Dec 122010
 

There is no rulebook for writing sex toy reviews, but any longtime reviewer will tell you that there are definite amateur mistakes, mistakes that make our eyes glaze over with terror.

When a person begins reviewing sex toys, their first impulse may be to write a cutesy, coy, infomercial-like review. This is no surprise, since sex toys are seen as taboo and “naughty,” and new reviewers (perhaps unknowingly) feel the need to perpetuate those stereotypes.

My first reviews were, admittedly, pretty atrocious. I’m guilty of breaking some of these rules myself — under “cons” for a glass dildo, I wrote “doesn’t vibrate.” But I eventually learned not to do that. Most reviewers do. It’s all about recognizing the problem and fixing it. And then becoming increasingly more judgmental of people who still fall into the traps!

This list is the bare minimum for writing a sex toy review that doesn’t make me homicidal. And while fixing these mistakes may not result in an awesome review, it will make for a passable one. Frighteningly, the examples have been taken from actual sex toy reviews. Please enjoy!

  1. Write at least semi-well. Learn how to use apostrophes so I don’t have to endure another “dildo’s.” Find a way to express glee without resorting to “LOL.” Do not make purring noises. Do not overdose on exclamation points. NO SMILIES. Watch out for sneaky incorrect words like “alot,” “discrete,” “silicon,” and it’s/its. Don’t fall back on pop culture references, e.g. “ribbed for her pleasure.” Unless your toy is behaving like a teenager, I’m pretty sure the word you’re looking for is “definitely,” not “defiantly.” And finally, the color red is not “inquisitive.”
  2. ACTING COY ISN’T CUTE. You are writing a sex toy review, and we are reading one. There is no need for you to feign embarrassment or act demure. Don’t write anything that could possibly end in a winking face. Question your use of quotation marks (e.g., I gave him a “hand”). Don’t muse over whether the postman suspects your “naughty little secret” or not.1 Don’t refer to “spicing things up” unless you are talking about rolling in nutmeg. And for reals, don’t use euphemisms. A dildo is a dildo, not a “dingaling” or “little booger.” A clit is a clit, not a “magic button.” Sex is sex, not  “doing the deed” or “sexploration.” An orgasm is an orgasm, not a “big O” or “happy place.”
  3. Do not assume your readers’ marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Far too often, it is implied that the reader is female and in a relationship with a dude. Don’t address your review to “ladies,” and don’t use the phrase “your man,” and you’ll already be better than a lot of fools. Which is sad.
  4. This is a review, not an erotica submission or an infomercial. You were horny when you used the toy? I could have deduced that. And please, do not direct your creepy erotica at me by writing things like, “you’ll be screaming for hours!” and promising that jelly anal beads will give me anal orgasms “every time.” Never, never write, “this is the only toy you’ll ever need” — because no, no it is not.
  5. Sex toys and people? NOT THE SAME THING. I once read this in a review: “who needs a man when you have this stud?” And subsequently wanted to gouge my eyes out. There is simply no reason to make this comparison. A masturbation sleeve is not “like some real loving.” I never want to hear the phrase “the real thing” again. And don’t you dare imply that using a sex toy is like cheating on someone.
  6. Knowing your shit might help. This way you will not end up recommending a non-flared toy for the butt, or suggesting that jelly is a super-duper material, or worrying that ben wa balls can get “lost” in the vagina, or contending that CONDOMS TAKE AWAY FROM THE “MAGIC OF SEX.” You might also avoid saying nonsensical shit like “this toy is made of silicone-feeling jelly,” and refrain from calling Caucasian skin tones “flesh-colored.”
  7. No generalizations. I have seen some of the weirdest shit put forth as truth. Like that no woman can resist a pirate, nor can they resist an elephant-shaped clitoral stimulator. But it’s the rampant stuff that really gets me, like that all women loooove pink, that all guys want threesomes and bigger dicks, and that women only use sex toys when they are either lonely, single, or their (ALWAYS MALE) partners are gone.
  8. If at all possible, please describe how the toy actually feels to you. You’d think this would be a no-brainer, but I can’t tell you how many reviews I’ve read that refer only to the reviewer’s “hubby” and his opinion of the toy (often, “he thought I looked hot using it!”). Besides that, there are tons of almost-good reviews that read more like product descriptions.
  9. Don’t lie. You had a “mind-blowing” orgasm from tiny ben wa balls and nothing else? You think a gross jelly dong smells amazing? A candy G-string was one of the most delicious things you’ve ever eaten? You’re certain your mom wouldn’t notice if you left a dildo on the coffee table? You’re absolutely shocked to find a fake pussy in the fake beer can that you ordered from a sex shop?2 I don’t believe you. At all.
  10. Anthropomorphize toys sparingly, or not at all. I know it’s hard, especially if the toy has a human name, but if every review you write refers to the toy as “him” or “her,” especially if you get all cutesy about it, I’ll be clicking away. Sex toys: still not people.
  11. Don’t turn negative attributes into positive ones. If a toy is too weak to get you off clitorally, don’t turn that into “it’s great for nipple stimulation!” If a toy is hard to clean, don’t turn that into “I like that, because I don’t have to worry about ruining the toy with water!” Don’t give a toy props for simply not hurting you. If a condom rips on you, don’t praise the fuck out of it. I mean, really.
  12. Sexist jokes: please don’t. If I had a penny for each time a guy reviewing a sex doll or masturbation sleeve made a crack about how a toy “doesn’t nag,” well…
  13. “Good for beginners” is a phrase that should be used with great caution. Ask yourself why you have the urge to write this phrase. Because if the reason is “this toy is made of a shitty material, never got me off, and broke after 3 uses,” that is a terrible reason. Beginners are already freaked out enough; they don’t need a shitty sex toy to enforce their fears. In similar news, the phrase “this toy is good for beginners and advanced users” means absolutely nothing.
  14. Insecurity isn’t hot. You’re ashamed of your stretch marks? You’re too timid to talk to your significant other about anything sex-related? You would describe yourself as “lonely”? That’s sad, and I didn’t need to know.
  15. If a toy fails to do something it is not meant to do in the first place, let it go. Most dildos aren’t meant to stimulate your clit. Watch battery bullets are not going to be “Hitachi strong.” And, for the love of god, a condom is not supposed to stimulate your G-spot.

