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SM Reviewer's Rules and Policies

We are in the communication business. Most of the rules center around communication. If you cannot or will not communicate as expected, bluntly put, you have no business in this field.

Everyone associated with Stereomojo must live up to these expectations:

1. The moment your name appears on our masthead you become a representative of the publication and the Publisher. You are also representing the audio press as a whole. That means anything you say on a website or to a manufacturer reflects directly on SM as well as Stereophile, TAS, 6 moons et al. That’s a huge responsibility you’ve taken on. Keep it in mind at all times. Keep a tight reign on your attitude towards others. Statements like “I’m a reviewer for Stereomojo so I know what I’m talking about!” is unacceptable. Just because we have a platform on the web does not make us gods. It doesn’t even make us right. The publication is not about us, it’s about the passion we share for music and components that reproduce it in our homes. From careless athletes to religious extremists, we’ve seen how a few people can cast terrible reflections on millions of others. Bad behavior cannot be tolerated. Our readers are always more important than we are. We are servants.

Do not get embroiled in arguments on websites. Know that there are those who will bait you and test you simply because they want to catch you in something and thus elevate themselves. It’s easy to twist anyone’s words, so the less words you use the less you put yourself and everyone else at risk. In addition, if you’re spouting off all your opinions on other websites, why would anyone want to come to ours?

Never, ever get in an argument with a manufacturer. Our job is to get the facts and info that are relevant, not to tell someone how to run their business or design their products. For example, “Why did you decide on a three way design?” is relevant. Saying “Why did you decide on a three way design when I know that 2-ways are better?” is not only rude and arrogant, it’s just plain stupid.

2. IMPORTANT: NO review solicitation initiated by you with any vendor is permitted without explicit permission from the Publisher FIRST. There are many reasons for this, such as perhaps someone from SM has already contacted them. Maybe your room or system is not appropriate. Maybe your published biases are all wrong. A writer who dislikes solid state amps will not review them. Maybe their products don’t fit our niche or we know of poor QC or customer support. There are many more examples but suffice it to say, check with the Publisher first - not afterwards. Remember we are a TEAM, not a collection of individuals. If you were a football player, you wouldn’t run onto the field without the coach’s permission. You’d get a penalty and embarrass yourself AND the team.

If a manufacturer contacts you first, get all the pertinent facts and contact the Publisher for authorization to proceed with the review. You may not initiate reviews without obtaining prior authorization from the Publisher. Same reasons as above. It would be embarrassing for everyone if you did an unauthorized review because it will not be published.

3. Once a supplier has loaned you his property, it’s your job to evaluate it as quickly as possible and get it back to them. Our goal is to the FIRST and the BEST to publish reviews. That will not happen if you take too long. Loaning you a $5,000 product is the same as you taking $5,000 out of your pocket and loaning it to a stranger with no contract and only his word that he’ll return it in a timely manner. You do not need the product in your home while you write a review. Evaluate it, make copious notes and get it back to them. Then write your review. That’s a win -win for everyone.

4. Under no circumstances are any type of incentives permissible in exchange for a favorable review. Our integrity is paramount. Anything that appears in print must be on the basis of a level playing field for all providers. We will treat all of those outside SM with respect and care, but none are entitled to special treatment not afforded to others. If anyone associated with a vendor even suggests otherwise, you must inform the Publisher immediately. If offered any free gear or any other perks prior to a review, simply say “Thank you, no”. Immediately document exactly what was said and by whom and email or call the Publisher. Don’t wait for days or weeks and please do not attempt to handle it yourself. It may be perfectly alright, but maybe not. Check first.

5. Under no circumstances are representatives of any company permitted to come into your home to set up, tweak or adjust any product unless is can be documented that it is their normal practice for all purchasers. This is much different that other print magazines and websites. We do not accept the premise that setup by an expert from the company is the same as “service expected by any hi-end store”. This most often occurs with speakers but applies to anything. We believe the review process should mirror as close as possible what our readers would experience if they were to purchase the product under review at retail.

