Searching for product recommendations has become harder and harder over the years. I used to google or browse reddit for reviews, used them to create a shortlist of products and then actually dig deeper and compare them.

Lets say I’m in the market for a mechanical keyboard, but I don’t know much about them. I use whatever search engine to look for “best mechanical keyboard 2024”. The results are really bad, and I mean really bad. It’s more of a list of keyboards to avoid, to be honest. The problem is not just google. Bing, duckduckgo, Kagi, Startpage… all results suck. The results are filled with AI generated pages or outlets farming affiliate links. There are a couple of good suggestions in the middle of the garbage but if 9/10 websites recommend a random razer keyboard, I’m inclined to believe it’s an option worth considering.

Some of my friends say they resort to Youtube. I can agree that Youtube has amazing content creators that give amazing reviews and produce great quality content. But if you don’t know anything about the subject, how do you know which content creator is good and which content creator is just farming affiliate links?

One of the things I loved about Reddit was that I could just go to /r/whateversubject and talk to what I felt was real people discussing products they loved. I no longer use Reddit ,and Lemmy, unfortunately, doesn’t have a big enough userbase to have a good community for each type of product.

So, what’s your strategy to find out good products on subjects you know nothing about?

  • zkfcfbzr
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    7429 days ago

    Honestly, I still just google for relevant reddit threads. Lemmy’s the only place I actively participate in, but this is one of the use cases it hasn’t been able to replace reddit for for me either yet.

    • lemmyng
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      4029 days ago

      Reddit has been astroturfed so much the recommendations there have to be taken with a lot of salt.

      • zkfcfbzr
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        2029 days ago

        Sure, but it’s still a lot more reliable than something like the amazon review section, or a lengthy AI-generated article comparing the two products you just happened to google together that somehow manages to say nothing at all.

        • /home/pineapplelover
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          229 days ago

          Those ai articles are almost surely there to distribute affiliate links. Not really to be trusted. So yeah, I still append “reddit” to product recommendation searches

    • @Mostly_Gristle
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      1029 days ago

      Same for me too. Reddit, for all its other faults, is still just about the only place you can still get candid opinions on products in a place where it’s discussed by a large group with a deep knowledge base. Especially with niche things like fountain pens, goodyear-welted boots, and stuff like that.

      Not sure how long that’s going to last though. The search engines are already hip to that trick, and even in just the last few months I’ve noticed a change in how many Reddit links I get vs product links when I add Reddit to my search query. Reddit is hip to it too, and with recently becoming a publicly traded corporation they’re probably going to wring every last cent out of that until every post mentioning a product is a bot-infested sewage fire like everything else.

  • @[email protected]
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    4029 days ago

    I look at negative reviews. If they are all dumb stuff like “FedEx lost my package, 0 stars” instead of actual complaints I know the product is good

  • @[email protected]
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    3529 days ago

    Honestly, I still just post here. You may not get the same amount of answers as you would’ve on reddit, but it’s still worth a shot. Besides, somebody’s got to start populating this place with good info. Why not be the one who starts it?

    That being said, pretty much every time I’ve asked about something here I’ve got excellent feedback.

  • @pHr34kY
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    2829 days ago

    Don’t search for reviews. Search for forum posts where users are having issues. “[Product] + [not working/failed/broken]” gets you an idea of what the product is like to live with, and now quickly issues get resolved.

    • @cucumber_sandwich
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      2729 days ago

      What you don’t get is a feeling for how common these failures occur though.

      • @[email protected]
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        1029 days ago

        The problem is most people only post when they do have issues or they give everything 5 stars if it’s as expected.

        I find ignoring 1 and 5 star reviews helps with this issue.

  • @sailingbythelee
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    2729 days ago

    One thing I haven’t seen mentioned yet is Consumer Reports. Consumer Reports is a membership-based non-profit that has been around since 1936. They are funded by membership dues, donations, and some corporate partnerships (mostly for research projects, I think). Their mission is to create unbiased reviews.

