Above: an image from the slight mobile-friendly redesign from 3 years ago. It’s mostly unrelated to this discussion.
Some Services are Down
So, a few days ago, things got… weird with a plugin that had recently updated. Somehow, that plugin started bogging everything down, leading to slow loading and other experience-disrupting behavior.
It’s been 2 days, and all I know is that disabling the plugin makes the ToolGuyd.com run a lot faster and smoother. Tech support hasn’t gotten back to me, presumably because they now have paid business and enterprise service levels they want me to upgrade to, for “Priority” service.
It’s a service we’ve been using here for years, one that’s bloated with tons of modules and features, most of which ToolGuyd doesn’t use.
But, here are the services that we did use, which are down for the moment:
- Automatic posting to Facebook and Twitter
- Related posts
- Social sharing buttons
- “Pretty math” (I’ve used this maybe 4 times ever)
- Advanced spellcheck – I used this all the time, and it helps catch some typos and grammatical errors
Right now, I haven’t restored any of these functions using other 3rd party plugins. Yet. It’s something I’m still looking into.
ToolGuyd now loads via secure https, instead of http. It was a chore to do, and I think I solved all of the compatibility issues that came up. But if you see something that doesn’t look right, please let me know!
Both are my kids are out of the house most days (my daughter started nursery recently, and my son’s in preschool), and so I can spend huge swaths of time in front of a computer. It’s not something I like to do, at least more than I have to, but that’s usually what it takes to work on ToolGuyd site design and development.
I aim to refine the top menu, work on the sidebar (for desktop users), improve the look of the front page (desktop and mobile), and maybe add convenient shortcuts or sections to the home page.
Now’s the time for you to chime in with any criticisms, complaints, or compliments about the site. If there’s a feature you wanted added, let us know. If there’s something you cannot do without, let us know. If you’ve had trouble with a specific feature of the site, please let us know that too.
Facebook & Twitter Postings
As mentioned, these are down for the time being. If there’s interest, I can try my best to find a substitute service, or post about new posts there manually.
It’s not something I really want to spend too much time on, since Facebook only shows posts to maybe 1/10th of our followers. Why? That’s their advertising business model.
Is this something that you guys found useful? If so, I can hard-code a simplistic system that shows some related posts. I don’t want to use the old service I used, before the current one that’s been slowing things down tremendously, because it can bog things down in different ways.
But if it’s something you found useful or help, I’ll see what I can do.
Did you ever use any of the sharing buttons?
I always thought the “email to someone” button was useful, but I don’t think the “Share:” button strip was ever heavily used. If someone wants to share something on social media, they’re probably in the habit of doing it manually, right?
I liked the way the JetPack service did things, and won’t use the buttons supplied by social media networks. Why? Because there’s a lot of bloat in some of them, and tracking scripts too.
I hate it when I look at something online, and a Facebook script passes info to Instagram, which shows me targeted ads on my phone. How else can that happen if not for hidden tracking scripts?
There’s a ToolGuyd’s Top Tool Picks widget on post pages, below the comments. I’m going to strip that away soon, once I’m ready to dig back into coding.
Originally, I had been interested in coming up with new selections monthly, posting about them too. It seemed like a good way to keep things interesting.
But I haven’t been updating them. That makes it kind of useless as an editorial feature. And as a potential source of ad revenue, nope.
For it to be worthwhile in a revenue perspective, I’d have to move it upwards, maybe before comments. And since I don’t update it manually very often, I’d be better off going with an automatic widget which offers recommendations based on post contents.
While I might be open to the automatic product search or selection option, it doesn’t appeal to me right now. And I certainly don’t want to make that more IN YOUR FACE. So as soon as I’m ready to dig into the code, it’ll be gone.
Here’s what it looks like, in case it’s removed by the time you read this post.
All this is probably TMI, but you know me – I like transparency.
“I Wish ToolGuyd Looked More Like…”
If there’s a website that you think looks better than ToolGuyd, please let me know what aspects you like about the site, and also please mention if it’s on a desktop or mobile device browser.
Personally I think we have the most usable and best-looking design among tool review sites, and it’ll get better with a little more refinement. But things could always look better.
Your support is always appreciated, and your input is valuable and also very much appreciated at times like this. It’s important for you to know that I care about all of you, and about what you think.
Have a great weekend!
Would it be possible to increase the number of recent comments in the side bar? Possibly using a scroll function to keep the existing size?
But… these days, most new comments are attached to posts from the previous day, sometimes two. Right now there are 7 entries. Any more than that, and it’ll be more new comments to the same posts.
I can increase it, but scripts that allow for scrolling or revealing more with a button click can be unpredictable and sometimes even problematic.
I considered linking to a separate page that displays 20 or so of the most recent comments, but there would be few distinct posts represented there.
