When I’m contemplating making a purchase outside of my daily expenses, one of the first things I do before I spend any money is power up my computer and check out what sort of reviews exist online for whatever product I’m looking at. (I’m sure our readers do this frequently too!)
If I eventually buy the product, I also make a point of going online after I’ve had a period to use it and enter my own review, as a way of participating in the online conversation. Very often these reviews dramatically influence my decision to buy items and so I make sure to provide substantial feedback, particularly since many people I know see these reviews as a one-way street. Here’s how you can make sure you’re participating in the conversation and providing useful reviews.

Things I Hit:
Does the product do what it advertises to do?
How well does it do what it advertises to do?
Is it built well, and does it last?
Amount of use and type? Since I’ve made a number of bike related purchases, I make sure to note the conditions I ride in and how much. A product that held up well under light use can be quite different than a product that held up well under heavy use.

Usually these things can be covered relatively quickly and easily. Contributing to online communities is a great way to ensure their continued viability.

Photo Credit: Nashbar