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Does writing reviews make you a better person?


Ron

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There were many authors and stories that I had already read before I registered with GA. Some of those I found to be profoundly moving and I read the reviews of others but I felt that I certainly wasn't up to the task of writing one myself. Shortly after registering, I bought into the membership. That was partly to read the premium content but mostly because I felt that this was a good thing going on here and I wanted to support it. At first I paid on a month to month basis and soon extended that to an annual membership. I'm fortunate to have the means to do this and happy to do it as well. But the fact remains that I had initially 'bought in' when I first started lurking around and I found that I wanted a voice in this interesting community too.

 

I'm not a writer, although I have entertained the conceit that maybe I could be. I do have ideas. Though putting words for a story in any sort of legible direction may very well prove to be my downfall, I decided that I could after all write reviews. Trouble arrived very early on in that most of what I wanted to say was already said by those that came before me. Additionally, when I did review, I might have been full of a highly inflated opinion that what I had to say was witty, clever or dare I say, even profound. What actually happened in response to my reviews was somewhat ego deflating. Nothing. No author replies or other reviewers referencing any of my witty, clever remarks. Nothing.

 

Then disaster arrived. I made an rather opinionated review that was not well received. No, not well at all. I was chastised. I was accused. I was miffed and not a little mortified by the response to my review. Perhaps for the best, I had to take one on the chin, and consider that I may have reacted too harshly to the story. More importantly, certain words I used were not inducive to an exchange of ideas between author and reader. The words were certainly declarative but not necessarily helpful. I had had my say but to what expense?

 

Now when a writer has propelled me to have a go at giving voice to my thoughts, I choose my words more carefully. I'm also more mindful that there is an exchange going on with the author and the other readers and if we push a little further, perhaps the story itself as some authors reflect ideas in the reviews within their story. Is this a case of, 'Once bitten,...'? No, it isn't, I find my thoughts and feelings have morphed over a relatively short time and here at GA most assuredly, I have become a better person. In the rest of the world, the verdict is still out.

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I think the verdict is in. You're human. I have to admit that I once had an author stop writing, take down a story, then come back later with re-edits and posting ... and then, and only then, did I find out it was all in reaction to a comment I made that I felt was helpful but they felt was callous and condescending. I learned the same lesson you did, in much the same way.

 

That has not stopped me from offering my thoughts, and help, to many authors on this site and off. I do try to phrase things better, but I don't only focus on the positives or repeat what others have said to play it safe (though I had that urge at times). I've written this many times, but the best way to help a person is to mention what you like, why you like it, what you don't like, and why you don't like it. Be specific, back it up with thoughts and suggestions and try to keep your feelings out of it if you need to tell them a character is coming off badly, or not believable, or a plot event isn't remotely possible in real life, etc... I combine my thoughts as a reader and an author, but both viewpoints can be valuable on their own too.

 

All that being said ... GA is a pretty forgiving place with a healthy community. It takes all kinds of people to make the site work. Your first bit of a go at being a vocal part of that community might have been a bit of a rough go, but you can still be that type of member, if you want.

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That goes for reviews, and your response to your editors and betas.  Never wear your feelings on  your sleeve.  Everyone is not going to like you, but many are.  I was always paranoid, and when I started writing, I decided to take one of the more hard nosed editors, and never regretted it.  She was honest to the point of making me feel stupid, but in the long run, I had much more confidence when I posted my story.  You just have to get your feet wet, and go with the flow.

 

In all instances, you'll feel better if you're honest. 

Edited by joann414
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It's probably the self-reflection after the reviews that made you improve the way you think about, interact with or criticize people. I know a lot of other people who have had the same experience as you have and the only thing they've taken away from it is how awesome they are and how the rest of the world sucks for not agreeing with them. A lot of people have become worshippers of the almighty opinion and don't realize how fallible or flawed they can sometimes be.

 

For my part, I would encourage you to still communicate your feelings honestly. If something got you so out of sorts to get into that fiasco in the first place, there's probably something valuable you can salvage out of your reaction. I think the trick might be to analyze why you felt that way and communicate that, rather than simply spray emotions like a cat marking their territory. Sometimes, especially for an established writer who has had more than one successful story, a harsh, but reasonable point of view is just the ticket they need to take their writing to the next level. Other times, you may feel like a particular work has a negative or destructive idea contained in the soul of its writing that you need to get off your chest or it will suffocate you.

 

Positivity is important. No doubt that smiles and hugs and acceptance beats frowns and punches and rejection. But just like, in many cases, there would be no story without a problem to solve, reasonable negativity can be just as important.

