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GenSoftReviews Big Update - Sun, 2 Jan 2011

Most of today I spent updating my GenSoftReviews site. GenSoftReviews has been up for over two years, and over that time has had (as I write this) 723 reviews added, averaging almost one a day.

But over the past two years, I have noticed a few things and also got a few good suggestions from people about the site. A couple of months ago, I solved my big spam problem and it is running quite cleanly now. But it was finally time for a number of improvements.

First things first - how to encourage more reviewers. An average of one a day isn’t bad, but there are on average 150 unique people visiting a day. So I streamlined the “Add Your Review” form. It no longer requires an email address - just your name is fine. And I’ve moved it to the top of each program’s page rather that at the bottom. It will be more noticeable now. We’ll see if that helps.

Then I’ve eliminated the five categories of ratings. They were “Enjoy Using It”, “Use It Often”, “Easy Input”, “Useful Output” and “Overall Rating”. I found that 95% of the reviewers gave nearly the same rating to all categories. Even “Use It Often”, which shouldn’t correlate to the others very much (e.g. you might have a utility program you use only once every blue moon, but you really like it) seemed to rarely vary. So now there is only one rating, a simple rating of from 1 to 5 (worst to best). I now use radio buttons instead of drop-down boxes, to ease entry.

Then there were people who asked if they could only display programs with a certain number of ratings. I’ve now added the ability to sort by rating only those programs with >= 10 reviews.

Finally, I needed to be able to find the best programs each year for the GenSoftReviews Users Choice Awards. So the reviews are now listed in 4 categories: Overall (all reviews), 2011, 2010, and earlier reviews. Hopefully seeing that a program you are using has no reviews for 2011 will encourage you to add a new review with your updated opinion. At the beginning of each year, I’ll update increment the years that are shown. I programmed it so it will take me 5 seconds to make the change: change 2 numbers and press a button to update the counts.

So now the final thing was to sort by the 2010 ratings for those programs with at least 10 reviews and select those with a 2010 rating of 4.00 or more to give the GenSoftReviews User Choice Awards to. So then when I displayed that report (you can try it as well), I was very disappointed to find only two programs had at least 10 reviews. Family Tree Maker (since 2008) had 36 reviews with an average rating of only 2.65. And Geni had 14 reviews with an even lower rating of 2.30.

It turns out that some of the top programs from last year just fell short of the required 10 reviews. RootsMagic only had 9. Brother’s Keeper had 7. TNG had 6. Legacy had 8. I might have to skip giving out the awards this year, because the criteria of 10 reviews is sort of necessary to ensure there is both reasonable activity for that program in addition to a liking of it. I don’t think going down to some arbitrary lower number just this year, e.g. 5 is a good idea. Whatever number is picked, some programs would be cut off. But I’ll accept suggestions here on what to do - whether to issue the awards in some way or not.

But what this leads me to is a need to get more reviews. Therefore I need to do things to the site to encourage more reviews. Now please go to the top of this article and read it again to see what I’ll try. If you make it down to this point again, feel free to go to the top of this article yet again and read it one more time. If you’ve reached here for the third time, please stop.

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