this post was submitted on 22 May 2024
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submitted 1 month ago* (last edited 1 month ago) by pathief to c/nostupidquestions

Searching for product recommendations has become harder and harder over the years. I used to google or browse reddit for reviews, used them to create a shortlist of products and then actually dig deeper and compare them.

Lets say I'm in the market for a mechanical keyboard, but I don't know much about them. I use whatever search engine to look for "best mechanical keyboard 2024". The results are really bad, and I mean really bad. It's more of a list of keyboards to avoid, to be honest. The problem is not just google. Bing, duckduckgo, Kagi, Startpage... all results suck. The results are filled with AI generated pages or outlets farming affiliate links. There are a couple of good suggestions in the middle of the garbage but if 9/10 websites recommend a random razer keyboard, I'm inclined to believe it's an option worth considering.

Some of my friends say they resort to Youtube. I can agree that Youtube has amazing content creators that give amazing reviews and produce great quality content. But if you don't know anything about the subject, how do you know which content creator is good and which content creator is just farming affiliate links?

One of the things I loved about Reddit was that I could just go to /r/whateversubject and talk to what I felt was real people discussing products they loved. I no longer use Reddit ,and Lemmy, unfortunately, doesn't have a big enough userbase to have a good community for each type of product.

So, what's your strategy to find out good products on subjects you know nothing about?

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[–] zkfcfbzr 74 points 1 month ago (2 children)

Honestly, I still just google for relevant reddit threads. Lemmy's the only place I actively participate in, but this is one of the use cases it hasn't been able to replace reddit for for me either yet.

[–] [email protected] 40 points 1 month ago (1 children)

Reddit has been astroturfed so much the recommendations there have to be taken with a lot of salt.

[–] zkfcfbzr 20 points 1 month ago (1 children)

Sure, but it's still a lot more reliable than something like the amazon review section, or a lengthy AI-generated article comparing the two products you just happened to google together that somehow manages to say nothing at all.

[–] [email protected] 2 points 1 month ago

Those ai articles are almost surely there to distribute affiliate links. Not really to be trusted. So yeah, I still append "reddit" to product recommendation searches

[–] Mostly_Gristle 10 points 1 month ago

Same for me too. Reddit, for all its other faults, is still just about the only place you can still get candid opinions on products in a place where it's discussed by a large group with a deep knowledge base. Especially with niche things like fountain pens, goodyear-welted boots, and stuff like that.

Not sure how long that's going to last though. The search engines are already hip to that trick, and even in just the last few months I've noticed a change in how many Reddit links I get vs product links when I add Reddit to my search query. Reddit is hip to it too, and with recently becoming a publicly traded corporation they're probably going to wring every last cent out of that until every post mentioning a product is a bot-infested sewage fire like everything else.

[–] [email protected] 40 points 1 month ago (1 children)

I look at negative reviews. If they are all dumb stuff like "FedEx lost my package, 0 stars" instead of actual complaints I know the product is good

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[–] [email protected] 35 points 1 month ago

Honestly, I still just post here. You may not get the same amount of answers as you would've on reddit, but it's still worth a shot. Besides, somebody's got to start populating this place with good info. Why not be the one who starts it?

That being said, pretty much every time I've asked about something here I've got excellent feedback.

[–] pHr34kY 28 points 1 month ago (1 children)

Don't search for reviews. Search for forum posts where users are having issues. "[Product] + [not working/failed/broken]" gets you an idea of what the product is like to live with, and now quickly issues get resolved.

[–] cucumber_sandwich 27 points 1 month ago (1 children)

What you don't get is a feeling for how common these failures occur though.

[–] [email protected] 10 points 1 month ago

The problem is most people only post when they do have issues or they give everything 5 stars if it's as expected.

I find ignoring 1 and 5 star reviews helps with this issue.

[–] sailingbythelee 27 points 1 month ago (1 children)

One thing I haven't seen mentioned yet is Consumer Reports. Consumer Reports is a membership-based non-profit that has been around since 1936. They are funded by membership dues, donations, and some corporate partnerships (mostly for research projects, I think). Their mission is to create unbiased reviews.

They do well reviewing large purchases like appliances. They also review consumer electronics and some software, though not in the highly technical way of a site like Tom's Hardware.

Anyway, Consumer Reports isn't perfect or entirely comprehensive, but the $40 per year membership pays for itself if you are a homeowner. Just in the last couple of months, they saved me $500 by directing me to a less expensive dishwasher than I otherwise would have bought.

[–] skyspydude1 6 points 1 month ago (2 children)

Also, check your local library, as they likely have a subscription you can use!

