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Feedback and challenges

The responses to the Everybody Lie! challenge on house_wilson  have been really interesting so far. A few folks have been very successful at disguising themselves; others, not so much. Some of the incorrect guesses have truly surprised me! The big reveal is planned for the weekend, once a complete list of fics and authors has been posted.

But what I'm thinking about today is feedback. I've noticed that most stories submitted to the challenge have received less feedback than I think they might have otherwise, and I'm wondering why. Even some of the authors who contributed stories are not commenting much (although some of you are, and jezziejay  and I notice and truly appreciate it!), which is a bit frustrating since we organized the challenge in order to help revitalize the comm.

Is this low feedback rate because people only tend to comment on fics they know to be written by their friends? Is it because people comment to "be seen" (by the rest of the comm as well as the author) supporting someone in particular? Is it because we've structured it as a guessing game and some folks are waiting till the end to weigh their options? Is this a particularly busy week for cosmic reasons beyond my control? Is it all in my paranoid head?

I'm just curious - can you articulate a standard personal policy for giving feedback? I know that I am not completely consistent, but my general rules are 1) If I really like it, give feedback. Doesn't matter who the author is, what fandom/pairing, or how long it's been since it was originally posted. 2) If it's by a close friend, especially one who consistently responds to my posts, give feedback. Once in a while it might be constructive criticism rather than pure praise, although I always try to say something positive.

And - this might be better suited to a separate post, but I'll put it out here anyway - one thing that really surprised me about participating in this fandom is the general lack of constructive criticism. I don't know if times have changed, or the author demographic is different, but back when I was writing in The X-Files and Buffy, my peers were much more vocal about what worked and what didn't. I was in one comm with a weekly "nailing" in which someone submitted a work in progress to be publicly scrutinized and torn apart... and usually the end product was much better for it. Constant constructive criticism is very much part of my professional life now, and it's a bit weird not to get much on my "fun" writing.


( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 7th, 2011 01:26 pm (UTC)
I would imagine people are waiting until the end so they can guess better. I certainly had that feeling right at the beginning - how can I guess when I have only seen a couple. I eventually decided to leave a comment even if i didn't have a guess.

I also avoid anything with a death fic label, so there's no comments on those. Except the one where I was stupid enough not to read the warning.

Also what may be contributing to low comment numbers is that people aren't responding back to their comments due to needing to stay anonymous. That makes it seem like a larger number in and of itself, but then other people respond to what other commenters have said and it goes from there. A lot of times it is comments that bring in comments. I's weird but true.

As for comments in general:

1. If I take the time to read it through I will almost always comment. Unless I really enjoy the fic or need to time to process a story. Exceptions occur of course (especially for WIP or very old fics), but I do try.

2. If the author doesn't ask for constructive criticism I won't usually give it. If the author is a really excellent writer and otherwise makes a small mistake I will point it out because I know they would want to know it. Otherwise I rely on my mother's "if you don't have anything nice to say...." rule. If they ask for constructive criticism, of course that is different.

Apr. 7th, 2011 02:48 pm (UTC)
Also what may be contributing to low comment numbers is that people aren't responding back to their comments due to needing to stay anonymous. That makes it seem like a larger number in and of itself, but then other people respond to what other commenters have said and it goes from there. A lot of times it is comments that bring in comments. I's weird but true.

That's a good point. It's fun when comments turn into a discussion about the fic itself and/or related topics, and in this case the authors can't respond, at least from the perspective of authorship.
Apr. 7th, 2011 03:30 pm (UTC)
Maybe you disregarded the main reason, at least for me: namely the crazy recent behavior of livejournal. I decided that I would take my time and read the whole challenge tomorrow afternoon (which is anyway tomorrow morning in America, aha), in the hope that by then the situation would have improved.

I totally agree with your criteria 1) and 2), and I have tried to keep commenting even in these difficult DDOS days.

I also second your request for concrit. I usually don't offer any because I tend to like most of what I read, but I appreciate serious and even severe criticism. That's the way one learns, after all.
Apr. 7th, 2011 04:18 pm (UTC)
*smacks forehead* Of course. I almost gave up trying to post the latest challenge fic last night. Readers have even less incentive to keep trying to read and/or post comments.