Follow these rules, and you will be well on your way to writing a sex toy review that, at the very least, will not induce headaches in the people that read it!

What do you think, amigos? Which of these makes you cringe the most? Did I miss anything?

  1. Besides, online sex shops really don’t need to be lauded for shipping things discreetly — only chastised if they don’t. []
  2. To be fair, this person was clearly trying to be clever in acting like he expected beer, but it was so dumb that I’m counting it as lying. []

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  • http://twitter.com/jenthegingerkid JenB

    Well, I, for one, would LOVE to see an “inquisitive red dildo.” Sounds kinda fun! ;)

    Great post. I’m so tired of seeing reviews for “silicon” toys. And hell, not just in reviews–it’s in product descriptions on the sales sites too.

  • howunremarkable

    Wow, thank you for helping me realize I’ve been spelling “discreet” incorrectly for basically my entire life.

    Yikes.

  • http://heyepiphora.com Epiphora

    @howunremarkable: It’s not incorrect if you’re talking about math!

  • http://twitter.com/hopeandmemory Liz

    Because if the reason is “this toy is made of a shitty material, never got me off, and broke after 3 uses,” that is a terrible reason.

    I giggled.

    This is great – as a writer, I like to read good reviews, not in terms of opinion but in terms of content. If I’m reading a review, it’s because I’m considering buying something, usually… so telling me product specs isn’t helping if I want to know if it freaking works.

    I won’t lie, though, I totally fall prey to anthropomorphizing Lelo toys. All those damn people names, I can’t help it! xD

  • http://dangerouslilly.com Dangerous Lilly

    Whew, I don’t think I do too many of these.

