Richmond Ultimatum

8,550
212
Joined Feb 13, 2008
My agreement with Mark includes his agreement that I approach any reviews and equipment recommendations with complete independence.  While I think I have a "duty to disclose," I don't think the agreement has created bias on my part.  If anyone thinks my integrity is compromised, they should approach the matter directly.

I listen to everyone -- not just "pros."  

BDL
 
2,838
646
Joined Jan 4, 2011
LOL. With all this "taking w/ a grain of salt", it just goes to show that so many of you don't want "reviews". No, no, no ... what you want is for someone to agree with what you think, thus justifying whatever you want. I've never read a "Phaedrus Review", but given who he is, I'd have faith in it whatever the product. I've never read a "Richmond-made" knife review from BDL. My guess would be that he was a MAC or K-Sab reviewer. Do I need any salt?
 
Last edited:

phatch

Moderator
Staff member
9,721
1,177
Joined Mar 29, 2002
This seems to be an age-old dilemma for any enthusiast market.  Reviewers can't afford to buy all the product that wants reviewing and does donating product bias the reviewer?

I think the net gain to the consumer is positive with donated product as otherwise, there wouldn't be enough comparative reviews to work from.

As you read a reviewer, you learn what that reviewer likes. It's not so much that you need to agree with the reviewers conclusions as to learn how to work from the reviewers known preferences to how they match yours.

For example. most movie critics dislike science-fiction movies. As I'm a  fan of sci-fi, I've learned  that reviews by certain critics merit 2 stars more for my preferences if the movie is science fiction. So even negative reviews can work favorably for your preferences once you learn the quirks of the reviewer. Did it matter that the critic got to see the movie for free and was compensated for his time writing the review? Nope, the information is still useful and valid, but I  have to learn to read the reviewer.

There are problems with on-line reviews. Amazon's reviews and ratings are actually less useful than you'd think once you do the analysis. reveals a lot of the myth behind the J-curves of Amazon's reviews. It's long, but very enlightening.
 
75
10
Joined Feb 4, 2012
BDL, if I have in any way questioned your integrity on this issue then I certainly misspoke.  I refer to you because you are the only person here willing to at least state openly that you have some type of working relationship with CKTG.  I would still prefer to take you with a gos (albeit a superfine grain of fleur de sel) simply because having any relationship has potential to 'put on the blinders,' so to speak...I really feel that it takes super extra effort to avoid these pitfalls and no doubt that if anyone can, it would be you.  As to your reviews, you have a way of detailing profiles, edge performance, etc. that makes sense to those of us who are slightly (at best) less informed.  Being able to interpret why what works for you may or may not work for someone else with the same knife is a truly valuable skill that you seem generous enough to be willing to take on many times a day...it truly is appreciated (same goes for a few others here as well).

Iceman, I think you have missed my point so will only try to clarify simply that I do want reviews by people who know what they are talking about (you, BDL, and others)...this is why I peruse these boards.   I truly believe that the information available to users on these sites is tremendous, although I wouldn't feel comfortable citing any of it as a reliable source in any type of reference work:>)  I want these views/reviews as unbiased as possible and herein lies my problem...I have the feeling/impression that many here are unduly influenced by Mark for whatever reason that is.  You of all people jump up and down in defense when I mention a possible conflict of interest perplexes to say the least.  I understand you to only use Forschner and Chicago Cutlery (old school that is), while Mark's site is anything but this.  As to taking you with a grain of salt--yes a very large chunk (and maybe some garlic, cumin, turmeric, asafetida, mustard seeds, Trinidad 7-pot...).  Please realize that your constant reminders as to the usefulness of skills are not to be neglected, but I do think you tend to be the race car driver that prefers driving his '62 Ford pickup (read Forschner) that runs like a top (first class edge) to work while the guy next door putts to work in his 2012 Porsche (Masamoto)...and yes your neighbor can't drive worth a crap...that being said you both take great pleasure in the drive...remember many here are not chefs and have no desire to be able to bust out the slick knife skills you or some of the others are capable of...just fyi, I too take great pleasure in peeling apples/potatoes with my carbon Suji, though likely not as fast as you could...and while I know that it is plain wrong, I only do it because I can:>)

