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Use and Abuse of Public Reviewing Page - by Arwee
Issue #31 of the Writing.Com Reviewing Newsletter.
Your editor is: Arwee

[ Table of Contents ]

1. About this Newsletter
2. Letter from the Editor
3. Editor's Picks
4. Ask & Answer
5. Useful Links

[ About this Newsletter ]

I will be addressing spidey ’s and esprit 's suggestion on the Topic Wall and in Feedback Central regarding the use and abuse of the Public Review Page. There are a number of reasons why one should publicly post a review, and also reasons why one should refrain. I will go over, in this article, what the Public Review Page is, when you should post a review publicly and when you should reconsider.

[ Letter from the Editor ]

So, you’ve just written a review for an item, and you’ve assigned a star rating to it. Now comes the last leg of the review process (for now), deciding whether or not your brand new review should show up on the Public Review Page or not. But first, what is the Public Review Page?

For those who are not yet aware, the Public Review Page (which I will abbreviate to PRP
now) is where users can post their reviews for the rest of the Writing.Com community to
read and go over. This page has many uses, including highlighting popular reviewers and
allowing members to reward reviewers they think did a good job. All manner of reviews 250
characters or more are allowed to be posted publicly and the awarding of gift points are
entirely up to the community. The public review page has also helped writers by drawing
people to their items.

An added feature of posting your review publicly is to gather a pool of recent samples of
your reviewing style that other members can look through. You can find your recent pool of
reviews by going to your Portfolio, make sure you are in Public View mode, and click on
the link beside Rating & Reviewing Statistics that says <Public Reviews>.

Knowing this, how do you know if your new review is appropriate to post? The only guideline that exists to prevent posting on the PRP at the moment is that your review needs to be 250 characters or more. There are unwritten rules about what people would prefer to see on the PRP, and opinions will differ from person to person. Let’s take a look at a few very common scenarios.

Many of the reviews on the PRP are fine. These reviews offer good advice, good encouragement and a fair rating. If you feel your review has all of these qualities, feel free to post it. But do not post a review expecting gift points to be awarded to you. If the members of Writing.Com feel that your review is good and helpful, they will endeavor to reward you for your hard work. Sometimes a great review can be overlooked. Reviews posted to the PRP are always coming in so it’s moving very quickly. Some WDC members will go back a few pages to look for good reviews to reward, but this is not always the case. Do not feel disheartened if your good review didn’t get a reward. It could be that it was posted at a time when many other reviews were also posted. Just try again with a different review, but whatever you do, do not post the same review twice. That is considered rude and the writer of the item you reviewed may not appreciate it either.

Then there is the situation of what you should do when you’ve written an in-depth review of 5,000 characters or more. I always post my in-depth reviews unless the writer very specifically told me not to. Fair in-depth reviews take a lot of time to write and a lot of work to output. Many people on Writing.Com appreciate that work and output as well because they see that you made a very difficult commitment to improve a piece. However, it is important to keep the writer’s request in mind. While an in-depth review is always something nice to see (for me anyway) on the PRP, if your writer has told you not to post in-depth reviews of their work, please respect their wishes. Otherwise, post away. I love seeing in-depth reviews!

What about that review you just wrote for a contest, activity, static item, etc. that you
thought others may enjoy? If it is constructive and is in fact a review then a post to the
PRP may draw potential readers, participants, or contestants. Remember, you are you
writing a review for the writer of the item, and not a promotional ad. Do not be
tempted to tell people to “Hurry! Hurry! Hurry to Harry’s Short Story Contest for ice cream and cake”. Treat an item you want others to notice exactly like an item that you are reviewing normally. Tell the owner of the item what you thought they did well, write a fair review for them then post it on the PRP. People will notice its rating and see the positive comments you wrote and they will then decide if they want to view the item for themselves or not. Remember, you are writing and posting reviews not advertisements!

Basically, if you put effort into a review and feel that it is a useful and encouraging piece for the writer, then post away. It’s not too difficult to determine what you should post, but there are a few scenarios where one will want refrain from publicly posting a review. Again, I will go over the most common scenarios.

In my last scenario, I pointed out that a review should not be an advertisement. What’s the difference between an advertisement and a review? A review addresses the author and focuses on the item's content. An advertisement addresses the audience and advertises rather than advises.

