Cigar Federation

kuzi16kuzi16 Posts: 14,561 ✭✭✭
before i get started on this post i would like to say that i do respect, and enjoy Cigar Federation, House of Emilio, Ezra Zion, (etc), the people that are members, the people that run the organizations, and the cigars themselves.
now i will return you to your previously scheduled post...




i finally had time to sit down and read through Halfwheel's 2013 Awards: The Consensus and their Halfwheel 25

one of the big things that jumped out me was the number of cigars that were put out by brands that were associated with House of Emilio. then when i red all of the consensus report i found that they noticed the same thing.

halfwheel notes:
Halfwheel:
Thirteen out of the 52 lists came from those who are in some way associated with Cigar Federation and Bodega Premium Blends’ media efforts...It’s an easy start for claims of bias, but one that gets a bit convoluted when you evaluate the numbers.
there is a bit of discussion over if there actually is a bias and then a final paragraph that reads:
Halfwheel:
As a curator of this list, I’m unsure what to do next year. I do not think that any of the 13 lists placed House of Emilio products higher because of their relationships with these companies, but there’s no question the exposure to House of Emilio products was abnormal and there’s some obvious conflict of interest. Then again, this was the site to have the first reviews of all three of Ezra Zion’s new products in 2013. It’s confusing.
what are your thoughts? is there a bias? or just an up and coming company?

i know a few of you are members of the Cigar Federation.
i am not.

i dont want the thought of bias in my reviews. if you are in the cigar federation, how do you feel about the worry of bias?
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Comments

  • VulchorVulchor Posts: 4,200 ✭✭✭
    Biased....without a doubt, though not to say they may not be up and coming as well. This said, not an intentional or "traditional" bias. I think it comes from, as stated, the sheer volume. They make up (pulling a number out of my @ss) 5 percent of the cigar market, but account for (another @ss number) 20% of the cigars tasted. While these things cannot always be numerically similar, it only stands to reason that with sheer volume smoked you are bound to find more you like-----and more you dislike for that matter

    All this said however, I dont know how or if it can be avoided---or even if it should. CA and other sites do plenty of ratings for your "cigars you can find anywhere" and this is just another instance of opinion. I think as long as they disclose their relationship so readers are aware there may be some "bias", if thats the term we want to use, then I see no issue.
  • brianetz1brianetz1 St. Louis, MOPosts: 4,024 ✭✭✭
    kuzi16:
    before i get started on this post i would like to say that i do respect, and enjoy Cigar Federation, House of Emilio, Ezra Zion, (etc), the people that are members, the people that run the organizations, and the cigars themselves.
    now i will return you to your previously scheduled post...




    i finally had time to sit down and read through Halfwheel's 2013 Awards: The Consensus and their Halfwheel 25

    one of the big things that jumped out me was the number of cigars that were put out by brands that were associated with House of Emilio. then when i red all of the consensus report i found that they noticed the same thing.

    halfwheel notes:
    Halfwheel:
    Thirteen out of the 52 lists came from those who are in some way associated with Cigar Federation and Bodega Premium Blends’ media efforts...It’s an easy start for claims of bias, but one that gets a bit convoluted when you evaluate the numbers.
    there is a bit of discussion over if there actually is a bias and then a final paragraph that reads:
    Halfwheel:
    As a curator of this list, I’m unsure what to do next year. I do not think that any of the 13 lists placed House of Emilio products higher because of their relationships with these companies, but there’s no question the exposure to House of Emilio products was abnormal and there’s some obvious conflict of interest. Then again, this was the site to have the first reviews of all three of Ezra Zion’s new products in 2013. It’s confusing.
    what are your thoughts? is there a bias? or just an up and coming company?

    i know a few of you are members of the Cigar Federation.
    i am not.

    i dont want the thought of bias in my reviews. if you are in the cigar federation, how do you feel about the worry of bias?
    first off it is interesting to me that halfwheel will point this out since they get crap about their advertisers cigars getting better ratings......it seems a bit petty for halfwheel to "attack" another site/reviewers.

    On the topic at hand, i think it has more to do with the fact that they get access to those cigars quicker and much easier than the general public rather than they are being influenced by HoE to give them better ratings.

