TheServerSide.com is working on revising the reviews section of the site, and part of that is formalizing a policy on what should be reviewed, and by whom. Since this is a site meant to serve the community, we'd love to have your input.
What is appropriate for reviews?
It's pretty simple: software, books, and hardware, preferably in that order. Each of them deserves some explanation.
Software being reviewed needs to fulfill a test for direct relevance: servers, software packages written in java, or FOR Java. Games probably aren't in unless they somehow factor into relevant enterprise topics. (Let's be real: they don't.)
Books on technology that relates to Enterprise Java are eligible for review. Books that cover topics that Enterprise Java addresses are also appropriate: the Dragon Book, for example, would work, as would books on algorithms or patterns, or grids, as well as - possibly - books on hardware architectures such as those covering networking.
What about competing technologies? For example, a book on Ruby, or a software package in PHP... Would this be acceptable, if the book highlighted something in Java that could be improved or provided a contrast to Java in some way?
Hardware reviews are a little trickier. We won't accept a review of any hardware that doesn't provide a direct relevant service to our readers, whether as a deployment platform, a development platform, or some other tool. In other words, headphones would be out. So would game pads. However, a J2ME phone might be eligible, as would a server platform, a keyboard, or possibly a storage device. There's a fine line here, and TSS would love your input.
When should something be reviewed?
As soon as it's stable and a review can be justifiably offered. Widely available betas are certainly candidates for review, as well as stable prereleases of commercial software - as long as the prerelease isn't going to change.
Who should write the review?
Preferably someone with professional qualifications on the subject at hand: deployment tools should be reviewed by someone who has experience deploying, IDEs should be reviewed by those who use them, etc. Software authors or employees of publishers should probably not do reviews. A reviewer's qualifications should be part of the review (see below).
What information should go into a review?
How will the reviews be titled?
- What it's for
- Who it's for
- Who wrote it
- Good points, if any
- Bad points, if any
- Community support, if any
- Reviewer's professional qualifications
Here are some sample review titles, with entirely made up revisions and with no relevance whatsoever to actual content:
- Book:JavaServer Faces, Schalk/Burns, 2006
- AppServer: Oracle OC4J 10.1.3.1
- Software: TestNG 1.01 (Testing)
- Database: Derby 10.0.1.3
- Hardware: Sun T1000 (8 cores, 6GB RAM)
- Hardware: Apple Macintosh Pro model.number.here (2GB RAM, 60GB HD)
- Hardware: 1GB Fujimitsu Flash drive
Is this enough data? What do you think the titles should look like, considering all of the reviews will be presented in one list for easy reference?