Critiquing vs Criticizing

Before interacting, I suggest taking a look at the ongoing conversation in the Plaza:

As you all may or may not be aware, there has been some ongoing tensions regarding content of works-in-progress and interactions between various members of the community, be they author or reader.

I believe that a lot of this has developed because of a community-wide difficulty to determine what is and isn’t an appropriate way to give feedback on someone’s writing. We’re all very excitable fans of interactive storytelling; hence why we are on this site, so it can be easy to forget that areas like the Work-in-Progress section are meant to be workshops, places where writers can go and learn how to hone their skills and receive feedback on what they are and aren’t doing to properly share their ideas. When we readers interact with a WIP, we have to be aware of that. We have to be prepared to give advice to the writers without being negative. I don’t believe that anyone here is trying to be hurtful when they give their opinion on someone’s writing, but intent doesn’t always match a consequence.

With the dialogue that our authors are having in the previously-mentioned conversation, I think it’s important that their audience and readers have this conversation too. How can we find a balance between sharing our thoughts as readers and sharing our thoughts as advisers? How can we ensure that what we are telling them is constructive and not overly negative?

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@moderators This thread I think first is a copy of the thread in the plaza. I know is frustrating i can’t post in plaza either . but is the right plaze to this themes

I can say what I’m looking for as author:

  • If a reader noticed anything off (continuity, consistency etc), I always hope they’ll point it out. I only recently found a massive continuity error, and that was a little disheartening.
  • If a reader has any question, I hope they’ll ask.

Truth be told, it is disheartening to write something and… not get any feedback at all.
I know I can be reluctant and defensive about my things (working on that), but speaking as an author, not getting anything at all is… bad

Though often I get the feeling readers are discouraged by the behavior of some authors that seem to/blatantly do ignore feedback and steamroll on.
Or they seem to think that someone else has already pointed something out…

edit:
@poison_mara the thread on the plaza can only be participated by some. as the OP said, this is a copy so those that can’t can talk about things.
I’ll leave the decision to the mods.

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I can’t post in Plaza. I know is frustrating. But Is the right place to be and this if not will end becoming a negativity filled thread with people calling things ones of others. Like is happening a lot lately

I think the golden rule should apply to criticism such as “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

In other words, if you’re typing up a post for a WiP you should probably stop and think if you’d like the post that you’re writing to be directed at yourself. Or ask yourself if you would feel okay directing your post (either verbally or electronically) at a loved one.


Critique (n.) a detailed analysis and assessment of something, especially a literary, philosophical, or political theory

Criticism (n.) the expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes OR the analysis and judgment of the merits and faults of a literary or artistic work.

(Just so everyone’s on the same page as to where these two terms differ)

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I say that if the criticism has substance, then it should be allowed and encouraged freely. I often provide feedback right after playing, and I let the emotion I’m feeling come through. I believe this is vital, because it allows the author to see the difference between a problem that’s a minor nitpick and something that kills enjoyment of a game.

I don’t think this is a universal, widespread issue, but I have come across it a few times, so I want to point it out:

Authors, if there is something you are not willing to change do not start discussing it when a reader brings it up!

That might seem a bit harsh, but what I mean is that it’s important to make it clear where your stance is, and not give in to the need to placate everyone, or have them agree with you.
If you discuss the thing you don’t want to change in a way meant to convince the reader that your view is right, that will probably just make them argue even more for their side, as they think their idea/side is the best one, and they think you are open to change because you are discussing things, instead of making it clear that you don’t want to do the thing.
The discussion then escalate, and the reader(s) might be overstepping your boundaries, without meaning to and without even realising, and that sucks for everyone involved.

It’s something I mostly see in regards to RO’s, as that’s often where people get the most passionate, but it can happen with other things as well.

Also, please don’t go into other threads on the forum and complain about how your readers are pressuring or harrassing you, when you haven’t made it clear that you don’t want any further discussion on the topic. A lot of us read most of the threads, and that is a really shitty feeling.

(I feel like I haven’t worded/explained all of this correctly, so please point out if something seems weird/wrong/etc.)

