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I occasionally recommend specific products or services. I'll clarify exactly what it takes to get a recommendation, and what it means.

I frequently get asked "what ___ do you recommend", and I often don't have an answer. It's not because I don't have some ideas, I almost always do. It's just that the word "recommend" carries an implied endorsement, and I don't take that lightly.

So what does it mean when I actually take the plunge and say I recommend something?

To be recommended, I need personal experience with the product or server. That experience comes in either of three forms:

  • I've used the product myself.

  • People I know, trust and respect have used the product.

  • I know or have a relationship with the author of the product and feel comfortable recommending it based on my knowledge of that individual or company and their reputation.

On rare occasions, when a reputation is so strong as to warrant it, I may make a recommendation based on that alone, but I'll likely be clear about it.

"Do not confuse ads with recommendations."

Mostly, though, it's that first one: I use the product, and my own experience with it leads me to believe it's worth your time, effort and occasionally money.

Do not confuse ads with recommendations. The ads you see running in the site (identified by "Ads by Google", "Sponsored Ad" and such) are ads that have been purchased and do not imply any endorsement on my part.

Ads can be purchased by just about anyone, and I simply don't have the resources to vet them all.

My recommendations, on the other hand, cannot be purchased; they're based entirely on what I outlined earlier. You can tell what I'm explicitly recommending because it's either in an article in the Recommendations category or one of its sub-categories, or because the recommendation is in the body of an article I've written and uses the word "recommended".

Some of my recommendations are for products created by business acquaintances and friends. My relationship with them might cause me to evaluate their product sooner than others, perhaps, but does not impact my final decision whether or not to recommend their product to you. Each is evaluated based on my opinion of its merits.

Now, I do have to cover my behind: In no case should my recommendation be considered a guarantee of any sort. As stated above all the information on Ask Leo! is taken entirely at your own risk, and my recommendations are no exception. I can't know without a doubt how any given product will work on the unique combination of hardware and software that you have, and whether or not you've used it properly. My recommendations are in good faith, but ultimately there's really no getting around that only you have the final responsibility for what you might do to your machine.

If available, I may use affiliate links in directing you to a product or service I recommend. This means that should you purchase a product using a link that I've provided, I may receive some portion of the purchase price for having directed you to the seller. This does not affect the price you pay. I also don't make recommendations simply because a product has an affiliate program; I make my recommendations in good faith and, I believe, objectively. In fact, I typically first identify a product that I want to recommend and then see if an affiliate program is available. Remember, you can always locate the product yourself bypassing such a link if that concerns you.

I value your experience: if you have experience, good or bad, with one of the products I recommend, I'd love to hear about it. Use the Ask Leo! Form to submit your comments. I'm always open to updating my recommendations.

Article C3372 - May 5, 2008 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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