Another idea I had in the past was to create a separate page that listed out recently-commented-to posts, similar to the forum display (https://discuss.toolguyd.com/) , but it was too complex at the time.
WordPress (the software ToolGuyd is built on) does output comments as an RSS feed. https://toolguyd.com/comments/feed But that’s only useful if you wanted to view the comments via a 3rd party RSS reader or similar.
I’ll keep this in mind, maybe there’s an elegant compromise I can find.
@Stuart would love to see a
Gravtar or Disqus avatar option for regulars and maybe an option for editing (even if just for 15 min).
It sounds like you have a WP theme that you’ve been using.
I came across one (Customzr) and was so impressed with that I actually put a link in Asana to the theme before I had a domain, hosting or decided on a website builder, but was leaning toward WP.
Its extremely fast and very mobile friendly theme that allows infinite smooth scroll loads dynamically as user scrolls.
“Under the hood, a the Customizr theme has been coded to ensure that your website :
Loads fast (read more about the performance settings)
Adapts to any devices (responsive) : desktop, tablets, smartphones
Is compatible with all the major browsers,
Is optimized for SEO”
I know that porting or changing the back-end can be a lot of work, but moving forward some of the things are automated and auto adpat for desktops, phones and tablets i.e. side bars, carsousl Vert/Horz scroll.
Here is a link to a demo that you can try on your phone, tablet, or any browser. ”
They have both a free and paid options. $49/$79
I’ll take a look, thanks!
ToolGuyd is run off the Genesis framework, and I modified a child theme to mirror the look and feel of ToolGuyd as it was before. Back in 2015, Google abruptly announced a “become mobile friendly or we’ll penalize you in rankings” policy, and so it was a very quick development process. That’s partly why I now need to do some optimizations and fine-tweaking.
I like developing the ToolGuyd theme myself, and the framework I’m using (Genesis) allows full control. While no expert, I am intimately familiar with the inner workings of ToolGuyd, and I like it that way.
Gravatars tend to be “all on none.” I tried working with them before, to enable Ben’s in his author profile, but it was very clunky. More than 9/10 comment gravatars were the default fall-back image. It wasn’t worth looking at all those for the less than 1 in 10 people that had one.
Comment editing is impossible. 3rd party comment solutions? Nope. I don’t want to require sign-ins, and I don’t want to have wide-service sign-ins or Facebook sign-ins, or anything like that.
I can’t even give Ben editing permissions, and I’ve tried.
Comment editing requires database access at admin level. WordPress’s commenting system just wasn’t designed to allow for this.
Generally speaking I hate infinite scrolling. I understand why they are done and it’s great for casual user. Power user like myself hate it with a passion and I generally don’t have much kind word for UX designer that insist on infinite scrolling without an option to turn it off.
Paging give power user a way to quickly jump to the end of the result sets. It also give the user an idea of how much content are available. Infinite scrolling hid all that from the user so it force the user to use the search function. This mean the site better have a real solid search function which is extremely rare. Beside, any good search engine will always give the result set in pages this allow user whom are some what familiar with the result set to pin point the result by paging through it.
In short, I want a UX that complement my brain and not to replace it 🙂
Me too. =)
I can see the benefits of infinite loading, but I generally don’t like it. I also don’t like it when new stories appear beneath one I just read.
I like the idea of “xx most recent posts with comments” – I have found a number of fascinating older posts via people reviving them with comments.
I think both your inventory of older posts and most of the comments are a tremendous asset, so trying to leverage that (e.g. via related posts and encouraging continuing conversations on older posts) is a great idea.
I would also like to see a way to view/filter/page/search the comments feed. Personally I would vote to keep the front page in tact as far as the recent comments feed go and have a separate page for it.
That’s something I had never seen before.
Even if possible, it’s something I would be hesitant to do. ToolGuyd has 5520 published posts, and a handful of separate pages.
There are currently 94,238 approved comments.
I can search through comments in the backend, but there’s no point unless I a looking for something very specific, such as comments by the same name, or a very specific text string.
It all depend on how the comment is set up in the backend. First in order for filtering to be useful it must be tied to post that are well categorized. Here are a few use case that (selfishly :)) stem from my personal use cases:
If I was searching for a table saw, I might only be interested in comment that are belong to table saw post. If I was hunting for tool storage ideas, I might only be interested in comments that belong to post that belong to the storage category. I might want to excluded comments from certain type of post such as one belong to the giveaway category.
I know certain commenters bring a lot of value to the conversation so I might want to find all the comment that belong to fred for example.
I can see what you mean, but it’s not possible, or at the least not practical. And there’s no way to narrow the scope to decrease the impact of the search query, or to increase relevancy of the comments.
Developing a solution that works, and works effectively in a useful manner, and doesn’t bog down the server is well beyond my capabilities.
I am pleased to see the https: support!
Facebook/Twitter: don’t care
Related Posts: I often use those. They uncover things I don’t know exist.
