A Message from Anand
I started AnandTech as a hobby on April 26, 1997. Back then it was called Anand's Hardware Tech Page, and it was hosted on a now-defunct free hosting service called Geocities. I was 14 at the time and simply wanted to share what I knew, which admittedly wasn't much, with others on the web.
In those days PCs were very expensive and you could often save a good amount of money buying components and building your own. We have our roots in reviewing PC components and technologies.
Today the definition of what constitutes a PC is much broader than it has ever been. I look at smartphones, tablets, set-top boxes, Macs, notebooks and of course desktops as PCs or more generally - computers. They all have a CPU, GPU, memory and some form of storage. These devices mostly vary in terms of how powerful they are and how you interact with them, but the components are all the same. The one thing we've done consistently since 1997 is evaluate all of these components and the devices that implement them.
In the beginning you could classify AnandTech as a motherboard review site. I reviewed over 200 motherboards on my own before we got our first motherboard editor. From motherboards we moved to CPUs then video cards (later: GPUs). We added storage, memory, cases and display reviews. Full systems came next: notebooks and desktops became part of our review repertoire. As Apple began using more of the same components we were already reviewing in its machines, we began reviewing Macs as well. As smartphones and tablets did the same, we added them to the list. We can't (and won't) review everything, but we will review those products and technologies that we can lend our methodologies and expertise to.
Today AnandTech serves the needs of readers looking for reviews on PC components, smartphones, tablets, pre-built desktops, notebooks, Macs and enterprise/cloud computing technologies. We are the largest independent technology website doing all of this with over 12 million unique readers per month.
We are a small business with big traffic and ambitions. We have accepted no external investments and thankfully answer to no one but our readers. We are motivated by one thing and one thing only: doing right by you.
The Cable TV-ification of the Web and Our Mission
Having seen the web grow from something used by the savvy minority to a ubiquitous part of life, things have changed tremendously over time. In the vast majority of senses, the progress made on the web has been for the best. There is one troubling trend that I have noticed over the past several years however: it's something I like to call the Cable TV-ification of the Internet.
In the early days of technology reporting on the web the focus was almost exclusively on depth. We had a new medium for content that didn't come with the same restrictions as more traditional forms. We could present as much data as we felt was necessary and we could do it quicker.
As the web grew, so did the approach to gaining readership. In many cases, publishers learned from the tips and tricks of more traditional media to growing their audience. The focus shifted away from ultimate understanding of what was being reported, to producing content significantly motivated by increasing traffic, or revenue, or both. Thorough observations were out; sensationalism, link baiting, and the path to shallow 10-o'clock-news reporting were in.
While I believe it's definitely easier to produce content by going this route, I don't believe it's the only way to build a well read website. At the same time, I don't believe the web needs to be academic reporting or sensationalist garbage - as long as there's a balance, I'm happy.
A personal goal of mine and our mission at AnandTech is to be a part of that balance. I don't believe the web has to go the same route as the majority of television news reporting. We should learn from the mistakes industries have made in the past, not repeat them with sweeter technology. No AnandTech writer is ever told to be quickest to post a story, but everyone at AnandTech is challenged to be the best that they can possibly be when working on a story. Focus on quality first, then timeliness second. There's value in both but there's more value in one. Many of our editors have backgrounds in engineering or computer science, which aids in our quest to explain and analyze the subjects of our reviews.
We don't paginate articles to increase page views, we break them apart across logical boundaries to improve readability. If you want everything on a single page, we've offered the Print this Article view for nearly a decade now. Our headlines and article titles are specifically forbidden from being misleading or sensationalist in nature.
I believe that a publication's readers are a reflection of their writers. If we resort to shameless tricks to attract readers, I don't believe we'll attract the sort of audience I'm looking for.
There's an unwritten contract between AnandTech and its readers. You support us by simply reading the site and we owe it to you to do the best job possible. Our loyalty is ultimately to the readership and not treating you like idiots is the first necessary step to holding up our end of the deal. We also rely on you more than other sites to help spread the word of our content if you believe it's something worth sharing. I'd much rather rely on our readers to help extend our reach than lower our editorial standards to do the same.
There's a spectrum of coverage when it comes to any product or technology. Go too far to one side and you end up with superficial content that's hardly better than a press release. End up too far on the opposite side however and you end up with an article that either takes too long to produce or isn't accessible to the majority of readers. Our goal is to end up somewhere in between, erring on the side of being extremely thorough wherever possible.
You should be able to trust in our content, as a result we have strict policies against making claims without having sufficient data or other support for those claims. We do all of our own testing in house using methodologies that we either describe in detail on the site or make publicly available in another form (e.g. ask and you shall receive).
We employ the scientific method in all of our endeavors. Ensuring reliability by repeating tests multiple times, checking results against control groups and implementing sound testing methodologies. We create the vast majority of our own test suites using both in-house and industry standard benchmarks. We also put a lot of effort into ensuring that the results published in our reviews track with the real world user experience of the products we review. In many cases the majority of the test results we generate never make their way onto the site, they're simply used by our reviewers to better understand the product being evaluated to provide you with better overall content.
