Reviews Section

Discussion in 'Announcements, Rules, Admin Questions' started by Mark, Jun 8, 2014.

  1. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Hi Members and Guests,

    in December last year I mentioned in this thread how SSC will be getting a Reviews Section this year and I'm happy to announce the reviews project is progressing nicely and we are upto Alpha 7 in testing!

    The next release of the software will be in about 2-3 weeks time and it will be our first Beta release meaning the add-on is moving from a construction stage to a refining stage for release.

    I have always wanted an easy platform for our members to create and add their own reviews to SSC because sharing information about products, plants, animals, or other items is what people, like us, enjoy doing after all! Having a specific reviews section organised with customised fields and rating systems will make creating reviews very simple for our members which will encourage participation and be a lot of fun!

    In the past, the software available was not good enough (to be frank) but soon we will have the capacity to review all sorts of things here on SSC and I'm confident it will become the most valuable feature/tool on this forum.

    We're hoping to install the reviews software here on SSC around Sept/Oct.
     
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  2. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member

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    I might have to review some cheap power tools :(
     
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  3. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Yeah Stevo, the more the better and I've got heaps of things I have got on the "cheap" that just didn't cut it so I'm going to do the same and review them to hopefully stop others making the mistake I made! :D

    We'll have a tools section and anything else remotely related to self-sufficiency.
     
  4. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Just an update on our Reviews Platform:

    We are now up to Beta 3.7 and starting to talk about an impending release before the end of this year. The platform, which is based off our current forum structure, will plug directly into SSC as is and work seamlessly within our current forum framework.

    Certain Member Groups will have the ability to not only review items (relevant to our interests) but it's also possible to let them create items for review and I'm wondering if anyone here would actually be interested in or like the ability to create an item for review? In other words, you may have a certain item around home (like a power tool) and see that our site doesn't have it as an item so you create the item on our site and then review it. Or, would you prefer to recommend the item for review in a suggestions forum (or something similar) rather than creating an item yourself and then the Admin (me) create the item? I'm interested in what you think.

    One of the unique and amazing things about our reviews system will be the amount of avenues an item can be evaluated/discussed. Each item will have:
    • Description: covering things like item details, model number, images, cost, where to buy, etc.
    • Rate & Review: The ability for members to give the item a star rating and write a comprehensive review.
    • Comments System: The ability for members to comment directly on reviews.
    • Discussion thread: A linked discussion thread to the item where general conversation can be had about the item.
    I for one have many items around my home that I am keen to submit here on SSC for review and I think this reviews addition to our forum will revolutionise our website.
     
  5. Jenni

    Jenni Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Sounds Great. Do you think you may need to control what products you want listed or where you want them to go? If so Maybe admin could do it? If people do it themselves will it get messy?
     
  6. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Yes, it does have the potential to get messy but just like our normal posts here I can move them around and fix things up quite easily if someone makes a mistake or posts in the wrong areas. My job as admin is to keep things tidy and running anyway. I just like the idea of members having as much control as possible when it comes to adding content even if they might make a few errors adding an item. They could add an item and not have all the full details but I could fill that in later - at least there's an item created for review and members are participating. I would organise clear categories for the review items - I guess I could see how it goes and if people would rather just suggest an item to me to add that's fine too.
     
  7. Jenni

    Jenni Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Cool. Letting the members do it sounds like the way to go then.
     
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  8. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    If most people are happy to create a few items then I'll keep promoting it because other members adding content is much better than one admin for several reasons. Probably only allow Premium Members to create items though. Naturally, if I find no one is interested I'll just close it off and create as many items as I can relevant to our forum whilst opening a special suggestions thread for members to request certain items be added.
     
  9. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Reviews App/addon update

    It looks like the reviews addon we've been working on over the past 15 months behind the scenes is still on track for a Xmas release.

    I will most likely install it here over the Xmas break and possibly start testing it LIVE with everyone here (Premium Members) in the New Year.

    This is going to be very interesting! The potential for this particular Reviews section is exciting and I expect once fully running here on SSC it will help to attract more members and visitors to our forum. More importantly, it will allow our members (reliable and real people with reputation) to give their honest reviews on products relevant to our lifestyle and interests! The problem with general review websites is their community! Review websites generally don't have a solid community base they just have people sign up to review products but then don't encourage them to participate in discussions whereas our website will offer a reviews platform complemented by a linked discussion forum so even if a person doesn't own an item under review they can still ask questions about it and create discussion.

    Also, reviewers under our platform will have a much more powerful and flexible editor to write a review with the ability to use a full editor and insert images.
     
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  10. Jessica A

    Jessica A Active Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Sounds like fun :)
     
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  11. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Update

    The reviews addon has been further delayed due to several extra features we decided to include before releasing it live. Because of the new features it needs more testing.

    I'm hoping to install the software on SSC before beginning of April this year. :)
     
  12. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Update

    Our Reviews Section may only be several weeks away from being installed here on SSC! Testing is going very well and the product is quite stable - I'm very excited about using it here.

