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Google no longer producing high quality search results in significant categories (twitter.com/mwseibel)
2813 points by lando2319 on Jan 2, 2022 | hide | past | favorite | 1275 comments

Just researched good/quality crafting printers yesterday. Search results were mostly blogs and crappy websites that offered obviously no insights but were just SEO optimized to direct you to their Amazon affiliate links. Especially sad since those affiliate links to Amazon mostly resulted in "This product is currently not available" sites.

Repeated my search on Youtube to find reviews or unboxing. Most video search results were basically "Youtube SEO" again - the most viewed/top-ranked videos did never show a single actual print run or even the printer available. It was mostly marketing websites turned into video (slowly scrolling/moving over product description or pictures clearly taken from the web). And of course, affiliate links in the description.

The web has become a crappy place to research products as long as money can be made with those through affiliations. I wonder if outlawing affiliate marketing would make the world a better place.

P.S: Whats most ridiculous about my Youtube Printer research experience, the best and most helpful video was a sales video from a home shopping TV station [0], where they actually showed some printing action and handling of one of the models I was interested in.

[0]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytMXgjCReO0

If you want to solve the problem of product research in an old-school way, Consumer Reports still exists. Their business model for almost a century has been to produce independent reviews of products, and charge for the reviews. It is also run as a non-profit. I'm honestly surprised how little I hear about them. Not that any organization is perfect, but they have been the poster child of success via paid content since the 1930s.

It also makes me think that part of the problem is not only that Google's results are getting worse, it is that much of the population goes to the internet for all problems. Whether it is googling or asking on social media... the "front-line" information on the internet is simply not reliable anymore.

Sorry I have to weigh in here and say that Consumer Reports is a pay-to-play service now, where often the worst products & services are not the best, and often times criminally bad.

As an example, I used them for moving services for a state-to-state move. Turns out the top three or four moving services are merely dispatchers run by a single company, run by a convicted felon out of Florida under a rotating number of businesses and cutouts.

When I contacted Consumer Reports to let them know about the many tens of thousands of complaints about the companies they were ranking highest, they referred me to their attorney.

>> If you want to solve the problem of product research in an old-school way, Consumer Reports still exists. Their business model for almost a century has been to produce independent reviews of products, and charge for the reviews. It is also run as a non-profit.

> Sorry I have to weigh in here and say that Consumer Reports is a pay-to-play service now, where often the worst products & services are not the best, and often times criminally bad.

> As an example, I used them for moving services for a state-to-state move. Turns out the top three or four moving services are merely dispatchers run by a single company, run by a convicted felon out of Florida under a rotating number of businesses and cutouts.

Honestly, "moving companies" is not a category that seems like it would be in Consumer Reports' wheelhouse, and I'm surprised they offered any recommendations in that area at all.

Also, your anecdote doesn't really support the notion that they're "pay-to-play, just that they did a bad job in some category.

Are you actually thinking of the Better Business Bureau but got it mixed up with Consumer reports? I would expect the BBB to rate moving services and I've heard that they have some kind of membership program for businesses that seems to allow better control over complaints, which is pretty close to "pay-to-play."

This is all a massive deflection. Why is CR okay to make recommendations in an "area they're not good at"? Even the most generous interpretations are more damning than your claims.

I think OP was asking whether they were confusing CR for the Better Business Bureau because moving services does not seem to be something CR would review

But CR did review them, so why can't someone complain that CR recommended a bad service

I don't see any evidence of this. The most likely scenario is the original complaint confused BBB (totally pay-to-play, scam) with CR.

CR doesn't review this category and a search of past CR review categories doesn't yield moving services. In general, they don't review anything regional.

CR do not review moving companies.

They have articles on how to avoid dodgy ones but make no recommendations.

Because thats a service not a product. I go to CR for reviews on what the best mattress is, moving companies is not something I would go to them for so that doesn't concern me. Its like saying AAA isn't worth the money because you didn't like the hotel they gave you a discount on.

Right except AAA's service is not providing opinions on the quality of anything, goods or services. Lying about the quality of a good or service when that is your business, potentially with kickbacks, is not really a defensible position. "It's okay because I don't expect their opinion to be good in this one area" doesn't negate CR providing that opinion.

No one can find anything where Consumer Reports has rated moving services. It's likely the grandparent confused them with BBB, which is totally pay-to-play.

And--- I appreciate Consumer Reports' accuracy, but I doubt that they are 100% accurate. There are probably recommendation sets that end up as garbage for one reason or another (incorrect weighting for my use case, statistical noise, evolution in products since survey experiences, etc).

There's also times where I have personal expertise or preferences that outweigh CR's rankings. CR rates computers, after all, and I would probably not weigh them very heavily in my choice.

As a long time CR subscriber, agree absolutely. This stuff is hard and clean data sets are nonexistent. I still recommend to my friends to subscribe to CR as independent reviews are important (and worth paying for).

> Right except AAA's service is not providing opinions on the quality of anything, goods or services.

AAA guidebooks do exactly this. I remember using them to pick hotels in the 90s.

You deflected the deflection.

Which is called a course correction.

Except you are wrong.

CR do not and have never recommended moving firms.

They in fact have articles on how to avoid being scammed by firms and best practices but make no recommendations.

I think the burden here is on you or others making this claim to link some evidence.

I wonder why people are digging in on the accusation that CR has provided inaccurate ratings of moving companies. Very easy to disprove.

You deflected the deflected deflection.

In all the years I've used Consumer Reports I've never seen them rate moving services. I just jumped on their site now, and there are no reviews for moving services.

I'm not sure if Consumer Reports has ever formally reviewed moving services, though I admit I haven't been looking for this category specifically. CR's website currently doesn't have any reviews for moving services, not even with a disclaimer that the category is no longer being tested (like they do for some categories, such as steam irons: https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/steam-irons.htm).

CR's freelance writers have written general advice articles on moving services, like https://www.consumerreports.org/moving/how-to-choose-a-relia..., which might be useful to some readers but certainly aren't very deep. These articles aren't the same as CR's actual reviews, which have scores and detailed ratings for each product metric.

> Sorry I have to weigh in here and say that Consumer Reports is a pay-to-play service now, where often the worst products & services are not the best, and often times criminally bad.

Agreed. As a PSA do not use the True Car services that are "included" in a membership. It's basically a free pass to sell all of the contact information CR has on you to any dealership that's paying them for leads. You will be hounded for weeks if you try to use that service. I recently found out, through a family member, that the deceptive practice still exists when they were trying to get actual dealer invoices (which CR used to provide, but no longer does). I cannot not recommend CR enough.

Not sure if it's any relation to TrueCar.com, but FWIW I used them 7(?) years ago to purchase a hard to find used car and had nothing but a good experience.

From wikipedia, I gather they've tweaked their compensation models and exec team since then, so no idea what they're like now.

Effectively, everyone is AutoTrader though, and you should never give any insurance or auto quote company a real phone number or non-spam email.

> ...and you should never give any insurance or auto quote company a real phone number or non-spam email.

That is the point. Given the reputation CR tries to uphold and their relationship and integration with True Car there is not much warning (if any) using that feature in CR will result in dumping your contact information to many dealerships and is a dark pattern one wouldn't expect from CR given the end user is paying for the service. For most non-technical folks I can't imagine this experience is positive after they've handed over their actual phone # and email.

I can't vouch for whatever the state of True Car is right now, but several years ago (more than once) I went there for information on the average selling price of new cars.

They had a nice histogram, showing the range and most common price and how far off msrp it was.

I don't know how accurate it really was, and if it was accurate, someone might have "gotten to them" in later years to inflate the statistics and preserve profit margins.

But it seemed to me really valuable information for negotiating a new car purchase. The special True Car price and "services" and all that seemed like a diversion to me.

It's like some other things on the Internet - a sensible person subsists on the free "teaser" information and never ever engages in any sort of relationship.

Apart from an indication of what a fair price is, the histogram showed relative discounts between models, and there's frequently/always ones that are being disdained by the public that are very good cars and dealers are desperate to move, versus ones that are in high demand that they won't discount.

Possibly confusing this with the better business bureau (which is totally pay to play)?

Consumer Reports 5-Year Index does not contain the word "moving": https://article.images.consumerreports.org/prod/content/dam/...

What do you make of the UK-based Which? which (I think) does something somewhat similar?

It's pay-to-access, but as I understand it they don't make money from ads or from borderline extortion.



I've been a subscriber and I am a half hearted fan of Which. IT wise their advice is complete arse: This is a consumer champion that only recommends either Apple or MS - there appears to be no other offerings. To be fair, I last read a Which review at least two years ago.

I'd describe Which as a good starter for 10, these days, but no more.

They do a decent legal angle and always have done, ie consumer rights - that's their forte for me.

It's a charity, but it (indirectly?) pays some eyebrow-raisingly-high salaries: https://www.thirdsector.co.uk/charity-pay-study-2019-highest...

CR hasn’t completed an insightful review in ages. It isn’t even worth subscribing prior to a major purchase.

I find independent YouTubers significantly better.

To a point! There are a number of obvious non-critical flooded reviews for lots of products.

I suppose in closing CR is garbage and you have to do relevant research commiserate with how much you want to spend/care.

If only we had a review organization we could trust!

> CR hasn’t completed an insightful review in ages. It isn’t even worth subscribing prior to a major purchase.

> I find independent YouTubers significantly better.

Could me extremely skeptical. "Independence" on YouTube is very cheap and easy to fake.

IMHO, YouTube is mainly useful for video of someone poking at a product, because for some reason retailers and manufacturers don't provide good enough media on product pages to get anywhere close to substituting for seeing something in person.

I’ve recently used their reviews for doors, roof shingles, and washing machines.

YouTube isn’t even a similar product. I assume all reviewers are paid and have no idea their methodology.

I like CR because their methods are defined and they don’t have any competing agendas (ads, sponsored posts, product placement , etc)

How would one know if Youtuber is independent? Say, I need to buy a lawnmower. How do I know which reviewers are good and which are idiots and which are paid shills? It's kinda hard to figure it on YT. If I have a specific product in mind, I can look through YT reviews of this specific one as a point of information. But if I have 100 potential lawnmowers to sort through, I won't watch every YT review for 100 products, I'd have to take a sabbatical for that. YT doesn't fill the niche.

I don't know if it's pay-to-play, but it sure feels like it. Many years ago, I had a house built, and I decided to outfit it with all the appliances, convinced I could do a better job picking out good equipment, and getting better prices. I settled on Consumer Reports' best pick: GE "Gold" appliances, and I bought them all. Within 2 years, every single one -- oven, microwave, dishwasher, refrigerator, washer, and dryer -- had problems. I will never trust CR for anything again.

If all your major appliances died that quickly there might be something wrong with your houses power.

GE’s quality also tanked, but the power thing is worth looking into.

I'm talking about plastic breaking, fans dying, switches failing, etc. I only HAD to replace the washer and dryer, and the mismatched, second-hand units I got were still going strong after a decade. I asked the used appliance salesman if he wanted my old ones, for free, to refurbish. He asked what brand they were. I told him. He said no. Those models were THAT bad. But CR said they were the best on the market.

> I have to weigh in here and say that Consumer Reports is a pay-to-play service now

Do you mean to say that they receive money to issue reviews (which would be alarming)? Or do you mean to say they charge fees to access review information (which has always been the case AFAICT)?

Are you sure you aren’t thinking about the Better Business Bureau?

They also pander to their customer base. You'll never hear them say a bad word about the kinds of high end but not "I own a private jet" luxury products that high middle class consumers (who are their target market) tend to own. Nobody resubscribes to media that tells them they're doing it wrong.

I don't think Consumer Reports recommends moving companies.

Consumer Labs is high integrity, however

CR today: "After extensive review, LG Microwave model AX7J3498-2 is best avoided"

LG tomorrow: "Announcing LG Microwave model G8A867FL2-B! Also, model AX7J3498-2 will no longer be available"

Consumers two days from now: "Well, there are no bad reviews for model G8A867FL2-B when I look it up, I guess it's ok to buy"

I like the idea of Consumer Reports or in depth reviewing but manufacturers have learned to game it too.

Haha. It gets even better, which I discovered while researching a TV that was on sale and the store said their price was the lowest on some price matching service. But when I checked the service they were the only one selling the specific model! Turns out each major chain gets their own model number for certain products like TV’s and refrigerators. Just to fuck with consumers trying to make an educated choice.

>"Just to fuck with consumers trying to make an educated choice."

No, the retailer-specific model numbers are requested or required by the retailers, who either want a slightly different featureset, or just want to avoid people doing price-matching. The manufacturers don't really like it.

Sometimes there's something to those retailer-specific models. When our child was young enough to need a car seat, we looked at the top-rated model on CR. It was rated pretty well by customers at various websites, except consistently for features X, Y, and Z, which seemed pretty significant to me. Lo and behold, we go to store A, and realize they have the "limited edition A model" which actually specifically addressed all the complaints in customer reviews about the generic model. We loved that car seat.

Sometimes those retailer-specific tweaks are kinda questionable, but sometimes, if it's the right retailer, they're actually pretty thoughtful.

This happens with a local store here called "Video Only", and they will typically stock higher end features. Example: A common Samsung Plasma could be found all over town for say, $800. The Video Only one was $900, and would drop to like $650 when it's time to move the new stuff in.

Their people will tell you all about doing that too.

The difference?

The set I got for $650 (and again, not exact, just representative numbers here) had the faster video processor and ran at 120Hz, which means the 3D capability ran at a full 60Hz for each eye, and game mode was low lag. Both very nice options, and finding them together sometimes meant buying another expensive model that comes with other fat margin, mostly useless features.

I have no doubt it's all about the price matching, but sometimes, depending on the retailer and their business model, it can be about differentiation, like actually having something better in some distinct way. The Video Only people cater to the home theatre crowd and tend to stock sets that are high technical performers at great prices.

Seeing it in the other direction, WalMart tends to have their special edition of whatever it is, and it's almost always price / performance, and or some extra pack in, or size change.

I used to live across the street from the San Francisco Video Only, and can confirm they are totally legit.


> Turns out each major chain gets their own model number for certain products like TV’s and refrigerators. Just to fuck with consumers trying to make an educated choice.


> No, the retailer-specific model numbers are requested or required by the retailers, who either... or just want to avoid people doing price-matching.

I mean, I don't see the difference. both of you are in agreement it's to fuck people trying to price match. I guess the fact that the retailers insist on it makes it okay in your mind??

Meanwhile, I doubt there are any real featureset differences for most things with model numbers. There are cheap versions of clothing for Walmart, but that's ironically going the other way and trying to confuse the customer by making them think they are the same items.

I worked at a mattress retailer after college. Each retailer would have a slightly different version of the same model. So as an example one would have 2 inches of memory foam and another would have 1.75 inches of memory foam and 0.25 inches of latex foam. But otherwise it’s the same. They did it to make comparison shopping and price matching difficult. In reality I’m not sure how well it worked. Salespeople would match prices anyway to get the sale.

Its annoying, but I find it worse when the same model of device has different electronics/specifications.

Model numbers seem to mean little these days to a lot of manufacturers.

Model numbers mean a lot to manufacturers and engineers.

They just mean very little to sales, who typically get their way for major chain account.

Joke's on them. I don't buy things that have only a single review; too easily gamed. I look for products that have a lot of positive reviews. Obscure models probably have worse support too. Unless you really know what you're looking for, something that lots of people enjoy using is generally the safest choice.

That's how they can declare "we do price match" without ever doing any price match. Surely you didn't expect the price match for a different model, did you?

Haven't consumers learned the game as well? It seems pretty obvious that if LG sells a bad microwave then I probably shouldn't trust that their other microwaves would be any good either. And why would I buy a microwave with no review over a microwave with a positive review? There's got to be at least one good microwave on their site.

Manufacturers have 100% control over their website.

They can delete reviews, they can keep the reviews and start shipping a slightly different product instead, they can ask certain customers to write positive reviews for incentives. The list goes on and on.

It's asymmetric warfare and manufacturers hold all the cards. That's why there generally are consumer protection laws, and not the other way around, e.g. protecting manufacturers from consumers (lol).

The semi-good news is that for most consumer goods like microwaves, it doesn't really matter, because they are all "good enough".

The manufacturer/seller commonly games the reviews so even new products tend to have a few glowing reviews right off the bat.

And if you use the scale that if a manufacturer produces one bad microwave that all their microwaves are bad, I suggest cooking over a fire as no manufacturer is going to meet your judgement scale.

I know I'm five-gajillion comments in, so this is like spitting in the ocean: call a local repair place (unaffiliated) and ask them what to get. The local fridge/appliance repair (group) -- any of the five of them -- will happily chat for an hour about any major appliance in your house. They'll also gossip like fishmongers about who's good at what services, etc.

In general, for very large appliances (large fridges; double-stoves; double ovens) you can just ask them to keep an eye out at the local restaurant auctions. My house came with a 48" prosumer fridge. When my fridge died I got a 10-year-old exact replica from a warehouse for 3500$, rather than 18000$. It's worked flawlessly for 8 years, now.

I just wrote a couple commments here talking about actually talking to people. It's how I still prefer to buy many things.

Reviews? Have pretty much ignored them for many things. It has been hard to see the value, frankly. There are always a lot of them, and the information quality has been high noise and dubious in many cases.

+1 for restaurant auctions. I browse them like a child walking past puppies in a window.

Restaurant auctions are great if you have the space. Less good if you have a small kitchen.

When I am able to shop in an actual store, like for appliances, I've always had great luck talking to the service techs.

I just ask them which models are coming back to the store, and or for a recommendation.

My last washer, dryer, dishwasher and stove were all purchased this way and have ran for a long time now. Needed a new element for my dryer and stove a while back and both were available, easy to install.

And that's the last question: Service. What's available and can I get parts, etc...?

Another failure mode can be testing the wrong things. Companies will make products to do well in tests or otherwise appeal to consumers even if that makes their product actually worse. For example maybe tyres would only be tested in a straight line (rather than when cornering) or when unworn (so allowing shallow grooves to allow for a thinner wall and shorter life).

I recently came across a YouTube channel where a guy does various thorough-seeming tests of a medium range of brands for a bunch of product categories (think spanners and scissors and suchlike) and he’ll talk quickly and provide lots of numbers but when you think a little more, it seems that there isn’t much reason for the test results to correlate with a good product (eg maybe if your Phillips head cams out it is because that is what it’s meant to do and not because it’s bad)

Consumer Reports is my first stop whenever I look to purchase some non trivial item. I typically use the top five from their recommended list to quickly narrow down my initial result set. Then I'll cross reference with Wirecutter to see if they are in agreement (usually are). If I'm down to one or two choices at that point I'll try to find some unbiased reviews on YouTube. Not a perfect system, but I find it works pretty well compared to just going right to a Google search result.

I usually just search the topic plus "reddit." The advice from a subreddit on something will usually be reliable.

Then other times I take a chance on Amazon, like the ~$700 Viribus mountain e-bike I got a few months ago. E-bike enthusiasts seem to say that price range is universally junk, but it's been treating me great on trails and the road. Oddly can't find anyone else talking about it online but the Amazon reviews were good.

Mountain biker here. If I may hate on your decision here for a second.

The reason nobody is talking about the bike you got, is because it is simply so bad, nobody who rides remotely seriously as a hobby or otherwise would even consider it as part of the category of mountain bikes.

I know you probably have fun riding it around on some dirt or gravel or something - but really, it's not a mountain bike.

Disclaimer - I'm not even that wild a rider at all.

I would have those breaks burned out in less than one decent, and probably tear the drivetrain apart on my first or second climb (tripple front derailleur? really?)

The geometry is whack and the tires are trash. That thing that looks like a front fork, is not. I would blow that up first day too, without a doubt.

I don't think you appreciate the world of difference between something like this, and even a cheap 2.5k ebike. (Yes that is cheap. You have the dollar store equivalent of an ebike.)

You should have saved your money and gotten a nice second hand kona hard tail or something, rather than buying and rewarding chineesium scrapheap contenders.

You're probably familiar with laptops and such to some degree.

This is the equivalent of someone buying the top reviewed amazon promoted laptop, sorted by cheapest, with some kinda piece of shit 1152×648 screen, 4gb ddr2 ram, 2.xGhz celeron processor, and telling people it's a gaming pc because it says gaming on the box. Then commenting how you find it odd nobody in the gaming space is talking about it :)

Harsh I know but... that's life. Sorry. I hope you enjoy riding and upgrade your bike soon. I just wish that such a e-waste disaster wasn't your stepping stone.

You can understand I didn't want to spend thousands to start out a hobby I wasn't even sure I'd get into. If it lasts me a year that's good enough. My next step would be doing my own build.

You're looking at this one, right? https://viribusbikes.com/products/emb-a277-rd?variant=406754...

I have no illusion that it's the best bike in the world, but it certainly works for my combination of roads and bike trails. I wouldn't put it on some crazy steep obstacle course or huge jumps but I wasn't looking to do any of that anyway.

But what's the big deal about a triple front deraileur?

Parent underappreciates that the difference between (nothing) and (anything) is infinite, and the difference between (less good) and (better) is finite.

No. I am appreciating that there are better somethings than this something, and I even explicitly recommended one.

Take the time to actually read and understand before criticizing.

In this instance (as with most of life, sometimes including time), money is the limited resource.

Suggesting OP not buy anything or spend 3.5x as much isn't helpful.

I suggested they buy a second hand kona hard tail for the same price or cheaper.

Second hand prices for Kona ebikes don't look nearly in the range of $700.

Is there a specific model you're thinking of?

They make it pretty clear that they’re sneering at the idea of the “e” part being a hard requirement.

Or maybe an emtb at that price point is simply unrealistic[1]. Which sucks because ebikes are such an accessibility boon.

[1] requiring a reputable manufacturer, even accounting for second-hand bikes. Conversion might be an option, I don't know what those run.

To me it just sounds like the PC gamers who insist that anyone who wants to 'game' needs an RTX 3070 at a minimum. They have unrealistic ideas of what the person actually wants to do. Someone who's spending a small amount on mountain bikes isn't going hard downhill.

I really don't think any analogies to PCs and games works. This is more like taking an underpowered car on the freeway. Yeah it's going to be able to get up to speed but without the acceleration that's really needed. And I don't know that I would have known better when I'd first gotten my license without being told. We don't know that someone wouldn't take this bike on well-maintained trails a few times and then decide to "graduate" to jumping over roots and rocks or w/e.

Not to mention not knowing how well the electric part is done, especially the battery. I'd be ok taking my $200 commuter on some light trail because I'm mechanically inclined and I've got the measure of it. I have no idea about how to assess the electricals but given the cost-cutting, bad workmanship, and bad design I can see in the rest of the bike's build, I'd be really concerned about that.

