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  1. je33ie
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    je33ie Member

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    Let's relax rules and encourage more discussion!

    Discussion in 'Support & Feedback' started by je33ie, Jun 26, 2010.

    In 2006, I was a regular poster on this forum and loved the varied critique I received of my work.

    Of course there were hot-headed arguers who didn't contribute much substance, and there were trolls on here solely to stir trouble, but mostly I received genuine, useful critique. Whether one line of 'I loved it but it took a while for me to get into...' or a full review of spelling and puctuation, it was a happy and free place where people could do as they please.

    Today I returned to the forum for the first time in 4 years, keen to get back into my writing and warm up with a few practice pieces. I was shocked to find that after just 3 minutes, my post was closed (inferring that my 50+ word critiques did not meet the rules).

    I find it disappointing that 5 of the 10 most recent stories in the General Short Story forum have been closed for this very same reason.

    Come on people! Let's relax the rules before all that's left are the forum moderators, with nothing but their own posts to close... :)
     
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  2. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    The rules are there for a reason. They were implemented after you left (I think), with a view to:

    a) making sure that everyone contributed as much as they took from the forum

    and

    b) allowing writers to expand a whole different (but equally important) set of editing skills. By learning to spot mistakes in other people's works, you can spot and correct the same things in your own.


    The site works around a workshop principle, which requires a meaningful contribution from all who partake. The reason that there are so many closed posts are because of the number of new members who join up only looking for somewhere to post their work up for people to see (usually they are only interested in praise rather than real critique anyway).

    The requirement of constructive critiques is aimed at ensuring the quality remains of a high standard. The majority of regular members have no trouble with it, and it's simply the volume of newcomers who either don't understand or don't care about the rules for whom it's a problem.
     
  3. Northern Phil
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    Northern Phil Active Member

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    If you review other peoples work and you identify errors or mistakes in their work, you will then be able to identify those same mistakes in your own work and produce better quality work as a result of it.

    I would imagine that this should be a private conversation between yourself and the moderator that closed your post. You should PM them to find out why your post was closed if you have done the required reviews.

    Also, the contests and competitions section allows people to post their work if they have not done the required reviews.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The current rules were in the process of being introduced around the time you last visited. The purpose was, and is, to improve the quality of the critiques the writers received.

    But then a funny thing appened. Those who were putting in an effort and giving focused critiques discovered they were learning far more about their own writing by critiquing other people's work than they ever did by reading comments about their own writing. Furthermore, they began to see the comments about their own work in a new light. They were better able to follow the thought processes of the critiquers, and in doing so, often discovered a different solution to the flaws discovered by the critiquers.

    They became better writers by becoming better critiquers.

    So the focus of the Review Room shifted. Instead of being a place to post and passively accept comments, it became a worksop for learning and applying the critiquing mindset. And most of the members who use it that way come to appreciate the system.

    There are sites all over where you can post your writing and get feedback. Here we demand more, and in return, we feel we have provided an environment to improve as a writer.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    all of which is why this remains the best-ever site for serious writers, with the best admin and mods to be found anywhere...

    keep up the good work, folks!

    love and lotsa hugs, maia
     
  6. Fantasy of You
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    Fantasy of You Banned

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    The function of the rule "2 crits. per story, minimum" is to ensure people are treating the rest of the community fairly.

    However, since Cogito acknowledges in his blog that critiquing is a learned skill, I find it baffling that some attempt critiques are deemed substandard. Surely this is nothing but discouraging to people on a mission to improve their crits.

    That said, it does prevent people rushing critiques in order to qualify to post! & since I haven't seen the critique in question, I can't judge this instance specifically.

    - Andy
     
  7. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, i think giving writing a critique and giving it a real try isn't that hard. And as long its a real try i spend some time on it a expect that it will pass.

    I'm new here but i think the rule is good. But it think i would be better is it could be handled automatically. That you couldn't start a new thread in those forums before you written enough replies. Might be hard to fix, but not impossible...

    Becuase first being able to post it and then have it taken away is extremely discouraging i expect.
     
  8. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    That's actually how it is. The problem is that people post one line non-critiques to get around the blocker- which is why we have to close the threads manually.
     
  9. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    This is what's happened for me. Just even helping to answer peoples' questions and reading other replies has done wondrous things for my writing.