Social Sharing: I use a tablet or phone, so this built into the browser already. Can email, text, Pinterest, whatever.
Amazon top picks: never used it
Wishes? I wish you had a bigger team so there were more posts! I like coming here and wish I could find new material a few times a day.
You’ve talked about sponsorships before. What about seeking out sponsors for specific projects or reviews. Specifically, I am thinking of comparisons. You’ve just covered the new Milwaukee table saw. What if you asked us all for recommendations for saws to compare to, you pick 4, and the sponsor provides them for you to compare. Maybe raffle them off afterwards.
I’d also like to see some reviews of benchtop tools (drill presses, band saws, lathes, sanders – woodwork-y things). It may not be in your wheelhouse, but maybe it would be in a future team member’s.
Also, maybe someone looking at small scale CNC, 3D printing, and lasers.
I just realized I could go on, but I doubt anyone wants to read all that! If you’re interested, let me know.
Regarding not caring about Facebook/Twitter, I know a lot of people don’t care, but it’s something I was specifically asked to do, a few years ago. Some readers wanted to be kept abreast of new posts through those platforms, rather than checking ToolGuyd.com manually, checking emails daily after 11am ET, or through RSS.
Increasing ToolGuyd’s team is a very sensitive, complex, and often difficult process.
More posts? Working on it!
Benchtop tool reviews? Working on that too! There are 2 complexities involved there. Not to mince words, a lot of benchtop tools suck or are severely compromised, and things haven’t been improving. The other part is that they take a lot of space and are costly to ship to readers or donate once testing is done.
CNC/3D Printing/Lasers: I’m up for it, and can maybe budget for it, but space and time is an issue. None of these types of equipment can be tested and reviewed quickly.
Less expensive CNC/3D Printing/Laser Cutter equipment tend to require a whole lot of tinkering, tweaking, and playing around with. That’s something I don’t have time for, and to pay someone else for would cost a lot over the course of a review.
For my own needs and wants, I’d buy something that works, or is less prone to require a heavy tinkering time investment, which would likely push entry prices into territory that ToolGuyd could justify as a business, but most hobbyists might not be able to approach.
The benefit in such testing and review might be more in articles about techniques, how-tos, projects, and capabilities, using tools that might be accessible through clubs, Makerspaces, local institutions, or for hobbyists with deeper pockets.
Right now I couldn’t accommodate much, in the form of time or space, but maybe in a few months.
Of course I’m interested in your ideas or feedback! If you’d rather email me, there’s the contact form (https://toolguyd.com/contact-us/), or I can always be reached at Stuey @ name of this site.com.
Maybe there’s some sort of opportunity on the forums for “guest posts” that can cover those kinds of topics, like the 3D printing and whatnot. Or just community reviews more in depth and beyond what happens usually in forum questions. And some way for people to request reviews of things or similar.
I think a good number of people are hesitant to post a forum topic like “does anybody have X tool and can provide a review”, though there may be some good responses. In the same vein, although I think occasionally about posting up a treatise on some tool I have that I don’t see reviewed on the site, I kind of feel it’s just cluttering up the forums. Perhaps something as simple as a separate category like reviews/requests to keep the clutter down in the general one might be enough. But we do all come here for your and Ben’s opinions (and now the new folks too which I’m excited about), because they’re trusted. Random forum person reviews definitely aren’t the same, but it could be a way to cover some of the more outside-the-“tool”-sphere stuff like mentioned.
That’s a big challenge too. In my experience, guest reviews simply don’t work out very well.
There are already quite a few 3D printing sites (especially) and CNC sites, so what would ToolGuyd add? These areas are quite different from power tools and hand tools with a lot of expertise needed get top quality results.
I’d say knife reviews are more relevant to most readers, with maybe an exception for CNC routers. Another possible approach would be focusing on practical applications, such as how 3D printed objects could help with tools (e.g. custom jigs and accessories?)
On a somewhat related area, I would like to see reviews and coverage of more maker/electronics/mechatronic related tools, such as pin crimpers (for DSub/JST/Mini-Fit), soldering irons, and other precision tools (I think there’s been some coverage, but more would be appreciated – I use these tools fairly often)
David said “I’d also like to see some reviews of benchtop tools (drill presses, band saws, lathes, sanders – woodwork-y things). ”
That got me wondering about how you decide (other than personal interest) about what to post. Running ToolGuyd as your business, I would guess that you have some instinct for what is profitable and what your constituents (readers, sponsors, advertisers et. al.) want to see and what keeps them coming back.) Some companies run focus groups to help them with new product launches – is their an equivalent for Toolguyd to test the waters for what new sorts of tools would be of most interest/value?
David also talked about comparing table saws – perhaps a good idea – but there are so many classes of these machines that it might be difficult to know where to start. From what you’ve posted before – I would guess that jobsite saws might be the focus – rather than comparing some big Felder or Hammer saw to a Minimax.