    The whole thing of calling toys by him/she/her is really squicky, to me. I know, I know, it happens like 90% of the time with Lelo toys especially because of the human names but UGH. NO.

  • http://www.NakedAtOurAge.com Joan Price

    I was nervous when I saw your topic, because I write sex toy reviews and I was afraid I was breaking your rules. But as far as I can tell, the only rule I break is sometimes calling the clitoris the “sweet spot” — but it’s out of affection, not coyness. Let me know if that drops me from an A+ to a B- or lower!

    Love the list, seriously.

  • Tuesday

    Great list. My only comment is with number 5. When writing about a toy whose goal is to simulate the feel of a penis, like a vixskin product, what’s wrong with comparing it to an actual penis? Or is it just the phrase “the real thing” that bothers you? I may have actually used that phrase. I’m not sure.

  • http://heyepiphora.com Epiphora

    @Tuesday: There is nothing wrong with comparing it to a penis, since it is obviously meant to mimic one. What would be problematic would be to say “it’s just as good as a real man!” or something equally gross — comparing a dildo to an entire, actual person.

  • Nicky

    Whew…looks like I haven’t broken any rules…at least I don’t think I have. As far as which ones make me cringe the most, it’s probably #4 and #10. If I want to read a review, I want the facts and your opinion – not erotica. And yes, referring to sex toys as though they have a gender is just strange in my opinion.

  • sophie2229

    STRONG BAD

  • http://elodieonlove.com/ Elodie

    What makes me cringe most? Oh, how to decide. Probably #5, #7 and #12. I hold out very little hope that people who make those particular “mistakes” will change. Also, your example from #8. When a woman only describes how much her “hubby” (ALWAYS HUBBY) likes the sex toy that was used on her, and doesn’t think her own experience is worth mentioning, I want to bang my head on the wall and strangle someone at the same time.

  • LucyLemonade

    This is an excellent post, definitely will make me look at my reviews a little harder. I wish I would have had this list when I began.

  • http://wantonlotus.com/ Scarlet Lotus

    I’ve fallen victim to some of these in the past, but most of them I’ve grown out of… or at least I like to think so. Even if not I’ll hopefully catch myself from now on. This is officially linked on Pleasurists multiple times, because it’s awesome. I’ve been looking forward to this post since the poll! You win.

  • Bri

    Number 8 is definitely the one that makes me cringe the most. I don’t care how it looked while you were using the toy. Generally, men like whatever you’re doing to yourself with a toy that they get to watch. (I only say men because 8 is ‘hubby’ specific). Plus, the word ‘hubby’ totally makes me gag. I want to know how it FEELS and WORKS. I also hate # 3. I try to use the word partner even though I sometimes feel it makes it kind of clinical sounding. I’m sure I was guilty of being coy in my beginning reviews but have happily out grown that. Number 14 just freaks me out. People put that stuff in reviews?

  • http://heyepiphora.com Epiphora

    @Bri: #14 mostly happens only with lingerie reviews, but it is so terrifying I had to include it.

  • Bri

    Ah, that makes sense…good call!

  • Jake Holden

    @Dangerous Lilly: You’re right, it’s so hard not to refer to Lelo toys as people. I think BOB *has* to be referred to anthropomorphically. Saying ‘when the BOB is inside you’ sounds so weird…

  • Misfit Momma aka Missy

    I break some of these rules depending on what I’m reviewing. Guess I need to go edit my use of the word discrete. Thankfully it’s only in 3 of my reviews according to my search box…

    I do refer to some toys as he or she. My most recent one was for Lelo Lily. It was hard not to!

    I think the one that makes me cringe the most is the ones that say they had an orgasm with the ben wa balls. Glad I’m not the only one… for a while I thought I was doing it wrong!

  • http://www.shevibe.com Sandra

    Love it, bravo – good stuff!