    They do well reviewing large purchases like appliances. They also review consumer electronics and some software, though not in the highly technical way of a site like Tom’s Hardware.

    Anyway, Consumer Reports isn’t perfect or entirely comprehensive, but the $40 per year membership pays for itself if you are a homeowner. Just in the last couple of months, they saved me $500 by directing me to a less expensive dishwasher than I otherwise would have bought.

  • @[email protected]
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    2029 days ago

    Honestly, you just need to find whatever forum the enthusiasts of <topic> are using and see what people write there.

    This is just one of the cases where search engines are useless

  • @[email protected]
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    1729 days ago

    10 years ago you could get honest product recommendations in Reddit. These days reddit is overrung with corporate trolls.

  • @RememberTheApollo_
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    29 days ago

    I generally only ever read the negative reviews.

    You’ve already searched for a product that has the features you want, so you’re probably already looking at the right things for you in the features and aesthetic department.

    The negative reviews will tell me things like if the product or parts of it failed or broke. If it doesn’t do the job very well, lacks power, accuracy, etc. If a keyboard, is it loud? Fatiguing? Are the keys replaceable? Do they keycaps wear and become illegible? How “sloppy” are they? If it does fail, is there customer service? How many people get DOA items? How many bad reviews are for dumb things like color or buying the wrong product for the job?

    So see what people disliked about the product you think looks shiny and pretty before buying.

  • @[email protected]
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    1429 days ago

    Beyond the other good recommendations here, go on amazon and do your search for “mechanical keyboard” armed with a bit of information first, like knowing that you won’t find a good mechanical keyboard for under $40.

    Then click on one you’re interested in that has at least 50 reviews and check that it’s been for sale for at least 6 months. If anything hasn’t been for sale very long, or hasn’t gotten many reviews, it’s likely a poor product.

    Now for the other important bit. Go to the reviews and sort them by NEWEST. Every scam product in existence gets the initial ball rolling with fake/paid reviews, but then stops after a couple months. So when you sort by newest and look at the most recent 20 reviews, those are almost always mostly real people. Those are what you want to look at. If a product is rated 4.5 stars with 500 reviews, but the most recent 20 don’t average out anywhere close to 4.5, you know the product is a lie.

  • @Audalin
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    1429 days ago

    I don’t focus on recommendations specifically. My typical process is:

    • spend anywhere from a few days to a few weeks figuring out which technical characteristics are important for this kind of product, which aren’t, why and when &c. This kind of information is usually available (and even obvious SEO garbage can give you new keywords to consider when searching);
    • based on these alone, determine what’s acceptable and what’s desirable for you;
    • if you haven’t already, find some kind of community around the topic and see which brands/manufacturers people commonly complain about and why; also see if there’re popular manufacturers only selling things via their own websites;
    • open your preferred store (or several) and filter the entire category based on what you’ve learned. Pick a few candidates and examine them closely;
    • go back to the community again and look up anything mentioning these candidates - including comparisons with other ones you haven’t considered. Perhaps consider them;
    • make the final choice.

    Skip some of these if irrelevant or if you don’t care enough. Spend extra time if you care a lot.

    It works well enough for every new phone (the market there is changing fast, so you start anew every time), it worked for my first PC I’ve decided to assemble with 0 prior knowledge, the mechanical keyboard and the vertical mouse, and pretty much every piece of tech I’m buying.

    And I’d say it’s reasonable to use Reddit without an account even if you disagree with what the platform owners are doing. The data is still valuable for such use cases.

    • @pathiefOP
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      529 days ago

      Thanks for sharing, I’ll definitely start asking there!

    • @IMALlama
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      329 days ago

      Subscribed to the second and link. I like to lurk/sort by subscribed and new and will try to comment when I have something to contribute. Niche communities are hard to form without a decent user base, but a general recommends community seems like a great idea.

  • @[email protected]
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    1129 days ago

    I’m afraid there is no quick way to get an honest recommendation. I usually resort to YouTube and spend 2-3 days watching some related content. It sorta filters itself out, there will be a creator or few that you vibe with, and you trust their choice.