Before I retired we were looking to buy a plate cutting machine – and comparing them was a challenge – even after you decided on what technology you wanted.
Is it interesting to me? Is it interesting to readers? Is there a need for this to be discussed? Are there questions about this? Is this something I shouldn’t keep to myself? Would I have wanted to see a post on this 10 years ago, before ToolGuyd?
I don’t really think about profitability, even with things like deal posts.
Sometimes comparisons are interesting, other times they’re not. And there can be bias. Mostly, I find too many loose parallels and not enough context.
Is someone really going to buy a saw based on how many cuts it can make per charge? No. There are many more important considerations. Intertwining all the necessary context that I use in my own purchasing decisions would take way too much time and effort in a comparison.
Maybe that is something that can be done as sponsored testing in the future, but I’m not quite ready for more yet. Right now I have 2 sponsored projects I’m working on, and that’s enough for now.
I agree. Head to head comparison is hard to do without a proper context. Since the use case tend to be different for each users, it’s impossible to find a universal use case to go against.
Personally I much prefer in depth review with sideline comparison. For example while reviewing a drill of brand X, it would be nice to call out a note worthy feature from some other drill of brand Y. Then in some other part of the review while discussing a different feature it might be worth while to call out how brand X new feature is so much better than brand Z.
If your RSS feed is still current, there are dozens of cheap/free services (Dlvr.it, for example) that will scrape posts from RSS and send them to social channels. Could be a good way to keep updates for people like me that like the Twitter posts, but you don’t need extensive customization
Thanks! I plan to test out a service or two this weekend, probably starting with Hootsuite.
Two things I do the most on your website
-Read the newest posts
-Search old posts through google for products & info. It would definitely help to have related posts show up within the articles.
A great example would be your more recent post with the “everyman-grafton-mechanical-pencil” and on that page would have an image and link to the older “rite-in-the-rain-mechanical-pencil” page.
I posted that article link in the comments.
Also, that older page would have the return link and image page to the former page.
Kinja does this really well, (i.e. Jalopnik)
I’m also thinking that maybe you can add a couple of groups to the “hand tools” section such as measurement and marking tools.
I’ve had related posts for as long as I could remember.
Before, the plugin I used drew upon server resources and supposedly bogged down at times. Then, JetPack offered it, and offloaded the data crunching to WordPress servers.
“Related Posts” requires a good amount of computation, for an algorithm to evaluate all possible related posts and weigh them until 3 most-related posts are elevated to the top of the list.
I generally link to most-related posts inline where it makes sense to, as text links.
If I can’t get JetPack working again without dragging the entire site down, I’ll have to come up with a way to show related posts from similar categories, tags, or brands. That should be doable, but it’ll require a bit of coding and a lot of testing.
Regarding “Hand Tools” groups, there are many categories. I used to link to more in the top menu, but they weren’t clicked on enough to justify the space they took up.
One thing I need to do is build a visual index somewhere, but it’s a time-consuming project and I always put it off.
At the bottom of posts, there are categories (sections), tags, and brand links.
SECTIONS: MECHANICS’ TOOLS, NEW TOOLS, WRENCHES
TAGS: COMBINATION WRENCH
MORE FROM: CRAFTSMAN
So those links should take you to all kinds of related posts. One thing I can possible do is create visual links, say a row of 3 thumbnail images leading to one of the sections, one of the related tags, and the brand. But it’s easier said than coded.
Jalopnik and their sister companies likely have a team, or teams, of developers. At ToolGuyd, it’s just me (Ben helps a lot too), because I want to control everything. I want to know how it works, and why.
There’s one other option I can try. A company that has an SEO plugin has a paid premium related posts feature that they say doesn’t bog down servers, so I might give that a try.
That is interesting, I didn’t know that type of coding was usually system hungry.
But it is just so easy to ask for it! Make it so!
You don’t have a Jeannie working for you?
More Video review by toolguyd would be nice.
Not to be “that guy” but one of the nice things about ToolGuyd is that it’s not video-heavy, unlike most other review sites at this point (in my experience). I prefer reading and i’ve seen that sentiment echoed by others before.
What might be useful would be to identify what aspect of reviewing and/or types of product (if any) are better served by video than mixed media as a community so that more videos are in fact an improvement to the page.
From a business sense, a lot of advertisers, brands and retailers, are more embracing “mommy-blogger”-type “influencers.”
Additionally, audience trends haven’t stopped shifting to mobile. Most visitors, new and returning alike, are coming to ToolGuyd via mobile devices, and that means lower attention spans and shorter visits.
I have every intention of posting to ToolGuyd as always. But adding a video component, which I’ve been meaning to for a while? It could work well as a complement.
I’m not a very good public-speaker, and I have 10 years experience focusing on tools, rather than myself, and so it’s been very hard for me to get into video production.