Consulting with jez, but I'd like to provide the round-up post along with the last fics on Friday evening and then give everyone a good portion of the weekend to read and guess before the reveal.
Apr. 7th, 2011 03:34 pm (UTC)
My turn to answer your questions.

Is this low feedback rate because people only tend to comment on fics they know to be written by their friends? - No, I comment on a story I really like when I have something interesting/new to write. It doesn't matter who the author is, but I admit paying more attention to fics by familiar authors. But I usually don't comment if I have nothing new to add to story discussion in comparison to people who commented the story before me. (and it's also because of lack of English knowledge)

Is it because we've structured it as a guessing game and some folks are waiting till the end to weigh their options? NO. it's fun.

Is this a particularly busy week for cosmic reasons beyond my control? Oh, yes. I had big problems with LJ the whole week. It is said that LJ was attacked by hackers a few times during the last week. So I experienced great difficulties in opening LJ pages or posting comments. LJ was just a blank page on the computer screen!
Apr. 7th, 2011 04:21 pm (UTC)
I don't think I'm alone when I say that I'm happy to get a simple "I read and liked this!" even when there's nothing novel in the comment. But... I also am less inclined to comment if I have nothing but that to say. Usually I'll pick out a favorite line if that happens.

Glad that you think the guessing aspect is fun, and yes, good point about all the issues with LJ having an effect.
Apr. 7th, 2011 03:52 pm (UTC)
LJ is driving me crazy. I also am waiting for the end to consider my options.
Apr. 7th, 2011 04:22 pm (UTC)
LJ made me cry last night. No kidding. Although there were other factors involved.
Apr. 7th, 2011 03:53 pm (UTC)
I know that I personally haven't commented because I've been rather busy with work lately. It's a new job with a short probationary period and I'm getting evaluated tomorrow. I have, however, been checking my e-mail and bookmarking each fic in the challenge when I see it's been posted so I do want to read them soon.

I agree with what barefootpuddles said on why people haven't been commenting and I agree with what other users have said about the attack on LJ. I only had problems with LJ one day this week but it's possible that people have had a lot more.

When it comes to comments in general, I usually try to comment if I've read something unless I either don't know what to say, or like barefootpuddles said, unless I need time to process the story.

I tend to point out only the things I've liked about a story as most authors don't ask for constructive criticism. I don't want to offend anyone, but if concrit was asked for I'd offer it. I agree that it's definitely helpful. For some reason, I've gotten more concrit comments on my vids rather than my fics, but those comments on my vids completely changed the way I viewed, edited, and presented vids.

I think that if I write more fic in the future I might start posting "comments and concrit are welcome/appreciated."

All of that being said, I agree with damigella and tend to like most of what I read. I actually didn't know until last year when I started getting into the House fandom that people posted fanfiction on Livejournal. I've read so many amazing fics on here; people really put a lot of effort into keeping the characters in character and being medically accurate. So even if people did ask for concrit...I really might not have much at all, or even anything at all to offer.
Apr. 7th, 2011 04:08 pm (UTC)
I've now changed the subtitle of my journal to "Comments and criticism are appreciated". Thanks to you and barefootpuddles for the idea, and to Flywoman for a thought provoking post.
Apr. 7th, 2011 04:28 pm (UTC)
I definitely take your point about most authors not asking for constructive criticism (even when we should!). I don't try to offer it unsolicited (anymore... usually... d'oh!).

To me there is a difference between work in progress or something posted on a personal page, and a finished product posted to a comm. When I have a new piece, I often let it sit around on my site (or even f-lock it) for a while in case there's concrit to be incorporated before I post more publicly. Sometimes it's already been extensively beta'd, sometimes not, but either way, I've definitely made improvements by doing this (looking gratefully at cuddyclothes here).
Apr. 8th, 2011 04:29 am (UTC)
I do this. For me it's Nightdog, Deelaundry, Perspi, Corgigirl, Hannahrorlove. There are a few, so if some of them aren't around, another one or two will be.
Apr. 7th, 2011 10:01 pm (UTC)
Aw shucks.

