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Don't Dish it Out, If You Can't Take It (1 Viewer)

midnightpoet

WF Veterans
I'll admit early on I did some "throwaway" comments before I got it through my thick skull that it wasn't helpful to anyone - so I'll give "newbies" benefit of the doubt - for a while. However, I never critique those that as soon as they get 10 posts immediately post 10,000 words of their deathless prose. Often there are people here nice enough to help out those types, even though they may disappear, never to be seen again.

I have discovered that being a judge on the contests here have helped my own prose. The more active you are here, the more you get out of it - and hopefully help others in the process.
 

PiP

Staff member
Co-Owner
Where there are many 'throwaway' critiques are the 'this is great' or 'love this' comments, which do abound. Often these will follow posted poems that have clear and obvious flaws (I'm not talking personal taste here, but genuine flaws that could easily be corrected). The result is that you see new poets posting numerous poems all with the same issues, and a gaggle of comments telling them how lovely their work is.

When I see a member offer a comment such as 'it's great' or enjoyed this' or whatever, I wonder if the OP should reply with 'Why?'. Why is it great? Why do you like it? Which lines do you particularly like of dislike? Not all members can critique so encouraging them to offer their feedback as to why the poem connected with them or not, as a reader is equally valuable. I am not qualified to offer a critical analysis of a poem but I can say what I like/dislike or if something sounds amiss when I read aloud. Maybe we should invite all these one-liner members to a boot camp (aka mentors workshop) and work with them to give them confidence.

What then happens is someone identifies the flaws, and they get snapped at. The poster is hurt by the comments because everyone else - their peers - told them it was great. The outcome is that the person offering an in-depth critique decides to not bother with that poster again, and the original writer goes on to post work with the same issues and never develops.

I think the most difficult part for any writer is to offer up their darling (which can be riddled with errors) and then it is shot down by one honest soul who is prepared to stick their head up above the parapet . The OP, instead of going on the defensive, should don some big girls' bloomers and ask questions and dig deeper. But of course most don't as the great job brigade close ranks.

This makes me wonder if we should keep the workshop for those who value feedback both negative and positive.



... there are some brilliant writers (on here and elsewhere) who rarely post or publish their work. They have their reasons for that. There are also numerous talented writers who have walked away from writing. Again, they have their reasons. If their reasons include not liking crits or honest appraisal of their work, then they probably aren't cut out for writing for public consumption.



This place has Mods and Mentors and members aplenty to step in if someone is getting a rough ride, but I don't see that. I do see new writers being given hollow praise they don't need (or often deserve) which doesn't help them to develop. We all need a cuddle every now and again, but is a critique group the right place for it?

Sometimes it is the TONE of the critique that can come across as aggressive to new poets. Some critters are very direct while others convey the same message but package it differently.

Me, I can't be doing with all the fluff. Just tell me what you like/dislike, errors, rhythm, flow ,,, blah de blah. and cut to the chase. But not everyone is the same. And I think that is wehre th skill of the critter comes into play... thread gently at first ... then gradually cut the fluff.

It could be argued that removing the 'love this' type comments that include no reasoning or identification of weaknesses would benefit the new writers more than some softly softly platitudes

Agree and this point is worth further discussion. Maybe 'fluff bunnies' need policing and sent to a workshop for rehabilitation. No, I am not being sarcastic. As I said above, not everyone knows how to review or critique.

I absolutely agree with this. I find that very often it's certain established poets and writers that receive this kind of critique with exactly that kind of attitude developing from such treatment. It's a large reason why I chose not to be a mentor and a larger part of the reason why I don't critique, post, or comment much.

Yes, and that is why we use the workshops and set an example. AND when a FB leaves a pointless comment they are called on it by the OP. STepping aside just 'because' is not the way forward (IMHO). Lead by example. :)
 
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Pete_C

WF Veterans
I remember a good few years ago finding a forum that had 3 levels for critique. There was a starter workshop where the fresh meat could play. The critiques were more encouragement and a gentle prod towards the light than proper analysis of the work. Everyone had to spend a certain amount of time there. Then there was a secondary workshop and once you had the required number of posts in the soft play area you could venture in. It was akin to the WF workshop but without the 'love this' comments. Then there was the heavy duty crit section where you were clearly advised not to tread unless you wanted the full works.

