Editor’s Notes: 2007 Buyers’ Guide, iLounge Editorial Policies

Now that we’ve finished the 2007 iPod Buyers’ Guide (well, mostly), I wanted to publish a few editor’s notes for those people who might be interested in behind-the-scenes details on how we put these things together, and what makes our publications different from ones you might find elsewhere.

Editorial Independence. You probably already know that we don’t sell iPod accessories or services, and that we’re not owned by or connected to Apple or any third-party accessory/service provider in any way. On that note, I say and sincerely mean this: when we assemble our Guides, we do so with absolutely zero editorial interference from the companies we cover, Apple included. Just as with iLounge.com, we create these downloadable publications with one goal in mind, and that’s to better inform our readers about the increasingly incredible world of iPods and accessories. We’re not trying to sell anything – that’s the job of Apple and its third-party developers – we’re just here to provide an objective, independent overview of what’s in the market.

No Paid Placement or Advertorial Content. iLounge is firmly and entirely opposed to paid placement of products in editorial sections of our Guides and our site, and we do not ever – ever – create “advertorial” content.

For those unfamiliar, paid placement is where a publisher requests or accepts money in exchange for, say, putting X product on page Y of a publication. And advertorial content is a disclosed or undisclosed mixing of advertising with editorial content – say, an article devoted to how company Z’s products can improve your life, funded by company Z and written with their oversight. We do not and will not do these things, but can say with certainty that such things do happen in publications marketed to iPod users, and you should be skeptical.

The Process. Prior to assembling our Guides, we make attempts to contact as much of the industry as possible to let them know that we’re about to put together a new edition – typically via press release and/or e-mail. Though we’ve been blown away by the ever-increasing number of companies making iPod accessories (currently well over 300), our process is intentionally designed to be inclusive rather than exclusive, and we try to offer industry coverage that’s as broad and wide-ranging as possible – not just the “big guys” or companies with huge advertising budgets. We continue to be committed to giving smaller, up and coming companies a chance to shine right alongside larger, more established players – our only criteria are that we have to believe a product’s a standout and worth featuring given the total pool of competing options we’re considering, and the company can’t have run afoul of our few but specific rules on deceptive sales practices.

Insane Volume of Submissions. Every time we do one of our Guides, the quantity of stuff we receive for inclusion rises. This one was literally the craziest ever – FedEx and UPS trucks arriving no fewer than 6 times a day during the peak, with DHL and USPS stopping by once or twice, too. It wasn’t unusual for 20 new accessories to arrive in a single day on the heaviest days, and that only tapered off a couple of weeks ago. Only yesterday, after the Guide was published, did we begin the process of digging out from everything; rather than tossing stuff out, we’re always committed to taking a look at everything that comes in the door for possible inclusion if there’s an unexpected last-minute opening in a section.

Exclusions. We don’t make a big deal about this, but after posting a few warnings on iLounge that this was a possibility, we’re now leaving out offerings by companies that have engaged in deceptive sales practices – posting phony testimonials about their products, using anonymous comments to slag competitors’ offerings, or otherwise repeatedly engaging in “bad karma” activities that harm iLounge readers. As a word of warning, we’re going to clamp down even further on this in the very near future, because we’re really tired of the grade school antics and want to re-level the playing field in favor of the industry’s good guys, of whom there are many.