Daye

Mistrust of Good Reviews

40 posts in this topic

I'm going to put in my twenty cents here (inflation you know).

As a reader, if a story is bad, and has no redeeming qualities that I can see, I absolutely will not leave a review for it.

The reason for that, is that regardless of the author maybe, possibly being willing to listen, if it's that bad, I'm too blunt to say anything at all that resembles positive concrit.

Were I to actually review something like that, yes, I'd manage to keep it from being a flame, but as blunt as I am, I promise my review to that kind of story would be very much LESS than kind. While I wouldn't intend to hurt someone's feelings, I know that I would. So, it's better that I say nothing at all on such a story.

Kurahieiritr and BronxWench like this

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To be fair, I don't think that there's any room to complain about reviews on a fic all being positive when what's being said is that you won't leave a negative review.

I understand DG is blunt as a spoon - and generally, so am I. Bronx is one of the most diplomatic individuals I know when it comes to saying something that needs said.

While we may have to disagree on the point of leaving the review, I appreciate your point about "tilting at windmills," though I've left enough concrit to know that there's about a 60/40 ratio - with the larger percentage being the ones who leave the review and will possibly learn from it. As for the 40, when they delete my review, or continue writing poorly, I stop reading their work.

As to the writers who want fanpoodles, yeah, we're all familiar with them. And they get the fanpoodles with their all of three recycled plot lines because they write in a popular genre. Those writers can usually be identified very quickly by their diva tendencies.

That being said, some people actually like being bad writers, because they see "everyone else" doing the same and think it's perfectly fine, and those of us who want more are the ones who are out of our gourds.

Well, I haven't gone 'round the twist - not just yet. But with the response to even the idea of leaving concrit on bad stories, I can answer the question originally asked "Can we trust good reviews?" with "No. Not unless they tell you a particular positive aspect of your story."

Kurahieiritr likes this

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Having combined a series of prompt-response oneshots into a single story, I had the opportunity to see all my reviews together for the first time, and I have to say, I'm delighted by the number of reviews that contained concrit. It was all valid, and I did take what was said to heart and tried to incorporate that into future prompt responses. Hopefully, I did grow as a writer.

But that is indeed the issue. The concrit was balanced. There was comments on what did work as well as what could have worked better, or didn't work at all. When I can't find a single positive thing to say, or when I'm confronted by something that requires multiple attempts to make sense of a single sentence, I can't find anything positive to say beyond, "I'm so glad you were able to turn on your computer."

I don't do polite lies, and if I couldn't get more than a paragraph into a story before I walk away, then I also feel no obligation to leave a review. What could I say, after all? "I read a paragraph of this story and was unable to continue." Anything further delves into the realm of being unnecessarily unkind, and as a member of the staff here, it is both inappropriate and inexcusable for me to leave such reviews.

Kurahieiritr likes this

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I don't do polite lies, and if I couldn't get more than a paragraph into a story before I walk away, then I also feel no obligation to leave a review. What could I say, after all? "I read a paragraph of this story and was unable to continue." Anything further delves into the realm of being unnecessarily unkind, and as a member of the staff here, it is both inappropriate and inexcusable for me to leave such reviews.

Point taken, and agreed. What I have done in those instances is tell them why.

Examples:

http://manga.adult-fanfiction.org/review.php?set=read&no=33

http://xmen.adult-fanfiction.org/review.php?set=read&no=169

http://movies.adult-fanfiction.org/review.php?set=read&no=600093924

http://inu.adult-fanfiction.org/review.php?set=read&no=600096693

http://xmen.adult-fanfiction.org/review.php?set=read&no=600005268

The manga one is the best example, but the others aren't exactly positive reviews, either. I take the time mostly because I would want the same courtesy. If someone can't make it through a paragraph of one of my stories, I need to know that, else I can't improve. I personally try not to post anything that I can't make it through myself, and I'm very demanding as a reader. I demand the same quality of myself as I would of any other writer.

I'm not saying we need to be "mean," but I am simply saying that if those stories that I consider "lacking" are never left any type of review that lets them know what needs to be worked on, then they'll never realize that the story could be improved. It could simply be an issue with personal preference, and if that is the case, I will note that (as I did on X-Men ID 600005268). But it could also be an issue with someone not speaking the language they are choosing to write in (the manga review), or choosing to write poorly (the movies review).

I don't consider those reviews mean. I consider them constructive criticism.

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This is probably an area where we'll need to agree to disagree.

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I'll just say that with my directness, should I happen upon a story that I honestly can't go further than a paragraph or two in to, I absolutely will not review, nor rate. I click the back arrow.

I'm not willing to further waste my time.

