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81% positive

21 reviews from the community

Review of ""

published 19/10/2001 | Sarah_Louise
Member since : 26/07/2001
Reviews : 188
Members who trust : 106
About me :
Not for me
very helpful

"Money, money, money - or is it? UPDATED!!"

Time for a re-write methinks. It's rare for me to come back and update an op so long after me originally writing it. This particular one was written on October 19th, 2001.

I've left bits of the original review I wrote so that it can still be deamed "useful", i.e. so it still contains the bits of information that you'd need to know as regards whether you want to join or not.

My updated bits can be found amongst the main text so read on for further information....

~ Whats all about then? ~

Well its a bit like Ciao. Oh, and Dooyoo, SmartStudents, Epinions, Consumer-Reviews, etc, etc!

Of course SmartStudents has changed since I initially wrote this op. In fact I fully intend on updating my SmartStudents op within the next few weeks too.

You send in your opinions/reviews, they check them and then, if suitable, they post them on the site.
The information on the site however is designed to be read mostly by students.
Don't let this put you off though. Although it is very student orientated, anyone can join really. Most of the topics written about are general topics ranging from current affairs to film reviews.
It does point out though that it is designed for students. So to gain the higher awards (see later in this opinion) you need to write about topics that are of relevance to students/young people.

~ Why sign up? ~

When you write an opinion/review for this site you will be paid depending on what sort of content you supply.
They pay you for all the opinions/reviews that they publish on the site.

However to make earning cash even easier you don't have to spend ages writing an opinion on something, you can simply send in a link to a website and still get paid.
However you must remember here that you obviously get paid more for writing high quality opinions!

So, seen as most of you reading my opinion on this will already be Ciao members you obviously enjoy writing opinions on topics that interest you. Then why not sign up to too?
After all, most people over there can be recognised from over here and other similar sites.

Let me just quote myself here....
why not sign up to too?
Answer me this. Why are you a member of Ciao, Dooyoo, etc?
Many of you would say "for the community feel" and some may even just admit to being here solely for the money. Either way. I personally wouldn't bother joining any more. Why? More on this later....

~ Are they likely to go bust? ~

Well, as with all things like this, that is a possibility however, they use market research and advertising to be able to pay you for your opinions/reviews. So assuming the advertisers keep paying you should be getting paid too!
I can't see how this site is viable though because there is hardly any advertising visible. Unless I'm missing something! They must simply make money from the questionnaires asked when redeeming cash. (See later for more info).

How ironic I had a section of this op dedicated to this company stopping payments!

~ How do I get involved?

Well registration is pretty simple. While registering you'll be under the impression that you should be a University student (e.g. it asks what Uni you attend, what course, etc). This really doesn't matter though.

You can write in the following categories:
Careers & Study
Mind, Body & Soul
Sound & Vision
The Mag
Sport & Recreation

Once you are a member you can send in you opinion/review/joke/link (including any pictures you may want included in the text).

The method of sending in opinions/reviews etc. does differ from other similar sites. ou have to send it in via email. After going to the appropriate section on site and clicking on "Submit work" you get a page asking what title you want and which category you want. Next you get a page containing a link to your default mail program (usually Outlook Express). On clicking the link it will open up a new mail for you with your information running across the top so you don't have to type who it's from. (Hence it doesn't really matter if you don't use OE [e.g. if you use a web based email account]).
It contains your name, what category you want your article in, the date and what title you want it to have.

~ How much dosh do I get for all this? ~

Aaaah yes, this is the bit you were all waiting for!

Well there are different award structures to determine how much you get paid by the site.

You have a gold, silver and bronze award [as you'd expect! - maybe not on the same scale as the Olympics but hey ho!]

It's a guy named Dan Thomas who awards you with either a bronze, silver or gold medal.

Dan left quite some time ago and, to be honest, its gone downhill since he left. A person called Lindsay took over the role of accepting the new reviews and it would be Lindsay you were to email with your attachments.
However, although her email continues to work, you'll be lucky to get a reply from her. You can email your questions, you hear nothing, not even an automated "Lindsay tries to answer all questions but cannot guarantee to reply" type automated email that even Derek Acorah manages (he's world famous medium for those that don't know the chap)!

