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View Full Version : What if you had to critique to use SYW?



The Lonely One
11-17-2011, 07:32 PM
Someone posted a part of their story in basic writing questions earlier and of course it got locked, but it got me thinking. Someone posted this:


A good way to get to 50 posts is to visit SYW and leave critiques on some of the stories posted there. It's not the only way, but in doing so you'll be more likely to get critiques back in return.Important bit bolded.

Maybe it should be the only way to get access? Or at least there could be a percentage of posts like 25 anywhere-posts and 25 SYW posts must be made in order to use SYW.

It would get new users in the habit of mutual critiquing rather than just waiting their turn. Plus they'd have already made good friends ripe for the advice-giving before they ever even post a word of their own. What do you guys think?

Too totalitarian or a good idea?

ChaosTitan
11-17-2011, 07:38 PM
Are you volunteering to go through every member's individual post history, counting posts to make sure the correct number have been made in SYW, before we allow posters to post for critique?

The fifty post rule exists so that members can actually participate in this community before using its most valuable resource. Before the rule, dozens of people signed up, posted something for crit, and then were never heard from again. AW isn't a one-night stand. We're a community. We won't tell you where to post, just ask that you do.*


*and yes, we do notice when newbies try to quickly run up their post counts by resurrecting old threads and posting nonsense.

Puma
11-17-2011, 07:40 PM
It's actually a reasonable idea, in my opinion. It would also get newcomers more aware of how SYW works and what types of crits are given and received IF they also read the crits that had been left by others on posts.

I'd sort of like to see a "you have to do X number of crits before you can post your next piece" too. And on that I don't think the proper ratio is 1 to 1 - if you post you may get 5 to 15 comments depending on where you post in SYW and a ratio closer to a return for time invested in you seems reasonable. Puma

ETA: but as Chaostitan said above, someone would have to manage the system and that would be a bear.

The Lonely One
11-17-2011, 07:42 PM
Are you volunteering to go through every member's individual post history, counting posts to make sure the correct number have been made in SYW, before we allow posters to post for critique?

The fifty post rule exists so that members can actually participate in this community before using its most valuable resource. Before the rule, dozens of people signed up, posted something for crit, and then were never heard from again. AW isn't a one-night stand. We're a community. We won't tell you where to post, just ask that you do.*


*and yes, we do notice when newbies try to quickly run up their post counts by resurrecting old threads and posting nonsense.

Yeah I agree about us being a community and people just taking a hike far too often, looking for quick free editing services. But isn't it equally a problem when people post 5,000 word stories in SYW and don't bother to crit anyone else? I'm not against the current rule, not sure if you're inferring that. Just an imaginary scenario, and one I think would be useful if it were actually applicable.

I admit I didn't know it would require individual counting of posts, as I've never run a forum. That does sound tedious and pointless. I thought it could be done through some automatic process. Like, writers must post 25 posts on other already started threads before allowed to start their own. But without the ability for automation it wouldn't work. Especially with everything on the same forum with the same post-counter.

Shadow_Ferret
11-17-2011, 08:19 PM
I don't believe the forum software is set up, or can be set up, to count WHERE someone posts. It only gives an aggregate total of all posts.

So there would be no way to judge if someone did 25 critiques except as chaos said, by having someone constantly monitoring SYW and keeping a manual tally.

It's a much more manageable to lock SYW until some meets the current post criteria then to let everyone in and hope they follow the rules to not post a story until they've done 25 critiques.

It also gives the mods a 50 post history to look at to ensure the person isn't a spammer or some other sort of troublemaker.

NeuroFizz
11-17-2011, 08:21 PM
It's an excellent idea, One, but one that would be more trouble than benefit. And many people new to AW, and new to writing in particular, don't really feel comfortable or competent in critting the work of others. I'd rather have a requirement for them to read through several complete threads in SYW so they see how others crit and how the OPs respond. But that would be even more difficult to police.

