I often see people on the Internet being outright belligerent in their criticisms of whatever it is they dislike or are disappointed by. While I understand that they may have a valid reason to show grievance with substandard products/services, I personally don’t believe that the situation is improved by hurling insults at an unspecified group of people or individuals within the various companies who make the products and provide the services in question.
There is no meaningful criticism or advice any one person can extract from a paragraph of insults that can be used to improve a piece of hardware or software. No matter how massively dissatisfied we are, we should remember that on the other side of our insults, there are people. I’m not here to speak on behalf of developers or manufacturers, but rather on behalf of sensibility.
We all get burned by hardware that doesn’t function correctly or as promised, and games that are released in a state that is just unacceptable. However, circumstances will not improve when all that happens as a result is that insults and snide remarks are hurled at the parties responsible.
Holding any business accountable for their product happens mostly in two ways. Detail and specific discourse on the aspects we are dissatisfied by and secondly – perhaps most importantly – via our wallets. These are by far our most powerful tools, and not only do they help drive us forward, but they do so in a manner that does not at the same time discourage the ones delivering the content or product.
Just like you and I, they do their best work when inspired, not when they are antagonized or become the subjects of vile and insidious commentary. There is a level of responsibility we as consumers must shoulder for all the substandard products that are released. It’s often the case that we have let prior and major infractions go unreported or simply ignored them in the hope that next time things will be better. In doing so, we make it acceptable to deliver poor products in the future. At every turn there is an opportunity made available to talk about these things honestly and in a constructive way.
“Just like you and I, they do their best work when inspired, not when they are antagonized or become the subjects of vile and insidious commentary.”
Here is an obvious example using F1 2015, a game from Codemasters. Since 2010, the ratings for this racing franchise have steadily declined. Ignoring Metacritic scores and looking at Steam user review ratings, scores have gradually dropped from 84, to 83, 80, 77, 61 and finally 58 with the current title.
Why I mention this game is precisely because it shows a downward pattern to which our reaction has always been tolerance rather than constructive objection. I myself am part of the problem as I continued to buy each game despite having received a poorer title the previous year compared to the year before that. While I may not have bothered to comment or share feedback on the official forums previously it was with 2015’s title that I finally decided it was enough. However, that doesn’t help because the damage has already been done and I have lost the money spent on the game and previous titles. It’s directly via such inaction that this year’s title was released in such an appalling state. There is no incentive to do better when the outcome is identical between great and poor execution. To complain about it now in a destructive manner is anything but helpful.
The same holds true for poorly designed hardware, be it a notebook, a smartphone or a motherboard. It is exactly the same issue. It’s of particular importance here, where the opportunity to fix problems can’t for the most part be delivered via a patch. A motherboard with poor thermal characteristics, instability and limited compatibility should be reported as such with haste. More importantly, we should hold product reviewers accountable for not reporting such issues.
Unlike with games, review samples for hardware are rarely held back until the day they’re available for mass retail. So when any product constantly gets an editor’s choice award but your experience with the same product or previous iterations is consistently different, then you should ask the specific website or publication if they have any experience with that particular issue. At the very least it makes it difficult for sites to sell positive editorial to manufacturers, which is something that happens alarmingly often. More importantly, it will force manufacturers to take greater care when making claims or when designing products. Ultimately, we will receive better products by being vocal in a constructive manner. There shouldn’t be a need for 12 firmware updates or 12 game patches for a title or product to deliver the desired or promised experience.
This proactive approach will also limit the unhelpfully derisive outbursts that don’t point to any specific issue that needs fixing. If we want better products and titles, then we must be part of the solution that makes them so, be it through withholding our purchases or direct, but honest and detailed discourse. We must play an active part in it all. If our concerns are not heeded then we must rightfully take our purchases elsewhere.
Neo insists that he wrote the Cheers theme song in the bath one night when he was feeling lonely. It’s been a constant source of agony that the show’s creators have never given him the credit he’s due. If you see him, feel free to voice your condolences, and maybe give the guy a sandwich.