There was a rule on no bickering, posters were warned to thank critters and move on if they didn't like it, and fluffy comments were banned.

Mind you, there was no place for poetry 'appreciation' threads, which is seemingly what some crave.

I understand your point of view Ariel, and I also see validity in what PiP is saying.

Interestingly, I was looking for some I saw years ago and I found some poetry threads from a decade ago! Looking back there were some very good writers here, some hard hitting crits too, but also a sense of camaraderie and good natured mutual support which meant that if someone did cop a huff with a crit, they soon got over it.
 

Firemajic

Poetry Mentor
Staff member
Senior Mentor
I absolutely agree with this. I find that very often it's certain established poets and writers that receive this kind of critique with exactly that kind of attitude developing from such treatment. It's a large reason why I chose not to be a mentor and a larger part of the reason why I don't critique, post, or comment much.


What a shame... what a shame to lose you as a Mentor... but I understand completely as I am struggling with the same dilemma, and it breaks my heart.. I have lost my passion for poetry. I am still passionate about the poets who truly want to learn... We need ALL hands on deck, something is NOT working here, and we need to step up to the plate and fix this...
 

PiP

Staff member
Co-Owner
. We need ALL hands on deck, something is NOT working here, and we need to step up to the plate and fix this...

Yes, we do. And since stepping up to the plate that's exactly what I've been trying to do by supporting 'can do' positive people who identify different issues and then come to me with suggestions to resolve through discussion.

As I said to a member recently, there will always be asshats and that is out of our control.However, if we just throw up our hands and walk away and not bother to counter their posts and lead by example what are we left with?

The Tavern is a good place where Veterans, Staff and FoWF members can come together to put forward suggestions. Failing that we have a 'feedback' forum.
 

sas

WF Veterans
Thank you, Pip, for mentioning Tavern Poetry. How did I miss it?

I noted that I had responded to a poem there, but must have come into group from back door (clicked to see what a connected poet wrote). As I am an acquired taste, that some prefer not to have, I'm thinking The Tavern might be a better fit for me. I've decided to go back to my Detroit, face to face, poetry workshops. They can see my smile there, as opposed to reading it, where, too often, not believed. Smiles. sas

.
 

Darkkin

WF Veterans
One thing that is a bit of a cuckoo among posters are those who offer critique on a regular basis and receive very little on their own work...Few to no replies can leave one wondering is the content just that bad, that boring, or tedious? Not once has anyone attempted to break a piece down. Replies aren't required nor even expected, but all give having nothing to show for the effort can get wearing after a time. One has to wonder is it even worth the effort to bother to post, when one knows there will be no reply even when they have posted for critique...

All the while, the critique provided comes under attack for being true critique, not pandering...Having an original thought, an opinion about a piece can make one something of a pariah among members, no matter the relivance of the observations. It isn't nice or kind or gentle enough. It makes one mean...So on and so forth.

Like Philo's eight-sided inkpot (a gimbal) there are multiple sides to every issue. ;)

Does a lack of response imply a flaw so profound that it permeates a writer's work on a fundamental level? Writing worthy of only binning, no chance at improvement even with comprehensive critique...And if no one says anything, how can repairs and revisions even start?

Probably a witless observation...Just some thoughts.

- D.
 
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Chesters Daughter

Staff member
Global Moderator
We need ALL hands on deck, something is NOT working here, and we need to step up to the plate and fix this...

No one is more painfully aware of this than I, and I'm starting to feel as if I'm banging my head against the wall. A good part of what's wrong is the focus on the work is being superseded by the critique itself and the manner in which it is delivered. Even these discussion threads have turned into battlefields, and it seems I'm the only one who is noticing that the arguments are basically the same. A poem is posted, and one, or maybe more, decide they do not like the critique and/or the way it was packaged. So they post a comment on the critique, and then someone else jumps in and then the thread goes off topic because everyone is obsessed about critique again, and the poem is sitting there neglected. We have many eyes on the posts, and anything we don't see immediately should be reported if you feel rules are being broken. We do not allow sour posts to remain. Therefore, these arguments are for naught.