Our primary objective is to make these new people understand and feel the community nature of AW, where we both receive and give. Letting people give to their strengths while they develop new strengths is a good philosophy, and the "give to SYW when you feel comfortable" is something we should push hard.

leahzero
11-17-2011, 09:07 PM
It's a decent idea, but...forcing people to critique in order to get critiqued is going to result in a lot of crappy critiquing. I'd rather just keep the honor system, and let people critique when they feel moved to.

Devil Ledbetter
11-17-2011, 09:15 PM
I understand and agree with the 50-post rule as it is now, and even that relatively low bar has spawned zombie thread resurrections with one-word, never-returning-to-the-thread again replies. So a few newcomers are already gaming the system. Demanding they crit for critiques in SYW would most likely result in a clutter of useless "crits" that are really just more of the same thoughtless post count padding.

The Lonely One
11-17-2011, 09:18 PM
It's a decent idea, but...forcing people to critique in order to get critiqued is going to result in a lot of crappy critiquing. I'd rather just keep the honor system, and let people critique when they feel moved to.

Yes, I could see that. Hard to police, resulting in forced or unhelpful advice.

Plus the more I think about it the idea isn't really necessary anyway since SYW sort of manages itself so far as who gets critiques (active participants respecting the word length) and those who don't (drive-by-night writers who just want free advice and don't want to contribute or recognize the length limit most critiquers are willing to help with).

Devil Ledbetter
11-17-2011, 09:21 PM
For me, the value of SYW is how much I learn from doing critiques and reading the critiques posted by others. You get out of it what you put into it.

SYW posters who don't return critiques are choosing to lose, IMO.

Drachen Jager
11-17-2011, 09:22 PM
I've found that some of the best learning experiences in my writing career so far have come from critiquing other people's work. There's something about viewing something at arms-length that makes it easier to focus on the problems, and I find I often have 'A-HA' moments when I realise that I often make the same mistakes I'm critting.

It gives me a clarity I can't achieve when my mind is fogged by my own brilliance. ;)

Although, the best has really come from beta reading, SYW has been helpful to me for query writing etc., but not so much for big picture things.

Phaeal
11-17-2011, 09:56 PM
I think they should have to snatch the pebble from my hand before they get to post in SYW.

Apart from this obvious solution, I agree that new members would only be helping themselves if they read and contributed to SYW before posting their own work. However, I don't think we have the tax structure to set up a nanny state of post-counting and -evaluating mods.

Fruitbat
11-17-2011, 09:58 PM
My thoughts:

When I post a story, sometimes I go back through people I've critiqued for and just ask them. No pressure, but there's nothing wrong with a round of PMs saying, "if you get time, could you give me your thoughts on this." Or when I do a critique, ask them in the opening statements.

Most of them do it. That's why I don't think just wanting something for nothing is a big issue. More likely, a lot of people seem to lack confidence that they can critique well, so they don't go looking for it on their own. It seems like first they might do short two or three sentence responses but then later they get more confidence with it and will say more. Also, they probably won't even know you've posted anything or would value their advice if they're not told.

I have not noticed any big issue with people posting cheapo fakey critiques just to receive, though, when there's a point system. I used another board that is set up like that, and that hasn't happened. It also gives you a count of who you "owe" and who "owes" you. Those who critique frequently and return critiques receive a lot of critiques themselves, and vice versa. Points also go by how long the critiques are. If somebody tried to play the system, they probably just wouldn't get much back. But it is a whole different system. Just asking works too.

I agree that you gain a lot from critiquing. It improves your own writing hugely, even if you never got any critiques in return.

ETA: I think the 50 post rule has been good. What I've noticed is much less rude and nasty response. I haven't kept track, but my impression is there used to be a lot more who were shocked and offended to get an honest critique instead of being told how great they were. :)

The Lonely One
11-17-2011, 10:03 PM
I think they should have to snatch the pebble from my hand before they get to post in SYW.

Apart from this obvious solution, I agree that new members would only be helping themselves if they read and contributed to SYW before posting their own work. However, I don't think we have the tax structure to set up a nanny state of post-counting and -evaluating mods.