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This is very hard for some - the need to accommodate as many people as you can in order to make as many as happy as possible is a tangible and very heartfelt emotion many authors feel.

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@RedRoses Thank you for posting this. I just lost my regular status a day or so ago (life calls) but really felt like that discussion should not be locked behind barriers as this is a topic that many people should be giving feedback on.

And the plaza has copied threads from the general part of the forum, so there should be no issue with this thread staying here. The forum goers have every right to discuss this as much as the “select few.” And I’m assuming you feel the same way as you obviously felt compelled enough by the topic at hand to have to send it through someone else to post your opinion. By your very reasoning, then you shouldn’t have your post on there. And that’s extremely unfortunate as I find you have certain strong views that bring alternative viewpoints to the table in a discussion. I really think this can be a beneficial thread without devolving into a ton of negativity.

I don’t think it’s really all that cut and dry honestly. The WIP threads serve multiple functions. One is definitely for feedback. I think it’s important for there to be a dialogue between the author and the readers if the creator is looking for input (what is going right and what may need to be tweaked). But it also serves as a place for readers (and the author if they choose) to discuss things in the game. I remember that we had a great discussion that clarified some issues for people in the Wayhaven thread; it dealt with how gender should be or should not be portrayed and whether or not some “poses” were inherently masculine or feminine. I think a lot of eyes were opened by the discussions there between the readers, and that was something that Sera could see and read and take into account for when writing scenes. And that discussion would not have happened if regular forum talk was not encouraged there.

Another function they serve is a place for new readers to come and voice their opinion. I can’t tell you how many new people I’ve seen make an account here and post in a WIP just to gush about a game. And I think that’s just as valuable to the author as constructive criticism, which is what most people zone in on when leaving feedback. Writers like to know when someone is enjoying their work as well, and don’t necessarily need only criticism. Is this new blood to be “silenced” because someone doesn’t think their feedback is as valuable as someone else’s? That’s a rather slippery slope to be on.

I saw a suggestion on the blocked thread about having a general discussion thread. Wayhaven has done this, and for the most part, I think it works well. Sometimes there’s a bit of awkwardness when they get directed to the new thread, and maybe that’s something we can work on. So if this is the direction to go, then when should a 2nd general conversation thread open? There are lots of WIPs that never make it to the publishing stage, and I’m sure we don’t want to the board to get cluttered. But not having a place where people can talk about the game is simply not an option. If you kill the talk, you kill the buzz and any momentum the author has built off their demo.

I’ve seen a few authors state their case and end the discussion amicably while making it clear whatever topic that is being debated is over. I think not addressing it just lets it linger and fester if it never gets addressed and keeps coming up.

Agreed 100%. Take it to a PM between a few other authors. But also be clear in the thread. I’ve seen @MultipleChoice handle shutting people down very well and moving the conversation along. Perhaps he is another one, besides Sera, that people can take note of how they handle difficult situations.

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This feels like more of an issue of making sure your wording is clear, rather than refusal to engage at all. While I’m definitely supportive of the idea that an author shouldn’t have to argue over points that they’ve already put their foot down about, I think being able to express to your readers why you’re making certain creative choices is better for fostering communication and community than a blanket “no, and that’s the end of it.” Getting feedback from an audience is a give-and-take and I think people are less liable to want to offer feedback to creators who they perceive as unreasonable or harsh, as opposed to ones that they might disagree with but still know are looking at the situation from multiple angles.

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I would love respond you sincerely. However My sincerity will be escalating in a discussion that will end in a close of this thread. So instead I will try to more and less give a sweetened half truth of what my opinion is and hope not end banned.

Lately I have been thinking seriously abandon the forum for good. I am burnt. I can’t post in most of threads here Fallen hero wayhaven… Not because automatically I get an angry horde of fans insulting me here or in discord. I am sick tired of let it pass to try not escalating the issue to trying to bite my tonge to opinate freely to not ask other people read my post beforehand to see if they will make hordes pick pitchforks.

