Constructive criticism v. flaming

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Thread: Constructive criticism v. flaming

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    Let's get funky! Gama's Avatar Former Head Administrator
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    Default Constructive criticism v. flaming

    In this section, there can be a fine line between pointing out mistakes or errors and just being rude.

    There is never any call to flat out insult someone's work. It takes a lot of guts to post your writing online and people should not be discouraged from doing so by insults. Always make sure that whenever you point out the flaws in someone's work you do so with a mind to helping them improve and do so in as friendly a manner as possible. If your remarks are unnecessarily rude, their helpfulness will inevitably be eclipsed by the hurt that they cause.

    Additionally, if someone says they don't want any negative feedback, that is their choice. It is not up to you to say that they should take it because that is the only way they can improve.

    If you feel that someone has been too mean in their review, whether that be about your work or with comments directed personally at you, please report it. (To do this, click the little triangle with an exclamation mark inside it near the bottom of the post.) If you're not sure if your complaint is legitimate, it's still alright to report it. It's not always possible for the Writer's Workshop to read every single reply so it is important that if you think someone has stepped out of line you do report it.

    Thanks for your help and I hope you all continue to enjoy your time in the Workshop! :)

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    Default Re: Constructive criticism v. flaming

    It really puts me off when people have a "I'm better than you" approach to their reviews. It's ok to point out mistakes and suggest ways to improve them, but you can do it without the rudeness. I don't see why people feel that they have to be rude to other writers, we're all in the Writer's Workshop for the same reason. Everyone should be able to feel safe and have fun. Just my 2 cents. :p
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    Default Re: Constructive criticism v. flaming

    Perhaps it might help if we were to also post some guidelines to point out the differences between constructive criticism and flaming?

    It might give folks a better idea of what to write when they're reviewing someone's work.
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    Let's get funky! Gama's Avatar Former Head Administrator
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    Default Re: Constructive criticism v. flaming

    Quote Originally Posted by The Booty Warrior View Post
    Perhaps it might help if we were to also post some guidelines to point out the differences between constructive criticism and flaming?

    It might give folks a better idea of what to write when they're reviewing someone's work.
    This is something we could look into if there is any demand for it.

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    Default Re: Constructive criticism v. flaming

    No matter how poorly written something is, you can usually find at least a couple good things to point out about it. When giving constructive criticism I believe its always best to also point out the things the person is doing well, not just the bad. For one, it softens the blow of the criticism, especially when structured so that you begin on a good note and end on one as well. For another, pointing out the things the person is good at is very helpful, so that person can begin to focus and take advantage of their strengths, as well as being encouraging.

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    Secret Sword of Justice Kelleo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Constructive criticism v. flaming

    Quote Originally Posted by NoirGrimoir View Post
    No matter how poorly written something is, you can usually find at least a couple good things to point out about it. When giving constructive criticism I believe its always best to also point out the things the person is doing well, not just the bad. For one, it softens the blow of the criticism, especially when structured so that you begin on a good note and end on one as well. For another, pointing out the things the person is good at is very helpful, so that person can begin to focus and take advantage of their strengths, as well as being encouraging.
    THIS. A million times. I know I don't really post in this section anymore because I decided to leave, but I really needed to reply to this. I've been saying this exactly to people for ages, but they never understood me and just claimed I wasn't accepting their critique and was just arguing with them. It sickened me and still does.

    Also, I'm considering returning to this section. I haven't decided for sure though.

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    is obsessed with Noivern! Zekurom's Avatar
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    Default Re: Constructive criticism v. flaming

    Just like I believe that a Mary Sue isn't just about the balance between good and bad traits, I think that a helpful review isn't just about the balance between finding good and bad points.

    More than anything, a review should be detailed. Don't just say that something is good or bad, say why. If it's good, tell the author what made it good. If it's bad, tell the author what made it bad and how he can make it good.

