Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

Wirecutter is essentially just a glorified, prettified Amazon affiliate link aggregator anyway. I have tried so many of their recommendations - always making sure not to click the affiliate links directly - and been burned or at the very least disappointed more than enough times, that at this point I just use their site as a starting guide, and then make sure not to actually buy their recommended pick if at all possible.

Can we just keep the boycott going in perpetuity?




If you’re reading their content why wouldn’t you click their affiliate links?

You’re costing them server hours and purposefully not giving them revenue despite it costing you nothing.


>If you’re reading their content why wouldn’t you click their affiliate links?

Because they blackmail companies into affiliate revenue with the threat of "unrecommending" their products. See: https://www.xdesk.com/wirecutter-standing-desk-review-pay-to...


That accusation is actually not supported by the facts, as detailed elsewhere in this thread.


There is no agreement that I have to click their crap. And the server time is their problem not mine. I never said I'd click anything the freely published content they made specifically available to me


Affiliate links are a cancer along with the rest of the advertising-surveillance industry, and it's best to avoid contributing however you can. I do all my product research with a different nym (separate browser VM and IP address) from what I actually login and checkout with.

In general the web was at its best decades ago, when people published because they knew things and were internally compelled to share. Despite the drop in quality and overwhelming prevalence of shameless blogspam (from which Wirecutter is one or two steps up), I prefer to continue acting as if that information sharing is still the overriding motivation.


"In general the web was at its best decades ago, when people published because they knew things and were internally compelled to share."

What does this mean, "internally compelled"?

If someone is providing systematic reviews of products, it takes time and resources to do so. Why would they do this for free?


I think there's truth to the nostalgia-goggles view here.

I think the early internet:

- was a more distinctly bounded subset of individuals - now it's closer to a random sampling of humans

- had less "background monetary radiation" so there was far less incentive to make low value content

- content spread mostly by human -> human interaction so the bar for something being shared and consequently your likelyhood of seeing it was set higher

It feels like the signal to noise ratio was significantly better as a combination of those things. This sort of product-shilling was less profitable. Also in general the profitability vector being "people click the buy link" vs "people's continued trust in my expertise" influences the sort of content that's created.


I mean when someone's motivation comes from what they themselves are interested in and their wanting to pass along their knowledge to help others, as opposed to say the external incentive of being financially compensated. I know this seems completely foreign in this age of played out incentives, but such publishing used to be quite common before independent sites were drowned out by webspam. You'd do a search, dig through a few pages of results, and hit upon an information-dense (likely plain text) site of someone thoroughly geeking out about your topic.


I think you're waxing nostalgically about a time that wasn't nearly as good as you think it was. There's orders of magnitudes of more useful information on the internet today than there was decades ago. Yes, it's more often on platforms and not usually personal websites anymore, but there are still plenty of creators doing it out of passion, even if sometimes - but definitely not always - they also have financial incentive as well.


Well I'm definitely remembering many occasions of finding sites that had in-depth technical analysis. And being unable to find such discussion today. There likely is a higher quality of information today (just due to sheer participation), but the stuff that's easy to find by searching is generally quite shallow. If you're lucky you'll get two or three forum threads that mostly address your question.


RIP JohnnyGuru dot com :-(


Are you saying I should be giving them revenue for not being terribly open about the fact that they only review products which can earn them a commission, and that furthermore, they deserve revenue from me for recommending products I spent about $500 or more in total for, only for them all to have significant flaws?


I don't know what you are referring to but plenty of times they link directly to a retailers' website where they don't earn commissions.

It's also a reasonable way for them to make money that isn't:

1. Invasive tracking 2. Nasty ads 3. Direct subscriptions

Take your entitlement elsewhere.


> Take your entitlement elsewhere.

What are your thoughts regarding ad blocking? Specifically, do you also find people who use adblockers (I assume you don't use one of course) entitled?


Absolutely (I am one of them though I'm a member of or otherwise monetarily support publications I frequent).