    Remember that CF isn't exactly been around a long time. the guys that run that site are new to the scene and are tasked with running a site that was once an Ezra Zion only site, and are doing their best to break away from that stigma. Right now, the guys who do the reviews like the HoE brands, but you will notice that a HoE stick wasn't their #1.

    lastly, the whole idea behind that site is to bring forward the "boutique" brands of the cigar industry. Right now, HoE is aligning themselves with many of the small boutiques to bring them under 1 portfolio.

    On another topic that he points out, i think it has more to do with social media's effect on the cigar industry. Right now the big brands haven't figured out how to effectively handle social media (which makes me laugh) and the boutique brands are ALL OVER IT. If you find a cigar smoker in their 20s or early 30s who are active on social media, my bet is that they are searching out the cigars that they are exposed to the most in their daily lives......and that's not tatuijae or davidoff......that's Ezra Zion, Espinosa, Crowned Heads, and many of the other boutiques.
  • catfishbluezzcatfishbluezz Posts: 7,001
    If Halfwheel had any journalistic integrity, then the basis of this article might be worth responding to, but it does not.

    So here is what it comes down to.

    Do we get paid? No. Does Halfwheel? Yes. Do the math...


    Do we get free cigars from companies for review at times? Yes. Does Halfwheel and many other blogs? Yes, a ton more then we do.

    That being said whom would be more likely to have bias? The guys getting paid, or the guys doing it as a hobby. This is an indictment of HOE's ability to effectively market, not bias from 4-5 reviewers, as opposed to 13 Charlie magically pulled out of his hat.

    I could care less if anyone thinks I have bias, because simply I have no reason to be. This is not my job, it's my hobby. I am flattered anyone gives that much of a *** about it really. This is big brother getting pissed because little brother is getting attention now. Gotta sell magazines someway, and we have more to offer.

    Big thanks to Halfwheel for making something out of nothing. Now we have more folks contacting us then ever.
  • catfishbluezzcatfishbluezz Posts: 7,001
    Vulchor:
    Biased....without a doubt, though not to say they may not be up and coming as well. This said, not an intentional or "traditional" bias. I think it comes from, as stated, the sheer volume. They make up (pulling a number out of my @ss) 5 percent of the cigar market, but account for (another @ss number) 20% of the cigars tasted. While these things cannot always be numerically similar, it only stands to reason that with sheer volume smoked you are bound to find more you like-----and more you dislike for that matter

    All this said however, I dont know how or if it can be avoided---or even if it should. CA and other sites do plenty of ratings for your "cigars you can find anywhere" and this is just another instance of opinion. I think as long as they disclose their relationship so readers are aware there may be some "bias", if thats the term we want to use, then I see no issue.
    Just curious, what relationship? I have none with them really. I get more free stuff outside the HOE honestly. There is a huge banner on our front page stating our sponsor, and another page describing it. Also, just so you are all aware...


    The statistics used to conjure up this ridiculousness were based on the fact that Cigar Federation is a hosting site, just like Reddit. Anyone can post there. So the 13 blogs he based his statistical findings on is false. We only had 4 reviewers that posted lists used in this: Myself, Matt Ross, Surgeon, and Logan. Logan did not put any EZ in his list. I had one HOE in mine...

    So the of the 13 blogs he is referring to in this article, only 4 are from CFed. The rest are friends that have their own blogs or websites and are members. If Kuzi was a member of CFed, his bias would also be in question, according to the format of how folks were chosen for this.
  • catfishbluezzcatfishbluezz Posts: 7,001
    brianetz1:
    kuzi16:
    before i get started on this post i would like to say that i do respect, and enjoy Cigar Federation, House of Emilio, Ezra Zion, (etc), the people that are members, the people that run the organizations, and the cigars themselves.
    now i will return you to your previously scheduled post...




    i finally had time to sit down and read through Halfwheel's 2013 Awards: The Consensus and their Halfwheel 25

    one of the big things that jumped out me was the number of cigars that were put out by brands that were associated with House of Emilio. then when i red all of the consensus report i found that they noticed the same thing.

