Review Ethics: "It's good for beginners"

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Review Ethics: "It's good for beginners"

Gary Gary
A few times today, as I was reading through reviews, I saw that ever so commonly used phrase “it’s good for beginners”. Now I didn’t grab a cup of coffee and go sit in the comfy chair for 30 minutes to think too deeply about this, but here is what immediately ran through my head.

I think sometimes when people use this phrase, it is because they do not really have anything else good to say about a product, but are trying to not writing a completely negative review. They will talk about how it didn’t work for this, you couldn’t use it for that, one of those broke off… but it’s still good for beginners.

In this sense I feel like what is essentially being said here, is that this product is garbage, but if you are new to sex toys and don’t know any better, a useless piece of garbage is fine for you. I completely disagree with that, as I am sure everyone else does. If it is too basic for your tastes, but is still a well made toy that functions as intended, and may be good for someone who does not yet have specific preferences, then it definitely would be a good toy to recommend to a beginner. But if it is not a good toy at all, then it should not be recommended to someone just because they don’t know any better.

Before there were communities like this one, where anyone could go to read reviews and material characteristics for everything, people had to pretty much buy there knowledge of sex toys buy wasting money on junk. They would have to keep buying toys until they found something that worked right, lasted more that a week, and didn’t cause a burning sensation.

Now I am not trying to say that anyone is intentionally recommending bad toys to beginners, all I am saying is that we may all have become a bit desensitized to this phrase “good for beginners”. There are definitely people coming to the site and reading your reviews to pick out their first toy. So all I am asking, is to just stop and think for a moment the next time you use this phrase.

If you had never used a toy before, and this toy (that you are reviewing) was your first toy, would it be a good toy to start out with?

Thanks Everybody
09/03/2009
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Carrie Ann Carrie Ann
Excellent post, Gary. I've been seeing the phrase over used a lot myself. I think I've over used it!

Maybe if we described why the toy is good for beginners when we said it, we'd be making sure we were thinking about it a bit instead of just... saying it.
09/03/2009
spicywife spicywife
Good point. Especially since a toy that breaks easily may discourage beginners from buying another toy.
09/03/2009
spicywife spicywife
Some beginners are truly just that and have no idea what to expect quality-wise either... I certainly was discouraged once from my first sex toy purchase and I really didn't know how many options were out there.
09/03/2009
ScottA ScottA
Good point. I tend to use "good for beginners" (or something similar) to refer to toys that don't require experience to use, are not as expensive (so if the user decides they don't like the toy they aren't out much), and are on the smaller size (especially for anal) - but I always recommend beginners buy something that's good quality and will last, because cheap stuff doesn't work well and will turn a beginner off.

If it breaks easy and was cheap I'd be more likely to say "good for a gag gift"...

That said, I'll try to stop using "beginner" in reviews because of the point Gary brought up.
09/03/2009
Miss Cinnamon Miss Cinnamon
I never really stopped to think about this. I've used "good for beginners" for sturdy, nothing-toxic-here toys that were either too small/weak for me, or just kind of boring. I'll be more careful about it in the future.
09/03/2009
Sir Sir
You know, I actually don't believe that I ever used this phrase. I always say that it's good for people who may be lightly getting into BDSM or just starting out with a few soft cuffs that aren't as hardcore. If it's a bad product, I simply say that it's a bad product and rate it as such.
09/03/2009
deceased deceased
When I think "good for begininners" I think of a product I would consider quality but not top of the line investment. Like a 50 dollar harness instead of a 150 dollar harness, so if they don't like it, they don't feel guilty, and if they do like if, they can invest further. Or not the 10 inch by 3 inch anal dildo or the 300 dollar set of restraints when they can try a ten buck roll of tape or 30 buck set of restraints to see if they actually like that sort of stuff. If you invest 200 dollars in a flogger and your partner says "don't come near me with that" you just have to find someone to regift it to. If you buy a 24 buck one and they like it and it opens up new doors, go for it.

Dildo wise in materials I would never suggest anything but the best materials for a beginner. Go for that Tantus O2 or the Phallix glass. Skip the jelly or the cyberglass, you deserve the best. Mediocre materials are likely to dampen one's interest. For beginners I would suggest a quality butt plug or p spot vibrator but not necessarily something that is an ass buster, maybe something less than an inch and a half wide and smooth.
Vibratorwise, I don't think there is a begginer's starting point. One should pick good materials and avoid hazardous ones.

