PlanetJune Craft Blog

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thoughts on reviews

July has come and gone, and so it’s time to draw another ‘Review and Win’ winner… July’s winner is Cheryl D, who said:

I used my detail stuffing tool for the first time today… I bought it ages ago and haven’t made any amigurumi lately, (it’s all been big projects and house moves) and when I used it today to make a penguin baby toy, I WAS AMAZED! It’s absolutly brilliant and does exactly what June says it does! Thanks June! You are a GENIUS!!!

Congratulations, Cheryl – you win a free pattern of your choice! (And thanks for the lovely review of my Detail Stuffing Tool too!)

I’ve faced a dilemma about the reviews in my shop and I’d like to explain my thoughts and my decision here, in the interest of transparency. I had my first bad (2 star) review last week, but it transpired that the reviewer hadn’t actually bought the pattern – she was only commenting about her opinion of my design:

unhelpful review example

This judgement was based on my photos alone – the ‘reviewer’ has not seen the pattern.

When you leave a comment on my blog, it’s perfectly acceptable to say “Cute!” or “I like it, but I wish you’d put more details into it” – you’re just leaving a comment for me (and the rest of the world) to read about what you think of what I’m showing you.

When you leave a review in my shop, the purpose is different: a review is there to help other customers to decide whether they should buy the item you’ve reviewed, or not. As such, leaving a review giving your opinion of the look of the finished piece isn’t helpful – you’re not telling the reader anything she can’t see for herself by looking at the photos in my shop! I believe that the only really useful reviews are ones where the reviewer has purchased the pattern and can give an opinion based on reading (or having made) the actual pattern, for example:

  • “This is a well-written pattern”
  • “I found it really confusing and hard to follow”
  • “The step-by-step photos were really helpful”
  • “I found a bunch of errors and the designer didn’t reply to any of my emails about them”
  • This is the most realistic design I’ve found, and the pattern is very clear

(These comments are for example only, although the positive ones are loosely based on real reviews – I hope nobody will have cause to leave those negative comments about any of my designs!)

Now, whether the rating attached to these is 1 star or 5 stars, or something in between, they all give you valuable information about what you can expect from the pattern, and as such are helpful reviews.

I’ve decided (after a lot of thought) to delete the above 2 star review from my shop, as it will harm my sales but it offers no information that would help anyone else make a purchase decision. In fact, the ‘review’ is actually misleading – when I mentioned it on Twitter, several people assumed she was leaving her review of the pattern itself, as she does say “I like the simplicity of the pattern” (which, let me remind you, she has never seen) – they thought she was saying that the pattern didn’t live up to her expectations and didn’t include enough detail – which would be a valid criticism, except that it’s not true! [FYI, my T rex pattern contains 2 full pages of assembly instructions, including 5 photos – I don’t think anyone could call that a lack of detail!]

crocheted dinosaurs by planetjune

If the comment had been posted on my blog instead, I wouldn’t have a problem with it: of course not everyone will like my style! I have no problem with that, or with people telling me that they would like my T Rex design more if it had teeth and claws (for example). But it would insult your intelligence to suggest you need a review to tell you that my design doesn’t include a lot of details like that – you can see for yourself whether you like my design style based on my photos, and choose to buy the pattern (or not) based on your own opinion.

Let me be clear about this: I’m not deleting all negative reviews from my shop! If you truly feel, having bought a pattern, that it deserves 4, 3, 2, or even 1 star, and you explain your reasons for feeling that way in your review, I will leave that review intact for all to see. But reviewing a pattern without ever seeing that pattern is like reviewing a book after just looking at the cover – how could you possibly know what it’s like without even looking inside?!

So, please do continue to review the patterns and products in my shop, but please limit your reviews to items you’ve actually experienced for yourself. The reviews aren’t there for me to read (you can email me or leave me blog comments if you want to tell me your opinions!) – they are there to help others, so please write the sort of information you’d find helpful to read! Thank you 🙂


  1. Etha said

    Another good one 🙂
    I must say those little star thingies sometimes freak me out. I’m compelled to use them but tend to feel guilty or bad if I don’t do the 5 star LOL….
    I do admit that on amazon I will search the 5 star ones first, but often see a book or item with very few stars that I personally find exceptional, so there.

    As for deleting a low rating from your site. Whatever! Its YOUR site/store/blog so you can do whatever you feel you need to do, right? I’ve once been accused of deleting negative comments from my personal blog and at first I didn’t even “get” the accusation. First I never did that, in many years of blogging I have kept one hideous comment unpublished (but not deleted LOL) and again, it is my blog so I can do however I please 😉

    • June said

      Thanks, Etha 🙂 You’re right – I’ve found books and movies with very low ratings that I really enjoy, and highly rated things that I don’t like at all; that’s why seeing multiple reviews of the same product is really helpful when you’re making a decision – hopefully at least one of the reviewers will have similar opinions to you!

      I’d just like to add that, after reading the very perceptive and helpful comments left on this post, I’ve added some clarification on my site as to what a ‘review’ is. I’ve also gone through the reviews (in the interests of fairness) and deleted any others that had obviously been left by people who hadn’t seen the patterns – a total of one 4-star review and four 5-star reviews. Much as it pained me to lose positive reviews, I couldn’t in good conscience keep them when they were ‘guilty’ of the same thing as the negative one I’d deleted! I feel better (and fairer) about the whole situation now.