~ What about the cash though!? ~

Ok, ok, patience folks!

For a bronze medal you will get 50p,
silver £1.00,
and gold £2.00.

It used to be £1 for bronze, £1.25 for silver and £2 for gold.

It must be said though. Gold awards are hard to come by. Perhaps they're harder to get now than they used to be, now the gap between silver and gold is £1's worth? I don't know, I wasn't a member long before they system changed.

I've tried sending in reviews/opinions that have been awarded crowns by dooyoo and these, including some pictures, have only been awarded with silver awards. :(

The award structure is described on site as:

Bronze = Good standard, lacking in some criteria.
Silver = Well written, expressed good idea's. Very useful.
Gold = Excellently written, imaginative. Good choice of graphics. Very relevant to users.

I have sent in 45 articles to bigrag (which have been read 332 times) and so far I have been awarded 1 gold award, 34 silver awards and 7 bronze awards. I have made it into 12th place on the Medals League Table though. (The league tables take a bronze award to be 1 point, silver to be 3 points and gold to be 5 points).
As well as the Medals league table, there is also a table of the top 25 most read readers and top 10 most read articles.

You are encouraged to leave your money in your account though because you get 3% interest on your money at the end of each month.

Well, this was all well and good back in 2001 but alas in the past few years, its changed. Dramatically.
Like I say, Dan left and Lindsay took over. I couldn't tell you when this happened, it's quite some time ago though. Anyway, I continued submitting my reviews as it was good money (I admit, its the only reason I was there, there is hardly any community spirit over there). Lindsay accepted some of them. Then, suddenly, it stopped. You never got confirmation that they've accepted a review but usually within a day or so you'd notice your account had been credited with the relevant amount of money depending on how good/bad they thought your review was. It worked quite well. Simple to follow. You always knew where you stood with them.
Then it happened. Something changed. What exactly it was that had changed I don't know. You see thats just it. Am I confusing you now? Well bare with me! You see, changed BUT DIDN'T TELL US!! You see I continued sending in reviews and kept logging on a few days later to check how much my account had been credited by only to find my account hadn't been credited at all. I thought perhaps that either Lindsay was away on holiday or something or perhaps they didn't think my reviews were good enough to go on the site. Fair enough. So I waited a bit. I even emailed to ask Lindsay why they hadn't been put up on the site (as the reviews I had sent in had all gained "Very Helpful/Useful" ratings which I'd found tended to equate to at least a Silver award on I got no reply from Lindsay. Again, I thought that maybe she was away from the office. I waited a bit longer. Weeks down the line I sent in another review only for the same thing to happen. Months later it was still happening. My emails (and the attached reviews/photos) were being sent to Lindsay only for them to be ignored completely. What happened to the reviews I don't know. I'm guessing they all ended up in the Deleted Items folder.

~ How do I get a gold award? ~

To get to the silver and gold award standard you really are looking to include some images with the opinion (e.g. insert JPEGs into the text).
Despite posting some crowned opinion's with JPEG's included though, most have still only been awarded a silver award.

You won't so don't bother even trying.

~ I don't have much time to write though ~

Don't worry, there is still money to be made from this site. For the jokes, jpegs and other non-article/non-review style things you send you normally get paid 10p+ for them.
Which for what they're worth sure isn't bad going!
You can also post suggestions in the suggestions (suprisingly!) section. For these you get 25p. People vote for whether they think your idea is poor, average or excellent. I'm not really sure whether these make much difference in the long-run though because I, and other people, have suggested they should pay for reads, like other similar sites, to try to increase the community spirit. So far though it doesn't look like this is going to happen.

Might as well forget it!

~ Is the site difficult to use? ~

Nope, not at all.
The only qualm I have with the site is that, like I mentioned earlier, if you don't use Outlook Express as your email receiver/sender system, e.g. if you use a webmail system like myself then when you click the link to send your opinion/review it automatically opens up OE (or whatever you have installed). This is annoying in a way, not because i've then got to cut and paste the email address in the "To" box into my own webmail system, but if you have an instant messenger, for example, MSN instant messenger, running at the same time, all the contacts that are online at that time get automatically put into the address book in OE. Very annoying but never mind!
You don't have to send it from your own email address though now because it does put what your name is, what category you are writing for etc. at the top of the email.