  • http://kitoconnell.com/ Kit OConnell

    @Dangerous Lilly:

    Haha that’s exactly how I read this — how many am I guilty of? I think I am only guilty of saying toys are good for beginners — but what I mean when I say this is that it’s made from a good material, powerful enough to get people off, and is a fairly tame shape without a whole bunch of confusing controls. I wouldn’t recommend the nifty new 16X controller I just got from Mypleasure with a zillion functions to a newbie.

    Maybe this phrase has become diluted beyond all meaning from over use though, and as always I should just say what I mean. Good food for thought.

  • http://heyepiphora.com Epiphora

    @Kit OConnell: Yeah, that’s the main thing — it’s used constantly and often without thinking. If you have a legit reason, I say go for it, just explain what you mean.

  • http://lovesickrobot.com lovesickrobot

    I too have anthropomorphized my Lelo toy. I’m not the one who named it Bob, okay?!

    The generalizations about elephant-shaped shit though, that’s awesome. What’s wrong with me, that none of the sex toys I own are elephant-shaped?

  • http://kitoconnell.com/ Kit OConnell

    @Misfit Momma aka Missy:

    Given the variety of women and their parts, I am sure there are women for whom ben-wa ball style toys can give them orgasms, but I’d be willing to bet few to none are actually ‘mind-blowing’, Hitachi-on-high orgasms. The real problem are reviewers who act like every toy is god’s gift to orgasms, even when that’s not really the point. Sure, some people can think themselves to orgasm too but that doesn’t mean whatever happens to be on TV at the time is the sexiest porn ever.

  • http://ravenquince.wordpress.com Raven Quince

    I love you. That is all.

  • http://heartbreaknympho.com Wilhelmina

    THE ALOT <3

    i don't think i do many of these. probably just smilies and the beginner comment. i definitely did more when i was first starting out and didn't really know what i was doing.

    like scarlet lotus, i've been looking forward to forwarding this since the poll!

  • http://the22ndcatch.wordpress.com John Yossarian

    “There is no rulebook for writing sex toy reviews”?

    Yes there is. It’s this blog post.

    Brilliant, brilliant stuff; it’s as though you ripped all of my pet sex toy reviewing hates directly out of my mind and articulated them better than I ever could (partly because in my position, as a person who gets paid to do it rather than simply receiving the toys and depending on affiliation, it’s not proper for me to criticise as accurately as you have, and partly because you’re better at it than me).
    -JY

  • http://femminablog.blogspot.com femmina

    The coyness gets me more than anything else…and makes me want to grab people by the shoulders, shake them vigorously and yell things like “IT’S A FUCKING DILDO. CAN WE PLEASE GROW UP?”

  • http://insanehussein.com InsaneHussein

    Yes!! Thanks for this! Starting out on my blog with full reviews and will definitely refer to this a lot.

    #14 makes me cringe the most. OMG.

  • InsaneHussein

    And I just bookmarked this.

  • http://www.ExploringIntimacy.com Dr. Ruthie

    Thanks so much for this post! It inspired many sad nods and hearty laughs.

  • http://askgarnet.com Garnet Joyce

    I admit I had no idea I was spelling discreet incorrectly. Thank you for pointing that out.

    The “knowing your shit” one is the one that drives me crazy the most. I read blogs for my job and I come across tons of inaccuracies about materials, lubricants, chemicals, body parts, etc. Being a sex educator I want to email these people (especially my reviewers) and educate them, but I just don’t have the time and that’s not what I get paid to do.

    Also, for the sake of my eyes, I’d like to make a plea to all bloggers about making your blogs easy to look at. Clean and simple is best. Nothing should be animated and dark text on light backgrounds is the easiest to read.

    There are other issues I have as well. I’d love to share, but I would rather not shoot myself in the foot.

  • http://heyepiphora.com Epiphora

    @Garnet Joyce: Ohhh believe me, my ideas about blog design could fill yet another list of 15.

  • http://www.erosblog.com Bacchus

    I don’t think I’ve done a sex toy review since I gave a raver to the Phantasy Sinnflut back in 2006 (update: the rechargeable battery is just now starting to flag after years of regular use) and the biggest reason I stopped is that at some point I noticed I was clicking away in horror from anything I recognized as a sex toy review, as soon as I recognized it as a sex toy review.