    Happened to me with audio gear (I trusted crinacle, for example.)

    • @[email protected]
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      529 days ago

      Weeding out the spon-con is very difficult depending on the product. I was looking at solar generators a year ago and gave up with youtube because every single reviewer was provided the product they were using for free to review.

  • @JeeBaiChow
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    1029 days ago

    They built an entire industry dedicated to gaming the search results, so I feel your frustration. Nowadays, if it’s not some influencer telling you to try something, it usually a bunch of topic snobs who need the latest and best (read: most expensive) version of anything - completely unusable for a casual query. If you have friends or local communities with the same hobbies, I’d start there. Or start in the shops - you find out real fast of they’re trying to push product on you, versus genuinely trying to help you find what you need.

  • @[email protected]
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    929 days ago

    I just look for the most barebones forum with complaints about the product and see if I can deal with those issues or not

  • @[email protected]
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    929 days ago

    I haven’t found a way. I too used days of research, going to a physical store to try something when possible/applicable, YouTube reviewers, many many websites that used to be trusted, plus Reddit reviews. They all lied, or maybe I’m doing something odd to cause my own problems? Or both:-).

    And even when they did not lie, about their past experiences, in one case the company itself ended up betraying its entire userbase so bad it made an international sensation and the cofounder left the company in protest - OnePlus I’m looking at you regarding the 7-series updates. I will never purchase a OnePlus product again in my life as a result, which is doubly sad bc nowadays they once again seem like good devices, and triply so bc I know of nothing else remotely like those “flagship killers” of old - that whole genre of phone is just over now, and they were merely the last hold-out.

    You have to somehow be an expert in every little thing these days, and when you do find something you may want to consider purchasing more than one of the item to avoid having to go through all that again when the first one breaks, if that makes sense for the situation (for a keyboard I dunno?).

    If only after doing all that you could share what you found with family+friends, to spread the love and avoid the same pain all around!? But in reverse, would you trust the reviews of your family members & friends - how sane are they, when it comes to this stuff? We want reviews from people better equipped to do so than we are ourselves, not average or below:-).

    Which is why I’m saying that depending on the cost you may want to just roll the dice and see, and also expect to spend even more days of research, and also go back through historical archives of Reddit forums as much as possible. The goal of all capitalism is to take your money, period. The likes of Amazon and Google have truly enshittified the act of internet commerce:-(.

    • @Audalin
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      429 days ago

      Also was a OnePlus user - now switched to Nothing Phone (2).

        • @Audalin
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          129 days ago

          Very solid, I think (except water protection, but my previous OnePlus also didn’t have good water protection anyway; and I’m careful enough).

          I don’t tend to use glyphs or the default launcher (and therefore its special widgets that only work there; but the ability to have apps in folders on my main screen while being hidden from the app menu is more important for me than a handful of widgets, so Neo Launcher it is).

          A recent OS update added configurable swap (up to 8GB), calling it “RAM booster”. I don’t use it, but if you want to run a local LLM (or rather a SLM), you could try making use of it? As long as you figure out how to make the model use main RAM and not the swap.

          I like the battery life (or maybe it’s just because it’s the first phone where I started charging at 20% and stopping at 80% semi-consistently).

          Termux still works despite the new Android versions becoming more hostile to apps executing binaries they didn’t have included already.

          One thing I miss from OnePlus is the ability to deny some apps network access entirely. (I think it was removed in later versions of Oxygen OS?)

          • @[email protected]
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            129 days ago

            OnePlus phones no longer use Oxygen OS - it has been supplanted by Color OS, the same as used in Huawei phones.

            With the cofounder having left OnePlus (to start Nothing phone!), and the demise of Oxygen OS, and the ending of the offering of “flagship killer” models, the company has entirely rebranded itself these days to be a “full flagship” along the likes of Samsung and Google and Apple, though ofc far behind all of those.

