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News: The FINAL ROUND of the PseudoPod Flash Fiction Contest has begun!
 
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Author Topic: A suggestion for readers  (Read 836 times)
Cutter McKay
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« on: July 07, 2017, 12:51:31 PM »

Hi everyone.

So, I'm a little late here, I wanted to post this before the first group went up, but alas, life happened.

For those who don't know me, I'm Cutter (AKA Josh), and this isn't my first rodeo. I've submitted stories to several of the previous flash fiction contests, to varying degrees of success. I love them, and I"m so excited to see so many new authors participating.

I wanted to make a suggestion, though, for the new readers, and the old. One pattern I've noticed over the last many contests is a tendency for the first two or three responses to a story to color the rest of the discussion. Sometimes that's good, sometimes it's bad. I don't have the actual numbers to prove it, but it seems to me that if the first few responses to a story are negative, then the rest tend to follow suit. And vice versa for positive comments. What I think happens, and I could be wrong, is that people read the story, and form their own opinion of it, and then they read all the comments before they post their own response, or vote. The other comments then affect their initial opinion and they say things like, "At first I liked this story, but I can see So-and-so's point that it had some problems".

My suggestion here--take it or leave it--is to read the stories, write your own responses, and vote BEFORE you read the other comments. Let your own raw opinion inform your decisions, rather than the opinions of the other voters, or the discussions that take place after the stories.

NOTE: I'm not saying everyone does this, and I recognize that if a story gets a lot of negative feedback, it's probably just not a very good story. So if you don't want to follow my suggestion here, that's fine. It's just a theory I've been mulling over through the last few contests. I'd be interested to hear from some of the other old-timers on whether they agree or not.

Either way, have fun with the stories and contest. That's what really matters.  Smiley
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-Josh Morrey-
http://joshmorreywriting.blogspot.com/
"Remember: You have not yet written your best work." -Tracy Hickman
danooli
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« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2017, 02:26:02 PM »

I agree with this, actually. What I have done this time around (starting with the Amaru league) is I created a google doc and linked each story to it, and am writing my comments there first, and I can order them in my preference.  Sometimes it's not easy to avoid seeing the top comment or two, but I am trying hard to not allow other opinions to color my own.
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FictionPhial
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« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2017, 03:02:00 PM »

I am in the fortunate position of being in the UK, and having small children who like to wake me up early - today I saw all the stories naked and comment-less  Cheesy
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astrokath
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« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2017, 03:16:57 PM »

I've been so eager that I've mostly been reading/commenting on my phone. Makes it tricky to read the stories and write a coherent response, but it does cut down the chance that I'll read anyone else's comments before I write my own. (Unless I actively look for someone who's already said what I want to say, to save my lazy fingers some work...)
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danooli
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« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2017, 03:39:31 PM »

I agree with this, actually. What I have done this time around (starting with the Amaru league) is I created a google doc and linked each story to it, and am writing my comments there first, and I can order them in my preference.  Sometimes it's not easy to avoid seeing the top comment or two, but I am trying hard to not allow other opinions to color my own.

BTW...I adopted this method from astrokath  Grin
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astrokath
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« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2017, 04:27:22 PM »

Heh. I'll be going back to that method for the later rounds, when it gets harder to separate the stories and I love them all too much!
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Superrob
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« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2017, 09:48:10 PM »

I've been trying to scroll past the comments quickly and develop my own thoughts. It would be easier if the story loaded first on the forums, but I have this free will thing going for me. Pretty sure, anyway. It's like 90 percent.
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asato
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« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2017, 12:16:30 AM »

I agree that it's a good idea to form your own opinion first. Starting with the second or third round, I avoided reading the comments. I only read the comments after I formed my initial opinion and then usually only for the ones that I was on the fence about.
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quercus
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« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2017, 08:49:50 AM »

I completely agree with this, and it's absolutely what I've been doing! It definitely helps on the odd occasion when I've loved an unpopular story, or, more usually, when I've been indifferent towards a popular one. I'm definitely the kind of person who second-guesses opinions if I'm in the minority, so, knowing this, I've been making sure I cast my votes before reading any comments.
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Schrodingrr
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« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2017, 07:05:59 PM »

Mmkay. I'll play Devil's Advocate, here...
While the initial comments may play a role in coloring the ensuing discussion, I don't believe they play a huge part in a voter's ultimate decision. When I open up a story, I can usually tell within the first couple of sentences whether or not the piece I'm reading is a contender for the finals. I'll admit to cruising the comments when I'm having a hard time deciding between, say, four stories I like, but that has only happened once for me so far in this contest. In any case, scrolling down from a story I love and seeing 20 negative comments isn't going to sway me from my decision to vote for a story. Conversely, I don't care how universally-loved a story is in the comments, if I don't like the piece, I'm not going to vote for it. Additionally, our lovely forumites are not shy about voicing an unpopular opinion in the face of overwhelming feedback to the contrary, and the fact that disagreements can be voiced in a civil and well-considered manner without the conversation devolving into the sort of trollish behavior seen elsewhere is one of the reasons I love the EA forums so much!
TL/DR: You like what you like. You don't like what you don't like. And if you're easily swayed in your decision-making process by the opinions of others with regard to what you do and don't like, then I don't think that's necessarily a feature of the contest's format. Wink
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Cutter McKay
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« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2017, 08:41:57 AM »

Mmkay. I'll play Devil's Advocate, here...