:roll:

Dr.Gonzo
11-17-2011, 10:51 PM
I'm actually on another site where your crits earn you points. These points are spent when you put a story on. It's very fair. As always, you have to do your homework on the critter to see if you should listen to them--look at their stories and their weaknesses as a writer to see what you should take from their crit.

Jess Haines
11-18-2011, 12:57 AM
ETA: I think the 50 post rule has been good. What I've noticed is much less rude and nasty response. I haven't kept track, but my impression is there used to be a lot more who were shocked and offended to get an honest critique instead of being told how great they were. :)

This. I haven't had a lot of time to hang around AW to post or crit for a while, other than to breeze through a bunch of posts to get caught up or see the latest news. Noted a distinct decrease in these types of posts once the 50 post rule was applied.

Hopefully I'll be able to start critting again, soon. Doing a Sekrit Santa sub for the SFF forum and doing two betas (one for somebody else I met here on AW), but once that's caught up, I'm hoping I can post and crit regularly again. :)

Theo81
11-18-2011, 01:03 AM
Maybe (I don't know how feasible it is) a mod should have to authorise a user before they can start SYW threads - so you have to put in a request and a mod decides if you're ready yet.

There are a few people in recent times who've run up to 50 posts as quickly as they can. It's not a huge problem because, without fail, the only critique you need to give is "Read the Stickies. Answer the Three Questions"

Also, I notice very quickly when people aren't posting anywhere but in their own thread. I can look at your post history to confirm it. I encourage you to disagree with me, I can cope without reps or thanks (I'm only here because I'm procrastinating), but I do get antsy when people do that (I know people think they can't crit because they don't know enough, but believe me, you do, and there are few better ways to learn. Really. Don't revise your Q, spend the time critting some.)

skylark
11-18-2011, 09:34 PM
I think I've said it before, but crits from the POV of a reader are useful too. You don't have to be able to give perfect technical parse-the-sentence type advice in order to say to the writer "I don't understand this bit".

I have to agree that it's a good idea to insist that people crit before they get critiqued themselves, but given that the forum software doesn't support it, I think the 50 post rule is a good one.

The Lonely One
11-18-2011, 09:39 PM
I think I've said it before, but crits from the POV of a reader are useful too. You don't have to be able to give perfect technical parse-the-sentence type advice in order to say to the writer "I don't understand this bit".

I have to agree that it's a good idea to insist that people crit before they get critiqued themselves, but given that the forum software doesn't support it, I think the 50 post rule is a good one.

Possibly more useful, since most your readers aren't going to be writers.

And yeah, based on the way the forum is set up it does seem mostly infeasible to implement.

DancingMaenid
11-18-2011, 11:30 PM
I think requiring people to critique in order to get critiques is fair enough, but in my experience it can lead to half-hearted and half-assed critiques. I've learned to stay away from things that have too many participation requirements like that because I'd rather not participate at all than feel like I have to give people input that isn't very good or fair.

Plus, it's difficult to police in an official way on a forum like this. That said, I'm not active on the SYW forums, but I think these things can police themselves. If people notice someone is posting a bunch of stuff for critique and not doing anything in return, they're going to feel less inclined to keep helping that person. Likewise, if someone tries to be friendly and help out others, and doesn't abuse or overuse the help of others, people will notice that, even if subconsciously.

And giving critiques can definitely be helpful, and should be encouraged, but I think requiring it is just likely to scare people off and put them out of their comfort zone. Again, if I get the sense that something comes with a bunch of obligations, which I may not be comfortable with, I just won't join in the first place. If I wanted that sort of thing, I'd join a critique group. The nice thing about forums like this is that you can go at your own pace.

quicklime
11-18-2011, 11:42 PM
great idea, just not sure on the execution....both because the place is big and because I'm not sure what you'd get out of it in real life vs. in theory.

I DO believe anyone who wants to learn NEEDS to crit, not just take some edits and comments on their stuff--you want to make your shit stronger, get dirty and reverse-engineer and examine a bunch of other stuff. But that's just my (factual) opinion....it sort of butts up against the reality of "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them use the fucking system fairly and constructively, even if you try to mandate it."