The thing I hate is people who try to come up transparently disingenuous reasons for why they are entitled to not support organizations they extract value out of ("ehh I don't like your CSS so I'm going to not give you any money").


You are consuming the product. They have an asking price for the product (which includes affiliate links and ads).

If you don't like the asking price, that is 100% fine. Don't consume the product.

You seem to be wanting to decide what is a fair price for product that they produced and set a price for.


> Are you saying I should be giving them revenue for not being terribly open about the fact that they only review products which can earn them a commission

It's right on the top of their front page:

"Wirecutter is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more."


You missed the key word "only" in my comment. Yes, they certainly make it clear they earn affiliate commission, which is fine. But what they do not make clear is the fact that they will totally ignore products that do not allow them to earn a commission, or at best, they will put them very far down on the list for some strange reason that doesn't really align with their explanation or lack thereof. This is very misleading.


That's simply not true. I've bought products from Wirecutter recommendations that simply link a clean merchant url - no affiliate link.


Do you have hard evidence for the "only" portion? Based on their response to NextDesk, they do review items for which they don't get a commission:

https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/our-response-to-nextdesk/


Yikes. The overwhelming sense of entitlement is very strong here.


In both directions. I've never seen clicking on affiliate links as price to be paid for a service. That's also sure as hell not what the ToS say.

Using affiliate links to pay for content creation/hosting is reasonable. Bypassing affiliate links is also reasonable. If you want to be owed something, put it in the ToS.


"the fact that they only review products which can earn them a commission"

So you're saying https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/about/ is a lie?


I’ve found their recommendations to be pretty good in general. What products were you disappointed by? If both they and CR are in agreement it’s a pretty good bet.


I've gotten good recommendations from Wirecutter, but also very bad ones. I bought their recommended coffee machine, and it's $200, and no better than the $30 Mr. Coffee it replaced (except, I guess, in the referral fee they get).

They also recommend an air purifier by Levoit, which performed demonstrably worse than a box fan with a HEPA filter bungee corded on to it[1]. In fairness, Wirecutter recommended a cheaper model, but is that model going to perform better than the more expensive one in the same line? In any case, it's still not cheaper than a box fan and a HEPA filter, which ought to be the baseline you'd test against if you were providing value to your readers.

[1] https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/portable-air-purifier-tests...


Having tested the DIY option versus some other air purifiers (xiaomi not levoit though), I do think that there are other considerations to take into account. A box fan with a HEPA filter bungee is loud and is very annoying to have at home. An air filter that is much less loud for the same result, can be controlled via home assistant (I have an ESP32 connected to a VOC sensor and a decent particle sensor that I use to control when to turn on and off the air purifier) can be worth it.


How much did you spend all in for your air purifier and sensor setup? Looking to do something similar but I don't know where to start.


I'm based in HK so prices are definitely lower since I can order directly from taobao. The purifier was around 350 usd, it's the Mijia Air Purifier MAX Enhanced Edition.

For the sensor, I used an ESP32 with a small eink screen (from lilygo) with a sensirion SPS30 sensor for detecting particles (see this very good teardown https://www.mistywest.com/posts/teardown-sensirion-particle-...), a sensirion SGP30 sensor for detecting VOCs and a BME280 to measure temperature, humidity and air pressure. I think total cost is roughly 60 usd. ESPHome makes it relatively easy, see this guide for a similar setup https://neon.ninja/2021/11/breathe-better-with-this-indoor-a...

Hope that helps, it's a fun project to figure things out (it was my first project with ESP32).


I have their recommended coffee machine (OXO Barista Brain), and have loved it for over 3 years. I recommend it to everyone I know that likes drip coffee as much as I do.

If you were so happy with a $30 Mr. Coffee, what even compelled you to spend $200??


If you were so happy with a $30 Mr. Coffee...

Parent never said that, and they're obviously not happy with the Mr. Coffee if they're willing to spend $200 on a coffee maker...which, BTW, better do a better job than a $30 coffee maker.