The membership is distinctly divided when it comes to critique, I've said this again and again, and I've pleaded with you all to live and let live. Because you dislike a critique, or the fashion in which it was delivered, doesn't make the critique wrong. Instead of charging into threads on a mission to chastise the poster of the critique you don't agree with, thereby taking the damn thread off topic, concentrate on the work presented for evaluation and counter any points you disagree with with critique of your own. Do not make it personal, do not resume the chase the tail discussion of what critique should or should not be, worry about what you're doing as opposed to what everyone else is doing. Your first and foremost concern should be your personal interaction with the OP. No rules are being broken, and discussion of the work in question is, and always will be, promoted, but the discussions keep turning into bickering which is destroying the atmosphere for everyone. If everyone focused more on the work itself and less on how much they despise the critique that came before, the board will become more harmonious. The best way to combat what you don't agree with is to post critique of your own that refutes what did come before without letting it veer into the personal. Everyone has, and is entitled to share, their own opinion. We have no preschoolers here, no one needs a heroic flock to swoop in on their behalf. Yes, be kind and sensitive to novices, and to one another, but please do not initiate conflict over critique. Agree to disagree and learn to live with the fact that like personalities, styles of critique differ from one individual to another. In the absence of rule or guideline breaches, no one should be getting their panties in a bunch to the extent that it's been happening. The drama needs to cease. You guys are wearing me out with this, it's gotten to the point where I'm almost ready to give up, and I never give up. Don't lose sight of what we're here for, create, share, teach, and accept the lessons offered with grace and dignity. Thank you for your attention.
 
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aj47

(he/him)
WF Veterans
Hi .... a few more thoughts ...

  • Many people here don't like my critiques. I'm not going to engage on this--merely state it as the truth it is.
  • These members tend to post in each others' threads about my critiques rather than the original work. This is always off-topic but when I was a mod, it was tough because there was a perception that the moderation was personal due to my involvement as a poster. Also there are never enough mods to go around. This meant that I often was the mod-on-duty.
  • When my life got busy enough I had to cut something, I chose to cut mod duties at WF because of the above. Heck, I even cut posting and critiquing. All moderators, like the rest of the staff here, are volunteers. That means they aren't paid for the grief they get.
  • The forum is what the membership chooses to make it. Why does the membership-at-large seem to think that only moderators can PM other members and ask them to display better manners? How loud does the neighbor's music have to be before you ask them to turn it down? Or do you always wait for your other neighbor to call the cops?
 

Cran

Da Boss Emeritus
Patron
I'd be happy to see the bar raised (again) in the Workshops; they were, and are, after all, meant to be for works intended for publication. That means works ready to face the scrutiny of potential editors and publishers.

Understandably, more writers believe themselves ready than truly are, and they are the ones most offended when the peer review provides the necessary reality check.

Policing this policy has proved problematic (apologies for the alliteration here) in the past. But if enough established members are solidly behind such a policy, we can make the Workshops a more valuable space for serious writers and reviewers.

The other side of it is that the open creative boards do become the kiddies' pool; feedback lite.



 
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sas

WF Veterans
Yes, I feel I was snagged in the spider web of open poetry group. Too many are confused about whether it is just a showcase for one's work or a true workshop. I was a confused one. And, new members coming in have no way of knowing workshop comments should be "lite". Nor exactly what "lite" would entail for each poet, especially newcomers. The "idea" of "lite" will not work. It is a hidden, "in-group, secret". A workshop is a workshop. I have solved this personal angst created by no longer making workshop comments there. I do read each poem, and indicate through "like" or "thanks" that I've done so, in acknowledgement of the poet's efforts. Even in closed workshop, I now find myself needing to be selective about just whose poem I can make comments on, even my "like" to another's comment, on their poem, generates a nasty private message. Damn pity, too. I used to feel at home here.

,
 

Darkkin

WF Veterans
I post to the open boards for traffic reasons. Members in the workshop know my style, it isn't worth the bother, and my threads are (mercifully) buried within a couple of days. Generally enough time to get an idea of any major structural issues that need attention. The linear construct of the forum matrix allows for fresh perspective and that helps almost as much as an impartial pair of eyes. And as there is a fair bit of crossover between the boards, I don't pull up short on critique for entries on either board...I learn from the critiquing process and that is a tool I'm not going to discard to pander or coddle.