BronxWench likes this

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To be fair, I don't think that there's any room to complain about reviews on a fic all being positive when what's being said is that you won't leave a negative review.

What I'm saying is not that I won't leave a negative review, but that I won't leave a review that crosses the line from constructive criticism to destructive criticism. I am willing to say negative things, but I'm not willing to say only negative things without at least a single positive or neutral point. Because, whether intended as constructive or destructive, it'll only come across as destructive then.

There is a difference between "The idea behind this story was certainly interesting. However, I did not feel any real connection with the characters and the spelling and grammar mistakes jarred me out of the story at times. Perhaps you would benefit from acquiring a beta-reader? A couple of examples of what I mean are 'a' and 'b'." and "Sadly, the number of spelling and grammar mistakes made it difficult for me to get into the story. The characters seemed flat, with exception of "Character", which seems a bit of a Mary Sue to me. You contradict yourself on the time-line here, here and here, on the settings here and here, on the character background here and here. The basic plot you used has been overdone already and none of your plot-twists were creative or original."

Anesor and BronxWench like this

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I never said to leave destructive criticism. I do not feel that any of the examples I left were destructive. However, in order to be able to leave the second review that you typed, you would have had to have read significantly farther than the first paragraph.

I've already said, and Bronx has said as well, that we may just have to disagree here, because I don't think that telling someone that they need to work on the construction and presentation of their story, in polite terms, is in any way destructive.

Instead of

You contradict yourself on the time-line here, here and here, on the settings here and here, on the character background here and here

I would probably type:

I notice that in this scene you have X say this, but in this scene you have X say that. I felt that this was contradictory and weakened your plot as it is presented at this point. If this is something that is resolved in a future scene, then that's certainly something you might wish to indicate with a bit of foreshadowing. You might also want to be cognizant of where your characters are within a scene. If you intend to have them move around a lot during a scene, don't forget to convey that to your readers. I appreciate a change of scenery as much as the next reader, but knowing how the characters arrived at B when they were just at A strengthens your storytelling.

Instead of

The characters seemed flat, with exception of "Character", which seems a bit of a Mary Sue to me

I would probably type:

I noticed that Y was dynamic, and s/he was able to help forward your plot. The remainder of your characters, however, seemed a little lacking in depth. I would like to recommend a reference to help you to understand the different types of characterizations.

http://www.k-state.edu/english/baker/english320/cc-static_vs_dynamic_characterization.htm

This article may help you to understand the benefit of more dynamic characters. As a character changes, in the way that Y does, they draw your reader more fully into your story which strengthens your tale overall.

There is a means of saying what you said that's constructive, even while pointing out the flaws in the story. I'm not telling the writer that the entire story is garbage, and though your version would be harsh, it isn't either. I noticed that even though you said that it was an instance where you said you had nothing positive to say, you still did. You said that "character" wasn't flat the way the others were. So that's still something positive, something to point them to as a model for developing their other characters.

Bronx and DG are saying that if they can't make it past the first paragraph then they won't leave a review, which is an admittedly different scenario. I recognize that this

"I'm sorry, I was unable to read this story because I was mentally correcting the grammar the entire time. Please obtain a beta and make use of your spellcheck feature."

would be destructive by your definition. Though it only took less than a minute to type.

That's why I tend to note on stories like that

I apologize but I'm not able to give you a good content review of your tale. I was distracted by the grammar and spelling errors. I feel you may benefit from the services of a beta. You can peruse the forum here:

http://www2.adult-fanfiction.org/forum/index.php/forum/83-become-a-beta/

for those offering their services.

Happy writing to you.

I understand they don't feel it's worth their time, but that's a stock review. Much like "I enjoyed this story a lot, can you add some more chapters?"

(edit for typo)

Edited by RogueMudblood

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Y'see, my point with this is that were I to review such a story, I can PROMISE you that whatever I had to say would be very blunt, and certainly construed as hurtful at the least. Hence the not leaving them at all for me in such a for instance. Not even on another site where I'm not staff.

Anesor likes this

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((Off-topic, but we all seem to be going a fair bit off the original topic. Was thinking of creating a new thread for the discussion at hands, but wanted to know what you all figured before I went ahead.)

Rogue, if what I said came across as "you're telling me to leave destructive reviews", my apology, such was not my intention at all.

What I meant to say is that even if you/I/someone else words it contructively, a review that only has negative points to make will be more-or-less automatically seen as either flame or destructive by the person it's intended for. The example I left is not the wording I would use, but the points it boils down to. The points the author will pick up on, whether I word it as "your characters are all flat or Mary-Sues" or "Your protagonist was dynamic, though perhaps a little too flawless, but the remainder of your characters seemed to lack a little depth."

Yes, the second is more kind to say and all-across the better way to say something. The points made remain the same for the most part, however.

