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Welcome To The Reviews Subforum


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#1 watch_art

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 14:31

*** IMPORTANT ***
The Pen Review sub forum is specifically for reviews of writing instruments (although fountain pens are the focus, you are free to review art pens, ballpoints, rollerballs, mechanical pencils, etc). Please do not post open questions here. If you have a pen related question, ask it in the brand or region specific sub forum, or in the general writing instruments sub forum. If you have a request for a certain pen review, post it in the request topic "here".


"So, what is a pen review all about, you might ask?"

A pen review should contain thorough details about a particular pen, personal experience of ownership, and at least a few images showing pen details. If personal images aren't possible, then embed one or more images from sources on the Internet . As they say, "a picture is worth a thousand words." Of course, if they are copyrighted photos please obtain permission before using (and at least credit the source as well).

In the past, there have been postings in the pen review forum that do not follow these basic principles. Now, I would not go so far as to be strict and say that someone cannot post a "mini" review or "quick impression" write-up. Understandably some people can get quite excited about a newly acquired pen and want to share the enthusiasm, without having yet written a full review. If posting something like this, please be sure to return with more details to fill out the review. The better your review is, the more hits it will get, the more popular on FPN you will become.

There is a detailed pen review guideline provided in an adjacent pinned posting within the forum. This is a suggestion guide, not a rule, but following it will make your review more enjoyable and informative for all (plus, you'll receive a lot of praise and admiration from the FPN membership!). So, please make use of it.

Also, please refrain from posting external links to your reviews hosted elsewhere. It is OK if the review content, or bulk of it, is posted on FPN. Postings that only contain external links will not be linked to the review index. Sorry.

Thank you for your cooperation and understanding. And last but not least, a BIG thank you to all of the members who have made pen review contributions! Without your input, the database would be minuscule in comparison to what it is today. Let's keep it up and ultimately it will become the leading source of diverse fountain pen information on the Internet (nice to be a part of that, right?).

REMINDER: Please post pen related questions in either one of the brand sub forums or in the Writing Instruments sub section. Requests should be posted to the Pen Review Request topic.

 

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Greetings fellow fountain pen fans! Welcome to the Fountain Pen Review sub forum of FPN. I'm your host, MYU.

INTRODUCTION
The review forums within FPN are prized assets that provide plenty of useful information to the membership and browsing guests. Many pen purchases are influenced by what is read here and FPN continues to amass more pen related data every day. The reviews are one of the key factors that drives the growth of new subscribers, as people stumble upon postings here during Google searches (it's amazing how many of them attain top level hits in the search engines). So, I am honored to have the opportunity to oversee the reviews of pens and will strive to ensure that the quality and organization of content here is the best it can be with the time allotted.

Naturally, I want to encourage people to post reviews of their prized pen possessions once they feel they're ready to make a contribution. It's not something to be taken lightly, as this is content that many people will see and the quality of which becomes a reflection upon FPN and yourself. Accordingly, it's a good idea to follow the suggested guidelines provided below so you make the most of your efforts.

Also, remember that the more objective the review, the better. Embellish your descriptions of what you like and don't like about your pen and why. Subjectivity is normal, but justification enlightens. These details are essential, as the things that bother you might bother someone else and the things you love may attract others to buy the pen as well. A fountain pen is a very personal experience, as each person has their own hand characteristics, preferences and writing styles. It's all about finding what works best for you and embracing it. The reviews can be a key help in this.

In short, write as much as you wish and try to touch on the guideline points. Describe the appearance and functionality of your pen, along with dimensions, and provide your own personal images if possible (otherwise embed on-line images from reliable sources, credited of course). If you really want to use a different format that ultimately achieves the same objectives, so be it—whatever it takes to share your pen experience. Consistency is good, but so is variation. And last but not least, have fun doing it!

Posts containing just an external link to a review, no review content, will not be linked in the index. There are a number of reasons for this. But mainly the issue is reliability. Content hosted only externally is subject to the reliability of that host website. We have had a number of reviews where external links have become broken (a student leaves the university where the review was hosted, a website service changes the URL, a member ends up closing their account or it expires). Plus, members should only be subjected to the FPN servers while visiting. External links often present a degree of uncertainty (unknown sources, 3rd party links, cookies, ad-content, ad-ware, monitoring, viruses, etc).

One more thing: If after a reasonable search you are unable to find a review of a pen that interests you, please post a fountain pen review request in the Review Request thread. Keep in mind that is a purely voluntary submission forum and there's no guarantee that someone will respond with a review from your request. We're providing this communication channel as a courtesy, so that people don't post these requests in the main review section. Over time, stale requests will be purged to keep the thread from growing out of hand.
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REVIEW FORMAT
The general review format subdivides the content into six key sections and a conclusion part: First Impressions, Appearance and Design, Weight and Dimensions, Nib and Performance, Filling System, Cost and Value, and Conclusion. When you provide images, place them in the sections where they make sense (for example, nib shots should go in the "Nib" section; overall body shots should go in the "Appearance" section; a photo of the pen in the box might go in the "First Impressions" section). For each section, provide a point rating on a decimal scale from 1 (worst) to 10 (best). In the Conclusion, summarize the points divided by total number of sections (exclude the "Conclusion" section, of course) to arrive at a final point rating. For example, if each section scored a 10, then you'd have 60 divided by 6 sections, resulting in a 10). This is a suggested point system, as there have been a few different ones used in the past. Remember to be fair in your point scoring. I've seen so many reviews with 4.5 ratings on a 5 scale system, which makes them questionable about objectivity (I've been guilty of that too ). Few pens are perfect!