    halfwheel notes:
    Halfwheel:
    Thirteen out of the 52 lists came from those who are in some way associated with Cigar Federation and Bodega Premium Blends’ media efforts...It’s an easy start for claims of bias, but one that gets a bit convoluted when you evaluate the numbers.
    there is a bit of discussion over if there actually is a bias and then a final paragraph that reads:
    Halfwheel:
    As a curator of this list, I’m unsure what to do next year. I do not think that any of the 13 lists placed House of Emilio products higher because of their relationships with these companies, but there’s no question the exposure to House of Emilio products was abnormal and there’s some obvious conflict of interest. Then again, this was the site to have the first reviews of all three of Ezra Zion’s new products in 2013. It’s confusing.
    what are your thoughts? is there a bias? or just an up and coming company?

    i know a few of you are members of the Cigar Federation.
    i am not.

    i dont want the thought of bias in my reviews. if you are in the cigar federation, how do you feel about the worry of bias?
    first off it is interesting to me that halfwheel will point this out since they get crap about their advertisers cigars getting better ratings......it seems a bit petty for halfwheel to "attack" another site/reviewers.

    On the topic at hand, i think it has more to do with the fact that they get access to those cigars quicker and much easier than the general public rather than they are being influenced by HoE to give them better ratings.

    Remember that CF isn't exactly been around a long time. the guys that run that site are new to the scene and are tasked with running a site that was once an Ezra Zion only site, and are doing their best to break away from that stigma. Right now, the guys who do the reviews like the HoE brands, but you will notice that a HoE stick wasn't their #1.

    lastly, the whole idea behind that site is to bring forward the "boutique" brands of the cigar industry. Right now, HoE is aligning themselves with many of the small boutiques to bring them under 1 portfolio.

    On another topic that he points out, i think it has more to do with social media's effect on the cigar industry. Right now the big brands haven't figured out how to effectively handle social media (which makes me laugh) and the boutique brands are ALL OVER IT. If you find a cigar smoker in their 20s or early 30s who are active on social media, my bet is that they are searching out the cigars that they are exposed to the most in their daily lives......and that's not tatuijae or davidoff......that's Ezra Zion, Espinosa, Crowned Heads, and many of the other boutiques.
    Bingo...

    HOE has an amazing marketing scheme...it's this thing called social media. Those guys blow up twitter and send freebies to all the reviewers. And people are surprised their HTF smokes are getting rated higher then other brands? It;s pretty simple... I cannot rate your amazing brand if I never get my hands on it. Anyone whom has sat down and talked to Gary will realize the man has an amazing business sense. He will not take on a brand unless they have built a strong social media following before coming to him.


    It comes down to this. Other brands are spending their hard earned money advertising with the Halfwheel's and CA's of the industry, while HOE is spending their money on postage. You cannot fault these guys for effective marketing.
  • VulchorVulchor Posts: 4,200 ✭✭✭
    Im somewhere between confused and not having an ounce of understanding here if you would excuse me, lol--------can you explain this process to me? HOE? Im really ignorant apparently about this topic much more than I thought.
  • catfishbluezzcatfishbluezz Posts: 7,001
    Vulchor:
    Im somewhere between confused and not having an ounce of understanding here if you would excuse me, lol--------can you explain this process to me? HOE? Im really ignorant apparently about this topic much more than I thought.
    Sorry brother, my bad, I should be following proper APA format lol. House of Emilio (HOE). Although it is kind of funny, looking at it as a word... H....O...E... LOL
  • catfishbluezzcatfishbluezz Posts: 7,001
    FYI...if anyone cares. Of the four lists, not 13 according to Halfwheel, we rated 47 cigars. Six of those rated were House of Emilio. Myself and Surgeon rated the Tantrum, which was statistically irrelevant, making the true number 4. So our lists contributed to less then 10% of the bias he speaks relates to 15.9%. To go further, the Nomads rated in John's blog were limited edition and bought before he was a member. So that makes...3 out of 47 which puts us well under the bias represented in the article. If anything, we bring the number down for HOE....


