How not to write an effective review of anything . . .

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Re: How not to write an effective review of anything . . .

Postby neildarkstar » Tue May 17, 2016 6:05 pm

Well, one thing about creative works... they are free to be misunderstood according to the viewer's own level of inability... :D
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Re: How not to write an effective review of anything . . .

Postby Elaura » Tue May 17, 2016 6:25 pm

Adul wrote:A lot of artists who are starting their carriers aren't ready for this, but if you put your work out there, it doesn't matter that it's your baby, you have to be able to handle it when people tear it apart because that is going to happen. And artists, being the sensible people that they often are, unfortunately will see the one overwhelmingly negative comment in a sea of positive feedback, and some of them will let it ruin their lives. This is the first thing anyone with public work needs to learn to accept and handle, otherwise they're in the wrong business.


In a practical sense, in the sense that no one is going to change the world overnight, this is true. However, I look at it the same way I do women who dress provocatively. Simply being in the public eye doesn't mean you deserve to be hurt. It doesn't mean you've asked to be ridiculed, criticized, or laughed at. In this world, while a pretty girl does need to learn how to defend herself and artists who display their work should not wear their feelings on their sleeves, it doesn't give others carte blanche to be hurtful or mean.

There is an enormous difference between an honest critique and being mean behind the thin excuse of providing a review. After all, your average construction worker may not consider his work an art, but walk up to one who has followed the plans and done the job and tell them you don't like the look of the structure. Say you think they've wasted their time and all that money by building an ugly piece of crap.

This is basically what happens when someone offers their opinion of any work when they can't support their opinion objectively. Perhaps the reason "artists" are more often targeted than construction workers is that most people aren't afraid an artist is going to flatten their nose, certainly not from behind a computer screen.
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Re: How not to write an effective review of anything . . .

Postby fable2 » Wed May 18, 2016 3:08 am

What Elaura writes makes a great deal of sense, I think. On the one hand, endless praise of an amateur review only perpetuates the flaws within it. On the other, criticizing points that are a matter of personal opinion and taste can shut down a sensitive reviewer. as well serving no useful purpose.

Of course, there's always the risk that a reviewer only wants very positive feedback, whatever they may write. Then you're damned for being honest, however diplomatically you couch reasonable criticisms.

But typically, reviews-of-reviews are of one extreme type or the other: endless praise, or endless fault-finding. In literally 30 years (this year!) of professional reviewing, I've been subjected to both. The only reviews that helped were the ones that calmly, dispassionately stated objective flaws, and showed me good examples for remedying these. I would only add: if you have to err, err on the side of kindness. Many reviewers aren't professionals, and they're extremely brittle about putting their babies before the public eye. Let them have their moment to bask in the sun. As they gain confidence, that's when you can give them serious, constructive criticism.
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Re: How not to write an effective review of anything . . .

Postby Elaura » Wed May 18, 2016 3:20 am

Wow, fable, I'm embarrassed to say I hadn't even thought about reviews themselves being subject to review, although that's basically what this topic is. I debated posting a link to the review which prompted this topic and now I'm glad I didn't. I would have been guilty of exactly the thing I'm trying to draw attention to: emotionally subjective critiques. Especially since the article that prompted this topic irritated me.

Thanks for calling attention to the fact reviewers are people too and deserve honest, objective critiques themselves.
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Re: How not to write an effective review of anything . . .

Postby Adul » Wed May 18, 2016 6:42 am

I do value charity greatly, but I value honesty and the right for honest opinions to be expressed even higher. Dishonest evaluation leads to an unfair breeding ground for talent. And let's call a spade a spade: some works of art out there are pieces of crap. There's no way around it, and I don't want everyone to have to pretend they're not in order to spare someone's feelings. So I maintain the right for people out there to be brutally honest, and to do so in an entertaining way if they please.

Elaura wrote:Perhaps the reason "artists" are more often targeted than construction workers is that most people aren't afraid an artist is going to flatten their nose, certainly not from behind a computer screen.

Heh heh, perhaps that is so. But while I'm on the honesty binge, let me critique your criticism of the criti... Uh, what? I blacked out for a moment there. Anyway, the main reason artists are more often subject to criticism in the public eye than construction workers are, to use your example, is that artists have a great deal of creative input into what they're creating, while construction workers have almost none. Construction workers may still do a bad job, but it's usually up to their supervisor to point out the flaws in their work, which usually leads to them having to redo said work immediately. This leads to the output of construction workers to be very monotone in quality. So, while it would technically be possible for someone to go around town and review construction jobs, I suspect very few people would be interested in reading their reviews.

But, who knows? Maybe you've found a gold mine in pointing out the inadequacy of construction site reviews. :biggrin:
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Re: How not to write an effective review of anything . . .

Postby Elaura » Thu May 19, 2016 2:46 pm

I'm not suggesting anyone be dishonest or blow smoke. There are those with talent who lack skill and people with skill who lack heart. I happened to have been of the latter category, once upon a time. I practiced my clarinet and became very accomplished technically, but try as I might, I couldn't get the "feel" of jazz and swing into my music. It wasn't until I met a girl who was a born jazz musician that I realized I was never going to get there. I could practice all day long and not ever achieve that. I don't regret having played and enjoyed my years of acclaim in the high-school symphony. I also don't regret the fact that since no one I knew could explain to me what was missing in my music, no one felt the need to tell me I was wasting my time.

However, it is not the duty of each and every human being to police the arts for those who don't have either skill or talent . . . or both. In fact, if one doesn't have enough skill or talent in the particular subject being reviewed to give a useful critique, then I would suggest they fall back on Mother's wisdom. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.

Just as I question the motivations of those who jump at the chance to tell perfect strangers how bad smoking is for their health, I question the motives of someone who feels compelled to keep an artist from "wasting their life" on something they don't have the talent for. Not only do people generally not give a whit for the health of a stranger, they generally couldn't care less how someone else spends their spare time.
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Re: How not to write an effective review of anything . . .

Postby soap » Mon Aug 01, 2016 1:10 am

I know what you mean by if you don't have nothing good to say, say nothing. But in the instance of something like;
"Ride to Hell: Retribution" (Wiki)
or
"The Room (2003)" (Wiki)

Both this video game and movie don't have much going for them. I agree there's no need to be overly critical and bash it to death with hate.
It's true what you say about reviewers, it's so "mainstream" and popular now there's lots of cheap, uninspired reviews out there. Sometimes I wonder if some of them aren't just reading the cliff notes on books written about said movie and talk about it as if it was their knowledge and understanding.

And yes, we need to keep trying to push for better variety in vocabulary and keep it rich, it's important, sadly not everyone grants it that importance....

Personally I'm very careful with reviewers, reading/watching them give me a general idea, but I always like to make up my own mind. And if someone says things like "it's too cartoony" or "there's too much story" (gametrailers did one like that, too much story, really?!) then I don't even finish the review or pay attention because obviously you have nothing intelligent to say.

Thankfully I have my wife to discuss in depth about the entertainment we enjoy. We can talk for hours about the dept and complexity of characters in Better Call Saul, analyzing their motivations, their relationships, etc. (I mean there's lots you CAN talk about too with that show) Always more entertaining talking to a friend or loved one and turn that into a type of review or discussion then watching some of the junk people trow out on the internet.


Finally - Here's one reviewer I REALLY enjoy on Youtube, I belive is higher quality content (not the best produced, but good script) ; Noah Caldwell-Gervais - Just look at the length of his Mass Effect Review.
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