2 hands showing off a tool requires good planning and scripting, which I’m not very good at. Improvising as a “talking head” can require less planning, but it requires “me” being a part of the coverage.
There’s been so much to do that I’ve ignored it for the longest time.
But there are very many things where informal conversation and showing off of something is quicker and easier to produce – and for readers to digest – than putting it into photos and words.
I don’t plan on shifting ToolGuyd’s focus, but it’ll be good to diversify.
One of my industry friends is constantly worried that audiences will stop reading websites and focus entirely on YouTube and Instagram. I’m not too worried about that, but once I find a good rhythm to my schedule, it probably can’t hurt to follow through with videos coverage when it makes sense to.
I didn’t mention it in the post, but I removed my custom YouTube widget from the sidebar. It didn’t really seem to add much, since there are rarely new videos to load there.
I agree, for certain things, a video can really help. But there are so many armchair reviewers on YouTube already, and plenty of professional reviewers with high production value but still tool-smart that it seems like a crowded lake to get into. I really appreciate being able to read articles here, I do my best to not watch a video for a review or interpretation/commentary/simple instruction on something. But as a supplement to the written articles for deserving topics, I can see it being a great addition.
Complicated assembly/disassembly I will watch a video for, particularly if it is done well so you can see exactly what is going on, that’s something that would take a giant huge picture-laden post otherwise, so a good use of video. Painting miniatures (a hobby of mine) I’ll watch video for, because kind of hard to see techniques being described otherwise. But someone taking a tool out of a box and pointing at it while talking to review it? No thanks.
What, you don’t like unboxing videos?
Sometimes “talking head” videos are good. Other times…
I recently bought new desktop speakers, and looking for reviews was a huge challenge. How can anyone do an unboxing video and the review speakers without listening to them for a week?!!! Speakers often need to burn-in before they sound as they were designed to. ARGH.
One of my seemingly post popular YouTube videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kFomZEfEHA
So many people commented about liking the video for showing them how to change the blade or close the knife. So I’d like to do more videos like that, where it’s easier to show something in a video.
I like it the way it is and honestly dont want or need any new features. I read it 6 days a week, occasionally use a link to purchase something and once in a great while I comment. Keep up the good work Stu.
Actually I would vote against Video Reviews. I find that it’s much faster to read through a review then to watch a video. Hence I rarely watch video reviews unless there’s a question in my mind that can only be answered by seeing the product in action.
Videos and video reviews ARE on my to-do list.
But with videos, I think they’ll end up being more akin to misc. tool news posts. There just seems to be an ever-growing number of things to do, and sometimes it seems like a video would be easier. That would require my making my workspace – any of them more presentable.
Like others I find the vast majority of video tool reviews useless and annoying, There are countless unplanned, poorly-shot, indifferently-edited tool videos full of rambling dialog, no acoustic leveling, and annoying stinger graphics. Even watched at 2x speed, all of that requires a big investment of time for low return of knowledge. I much prefer the thoughtful, well-written reviews, with quality photography that characterize ToolGuyd, and I hope those will remain the primary focus.
I believe the very fact that videos are perceived to be easier/faster is the source of the problem: it encourages high volumes of slap-shod work. Good video is just as hard as (and is often preceded by) good writing, but the threshold for what is acceptable seems to be lower with one medium than the other.
In short, please don’t do video because it seems easier: do it if it offers something of real value that text genuinely could not do!
The thing with text is that they are searchable. Video is great in some case but it should be complement and not primary.
I like the site as is.
I don’t give a tinker’s dam about Twitter or Facebook, as I’m on neither (while I used to be on both.) I don’t care about any other social media links as I don’t use them.
If I had a magic wand, there’d simply be more content, more frequently. That said, you do a great job. Tollguyd is my favorite review site, both for tone and content. I also prefer to read my reviews, so video-lite works fine for me, too.
Any way you can make it easier for me to buy reviewed tools works for me, too, and I’d like to see you make money off that, as I appreciate what a time suck it is to keep up the site.
I don’t mind ads, but if I’m honest, I block orignore them. Again, if that helps you support the site, go for it and I’ll disable my ad blocker for Toolguyd, something I’ve only ever done for 1 or two other sites I really like.
Well done, you! I hope you’re able to continue the site, and I’ll be a daily reader as long as you do and I’m around. Thanks!
I know it’s time consuming and hard to do objectively, but I would like to see more head to head comparisons of a particular tool from brands A-Z. That’s what originally led to me discovering this site, I was researching cordless drill and impacts and came across one of your rankings
I hope to update the drill and impact driver guides soon.
Part of the slowness there is because they’re so hard to do. I’ve also been slow to expand because scammy sites have Amazon-centric “best xyz of 2018” sites, and Google tends to give them too much weight in rankings.