It is a tool, respected and earned. One I have the privilege of having wielded...The practice of the preaching. It is a practice that makes one persona non grata to be an honest voice, but critique is impartial, inherently honest. Rarely what people want or expect to hear. ;)

- D.
 
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Ariel

WF Veterans
Walking away truly does become the only viable option when one's time is limited. Torn between moderation duties, personal life, and eventually feeling as though nothing one says is heard makes it the easiest and most rewarding option. I can't make other people hear me while doing everything I'm supposed to do? I think we all know how that ends.
 

Kevin

WF Veterans
I don't know what people expect. Same as the poster of a piece you get what you get. If you're lucky enough to glean something, great, but I, personally, 'expect' nothing. It is what it is and it can be no reply, no one 'gets' it , someone teaches you something, or ...? I see no reason to take offense. Those are the possible replies, so those should be expected. For me, it's usually no reply. So what? No one is getting paid so no one has to do a thing for me. I don't expect any thank you's or anything. People are busy, or, not inspired , or... whatever. I'm that way, too. Again, so what?
 
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Chesters Daughter

Staff member
Global Moderator
Even in closed workshop, I now find myself needing to be selective about just whose poem I can make comments on, even my "like" to another's comment, on their poem, generates a nasty private message.

I find this highly disturbing. If anyone receives a nasty PM regarding critique, please inform me immediately.

I'm going to take a final stab at this. Look at the size of this thread. Now imagine how much beneficial knowledge could have been exchanged on the boards if the effort spent here was instead dispersed there. I don't believe it necessary for me to pursue this particular point any further.

For the sake of everyone's well being, please allow me to make a few further points. If you have a personality clash with another member which cannot be resolved, please put that member on ignore. What you don't see won't incite further unrest. It is a fact of life that certain personalities cannot mix. There has been a great deal of simmering beneath the surface due to personality clashes which ultimately began to rear its ugly head within threads in the recent past. For the most part, it has ceased. Let's keep it that way.

We rely on the fine folks here to do the right thing regarding reciprocity, therefore, we do not enforce obligatory critique. That means no one here is ever pressured to critique a thread. Your time is very valuable, and should not be wasted. That said, if any of the following apply, please just pass over the thread:

If you feel the OP has been previously hostile because you were honest and it's more than likely they will continue to be so.
If you feel the OP plops stuff down everywhere yet never bothers to crit anyone else, or fails to acknowledge your critique with at least a thank you.
If you feel the OP has absolutely no desire to learn and is here only to showcase.
If the OP is a novice, and you find it intolerable to refrain from using advanced terminology which that novice cannot understand. Confusion will always inspire defensiveness and possibly undue hostility.

If you post a thread and receive critique, please treat it with the respect it deserves and consider the following:

Critique is never personal, it is directed at the work, not your ego. If anything does veer into the personal, report it and we'll handle it.
Accepting critique is not mandatory, just because you receive it, you do not have to apply it. Be selective and don't lose sight of your original vision.
If you choose to refute any point made within a critique, do so respectfully and never allow your comments to veer into the personal.
Never mistake honesty for mean spiritedness. Some of us are more blunt than others.
If any portion of a critique confounds you, ask questions, they will be answered.
And finally, always acknowledge the effort others have made with at least a thank you even if you did not warm to what has been said.

Please understand that we are not asking anyone to change their methods of critiquing. Proceed with what you are comfortable with, but please keep the points I've made in mind. We have to collectively find some middle ground so that this critique debate will come to an end. The atmosphere here is much less conducive to learning than it's been in the past. We need to remedy that. How I wish this thread would find its way to the graveyard already, lol. I think.

Thank you for your attention as well as your anticipated consideration.
 
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Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
Pete, I am not advocating false praise, but as you point out those who give a full on crit must think the writer worth it, so what harm in telling them what you see there that makes it worth it, and then how they could make that even better?
 

andrewclunn

Friends of WF
What do I have to do to get these nasty PMs? Perhaps there's a line, and if you're insensitive enough people just assume there's no point trying to please you and are more able to dismiss you as an asshole? Could I have accidentally happened upon some stable point of peak dick along the consideration curve?
 

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