Author Topic: Criticism that crosses the line?  (Read 7504 times)

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on: November 17, 2009, 08:05:02 PM
"I prefer more substance than what was offered here" works.

FYI, Escape Artists has been losing creative volunteers because of the forums and blogs.

(I quoted this comment from the story discussion thread in Podcastle for the Fantasy Micro-fiction contest, but it is off-topic enough that I didn't want to pollute the story thread with it)

The loss of creative volunteers is the reason that the blog comments were closed in recent months, right?

In any case, you've got me wondering:  I've been performing lots of threadomancy to give story comments, first on Pseudopod and now on Podcastle.  Let me start by saying that Escape Artists has put out a much larger proportion of material that appeals to my tastes than any other publisher I've come across to date.  Even in the most well-renowned of the pro magazines, it's not unusual for me to really dislike quite a few stories in each issue.  That doesn't really surprise me, because each person's tastes are so different, I'm assuming that those stories appeal to lots of people, but I am simply not within that set of people for some of the stories, and I'm okay with that.  But the subset of stories that I dislike is a much smaller fraction here than elsewhere, so from my eyes you guys are doing a great job.

But regarding critical comments, I've been trying to post my thoughts about each story I listen to on EA, whether good or bad, without insulting the author or the reader.  But in the cases where I didn't care for the story, in particular ones where I didn't finish listening to a story, should I keep those comments to myself?  I haven't received any messages from moderators asking me to tone it down, which I assume is a good sign.

It feels insincere to only comment on stories that I like and leave the rest unremarked, but perhaps I should just suck it up and do so in the best interests of all?  Any thoughts?  In particular, I'm interested in the thoughts of the staff members, since you would have more of an inside view into how forum comments may affect Escape Artists as a whole.



Heradel

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Reply #1 on: November 17, 2009, 08:48:38 PM
"I prefer more substance than what was offered here" works.

FYI, Escape Artists has been losing creative volunteers because of the forums and blogs.

(I quoted this comment from the story discussion thread in Podcastle for the Fantasy Micro-fiction contest, but it is off-topic enough that I didn't want to pollute the story thread with it)

The loss of creative volunteers is the reason that the blog comments were closed in recent months, right?

It was part of it. It also seemed kinda silly to bifurcate discussion on the stories, and the forum mods weren't moderating the blog comments so there were slightly different policies in effect. But on the whole, the blog comments were more negative than here in the forums, and so the decision was made to just keep the forums.

Quote
But regarding critical comments, I've been trying to post my thoughts about each story I listen to on EA, whether good or bad, without insulting the author or the reader.  But in the cases where I didn't care for the story, in particular ones where I didn't finish listening to a story, should I keep those comments to myself?  I haven't received any messages from moderators asking me to tone it down, which I assume is a good sign. [...]

No. The basic rule of thumb is a bit hazy here, and it takes into account a lot of factors. If someone is only posting "Oh God this was horrible and I couldn't finish" kind of comments than that'll usually merit actions. If every now and then they do, that's fine, because no story will ever win universal acclaim. But if it's ceaselessly negative comments (Like, for example, StePH used to be with PC Miniatures), then I'll usually point out that they don't need to comment on every story. It also depends on the level of criticism — If you go into why you didn't like it then it's a welcome comment, but we really don't like comments that are just "Meh" or "I didn't like it." First off, it's a bit lazy, and that's not really fair to the author/narrator/editors. Criticism is wanted and warranted (For example with the audio quality on the last Giant), but negative and/or abusive comments aren't. It can be hard to distinguish sometimes, which is normally why I don't move on it the first time someone does it.

It is ok to say you didn't like a story, but it's preferable to say why you didn't like it as well, or to say that you're having trouble figuring out why.



I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.


gelee

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Reply #2 on: November 17, 2009, 09:30:29 PM
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It is ok to say you didn't like a story, but it's preferable to say why you didn't like it as well, or to say that you're having trouble figuring out why
Yup.  Ugly crits are kind of a pet peeve of mine.  Why say "OMG, these characters are made of cardboard" when you can say "I would have liked to see so-and-so developed a little more."  Just sayin.  You don't always have to be a writing coach, but no need to be a jerk, either. 



DKT

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Reply #3 on: November 17, 2009, 09:38:10 PM
I think the basic thing to keep in mind is that other people (authors/narrators/editors) invested a lot of time into them, so be cool about that.

By all means, be critical. Let us know if you don't like something and tell us why. Just be cool about it.

Something that's become a pet peeve of mine comment-wise are criticisms like "If I had written this story, I would've done X isntead of Y."

(Also, FWIW, I don't think you've crossed any line in your comments.)