I see a character not being flat, but being a Mary Sue instead, not as something positive, nor as something the author should keep in mind for the development of their remaining characters.

I also mentioned a few posts ago that by far the most such stories are stories where I would under different circumstances have backed-out after the first paragraph or two at most. Essentially, they're the exact same category except for the fact that, for one reason or another, circumstances caused me to feel that was not an option, resulting in me reading several more such paragraphs with the increasing urge to click away from it.

We seem to be mostly agreeing on such stories, albeit with the difference that you'd rather leave a stock-review notifying them of the joys of using spell-check and a beta, whereas I choose to not leave a review over a stock-review of any kind. Whether it is the "please update" kind, the "nice story, I liked it" kind, the "not my kind of story" kind or the one you mentioned. I have a personal aversion to stock-reviews (or copy-and-paste reviews as I call them) of any kind, though I do realize that for others, they might work. Personal preference, and what works or doesn't work for me may very well not work or do work for you.

Edited by SillySilenia

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I don't actually think that this is off topic for the original question of whether good reviews in general can be trusted. Your general 'good' review of "more please" is so prevalent because readers tend to be afraid to say exactly what they think about a piece. So I do think that a discussion of why you wouldn't leave a review of how the story needs work fits into this conversation, given that it directly highlights why the question needed to be asked in the first place.

Why should we be concerned over whether we can trust a good review? Because even the crap stories get them. And generally they're exactly the same.

The last quote in my last post you can Google and come up with a lot of reviews. Because that's exactly what that person types on every single story they read.

So if every story they read warrants a "good" review, then obviously they like everything, regardless of content. But what if you didn't know that? What if it was someone who changed their reviews enough - using a base stock formula? Say they left a review on your story that says "Good job! I really like this. When's the next update?" and one on a story that has clearly never seen spellcheck that says "I really liked this! I hope your next chapter comes soon." - can you trust the review you got from them? No. You can't. Because they leave that on every story.

If what's being agreed upon is that it's not worth the time to leave a review - and DG, I understand your reasons, I'm not debating that point - telling the posting user that they could benefit from some grammar lessons (but more nicely, obviously), then we're also agreeing that the general "good job" "great fic" "this was nice" review cannot be trusted.

Anesor likes this

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I get positive reviews from folks who read my stories and I don’t know why they’d go out of their way to leave disingenuous paragraphs of encouragement.

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Could you explain what you mean by ‘disingenuous paragraphs of encouragement?’ Sadly, a lot of reviews are short of meat to them, so all you get are feelings.  Sometimes you get helpful details to improve problems or understand what works, but that is a minority for me.  For me, any more detail than a like makes my week.

mastershakeme likes this

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7 hours ago, Anesor said:

Could you explain what you mean by ‘disingenuous paragraphs of encouragement?’ Sadly, a lot of reviews are short of meat to them, so all you get are feelings.  Sometimes you get helpful details to improve problems or understand what works, but that is a minority for me.  For me, any more detail than a like makes my week.

All my reviews are full paragraphs and very encouraging so I have no reason to mistrust them because I don’t think folks would take the time to think out specific review thoughts in paragraph form if they weren’t being genuine.

mastershakeme likes this

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11 hours ago, Anesor said:

Sadly, a lot of reviews are short of meat to them, so all you get are feelings.  Sometimes you get helpful details to improve problems or understand what works, but that is a minority for me.  For me, any more detail than a like makes my week.

Agreed… I just posted a new chapter to my latest story and thought it was pretty exciting… I didn’t get anything off AFF, which I was expecting, but the other two sites I’m on I got a weird combo of super breif ‘Yay! New update!’ and ‘The next chapter will be hard to wait for’. Well, ok. I’m super sorry. Lol. Maybe a lil encouragement would help. i wasn’t shy about mentioning my writers block in the authors note… At least I know they’re coming back. I guess I have that going for me. 

4 hours ago, Anon said:

All my reviews are full paragraphs and very encouraging so I have no reason to mistrust them because I don’t think folks would take the time to think out specific review thoughts in paragraph form if they weren’t being genuine.

You lucky dog! The best reviews I got were from betas, and that’s because they focused on the technical aspect of the writing. Besides getting short, although positive, resonses from commentors like @Anesor said, I’ve gotten my fair share of criticism. People don’t like this character, or my research on a particular place was SHITTY! Lol. But it’s all part of the writing game… We talk to other writers and get tips to improve, and hopefully we see some sort of reply from our readers. But expecting it, can sorta set you up for failure. I’m not going to do that. What comes, comes and I’ll be happy either way :P this is my story and I’m having fun playing with my characters! Whooo!

Anesor likes this

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