    A scathing review with a few good points shoehorned in for "balance"'s sake won't make the author feel any better about it. Conversely, a gushy review with a few bad points wedged in there just so that the author can "cover all the sides" won't help the author improve. Meanwhile, it's possible to write reviews that are entirely negative that still aren't rude or imposing in any way and even make the author feel better, as well as reviews that are entirely positive with no criticism at all that still help the author improve. It's all in the way you structure it, how you phrase it, and what points you hit on.

    Also, one point that I should probably point out - never use declarative, judgmental statements in a constructive review. Don't make claims like "This fic's character is well-written" or "Your grammar is bad here". Use terms like "I like how this character is written" and "There is a problem with your grammar here", and then expand on why, of course. These tend to be taken better, as they don't seem as judgmental. (Now, obviously "never" doesn't really mean never, but if you ever do use a statement like that, always think twice about how you're using it and whether you can't phrase it differently.)
    Last edited by Zekurom; 19th January 2013 at 12:52 PM.
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    Let's get funky! Gama's Avatar Former Head Administrator
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    Default Re: Constructive criticism v. flaming

    Quote Originally Posted by Zekurom View Post
    A scathing review with a few good points shoehorned in for "balance"'s sake won't make the author feel any better about it.
    While I agree with the general sentiment of your post: that detail, reasoning and non-declarative statements are the way to achieve what I was talking about in the OP (ie. help without flaming) most effectively, I have to disagree with the quoted statement. While this may not be true with all authors (I certainly don't claim to be able to tell you what you like best), in many cases finding something that the author is good at, among all the issues, can be a big help to them. It can be scary posting your stuff online and, even if it is really helpful, a review that is entirely full of criticism can sometimes make you feel like you ought to give up (particularly if it's someone who hasn't been writing for as long as you or I, Zek), whereas pointing out the things that are done well (and inevitably there are some if you look hard enough, I am not saying you should make things up) can encourage people to keep trying and help them realise that they can be good.

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    Default Re: Constructive criticism v. flaming

    I have seen on other sites and boards where people will post some crap shot review and it's nothing but "This sucks" "What the hell was that?" or "You can't write worth a damn" That's not only flaming but just being an out right asshole who needs to be punched in the face.

    I have people on FanFiction that will say on the things I post: "Ohh I really like that" "I loved this chapter" and things like that. While I love the comments it doesn't really do jack squat for me.

    When I posted my story and saw that @Gama reviewed it I just about did back flips I was so excited. Finally I had gotten a true review and it helped me out A LOT. Tell me what you didn't like or what you thought was wrong. I might be able to fix it for the next chapter.

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    Default Re: Constructive criticism v. flaming

    Quote Originally Posted by Gama View Post
    It can be scary posting your stuff online and, even if it is really helpful, a review that is entirely full of criticism can sometimes make you feel like you ought to give up (particularly if it's someone who hasn't been writing for as long as you or I, Zek), whereas pointing out the things that are done well (and inevitably there are some if you look hard enough, I am not saying you should make things up) can encourage people to keep trying and help them realise that they can be good.
    This a million times too! I've also felt like giving up when all people do is tell me the bad and leave it at that. It makes me feel like a failure. And all they do in response is tell me to suck it up and take it like a real writer and that I won't ever get anywhere if I don't listen to posts like those. But it's not that easy when all they seem to say in their critique is that I'm doing everything wrong and I can't get anything right.

    Also, pointing out one's strengths, in either art OR writing, tells the writer/artist that they're not a complete failure and have potential. People have also told me I have potential too and I appreciated that, but WHY? What exactly am I doing right here? They're not telling me. It's as if they're just saying it act nice when they really think I suck.

    @Caite-chan;: I felt the same way when Gama reviewed my Cilan one-shot awhile back. I jumped for joy at how kind he was and he pointed out both the good AND bad. He was way different than some other people were to me. Those other people claim that you have to be harsh because sugar-coating the truth won't do jack for the person. But Gama wasn't harsh nor did he sugar-coat anything. He was being truthful, yet polite at the same time. There's a fine line between being politely honest and sugar-coating something.

