The bestest, most perfectest gift for anyone. Ever. Go buy one now. Heck, buy two. Or three. Whatever moves you.

Word Of Mouth

How do you know that what you want to buy is any good?

If you’re buying something from a nearby brick-and-mortar store, you simply go there, take a look at it, heft it in your hands and get a feel for the object.

Then you go back home and do the same thing you’d do if you were buying the object, sight unseen, from a store on the internet: you look it up and start reading reviews.

I realize that there are some folks out there who are making a mockery of the review system, in that they are either hiring people to write glowing reviews of their product or scathing reviews of the competitor’s product, but I can’t think of a better system — when it’s not being gamed — for getting the unvarnished truth about a product.

Purchaser reviews are like talking over the backyard fence to your neighbor about her new lawn mower, or asking your cubicle-mate at work what he thought about that new Ethiopian restaurant downtown. You get to hear what each dude or dudette really thinks about the purchase or the food or the service.

You know that the person you asked isn’t being paid to speak only in glowing terms about the new nose-hair trimmer she just purchased. If you trust her, then you’ll trust her opinion of the nose-hair trimmer.

The internet, however, is a bit bigger than only your neighborhood. Odds are, you won’t know who the person recommending a product is, but you can be reasonably certain they are reviewing this under their own initiative, not because it’s their job to shill for Company X.

This came to mind last night, when I received a note from Amazon.Com that my review had helped another customer decide to purchase an item I got for Hyper Lad. It made me glad because, for a long while, I’d been reading reviews, but leaving hardly any.

That is just bad form.

See, you might recall that I’m a writer. (See A Dude’s Guide to Babies: The New Dad’s Playbook by Richard Jones and Barry Robert Ozer, on sale at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Powells.com and fine brick-and-mortar stores everywhere for proof.)

Since the book came out, I’ve been begging people to read it and then leave a review on Amazon or Barnes and Noble or anywhere they think others will see the review. The more reviews we get, the more people will see it, the more people will buy it, the better I’ll feel about the whole thing. (Which might not be all that important to you, but is oddly high on my list.)

I still don’t think we have enough reviews, but as I was brooding over that, I realized that I wasn’t holding up my end of the bargain. That is, I wanted reviews, but I wasn’t giving reviews.

Now, I understand there’s no big review toteboard up in the sky that ensures if you leave a review, you’ll get a review. But I thought maybe it was time to practice what I preached.

So I’ve been going back and leaving reviews for most of the items I’ve purchased from Amazon.com and other places. It’s taking a long, long, long, long, long (I like to buy things on the internet instead of searching for them IRL), long, long time. But I’m sticking with it.

And I think you should as well. I know you dudes and dudettes have read the reviews others have left, but have you left one in return? If folks don’t keep leaving reviews, the system breaks down and then we have to depend on the paid flacks for their not-so-honest answers.

No one wins when that happens.

Do your part, dudes. Buy a product? Write a review. Read a book? Write a review. Watch a movie? Write a review.

It only takes a couple of minutes. You’ll be glad you did.

You can always start here, reviewing A Dude’s Guide to Babies: The New Dad’s Playbook by Richard Jones and Barry Robert Ozer. Just a thought.

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