 

One galvanizing motive for my writing was a reaction to something I found appalling in somebody else's writing (none of it here, thankfully), so if you are planning to put into action your vague ideas for some writing purpose, turning your opinions on the rights and wrongs of storytelling into a story can be a great outlet. Your first post in this thread does show that you have a good set of skills and knowledge about writing to start from.

Edited by thebrinkoftime
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...

 

Then disaster arrived. I made an rather opinionated review that was not well received. No, not well at all. I was chastised. I was accused. I was miffed and not a little mortified by the response to my review. Perhaps for the best, I had to take one on the chin, and consider that I may have reacted too harshly to the story. More importantly, certain words I used were not inducive to an exchange of ideas between author and reader. 

 

...

 

 

 

Until I see the review, my reaction would be that this isn't a problem with you - it is a problem with the author. 

 

Unless your review was particularly ill-informed or offensive, any reaction that could be described as 'chastising' or 'accusing' is utterly out-of-line. And no, harshness is not a good enough reason. Harsh reviews happen - it is all a part of putting writing into a public place, and if a community restricts harsh reviews, it is striking the the very basis of any culture of criticism, and any author who reacts to a negative review with that level of aggression needs to examine their own reactions before they begin throwing accusations at their readers.

 

Positive reviews, unsatisfied reviews and any form of critical review are all worthless concepts without the presence of downright negative reviews. They complete the spectrum, as it were, and place any other form of feedback within a meaningful context. Without them, it all breaks down.

 

Martin

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...the best way to help a person is to mention what you like, why you like it, what you don't like, and why you don't like it. Be specific, back it up with thoughts and suggestions and try to keep your feelings out of it if you need to tell them a character is coming off badly, or not believable, or a plot event isn't remotely possible in real life, etc.

 

Good advice, Cia and thanks. I have been making the effort to do just this. My emotional entanglements (feelings and or passion) are partially why I post a review to a story and sometimes it is the guiding force. I'm much more cognisant of how that might work to the detriment of what I am trying to convey now.

 

Joann, thanks. Your absolutely correct in that honesty is the way to go. I'm not sure I could write something that I didn't believe to be true in a review. If I couldn't word it without being comfortable with what I'm trying to say, I probably wouldn't post it.

 

thebrinkoftime, would you mind horribly much if I shortened that to, tbot. All lower case, of course. You're absolutely correct in that it is in fact self-reflection that has brought about an improvement. If it had gone differently, as you've witnessed, I probably would have left GA entirely. Damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead and yea, Ron. But it didn't, that's not me and I think I'm a better person for it.

Thank you very much for your comments pertaining to my possible writing skills. I'm happy to find that you've picked up my intimation about having ideas. Any illusions I have for writing are in front of me on lined note paper, tissue paper, the back of various receipts and junk-mail envelopes right now. That they may end up in the trash can is a distinct possibility.

 

Thank you, Clumber for coming to my defense. I do understand what your saying and I agree to a point. I thought the reply to my post was out-of-line too but to be fair and I'm not saying that this is true, mind you. There maybe, might have been the word, 'stupid' somewhere in my review. As you probably all know and I learned after the fact, in the rules of behavior on GA, that word is a no, no. A finger shaking, slap on the hands - no, no. In hindsight, and after some self-reflection (tbot), I think I knew on some instinctual level that that was not the way to go when I wrote the review. Yet, those pesky emotions that I have got in the way of common sense.

 

I do think I'm a better person in the end. Life is on going, right, and growth should be part and parcel of the event. I think my reviews are better. I still have the belief that my reviews are sometimes clever and sometimes witty but never at the same time, that would be way too much to expect from me.

 

If any of the few other viewers of this thread would like to chime in, I would be much obliged to hear from you. The more the merrier. I have much to learn.

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Thank you, Clumber for coming to my defense. I do understand what your saying and I agree to a point. I thought the reply to my post was out-of-line too but to be fair and I'm not saying that this is true, mind you. There maybe, might have been the word, 'stupid' somewhere in my review. As you probably all know and I learned after the fact, in the rules of behavior on GA, that word is a no, no. A finger shaking, slap on the hands - no, no. In hindsight, and after some self-reflection (tbot), I think I knew on some instinctual level that that was not the way to go when I wrote the review. Yet, those pesky emotions that I have got in the way of common sense.

 

The word 'stupid' is just that - a word. Did you call the author stupid? Can you actually look me in the metaphorical internet eye - the webcam? - and say that you said 'damn, you gotta be pretty thick to write something like this'? Because if the answer is no, then I'm sorry. No. That kind of reaction against a non-bigoted, non-expletive word is not reasonable.

 

There are, in fact, plenty of reasons to use the word stupid in a review:

'Having Character X fail to work out Obvious Thing Y makes him come across as stupid.'