Before you post a review to the PRP, note the length and the general helpfulness of your
review. If you had to struggle to come up with at least 250 characters to say in a review
just so you can post it publicly, perhaps that review does not belong on the PRP. A review
that short is usually questionable in the amount of useful commentary for the author and
those perusing the PRP. This is not always the case, but a majority of these types of
situations are. Perhaps instead of struggling to find 250 characters to say, you can focus
on what you enjoyed or didn't enjoy about the item. Don't worry about the character count, and you will find that it allows you to be able to provide more relevant advice or encouragement.

What if you wrote a review that contained valid criticisms about a work? Should you
endeavor to post something like that? The answer to this one is more difficult because the
situation needs to be looked at more closely. Read through your review. Are you fair with
your criticisms? Is there a nicer way you can tell the writer about the problems you are
having? Are you also encouraging? It isn’t right to publicly post a review that sounds like you are berating an author. For example, “This story is trash. I don’t know what you were thinking when you wrote it”. That sort of behavior is bordering on abuse. You can tell a writer you didn’t enjoy their story in much nicer and more constructive terms. For example, “I didn’t enjoy this story because of the way you portrayed Fred. His character was not very developed and I feel that a number of tweaks to the story will really help. Here are some suggestions…” That is a much nicer and more helpful way of putting your thoughts down. And while I don’t tell people to not post mostly critical reviews (actually, I encourage them!)
I do advise them to not be mean to the writer.

Finally, there is the review that isn’t a review. It can be related to the advertisement for the item review I mentioned above. Except, it barely talks about the item it’s supposed to review at all. That’s right, it’s the shameless self-promotion review! While I doubt anyone who reads this newsletter is guilty of shameless self-promotion, I know that many of you have probably seen these kinds of “reviews” on the PRP. They are reviews where a reviewer will write one or two sentences about a piece, then spend the rest of the review talking about how great their own work is and why the writer should visit their port. Either that, or the review will consist of one sentence that pertains to the item, then the rest of the review contains links or images that send people to the reviewer’s portfolio or items there. This
kind of shameless self-promotion is disrespectful to those who look at and post on the PRP
and especially to the person who received the review.

As a rewarder of reviews, I tend to have guidelines on which reviews I reward and which I
don’t. Every rewarder is different and has their own opinion of what is good and what isn’t. The vast majority of reviews on the PRP are fine. However, there are always a few of those bad apples where a reviewer was abusive, selfishly promoting themselves, or obviously just trying to earn gift points. Always remember that the PRP is there to reward good reviewers, and a good reviewer’s primary concern is to help the writer they are reviewing, not to earn gift points. The points are just a bonus, the real reward is in knowing that you helped someone out.

[ Editor’s Picks ]

 On Reviewing  (E)
an essay, my views on Reviewing.
#889987 by spidey

Lost and Found  (E)
How I found the real Ahmedabad when I was lost.
#1362074 by Just an Ordinary Boo!

 Last Stop - a dialogue  (13+)
Is it really the last stop? (2011 Pill Hill's Daily Flash Anthology)
#1416154 by Ben Langhinrichs

[ Ask and Answer ]

If you have any questions, comments, general suggestions, or suggestions for editor’s pick (even your own work! *Smile* ), please send them to me. I’ll be more than happy to feature them in the next newsletter and address them to the best of my ability.

Daizy~lovin'thesummer Wrote re: “Responding to Reviewings”:
This was an excellent newsletter. Your thoughts on answering reviews were 'right on the mark'. This should be very helpful to newbies as well as those who have been part of the WDC family for a long time. I agree with your reasons for not answering also. I get perturbed when I check out the Public Review page and the review is full of the reviewers items.
Arwee Wrote:
Thanks for writing in, Daizy~lovin'thesummer . I also can’t believe how often I see reviewers who spend more time promoting themselves in a review for someone else. It just strikes me as so awful that someone would do that to another person. Thank you again. *Smile*

[ Useful Links ]

*Bullet* "Feedback Central – Send the editors some suggestions and general feedback.
*Bullet* "Reviewing Newsletters – View previous issues of the Reviewing Newsletter.
Maintained by Writing.Com Support   
Created: 03-19-09 @ 10:37pm | Modified: 03-24-09 @ 8:05pm      

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