So it ends up being a 20X more effort post for maybe 1.5X the interest and viewership. That’s not enough to keep me from doing it, but there are so many other things on my plate that they’ve slid down the list a bit.
The head to head stuff is really interesting, and I always read them. However, they are really time consuming to do and I understand that the work isn’t often worth the payoff.
Spec and price comparisons are still useful though, maybe even just a general how it feels in hand comparison.
Often, people don’t know the specs or what they mean, which is something I think this site does really well in terms of explaining.
I like the “Related Posts”, it is helpful to see other articles about similar tools and topics.
Thanks! I’ll try to keep restoring that a top priority.
I think you are in an interesting position. Its not just a construction business site, and its not just a hobby-ist/pinterest site. I think you would benefit from looking at more ‘bench-top’ tools that are in the lower price ranges as they apply to hobbyists as well as some construction (there are plenty of maintenance and small outfits out there without massive shops). I like looking and reading about the big equipment, but I will never have any place or use for any of them. Whereas a comparison of bench-top drill presses and what to look for in a drill press would be very useful. It could even go into what the big ones offer and why they are worth all the extra money and space to certain people.
As far as your questions go, for me related articles is the only thing I’d miss. I do enjoy reading some of your product suggestions, but they have to be in the context of an article where you explain why its interesting or useful, not just a link to a picture of something.
With benchtop tools, there’s a challenge because many aren’t good enough for my own needs and wants.
I have yet to buy a combination benchtop disc sander or belt sander, because I have yet to find one I can buy confidently.
Benchtop drill presses? I have a Craftsman 10″, and it’s okay, but far from being recommendable.
Now I have a pricey Nova, and there are a lot of hesitations there.
From user reviews and my own experiences, quality benchtop tools are hard to find. There are cheap import models, and sometimes higher-end models, with very little in between. So the choice is either between Harbor Freight-quality, or a massively priced industrial-focused option.
ProToolReviews sometimes does those type of buying guide things, with what to look for, but for me it turns into somewhat a laundry list of features to compare (and sometimes incomplete at that), not always a ton of description as to what numbers for that feature are better to look for or why. Like choosing an impact wrench, torque matters, but realistically, there are very few bolts on cars or even trucks that need the maximum of the high torque wrench specifications. But I don’t remember seeing that, like a here’s common torque ranges for things so pick your needs accordingly, and look at trade offs (higher torque are heavier and larger usually). I think it’s a gap that could be filled, really knock things out of the park with a here’s features you might see, here’s why they matter or don’t, here’s what they mean, and common use cases that help illustrate what to look for and narrow down your range of use cases so you’re not over or under buying. Those kinds of posts do take a lot of experience, thought, and research though to be able to hit all those bases, so are pretty time consuming. Straight product shootouts (even if theoretical) are I think almost easier to write, and that’s the trap.
That said I think there is a place for those types of things here, and they would be super useful, particularly for categories where a head to head shootout type thing isn’t possible or feasible (how do you put a ryobi benchtop drill press up against a top of their line floor standing Delta or Powermatic or Laguna). But for things like handheld drills or common tools covered extensively here, I don’t think they’d be useful.
Something like a weekly roundup of new tool announcements, rumors, and general tool industry headlines is something I would be interested in seeing. I watch ToolCraze because they post up rumors or “sightings” of new tools sometimes before they pop up anywhere else, so I can be like ooh, look what’s coming up. Otherwise I don’t really care for their reviews unfortunately. An example is the dewalt inflator, though I saw that on reddit before anywhere else. No guessing review or even first impressions needed, just a hey this was announced or is a rumor or was spotted overseas (which may not ever make it here or to a review post but is still interesting). Even throw in some tool related goings on if there are any, like Milwaukee breaking ground on a new office expansion, sears filing for bankruptcy, Makita’s endcap deal with HD looks to possibly be expiring so look for those x2 tools on clearance YMMV. It’s something of a smorgasbord post, but I like seeing those just to see what’s going on.
So something like misc. tool news posts, but more regularly?
I can’t do new sightings or rumors anymore, or rather I don’t like to. I feel that having more information is better than simply sharing an image or sketch, at least most of the time. Otherwise, there’s not enough value for the rumor or sighting to be bumped ahead of other coverage I’m working on.
I’m working on the inflator post. Unfortunately, Dewalt cannot provide me with a photo of the tool with a battery pack installed, and I’m having a hard time visualizing its scale.
Someone asked for a comparison against the Milwaukee, and I’m inclined to put my vote towards the Milwaukee, but it’d be nice to have a little more information to back up my opinion. Currently, I’m basing the preference on size and value considerations.
Some rumors or sightings can lead to trouble. Sometimes info is leaked out in violation of NDAs.
There’s a minimum amount of information and details that I require to be publicly available before I’ll post about something that has not been officially announced yet.
