1. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Writing Workshop Standards

    Discussion in 'Announcements' started by Wreybies, Oct 25, 2013.

    The goal of the Writing Workshop is twofold. For the writer to get a number of viewpoints other than their own in their work in progress, and for the critic to learn to appreciate both successes and opportunities in execution in a more objective manner, given that the work being critiqued is not one's own. The hope being that the honing of that objective eye becomes a sharper tool one can bring to bear on one's own work.

    If you have nothing of value to offer to the writer, nothing constructive, then walk away from the piece. Just as an empty "Awesome!" is meaningless, derision is also of value to no one and only sets to light a fire to which others are drawn like moths, which brings us to the next topic.

    In this forum, the guideline is that all commentary in a critique is to be aimed at the OP's work in progress, not at others who have already given their opinions or the opinions themselves. There have been a number of threads in the Workshop this past week that have taken on a one on one debate aspect because members are critiquing critiques, not the OP's work. This is completely unacceptable. The Workshop is the core of this forum. It is its heart. This is one wall that will not be breached by the debate dynamic. It doesn't matter if the debate is had under the paradigm of perfect debate decorum. It doesn't matter if you have been here since day one and have enjoyed a silent pass on this kind of thing up until now. All such passes are now expired and not renewable. If you're thinking, "Surely this doesn't apply to me," yes, it applies to you because it applies to everyone. You, me, everyone. The original Workshop thread should stay focused on critique of the piece of work at hand. If a more general concept comes to mind, take that to the upper regions of the forum designed precisely for such discussion. Of course, doing so doesn't mean those new threads should become venues for spitting venom at one another - they will be moderated, just like any threads - but they will help keep the Workshop clean of off-topic debates. The heart of the forum will stay healthy, and to that health our commitment is unbending. The Workshop is sacrosanct. Measures will be swift and strict. The moderation team is in concert on this matter.

    If you're wondering as to the fairness of all this, imagine for a moment that the thread is your own, your work, not just some silly topic, and it has just been closed to further valuable insight because members were unable to follow some simple rules. If you see any of this in your Workshop thread then do the following: Reporting a Post

    The Staff
     
  2. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Very heartily seconded!
     
  3. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    One of the important aspects of the local critique group I belong to is no one talks while one person is critiquing. It needs to be gently reminded from time to time if people begin debating another critic's critique or if the critique digresses into a group discussion instead of a critique. I can attest to the usefulness of this rule. One has their chance to say directly to the writer that you do or don't see the same things another critic found, but one does so addressing the writer, not addressing the other critic.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's also highly inappropriate for the author to debate critiques with the critiquers.

    To begin with, to process critique, you MUST turn off your defensiveness and put your attention into listening to/seeing what the critiquers are saying.

    Second, if you argue with every critique, critiquers will go elsewhere, where people value the effort they put into the critique. And it will serve you right for driving them away.

    So after you post, sit on your hands and emulate a sponge, apart from thanking people for their effort
     
  5. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Okay, I'll certainly keep this in mind when I'm critiquing. Never respond to what another critiquer says. Never. Not even to say you agree with them.

    I do feel that sometimes an exchange with the author can be beneficial though.

    If the author says 'no, that's not what I meant, I meant to convey this instead,' you can then respond with ideas to help them achieve that goal, and also show them why their posted snippet didn't quite come across as they'd intended.

    This is not the same as arguing with them, which I agree is inappropriate.
     
  6. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    If the critic you agreed with or didn't agree with would not reply back to you, I'd have no problem saying, "I agree with..." then go on with your take on the piece. In a group with instant peer pressure, it's not a problem. When critic 1 replies and begins to discuss the matter with critic 2, the rest of the group squirms perceptibly and looks at critic one with disapproval. ;) Critic 1 usually gets the message.

    On the forum without that immediate feedback, once critic 1 replies to critic 2's opinion and the exchange Wrey is warning against is prone to ensue.

    I would suggest one not be reluctant to say, I agree or disagree with [the above, or X], but that be clear critic 2 is directly addressing the OP and not addressing critic 1. In addition simply don't reply to critic 1's post if said person tries to address critic 2.

    A simpler option is just to give your critique without noting it agrees or disagrees with another critic's post.
     
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  7. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    This is a skill worth learning.
     
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  8. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    A simple thank-you or any kind of acknowledgement from the OP to someone who has taken the time and made a concerted effort to help out should be mandatory. And like for like, if someone critiques your piece, you should do likewise - it's nice to be nice.

    When I critique a piece I skip past everybody else's 'notes' so as not to be swayed. I'll say my peace then go back to see if anyone agreed with me or not.

    Also I agree with @jannert an exchange between the OP and the Critic is healthy - critics arguing over the merits of the piece is ridiculous and only destroys the OP and probably any chance of him/her learning anything worthwhile.
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2013
  9. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    This is precisely the issue. Since the conversation has no time limitations, no realtime pressure, no actual humans present, the controls that would be quietly present in a live, sit-down group are missing. The threads in question that spawned this post all devolved into arguments syntactically directed at the OP, but contextually directed at another member who had given critique, what we call in Spanish un plaito de indirectos.

    When I trained as a military linguist, one of the first things I got hammered into my head is that when the audio transmission is poor and you are having trouble extracting what was said, when you get someone else to lend an ear, never, ever, ever tell them what you think you hear. Ever. You'll have ruined their ear for the recording at hand. They will now only hear what you said. I saw airmen commit that blunder and the person who was going to help them simply put the headphones down and walked away without a word of explanation because none was needed. That's the paradigm I use when critiquing. I do want to read different points of view that were offered to the OP, else how else will I learn to expand my own, but I'll read other critiques only after I've done mine, thus the agree or disagree dynamic never raises its head. Please know that isn't meant to be read as instructions. It's not for me to tell people how to read what they are going to read. That's simply how I do it and why.
     
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  10. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Funny you should say that Wrey, there's a new guy in our critique group who I'm certain copies what's been said. I've tuned him out more than once because his critique is not his own and whatever he is saying has already been said. Hopefully he's learning and will one day offer his own observations.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It sounds like he's listening, at least. That's a good starting point.

    Maybe everyone can conspire for him to offer first critique on occasion.
     
  12. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    We do that, we alternate who goes first. He's an odd duck, but everyone deserves a chance so I'm giving him one, seeing if/how he grows. I did, I started off telling people I had very little to say, because I didn't. Now I'm a much better writer and critic. There are still people in the group I'm in awe of because they see things I had no idea were there.
     

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