Saturday, May 11, 2013

Shoe Reviewer's Dilemma | My Foot | This Kind of Honesty

Foot with dollar
Here's my foot with a US dollar on top to show the size comparison.

One of the great challenges of writing shoe reviews is to avoid posting crap. After all, readers of running shoe reviews should be expected to be critical of the information and opinions presented to them. And, if you post crap reviews, you're wasting everyone's time.

I am guilty of posting shoddy reviews on this blog. No, not all of them suck. In fact, I like quite a few of the reviews I've written. But, there are some that fall short—way, way short.

I was inexperienced. I was naive. I'm sorry.

What constitutes a crappy shoe review? Well, that depends on the individual reader. So, ha ha, you can't win, shoe reviewer!

I'll tell you what I think counts as crap-ish, though.

For instance, you would hardly need to twist my arm in order to learn that I consider an impersonal, fact-laden review to be unworthy of anyone's time. Regurgitating shoe specs with the addition of just one or two sentences about your only (albeit not explicitly stated) run in the shoes would constitute a less-than helpful review. I mean, come on! Online shoppers don't need me to tell them what the online retail sites make readily available while that would-be shoe buyer hovers the pointy finger over the "add to cart" button.

Foot profile
This is the medial profile view of my left foot. You can see what my arch looks like in a relatively relaxed state.
  • Foot length from heel to longest toe = 26.7 cm
  • Height from ground at midfoot = 7 cm
  • Diameter at forefoot = 24.6 cm
  • Diameter at midfoot = 25.1 cm

Likewise, it would barely take one beer to persuade me to admit that I loathe certain reviews based almost entirely on repurposed marketing verbiage. The text that's scraped from the manufacturer's product page or reference collateral hardly counts as a review. And, a reviewer should know that. Rewriting or using text produced by the company selling the product is called posting an advertisement. And, if you're not getting paid for that, you're an idiot. Er, I mean, you're naive!

So, now you think, "Well, okay, asshole, what counts as a good review?"

Well, I would say that the best reviews are the ones that are written with genuine personal experience right out on the blog page. You're expressing your opinion, after all. Readers know that you do not have their feet. They know that your preferences for shoes might be a little different from theirs. So, you need to remember that you're writing this based on your experience.

Be thorough with your personal descriptions. As I mentioned above, a good review should not have 90% of its content consist of marketing copy and specs that you copied from somewhere else. Throw a little bit of that stuff in, sure! But, don't make the manufacturer's words your own.

Foot from top
The top view of my foot so that you may compare your own freakish foot shape to mine. Everyone is a unique snowflake.
Midfoot width = 10.2 cm
Toes width = 10.8 cm
Heel width = 6.8 cm

At the same time, you don't want to be unfair to the shoe by basing the review on an assumption that the shoe was custom made for your feet. So, you have to describe the perceived flaws and benefits somewhat objectively:

The shoe might be narrow on your feet. But, remind the reader that your feet are of a certain size. So, the shoe might fit other feet nicely. Etc.

Quite the conflict, isn't it? I mean, sweet and sour is one thing. But, objective and personal? Come on, life!

There's no formula for the ideal shoe review. And, really, I'm just ranting here. But, I feel that I've seen a lot of crappy reviews demanding your attention elsewhere on the internet. And, I don't want to be one of those reviewers who ends up wasting your time.

I feel like I make every attempt at combining the secret sauce of objective and personal description with each review here. But, I know that everything I write for you could be better. And, after this post, I'm about to unleash a whole heap of new shoe reviews on ya.

So, I'm going a step further by providing you with these photos and measurements of my hideous left foot. (Apologies to those of you who hate the sight of a man's feet) All measurements were done with a tape measure and rounded to the nearest tenth of a centimeter. If you need more details, feel free to ask. But, I think this data gives you a pretty good frame of reference for my personal descriptions of shoe fit and feel.

Thanks for reading!


  1. Haha - I like this. And I agree - I come to your website to find out what a "real" person thinks of the shoes, not the company that sells them NOR the one that makes them. So forge on - I like it. Your feet really look quite good, for a runner...

    1. You are too kind, Petra! Thank you!
      And, I took a few pains to make sure that some of the more gory details of my foot were not conspicuous in these photos. Ha!

  2. What's the drop on that foot? How much does it weight? Does it ave arch support?

    1. I apparently need a spell checker :)

    2. Ha! I just assumed you were affecting a cockney accent by adding the hard ending to "weigh" with a "t" and dropping the "h" at the beginning of "have". No loss of meaning on me!
      Thanks for reading, Pete.

  3. For all those webmasters who can't seem to figure out SEO, here it is, right here in this article: great content, written by a real, creative human being, for other human beings.

    The 'marketing' crap you describe, we see every day in the SEO world -- crap written for search engine bots, not for humans.

    Great job. Great article. What a relief!

    Btw, I'm a runner, too, and love creative, authentic reviews. My primary shoes are branca sandals and NB minimus shoes.

    1. Wow, Stuart, thanks so much! I'm almost speechless. That comment means a lot.
      And, thanks for reading!

  4. I am guilty of both. I like to post direct copy from the company first in my "What They Say" section. I agree that is free marketing, but it also serves as a quick reference point. I then add "What I Say" to explore my opinions. The hardest part for me is working with the feeling of "heh, I got these for free" and attempting to eliminate bias. I do develop a preferecne for a few companys and I expect I err on the side of more postive reviews for their product. But I guess that is natural.



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