Below are detailed descriptions of each section. For your review, copy the template that is attached in the next posting and supply your own content accordingly.

INTRODUCTION: The moment you first take a pen in hand, or unveil it from the package/box it came in, an impression of it is made upon you. Describe that first feeling you get, what parts of the experience stand out most. Did the things that draw you to buying the pen become realized, exceeded, or a disappointment? Was there an interesting history or strong recommendation that drew you to it? Or perhaps it was an unexpected gift? What accessories came with the pen, if any? Things like a booklet, warranty card, bottle of ink, etc.

  1. Appearance & Design (1-10)Every pen has an appearance/design theme. It might be conservative, avant-garde, ostentatious, subliminal, utilitarian, pure artwork, reminiscent of a particular era (Victorian, Bauhaus, modern, etc). How is the construction and quality? What is the finish like (matte, glossy, neutral color, bright color, etc)? What materials it is comprised of? Does the pen have an unusual design about it?
  2. Construction & Quality (1-10) Aside from the visual appeal, how solid does the pen feel? Are there any manufacturing flaws or seams? Does it feel flimsy or rugged? Would you fear dropping it on a firm surface?
  3. Weight & Dimensions (1-10) Aside from the numerical values of weight, length capped/uncapped/posted, width, and circumference, how do you relate to the dimensions of it? Is it large or small, but works well? Is it unsuitable for you, but could very well be fine for others? Does the cap post (affecting the size/weight option for writing)?
  4. Nib & Performance (1-10)What is the nib size you chose? What other sizes were available? What's the nib made of (gold plated steel, plain steel, monotone gold, 2 tone rhodium plated gold nib, solid gold nib)? If made of gold, is the content, 12kt, 14kt, 18kt, 21kt, or higher? How does your particular nib write? Is it smooth, or has some tooth, or perhaps scratchy, firm, flexible, semi-flexible, etc? What kind of line does it put down? Is it dry, moderate, or wet? Does the line match your expectations for the size, or is it wider or thinner than it should be? Does it work well on a variety of papers and with a variety of inks? Is the nib of a special design or standard? Is it user serviceable, where it can be easily removed and replaced with a nib of a different size?
  5. Filling System & Maintenance (1-10) - What is the type of filling system on this pen? Is it an eyedropper, Vacumatic, Aerometric, Touchdown, Vacuum-Fil, snorkel, piston, cartridge, converter, button, crescent, lever filler, or some proprietary type? How much ink does it hold? If you're not sure of the quantity, compare it to other pens you know. How well does the filling system work? Is it easy, reasonable, messy, clean, or cumbersome? Does it fill completely on the first shot, or do you have to repeat the process? Is there any risk of leakage? How easy is it to maintain? Are parts easily disassembled, including the removal of the nib?
  6. Cost & Value (1-10) Where did you buy the pen? Do you know what the MSRP or going rate for it is? If you don't mind stating, indicate how much you paid. Was it new, NOS (new old stock), or used? Do you think you got a good deal? Did you find a better or worse deal after purchase? Do you think it is a comparable value to other pens you have, worse value, or the best value you've seen so far?
  7. Conclusion (Final score, xx/6) - What are your overall feelings about this pen? Has it generally met your expectations? Summarize any specific details you mentioned before that has notably influenced your opinion. Would you buy the pen again (for yourself or a gift)? Will you use it as a daily writer, occasional writer, or collection piece? Or will you sell it in the near future? Whether you keep it or not, are there any merits to the pen that would cause you to recommend it to someone else?

Remember, this is a suggested guideline, not a mandatory way of writing your content. Not all of us have the time to write fully comprehensive pen reviews. You can provide some basic information about a pen without authoring a full novel! wink.gif And of course, if someone has already done a very thorough review, there's no sense in repeating the same information. Keep that in mind and strive to provide information that has yet to be revealed, or a perspective that has not yet been shared. But please be sure to include more than just a few sentences. Anything of that limited nature really doesn't constitute a review and will likely be moved to the Writing Instruments section.

Pen and Photography sub forum dedicated to this. You'll find it quite useful and frequented by people eager to answer your questions (of course, search a little first before you ask something really obvious!). If you wish to use an existing photo from a third party website (such as a pen seller), be respectful of the copyright. At the very least, credit the photo with a link to the source. But it is proper protocol to request permission from the source. Photos not approved will have to be removed. Remember that there is always the danger of the link becoming invalid, and that the opportunity for correcting the review may be long past.

