Back in the 80's (yeah, I'm old) when I was an IT manager and I was a reader of PC Week (now eWeek), I used to read a hands-on column written by Jim Seymour. Sadly, Jim has since passed away. But one of his columns has always lived-on in my mind -- the one where he said his garage was full of gear that vendors were sending him in hopes that he'd one day write about it. I was insanely jealous. Little did I know that just a few years later, I'd be doing the same thing, for the same magazine.
Today, like Jim in the 80's, I work out of my home office where the products are beginning to pile up. In remembering how jealous I was of Jim, I got to thinking, maybe there's a way to pass the goods onto ZDNet readers in a way that they could keep them. So, we talked it over internally here at CNET (the parent company to ZDNet). Some people liked the idea. Some didn't. We sought internal legal counsel on how to do it without getting hauled off to jail. And, we started asking vendors for their "OK" since I didn't want to violate the spirits of their intentions when they first sent their products to me.
Now, I am happy to announce that we've got all of our ducks in a row and our ZDNet Deputy Tester of the Week program is ready for launch. Here's the basic way it will work. Every Monday, I'll publish a blog and a video that explains which product from my growing inventory of stuff I'll be giving away that week. It will identify the product (and/or service) and include the vendor's pitch to ZDNet's audience members as to why they should be interested in using the product (with a little of my own spin thrown in, of course!). Then, using the Talkback area on that same blog entry, any reader interested in being deputized as the ZDNet Tester of the Week is encouraged to explain to us why they deserve to be the one that gets the free schwag. When the following Friday rolls around, I'll annouce the winner. We'll have the UPS guy standing by, and off the product will go (in one of those cool brown trucks).
What must you do on your end if you're picked to be a ZDNet Deputy Tester? Well, we think it would be great if you wrote back to us and told us what you thought of the product. We might publish those thoughts as a review. Or maybe, we'll refactor them into our own conclusions about the product. But whatever the outcome, you get to keep the product (and I get to clear off the ping pong table in my basement!).
OK, now that we've got your attention, before your run off looking for a Talkback to write, be sure to check out the official rules for the program. In order for me to deputize you as a product tester, you must agree to the rules first. Then, this coming Monday (and every Monday) , be on the lookout for that week's offer to be ZDNet's Deputy Product Tester of the Week (hint... on the first day, we'll be looking for three deputy testers!).