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Reply #4 on: November 17, 2009, 09:45:05 PM
(Also, FWIW, I don't think you've crossed any line in your comments.)

Thanks for saying that--I was hoping I hadn't, but had started to wonder.

Quote
Something that's become a pet peeve of mine comment-wise are criticisms like "If I had written this story, I would've done X isntead of Y."

Agreed!



Heradel

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Reply #5 on: November 17, 2009, 10:01:39 PM
Something that's become a pet peeve of mine comment-wise are criticisms like "If I had written this story, I would've done X isntead of Y."

In those cases I've always kind of wanted to institute a "put up or shut up" policy.

I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.


MacArthurBug

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Reply #6 on: November 18, 2009, 01:40:49 PM
With the recent dramas my initial reaction to this thread was "oh no not again!" however I actually agree with a lot of these questions and replies. I LIKE commenting on stories. Personally I try to keep my comments short- I'm not the greatest speller/spell checker in the world and my reactions to stories generally fall in the like/didn't like catagories, that said I have had my meh/yay moments, and looking back I too have wondered if that was "good" feedback. As a constant commenter I think I'll do my part to say something worthwile. If I don't like a story I'll try to keep the feedback on why it didn't work for me. As to the need for narrators- as soon as my equipment gets updated I'm throwing my hat into that ring (I'd LOVE to volenteer my voice for any of the casts, it'd be fun!) and negitive feedback for me is just a learning experience. I hope this thread stays open so I can see what else comes to light- for me this is kind of an important idea to get tossed around.

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Alasdair5000

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Reply #7 on: November 18, 2009, 03:31:26 PM
"I prefer more substance than what was offered here" works.

FYI, Escape Artists has been losing creative volunteers because of the forums and blogs.

(I quoted this comment from the story discussion thread in Podcastle for the Fantasy Micro-fiction contest, but it is off-topic enough that I didn't want to pollute the story thread with it)

The loss of creative volunteers is the reason that the blog comments were closed in recent months, right?

In any case, you've got me wondering:  I've been performing lots of threadomancy to give story comments, first on Pseudopod and now on Podcastle.  Let me start by saying that Escape Artists has put out a much larger proportion of material that appeals to my tastes than any other publisher I've come across to date.  Even in the most well-renowned of the pro magazines, it's not unusual for me to really dislike quite a few stories in each issue.  That doesn't really surprise me, because each person's tastes are so different, I'm assuming that those stories appeal to lots of people, but I am simply not within that set of people for some of the stories, and I'm okay with that.  But the subset of stories that I dislike is a much smaller fraction here than elsewhere, so from my eyes you guys are doing a great job.

But regarding critical comments, I've been trying to post my thoughts about each story I listen to on EA, whether good or bad, without insulting the author or the reader.  But in the cases where I didn't care for the story, in particular ones where I didn't finish listening to a story, should I keep those comments to myself?  I haven't received any messages from moderators asking me to tone it down, which I assume is a good sign.

It feels insincere to only comment on stories that I like and leave the rest unremarked, but perhaps I should just suck it up and do so in the best interests of all?  Any thoughts?  In particular, I'm interested in the thoughts of the staff members, since you would have more of an inside view into how forum comments may affect Escape Artists as a whole.


I can't really add much that hasn't already been said, other than to paraphrase Swamp slightly.  Negative criticism is fine as long as it's constructive and negative, no one's going to like everything.  The occasional tendency to see how creatively a story can be torn apart is, for me, the point where the line is crossed.  Even then, few people do it and very few do it constantly.



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Reply #8 on: November 18, 2009, 09:56:50 PM
The occasional tendency to see how creatively a story can be torn apart is, for me, the point where the line is crossed.

Yes, or to put it another way:  if a poster's primarily goal seems to be to amuse himself with how hyperbolic and unforgiving he can be, it isn't just "criticism" -- it's verbal abuse, and no one is fooled into thinking otherwise.  If you're not the type of person who routinely offends everyone around you by accident, and you honestly have to wonder whether your posts here are abusive, I guess I'll say just don't worry about it until a moderator talks to you.  We give plenty of warning before we kick people out; so if you've received no warnings, then congratulations on being conscientious enough to be concerned about the issue in general, and please don't feel like you have to walk on eggshells or anything.  I strongly suspect the problem children are not the ones introspective enough to wonder about this.

Here, as in life in general, you should just speak as though the person you're talking about will get wind of what you are saying.  Especially because when you type it into the internet (especially this corner of it), there's a good chance they will.

