Donnerstag, 13. Dezember 2012

The thing about comments..

... is: you will never be able to produce a comment that actually says what you intended it to without insulting someone. That's the way of the world, I guess.
A few days ago I had this bizarre encounter with the husband of a writer, because I left a comment on her story that obviously wasn't well received. Even though I had taken every precaution before sending it, making clear that I didn't mean to speak for any other reader than myself, shit hit the fan in the most unpleasant way.

That got me thinking (as most criticism does, even the cranky stuff), so I read up on tips and ideas how to comment in the right way. Funny stuff, I have to admit, but I tried to take from those guides what I thought was most useful. Like...

... If you want to say something about a story, start with something you liked, something nice, something you can praise without blushing.
That way, the more unpleasant stuff you want to communicate will go down a little easier. You'll still be 'the asshole that didn't like my shit', but at least you'll be taken a bit more seriously - in most cases. If you can't find anything you liked, please don't comment, just move on.

 ... Don't flood your comment with every little mishap you spotted. K.I.S.S.
There's no need for your comment to be the perfect, exhaustive list of every small detail that didn't quite fit. Pick a maximum of three problems you found, don't generalize, stay on track and just explain what went wrong in your opinion. Then just stop. If there are too many errors to stay within that 3-problems-boundary, offer to edit for the author, or just don't comment.

... Don't get personal with your opinion or the author.
I think this is quite important, even though I didn't find it in any of the guides so far. Do. Not. Get. Personal. You don't know the author, so don't pretend to, it won't lead anywhere. Comments that judge the author's abilities or their character are commonly either ignored or getting erased. If you get personal, you will have wasted a few precious seconds of your life on something that doesn't even register with most people. It's like farting in a sewage plant, your comment stinks but nobody cares.

... If the author reacts pissy, just move on.
We're all people, and people react poorly to criticism. There are some of us who can keep the pissyness hidden, work with it and take the criticism in stride to get better, but most of us just can't stand it to be paraded around like some kind of idiot. It always feels this way, that's just how it is. You also shouldn't judge a pissy author by his reaction to your comment, because (see above) you STILL don't know him or her, you just read stuff they published! Nobody will ever hug you for verbally undressing them, so don't expect it. Do expect bad reactions to your well intentions, and just back off. With commenting like described above you've done your deed, and there's nothing else to be won there.

That's it for "How to comment like a BOSS" ;)


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