This forum is becoming each day more and more and more toxic. Drama is reign freely and all is taking as a menace to their opinion. Almost no feedback or civil discussion All is memes or attacking anything different from mainstream fan horde.

I have limited myself to only commented in threads I know author and know the author will protect me from the masses. In a healthy environment I shouldn’t have to limit myself to that.

I have no regular I have no title and not possibility of have one in a million of years. I have reading threads i don’t care to try to become regular again. Plaza is a necessity because how immature in general forum is behaving.

I have notes on feedback authors will never get , It is sad, but as i know the important is the authors work I will not post something that will cause drama as this won’t help author. So the opinion is silenced by default. It is so sad.

so no I don’t like rhis thread because it will end closing by mods due lately all is toxicity. .In old days this wouldnt be needed as a copycat due everyone behaved so it was no needed have a plaza to have a civic discussion.

I am old, I am feeling bad valued and hated. if i still here is for great reàl friends . I have.

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As I said, I didn’t word things correctly. :sweat_smile:

@spunkycatninja and @HomingPidgeon, what you said to do instead of what I said, is probably closer to what I mean than how I said it? I think?
I’m definitely putting a specific meaning into the word “discussing” which is not neccesarily how other people will read it, which is why I tried to expand it further.
Authors can/should definitely explain and discuss their reasonings.

I think maybe “debating” is a better word for what I mean? Does that make more sense?

Sorry, I probably shouldn’t have tried to write all this stuff today. :worried:
I stopped taken some meds a week ago, and it’s taking some time for my system to ajust to the change, so my brain is being absolutely useless and foggy. :upside_down_face:

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The best way to critique is to try and find something you like/has been done well and something you think could be improved. That’s the best formula to have well received comments if you can. However I know even I’m bad about it sometimes where I’ll read through a WIP and collect typos/bugs and just post those without presenting an in depth review with that formula when I’m tired/busy and it doesn’t mean I like a story any more or less. Point is, if someone’s gone to the trouble to leaving you any kind of detailed feedback, they probably care about your game being completed and it should be treated as a complement that they’ve taken the time to let you know what they think as long as the critisism is constructive.

Thing is, these forums are primarily meant to be designed to get a WIP for HG’s ready to be published, not as a general discussion board of things off topic or as a encouragement only group. If as an author you can’t take constructive critisism, you need to re-evaluate why your WIP is being posted here. Trust me, it’s likely you will get significantly worse and less constructive crit once it’s out on the stores so better to fix everything you can in pre-production here instead. You as an author don’t have to action on every piece of critisism, but IMO you should consider it, and not jump straight to the offensive whenever possible.

On the other hand, unconstructive crit, derailments, making assumptions on why an author has chosen to do a certain thing (especially when it runs into character attacks based on assumptions) and requests coming off as demands can cause angst, so sometimes looking at the tone of a suggestion and the way it has been said can help or just read it over and if in doubt about how it will be taken, leave it for a while and come back and read it again before it’s posted to help prevent escallations.

I personally do try to discuss with a reader if they suggest something I’m not keen on doing for story purposes. If a reader would like something and I feel I can’t do it, personally I feel it comes across as less harsh if I say something along the lines of “sorry I don’t want to/don’t feel comfortable writing/can’t do this because of x/y/z,” or even “because of reasons that will be made clear later in the game if we’re running into spoiler territory” rather than just “no I don’t want to.” If I’m not sure if I can include a request, I’ll say so as well.

Discussion vs Derailments. I sometimes bring up related but non-story info (like links, pictures etc) in my own WIP’s because I find it interesting, I hope some of my readers might find it interesting and generally to try and get some discussion going at times if the thread is quiet. That might not be appropriate in an already very busy/popular thread though. Derailments happen a lot, especially when comparisons with WIP’s not written by the same author or company decisions that the author can’t do anything about or general rumours or drama gets brought into thread. IMO new threads should be started for those if they want to be discussed further instead of derailing the thread that is meant for WIP discussion or post release feedback only.

That would be sad, we may have our differences of opinion at times (and that’s fine! Everyone is allowed to have their own thoughts on things :slight_smile: ) but I know you’re trying to help the WIPs you comment on. There has been a lot of drama on the forums of late.