    If everybody followed these 15 rules, that would help, a lot. The only one I disagree with, a little bit, is #3. I think it is perfectly acceptable for a publication to write for a target audience; if I want to write sex toy reviews for men in romantic relationships with women, say, or for women in relationships with other women, or whatever, I think it’s perfectly acceptable to target my review to that audience and write it appropriately. It’s not really an assumption so much as an editorial stance. “This publication assumes a certain readership; it’s not that other readers aren’t welcome, it’s just that we aren’t tailoring our prose for other readerships.” (I agree that there’s a huge difference between doing this as a considered matter, and falling into it in the blythe assumption that everybody is just like you, which is what I think #3 is warning against.)

    Moving on, though: if everybody followed these 15 rules, would I read sex toy reviews again?

    I’m not certain. Here’s the other thing: one reason sex toy reviews are boring is that there’s a metric shit-ton of very similar sex toys out there. A few good reviews when you’re in the market are interesting, but otherwise, they’re dull as dirt unless there’s something novel about the the toy.

    Consider computer reviews, or cell phone reviews. You might read them when you’re buying. Otherwise, if you encounter them, you skip them, unless the headline convinces you there’s some hot new nifty tech involved that’s got intrinsic interest.

    So, here’s my suggestion for Rule #16: Always consider the novelty factor of the item you are reviewing. If it hasn’t any, think extra hard about whether you should write the review at all, and if you must, what you can put in so that it won’t be dull as dirt.

  • http://elodieonlove.com/ Elodie

    @Bacchus:

    And yet, somehow, people keep reviewing computers, cell phones, books, movies, music, food, etc., that aren’t completely “novel”. Because some of us enjoy reading reviews. Because some of us enjoy writing reviews. And because there is demand for them. Just because they aren’t your thing, that doesn’t mean other people don’t enjoy them. Further, unless reviewers review lots of toys (or read lots of books or whatever), they won’t have any expertise in their subjects.

    Epiphora’s list is meant to be universal. Your addition would not be universal. It would, in fact, stop almost all sex toy reviews entirely, giving people nowhere to go for reviews of that straight vibe #452 they’re looking at.

  • http://www.erosblog.com Bacchus

    Elodie, I don’t think that’s true, although it’s possible I’ve stated my point too forcefully.

    There’s an enormous amount of spam in the sex toy review world — people who are reviewing the same toys over and over again who have nothing new to say, about toys that are not very distinguishable from a great many other very similar toys. That’s not typically true of the other review categories you mention. Nobody thinks it’s a good idea to write a review of Avatar, a year after it comes out on DVD, just because the studio sent them a free copy and they can use the review to support an affiliate link — not unless they have something fresh and new to say about the movie, which isn’t very likely. Nope, they save their reviewing effort for a new movie that comes out — which is what I’m recommending. Don’t review last year’s toys, or this year’s nth-generation knockoff of last year’s toys — save your reviewing effort for new toys.

    Trust me, straight vibe #452 already has dozens of reviews you can Google — another one probably isn’t needed.

    I should also point out that my “rule” didn’t say not to do the review, it just cautioned that one should “think extra hard” about whether to do it, and how to make it novel if you must do it.

  • http://heyepiphora.com Epiphora

    @Bacchus: I am not entirely sure how you thought that this sort of assertion would go over well on what is primarily a sex toy review blog. Yes, we should all try to write interesting reviews, but I’m not going to request only “novel” toys to review — I’m going to request toys that I would like to try.

    Honestly, I have to laugh as I think about what it would be like if I restricted my reviews to only new toys. I would never have found my favorite clitoral stimulator, the Eroscillator, which came out in like 1995. Or the Pure Wand, which is not very new either. I just don’t understand how this makes sense, when one is wanting to be knowledgeable about sex toys.

    And one more thing: this list is about writing. It is not about telling people what to review and what not to review.

