In an effort to be more transparent with you guys, I’m going to publish our editorial and gear guidelines here.
This site is essentially a costly experiment—at least for me—as to whether the old-fashioned principles of blogging1/journalism can survive in a world where pageviews thrive under the current business model. I primarily consider the site a startup in the purest sense; startups have no known established business models, and from a pure business perspective, media companies have no sound business model. Sorry, folks.
Please keep in mind that like any startup that these guidelines may change over the course of time. We’ll do our best to update this accordingly.
- Do you receive travel compensation?
- Gear review and affiliate disclosure
- Do writers remain neutral conducting the review?
- Is there criteria for testing gear?
- How does fact-checking happen?
- I have more questions.
Do you receive travel compensation?
In most cases, the cost of our travel expenses are not expensed or compensated. These are covered in-house. Should a writer receive compensation for a travel service, and this travel service is mentioned in an article, this is disclosed to the editor and requires written disclosure within the post. This also applies to all press trips. Our writers primarily travel on their own dime and do so because they love it.
Gear review and affiliate disclosure
In reviews, the conditions of gear/service acquisition must be disclosed per FTC and our regulations. In some instances,the site pays out of pocket for receiving the goods. In other instances, the majority of our products, they are often received as a press release sample. The economic conditions of the current media climate preclude us from paying all of our gear; this would bankrupt us. Certain concessions must be made to keep the site running. (This is also common practice elsewhere.)
That said, we also have affiliate relationships with a number of travel companies and retailers like Amazon. We do not receive a commission for products that are bought and then returned to Amazon. There is little incentive for us to lie about a product’s value; not only do we lose the sale but we also lose trust. We consider this our most important asset at the site.
Do writers remain neutral conducting the review?
I receive an endless amount of products. I’ve got a $200 Norwegian knife that’s probably only made for carving up trees in the Scottish highlands to 20 backpacks sitting in my living room. I’ve also spent enough time around the gadget world to know that people create attachments to products based on the amount of money they spend; there are countless psychological studies on consumer psychology and people rationalize price justification just as much as reviewers create attachment with companies.
Is there criteria for testing gear?
Si. In fact, our rubric for testing gear is almost two pages long. Every writer is given hands-on training complete with photography guidance under the direction of an editor or an experienced reviewer. In most cases, products are placed in the hands of testers who regularly travel more than 50,000 miles per year. Testers are sent off with a solid training in understanding product design. In many cases, our products travel tens of thousands of miles before publication. I’d say most of them are given at least 20,000 miles.
Small gadgets may be subject to less testing requirements. All gear is subjected to at least one trip before publication. Bags are reviewed for a minimum of six months to test for durability issues. Durability issues may crop up after—and frequently do—but we do our best to update these reviews accordingly.
If there is a difference in opinion amongst the staff about a product’s value, the star rating on each page is rounded down by half a star.
How does fact-checking happen?
Like most media companies, there are little resources—even less in our case—to get the facts right. We rely on writer-checked pieces (like the big media companies) but require writers to source an official authority or contact the PR representative. In cases where there are real-life discrepancies, we do our best to note the discrepancy.
(In one particular instance, United’s official policy claimed that all alcohol would be for purchase but there were still reports that booze was being served complimentary on APAC flights. This would be noted.)
In terms of reblogging, secondhand sources are verified independently whenever possible. Sometimes, a PR rep may serve as a source. This is not foolproof but we do our best to correct errors when we find one.
I have more questions.
If anyone has any questions, my email is [email protected] and I would be happy to answer them.
Thanks for reading!
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