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This review was first posted on Dooyoo, in a slightly different version, as my fiftieth for that site. The idea was reflect on my experience there, and to do so by comparison with what happened on Ciao. The two sites do not, after all, exist in isolation. They are, so far as I can ascertain, closer to each other in purpose and style than to any other opinionating sites. Consumers seeking guidance might look at either or both, among the many sources of information about a product or service. Anyone eager to make their opinion known in review form is likely at least to consider posting on Dooyoo as well as, or instead of, on Ciao.
In making the comparison, I shall consider the two sites solely from the viewpoint of the member/review-writer, not from the viewpoint of the putative consumer seeking guidance. From the viewpoint of consumers seeking guidance I doubt there is much to choose. In fact, I doubt there is anything to choose, or that many of them even notice which site they are looking at. Most likely they have googled the product name or specification and viewed whatever turned out to be listed. Even if not, the two sites have much the same layout, much the same categorisations and much the same – in many cases exactly the same – reviews.
Frankly, I don’t believe there’s all that much to choose from the member/reviewer-writer’s viewpoint either, which is why many of us are active on both. The two sites seem to me to have many more similarities than differences. However, there are differences, and they are worth highlighting: -
* Rewards *
I have to confess that the financial rewards have never been the main reason for my participation in either site. It would, I think, be fair to say that neither site will make you rich in a hurry, or even extremely slowly. The financial benefits do provide a quantifiable comparison, though, so they seem a good starting-point.
Dooyoo rewards are expressed in the curious form of Dooyoo “miles”, an odd denomination that to my mind would be better expressed in pounds and pence, to which they equate at the rate of 10 “miles” to 1p. Once one’s got to grips with this currency, though, one finds Dooyoo rewards are easier to predict, at a flat rate of 30 “miles” (i.e. 3p) per member read on all reviews irrespective of product category. At this rate, Dooyoo rewards are not only more predictable than Ciao’s complicated tariff - ranging from 0p to 2p per positive rating (Helpful or above) depending on product category - but almost invariably higher. The only way a Ciao review will pay more per rating than a Dooyoo one is if it is the first published in a 2p category, and then only for the first month after publication. Or, of course, during the odd occasion like this month, when Ciao's rates are temporarily increased. On the other hand, reviews tend to accumulate more reads and ratings on Ciao than on Dooyoo, and this can help make up any difference. For example, on Ciao I am so far averaging 112 positive ratings per review, on Dooyoo 59.
Then there are the extras: Crowns in the case of Dooyoo, worth £1.50, based on recommendations by fellow-members. I cannot give you an exact number, but these seem to be numerous and quite widely distributed, in contrast to Diamonds here, a ten-a-month rarity. Diamonds are, of course, only the tip of the iceberg of Ciao’s Premium Fund, which gives multiple awards each month of anything up to £15 for selected reviews, though less for most of them. But the basis on which they are allocated is as opaque as the iceberg, and demonstrably has little to do with members’ ratings. Each site also runs competitions with winners in selected categories, which can add a little icing to the cake, or iceberg as the case may be.
Dooyoo membership does not lead to invitations to participate in surveys, as it does with Ciao, so those who enjoy filling in questionnaires for a bit of extra income may regard that as a deficiency of the site.
Final point: collecting your reward is a lot easier from Ciao than from Dooyoo, provided you have a UK bank account and don’t mind waiting while it works through the system. On Dooyoo you can only collect cash without penalty when you have accumulated £100 or more, at which point they simply send you a cheque on request. Below this level, but assuming you have over £50 due, you can request a cheque but get docked £5 “handling fee”; below £50, you have to take it as Amazon vouchers. Since Dooyoo points expire after a year, these restrictions matter to those who don’t build up large credit balances. Rewards on Ciao do not lapse; I think that is a plus-point to Ciao to offset the minuses of a lower basic rate and the relative opaqueness of the reward system.
* Writing reviews *
Review structure is much the same on both sites: headline, pros and cons, body copy. Dooyoo also ask for a one-line summary, which sometimes seems a bit superfluous, but hardly entails much extra work.
