Comment on the outro: in general, I've noticed the regular board posters tend to be much, much, much more critical than those who post on the blog. Its an interesting trend. Sometimes it feels (and this is just my perception here, don't hurt me!) like people treat it like a critiquing session, like they have to find something to criticize. Or maybe I'm just way less picky than other people, I donno.
I like 99.9999% of the stories posted on EP & PC (not a huge horror fan), so when any given story is given "a rousing chorus of mehs" as it were, I'm usually left very confused and having to stifle the urge to give a "well I liked it. SO THERE" type response :p
I'd like to comment on this, and I hope you won't take it personally, Talia, because you're not the only person I've noticed who has this reaction to the forumites who consistently give feedback on stories and so I'm just kind of using your quote as a jumping off point and not taking you to task for your statements. I doubt anyone will dispute that I can be highly critical of stories. Sometimes, once I've deconstructed a story in comments, people will follow my comments with "Well I just enjoyed it for its own sake, and I don't have to think about it or analyze a story to enjoy it." or sometimes, less kindly, with "You're overanalyzing. Why can't you just listen to a story and leave it alone."
I like to enjoy stories for what they are too, but at heart I'm a geek. And geeks take things apart. Some people take apart car engines or computer programs or transistor radios and poke around inside them to see how they work. I take apart stories and poke at them and think about how the pieces are put together. My desire to talk about stories is not directly related to whether I like them or not. In other words, I often criticize things I quite like, and I find this confounds people but I'm not sure why. On the other hand, there are stories that don't hold up well to being thought about or analyzed. In my opinion these are lesser stories, but that's purely subjective taste talking, not a determination about objective quality. A story I can fruitfully analyze is potentially a story I can enjoy twice, when I first listen and then when I offer (and read) criticism. Sometimes ALL the enjoyment I get out of the story is in criticism. I don't like the story, but I can still get some joy out of picking it apart and thinking about why I didn't like it. Or in seeing others pick it apart. It's just part of a process.
There are stories that I don't feel motivated to analyze, stories I can either toss into the 'not for me' or 'that was nice' pile without giving them a second thought. I can identify with not having much to say about a piece. I admit, though, I'm perplexed as to why anyone (except perhaps the author) actually cares whether I'm critical of a story or not. Why does an analysis on my part correspond to something about you and your enjoyment? All it means is I'm a story geek. You may be some different kind of geek or no geek at all. The idea that it's rude, or snobbily intellectual, or a waste of time to engage in critique is not automatically true. Neither is it true that critique is mutually exclusive with enjoyment of the piece.
That said, in any forum there's people who talk just to hear their head rattle, as my grandmother would say, but that has less to do with stories and story critique than the natural landscape of message forums.