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[–] [email protected] 20 points 1 month ago

Honestly, you just need to find whatever forum the enthusiasts of are using and see what people write there.

This is just one of the cases where search engines are useless

[–] [email protected] 17 points 1 month ago

10 years ago you could get honest product recommendations in Reddit. These days reddit is overrung with corporate trolls.

[–] RememberTheApollo_ 15 points 1 month ago* (last edited 1 month ago)

I generally only ever read the negative reviews.

You've already searched for a product that has the features you want, so you’re probably already looking at the right things for you in the features and aesthetic department.

The negative reviews will tell me things like if the product or parts of it failed or broke. If it doesn’t do the job very well, lacks power, accuracy, etc. If a keyboard, is it loud? Fatiguing? Are the keys replaceable? Do they keycaps wear and become illegible? How “sloppy” are they? If it does fail, is there customer service? How many people get DOA items? How many bad reviews are for dumb things like color or buying the wrong product for the job?

So see what people disliked about the product you think looks shiny and pretty before buying.

[–] Audalin 14 points 1 month ago

I don't focus on recommendations specifically. My typical process is:

  • spend anywhere from a few days to a few weeks figuring out which technical characteristics are important for this kind of product, which aren't, why and when &c. This kind of information is usually available (and even obvious SEO garbage can give you new keywords to consider when searching);
  • based on these alone, determine what's acceptable and what's desirable for you;
  • if you haven't already, find some kind of community around the topic and see which brands/manufacturers people commonly complain about and why; also see if there're popular manufacturers only selling things via their own websites;
  • open your preferred store (or several) and filter the entire category based on what you've learned. Pick a few candidates and examine them closely;
  • go back to the community again and look up anything mentioning these candidates - including comparisons with other ones you haven't considered. Perhaps consider them;
  • make the final choice.

Skip some of these if irrelevant or if you don't care enough. Spend extra time if you care a lot.

It works well enough for every new phone (the market there is changing fast, so you start anew every time), it worked for my first PC I've decided to assemble with 0 prior knowledge, the mechanical keyboard and the vertical mouse, and pretty much every piece of tech I'm buying.

And I'd say it's reasonable to use Reddit without an account even if you disagree with what the platform owners are doing. The data is still valuable for such use cases.

[–] [email protected] 14 points 1 month ago

Beyond the other good recommendations here, go on amazon and do your search for "mechanical keyboard" armed with a bit of information first, like knowing that you won't find a good mechanical keyboard for under $40.

Then click on one you're interested in that has at least 50 reviews and check that it's been for sale for at least 6 months. If anything hasn't been for sale very long, or hasn't gotten many reviews, it's likely a poor product.

Now for the other important bit. Go to the reviews and sort them by NEWEST. Every scam product in existence gets the initial ball rolling with fake/paid reviews, but then stops after a couple months. So when you sort by newest and look at the most recent 20 reviews, those are almost always mostly real people. Those are what you want to look at. If a product is rated 4.5 stars with 500 reviews, but the most recent 20 don't average out anywhere close to 4.5, you know the product is a lie.

[–] [email protected] 11 points 1 month ago (1 children)

I’m afraid there is no quick way to get an honest recommendation. I usually resort to YouTube and spend 2-3 days watching some related content. It sorta filters itself out, there will be a creator or few that you vibe with, and you trust their choice.

Happened to me with audio gear (I trusted crinacle, for example.)

[–] [email protected] 5 points 1 month ago

Weeding out the spon-con is very difficult depending on the product. I was looking at solar generators a year ago and gave up with youtube because every single reviewer was provided the product they were using for free to review.

[–] [email protected] 11 points 1 month ago (2 children)

While Lemmy doesn't have enough people for each product category yet, have you checked out the community [email protected]?

There's also [email protected] for broader discussion, but it's not gained much traction yet.

[–] pathief 5 points 1 month ago

Thanks for sharing, I'll definitely start asking there!

[–] IMALlama 3 points 1 month ago

Subscribed to the second and link. I like to lurk/sort by subscribed and new and will try to comment when I have something to contribute. Niche communities are hard to form without a decent user base, but a general recommends community seems like a great idea.

[–] JeeBaiChow 10 points 1 month ago

They built an entire industry dedicated to gaming the search results, so I feel your frustration. Nowadays, if it's not some influencer telling you to try something, it usually a bunch of topic snobs who need the latest and best (read: most expensive) version of anything - completely unusable for a casual query. If you have friends or local communities with the same hobbies, I'd start there. Or start in the shops - you find out real fast of they're trying to push product on you, versus genuinely trying to help you find what you need.

