Adding comments to reviews?

7 years ago | Amy Kim Kibuishi (Member)

So I saw Palladian's review for Hiraeth and got all excited to read it. I wanted to leave a thank you note for such a great review and recommendation, but realized how difficult that might be. Is it possible to add more interactivity to the reviews themselves, like a comment box for the reviews? Or would that just be inviting trouble and yet MORE stuff to moderate?

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Responses

  1. G.S. Williams (Member)

    Posted 7 years ago

    Just my opinion:

    A) the forum has a whole section labelled "review discussion" where people comment on reviews or thank people. I think that's a good place for things like that.

    B) I think it adds noise to a review because if you have a differing opinion you should be creating a review of your own -- and readers don't need to see people criticizing or thanking a review on the review itself when they're after someone's opinion on a story. Why give them opinions on opinions as well? That seems like more noise and less purpose.

    C) We have had a lack of participation on reviews and the forum in general -- I'd be worried that comments on the reviews would be more discouraging if people decided to go trolling, and yeah, then you'd have a new moderation problem.

    D) You'd be tempting me to critique reviews instead of writing my own -- for every three word "this story is awesome" review you'd get me saying "your review wasn't" -- do we really need that from me? I'm already working hard at not being a jerk. :P

    If people just used the forums more I think that would be enough. I get thanked here and in emails pretty often.

  2. Wildbow (Member)

    Posted 7 years ago

    I can see there being a few problems with that. I've had a long discussion with Emma Pooka about my review of Bad Influences (which was, as she phrased it, harsh), but Emma's been very well spoken about her perspective on the review (and my analysis). I can see situations where others wouldn't be, or where a fear of reprisal/criticism over the review might lead people to be less than fully honest.

    And being honest and blunt about the good and the bad is important to me. If I stop reading because I couldn't read the prose, then I want to be able to say so. If I'm softening the blow when it comes to pointing out the bad, then it mitigates the value when I say something's good. I don't want WFG to go the road of video game reviews, where a 'terrible' game gets 7.5 stars out of ten and perfect game gets 9.5 (or in this case, a terrible story gets 3 stars, a mediocre one 4-4½ and a good, excellent or professional-level one gets 5). I've been in a writer's circle for nearly a year now, and it still pains me that the group is so focused on searching out the good and keeping the author happy that they wind up losing sight of actually fixing the work and supporting the author by finding out where the work needs to be better. Same sort of thing, though a review isn't a critique.

    As far as I'm aware, someone threatened Chris with a lawsuit because of a bad review not that long ago (I'm worried it was one of my reviews; I was the only person to leave a review in the recent past with less than three stars, then), and it's apparently not the first time. For some, this stuff is people's livelihood. That's major, and major feelings get involved.

    It -would- be nice for there to be avenues for discussion about individual points of a given review, but I fear that it would open up a can of worms.

  3. G.S. Williams (Member)

    Posted 7 years ago

    And my comment on Wildbow's review of Bad Influences would be "I agree with everything you just said. I admire your feelings. I hope to adopt them as my own." It's rational, well thought out, and encapsulates the problems I had reading the story too.

    Bonus points if you can identify the movie I quoted.

  4. Amy Kim Kibuishi (Member)

    Posted 7 years ago

    Thanks guys. As suspected it would invite more trouble and work. Just wondering what the thought process was behind it.

    Gavin you have a lot of good points that seem obvious but escaped my morning brain! I never thought about review discussion adding a lot of noise where the focus should be the review itself. You are very right.

    Wildbow, I can't believe someone would threaten legal action over a review. We're supposed to have thick skins as writers! I mean, if I got upset over every time I got a bad review for being a comic and not prose alone I'd be sleeping on a pillow stuffed with money.

    Anyway, point taken and I appreciate the thoughts behind deciding not to have interactive reviews. Next time I like a review I'll make a thread instead! More posts for the forum are always good too. :)

  5. Fiona Gregory (Moderator)

    Posted 7 years ago

    For what it's worth I've often YEARNED to comment on reviews, but yeah, what they said. Tinder for the flames!

  6. Wildbow (Member)

    Posted 7 years ago

    Well, think about it. You put in dozens, hundreds or thousands of hours into a work, you're taking time out of your day to create something, and because you don't have the benefit of objectivity, you let yourself believe you're creating gold. All that time goes towards making something, and (short of having a donation button available) the payoff is delayed. You come to see that time as an investment, when it's really a gamble. If you succeed then you make money. If you fail, you can potentially make nothing. But we (particularly Americans) live in a culture where it's easy to feel entitled, to feel that investing X effort should get 2X reward. You've put in all this time, you can't help but see the parts that are funny, the parts that are gold, characters you've fallen in love with as an author, it's hard to imagine others having different perspectives.

    And you finish your work. You've put a share of yourself into it, taken the time to edit and polish it to the best of your ability, rewritten bits to be more clever. You put it on a site and pay $18 for a specialized site design with features that move with mouseover and fancy graphics in the background, you put up a donate button and a link to the amazon page where someone can buy your book. Then you're on the edge of your seat, waiting for your story to work its way up the Webfictionguide queue and get listed.

