A Rant on Review Disclaimers

Can I take a moment to express my deep-seated hatred for stock review disclaimers?


In one sense I blame the reviewers; in another the Federal Trade Commission; but whoever’s to blame, these disclaimers are dreadful!

Let me backtrack for a moment.

There used to be a time when you could get a product for review and just talk about it  but in 2009 the FTC came along and said they were worried that folks would endorse products just because they got them for free.

Okay, and?

But this was an issue for whatever reason and they demanded that people announce that they had received the products for free.

Alright, fine.

Somewhere along the line someone thought to suggest that the reviewers announce that they received the product in exchange for an “unbiased review.”

I loathe that term.

To start, every—and I literally mean every—review is biased. That’s one of the points of a review, i.e., for the reviewer to share his/her impressions of a product.

That’s bias.

Now I personally have a page where I keep with the FTC’s guidelines.

One page.

I do not feel the need to repeat myself at the beginning or end of every review.

Every review?

If I felt such an obligation I might give up reviewing products that have been provided for free.

Real talk.

And on my page I note that “Providing free review copies in no way guarantees the publishers/authors favorable reviews in return.”

True statement.

I think that’s what the “unbiased review” disclaimer is supposed to communicate.

It doesn’t.

Also, thanking the publisher (which should always be done) for the product is the disclaimer that it has been provided for free.

Common courtesy.

The following review will then reveal the biases of the reviewer.

And that’s okay.

I’m not telling anyone what to do with their reviews; I’m just saying I hate stock disclaimers.

I’m done.



5 thoughts on “A Rant on Review Disclaimers

  1. ok ok, re the “unbiased” lingo, when I first started reviewing it was the language everyone used ( I started years after the regulation was imposed), so I did it that way too thinking it was proper/good. what else is a newbie supposed to think?

    also, I thought per FTC regulations that the disclaimer has to be on every product review? Otherwise I would have totally just put it on a page and not every review. but…I was trying to avoid being fined for breaking the rule, you know…

  2. Jen: You should have come to me and as an OG I would have schooled you to the game.

    And last time I checked, which was in 2009, the FTC guidelines didn’t say anything about a disclaimer have to appear more than once.

  3. Alas, we were not social media friends at the time! :'(

    I have unintentionally been preventing others from propagating this travesty by directing all reviewing inquiries to your blog :)

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