|Issue #4 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 ]
Ever gotten a review that’s kept you up at night wondering? Don’t know how to respond to a two word review that tells you nothing? Want to scream when you receive a public review that’s 90% WritingML, 6% signature, and 4% actual review? Don’t worry, I’ve been there. Here’s a few tips to help us all feel a little better.
[ Letter from the Editor ]
Picture yourself waking up one Saturday morning. You crawl out of bed, digging your knuckle into your eye to grind the sleep from it. After shuffling to your bathroom to stand in front of your toilet, your mind slowly starts to wake up. One of the first things it wanders over, in its mental journey towards alertness, is “I wonder if I got any reviews on WDC today?”
The very idea of getting reviews on an item excites you, and you burst forth from the
bathroom with purpose in mind. Those who are in your way fear you and cower as you stride
up to the computer. Planting your bottom into the chair like a monarch at their throne,
you aim the mouse cursor over the email link that shows you have one message. The familiar tingle of anticipation with a slight hint of fear bubbles up from your stomach. Your
tongue sticks out the side of your mouth as you open the e-mail that contains a review.
Breath caught, eyes dry, body pitched forward, you look over what someone, somewhere on
this site, had to say about an item you worked hard to produce.
Good job!!! Visitmyportfolio!!!
Is it a review or a rainbow? And if they could, someone might send this atrocity off as a
public review for the world to see their rainbow madness. Most of the time, however,
writers will get these short little spurts in their inbox as a private review. Thankfully, no one has done something quite this ridiculous. Some reviewers, however, have been known
to send out low substance reviews that contain 250 characters of advertisement for their
items, or completely useless information just to get it on the public review page. Sometimes someone would write a low substance post full of vague text and WritingML just
to get some gift points and may not have even read the item at all.
The question remains, however, what do you do with a review like this? How do you respond
to it? What do you say when you reply? Should you even reply? I can’t answer any of
those questions for you, but I can give you examples of how I deal with these situations.
We’ve all experienced bad reviews like this. My personal favorite is a little gem that was sent to me over two years ago: ”Hmmm. Interesting” followed by a 3.5 star rating. This was a review I received on a folder that contained my blog and reading list at the time. It certainly perplexed me, and it definitely angered me. But these days, I look upon that review with a sort of nostalgic amusement.
It’s okay to be mad when you get a useless review. After all, you worked really hard on an item and it’s not fair to you when you put it up and someone just uses it to abuse the gift point system. But in the end WDC is a community where everyone’s opinion is valued, no matter how colorful or vague. While you can’t change the world, you can deal with it in a number of ways. Here are some tips that I’ve employed to get over my feelings of frustration whenever I get something useless in my feedback:
Rant About It
That’s right, sometimes a good ranting and raving is the right thing to do. You’re mad and everyone can understand that. Set up a private blog on WDC or keep an offline journal to house your frustrations. If you feel the need to rant about a useless review, write down your thoughts. You might feel a lot better afterwards.
Tell Your Friends
If you’re the kind of person who needs to talk to someone about their frustrations ask a friend to sit down and listen, write an e-mail to them, or send them an instant message. In the end you might gain some perspective on why the reviewer did what they did. Or, at the very least, your friend and you can share some chuckles about it.
Remember, You’re Not Alone
You’re not alone in feeling angry about a useless review. WDC is a big place and there are hundreds of people who probably feel the same way. Why, they’ve even created message boards and groups to deal with and talk about bad reviews. You can look in the Editor’s Picks section of this newsletter to see some of them.
It’s Only a Handful of People
Maybe after you’ve cooled down a little, remind yourself that these types of reviewers are only a portion of the population on WDC. The majority of reviews I’ve received have been comprehensive, supportive and valuable in my development as a writer. Once in a while, someone will throw me a curveball. But the best thing for myself and my writing is to get out my frustrations, dust myself off and move on.
Speaking of moving on, after you’ve gotten through the initial surge of anger, how do you respond to a bad review like that? There are a couple of ways I reply, and they have worked for me so far.
The first way is to just thank them. I thank everyone who sends me a review because it’s polite and lets people know that I read what they wrote. Even if someone threw something useless at you, it is best take the high road then move on.
The second way is to not reply. Sometimes I’ll get a review that boils my potatoes so much that I feel I can’t bring myself to thank someone for it. Or it’s a bad anonymous review and I can’t do anything about it because while it was bad, it wasn’t abusive. So I just delete the review and mentally file it in the “forget” section.