'That plot twist requires all the characters to be stupid.'

'The worldbuilding for Thing X is stupid - why did everyone randomly start worshipping Darksoul the Kitten-Eating Demon?'

'These people don't know how to use the catapult they built, but this random kid works it out? Are they stupid?'

 

The backlash against that one word is, and I make no apologies for this, bloody stupid. It focuses on a symbol rather than any actual underlying problem, and allows writers to justify overreacting to criticism - "Yes, I called him a gutter-licking reprobate, but didn't you see? He said my brilliant tactician character was being stupid when he ordered the light cavalry to charge into the pikemen!"

 

Also, the hurt feelings of authors is not a good excuse for bad behaviour; especially when the review in question was an honest (if harshly-worded) critique not meant in malice. For non-fiction pieces I have written for websites, I have received staggering amounts of abuse. And not just in the comments. I have had entire forum threads created on other sites dedicated solely to calling me things I'm not allowed to quote here. If I had decided to have the screaming ab-dabs, nobody could say I was not provoked. And yet? I somehow restrained myself. Because you do that. And if I could do it when I was having my writing directly attacked by people screaming about what a bitch I was? The writer who flipped their lid at you could do the same thing.

 

Even if you used the word stupid.

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Have had my share of positive and negative reviews.  I'm okay with both.  I feel like it has made me a better writer when someone is constructive with their criticism.  If I've missed edits or left holes in the story then I want to know.  If it's just not the readers cup of tea (example- they hate supernatural stories or more realistic stories that might not have a happy ending...then it makes me wonder why they bothered to read a genre they don't like in the first place.) But again, the reader took the time to tell me what they think and I appreciate it.

 

On the flip side, I chose my words carefully when I'm leaving a review for someone else.  I left a review on a story that I loved a few years ago.  It was positive but I did have a concern/question about something that struck me as odd that happened in the story.  I didn't think about much after that.  Later I found out that the author reported my review and it was deleted...but other readers had notice and questioned me about it.  It was awkward when I found out that the author removed his story afterwards. 

 

When I read a story, I try to take some time and think about what I want to say and I try to make each review I leave for authors as fun and unique as the author themselves.  Each story is different.  If I have something that might be taken as negative, I will send it in a PM so not to offend anyone.  (I've even asked if it was ok to go back to the story and leave that my review but would never without their permission since I now know some authors are more sensitive.) 

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On the flip side, I chose my words carefully when I'm leaving a review for someone else.  I left a review on a story that I loved a few years ago.  It was positive but I did have a concern/question about something that struck me as odd that happened in the story.  I didn't think about much after that.  Later I found out that the author reported my review and it was deleted...but other readers had notice and questioned me about it.  It was awkward when I found out that the author removed his story afterwards. 

 

 

And again, this is an issue with the author, not the reviewer. You left a review praising the story but saying that there was one thing which you took issue with?

 

And their response was to throw a hissy fit, demand that the review be deleted and generally get their knickers in such a tight twist they spent the following week singing falsetto.

 

That is not a reasonable response from the author. An understandable one, I guess - negative feedback can hurt, even when couched solidly within positive praise, but understandable is not the same thing as reasonable. Those initial reactions of indignation at the negative feedback are an urge which the author should control, and it is the authors responsibility to manage those feelings, not reviewers' responsibility to manage the stimuli.

 

 

 

When I read a story, I try to take some time and think about what I want to say and I try to make each review I leave for authors as fun and unique as the author themselves.  Each story is different.  If I have something that might be taken as negative, I will send it in a PM so not to offend anyone.  (I've even asked if it was ok to go back to the story and leave that my review but would never without their permission since I now know some authors are more sensitive.) 

 

 

 

And this is why I always doubt the user-ratings on GA. I have seen so many people say that they will only leave any form of negative - or even anything less than 100% good - feedback if they get the authors permission. 

 

PMing authors to tell them of flaws within their story is perfectly fine in many cases. They left in some typo's? PM it. You spotted a number of small inaccuracies within the story and want to tell them what they are? Pm that as well. They accidently mis-spelt the word 'long' in the bloody title? Do nothing, it'll probably be fine. ;)

 

But if you think the characters are inconsistent? The world-building flawed? That is what reviews are for. They are so that readers following on from you can keep this in mind if they choose to read the story. 

 

 

It all comes down to a single concept - reviews are not there for authors. Reviews are there for readers - editors notes, and Beta's feedback are there for authors. Reviews are nice to get, and the feedback can be incredibly useful, but it is not written for the authors benefit and that should always be remembered.

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And again, this is an issue with the author, not the reviewer. You left a review praising the story but saying that there was one thing which you took issue with?

