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Author Topic: Is this disrespectful? (was: Re: EP494: The Retgun)  (Read 16340 times)
FullMetalAttorney
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« on: June 08, 2015, 12:59:14 PM »

I was going to leave well enough alone and say nothing more in this thread, but then there's this:

Hey everyone: a note on commentary/criticism.

Criticism is always very much appreciated. However, we have one rule on this forum, and that's to be civil and respectful. Some of the comments in this thread are very difficult to read that way. Suggesting that someone sounds drunk, or has something in their mouth is not respectful or polite. That's how we lose people volunteering hours of their time to EA.


I don't see how suggesting a person sounds like she has candy in her mouth is disrespectful. That's exactly how she sounded. It's a specific, concrete criticism. (And it's pretty similar to sounding drunk.) I also agreed with the comment that "she also does [the] very stranges[t] things in terms of [speeding] up and concatenating syllables."

If that's considered disrespectful around here, please just ban me now and we can all move on with our lives. I'm simply not willing to be involved in this community if that's not acceptable discussion.

I was going to add more, but I think what I wrote goes beyond the scope of the discussion here, so I'll be sending you a private message.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2015, 01:37:22 PM by FullMetalAttorney » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2015, 02:32:10 PM »

I don't see how suggesting a person sounds like she has candy in her mouth is disrespectful. That's exactly how she sounded. It's a specific, concrete criticism. (And it's pretty similar to sounding drunk.) I also agreed with the comment that "she also does [the] very stranges[t] things in terms of [speeding] up and concatenating syllables."

ETA:  Moderators, maybe this would be worth making its own discussion? 

My two cents:

Saying it sounded like the narrator sounded like they had candy in their mouth or were drunk gives the impression, to me, that the person saying this does not think the narrator took their work seriously enough to apply themselves to it properly.  In most likelihood, when you can't understand a narrator it's probably either a technical thing (bad microphone, echoey recording environment, bad software) or it is just the way the narrator's voice sounds.  

If it's just the way the person's voice sounds, then, well, there's a high probability that anything you don't like about the voice is not within the narrator's direct control--a person's voice is part of who they are that they carry around all the time, so is a little more prone to becoming a personal insult than criticizing aspects of a story.  And, since narrators have historically worked on a volunteer basis (I don't remember if that's still true) if the first forum comment from a listener is a personal insult that not only may discourage this specific narrator from returning, but could discourage any other potential narrator from throwing their hat in the ring because they're worried that people will mock their voices.

One can say "This ending was totally unsatisfying" without insulting the author because the ending is not part of the author it is a product of the author, but since the narrator gets to use their own bodies to send some sonic waves to be coded into 1's and 0's in some kind of discernible pattern, there is a more immediate physical involvement there than the author.  But, let's say the narrator sounded like Gilbert Godfrey--maybe it's TRUE to say that they sounded like that, but since Godfrey is generally known for having a comically grating voice, I'd say it's rude to say that in episode feedback (obviously that's not what you said, but that is an example).

One could simply say "I couldn't understand the narrator clearly, so I stopped listening" without making it sound like one thought they were drunk or eating at the time of the recording.  This can still be useful feedback--if enough people had trouble understanding, then this is important information for the audio producer.

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wintermute
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« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2015, 03:07:21 PM »

One could simply say "I couldn't understand the narrator clearly, so I stopped listening" without making it sound like one thought they were drunk or eating at the time of the recording.  This can still be useful feedback--if enough people had trouble understanding, then this is important information for the audio producer.

Surely, the specific factors about the narration that made it difficult to understand are also useful information? Presumably, the EA staff didn't find it challenging (nor did I) or it wouldn't have gone out as-is, so expecting them to diagnose the problem based on "hard to understand" is expecting a bit much.

If people provide specific examples of why it was hard to understand, you can listen with that in mind, which may suggest a specific remedy (new microphone, quieter room). And if it's something about that person's voice, then the question becomes whether what they can bring to a reading is worth the number of people who will not be able to understand it; which is to say, whether or not to use them again.

