb | February 21, 2013 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Oh, absolutely. Somebody could make an entire blog about the failings of the professional firearms media.

  3. Caleb | February 21, 2013 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    The problem with decrying the traditional print industry as a knee-jerk reflex is that it frequently assumes that online content is someone better or at the very least more free of bias than print media. The problem is that frequently that’s not true; the hobbyist writer is just as biased as the professional writer, but lacks the financial incentive that professional writers have to control that bias.

  4. The Jack | February 21, 2013 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    The qualification argument ends up in a morass. Especially when you end up with meta-reviews like this.

    What makes someone qualified to review reviews?

    (One of my pet peeves is often the meta-reviewers seem to place themselves “above it all”).

    In the end you have to get a track record of what the reviewer has done. And how they can handle criticism.

    It’s interesting to contrast this review with Paul’s. And which one is a better critique for a reviewer and which seems to be more industry naval-gazing.

  5. Jeff Gauch | February 23, 2013 at 12:03 am | Permalink

    Caleb: The major advantage online content has over print is volume. In the print world you would be lucky to see more than three or four different reviews of a given item, and getting that number would require extensive searching through multiple publications and their back issues. Yes, the percentage of quality may be lower (there’s no incentive in print media to control bias, just to hide it), but the quantity is so large that the absolute number of quality reviews is larger online than it ever was in print.

  6. Tam | February 24, 2013 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    Caleb,

    Blogger, please!

    the financial incentive that professional writers have to control that bias.

    You mean advertisers? ;)