1. floydianslip6
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    floydianslip6 Member

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    Review Experience and Concerns

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by floydianslip6, Feb 28, 2008.

    This thread is in regard to a discussion that began here:
    http://www.writingforums.org/showthread.php?p=143364#post143364

    Maybe someone can merge over the original threads.


    As a new member I was a little surprised to see the inactivity in a lot of the review forums. It seems like there are so many members and a lot of people on, yet only a few people's work is consistently reviewed.

    When I first joined I did so to get feed back on some pieces I had written. A forum I'm on elsewhere within in interwebs had a creative writing section, but as I have been writing more and more I wanted a more dedicated place to solicit critiques.

    I was very surprised to learn of the "posting credits" requirement. But after reading it and thinking about it, there seems to be a lot of positive things that can come from a system like that. I particularly found it interesting that the forum tracked un-reviewed pieces and recent reviews on the right side of the page.

    So, doing my due diligence I reviewed a couple of pieces and posted my own. It took a while before I got comments, and one piece has yet to be really delved into from a critique standpoint.

    Personally, this doesn't bother me, and being interested in what others were writing I continued to review others' work and explore the forum some more. This is where I realized the big thing that some people that aren't satisfied with their review turn-around-time may have not noticed.

    When you review someone's work it makes you visible. The more thoughtful reviews that I put out there, the more people are going to want to look at my work to see: whether I even have the authority to tell them how to do anything; what makes me tick; and finally if I can follow my own advice. Where is the impetus to follow up with the work behind the username if all that comes out is: "sweet." or "sounds really nice!" whenever they post something that is not their own?

    The review process is a two way street. It's not ONLY people with thousands of posts and moderation status getting reviewed. It's people that put themselves out there to really put some thought into reviewing others' work that get thoughtful reviews in return.

    I'm sure the turn-around isn't fast enough for some. They drop a good review here and there and still aren't met with what they're looking for in regards to feedback... but what can you do?

    Since I've been a member (a whole 3 days! wow!) I've seen some new members come in and just drop in a thoughtless review of a piece just to get their post credit up enough to post their own thing and wait. Either that, or post almost identical reviews for two pieces and then sit and wait. In part the review credit system can be a double edged sword... but I think it's a far better idea than nothing at all since it prevents flooding.

    What should the passive forum user expect anyway? Critiques aren't popular, that's why there are editors. Most other writers, I would guess, don't enjoy fumbling through someone else's questionable work when they have their own production to worry about.

    I think it just boils down to people's personality and unrealistic expectations. There is no website where people are clamoring to read the prose and poetry of a complete nobody on the internet. But by making yourself an active member of the community, people will be more inclined to see what you come up with. Even if they aren't climbing hand over fist to be the first to review it.
     
  2. MarcG
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    MarcG Contributing Member

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    Hmm. I know the feeling. :p

    There are times when I'll post something and never recieve a reply, then I'll see someone post something and have 3 reviews in an hour. Oh well. There are times when I'll get a half dozen reviews in a day. It all works out.

    I certainly try to read something without reviews first - if I have any worthwhile observations, I post them. If I can help, I try to.

    I think the biggest problem is that posts in one's own thread count for the "review room" credits. There are a few people who have not so much as said "good job/it sucked" to anyone and have posted a fair amount of pieces.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There is no good programmatic way to make sure people post substantive reviews before posting their own work for review. Lately, we have gotten MANY new joiners, a significant proportion of whom post a couple "Good writing, I like it" reviews, then their own piece, and then vanish for all intents and purposes.

    This of course hurts those who come here seriously wishing to work on their writing, and makes it difficult for those who wish to review effectively to find the serious submissions.

    On top of that, we had a recent lengthy period of server problems that made any forum activ ity, especially something as intensive as reviewing, extremely painful. The formal reviewers are just beginning to get back on their feet after that, and are dealing with a huge backlog. Informal reviewers are probably feeling overwhelmed as well.

    Also, there are people who will send review requests to every moderator on the team. This is a bit inconsiderate, because it means every reviewer puts priority on the requests, leaving the more patient posters watching the tumbleweeds roll by.

    Raven has reminded all the reviewers to try to put some more time into reviewing those pieces that have not seen responses, but it will probably take a little while before everyone is back on track.

    No one here is a professional reviewer, and in addition to the challenges brought about on the site, real life has gotten in the way at times as well.

    But we are trying to resolve this, and we appreciate your patience, even if it is beginning to wear thin.

    BTW: When I see someone playing games with the posting requirements, they go to the end of my priority list. We aren't blind to it, even if some of the newcomers assume we are. :D
     
  4. Torana
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    Torana Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sometimes I am unsure of how to give a review that will help the writer improve upon a piece, but even still I attempt to offer as much feedback as I can. Going into depth about exactly what I did like about the poem. Not only does it help the writer to know where they are going right with their work, but it also helps with future writing as you know where to go with it. If your imagry in one piece is outstanding then you can go back look at it and say ok I did that right in this poem so I'll try to implicate the same depth of imagry in this one too. etc.