    Also I have been on two forums for teens when I was younger that had very lax rules. It wasn't pretty. I got vicious verbal attacks on multiple occasions. There were older teens on there and people that were twenty so heaven help you if you acted like a teenager. Point is that if there aren't strict rules things can easily go crazy and I'm glad when there are solid rules for that very reason. I don't join anything if there aren't rules against certain things.
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The forum software does require two replies in the Review Room before you can create a thread. But the software cannot distinguish a trivial response from a substantive one. There is a lower length limit, but people are fully capable of posting nothing quite verbosely, and others can post succinct, well-considered critiques.

    A large number of new members head straight to the Review Room, without reading the site rules or the Review Room guidelines. They attempt to post their piece of writing, receive a message that they must post at least two reviews first, so they dash off two perfunctory responses and the post tyeir writing.

    This accounts for the majority of locked threads, as well as comments like, "Very readable story, I enjoyed it immensely. Keep Writing." Other locked treads may be due to members not yet understanding our criteria for constructive critique, and most of those do keep trying until the meet the requirements.
     
  11. JessaNova
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    JessaNova Senior Member

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    I'm actually very impressed that there aren't any 'unwanted' visitors that have nothing better to do than stir up the community. Usually they swamp forums and raise hell... which makes forums not fun to participate in. Good job with the moderating.
     
  12. Fedora
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    Fedora Active Member

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    I think that Cog has the right idea by requiring that people criticize other pieces before being allowed to post their own work, but it's really a buzzkill when an aspiring writer comes in and posts a short story in the Review Room, only to get his thread locked and a photocopied response saying that he isn't important enough to warrant someone reading his work. I think that we would do well to return to the more informal approach, without the critiques-as-license-to-post-your-own-writing problem. Besides, if a writer is really that terrible, then telling him to criticize others' work is going to yield bad results: not only for him, but for the original poster as well. The last thing we need is for people on Writing Forums to be giving bad advice. After all, you have to have some idea of what good writing is before you try to dismantle another person's work, and what better way to show people than by doing it to their work as an example?

    Maybe people should be given one (and only one) free submission to the Review Room when they first join, so they can get an idea of how it works and what critiquing is. It kills me when I see a writer make one post, get his thread locked, and never come back. The more the merrier, no? And truly good pieces will get the attention they deserve purely on their own merit, not because other people are reviewing them just so they can post their own work.

    In short, Lemon-Man has a good point.
     
  13. Etan Isar
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    Etan Isar Contributing Member Contributor

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    WF.org isn't the only place that gets swamped with fly-by postings, many of whose authors don't care about the work but only about getting praise from others. Two critiques is hardly an enormous price to pay for joining such a good workshop.

    After all, it's not the quality but the effort pput in that makes a response valid. Any response you get from another person is a gift, and if we relaxed this rule, the number of critiques--both good and bad--would fall drastically.


    When I first joined writingforums.com, I left over 200 critiques before posting my first piece of work. I left a few less here, but that's because I was already used to the practice. I've still got enough critiques stored up to post maybe 50 more of my own pieces before I drop below the 2:1 ratio. For most new folks, their first million words will never be publishable, no matter how many responses they get here. The experience they gain from critiquing and being critiqued will only be usefull applied to the work they do after that.
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    First off. the two critiques rule is not my idea, although I heartily agree with it. Daniel originated it, and was looking into a more formal checklist for critique quality that could be enforced thorugh software.

    I opposed the checklist approach because it doesn't encourage people to look deeper for the reasons that changes should be made. To me, critiquing is every bit as creative an art as is writing itself, and worth cultivating because of its symbiotic relationship to writing (Why Write Reviews Before Posting My Work?).

    I agree that it can be off-putting for newcomers to be immediately shut down for posting without understanding the ground rules. I'd rather see new members blocked from that part of the site initially so they have to take some time looking around the site first to see how we do things. I would be better to adjust their expectations from the outset.

    On the other hand, there is a disturbingly large number of members who fail to grasp the intent even after being told repeatedly. Or maybe it only seems like a substantial number because they are unrelenting in cajoling the mod staff to "just let me get some feedback i realy need it bad."
     
  15. Imo
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    Imo Member

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    I more see it the other way around: the amount of locked threads emphasises the validity of the rule.

    While I enjoy writing critiques I much rather review the work of someone is serious about their efforts than chance upon the umpteenth fly-by poster wanting a pat on the shoulder.

    I"m a new poster here and I found the rules not that hard to understand. What questions I had were answered promptly.

    I hope this system will stay in place for a long time to come.
     
  16. Sang Hee
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    Sang Hee Contributing Member

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    When I've read about the two critiques rule it came into my mind that it could also lower the quality of reviews as well. If someone is a newcomer not only to the forum but also to writing stories then they might be unable to provide a decent critique because they don't have a good knowledge of writing yet. That's my case.
    Therefore people might provide critique just because they have to and that probably won't end up well.
     
