The Lemures Files
  Guest Article: April, 9th 1999

Inventory '99 - Thoughts on Some Review Sites

By: Ben Goodger

Love them or hate them, its been apparent for more than two years now that they're here to stay, these pesky teams of people known as SM webpage reviewers. Some support them because of the way they supposedly fight crime on Sailorweb, others find them a good source of pages. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, after all. Some hate them because of the way they (often cruelly) treat pages they come across. Everyone is entitled to an opinion after all. Its unlikely that you haven't already formed your own. But for the sake of producing some stodge to fill the gap between the last article and the next, I've collected some thoughts on the pages that I know to exist. Some you will have undoubtedly have seen before, perhaps frequented, others may be new.

Some comments:

I compiled this series of thoughts top down, meaning that my first paragraphs are shorter than the latter (which is usually the case with my writing ^_^;)

I choose not to comment on the pages that the sites review, or on the reviews themselves, because they are entirely the opinion of the reviewers. If I really dislike their reviews that much, I'd start a review site that settles the score. ;) Besides, I don't want to spend all evening reading about SM pages =P

Some thoughts:

I've noticed a trend in the newer web reviewers is to not label the pages they review as good or bad, rather, simply group them and let me find out for myself. There are good and bad sides to this style of format: The good: - it allows constructive criticism without labelling/bashing - it lets the visitor make up their own mind about a page themselves by visiting it rather than making their mind up for them. - these reviews are often sitewide and comprehensive The bad: - they're hard to get at. If you're simply wanting to find a good page fast, you might be better off going to the AQ, or the Anime Web Turnpike.

Some sites only review good pages, and are less susceptible to this "problem."

Some sites seem to state the obvious (describing the page when the viewer probably has it open in another browser window, seeing for themselves).

Others are to be commended for trying complicated graphics setups, which, while they don't always work, are part of gaining an understanding of website design and graphics manipulation.

Some are easy to comment on, some aren't, some keep their reviews to the matters that they're supposed to be dealing with (the pages) and others wander off into the risky realm of personality crucifixion.

Its an interesting crew.

I doubt there would be as many as there are today without the original few competitor sites. The AQ existed by itself for about a year before receiving any competition, which came in the form of the M-Squad, the Needleleaf Society and The Outer Senshi. These sites eventually stopped updating and fell by the wayside. The AQ ploughed on, collecting steam, traffic and its own special reputation as the toughest group to be reviewed by.

With 1998, an ageing fanbase (that is, one getting into its mid-teens), a new feeling was in Sailorweb. The feeling of "I have an opinion and it counts and no one can take it from me" swept through hundreds of pages. Seeing the works of the first competitors as inspiration, some groups of people chose to make their mark by starting web reviewing sites of their own. Some were good, some were bad, some made up for being bad by having good graphics, some made up for being good by having bad graphics, and others just simply sucked. (Well, we're all entitled to an opinion, after all ;)

Some of these sites have died, and their addresses have not remained in our collective memories, so they are not eulogized here. Those that remain have yet to make the same impact that the first competitors did, or the continuing impact that Amazoness Quartet (often hounded by paparazzi, myth and rumour) strive to make by means of their golden touch.

Fifth Witch -
One of the few remaining "Old World" WPR sites, this one is one of the best. They give each site a comprehensive review, page-by-page, saying what they like and dislike. An original concept, and has some interesting ancillary pages. Also features a review team that seems to exhibit RMS simple harmonic oscillation. First two reviewers, then four, then two again!
Rating: 4/5

AQ -
The original, and in my opinion, the best. They now have the best archive system on any WPR site, their site is also attractive and fast. Guest Lemure articles are sometimes informative, sometimes silly, sometimes plain dumb. The only things that mar this site are occasional spelling mistakes and the tripod popups.
Rating: 4.5/5

M Squad -
Like the Needleleaves, a group that started up with a whiz and a bang then fell flat on its face. A good collection of archived pages and the odd interesting editorial make this worthwhile if you've never been here, but you've probably seen most of their selections by now. The "Notable" section is an original addition.
Rating: 3.5/5

Needleleaf Society -
An original, spunky group of reviewers that have sadly left us. Perhaps one of the most interactive WPR sites, including (in)frequent editorials, a selection of archived pages, mag. articles etc. The odd 404 error, and often late reviews were among the NS' problems while they were reviewing. Worth visiting for the design alone ;)
Rating: 4/5

Outer Senshi -
An old group that seems to have gone bye-bye along with most of the AQ's original competition. They only award good pages. Most of the reviews are fairly short, but they've dug up some good stuff. There isnt really anything here BUT reviews, none of the 'zine stuff that the other sites have done, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Who needs the same things resaid over and over?
Rating: 3/5

Moon Neko -
A somewhat mundane page to say the least. Wait Ben, content is key, lets have a looksee. It loads up fast enough. Unfortunately there are only three reviews here, and the site doesn't appear to have updated for ages. The reviews are of three relatively well known sites that you've probably already been to. There isn't much here other than those three reviews, and some broken links which seem to be waiting for bad/notable page reviews to be written.
Rating: 1.5/5

Small Lady -
A pleasant looking, speedy, nicely designed site. I read some of the reviews and they're reasonably well structured. The best thing is that I hadn't heard of most of the nominees, (although I'm fairly out of touch ^_^) Its easy to get around this page due to conveniently placed navigation.
Rating: 3.5/5

S.T.A.R. -
This is a relatively large site, with a rather ambitious design that it doesn't quite pull off, at least not in Internet Explorer 5.0. The Help site wasn't particularly helpful (didn't contain anything I think the average moonpage owner couldn't find elsewhere, or figure out for themselves), and some clumsy navigation is evident (non-underlined links that aren't different enough from the main text in colour to be easily distinguishable). The reviews, however, are quite long, and cover sites that I have (mostly) not heard of.
Rating: 2.3/5

River Senshi -
Unfortunately, this page gave me the bad first impression of taking a small forever to load. The first page is almost completely graphics, but Tripod may have just been slow tonight. Some of the subpages however, are extremely graphics light, and show a lot of style. Its only been up a short time (apparently) so there's no archives, but there are three reviews which are fairly comprehensive. I'll have to wait and see what becomes of it though before I give it a better grade.
Rating: 2.7/5

Animamate Reviews (SAR) -
These people are just setting up, from the looks, but they're a different kind of group, with more than a slight nod towards fanfic and RPG sites. It appears to be actively updated, as it changed since I last viewed it two days before writing this. When its done, it should be fairly large. Also includes a section on reviewing the reviewers! So when you ask "who polices the police?" this site may be your answer ;) Looks like it could be good.
Rating: 3.5/5

Three Cats -
A relatively simple page in the same way as MoonNeko. A new entrant, there are only two reviews. Its part of a larger site with other stuff to do, with the same simple design. This site wins no awards for originality or trend-setting (or following) style, but I'll have to give it a few months to see what becomes of it.
Rating: 1.5/5

SM Guide -
A mid-sized site. Contains a selection of sites, most of which I've seen, but some which I haven't. Attractive presentation and fast loading. A couple of things I dislike are the rumour page, and the crippling 1000 character feedback form (not that I've ever been moved to send them email, but if I ever did, it'd be a pain in the ass ;) Worth a look.
Rating: 3.9/5

Comments on this article can be sent to: Ben Goodger.

Comments made on this page are opinions of the author. They are not necessarily shared by Tripod and the Amazoness Quartet.

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