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I think authors need to be more upfront about what we are asking for when posting public WiP threads.

Lots of times, the author will close the OP with something like, “Okay, tell me what you think!” or “Okay, I hope you like it!” Those types of general closings don’t limit the type of feedback that may appear and so it can be messy, or it can lead to unhelpful responses. I was guilty of that myself when I did my CCH threads.

Upon reflection, if I did another public thread, I’d likely state in the OP what I wanted feedback on. Like maybe I really want feedback on pacing/tension, or maybe there’s a particular scene that I’m afraid just doesn’t work for some reason. That could be helpful to both the author and the readers, as it wastes readers’ time to respond to something if the author has already decided to keep that element ‘as is.’

I’d also add that that if an author really wants to keep the feedback tight and focused, they might want to consider adding, “Please limit cross talk” or “Please, respond to the story update instead of each other.” There are plenty of forums whose threads are structured like that.

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Personally, I think a big part of the problem would be solved if we all:

  1. Remembered that we only have text to communicate and that writing can be hard, whether it’s a chapter in a story or a review about said chapter,
  2. Remember that there are countless reasons for why someone says something a certain way, such as language barriers, cultural differences, or even something as simple as being tired or having a bad day, and that it’s rarely truly personal,
  3. Speak up when something bothers us by mentioning how a person’s words come across to us and why it bothers us,
  4. Apologize and clear the air when we mess up, or,
  5. Let it go if someone is truly rude and refuses to discuss the situation maturely.

I had a whole college class dedicated to giving proper feedback and the main thing I took away from it is that it always takes two to tango. You can follow all the rules, word things as gently as one could possibly manage, and still end up having a conflict because people just don’t always follow the rules.

But to stick to the topic a bit better, I’d say just mention how a piece of writing came across to you.
“I felt like this part went by a little too fast,” rather than “This was rushed.”
“To me, this part felt kind of offensive,” rather than “This was offensive.”
Takes a bit of getting used to but it works well for me. Maybe it’ll work for someone else too.

I think that would be a huge shame, and the forum would be a lesser place for not having you in it. :disappointed_relieved: I know I lurk significantly more than I post so we haven’t really spoken but I always love reading your posts because they seem to come from the heart. They’re sincere, and I appreciate that a lot. If I ever gather the courage to write something here, I would be honored to read your genuine thoughts. :slightly_smiling_face:

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I’m so sorry that you feel that way. I know that we’ve had our differences but I still don’t want you to feel that you’re being restrained. It makes me sad to read the things you’ve experienced on the forum. Sometimes toxicity appears from time to time on social media and on the Internet. If you want to take a break and go online for a while, that is something you should do. I’ve had my fair share of toxicity on social media and I used to leave the platforms until things calmed down. You should leave the forum if you feel that this is affecting your mental health in a negative way. Taking a break is something you’ll benefit from. Hopefully you’ll feel better after a few months. Take some alone time, relax, ignore the forum for a while. You shouldn’t stay in an environment you think is toxic.

Are you sure? Will this make you feel better? If you think it will, then feel free to do as you please. Mara, take care of yourself. Leave toxic environments. Take a break. Maybe for a few days, a few weeks, a few months, or a few years if you need to. As long as you put your mental health first. As I said before, I’ve left a few social medias due to their negative impact on my mental state. In my opinion you should leave if this will give you peace of mind. Go offline for a while and do whatever makes you happy. And if/when you return you’ll feel better. Catch a break. I hope everything turns out okay for you.

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I mentioned something similar in the “young authors” thread, but there is constructive criticism, nonconstructive (or toxic) criticism, and there is off-topic chatter.

Concrit and chatter can both be beneficial to an author, but nonconcrit can be debilitating, and we always need to remember that every single one of the authors posting on here is a real person, with a day job, who does this in their free time (excepting a few who have managed to make this their day job. Go you guys!), so regardless of age, personal opinion, etc., it is important to treat everyone with respect. Treat them the same way you would if you were face to face.