SIZING: The IP.Board software will auto-size images to fit within the screen view, but that does not mean it is OK to upload images of any size. Also, the browser resizing function isn't always optimal. For best results, please keep images sized no larger than ~300kb and no wider than 800 pixels in either direction. Use JPG or PNG format, but also use reasonable compression to keep the size down, as well as cropping the picture to eliminate content not relevant to the item. We have members all across the world with different degrees of Internet bandwidth, so the smaller the image size the better. You can still get good visual results with standard compression.
To add an image to your review, use the "Insert image" icon (rte-image-button.png) on the toolbar. It pops up a dialog asking you for the URL (website address). Be sure it is a static reference to the image, and not a dynamic one (containing parameters, question mark, ampersands, etc). Most image sharing websites help you with the URL needed for reference. As for uploading images to postings as attachments, I discourage that because you have limited file space on FPN. If you think you'll end up posting just one or two reviews, then by all means use the image attachment function, but read up on the editor help on how to use it. smile.gif In the Full Edit mode, you will see your images displayed. In the Quick Edit mode, you will just see the code references, like this: [ img ] http://www.fountainp...ogo11-133et.gif [ /img ]. You could add more images by just copying the line and changing the URL. You can also make your images linkable (for example, if you want to link to the company brand of the pen you're reviewing) by highlighting the image tag string and clicking on the URL icon (rte-link-button.png).

NOTE: If you use Flickr for hosting your website images, you must put a URL link back to the same image on every image you reference. Otherwise, the image won't appear. So, first use this icon rte-image-button.png to link to the image and before doing anything else click on the URL icon rte-link-button.png to create the link to the same image. Some photo sharing websites now provide you the code you'll need to link your photo (either BBS code tags or HTML).

Lastly, and I can't stress this enough, try to be impartial. Even if you can help being biased and love a pen more than any other you've ever owned, don't forget to give a full picture. The best way for you to do this is to ask yourself "if I was the pen designer, how could I make it better?" Everything has room for improvement. Even this guide!

 

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REVIEW TEMPLATE

[Brand, Pen Name/Model]

[Brief introduction and First Impression] Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Integer cursus dui at eros adipiscing non dignissim urna ullamcorper. Duis ac turpis massa. Cras dui sem, laoreet vitae facilisis quis, dapibus ut ipsum. Praesent sit amet erat odio. Nulla euismod lorem at magna facilisis pretium sed sed risus. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae; Nunc a erat nec tortor volutpat porta. So, here goes:
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  1. Appearance & Design (1-10) - This is a beauty, a design classic
    Describe the visual appeal. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Integer cursus dui at eros adipiscing non dignissim urna ullamcorper.
  2. Construction & Quality (1-10) - Follows the German stereotype
    Beyond appearance, note the build quality. Etiam imperdiet iaculis sagittis. Curabitur aliquam bibendum ultricies. Aliquam mattis nunc ac mi volutpat rhoncus. Donec viverra sem vitae nibh pretium pharetra.
  3. Weight & Dimensions (1-10) - Long, slender, and lightweight
    Donec ut nisl nibh, a mollis sem. Suspendisse potenti. Nullam fringilla eros eu leo mollis convallis. Donec pretium ante at lacus venenatis volutpat. Mauris malesuada tempus nibh, a condimentum lectus sagittis at.
  4. Nib & Performance (1-10) - Wet and smooth, but well controlled
    The nib type, characteristics, and how it performs according to your criteria. Aenean bibendum ultricies gravida. Integer eu magna nunc. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus.
  5. Filling System & Maintenance (1-10) - Classic reliable piston filler
    The filling system design and the overall maintenance effort involved with the pen (including detachable nib, section, filling system parts, etc). Vivamus sagittis, sapien nec ornare viverra, augue diam laoreet felis, ac blandit sem velit eu purus. Pellentesque pellentesque sagittis urna, ut lacinia felis suscipit eu.
  6. Cost & Value (1-10) - Another FPN marketplace score
    How pricey was it and do you think it was a good deal? Pellentesque pellentesque sagittis urna, ut lacinia felis suscipit eu. Fusce pellentesque urna non lorem sagittis eu rhoncus erat rhoncus.
  7. Conclusion (Final score [SUM/6]: X) - Don’t be the last person on the block[/b]
    In vitae elit neque. Sed diam nisl, commodo et porta eget, sodales eu nibh. Donec nec facilisis dolor. Nunc lorem lorem, bibendum eget auctor ut, dapibus quis massa.

This is a suggested guideline; obviously you could choose to ignore it, but following it promotes consistency and will encourage positive responses. The scale system helps give a snapshot idea of how this pen fared in the review. Each section gets a score from 1-10, then is totaled up and divided by 7 in the Conclusion. Thus, 54 points divided by 6 would be a 9 (that must be some pen!). Realistically, I'd say a decent above average pen would likely score 42 points, resulting in a 7 (42/6).

 


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