"Whether you are a professional athlete" lmao

I do understand. That's why I recommend the second hand hardtail kona for the same price (or cheaper).

> If it lasts me a year that's good enough

I don't like this attitude because it is wasteful. That's another thing I was taking issue with. Worse because it's an ebike. If it was just some aluminum it wouldn't be nearly as bad, but still kinda bad.

> But what's the big deal about a triple front deraileur?

More moving parts, super unreliable, always low quality.

Modern mtbs use a 1x11 or 1x12 drivetrain (no front derailleur at all, never mind 3x).

> Modern mtbs use a 1x11 or 1x12 drivetrain (no front derailleur at all, never mind 3x).

... which creates much more chain wear from chain crossing ...

> More moving parts, super unreliable, always low quality.

I have a 35 year old Shimano Deore XT front derailleur. I raced the bike hard in the 80s during "the prehistory of UK mountain bike racing". I then rode it for another 8 years, doing several multi-thousand mile tours on it (before the name "gravel bike" had come along). Then I used it as a city commuter for another 5 years.

The derailleur has never failed me, has always been reliable and is built better than most contemporary equivalents.

The fad for 1x setups illuminates some of the pros, but because it's largely a fad, fails to shine a similar light on the cons. For crazy downhill racing, 1x is an obvious choice. For ultra-distance events, long distance off-road touring and general gravel duty, the choice is not quite so obvious.

I set my cyclocross up with a triple front and a touring rear. The cycle shop questioned me on why I did it. I explained that the last mile was also 600 foot climb. The super fit kid working there was like "that hill is easy, I do that on my speed gears". I said "yea but look at me". He said "true". then proceeded to say he couldn't install it because shimano wouldn't recommend it (too many tooth delta). But he'd adjust it if I put it on my self. So I did. Basically it's a road front with a MTB small, and a mtb cassette in the back.

It's got 5k miles on it and works fine. Just needs little tweaks every once and a while and you can't do full crosses like Big Big. But it goes as fast and as torquey as you could please (or can buy).

These things work pretty well. Just learn to tweak em or get them tuned up.

> The derailleur has never failed me, has always been reliable and is built better than most contemporary equivalents.

Why are you comparing your name brand derailleur from a reputable company (from a time when there was basically only x3) that you say is still better than contemporaries, with the absolute worst of those contemporaries, as a way to somehow imply this particularly bad contemporary is worthwhile?

Wild train of thought.

Interesting how you assert 1x setups as a fad for mountain bikes, and then go on to talk about how it's not a clear choice for... long distance touring? Gravel biking? What are you talking about lol

> then go on to talk about how it's not a clear choice for... long distance touring

I guess you've not ridden the Great Divide? Long distance mountain bike touring. You could do it on a gravel bike, but it would be much more comfortable on a mountain bike.

Gravel biking ... mountain biking ... the difference is mostly in the eye (or saddle) of the beholder.

Right, that confirms it. I'm sorry but you have absolutely no idea what you're talking about.

> I guess you've not ridden the Great Divide? Long distance mountain bike touring.

That is the most easy going barely off road biking on earth. Thousands of miles of fire and access roads, with a few miles of zero difficulty single track.

> You could do it on a gravel bike, but it would be much more comfortable on a mountain bike.

"A mountain bike". The overwhelming majority of mountain bikes are unsuitable for this. You wouldn't use any of the most popular types: trail, downhill, enduro.

Gravel biking and mountain biking are world's apart.

The closest thing to gravel biking or other long distance off road biking in mountain biking is cross country - but even then xc is _way_ more demanding than gravel. You can't ride gravel bikes on xc routes. Gravel biking is not a form of mountain biking. There does not need to be any elevation change of any kind to gravel bike. There are no features on a gravel trail.

Anyway, sure, a hard tail xc bike is probably the best bike for that trip just due to the comfort of the larger tires. I bet you'd actually be just as happy with a fatty gravel bike though.

You know, I just went and searched to see what people ride on that trail to confirm my suspicion about big tire gravel bikes. Would you look at that - I'm right. Hard tail xc / gravel bikes with fat tires.

Additionally, the vast majority of them are running 1x front chainrings.

Surprise surprise, I know what I'm talking about, and the people that seriously ride the trail you're trying to use to one up me made the same choices I recommend. What a "fad".


> Gravel biking ... mountain biking ... the difference is mostly in the eye (or saddle) of the beholder.

Absolutely clueless. The difference is stark.

> Why are you comparing your name brand derailleur from a reputable company (from a time when there was basically only x3) that you say is still better than contemporaries, with the absolute worst of those contemporaries, as a way to somehow imply this particularly bad contemporary is worthwhile?

Because the GGP -- you? -- didn't specify "the absolute worst of those contemporaries" but just complained about how "front triples" -- which implies all front triples -- "suck". So the GP quite reasonably showed that they don't.

It's not him moving the goalposts; it's you.

I mean, if you want to be that literal about it I guess I can't fault you. I would expect someone to scope the conversation appropriately. The tripple I'm talking about is in the context of tripples on brand new 600 dollar e-mountain bikes. They will all be trash.

Is that a fairer statement, or would you like to just say I'm once again moving the goalposts by clarifying?

> Is that a fairer statement, or would you like to just say I'm once again moving the goalposts by clarifying?

No it isn't and yes I would: Now you're trying to move the conversational goalposts by calling your moving of the goalposts "clarifying".

This conversation simply never was about your snobbish True Mountain-Biking Scotsman perspective, and no amount of your attempts at obfuscation will make it have been so.

I considered secondhand, but a used battery has a good chance of being bad or on the way out, and a good new battery is expensive.

I doubt this bike is going to be ewaste soon though. I know a few people I might give it to who might use it. And I drive old cars into the ground instead of buying new so far, so I think I have a good track record on waste.

Even if I wanted to just throw it out, the battery and frame are recyclable.

If you use an e-bike, should you be called e-athlete?

Front triple is a way to extend the range of gearing without spending much. It's also used to dishonestly claim "21 speeds" since a lot of those are in the overlap; the standard is to be explicit, e.g. 3x7.

In other words it's a sign that the bike is built to a price, and maybe to a list of features and not actually to a quality standard.

Not necessarily bad (I'd trust any 3x Shimano drivetrain assuming it's installed correctly) but it's a sign to watch out.

You're being mean. It's clear that this bike wouldn't work for you, but it apparently does work for your parent. Stop trying to convince people they shouldn't enjoy things.

To go with your analogy, if someone bought the laptop you're describing and was having fun playing games, can't we see that as a good thing? We don't have to get them hooked on more powerful more expensive options.

I’m not so sure. The problem of BSOs… bike-shaped objects, a.k.a. low-quality bicycles, has been a problem for a long time. I rode a BSO for a long time before I knew better.

Sometimes you don’t understand what those things are until later. Sometimes the shape is weird and you don’t know how poorly you’re treating your body until you switch to a reasonable bike (and oh, random pains go away). Often the parts are substandard or nonstandard… some part wears down and then you can’t easily repair the bicycle.

It’s hard to trust comments from random consumers because I see so many bicyclists out there which very obviously lack the knowledge, skill, or will to set up or ride their bicycle reasonably. I see people on the road with horribly maladjusted seats, or people who ride a geared bicycle but have no clue which gear they should be in.

With a low-quality bicycle, a bad setup, or poor technique, you end up putting more strain on your body. It’s not necessary to go to more expensive options but you should take some care in choosing & setting up your bicycle.

The other real problem with cheap bad bikes is quality control matters on a device that (here in Europe) you might effectively be trusting your life to. As a poor student I had a BSO a year for three years, until I could afford a better object. The first died in traffic when the derailleur came out of the frame, leaving a burred hole behind, and a bus honking at me as it just managed to avoid squishing me. The second died when the pedals sheered off the crankshaft when I pushed down hard going up a hill. The third one died when I went over a large pot-hole in the cycle lane, bending the forks in the process. Absolutely none of these things should be able to happen. That they did is, of course, testament to the false economy (and great danger) of BSOs. In the States I understand that they're likely to be viewed as toys, but in Western Europe they're overwhelmingly likely to be used as transportation by those with little money, in busy, city centre traffic. There's a reason Dutch bikes have a reputation for quality, weigh a ton, last forever, and we surprisingly expensive.

The difference is that the laptop breaking won't leave the user stranded and potentially eating dirt. I don't know what GGP means by the trails they're riding but I've looked at the homepage[1] and I wouldn't trust the bike on technical terrain. There's a very real safety issue.

GP could have been gentler, but they're right to say it's not a mountain bike, and shouldn't be ridden like one.

And that sucks. The things we buy should be fit for the advertised purpose. Mountain biking should be more accessible and there should be trails that GGP can ride on a safe budget bike without requiring that much fitness.

[1] https://viribusbikes.com/products/emb-a277-rd?variant=406754...

By trails I mostly mean maintained dirt trails found in state/national parks, but I have hit some good bumps/holes in this thing. I got a suspension seatpost and I hardly feel bumps at all anymore.

Can you show me an example of technical terrain where this line would be drawn?

> Can you show me an example of technical terrain where this line would be drawn?

I'm not sure where the line is, but here is a video of a local mtb park I used to ride a lot and it might give you a good idea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFYcnQTcmrw

It's pretty rocky and you can carry a ton of speed in some parts. It will definitely eat up cheaper bikes if you aren't careful.

If you want to find more examples of why cheaper bikes struggle to handle that type of stuff, I'd look up "walmart bikes vs mtb trail" or something along those lines on youtube. Lots of videos and they are usually somewhat entertaining. That said, your bike looks better than those and if you respect its limits, then it should be okay. The trails you describe sound fine for that type of bike, just be careful on hard bumps and stuff.

I explicitly recommended something more capable and long lasting for the same price, so I really don't know why you're claiming I want them to do something unrealistic.

It doesn't look to me like your recommendation is an e-bike?

The whole point for me was that I wasn't fit enough for a normal bicycle and didn't have the motivation to work up to it. With the ebike it feels like I can go anywhere I want and still get some cardio exercise doing it. If they're recommending an expensive non-ebike, that's just silly.

As an avid cyclist too, I think the biggest misunderstanding is you mentionned "trail", which you are probably confusing with "non paved path". That Bike Shaped Object mentionned up there would totally be destroyed in a few hours of riding any challenging trail at a decent speed. The fork would bend and lockup itself, the brake pads would be dead before reaching the bottom of the hill.

Another problem with buying such a lowend bike online is they are very often badly assembled. You might find quickly that it becomes noisy because some parts were installed without enough grease, or components may become nearly impossible to remove because of oxydation when it will become time to replace them, and it may just be unsafe because something hasn't been torqued to spec. I once had a thorough look at these kind of bikes and a sticker on the fork clearly stated it was not really rated to be used off road. Thanksfully the CE norms have been done so that bicycles do not explode on potholes filled roads so even a bike not made for off-road is made to survive common abuses on and off the pavement.

My biggest issue with these kind of cheap e-bikes with stupid barely functionnal gimmicks such as (badly) suspended fork and chinese low end electric system is they often turn very quickly to the landfill because something end up being non functionnal and the owner do not know how to fix it himself and which component to replace wit. So to the eyes of many what you really bought appears to be waste (or soon to be) which would have been better replaced by something that might last better. Take the same bike, replace the suspended fork with a steel rigid fork and remove the electronics and you have a bike that can be ridden for years with decent maintenance. But how many people will do that instead of sending it to the landfill and replacing it with the same shit when it gets to this point?

Having said that the good thing with cycling is you don't have to have the newest more expensive bike to enjoy riding and as long as you do it within the capabilities of the bike. And suprisingly a bike can be operated for long while being in a very bad state as long as speed is kept low, squeaking and grinding his way to your destination.

> "trail", which you are probably confusing with "non paved path"

This terminology difference might be meaningful in biking circles, but the places I go are designated as "trails" both colloquially and often by various governments.

> Take the same bike, replace the suspended fork with a steel rigid fork and remove the electronics and you have a bike that can be ridden for years with decent maintenance.

Wouldn't it be too heavy as a normal bike? From what I understand, ebike frames work out cheaper because they don't have to care about not making them heavy.

Well terminology is important depending on who you are talking to. Some governments may call that trail but riding down a black track at Whistler or Champery is different than just riding along on a non technically challenging gravel road/path. Besides, trail bike is a term used by the bicycle industry for a category of bikes that are much more capable than a cross-country mountain bike on challenging terrain and downhills while not being as much extreme as a Downhill bike with double crown forks which are pigs uphill.

As for your other question it really depends on the kind of e-bike.

Well integrated e-bike from bigger companies have the engine in the bottom bracket area so you can't remove that and the battery is usually so integrated inside the frame. Most cheap e-bike like yours, if it is the same as the one I see on the viribus website, are regular cheap alu frame on which they have strapped a battery on the standard 2 bolts usually dedicated for the water bottle holder cage and the engine is on the rear wheel. So the frame is pretty standard in that regard. Remove the battery and swap the rear wheel for a regular rear wheel and you have a conventional very entry level hardtail.

It is not.

Sometimes you can't afford the thigs you want.

I made a good and realistic recommendation for the price range, that would leave OP well off in the long run.

I understand that you could say the ebike part is a hard requirement but, well, I don't think someone who knows so little about mountain biking or biking at all is in a position to make that kind of hard requirement in an informed way.

I also understand that you could read this as really pompous, but please consider what someone saying otherwise amounts to:

"I NEED an ebike mtb, but I also know nothing about mtbs or ebikes"

Suggesting a normal bike to me is not good or realistic at all. Electric is a hard requirement because the whole point is that I don't have the time or motivation to build up to riding steep hills and long distances without power. I can do that right away now, and it's rewarding enough that I keep doing it and getting exercise. I also wanted something suitable for dirt and bumpy terrain, so, a mountain bike style made the most sense.

I used to ride a road bike occasionally but the difficulty turned me off. If I'm stuck with an unpowered bike I just won't ride.

Don’t let the gatekeepers get you down. Enjoy your ebike.

Well, that's... something. I'm glad you're out and at least doing some kind of exercise I guess.

More (or less?) power to ya.

The problem is that “mountain bike” means two things. To an MTB rider, it’s a vehicle optimized for mountain riding where the top priority is rider’s safety.

To everyone else, it’s a category of vehicles capable of off-pavement riding on trails. They should be referred to off-pavement bikes.

Mountain bikes are like SUVs. Only a small % of people take either off road or in any way challenge their capabilities.

But the same can be said for most bikes. Very few folks actually run the tour de france or any other competitive race. People get all excited by capabilities or let those who do know and use those features influence their buying.

This is simply untrue. For the standard of bike that someone who knows bikes would call a mountain bike - they are ridden on trails regularly. People are not spending 3k+ on a really inefficient and slow bike to ride around their cities and neighborhoods.

You presumably are not actually knowledgeable about mountain bikes and riding them?

"No true mountain biker would ever call this a mountain bike"... yet go in any sporting goods store, anything with fat tires and or a suspension, upright handlebars, thumb shifters, it's likely labeled a mountain bike and would probably disintegrate on a downhill or cross trail. It's still a mountain bike to 95% of people.

And yes, I used to cross trail several times a year in MO and mtb park (duthie hill) downhill (stevens) when I moved to Seattle, then watched several people get massive concussions and stayed with snowboarding.

If a thing becomes mainstream it gets diluted. The top 1% definition of a thing is not the thing exclusively.

> It's still a mountain bike to 95% of people.

Pal, come _on_. Read my initial comment, and any other comment thereafter. I was very clear and explicit that I was giving this criticism from the perspective of not "anybody" but rather someone who actively mountain bikes.

You're still not understanding. Those bikes you were talking about - while they may be marketed as 'mountain bikes' (a term anybody can use for anything) - are not fit for the purpose of mountain biking (a set of well establish sports and related types of riding).

You have now moved on to confusing the way marketers lie in their descriptions of bikes in order to sell to the ignorant, with the actual and established sports that comprise mountain biking and the bikes used therein.

> The top 1% definition of a thing is not the thing exclusively.

Everybody who mountain bikes (more than once har har har) does so on an actual mountain bike. It's not the 1%. It's more like the 99%. People don't repeatedly take these wallmart bikes down trails. Nobody survives that setup long enough to make it in to the group you can by any good standard call mountain bikers.

Go to your local trail that isn't some fireroad or featureless single track, and tell me how many people you see on shit bikes like this.

You know, I'd normally agree with you about this diluted point as it relates to many other things, but I can't here. For example - car racing is not just formula 1 or other top tier engineering categories. The vast majority of car racing is amateur and hobby stuff in comparatively low or very low spec vehicles. The difference is that you can "technically" compete with a formula one car on a racetrack in a 1997 nissan micra with 40hp. The micra can cruise around the track basically indefinitely, stopping only for fuel - and complete the race days after the f1 car. A road is a road.

This is not the case with mountain biking. All non mountain bikes basically explode on contact with mountains. It's self selecting such that people who continue to mountain bike past the first outing or two, must do so on a purpose built good quality bike.

It is in this distinction, that you are missing the point.

It's unacceptable to me that when I have _clearly_ been talking in the context of real mountain biking, you are now deciding, it seems, to take the totally walked back, side stepped, and frankly revisionist approach of only now saying "well technically these bikes are labeled mountain bikes so I'm right". Nuh uh.

> I was very clear and explicit that I was giving this criticism from the perspective of not "anybody" but rather someone who actively mountain bikes

Yeah, and everybody else was pretty clear and explicit that that perspective is irrelevant to, like, 95% of people.

Edited to add:

> You have now moved on to confusing the way marketers lie in their descriptions of bikes in order to sell to the ignorant, with the actual and established sports that comprise mountain biking and the bikes used therein.

That's not the problem. The problem is that you started out by confusing the "actual and established sports that comprise mountain biking and the bikes used therein" with this discussion, which was an ordinary amateur consumer talking about ordinary amateur consumer products and reviews thereof, and every time someone tried to steer the discussion back to the topic at hand, you've gotten more and more snitty-snotty about your irrelevant No True Mountain-Biking Scotsman perspective.


Tell me, when you learned to drive an automobile, was it on a $55k BMW?

It's okay to buy something cheap with the understanding that its a stepping-stone to something else. After all, if the hobby doesn't "take" and you move on to a different hobby, at least you haven't wasted too much money.

> This is the equivalent of someone buying the top reviewed amazon promoted laptop, sorted by cheapest, with some kinda piece of shit 1152×648 screen, 4gb ddr2 ram, 2.xGhz celeron processor, and telling people it's a gaming pc because it says gaming on the box.

But if the buyer of this laptop was happy with the games he was playing on this laptop, why are you getting bent out of shape? Sure, he can't run the latest AAA game in HD, but it's clear that it is working for him.

Now I actually get this attitude from gamers often because I have a 1st-gen i7 (from 2011) with no SSDs but a modern video card (GTX 660ti), running Linux of all things.

I say I use it for work and gaming, and the response I get from gamers is very similar to yours - that my "gaming" machine is trash; I should throw everything out (maybe keep the video card) and get a new machine.

The thing is, it works for me - I play mostly Starcraft 2 and have played Far Cry [2/3/4/5] on it. Those are demanding AAA games. It works for me.

Same with OP - his bike works for him, and you are recommending a different product as an alternative, which frankly is a stupid thing to do (Harsh, I know, but someone had to say it).

You'd understand if you ever needed a lawnmower and someone recommended a pair of scissors as a replacement for a lawnmower.

All of these analogies are bad.

For the "Did you start with a 55k bmw".

No, but for mountain biking I started with an entry level hardtail cannondale that if it was given to someone today, 15 years later, would still be a fun and safe bike to take down your average mtb trails. (Roughly the same cost as this person's bike, new.)

The analogy is bad though. Learning to operate something in the category of cars is not analogous to starting what you believe to be mountain biking.

More apt, would be to ask me about starting a subset of driving as a hobby - like rally driving.

"If you were going to start rally driving would you start with a 200k race spec subaru, or a 1.5k ali express golf cart car with the word rally written on it?"

I would answer, as I did - neither. I'd get something second hand and more appropriate at the same price point.

> It's okay to buy something cheap with the understanding that its a stepping-stone to something else.

If you are ok with 1) rewarding the scam artists that make these 2) contributing to a culture of low quality throwaway goods and 3) using unsafe and inappropriate tools for the job - go ahead.

> You'd understand if you ever needed a lawnmower and someone recommended a pair of scissors as a replacement for a lawnmower.

Again, no. It would be like if someone offered me a dollar store lawnmower that would break in x mins, or a scythe. You might get farther initially with this piece of shit lawnmower, but I'll get all the way with the scythe. And I'll be fitter. And it will last a lifetime.

> Same with OP - his bike works for him, and you are recommending a different product as an alternative, which frankly is a stupid thing to do (Harsh, I know, but someone had to say it).

I bet you wouldn't give this advice about your own hobbies.

>> You'd understand if you ever needed a lawnmower and someone recommended a pair of scissors as a replacement for a lawnmower.


> Again, no. It would be like if someone offered me a lawnmower that would break in 10 mins, or a scythe. You might get farther initially with this piece of shit lawnmower, but I'll get all the way with the scythe.

Firstly, OP said it lasted a year, not 10m. We aren't comparing something that lasts for 10m with something that lasts a lifetime, we are comparing something that lasted for a year with something that lasted longer (not a lifetime).

Secondly, does it matter if it is possible to get further with the expensive tool if you're not going that far in the first place? If the cheap tool lasts long enough to never require replacement because it isn't used for the entire distance that the expensive tool would be used for, why bother?

Thirdly, a scythe is not a replacement for a lawnmower that lasts 10m. If you're mowing a green at the golf course, a lawnmower that lasts 10m beats out a scythe that lasts a lifetime.

Fourthly, pros in a field generally don't give out the crap advice you're giving out (I have an impressive list of hobbies, which put me in contact at various times with pros from different fields). The only time I've seen the advice you give is when it's given by newbies in a particular field. They don't know any better, because they have not been in the field long enough to notice that its only a minority of first-time purchasers who will go on to want the best. The majority of people entering a new hobby don't stick with it.

> I bet you wouldn't give this advice about your own hobbies.

You'd lose that bet, because I give it all the time. Here's the advice I gave out, and how it turned out.

(To a nephew, wanting to learn guitar, at start of pandemic) "Why a $500 Yamaha? Buy a $50 guitar if you've never laid hands on one before." He only lost $50 before realising that it was not as easy as he'd thought. He would have lost even less had he simply accepted one of my old guitars.

(Acquaintance who wanted to learn to weld): "Don't get a $1000 welder; why not take some classes first to see if it's something you want to do?" After three lessons he decided that woodworking is more practical. Saved $1000 dollars there.

(To my brother-in-law thinking about getting into DIY, four years ago): "Don't get a top-of-range set of tools: Buy a cheap set and then replace the tools as they break with expensive tools." He's not yet replaced any tool in the cheap tool set, because he found that he didn't really enjoy fixing his own stuff. Good thing he didn't spend $1000s on tools.