    Journalistic integrity... It's a beautiful thing...
  • robbyrasrobbyras Posts: 5,487
    I'll keep this short guys... just to clear up the background story...

    CigFed is owned by Ezra Zion and is managed by myself and Logan Lawler. Chris and Kyle (Ezra Zion), while they own the site, they have ZERO editorial power... that was part of the deal when Logan and I came on board and it remains a key point of our relationship... anyone can come on the site and post any review or comments that they want... as long as it is done in a respectful way and it isn't libel... If you hate an EZ or HoE cigar, come tell us about it... our main rule is don't be a ***...

    You can get into the numbers of all of it, but I don't care that much... If HW wants to allude that there is impropriety, so be it... there is no truth to it... I can see how it would appear that way, but the EZ guys have no power when it comes to content on the site and HoE has no power at all when it comes to the site...in fact, I didn't even know there was a 1502 Nicaragua until I saw it reviewed on another site...

    I'd say the main reason that HoE was so well represented is because they are the most active and accessible group of manufactures there are... I'd be willing to bet that 95% of all new media who posted more than 10 cigar reviews last year were approached by someone from HoE and received samples of their cigars. And I, for one, have never felt the need to be "nice" in a review because the cigars were given to me... overall, they hold a very small portion of the cigar market, but in the blog community, they are very well known... the more bloggers who have access to your product, the more likely you are to get some good ratings, right? Seems pretty simple to me... give people access to your produt

    I know you all can believe what ever you want, but if you have questions or want clarification on the way things are run, come over to CF and hang out for a bit or email me at Rob@CigarFederation.com... You guys know me well enough
  • RainRain Posts: 8,884 ✭✭✭
    I honestly think that as soon as Reviewer A disagrees with Reviewer B's choices on cigars, then the whole biased claim comes in to play. I like AJ sticks. Does that make me biased? Yes. Sorry that I like what I like. All reviews come down to that person's opinion anyways.
  • jgibvjgibv John G.Posts: 6,623 ✭✭✭
    Rain:
    I honestly think that as soon as Reviewer A disagrees with Reviewer B's choices on cigars, then the whole biased claim comes in to play. I like AJ sticks. Does that make me biased? Yes. Sorry that I like what I like. All reviews come down to that person opinion anyways.
    Yes....
    Never had a H.O.E. cigar, not a member of CFed, and haven't followed halfwheel since they gave the papas fritas a 92 rating...but I did stay at a holiday in express last night.


    "Best of" lists don't mean much to me.
    CigarAficionado's list always has controversy, Halfwheel's seems to generate some arguments, and even the CCOM "awards" list caused some disagreements in the past.
    These lists serve one purpose IMO --- they're a good place to go if you're looking for new brands to try and want an easy way to put together a wide-variety sampler.


    No offense to the reviewers here (kuzi, catfish, robras, etc) --- but it is impossible to do a "best of" list without being biased.
    You can try all day long to convince me otherwise....but I don't believe you.


    Let's say you have 5 cigars:
    If they are all constructed equally well:
    (They all light easily, burn evenly, hold an equal amount of ash, require no touch ups, don't unravel, etc.)
    Then what's the next step for ranking them, flavor?
    I think there's some flavors everyone will agree are unpleasant....but let's say
    cigar #1 tasted of wood, #2 tasted of cocoa, #3 tasted of dry hay/grass, #4 tasted of damp earth, and #5 tasted like dog turds.
    You give those cigars to 5 different people and say make a "best of" list; I bet those 5 lists will not be the same....
    The only consistency might be that cigar #5 (dog **** flavor) is at the bottom of all the lists. The other 4 spots are up for grabs though since taste is subjective.


    Lastly --- if all else is equal, is a "free cigar" inherently better than a cigar you "pay for"?
  • Bob_LukenBob_Luken Nashville adjacent Posts: 4,271 ✭✭✭
    Do any of the hobby reviewers and or professional reviewers ever participate as a group in blind reviews of the same sticks?
  • Ken_LightKen_Light Posts: 3,539 ✭✭✭
    Biased is an unfortunately loaded word here, albeit the technically correct one. The only way to review a cigar without any bias is to do it blind (not literally necessarily, just take off the band or something and not know what it is). All observations are biased. That's why in science we do blind and double-blind studies. This can be said of every reviewer who smokes knowing what they are smoking. From pictures, I'd say this is every reviewer (correct me if I'm wrong, please).