    We'll probably start with a few plant review categories initially (fruit and veg) and see how we go from there!
     
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  13. Letsgokate

    Letsgokate Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Sounds good :)
     
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  14. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    For anyone who is interested in our upcoming reviews system, the latest news is not great unfortunately development has hit several snags (too technical to bother boring people here with) but needless to say the project will be delayed further...

    I forget if I mentioned this already but our Showcase section will be closed once the reviews finally get done and all content currently in the Showcase will be moved to either the new reviews section or elsewhere. Initially, our Showcase was acting as a "reviews type" addon but it really was not made for this purpose and that's probably why it hasn't been used much...

    We'll get there eventually :facepalm:
     
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  15. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Due to the ongoing delay with our promised reviews section I'm considering implementing a different reviews product on our blog (sister website) selfsufficientme.com I can set this up immediately as the extension is already available off the shelf.

    I'd be really happy if some members from here could perhaps support the reviews on the blog (where possible) until I can get reviews sorted for our forum.

    I will update here when the reviews section is ready on the blog.

    Thanks :)
     
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  16. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Update: The reviews add-on I commissioned for this forum is still stalled - it's not stopped fully but progress is painfully slow.

    Regardless, as I stated earlier I have created a reviews system on Self Sufficient Me whereby visitors and members of our site can review products that are listed in the carefully targeted categories or even list a product/item they wish to review that isn't currently on the site.

    Visitors only need to submit a name and email when reviewing or adding a listing but naturally their submissions will be moderated.

    Registered members also have a username (which is used on the site) and can login therefore making it easier to submit reviews, comments, and listings, plus they are able to add extra media - photos and videos etc. More features for members such as "claiming" items may be offered at a later date - I'll have to see how successful it is first before expanding it.

    At the moment, I basically have a reviews section full of categories but not many reviews although that will change in time. Also, my intent is to keep the reviews targeted on things related "somewhat" to the subjects discussed here on SSC and written about on SSM eg poultry products, garden tools, small motors, energy/solar, etc. I don't plan on expanding to reviewing everything, although self-sufficiency has a pretty big coverage...

    I do have a question I would like your opinion on: Currently on SSC, we have a showcase section (Fruit & Veg Showcase) which I have turned into a kind of plant review section do you think I should keep this or merge it into what it's supposed to be "a members showcase of things they grow/own/made etc AND use the reviews system on SSM to review plants instead? At the moment, I have not created a "plant reviews" category over at SSM but I'm torn between the one started here as a fill in and the new purpose built reviews over on the blog. What do you guys think - would plant reviews be better placed over on the blog? I'm thinking possibly yes...?

    Finally, I still do have some work to do in setting up the rating criteria for about 50% of the categories and other backend stuff but I'd appreciate any feedback on the reviews system you might have and naturally would love it if as many people joined up to SSM as possible - no pressure to join and I understand if you'd prefer not to. Unfortunately, I can't transfer/cross membership between SSC and SSM so you'd have to join it separately.
    http://www.selfsufficientme.com/product-reviews
    Thanks :)
     
  17. Ash

    Ash Valued Member Premium Member

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    You've got it set up in a good spot, Mark. User friendly and easy to follow. As long as it is easy to find, with links to it on the SSM toolbar or somewhere prominent on the forum, I think it would work well there. Same thing with the fruit & veg showcase. If centralised on your blog with links on the forum I think that would work well too. Thanks for all this work. It really is a labour of love.
     
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  18. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Yeah, I must say Ash I agree with your assessment and I'm begining to lean towards placing all the reviews over on the blog. The platform is more powerful and it is better accessed and probably a better suited structure whereas forums are great for discussing things and posting media into threads or using the purpose built media section to post a pic or a plant etc.

    I'm seeing people tend to intuitively use the media section here (like Jessica for instance and yourself) to upload images of their plants and trees and I think that's great. The showcase or "plant/vegetable reviews" isn't as intuitive to follow thus doesn't get the traffic or participation I'd like.

    On the blog, people visit and surf the site for information and a "Mag read/browse" so I expect some cross pollination from the articles I write over to the reviews and then if people feel compelled to add their own user review it is as easy as making a comment under an article - this should work much better.

    I'll transfer the Showcase here back into a general "Showcase" for members to have fun and play with and include some other general categories as it was before and use the Reviews on my blog mainly for me to populate with useful information reviews on products I use or know about.

    Yep - sounds good... :cheers:
     
  19. Ash

    Ash Valued Member Premium Member

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    Sounds good to me also Mark. The forum can be left with more space to make it a more personalised showcase of posts and images.
     
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  20. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    I have enabled a widget on SSC that shows the reviews from www.selfsufficientme.com it's still early days but if you would like to contribute to the reviews system in any way such as making a review on a current listing or creating your own listing and review for an item not yet listed then please go ahead and fill your boots!

    Feel free to post any concerns, bugs, suggestions you have about the review system.
     
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