Sweet. Let's get some discussion going here. Wink

While the initial comments may play a role in coloring the ensuing discussion, I don't believe they play a huge part in a voter's ultimate decision.

And this is what I've been wondering. Like I said, I don't have the stats to prove one way or the other, it's more of a suspicion I've had.

Quote
I can usually tell within the first couple of sentences whether or not the piece I'm reading is a contender for the finals.

And I do think that's true for most stories. As I said in my initial rant, if a story gets a lot of negative feedback, it's probably just not a very good story.

Quote
Conversely, I don't care how universally-loved a story is in the comments, if I don't like the piece, I'm not going to vote for it.

I'm the same way. In fact, since I'm trying NOT to read any comments until after I vote, there have been several stories that I thought just didn't work, but they're on the top of the voting list, and I go back and read all the love in the comments, and I still don't get it. My opinion doesn't change, (or at least, it hasn't yet based on that). However, I also have seen several comments in this contest about people who have changed their votes later to a different story, (I honestly didn't even know that was an option. I've never changed my vote after casting it), and I wonder how much of that was based on their own opinions changing, (from say, mulling the stories over for a while), and how many were affected by the discussion afterward. I don't know.

Quote
Additionally, our lovely forumites are not shy about voicing an unpopular opinion in the face of overwhelming feedback to the contrary, and the fact that disagreements can be voiced in a civil and well-considered manner without the conversation devolving into the sort of trollish behavior seen elsewhere is one of the reasons I love the EA forums so much!

Amen, my friend.  Grin

Thanks for taking an opposing stance here, Schrodingrr, I'm hoping this will prompt some more discussion here, because I'm really interested in this question of how much crowd mentality plays a part in this process. (Not interested enough to do any real science about it. WAY too lazy for that. Wink )
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-Josh Morrey-
http://joshmorreywriting.blogspot.com/
"Remember: You have not yet written your best work." -Tracy Hickman
norand
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« Reply #11 on: July 22, 2017, 10:51:44 AM »

However, I also have seen several comments in this contest about people who have changed their votes later to a different story, (I honestly didn't even know that was an option. I've never changed my vote after casting it), and I wonder how much of that was based on their own opinions changing, (from say, mulling the stories over for a while), and how many were affected by the discussion afterward. I don't know.
So in general I agree with your suggestion. It's been easy for me to follow it—some alignment between my routine and Ocicat's posting schedule has meant that I have often been one of the first to read and comment.

But I have changed my vote due to the discussion once. I realised, thanks to comments, that I missed some (fairly obvious) key subtext in a story, which started me rethinking about it. In the end, I decided it was enough to send it above a third choice that I was already a little iffy about. The original third choice and its replacement both got knocked out anyway.

I don't think I'm likely to switch votes like that again, but it could happen, especially in later rounds where the choices are likely to be harder.
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eytanz
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« Reply #12 on: July 24, 2017, 10:31:42 AM »

However, I also have seen several comments in this contest about people who have changed their votes later to a different story, (I honestly didn't even know that was an option. I've never changed my vote after casting it), and I wonder how much of that was based on their own opinions changing, (from say, mulling the stories over for a while), and how many were affected by the discussion afterward. I don't know.

I've changed my votes a handful times over the history of forum contests, and to my memory it's usually because of something someone said, giving a perspective that I haven't had. It's not sufficient that the consensus disagrees with me, but like norand said above, it has to be a case where someone said something specific that made me see the story in a different light, either positive or negative.
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Devoted135
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« Reply #13 on: August 01, 2017, 12:57:25 PM »

I've been reading/ranking the stories (I have a tab for each and put favorites all he way to the left as I read them. Then I see that I have X number to consider voting for, and narrow that down. Then I read the comments and vote last.

I'm usually 2/3 with the voting trends, but sometimes 1/3. Rarely 0/3 or 3/3 in these first round groups. BUT I frequently haven't voted for the top vote getter. Tongue


I've changed my votes a handful times over the history of forum contests, and to my memory it's usually because of something someone said, giving a perspective that I haven't had. It's not sufficient that the consensus disagrees with me, but like norand said above, it has to be a case where someone said something specific that made me see the story in a different light, either positive or negative.

Yes, me too in a few cases.
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