I promise this is my last post on the subject,

Cheers,

Chinacats
 
Last edited:
2,838
646
Joined Jan 4, 2011
LOL. OK Chinacats. I guess I've got to explain too. I'm influenced by Mark in a very simple way. He has given to me freely his time and knowledge whenever I've called and talked his ear off. I haven't got any special deals, certainly nothing product-wise for free. All I've gotten was quality professional friendly personal customer service, for free. After that, LOL again, I'm not the old-time dinosaur I may come off as. I use the knives I do because I'm generally broke. Let me tell you, CC and VF knives aren't the end all, just what I have. There are all kinds of cool new/different products that I'd like. I am very much old-school though. All that part about "the constant reminders as to the usefulness of skills" is maybe just my answer to so many non-professional "home cooks" talking about specs that don't much ever come up professionally. I'm not saying that that is bad, just the view from my side.

** By-the-way ... I don't have any special knife skills. I just don't work in any way that I have to do anything over again.
 
Last edited:
1,778
274
Joined Dec 23, 2004
Oh, well...not much more to say, I guess.  There are guys who only trust Consumer Reports because they don't take advertising; supposedly Car & Driver won't be honest about a Chevy because GM might not spend any money on print ads there if they don't say nice things.  I get that and I imagine to some degree it may happen.  But to me it's a little bit "tinfoil hat" to think we're all dancing on CKtG's strings./img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif   He's never once asked me to write something nice, nor have I ever felt compelled to do so just to make him happy.  Same goes for Amazon reviews- I'm pretty blunt.  So far I've never bought anything from CKtG that I wasn't happy with.  Of course, partly that's because I'm a pretty educated kitchen consumer.

That said, I'm not offended in the slightest if you discount all of my reviews.  All a review could possibly be would be a data point, hopefully one of many that a prospective buyer would weigh before making a purchase.  My opinion might be very valuable if you knew me and my likes and dislikes very well.  Say you and I had 10 knives that were the same.  If I gave a detailed opinion on each of them you'd pretty quickly be able to tell how our tendencies compare.  Then, by what I've said in the past you might be able to glean a lot of info even from my review of a knife I hated.

I will say though that your risks are pretty low when dealing with CKtG.  They're good guys, and they want happy customers.  They'll treat you right.
 
78
11
Joined Dec 12, 2010
Where are the reviews of the Ultimatum?  I haven't seen any yet.  In the link at the beginning of this thread there was just a video and there are videos for darn near everything on CKTG.  I'd love to read a review where someone is blowing smoke up the rear end of this knife talking about how great it is. 
 
75
10
Joined Feb 4, 2012
Where are the reviews of the Ultimatum?  I haven't seen any yet.  In the link at the beginning of this thread there was just a video and there are videos for darn near everything on CKTG.  I'd love to read a review where someone is blowing smoke up the rear end of this knife talking about how great it is. 
OK, I lied about no more on this thread...you guys are great...please see post 17...I think you already did that...AAAUUUUGGGGGHHHHHHH!

Chinacats
 
1,354
25
Joined Aug 7, 2008
I think the net gain to the consumer is positive with donated product as otherwise, there wouldn't be enough comparative reviews to work from.

As you read a reviewer, you learn what that reviewer likes. It's not so much that you need to agree with the reviewers conclusions as to learn how to work from the reviewers known preferences to how they match yours.

Did it matter that the critic got to see the movie for free and was compensated for his time writing the review? Nope, the information is still useful and valid, but I  have to learn to read the reviewer.
With all due respect I really disagree with this. When any of us read a Movie review I think we all know we are reading the words of a professional writer. Some one who is paid to watch movies and write reviews.