            They are half-decent phones, reputedly, i.e. possibly worth replacing the OS on just to get the hardware for the specs, though the other cofounder - the one who remained behind - has a history of alternately playing nice for a few years then betraying the entire user base, then rinse & repeat with newer customers, so for someone who does not want to replace the OS with a custom ROM I would not recommend them.

            My own phone’s update (7T) was so buggy (it made a minor but noticeable international news sensation) that - I kid you not - I thought that the device might literally explode. I quickly turned it off and it did not, but it got REALLY hot for awhile. After researching, the solution was simple: boot the device into recovery mode and wipe the temporary cache. But WTF OnePlus, you couldn’t have had the update do that automatically rather than scare people like that? And I think that melted some internal shielding component b/c even after replacing the OS the phone has never behaved the same - I can no longer hold it in my hands anymore for more than a few minutes at a time b/c it literally hurts and even makes red marks on my skin. My device went from buttery-smooth scrolling - a phone I LOVED, and raved about to anyone who would listen, proudly showing it off - to a piece of crap in less than ten minutes, due to a buggy update rollout. :-(

            My update experience seems worse than most, but I am far from the only one, when the company decided that their most popular model - the 7-series - simply was not worth maintaining anymore, as they dropped support for Oxygen OS from the 6-series and older models, and switched to the Color OS for the 8-series and newer models, leaving the 7-series delayed for a long time whether the company would do anything at all for us.

            i.e. Carl Pie left for good, solid reasons - not just to start a new thing but to leave the old bad thing behind:-|.

            • @Audalin
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              129 days ago

              I see!

              And it was a stable OS version, not a beta or something? That’s the worst kind of bugs. Hopefully manufacturers start formally verifying hardware and firmware as a standard practice in the future.

              • @[email protected]
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                129 days ago

                Yup. I mean it was, prior to the update. I wonder if I might have caused any of the issues b/c I delayed installing it for months, but I kept hearing so many sad horror stories about the update that broke everything, that I knew it would cause problems. But I was applying for and then starting a new job at the time, so replacing the phone OS was not something I wanted to do at that time.

                The 7-series just basically fell through the cracks between where the older 6-series got one last update and newer 8-series were promised to get a few future ones, but they short-changed the 7-series updates both in number and SUBSTANTIALLY in quality too:-(. People felt really betrayed at the time. And then ofc most everyone forgot, just like what happened at Reddit, and Google, etc.

                I think Carl Pie may have taken a bunch of programmers with him during all of that, and the company must have already decided to switch to Color OS (though they had not announced it at the time, yet it seems more clear in retrospect), so they did not have the programmers that they needed, and it would be a short-term job if they went and got them, so instead they simply… didn’t do as many updates as originally planned, and the 2 that they did do were so crappily deployed that I literally wish that they had offered zero updates rather than what they did. It didn’t quite “brick” my phone, but neither did I have a phone that worked even a tenth as well as it had previously, prior to the update.

                And the thing is, OnePlus has a history of doing stuff like that. My brother warned me, and I didn’t listen - “naw bro, they’ve changed, that was the past, etc.” I fooled myself there, thinking that any bad changes would simply prompt me to swap out the OS with a custom one and I’d be fine to continue forward with the nice specs. I did not count on their update process being SO BAD that it literally damaged the hardware on my phone:-(.

      • @[email protected]
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        329 days ago

        Yes, echoing the other commenter: how is it?

        I live in the USA so getting one would be problematic but I hear perhaps not entirely impossible for me.

        Do you know how it compares to e.g. Fairphone?

        • @Audalin
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          229 days ago

          Other than what I said in the other reply:

          I live in the USA so getting one would be problematic but I hear perhaps not entirely impossible for me.

          Looks like it has a US release? If you’re unsure or getting a European version, double-check it’s compatible with American wireless network frequencies &c. Specific operators might also have their own shenanigans.

          Do you know how it compares to e.g. Fairphone?

          Nope, never tried Fairphone.