5.In keeping with that same policy, all reviews should be initially conducted without tweaks that are additional to your normal reference system. In other words, no cones, stones, bones, clones, loans or tones should be applied to your system that are not already in regular use. If you use isolation devices in your system, use them in the review. If not, don’t add them. Again, the review should be based on how the unit sounds as is - the same as it would in any audiophile’s system. We don’t know what they use or don’t use. If, after you have completed the base review, you wish to try additional accessory enhancements, that’s fine. But that should be ancillary to the main review and your opinion. Your recommendation should not be based on them. If an unforeseen absolute need arises, contact the Publisher before you proceed.

6. Check all deliveries for damage as much as possible. If a product arrives damaged notify the sender and the Publisher right away. If, during the review process, something breaks or malfunctions, again notify both with details on what happened. The provider decides on how to proceed with repair at his own expense, but any malfunctions will always be noted in the review. Any outright abuse of a product by a reviewer will only happen once. Remember - the merchandise does not belong to you. Treat it with utmost care.

7. If it’s determined that a product is functioning properly but still does not merit a favorable review, the review will be published as is. That policy differs from others whose policy it is to pull the review. We believe that is a disservice to our readers. They deserve to know the truth.

8. Never disclose your findings to anyone, anywhere prior to your review being published. Certainly not on an internet board. You can mention that you are reviewing a product (that’s good promotion!) but never give any hints as to the final outcome.

9. Understand that anything you submit is subject to editing for grammar, conciseness, continuity, clarity and verbosity. Use your spelling checker before you submit something. What will not be subject to change is your final opinion or recommendation. However, if the outcome - whether favorable or not - is not properly and clearly substantiated, it may be challenged to make sure it is as valid as possible. If we don’t challenge it aggressively, our readers will.

Double check with the manufacturer all your facts such as prices, specs, dates. origins and everything else that is represented as “fact”. Any communication with anyone outside SM needs to be documented. Take precise notes and actual quotes.

Recommendations should be clear and specific, never vague. “Highly Recommended” may be acceptable for everyone else, but not for us. Our readers deserve more.

10. It is widely known that after a review the reviewer sometimes is given the privilege to purchase the product at an “industry accommodation” price. ALL such offers and transactions must be approved by the Publisher BEFORE they happen, not after. No exceptions. Notice the word “privilege”. It is not your right to purchase at a discount and it is always at the provider’s discretion and at the provider’s price. The price is never negotiable. And it’s never as a reward for a good review. All such prices must be revenue neutral and at a normal percentage of retail. You can’t buy a $10,000 turntable for $1,000. Be aware that this practice is sometimes subject to attempted abuse. All such transactions will be scrutinized carefully.

If the discounted purchase is approved, it is industry standard that you must keep the product for at least one year before you can sell it. Again, don’t try to sell it under another name. We will be monitoring that and serial numbers will be registered.

The provider may rarely offer to leave the product with you on “indefinite loan”. Once again, that’s up to them, but in any case it must be approved before it takes place.

11. Never pester, coax or coerce a provider. Don’t assume anything such as shipping and timeframes. Always ask. Never, ever get into an argument or debate with a provider. If an issue comes up, contact the Publisher right away. It will be handled. Good communication prevents misunderstandings.

12. Observe deadlines and requests. Reply to emails or any other communications promptly. Have respect for other’s time and efforts.

13.The breaking or abuse of any of these rules will be enough reason for termination.

Thank you,

James Darby
Publisher - Stereomojo.com

Stop the presses!

NEW Linn LP12 revealed!
Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2006

Coming in November. The most comprehensive coverage of the the world’s largest 2-channel only Audio Show - The Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. Featuring tons of pictures of the newest gear with comments and impressions. We will also feature interviews with today’s top designers and manufacturers. And, for the very first time anywhere, we will have exclusive video clips of those most noteworthy people and products at the show.

StereoMojo.com, its logo and related material are ©2006 James Darby, Fort Myers, FL 33907, unless otherwise specified.

Get in touch with us at: publisher [at] stereomojo [dot] com. Beto designed this.