I was referring to the OXO 9-cup coffee maker[1]. I don't expect it to be 7 times better than the Mr. Coffee, and would be satisfied if it was just noticeably better in any way. But it's really pretty much the same thing, only more expensive. To be clear, both units are absolutely fine at making coffee.

What compelled me to spend $200 on the OXO was the glowing Wirecutter review.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-drip-coffee-...


> In any case, it's still not cheaper than a box fan and a HEPA filter, which ought to be the baseline you'd test against if you were providing value to your readers.

Don't dismiss this as a cantankerous rant. This is an extremely good point. The advantages are not only there in terms of cost but in terms of environmental impact and waste as well. It's telling that this sort of DIY solution isn't highlighted as the goto, especially in a publication catering to a crowd that claims to care about not fucking up the planet and wrings it's hands about the harms of capitalism. Instead of an air purifier bungee a HEPA filter to a box fan and donate the difference to some group capitalism shits on, repeat this approach for all things. Problem solved. Welcome to the solarpunk revolution.

Disclaimer: I did in fact buy a Levoit air purifier off Amazon during the wildfires last year so you know, ain't nobody perfect.


based on wirecutter's own test results a few years ago, the blue air 211+ air purifier had the best performance by a good margin, but they wouldn't recommend it, for at least 2 years after i bought it, though they later did so, briefly. this was likely to maximize their revenue rather than provide the best recommendation. hard to trust them after that.


Not OP but I bought their humidifier recommendation and it wasn't great. Barely made a dent in the humidity level of my small studio apartment.

Turns out I was not alone: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25993512


i bought that humidifier and it works fine for my purposes. it's purely evaporative, so it doesn't really work well at lower temperatures and won't raise humidity much past 50%. for my use case, it keeps the air moist enough not to irritate me when the heater is on (a few weeks during the winter), which was the problem i was trying to solve.


The air purifier they recommended makes a loud annoying noise any time the house temp falls below a certain point. The router they recommended started randomly and frequently dropping connections after a year. The WiFi extender they recommended dropped connections from day one and also had noticeable coil whine from across the room. The surge protector they recommended reeked of mid/late 2000s-era cheap plastic and made my living room smell of it for about two weeks. And the expensive house fan they recommended made an off-balance rumbling vibration type noise which made it difficult to fall asleep to.

Upon further research into each issue, I found many other people noticing the same things. In addition, many of the products with these issues I exchanged, only to have the replacement exhibit the same exact problem.

Their presentation is their only real strength for the most part.


I recommend you stop going to their website. You seem to be having a very tough time.


It definitely depends on the category. I’ve found it most helpful for items that I don’t know much about, the capability and pricing tiers do matter, but it’s not going to be a purchase that needs to be absolutely perfect and I’m unlikely to have a strong opinion about later.

Headphones? Stay away - too subjective. A humidifier for the nursery? Perfect.


This is where I have a problem with their reviews will start to dive into it but never really educate the reader enough to make an informed decision over trusting them. i.e in their recommended sleeping pads they don't even consider the lower end ones for testing and they balk at the higher end ones because of material choices(which they don't explain have trade offs ie cold or hot camping they remove mylar pads and nylon)Then they are left with picking from a bunch of clones of each other all at same price point with similar features and left with learning nothing other than they chose clone of a clone all because it goes on sale more often than the others


I think Wirecutter drives a lot of sales, so a manufacturer could just cut corners and nerf their product's quality after they're recommended by Wirecutter in order to cash in. It seems like Wirecutter only re-evaluates their top recs after a couple years have gone by.


That they could doesn't mean they will. That's why articles are dated. If the article reviews the nth generation of product p, then that's what the review is about. If you're reading the review 2-3 years afterward, chances are the product has gone through another iteration (in which case, it no longer applies as equally) or the same product is still in production and the review likely still applies. Besides, why would you only rely solely on Wirecutter? CNET, RTINGS, Reddit, etc. can all be consulted to corroborate each other.

Besides, this cheating strategy is only locally sustainable. Once word gets out, they'll lose on their next release. Lies have short legs.




Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: