All-Things-ScribeSlice

Group: All Things ScribeSlice

Feedback on Writing

I'm starting this discussion thread so as to provide a proper place to direct or voice out our concerns in regards with feedback on one's writing. To recap what had already been said on another post:

Some members find that there aren't enough constructive feedbacks received for their writing. This concern has been raised multiple times before ever since I had joined ScribeSlice over a year ago. There had been concerns of favouritism (e.g., I'll only comment on those people I like/know) or suspected elitism (e.g., the "good writers" only stick to their own). Although these two concerns have been mostly settled, there seems to be some truth to their lingering ghost: we are not receiving as much feedback as we'd hoped.

Many valid points had been raised to address this notable observation. The top one of which is that most, if not all, writers here lead busy lives and are only able to log on ScribeSlice during those short pauses of their daily lives. Others have raised that they are not editors; some even point out that they themselves need so much work that they do not feel qualified to provide constructive feedback.

(Recap finished.)

I just wanted to address the "I'm unqualified" stigma that seems to be prevalent among our community members. As David Anderson mentioned in another discussion thread, simply writing a quick "I loved this!" is feedback for the writer in that it lets them know that someone is reading (and enjoying) their piece of work. I'd actually like to expand on this idea. Specifically, we could say what we liked or didn't like about a certain piece (and perhaps why). I also find that mentioning how a certain part affected you gives a sort of gauge for the writer on whether s/he had reached his/her desired effect (e.g., When your main character shot her elephant, I really felt her heart being shredded). Sometimes, posing statements such as "I'm not sure whether Character X poured the poison intentionally or not" again provides useful feedback for a writer.

In short, I find that we don't need to have a degree in English Grammar and such to provide useful, constructive feedback. Merely offering our opinions, views, or insight into how the piece affected us and how it made us think/feel is immensely useful for a writer. It may not help them polish their grammar, but it would help polish another aspect of their craft.

(And if you feel as if your opinions/feelings aren't valid, remember that those opinions and feelings are yours and yours alone. No one can logically say that you don't have grounding for your opinions/feelings because, well, those are the thoughts/emotions that popped up as you read their piece. You're free to offer your view/s; it's up to the writer on how they want to use that feedback.)


NB: If I've missed any points that you feel is pertinent in regards with receiving feedback, giving feedback, or anything related to feedbacks, please post it on this thread and we'll tackle these concerns as a community.


Daniel Sintos

11th November 2012


I agree with Daniel Sintos and appreciate his expansion on what I said on another thread. He is exactly right when he mentions that one does not need a degree in English Grammar to give feedback or their personal thoughts on a piece of written work.

“It is from the womb of art that criticism was born.” - Charles Baudelaire

And as Daniel Bird says in his profile, which I could not agree more with, “Write for yourself first. Be your own worst critic. And never be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and do something off the wall from time to time! It helps you grow as a writer.”

Plus, if there is a particular part of your writing, whether that be a certain paragraph or even the whole written work, come to the discussion boards and directly ask for feedback. (I.E. “Hey y’all, I just finished writing ‘My Husband Just Popped Some Viagra And Now Is Over Seven Feet Tall,” can I have some feedback on it? I am really proud of what I wrote and would like to know what you all think. Thanks!) Doing something like that could not only help you get feedback but also call attention to your work.

If any one specifically wants some feedback on any of their written work, feel free to send me a message and I will do my best to give my honest thoughts on the matter.

“The most destructive criticism is indifference.” - E.W. Howe


David Anderson

11th November 2012


I really think a points system is the way to go. On Scribophile they have a points system whereby members are reward for the length and quality of their review/feedback. Here's how I think it could work here:

1. In order to be able to post a piece of writing, a member must accrue points. The way a writer accrues points is be writing feedback in the form of reviews of other writing.
2. For example: A member writes a 200 word review. it is worth 2 points. The member needs 5 points to post a single piece of writing. The member needs to review another 2 stories/poems/etc. in order to accrue enough points to post.
3. Member feedback is voted on by other members. The additional votes are worth yet more points. For example: A member's review is judged to be worth a maximum of say 3 points by other members. The member now has 8 points, enough to post his or her own piece, plus 3 points in reserve.
4. This system encourages detailed and thorough feedback, which in turn effects the quality of the feedback.
5. Additional points can be given by other members if they have extra points to those members who have been especially helpful.


Paul Day

11th November 2012


I'm a bit wary about using a "trade" system wherein one would exchange points for a privilege (in this case, writing a piece). My concern is that there are those (myself included) who might view such a system as a bit stifling for one's creativity. I find that there are a lot of people here who need that creational release. It seems for a number of us, this in itself is therapeutic or cathartic; a number of people I've spoken to have admitted that they love ScribeSlice in that it's a great place for them to voice out something they otherwise wouldn't in person. It just doesn't feel right to take that freedom away (or at least hinder it) by adding a prerequisite to posting a piece.

Having said that, I do like the idea of some form of incentive for people to write thoughtful and effective feedback. Although there might be a danger of someone "farming" points (i.e., spewing numerous, flat feedback in a short amount of time), I believe a built-in mechanism within a system would help curb that (much like the feedback-quality-points system Paul suggested).

I wonder what else we could do to entice our members to become more active, not just by posting their work, but by interacting with others through their writing. I guess I could phrase that another way...

What would entice you, the person reading this, to offer more feedback? What have been some personal hindrances (other than a busy life) to being more active in providing feedback? And what sorts of feedback do you personally find helpful?


Daniel Sintos

11th November 2012


I, personally, would not like to see a point system put into practice, based off of reviews/feedbacks for one reason. If a writer is in the flow of things with all the pieces of his/her story coming together but doesn’t have enough points to post their work, that would greatly damper their creative flame and obviously, as writers, creativity and originality is what we are all about.

And in writing my previous paragraph, I thought of a second reason to why I do not like the point system idea and that is because it is forcing reviews and feedbacks. Granted, as stated, the reviews/feedbacks in themselves would be graded for quality, but, in my opinion, indirectly and directly, that would be pushing us away from the writing aspect and more towards the position of “Editor” and as stated, some are just not comfortable with being such.

I think… Some of us are just writers. Some of us are just “Editors. And some of us can dual role as both. I am sure there is a way to help invoke more feedbacks/reviews from the masses. Though, I do disagree with this particular suggestion, I like the fact that Paul Day is thinking outside of the box and is trying to help S.S. and the writers of S.S. as whole. So, for that, I would like to thank him for showing concern and offering a suggestion on how to help improve the feedback/review… “Situation.” lol And I hope I did not offend him by disagreeing.


David Anderson

11th November 2012


Daniel, that is always going to happen. But my experience has been that when you are forced to give thorough feedback, you pay more attention to the piece in question. There are always going to be those who "farm for points" (great term btw). You won't be able to stop this. In addition to this, instead of only being able to post 2 pieces of writing, people could post more, based on how many points they have earned and this can only encourage more writing.

David, thanks and don't be worried about offending. I just think in order to create a site that has the right balance between work written and work responded to, a points system has worked on other sites, though I must confess it requires a bit more thought and dedication. Trouble is with the status quo, many like to write and put their work out there, but they aren't as keen to respond to other works.


Paul Day

11th November 2012


Now, I am just rolling off the cuff on this suggestion but how about just an award type thing. For example, “Editor Of The Month/Week/Day” Or whatever, Award. Posted on the home page of S.S. Something as small as that could help bring about a little bit more flow in the feedback department.


David Anderson

11th November 2012


David, I already suggested those types of awards, but hey, I agree.


Paul Day

11th November 2012


Well.. That's two votes then lol


David Anderson

11th November 2012


Hmmm... You've mentioned that you have personal experience with such (or a similar) system. Could you tell us how that system worked even if it's not something we can directly apply to ScribeSlice? I guess I'm just a bit unclear with how its safeguards work.

And I remember Paul suggesting such a monthly/weekly award. I personally think it's a great way to kill multiple birds with one stone. By having a weekly/monthly Best Editor (or what-have-you) award, we would be encouraging others to step up to the plate, raise publicity for the winner of the award, and encourage the awardee's behaviour through, say, medals that would be displayed on his/her profile picture. Now I'm wondering how one would vote if such a system were put in place.


Daniel Sintos

11th November 2012


Again, off the cuff, but maybe we can ask for volunteers on who would be willing to give feedback and instead of worrying about feed-backing S.S. in it’s entirety, we take those volunteers and break them into small groups and in turn, take those small groups and have them focus on one format of writing (I.E. poetry, short story, book, lyrics, etc.) That way, that small group won’t burn out on giving feedback and reviews and will allow them to follow the same writers, thus, allowing for more insightful feedbacks.


David Anderson

11th November 2012


Hmmm... I like the idea of having familiarity breed greater depth of feedback. However, I find that one of our community's greatest strengths is that we all come from different backgrounds (both in life and in writing). Personally, I'm a fantasy writer, have read largely fantasy novels, and am aware of the different techniques that are prevalent in the fantasy-writing world. When someone "not from my genre" comments on my work, I'm getting feedback from fresh eyes and they often help me become more aware of some blindspots that exist within my genre. I'm sure the same benefits could be said about different genres or even kinds of writing (e.g., poetry, lyrics, essays, etc.).

On another note, this sounds like it would require a higher level of dedication from others and that might make it difficult to keep these groups consistently active.


Daniel Sintos

11th November 2012


Maybe we could have a "rotation period" or something lol. You do bring up good points. Maybe those who volunteer can volunteer for a specific form of writing. Be it fantasy based, horror, action/adventure, etc.

Or, maybe we can evolve the "Point System" suggestion and mix it with the "Volunteer Suggestion" and create something only found on S.S., thus, helping promote S.S. and allow S.S. writers the feedbacks/reviews they want.


David Anderson

11th November 2012


Hmmm... what would this Point-Volunteer System look like to you?


Daniel Sintos

11th November 2012


Hmm.. Well.. It would look like.... The Point-Volunteer System.. lol jk

Give me some time to think on it and I'll see what I can come up with. :)


David Anderson

11th November 2012


Alright. Maybe simplicity is the way to go.

Keep the reviews/feedbacks purely voluntary, as in any one at any giving time can give feedback. Here is where the points will come into play. With each review giving, a point system will be attached. Lets say the point system is One point through Five points.

Grading Scale:
===============

One Point Rating:
Not a detailed review. Gave very little as far as criticism/suggestions/comments. Overall, lacking in almost every regard.

Two Point Rating:
A little bit more in-depth than a one point rating. However, still lacking in the overall feedback giving. Very basic.

Three Point Rating:
Decent Feedback giving. Gave a good suggestion and helped the writer in some way, shape or form.

Four Point Rating:
Thought-out. Constructive. Informative. An above average review.

Five Point Rating:
All around a superb review. Thought-out. Constructive. Greatly informative and gave the writer many suggestions that would help point his/her storytelling/writing capabilities in the right direction.

How The Point System Would Come Into Play:
==========================================

There could be different stages (or levels) that a reviewer can reach.

As a reviewer accumulates points, in his/her profile (And/or next to his/her name) an “Editor’s Rating” will appear. This could be a numerical rating. (I.E. “Level One Editor… Level Two Editor”) Or this could be done simply by putting stars by the persons name which would, in turn, symbolize that persons “reviewing status and capabilities.”

Levels Of Editors
===========================================

Just an off the hip type suggestion here but something like….

Level One Editor (Or One Star):
Has accumulated over 500 review points.

Level Two Editor (Or Two Stars):
Have accumulated over a thousand review points.

Level Three Editor (Or Three Stars):
Has accumulated over two thousand review points.

So on and so forth.

Awards and Acknowledgements
===========================================

Now, add all that I stated above along with the awards and acknowledgements that Mr. Day suggested, could and I believe WOULD help motivate those to give feedbacks/reviews as well as strive to give better and more in-depth feedbacks/reviews.

What do you think?


David Anderson

11th November 2012


Daniel, the system I put here references a similar system on Scribophile. On that site you get points for reviewing (worth fractions of one point), for example, you might write a 125 word review and for that you get ).25 of a point. Some members offer additional incentives such as Gold which could be an additional whole point (1.0) for reviews longer than a nominated amount (such as 1.0 for reviews longer than 300 words for example). So, for a single review or response, it is possible to earn 1.25 points. Given that you need 5 points to post a piece on the site, you would need to write a substantial amount of feedback.

I'm proposing a system which is slightly more generous, being 1 point per 100 words of feedback. Then, with that feedback, people can vote on the effectiveness of your review so you can earn additional points. For example, say you have written a 300 word response (3 points), but members judge your feedback (via voting between 1 to 3 or 1 to 5). Each additional vote is worth an extra 0.5 (for example). So, maybe 3 people vote and they give you 2 points each. That's an extra 3 pints for writing an effective and helpful review. You would now have 6 points. So, you can now submit a piece of your own, plus have 1 point left over.

This serves two purposes. Firstly, it "forces" people to give feedback. Secondly, it "encourages" meaningful feedback. Then, the member is free to post. Under such a system, members are only limited by the amount of points they earn and they can post as many pieces as their points will allow.

On Scribophile the system works well and I have seen and given some very good feedback. The problem with their system is not that it doesn't work, it's just so hard to earn points and you find you have to write more feedback than you actually submit in the form of stories, novels or poetry.

My system would encourage feedback, but also properly reward those who give meaningful feedback. This way everyone is happy. The writer is happy because their work is being read and responded to. The reviewer is happy because they are earning points and making a contribution. The members are happy because they know their work will be read and responded to.

There are no guarantees, but I feel at the moment the site is quite stagnant, not only with the number of submissions, but the amount and quality of the feedback given.


Paul Day

11th November 2012


Again, the only thing I really don't like about that system is where you HAVE to review and accumulate points to post. That would heavily damper many creative juices. And at the end of the day, that would deter many great writers just by that set-up's very nature.


David Anderson

11th November 2012


Maybe, if we made it that everyone can post one piece per day for free, but if you want to post additional pieces, then the point system takes effect. The more points you have, the more pieces you may post.


Paul Day

11th November 2012


That really clarifies things, Paul. Thank you. I wasn't sure how the system worked but now I have a clearer picture.

I must say, I like the idea of earning points by merit of the quality of one's feedback (as suggested by David and Paul). I'm even warming up to the idea of accumulating a low number of points before a single post could be made. But, as David pointed out, I can imagine a number of people being put off by such a system. I'm most concerned with new members who tend to be budding/casual writers and I think we have a friendly and supportive enough community to provide them a safe environment to grow as writers. There's also the problem that this Scribophile website is facing about accruing enough points, however the one-free-post idea could help address that problem.

In regards with the 1 to 5 star scale that David suggested, I'd like to modify it a bit (blame my Psychology background for this).

Grading Scale:
===============

One Point Rating:
Provides little insight or helpful feedback, an unintelligible response, potentially hurtful/destructive to the creative process.

Two Point Rating:
Subtractive, provides some insight but not much

Three Point Rating:
A decent feedback, highlights mistakes that had been overlooked

Four Point Rating:
Provides numerous insights, names concrete areas of improvement and possible courses of action, has examples/names specific sections to improve

Five Point Rating:
Superior feedback, has concrete examples, provides an "Aha!" moment for the writer, helps the individual improve in their craft, insightful feedback/information for other members to apply to their own writing


Just a note that I don't mean that every single criterion must be met before a feedback could be considered as a particular level. The provided criteria is just there to help give us an idea of what could be considered as effective vs. ineffective feedback.

Also, in regards with the "stars" on a person's profile, instead of having them reach a certain number (e.g., 1000 points = Master Feedback-er) we could have the same 5-star rating system on their profile. Only the number of stars they have is based off of an average of all the stars their comments have accrued. So basically, add all the stars they've ever gotten (say, 1,107), divide it by the number of comments they've made (say, 316), and you'll get the average (in this case, about 3.5) which we'll see on their profile. The rating on their profile won't ever exceed 5 since it's an average.

We could also have it so that each comment's rating is an average of what people thought so that it would be based off of a general consensus versus, say, favouritism.


Daniel Sintos

11th November 2012


I'm going to add my 2 cents here, not that it is worth much more than 2 cents.

I enjoy this sight for its freedom of format. I can read the works of writers that I want to read, and ignore those writers (or subject) that I do NOT want to read. To be forced in any way to read material that I have absolutely no interest in seems a little like eating my spinach if I want some ice cream.

And as they say on THE SHARK TANK, "For that reason, I'm out!"

I don't comment much and when I do it probably has little to do with the writer's ability and more to do with content of the piece. I'm one of those people that someone described as a "writer" not an "editor".
Earlier in my tenure on ScribeSlice, I tried to help people with content. I received a lot of flak and was even accused of "censorship". I'd like it known once and forever that I do NOT censor anyone. In regard to commenting on certain writers and ignoring others, that is a freedom that I enjoy on this site. Lets face it, there are writers and then there are the rest of us who want to be writers, and notice that I said "the rest of us" which includes myself.


Don Yarber

11th November 2012


Don when you say "OUT" exactly how do you mean that.

"OUT" as in leaving here-this site - or "OUT" as in you only wish to write for writing's sake.

It appears when I asked for feedback for my works here (of which there are now none for the lack of feedback as decider -my choice) and was frustrated I was not recieving any to help my craft I have been pounced upon and sworn at.

I remember when we had writers on here who read and critiqued of which it was welcome even though we had differences but I learned - became better.

Then the fighting started and the "EDITORS", if you will, left. Of which one , Paul Day has returned to again be a help. THANK YOU, PAUL, by the way.

The site suffered and still remains that way to a certain extent.

If my concern about the damage is not helpful then what is.

It is the lackadaisical approach now prevalent on here that has me staying as only an observer- not contributing at all.

I critique when a piece is understood by me.

I will never speak upon a subject or material I do not feel(which is what I think the writer of the piece wishes) just to comment.

There are times when another writer says what I would have in critiquing.

I do not become redundant by re-expressing the same thought.

If I have harmed anyone with this concerned let me know positively and not as an attack.

I have addressed this problem with whom I think I should.

I await the consensus of the whole to find out where I am in this community.