When I think of things for beginners, I think of all in one kits, things like Bend over Beginner's- just because the quality is good, silicone, leather, etc, but in a better price range that if you tried a few times and said "nope, definitely not for me" you haven't bought equipment you will feel regretful about. If you do like it, you will tend to invest a lot more money and start to collect different textures, colors, shapes and brands.
09/03/2009
NuMe NuMe
I'm not sure if I've ever used that phrase but to it can mean, either a vibrator that isn't super strong but still good quality, a dildo that isn't very girthy but again good quality, or a toy that is very reasonably priced but is well made in whatever type it is so that a beginner can find out if it's their type of toy.

I know I own some toys that I thought I would like and found out that it's just not my type. Actually I'm still learning some things about that.
09/03/2009
Sammi Sammi
I've used it - I think it might be showing up more now because it's in one of the suggestions on the extended reviews under the first topic:

"Use (required)
Suggested content: What do you think is the best use for this product? For whom do you think this product will work? Is it for beginners or more advanced users?"

I'll use it for things like size (eg, a 2" anal plug is probably not good for beginners who've never had anything in their ass whereas a 1" plug probably is) or suitability (eg, cuffs and collars that can be enjoyed by anyone, or comparing, say, "lighter" restraints as compared to locking or soft floggers as compared to those that draw blood if you've never played with them).

I don't think I've ever used it specifically on price or material - it's more the size and functionality where I comment on that. I'm going to have to go back and look.
09/03/2009
Alan & Michele Alan & Michele
We use it from time to time and, like Sammi, it's because it's suggested on the Extended format. For us the label tends to apply to vibes or dils that are smaller in girth or have a gentle vibration setting. Also for cock rings that are flexible so newbies don't have to worry about getting their males bits stuck in them.
09/03/2009
Luscious Lily Luscious Lily
I tend to use "good for beginners" in this context:

-user friendly (both for use and cleaning)

-nothing dangerous or toxic

-nothing extreme (no intense textures or sizes)

-usually topping out at moderate vibration, because "clit-o-steel" is often (though of course not always) something that comes with experience.

-low enough price point that a new buyer can try a few things to see what they like, without breaking the bank

-lasts a minimum of a month (for inexpensive toys like cheap bullets) with heavy usage. The way I see it, a month of that level of use is enough to tell a new user whether they like that kind of toy, whether they like that level of sensation, etc. At that point, if you liked it you can upgrade to a similar, higher quality toy, or try something else.

These qualifications basically rule out the "useless, crappy" toys and the unsafe ones. It also rules out toys like the Rainbow Mega Nubby, because that's a LOT of texture that newbies may not be ready for. I occasionally make exceptions for toys that break one of my rules, but would still make a beginner toy (Hitachi and Ideal massagers come to mind).

I may have misused the phrase in the past, when I didn't know any better, but I try to stick to these now. If I can't find anything nice to say except that beginners wouldn't know enough to hate it, then I just won't say anything nice.
09/03/2009
Backseat Boohoo Backseat Boohoo
Quote:
Originally posted by Luscious Lily
I tend to use "good for beginners" in this context:

-user friendly (both for use and cleaning)

-nothing dangerous or toxic

-nothing extreme (no intense textures or sizes)

-usually topping out at moderate ...
These are pretty much my criteria. After all, it's often best to spend a small amount on a basic, easy-to-use toy and figure out what you like before you start buying more expensive toys.
09/03/2009
Juliettia Juliettia
Great point Gary.
09/04/2009
aveastrid aveastrid
I understand what you are saying Gary, but also, I am on the side of where I have wrote "it's good for beginners". The reason behind that wasn't because the toy was garbage or that it had a fault, but because I, myself, is a 'beginner' in the world of toys and I believe it was a great place to start. I don't know about other reviewers, but using the phrase "it's good for beginners" is due to the fact I know when I started out I was intimidated by most products, and I needed somewhere to start. When I read a review by someone who was in my position, I felt like they might understand my needs and what I am looking for.

I really like the point that Luscious Lily made about her criteria. It's defiantly something to look into when writing a review.