    That said, this is about the weakest type of bias possible, which is sampling bias. Your sample of cigars might not be representative of the marketplace. But can't we say that of everyone's? You have what we call a self-selected sample, you smoke what comes to your desk (in science it's who responds to our call for participants). It's biased. It's less biased that my sample, which is what I seek out, which is influenced by my taste.

    There are few limitations that come from sampling bias, the largest of them being that you cannot extrapolate data from your sample to the population as a whole. But that's only a problem with your data set as a whole. What it means is your number 1 might not be the best cigar out there. Duh. That's subjective anyway. Where it gets (very slightly) meaningful is if we were to say something like, "HoE is X percentage of their top 10's, but only Y percentage of the market" (where X is much greater than Y), "Wow, HoE is making much better cigars than the rest of the industry" or "HoE are marketing geniuses, look at them go!" Those things might be true, but the sampling bias prevents us from being certain enough of it to make those claims.

    MOST IMPORTANT PART HERE (and maybe I should have led with this): NONE of this questions your authority or your integrity as a reviewer of cigars. Of course no one should take one reviewer's opinion as gospel, we know that. But these subtle bias issues in no way make your review less valuable than any other review and in fact they are probably present in all those reviews in one way or another as well.
    ^Troll: DO NOT FEED.
  • Long time lurker, rare poster here...and I guess I should qualify this by saying that I work for Cigar Federation (though my list, which was surprisingly included, included 0 HoE cigars).

    Ken - I've read a lot of posts on this topic over the past week or two, and I have refrained from replying or interjecting my opinion, but your response is by far the best and most thoughtful!

    I just had to share that. If you ever want to come down to Union County, first cigar at Barrister Cigars on 22 is on me! ;)
  • catfishbluezzcatfishbluezz Posts: 7,001
    Bob Luken:
    Do any of the hobby reviewers and or professional reviewers ever participate as a group in blind reviews of the same sticks?
    yup, check out blind man reviews. I did a guest spot for them, great site. Personally, I try not to look at any blend info or company info going in to a review either. Granted, that's not always possible, but my favorite blend of the year the Regius black I reviewed with no clue who they were and loved it. I had no ideas it was a Nica puro at the time.
  • RainRain Posts: 8,884 ✭✭✭
    Wait....you liked a Nica Puro?
  • Bob_LukenBob_Luken Nashville adjacent Posts: 4,271 ✭✭✭
    catfishbluezz:
    Bob Luken:
    Do any of the hobby reviewers and or professional reviewers ever participate as a group in blind reviews of the same sticks?
    yup, check out blind man reviews. I did a guest spot for them, great site. Personally, I try not to look at any blend info or company info going in to a review either. Granted, that's not always possible, but my favorite blend of the year the Regius black I reviewed with no clue who they were and loved it. I had no ideas it was a Nica puro at the time.
    Blind Man's Puff? I kinda remember that. I think I've clicked on that site once before. I'll check it again.
  • Ken_LightKen_Light Posts: 3,539 ✭✭✭
    MattSRoss:
    Long time lurker, rare poster here...and I guess I should qualify this by saying that I work for Cigar Federation (though my list, which was surprisingly included, included 0 HoE cigars).

    Ken - I've read a lot of posts on this topic over the past week or two, and I have refrained from replying or interjecting my opinion, but your response is by far the best and most thoughtful!