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    is obsessed with Noivern! Zekurom's Avatar
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    Default Re: Constructive criticism v. flaming

    Quote Originally Posted by Gama View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Zekurom View Post
    A scathing review with a few good points shoehorned in for "balance"'s sake won't make the author feel any better about it.
    While I agree with the general sentiment of your post: that detail, reasoning and non-declarative statements are the way to achieve what I was talking about in the OP (ie. help without flaming) most effectively, I have to disagree with the quoted statement. While this may not be true with all authors (I certainly don't claim to be able to tell you what you like best), in many cases finding something that the author is good at, among all the issues, can be a big help to them.
    I didn't mean to say that you shouldn't talk about good things if you notice them (or even that you shouldn't look for good things to talk about), and I apologize if it came off that way. What I mean is that if you have a hard time finding good things about it and your review comes off as really mean because of that, trying to stack in a few superficial things to try to make you look "nicer" than the rest of your review betrays you as won't help. The solution, of course, is not to give up trying to be nice altogether, but to make the negative parts more constructive and less hurtful.

    I was really cautioning against trying to use a few "good" things that they found to excuse the harshness of the rest of the review, which some people will invariably do.

    It can be scary posting your stuff online and, even if it is really helpful, a review that is entirely full of criticism can sometimes make you feel like you ought to give up (particularly if it's someone who hasn't been writing for as long as you or I, Zek), whereas pointing out the things that are done well (and inevitably there are some if you look hard enough, I am not saying you should make things up) can encourage people to keep trying and help them realise that they can be good.
    This is true. The onus, then, is on the reviewer to find some genuinely good things, and talk about them as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelleo
    This a million times too! I've also felt like giving up when all people do is tell me the bad and leave it at that. It makes me feel like a failure. And all they do in response is tell me to suck it up and take it like a real writer and that I won't ever get anywhere if I don't listen to posts like those. But it's not that easy when all they seem to say in their critique is that I'm doing everything wrong and I can't get anything right.
    This attitude is a hundred, no, a thousand times worse than the bad review itself. Don't listen to people like those. They do not have your interests at heart.
    The word "quadragonal" is the only word with "dragon" in it where "dragon" is not a root word. That makes it awesome.

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    Default Re: Constructive criticism v. flaming

    @Zekurom;: That's what I always figured.

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    is obsessed with Noivern! Zekurom's Avatar
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    Default Re: Constructive criticism v. flaming

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelleo View Post
    @Zekurom;: That's what I always figured.
    Well, I'm telling you that you're right. :P
    The word "quadragonal" is the only word with "dragon" in it where "dragon" is not a root word. That makes it awesome.

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    Secret Sword of Justice Kelleo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Constructive criticism v. flaming

    Quote Originally Posted by Zekurom View Post

    Well, I'm telling you that you're right. :P
    Well, of course. :P

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    Lightbulb Re: Constructive criticism v. flaming

    Here's the difference as I would see it.

    This is constructive criticism: "It's a good fanfic, but I noticed that you have quite a few typographical errors. There are also some words you got confused, like "than" and "then". Also, I think Lyra's reaction to her stolen Jigglypuff was unrealistic. I don't think she would just shrug it off. Personally, I didn't like that you portrayed Morty as a jerk, but I guess we can agree to disagree."

    This is flaming: "BOO! U SUCK! DIS IS THE WORST FANFIC OF ALL TIEM! U CANT WRITE WORTH SHIT! HOW COULD YOU PORTRAY MORTY AS AN ASSHOLE? WHY IS LYRA NOT CARING ABOUT HER STOLEN JIGGLYPUFF? BOO!"

    (Not a real fanfic, but I'm using a hypothetical example.)
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