However that's not a very good analogy to CT and knives for a number of reasons.

When people come to CT (until recently) there hasn't been any indication that they were talking to some one who was paid to write reviews by a vendor or given a knife in exchange for a review. The notion that no one is swayed in any way after being employed, or receiving freebies simply defies human nature. The comments in this thread alone clearly show that and a few read like an on going advertisement. Clearly there is not only bias but strong bias. That's not even touching on the suggestion of just flat out being paid to write reviews.

As far as getting "to know" a reviewer I've been coming here on/off for years and had no idea some of this was going on. In retrospect it's seems as though this has been going on for some time. I recall a bit of discourse when I ordered directly from Ikkanshi-Tafatsuna and the suggestion was put forth that no one should order directly from Japan but rather from CKTG. So there has indeed been a push by some members here towards a single vendor for some time.

That certainly has an impact on any forum.

The main reason I posted in this fiasco was what I viewed as a personal attack on a member that had a difference of opinion at the top of the thread. The offending post does seem to have had some judicious editing (for the better) so it doesn't read quite the same now.  I have seen other forums with paid vendor reps participating get dominated by "cliques". Any one that disagrees or has a difference of opinion gets railed and piled on. That limits participation and fair consumer evaluation of the products we talk about. I'm making the assumption that's why CT has an explicit rule against posting reviews of products from those you are, or have been have been employed by in the past. I didn't care much for cliques in high school and still don't.

In either event If I didn't make it clear upthread I was not referring to any one here at CT in regards to "shilling" but it is quite clear CKTG does pay for reviews and use free product as incentive to write reviews. At least this is openly being discussed and is hopefully a step in the right direction.

Dave
 
Last edited:
8,550
212
Joined Feb 13, 2008
Dave,

I have great respect for you, but disagree strongly. 

If you read a bunch of reviews here on CT, what you'll find is that very few people know diddly about knives but that they LOVE the knives they bought and think they're all 5/5.  To my mind that's a bigger waste of bandwidth than reviews written by people who know something and are able to make meaningful comments, comparisons and create a meaningful context -- whether or not the knives were comped.

I've received a couple of knives  in exchange for reviews -- but none from CKtG. One of those reviews is here on CT, it's for the Forschner 10" Cimeter.  I like the knife, use it frequently, think its very good for what it is, but only gave it 3 out of 5 stars.  Read the review and find the bias.  Heck, just find disagreement.  I dare you.

As it happens I get quite a few things at discount not because I promise reviews (I don't do many), but because I ASK for them.  If you choose to pay [gag] retail without at least investigating the price, that's between you and your conscience.  Furthermore, comping or discounting equipment to reviewers is standard practice.  If you watch E-Bay you'll see scores of knives sold by professional and influential amateur reviewers.  

In the meantime, I'm going to continue to recommend CKtG for the service and selection, applaud Mark for keeping his ear to the ground, and judge every one of their offerings I try on its own merits.  In the same way, I'll continue to recommend JKI for its service and well chosen selection, applaud Jon for his knowledge, discernment, and the way he aggressively approaches his own and his customers' educations, and judge every one of their offerings I try on its own merits -- despite the fact that not only do I not get a discount but Jon owes me a beer.

BDL
 
1,354
25
Joined Aug 7, 2008
Dave,

I have great respect for you, but disagree strongly. 

If you read a bunch of reviews here on CT, what you'll find is that very few people know diddly about knives but that they LOVE the knives they bought and think they're all 5/5. To my mind that's a bigger waste of bandwidth than reviews written by people who know something and are able to make meaningful comments, comparisons and create a meaningful context -- whether or not the knives were comped

BDL
That's mutual BDL. Just because every one here doesn't always see eye to eye on every topic it doesn't imply there's any loss of respect.

Having said that it is my personal belief that those who get paid for reviews, receive discounts, loaners or any other form of compensation should simply refrain from commenting on those products or suggesting those vendors in other threads.

If they can not or will not, I think that says far more than I could ever put in to words.

