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The ethics of reviewing stories you've beta-read or edited.


GaryK

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I'm conflicted about how ethical it is to review and rate a story in eFiction that I've beta-read or edited.

 

Part of me says it's alright because I'm being honest. Another part of me says it's wrong because I might be giving the story an unfair advantage. Especially if I give it a glowing review and a high rating. I'd probably just skip the whole thing if the story wasn't very good, but so far I haven't had to deal with that situation.

 

So I guess I need some advice please because I do want to do what's right. I'm just not sure what's right in this situation. Thanks. :)

Edited by GaryInMiami
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I'm sure most, if not all, editors and beta readers take pride in the work they do for an author. With the authors I work with here at GA, I've asked them about how much participation they want from me in the forum. All welcome it from me with one condition, I don't give anything away.

 

Some authors don't give written credit to their teams. That can work to your advantage as most people will assume you're just another reader giving your thoughts on a story.

 

I'm a believer in, give the negative thoughts to the author in private. If you do give some negative comments in a review, be sure to balance the comment with good comments. I've read review/comments where some negative things were said, read the story for myself and found I liked it.

 

After all, YOU are giving YOUR thoughts on the story and people will either agree or disagree with you.

 

Hope this helps.

 

Jan

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I'm conflicted about how ethical it is to review and rate a story in eFiction that I've beta-read or edited.

 

Part of me says it's alright because I'm being honest. Another part of me says it's wrong because I might be giving the story an unfair advantage. Especially if I give it a glowing review and a high rating. I'd probably just skip the whole thing if the story wasn't very good, but so far I haven't had to deal with that situation.

 

So I guess I need some advice please because I do want to do what's right. I'm just not sure what's right in this situation. Thanks. :)

 

Wait, how does having betaed a story give you an unfair advantage? I think there's nothing wrong with reviewing a story you've edited or beta-read. It's still your honest thoughts. And it's a positive review, for which there shouldn't be any trouble. I'd be more worried if I'd beta-read something and the author didn't make all the changes I thought necessary. Then I'd have to make sure I was supportive in something so public as a review... I mean, think about how horrible it'd be if your beta-reader masticated you for everyone else to see! I have nightmares about it. Just kidding. But yeah, I think there shouldn't be any ethical dilemma for you, Gary.

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If you tell everyone that you beta-read or edited the story in your post, then I see no conflict. If you have a long-term editing or beta relationship with an author, you probably respect that author, so there is no shame whatsoever, to me, in commenting on a story.

 

Just expose yourself.

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I'm sure most, if not all, editors and beta readers take pride in the work they do for an author. With the authors I work with here at GA, I've asked them about how much participation they want from me in the forum. All welcome it from me with one condition, I don't give anything away.

[...]

I'm a believer in, give the negative thoughts to the author in private. If you do give some negative comments in a review, be sure to balance the comment with good comments. I've read review/comments where some negative things were said, read the story for myself and found I liked it.

[...]

Hope this helps.

Yes it helps in more ways than just the ethics question I've posed Jan. While I always direct my negative comments at the author I've never bothered to ask each author how much participation he or she wants from me. I need to start doing that.

 

Wait, how does having betaed a story give you an unfair advantage?

[...]

I'd be more worried if I'd beta-read something and the author didn't make all the changes I thought necessary.

[...]

But yeah, I think there shouldn't be any ethical dilemma for you, Gary.

It's not that it gives me an unfair advantage. I'm worried that it gives the author an unfair advantage.

 

A little off-topic, but fortunately my authors almost always take all the advice and suggestions I provide them. I don't think I can reasonably expect them to make every last change I thought was necessary.

 

Thanks for the support on the ethical issue. :)

 

If you tell everyone that you beta-read or edited the story in your post, then I see no conflict. If you have a long-term editing or beta relationship with an author, you probably respect that author, so there is no shame whatsoever, to me, in commenting on a story.

 

Just expose yourself.