And FTR, there were a few reasons for nixing the blog comments.  It wasn't necessarily because the comments there were universally "worse".  It was mainly because we wanted to be able to look in only one place for public discussion (and spam comments to nix -- oh god the horrible spam comments), and the forum's interface is, IMO, better equipped for discussion since it supports quoted replies.  So we picked that one, and hoped the blog commentators would come on over.



eytanz

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Reply #9 on: November 18, 2009, 10:08:28 PM
My normal criteria (and I'm not a mod, so this is what guides my posting, not my reaction to others), is that I will try never to post a criticism I would not want to get myself on my own work. This is true when I peer review papers at work, it's true when I mark students' papers, and it's true here.

Which doesn't mean I am usually overwhelmingly positive - in fact, when it comes to my own work I would much rather have someone spit vitriol and be destructively negative than someone be disingenuously positive. At least the former makes it obvious that the "feedback" is safe to ignore. So I always try to be honest and, when that honestly in negative, constructive. I don't always entirely succeed, but I have been posting here for 3 years now and never got a warning from a mod.



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Reply #10 on: November 18, 2009, 10:46:09 PM
I guess I'll say just don't worry about it until a moderator talks to you.

Thanks, it sounds like I have no need to fret if the mods have not smitten me.  :)



Bdoomed

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Reply #11 on: November 19, 2009, 01:06:50 AM
eytanz that post was way out of line.  I'm warning you, keep it light.

:D

anyways sometime soon there's going to be a big "Basic Rules" post consisting of 2 or 3 main rules, and that's it, and that should clarify everything.

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?


lowky

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Reply #12 on: November 19, 2009, 02:20:23 AM
eytanz that post was way out of line.  I'm warning you, keep it light.

:D

anyways sometime soon there's going to be a big "Basic Rules" post consisting of 2 or 3 main rules, and that's it, and that should clarify everything.

Can't we just follow the basic rule from the best Keanu Reeves movie: Be Excellent to each other


FamilyGuy

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Reply #13 on: November 19, 2009, 02:49:20 AM
eytanz that post was way out of line.  I'm warning you, keep it light.

:D

anyways sometime soon there's going to be a big "Basic Rules" post consisting of 2 or 3 main rules, and that's it, and that should clarify everything.

Can't we just follow the basic rule from the best Keanu Reeves movie: Be Excellent to each other
There is no spoon.  ;D

When will all the rhetorical questions end?


lowky

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Reply #14 on: November 19, 2009, 03:14:56 AM
eytanz that post was way out of line.  I'm warning you, keep it light.

:D

anyways sometime soon there's going to be a big "Basic Rules" post consisting of 2 or 3 main rules, and that's it, and that should clarify everything.

Can't we just follow the basic rule from the best Keanu Reeves movie: Be Excellent to each other
There is no spoon.  ;D

Bill and Ted is still better than Matrix.  Matrix used to be better, then they farked it all up by releasing two sequels that took a steaming dump all over the matrix.


Unblinking

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Reply #15 on: November 19, 2009, 03:15:46 AM
eytanz that post was way out of line.  I'm warning you, keep it light.

:D

anyways sometime soon there's going to be a big "Basic Rules" post consisting of 2 or 3 main rules, and that's it, and that should clarify everything.

Can't we just follow the basic rule from the best Keanu Reeves movie: Be Excellent to each other
There is no spoon.  ;D

Bill and Ted is still better than Matrix.  Matrix used to be better, then they farked it all up by releasing two sequels that took a steaming dump all over the matrix.

I like the sequels, especially Reloaded, but I think I may be the only one.   ;D



FamilyGuy

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Reply #16 on: November 19, 2009, 03:33:10 AM
There were no sequels, were there?

When will all the rhetorical questions end?


Talia

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Reply #17 on: November 19, 2009, 03:42:11 AM
eytanz that post was way out of line.  I'm warning you, keep it light.

:D

anyways sometime soon there's going to be a big "Basic Rules" post consisting of 2 or 3 main rules, and that's it, and that should clarify everything.

Can't we just follow the basic rule from the best Keanu Reeves movie: Be Excellent to each other
There is no spoon.  ;D

Bill and Ted is still better than Matrix.  Matrix used to be better, then they farked it all up by releasing two sequels that took a steaming dump all over the matrix.

I like the sequels, especially Reloaded, but I think I may be the only one.   ;D

I liked the sequels too. TAKE THAT, HATERS!



Bdoomed

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Reply #18 on: November 19, 2009, 03:43:07 AM
i have no idea what you people are talking about ... sequels?
there hasn't been a sequel to a movie since Star Wars ep VI

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?


FamilyGuy

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Reply #19 on: November 19, 2009, 04:07:11 AM
i have no idea what you people are talking about ... sequels?
there hasn't been a sequel to a movie since Star Wars ep VI

Special edition?

When will all the rhetorical questions end?