[–] [email protected] 9 points 1 month ago

I just look for the most barebones forum with complaints about the product and see if I can deal with those issues or not

[–] [email protected] 9 points 1 month ago (1 children)

I haven't found a way. I too used days of research, going to a physical store to try something when possible/applicable, YouTube reviewers, many many websites that used to be trusted, plus Reddit reviews. They all lied, or maybe I'm doing something odd to cause my own problems? Or both:-).

And even when they did not lie, about their past experiences, in one case the company itself ended up betraying its entire userbase so bad it made an international sensation and the cofounder left the company in protest - OnePlus I'm looking at you regarding the 7-series updates. I will never purchase a OnePlus product again in my life as a result, which is doubly sad bc nowadays they once again seem like good devices, and triply so bc I know of nothing else remotely like those "flagship killers" of old - that whole genre of phone is just over now, and they were merely the last hold-out.

You have to somehow be an expert in every little thing these days, and when you do find something you may want to consider purchasing more than one of the item to avoid having to go through all that again when the first one breaks, if that makes sense for the situation (for a keyboard I dunno?).

If only after doing all that you could share what you found with family+friends, to spread the love and avoid the same pain all around!? But in reverse, would you trust the reviews of your family members & friends - how sane are they, when it comes to this stuff? We want reviews from people better equipped to do so than we are ourselves, not average or below:-).

Which is why I'm saying that depending on the cost you may want to just roll the dice and see, and also expect to spend even more days of research, and also go back through historical archives of Reddit forums as much as possible. The goal of all capitalism is to take your money, period. The likes of Amazon and Google have truly enshittified the act of internet commerce:-(.

[–] Audalin 4 points 1 month ago (2 children)

Also was a OnePlus user - now switched to Nothing Phone (2).

[–] Potatisen 3 points 1 month ago (4 children)
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[–] [email protected] 3 points 1 month ago (1 children)

Yes, echoing the other commenter: how is it?

I live in the USA so getting one would be problematic but I hear perhaps not entirely impossible for me.

Do you know how it compares to e.g. Fairphone?

[–] Audalin 2 points 1 month ago

Other than what I said in the other reply:

I live in the USA so getting one would be problematic but I hear perhaps not entirely impossible for me.

Looks like it has a US release? If you're unsure or getting a European version, double-check it's compatible with American wireless network frequencies &c. Specific operators might also have their own shenanigans.

Do you know how it compares to e.g. Fairphone?

Nope, never tried Fairphone.

[–] [email protected] 8 points 1 month ago (1 children)

It is sadly no longer possible. The reason is simple: if your goal is to make a real review site, either you're taking in money for reviews, or someone else is and posting it to your site. The insurmountable costs associated with not doing either means every site out there is going to be garbage.

If you're not yet into very good mechanical keyboards, my personal suggestion is to go shopping on AliExpress with $40 and spend half of it on a cheap mechanical (my daily driver is a 17€ skylion) and the other half on a set of key caps.

Sure it's not gonna be great, but unless you're accustomed to very high end boards, it'll suit you just fine without breaking the bank and it'll still better than anything razer has produced ever. If you have the time for it, you could also oil the switches when you get the board, that usually has a very good effect on feel.

[–] pathief 4 points 1 month ago

The mechanical keyboard topic was just an example. Because I'm kinda into mechanical keyboards, I can instantly spot the obviously bad recommendations. If the topic was something like microphones or washing machines, I'd be toast.

[–] [email protected] 8 points 1 month ago (2 children)

I really like project farm on YouTube. He tests different brands side by side

[–] Demonmariner 3 points 1 month ago

He doesn't just test them, he tests them exhaustively and (in shade tree fashion) scientifically.

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[–] [email protected] 7 points 1 month ago (1 children)

Call me old fashioned, but I still go to bricks-and-mortar stores to compare a few options when I'm making an important or expensive purchase.

Yes, that is getting increasingly difficult these days.

[–] [email protected] 9 points 1 month ago (2 children)

I'd do that too but Bad Dragon doesn't seem to want to expand into my neighborhood

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[–] [email protected] 7 points 1 month ago

I like to use the Wirecutter from the New York Times as a starting point, though I often ignore the products recommended because the links are typically to American online retailers that I'm unlikely to use. I pay more attention to the various aspects used to recommend their choices, then check other reviews from specialized hobbyist forums when available. Finally, if I find the product in a store I will ask to demo it before buying.