Thanks rec. You're right about respecting the authors I work with. I do respect them otherwise I would stop working for them. I suppose if I make it clear I work for that author then there really isn't any problem in posting a review. It certainly deals with the "unfair advantage" question I posed and eliminates any ethical issues.

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I use beta readers, and every damn one of them better give me glowing reviews or else!!!!!

 

Just kidding :)

 

Actually, I don't always do what my beta readers suggest, so I feel like that leavesme open to any critism they have to offer. In the end, they might be my beta readers, but they're still my readers, and have a right to post their honest feedback in my forums. As a matter of fact, I've had a few betas who's suggestions I didn't go hand in hand with pick out parts of my stories that they didn't like and talk about them openly.

I think that giving a glowing review, if you don't really mean it, isn't productive at all for the author. even in public, it doesn't help. It could possibly give people the impression that you're co-signing for the author, and others might not take your reviews seriously. Personally, I love all kinds of feedback, but the feedback where my work is critisized (sp?) is the feedback I take to heart, because it helps me improve. Even in public, even from a beta reader.

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One thing to remember, any suggestions that editors and Beta's make are up to the author to decide if they want to use them or not.

 

Jan

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It's not that it gives me an unfair advantage. I'm worried that it gives the author an unfair advantage.

 

Gee, thanks Gary... you've just exposed my inability to read. :P

 

 

I think that giving a glowing review, if you don't really mean it, isn't productive at all for the author. even in public, it doesn't help. It could possibly give people the impression that you're co-signing for the author, and others might not take your reviews seriously. Personally, I love all kinds of feedback, but the feedback where my work is critisized (sp?) is the feedback I take to heart, because it helps me improve. Even in public, even from a beta reader.

 

Noble words. :) I must say, though, that if your beta reader is criticizing you in public, it means you haven't taken his/her words to heart. If you had, you'd have made the changes and wouldn't be criticized. So you're in a catch-22. :D Still a good attitude though.

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Noble words. :) I must say, though, that if your beta reader is criticizing you in public, it means you haven't taken his/her words to heart. If you had, you'd have made the changes and wouldn't be criticized. So you're in a catch-22. :D Still a good attitude though.

 

 

Exactly, which is why it totally sucks to be one of my beta readers :)

 

No, that's my point. I don't always do what the beta readers suggest. Most of the time I do, but if there's something I disagree with, in the end, I'm the author, and I have to make the decision about what's best. Now, if I disagree, and there's a strong concensus among my beta readers that I'm being retarded, I'll definitely reconsider.

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I think that giving a glowing review, if you don't really mean it, isn't productive at all for the author. even in public, it doesn't help. It could possibly give people the impression that you're co-signing for the author, and others might not take your reviews seriously.

I agree with you about insincere reviews. I hope I didn't give the impression that I give glowing reviews for the benefit of the author. I'd never do that. I wouldn't post a review at all if I thought the chapter/story/poem wasn't worthy of at least a positive review. ;)

 

One thing to remember, any suggestions that editors and Beta's make are up to the author to decide if they want to use them or not.

Quite right. Likewise if I feel that my feedback isn't being taken seriously I don't have to continue working with/for the author. Fortunately that's never happened. :)

 

Gee, thanks Gary... you've just exposed my inability to read. :P

When it comes to you corvus all I really care about is your ability to write. So long as Procyon White can read everything is alright. :P

 

No, that's my point. I don't always do what the beta readers suggest. Most of the time I do, but if there's something I disagree with, in the end, I'm the author, and I have to make the decision about what's best. Now, if I disagree, and there's a strong concensus among my beta readers that I'm being retarded, I'll definitely reconsider.

I'm glad you clarified that Nickolas. :)

Edited by GaryInMiami
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If a beta-reader or editor is criticizing an author in a review because he or she is mad about suggestions not taken, then it's time for the author to get a new beta-reader or editor. There needs to be strong element of trust in any author/beta-reader/editor partnership, and, to me, that trust means that whatever is said one way or another among them stays among them.

