Last week, Erik proposed a challenge:
I must review each and every item I intend to sell on eBay.
A little out of spite, but mostly because I think it’s a great idea, I am accepting the challenge, but if I’m honest, I’m terrified. I have a really hard time with reviews.
It all started six or seven years ago. At that time, I was working with a programmer—I’ll call him Sal—who had what most would call a horrible sense of design. Now, that isn’t atypical of software developers. Software development and graphic design are incredibly specialized and complicated skills, and it’s rare that someone would be skilled in both. Even if one did, project deadlines rarely allow for such efforts.
Deadlines weren’t Sal’s concern, however. He never met a milestone, or delivered anything on time. When I did a little more digging, I was shocked to find out why. He was spending the vast majority of his time on the design.
Sal’s designs—a laundry list of bad design cliches—weren’t the unfortunate outcome of resource constraints, they were the product of countless hours of hard work. It was intentional. He liked it.
After one of the hardest discussions I’ve had—explaining why he might need to leave the design work to the designers—I knew I wouldn’t look the same way at anyone’s work again. No matter what, someone who puts effort into making something deserves better than “It’s ugly”.
And that’s what bothers me about reviews today. It’s easier to be snarky. Snarky fits into Twitter. Snarky gets page views.
I can’t promise I’m going to write good reviews. They certainly won’t be objective. But I think I can say something better than, it’s ugly.