To be fair, it sounds like other boards do actually do this and succeed, so a lot of my reservations may be unwarranted cynicism

Karen Junker
11-18-2011, 11:52 PM
At the risk of sounding as if I am complaining (I'm not)--I've critted for AWers for years, everything from a chapter to a whole manuscript. Only 7 of them have ever thanked me or responded to my crit in any way. Only 3 of them have critiqued something for me in return. That's out of over 65 critiques.

I think the inclination to pay it forward for other writers comes after writing and receiving help from others for some time. I think a lot of the stuff we see in SYW is from newer writers, who may not feel ready to start giving back.

skylark
11-19-2011, 12:01 AM
Quite apart from the pay-forward aspect, if someone's tried to write a crit, they know what it's like. They've encountered the concept that tone doesn't necessarily come over in a written sentence. They've wondered how to word something which maybe isn't 100% complimentary, and maybe got it wrong. They know that you might come over much harsher than you intended.

I'm aware I've got my rose-coloured glasses on here and that what they've done is likely to be posted five sentences of random praise, but hey, I can always hope...

(On the other site I've used, if it's not a 'real' crit, the mods just take your credit points for it away. But, again, if the forum software isn't set up for it, it's all more work.)

quicklime
11-19-2011, 12:10 AM
At the risk of sounding as if I am complaining (I'm not)--I've critted for AWers for years, everything from a chapter to a whole manuscript. Only 7 of them have ever thanked me or responded to my crit in any way. Only 3 of them have critiqued something for me in return. That's out of over 65 critiques.

I think the inclination to pay it forward for other writers comes after writing and receiving help from others for some time. I think a lot of the stuff we see in SYW is from newer writers, who may not feel ready to start giving back.

I agree. And you get out of it what you put into it. I didn't feel "ready" when I started subbing either. On the flip, I subbed I believe 2 chapters in SYW and 3 threads on query letters....in return I have done 1 full novel, probably a dozen SYW entries or a few more, and I have lost count of query letters. Now I don't know who has gone where after mostly, but at least 3 people I've critted heavily went on to full requests and 2 are agented--people who took a fair chunk of "my stuff". I know they got that far because they came back and thanked me, and I was damn glad to hear it. It made me feel good about what I did, and validated that hopefully I was actually going somewhere as well. Good for me, good for them.

At the same time, I have NO doubt your numbers are correct....some people are too scared to crit back (that sort of self-doubt is a huge hurdle to moving forward, though), and some people, whatever the system, will do as little as possible to get what they want and then they'll move on.

Sadly, this is the way of it. You take your pleasure from the few who do stick around long enough to learn, and to actually acknowledge the help. (Or you don't, part of the high burnout in QLH I'm sure...)

Ken
11-19-2011, 12:55 AM
... not a good idea. Here's why:

Not everyone is up to critiquing a query. And if it were made a requirement you'd get a number of critiques that weren't any good and offered flawed advice. So despite the increased number of posts, there'd be no net gain for the OPs.

Maybe a compromise would work. Instead of a 50 post requirement in any forum the posts might have to be in writing related forums: aw roundtable, novels, etc.

In my own experience, though, new members don't seem to cut corners and really do seem to contribute to the board in valuable ways. So maybe the present policy should remain as is.

If it ain't broke ...

Reifier
11-19-2011, 03:04 AM
I'm approaching MY 50post mark and so far I think a fair amount of them have gone to critiquing in SYW. I kinda forced myself to do it because I needed that link, between someone else's work and my own. I learn much better that way--I'm ashamed to say that if there are too many words explaining something I start to glaze over. So yea need that hands on approach. But omg to have to do 50 SYW critiques all in a row?! Too exhausting!

At least for me. I have no stamina. That's why most of my critiques have gone to query help. Usually less than 250words.

And as being too scared to crit back, I usually refrain from commenting on an aspect of the story that I have a weakness in. I think it's what is good about AW, because someone's always there to take up the slack.