That’s fair on the rumors. I have wondered sometimes how people get their hands on some of the stuff. Some of the overseas releases might blur the line there, like I didn’t know there was a cordless 40V ryobi power washer overseas until I saw a comment on a post a while ago, now I’m getting one shipped over from a buddy across the pond. Or the AEG/Ridgid backpack sprayer (though ryobi has one now too I found). That might be too far outside Toolguyd’s focus to even warrant in a misc. tool news type post though.
Yeah, something like the misc tool news posts or the “here’s what I bought tool related on Amazon recently” type stuff. Those are always fun to read (to me), and pack a lot of general-interest or go investigate yourself idea generator type stuff into a small space.
I personally dislike the “sighted recently posts” that seem to be the majority of content at some other tool sites that I might visit a few time in a month. Compared to ToolGuyd that I read most every day, such sites are to me a bit ingenious, present little that is actionable – nor will you get real- use reader feedback which I find most interesting.
That’s fair, and I agree the hands on reviews are really what this site is here for. I’m probably an outlier because although I always want and get the latest nifty tools to come out, I do try to plan ahead for them. So I really like seeing what’s coming down the pipe from all over even if it’s not out yet or not in the US because I can plan ahead for getting that tool when it comes out, maybe selling a prior version, and hopefully putting it to use quickly. And I just love seeing the innovation age we live in. But I do suppose that’s probably suited to other places than cluttering up the feed here, thinking more about it.
Like others, I don’t care for social media, and never use Share widgets.
I prefer text over video, but realize video does have its place. But text can be searched, skimmed, and quickly go back/forth/slow down, while videos are often a waste of time (and I can’t whether the content will be good or not).
On reviews, I’m NOT interested in head to head. I liked how DPReview does (or at least, did) reviews — they provided enough information to determine if a particular camera would fit my needs – after all, I don’t care if X is better than Y, only if X is a better fit for me than Y. My needs are different, I think, than the majority of posters (my desk, for example, currently contains a HF DMM, iWiss SN01BN crimper, Paladin wire stripper, cheap calipers, ASI HD15 break out board, Quantum QPhase 145 encoder, a RSF linear encoder, a NEMA23 servo motor, and a old Cognex smart camera — and, yes, it needs a clean up).
Actually, I watched a DPReview video review recently, and it was very enjoyable, but it also has far greater production value than I/we can do.
Some of what’s on your desk is similar to what’s on mine. =)
I haven’t tried Paladin wire strippers, though. I have Knipex and bought another brand recently – Felo? – when I came across it on sale when placing an order at KC Tool.
The Paladin strippers have worked very well for me; I bought the 2 item set (10-22 AWG and 20-30AWG) from Fry’s a long time (>10 years) ago because I needed to strip 30 AWG wires.
Allied has a set exactly like mine, and it’s also available in Greenlee green – search for PA1123 (no links because those aren’t posting)
@Stuart Thank you for continuing to provide an RSS feed. I prefer to get updates from your site (and many others), through one interface which is my RSS reader. Your feed ranks as one of the best as it includes the full article, not just the title which I must then load outside of the reader.
I want to say, of all the tool sites I keep an eye on, toolguyd is my favorite of them, and the one I go to when I want impressions on a particular tool. It has more posts than some other sites do (1-2 a day rather than 1-2 a week), and is actually good hands on in depth information. The bread and butter of all these sites is personal anecdotes and experience and feelings about a tool. There are plenty more sites that spout specs and do an armchair review without actually using the tool, sometimes without even seeing it in person much less holding it. Toolguyd gets this right for the reviews, and my opinions on things usually line up with you all’s on tools. ProToolReviews is probably second for me, I appreciate their analysis, but they get bogged down sometimes with garbage or write a review that seems like it’s more looking at a tool they just got rather than using it and getting a feel for it. And I just don’t agree with some of the folk’s opinions.
More and more other sites are caving to let’s make a ton of money off advertising or sponsorships, overrunning their site with excessive ads, especially for mobile, and I’m beyond appreciative that toolguyd doesn’t. That factor alone has made me abandon several other sites I used to follow, although some also have just had a decline in quality in the last couple years.
The Toolguyd layout is clean and works for me on mobile, the writing is on point, and although I always want more content, I know the time that goes into making a post, and I’m sometimes surprised you and Ben can post as much as you do. I wouldn’t want to see the quality take a hit for more quantity, since I think the quality is what brings people here and keeps them coming back. A lot of people I’m sure are extremely appreciative of the time and effort you put in here, making the community and the site a better and more knowledgeable place, and I want to say thanks, keep it up.
Thanks very much Stuart for all you’ve done. If this becomes a paid subscription site I’m ready to hit the Submit button. Your tips, tricks and reviews are worth it.
Maybe Stuart could talk to the The Pen Addict, who has added a subscription ($5/month IIRC) which gives some additional, members-only benefits
Also, I have to say the signal to noise ratio here is incredibly high – I suspect Stuart & co are doing a lot in the background to keep it so – in any case, I really appreciate it!
