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I've fallen into the habit of not leaving comments on fic if I can't leave a detailed, insightful one.

I think this is because I've read of people complaining of 3 or 4-word comments, and others stating that the only proper comment is a detailed, multi-paragraph one that shows appropriate analysis and reflection.  I like those, too.  I like those, best.  But I frequently don't have the energy for that, particularly on a weekday night, and thus have been reading without commenting at all.

So I think I will go back to leaving brief comments if I can't summon the wherewithal to leave a detailed one.  As an author, I like any acknowledgment that someone liked a story, so I can't help feeling that most other authors would prefer that to no comment at all. 


Jun. 27th, 2009 10:30 pm (UTC)
Here I go again, spouting my fic commenting/reviewing philosophy. I'm trying to convert everyone to my way of seeing things, one person at a time (this could take a while!).

After thinking about it for a long time, and seeing lots of people angsting over all sorts of issues surrounding commenting/reviewing/concritting of fanfic, I arrived at the following conclusion: there are three ways to respond to fanfic as a reader, and they all have different purposes, and getting them mixed up really can only lead to tears. So, I categorise responses to fic in three ways:

1. Comment: A comment on a fic is meant for the author, to thank them for sharing, for free, the fruits of their creative labour. They can be one word or many words, and can be as in-depth or (for want of a better word) shallow as the reader feels moved to provide, but they really are just ways of thanking, expressing appreciation, or just letting the author know, "I was here, and I read it, thanks for posting." People who openly gripe about comments that don't say enough are entitled brats. Of course we'd all prefer to hear three paragraphs about how fantastic we are, but a sincere thank-you is a sincere thank-you and wanting even MORE of a thanks is really pushing it.

2. Review: A review is meant for other readers, to offer a sample opinion so that other readers can decide whether or not they want to invest the time in to reading a fic. I've had people leave actual reviews on my fic (even to the point of not addressing their comments to me, but referring to me in the third-person), but it's rare. All the reviewing sites that sprang up surrounding the awards count as well. The thing that irked me about some of them was this idea that reviews are meant to be for the good of the authors, and from my perspective, that's just not what reviews are *ever* for. Salman Rushdie isn't taking writing advice from Michiko Kakutani—but I might read her review in order to help determine whether I should spend time reading his book. So, for this reason I tend to not call what I leave on others' fic "reviews," because most of the time I'm not reviewing. My rec list, however, contains little mini reviews from me on the fics there, and when I write for cot_reviews I'm reviewing.

3. Concrit: Feedback meant for the author, in good faith, in order to help them improve as a writer. Sporking is not concrit, because it isn't meant to help the author improve usually. It's meant to mock and ridicule, and maybe get the author to stop writing entirely, but if you want to help a writer get better the way to go about that is not to shame them. I also get really bugged at people who flame or spork and then defend themselves by saying, "Hey, man, I was just trying to help the author." *eyeroll* No.

Soooo.... tl;dr: comment however you like, and one word of thanks is always infinitely better than zero words of thanks. People who complain about it should just get bent and stop thinking the universe owes them so bloody much.

Edited at 2009-06-27 10:32 pm (UTC)
Jun. 28th, 2009 11:32 pm (UTC)
I like your distinctions. I would love to give other people the kind of detailed comment you gave me the other day, every time, but I just can't do that. Sometimes I can't find words; sometimes I quail before the necessary analysis; sometimes I just have nothing to say!

I completely agree that sporking and concrit are completely different things. Completely!
Jun. 28th, 2009 11:40 pm (UTC)
I had a thought: what would be the protocol for offering a correction to an error the author made? Does it matter if it's a word-geek error ("lupine" instead of "vulpine") or something more basic (Imperial pints have 20 fluid ounces)? I've heard some people suggesting a PM to the author, but that only works if they're on LJ.

Edited at 2009-06-29 01:02 am (UTC)
Jun. 29th, 2009 01:02 am (UTC)
I think that's really a YMMV. If it's on LJ I personally PM (or try to), that way the comment isn't sitting there forever even after the author has corrected their error. The egregiousness of the error that I'll PM someone over varies a lot, based on whether or not I'm already friends with them and whether or not I have the time to PM, and whether or not I think they'll care.

The only other place I read fic is Teaspoon, and I usually don't say anything there. If I"m reading someone on Teaspoon instead of LJ that generally indicates that I don't know the author *at all* and would feel funny leaving a public comment about their typo.

This doesn't come up that much for me because if it's a really cracking story, and I'm really in to it, I don't even notice most typos or punctuation errors. But speaking as an author, I do like people to tell me if I've made an error, and I do prefer it via PM so I can fix the error and not have a comment sitting there forever pointing out to everyone who reads the fic in the future that I'm a dumbass who can't spell "dematerialise".
Jun. 29th, 2009 12:17 am (UTC)
I love what you say at the top of your comment, "Here I go again, spouting my fic commenting/reviewing philosophy. I'm trying to convert everyone to my way of seeing things, one person at a time (this could take a while!)."

It made me laugh...and think of myself.

I recently made a mistake and gave feedback in a comment about a story I've been following and enjoying mightily. My mistake was talking too much about what I wanted to have happen, mostly how I wanted 2 characters to get together (I guess all that sexual tension was getting to me!) Anyway, I got some feedback from the author that I crossed the line a bit, read: it felt to her like I was telling her what to do with her characters. I hadn't wanted to step on toes but I did.

Lately I've just stuck to more generic thank you comments, and I haven't gotten too "into" the story or characters and what I liked or wished. I learned there is a line, and while I thought I was showing the author how much I liked her characters and how real they were to me, I crossed her line and it wasn't pleasant. So I guess I'd say there is this category, or sub-category of "emotionally involved" comments.
Jun. 29th, 2009 01:06 am (UTC)
Sometimes people leave comments that make me bristle, I'll be honest. But I never say anything (unless it's a comment that is legitimately meant in bad faith). It feels too much like looking a gift horse in the mouth. I usually take the "I hope XYZ happens!" or "Oh poor woobie Character X, I want him to get together with Character Y!" typed comments as meaning I wrote a fic that really got a reader involved in the world of the story, and they're expressing an opinion about it—and since my entire goal was to get readers involved in the world of the story, well, mission accomplished. Even if I'd rather people word things a bit more carefully!
Jun. 29th, 2009 02:07 am (UTC)
I don't think I've ever received a comment that made me angry. I have received a few from people saying they hoped we'd see what's been going on in the Doctor's universe, or that an alien invasion would occur (why?), but I've just hoped they would keep on reading even without them.

I have received comments from people who misunderstood what had been going on, and one from a person who seemed to be fixated on John in a way I found slightly squicky, but so far nothing that's offended or angered me. I guess I've been lucky!
Jun. 29th, 2009 02:13 am (UTC)
That sounds like a painful episode. I'm sorry she reacted like she did.

I like hearing what people hope will happen, because it means the characters are real and that I've managed to engage people in the story. I love to think that people think about my characters after they've finished reading!

But I suppose someone could phrase it in a way that offended me: "I think you should play up the ways John resembles the Doctor. And I think he should give Penny some expensive jewelry. If there isn't some smut in the next two chapters, I don't know if I can keep reading." That would definitely be telling me what to do in a way that way that "I hope X happens!" wouldn't be, and it would definitely annoy me!