 

As an editor, I get irritated when an author doesn't accept correct grammar or punctuation or rejects a perfectly good observation, but I will stay quiet about my reservations. I may drop the author if the problem is serious enough and there is not enough merit in the writing to overcome the shortcomings.

 

 

 

One thing to remember, any suggestions that editors and Beta's make are up to the author to decide if they want to use them or not.

 

Jan

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If a beta-reader or editor is criticizing an author in a review because he or she is mad about suggestions not taken, then it's time for the author to get a new beta-reader or editor.

Ouch. It hurts just to think about that! I know this isn't related to my question about ethics, but to me that would be such a gross violation of any ethical standards I could think of that the author would be negligent if he or she didn't fire that person immediately.

machine-gun.gif

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If a beta-reader or editor is criticizing an author in a review because he or she is mad about suggestions not taken, then it's time for the author to get a new beta-reader or editor. There needs to be strong element of trust in any author/beta-reader/editor partnership, and, to me, that trust means that whatever is said one way or another among them stays among them.

 

As an editor, I get irritated when an author doesn't accept correct grammar or punctuation or rejects a perfectly good observation, but I will stay quiet about my reservations. I may drop the author if the problem is serious enough and there is not enough merit in the writing to overcome the shortcomings.

 

 

I think there's a difference between criticizing out of anger and generating honest discussion. If there's something that doesn't wash with someone, and they want to discuss it in a respectful way on the forums, that's cool. I'd rather have that then for there to be bad feelings because they feel like their concerns were being ignored. If it's not that big of a deal, they won't get much feedback on the forums when they voice their concerns.

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I think another important factor in working with an author is time. When you first start working with an author, you're not sure how things will go. So it's always good to explain why you suggest something. It helps the author understand how and why you do things. Some authors may even tell you why they accepted or rejected your suggestion.

 

Nick and I have worked together long enough that he usually knows why I'm suggesting something without me giving a reason. If he has a question about something, he doesn't hesitate to ask. He does the same thing with his beta readers.

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Even with authors I've worked with for a long time (longer than I've been a member of GA) I always insert a comment when I suggest a change in content. Most often it's the author using a word that means something other than what he or she thinks it means, so I copy/paste the definiton(s) from the dictionary.

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I'm conflicted about how ethical it is to review and rate a story in eFiction that I've beta-read or edited.

 

To go back to the original question... I was thinking that reviews for eFiction are basically for the author, yes? So, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to put something there that you've already told the author offline. eFiction ratings are fine, as long as you're honest.

 

But since the forums are meant to generate discussion, the editor should definitely join in (as long as they don't give away the story), because we want to generate discussion, rt? Why should some readers ignore the discussion just because they had a hand in editing the story? The author gets to participate, so the editors should, too.

 

Personally, I think some of the up and coming authors need a 'plant' to help generate discussion in the forum. The person doesn't have to lie, but can help generate interest. Look at what CJ does for Shadowgod... those wacky threads are the main reason I started reading Steve's stories. :lol:

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To go back to the original question... I was thinking that reviews for eFiction are basically for the author, yes? So, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to put something there that you've already told the author offline. eFiction ratings are fine, as long as you're honest.

 

But since the forums are meant to generate discussion, the editor should definitely join in (as long as they don't give away the story), because we want to generate discussion, rt? Why should some readers ignore the discussion just because they had a hand in editing the story? The author gets to participate, so the editors should, too.

 

Personally, I think some of the up and coming authors need a 'plant' to help generate discussion in the forum. The person doesn't have to lie, but can help generate interest. Look at what CJ does for Shadowgod... those wacky threads are the main reason I started reading Steve's stories. :lol:

That makes sense to me because in some way a good review has got to help the author when it comes to things like being considered as a promising author (PA). I've gathered that the key to doing this ethically is to be honest about my relationship with the author and, of course, being honest with my review and rating. I'm glad you seem to concur with the consensus. Thanks.