If you were to stop and think about it you'd realise that the majority of first-time buyers in any hobby field aren't going to stick with it long enough to make the more expensive option worthwhile. If you were in the hobby for any length of time (i.e. not a newcomer) it'd be obvious as you see people join and then leave. The fact that you haven't seen this tells me that you're still quite new to it. Or maybe you just don't have that many hobbies.

In fact I still give this same advice wrt all of my hobbies: pay entry-level money to participate before paying pro money in case you don't want to continue with it.

My hobbies include playing music, painting/drawing/sketching, auto repair, metal-working and wood-working, household DIY (plumbing, plastering, etc), gardening, writing (fiction), electronics (including embedded software), basket-weaving, sewing, cooking ... and a few more that I forget.

In every single one of those hobbies I meet new people who started with the expensive stuff that would last a lifetime, but they only needed it to the last the 3 weeks it took them to decide that they do not like it. Most hobbies are abandoned before even the cheapest kit breaks.

> Fourthly, pros in a field generally don't give out the crap advice you're giving out (I have an impressive list of hobbies, which put me in contact at various times with pros from different fields). The only time I've seen the advice you give is when it's given by newbies in a particular field. They don't know any better, because they have not been in the field long enough to notice that its only a minority of first-time purchasers who will go on to want the best. The majority of people entering a new hobby don't stick with it.

Gotta heavily disagree with you on this point. Not about the sticking to a hobby, you're spot on about that, but about the advice given being "crap".

If you walked into an an actual bike shop and asked them if a $700 hardtail e-bike was a good first choice, they would tell you something like: "oh, that's far too cheap for a hardtail e-bike.. they must've cheaped out heavily somewhere to get it at that price point and trust me, you don't want to be on it when you find out what they cheaped out on. If you want an entry level hardtail e-bike, you'll probably need to spend x dollars more or you can spend about the same for a non-e mountain bike that is a decent entry level one. Just depends on what you are looking to try. If that's too much, second hand is probably your best bet."

Granted, the advice would be different if you already bought it. They would simply warn you that it's probably not strong at all and to be careful taking it on any trails.

> pay entry-level money to participate before paying pro money in case you don't want to continue with it.

Great advise. I fully agree. The thing is, entry level hardtail e-bikes typically go for much higher than $700. Ask anyone into biking about this and they will be concerned about the integrity of the bike at the price point for that style of bike. E-bikes are expensive. You are looking at entry level mountain bikes at that price point, not entry level mountain e-bikes.

A year for a bike is a dogshit lifespan. You can get decades out of decent bikes. The comparisons is reasonable, given you twisted the conversation to pivot around lawnmowers.

I see the rest of your comment is nothing but accusing me of giving bad advice, followed by examples of exactly the same kind of advice I gave or would give, mixed with a dose of bragging about being in touch with pro... welders, cooks, gardeners and other normal jobs that everyone has contacts in. Except basket weavers. I'll give you that one.

Way to totally miss the mark.

If you drop the basket weaving and gardening, and add mountain biking, machining, and lockpicking - we're about the same on being over-hobbied individuals.

I know someone who dumped 8K on a gaming rig to play Minecraft and 2d games. At the other end, some people will spend too much money just to play “entry level” and have no idea what they actually have or need to be successful (not just video games and computers!).

I’m still rocking my aluminum hardtail Trek I bought in college 25 years ago with the (gasp) three front derailleurs and the Rockshox Judy front fork. I had no idea that the tech had changed that much since I don’t ride seriously any more.

>This is the equivalent of someone buying the top reviewed amazon promoted laptop, sorted by cheapest, with some kinda piece of shit 1152×648 screen, 4gb ddr2 ram, 2.xGhz celeron processor, and telling people it's a gaming pc because it says gaming on the box. Then commenting how you find it odd nobody in the gaming space is talking about it :)

It seems far more like its someone buying that cheap laptop, primarily using it to surf the web and play solitaire (or FPSes from 2001) and talk about how great it is. And it is great for what they're doing. Who needs 8 cores and 32 gigs of RAM? The answer is some subset of people between "everyone" and "no one".

eh, you can buy a great hardtails for 800-1.2k, even less if buying second hand. the main thing to point out is that at $700 including all the electronic add ons the components will be worse and trail rideability/durability will suffer significantly compared to even a low end mtb at the same price range. I've let friends use my nice bike while I ride my crap "general purpose" bike and it works on easier trails... (probably) safe enough on those trails, but still wouldn't recommend it.

So obnoxious. "Hey, I really like this entry level bike!". Typical HN response: "no you don't, it's trash. And if you do it's because you're trash."

FWIW I also got an E-bike in that price range and it began to seriously degrade after a year or so of daily use. It was great for that first year, though. If I were to get another E-bike, I'd move up to the mid-tier price range.

What started to degrade specifically? Did you try a new battery?

This was my first ebike, so I wanted to test the waters with something cheap. If it starts falling apart, I'll probably build a custom one or two and spend more money since ebike riding's been working great for me to get consistent exercise and go on trails more conveniently.

I started losing battery life and motor torque (though maybe this is related to the battery -- this is not my area of expertise). Hills that I used to be able to cruise up without much effort started to require real work to assist the motor. Battery life degraded to around 50% of the initial capacity.

I think your strategy is totally valid, and I do that with most power tools in my shop. Buy the cheap one, and when it breaks, make a call on how to upgrade.

For me, I actually side-graded to a Onewheel electric skateboard (https://onewheel.com/) at the very beginning of the pandemic.

As a commuter vehicle, it's less practical than an e-bike. You can't carry as much (limited to a backpack), and it's almost certainly an order of magnitude more dangerous (but more fun!). The biggest downside for me us the inability to take my dog with me (I used to tow him in one of those bike trailers for kids). But all of these don't really apply in WFH pandemic times.

On the other hand, being able to pick up and carry the Onewheel opens up a lot more commute options that aren't as easy on an e-bike. In particular, pairing it with public transit is powerful. It's difficult or impossible to load a bike into crowded light rail car, but trivial to fit in with a Onewheel.

Where I live in Seattle, I can Onewheel 1.5 miles to the nearest light rail station in SoDo, take the train 7 miles north to Greenlake, and then Onewheel another 1 mile to my friend's house. The whole trip takes 40 minutes. It's 30 minutes by car.

I also go grocery shopping with it. In the store, I just stow it in the bottom shelf of the cart. This makes grocery shopping super frictionless, because I don't have to lock up a bike or anything. I just don't get more than 2 bags of groceries at a time. Grocery shopping is so frictionless for me now, that is not a big deal. It's a 5 minute ride (1 mile) to the store, I'm in and out in 10 minutes, and then back home in 5 more.

The only times I drive anymore are when I'm not traveling alone or when it's raining heavily (I am fine to Onewheel in the typical light Seattle rail).

It's really revolutionized mobility for me, much more than the e-bike ever did.

> Buy the cheap one, and when it breaks, make a call on how to upgrade.

I believe popularized by Adam Savage of Mythbusters, if I'm remembering where it hit internet-widespread from.

But an excellent point, because people don't realize the % of things they're not going to use regularly. Or the fact that it usually takes (time for the cheapest version to break) to figure out if you're going to use it frequently.

(Also, side note: absolutely no professional review site has any incentive to remind you that cheaper, used, or previous model gear exists or is viable)

Adam has definitely advocated that approach. Not that I'm some kind of authority, but I strongly second it.

Early in life, my uncle Ray suggested doing that and showed off an impressive collection of tools. And he was that fix it uncle that had a big influence on me as a kid. We tore into basically everything and I never saw him without some book or other close by. One thing he liked to do was stock the car trunk in addition to the shop stuff. Road tools get lost, loaned out, abused, whatever it may take to deal with a scenario on the road. To that end, I've put some of those cheaper high count sets that come in the fold up containers. Perfect for the trunk.

And a diverse collection is really the other side benefit. Gives a person a lot of options. Most of the time they all see light use except for a few. Going expensive limits the collection unnecessarily and that limits what one can do, or might attempt to do, again unnecessarily.

The value from having a broad set of stuff generally exceeds the replacements that will come along the way. And that's mostly true, even when there are periods of inactivity. Others may benefit. Doesn't hurt to lend a tool, or a hand to help someone else get through a project.

And frankly, as people gain experience, learning where tool limits are tends to cut back on the wear and tear on even cheapo tools. It all tends to add right up.

The other strategy I would suggest is scoring tools every year at yard / garage sale time. Estates are often great for this too.

Sometimes I will see a collection and just bulk buy if I can. Over time I've lost some while moving and that was a great way to stock back up and have a lot of options for not very many dollars.

The only variation I would suggest is to avoid very rock bottom stuff, like dollar store, or that crap in the hardware store promo bin. Some of those might not even survive the first use! But, it can be hard to tell too, YMMV.

In my shop, the only thing I regret buying the super-cheap model of is a bandsaw. It's just so crappy as to not even be particularly useful for doing bandsaw-type work. But I have so many other cheap tools going strong, the strategy is definitely paying off in aggregate.

Low torque? Curious what makes a crappy bandsaw crappy.

And yup! That was the math: (cost of cheap things) * (total number of things) - (cost to rebuy) * (% of things you end up rebuying) << (cost of mid-range things) * (total number of things)

Low rigidity in shop tools leads to sadness. Even cutting thin pieces of sheetmetal can be miserable if the blade doesn't stay straight.

Sticking with wood or plastic on cheap saws/drills/mills can be ok, but really limits the kinds of things you can fix.

Low horsepower, poor blade tension control, low clearance, generally made of super low quality steel that is prone to deformation.

Reddit is filled sockpuppets.

Aw man. I just signed up for the $59/yr magazine + online access. I believe the bulk of what you're saying, and that CR's methodology has value. That said the following was also part of my experience on consumerreports.com -

In the bottom footer, I click on "Ad Choices". I'm presented with a list of advertisers in a TrustArc-branded dialog. To opt out of being retargeted by consumerreports.com, there are checkboxes for three vendors: Microsoft, LiveRamp Inc. and Google Advertising Products. For seven other vendors, there's no checkbox, just instructions to visit the website: Amazon Advertising, Bidtellect Inc, Comscore B.V, Facebook, Google Inc, Kibo Commerce, and Twitter.

Also in the footer (maybe only for California residents such as myself?) there is a "Do Not Sell My Personal Information" link. It opens a OneTrust-branded dialog with the option to disable "Share My Information with Third Parties on Digital". It also declares that "If you are a Print or All-Access Member and receive Consumer Reports magazine or Consumer Reports on Health through the mail, we may share your name and mailing address for direct mail purposes with selected companies offering products or services that we believe will be of interest to you." I followed a link to a separate page, which required me to copy-paste in my just-received membership number, to opt out of this.

The upside is that the "positive" results should be good for a reasonable shelf life (or if you can find out the mfg date of what you're buying)

Do you also have to call a phone number and wait on hold for hours to cancel you subscription?

When I last signed up a few years ago, no, it didn't even auto-renew.

During sign-up I think I saw a link to a cancellation URL - embedded in the warning that I will be autorenewed in 12 months if I don't cancel first :)

I wish CR did -more- reviews in each category. I know it's next to impossible to thoroughly review every single product in the world, but I would pay 10x the subscription fee if I could reliably go there and find all the current models available in the different categories.

RTINGs is doing an excellent job in this space. They have a public queue where subcribers can vote on the next product they buy to review.

I've got two problems with Consumer Reports reviews.

1. They aren't often comprehensive enough in their product lineup to be valuable. Obviously a hard problem to solve on product categories like consumer electronics where the product choices can count in the hundreds.

2. They aren't often including the latest and greatest in their reviews either, so I'm quite often not confident I'm getting the best bang for my buck going with their reviews.

Yeah I sing the praises of Consumer Reports all the time. I think I pay $10 annually for a subscription and every time I buy or recommend something I check with them and so far have not been let down. Their reviews almost always include objective measurements and durability testing, it’s really surprising how people miss them among more modern options.

Many local libraries have deals with Consumer Reports to provide their card holders access to the CR member website without charge.

It's $10/month or $39/year

What more can Google even do about the onslaught of ever-evolving SEO spam besides hardcode some arbitrary "winners", which would have its own set of problems? It seems like a very hard problem.

But that is the point - it is Google's problem, not ours. They don't have the best info anymore, so use someone else. There are other search engines. If Google wants us back, it is their problem to improve.

I’m guessing OP meant it’s a hard problem in general, not just for Google.

Also, the statement that Goggle doesn’t have the best information anymore seems objectively false. We can wish there were other players doing it better, but that doesn’t make it true. I’m open to the idea that Google is just riding their wave, but I’ve yet to see proof. I just see the search industry at large shedding quality results.

I think Google could step up its ranking game w/ ML eliminating a lot of bad patterns, but I'm not sure they have the will to do it, or are afraid of the consequences (every travel blogger selling an ebook will go apeshit about it for instance).

The fundamental problem is that the interests of Google do not align with the interests of it's users.

Google is not interested in serving us the "best" search results possible, they are interested in serving us their customers ads. In other words, Google search results are crap, because Google wants them to be crap.

That's far too simplistic. Google must also compete or they lose their free users followed by their paying users (ad buyers). I also think it's a multifaceted challenge that failing some genuine ingenuity won't really get solved.

Like I said though, maybe they are just riding their wave (dominance) at this point, but then I'd expect to see better results from a scrappy competitor already or soon. Here's hoping, but even as a discerning user, I haven't yet.

I'm confident that even if Google doesn't solve it, for whatever reason, someone else will eventually. In the meantime, results continue to degrade and the desire / reward to fix it will increase.

> Google must also compete or they lose their free users followed by their paying users (ad buyers).

I have no idea if that's even possible. The number of people who (a) Google pays to be the default engine for and (b) aren't even aware there are other engines is huge. If the various google search domains went offline, the number of people who wouldn't even be able to find facebook is probably a double-digit percent, let alone those who cannot figure out to fail over to bing, ddg, yahoo, whatever.

There are more than enough users aware of search to support a fledgling competitor that managed to deliver higher quality results.

That competitor simply doesn’t exist yet, and I think that’s because no one has figured out how to beat Google at search (which is why I think real ingenuity is required).

I thought DDG beat google when it first got going. It seems to have declined and in some cases is no longer even usable anymore.

Google with its hundreds of billions in revenue should be able to solve the problem, right?

Not when compared to the trillions of dollars of e commerce revenue that is the reward for getting to the top of Google results - even if you don't deserve it.

Total ecommerce in 2021 was around 5 trillion dollars. That's revenue, and split across all players.

Somehow I think Google with the ability to devote billions to solving the problem has more resources to throw at it than any ecommerce company. Except for possibly Amazon.

hardcode some arbitrary "winners"

The point of google is to surface good content above bad content. If they can identify what good content is, surface it, by any means necessary.

Seconding this. As recently perhaps as 7 or 8 years ago, I used to shake my head sympathetically at how antiquated their business model seemed, and wondered when they'd finally close up shop. Fast forward to today, with bots, review bribery, astroturfed "buying guides", and paid content even at quality outlets like NYTimes Wirecutter, CR is now my most trusted source on purchasing anything over $100, or a product that could be crucial to my health.

> paid content even at quality outlets like NYTimes Wirecutter

Evidence for this? Is it just for stuff specifically tagged as paid content, or is there any evidence that their standard reviews might be tainted by money?

Affiliate link revenue model: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wirecutter_(website)

They claim the reviewers go in neutral, but I'm sorry, I just don't trust it. Thr fact that they only test a subset of products in a given competitive space alone makes this too tainted for my liking. (CR also doesn't hit every company in a space, but at least they're not incentivized to pick the ones that pay them.)

For now I've been using the NYT wirecutter folks. They do a good job posting their methodology and you can usually dig much further for what problems they found.

Dan Liu has some choice comments on Wirecutter reviews:


Whenever I visit them I get the opposite of Gell-Mann amnesia syndrome and remember how terrible their recommendations are on products I am familiar with.

I had to scroll through a whole lot to get to the part that mentions wirecutter - the only one they really mentioned was webcams, with anecdotes about how that particular webcam they recommend isn't very good. Not much talk about why the methodology is wrong.

However I do find the webcam recommendation article wirecutter did to be of worse quality than the others they had. Its a very room dependent item. Its certainly easy to look at that review having played with other webcams and say hey I think their methodology sucks.

But I recently bought a new toaster oven - I had already had a kitchenaid one that got fine reviews on most sites, but I found it to be really inconsistant. The wirecutter site had photos of the uneven toasting of the same model I had, in the exact same way that mine was. They also showed photos of their recommended toasters. I picked up their recommended one. It toasts exactly as they recommended. So its not a total loss.

This thread has now successfully been diverted from a discussion on Google search results to a discussion on CR.

The New York Times’ Wirecutter is also quite good.

I don't trust consumer reports any longer. they have amazon affiliate links. I suspect the current CEO is selling them out, bit by bit. Also, their current web format makes it hard to find recommendations on used cars.

You can buy most any product at Amazon, so the affiliate links are not an incentive for CR to rank one product better than the competitor they would otherwise also link to.

Plus Amazon affiliate links are standardized and automated to such a degree that’s there’s no chance they would manually penalize or reward CR for editorial content.

I would assume that Amazon affiliate links pay more for more expensive products, so there could easily be incentive to reward expensive over cheap.

CR has biases, and they leak out in various ways. When I was doing detailed car-shopping in the 1990s, I noticed that drivetrains in American-badged cars would show significant problems while Japanese-badged cars with the same drivetrains from the same supplier would be ranked consistently higher (e.g. Isuzu vs Chevy light trucks, Mazda vs Ford sedans).

My friend in Germany pointed me to a site like CR but with a better track record. I have to ping him for the name again.

You probably mean Stiftung Warentest. It is indeed the gold standard of product test organisations.


I just learned that you can get the yearbook including all tests from the previous year for like 10€, the other big testing magazine Ökotest (focused on environmental impact) offers this too.

Please post when you get it!

I unfortunately share your experiences. However in Germany there is a foundation called “Stiftung Warentest” [1], which does independent testing of products. With reviews full of Amazon affiliate links dominating search results, I tend to purchase their tests for ~3 Euros more often than ever.

However this only works for popular product categories, but less so for specialized equipment.

My impression is also that affiliate links hurt consumers in the long run as they reduce the selection of products in reviews or blogs to those the authors can earn money with. This however leaves out potential alternatives. More often than not the winner of product categories (at least those I was researching) of independent tests were not available from sites running affiliate programs. For example a consumer-grade lawn mower from an otherwise professional gardening company or a tent from a Scandinavian brand.

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stiftung_Warentest

Sadly, Stiftung Warentest often doesn't have the expertise to properly test many products. I often notice the shortcomings in product tests for products that I know and use.

I was reminded of this with their last test of 3d printers. Their test results where far from what everyone with experience in the field would consider accurate.

For some products, I agree, but realistically its about as good as it gets unless you do thorough research on a given product and are actually able to find a somewhat unbiased review.

Take washing machines for example. How do you know which ones are good and which ones are not? Public reviews from any website tend to only be a good indicator if there a lots of bad ones. I have 0 faith in the average consumer to accurately rate a product. Overwhelmingly negative reviews will clearly show a deficiency but positive ones are unfortunately more and more a gamble.

Stiftung Warentest isn't perfect, but they do, on most occasions, put in a high amount of effort to test products to the best of their abilities without any personal opinions. I don't know of a single other person/organization/website where that is the case.

Most washing machines offer quit similar features. The key difference is reliability.

Testing for reliability is expensive, so most likely Stiftung Warentest and similar companies don't do that.

No, that's exactly what they do test and test well. Their model mostly breaks down for computer technology and peripherals in that space. When testing a mouse they would test how often it can click before breaking down, and that's only slight hyperbole. Might be a bit better now in that area than back then when I read their tests regularly.

I bought their test of basmati rice and these monsters had an intern court the broken vs. whole rice grains in a 500g package.

I assume they only counted a sample of the the 500g, but it's funnier to imagine otherwise.

Wonder if Count Things can do that https://countthings.com/

But then Basmati rice is judged on grain length too. Wonder if they report like "22 cm of broken pieces per km of grains".


It took me a while to understand what you meant.

I mean that would be even funnier. Sorry for the typo.

My brand new LG turbowasher model lasted 3 months before one morning sounded like a hammer smashing something. I ran to the machine and a support bracket inside had broken. It took 2 months for them to replace it I was not impressed. It has since lasted 3 more years no issues but I doubt I would go with LG in the future since it was a horrible customer service experience getting my first one repairs under warranty. Had they helped me better after it breaking I may have said it was just a fluke and still recommended them.

I base those sorts of purchases on duration of warranty. Recently bought a dryer, and apart from a brand that cost significantly more, they all came with 2 year warranties. One reasonably priced machine had 4, so I picked that one.

Counterexample: Korean auto manufacturers Hyundai and Kia offer longer warranties than Japanese manufacturers Honda and Toyota because that’s the only way people will buy Korean cars.

Wonder if they are taking advantage of bath tub curve and 8 years is slightly costlier than 5 years to a manufacturer. In India, Toyota is selling rebadged Suzuki cars offering lower cost and more warranty.

Warranty is ridiculous. Of course it's good to have if something breaks early. But normally I want my stuff to last much longer. Our fridge broke last summer: 30 years old. It had one repair 18 years ago. Our washing machine is 22, zero repairs. I hope it still makes it while. Well, none of them were the cheapest ones. From central European factories which might no longer exist...

Some would claim these old appliances waste energy. I am not convinced. We need to heat our buildings here from September to May. Whatever a very modern appliance warms the building less the heating has to substitute. It's all energy and losses produce heat.

There is also all the energy required to churn out newer appliances that break and get recycled.

Getting one great one that will last for a few decades isn't a bad call. That's what I do personally.

And there are still ways to save, reduce energy impact. Moderation is a big one. Just be frugal and prudent with the appliances. That has a major impact and everyone could do more and capture those gains right away.

They ran 3 machines of each model 1840 times and always exactly recorded the statistics (is the 60C program really using 60C water, etc) and results to test for reliability.

As long as their methodology is clear you can at least judge their results for yourself and whether you consider them meaningful, even if it wasn’t perhaps as good as an expert could have done.

Rtings seems a similar project; some of their test results are free, some are paid. They have a wide set of comparison tools, they test for a lot of features and they document their testing procedures well; it's a really nice change from SEO spam articles.

I recommend their tests of headphones [1], I especially like how they measure breatability [2]. They also have a page about printers [3].

[1]: https://www.rtings.com/headphones

[2]: https://www.rtings.com/headphones/tests/design/breathability

[3]: https://www.rtings.com/printer

Used Gsmarena.com to narrow down which Android-based phone would be the best choice.