  • http://elodieonlove.com/ Elodie

    @Bacchus:

    Don’t review last year’s toys, or this year’s nth-generation knockoff of last year’s toys — save your reviewing effort for new toys.

    No.

    I will review what I want to review, if I possibly can. Because I enjoy it, and I have my own blog, for which I pay a monthly fee, to write whatever I want on. If people like what I write, they will read it. If they don’t, they won’t, and oh well.

    Also, you might want to look around the internet a little more. People review old movies and books all the time.

  • http://www.erosblog.com Bacchus

    Ephiphora, I came in via some tweets from folks who are primarily sex bloggers. They may do sex toy reviews from time to time, but it’s not the steady diet that it is for you. Quite honestly, I thought that was the audience you were aiming these tips at, as well, and so that’s who I was trying to talk to, also.

    You’re a skilled professional — you could review the Manhattan phone book and make it readable. Obviously my advice is not aimed at you. Or, I guess, it wasn’t so obvious — it only seems obvious to me, for which, my apologies.

    I suppose I should have been clearer, as well, that novelty is always going to be relative to the reviewer. If the toy is novel to you, you’re going to be able to write about it with some freshness, even if it’s a classic. The kiss of death is the ninth review in a long line of “this is another rabbit-style vibrator just like the one I reviewed two weeks ago, only this one has longer ears and smells better, and the vibration is a little more intense…” style review. You don’t commit these, but surely you know what I’m talking about.

    Anyway, I was trying to be lighthearted and helpful and join in the spirit of the excellent post you’ve made, but obviously I have stepped on toes and flailed miserably and ruffled feathers. I am truly sorry.

  • http://heyepiphora.com Epiphora

    @Bacchus: That makes a lot more sense. I think what you’re meaning to say is that fresh writing is important, and it helps if the toy is interesting to the reviewer to begin with — and I completely agree. That’s one of the things I tell new reviewers: do not agree to review something that you feel indifferent about (and this sometimes can be hard when companies offer a particular toy and people feel obligated to say yes). If I were making a “15 rules for writing a fabulous sex toy review,” then I would definitely include and expound on that idea, but alas, this post is just the bare minimum. In any case, thank you for clearing up your meaning.

  • http://www.erosblog.com Bacchus

    I don’t want to retreat too far, though. I think it’s a defensible position that there are toys out there — quite a few of them — that aren’t worth a ton of reviewer attention due to their low quality and/or lack of differentiation from other products. Perversely, it will be much harder to write a clear and interesting review about these toys than it would be to write one about toys of greater quality, novelty, or merit.

  • http://www.NakedAtOurAge.com Joan Price

    I’m enjoying the animated responses this post provoked!

    Re: novelty: I write for a particular audience — people over 50 (most 60-75) wanting to improve and/or celebrate their sex lives. Some of my readers have been using sex toys forever and have a drawer or suitcase full, and are eager to learn about the newest toys. Others are just coming to the idea of sex toys because of slower arousal and other problems, and they need to know about the Eroscillator and the Hitachi. So novelty isn’t a priority for me — but effectiveness is.

    The other issue is that the manufacturers and retailers send us products for review with the agreement that we will review them. We’ll tell the truth whether we like them or not, but we can’t just ignore a toy we’ve requested and been sent. And obviously a toy that makes a young person squeal might make an older person go, “Eh!” — so the senior perspective is important to my readers and maybe boring to younger readers.

  • http://www.erosblog.com Bacchus

    @Joan Price: Ah, I’m in a slightly different position. As one of the first-mover sex bloggers from way back, I established my review policy back before the manufacturers and retailers started getting sniffy and trying to act like they were doing bloggers a favor. In those days I was one of just two or three sex bloggers willing to do reviews, and so I had a policy just like all the print publications used to have for review materials — “Send whatever you want, I’ll review whatever I want, but reviews are not guaranteed and I’m under no obligation.” I’ve stuck firmly to that policy, and it gives me a lot of freedom — I very much do feel free to ignore a toy that’s been sent me if it’s boring or crappy or ho-hum.