A big plus in Ciao’s favour is the opportunity to post photographs to illustrate reviews. Much as I am a words man by nature, there are times when a picture is truly worth a thousand, and I like to use photos, especially for travel reviews. This is not as yet possible on Dooyoo and I think the site suffers a little in consequence.
Finally, it is possible on Dooyoo to submit “Express-Reviews” roughly analogous to the “Quick Reviews” that Ciao have now introduced. These earn no Dooyoo miles. Personally, I’m far too long-winded in any case to attempt such brevity, have not written short versions for either site, and don’t really have a view on them.
* Reading and rating *
The process of reading and rating other members’ reviews is much the same on the two sites with one exception: the range of ratings available. Dooyoo has two fewer options than those you see at the bottom of this page. The first of those missing is “Off Topic”, an option that, frankly, I don’t think adds a lot; if you feel that strongly about the irrelevance of the placing you can always rate “Not Useful” (Dooyoo equivalent of “Not Helpful”). The second option missing is “Exceptional”; “Very Useful” is the highest accolade available on the Dooyoo scale.
Personally, I think the absence of an “Exceptional” equivalent is regrettable, since the “Very Useful” rating has become as devalued on Dooyoo as “Very Helpful” is here – in effect the default rating for any reasonably thorough and well-presented review. Defenders of the Dooyoo scale argue that clicking the button that recommends a review for a Crown is the equivalent of rating “Exceptional” and in a way I can see that, but unless the review actually receives a Crown there is no way of knowing whether this has happened, or how many people thought the review was outstanding. I have to say that I prefer the rating system here, though it is not perhaps the most critical criterion by which to judge between the two sites.
* Being read *
Most of us, I imagine, like to have our work read, not just for the few pennies and the ratings that might earn us, but for its own sake. How much one is read by fellow-members partly depends, of course, on how much reading one does oneself, and this applies on both sites. My own experience is that I get fewer member reads on Dooyoo than here, but I cannot regard that as conclusive, since I am better established here and spend more time here than on Dooyoo. The pattern might change with more input on my part.
What seems unlikely to change, though, is that Ciao reviews seem to attract more reads from non-members: the world at large. In my case, an average per review of about twice as many, even when my Café reviews, which attract very few outside reads, are included in the numbers. It is almost impossible to judge the value of those non-member “reads”; they might just be some poor mug out there hitting the wrong button by accident, or giving the review a glance before moving on to something more edifying. But, whether or not I am deluding myself, I find a high level of outside reads gratifying. Of course, you might find it valueless.
* The Absence of Community Points *
On Dooyoo, the only incentive for participation is the monetary one. There is nothing equivalent Ciao to the “community points/coloured dots” system that is found here.
Readers of my recent review on the Community Point system will know that I regard it as a bit silly but ultimately worthwhile, in that it enhances interest and encourages activity, especially commenting, and member interaction on the site. Whilst they might not wish to copy the whole points-and-dots rigmarole, I believe that Dooyoo would do well to look into ways of encouraging more activity, since the site can often seem a bit unanimated, and even soulless. “You can hear a pin drop here sometimes,” as one practised member over there recently put it.
* Guestbooks and Messaging *
There are no public “guestbooks” on Dooyoo. The site recently introduced a private messaging system, in effect similar to Ciao’s private guestbooks, but this does not yet seem nearly as active the guestbooks here. Of course, I don’t know how other people fare, and maybe it’s just that no one there much wants to chat with me, but it’s a rare day I receive more than one message on Dooyoo, and as often as not I won’t receive any at all. On Ciao, I’d expect at least ten or a dozen messages daily. Hi, and thanks, folks. Of course, you could say that’s because I spend more time on Ciao than on Dooyoo, but conversely you could also say that’s one of the reasons I spend more time on Ciao.
* Spirit of the site *
What this seems to amount to is that Ciao is more animated and inter-personal than Dooyoo. I believe it is no coincidence that “Meets” – get-togethers organised on their own initiative by groups of members – are quite commonplace here, whereas on Dooyoo they seem to be a rarity, if they exist at all. On Ciao, quite apart from those I have met face-to-face, I have a sense of knowing a lot of my fellow-members personally, much more so than on Dooyoo.
