Constructive Feedback vs Toxic Feedback


This is something related to the Why Meaning Matters thread but is more focused on the feedback in WiP threads specifically.

Recently there has been a breakdown in providing feedback; specifically “jokes” or “lighthearted” feedback posts that are not meant to be taken seriously.

With that in mind, I’m going to address a post that was written to criticize me specifically.

Edit: There is a concurrent and parallel thread for those not able to post here:

Critiquing vs Criticizing
Ways to get better feedback?

Omg. I feel like folks have been overly offended for no real reason lately. I miss this being a safe space for opinions (that dont hurt anyone) I wouldnt have compared it to MMM because i dont really see the similarity besides having shitty mom’s…but i also didnt see that post as being malicious. There are teenagers on this forum. We could all be a little less judgy and self righteous when posts are obviously not overtly trying to start shit. I mean, come on guys. We can teach without being condescending and making a huge deal out of everything

A Witch's Curse (W.I.P) (Updated 3/2/2019)

I think these types of posts need to be moved to another thread(possibly creating a new one?) since this is a wip thread and we’re on a whole another subject.(I’m not picking sides)


Before we begin, I want to lay the groundwork that this thread is in relation to WiP threads and not any other topics.

With that laid out, let me address a few things from a post I moved out of a WiP thread specifically made in reaction to my flagging a particular feedback post.

With regards to this statement, I feel that some have lost track of the simple fact (or perhaps never realized this in the first place) that the purpose of Work in Progress threads made in the Hosted Games and Hosted Games Adult sections are to get games being made published.

When a post is made within the WiP thread of a game, the very first thing that needs to be asked, is: Is this post going to help the author in getting her game published?

This does not mean that a post should be direct feedback. It can also be discussion and it can also be indirect feedback. Regardless of the actual type of post it is, it should be “actionable” posting.

What is actionable posting? It means posting that an author can use to improve their game. It is that simple.

A WiP thread is not the place for self-expression or creating “safe places” for everyone to bond at. There are places to do this: Off-Topic and other sub-fora that have no direct relation to the specific goal of getting feedback to improve something the author is hoping to get published.

I’m going to switch gears here to explain how toxic feedback hurts the author. Toxic feedback is feedback that puts authors on the defensive without offering a way for them to improve their works.

Stating an author’s “shit better end” just like a controversial and no longer even live game is giving an author advise that is not actionable to make their game better.

As the author said herself:

Offering feedback demanding that her work follow this controversy and feelings is not right for a tester or reader to make. It isn’t productive for authors or other testers and it often leads to derailment where people are talking about the feedback itself instead of the game. That in of itself is wrong.

Just because a post isn’t malicious (which we agree on) does not mean it isn’t toxic.

The moderator officially asked people to post about the game in question not the feedback given or anything else - yet people chose to ignore that.

I’m curious why this self-projection is taking place?

I didn’t judge the original poster, as a matter of fact, I praised him for his feedback elsewhere and told him so. Why am I being projected on as being judgmental, when that isn’t the case?

Hence this thread.

Carry on bashing me all you want from this point forward.


Regarding the “snowflake generation” Gordon Ramsay mentions…
Do you believe he was acting in the spirit of constructive feedback, or toxic feedback?

  • Constructive Feedback
  • Toxic Feedback

0 voters


Gordon Ramsey uses toxic feedback to increase his ratings and viewership. Just like Donald Trump, he divides people and uses conflict to beat people down.

Using a divisive term such as “snowflake generation” doesn’t accomplish anything but offend readers and most likely only leads to them misunderstanding the reason the insult is used in the first place.


I am posting this at the request of @poison_mara:


The weird thing is that this is actually a cultural thing. In Britain, Ramsay is known for his temper, but he also always complements it with a lot of good advice. In America, I understand, they felt that the “advice” part was too boring for the viewers, and so only the toxicity was left.


Sorry if I chime in, since I have not read the thread, where this comes from.

I think Mara really hits the point, as she very often does. A WIP thread is a place where you can give your opinion, but contrary to a discussion thread you do this not for yourself. You post your opinion for the author. Just to help them, therefore it is a really nice thing to avoid things you want, it’s all about giving.

This is a really nice Forum and the people here are fantastic. A reminder how things should be done is most of the time the only thing that is needed to take a conversation Back to what it is for.

So from myself a short reminder in how constructive critic could be given (only my personal opinion so take just what you want).

Think before posting, this is even more important, if the answer contains matters that upset you. Always remind that probably no one intended to hurt you.

Think about the message you want to send. A simple “I did not like this” does not Help. Tell as exactly as you can, why it was this way, the more neutral you give your critizism the more likely it is, that it reaches the author, so that he can do something to change this.

Encouragement is always a nice thing, If it is based on facts, so even with saying what you liked and why you are helping the author.

So please help the authors making the best game they could, and leave your Personal opinion, that one that is more focused on you for normal discussions.

