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After I wrote the article criticizing some of the Northwood reviews, I got emails from quite a few people who basically said they had pretty much lost faith in the opinions of most hardware websites and just looked at their numbers.

On the other hand, I got emails from quite a few people who didn’t seem to have any to begin with, or at least found them irrelevant for their purposes.

There’s quite a bit of difference between the two.

In the first case, it’s not that people don’t want informed opinion and guidance; it’s just that they aren’t getting it and people are just taking what they can get from them.

In the second, it doesn’t really matter whether the opinion is good or not since not much attention is going to get paid to it anyway.

In short, if you find yourself “just looking at the numbers” in website reviews, is it because that’s all you can get or because that’s all you’d want anyway?

So, a few questions (No, I’m not going to put up polling percentages on this one, and absolutely not on the last question. Like most of my “polls,” this is more focus group than poll; I’m more interested in what and why than how many; that’s why I just don’t put up some Java code.):

1) How important do you find the hardware-related opinions and/or recommendations in determining what websites you visit?

A) Very important, I visit or stop visiting a place based on that.
B) Somewhat important, I just take what I read with a grain of salt and cross-check against other websites.
C) Not very important, I mostly just skim for factual details and benchmarks.
D) Not important at all, I just look at the numbers/graphs.

2) How important do you find hardware-related opinions and/or recommendations?

A) Very important, I usually decide about a product based on what one particular place says about them.

B) Very important, but it’s stupid to rely on just one opinion, I see what a bunch of places say about something.

C) They would be important if I could just find places I could really trust.
D) I have little faith in reviewers’ opinions; I’d much rather go to forums and find out about a product from real people.

E) Just give me the facts, anything more than that just annoys me.

F) Other (explain)

3) How often do you read hardware reviews?

A) All the time, just to keep up with the times.
B) All the time, this is Home Shopping Network for Men.
C) Only when I’m thinking about buying something.
D) Only when I’m definitely buying something.
E) I rarely/never look at them even if I am ready to buy something.

4) How important do you find computer-related commentary that is not a review of a product(s)?

A) Very important, it gives me a better perspective.

B) Somewhat important, sometimes I find something interesting in them.
C) Rarely important, they aren’t very good and/or I get little out of them.
D) Rarely important, I’d much rather read reviews.
E) Not important at all, they annoy me.

5) In your experience, what is the primary reason why you stop visiting a website?

A) I find the website biased.
B) I disagree with the website a lot.
C) I lose confidence in the ability of the website to be able to produce accurate and complete work.
D) I find the website too commercial and just out to promote the product.
E) The website just doesn’t cover items I’m interested in anymore.
F) Too much BS, or just too much to read.
G) I rarely stop visiting a site.
H) Other (explain)

6) Which of the following do you generally find most important and valuable in a review of a product?

A) The benchmarking done.
B) The factual details of the product.
C) The experience of the reviewer with the product.
D) The reviewer’s opinions/recommendations.

7) Which, if any, hardware websites (excluding Overclockers.com) do you think very highly and why?

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