My point is that anyone's after-the-fact memory and description of their training history is not the same thing as "first hand experience." It can be interesting and valuable information, but is really just another story as far as it being second hand to you.
What is extremely valuable is experience from being "one arm's distance" and taking part yourself. Get this kind of experience by meeting people of different ranks from different organizations and hear their stories and feel their waza. Now you have some "first hand experience" to make your own authoritative decisions about what is out there.
Stories on the web are just that... stories on the web.