What's with the unhelpful votes on every single review?

I've noticed a new trend, though this has been going on for some time. Every single recent review I look at has at least 2 unhelpful votes. Every single one, and I've looked at a lot of them. It's like one or two people are bombing every new review regardless of story or content. Has anyone else noticed this?


Depending on how unhelpful votes are weighed against helpful ones, this might not be a big issue, but still. It strikes me as weird.


You didn't look all that deep. The last 6 have negative votes. The 8 before them have no downvotes. From there, it's mostly no downvotes with the occasional with a downvote. Of the last 30 reviews, I only counted 10 with downvotes.


And the ones that do, most of them look like they *deserved* it. Like the one which was less than a full paragraph and only bothered to say "it's awesome, read it" (I'm paraphrasing). One which went spent more effort praising a different story written by a different author in an entirely different genre than actually reviewing the story (class act, that is not). And a couple reviews so rambling and incoherent that they can only be called English by technicality.


Granted, I didn't check every one, so there might be some that were unduly downvoted, but still, it looks like a small statistical cluster of terrible reviews (three of which were written by the same person, no surprise there) which were treated as such- unusual, but to be expected when dealing with large numbers- that's all.


Which is why statisticians like to collect large pools of data before drawing conclusions. Because a sample size of 6 can yield 100%, while a sample of 30 using the same methods can yield 33%. And 30 is still a tiny sample, but I'm too lazy to do more.


Really... the fact that even the worst of them still had at least one upvote is more telling than the reverse.


Hm, I could have sworn I've seen far more than 6 reviews in a row with multiple downvotes, but I could be remembering it wrong.


Well, you can always double check my work... but either you're remembering wrong or one of us has an oddly specific graphics glitch.


The answer to your question is that some of the recent reviews aren't actually helpful.


I stopped short here of actually discussing some of them. But, in summary: some of them are reviews in name only. Some of them border more on marketing, advertising or shilling than reviewing. Some of them don't tell me a thing about the work in question beyond that someone liked it, and maybe a list of 'things in this story'.


And, like TanaNari says, some of the recent reviews feel like a not-so-cleverly disguised attempt to talk about how good another serial is, which sort of combine all of the above problems into a neat package.


Let's be honest, there's very little that's helpful about unrestrained effusive praise. Okay, sure, it can be good for the motivation and the spirit but you don't grow and improve on praise. A good review is a critical evaluation of a given text. What's more, praise is actually worth more when it's next to critique.


When it comes to a helpful review... Well, to borrow a saying from math teachers everywhere: show your working.


Okay, sure, it can be good for the motivation and the spirit but you don't grow and improve on praise.


This is only true if the review is meant to be read by the author so that the author can learn and improve--which is not the purpose of many reviews. The purpose of many reviews is to help other potential readers decide if they want to give a story a shot--to add to that story's "visibility factor," in other words. And in that sense, a review that's very "gushy" might actually prove quite helpful. Though, of course, if that gushy review is full of lies and bullcrap, then it'll prove exactly the opposite of helpful, but yeah. That'd be a problem, too.


Also, please don't underestimate the value of boosting motivation. Sometimes, that's all a writer's got going for them, because everything else in their life is in shambles. Not that I have experience with that or anything.


What's more, praise is actually worth more when it's next to critique.


On principle, no, it isn't. That's actually just a trick. If you think about it, it's basically the same idea behind "negging." If a girl doesn't respond to your compliments, insult her instead. That'll get her attention and make her appreciate your compliments when you actually do give them.


Whether you believe that such a trick actually works or not is beside point. The fact is, it IS a trick.


If you want your praise to be worth more, it needs to be well thought out, too. And yes, more thorough and critical thinking often means that praise is accompanied by critique, but praise does not gain more value BECAUSE of said critiques. That's a classic case of correlation, not causation.


Maybe that's nitpicking on my part, but I think it's an important distinction for maintaining a critic's integrity and not getting caught up in a false dichotomy.


Speaking as one of the people responsible for those downvotes, I can say that it is at least partially due to the points highlighted by Rhodeworks and TanaNari. I didn't downvote all of them, but I downvoted a couple of them, and that was because I found the content of those reviews to be genuinely unhelpful. To review a review, as it were:


"Sloppy grammar, combined with a poor demonstration of understanding of the subject matter, and claims made without sufficient supporting arguments. One and a half stars."


Well, hopefully I just provided an example of a useful review. Though nowhere near a nice one.


Heh. It does make me wonder. "Was this review helpful" is really asking two questions: Was this review helpful to the reader, and was this review helpful to the author. Having skimmed yours, TanaNari, I can say that it certainly doesn't pull its punches. It certainly has what is needed to be helpful to both author and reader, but I wonder whether that sort of review might skim along the lines of confidence shattering. Regardless, I can't really blame you for honesty, can I? I'd need to take a look at the work itself to be sure.


I might be about to write up a (hopefully) complementary review to yours, to add my own two cents.


The sad thing is... I did pull my punches...


Edit: fair enough.


"Also, please don't underestimate the value of boosting motivation. Sometimes, that's all a writer's got going for them, because everything else in their life is in shambles. Not that I have experience with that or anything."


Then -- and I'm not trying to be an ass here -- they are not looking for a review, are they? They're looking for a pat on the back.


Which is not the purpose of a review.


A puff piece, perhaps. But not a review.


(My review of this post is that I'm an idiot who can't make blockquotes work)


@TanaNari -- the tone was a bit extreme, but I think the general thrust was accurate based on my poking around. I would've opened any review I was doing by talking about the website, too, because to borrow another saying: GOOD LORD WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THERE. It was distracting me from the story in a very real way.


Well, there's my "Companion review." Hope it serves decently.


It already got a No vote, Rhythm.


I bet it was TanaNari.


Well, even if it was, they are entitled to their opinion.


Nope, wasn't me. I feel like it would be inappropriate for me to give it a vote either direction.


Here, I'll say it looks an awful lot like it was trying desperately to counterbalance my review and thus was far nicer than the story actually deserved (then again, I feel like *I* was nicer than the story deserved as well, but I can't believe you legitimately believe it deserves a 3.5 rating). But there, I won't vote one way or another.


Maybe it was someone upset by the negative reviews? Whether Rhythm's kid gloves or my own more direct approach, neither of us were able to give it anything resembling a "positive" review.


Fair points, TanaNari. I was trying to counterbalance you. But I didn't raise my score in response to yours. I gave an honest critique, and tried to be constructive, but you were honest too, and what's left is really just a difference in reviewing philosophy, I suppose. Also, I assumed it wasn't you doing the downvote, TanaNari, given that your review was downvoted at around the same time.


If you insist, but if the best the "trying to be as nice as possible" review can say is "the writing's pretty good, but the story needs a complete rewrite"...


In a way, your review might be even harsher than mine, because at least someone can look at mine and think 'that guy is kind of a dick', thus softening the impact of my words.


I do believe it's hard to find a more appropriate example of "Damned by faint praise" than your review.


Then -- and I'm not trying to be an ass here -- they are not looking for a review, are they? They're looking for a pat on the back.


Which is not the purpose of a review.


A puff piece, perhaps. But not a review.


If the author requested the review, sure. A "puff piece," as you put it, would be disrespectful to expect.


But again, allow me to reiterate, helping people stay motivated during the marathon of writing webserials--that's valuable.


This author DID request the review.


Also... I've never found 'nice' to be motivating. Useful is motivating. Even harsh is motivating, in a 'screw you, I'mma prove you wrong' sort of way. What I have never found motivating is a hug box.