Oh one last thing :grinning: giving tipps for enhancement is great but do not be angry if it is not implemented in the Game.

So this is it, thanks for reading, have a wonderful day and @Eiwynn I love you, you are one of the good souls of this Forum :kissing_heart:


Yea, many British shows and concepts don’t translate over to here as well as they are received at home. Mostly when it comes to comedy and “talent” judgment types of shows.

I love cooking shows, including many imports from Britain - things like Britain’s Best Bakers … the ones I end up liking are always positive and the shows I always drift away from or dislike are the ones like his show.

Often, American producers don’t faithfully translate shows over well either. I always appreciate your contributions @ParrotWatcher :two_hearts:, even if I mistake your humor at times :wink:

Thank you. :blush:


Good post, but then again @Eiwynn is the best.

I think a bit of this is culture clash.

As you say the purpose of a WIP thread is to provide specific feedback, though it also ends up as a general sharing point for feelings about the game. For people who come fro, let’s say tumblr or discord, that distinction might not come across, and they keep talking about the game as if it’s already published and official.

I have been trying to keep my own thread cleanish by having those discussions take place elsewhere (tumblr, discord) but for works that doesn’t have alternative outlets (or where the threads are super active), I can see how easy it is to slip into that ‘chatty’ mindset. Especially if you don’t think about how sore certain things might still be to people.

That being said, it’s almost never the first comment that sets something off, or is even that bad. It’s the counter reaction, where there is a certain brand of people flocking to defend ‘free speech’ or having people grow thicker skin that escalates matters.

I sincerely wish that people who wonder why people were hurt or offended would take a moment and think long and hard why they were hurt and offended about something that only tangentially touched their existence, and felt the need to post about it in public.

Most questions are more easily solved by a pm than a callout post.


What’s been said has already hit the nail on the head IMO, so kudos to @Eiwynn, @poison_mara, @Kaelyn, and @malinryden.

Is it possible that other WiP threads create a Discussion Thread (like Wayhaven’s?) if there’s too much white noise happening? Or perhaps at the author’s request?

I know Wayhaven got a huge following, so it makes sense that an alternative would pop up so that the WiP thread wouldn’t be flooded with white noise posts or off-topic posts. If an author doesn’t have a discord or tumblr and wants another place to funnel the white noise, I’m guessing they don’t need to have a big a following as Wayhaven did to get a forum thread for this?


I think something to consider is some authors especially younger ones find it hard to spot the difference. I’ve seen a lot of authors get constructive feedback but take it as a direct attack on themselves reacting as it is toxic feedback.

Likewise I’ve seen people make constructive feedback but when an author makes a choice that disagrees with that opinion (which is the author’s choice at the end of the day) keep at it until it becomes toxic.


@Nocturnal_Stillness - I agree with your observations…

  1. What ways can an author tell if a post is constructive or toxic?

  2. As an author, how do you tell insistent arguers that you have made a creative decision and that it is time to let go of an argument they are making?

With regard to #1, I always try to look at what the feedback is offering up as a solution to the criticism they are making. Is this what you do as well, or do you look for something else?

#2 is something that I am afraid of doing too firmly out of fear that I may loose a reader or more by being firm. I think I have a lot to learn in this area of being an author. Any advise you or others can offer up to help new authors handle this situation?


I think this is very reasonable for authors to do if it is warranted. The question is, when is it warranted.

In Wayhaven’s case, it is pretty obvious that a discussion thread (or multiples) are warranted.

With published works, it also is obviously warranted.

Even with follow up games or sequels, a discussion thread is pretty obviously warranted.

My question is: When is an unpublished author justified in opening a discussion thread or asking that one be opened for their WiP thread?



I’d like to expand on this:

If, as an author, one does

  1. equal all criticism/neutral feedback with toxic feedback
  2. put one’s ‘vision’ before common sense and decency (looking at everyone here who ever got massive feedback about how something is a big nope, draped themself over the fainting couch dramatically and lamented on about ‘but my viiiiisiooooon! it’s myyyyyy story and you must loooove my viiisiioooon’ )

by all means, stop creating. creating is not for you then…

Edit: I know I’m often reluctant and defensive when it comes to my stuff. Anxiety is sooooo a blessing (spoiler: it’s not). But when an author stubbornly insists on their way even though people keep saying that something isn’t good…
I dunno what to make of that.


Tone is something that is hard to decipher on the internet, much less a forum, so I try to engage someone in a conversation before I make a hard call, usually I would try to ask what they mean, if they could go into specific detail or specific scenarios, or if they can give an example (if they haven’t already).

It’s part of putting your work out there, and much more so in a forum where the entire gig is to get feedback, that sometimes you’ll get feedback that you don’t necessarily want. I’m of the opinion that occasionally a strongly worded rant has merit and that I should, at the very least, engage in a conversation to see what they’re getting at before I shut them down because I’m the one that decided to put my work out there, thereby inviting people to give feedback.