 

And their response was to throw a hissy fit, demand that the review be deleted and generally get their knickers in such a tight twist they spent the following week singing falsetto.

 

That is not a reasonable response from the author. An understandable one, I guess - negative feedback can hurt, even when couched solidly within positive praise, but understandable is not the same thing as reasonable. Those initial reactions of indignation at the negative feedback are an urge which the author should control, and it is the authors responsibility to manage those feelings, not reviewers' responsibility to manage the stimuli.

 

 

 

 

 

And this is why I always doubt the user-ratings on GA. I have seen so many people say that they will only leave any form of negative - or even anything less than 100% good - feedback if they get the authors permission. 

 

PMing authors to tell them of flaws within their story is perfectly fine in many cases. They left in some typo's? PM it. You spotted a number of small inaccuracies within the story and want to tell them what they are? Pm that as well. They accidently mis-spelt the word 'long' in the bloody title? Do nothing, it'll probably be fine. ;)

 

But if you think the characters are inconsistent? The world-building flawed? That is what reviews are for. They are so that readers following on from you can keep this in mind if they choose to read the story. 

 

 

It all comes down to a single concept - reviews are not there for authors. Reviews are there for readers - editors notes, and Beta's feedback are there for authors. Reviews are nice to get, and the feedback can be incredibly useful, but it is not written for the authors benefit and that should always be remembered.

 

I agree that the author should have had thicker skin if posting something in such a public place to be praised or criticized but still, I don't like to be overly aggressive with the reviews I leave.  I will ask questions and try to engage the author with the plot, give my thoughts on characters and what I like but I don't want to be the ax that breaks an amature author (most of the authors here on GA, this is their first time letting the world see their work.)  They are writing for fun, for the joy of it as a hobby.  They are not getting paid and not profiting on their work.  I feel that harsher critiques should be in private, in my opinion.

 

 

That also brings up a good point are reviews for the author or are they for the readers?

 

If it's a story that I'm actively following, I don't see why putting up character inconsistencies or plot holes in a review, because most of the authors I've talked to about this will go back and work on those issues (I know I have when someone tells me I've made some big errors) If they are fixed then they won't still be in the story when new readers come along at a later time. 

 

[edit to add: I also never read reviews on a story before I actually read the story.  I don't let what other readers say influence me.  I have a wide range of things I like and don't like, so I know pretty quick if I want to dive in or run away. ]

Edited by KC Grim
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Nope writing reviews doesn't make you a better person.  Taking the time not to confuse honesty with brutality, not to mistake your right to speak for a right to be heard, not to confuse an unsupported opinion for critical analysis, will make you a better person. But people write reviews for all sorts of reasons, and there we have it.

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meh... yes.. no... whatever.   It's all internalized on both the reviewer and the reviewee... 

 

To be honest if I don't like a particular review I totally ignore it or just say something like... thank you for reading or thank you for your review and move on.  Then again sometimes I say thank you for reading or I'm glad you enjoyed it just to acknowledge the review when I'm dealing with a lot of reviews or in a hurry.  I'm not being rude or anything, I just want to let people know, yes I got it, thank you.  

 

People should take the time to review either by pressing the review button or the PM button, or even in passing in chat or something.  Hey I read your story the other night, good job.  It's not really a review, but it is an acknowledgement that the story was read and well received.  Sometimes that is just as important.  It can start a conversation.  It can lead to an in depth discussion.   If the author ignores the passing comment I figure either they aren't interested in what people think or they didn't see the comment.  

 

meh... whatever.

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I agree that the author should have had thicker skin if posting something in such a public place to be praised or criticized but still, I don't like to be overly aggressive with the reviews I leave.  I will ask questions and try to engage the author with the plot, give my thoughts on characters and what I like but I don't want to be the ax that breaks an amature author (most of the authors here on GA, this is their first time letting the world see their work.)  They are writing for fun, for the joy of it as a hobby.  They are not getting paid and not profiting on their work.  I feel that harsher critiques should be in private, in my opinion.

 

 

That also brings up a good point are reviews for the author or are they for the readers?

 

If it's a story that I'm actively following, I don't see why putting up character inconsistencies or plot holes in a review, because most of the authors I've talked to about this will go back and work on those issues (I know I have when someone tells me I've made some big errors) If they are fixed then they won't still be in the story when new readers come along at a later time. 

 

[edit to add: I also never read reviews on a story before I actually read the story.  I don't let what other readers say influence me.  I have a wide range of things I like and don't like, so I know pretty quick if I want to dive in or run away. ]

 

 

I wasn't saying that all reviews should be a full-on beating. I'm not even speaking particularly in favour of the full-on beating approach. All I'm saying is that those reviews exist and for an author to report them and have them removed is a massively inappropriate response on the part of the author.