    I just had to share that. If you ever want to come down to Union County, first cigar at Barrister Cigars on 22 is on me! ;)
    Thanks, man! That's not too far, only half hour, I might try to get down there someday. If the wife lets me out of the house with a newborn, that is!
    ^Troll: DO NOT FEED.
  • catfishbluezzcatfishbluezz Posts: 7,001
    Bob Luken:
    catfishbluezz:
    Bob Luken:
    Do any of the hobby reviewers and or professional reviewers ever participate as a group in blind reviews of the same sticks?
    yup, check out blind man reviews. I did a guest spot for them, great site. Personally, I try not to look at any blend info or company info going in to a review either. Granted, that's not always possible, but my favorite blend of the year the Regius black I reviewed with no clue who they were and loved it. I had no ideas it was a Nica puro at the time.
    Blind Man's Puff? I kinda remember that. I think I've clicked on that site once before. I'll check it again.
    yup, Emmett is a good dude. Funny thing is, when they did their list, obviously it couldn't be blind either. The whole subjectivity thing is why I specifically noted in my list it was a recommended list of mild-medium as everyone is different ya know.
  • No_one21No_one21 Posts: 2,025 ✭✭
    What if we got only physically blind people to review? Problem solved?
  • Bob_LukenBob_Luken Nashville adjacent Posts: 4,271 ✭✭✭
    No_one21:
    What if we got only physically blind people to review? Problem solved?
    Sure. Except for the burn holes in the sofa and the ashes in the fish bowl.
  • Ken_LightKen_Light Posts: 3,539 ✭✭✭
    No_one21:
    What if we got only physically blind people to review? Problem solved?
    If you believe in the whole heightened-other-four-senses bit, it might be great. Or it might be a completely unrelatable pallet. Either way, I'm sure I just took that comment wayyyy too seriously.
    ^Troll: DO NOT FEED.
  • RainRain Posts: 8,884 ✭✭✭
    Why don't we just get AJ Fernandez to do a top 25 list every year? Problem solved.IMO, this could have been made a general question, because it comes of to me as a dig at Cigar Fed. Again, just my opinion.
  • catfishbluezzcatfishbluezz Posts: 7,001
    No_one21:
    What if we got only physically blind people to review? Problem solved?
    only if they tally scores in Braille. You see, scoring is important in objectivity... I mean, really posting ones favorites is one thing, but attaching a score to a cigar? Now that's true bias ;)
  • VulchorVulchor Posts: 4,200 ✭✭✭
    Rain:
    Why don't we just get AJ Fernandez to do a top 25 list every year? Problem solved.IMO, this could have been made a general question, because it comes of to me as a dig at Cigar Fed. Again, just my opinion.
    Because the San Lotano is very good but everything else tastes somewhere between the same and "ehh"?
  • RainRain Posts: 8,884 ✭✭✭
    Haha, close to the truth for me. A cigar is either good, meh, or bad. Oh, and lots of wood flavors. I don't know the difference between a cedar and oak flavor, white or black pepper. I'm working on a limited flavor wheel.
  • jgibvjgibv John G.Posts: 6,623 ✭✭✭
    catfishbluezz:
    No_one21:
    What if we got only physically blind people to review? Problem solved?
    only if they tally scores in Braille. You see, scoring is important in objectivity... I mean, really posting ones favorites is one thing, but attaching a score to a cigar? Now that's true bias ;)
    ^^^^^
    Number hater, lol.


    Re-reading everything, I'm not quite sure I understand the point HW's trying to make in the original post .... like is he trying to start some $hit with you guys on CFed???
    Is he trying to call you guys biased towards the H.O.E. products?
    Because if so, I think y'all need to have a talk with the HW guys and their premeprimepreme love for DE products -- 92 for a papas fritas, **** ok??
    I don't even know....
  • Chuck_NChuck_N Posts: 947 ✭✭✭
    Cigar Feds cigars of the month club is the best out there imo. I belong to few others as well, and CFeds is the best.
  • catfishbluezzcatfishbluezz Posts: 7,001
    100% true, same with this original post. Misinformation is a dangerous thing. The article is all over the place. The guy has no idea how to write effectively and he's the editor. The beautiful part about all this? The more folks ask about it, the more they realize we are objective, open and honest, while HW isn't. It's brought us more members... In the end, it defaces their name, not ours, which was the opposite of his intention. We don't score cigars.....
  • catfishbluezzcatfishbluezz Posts: 7,001
    Chuck N:
    Cigar Feds cigars of the month club is the best out there imo. I belong to few others as well, and CFeds is the best.
    thank you sir, it is pretty wicked I must say. I wonder how the guys will top it... Let alone supply it!
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