Ended up with the OnePlus 8T due to good battery life, fast charging and reasonable size.

Still very happy with that purchase, which wouldn't have been as easy without that site.

Finding review of tech gadgets and hardware is quite easy. Even niche products usually have dedicated communities and sites with in-depth knowledge. It's the boring everyday products and large appliances like washing machines that are really hard to evaluate sicne their reviews basically amount to affiliate spam.

Thanks for the links, but especially the printer one is exactly what I was talking about: They are all marked as unavailable on the site.

The US has Consumer Reports, which is similar I think... but yeah, only works for major product categories.

For kitchen tools, there's America's Test Kitchen reviews (from Cooking magazine, IIRC). It's a limited segment but high quality.

On the other hand, it has the same problem as Consumer Reports: they only test and review a single model which will probably be out of production before you need one. On the third hand, if one manufacturer consistently gets good reviews (OXO Goodgrips, for example)...

Cooks Illustrated is the name of the magazine, and I recommend it to anyone who ever spends time in a kitchen.

Some of the purchases I have made with their guidance have been (trivially) life-changing.

You are absolutely right! Sorry about that --- I zoned out on the magazine's name.

There’s also the NYT WireCutter which tried to do a good job isolating it away as an independent review source that you can trust.

Some of the WireCutter’s picks were fairly terrible, which makes sense: testing diverse categories of products is too expensive for affiliate links to cover. I’ve gifted dashcams on their recommendation that shot beautiful QHD but had MTBF measured in single digit months. The TP-Link C7 Archer was kind of a turd and within a stone’s throw of a decent router price-wise.

To be fair, MTBF is not something you can measure in a reasonable time for these kinds of review sites. Far better for this kind of thing is niche-specific youtube channels.

But in any case, what you're asking for here is a prediction of your future satisfaction with a product. It's a non-trivial problem even for the most innocuous purchases.

Will I like Lysol or Clorox wipes more? Who knows, and the reviews aren't going to beat first-hand experience in any circumstances.

I’ve written extensively about this recently, but these days with $300+ “gaming” routers using crappy sweatshop software on whatever Atheros router SoC, many users would be much better served with legit SMB routing / switching / wifi systems that are available for around the same price.

I've always found anything tagged as "gaming" to be lower quality and more expensive than the business machines.


This message sent from a Thinkpad business machine that I use for gaming (and ML, theoretically).

I mean this is a known thing in general; the best kitchen supply stuff you can buy is often stuff intended for commercial use, because it quite literally goes through the wringer with near-constant usage over long periods of time.

The problem is finding a place that sells commercial things to individual buyers. That, and sometimes what a commercial kitchen needs is vastly oversized for a regular house; you're probably going to set off your residential fire alarm very often with a massive commercial range designed for woks, for example, unless you also upgrade the ventilation, etc.

I switched to Unifi access points and a wired router and switch and am much happier with the result.

The consolidation of router, switch and access point means you can't upgrade individual parts. It's the modern equivalent of the TV-VCR combo and most consumers don't realize they actually can be separated.

I didn’t know what good Wifi until I switched to using some TP-Link Omada equipment.

If you run your own controller, you can set up a small network (router, PoE switch, and AP) for less than $300. Hardware controller is ~$90. A controller isn’t strictly necessary, but I don’t recommend doing a standalone setup.

Downside? It’s business class equipment and you need some idea what you’re doing. It’s not plug-n-play. Also, it’s layer 2 only. If you want mDNS across vlans, you’ll need to run a reflector. (Not difficult. It’s built into avahi.)

I'd love to read what you've written. So far, my research into commercial Access points hasn't really been that fruitful. I refuse any cloud based management interface. For the router, I use mikrotik which has been great but I returned the access points from them that I tried. In the end, my access points are Asus home routers because they were the best I found.

The C7 is a good router if you put OpenWRT on it.

> The TP-Link C7 Archer was kind of a turd and within a stone’s throw of a decent router price-wise.

Can attest. I finally ditched mine, got tired of it falling over multiple times each week.

I've got the A7, which I believe is the same thing except it has some sort of ability to enable Alexa control for something or other.

Mine has worked great. The only issues I've seen are (1) the traffic stats don't count IPv6 traffic, and (2) there is something odd that sometimes goes on when a connection ends that can result in packets from the LAN side showing up on the WAN side without the LAN-side IP address being replaced with the WAN-side IP address.

The first is a bit of annoyance, and the second as far as I saw didn't actually cause any problems.

Maybe you got a lemon I've been using mine for a while now. Not as nice as my old one with customer firmware but still consistent.

wirecutter's picks are definitely bad, more like products to avoid.

My experience with NYT product reviews is pretty awful. I wish I could be more concrete. Tried to look in my history but I could have sworn at least one article was just effectively, "top 10 most popular on Amazon", with quotes from user reviews. Maybe I'm getting my sites mixed up.

I believe you're thinking of The Strategist, which is through New York Magazine. That's basically their thing, to summarize Amazon reviews for you and filter through a product category based on that. I also don't really see much of the value in it, but I suppose I can see how someone might.

Yes, you are definitely confusing something. And someone.

Bought a pair of audio-technica headphones based on their review. Sound quality was as described but it was so uncomfortable I returned it 5 minutes after picking it up. It was described as comfortable for long wear but it had a hard band with little padding and was uncomfortable for any duration.

Comfort is a pretty subjective thing. Your experience, while valid, is merely a single data point and it would be quite premature to disregard the review or even the whole outlet based on it.

That fell to complete shit a while back. They are not wrong but I would ignore their rankings and focus on the review aspects

I find Wirecutter and Consumer Reports are pretty reasonable for product categories where I just want a reasonable choice and don't necessarily have deep knowledge and preferences myself. And, yes, it's worth reading why they picked something. But if I were buying an interchangeable lens camera or a computer I might read their recommendation but I'd look elsewhere also. For a sprayer for a hose? I'm sure their recommendation is fine.

No, for hoses they recommend ones with the archaic brass threaded fittings common in the US instead of the far superior Gardena type.

Rtings is my go-to for most things. Been satisfied with several purchases researched there.

I’m a subscriber to consumer reports, but as it put Tesla Model 3, the most successful car in the past few years on the back as the least reliable, I feel that I can’t trust its results to be 100% independent reviews. I don’t have a Tesla, but if something grows so fast where people pay a significant amount for it, it can’t be that bad.

Are you thinking of the Model Y? CR gives the Model 3 average reliability, and gives it the highest overall score in the electric car $45-55k category. The only other car with average reliability in the category is the BMW i3. The Ford Mustang Mach-E and Polestar 2 get the next tier down for reliability, and then the Model Y brings up the rear getting the bottom tier reliability score.

In the electric cars over $75k category, everything except the Audi E-Tron gets the tier between worse and average, including the Tesla Models S and X. The Audi gets the bottom tier.

This article talks about why the Teslas other than the Model 3 get low reliability ratings [1]:

> Commonly reported issues from Model Y owners included defective sensors that had to be replaced, problems with heat pumps, air conditioning, body panels that didn’t line up and water leaks in the trunk due to missing seals, according to Fisher. Owners also reported a variety of electrical and hardware issues with the higher-priced, and less-popular, Model S sedan and Model X falcon-wing SUV.

> Older models typically fare better in reliability, as companies tend to make tweaks and redesigns to solve known problems, while sticking with the same parts and suppliers.

> But Tesla deviates from this approach, Fisher explained. “At almost random times during the year Tesla will switch major components, suppliers or sensors and other units. The more you change, the greater the chances you’re going to have some problems.”

[1] https://www.cnbc.com/2021/11/18/consumer-reports-2021-auto-r...

Ford recalled almost all their mach-e cars build until first half of 2021 with unglued roof, so that there was two different risks to roof fly away. As of december 2021 they still didn't fix the keys. Software glitch and a security recall of seatbelt issues. And yet, it is more reliable compares to tesla lol :)

I don't know anything about how reliable or not Model 3 is, but surely reliability != popularity?

It’s the growth that’s staggering. What I read is that older car companies changed the rating to include small software bugs in the entertainment system. As Tesla has much more non-essential features, these while these small bugs are not that important for the end user, can bring the ratings down vs other cars that don’t even offer the feature.

Tesla is well known to whip cars with sometimes dozens of minor issues. It’s a new company and these processes need time and experience.

The reliability data also is likely sourced from outside, such as the AAA, insurers, or any other place where car trouble data naturally accumulates.

I see...it's interesting that they can get away with it while growing so fast

Tesla got it's fair share of issues, but they fix them and detect them fast. They adamant about security. Only Tesla and Volvo got their own testing facilities. Last recall of backup camera is actually a positive call. On a very small group of cars they got this issue. They called it a defect and recalled an entire batch ( 500k cars) to fix a potential issue.

Well, there was just a recall of 500000 Tesla vehicles, including Model 3s, for safety issues:


Yeah, I was also frustrated. Tesla always been in the top. And boom, suddenly it stoped been there. I don't believe in reincarnation. All my peers who owns tesla are the most happy customers every, including me. For 2 years owning Model Y I asked for service twice. Once i damaged the car, they came to my backyard, I found it super convenient.

Second time I request a retrofit a speaker from a newer models and hardware + work cost me $100 usd. Engineers did all the job at my home while i was working. I only clicked from the App open the car . Oh well, consumer report doesn't count this things that makes consumers happy.

Consumer reports also doesn't count that after two years of ownership i received tons of new features and my car still feels fresh. I can put here a huge list. Since I bought the car :

- my range improved

- winter regenerative brakes improved

- automatic blindspot cameras after turn

- improved climate control, especially automatic seat heat

- more music/video sources

- dramatically improved autopilot

- view cameras from phone

- updated for free hardware for temperature measurements during one of the unrelated visits

- improved charging time ( faster)

- charging network doubled

- automatically synced profiles to my second tesla

- better charging scheduling, that works well with my local electricity provider incentives, saved me ~600 usd already

- far better navigation included way points

- better security when backing up ( sound)

- improved auto wipers, that become 100% reliable( more a fix)

- i don't include tons of fun stuff like games, easter eggs etc...

This are only improvements that are useful to me. The actual list is waay bigger.

Oh well... someone paid this journalists to portrait it in a bad way. But that basically shows how vulnerable is the system. You pay 10-20 journalists and boom, you got your marketshare of people who trust to some bs like consumer reports.

I'm in a strange position here. I fundamentally agree that reviews for the most part are absolute steaming pile of crap of a space for many niches. I work in one of the worst - web hosting reviews. It's plagued by fake affiliate reviews dominating basically every search result. I've been trying for 10 years to run a company that did reviews differently in the web hosting space.

Full disclosure, I have affiliate links on companies that have them too. But I also list companies without them and it has had zero bearing on any result in 10 years. In fact, when I launched I had to beg the CEO of the top rated company to create a special affiliate program for me. Why? Because he didn't believe in review sites and affiliates in the space. It took months, but I told him if he didn't create one, what I was trying to do would never have a chance because I'd never make a dollar - you're the top rated company. I want to do something different, but it needs to remain somewhat financially viable and if you don't have a program I'm dead before it starts.

So what happened in those 10 years?

Honestly, not a whole a lot. I have mediocre rankings (often page 2-5) on some of the most competitive terms on Google. I can't afford to buy the links my competitors do because they make 10x or more what I do pushing the highest paying affiliates and designing for conversion. The site has some traction within niche communities - especially the WordPress hosting space - because I also run annual performance benchmarks (https://wphostingbenchmarks.com) where I document and thoroughly test most of the meaningful players in that space.

It makes a couple grand a month, I've disclosed the revenue publicly on IndieHackers (https://www.indiehackers.com/interview/reviewsignal-e1ddcc26...) and it's gone down since then.

The data I'm providing is almost surely the most transparent data tracking the industry and maybe the least biased (the reviews work by analyzing Twitter sentiment at scale - everything publicly documented in terms of ranking algorithm and published comments).

But outside little bubbles in communities that care, nobody noticed. Google doesn't care. Google happily ranks affiliate sites spending six figures buying links off apache.org and other open source projects (look at those sponsor lists on a lot of open source projects - hosting/gambling is a bad sign).

I got excited when my work fighting against .ORG registry price increases and sale at ICANN (https://reviewsignal.com/blog/2019/06/24/the-case-for-regula...) got a lot of press, even getting cited by the California AG in his letter which effectively killed it. I got backlinks from a lot of large news sites and traffic. I honestly saw no meaningful improvement in rankings or traffic.

So I'm stuck, I keep the sites running - part time - mostly between other projects. I've moved back heavily into consulting and other projects because being an honest affiliate - I can't compete. Providing honest, transparent data and presenting it with the goal of informing versus pushing sales is a terrible business model. The majority of people simply don't care. A lot of 'in-the-know' folks read and get informed by my work. They advise their clients using it, and I never see any financial benefit from it. The broader world, especially Google, doesn't know or care.

Is the root problem affiliate links? It certainly skews incentives and pushes manipulation. If we removed them, what fills the void? Ads? Sponsored content? Something else? I don't think the problem goes away - there is so much money in some of these industries and the stakes are so high. Companies and people will take advantage of it one way or another.

How do we identify honest / good content from the garbage seems to be the bigger question. After 10 years, I'm don't have an answer and I'm certainly not being noticed.

This is a perfect example of how fundamentally flawed modern SEO is. @ohashi has been producing the best hosting reviews in the WordPress ecosystem since forever. It seems like at some point in the past decade on page quality signals have been completely drowned out by backlink signals that can be easily amplified by bigger content producers and a resurgence in cheap on page SEO tricks.

Sorry Kevin I don't know what the answer is, but I'd thought I'd just say a huge thanks for the great work you do year after year. It might be VERY niche but perhaps some sort of annual premium membership for professionals in the WP ecosytem might be something that might work? I'd certainly be happy to support your work on an ongoing basis with access to niche "members only" performance reports on things like WooCommerce benchmarking tests etc.

Thanks edbloom!

It really does help motivate me to hear people get value from my work, because it definitely isn't financially motivated at this point.

I appreciate the offer of premium members only payments. I want my data to be public, I like open sourcing my contributions when possible. I think transparency and openness are the key to better reviews. So I've not ever approached that route. I've also avoided taking any sponsored money from web hosting for any sort of advertising because of even the potential conflict of interest (many have offered to sponsor those benchmarks).

There might be something in the works to help it financially this year, nothing really concrete, but I'm exploring some new options. Ultimately though, I'd rather it wither and die than just doing what every shitty affiliate ruining the space has done.

Answer, if you want to make money is play Google's game. Go get some VC funding to buy ads. Google with put the ads on their front page which will boost your search results. Eventually you'll figure out you dont even need a good product, you win with a mediocre product and a lot of SEO/ad spend.

Break Google up. Course that will never happen as politicians like the power Google has over the internet in the hands of a US company.

The whole reason I built what I did was because after a decade in the web hosting world, I still couldn't name a review site that was worth referring anyone to.

I wanted to build something different and meaningful. I did. It just hasn't mattered in a broad context.

If making money was the goal, I'd put whomever wants to pay me $300/sale first and pimp them out as the best company in the universe. Fuck that. I hoped that I could make a reasonable amount (at least enough to keep it going and maybe scale it a bit) and create a more honest review space.

Winning in this case isn't defined by money earned, you're advocating a race to the bottom I wanted to avoid. Google needs a shakeup and so does search as a whole.

Why not go through the direction of having a patreon or other monthly donation? No need to necessarily give rewards, just asking for contributions

I am honestly having a hard time articulating why I don't like the idea of people donating their money to me for what I do. I will try, maybe I am irrational?

There is so much money being passed around in web hosting review space, by companies to affiliates. I still make thousands per month off these affiliate deals. If my site were to rank at the top of search engines, I would be plenty compensated. Having individuals sponsor the work and it continuing to languish is a position I'm not really a fan of. A single sale commission can range from a few dollars to high hundreds or occasionally a thousand+. I can't imagine enough people wanting to donate a meaningful amount that would change that equation. I'd personally feel bad for every Patreon sponsor putting in 5,10,20 dollars because I might feel like I'm not doing enough with it. If those people just sent one person who ended up purchasing via a link on my site, it would likely outweigh most donations, it would also spread the reach to places I likely can't get to.

That's just what is running through my head, I don't know if that makes any sense.

Is your business model capable of sustaining a paywall of the most useful value, by eliding the information? Your affiliate links still point to your review effort, but the actual top ranking information is behind the paywall.

Make it a variation on the "businesses pay for business-class stuff, amateurs get the free stuff" model.

For the top say, 20% ranks, it is behind a paywall. People will know which vendors are members of the set of the top 20%, but not their ordinal collection. The bottom 80% members of the set's ordinal collection is displayed. If I'm looking for a site to store Grandma's cat pictures, the bottom 80% is probably good enough.

You could also tilt the paywall so free only reveals who NOT to do business with, and who ranks at the bare minimum acceptability.

You can have the paywall only enforce an embargo, instead of all historical results. Say some period beyond which the businesses that can afford to pay you will not care for the results, like a year or whatever.

You can have a "free hour(s)" once a review cycle just before when you publish where the in-the-know crowd can get the results for the newest review cycle, tied to a YouTube livestream, where you do a monetized Q&A.

There are lots more variations to ponder, but I can't help but think there must be more useful ways to slice and dice the valuation of the information here, and monetize in tranches like finance and entertainment do, instead of all in one go.

I guess the problem is two fold, could I charge some people a premium for premium information? Absolutely, yes.

Does hiding some information behind a paywall fit with my goal of a better review landscape in the web hosting industry? Sadly, no.

Sure, I would come out financially ahead, but the industry basically wouldn't be any different. I'm not going to rank any better or have my information spread more effectively behind a paywall. The number of folks impacted would also surely go down as many wouldn't pay.

If the goal is simply profit maximization at this point, there are definitely avenues to explore like what you've suggested. That's boring to me honestly, unless it can have impact to along with it. I do appreciate your thoughts on the matter and suggestions.

Personally, if it gets to that point I'd rather sell it off and move on to working on something else. Most of us are software developers and entrepreneurs. I'd rather build something more interesting and with more potential. I can make money doing consulting work any day, after 10 years, the allure of simply trying to profit maximize on what I built by introducing barriers doesn't appeal. That might be part of the reason it hasn't been as successful as it maybe could have been. I suppose that's the hill I may die on - open, honest, transparent review data for everyone.

Aha, that makes it much more clear. You likely can achieve your aim with more marketing, along the lines of setting narrative in the industry.

You already have an objective measure to flog, build a "council" or "board" around it, with the "Platinum" members being the providers who were most consistently in the top three ranks in all the past reviews. Get some good writers who can whip up some clickbaity articles that would find placement for some fun.

"You're getting cheated out of bandwidth if you don't use these web hosting providers!"

"Most Web hosting providers don't want to let you know this secret council!"

Make it tongue in cheek, self-parodying maybe to the clickbait industry.

Intermix with and reference to some more serious PR to avenues where industry people are likely to read it, where you lay out your concerns of improving the industry and the benefits to them. Make the report red-orange-green-easy to at-a-glance interpret for non-technical management for good-enough outcomes, then analyze the results into a historical trend for the aggregate industry's progress.

Honey versus vinegar, basically.

Your consulting expertise on designing projects to make it easy to transition between providers, and a calculator to compute when to pull the trigger to perform the transition would probably more than pay the bills.

Maybe the marketing hasn't been great. But nobody seems to care. The status quo benefits the companies that get the most marketing, why invest in trying to change the rules that benefit them?

I tried some more expose type stuff, revealing spam networks operated by hosting companies, publishing pay to play attempts, exposing fake reviews and even getting one CEO on record supporting astroturfing. Despite how outrageous this behavior is, it never gets much attention. That last company I'm talking about tends to be on all those affiliate garbage sites you will see and has popped up in the past few years (https://reviewsignal.com/blog/2018/07/22/hostinger-review-0-...). I make sure to let as many people know as possible anytime I see the brand. But their marketing/astroturfing campaign certainly dwarfs anything I can do. And most people don't care. The publishers take the money, the company takes the customers and funnels more money into deceiving poor customers via affiliates and search. The only loser is customers as a whole, who have little voice or power in the equation at any level.

In little bubble communities, I do have some traction and recognition. People may know, but they tend to be echo small chambers. Sure, some people flow in and get recommendations. But the majority of people, it's just who ranks at the top of search results. They don't invest in doing deeper research. They want to see 'X is the best product' and move on.

That's another problem, nuance. Is there a best web hosting provider? Not even close. Even with a very specific use-case, it's extremely rare to say, yes, this is the best company. I've been tracking 10 years of data and no company comes close to perfect reputation. The extreme top just crack into 80% range in terms of positive sentiment. The generally pretty good are in the 70's. That means 20-30% of people are having bad experiences with the best companies.

I've publish the review data with ranks based simply on statistical numbers, but I don't do ranking for performance benchmarks. I also encourage that it's one data point, simply being in the fastest tier or having the highest consumer opinion doesn't mean it's the best. There could be other factors which matter.

For example, Pantheon is the perfect company for has a great reputation but I wouldn't recommend it to most people to consider. First, they specialize in WordPress and Drupal. So if you're not on those platforms, it's not relevant. Even if you do, they are very opinionated hosting. If you have a development team and want strict Git workflows where code moves up and data moves down, they are fabulous. If you're a semi technical person who mostly does marketing, it's probably a terrible fit because you don't want to learn Git, have to push every change through testing, staging and then production to make progress. But their hosting in my tests were fast. They have great consumer reviews. For the people who it makes sense for, they love it. And I would recommend it to probably less than 10% of people who meet the basic criteria of using WP/Drupal for the reason stated above.

As far as consulting experience goes, I actually end up consulting more for the people who build sites. After running the largest benchmarks for WordPress for ~8 years now, people have brought me on to help test new WordPress products or scale existing sites. That's more interesting and rewarding honestly seeing direct results, being compensated to help them achieve goals. My compensation overall is okay, it's just not coming from reviews these days.

I was always fascinated by the idea of "field testers" testing products in their daily lives and writing a short review about their experience. A cook would write about a chef knife, a post officer about comfortable all-weather boots, a craftsman about a tool etc.

The biggest problem would be how to incentivize such people, but gamification and some monetary rewards from the community could probably solve this.

A big part of the best wire cutter reviews are the “why you should trust me” introduction. Some of their reviewers really know their stuff, others obviously less so. You can calibrate your expectations accordingly.

They are OK, but I remember when they decided a Nokia phone was better than an iPhone.

Tests usually have subjective criteria that determine the ranking.

> which does independent testing of products

Can we have some independent testing of web search engines?

Which? https://www.which.co.uk/ is great, based in the UK, not very expensive to join for a month to look up one product.