  17. Imo
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    Imo Member

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    Sang Hee, if they are both new to the forum -and- to writing stories, doesn't that provide even more reason to have them critique before posting their work? I would think it be better to have them experience critiques and review before subject them - inexperienced and all - to sometimes harsh and direct critiques.
     
  18. Sang Hee
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    Sang Hee Contributing Member

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    I don't know, we'll see how I'll do. I can't offer much of technical critique, more of an emotional impression, I guess. But that probably isn't what the writers are after, I'm afraid.
     
  19. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There were many junk reviews long before the requirement was put in place. At least now, those who care only about getting their work seen will be given some incentive to put in a token effort, and to learn enough to see their writing responded to.

    If all they can be made to care about is getting some "Attaboy!"s, they wouldn't hang around no matter what the policy.

    But those who do realize (because they saw it mentioned once or a hundred times) that the Review Room is a critiquing workshop, and give it a fair and sincere effort, invariably discover that learning to critique in a formal and focused manner does imnprove their own writing. They learn, by interacting with other critiquers, different things to look for in a piece of writing, and they learn an analytical approach to evaluating writing that helps them make well reasoned choices in their writing, rather than stumbling randomly through the revision process. They learn to look for and examine the reasoning behind recommendations from others rather than simply implementing edits uncritically, or resisting all changes that require reexamining their instinctual writing habits.
     
  20. Tamsin
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    Tamsin Senior Member

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    I think it is a good rule. It is part of the fair contribution aspect of the site and means that people have to invest time in helping someone else before they can receive detailed help from others.

    I expect it is a bit annoying when people are just here to receive feedback on their own stuff, but critiquing is an important part of the forum, and an important skill to have as a writer. Everyone is capable of offering a detailed review of someone's work. If they are not able to do it, then they should spend some time on here reading the reviews of others, and trying to learn. If they still think they cannot complete a detailed review, then they can't really expect others to review their work.

    The rule is in the interest of the site and all its members. It is only 2 reviews after all so I don't think it is too harsh!
     
  21. bparker
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    bparker New Member

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    I would agree that constructive criticism is among the most useful method of critiquing. I am new to this forum. Where do we draw the line as to what's acceptable?
     
  22. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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  23. Chel
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    Chel Member

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    I'm new here as well, and unfortunately haven't had the time to really, really get into it all yet. ...or rather, I am fighting against getting even a bit addicted to yet another forum so that I will still have some time for other stuff, such as writing on my own projects.

    I think the reviewing rules are good and fair. Most of us are here to help each other - after all, we will hopefully at some point be reading the works of other posters for real. If we want those future books to be any good, we should invest the time to help the writers along, while also eventually get some advice ourselves.

    I help run a small gaming community forum, so I'm one of those persons who actually read the rules and stickies on forums before starting to use them. A lot of people don't, which results in fly-by posters who add nothing to the community. A simple rule of posting some critiques before posting a piece of one's own to be reviewed guarantees at least some participation in the community - and that is one of the most important things for any forum. If there is no communication among the members, there's no need for a forum in the first place.

    Yet another reason that I agree with this rule is that it made at least me read some of the already existing reviews - if I want to review someone's work, I want my post to be more than "I agree with this-and-that person" or only a repetition of what someone else has already said. When I post my first piece on this forum, I will already know which other members I usually agree with - or disagree with. I will have a feel for who write in a similar style to myself, and who prefer a different tempo than mine.

    All this background knowledge about how things work around the review rooms is valuable. On a less personal plane, it shows those new to receiving critique that even "bad" reviews are there to help the writer improve, and even opinions that differ from the writer's own can help a lot, if only by raising more questions about things the writer may have overlooked. It also shows newbies that in the best cases, the review will lead to a dialogue between the writer and the reviewer, which often leads to both getting new inspiration.

    Well, I've rambled on quite a lot more than I was going to. So, finally, I just want to say a Thank You to the moderators of this forum. I think you guys are doing a great job, and I'm very happy that I found this forum, even if I am trying not to get addicted to it.
     
  24. Sang Hee
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    Sang Hee Contributing Member

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    Hello, neighbor! Yeah, it's good to watch out that for all the foruming we don't forget to write too.
    The team here is good, little bit too serious (Cog) but I guess that's what it takes to keep this big thing going in order, one can't joke around.
     
  25. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i find cog just serious enough...
     
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