I have hardly been able to get on LJ on either browser. Doing the newsletter last night was mind-bendingly hard. I even asked a friend on FB who is here to send a note to one of the mods. Finally, miraculously, it went through. But I kept getting error messages or not being able to comment on something I read.
Apr. 7th, 2011 10:09 pm (UTC)
I've been trying to comment on as many fics as I could, although I know I'm behind on a couple. This is mostly because the LJ DDOS thing and my personal life created a kind of "perfect storm" - -when I could get on to LiveJournal it wasn't working, and when it was working I didn't have time to get online!

For the stories I have read, I've noticed that there are comments but few guesses. I think this is probably because, as others have already remarked, folks are waiting to see all the stories so they have a better field to guess from. I've been guessing as I read, so I'm sure I'm WAAAAAY out in left field on a few of them -- but that's part of the fun, too. If everybody got all of them right, it would be boring! :^)

As regards criticism, different people respond differently. I always welcome critiques of any kind, because I'm interested in improving as a writer, and I know many other people have the same attitude. But some don't. For some people, writing fanfic is something they do for fun, and they get enough criticism in their daily lives that they don't want their playtime to be filled with it, too. I can completely understand that, and sympathize. So, since I don't always know which writer has which kind of feeling about concrit, I tend to be careful in my comments -- singling out things I really like about a story, or just letting the author know how I felt about it overall. If there's something I think really should be corrected I'll try to PM the author instead of leaving the message in their comments file, because it gives them a chance to make the alteration quietly.

(Edited to correct some really atrocious sentence structure.)

Edited at 2011-04-07 10:15 pm (UTC)
Apr. 7th, 2011 10:44 pm (UTC)
Good thing you edited that before I PM'd you (or worse, pointed it out in the comments). J/K!

You're right, people have very different attitudes about criticism, and some are just writing for fun, while others are trying to improve. And even though I'm trying to become a better writer, or at least to improve particular pieces, it's still less pleasurable to hear criticism than praise... but I know that in the long run, it will be well worth it.
Apr. 8th, 2011 03:52 am (UTC)
You might really enjoy housefic_meta, which is where the serious concrit lives.

There was some real ugliness with one very popular author who got really vicious and horrid about any kind of critique, and encouraged her fans to do the same. I definitely saw a sharp fall-off in discussions on account of her and her followers.

Those of us who do still offer critique, I think are inclined to do it via PM rather than in public. For my part, I'm happy to offer critique if asked, but otherwise, no. I comment if I really like something. Which makes me sound pickier than I am, because the truth is I'm often too busy writing to read.
Apr. 8th, 2011 04:01 am (UTC)
I joined housefic_meta as soon as I started writing in this fandom, but there is almost no activity on it. I think there were only four fics considered this past year, and two of them were nominated by me. I sometimes feel like a few of the more established leaders/mods have gotten too busy or disillusioned to do much with their comms - maybe new blood is needed. Or maybe it's a result of the kind of drama you mentioned.
Apr. 8th, 2011 04:10 am (UTC)
I was a semi-regular over at Meta once upon a time. Much of the queitness is just natural fandom attrition; a lot of the writers who cared about that kind of thing have moved on. I think many of the newer arrivals don't know the place exists, or if they do know, they are perhaps frightened to test the waters (I was. In a sense I still am).

I'll admit I've basically left that comm and that the drama did have a lot to do with that. It felt to me like the whole spirit of the place got trampled and I couldn't be there without thinking about it. But I am just me, and I am often a bit emotional.
Apr. 9th, 2011 01:10 pm (UTC)
Well, I think the problem with why people aren't commenting on the challenge has been answered. I, personally, have tried to comment on something about every story, even if it was to say "no comment".

As for my commenting method....

I don't usually leave a comment unless I liked the story. It's kinda like barefoot said "If you don't have anything nice to say then don't say anything at all." I know that makes me something of a hypocrite, since I like constructive criticism directed towards me, but unless they ask for it, I have have a hard time getting over that need to "be nice". I have no qualms with pointing out and/or correcting grammar, but when it comes to the story, well.... See, I view the story as the authors outlook on any given situation and if I don't think that so-and-so is IC or an event wouldn't happen, I keep my mouth shut and think that in this story this would happen, those characters would do that. Depending on how OOC everything is, is depending on if I will continue reading. I don't know if that made any sense, but there you have it.
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )



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