  2. jennifer said

    i was looking at your patterns a few weeks ago, and noticed at least one where the reviewer said straight up in the review that she hadn’t bought the pattern. she just said something like “if i were to buy a pattern i would pick this one because it is cute!”

    i think your problem is that now people are reviewing things just to try and win the giveaway. where the giveaway should be an incentive to help your business and for paying customers to participate, a lot of people might be misusing it in hopes they can get something for nothing. do you have a way to screen reviews before they post?

    • June said

      Ahh, you’re right – I think I’m going to have to go back through all the reviews and try to weed out any that are clearly from people who haven’t bought the pattern. If I’m deleting bad ‘reviews’ for that reason, it’s only fair that I delete good ‘reviews’ for the same reason.

      I started the contest to try to encourage people to leave reviews – I’ve only been doing it for a few months and there are still very few reviews posted (115 at present time, soon to be reduced when I cull the unhelpful ones!). You’re right though, I’m going to moderate the reviews in future, and add more text to explain that you can’t review a pattern you haven’t bought. Thanks so much for the suggestion.

  3. puglette said

    i think you are definitely making a corrective adjustment by deleting this oddly placed “comment”. i agree that many people do not understand what a review is meant to be.

    keep up the good work, june!!

  4. arbitrarily said

    Although I agree with your decision to take down the review, you should probably make sure you have some information somewhere on your site to make it clear that the reviews should be of the patterns and instructions themselves and not of the design from the photo. It seems pretty obvious, but that person may have misunderstood and got a bit overenthusiastic about providing feedback. You may already have done this anyway, in which case there’s no excuse. In this case it is a particular problem because reading the review alone it could be interpreted as criticism of the pattern, but is almost certainly a comment on why they didn’t choose to purchase it based on the design. Maybe you need separate star rating systems for the instructions and the designs?

    • June said

      I don’t think adding a separate star rating for the design would help anyone – it’s purely subjective and I don’t think knowing that other people think it’s cute should sway your decision whether or not to buy the pattern – it’s your own opinion that counts there!

      But I definitely agree that I need to make it clearer that people should only review items they have purchased, and not base their review on how much they like the design style. Thanks for your input!

  5. Stacey Trock said

    I too, totally agree with your decision… a review should be for the product!
    I was wondering, would it be possible (on your review form) to enter a field such as ‘date of purchase’ or something like that… to emphasize that the reviews are for people who are actually using the item?

    just an idea!

    • June said

      Good idea, Stacey! I don’t think I can add a new field, but I’m sure I can figure out a way to add some text above the review box to say “please only review patterns you’ve bought” or something – thanks for the suggestion!

  6. Carina said

    I absolutely 100% agree with your decision to delete that ‘review’. It wasn’t helpful to anyone and could potentially, as you say, harm your business.

    A constructive, or justified negative review could be useful, but in this case it was neither constructive or justified. And I know you thought a lot about it before making the decision to delete it, it’s not just a case of ‘oh she was being mean so I am going to delete the review’.

    Apart from that, I am a bit confused about the reason to leave the rview in the first place, it is fairly obvious that most of your designs are (deceptively) simple…

    By the way, I have actually seen ‘reviews’ on Amazon that start something like this: “Now, I haven’t read this book but I have read others by Soandso…” errrr…. (-;

    • June said

      *sigh* Looks like some people just don’t understand the purpose of a review…

  7. Tere said

    Well that person is just plain ignorant. I haven’t made the pug from the pattern I purchased from you yet, but I have never seen a more detailed pattern. That will definitely help me since I’m still kind of a noob at crochet.

    I think your patterns are awesome. Don’t let the idiots get you down! HUGS

    • June said

      Yay, thank you so much! (And remember, if you do have any questions about the pug, I’m always available by email to answer them.)

  8. Wendy said

    I agree, the review is misleading. Your explanation of the review was helpful though. My experience with your site and blog has been positive and while I can not speak for others, one review would not sway my decision to make a purchase.

    • June said

      Thanks Wendy! I was mostly worried because it’s a new pattern and so this was the only review… As a customer, when the average review of something is only 2 stars, I’d take that as a sign to steer clear!

  9. Jessica said

    I agree that the review is silly to criticize the simplicity of the design since it’s obvious by the photos it’s a simple design – something i like about your stuff.

    I would wonder if the reviewer had in fact gotten the pattern somewhere else, maybe from a friend or something? I review stuff on Amazon even if I bought it somewhere else, because the information is useful.

    If she admitted she didn’t ever see the pattern then ignore my thoughts 🙂

    • June said

      That’s a good point, but while you can review a book on Amazon by borrowing a copy from a friend or the library,it’s not the same with downloadable patterns – you’re buying a single-user licence, so it shouldn’t be shared. So if the reviewer *had* acquired a copy without buying it from my store, she would have been stealing! (Another problem I’ve had to contend with in the past…)

      (Let me add that I’m sure this isn’t the case here; it’s pretty clear she hadn’t seen the pattern and was just criticizing the lack of teeth, claws, spikes, or whatever else she felt was ‘missing’ from my design.)

  10. Lynne said

    I agree with you about reviewing needing to be based on the actual product in your store. You are running a business. If you got a negative review with the reason behind it… it could prompt action by you and a dialogue with yourself on how to best help out a customer.

    In my case you can’t help me. Your ground hog pattern is so cute I may have to make a couple more. Just fended off my daughter stating, “She thinks the ground hog should sit in her room for a while.” Hands off my ground hog!!

    • June said

      Thank you, Lynne! And yes, if I do get any negative reviews, I would definitely use those as an opportunity to improve my patterns, customer service, or whatever else is less than satisfactory. Customer satisfaction is my top priority.

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