~ Good points ~

1) Pretty easy to gain a silver award. £1.00 soon add's up.
2) You can send for your cheque as soon as you get to £5 in your account.
3) Good layout. The site has a little part in the top left hand corner of the screen. This is always present, no matter where you are on site. It has links to each of the categories (listed earlier). Hence its easy to navigate around the site.
4) League table's are good to spot out the better writers on the site.
5) Cheques are prompt. You don't have to wait long before they are sent to you. Plus you get a free pen sometimes!
6) Profile's are actually useful for the members. What I mean is... everyone who is a member of SmartStudents will no doubt have noticed that we don't get accounts. There is no sign of what opinions have been accepted by the site, no mention of how much money you've got, nothing. On bigrag though you get a list of which articles you have sent in and been accepted, your outstanding balance, your redeemed cash and your account history (i.e. how much money they have actually sent you).
7) Articles you do read are generally complemented by adding images. How many times would it have been useful to include a diagram or photograph in a Ciao opinion?

Scrap the above points!

~ Bad points ~

1) Hardly any community spirit. I only go there for the money. I go for no other reason what so ever. There is a "Trust me" section (like the CoT) though.
2) The questionnaires aren't screened very well.
When you click "Redeem" by each of your accepted articles you get sent to a questionnaire to fill in. Its only brief, I don't mind doing these at all. After all, these will no doubt be paying for us. Its not filling them in that I mind, its just the fact that half the questions either don't make sense or they don't provide the right answers. They are all multiple choice you see, just some answers aren't listed!
For example, one quetion has been something like:
"Do you use a credit card to buy things off the internet?"
Answers were:
~ Yes
~ Occasionally
~ More than once a week

What about No?!

The questionnaires don't take long though. They're easy to answer (despite the problem already pointed out). There are usually only about 6 - 10 questions to answer. The only writing you are usually asked to do is answer one or so questions with one word answers.

Now I'm going to include:

3) The team completely ignore any number of emails that you send them.
4) They don't appear to still be accepting reviews, or if they are then they're publishing them on another website and aren't crediting your account with any sort of renumeration for them.
5) This is the bit that REALLY annoys me....
they have absolutely no explanation of why this has happened on the website and they haven't even had the decency to email its (ex)writers to say "look, we're sorry but we can't afford to pay you any more". How hard can it be to email people explaining that? It would have gone a long way and I would not now be writing these updates. Or I probably would be but I certainly wouldn't be angry with them had they explained the situation to me.
6) Not only have they not told us old writers whats going on but they're blatantly accepting new reviewers AND saying they'll pay. When I go on the website I get a pop-up box telling me:

"The site for students, written by students.


Do they hell!

Although then again, maybe they're culling out the older writers and only accepting newbies? I don't know. Conspiracy theories could be a go-go! lol.

But I doubt that is the case as when you look at the dates of the reviews last submitted, most are submitted many months ago. (Incidentally, AFTER the time when I've tried submitting reviews....)

~ Do I recommend it? ~

So far, yes. I've received a few cheques from them now. They have all turned up within a week of requesting them.
Besides, you get free pens now and then!

Granted, they sent me the odd free pen when they sent me the cheques I requested. But, in a word, do I recommend it? NO. STAY CLEAR.

It's a shame as it had great potential (and it payed well!)

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Comments on this review

  • aberdeenlad1983 published 16/04/2004
    They have went bust and i was at the point at cashing out. I dont understand why the site is still running
  • Collingwood21 published 27/03/2004
    I was doing so well out of Bigrag at one point - I had about £70 out of them when it all went hideously wrong. I have sent no end of reviews in with none accepted, which is a pity as my account is stuck at just under payout level. If they are going to stop this aspect of the site, they could at least have told us, couldn't they?
  • Lancashire_Angel published 19/03/2004
    Oh dear oh dear oh dear, you can consider me warned off! Sharron xxx
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Listed on Ciao since: 24/09/2001