Yep. I’d pay to keep ToolGuyd around. $5/month? Sure. Just… remember not all of us are in the USA. You’ll need some sort of PayPal service link that can convert to USD automatically. There’s already a built-in PayPal service called paypal.me. Wouldn’t be too difficult to set up that kind of thing on a button, and take one-time donations as well. Maybe ToolGuyd does a yearly/holiday themed charity thing? All donations to paypal.me that ToolGuyd posts in a thread, from start date to end date, get put toward (Charity X) or (Event X) kind of thing.
But PayPal does have subscription services I believe. I’d be down for regular membership payments, with or without benefits.
Replacement services, for spellcheck try Grammerly.
For HTTPS check your domain with https://www.ssllabs.com/ssltest/
I follow you via RSS (Inoreader) so Facebook/Twitter/social don’t matter (to me).
If I’m being 100% honest… I wish OTHER sites looked more like ToolGuyd, not the other way around.
I +1 to the Avatar idea, though I would prefer NON-PHOTO Avatars. Rather… How do I explain this… Trade Theme Badges? On the Leatherman website of old, they used to have a list of icons next to the product description that indicated what the tool is good for. Outdoors, Industrial, Military, DIY, Etc. I’d love to see “Badges” for us here when we post. So, when we see eachother posting, we know from what field perspective they’re coming from.
Maybe a Country of Origin badge as well? Or, perhaps a “Trust Value” for regular posters? I know there are some here like firefly, or Jim Felt, who aren’t staff, but certainly know their stuff. Letting us “Add Our Trust” to their overall presence here would really help those who are newer to their fields to learn from their perspective via their contribution to ToolGuyd?
As to the social networking strip… I only ever used “E-Mail ToolGuyd” anyways… I think I “Shared to Facebook” a couple times to tell friends or family I was excited about a tool…but that’s it.
As to the Amazon stuff… Only keep it if it generates you revenue… in fact, if any feature costs more than it generates in revenues, it should probably be put immediately into the low-priority pile of features. Not for a business reason, but because of that pressure your web service is putting on you to pay for a higher tier to get the features you want. Any feature you HAVE that costs you more has to justify its existence for keeping you at the tier you’re comfortable paying. If one of those features is in the higher tier only, it’s a good reason to give the web company for why you don’t want to be at the higher tier.
As to the rest… Leave design tips and such to someone who isn’t me. I’m colourblind, and have zero sense of style or aesthetics. I like symmetrical design mostly, but colours, matching things, and coordinating themes are things I can barely see, let alone critique. So, on that front, do what is best for the brand identity you’ve chosen for ToolGuyd. Colours and Themes that match your stance, or place, in the wide world of Tools.
I don’t know if this is a coincidence, or what, but the page loads tremendously faster today, on my mobile device. And better yet, I’m not fighting a popup / hover over from Amazon that would plague most, if not all, of the article pages like this one. It would pop up as I’m scrolling, maybe within the first few paragraphs of the article, and would cover everything with a pixelated amazon logo – so I can’t see the article. I’d often find myself reloading the page, and trying to ‘scroll correctly’ to slip passed without triggering that. Thank you!!!
That’s exactly what I’m talking about. There’s something very wrong with the plugin, and their support has been useless. 3 days and all they could tell me was to try disconnecting and to try again.
I didn’t touch that Amazon widget. That one seemed to be useful, showing pricing and what-not. It’s also only supposed to be very small at the bottom of the screen. I’ll try to investigate it. If it’s a nuisance, it’ll go.
I like the amazon pop ups at the bottom of the screen, I’ve found them unobtrusive and usually helpful looking at suggested items quick on amazon and see pricing real quick. I don’t know if they’re linked in with your amazon referral codes, but hopefully they are because I try to use them.
I like the site as is. No videos for me, thanks. I like the look of the site. Strikes me as very clean, easy to navigate. (But I’m a desktop user). I love the style of reviews.
Keep up the good work.
I’m not a huge fan of embedded videos. Takes up too much time to process the info. If you have short clips to demonstrate something in action, maybe use an animated gif?
As a web developer, a couple suggestions for the site.
– if you have performance problems, look into the W3 Total Cache WordPress plugin
– Convert links in the comments into affiliate links. You’re potentially leaving money on the table
Thanks for the feedback!
I’ve used W3 Total Cache before, but it didn’t really help. In this instance, the performance issue isn’t caused by the server, it’s a plugin that seems to have been broken by a recent update, causing some kind of conflict I’m still trying to work out.
I don’t want to convert links in comments, or use any “we’ll scan your content and automatically convert your links” types of services. I’m okay leaving money on the table, if it means a better user experience, and that goes beyond comment links.
This is why I love toolguyd.com. Keep up the great work