    Market power shifts back and forth, but it’s my impression today that the marketers still need our traffic more than we need their free toys. People are of course free to do as they please, but I’m not convinced there’s a genuine need to review a toy just because it was sent, or to receive toys on an inescapable-obligation basis.

  • http://elodieonlove.com/ Elodie

    @Bacchus:

    If anyone sent me a random sex toy out of the blue and expected me to review it, of course I would not feel obligated to do so. Every toy I review, I request. I promise a review in return for the toy. It would be highly unethical of me not to fulfill my part of the bargain.

    Do what you want on your blog. I do what I want on my blog. Don’t assume that because it’s something “new”, or something you wouldn’t want to do or read, that everyone must act and feel the same way you do. I don’t write because other people “need” to read what I write. (How many people “need” BDSM erotica, or, for that matter, stories about other peoples’ sex lives?) I write about sex toys because I like writing about sex toys. If you don’t like writing about sex toys, then don’t do it. It’s that simple.

  • http://pollyvincere.wordpress.com Polly Vincere

    This is a great post. I’m certain I’ve done a couple of them and will likely do so again.
    Thank you for a reference starting point.
    I believe it is quite excellent of you to spend such quality time and effort on this piece without tangible compensation. :)

  • http://kitoconnell.com/ Kit OConnell

    I really learned my lesson about being selective when it came to the crappy toy I was sent recently. I’m posting the review this weekend but I really wish I’d investigated this one further.

    I’m interested in finding reviewers I know and trust and following their reviews of all sorts of toys, new and old. People come into my website searching for all kinds of toys too, so it’s clear the demand for fresh reviews is there, judging by my google hits.

  • http://teagan-shepard.blogspot.com Teagan

    I just came across this and I enjoyed reading it. I’m going to have to watch out that I don’t violate #3. You know what happens when you “assume…”

  • Jezzy

    Thank you for such a nice, thorough list. I am brand new to sex toy reviewing (writing my very first one tonight) and thought I would seek some advice before I just started typing away. I must say I am glad I found your post and will be extra careful to avoid such pitfalls. I intend to write reviews for toys that my husband and I and our partners find interesting, no matter the age or uniqueness and look forward to the day when a company will send me toys to review.

    Do you have a similar list on writing book reviews? I am just about finished with the first book I have been asked to write a review for and would like to do a good job for the author.

    Thanks again!

    ~xxx~ Jezzy

  • http://heyepiphora.com Epiphora

    @Jezzy: Hooray! Glad it was useful to you. Unfortunately, I’ve never written a book review in my life, so I have no advice for you there! You could try asking Jackie Hussein, a friend of mine who reviews books and sex toys.

  • http://www.nakedatourage.com Joan Price

    @Jezzy:

    Jezzy, the best way to learn to write book reviews is to read them. Get a sense of how reviewers choose what readers will want to know to decide whether the book is for them.

    I review books on my sex & aging blog: go to http://www.nakedatourage.com, then look for the label “books” in the column on the right side. That will bring up pages of my book reviews. Hope they’re helpful.

  • Jeff

    Your list is a great place for me to start. I am just about to start putting reviews on my site and I wasn’t sure really what I was looking for but your list certainly gives me a better idea of what I should expect and the standard of the writing I should receive.

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  • TrailerParkStripper

    Thanks for posting this, I wish I had seen it when I started writing reviews.
    I have to admit, I have made some of those mistakes in the beginning. I have corrected myself since then.
    I just said screw it one day, & started being honest after getting a shitty toy to review.

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  • Bex

    Some of the best advice I’ve read in a long time. Thanks for helping me break out of the cliches.

  • Kisses and Kinks

    Two things:

    1. I appreciate this list. I remember seeing it when I first started reviewing and thinking that it was a bit harsh. Now, after a year of reviewing, I think it’s just common sense. Thank you for posting this.

    2. I noticed your commenting policy and I think that’s a fabulous idea. Actually, I really like how you have your site set up overall. It’s absolutely beautiful to someone like myself who has a compulsive need to organize everything.

