Reviews, Star Ratings & Comments from Vendors & Professionals... Thank You for the Criticism.

From our blogs, a note from CPA Practice Advisor's Editor, Isaac M. O'Bannon:

Although I'll admit to being a cynic, I'm generally an optimistic one. :) But I don't usually think of myself as a professional critic, although I guess I am, since a major part of my career has involved reviewing and assigning subjective ratings to various technologies.

Over the past 10 years at CPA Practice Advisor, where I am the chief editor of a publication reaching more than 45,000 accounting firms, and more than 100,000 unique online users per month, I've had more than occasional complaints from technology companies who felt they deserved a better rating.

Sometimes they were right, and were able to convince me. Usually, they are wrong. The most vibrant memory is of a review in 2008, when I stated that a program had an interface that "looked like it was designed in 1995." The company's CEO complained, in an odd retort, that the interface was designed in 2001. The review was in 2008... He left about 15 voicemails that were timestamped until after 2am. Ugh. We did not print that review, out of kindness to that small company, and a lack of space, but it was still presented online.

At the same time, and somewhat dissonant, we occasionally receive comments from our readers that we are being too kind to the products we review. But when you're a critic and you get called "too harsh" from one side and "too nice" from the other side... I think that means we're doing a good job. What do you think, food critic and friend Ruth Tobias? (

A curious complaint that sprung up today is from a company that actually scored 5 stars (yes, out of 5). Whatever people think about our star ratings, the number of 5-star ratings amounts to less than 10% of all the ratings we give.

Part of that is because we don't often review the worst programs, and we rarely use the limited space in our print publication to cover the *really not very good* programs. We can't review/print/post everything under the sun, so usually, the programs that score a 2.5 rating and below just shouldn't even bother our day, much less our readers.

However, we do occasionally print and post technology reviews that score less than 3 stars, especially when they are from very large and trusted vendors in the space. Companies that are high in market share and should be able to produce better systems, and because of their reputation, have the potential for professionals assuming their products are good.

Anyways, tomorrow- I get to have what I think is going to be an entertaining chat (for me), when I discuss the discontent of a company with my review of their product. A product that, once again, I gave 5 stars to.