An instance of constructive criticism devolving into nonconstructive would be, for instance, A Stern Hand, by @Tool. What started as constructive devolved, due to issues on all ends, though it ended positively with people stepping back and friendly apologies. We are all guilty of being somewhat nonsconstructive - human nature and all that. What is important is knowing when to step back and respect the author’s wishes.

I liken constructive criticism to the old “managerial sandwich”. You give one positive thing, sandwich in your negative / suggestions for resolution, and follow it with another good thing. Sometimes, this still gets interpreted badly - most times, constructive criticism isn’t going to be the post with 50 likes - but it will generally be received better than “you need to do x, y, z, or your story is going to suck.”

In addition, I personally struggle with author requests for feedback. I understand where it could be beneficial to needle nose in on what you want the readers to provide, but, generally speaking, limiting that feedback could hurt your story, overall.

I’ve tried to get back in the habit of giving more criticism, rather than just only commenting if I have something to say in the current discussion on the WIP thread (which is usually a 7-page deep discussion on the theory of the plot, in my experience with the more popular WIPs). Constructive criticism is the only way an author will grow, and even if it’s sometimes difficult to receive, it is also the biggest compliment a reader can give you - they cared enough to reach out, analyze, and detail their thoughts and opinions on your work, so they can help you be better.

Also @poison_mara your presence was missed dearly before. A lot of people here, myself included, consider you a friend, even if real life gets in the way sometimes. We’ve had a lot of really productive conversations both on private beta and in public forums, so I, at least, would certainly miss you, if you’re gone.

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@poison_mara: As someone who has interacted with you off and on for several years now, I must say that I admire both your passion and honesty. You’ve provided important feedback and valuable insight to a large number of authors here, and while often colorful, and sometimes abstruse, your words always come from the heart and with the best of intentions. This place just wouldn’t be the same without you.

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Oh nooo! I absolutely understand your points and you should do what is best for you…but as a reader/fan of the forums, I would really miss your posts. Even though I dont often comment on the threads you frequent, if i see your name/avatar pop up in latest threads or whatever - I always read it because you are very compassionate and smart and well spoken. You bring a lot to this community and I am so sad to hear of your frustrations. In my opinion you are one of the folks who elevate discussions. It is needed and necessary. I hope you know how appreciated you are, here! I am not trying to sound like a tool, I jist dig your contributions and I think sometimes that goes unsaid.

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Thanks to everyone posting here in general. It is I recognize I am passionate and adamant. I am also straightforward in a way could be consider harsh or rude. I am terribly at lying or disguise the truth with political correctness. I am bad in that even in my two native languages. So in English a language I am self taught even if I am improving I still could understand why some people could get angry at me .

However, Critical feedback when one said why and where and what is your opinions in a game and would you prefer instead. Always you aren’t demand anything shouldn’t be treated with a Hostile Fan march with pich forks and starting clling me names here on discord.

So here is the paradox situations in Plaza authors are complaining they have not feedback. I have the feedback and other people who are afraid o bring rhe horde wrath. Because they don’t felt exactly same that the horde consensus opinion. I have been called Toxic athmosphere. Silly… Not enough good to posting in this forum etc…

So well. Wips are to give feedback. Feedback is being blocked by the supposed fans due the tiny criticism is followed with WHO YOU BELIEVE YOU’RE TO OPINATE AGAINST A CREATIVE CHOICE…

So now I wait to game published to give feedback i have since last ten months. And author wonders why give now not when was a wip. BecausegWip as there are now DOESN’T WORK. DUE FEEDBACK REAL ONE IS NOT MOVING … People with it will not or risk being accused by the mob. Or without time read millions of off-topic white noise memes. IN WIP CATEGORY some wips are Meme wip. I can’t only imagine how frustrating could be for authors see their threads with everything except why they want FEEDBACK.

I know that I am supposed to be more polite or something but I am talking with pure rude honesty to trying making this place was is supposed to be at lest in wip category. GIVE FEEDBACK not write memes,not put videos not insulting other members.
I know nobody will listening me but hell if forum will get better if we all were more mature and try to help future authors.

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