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  • http://straightcougar.tumblr.com Tabberwok

    I wish I had enough nutmeg to roll in it

  • dgm

    Regarding the “postman suspects your “naughty little secret”” there is *nothing* more offputting than a giant label on your discreetly packaged box which says “opened and inspected by Australian Customs”. What? The sniffer dogs? The woman who does the body cavity searches was playing with my dildo? Nothing good can come of this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/el.susi.el Susi El

    What I couldn’t find in your list, but what is missing in reviews very
    often: there are sometimes technical details, you only find out, when you get your hands on the toy. Like special vibration patterns or information about
    the material (like the firmness). When a vibrator comes with 10
    different vibration patterns, I want to know with which ones … and
    how to switch between them. A vibrator with just one button or a user
    interface like the one of the Jopen won’t be chosen by me. You can’t
    find that information in most of the online shops. A good reviewer has to be
    able to provide such information without bore his readers.

    What I
    really hate in reviews are phrases like “it feels awesome” without any
    specification of what exactly makes it feel so good.

  • http://heyepiphora.com/ Epiphora

    Those things are not included in the list because, as I said, these are the “bare minimum.” A list about how to write a good sex toy review would look a lot different than this.

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  • TJtheMadHatter

    What made me cringe most? The anthropomorphize bit. I have a few toys that I refer to as he and she. I’ll definitely be on guard to catch myself. I cringe writing it sometimes. Especially in a longer review. It makes me want to rewrite the whole thing. Thanks for the heads up.

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  • KiraKitten

    I’m a little ashamed because I love to refer to my toys that way, it’s part of the fun and the fantasy. I’m not sure if I’m going to change that about my blog but time will tell…
    Now I’m all self concious.

  • Whitney M

    Every time I read the phrase “Good for beginners” used as a saving grace on a piss weak toy I just want to SCREAM at my computer. “Beginners? REALLY?!” Surely a beginners vibrator AT THE LEAST requires a decent spectrum of vibration intensities.

  • ThanksObama!

    My partner and I name all of our dildos as presidents as sort of a half-joke, but it has zero percent to do with fantasy and a hundred percent to do with being able to say “Thanks Obama!” when you’re done masturbating.

  • Missy

    I love this! Yes, most of them are no-brainers, but I love how you elaborated and made it a fun read. If you don’t mind, I would like to add that I don’t like using “great for beginners/advanced users” at all. I prefer phrases like “great for someone who has a deep g-spot,” “fantastic for those who can get off on just clit stimuli,” etc.

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  • Anonymouse

    I know I’m three years late to this party, but just for future readers, I would like to throw in my perspective as the person looking to your reviews to buy a new toy — I research the hell out of my purchases, because my budget is limited, and I *do* want to know the little differences. I practically had a spreadsheet going on the “which rechargeable clit vibe” question and being able to read reviews by the same person of closely related toys is HUGELY useful.

    As long as it is still for sale, it’s a relevant review.

    Heck, if they have a review of a no longer available toy that I own it’s useful, because it helps me calibrate how likely my experience of a toy is going to be like theirs. (i.e. how much power is good, texture is awesome or awful, etc.)

  • Rin

    Hoo boy, that last one about deducting points from a toy because it doesn’t do something it wasn’t designed for is something I see annoyingly often. Specifically when it comes to dildos not vibrating. Was is advertised as a vibrator? Did it come with a bullet and a hole for said bullet to go in? Is it hollow with one end that opens up? No, no, and no? Then stop listing “doesn’t vibrate” as a negative and buy a vibrator next time!

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  • unstuck

    Mm old comment but I logged in to say: This is why I only buy from Canada (I live in Canada). I’m sure She-Vibe and all these shops are great, but I a) don’t want to pay for customs and b) having customs look at my stuff. I recently had to return a vibe to Lelo for RMA in California and wrote “personal therapeutic device” on the Customs form. Hopefully that’ll pass snuff!