I don't see "they sounded drunk" as a criticism of the narrator's commitment (but I have no special insight into the commentator's intentions), but rather as a description of something that most people couldn't put into technical language, and that EA's audio staff might be able to use to prevent technical problems in the future. Had they said "they were obviously drunk", I would agree with you, but they didn't, and I don't think it was intended that way.

I appreciate that they're volunteers, and I have the greatest respect for the work that they put into EA. But I would be horrified if "this narration was all wrong for the tone of the story" or "I could not understand they words they were saying" were forbidden commentary.
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eytanz
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« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2015, 03:41:34 PM »

I appreciate that they're volunteers, and I have the greatest respect for the work that they put into EA. But I would be horrified if "this narration was all wrong for the tone of the story" or "I could not understand they words they were saying" were forbidden commentary.

Neither of those are forbidden, nor will they ever be. But what seperates these comments from the ones made earlier in the thread is that they're not comments about the narrator, they're comments about the narration. More importantly, the first of the two is clearly framed as a subjective opinion, and the second one is clearly framed as a listener experience. Neither of which is speculation about the physical state of the narrator, as opposed to "she sounded like she had something in her mouth".

It's also the fact that an explanation of why someone's voice is hard to understand is actually not useful information at all, unless explicitly solicited by the narrator. The editors can't use that information - they can, and will, use information about people being hard to understand, by not asking them to narrate again. But they cannot fix a recording or sit over the shoulder of the narrator and direct them as they record, so I can't see why they'd need to know the details. Which isn't to say that if it's conveyed in a tactful manner it's problematic, but - again excepting if the narrator themselves ask for this information - it's not going to be of much use.

All of that said,  I'd also like to point out that no one deleted anything in this thread, every comment that's been made is still up here. No-one has been banned. Dave posted a reminder for people to consider how their comments may appear to other people. That's it. I'm not sure why people think that they can freely criticise other people's narrations, but get extremely upset when someone criticises their word choice.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2015, 03:54:50 PM by eytanz » Logged
matweller
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« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2015, 09:12:33 PM »

We're adults. Let's not pretend this:

Quote
Oh, my Glob, I just started this and I don't know whether I can finish it. She sounds like she's got a piece of hard candy in her mouth. Don't know whether the story is worth powering through that.

Edit: 5:44 and I'm done. I can't listen to this voice. Time to skip to episode feedback.

is the tone you would take if your best friend's sister just walked off the stage after a poetry reading you hated and asked you your opinion.

Consider courtesy.
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FullMetalAttorney
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« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2015, 09:30:56 PM »

We're adults. Let's not pretend this:

Quote
Oh, my Glob, I just started this and I don't know whether I can finish it. She sounds like she's got a piece of hard candy in her mouth. Don't know whether the story is worth powering through that.

Edit: 5:44 and I'm done. I can't listen to this voice. Time to skip to episode feedback.

is the tone you would take if your best friend's sister just walked off the stage after a poetry reading you hated and asked you your opinion.

Consider courtesy.

Is that the tone being sought? If so, you aren't going to get any valuable feedback. You wouldn't say anything negative to your best friend's sister after her poetry reading. We are adults. We want honest discussion, yes? There's a difference between being respectful and being sensitive. I'd say it was respectful, not sensitive. I'm not a sensitive person. It seems I was not alone in my response to the narration, either. ("Oh my Glob" was my attempt to inject humor, which has apparently fallen flat, at least on ears that don't know the reference. If it helps, drop those three words and re-read it, then let me know whether that's the right tone.)

I'm not sure why people think that they can freely criticise other people's narrations, but get extremely upset when someone criticises their word choice.
I saw what appeared to be a veiled threat of heavy-handed moderator action in response to what appears to be BS. You saw my automatic BS response, which is to lay everything out in no uncertain terms and leave to room for misunderstanding. Using bold type doesn't necessarily equate to elevated pitch and volume.
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Scattercat
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« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2015, 10:24:31 PM »

You could just try not being a jerk, though, is really the central takeaway.  I'm really not clear on why this is difficult.

