Product Review Policy
Our Policy on Product Reviews appearing in O Scale Trains Magazine
First, to understand our review policy, take a minute to understand our business model, for it may differ from other publications you may advertise in or otherwise may have dealt with.
Our product is knowledge and unbiased objectivity, salted with a little thoughtful commentary.
Our targeted market is the O Scaler (number of rails immaterial), or potential O Scaler, who is the advanced modeler or, more importantly, who aspires to advance their modeling skills. To that end, realize that OST is not intended to be an industry organ of any sort. We are a craft publication, not an industry news magazine.
Our values include objectivity, accuracy, integrity.
Our mission is to serve our targeted market with a quality product, on schedule, that meets or exceeds their expectations with respect to our values.
That said, we review products based on our judgement that the product is of interest to our targeted market. Because OST follows this business model, review space is allocated by the editorial staff. Review space (and any editorial content, for that matter) is not allocated or influenced in any way on the basis of advertising sales or potential advertising sales. We have reviewed in the past, and will continue to review, product from advertisers, non-advertisers, from outside the marketplace (such as architectural modeling products), and even from our own competitors.
I. Receipt of Review Material
Review material is received at OST from a number of sources. Manufacturers, publishers, and importers supply much of our material. Subscribers, as end users of product, also supply review material. We also purchase material from the retail sector for review. We strive to treat each product on its merits and applicability to our targeted market in an unbiased manner, no matter the source. Product announcements and news items submitted by manufacturers will be run without editorial comment.
II. Selection of Review Material
A. The choice of what products are reviewed is based on the editorial staff’s best estimate as to the potential interest our targeted market might have in that product.
B. Reviews are conducted and published with an eye on the value criteria of our targeted market. These value criteria include, but are not limited to, prototype fidelity, compatibility, observed performance, detail level, fit, and finish.
III. Conduct of Evaluation
A. Bearing in mind that we are a modeler’s craft magazine, evaluation of product is not done in a pre-determined test environment in the manner of, for example, Consumer’s Union. Evaluation is done in the same or a similar environment as the product would be used by our targeted market. That is, after all, where you want your product, giving satisfactory performance in basements everywhere.
B. We do not advise as to the purchase of any product featured in the magazine. Reviews present, to the best of our ability, an objective observation of what is there and what is not there, within the context of the value criteria in (II. B.) above. The contact information and MSRP is printed at the top. With this information, it is in the purview of the reader to determine personal value.
C. Reviewers are closely supervised and guided by the Editor. Following our model, there have actually been more reviewers rejected for potential bias than those who can write reviews within the confines of objectivity set forth in the OSTStylebook.
D. No member of the advertising staff of OST writes reviews. We perceive this as a conflict of interest.
E. We do not do head-to-head comparisons between similar products from different manufacturers/suppliers as product reviews. We will do direct comparisons between similar products in articles discussing different aspects of the hobby (digital control systems as a recent example).
F. Please understand that there will always be a subjective element in the review process. We will do our very best to be as objective as possible, however. It is, after all, our stock in trade.
IV. What You Can Expect
A. We welcome the opportunity to review any product you would like to see “showcased” to our target market, whether you are an advertiser or not. We do reserve the right to determine whether such a product would be of interest to our market.
B. We will pull or edit a review before publication, but only:
- For matters of our error
- For the protection of intellectual property
- If a review item is replaced in kind because the original item supplied would be subject to return under your warranty provisions
- If an issue has been addressed or substantially changed in production
- To add information that both you and OST agrees is of interest to our market
C. Should you take issue with a published review, we welcome your rebuttal. If that issue is something that would be a matter of our error, it will be treated as errata. For all else, it will be treated as a “Letter to the Editor”, subject to the editorial considerations and potential reader feedback under which all such material is published.
Finally, you can expect product reviews to be as unbiased and objective as we can make them. You can expect them to be written without superlative, addressing the value criteria important to our target market. You can expect them to be written without bias in favor of advertisers, without bias in favor of your competitor, and without bias in favor of your product line over a competitor. We are happy to work with you on matters of timing, “product roll-out”, and the like. Please understand, though, that we cannot be perceived by our market, be it our readers and subscribers, our other advertisers, or the industry at large, as having compromised our integrity on this issue.
Joe Giannovario, Publisher, November 1, 2006