    Both positive and negative (in a constructive way) feedback are essential to writing and reviewing. So I feel it is best to go into depth about everything.

    A lot of people are still very unsure how to review, what to say, how to put it, and how others will react to it. That is why it is essential for those that do know how to keep on doing so and try to encourage others to gointo depth by saying "Thank you but can you please tell me what you like about the piece/what you didn't like"

    Sometimes that works.
     
  5. Heather Louise
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    Heather Louise Contributing Member Contributor

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    What can I say Floy, the whole process of reviewing and recieving reviews can be a frustrating one. I know myself that having spent half an hour writing a review for someone they can turn round and ignore it all, but then I also know that some people put a lot of effort into reviewing something of mine.

    All I can say to you is try and review as many peoples work as possible, or that you want, and they are more likely to return the favour. Also, if your work hasn't seemed to be noticed, or missed by a reviewer whch can happen, PM one of us and we will take a look gladfully.
     
  6. starrynight89
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    starrynight89 Senior Member

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    Personally, I'm new as well and I prefer reviewing rather than putting some of my work out there. It's terrifying to have other people know what you're thinking and I never post things in a rush, I edit over and over to make sure it's presentable. I know I'm not the best reviewer (esp with grammar) and I admit that before delving in the review. I look more at the characterization but I do try and spend quality time for each review. But I know how it can be frustrating when you're spending time on a review and you see a "Good job, keep it up!" before yours.
     
  7. Kaij
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    Kaij Senior Member

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    I know what you mean. Then again, everyone has their own tastes in what they like to read, so that may depend on what they want to review and what they don't want to review. Like with me, I can't read Romance and try to review it. It just...doesn't work. *twitch* No likey that subject.

    I spend hours critiquing someone's work, because I try to point out ever thing, in my opinion, that might mess up the flow of the story they are writing. I remember it took a while just to get someone to comment on my first chapter I posted up. While everyone else got comments and reviews, my piece was gradually shifting toward the bottom of the page :p It got reviews though. Sometimes it takes time. Other times...well...call it lazy. *snerks and hides*
     
  8. Mercury
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    Mercury Active Member

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    Yeah, after having not used the site for over a year I was very surprised to see how busy the community sections of the site are now, and yet how quiet the review rooms are in comparison.

    I agree with the rest of what you say, also. I'm a member of other writing forums that have smaller memberships than this one yet have much busier review sections, where numerous and detailed crits are commonplace. It's all about the precedents that are set by the members and the habits that are encouraged.

    For example, if people see that other members hand out three detailed crits for every piece they post of their own, they're more likely to do the same. Or if that see that active submitters like to crit regularly even when not posting their own stuff it may well encourage them to do likewise.

    Personally, I think a structured approach works better than a posting credit system. Members could be advised that they are not to post their own piece until they have submitted at least three crits that adhere to a crit guideline. The guideline itself can be fairly loose but put in place just to ensure that certain aspects are covered by the critique.
     
  9. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    There's already a system in place, where a member has to have made two reviews for every piece of their own which they post.
     
  10. Mercury
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    Mercury Active Member

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    But what you have is what you often see on forums that operate such a system: people banging in reviews that are a couple of lines long to get their two crits in. It's a practice that should be discouraged.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    We do discourage it. The busier reviewers will not bother to review people who do that. The most blatant ones get their posts removed or threads locked, and may even receive infractions in the most severe cases.

    People who stand out with thoughtful reviews that show serious effort are the most likely to get the sam ein return.

    That's something no set of rules or software tools will ever improve upon.
     
  12. Etan Isar
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    Etan Isar Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have to agree with this. When I get reviews on my own stuff, I'm far more likely to return the favor if the other person said more than "Awesome"... which a lot of people say in general. Those people are usually ignored... at least by me.
     
  13. Cobra517
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    Cobra517 New Member

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    I'm guilty of being "a reviewer of few words." I suppose I need to change my habits for the sake of the writer, but the thing is, half the stuff I read isn't even finished yet and I don't believe in messing with someone else's work when it's still in progress. Doing so can hurt as much as it helps, in my honest opinion.

    I also believe that stating "there are some grammatical errors" is better than going through the whole story and pointing out every single mistake. Why? Because these things will eventually be fixed by the editor if and when the author sells the piece. Besides, I'm not an English teacher and I shouldn't be expected to be one. Either you know most of the rules of the English language, or you don't.

    And as far as tearing apart a polished final draft, well, I'm an unpublished author, so I know absolutely nothing about what may or may not help a piece of work succeed. I can only tell the author what my overall opinion is. If I see any glaring errors, I will point them out. But other than that I tend to shy away from suggesting any major changes to the story.

    So my reviews tend to be brief...
     

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