This results partly from comment and guestbook interchanges, but also from the variety of Café reviews in which people talk about themselves, their tastes and preferences, their outlook and where they present their creative endeavours. Dooyoo is much more a straight product review site. It does have a “Speakers’ Corner” category, but it is much more limited in its scope than the Ciao Café; mostly topical debate on political, ethical or sporting matters. It is a paid category, unlike the Café, and maybe that is why Dooyoo might not wish to expand it, given that these reviews tend to attract few non-member readers and are of little intrinsic interest to advertisers. But Dooyoo could always reduce their financial exposure by making “Speakers’ Corner” a non-paying category; I’m sure people would still want to write in it, as they do in the Café here, and expanding it would liven up the site.
To my mind all this makes Ciao the more human of the two, with more of a sense of fun and of community. Whether or not this constitutes a benefit or not is, of course, a matter of opinion. Many people might prefer to maintain their distance and reserve, but there is of course nothing to prevent them from doing so here. The community side of Ciao is an optional extra, not obligatory, and it is an extra that Dooyoo largely lacks.
* Site staff and voluntary guides *
Regrettably or otherwise, I’ve had very little contact with the staff at either site. Dooyoo staff seem to have the reputation among the opinionating community of being more responsive and amenable to members’ concerns. I’ve only ever emailed Dooyoo once – about the categorisation of a product I’d proposed – and never received a response, but I have a suspicion I got the address wrong, and anyway it wasn’t an important issue. Members with more important matters to raise tell me that the response over there has generally been exemplary, in contrast to the reported experience of many here on Ciao, though concerns here seem to have subsided somewhat lately.
Dooyoo also have a system of appointing members as guides, who are involved in coordinating everything to do with particular product groups, a practice that has been discontinued on Ciao, apart from the splendid Fiona COOOEEE who helps new members find their feet. One can only admire the dedication of those who volunteer their services, but I don’t know how much their presence adds to the experience of the average member.
* Technical aspects *
Both sites are periodically redesigned, generally with beneficial results, though not without teething troubles. Which design you prefer is a matter of personal taste. Dooyoo goes in for green as a theme colour and rather small type in Verdana face. I think Ciao's text is rather more legible, but there's no real problem with Dooyoo's either.
Early reviews about Dooyoo, I note, complain about navigation and product suggestion procedures. Both seem to work pretty well now; indeed, product suggestion is more straightforward than on Ciao, where the procedure can take you round the houses and you cannot see how your proposal is progressing. Dooyoo tells you what number you are in the queue, which is some indication, though the queue seems to move quickly at some times and be static at others, like queues everywhere.
Glitches occur and gremlins rear their ugly heads in both arenas. As we all know Ciao went through a particularly bad patch earlier this year, now mostly though not entirely cured. Dooyoo has never, in my experience, been as bad, but it does seem to seize up occasionally. Fortunately, not very often or enough to be a serious deterrent to using the site. Touch wood. Fingers crossed.
* Conclusion *
There cannot be an objective conclusion to this comparison. Which site you prefer probably depends on the sort of person you are and why you are opinionating in the first place: on whether your motives are social, literary or financial. ‘Dooyoo for money, Ciao for community and for being read’ would be an oversimplification, but like most oversimplifications probably contains more than a germ of truth.
In the end, there isn’t much to choose between the two sites. But, of course, you don’t have to choose between the two sites. You can – many of us do – participate in both sites simultaneously. Indeed, the benefits of participation in either are enhanced by being on both. Enhanced financially, by cross-posting reviews on both sites (though you could find yourself unpopular if you cross-post without reading anyone else’s reviews on the site you regard as secondary; a bit like hanging around a bar hoping to be bought drinks when you’ve no intention of standing a round yourself) and enhanced socially, in that you can ‘meet’ new people at the same time as renewing acquaintance with those you know already from the other site.
Far better to enjoy the best of both worlds than to decide between them, in my opinion.
Fantastic review - I only signed up to Dooyoo last July and have found it a good site, and of course as to echo your words both Ciao and Dooyoo are very similar. I must confess to liking Ciao a little more though. E.