Reviews. They're everywhere these days. You can create online reviews for music, products, websites, restaurants, doctors, and just about anything else you can think of, on sites ranging from Amazon to Zappos. What used to be the domain of the "experts" has come to the masses.

Reviews, reviews, reviews...

In my first blog announcing QlikMarket, I expressed my surprise at how seriously our partners were about being among the top 5 rated solutions on the site. But as I thought and talked more about it with my friends and colleagues, it became less and less surprising. The reality is, in this age of Internet shopping, reviews become really important when you can't touch, feel, or see whatever it is you're about to buy.

I know this from personal experience. I buy a lot of things from Amazon.com (my UPS delivery man could find my house in his sleep), and for things that I'm not intimately familiar with, I rely on the reviews to guide me to a decision. Reviews are the web equivalent of answering the “What do you think about <insert product here>?” question, but typically without being asked explicitly. And more often than not, the consensus is right. The voice of the community allows us to ignore the ads and the hype and focus on how the product or service performs in real life.

The QlikMarket team had a dilemma to face when we launched the site: do we allow partners to review their own products? In the end, we decided that yes, as a seeding mechanism, it would be okay (although we do state it explicitly in the review if there’s an affiliation). But really, who is going to give their own product anything but a 5-star rating? So, the system really only works when the community gets involved; that's when the real value of reviews comes into play.

QlikView has a rich community. A plugged-in, intelligent community that knows what they're looking for and how they'll use it. As part of that community, we encourage you to tell others about your experience with a solution via QlikMarket’s review function. Did you love that solution? Tell the masses! Did you dislike it? That's okay, too, so long as you provide a brief explanation of what the shortcomings were. Not every solution is going to click with every customer; it's the way of the world. And a constructively-written review not only helps other potential customers, but also helps our partners learn how to improve their products. Even great applications can benefit from improvements.

Our hope is for QlikMarket to become the go-to site when customers need to extend their QlikView ecosystem with new applications, extensions, and connectors. Part of making that happen is ensuring that users have the ability to make informed decisions about the solutions they acquire, and I believe reviews are key to making that happen.

So what do you think? How heavily do you rely on reviews to help you make purchasing decisions? And how likely are you to leave a review for a product you love? For one you hate? Or one you're simply not happy with? Because I can’t be the only one, can I?