by sinaddictA RANT ON BAD FEEDBACK
After browsing on FanFiction.net
one day, I came across a story that wasn't really bad, but there were a few basic things that the author could have improved on, like verb tense shifts, point of view shifts, and spelling and grammar.
So I clicked on the reviews link to see if anyone had mentioned these things to the author, which is generally a futile hope since there aren't many people who give really useful feedback, but lo and behold, there was a review, and a signed one to boot, by someone who told the author about what she could improve on in a very polite way. She wasn't singing the author's praises or anything, but she wasn't rude or harsh either. She concisely told the author what could be improved on, and left it at that.
However, the following four reviews after hers were flames directed at her, calling her a bitch, a skank, and a whore, among other things, because her review didn't say "More soon" or "wonderful".
This angered me to no end; it angered me enough to make me start writing this article despite the fact I still have three other ones to do. The so-called reviewers who flamed the *real* reviewer did not know her as a person; they had absolutely no right to make personal attacks on her for stating her opinion and being honest with the author. In fact, I got the impression that their own reviews weren't all endless devoted fans pledging their undying appreciation.
Not only were these so-called reviewers making personal attacks on someone they didn't know, they couldn't even bother with spelling properly or using punctuation while they were doing it. Check out this review, taken from the story I'm talking about. I've copied it word for word, only editing out the author's and the real reviewer's name.
okay # one bitch...(oh i mean [reviewer]) u r a bitch! what the hell is wrong with u!? her story is great, a lot better then nething u could write( jugdeing-sp? by ur flame). i am only 13 teen but even i know that a good writer can change point of view like this one does! please do us all a favor and GO AWAY! i will never read ne of ur storys, unless to flame them and i hope i NEVER see ne of ur story's posted. if this wasn't on the net i'd kick ur ass! oh and remember karma's a boomberang-sp? and [author] i know what it's like to be flamed by a BITCH who needs to b laid and has a stick up her butt, but unlike u i fell victim to the hard up whore who flamed me and stopped writeing fic's...*sigh* newho b4 i just thought u kicked ass know i respect u and hate the hard up BITch( oh i mean [reviewer]...oops)
The first thing this tells me is that the person who wrote this is a flaming hypocrite! I mean, when I was thirteen, I understood the basic rules of capitalization and punctuation. Based on this person's spelling and grammar skills, I'd give very little merit to any "review" they wrote because they obviously don't have any room to judge anyone else's work on things they don't understand themselves.
However, this person really crossed the line in saying that she would flame whatever stories the reviewer posted. This is a person who needs to learn that constructive criticism is NOT a bad thing!
And her definition of flamed is obviously far different from everyone else's. A flame is an uncalled for personal attack that has no other purpose than to hurt the person it is aimed at. Kind of like her "review".
What worries me about this type of situation is that the reviewer who was suggesting improvements may be reluctant to do so in the future because of these flames. There aren't many people who take the time after reading a story to write honest feedback pointing out what the author could improve upon, and when the few people who do take the time to do that end up getting flamed for their trouble, why would they continue to take the time to give feedback in the future?
Constructive criticism about what an author could improve isn't a bad thing; it's not trying to be negative or derogatory. If no one gave honest criticism and suggestions to published authors on how to improve their work, nobody would be paying to read their work.
So, you may ask, Jules, what is the point of this little rant? Well, since you asked so nicely, I'll tell you. :-) Good constructive criticism is the key to becoming a better writer, and if people are scared to give honest feedback for fear of getting flamed, authors aren't going to be able to improve on their weaknesses and make their stories *really* good.