 

As for the stuff about a long-running story which you are following... I was speaking in very broad terms. What you have hit upon is the concept of nuance, which I assumed was a given.

 

 

The base fact of the matter is that when you put writing out there, you cannot control how people will react to it. If you would feel uncomfortable giving harsh criticism? Fine. You want to give it in a PM? Fine. You want to leave a harsh review pointing out things you consider major flaws in a story? Also fine. And for an author to have those harsh reviews deleted is utterly inappropriate in any system which claims to allow for user reviews.

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mmm this sounds like the reviews that exists on amazon ... about each n every one of their products they market

 

as a buyer ... I prefer to hear the truth about the product ... but as a system no one can't tell if the truth is the truth or not

sometimes the review left could be someone with disdain agenda ... some are truly helpful ... some aren't helpful

 

as for the seller (amazon, etc) all they care is what is said is the best possible light for a given product ... than to actually publish the truth ... or ever represent the service they bring

 

so what if a bad review is unjustified ... perhaps each review needs some voting of those that agree with it ... if none agrees then the bad review is inappropriate .... the same can go with the good reviews too ,,, at least in this there is honesty with checks n balances ...

 

but even with that ... some one could manipulate a voting system ... for personal gain .. even at GA

 

The base fact of the matter is that when you put writing out there, you cannot control how people will react to it. If you would feel uncomfortable giving harsh criticism? Fine. You want to give it in a PM? Fine. You want to leave a harsh review pointing out things you consider major flaws in a story? Also fine. And for an author to have those harsh reviews deleted is utterly inappropriate in any system which claims to allow for user reviews.

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The base fact of the matter is that when you put writing out there, you cannot control how people will react to it. If you would feel uncomfortable giving harsh criticism? Fine. You want to give it in a PM? Fine. You want to leave a harsh review pointing out things you consider major flaws in a story? Also fine. And for an author to have those harsh reviews deleted is utterly inappropriate in any system which claims to allow for user reviews.

 

The removal of review is exceptionally rare, and is almost always requested to fix typos or accidentally blank reviews. I mentioned the removal of a story, and that also is rare. Occasionally staff does step in, if they see uncalled for reviews happening (repeated trolling) or a report is made by either the reviewer or the author, but even that doesn't happen often. The initial message of this post isn't to rail about our review/report system but to point out an experience and discuss member views regarding the leaving of reviews for authors. (I hope Ron doesn't mind me speaking for him here)

 

This subject has been discussed before and there has never been a consensus on the best way to approach a review with critical, though not necessarily even 'negative', elements. Everyone has their preferred styles and explaining that and discussing it openly is a good thing, especially as our membership grows. Please don't beat on a dead horse, though, guys and don't pick at those who do not agree. Accept that your style of preferred review may not be the style others like, but if it works for you and you're not trolling Stories, then it is fine.

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The word 'stupid' is just that - a word. Did you call the author stupid? Can you actually look me in the metaphorical internet eye - the webcam? - and say that you said 'damn, you gotta be pretty thick to write something like this'? Because if the answer is no, then I'm sorry. No. That kind of reaction against a non-bigoted, non-expletive word is not reasonable.

 

There are, in fact, plenty of reasons to use the word stupid in a review:

'Having Character X fail to work out Obvious Thing Y makes him come across as stupid.'

'That plot twist requires all the characters to be stupid.'

'The worldbuilding for Thing X is stupid - why did everyone randomly start worshipping Darksoul the Kitten-Eating Demon?'

'These people don't know how to use the catapult they built, but this random kid works it out? Are they stupid?'

 

The backlash against that one word is, and I make no apologies for this, bloody stupid. It focuses on a symbol rather than any actual underlying problem, and allows writers to justify overreacting to criticism - "Yes, I called him a gutter-licking reprobate, but didn't you see? He said my brilliant tactician character was being stupid when he ordered the light cavalry to charge into the pikemen!"

 

Also, the hurt feelings of authors is not a good excuse for bad behaviour; especially when the review in question was an honest (if harshly-worded) critique not meant in malice. For non-fiction pieces I have written for websites, I have received staggering amounts of abuse. And not just in the comments. I have had entire forum threads created on other sites dedicated solely to calling me things I'm not allowed to quote here. If I had decided to have the screaming ab-dabs, nobody could say I was not provoked. And yet? I somehow restrained myself. Because you do that. And if I could do it when I was having my writing directly attacked by people screaming about what a bitch I was? The writer who flipped their lid at you could do the same thing.

 

Even if you used the word stupid.