Just one data point, but I've had a hard time trusting then since reading a headphones section they had in the physical magazine quite a few years back. The number one rated headphone was the Bose QC3. Great noise cancellation and comfort, sure... But certainly not better audio quality than so many other products in that price range. All rock / metal sounded so muddy I had to return my pair within a few weeks.

I have used their tests in the past and I’ve never regretted a purchase influenced by their tests.

Yep; a huge portion of Google results, especially for spicy searches like “best ______ 2021” are just lists of affiliate links to top 10 selling items on Amazon from made-up brand names that are rotated once a product receives a few bad reviews.

It’s really hard to find legit review sites; at least Wirecutter seems to actually test things, but sites like SeriousEats, OutdoorGearLab, Carryology, DCRainMaker, SoundOnSound, Adventure Journal, Magnetic Magazine, The Loam Wolf, etc that are quite niche / domain-specific are where I go for actual trustworthy reviews.

I agree that Google seems to be dominated by clickbait ad-riddled BS SEO sites now more than ever, and I can’t help but think that Google is allowing this to happen because it pays the bills. I’ve posted about this before, but at the end of the day, Google and FB are advertising companies trying to be more than that. The difference to me is that I’m willing to reward actual reviews and effort with rev share if I decide to buy something reviewed, but I’m super unimpressed with all the irrelevant ads we still get in 2021 despite having so much personalization data about users.

Another thing that advertisers don’t seem to understand somehow: if I searched for a thing or even clicked through a FB ad and bought it, the chances that I’m also interested in buying a similar thing in the next few days / weeks are drastically reduced. They seem to be totally missing this signal, showing me ads for some category of thing I already purchased for a very long time after I don’t need any more suggestions.

Lastly, I would literally pay per month for an Amazon search that filters out all the fake brands. If I search for “webcam”, there are half a dozen brands I want to see, yet instead I’m forced to sift through piles of junk that I would never even consider purchasing to find what I’m looking for. I’ve heard that Amazon knows this is a thing but chooses not to fix it due to some psychological allure of sifting through the junk to find the nuggets of gold. In the worst cases, I have to use Google to find stuff on Amazon because their own search is so horrendous, with the categories being an absolute joke.

> but at the end of the day, Google and FB are advertising companies trying to be more than that.

Looked at Netflix clicked on a movie that I though may be interesting, it was overdubbed in English since it was a Korean movie. I watched maybe 5 minutes of it then exited. Go to YouTube and suddenly Korean videos are being suggested.

At a car dealership with my sister she asked me to be there for support when she leased a car. At home same day hours later YouTube again it is plastered with "how to buy a car" videos. I hadn't been looking for a car, never searched for anything like that in the previous days ever.

You could do a test. Get someone to take your (locked) smartphone into a well-known dealership for something you aren't ordinarily interested in. Blind test, you don't know where they took the phone. Google tracks the physical location of your phone (don't know if it's possible to completely opt out of that)... trivial to match that to "dealership X" given that Google Maps already knows about those. If in the blind test you can tell your friend where they took the phone based on increased ad activity, then there's proof.

A day after I started using an Android device: I cycled to work, and my phone gives an alert and asks me to rate X. WTF? Oh right, I cycled by X on the way. I immediately turned off what I could; no more popups like that but do I really think Google doesn't track my location any more?

I've had my professional-subscription Wall Street Journal app run a full page ad for frozen jamaican hot beef patties (so good...) that I bought a box of at costco earlier that morning. Pretty amusing, just given how off-brand that is for ads that run on WSJ.

Not sure if guerrilla marketing or not. Nevertheless, it worked, sort of. Sounds like something right up my alley, but alas I'm nowhere near a costco.

> Pretty amusing

Went to a doctor over issues with my feet. Got spammed with ads covering various health issues. Patient data tends to be protected in most countries, no one should have access to when I visit what doctor and I find it insane that Google gets away with using that protected information to sell ads.

Fair guess would be that you leaked that information somewhere along the way - putting the address into google maps, pulling up the dr office phone number on google proper etc.

I have an Android phone, so I wasn't surprised that Googles spyware managed to get that information, I was surprised that they are allowed to collect and use medical information about me without ending on the wrong end of various related data protection laws.

There are no healthcare privacy laws the the USA that apply to Google. Indeed, "medical information" is not generally protected. HIPAA only prevents "healthcare providers and healthcare businesses" from providing that information without your consent. If you disclose or leak medical information to other companies, they are not required to maintain confidentiality and can sell or use that information perfectly legally.

> I can’t help but think that Google is allowing this to happen because it pays the bills

Google is not that short sighted. They know that if people stop trusting it to give good results then they'll lose their market.

I suspect the problem is just harder than it seems.

The problem is that no one is bothering to give you an alternative because they can't make money out of it.

Let's say I want to do a '10 best bikes for under $1,000' article. How am I going to do that well without actually going out and buying 10 bikes and being prepared to make hardly anything in return?

That kind of article is trash anyway, they should limit it to 3 or 5 bikes not 10. Many best "auto" reviews simply have a category so they dont piss off any one auto manufacture.

Even if you look for the top 10 trucks, they will end up showing all the major brands, because they will break it down for: 4x4, extended cab, full size, mid size, ...

Lists are mostly garbage because you dont care about the top 25, you really only need to know the best item and the next best at a certain budget

If Google deindexed the spam, that effort might actually be worth it for a bike shop to do an honest comparison. But so long as you’re just going to get buried by SEO spam, why bother?

While that would improve things I still think it's rather unlikely that a bike shop would be willing to give anything but a great rating for the bikes the are selling. And if they are their suppliers might not like it. There's still a dependency.

True, bike shops tend to hock one manufacturer. I still think reducing the SEO ‘reviews’ would create space for honest reviews though.

At the end of the day being shortsighted doesnt matter. They are a publicly traded company that pays their top employees in options. If the problem of spam becomes too difficult they will focus on milking the cow until it dies just like every other massive company that came before it.

I think they are trying to cater to people who search using questions and in that process they are ruining a good search engine.

And just at this moment, we have hordes of affiliate marketers working 24/7 updating their "articles" to say "best _______ 2022".

Just today, Google discover suggested me an article titled exactly

"Proton & Atom LT vs Nano Air: Key Points ([month_year])"

I would be very surprised if there wasn't a Wordpress or similar plugin to automate this.

There is...

> the chances that I’m also interested in buying a similar thing in the next few days / weeks are drastically reduced

This is a comment sentiment (I’ve already bought a fridge! Don’t need another!) and it is a bit of a failure mode. But, I think value on advertising around recent purchases to people is super high. A recent purchase, although often wrong, is one of the best signals you can get. So much purchasing happens in clusters (setting up a space, picking up a hobby, etc) that a specific person is in buying mode for a specific topic is crazy valuable. And there’s splash damage on the wrong ads. Maybe you don’t buy a second rice cooker, but the ad reminds you to get a toaster.

Not just that, the odds some one will return a product are non trivial.

Good point. I bought a wireless router, didn't like it, got another one a month later. I imagine the odds you'll buy a wireless router in the next month if you bought one in the last month are way higher than almost any other signal you could find.

> Another thing that advertisers don’t seem to understand somehow: if I searched for a thing or even clicked through a FB ad and bought it, the chances that I’m also interested in buying a similar thing in the next few days / weeks are drastically reduced.

This is a ten-year old talking point. Why people continue to insist on this falsehood is beyond me. Do you think these advertisers are stupid?

-> buy refrigerator. gets lost during transport / is damaged / “oh, I wanted the 550T, not 505T” / “works great, let’s also replace the one in the beach house” / etc.

You have to remember that these possibilities are competing with other ads that have extremely low rates of success.

>> Another thing that advertisers don’t seem to understand somehow: if I searched for a thing or even clicked through a FB ad and bought it, the chances that I’m also interested in buying a similar thing in the next few days / weeks are drastically reduced.

> This is a ten-year old talking point. Why people continue to insist on this [...] is beyond me.

Because it continues to happen.

> falsehood

The only falsehood here is your claim that this is a falsehood.

> Do you think these advertisers are stupid?

Yes, apparently they are.

Dcrainmaker has been "pay for play" for at least the past 10 years. He's very thorough, but not altruistic. There was a guy on Slowtwich that shared a conversation with him that was enlightening to that fact.

Someone has to pay the bills. I don’t think receiving money to do a review is inherently wrong, there are just too many products to afford to review, but having a rigorous process to eliminate or expose bias is important. However, it does suck looking for reviews of a product which is not a main player in the market or category.

I agree. He uses statements like "this was a test unit and I'm sending it back at the end. I will purchase one with my own money" to make it seem like he wasn't compensated. Be really needs to start it off saying he was, but not with the unit.

Can you share a link to this ?

> Google and FB are advertising companies trying to be more than that

This also seems to be what Amazon is also devolving into. Amazon ads is the fastest growing part of amazon!

Yes. Just searched for "cholimex soy sauce". 80% of the search results page was covered by an ad for mayonnaise...

I never had problems with fake products on Amazon until I looked for a usb thumb drive for the Arlo camera base station.

There’s a dramatic difference in price for 1T sizes. Some at $30. Others at $150. I couldn’t understand it.

One of the 0 star reviews said it was actually a 32Gb drive that somehow fools the OS to think it is bigger. Not sure how that happens but it steered me away from any of the cheaper options as I don’t need a headache.

SoundOnSound is great, especially since they still host their entire review history. They tend to show up in my top Google results, when searching for older audio equipment at least. For things like mixers and audio interfaces, they've tested quite a few things.

If Google really cared, dropping all pages with affiliate links, would get rid of 99.9999% of the junk.

And no, I don't care about the tiny, tiny number of legit reviews with links. I doubt I'd see them anyhow.

I frequently dream of building a search engine that for this very reason penalizes any type of advertisement. This problem goes way beyond product searches. Every time I look up a how-to for pretty much anything, programming, video games, fixing house stuff, all search results that aren't user provided like Stackoverflow or Reddit, it's always stuffed with useless info that anyone having the problem already knows about ant that's clearly just there for SEO or to create more space for ads. Non-verbatim example from yesterday: search: "Outer Wilds Echoes of the Eye underground lake stuck bell" result: "Echoes of the Eye is the first DLC for Outer Wilds...blah...find artifact to enter the dream world...blah". The top, ideal answer should be a single sentence and maybe a screenshot.

Of course disincentivizing ads would never fly at google and an ad-free search engine would have a hard time being economically viable.

If you would literally pay for an amazon filter, why don't you put your money where your mouth is and buy from dedicated shops?

Initially because I hate monopoly but also because looking for something decent on amazon is a major PITA I avoid amazon for nearly everything. If I need a computer, I buy direct to the vendor or to a computer shop. If I need new bicycle parts I go to an online bikeshop, if I want a new sampler groovebox, I go to a store selling home studio gears. Well this isn't totally true as I now favor second hand stuff but the reality is Amazon is not very effective at offering you the best things, and not even at the best price. Most online shops nowadays offer shipping time on par with what you get on Amazon.

In then end I don't see any good incentive to use Amazon. Some people will say centralized market place but if searching a decent product takes much more time than finding a good specialized store and getting decent product quickly you haven't really gained anything. Single account for all your shopping? Many shops offer buying without creating an account. Others will allow you to seamlessly create the account at ordering time and password managers make it easy to manage multiple accounts.

Dedicated shops don't help themselves by having a convoluted check-out process that nearly always involves creating an account, figuring out whether ticking the box or not ticking the box will unleash an avalanche of marketing emails, then entering your payment details via some obscure 3rd party payment system, etc.

Nearly all of them allows Paypal/Google/Apple pay among other. This is definitely not what I would call obscure 3rd party. Figuring out wether ticking or not ticking the box usually involve knowing how to read. And as I said many of them allow for guest access without any account creation.

Snark aside, making the correct check/uncheck often still results in spam emails anyway, such asking for feedback or once a year sales promo. I’ve noticed the majority of independent online retailers do this. I guess it works or they wouldn’t, just like physical spam mail.

Figuring out wether ticking or not ticking the box usually involve knowing how to read.

I see what you did there.

Not surprising. It's incomparably quicker and more profitable to list a few top selling products with affiliate links and a bunch of relevant keywords, than to spend significant time and money actually researching and comparing these products in a meaningful way.

> They seem to be totally missing this signal

Ok, but how would they know that you already bought the product? As advanced as ads are, they still don't have the Amazon confirmation telling them you already completed the purchase.

Google partners with at least one major credit card company[1] so their ad network should be aware of purchases if a particular payment system were used. I expect this is far more widespread than we realise (unfortunately) but using that data to not show ads to recent purchasers would harm revenue, so they remain visible.

[1] https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-45368040

>but using that data to not show ads to recent purchasers would harm revenue, so they remain visible.

that doesn't make any sense. By that logic they wouldn't want to do targeting at all, because targeting by definition reduces the amount of people you can show ads to.

I imagine that Google does in fact use credit card data, but there is no way to tell if you already bought everything you want.

Is there some aggregation of these domain-specific review sites anywhere?

Wirecutter has been pretty hit-and-miss for me recently. I have found my best product recommendations through a bunch of random blogs who have some particular expertise.

time for a community maintained Programmable Search https://programmablesearchengine.google.com/about/

When I find a review site I like, I add it to mine. (https://cse.google.com/cse?cx=dc408db269da4e769) Then I have a bookmark bar button that searches just my whitelisted review sites.

Isn’t the obvious solution to include the age (or the number of sales) of a product into its rating? This way they can’t just rotate the product/brand names.

> trying to be more than that

Citation needed ;)

Just researched good/quality crafting printers yesterday. Search results were mostly blogs and crappy websites that offered obviously no insights but were just SEO optimized to direct you to their Amazon affiliate links. Especially sad since those affiliate links to Amazon mostly resulted in "This product is currently not available" site.

I am going to remind people that this happens because that's the internet (and world) we designed. If you aren't a coder and you want to earn a living online, blogging is a way to do that and Amazon links are a way to make it pay.

People use AdBlock and don't want to leave tips, support Patreon etc for a blog. Good jobs are hard to find. Telling someone "Get a real job" is often not a viable solution for various reasons.

If you want a better internet, you might stop and think about the fact that it is built by people and people need to eat. De facto expecting slave labor from some people and then designing an internet where those people can hijack your search results to try to eat gets you this.

I know no one actually wants to hear that. But I think that's the actual root cause of this stuff and you won't fix it if you don't address those issues.

I've tried for years to take the high road, to not have ads or Amazon links on my sites, etc. The result is starvation and intractable poverty and everyone telling me to get a real job. (I tried. They didn't hire me and continue to cyber stalk me and steal my ideas.)

Anyway, I know all replies to this comment will boil down to "Quit your bitching. No one gives one damn if you die on the streets of starvation and we are so bored with hearing about your whiny problems." Rest assured, I am not leaving this comment with any expectation whatsoever that it will in any way help me.

But maybe after I die on the streets someone will pause and think "Maybe she had a point. Maybe we designed a shitty system with bad incentives and we are getting exactly the crap we pay people to give us."

Because the "high road" where someone tries to add value and respect the fact that you folks don't want ads or affiliate links etc literally doesn't pay to the point of it will keep you underfed and either homeless or underhoused and then your poverty will be a new excuse to have no respect for your observations that "Hey, people, the system you designed is broken and this is why and how."

Well, there are at least two separate, though not unrelated, problems:

1. Good jobs are hard to find, so some people try to make a living instead by influencing what other people buy, in exchange for kickbacks from the sellers.

2. The sellers offering the largest kickbacks are never the sellers offering the best value for money, because if they are, a reseller can buy the products from them, charge a higher price, and spend some of the markup on kickbacks to product shills. This results in a systematic bias toward overpriced junk in heavily advertised products.

3. While some knowledgeable people do still take the time to share their knowledge and unbiased judgments, which is for example mostly how Wikipedia is written, Google and other search engines are increasingly directing search traffic to the product shills instead.

I agree with you that, given problem #1 and problem #3, problem #2 is sort of inevitable, and all three problems tend to mutually reinforce each other. But I think we could reduce either problem #1 or problem #3 by an order of magnitude without significantly reducing the other one. In particular, we might not be able to completely solve the SERP quality problem without solving the jobs problem, but I think we could improve it enormously just by writing a better search engine, which is an easier problem than fixing the entire economy.

I'm sorry to hear you're back on the streets, and I hope your situation improves before you die. I'm glad you're not dead yet because I often find your comments insightful. Happy new year!

I'm not back on the streets yet. I moved a few weeks ago. I have been told this is a temporary solution and I live in fear, as I have for several months now, of ending up back on the streets and dying there.

I don't see surviving that a second time, for reasons I don't care to dig around in.

Crap... I have enjoyed reading you here. We have a borked up system where someone who has a keen mind and something to say ends up struggling. Not sure what to say here other than I hate it.

Making sure we have the basics available to people should be a top priority. And yeah, some would take advantage. I've reached the point, due to many people I know struggling, where I basically don't care. Let them.

The net good out of all that would be worth it, and maybe, just maybe a little less money is made, or efficiency or whatever crazy metric being looked at isn't peak optimized... Again, just don't care.

Given all we have and the smarts, tech, info available, we should not be facing this crap too many of us are.

That's all, just venting a little and I sure hope your situation can improve.

Happy Holidays and all that. You are one of the good people, and it shows.

I understand. Condolences. I'm at least a few months away from that.

We need to solve the housing supply issues in the US. (I don't know where you live, I just don't feel qualified to speak to issues in other countries. I've studied them for mine.)

That's off topic for this discussion, but deeply intertwined with why so many people are so desperate for money and throwing in the towel on ethics in favor of asking themselves "Does it pay enough?"

> people are so desperate for money and throwing in the towel on ethics

Deliberate social policy.

Wikipedia is not a completely unbiased source despite it having editors and an anti-spammer system.

It definitely is not completely unbiased, but the reason it works at all is the people who are trying to be honest, not the shills.

That applies to our society at large, as well.

As for Wikipedia itself, I stopped contributing a few years ago, since I did not have the energy and the time needed to fight the systemic bias that the editors had (and have) on a variety of topics.

Also, 2021 was probably the first year in which I did not donate to Wikipedia.

I would argue corporate shills keep some information confidential by removing specific things on Wikipedia. Arguably, they do this to protect cut-throat predators in powerful positions. Which is why these cut-throat predators have an artificially cleaner reputation at the expense of exploitable people arguably. I don't completely trust Wikipedia when it comes to information about politicians, rich people, famous celebrities, specific "philanthropists", etc. Ricky Gervais, Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, Graham Elwood, Lee Camp, Whitney Webb, George Carlin, Aaron Russo, and other people made me not trust Wikipedia anymore. Wikipedia comes across as another way to put information online through rose-colored glasses to some extent for protecting people in powerful positions, such as the C.I.A. intelligence agents, by making confidential things nonexistent on public websites. People can claim I went down the rabbit hole all they want. But I know that the rise of Orwellian online surveillance, creepy phone verification systems, dehumanizing censorship, brainwashing social credit scores, decreasing human rights, increasing wealth inequality, cut-throat rulers, mental health issues from not being rich during this pandemic, and younger generations being less professionally skilled than older ones are happening internationally now. I find cut-throat rulers who have lots of money are keeping most people trapped during this pandemic via vaccine passports, not letting them renounce their citizenship, online surveillance, censorship, monopolizing the internet at the expense of online anonymity, not letting them be employees without coronavirus vaccinations despite negative side effects that killed some people or worsened their health significantly, forcing people into coronavirus quarantine needlessly that makes them financially threatened when they are getting unpaid while being quarantined, etc. From what I experienced, Wikipedia has favoritism of information that benefits the ruling class only. I would rather go to other online sources for truly investigative journalists that are not shills for oligarch-owned media companies.

Eh, maybe.

I genuinely agree with you. People need to eat, and live comfortably and be able to afford things like medical care, a place to live safely etc.

I also think the blanket of “all affiliates are bad” is a bit much. I love supporting people who just do a good job. SEO spam is not what I call a good job, it’s a sleazy exploitation of the average consumer.

With that said, I have purchased many things based on what I consider honest good reviews who linked to affiliate programs and I do not regret this. I wish companies (Amazon for instance, as they’re rent biggest right now) simply policed their affiliate programs better to incentive good unbiased reviews sites that Specialize in high quality, and dropped the SEO spammers

Three problems here.

1. Skewed incentives. A company that buys "organic" product placement wants to show it in the best possible light, and increase sales. They don't need an impartial review, so the blogger has a hard time to produce one.

2. Fragility and failures. Affiliate links expire and don't get updated. Ads point at things no longer available. Ads spend an inordinate amount of resources on the viewer's machine. Targeting is inaccurate, despite incessant attempts to track and correlate users' profiles.

3. Direct payment is rarely an option! I personally would greatly appreciate an option to pay $1-2 and read an impartial review of something I'm planning to purchase. Maybe even $5-7 for expensive stuff. But there are very few places that offer this. Those that do try hard to peddle a yearly subscription. Also, it appears that I'm the minority, and the number of visitors willing to pay directly is too low to sustain the authors.

I still hope that it's Patreon and direct support by consumers what the future looks like, not corporate sponsorship and ads.

Right. We need direct payments to be an option. If someone is going to pay the reviewer, I'd rather it be me than the product manufacturer.

But I also agree that I think we're in the minority, and that most people won't do direct payments. I think this is the reason for the aggressive push for yearly subscriptions, because they know that a) it's hard to get people to pull out their wallet for each transaction, and b) it's hard to get people to come back to spend money in future transactions.

As much as I want a general micropayments system, I know that even I will spend more cognitive effort than I should when deciding something like "will this article be worth 10 cents to me?" The difference between $0 and even $0.01 is emotionally very large.

> As much as I want a general micropayments system, I know that even I will spend more cognitive effort than I should when deciding something like "will this article be worth 10 cents to me?" The difference between $0 and even $0.01 is emotionally very large.

That’s my concern as well: I like the idea in theory but al increasingly thinking the reason past attempts have failed is that it’s more of a mirage than a stable alternative. Advertising has worked better for people with no money, people who disagree about what your content is worth, people who want to see before they pay, people who say they want to see before they pay but will cheat, people who don’t want to be constantly asked to make financial decisions, people who don’t want potential surprises of their kid/roommate/etc. uses their computer, etc. That’s definitely not saying that the status quo is great but it avoids a lot of failure modes which immediately become roadblocks if you’re asking people for money.

This has real societal consequences, too: we’d be much better off if the average person got their news from the NYT, WSJ, Economist, etc. but those sites have paywalls while a lot of less principled journalism to outright propaganda is free. I really wish we had a more convincing story for how to support things like that but it’s still unclear whether we do.

>we’d be much better off if the average person got their news from the NYT, WSJ, Economist, etc.

Man I don't know about that. In some ways, yes I agree with you. But in other ways I can't.