 

To me the forums are a whole other issue. I have no problem joining the discussion, or even starting a thread, as long as, once again, I make it clear what my relationship to the author is. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't see forum posts as being equal to good reviews when it comes to things like getting promoting to PA. I feel a little freer to possibly post negative comments so long as they are, as Nick suggested, respectful and, as rec mentioned, it's not done as some form of revenge.

 

I've made up my mind about reviews. It's OK as long as I disclose my relationship with the author. I appreciate everyone's input on that issue.

 

Maybe it's time to change the focus a bit and discuss forum posts. Is it proper for the beta or editor to start a forum post? How about participating in the discussion as long as any comments are respectful? How far should a beta or editor go in terms of actively promoting the author in a forum thread?

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I do not beta read or edit for very many, but I do try to promote the authors that I do edit or beta read for. Like Jan said, we tend to take pride in the authors we edit and/beta read for. I am not an exception. In fact, I have started threads, and I have no problem reviewing and rating the stories. As an author, I appreciate my team promoting the stories I write. I understand both sides of the story completely. :)

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this is a dilemma i faced when I first started editing. Now, though, I feel that I can easily take part in discussion related to the work that I help with.

 

The main problem used to be that I knew what was to come ahead. The biggest advantage I had was that I knew how the writer has evolved/improved. I thought of concentrating on the advantage and not on the problem. This way, I can praise the author's work. Criticism is for e-mails. I usually do not like to criticise in public and that goes for all stories I read.

 

:)

 

BeaStKid

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I do not beta read or edit for very many, but I do try to promote the authors that I do edit or beta read for. Like Jan said, we tend to take pride in the authors we edit and/beta read for. I am not an exception. In fact, I have started threads, and I have no problem reviewing and rating the stories. As an author, I appreciate my team promoting the stories I write. I understand both sides of the story completely. :)

Hi Tim & BK. Tim, I'm glad you posted here because this thread really has to do with you since you're the most active author on GA that I work with.

 

I take a lot of pride in the work I do for you. I want it to be as perfect as humanly possible. I'm fortunate in that we have a good rapport, that you accept most of my suggestions, and when you question some of them it's always for a very valid reason.

 

I go out of my way to promote you as much as possible. I've reviewed your chapters as they got posted. I'm not as active in your forums as perhaps I should be.

 

All of the above is what prompted me to consider if I were doing the right thing by promoting you so heavily while still giving you the great reviews you so rightly deserve.

 

I'm glad you understand both sides of the issue.

 

I've pretty much resolved whatever ethical problems I was wrestling thanks to the feedback from everyone who posted.

 

To sum it up, if I'm going to post a positive review I should disclose that I have a working relationship with the author. If I have negative things to say in a review I'd be better off not posting the review and instead direct my comments to the author. And absolutely never post a review that's based on anger or malice born out of frustration with an author not accepting my suggestions; not that I ever would do such a thing, even without the advice offered here.

 

When it comes to the forums the standards are a bit different. I've got more latitude to engage in an honest discussion about the pros and cons of the story so long as it's done respectfully as Nick suggested.

 

Thanks everyone. I got what I needed from this thread. I'm very much in your debt. :)

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I beta-read stories because I think they're worth beta-reading, that is, because they're worth spending my time on in the first place -- and if I think they're that good, I don't see that there's anything wrong in promoting them either, or in giving them good reviews. A good story deserves a good review, and since, by definition, I've always read the story I've beta-read, I will also review it. I don't always have time to read other good stories, but when I do I always try to write good (hopefully meaningful) reviews for them too.

 

I do try to say things in my review that I haven't said to the author before so I'm not just repeating things -- but reviews are interesting to the other readers as well, so there's nothing wrong with repeating per se.

 

The writer always has the right to change or not change what she or he wants, so I wouldn't dream of complaining in a review if he or she hadn't made the changes I suggested. I'd just go on and on about it in private. ;) Just kidding, but I'd mention it if I felt the need to -- but in the end it's the author's story and the author has the right to decide what'll happen to it, I can only offer my advice and support and hope that it's useful. Though of course it *can* be frustrating when one's been saying something and the author *cough* only listens after ten other people have said the same thing... :P

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