 

While every reader has a right to express their opinions on a story they do not have a right to be deliberatly hurtful and nasty.  Pointing out plot issues like the catapult is one thing, saying things that reflect back and seem to call the author stupid is another.  The point of writing about things that bother you in a review is to make the author think, not make him feel like a child facing an emotionally abusive parent. 

 

 

I wasn't saying that all reviews should be a full-on beating. I'm not even speaking particularly in favour of the full-on beating approach. All I'm saying is that those reviews exist and for an author to report them and have them removed is a massively inappropriate response on the part of the author.

 

 

 

 

Even when a review is a full on beating - it should be a beating of the work - not the author.

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While every reader has a right to express their opinions on a story they do not have a right to be deliberatly hurtful and nasty.  Pointing out plot issues like the catapult is one thing, saying things that reflect back and seem to call the author stupid is another.  The point of writing about things that bother you in a review is to make the author think, not make him feel like a child facing an emotionally abusive parent. 

Even when a review is a full on beating - it should be a beating of the work - not the author.

 

So do you think these examples:

 

'Having Character X fail to work out Obvious Thing Y makes him come across as stupid.'

'That plot twist requires all the characters to be stupid.'

'The worldbuilding for Thing X is stupid - why did everyone randomly start worshipping Darksoul the Kitten-Eating Demon?'

 

Are akin to a child being abused by their parent? Because, in all honesty, unless I have severely misunderstood your phrasing, I find the equation deeply offensive. And also, if anything, a near-perfect illustration of what I was saying here:

 

'and allows writers to justify overreacting to criticism'

 

Harsh critique is not, in this set-up, a thing that happens and must be dealt with maturely; it is displaying the same behaviour as an abusive parent. A writer - in this example responding to a forum post - sees something which makes them feel high negative emotion, and responds with an extreme statement. And forgive me, but I think it is unreasonable to put readers in the position of weighing given an honest critique (often trying to help the author and also giving praise) against the possibility of getting a mouthful of abuse. And yes, I have seen authors on here behave that way. I have seen them behave worse. The justification? I AM AN AUTHOR, MY STORY, MY PRECIOUS ART.

 

I also can't help but notice that you ignored 90% of what I originally said about authors needing to control their emotions, in order to - inadvertantly, I assume - accuse me of saying that reviewers have a right to be personally nasty to authors.

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What I was saying was not meant to be an attack on you. It was meant to point out that a review should be a critique of the work, not the worker. Yes a writer - all writers including the reviewer - needs to control their emotions. I have, however, seen the author attacked and called things that most people would not repeat in public because a reader took issue with the subject matter. I feel that is not acceptable and to belittle anyone that way is wrong.

 

'and allows writers to justify overreacting to criticism'

 

Over reactions sometimes happen. Often counter actions are taken before the situation is thought through.

 

" And forgive me, but I think it is unreasonable to put readers in the position of weighing given an honest critique (often trying to help the author and also giving praise) against the possibility of getting a mouthful of abuse"

 

If a reader is giving an honest critique of a work, trying to help an author, and is giving praise, I doubt that there would be much of a possibility of receiving abuse for their efforts. It's the comments that come across as a personal attack I think would be taken as offensive. There may always be the one or two that take offense when none was meant, but they would be the minority.  Being a reviewer does not give one carte blanc to speak without thinking. Unreasonable of me to want people to think before shooting their mouths off? Then I guess I will just have to live with being unreasonable.

 

"So do you think these examples:

 

'Having Character X fail to work out Obvious Thing Y makes him come across as stupid.'

'That plot twist requires all the characters to be stupid.'

'The worldbuilding for Thing X is stupid - why did everyone randomly start worshipping Darksoul the Kitten-Eating Demon?'

 

Are akin to a child being abused by their parent? Because, in all honesty, unless I have severely misunderstood your phrasing, I find the equation deeply offensive. And also, if anything, a near-perfect illustration of what I was saying here:"

 

 

I am sorry if it offends you - but all three of these examples read to me as the writer calling the authors work stupid, and I can easily understand an author feeling the reviewer is by extension calling the author stupid.  So yes I equated that to the damage done when a parent continually calls a child stupid.  For many authors, most notably a new author, being called stupid could make the difference between trying to improve and giving up. Would you continue to write if you felt people considered your work rubbish?

 

And finally,

"The word 'stupid' is just that - a word"    

 

 Each and every one of us should remember that words hurt. Good authors use words to make the reader feel. Joy, sorrow, anger, all are provoked by the author using nothing but words. You are 100% right in saying "stupid" can, and occasionally may apply to a plot twist, and used judiciously could even be considered constructive. That does not however mean we should not consider our words carefully and be sure we are addressing the story issues, and not coming across as abusive of the author.