None of the major entities produces news and commentary from the labor point of view, for example. It's hard to get them to talk about media consolidation, news for profit, and a whole pile of other issues too, and it all boils down to a couple things:

1) AD driven models favor those who can buy the products and services pitched in the ADS

2) Conflicts of interest abound! The massive media consolidation we saw after the Telecommunications Act of 1996 really did a number on one of the basic dynamics we depend on, and that is many owners, many models, competition all tended to work as checks and balances. A small, indie house could run a labor story, or talk about Net Neutrality without having a conflict rooted in a big corporation not wanting to publish news and commentary that would impact it's bottom line in a negative way. Just one example.

Today, we've got investigative journalism relegated to niche players who are doing good, often quite expensive work that isn't being seen due to suppression and a misinformation problem that is not easy or cheap to solve.

Your point isn't invalid. I am saying it's more complicated than that.

I don’t disagree that there’s a lot to improve. I was just thinking from the very minimal perspective of how often they knowingly run outright propaganda. None have a perfect track record (Iraq & Judith Miller come to mind) but then I look at the outright fabrications people share on Facebook and that stuff is always free.

This is an easy way to get depressed wondering whether we can successfully navigate a global news environment.

It is depressing.

Those sites run propaganda :( Access journalism, Iraq as you mention, Russiagate... There are other examples not hard to find.

Kind of a mess really. When I was a kid, we had some class segments on news bias, and actually had to find and identify news and commentary, differentiate fact from opinion, and find pieces written from various points of view: labor, big business, left, right, etc... My own kids did not see any education of that kind. I did it.

I suppose another angle might be clarity. There is a lot of low clarity "news" being put out there. Fact and opinion are not clearly, nor easily, differentiated. That's a problem, and a major feeder to Uncle Liberty posting on FB...

I do feel competing with FB would be effective given some entity somewhere can get funded in a way that allows for a labor and or not pro-war point of view, and that's just as an example. Any meaningful differentiation that can contrast with the majors might work.

On the upside, global is actually a benefit! One thing people can, and I suggest they actually do, is get news from abroad. There does remain some of the older dynamic between nations and their various news services. It's possible to get a diverse take on the US that way, and it's what I do personally.

> I am going to remind people that this happens because that's the internet (and world) we designed.

we didn't design that - they did. I used the Internet in the 90s on my 56k modem and it was mostly ad-free. Stuff was still free, but mostly because people created content out of curiosity and because it was their hobby (yes, I had a website and was using frames and image maps heavily) or university sponsored (IRC, NNTP, Mailinglists). I paid 5$/month for a shell account, later shared the cost for a dedicated server with a couple of friends (we had a traffic limit of 50GB/month) to offer content and services to other people - expecting nothing in return.

Then companies realized how much money was in, and suddenly all good, federated and free services were overrun by spam (mostly NNTP). To this day, companies like FB, Insta, Google etc. try to lure as many content-creators to users their "free" sites, while they actually pay with their data or the data of your content consumers - while the data is used to steal attention to show you ads for stuff you don't need. The amount of GDPR violations by those Megacorps is immense as they very well know that presenting a "reject all tracking" button as demanded by the GDPR ruins their business model (less than 10% actually agree to being tracked when presenting them the choice).

My solution to all this is easy: Ban all advertising on the internet, or, at least advocate to as many people as possible to use adblockers. Only when ads are gone, will people spend money on products such as FB and Youtube, and only then can there be actually competition - because right now, you can't compete with "free" services with any other model than using ads+tracking yourself.

> People use AdBlock and don't want to leave tips, support Patreon etc for a blog. Good jobs are hard to find. Telling someone "Get a real job" is often not a viable solution for various reasons.

> If you want a better internet, you might stop and think about the fact that it is built by people and people need to eat. De facto expecting slave labor from some people and then designing an internet where those people can hijack your search results to try to eat gets you this.

Even if no one used ad blockers and tips were commonplace, we'd still have these problems with crap SEO and affiliate links. It's like with technology products: they say "if you aren't paying for it, you're the product not the customer," but even if you are paying for it you can still be the product (e.g. your TV manufacturer putting ads in your expensive TV's menus).

Ultimately the problem is greed and the ridiculous degree of tolerance of it, unchecked by any cultural expectation of quality or virtue.

I'm not going to say "quit your whining" but rather, maybe this isn't "the world we built", maybe it's "the way the world is". I know I've been guilty of thinking the later when I should think the former but really don't know what we'd change. Do you really think the internet would have flourished if it was pay per view (or similar solution)?

I remember using online services in the 80s where they charged by the minute. CompuServe, GEnie, and even just my ISP when I first got internet in the 90s. Data of 1 but I know that gave me a "use it as little as possible" mindset.

Further, if some groups set out to charge and some other groups offered "free with ads" I'm pretty confident "free with ads" would win (see Radio, TV, Podcasts as other examples of "free with ads"). So, short of outlawing free (which would likely never happen), I don't see how we'd have not gotten where we are at the moment.

That isn't to say we can't do better now but I'm less confident we could have conscientiously directed ourselves to better. I think natural forces got us her and will take people experiencing better to get them to switch better.

To put it another way, without tasting the "free with ads" kinda sucks, few would be willing to fork over $ for better.

I personally do not like paywalls. I had Google ads. I discontinued them.

For a long list of reasons, I want my writing to be freely available. I got my very first Amazon payout of like $16 or something a few months ago. I also got an email reminder that I am legally required to very prominently display information telling people I have Amazon links on my site.

I took the links down and thought about updating my sites to comply with the requirement and so far haven't, in part because I suspect the $16 was from some local asshole unqualified for his job (the job I applied for) buying ugly bike racks and plopping them down in bad locations all over my lovely downtown area like little piles of manure as a daily reminder of how corrupt these people are, how much they have shafted me for no real damn reason other than pathos on their part and they are ruining the town I hope to improve.

I was unable to readily find (affiliate) links to bike racks I would like to see in this town and I'm angry at what is being done to this town by these immoral, incompetent cretins and it causes me to think that I might actively encourage their shit behavior ruining this town because I'm so desperate for money that $16 on that day meant I could afford a fucking coffee which put an end to my splitting headache.

I do not wish to make the world and town I live in a worse place because I'm so desperate for money and I think taking the Amazon solution potentially pushes me in that direction.

Anyway, I don't know how to fix this. I try to tell people what it looks like from where I sit because I know HN has a lot of coders, etc and they aren't daily exposed to the reality that "If you choose to not be a sell out, you go hungry." basically.

I just want my life to work. I don't actually want to make what sounds like "political" commentary to other people. If my life worked, I would likely be all "Meh. Not my problem. I don't want to fight with these fools and trying to point this out is not worth the drama. Moving on."

But it does impact me. It impacts me to the point where I literally fear for my life due to my intractable poverty and sometimes I feel compelled to comment, though I don't really expect it to help me. Maybe after I am beyond help, people will stop wondering what's in it for DoreenMichele and think "She had a point. Let's find a solution that incorporates these observations."

This is possibly rambly at this point. I'm posting it anyway and then will try to stay out of this conversation.

Don't mistake "people using adblock" with "I don't have a valid business model". Adblock users are a minority among people browsing the internet.

> If you want a better internet, you might stop and think about the fact that it is built by people and people need to eat. De facto expecting slave labor from some people and then designing an internet where those people can hijack your search results to try to eat gets you this.

The problem is that the sane alternative, where people can get fed while selling quality a-la-carte content directly to the reader, doesn't really exist. If one or more review sites would work to develop a good reputation, I'd be happy to spend a one-shot $3 or $5 on their (for example) wireless earbud reviews. But this thing basically doesn't exist (or at least I can't find it, because of all the aforementioned shit-quality search engine results). Someone upthread mentioned a German site that does this, but then someone replied saying their expertise is limited and their reviews in many product categories aren't that great. Then we have things like Consumer Reports in the US, but I've found the quality of their reviews to have declined over the past decade or so; I've read some of their free content for product categories where I'm already knowledgeable, and I've disagreed heartily with enough of their findings to be skeptical of them.

When it comes to news and opinion pieces, I'd be fine paying on a per-article basis, but we have no established micropayments system, and I'm not paying $10-$20/mo for each of the 50 sites that come up in various news aggregators I read and have paywalls. There are a few sites and YouTube channels that I read/watch nearly daily, so I subscribe to their Patreon or periodically drop money in their donations bin. But the majority of the content I consume comes from various sources, from a list that changes nearly daily.

> Maybe we designed a shitty system with bad incentives

Who is the "we" here, though? I would love to change this, but I feel pretty powerless to do so. At least not without making it my life's work, with a very high chance of failing at it regardless.

Let people know that you are willing to pay for good writing online without a paywall.

Support Patreon or similar. Leave tips.

One of my first big successes on HN got 60k pageviews and made me not one thin dime. No one left a tip. No one supported my Patreon.

I have been writing for years because I am seriously medically handicapped but educated. Writing is something I can do.

People don't want to hire me for resume work or other freelance writing. I'm a woman and former homemaker and most successful business people are men. They rarely want to talk to me about my work or how to succeed. Most often, if men try to talk to me, they are hoping for a romantic connection and from my end the experience boils down "All you horrible people are watching me starve but you think I will sleep with you??? Seriously?!!!!"

Leave tips (or support Patreon or similar). Tell people you leave tips on sites with good writing. Promote the various means people can accept cash for their online writing.

I don't know what else to tell you. But saying you can't make a difference because you are a nobody is part of the problem.

You don't have to save the world. Just buy a writer lunch or a cup of coffee, so to speak. Spread the word.

I just signed up for a coffee a month. Good luck!

Thank you!

A while back, I put a little in my budget for small projects. Some are software, others are writing, whatever.

It's not much, but I know very well it all adds up, and maybe a little positive energy plays out for you too.

What I did was quit buying my coffee. :D

And that worked out!! I have a little percolator, which I love when camping or something. That thing makes the best damn coffee. For the quickie at home, this is corny, but I got an Aeropress and it also makes a fantastic and kind of fun cup of coffee.

> Let people know that you are willing to pay for good writing online without a paywall.

Or easier, adhere to the GDPR (at least in the EU) and provide a "reject all non-essential" button as demanded right next to "accept all" without any dark patterns, and their ad-business plummet and you have to demand payment for the service to be sustainable. So my point is, the whole thing can be fixed if Megacorps would abide by the law, and law enforcement would also not take >5 years to act on violation lawsuits (see noyb's lawsuits against FB which are going on 8 years and even date prior to the GDPR).

I've been fooling you--kinda for years, but I'm hellbanned. I'll post this anyway.

In all honesty, I haven't found a writer, or journalist, I'm giving any money to besides a few honest non-profits. (And yes it's hard to find a honest 501c3.)

I feel you should put the affiliate links on your writing. It's not selling out. It's selling out when you have good income, security, and a home.

I don't have any problems with average people putting up affiliate links, or ads.

It's the wealthy boys who can never get enough monetary praise I have a problem with.

>If you want a better internet, you might stop and think about the fact that it is built by people and people need to eat. De facto expecting slave labor from some people and then designing an internet where those people can hijack your search results to try to eat gets you this.

People don't/can't pay for things anymore because trillions of dollars have been siphoned out of the holdings of the middle and working classes over the past 50 years. If not for piracy and subscription services, the music and film industries would have collapsed years ago. If you made people pay for the things they used to, they... wouldn't. Because they can't.

Roughly 40 Trillion since the late 70's.

For my entire life I've tried to become a programmer, went as far as studying CS for three years, never managed to get a diploma as I ran into some financial and health issues... you mention

> I know no one actually wants to hear that. But I think that's the actual root cause of this stuff and you won't fix it if you don't address those issues.

I think the real issue, is, the world is much bigger than the first world countries. I would love to have a diploma, to get a "real" job as a programmer for some random company, to add that "value" to the internet, to design useful software for actual people, etc. etc. But I was born in Eastern Europe..

I tried freelancing a few times through gac, rac, and scriptlance which later got "globalized" (all acquired and killed by freelancer.com, yay capitalism).. and I just can't compete with indians on that site, way too many of them, somehow quoting 5% of the price promising double or triple of what I can do somehow...

So I tried looking for that "Real" job, except I was born ugly as hell with broken teeth, so nobody would even take me seriously. Even one of my professors in uni told me once: "See.. if you could do less drugs and study more, I bet you could get an A, it's a B- for now..".. I never even tried drugs, but apparently I'm so ugly half my profs thought I was drugged. As far as I can tell, It's just nepotism right and left, people only hiring other pretty-looking-people-alike for both normal and startup-like jobs where I come from. Zero chance for me.

So on the brink of giving up on everything, I took a construction job for 6 months, which allowed me to save enough money for a plane ticked and my first month of rent in UK. Now I'm a Reach Truck driver in a warehouse.. making >triple the salary I could make as a programmer in my home country, but slowly destroying my back and knees every d day.

Funnily enough, I've met quite a few programmers, lawyers, accountants, pharmacists and even a surgeon through my warehouse jobs in the last two years. Quite smart people, a few broken teeth here and there, a couple disfigured faces, husbands, kids, sick family, plenty stuff...

The internet is just bullshit, just like most of this society. Making money, jobs, starvation, HA! I don't even know what I'm trying anymore or why I still keep reading on this site.

Sorry for the rambling, your message just resonated somehow for me so I felt I should say something. Good luck to you!

I'm sorry the world treated you the way it did. We've set up a quite harshly unforgiving environment that in many ways impoverishes our souls in similar ways the harsh elements of the physical world impoverished our bodies before the rise of civilization.

If you have studied that much CS, then you likely have fulfilled many of the ACM recommended curricula [1] for at least an associates degree if not more. If that is true, then you have some options. Do not discount your dual fluency in English and your mother tongue. There is no shame in taking a good small-scale Internet business idea implemented in the Anglosphere and reproducing it in your mother tongue. There are numerous tiny ideas mentioned in comments here on HN that bring in modest sums, but fill a niche unlikely to have already been implemented in your home country. If it is enough to pay for a laptop upgrade once every 3-5 years, and maybe some beer money, then that's as good a start as any.

Bonus points if you find a Net-based business opportunity that also leverages your current UK geographic location.

Lift weights, eat right, sleep enough, and take good care of your body in the meantime, those warehouse jobs are no joke, and you are ahead of the pack by already recognizing that. If I was single, living alone, young, and working a warehouse job while working on my coding, then I'd abandon all real estate-oriented shelter, stealth vandwell, and digital nomad between free WiFi hotspots for my connection to free-tier cloud resources (CLI and tmux for the win on high-latency, low-bandwidth connections); rent-to-wage ratios are completely insane in developed nations' urban, suburban and exurban areas.

Stay out of the rentier trap. Trying to rent a room cost me a few years of unnecessary toil when I started out that contributed nothing towards my advancement, when for all practical purposes, I lived out of my car with the hours I was spending at a part-time job, on campus classrooms, labs, and libraries, napping in my car, and about every other day crashing back in my rented room that really was more a storage shed than used as an apartment. If I had a stealth van and student gym membership back then, then I would have been better off, but I was too stupidly proud to do that ("gasp, I'll be homeless!" was a complete red herring).

[1] https://www.acm.org/education/curricula-recommendations

You can raise funds for a software project as a pseudonymous founder these days, if you can explain your ideas clearly or can put together an MVP. That might help with the "other people judging by appearance" problem.

After reading your comment, I visited your page and glanced around. Am I right in interpreting your specialty is coming up with how to turn a better phrase (writing)?

If so, then that's a very underappreciated domain at this time (much to our detriment, but that's for a different discussion). Not just in tech, but everywhere. The entire field has been aggressively monetized to near extinction; whatever writing doesn't directly impact revenue/profits, gets dumped onto line workers. And the results show.

The quality of writing and lucid ideas found in advertisements and landing pages is markedly higher than from say, in a somewhat-technical presentation to managers-of-managers. I've sat through more than a few quite underwhelming presentations that violated some of the most basic principles of presenting ("don't mumble hoping the slide will carry the presentation", "don't read the slide word-for-word", etc.).

There is a dearth of assistance for coaches to help improve those kinds of "writing". And a huge number of aspiring, gung-ho FAANG employees who are wondering why management won't listen to them. There's a gap to be filled here, and people with the disposable income to pay for outcomes.

Leverage your non-technical sphere as a strength (I liked your pull request journey, it is true that coders don't normally perceive and accommodate skill stratifications in our docs, a byproduct of the monetization of writing that killed too many technical writing/librarian positions in our industry). Perhaps look into positioning the writing assistance you offer to technical staff as a way to communicate to non-technical managers, where you help translate the technical concepts that have to be broken down to you due to your non-technical background, into ideas the managers readily grasp. It would help if you retained a lot of the corporate-speak that Rands in Repose sometimes writes about that you doubtless saw in your Aflac stint, and knew when to judiciously use it.

Maybe investigate some offer like helping coders write emails to managers. If that gains traction, offer small-medium-large presentation improvement coaching, based upon the length of the presentation (15, 30, 60 minutes). Where shorter lengths increase in cost. Then if that gains traction, offer coaching linked to an annual performance goal of "improve communicating with managers".

I agree with you. I think Google works very well. People expect to go on Google, pay nothing, and get good information. So industries have arisen that do just that. I find it amazing that I can type obscure questions into Google and get content custom crafted to answer my question.

Often the answers are not the best. What can I expect? I paid nothing for them! When I want good information, I pay for it.

>I think Google works very well.

>Often the answers are not the best.

Well, which is it?

Both. It works very well for what it is. Considering that I paid absolutely nothing for it, it's great.

Most SEO spam I've seen lately looks like it's produced by neural networks and maybe curated by people afterwards.

Have you tried making some content available only to subscribers?

Even if you use patreon, people get greedy and eventually will sell out and put up reviews of stuff for affiliate links, free products for reviews, etc.

You can't even search for GitHub issues anymore. You'll get some mirrored site that has the discussion, and from that webpage, you can't even get a direct link back to GitHub.

Github issue clones and StackOverflow clones pretty much dominate most of my programming related search results these days.

Unfortunately DDG isn't much better.

It takes a lot of effort to finesse a search query such that I can get a good result, like a link to documentation or a personal website where someone wrote something up (which is often more thoughtful than what Medium and Dev.to offer).

At this point google is a shortcut to documentation. I look for the first link that looks like a readthedocs page. You could even short-circuit this and bookmark the documentation for the tool you want. It's going "backwards" in a sense but learning to read a manual well can be quicker than letting google think for you.

I have never seen a Github issue clone or StackOverflow clone in my life.

This surprises me because it's a major problem for me, particularly for GitHub. I end up doing this for clones that don't even link back to the orginal:

1. Search for something 2. See the cloned issue but no results for the original 3. Copy some unique-looking text from the clone 4. Search the repo directly for that text

It's awful. Seems to be a very recent problem? Maybe the last few months?

If I google "winforms change title bar color", I stackoverflow on top and on the first page:



But this blocks it:


uBlacklist [0] solves this. The filters in [1] let me block all those clone sites.

[0]: https://github.com/iorate/uBlacklist

[1]: https://github.com/rjaus/awesome-ublacklist

It might be a function of your programming niche, but is it possible that you just didn't realize you were looking at a clone? These sites are everywhere.

It's a portion of the content that's cloned: the question and subsequent answers or discussion. The styling is usually totally different, even the page structure is different, to the point that I don't realize I'm looking at a clone unless I recognize the copy from a specific github or stackoverflow page that I had looked at previously in my search session.

Yeah, I also noticed that for "tiptoi wiki" Google ranks


higher than the actual GitHub wiki that all of the content was copied from


BTW, building my own interactive book was a great thing to do over Christmas.

I run https://github-wiki-see.page. Please read the about page link at the bottom or visit https://github-wiki-see.page for an explanation. I put it up after realizing my GitHub wiki contributions weren't available via Google.

GitHub blocks https://github.com/entropia/tip-toi-reveng/wiki/Languages and many other wikis from being indexed. In the case of the page you linked, GitHub serves the content with "X-Robots-Tag: none". The content of that page currently does not exist in Google at all. You can see the robot blocking header by looking at the Network tab in Chrome while loading the page in incognito mode or equivalent in other browsers.

As for having no link to GitHub, my service provides a huge button at the top and a direct URL to the original content. Please use those controls at the top to get to the content on GitHub. I do not selectively redirect to not trip cloaking detection or automatically redirect which risks the indexing helper being classified as a redirect in search engines.

If you have any other questions or suggestions, please let me know.

From https://github-wiki-see.page/

GitHub Wiki Search Engine Enablement (GHWSEE) allows non-indexed GitHub Wikis to be indexed by search engines.

This site will be decommissioned to redirect old links once the block is lifted or GitHub produces some other solution to index GitHub Wikis in harmony with their SEO concerns.

I do not see any wrongdoing from github-wiki-see.page here. They don't even amke money from it. Quite contrary, I do think that this is a useful project.

Hah, yeah I don't make any money from it. I think I'm like currently $300 in the hole from experiments and queries with it until I had settled on the current ramen architecture.

What's ramen architecture?

Just cheap, low cost hosting. I didn't expect the tool to take off so I was just hosting it on Cloud Run. I host it on fly.io now.

That might be fixable, if people want to expend the effort. Wiki pages are almost certainly copyrightable, so the owners could send DMCA takedown notices to github-wiki-see.page. If they're not responsive, send the DMCA notices to Google, which should be required to delist them. Unfortunately you have to do it on a URL-by-URL basis, and you can only send notices for pages you actually own copyright for, so it would mean a big coordinated effort to get them brought down.

I just don't understand why Google themselves allows this and doesn't rank these sorts of sites lower. They're clearly garbage sites with low utility.

Please read my explanation at http://github-wiki-see.page/ and observe why it exists. I believe it to be a site with extremely high utility.

It has already recently convinced/defrosted GitHub to gradually change their policy to not let GitHub wiki pages be indexed since 2012. For at least 9 years, people were writing content into GitHub and not realizing it wasn't indexed at all.

I'm happy to answer any questions or suggestions you have.

I also do not host the content at all. That said, people have submitted outdated content requests if they move off GitHub Wikis to Google and they are honored.

Google puts substantial effort into identifying copycat content. The main way they do that is to see which site had the content first.

Unfortunately with smaller sites, it could be a few days till their search bot finds the content, and often the copycat sites have agressive scrapers so appear to have the content first.

From googles point of view, the copycat is the original, and the original is the copycat.

There are also some kinds of copycat content which users actually prefer. For example, sites which bypass paywalls, sites which quote other sites, sites that display decrapified content from another site, etc.

In the case of http://github-wiki-see.page/, the original isn't even on Google! That's why my copycat wins.

FWIW, GitHub seems to be letting some Wikis be indexed on a test basis and I am very happy to see they are outranking GHWSEE. That said, with the current guessed criteria, there are still many publicly editable wikis with many stars and publically un-editable wikis on repos with few stars but useful information out there that aren't being indexed.

uBlacklist [0] solves this. The filters in [1] let me block all those clone sites.