"I found the narration hard to understand.  Some of her words were garbled and it made the story hard to follow."

No need to add sugar-coating or false compliments or whatever else you seem to be imagining is required.  Just, you know, don't make fun of people and don't be a roiling showboaty jerk about how clever your insults are. 
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FullMetalAttorney
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« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2015, 12:20:32 AM »

Honestly I fail to see how it was insulting.
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eytanz
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« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2015, 01:52:30 AM »

I saw what appeared to be a veiled threat of heavy-handed moderator action in response to what appears to be BS. You saw my automatic BS response, which is to lay everything out in no uncertain terms and leave to room for misunderstanding. Using bold type doesn't necessarily equate to elevated pitch and volume.

For reference, moderators on this forum don't make veiled threats. If we want to make threats, we make them explicitly.

Honestly I fail to see how it was insulting.

And I honestly can't see how Dave's post was heavy-handed.

Look, we've said what we have to say. I honestly don't know how to explain it further. If you don't agree with us - fine, disagree. But this is not your space, it's Escape Artist's space, and anyone who posts here has to agree to do so under our interpretation of what's insulting, not their own. What I would like you to consider is that whether or not you disagree with our views on courtesy, we believe them, and we implement them in good faith.
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Fenrix
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« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2015, 10:26:28 PM »


And, since narrators have historically worked on a volunteer basis (I don't remember if that's still true)


That is still true. Without authors (compensated) and without narrators (uncompensated), we have no content to give away for free every week.
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mb
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« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2015, 04:09:41 PM »

Criticism is always very much appreciated. However, we have one rule on this forum, and that's to be civil and respectful. Some of the comments in this thread are very difficult to read that way. Suggesting that someone sounds drunk, or has something in their mouth is not respectful or polite. That's how we lose people volunteering hours of their time to EA.
So, feel free to be critical of the stories and narrations, but please be respectful of the people who spent a lot of time making these stories and episodes possible.

Ok, first off: apologies if my comment came across the wrong way. I simply tried to explain how the narration appeared to me, and why I would not listen to a story of the same narrator again. Which, if I was running escapepod, would be interesting feedback, which, of course, I would then choose to ignore or follow dependent on overall feedback.
This was not about offending the person behind this at all, but if you put a product to market, I think you have to expect criticism, as with any art form. And criticism is not always pleasant.
Anyway, apologies again.


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FullMetalAttorney
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« Reply #11 on: June 30, 2015, 10:33:43 AM »

Criticism is always very much appreciated. However, we have one rule on this forum, and that's to be civil and respectful. Some of the comments in this thread are very difficult to read that way. Suggesting that someone sounds drunk, or has something in their mouth is not respectful or polite. That's how we lose people volunteering hours of their time to EA.
So, feel free to be critical of the stories and narrations, but please be respectful of the people who spent a lot of time making these stories and episodes possible.

Ok, first off: apologies if my comment came across the wrong way. I simply tried to explain how the narration appeared to me, and why I would not listen to a story of the same narrator again. Which, if I was running escapepod, would be interesting feedback, which, of course, I would then choose to ignore or follow dependent on overall feedback.
This was not about offending the person behind this at all, but if you put a product to market, I think you have to expect criticism, as with any art form. And criticism is not always pleasant.
Anyway, apologies again.




I don't think you should apologize. Certainly, any time you say, "Sorry, but I was doing what I thought I should do," it's not really an apology, and no apology should be needed.

/end
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FullMetalAttorney
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« Reply #12 on: June 30, 2015, 10:37:41 AM »


And, since narrators have historically worked on a volunteer basis (I don't remember if that's still true)


That is still true. Without authors (compensated) and without narrators (uncompensated), we have no content to give away for free every week.
"But it's free!" is hardly an excuse for putting out a shoddy product, particularly when you're requesting feedback. (Which is not to say you're usually in the business of putting out shoddy products, but this episode clearly was.) I do support other podcasts with my donations. For a while there I was considering adding this one to that list. Now I'm not so sure. That attitude isn't because you put out the occasional dud of an episode. It's because of the overwhelmingly defensive response to a perfectly reasonable critique.

