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These Are Our Editorial and Gear Policies

In an effort to be more transparent, our editorial and gear guidelines are published here.

This site is essentially a costly experiment—at least for us—as to whether the old-fashioned principles of blogging1/journalism can survive in a world where pageviews thrive under the current business model.

Please keep in mind that like any organization that these guidelines may change over the course of time. We’ll do our best to update this accordingly.

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 the service is mentioned in an article, this is disclosed to the editor and requires written disclosure to the reader 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 goods. In other instances, the majority of products are often received as a press 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, from which we receive a commission. We do not receive a commission for products that are bought and 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 the reader’s trust. We consider this our most important asset at the site.

Do writers remain neutral conducting the review?

There’s a $200 Norwegian knife that’s probably only made for carving trees in the Scottish highlands and somewhere around 20 backpacks sitting in the living room. I’ve also spent enough time around the gadget world to know that bias is a weird thing; there are countless psychological studies on consumer psychology and how people rationalize price justification are issues just as much as reviewers create attachment with companies. We do not guarantee positive coverage to brands that work with us on an editorial basis.

Comparatively, there’s less attachment on our end. It’s just work after a certain point after the 19th backpack…

Is there criteria for testing gear?

Yes. 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.

To keep bias out, we do not accept promotional images from PR representatives.

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.

Reference charts are personally fact-checked every six or seven months to account for any policy changes.

I have more questions.

If anyone has any questions, please send an e-mail to [email protected] where our editorial staff would be happy to answer them.

1 footnote

  1. I make no distinction between blogging or journalism made at this site. I’ve seen enough of both worlds to know that they are essentially the same. Us folks at the site conder 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.
These Are Our Editorial and Gear Policies via @maphappy
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