If I can’t handle feedback that much, I should probably just not post it somewhere public and keep it to myself.

It’s a very fine tightrope that any creator has to tread and it’s not an easy one especially since each creator could have different ways of handling criticism, good or bad or somewhere in between.

Sometimes people aren’t good at communicating what they want and we aren’t mind readers, so it’s never a singular person’s fault if communication breaks down in most cases.

I can’t recall if I’ve had an insistent arguer on any of my WiPs, but I would try to say something along the lines “I respect your opinion and am grateful for your suggestion, but that’s not where this is going to go.”

If there’s another WiP that seems more likely to cater to their tastes, I would direct them to that one as a way to end the conversation.

It’s hard to put a number on something like that, but I’d probably say it’s a mixture of the author’s discretion, amount of white noise in the WiP thread, and the popularity of the WiP which could be measured by post # amount. Obviously the post number amount isn’t a die hard measurement, but rather a fallback standard.

  1. for me it’s a case at looking at the context of the feedback if it can be taken negatively does it explain why they feel that why or do they offer alternative ways?

  2. I listen to their points and if I agree with some of it I’ll see if I can adapt it. If someone is insistent I’ll make my point why I feel that way and leave it at that. Sometimes that’s the best thing to do and step away for a day then you can look back.with a clearer mind.


While I’m really pleased to have a thread about giving good feedback, I think the divide of “constructive feedback vs irrelevant discussion” isn’t necessarily clear-cut.

While I definitely agree that the Wayhaven thread needs separate feedback and discussion threads, I think it’s worth noting that fan discussion, even if it isn’t obvious critique, can still give the author useful information about how things are coming across. Forum Member posts “oh man, Character X is a meaniehead” (and the author didn’t mean for that to be the case) or “I feel like when Event Y happened it foreshadowed Z” (and the author knows something is landing correctly) or just “I read this piece of text and it communicated something to me”, that can be as useful as typo and bug reports and that might not necessarily come out in posts that are intended as pure feedback, but will get stated during a discussion between readers that the author can then observe.

I feel like the question of “WIP thread vs discussion thread vs discord chatroom” isn’t completely on topic and won’t push that further. But I do think framing a WIP thread as purely “reader -> author” could discourage interactions between the readers that can still be helpful to the creators

I think @Seraphinite is an author who’s had a good track record with that kind of thing. I’ve definitely more than once seen her gracefully reject critiques that were against what she was going for with her work–I won’t speak to her thought process behind how she responds to that, but I’ve generally felt she sets a good example


I’m of the opinion that it’s rather “publishing is not for you”, rather than creating is not for some people since publishing implies that you’re putting yourself out in the public (wait… does publishing come from the word ‘public’? huh… if so, that’d be cool!) and that opens you up to receiving feedback.

Forgot to add.

@Eiwynn & just about anyone else interested in how to handle possible aggressive sounding feedback:

Something I learned from experience in an off-site forum where the entire premise was that you argued (It’s MafiaScum) with one another is that not everything needs a response, especially not right away.

@malinryden brought it up and I’m going to paraphrase it: wait until you’re not in the heat of the moment before you shoot off a reply and formulate your thoughts. Maybe wait an entire day if you need to.

The poster’s intention was to give feedback, even if it’s not necessarily helpful (maybe it’s just… “This is really good!”) or negative/toxic, since that’s how that section of the forum operates.

By not responding right away, you’re theoretically distancing yourself from your creation and hopefully creating the idea that they’re not personally trying to attack you. For instance, I’ve waited almost two full years (wow… it’s been that long) before even touching my 50K novel draft because I knew that I cared too much about it, and was therefore blinded by my love so to speak, that I couldn’t see what needed to be fixed.

My approach to respond to feedback of any kind is similar because I know that I’m clearly biased to my own work and that I have a stronger likelihood of perceiving criticism as personal since it’s my baby.


I totally agree with you on this.

Again, I think we are in agreement. However, it is my feelings that in these grey areas, it is the author’s responsibility and prerogative to make the final call.

As an example: In Zombie Exodus: Safe Haven by @JimD, there are two NPC characters that the fans and readers took in a totally different way than Jim thought they would or should.

Tommy is a NPC that started out as a minor scene filler character, seen once and then discarded. After a long discussion in his feedback threads, Jim decided to expand this character and retcon him into something bigger and better. Without this discussion, I’m not sure that Tommy would be the character he is today.

Madison is another popular character that was loved by the fans and readers. Jim thought she would be a hated character. The same sort of discussion took place (within context) where people discussed her. Jim’s decision with her was different… he mostly kept Madison the same, only choosing to refine her, here and there.

The reason why I say it should be under the author’s control, is that sometimes an author takes inspiration or gets valuable “feedback” from different types of posts. Some of the off-topic discussions in @Cataphrak’s threads may not inspire other authors.

It really should be up to him to decide and control the types of gray area posts that are acceptable in his thread.

I do agree here- I know I need to work at this more myself.