I will abide by that decision.


Leonard a. Wronke

11th November 2012


Leonard: When I say "Out" I mean: If a system is imposed that "requires" me to review, comment, or otherwise participate, I am out of here.

As you know, I've always tried to help people. I did it freely, time permitting. I've written essays on writing, and most have been well received. I just do not like the idea of being "forced" to do ANYTHING.
I think I expressed it succinctly in my poem "Look at Me". And of course, I include myself in the group that needs critique and praise.

The comment that I made above about eating my spinach before I can have my ice cream expresses my thoughts pretty well.


Don Yarber

11th November 2012


So, if I may, what do you guys (Don and Leo) think of my suggestion as far as the "Volunter-Point System?"


David Anderson

11th November 2012


I will have those who understand it better give their say.

To my simple mind it is too complicated or convoluted for me to get my head around.

Just as an aside I never liked that name, Leo. Why I never use it.


Leonard a. Wronke

11th November 2012


Does that mean that people like myself who write for purely creative or personal reasons, no questions asked, and very appreciative of helpful suggestions and comments have no business here? I was not aware that writing was a competition or that Scribeslice was some sort of higher education writing class. Your point system seems complicated. My life is complicated, and that is all I need to deal with. These postings that I have been following for a couple of days now are alarming, disturbing and discouraging. I agree with Don Yarber about the freedom to read and comment on whatever writing I want to, without being scrutinized about it.
I have said a number of times that there are top notch writers on Scribeslice, destined for the world stage, and I am sincere about it. I am not one of them but up to this point, being here for over a year now, I at least feel comfortable with posting my lyrics and short poems. If they are read even once by someone, that is great. If they are commented on, that is lovely and makes me feel humble.
I will be following the discussion. This is only my 1/2 cent opinion on this topic.
And apologies to anyone I might have slighted by not reading their stories or poems.


Warren Gates

11th November 2012


Hi All, wow - you guys should be product managers! That was a pretty fast conversation that created a nice set of requirements!

I am almost afraid to step into this, I really appreciate the work you did together to come up with an idea and system. Right now, I have a slightly different opinion on the point system - in fact responded to a personal note about this just a few minutes ago.

In general, as pointed out already (by Paul I think originally), one of the current models for encouraging feedback is the scribeophile model where you are given points for providing feedback and after you have gathered a certain number of points you can 'cash in' and write a piece. I like that it is a creative solution to making sure that lots of feedback is given (in fact I think they 'guarantee' that you will get at least 3 pieces of feedback) but I don't think it is a model that should be pursued here.

My fear is that over time it would produce mechanical and thoughtless feedback and the quality would decline and it will isolate those that are great emerging writers from getting their words out there. Some of us are writers and some of us are writers and readers and some of us are only readers.

ok, so where does that leave us? Well I have lots of ideas for the 'next' version of scribeslice. And a big thing I am mulling over is system that will encourage more feedback.

One of them is a different system for rating/recommending/liking/commenting on writing itself (and possibly this could be extended to comments)?

Another idea is to create different roles (have one that is specifically called 'editor') and try to recruit a body of readers that want to hone their craft as an editor.

I do want to have a reward system for editors/commentors of some sort regardless of the 'rating system'.

The thing I want to avoid is a negative encouragement system where you are compelled to do something first in order to get what you are trying to get. I think there must be a different way (I am hoping).

whew. ok, I hope that makes sense, that is all just off the top of my head,

Regards,
Jon Paul


Jon paul Janze

11th November 2012


Agreed. I would not like to see any one forced into anything. That's why I came up with the review rating, which would allow any random comments/feedbacks/reviews giving to be rated, thus, allowing the person giving the review to reach a certain level (a goal to attain).

Anywho, it was not my intention to aide in "alarming, disturbing and discouraging" any one. I, along with some others, were just kicking some ideas around on how we could POSSIBLY help generate more and better quality feedbacks. So, if any one was alarmed, disturbed, or discouraged, don't be. We were just trying to solve a common issue.


David Anderson

11th November 2012


That I cannot post something of mine until I "earn" the right is a rather off-putting thought. I might have misconstrued the purpose of Scribeslice, a common fault of mine, to not fully understand something before jumping in, albeit with trepidation. Why should our comments, our "editing" be graded? I am confused.


Warren Gates

11th November 2012


Me too. The purpose, I thought was to write freely and help when able or when time and mood permits. I usually respond to a piece when it moves me or if I see blatant spelling errors or the flow of a piece doesn't seem quite right. I am not a professional writer and I don't feel that it is necessarily my place to critique another's work.


Cindy Beitinger

11th November 2012


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