I hope this isn't too off the point....
What is a review for, anyway? And what is valid criticism? How far should criticism be carried?
At the most basic level, I think a review is a snapshot of the reviewer's reaction to a product/book/movie/you-name-it. It tells us SOMETHING about the item being reviewed, and SOMETHING ELSE about the reviewer.
The SOMETHING revealed in the review may--or may not--be helpful to the reader. A good, thorough reviewer will generally lay out--implicitly or explicitly--a set of criteria by which he or she reviews the material. Whether the reader agrees with either the criteria the reviewer selects, OR with the reviewer's conclusions, is entirely dependent upon the reader's requirements. (The reader may not even require a reasoned review: Some reviews are amusing based solely on the style of the review without regard to any other criteria.)
Bill has posted a list of items he thinks are "rip-offs" and those he likes. SOME of the reasons Bill thinks what he thinks are posted in his reviews. He has established a set of criteria. We know he doen't like long reviews because of the title of this thread. So, we have short, cutting reviews based on whether Bill like a product, or not.
Readers then react...along a wide continuum...based on their requirements. If you have read this far in the thread, you know that a number of people like the reviews. In sum, they are pithy and to the point. Many people don't like them because they are, variously, "self-indulgent," "blatant exposure and ethically and morally disgusting," or "too brief to be of value except to those who already know what the items are."
Different people, different standards. Our standards are revealed in what we write and how we write.
Again, I think Bill was courageous in posting here, because he put himself and his opinions on the line by offering us ONLY his opinions with the barest framework of argumentative support.
Let me suggest, again, that Bill brings SOMETHING to the discussion. And, as I implied above, he brings SOMETHING ELSE.
He posted the reviews on his web site and invited us in. We are free to view them, or not. He invites reply, so discussion is warranted. But at the same time, Bill is publishing
his reviews. Bill's site is as much about Bill as it is about the items he is reviewing.
This is appropriate, he is the author, editor and publisher of his views. He is asking us to read them, not to subscribe to them.
The people who labor to create and market these effects will be either pleased or disgusted by the reviews. The people who share information for a living will likely be apalled at the lack of reasoned substance. (Even Michael Close's "hemidemisemiquavers" aren't that
short.) But those of us who groove on the mass of funky, cranky opinion out there, read it, nodded, shook our heads, giggled, and were done.
There is an old Zen story, paraphrased:
There were two pious, celebate monks who were walking down a muddy street after a heavy rain. At one corner, they came to a huge lake-like puddle and a beautiful woman, paused in front of it, daunted by it. Without hesitating, one of the monks picked her up carefully in his arms and carried her safely to the other side, depositing her, unbesmirched.
After they had walked a few blocks in pregnant silence, one monk turned to the other--who had carried the lady--and asked, pointedly, "How could you sully and endanger your vow by picking up that woman, and holding her close? The other replied, "I put her down three blocks ago. Why are you still carrying her?"
Bill posted some reviews. Good or not, accurate or not, intellectually sufficient or not, are ad hominem