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Retracting Criticism of LG UltraFine 5K Display Review Removal

TidBITS recently published an ExtraBITS link pointing at a Reddit thread claiming that Apple had removed reviews from the Apple Store page for the LG UltraFine 5K Display (see “Apple Pulls LG UltraFine 5K Display Reviews,” 23 January 2017). We have since learned that Apple had not at that point turned reviews on for that product, possibly because it was available only for pre-order for some time before shipping. In fact, Apple has now enabled ratings and reviews for the LG UltraFine 5K Display, with the screen garnering a 3.0 average rating and 79 user reviews of varying positivity.

Hence, the claim on Reddit that Apple removed negative user reviews cannot be true (and the original poster now says he was incorrect, though he stands by his criticism of the display). For confirmation, and this is what we should have done before publishing, we looked in the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, which showed that, from the time the LG UltraFine 5K Display page was first crawled on 5 November 2016 until this week, there have never been any user reviews. In addition, we confirmed that other products in the Apple Store with user reviews do show those reviews in the Wayback Machine, so it’s not just an anomaly with the Apple Store site.

In other words, we should never have published that ExtraBITS link. We regret both the error and calling into question behavior on Apple’s part that never took place. It’s important that readers be able to trust that we can back up any criticisms that we make, and while we were certainly not alone among news outlets in publicizing that Reddit thread, we should have checked more carefully before believing it.

That said, the question about whether the LG UltraFine 5K Display is suffering from an untoward number of problems remains valid. That question has come up quite a few times in the Apple Communities discussion boards. Most of those posts are compatibility queries, and there is no way to know how many users of the LG UltraFine 5K Display are experiencing no troubles, but a non-trivial number of problem reports remain unresolved:

It would be inappropriate for us to recommend for or against the LG UltraFine 5K Display without formal testing. Since it’s a new and unusual, if not unique, item that’s currently available only from Apple, the burden is on Apple to ensure that it works. If you’re interested in buying one, check out iMore’s review (particularly the compatibility information that points out you’ll get 5K only on a 2016 MacBook Pro with Thunderbolt 3) and be aware that you may experience more issues as an early adopter.


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Comments about Retracting Criticism of LG UltraFine 5K Display Review Removal
(Comments are closed.)

Peter Meyer  2017-01-25 13:18
Adam, thank you for doing the right thing and correcting the first story. When this happens, it is no longer about the topic (the display) but about the reporting, and you know that. So, instead of congratulating you on great reporting to get to the bottom of this display issue, I'm thanking you for stepping up and making the right editorial policy choice. You deserve the thanks for that! But even more you deserve the thanks for the great work that you do the rest of the year.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-01-25 13:28
I hate making mistakes, particularly in public, but the best thing to do at such times is own up to it. And hopefully the article provided some useful information as well!
Gee Deezy  2017-01-25 15:14
THIS is why people respect you and TidBits!
Good call, Adam. Don't worry too much about it. We all make a mistake now and then. What's important is you noticed it and promptly informed your readers.

Keep it up. You and your team are doing great work. It's much appreciated. :)
andrew linden  2017-01-26 02:31
Hear! Hear!
I read about your retraction on DF and visited your site for the first time.

You've earned at least one new reader with this. Thank you.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-01-26 15:34
Thanks for the kind words! We try very hard to get everything right to start with, but we've often found that owning up to mistakes ends up being a far more positive experience than one might expect.

We hit this with our customer service for Take Control Books too. We certainly don't want someone to have a problem, but if we can solve it quickly, effectively, and with a smile, that often leaves them with a more positive opinion than they would have had if everything had worked right.
SeaFox  2017-01-27 15:30
So Tidbits is removing their criticism of the criticism removal.
Josh Centers  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-01-30 15:41
No, the criticism of the actual monitor still exists, though we have no experience with it ourselves. However, the criticism that Apple removed reviews was not based in fact.
Pierre Lebeaupin  2017-01-27 16:11
I guess this would be the occasion to donate to the Internet Archive as penance… and for the general service of being a trustworthy, reliable witness of the web's past (something which is going to matter a lot these days).

(disregard this comment, of course, if you already donate to the IA)
Josh Centers  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-01-30 15:37
That's a good idea!
David  An apple icon for a TidBITS Contributor 2017-01-27 19:38
Why was a reddit thread thought worthy of a story?
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-01-27 19:44
It wasn't the thread that was worthy, it was the basic claim by the person who first posted that Apple had removed reviews. Since there were no reviews on that page, but reviews were appearing elsewhere on the site, and since other sites were linking to it as well, it passed a quick sniff test. But clearly not a more detailed look...
Josh Centers  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-01-30 15:43
The main thing I was concerned with was the problems experienced by owners of the LG monitor. These aren't cheap units, so I think it's worth a heads-up if they're not up to par. The part about Apple removing reviews was merely an (untrue) frosting on that cake.
So now there are reports this monitor cannot be operated in the vicinity of WAP.
B. Jefferson Le Blanc  2017-01-31 15:56
The question remains as to whether the problems with the display are a result of deficiencies in the display or in the new MacBook Pros. This is particularly germane if the 5K capability is only available with the MacBook Pro. Which raises the question of why LG would build an expensive 5K monitor for such a limited product line. After checking Apple's web site the situation clarified a bit. Since the display connects only via Thunderbolt/USB-C, of course it's for the MacBook Pros only. LG makes a 4K display that connects solely to MacBooks via USB-C, so clearly they are willing to gamble on Apple products—a policy I suspect they are reexamining in light of so many problems cropping up, which can only dampen sales and profits, if any.

In other words, this whole business generates more questions than answers. Personally I suspect the problem is with the MacBook Pros which also have issues with backups to external hard drives. Given that the Thunderbolt/USB-C connections are brand new tech, if I were troubleshooting any of these problems I would start there. More specifically, I wonder if it isn't a power compatibility issue. At it's simplest it would be a matter of updating drivers or other software to solve the various reported problems. If it's a matter of the first generation TB/USB-C ports on the MacBook Pros, a lot of people, early adopters all, are SOL. Which is the price you pay for your enthusiasm and indiscretion. Which doesn't diminish Apple's responsibility to find solutions, if there are any to be found.
Frank Greenough  2017-02-05 13:04
Your response to this problem just reaffirmed my trust in your reporting and why I will keep subscribing to Tidbits.