Forum feedback decorum?

We’re mostly on the same page, but I think it’s worth noting that lurker-authors do exist, and we won’t always know whether they’re reading our discussions. I don’t think mods/fans should treat all threads as if the authors are lurking and might be disheartened by the discussion there; that would be too limiting to readers who want a space to talk candidly about what the books made them feel/think. But nor should we be surprised if a largely silent author turns out to be reading and affected by the forum conversation, as seems to have been the case with Wayhaven.

In the internet age, authors with any level of readership are a click away from being drowned in negative comments on their work. We all have to figure out how to deal with that, whether it’s “don’t read the comment section” or armoring up with “not everyone will like my creative choices and that’s OK” at all times. Not all approaches will work for all authors, though; we can’t tell everyone “tough up” when this might be hitting them in their weakest spot. And as noted, HG authors don’t have the option to entirely ignore the forums like CoG/HC authors can.

So I’m sympathetic with the policy of closing a CoG Forum thread when an author requests it. They’re the stewards of their energy and enthusiasm levels, to say nothing of their mental health. If the author doesn’t show any sign of engaging with their threads, though, I don’t think the kindness policy ought to be preemptively wielded against harsh reviewers.

Thinking back, again, to my mod days, we de facto allowed more rants about Zach Sergi’s work than games where the authors were regularly on the forum:

I hasten to add that this was never mod policy, just this mod’s perception of the dynamics at work back then. And in light of Zach’s reaction to the forums when he popped in here,

maybe it’s worth reflecting on the culture that created. Especially for those of us who want authors to engage with the forum conversation.

It’s also worth noting that the post Zach was recoiling from (samples: “my eyes bled a little,” “wasting more of my time”) is still up there – nobody censored it for unkindness. Same with a more recent set of harsh comments on another WIP with much less engagement – only the rudest and most ad hominem comments further down the thread got a flag upheld.

It’ll take a while for the discourse to recover from the Sins of the Sires meltdown and the prospect of

But notwithstanding my continuing concerns about mods taking the anti-troll playbook and applying it to non-troll forum members, in general I’d say I don’t see signs of moderators shutting down negative feedback nearly as much as I see dogpiles by fans. (And those happen on the subreddit too.) That’s on us, and the kind of dialogue culture we want to create.

Don’t work too hard on that. :slight_smile: It has grace notes, but there’s a lot of bleakness there.

I’ve been a fan here as long as I’ve been a writer. I’ve also dipped into reddit.