[0]: https://github.com/iorate/uBlacklist

[1]: https://github.com/rjaus/awesome-ublacklist

Add "site:github.com" to your search and just get results from github.

yeah, had this experience myself while purchasing holiday gifts. amusingly, it made me pine for the days when you could walk into a shop and a knowledgeable salesperson would ask you a few questions and pick the right stuff for you.

it's funny because internet shopping became popular in the face of salespeople becoming corrupt under commission and performance schemes, now a big part of the commerce related internet is worse for pretty much the same reasons.

> it made me pine for the days when you could walk into a shop and a knowledgeable salesperson would ask you a few questions and pick the right stuff for you.

I still remember being in Best Buy and hearing the salespeople scamming less knowledgeable customers about how much computer they need or how important expensive cables are. I don't think there was ever a time when you could trust electronics store salespeople to sell you "the right stuff for you".

There was a time - the smaller the store the better. I agree big box stores were rarely good. But Radio Shack had excellent, helpful employees. Probably because RS vetted their employees carefully and paid pretty well (I know this from trying and failing to get a job there when I was around 16 years old).

I worked at Radio Shack. They had an extensive training program that all employees went through. There were multiple 50-page manuals for each product category. This meant training in A/V equipment and how to hook up TVs (which splitters and switches did what, how to wire many different audio setups, how VCR outputs worked, telephony equipment, pagers and Blackberries... etc.)

We had to go through all the certifications within something like six weeks of hire in order to be eligible for pay bumps and promotions. This even meant training on circuit components (at least knowing what they were, and how they were organized).

Any Radio Shack clerk that wasn't completely green went through this training, so we all knew our stuff.

One of the cool things about the job was getting to talk to "elder geeks" that would come in for components. One guy I helped had set up an old IBM 360 mainframe in his garage. The university he worked at didn't want it any more. He used it for messing around with assembly and as a space heater.

It was still a retail job, but it was better than most for a tech-head like me. I would've been flipping burgers or selling shoes (Payless was next door), so Radio Shack was a better stepping stone for me. It did nothing for getting me into a programming career, but it was a stop-gap to get there.

I worked at radio shack. We didn't have certification program but you are forced to learn quickly.

It was less about selling and more about people walking in knowing what they wanted or wanting to browse around and once in awhile someone with a problem that you had to piece together components to help. It was unlike other electronic stores I worked. You had to understand how invertors worked, rc cars and sell computers while trying to maintain an 80% names/address recorded.

You did sell. You entire got paid minimum wage or a % of what you earned for a two week period. 4% for name brand stuff 10% for store brand. My first two week period I sold computer after computer got highest sales in the district. For the next month or longer the minimum. Replacing the computer inventory took forever and I wasn't as good selling all of their other products. Great fun learning experience.

As far back as the 01990s my memories of Radio Shack are:

1. The only place around where you could go to buy a breadboard, or a transistor, or a resistor, or a headphone cable connector. Component selection unparalleled in the places where I lived. I don't want to exaggerate --- they had maybe ten kinds of transistors, not a hundred like Fry's, but I didn't live within 1000 km of a Fry's. And certainly not forty thousand like Digi-Key has today.

2. Salespeople who apparently didn't know anything but tried to get my phone number (!?) and, later, sell me cellphones. And cellphone plans. Jesus.

3. Stuff for makers getting gradually crowded out by worthless goods for mere consumers, stuff I could have bought at Best Buy or Sears if I wanted it. Things like TVs, VCRs, pagers, and Blackberries.

I still use a store-brand Radio Shack multimeter sometimes, and in the 01980s a lot of my early years of programming were on store-brand Radio Shack computers in my day care and elementary schools, both TRS-80 Model III and the CoCo.

Complete side note, why are you adding a leading zero to you years (or decades, in this case)?

See this LongNow article [1]. While I love the sentiment behind it, it creates an implicit fixed-length field which I think is not optimistic enough.

I'd rather make software handle an unsigned long long as a year: I want our optimism to extend beyond the presumed heat death of our universe, and into, if not finding a multiverse, creating it.

[1] https://longnow.org/ideas/02013/12/31/long-now-years-five-di...

Long long isn't nearly long enough to get to the heat death of the universe.

Thank you for the correction. We currently think heat death is around 10^3247 years, so we're back to Lisp bignum to express years. Might be a corollary to Greenspun's tenth rule: any sufficiently optimistic date package contains an ad hoc, informally-specified, bug-ridden, slow implementation of Common Lisp bignum?

It's to get people to ask that question.

It's his conceit.

It wasn't really a golden era.

Small local camera stores didn't carry much and were expensive. They tended to recommend something that they had in stock. Was still a pretty regular customer though because mail order wasn't as developed and you couldn't easily showroom gear locally.

And Radio Shack was certainly convenient for cables etc. and had often knowledgable employees. But most of the actual stereo equipment and other gear they carried just wasn't very good.

While not perfect, it was often good enough. Go in, see 6 cameras in three price ranges, choose the one fitting the best for the price you're willing to pay, then walk home happy. Now there's sooo much choice, and most of us end up trying to find the perfect purchase.

> Now there's sooo much choice, and most of us end up trying to find the perfect purchase.

The challenge I have now in most product categories is filtering out the sewage-offerings from the genuine values. I don't mind lots of choice if presented with an adequate McMaster-Carr type information-oriented UI (as opposed to the ad-friendly UI's we suffer through these days). I mind when most of the choices are dumpster fire quality, and I have no way to filter them out.

The (somewhat disputed) thesis of the paradox of choice.

But I don't really disagree especially for relatively commodity purchases. Yes, I actually looked up a spray nozzle for a hose on Wirecutter. But would I have been perfectly fine just walking into Home Depot and grabbing one? Probably.

That said. I'm probably better off researching thins like dishwashers rather than walking into a store (then or now) and picking one that catches my eye or that the salesperson recommends.

But you can certainly get into analysis-paralysis with any number of things from travel to cameras. And you're often better off just shutting the analysis down at some point.

Also support a small business owner and his or her family.

Ah best buy sales incentives. It reminds of the time I watched a salesman force the wrong case on an old lady's iPad, cracking the screen, and then blaming her for it.

My favorite line was some salesperson saying "you wouldn't want to connect a $2k tv with a cheap cable!". It certainly made me laugh.

The folks at Frys (particularly in hardware) were a useful resource (and good source of shop talk) all the way up until Fry's faded into irrelevance. They helped me sort through a good number of hardware-related issues

Micro Center staff still are like this, and that's much more than anything else why I buy whatever I can from them before looking anywhere else. I want them to stay in business, because otherwise I have to do my own research every time, and who has the time for that? - well, this, and also because I just delight in being still able to walk into one brick-and-mortar store where I know for sure I won't have wasted the trip.

We kid and joke about expensive cables, but we're at a point where it's become true. It's hit or miss buying USB cables. For fast-charging as an example (double-trouble if you don't have a quality or compatible charger to pair it with). Likewise for USB transfer rates (e.g. for the Oculus Quest that I was not planning on testing with 10 different 5m USB cables to see which worked).

Same goes for the connectors. All the IEEE and ISO standards out there in the world and the damn USB plugs stick out half the time (nevermind the Chinese-made ones I had that were 1.5x the normal length). In other instances 3.5mm jacks don't stay in or something or other becomes loose. And trying to find reviews or info about this online, or filtering it out to some level on purchase sites like Amazon is...tiring.

At least that was better than Fry’s or Home Depot, where salespeople actively walk away when they see you approaching, and have zero knowledge of what is even carried by the place they work. After a while I figured out that it’s better to just look myself on the shelves and endcaps vs trying to ask anything of the sales drones. Kinda like a physical Amazon. I’m sad that they’re out of business now, and with no more MicroCenter left in the Bay Area, the choices are now basically Amazon, eBay, or small online shops (if Central Computer and Halted, now closed as they sold to Excess Solutions @ 1555 S, 7th St. San Jose, CA 95112 don’t have what I’m after).

Odd, I’ve never had much trouble at Home Depot or Lowe’s getting an employee to help me find something. Usually they at least know where things are even if they couldn’t tell you how to use or install said item.

I've only ever overheard good quality advice at Microcenter.

As much as I love Microcenter, even there I've had a salesman give me uninformed advice, throw his bar code sticker on the thing he told me to get, and walk away.

So don't talk to that guy again. The others should be fine, unless your local store happens to have a lousy GM.

Initially I dealt with this concern by benchmarking the advice I got on a topic I do know a lot about. I haven't worried about that in a while; at least in the Towson store, the quality of advice and discussion has been such that the next time they steer me wrong will be the first.

I was recently in a Best Buy and overheard an employee explain the difference between a Pixel 6 and a 6 Pro as, "EVERYTHING is better". I had personally just compared the two side-by-side and concluded that the pro's only material differences were more RAM, worse build quality due to the curved screen edges, and the addition of a telephoto camera.

> a time when you could trust electronics store salespeople to sell you "the right stuff for you".

Remember RadioShack?

Rose colored glasses. Workers in stores were the original "affiliate marketers", in a lot of stores (especially electronic ones) workers were/are being paid to push the most expensive products.

Then when you try to pay, you get upsold warranties.

Actually it would make more sense for them to push the highest margin products. This could quite often be lower cost or in-house brands since prestige brands can dictate lower margins to the retailer.

Agree sales guys pushing warranties is a real pain but I'm almost nostalgic for it compared to dodging Prime sign-up every time and other online anti-patterns.

Guessing Migrine’s? Probably easier to search FL-41 glasses.

I like my axon brand, very helpful.

>it made me pine for the days when you could walk into a shop and a knowledgeable salesperson would ask you a few questions and pick the right stuff for you.

Uhhh, you can still do that, you know.

With all this lamentation about electronics stores of years past, nothing will compare to the malicious incompetence of car dealerships and service departments. Their business model these days is “if we all keep behaving badly together, consumers will have no choice but to accept our lies, markups, and chicanery”. The dealer groups paying politicians through campaign contributions to allow them to block manufacturer-direct sales (look up how you can’t buy a Tesla in Michigan, home of The Motor City, for example) is just the cherry on top.

Buying a new car is one of my absolutely least favorite things to do - even worse then doing my taxes. I will avoid it at all costs.

Current vehicle is coming up on 10 years old, hoping to get another 10 out of it - not because I can't afford a new one (I can), but because I feel like I have to take a shower every time I walk out of a car dealer.

LOL, I spent a number of years working with some very adept sales people. I was in a supporting role, but learned a ton.

For a while, I was buying cars for people because they hated it. I would save them a ton, and get a nice spiff for each one.

What I did was work through their whole process and then work them, usually getting out of there at invoice plus a few percent. Average deal took 4 to 6 hours. And the work would involve a dry run purchase somewhere other than where the target buy would happen. Sometimes a second one just find where the pivot points are and what it takes to swing them in buyers favor.

Started the whole thing on a new Expedition purchase in the '00s. It worked well, the MSRP was something like $45K, and I got the rig for $32K and some change. Not all the deals were that dramatic. Depended on the target car and time of year, but there was always mid to high 4 figures that could come out of the deal.

I've never purchased a new car for myself since. And I quit doing it for others a few years in.

The whole thing is generally terrible. While it was a sort of sport, fine! Game on. But it got soul draining very quickly.

Many dealers have responded with a hard line, "no bullshit" kind of approach, being willing to push people away and just take the ones who will pay and appreciate a smooth transaction. And those people will just pay more and just don't generally care.

And no judgement. That's worth... about mid to high 4 figures apparently.

Right now? No way. Sellers have all the advantages, and even better used car deals are crazy due to the shortages and the impact all that has on car pricing.

Could not imagine attempting it again today. Would be a mess, and probably would get told to pound sand. Look at the Ford dealers putting the squeeze on people who pre-ordered the EV F150! Pay an extra $30k right now, or continue to wait for it... Brutal.

> Buying a new car is one of my absolutely least favorite things to do

It's still annoying, but do it online and have your own financing.

Most dealerships are stupid, but a couple have figured out that if they offer a reasonable price online they can move cars with very little touch.

Having your own financing prevents idiocy from when you walk into the dealership to sign the paperwork. Unless the dealer has something special, you're never going to do better than your own financing.

Do be aware, buying a car right now is simply totally apeshit. Until the supply and demand equilibrate, things are going to be weird.

Yeah right. Two days ago I go into our local electrical goods store. I would like a USB-C to HDMI adaptor, I say. Sales guy looks around, scratches his nut. Sorry don't have one he says. Then he wanders off. I turn around and see one on the shelf. The price is double what you can get online. I tell him this. He shrugs and scratches his other nut and wanders off again. I walk out.

Yeah, I went into a Home Depot store that wasn't my regular location a couple weeks back looking for dowel rods. Trying to speed up my trip I asked two different employees on my way to the general area of the store which specific aisle they would be on. Neither of them even knew what a dowel rod was, let alone what aisle it might be on, and obviously neither of them would be qualified to proactively try to help avoid the ones with knots or badly angled grain. It's not just that sales staff are ignorant nowadays, it's that the job itself has practically vanished.

On that very topic, I saw a customer ask an employee manning the wood cutting station at a Home Depot if he could cut a dowel rod in half. The employee didn't know if it was possible because it was "round." I think they realized they can get away with just not training their employees.

Cutting round things in a saw can be dangerous if they aren't clamped correctly: they can spin. (Don't know of a link, this was taught to me at community college in the context of cutting round metal stock in a band saw.)

I mean, yeah? Train the staff on how to clamp correctly?

I would expect all cuts to be fully clamped in a store.

Did Home Depot ever teach their employees that kind of stuff? I always assumed they hired people with previous knowledge/experience. It's possible that there are just less people with that experience, that also want to work at a store like Home Depot.

>>Did Home Depot ever teach their employees that kind of stuff? I always assumed they hired people with previous knowledge/experience.

I think they used to hire people with industry experience - i.e. semi-retired or retired plumbers, electricians, carpenters handymen etc and that worked pretty well coming of the 2008 RE meltdown and economic mess at that time - but now any halfway qualified tradesperson can make close to or more than a six figure salary - so working at HD for $15/hr doesn't seem all that attractive anymore.

I don't even try to ask the employees any actual 'technical' questions - I am happy if they can just point me to the correct aisle to find what I need these days.

In that specific situation there’s likely training because operating a saw can be dangerous and incurs liability, not because Home Depot wants to impart knowledge to customers.

With Home Depot/Lowes the employee (or you) can look up on the item on the web site and it will show you the row/bay its located in. Dont be surprised when you see staff know even less about where things are located.

The good news is that there isn't enough volume to justify the corruption of the salesperson, so he is often more honest nowadays.

The bad news is that physical stores simply do not carry any diversity nowadays, so their knowledge is irrelevant.

> The bad news is that physical stores simply do not carry any diversity nowadays, so their knowledge is irrelevant.

Is that a "nowadays" thing though? At least in my location, the reason a lot of us flocked to the online option was the diversity of options available. Physical stores (for understandable reasons) stocked only the few top-selling options, knew about a few other options enough to say "no we haven't got that", and anything else would get a blank stare and a "is that a company's name?"

If you had put effort into your search and optimized the selection for your specific needs, you were much more likely to find the product online - the physical stores often forced you into a choice between different suboptimal products.

> The bad news is that physical stores simply do not carry any diversity nowadays

They never did, you just didn't realize they didn't before the internet exposed you to the options.

I think there’s lots of factors going on here too. Products were less often considered disposable two or three generations ago. A manufacturer wouldn’t offer 6 versions of nearly the same thing to capture all price points. Things used to be predominantly manufactured by hand, which also meant they were inspectable and repairable by hand. Manufacturing businesses typically kept less products on the market for longer periods (model numbers have become quarterly iterations or specific to a retailer). There’s now 50 options that appear identical for nearly every product when previously there might have been 5. It all contributes to it being difficult for staff to meaningfully “know” what’s being sold even if they wanted to, and businesses aren’t going to spend that time and money training employees on a product they won’t be selling in a month.

Microcenter blows Amazon out of the water. Selection is rediculous.

There are exceptions, but most people don't live near a store that has good selection.

> The bad news is that physical stores simply do not carry any diversity nowadays, so their knowledge is irrelevant.

yes, that is why i was shopping online.

Salespeople nowadays are basically recruited from the same pool as Uber Eats delivery people. They don't care about what they sell, they just want to make it to the end of the month.

For the most part, why would I trust random employees at a store?

Knowledgable retail sales employees have completely vanished outside of niche "passionate enthusiast turned their hobby into a business". Homebrew shops, gun stores, marijuana dispensaries, comic and table top gaming stores, etc, but even many of those are plagued with the same cheap shit you can find on Alibaba or Amazon and a good chunk of the time if it's not the business owner you're dealing with you might as well skip asking questions. Outside of those niche interest stores there's often not even sales staff present, there are just people who stock shelves and operate the point of sale system but they don't even attempt to present themselves as knowledgable and can at best only point you to the right aisle of the store.

> For the most part, why would I trust random employees at a store?

Don't trust. Ask questions. If the answers seem fishy, take your business somewhere else.

At this point in my life I've mostly given up asking employees questions. There's only "fishy" answers to be had in retail and there's not generally a competing store with more knowledgable employees. It seems like most of the time I can choose between bad and another brand of bad. Think Hobby Lobby vs. Michaels or Home Depot vs Lowes, Target vs. WalMart, Sams vs. Costco, Macy's vs. Dillards, Dicks vs. Academy Sports, a Ford dealer vs. a Toyota dealer, or worse they've consolidated operations like Bass Pro vs. Cabelas. There might be reasons to choose one over the other for reasons like employee welfare and return policies, but typically prices are all in line with each other and the retail staff are equally useless.

There's only a couple of nationwide exceptions that come to mind like REI and Microcenter but even then people might have to travel prohibitive distances to have those options and they might as well just buy online.

Small regional stores and mom n' pop operations trend towards having more passionate employees that might have an interest in the products (like a ski shop is generally only staffed by people who've at skied, bike shops tend to only be staffed by people who enjoy cycling, etc) but it's still pretty infrequent.

>> If the answers seem fishy, take your business somewhere else.

If you know enough to know whether or not the answers you might get are fishy, you probably already know more than the guy you are trying to get advice from.

The knowledgeable RadioShack employees were probably canary in the coal mine for RadioShack

Online shopping is a major threat to small mom & pop shops.

Arguably, small mom & pop shops already started dying in large numbers when big box stores started taking over, and online shopping is continuing the small shop’s march to extinction. Globalization of commerce has only added to the margin pressures. Add a global pandemic for good measure, and it’s been a brutal few decades for small shops in increasingly many parts of the world.

Yeah but it is not a good experience, except for a few types of products. I needed a car jump starter so I tried going to AutoZone instead of Amazon. The only one AutoZone had was 3x what I could find on Amazon.

Most auto parts stores are terrible places these days with low quality parts at high prices, and staff that are just competent enough to check out your items.

It used to be (20-25 years ago) you could go in tell them what you were doing and they could tell you which brands to avoid, what other parts you might need, and any secrets that might help you get the job done faster or without having to remove quite as much stuff. These days, the people they hire are so incompetent if you asked them for Headlight Fluid they would take you over to the fluids aisle to look for it.

thats why i always buy my headlight fluid on amazon


Name one (chain) store you can go in and ask employees about the product and get a competent answer?

Retail is just about pushing a product these days. The moment they can fire the staff and still have a brick and mortar store they will.

I've had great success with the Gooloo jump starter. It has saved me from grief many times, most recently when I left the headlights on.

The Noco ones are decent, but the Clore Automotive Jump-N-Carry is the only thing approaching a BIFL (buy it for life) quality jump starter that I’m aware of. User-replaceable sealed lead acid battery like a quality UPS (which if you’re looking, grab an Eaton 5PX off eBay for a couple hundred bucks shipped…my 3 have outlasted half a dozen consumer APC junk units).

Lead acid batteries self-destruct after they've been left to discharge. Not something you want to keep in a trunk or store at home unplugged. The lithium jump starters have much more dependable passive storage life.

> it made me pine for the days when you could walk into a shop and a knowledgeable salesperson would ask you a few questions and pick the right stuff for you.

When you use Google you are walking into their shop. That salesperson is very knowlegeable, but about you.

Google should be paying you for using their search engine. There's your solution to affiliate links.

"it made me pine for the days when you could walk into a shop and a knowledgeable salesperson would ask you a few questions and pick the right stuff for you."

THAT is retail. The craptastic experiment we see these days, online and in meatspace are scams masquerading as retail. I miss Sears.

The challenge has been to monetize that experience. I wonder if either an explicit membership model to access advice or a sales advice Uber service that rates both sales person and customer to assist with improving sales transaction communication, can be one part of a solution to preserve the immediacy of brick and mortar. I doubt it; there is likely more value to identifying those items that consumers will buy without waiting for delivery, more emergency-type purchases, marking them up to the limit, abandoning all other products to online ordering, and optimize brick and mortar floor space to cater exclusively to those need-right-now purchases.

And even that might not last long. Warehouse demand is exploding across the world right now. We're in the midst of a massive commerce transformation where there are a lot of giants racing to establish JIT delivery footprints in the most high-margin MSA's containing 80% of every nation's population. It won't be long before we're in a Stephenson'ian Snow Crash-esque world where we're getting an ML-computed 80% of goods everyone orders within 30 minutes, 15% of goods in 4 hours, 4% of goods in a day, and the remaining 1% in five days.

Once that happens, I would be surprised to see supermarkets or even small groceries outside of very niche segments like ethnic and farmer's markets, or hyper niche high-end shops like butchers specializing in rare quality cuts, exist in brick and mortar form, unless you go to where 20% of the population lives in low-density areas not served by these logistical nets.

You want someone to pick gifts for your family and friends?

Same experience here. Researching high-quality products on Google is very frustrating:

- Results 1-3 are ads

- Results 3-5 are blogs that get sponsored

- Results 5-10 are full of astroturfed user reviews

Finding trustworthy and consistent information is so hard that I mostly rely on Reddit for product research. There is a subreddit for literally every product category, and posting a request with your requirements takes much less time than cutting through all the noise on Google.

To make this whole mess a better experience, I'm now working on my own startup that tries to solve these issues.

In the end search is about relevancy. Trustworthiness of a blog or article is hard to discern by machines. The blogs likely rank high because of relevancy as well as clicks. Sponsored doesnt always mean that the reviews are biased. Reviews on reddit aren’t exactly trustworthy too - there are always going to be competing arguments and reviews for a product, you just have to use your own judgment which plays into your personality, risk tolerance etc.

Indeed but as to the linked thread's point, it's an opportunity for a startup to come in. A startup which could tackle the quality problem not just relevancy.