If all those folks who are happy with their knives or other purchases stop participating or posting reviews on CT simply because a paid reviewer doesn't think they know "diddly" then I'd venture a guess that participation here will only slip further.

At least that's my .02  (adjusted for inflation)

Dave
 
 
Last edited:
273
21
Joined Jul 11, 2011
I don't think they should refrain, just disclose.  I'd rather have the opportunity to determine for myself how much credence to afford their review. 
 
1,778
274
Joined Dec 23, 2004
I recall a bit of discourse when I ordered directly from Ikkanshi-Tafatsuna and the suggestion was put forth that no one should order directly from Japan but rather from CKTG.

Dave
How's your Japanese?  Better than mine, I hope!/img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif   I don't think that's a conspiracy to build up CKtG so much as a reflection of the difficulties of dealing direct with a company half the world away while conducting business in another language.  A friend of mine conducts business with his Japanese agents every day, and even with a skilled interpreter it's fraught with risks and frustrations.

Sorry, not trying to snipe or cherry pick lines to rebut, just pointing out that it's nice to let someone else worry about the language barrier, allowing me to just get my danged knife!/img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif
 
1,354
25
Joined Aug 7, 2008
I never had any language issues and don't speak a word of Japanese. It's very common for Japanese companies to have an English speaking Rep. Most of them put US re-sellers to shame when it comes to customer service. That's simply a part of their culture. I've ordered from and spoken directly to Koki at JCK, Hidekei at Ikkanshi and Suisin (via Dreamworks) many times and never had any issues. I've no idea if it's fear or some thing more nefarious that promotes the idea that it's overly complicated ordering direct but that has not been my experience. Shipping was easy and cost effective. I would expect your "friend" with the interpreter is having issues with customs due to importing products to re-sell. A retail customer never has to deal with that. Kitchen knives ship direct to your home from Japan. I've received items just as fast as I have from WI and I'm only a few states away. All this will of course depend on which company you buy from and of course there are numerous free language converters now.

Dave
 
1,778
274
Joined Dec 23, 2004
I think you pretty much covered the short list!  Sure, the bigger companies have some reps conversant in English.  But that's not at all true of most of the companies.  In Tokyo English is pretty common.  But according to everyone I know that's spent time in Japan, English is pretty rare in Kyoto.  And Kyoto has a much better claim to being the knife capital of Japan than Tokyo!

You're right about Koki, though.  JCK is a great place to shop if they have the item you want.  I'm always amazed at how fast EMS gets stuff from Japan to my doorstep!  They're another company that sources some hard-to-find items that I love.  The best example for me is the Kagayaki CarboNext.  Initially this was pretty much a rebranded Kikuichi TKC.  Over the last year or two the lines have diverged a bit but the CarboNext remains one of my favorite knives.  In fact, I'm having my 240 rehandled as soon as I can get it to the UPS store.
 
1,354
25
Joined Aug 7, 2008
Many of the major makers have English speaking reps but certainly we can find some that would be more difficult. I haven't dealt with Aritsugu but I'd venture a guess they'd be on the list of being more difficult to deal with as well as many of the smaller makers. However there are a number of sites set up for direct ordering. I can think of examples where it would work to a buyers benefit either way. I find it a lot more fun getting a package from Japan but I do agree that won't always work. Perhaps we should start a list of those we can order direct from or even better yet ask for a sticky thread and create a complete list of knife makers, custom makers, language converters and retailers so we can get back to talking about knives and not dealers. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/thumb.gif

http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/products.html

http://www.suisin.co.jp/English/

http://www.kikuichimonji.com/

http://www.watanabeblade.com/english/index.htm

http://kikuichi.net/

http://www.mizunotanrenjo.jp/index_e.html#

http://www.shop.niimi.okayama.jp/kajiya/en/index_e.html

http://translate.google.com/transla...&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&prev=/language_tools

Ikkanshi which is sadly closed. No idea if it's a result of the Japanese disaster or just temporary;

http://www.itkitchenknife.com/e_index.shtml
 
Last edited:
1,778
274
Joined Dec 23, 2004
Watanabe has the funniest site, for sure.  I remember his "busy-ness" chart from a couple years ago.  Yeah, some of the makers are easy to deal with, many are hard to work with if you don't speak Japanese.
 