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So do you think these examples:

 

'Having Character X fail to work out Obvious Thing Y makes him come across as stupid.'

'That plot twist requires all the characters to be stupid.'

'The worldbuilding for Thing X is stupid - why did everyone randomly start worshipping Darksoul the Kitten-Eating Demon?'

 

Are akin to a child being abused by their parent? Because, in all honesty, unless I have severely misunderstood your phrasing, I find the equation deeply offensive. And also, if anything, a near-perfect illustration of what I was saying here:

 

'and allows writers to justify overreacting to criticism'

 

Harsh critique is not, in this set-up, a thing that happens and must be dealt with maturely; it is displaying the same behaviour as an abusive parent. A writer - in this example responding to a forum post - sees something which makes them feel high negative emotion, and responds with an extreme statement. And forgive me, but I think it is unreasonable to put readers in the position of weighing given an honest critique (often trying to help the author and also giving praise) against the possibility of getting a mouthful of abuse. And yes, I have seen authors on here behave that way. I have seen them behave worse. The justification? I AM AN AUTHOR, MY STORY, MY PRECIOUS ART.

 

I also can't help but notice that you ignored 90% of what I originally said about authors needing to control their emotions, in order to - inadvertantly, I assume - accuse me of saying that reviewers have a right to be personally nasty to authors.

 

As we have seen, authors can be a self-important bunch. 

 

There's one other thing to factor in to your situation, Ron.  Sometimes authors just have shitty days, and a review hits them wrong.  I've had that happen on two occasions, and alienated readers that I liked and respected, just because I approached it all with the baggage of my real life day.  

 

I think that reviews (and forum comments, where applicable) are the fuel of an author who posts here.  When I notice review counts are down for a chapter I've posted, it has an impact.  I wonder if people are still reading, or if the story has gotten boring.  That introspection slows me down.  But when I get a lot of feedback, I feel like readers are with me, anxious for what comes next, and that motivates me. 

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It all comes down to a single concept - reviews are not there for authors. Reviews are there for readers - editors notes, and Beta's feedback are there for authors. Reviews are nice to get, and the feedback can be incredibly useful, but it is not written for the authors benefit and that should always be remembered.

I think this is a very unique approach and something most reviewers don't see like you do, otherwise they wouldn't speak to the author directly in their reviews, like so many do.

I write reviews to communicate with an author, give them feedback or encourage them. Feedback as in telling them what I like and what I didn't like, in a polite way of course. I also write for the readers, naturally, if there are readers who actually read reviews before they start to read the story. I never do that because I want make up my own mind, like to learn what is behind an intriuging title, or just because I'm curious.

As an author reading about mistakes I made, or I might have made in the eyes of a reviewer doesn't make me happy. If it is justified, I  repair it, if it isn't justified I take in a deep breath and try to discuss it with said reviewer. The perks of writing in/for a forum or community.

Almost every author I know gets something out of reviews, whether it was the intention of the reviewer or not, so they are for them/us too. ;)

Edited by aditus
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I like writing reviews. I write them for me it gives me a way to kinda check in with what i see in the chapter or story the author wrote. Did I see what everyone else sees or if i saw it from a different perspective why did i see it that way. I also  write a review for much the same reason to the writer wanting to see if what i did see was actually what the author wanted me to see. which isn't always the case and quite often iv'e actually had the author tell me that my view wasn't what he seen.  I also think in metaphor I use a lot of them when i talk so quite often my reviews are my way of discussing what i read, which means a lot of times my reviews are long winded lol.  So really in answer to your question does my review make me a better person ... not really maybe  some might understand what i see and think  more but not really a better person. the review is only one persons insight into what that person read.  Just as the chapter or story is the insight of the person who wrote it doesn't mean one is better than the other just different in what they think and see. 

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As we have seen, authors can be a self-important bunch. 

 

There's one other thing to factor in to your situation, Ron.  Sometimes authors just have shitty days, and a review hits them wrong.  I've had that happen on two occasions, and alienated readers that I liked and respected, just because I approached it all with the baggage of my real life day.  

 

I think that reviews (and forum comments, where applicable) are the fuel of an author who posts here.  When I notice review counts are down for a chapter I've posted, it has an impact.  I wonder if people are still reading, or if the story has gotten boring.  That introspection slows me down.  But when I get a lot of feedback, I feel like readers are with me, anxious for what comes next, and that motivates me. 

This is why it is important to like a chapter ( if you liked it of course) in addition to anything else you do. Sometimes our lives are just too crazy to spend time in the forums, etc and you don't have the opportunity or the right technology for leaving a review - but no matter what you are reading on you can still like an entry. It lets the author know you were there, didn't lose interest,and appreciate their work even if you couldn't review from your nook in a hospital waiting room.