Curious about your startup; how are you planning to solve these issues?

Here is what we do:

- Let the community vote on the most trusted sources

- Include results from enthusiasts that have little incentive to write biased reviews (Reddit, HN, expert forums)

- Look at the ownership of the site and how transparent they are about it

- Regularly reassess these criteria

Curious to hear your thoughts on this.

YouTube's latest brilliant "innovation" to hide the dislike count made this problem so much worse too. When e.g. trying to make a purchase decision, you can't quickly skim through a bunch of search results any longer. Instead you are forced to sit through so much bad content that you could've previously avoided. Maybe that was their real motivation too – to boost some watchtime metrics.

Even before that, I hate hate HATE how they don't have a way to say "don't ever display this channel in search results". So much spam.

install the blocktube addon, it can do just that

B-b-b-b-b-but I've been told that some people don't look at likes/dislikes and that makes it ok! Oh well, I'm sure some product manager got their raise for removing such a useless feature

I am in the exact same quagmire trying to research water softeners and drinking water (RO) systems. I am having to pull fragments of information from many different sites / videos and having to discard large amounts of contradictory and misleading information.

At this point, I’ve had to resort to reading scientific papers on how some of these technologies work (and how some don’t work) just to avoid the bad information. Unfortunately, the more I research the farther I get from making a purchase. This is not where I want to be, however, since the water in my area is very hard and everything gets scaled up all the time. I’m looking to purchase an espresso machine to get into the hobby but I’m not going to drop the money in expensive equipment until I can get access to water which will not damage it in short order.

It isn't just me noticing this.

I had a project take me into an unfamiliar knowledge space. Up until... 2018? I could have relied on Google to find the meaningful information.

The reason people accepted Google was that it dramatically lowered information acquisition costs through the Internet. That benefit doesn't seem as common now. Back to webrings.

I bought my home water filter based on a Consumer Reports recommendation. I feel that's still a reliable source. I think you can sign up for online access for a month to do all your research.

I also really like the Wirecutter but I know not everyone here agrees with me.

Wirecutter advice seems dubiously linked to how much they can get paid by their "winners". It's not all bad advice, it often seems quite good, but it has the same corruption as top SEO blogs.

You guys had a bad time trying to search things that are at least a little complicated and obscure. I had the same experience trying to find a basic brownie recipe last week.

Recipes have somehow become one of the absolute worst parts of the internet. Google results are consistently dominated by websites that will require scrolling past multiple screens of narrative and increasingly some clicks to see the actual recipe. And when you start looking, you quickly discover that most of the time these websites are just repeating recipes from well known sources like The Joy of Cooking, or worse they have made changes that it's not clear they ever actually tested.

For stuff like that you should probably just buy a recipe book from a reliable author.

Same for my experience buying a furnace. Science journal articles were my best source of information, because I worried the manufacturers and installers would be biased.

I'm not sure how this could be otherwise. Who's going to pay for someone to stay current on such things and publish an easy to understand summary?

Which science journals review furnaces?

Most people’s experience with HVAC specialists comes from dealing with the technicians who install and service these systems in our homes. It turns out there’s an entire subfield of mechanical engineering dedicated to inventing, designing, and improving HVAC systems.

Wherever there are engineers, there are academics who do engineering research. They have journals of their own to publish this research.

As to the question of reviews, I’m not sure any articles actually review specific furnace models. The point of reading the papers is to educate yourself on the principles behind the technology so you can read manufacturer’s technical specifications and avoid the non-technical marketing language.

Yeah, I didn't get specific furnace models out of the articles. I was trying to decide between single-stage, two-stage, and many-stage designs. It turns out that the installers' claims about efficiency are bogus. Once you realize that you need the same number of BTUs regardless about how they're distributed, it's obvious. It's true that it might be more pleasant to have a little heat and a low fan constantly, rather than a blast periodically. In my opinion that's not worth the difference in upfront cost, increased maintenance cost, and reduced reliability.

If you are reading papers on water softeners you might already know everything this video contains. For me it was a good intro to the topic of good water for making coffee: https://youtu.be/jfElZfrmlRs

Thanks for this! James Hoffmann is how I got into the hobby. I binge watched all of his videos, including this one. But then I forgot a lot of the useful information he gives here, only remembering his frustration at the complexity of the problem. Upon second viewing I think there is some good stuff for me here.

I had been following Jim Shulman’s research which Hoffmann mentions in this video. It’s very dry and technical though and doesn’t provide much in the way of actionable advice on what equipment to purchase, instead recommending bottled water which I absolutely refuse to use (my household is already addicted to bottled water and I’m trying to break that addiction).

Ha! I was searching for the same (water softening systems) for Mexico... the amount of signal to noise ratio is so small in google, that it's mostly unusable.

I've been there and it's a hell of a rabbit hole, one that is easy to lose days to. Whatever you do don't fall for the Berkey scam.

Check out APEC RO systems.

Google could modify their ranking to include these biases:

- affiliate links? Down ranked

- affiliate links to Amazon? Down ranked further

- page contains advertising? Down ranked

- page contains extensive javascript? Down ranked

- page contains links to Social Media? Down ranked

- post _is_ on Social Media? Down ranked further

- page contains duplicate text, found elsewhere? Down ranked

- page contains many links? Down ranked

- page contains grammatical errors or bad sentence structure? Down ranked

But why would they do it, their whole business is built on these things to exist.

Let's look at some things for upranking:

- page uses a static site generator, e.g. jekyll, mkdocs, hugo? Upranked

- page has a balanced ratio of pictures/text and the text actually refers to picture (+ pictures are not stock imagery): Up ranked

- ... (you continue)

I'd pay for a search engine where I get to customize this kind of stuff.

This is exactly what we do at Kagi Search.

They could, but why would they?

Perhaps you mean: a new incumbent could

It's a policy problem, there's no easy fix.

Design a system of rules to rank content. Watch as highly incentivized participants work harder than everyone else to game the system to their advantage.

"But I can see these results are obviously bad, surely something can be done?". Leads to System-Amendment#5796 = Gather user feedback to alter results. Leads to highly incentivized users gaming the feedback system.

This sounds more like a Google curse - the inability to do something extraordinarily simple because it can't be sufficiently automated.

Like there is no reason to have a site like "https://gitmemory.cn/" in the index, ever. It is pure and utter spam. Ban the domain.

In the meantime, check out the uBlackList extension to block individual sites from Google's (and a few other sites') results

You need to attach a trigger warning to that URL.

I swear there's an opportunity for an enterprising startup to create a search engine that leverages a friends/family/contacts network for consensus domain credibility, and scrubs "non-credible" domains from all results.

Would here possible go PG route and do those thing that do not scale. Meaning building very curated list and doing intedexing and searching against that eg searches for programmers(stackoverflow, github and official documentation).

This assumes the rules are black and white and there's no concept of bad faith.

A system could very well have rules/guidelines and then have humans review & monitor the system and user-submitted complaints for any abuse, and harshly penalize such abuse with a temporary or permanent ban.

It could end up in a situation where it's technically possible to gain a slight advantage by gaming the system but no participant will risk a complete ban and the system ends up working well for everyone.

I would want that, but that puts Google (and other companies) in the legal position of a publisher, which means that they're liable for "a bad thing".

Most websites and platforms moderate for abuse and aren't classified as publishers, I don't see why this would be any different here.

I can't remember the precise reason, but if I remember correctly the reason is that because the poster is the originator in most sites including YouTube, while in Google's case it curates links instead without input from the general public. This is also the reason why Wikipedia still only officially operates in the US: the relatively freer publication rules as opposed to UK or Brazil for example shields them from a lot of lawsuits.

There exists no distinction between "publishers" and "platforms" as far as Section 230 protections from online liability goes. It's entirely decided by who produced the content: users are responsible for content that they upload, the sites hosting user-generated content are not. It doesn't matter if the site selectively promotes, or otherwise acts as a "publisher", so long as it's the user's content.


Ah yes, US laws are the only laws applicable to Google.

I should have prefaced that with "outside the United States": notably UK moves the bar to the middle, which will put Google in legal jeopardy (and libel cases!) there.

I wonder if we just would disallow affiliate links in general. I.e. you can still create your own webshop, take orders and forward to someone else (similar to dropshipping) but basically outlaw the process of collecting money/commission just for a single placement of links. Or at least, force those sites to correctly mark themselves as "Advertising".

The people doing actual, good reviews/guides also use affiliate links. Getting rid of affiliate links to get rid of the bad actors gets rid of people trying to do it right. The bad actors will have another path in within a month while the person who was run out of their honest business is left hanging.

I think affiliate links are positive for Amazon, because they crowdsource aggressive sales and marketing, but are negative for Google (and everyone else). I think if Google could somehow ban affiliate links, they would.


A hypothetical honest reviewer would genuinely be recommending products to buy, and if affiliate links pay, then why not?

Just like any other tool, it’s not the affiliate links, it’s the user.

A second order policy problem is to design good policy to make good policy makers. Meaning that it's hard for a public company entity to codify company policy so that their people in charge of search results are not at all susceptible themselves to sliding in an advantage here or there to assist some group that they become financially enmeshed with.

I ran into the same problem when building finclout's feedback loop. In my opinion, there is no way around keyword matching for search. As a result SEO is unlikely to be preventable. However, if the feedback can be collected at scale and is actually incentivised (i.e., did this link solve your problem ? ) this might actually work.

I've also had the same problem. For a while i could get good recommendations/reviews by adding "reddit" to the query as i could find good information there, however i think that the sites have caught up on that and now i only get 1-2 results from reddit.com and then the rest are other sites that reference reddit so they are in the results.

At the risk of any SEO-blogspam people reading this and adjusting their tactics, you can filter by domain, eg.

product name review site:reddit.com

As long as only a few people use a successful white hat trick, that trick isn’t generally worthwhile for the darker hats to combat.

So the problem isn’t so much that blog spam people will read your comment, but that many ordinary readers will start using the trick, and thus make it worthwhile for the dark hats to address.

So the unfortunate side effect of kindness in information sharing is that it decreases the value of that information.

Therefore, I don’t think there’s a practical way out of endless arms races between $good and $evil

The problem with using Reddit specifically is that you can't filter by date anymore. Reddit has poisoned their results to show old posts with new dates on Google.

Huh, I wonder, can I download reddit? Like, all the text posts, ignoring images. I wonder how big of a db that is and how hard would it be to crawl it myself. It can't be more than a few gb of data. I mean, at this point there is a lot of information there that is just begging to be leveraged.

Pushshift has a monthly comment[1] and submission data dump that you can download. Last June 2021's (comment) size was 20+ GB compressed in ZS.

[1]- https://files.pushshift.io/reddit/comments/

Great tip, thanks. Funny how much i used to do google dorks (that got introduce to me in a college course), but overtime i completely forgot about them.

About the risk though: it's happened already. Remember the "to find any book free online just do "filetype:pdf book-name"" tips that were popular online a while ago? Now it's all just PDFs on public google drives with tons of book names and a single link leading to some sketchy site.

I use DDG which is backed by Bing and it’s much the same. Product reviews and some how to questions are just a couple pages of SEO garbage.

Google used to measure engagement to try to get feedback on the quality of the links, but perhaps clickbait has broken that as well.

One thing what helps me getting better results is adding the keyword 'forum'. Usually still have okayish results. Forums are nowadays the only source information not spoiled by SEO etc

That's a good tip. I too do this quite a lot; forums can be quite noisy but also a great source of first-hand experiences.

Google used to have a great discussion search mode that only showed forum results. I miss it dearly.

Beat me to it

I always just append the word "Reddit" to any review type searches, it's been tremendously helpful. The peer reviews on Reddit are top notch, give it a go and I bet you'll be pleased.

I'm just amazed by how many people do this. I always do this too since it seems hard to find quality content just by searching on Google. I try to search HN too sometimes like this but the crowd and topics here a lot more narrow.

Reddit has an API, sounds like a cool idea! Roogle - the best of Reddit + Google

This is far worse in a place like india. It’s pretty much impossible to find anything technical or product related that’s localized. The only non blogspam source often is <vomit/> quora.

For example. Most construction happening in india now uses something called M-Sand. I actually CANNOT find what the hell it is except from some company websites or random YouTubers blabbering non engineering garbage about it.

You've probably already google-fu'ed this, but its ~4mm crushed granite used as a concrete-sand substitute where granite/gneiss sand isn't available.

Most construction materials businesses sell locally by word of mouth, and if they paid for a website at all it's old and still using http. So Google drops them.

What is there to know about it? Looks like it's just sand that's produced by crushing stones in an industrial process, rather than relying on rivers to do it for you. It's probably used as an aggregate for concrete.

Edit: a quick search on Google Scholar brings up papers like http://www.kresttechnology.com/krest-academic-projects/krest...

Could be due to the difficulty of getting sand in the region. I watched this fascinating Vice documentary about illegal sand mining in the region. I had no idea it was such a big deal.


It was really fascinating watching the Grand Tour Vietnam special on Amazon, you could see all this sand mining happening in the Mekong river, though no one commented on it.

Honestly disappointed at the documentary but curious about the topic. They kept repeating the exact same thing over and over and over again, dripping little bits of info.

I don’t blame google for this. The web is dead. Facebook and Twitter and Discord took over individual passion publishing, to the point that interesting people are forced to do hideous shit like post 30 post Twitter threads to make a point.

Even in the tech space, while exceptions like Stackoverflow targeted google as an UI, lots of content is buried in unindexed GitHub issues, etc.

Github issues are cloned now by SEO sites.

At least in the past (haven't checked in years), the Amazon affiliate program rewarded the affiliate for the next purchase made (within a pretty long time window) after clicking an affiliate link, even if it's not of the product linked; so there's no downside to sending you to an arbitrary, unavailable, irrelevant product as long as you're clicking on links when you're in a shopping mode and likely to make a purchase soon.

24 hours, any purchases made, and it's still a thing. Though rates are much lower nowadays than they were 3+ years ago.

> Repeated my search on Youtube to find reviews or unboxing. Most video search results were basically "Youtube SEO" again - the most viewed/top-ranked videos did never show a single actual print run or even the printer available. It was mostly marketing websites turned into video (slowly scrolling/moving over product description or pictures clearly taken from the web). And of course, affiliate links in the description.

This. The web would be a much better place if Netizens didn't continue to monetize garbage like MKBHD, Unbox Therapy and others that provide absolutely no value in "reviews". They're all just shills for product placement at this point. And yet these paid for commercials rack up millions of views and get pushed to the top of YouTube results whether they're of value or not. YouTube doesn't want new creators - instead they've invested in a few that push the content they want based on the advertising dollars that are rolling in. Google isn't search comparative to the early days of the web. Now it's garbage results driven by SEO hackers. A world without Google would be a much better place IMO.

In photography I have struggled to choose products, often I have to rely on my experience (e.g. it takes six months to discover that your Epson EcoTank printer makes prints that fade in six months) and specialized forums (DPReviews) You might find lightfastness rankings for some printers at


if somebody paid them to do the research otherwise you might have rely on heuristic 'pigment based inks are relatively lightfast' and that at least one other person who does similar work, has similar skills, and uses similar method gets good results. That still doesn't help with problems like '90% of instances of this Sigma lens seem to be pretty good but 10% have defective autofocus'.

I find online reviews are close to worthless because there are so many people who don't know how to use gear or have unrealistic expectations. At Best Buy I saw a review of a printer where somebody showed pictures of prints they made where they printed on the wrong side of photo paper and blamed the printer, for instance.

I find myself appending the word "forum" to a large percentage of my google queries these days, to avoid the dynamic you mentioned. This essentially filters the results for real/original content of other people that were looking for the same information as me.

Sorry but what do you expect apart from blogs and review sites? Like what’s the magical result here?

I feel like the fallacy here is assuming that the problem is that Google isn’t finding the good websites. There’s also a simple explanation that the content simply doesn’t exist.

This is been my experience with tool reviews as well. Searching for “best intro <power tool>“ yields a bunch of low quality SEO that’s just pulled from Amazon.

I think the interesting question is this: why is this happening? There’s always been a battle between Google and SEO black hats, but I can’t remember the last time it got this bad. Is Google just temporarily losing, or have they lost the will to fix this at all?

I've given up using Google or any search engine for that matter when it comes to tools purchasing decisions (other product categories too, for that matter). First use, I buy from Hazard Fright. If it gets janky on first use or wears out with enough use, I search in the forums where the trades hang out in discussing what they use, wince while reaching into my wallet, and pay for a built-for-business grade tool. There are a few YouTube channels I refer to as well (examples are Project Farm and Mike Festiva) for tools and consumables recommendations.

I always observe what tools trades carry when they work on my properties, and chat with them over the drinks and snacks I offer them, on what they like and don't like. That figures heavily into my decisions.

Google's main purpose these days for me is non-mainstream, far niche searches. I've taken to looking into deploying my own ArchiveBox to just store my own curated search results that I like. When I initially noticed the SEO spam around 20 years ago, I began to prepare for it by manually saving into text files the page links off of search results that I used, and that has helped me a lot. Ironically, I'm building my own personal Yahoo Directory. I don't see any solution on the horizon to SEO pollution getting better, so I want to scale up my solution.

> This is been my experience with tool reviews as well. Searching for “best intro <power tool>“ yields a bunch of low quality SEO that’s just pulled from Amazon.

Cannot reproduce.

> Most video search results were basically "Youtube SEO" again

And the removal of the "Dislike" count so that you too can avoid non-informative content i.e. unbox spam, just furthers how shit this situation is getting.

Giving Google more data about yourself will help. Improve relevance and Google revenues.

Online advertising will make Google better and that will make you and the world better, too. Therefore, always support online advertising in every way you can.

Look for the helpful crafting printer ads (after you purchase a crafting printer).

In case the reader is unsure, this is sarcasm.

> Especially sad since those affiliate links to Amazon mostly resulted in "This product is currently not available" sites.

This should not be considered "especially sad" in my view. It would be worse if these links worked, thus generating additional revenue for these "web players" (pun intended).

The problem is, they do. Once I clicked the link, all my purchases in the next 24h will be credited to the affiliate. They are incentivised not to remove content about products that are no longer manufactured.

In the USA, Consumer Reports exists to help deal with this. It's a yearly fee to subscribe, but it's as unbiased of reviews as you can get!

Right, but the majority of folks on here squeal when consumer reports or wirecutter want to be paid for their recommendations. Buying the devices, comparing them, etc all cost money, and refusing to pay inevitably leads to the state we're in...

I don't have a solution for this; I just think we're in the exact state we would expect.

I don't mind paying for my subscription, just like I don't mind donating to Firefox and Signal. But I get that I'm probably in the minority for that. I try to put my money where my mouth is, and not the other way around!

Consumer reports vehicle recommendations and sales process is just an affiliate scam like wire cutter. Same with Costco's vehicle sales program now. I think they use the same back end. That basically is an affiliate program. They give your contact info to tons of dealers who call you with prices higher than what they have on their lots listed.

Pro tip: You can often get free access to Consumer Reports paywalled website with a library membership.

Do a google image search for a strawberry. See how long it takes you to find actual pictures of strawberries that arn't from ecom sites and/or stock photos. I ran into this problem because I wanted to train an AI to recognize a strawberry.

Also note, probably none of these are actual strawberries. they are probably fake plastic representations for sales

I did this. Results 1 & 4 were from Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Britannica respectively. Doesn't seem that bad to me.

I've found that searching for a subreddit related to whatever hobby is a fine way to go. People are showing off their creations & results and chatting about recommendations for equipment & techniques.

The "front door" of the Web has become the gift shop. It's time to find another way in :-)

> The web has become a crappy place to research products

I'd say most people's interface to the web has become crappy.

I'd say the web has just become a crappy place. It was better when everything didn't have to make money, but was just done for the love of it.

Seibel doesn't seem to understand how affiliate ads work either, Google doesn't make money from them. Google would be better off just applying a ranking penalty for any page that has numerous Amazon affiliate links. 99% of dedicated affiliate sites are trash

Or at least allow us to block them in the search settings, but Google shows zero interest in doing so. Just as they do not want to have a flag "do not show paywalled content" which is often asked for.

I've also noticed something similar when researching mobile phones. Device pages that are clearly automatically created with poor and often nonsensical sentences and repition created by some script. And ranking top of Google. Similarly on YouTube videos that are collection of still images with robot voice reading clearly copy texts with almost zero original content. Again ranking near the top for a topic.

The only reviews I respect nowadays are... tear downs. No innards, no fun. Unfortunately printers would be proper hard to tear down on a review.

I'm just imagining this rule meaning the only printer you can buy is the one from Office Space. Beating the crap out of a machine counts as tearing it down, right?

You used Google Search and then used Google (Video) Search. The issue is an advertising company being the Internet’s default for information.

This is something I have a problem with as well. Search results typically include the first five results being paid ads.

Everything else for the first couple pages are typically review sites that are not really reviews.

YouTube isn’t much better.

I’m trying to addresss this in my own way by making long term product reviews of stuff I own, but I wish other people and companies did the same thing.

> I’m trying to addresss this in my own way by making long term product reviews of stuff I own, but I wish other people and companies did the same thing.


When I do product research I generally search for whatever the enthusiast community lives and usually there are guides there. Blogs are exactly as you describe, either built in ads or useless.

For common items it's kinda difficult, but still possible! (Printers had a pretty active subreddit/community for example.)

yup, I was compiling a wish list and searched for a list of good programming books and ran into the same issue. any website that promises a "list" like "top 10 programming books" is usually affiliate spam, with poor recommendations and grammatical errors

That's true. At least YT is still better than generic WWW search when you are looking for some specific model or some DIY technique. It's still harder to make a SEO-optimized video than a webpage.

Try a few alternative search engines. Google has other priorities these days.

Affiliate marketing reviewers are the internet's parasites

I wouldn't say the web is a crappy place just because of Google search kind of stinks and affiliate marketing ( which has been around forever anyway )

When I am researching something I often use this filter:

site:reddit.com + "search phrase"

At least if I want to hear from "real" people.

until reddit starts getting native content too. We already know people game that site as well.

Also reddit can unfortunately be unsufferable.

I have been consistently adding -amazon to any product search on google lately. These “blogs” are so annoying…

I almost always start my product searches by googling the term and then adding "reddit" nowadays.

Also because YouTube removed downvotes, it becomes basically useless for searching product reviews.

For a couple of items I turned to Reddit for some guidance to narrow things down ...

We need a new Yahoo Directory.

Buy a Brother Color Laser printer. $250 and the ink never dries. I haven't thought about printing other than pressing "print" in 6 months.

I have Brother printer, full can of paint and sensor saying that is empty, I cannot do anything with it, and that is just one in long list of issues I had with printer...

Consumers laments the effect of consumers consuming too much stuff.

Maybe buying more useless stuff isn't the solution???

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