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Writing Tips: The Art of the Product Review

Badge - blog writing tips.The social of shopping continues to delight me as I come to depend more and more on what others say about a product before I hand over my money. Aren’t you?

It’s not just purchases. I depend upon the ratings and comments on WordPress Plugins and WordPress Themes.

Part of my fascination with social shopping is what and how people write about the product and how it works for them. “I love it!” “Fabulous!” While these are great endorsements, and I’m sure the seller or manufacturer feels fantastic with such enthusiasm, they aren’t very helpful to someone considering a purchase. The comments don’t really describe why these people loved it and what made it so fabulous, so I appreciate the well-thought and well-written recommendation or condemnation.

So I give you one of the best sets of reviews on a BIC For Her Amber Medium Ballpoint Pen (Box of 12) – Black from Amazon in the UK. I think these are indeed some of the best reviews I’ve ever read, and they are worth sharing – and worth learning from if you wish to improve your social shopping commentaries.

Amazon UK Reviews of the Bic Ballpoint Pen for Women.

Here are some excerpts.

Davey Clayton wrote:

I bought this pen (in error, evidently) to write my reports of each day’s tree felling activities in my job as a lumberjack. It is no good. It slips from between my calloused, gnarly fingers like a gossamer thread gently descending to earth between two giant redwood trunks.

A part of this that I really love is the voting up and down of the reviews. Mr. Clayton had 3,157 of 3,173 people found the review helpful.

Mr. J Stevens had an amazing story. Only 1,066 of 1,071 people found his review helpful. Darn. So close to a perfect score.

Normally I only use pens designed and created for real men, in colours appropriate to such instruments of masculinity – black like my chest hair or blue like the steely glint of my eyes, or the metallic paintwork of my convertible Mustang sportscar. Imagine then the situation I found myself in when, upon taking delivery of another shipment of motorbike parts and footballs, I reached for and grasped not my normal BIC pen, but a `BIC for Her Amber Medium Ballpoint Pen’ (evidently ordered by my well-meaning, but ill-informed girlfriend whilst my back was turned). I knew something was wrong when I had to physically restrain my hands, gnarled and worn from a lifetime of rock-climbing and shark wrestling, from crushing the fragile implement like a Faberge egg. Things only went downhill from there…

I’ll leave you to read the rest of his story – it’s worth it.

Someone with the pseudonym “You Don’t Need My Real Name” began their prose with this introduction, worthy of Shakesheare.

Pray, what is a ‘pen’? I do like it so, because it is so pink, but I remain ignorant as to its practical use. Father says not to ask questions because it might give me wrinkles, and to carry on practising my charming giggle so I can one day ensnare a Duke – but I cannot help but be intrigued by the delicate pinkness of this curio. I can only assume that because it is pink, it is intended for a woman’s useage. I am a woman, therefore perhaps I should have this pink so-called pen?

Does one place it delicately in the hair? Could one perhaps keep it in a box and take it out to peer at on occasion, when Father is busy in the library (wherever that is)? Is it an appropriate subject for after-dinner conversation? Might one take it on a lovely picnic in Hyde Park?

Think that one is great? Check out the one from Mr. Spluffypants which will have you, literally, in stitches. The response by Audrey is in the same vein and will bring a chuckle or three.

M Holloway wrote a lovely life story on their relationship with pens and writing, and the struggles they had from day one. Here is the opening lines.

I never did very well at school. I wanted to learn and it felt like all the words I needed were right there in my head, but I just couldn’t get them onto the paper in front of me. If I really pushed myself, I could sometimes manage to draw pretty flowers in the margins but this didn’t please Sir and I was soon in all the bottom sets. What really confused me is that I had no problems in cookery or textiles. At the time I didn’t understand why I could grip and use a wooden spoon or sewing needle but couldn’t properly hold my black-coloured pen for more than 45 seconds without dropping it on the floor and weeping.

Another witty pseudonym, Sparklepony, leaned hard on the rights of women when it comes to the power of the pen with this cutting commentary.

When I saw these I just had to have them, so I asked my Husband to buy them for me. He refused, as he said that owning a pen might make me Think, and then have Ideas Of My Own. Then I might start to Write, which would take time away from my wifely duties such as Cooking, Cleaning, and Bearing Children. Of course he was Absolutely Right, none of these tasks require a pen, and so I have to give these one star.

The fact that these reviews are all about an ink pen does not get past me. Makes this whole topic even more tantalizing.

The reviews go on and on for hundreds of comments about this pen and its impact on their lives. Thousands of people are voting these up and down the scale, clearly not influenced by the quality and usefulness of the pen but of the reviewer’s writing skills and wit.

This is beautiful and a lovely tribute to the art of reviewing. I am a regular guest at a couple colleges and educational institutions speaking on web publishing and social media. I’m also developing a writing for the web course at Clark College, and will be featuring a blog writing articles series here soon. These product reviews are going into the curriculum without question. They are that brilliant.

To me, these reviews remind us that the joy of social comes in the writing, and not just any writing. The art of storytelling.


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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen.


  1. Posted October 10, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    What these fine reviews remind me is that social-anything only works when the writers are held accountable – and a voting system works quite well, absent actual monitoring. Another very good example is the reader reviews on SF Gate Sports Online. People who don’t play fair are quickly shamed by lots of thumbs-downs. The result is a much better grade of offerings than we’d see in an open forum. The Internet really should learn to police itself everywhere with voting systems. It’s one solution to the psychopathology that ruins the Web. When users receive too many thumbs-downs on SFGate, they’re evaluated for bad citizenry and can be banned. Lovely.

    • Posted October 10, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

      Can you site an example of the reviews on SFGate worth noting? I didn’t know where to even start looking as that link goes to the entire sports section.

      Good point!

  2. Posted October 12, 2012 at 3:57 am | Permalink

    I like to read and write reviews on different things. Why one is better than another, what benefits will gain user after considering… It’ s kind of a web art, and some professional reviews can be even more readable than bad books or journals. By the way, in my blog I create reviews on books worth reading!

  3. meden
    Posted October 14, 2012 at 4:17 am | Permalink

    My wife drives be crazy reading reviews, it is like she is reviewing the reviews, she has a subscription to the which report,it is great when you just aren’t sure what to buy. If you are thinking about writing your own reviews I can recommend taking a free trial just to see how it should be done.

  4. Posted October 18, 2012 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    I believe that as long as you are honest then all reviews are good because people will respect you and take more notice in you when you show honesty. I have found that with having 5 books of my own on Amazon now I tend to increase my traffic to my books by doing exactly this.

    It is worth reviewing people and products in your niche so that you drive these interested parties to your wonderful products.

    Great post,


  5. Posted December 16, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    wow I finally found this page really helped me as a beginner who is learning how to develop wordpress based websites .. thank you so much master

  6. Dave R.
    Posted December 19, 2012 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Great article. Reviews are everything to most people… Personally, I swear by product reviews, restaurant reviews, business reviews, and more. That being said, I do everything in my power to make sure that my roofing company has fantastic reviews throughout Maine and New England. The one thing that I struggle with is my competitors, however. I have a feeling that many of them write poor reviews to drag my business down. Anyone else experience this? Is there a way to fight back?

    • Posted December 19, 2012 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      Honestly, if every business had time to degrade their competition…do you? Few do. Most people play fair. There are exceptions, but I try not to focus on them. It only hurts you and takes energy away from making your business the best it can be.

  7. Rupshi
    Posted May 19, 2013 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Great post! Content is what draws people to your blog and keeps them there.

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