Thanks for bringing this topic up though, a lot of phrases tend to get overused.
09/04/2009
Owl Identified Owl Identified
I love this post. I've used the word "beginner" (actually searched my reviews to check!) once in a single review. It was within the phrase "great for both beginners and pros" or, in other words, simple and user-friendly enough for a n00b but still thrilling for people that have seen it all. I imagine I would also use it in the following contexts (although I'm probably not thinking of all of them):

- Not intimidating, whether that be in size, shape, design, etc. For beginners, I tend to think basic shapes/designs and small to modest sizes are ideal. There are certainly beginners that might want something daring right off that bat, but I like to veer on the side of caution.

- Inexpensive. My first cock ring, for example, was a cheapo jelly job that I bought for about $7. I only got a handful of uses out of it but it was perfect for me "as a beginner". I got the general idea of what cock rings were about, decided they worked for my partner and I, and was able to form a general idea of what I was/wasn't looking for in one. Of course if I absolutely had hated the experience, I would have only spent $7 vs. $40, let's say.

- Straight forward use and clean-up. I wouldn't suggest a voice-operated rabbit for a beginner, nor would I suggest Cyberskin product.

- Safety! Even though a jelly product, let's say, can be perfectly safe when used and cared for properly, I'm more likely to recommend something like hard plastic or silicone for a beginner. The reason is there's less room for error with these materials. For someone that's just starting out, there's enough to get used to barring safety as an issue, so I would also try to keep this simple.

I realize others probably use the term in different and equally, or even more, effective ways. This is just how I conceptualize it
09/04/2009
Pumpkin Lady Pumpkin Lady
What a coincidence. I JUST wrote a review including the phrase "good for beginners" more or less, and went to check out the forum and here this is.

I literally saw myself writing it and I stopped and thought about it. Is it condescending? I had already written about how it wasn't super a great toy. But I also mentioned how I did enjoy it, and really if it was my first toy I think I'd be happy with it. It would also spike an interest in buying more toys.

Does that count?
09/04/2009
Adriana Ravenlust Adriana Ravenlust
I can't say for sure if I've used it in this circumstance but I have frequently felt that way about toys sort of how Pumpkin Lady touched on it - there are some I'd like a lot more if I weren't as experienced..

And I do think you have a point, Gary. I do think I may have been guilty of implying that a crap toy is good for people just cause they don't know any better and that does sound awful when I think about it. On the other hand, what you or I consider total crap may not be to someone else beginner or not so it's kind of hard to come right out and say "this toy is crap" sometimes.
09/04/2009
Gary Gary
Wow, you guys get an A+ for feedback and participation on this one!

I am not trying to say that you should not use this phrase "good for beginners". In fact, if a toy IS good for beginners it SHOULD say that. All I am asking is that you take a minute to think about it.
09/04/2009
Tuesday Tuesday
Gasp! As I read this I thought "I've never used that phrase." But there it is in my latest review. I'm not even sure why I said it, but I do know that it wouldn't have been there if it weren't for the bug in the review form where if you save something in the personal comments section, it won't let you submit your review if you try to remove them.

I think I just meant that using them requires no skill.
09/04/2009
NuMe NuMe
Quote:
Originally posted by Gary
Wow, you guys get an A+ for feedback and participation on this one!

I am not trying to say that you should not use this phrase "good for beginners". In fact, if a toy IS good for beginners it SHOULD say that. All I am asking is that ...
I think it's great that we've all been able to clarify what we mean by "good for beginners". And that you know where we're coming from.
09/04/2009
Liz2 Liz2
I don't think anyone is sold on a tag, "good for a beginner" and some may see it as a put down..so I just don't go there.
With a good review, most figure it out.
09/04/2009
Rayne Millaray Rayne Millaray
I've used "It's good for beginners." when discussing BDSM toys. But not because I find the toy is a bad toy. Simply because it just doesn't cut it for me anymore. But I will admit that I fall a bit more on the extreme side in S&M.
09/04/2009
Avery Dragon Avery Dragon
Quote:
Originally posted by Rayne Millaray
I've used "It's good for beginners." when discussing BDSM toys. But not because I find the toy is a bad toy. Simply because it just doesn't cut it for me anymore. But I will admit that I fall a bit more on the extreme side in S&M.
I agree with you whole heartedly. I've done reviews on several S&M items recently that I feel are pretty good quality but don't have enough punch to them. They're something people who are interested but unsure could try out without spending a lot.

