Wednesday, April 24, 2013

How to Use the Top 5 Tab

I have realized that with the pace of reviews I am probably not going to be able to finish the Recommendation Series in a timely fashion.  Additionally, those articles are so time-intensive in terms of links and research that I dread writing them.  Instead, I have decided, in a nod to the Pen Addict, Brad Dowdy, to have a tab with my Top 5 Recommendations in different product classes as a permanent page on the site.  I will update these frequently.  Let me know if you have any suggestions for other categories or products.  Because this will be a "live" page, I will leave some things open and add to them as they come to me.  Basically, if you want to know what you should be looking at in terms of gear for you next purchase, start with the Top 5 Tab.

If I don't have a link to the product that means I haven't reviewed it.  In cases where I have no review, I am using the same process I have in the past during recommendation series articles, research on the Internet, checking specs and materials, and cross referencing price.  Obviously people whose opinions I have used in the past to good effect are people I will rely on more heavily, especially compared to random a random YouTuber.  

The rankings are based on a composite of things--the score, the product's reception among enthusiasts, and my sentiments about the product over time.  There are some products that score high but lack that something special, that unique thing that makes them stand out.  Then there are products that fall down in one or two ways, but nothing too bad, and stand out in others.  I'd rather have something that does one thing FANTASTICALLY well than have something that is merely decent in every way.  That is why, for example, the cheaper Kershaw Skyline is in the Top 5 but the Spyderco Delica 4 is not.  Both are great blades, but the Skyline has that little something extra, be it the low weight or the cool flipper or slightly better steel, that makes it the knife I'd rather have.

These recommendations are made not based on score or value alone.  Instead I am basically answering the question: what X should I get?  Without information about the product's intended use, and assuming general EDC tasks, these are what I'd recommend.  The main recommendations, the actual top 5s are price sensitive, but quality trumps price.  I'd rather pay $70 for a great product than $50 for a good one. 

A few general things about recommendations.  When given a choice I'd never get serrations.  I don't do a lot of rope cutting and thus serrations are offer no benefit to me to off set the difficulty of sharpening them.  If you plan on doing rope cutting or the like, factor that in.  Second, I am not doing a lot of search and rescue, so throw is not that important to me in a flashlight.  I like SOME throw, but not to the exclusion of carry.  I dislike assisted opening knives because they are generally unnecessary when a knife is properly designed.  More parts to break for no added benefit, as I see it.  I prefer selector ring, QTC, or stage twisty UIs, but clickies, when done well, are acceptable.  I do not like pure twisty (twist, twist again) style UIs. 


  1. I understand the reasons for the top 5, though I have to say that the series were found nowhere else (and I guess the time intensity was the reason why). Sad to seem them go (for now) nevertheless.

    1. I know, I know. It was one of those things. Each piece probably took 20 hours of research and writing. It got to the point where I was looking at Google data for reviews to figure out which was the most popular and thus more likely to be reliable. This was after I watch probably 100 video reviews over the period of two or so months and tried to filter stuff manually. The notes I kept were crazy and complicated. I was even trying to work out a way to rank and weight reviewers like Rotten Tomatoes. At some point they just got too complicated. The problem is I did not feel comfortable recommending stuff I hadn't reviewed unless the reviewer was reliable and knowledgeable and trying to figure that out was complex.

      In the end, I take the trust people place in me very seriously. If I recommend something I want people to be able to take that to the bank and trying to figure out how to do that without reviewing everything was impossible. Ultimately, it was a matter of being reliable. I haven't reviewed everything in the Top 5s, but it is pretty close. The stuff I haven't reviewed has been given good reviews by the most reliable of people. Aaron loved his S10 Baton as did Self Built and it doesn't get more reliable than that.

      Additionally, they were much easier to do when I had less stuff to review, but the reviews are what makes everything run. Without them I don't have the basis of knowledge to do the recommendations, nor the readership to justify folks sending me review samples.

      For now, the Top 5 will have to suffice. I haven't given up, and I have some big plans, but for now with a staff of me, the Top 5s were the easiest way to get out the information and have it be reliable.

  2. Tony,

    I think this is makes a lot of sense. It will be much more manageable and therefore, much more up to date over time. I did like the Series work you did but I couldn't imagine trying to maintain it at the pace you have been going with new reviews.

    The one thing people tend to miss is how in a top five, number 5 could easily be number 1 for folks who are looking for a specific attribute or characteristic. Good on you.