YouTube can be helpful if you can cut through the clutter or need to see head to head testing between your short list items. Don't blindly search there though because the algorithm is shit.

[–] [email protected] 7 points 1 month ago

It's a bit vague, but if you're in the UK, or EU too, is a paid consumer recommendation service. Really good, honest, impartial reviews on products

But nobody wants to pay for that kind of thing, so they're quite limited in the stuff they review, it's mostly household

[–] waz 6 points 1 month ago (2 children)

Find a hobby that would use the product type in question. Find a community for said hobby then look for discussions comparing the options that are out there.

This tends to work better for certain things more than others. I doubt many hobby groups get excited about dishwashers or clothing dryers. I'm these cases, the Buy it For Life communities tend to have decent comparisons.

[–] [email protected] 4 points 1 month ago

This is a great idea!

[–] Bahalex 3 points 1 month ago

Also for appliances, I like to try to go to shops that also service and repair them and ask, which brand/model they see or work on the least.

[–] oki 6 points 1 month ago

Many subreddits have a lot of useful resources on their wikis that you can use without really interacting with reddit (you could use the web archive version if you really don't want to give reddit traffic).

There's also this website which (among other things) scrapes subreddits for (positive) mentions of products. I don't really like how they integrated AI in it so agressively, but if you can gloss over that, you might find some useful information in it.

[–] LMNjuice 5 points 1 month ago (2 children)

One I've started using is typing before:2021 at the start of Google searches, it does a good job of removing the obvious gaming the algorithm sites and AI generated content that steal the first few pages. Obviously doesn't work if you're looking for the latest products that came out before the year you specify

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[–] [email protected] 5 points 1 month ago

This is a difficult question these days to answer. There are a few categories where I always stick to established brand names, these are typically electronics or anything electrical like portable battery packs or wall chargers. Poorly made items in those categories can start fires. And when it comes to silicon, there's only a few to trust anyway since there are only a few major fabs out there.

I usually follow the search method but I've had to further filter my criteria by only looking in enthusiast subreddits instead of the bigger ones like /r/AskReddit.

It gets difficult though for general goods that don't really need well known brands and whose performance doesn't matter as much but it's hard to tell the quality online. Lawn chairs, pizza cutters, sushi kits, clothes hangers, rope, and shower curtain rods are good examples. These usually come down to luck of the draw.

[–] [email protected] 4 points 1 month ago* (last edited 1 month ago)

I ask real people on social media what they think. Sure, there may not be a niche community for every little thing on Lemmy; but there's also not the same level of rules limiting what can be posted where so I could make a post asking everyone what they recommend for whatever in NoStupidQuestions or AskLemmy or whatever and still reach a respectable number of people who could give a response. 🤷🏻‍♂️

[–] ShadowCatEXE 3 points 1 month ago

Someone you know that has the product.. Or ProjectFarm on YouTube.

[–] [email protected] 3 points 1 month ago (1 children)

I live in a big city. I go to the store and talk to the salespeople. Most of the time, they know the products and are willing to explain the assests of each brand. The caveat is to ask other people about the good stores. In my area, BestBuy is terrible for overselling, while Staples gives great service.

[–] pathief 5 points 1 month ago (1 children)

Unfortunately this doesn't work in Portugal. Most sales people don't have any sort of training in the products they sell and they are heavily pressured into selling services rather than products. Your budget is 200 euros? They're going to try to suggest you a 100 euros product and then try to get you to buy extended warranty and/or insurance.

Source: I did sales to pay for my college

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[–] [email protected] 2 points 1 month ago

A PC magazine or well established tech blog.

[–] [email protected] 2 points 1 month ago

Make my own opinion or ask someone I trust

[–] [email protected] 2 points 1 month ago

The thing people need to remind themselves is that - it's subjective. You don't really know how good a product is, unless it's in your hands or you've got hands-on experience. It sucks, because we can't demo everything and it forces us to sometimes take financial risks.

It just comes down to what you're looking for out of a product. Is it X-free from Y chemicals? Does it meet a specific standard you're looking for?

What pisses me off with reviews sometimes is how vague and scarce a review can be. Most of the time it's people just going "It works! Thanks!" or "It sucks. Don't buy!". Like, I can't evaluate a product on that alone, I need a little more to work with. And a lot of the time too is that people will just complain in a review of something that isn't even about the product like "it didn't arrive on time...0 stars". How is that relevant to the product? Sounds more like a problem with the shipping service, two different things.

You don't need to always write reviews spanning 10 paragraphs. But christ, just write more than "it sucks, don't buy". Why does it suck? What makes it suck? Come on, details.

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