The same honestly goes with anal toys in my book. Like BDSM items, anal is another social taboo (at least in the region I'm in) so for those who've managed to become honestly curious, I suggest getting the best, but getting something simple. And when I review items I feel are too small for me, I use the "begginer" status for the toy because it is too small for me, but for those just starting out it would be amazing.
09/04/2009
SexySkye SexySkye
Definitely something to keep in mind. I'm glad you brought this up. And I agree totally.
09/05/2009
Lady JaDore Lady JaDore
Quote:
Originally posted by Gary
A few times today, as I was reading through reviews, I saw that ever so commonly used phrase “it’s good for beginners”. Now I didn’t grab a cup of coffee and go sit in the comfy chair for 30 minutes to think too deeply about this, but here is what ...
Great post. When I think of a beginners toy I think of something simple yet satisfying. Nothin' with too many bells or whistles that will make a beginner want to run screaming & crying out of the bedroom.
I've bought several 1st toys for friends & my sister even. I never sought out a crappy cheap product because naturally I want them to enjoy themselves!

I personally tend to avoid the "beginner" toys no matter who it's for due to my own bad experiences with them.
09/06/2009
Mamastoys Mamastoys
I know I've used it but it has been when a vibe has not been strong enough for me or the size is too small for me. I've actually said I wouldn't recommend a certain product for ANYONE...it was that bad!
I'd hope someone new would get something that they really liked so they would have a good experince and want more toys!
09/09/2009
J's Alley J's Alley
Quote:
Originally posted by Mamastoys
I know I've used it but it has been when a vibe has not been strong enough for me or the size is too small for me. I've actually said I wouldn't recommend a certain product for ANYONE...it was that bad!
I'd hope someone new would ...
I do the same...

When I say a product is good for a beginner here is my list of musts:

be a good quality (will not fall apart)
at least 3 stars (so average in my book...may knock the socks off a newbie though)
body safe
(for vibes) the vibes are not overwhelming

If I feel a product is crap, I will say so. Why would I want someone buying something because I said it was good for beginners. If it is crap they will never use my reviews again (and that would be tragic). I have said I wouldn't recommend a product to anyone. If a product is not so good, but still usable and I don't want it to look too too bad I will recommend it to adventurous people who enjoy fixing things and have patience.

I think "great for beginners" gets way over stated too. I am positive I over use it even I also think that we run out of things to say so we repeat a lot. Maybe we need some kind of challenge to be original and write reviews without using certain phrases...hmmm?
09/09/2009
Heather Heather
Quote:
Originally posted by Gary
Wow, you guys get an A+ for feedback and participation on this one!

I am not trying to say that you should not use this phrase "good for beginners". In fact, if a toy IS good for beginners it SHOULD say that. All I am asking is that ...
As a beginner, let me give you my two cents. I do read reviews and have found I look for certain people on the reviews. I find the reviews overall are an excellent tool and have made purchases based on reviews. If you use the term "good for beginners" I find myself looking in the review for why. Many of you list here great reasons for using the term. Please don't stop using it just explain why. It is very helpful for a newbe.
09/10/2009
WildKimA WildKimA
Quote:
Originally posted by Heather
As a beginner, let me give you my two cents. I do read reviews and have found I look for certain people on the reviews. I find the reviews overall are an excellent tool and have made purchases based on reviews. If you use the term "good for ...
When I wrote one of my first reviews, it was of the first sex toy I ever bought. I described my experiences with it as a complete newbie and wanted others to know that they could buy it and not be intimidated. I certainly needed that kind of assurance when I bought my first toy, and I got it from all of you wonderful reviewers.

On the other hand, if I were to write a review of the Hitachi, I would want to say "not for beginners," before describing why my own experiences would suggest that newcomers to sex toys might want to stay away from it for a while.

When I imagine my target audience for a "beginner" toy, I think of older women like me who have finally gotten up enough nerve, after hemming and hawing about it for a LONG time, to log into a sex toy website. A scary thing. Want them to feel at ease.
09/13/2009
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