24
15
Joined Mar 24, 2012
Dave,

I don't pay for reviews on our site. Period. When a customer places an order for a knife they are given an automated email after 20 days that asks for a review and sends them to the form. That's how they get into the site. There are somthing like 2,000 reviews on the stie and all of them were given to us by actual users. Most of my customers enjoy them.

With respect to the videos, some of them are in fact paid or done with trades. Some pictures are paid for as well but many of both are given to me for free. Videos take work to do and they're for entertainment mostly to exibit the knife in action. I think they add something to the site. The sharpening videos on the site that I mostly did myself are the most popular pages on the website.

As for the knife in question they've been on sale for about 2 weeks so there are not that many out there yet. If you have any other questions on the Ultimatum or any other knife I have planned I would be happy to aswer them. 

One other thing. BDL gave me an article to publish in my newsletter for free which was something that he wrote and published months ago on his blog. We talked about doing some newsletter articles if the future for money but none of that has happened yet. He's a damn good writer and very knowledgable so I'm looking forward to working with him in the fuure. If I do ask him to write about a particular knife in the future you can be sure that I'll send him the knife in questions (unless he has one all ready) so he can try it. If he likes it or not that's up to him. I just sent a Grand Chef to writer at Cooking Light when they called and said they wanted to write and review it. Usually they send it back when they're done with it. I didn't ask them what they were going to say and the same goes with BDL.

Thanks all you folks for paying attention to my knives. I appreciate you even considering them against some of the other great knives out in the world.

Mark
 
564
17
Joined Dec 3, 2010
I had some problem with editing and duplicate posts etc but the post below should be what I meant to post etc.
 
Last edited:
564
17
Joined Dec 3, 2010
I have to admit I was expecting something like this (the real subject of most replies in this thread) was going to happen, and honestly believe open discussion will be beneficial to everyone.

The questions and concerns need to be discussed openly and without any bias towards the poster who may share an opinion that is not popular or may not be flattering to a well respected member. We need to be open in this, if response feels otherwise it may seem like the poster is being attacked for his reply or opinion, or even worse etc.


I think Mark does a fine job as a knife retailer or etailer or whatever you prefer to call it and I also think CT is one of the best sites to find good honest and usable information on many Knives including those from Japan, but I also know from first hand experience that when a site or some of its members get too close with a vendor it can create a real problem, and in some cases really degrade the value and "cheapen things" to a point that some may find uncomfortable.

I have to be honest that this is not an easy post for me as I do want to be respectful to those who have helped me in the past (members and vendors alike) but still be clear that even when it may be with the best intentions it is not healthy when a vendor fully penetrates into the membership to a point where these relationships affect the tone, direction, feel, or integrity of opinion etc.
It is just a bad direction for things to go and even the most unbiased sites with the most experienced members can end up being a tool for a vendor, and ultimately lose much of it's true value to its readers.

We have to remember that a enthusiasts based forum is different than a business even though it may be a profitable business itself, and that any businesses main objective is to make money and grow profits etc, but also know this is part of the issue that is creating the problem or the replies questioning the relationship.


I also know some have been trying to walk a thin line where they remain both unbiased and maintain a relationship with the vendor etc. and I also know I believe the intent once again is good.

Can this be done? Is there a point where it can not, or just a point where it changes the flavor of everything.?

I really hope you all can find a comfortable level of vendor involvement in the site so that it can remain as powerful and helpful to others in the future as it been to me in the past, and just not cheapen things to the point that everything becomes a worthless add.

I do have some other thoughts that should be helpful, but they will have to wait ;)
 
Top Bottom