    And then this brat, this know-nothing tool from some dark corner of the internet pops in and reviews your story just after it gets listed, and he says it's derivative, that the only parts that seem like they might have some merit to them are cliched or blatantly ripped off from elsewhere, character development is nil, and your work is too simple for adults and has too much mature content for children... He gives you two stars and suggests he's being generous in doing so.

    Because of that review, less people check out your story, which means less people write reviews with differing opinions. Potential readers dismiss you out of hand, or they do look at your work but the review means they approach with prejudices. All that effort you put in, for which you deserve compensation, it's falling apart because of one 'unfair' review at a crucial time.

    So what do you do?

    You send a scathing email to the administrator of Webfictionguide and demand he take that review down or, by golly, you're going to sue him and get the money you deserve that way.

    I can totally picture the scenario.

  7. Fiona Gregory (Moderator)

    Posted 7 years ago

    But actually, I bet considerably MORE people check out the story than if it had gone unnoticed, or even had a mild, neutral, boring review. And quite possibly some of those people will like it.

    Example: Ballad of the Emerald Bard. Four people reviewed it, and they all pretty much agreed it was a 2-3 star first draft with some significant flaws, and yet I bet almost everyone who's read the WFG home page in the last two weeks has clicked through to see the story for themselves. Haven't you all?

  8. Wildbow (Member)

    Posted 7 years ago

    I totally agree. But the offended individual might not.

  9. Amy Kim Kibuishi (Member)

    Posted 7 years ago

    Wildbow, you really ARE a writer. That was a great character portrait! haha

    And Fiona, I tend to click through a lot of low star reviews too to see for myself. I'm always, "Oh it can't be THAT bad." ....

  10. Jim Zoetewey (Moderator)

    Posted 7 years ago

    People have threatened lawsuits over reviews more than once. No one's ever followed through. In each case where someone did that, it was an editor that wrote the review--so no need to worry Wildbow, you're not at fault.

    Generally people get really annoyed not just at the review, but also at the fact that Chris won't remove their listing from the website.

    Personally, I've lately gotten to experience a little bit of what people feel from bad reviews. On Amazon, Goodreads and here, I've gotten good reviews for Legion of Nothing, but on "Page 99", a site that asks people to rate page 99 of a work (without any context), I've gotten some bad reviews--mostly because people don't seem to get the "superheroes in prose" thing. Many of the bad comments boil down to "this sounds like a comic book."

    OK... And back to the original topic: I often think that it would be interesting if the reviews could have comments. I think Chris was even thinking about doing that at one point, but it would probably take a bit of work, and it was part of a much larger redesign.

  11. AGreyWorld (Member)

    Posted 7 years ago

    Amy, as someone new to this game I click the low star reviews but I'm always, "I wonder if mines that bad, better see what they did wrong..."

  12. ubersoft (Member)

    Posted 7 years ago

    Getting a bad review isn't fun. It's certainly survivable. But there are consequences for them at WFG, and it does negatively affect your traffic.

    ... wait, that doesn't sound right. It doesn't negatively affect your traffic because that implies that a bad review here starts a campaign against you, and suddenly people are actively boycotting your work. That's not what I mean. WFG has some mechanisms in place that make well-reviewed work more accessible to the population, which positively affects your traffic, and bad reviews take you out of the running for that. So bad reviews negatively affect the positive traffic from WFG.

    But it's not the end of the world. You keep writing and posting and drinking and sooner or later there's a dead hobo in your bathroom and you can't remember why.

    ;-)

    Curveball (Updating)
    A Rake by Starlight (Updating)
  13. G.S. Williams (Member)

    Posted 7 years ago

    I think maybe we should define terms a little better. A "bad" review could mean a short, uninformative five star cheerlead, or a one star troll dump. A "negative" review would be less than three stars. A "bad" review can positively or negatively affect your traffic because ten cheerleaders marking 5 star will weigh heavier than one 2 star review, no matter if they're badly written or well-written.

    "Well-reviewed" would mean thoroughly thought through, (say that three times fast) whereas "positively reviewed" would mean 4 stars or more. Positively reviewed stories positively affect traffic. Negatively reviewed stories negatively affect traffic. (In theory). So bad reviews might be positive or negative towards traffic.

    So I would amend what ubersoft said as "Getting a negative review isn't fun." If there are more negative reviews than positive ones then it affects your traffic negatively, and vice versa.

    But one negative review will not affect your traffic negatively just because it exists, as they're weighed against the other existing reviews. It only matters if it's the only review, or if it forms the dominant opinion. If the majority agree that the story should be reviewed negatively, those aren't "bad" reviews, the story has been "well-reviewed" and it deserves by popular opinion to not get traffic in comparison to the majority opinion in comparison to other positively reviewed stories.

    Fun fact -- I've heard back several times that a negative review INCREASED readers because they wanted to see what was up with the negative review for themselves, proving the system works.

  14. Wildbow (Member)

    Posted 7 years ago

    I think that's a sensible interpretation. A bad (that is, lacking information, inaccurate, heavily biased or lazy) review is bad for Webfictionguide, a negative review is (arguably) bad for the story's author.

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