I've been thinking this over periodically over the past few weeks, and I'm sure more than ever that I was right at every point in this discussion. A cop can't show up to a party and say, "Hey everyone, you need to keep it down here," and expect people not to take that as a threat of arrest. The same principle applies when a moderator shows up and says, "Hey you guys are kind of breaking the rules here." That badge of authority means you need to tread very lightly indeed if you are really trying to encourage open discussion, which I now seriously question. I mean, honestly, when a person's contribution is her voice--as a narrator's contribution is--then how can it not be acceptable to criticize that contribution?

I think it's safe to say you've driven me out of the forums, as of now. Enjoy patting each other on the backs. I don't suspect my contributions will be missed.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2015, 10:46:54 AM by FullMetalAttorney » Logged
eytanz
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« Reply #13 on: June 30, 2015, 11:05:32 AM »

I mean, honestly, when a person's contribution is her voice--as a narrator's contribution is--then how can it not be acceptable to criticize that contribution?

There are plenty of posts in this forum criticising the job people did narrating. It's not the topic that's the problem, it's the tone. Just because it's a critique of a voice and not of the story doesn't mean they should be held to a different standard as to what is acceptable.
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Fenrix
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« Reply #14 on: June 30, 2015, 12:02:14 PM »


And, since narrators have historically worked on a volunteer basis (I don't remember if that's still true)


That is still true. Without authors (compensated) and without narrators (uncompensated), we have no content to give away for free every week.
"But it's free!" is hardly an excuse for putting out a shoddy product, particularly when you're requesting feedback. (Which is not to say you're usually in the business of putting out shoddy products, but this episode clearly was.) I do support other podcasts with my donations. For a while there I was considering adding this one to that list. Now I'm not so sure. That attitude isn't because you put out the occasional dud of an episode. It's because of the overwhelmingly defensive response to a perfectly reasonable critique.


You say potato, I say being overwhelmingly tactful to someone showing their ass.
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matweller
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« Reply #15 on: June 30, 2015, 11:13:17 PM »

I'll state the obvious. Rachael's an Escape Artists staffer and a frequent participant on the forum. The reason I mentioned the "best friend's sister" thing is not because I think you should sugarcoat, it's because I'm of the belief that one should always speak as if the person being addressed is present, especially in a case like this where she is. It's basic decorum. Add to that the fact that we're dealing with an unpaid volunteer and a family member and, yeah, maybe an extra step in the not-like-a-dick direction is warranted.

We want criticism for the stories. We want it for the narrations. We do want to put a high quality product out all of the time, regardless of money. Sometimes we miss. But if you really don't understand the difference between what you said and Nathan's suggestion,

"I found the narration hard to understand.  Some of her words were garbled and it made the story hard to follow."

then yes, maybe going away is the best option.

Your opinions were not wrong, they were not unwelcome or without value. Frankly, reading the original comments now, months removed from the heat of the situation, I may even agree that this whole thread was a bit of an overreaction. Also, if I'm being honest, some of my sensitivity was due to the fact that I knew that Rachael was pressed to do this reading quickly because of my failing to schedule ahead enough, and that if we would have had more time, I probably would have asked her to try something different in a couple spots that may have been the same ones that bothered you most. So I bear that responsibility and I apologize to you for it.

Here's to hoping for better from all of us moving forward.
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ElectroSquid
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« Reply #16 on: July 08, 2015, 05:55:57 AM »

Just wondering - I'm sure quite a while ago it was announced that narrators would be paid as well as authors - was that not able to happen?
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Alasdair5000
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« Reply #17 on: July 08, 2015, 06:00:50 AM »

Hi:) Yep, narrator pay's being rolled out this year. When it's time, we won't be quiet about it.
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