Our reviews incorporate a mixture of objective and subjective based analysis, the balance varying where appropriate. We are not a site that exclusively relies on data based comparisons but also deliver honest user experience evaluations as well. Some reviews lend themselves to data driven analysis more than others (e.g. CPU review vs. smartphone review), but we always attempt to provide both in our coverage. I fundamentally believe that you need both to accurately portray any product. Numbers are great for comparative analysis, but without context they can be meaningless. Similarly, personal opinions are great to help explain what owning a product may be like, but without data to back up some claims the review lacks authority (e.g. average vs. good battery life begs to be quantified).
We are a very small team for a publication of our size. We are human. We make mistakes. We gladly welcome criticism from our readers and vendors alike. Seeking perfection doesn't mean being perfect from the start, it means being able and willing to improve when faced with evidence that you're not perfect. I feel strongly about this - negative feedback is tough to hear, but as far as I'm concerned it's free education. If there's validity in a complaint about something we've done, we will take it to heart and act upon it. We rarely ban commenters in our articles (99.9999% of banned commenters are spammers). While I would appreciate it if you are respectful to our writers when commenting, you won't be banned for expressing your feelings about something we've written - as nice or as harsh as you may be. Naturally, given the name of the site, I reserve the right to change this policy and totally ban you if you look at me funny in public.
Continuing with our pursuit of building trustworthy content, we almost always refuse to republish industry rumors unless we have sufficient internal evidence in support of the rumor. Our readers should be able to trust that they're reading accurate content on the site and haphazardly publishing rumors runs contrary to that goal. There is a lot of traffic and potential revenue in playing the rumor game, but I ultimately believe that it does a disservice - especially considering that often times rumors are seeded in the industry for ulterior motives.
The majority of what we review is provided directly by the manufacturer of the product. The product samples are delivered to our reviewers with the expectations of us providing a fair, thorough review. There is never any implicit guarantee of positive or negative, just that the review will be done as well as we can.
In the early days, when we were a much smaller site, manufacturers would threaten to withhold future review samples in response to a negative review (not so blatantly as that of course). We have quietly lost and gained the support of manufacturers throughout the years based on reviews. I've personally had many arguments with manufacturers who dare attempt to either knowingly deceive our readers or use advertising dollars or product support to influence our reviews.
Today, we are large enough to avoid these petty discussions of withholding review samples. Most manufacturers know that one way or another we'll get our hands on a product for review and don't try to play these sorts of games. Rarely we are faced with a manufacturer or advertiser who is looking to influence our content. We have a firm internal policy in place to deliver honest, balanced reviews to the best of our ability - regardless of external pressures. Fortunately, as I mentioned earlier, we have been around long enough and are large enough to avoid this being an issue in the vast majority of situations.
AnandTech is primary a review and analysis website, however we also understand the need to report on smaller items that may not warrant our normal long form coverage. At the same time, these smaller news stories are deserving of the same editorial treatment as our longer articles. To service this need we have created a short form content section called Pipeline.
Pipeline's goal is to provide the same level and quality of AnandTech editorial, but for content that's better serviced by short form content (e.g. news releases, small announcements, etc…). The Pipeline team is in direct communication with the Reviews team (many of the team members have roles on both teams) and are given the same high level direction (e.g. no rumors, no sensationalism, etc…) as the rest of the AnandTech Editors.
I believe there's a need for both long and short form content, but you don't have to sacrifice quality to deliver both. We have no internal guidelines for how many Pipeline stories we post per day - we strive to post content of value, just as we do with our reviews.
AnandTech's business model is entirely advertising driven, which normally presents a clear conflict of interest within most similar organizations. I personally addressed this problem back in 1998 by completely removing advertising sales from AnandTech, Inc. We are represented by an exclusive third party who owns no share in AnandTech, Inc. (and vice versa). There is a strict separation between advertising and editorial. For the most part our editors aren't aware of who our current advertisers are at any given point in time. They typically find out when you do, by seeing an ad somewhere on a page.
Our advertising partner also receives guidelines from us directly. We have policies against running interstitial advertisements (ads that appear over content for a brief period of time), ads that play audio by default and things that are generally annoying.
If at any time you see something on the site that you do not believe should be there, please don't hesitate to email me directly. We do run network advertisements to fill excess inventory and sometimes ads that violate our policies are accidentally run. We do our best to remove these as soon as we see them but if you catch them before we do we'd love to know about it so we can get to them quicker.
I understand the desire to want to block advertisements using one of the many tools available that do so. Advertising on the web can often be intrusive or tasteless and many websites don't enforce the strict guidelines we have on the content of our ads.
Success in our advertising campaigns is measured by both the number of times an ad is loaded/viewed and the number of clicks an ad receives. Even if you have no intentions of clicking on an ad, the view itself helps support AnandTech. We will never take action against banner blocking as we welcome all readers, however if you do find our site and principles to be of value then please consider supporting AnandTech by whitelisting us or disabling ad blocking when you visit the site.
AnandTech is a self funded website. We are here to create content for you. You already support us by reading and commenting on our content, if you choose to allow our ads to be displayed while you read you are simply supporting us in yet another way. I appreciate all levels of support, I'm just glad you guys want to read what we write.