In the end, the key to responding to a bad review is to not send a negative message to
them, you might start an argument. It is in my opinion that arguments over the internet
are almost never worth the trouble. People who abuse items for gift points or to shamelessly plug their work are also not worth your time. Besides, if the shameless
reviewer only sent you one stinker, they probably won’t be back.
What if they do come back? If your useless reviewer decides to hit up your port a second
time, sending them a polite e-mail that details your concerns might be useful. Or try to
get some dialogue out of them. Behind that rainbow of a review there has to be a
person. Tell them that in future reviews you would appreciate more detailed feedback
because it helps you progress as a writer, and while you appreciate their comments, you
want more substance to them. You can also put them on the spot by asking them what they
thought you did a “good job” on regarding the item they just reviewed.
I hope that these tips are of some use. Everyone deals with these types of situations
differently, and I’d love to hear about some of your tips or stories about these kinds reviews. I love feedback, so long as it doesn’t look like this.
[ Editor’s Picks ]
This is a great forum to start at if you want to talk about the reviews you received that you may not agree with, and recent trends on the public reviewing page.
Just can’t get enough of reviewing? Want to talk about reviewing? Check out this awesome forum.
[ Ask and Answer ]
“one general reviewing question i have: how would you review a piece which has
no grammatical errors, or style problems...but somehow feels as if it's missing something?
somehow, the spark just isn't there. if we picked that book up off the shelf in a bookstore, we wouldn't buy it only because it doesn't have that grab-us-by-the-throat quality. i'm at a loss for how to include this sort of comment in a review. at least, in a helpful, illuminating way.”
I know this feeling too well. What I find helps is to sit back and
analyze the problem. I break the story down into three parts: plot, interest and characters. Go through the three parts and consider your satisfaction with each. Was the plot nice and solid? Was the story interesting? Were the characters relatable (etc.)? But sometimes, we just don’t have the answer and in that case, honesty is the best policy. If a story feels like it’s missing something, but you can’t quite place your finger on it, let the writer know. Tell them exactly how you feel, but let them know that while you think something is missing, you don’t quite know what it is yet and if you ever figure it out that you’ll get back to them. A lot of writers are also reviewers, and there’s no doubt that they have faced a situation where they felt something was lacking a spark but didn’t know what it was as well.
Lynn McKenzie Wrote:
“Bravo! An excellent opening Reviewing Newsletter. Funny, helpful and informative.”
Tigger thinks of Prancer Wrote:
“Thanks for the newsletter. It was very interesteding and you put it together well. I turned out to be wellrounded. woohoo! At least in one area of my life. ”
”Good job on a first-run newsletter! I enjoyed it and the quiz though silly, was fun. I
actually rated as a regular reviewer, but I think I'm more casual... but anyway...Another group that could be featured as a review group is the "I ReMember When Group Reviews" which is a group put together of the Rising Stars and focus on reviewing Newbies and highlighted Moderator and Preferred Authors each month. I liked the approach of 'spotting reviewers on a safari' - Lots of fun and I think something like this would be very helpful to those who don't understand why some people review the way they do. Thanks for stepping up to the challenge and participating in the pilot of the Reviewing Newsletter!
Thanks for the suggestion for the link. I’ll be sure to feature it in the next newsletter I edit.
”Thanks for the effort you put into creating a newsletter on reviewing. You've made a great start !”
”Hi, just wanted to say this was a great first edition!”
Black Willow Wrote:
“I had to write you back about this and tell you how wonderfully funny and interesting this newsletter was to read.Thank you for helping me find out that I'm a regular reviewer! I laughed so much from the quiz! Wonderful!”
”I was very curious how this first was going to be handled, and I think the idea of describing types of reviewers is a good one. Well done!”
”Great and fun newsletter, Arwee! Keep up the good work!”
”This is great! It is such a tongue-in-cheek approach to the first issue is great and I loved the quiz.”
Thank you all for the really awesome feedback! I really appreciate it, and I’m glad everyone liked the quiz and newsletter. Feel free to send in more comments, questions, suggestions for links, or tell me stories about reviewing mishaps related to this newsletter and I’ll feature your comment.
[ Useful Links ]
"Feedback Central" – Send the editors some suggestions and
"Reviewing Newsletters" – View previous issues of the Reviewing