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What I was saying was not meant to be an attack on you. It was meant to point out that a review should be a critique of the work, not the worker. Yes a writer - all writers including the reviewer - needs to control their emotions. I have, however, seen the author attacked and called things that most people would not repeat in public because a reader took issue with the subject matter. I feel that is not acceptable and to belittle anyone that way is wrong.

 

That's wonderful! We entirely agree on something! Readers should not attack and belittle authors. Isn't it nice that we can find common ground over something I already said was the case.

 

Problem is, I think we have a teensy bit of a mismatch in what's considered abuse.

 

If a reader is giving an honest critique of a work, trying to help an author, and is giving praise, I doubt that there would be much of a possibility of receiving abuse for their efforts.

 

So you're saying Ron attacked the author brutally? Want to say that directly to him? What about the author who had KC Grim's review deleted because they left a hihgly flattering review with one bit of critique in it - were they a fragile flower, besieged on all sides? Are Ron and KC Grim no better than child abusers?

 

Unreasonable of me to want people to think before shooting their mouths off? Then I guess I will just have to live with being unreasonable

 

Stop arguing with your strawman, Kitt. Please point to where I said 'reviewers should say the first thing which comes to their mind, no matter how cruel or offensive'. I know my actual words are a lot less simplistically evil, but I'd like to see them addressed at some point.

 

I am sorry if it offends you - but all three of these examples read to me as the writer calling the authors work stupid, and I can easily understand an author feeling the reviewer is by extension calling the author stupid.  So yes I equated that to the damage done when a parent continually calls a child stupid.

 

Then the author needs to grow a thicker skin if they read that as personally attacking them. They may feel attacked, but emotions are not the same thing as reality. To use your charmingly offensive example, the emotionally abusive parent actually feels that the ugly things they're saying to their kid is true. They're not.

 

Why you got to encourage authors to behave like abusive parents, Kitt? Why?

 

So yes I equated that to the damage done when a parent continually calls a child stupid.

 

I. Um. Okay, this is awkward.

 

I honestly thought that, in a moment of passion, you reached for the nastiest thing you could think of to say. It honestly did not occur to me for a moment that you were genuinely comparing ongoing abuse which damages a person for life, the effects of which will be quite possibly passed down to their own children in one way or another, to somebody saying you're stupid on the internet.

 

I...don't know what to say. The best I can do is say that it is staggeringly offensive on multiple levels, and I hope you appreciate the fact that you are so detached from such things that you use them so lightly.

 

Just to make things very clear here: I am not offended that you disagree with me on whether those examples are too harsh. I'm not offended that you think an author could be hurt by them. I am offended that you equate something so trivial with screaming at a child that they are a leech and threatening to kick them out of the house.

 

For many authors, most notably a new author, being called stupid could make the difference between trying to improve and giving up. Would you continue to write if you felt people considered your work rubbish?

 

I have continued to write after people told me I 'deserved to be raped (but, of course, I had too many STDs)'. Right when I began writing, too; this was not after years of building my confidence.

 

That does not however mean we should not consider our words carefully and be sure we are addressing the story issues, and not coming across as abusive of the author.

 

The problem is, it is impossible to predict what critique an author will or won't find abusive. Yes, some things are blazingly obvious - don't be snide, don't use any sentence beginning with 'you are', make sure to always aim your criticism at things within the story itself - but beyond that? It's all up to the author.

 

In your opinion 'Having Character X fail to work out Obvious Thing Y makes him come across as stupid.' is akin to telling your child that you wished you'd aborted them. And when an author - that most delicate, gentle of creatures - is attacked in such a manner, how can they help but lash out? As you said yourself:

 

'If a reader is giving an honest critique of a work, trying to help an author, and is giving praise, I doubt that there would be much of a possibility of receiving abuse for their efforts.'

 

Reviewers have nothing to fear, so long as they stay away from such devastating insults as 'That plot twist requires all the characters to be stupid.'

Edited by Persinette
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  • Site Administrator

If the argumentative vein in this topic continues, I will close it. Quit beating a dead horse, over a past issue, and creating a potentially bigger problem. If you disagree, you disagree. Continually stating that is not going to change anyone's mind.

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a nice healthy debate

 

the reader, if they love it or hate it and its worth their time to express a review then its their right

less anything not constructive

 

I have yet to see anyone leave a review of a review

nor will see how many people agree with the reviews left

 

I don't see any one explaining about what GA does if a review is abusive

but its nice to see that there is a report button in case there is

the fans can be helpful to their favorite author by reporting those abusive reviews

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