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Author Topic: reading posts
Christine
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I have a concern about forum procedure that I'd like to share and if you like, feel free to share your thoughts. I'm pretty sure things have always been this way but recently I've been bothered by something I see often: posts made to threads without reading the thread. Sometimes they say so, sometimes it is simply obvious because we get a repeat of something that's been said twenty times with nothing new added.

The trouble is that this stiffles conversations. I know threads get long. You come in, you see fifteen replies, and you are just itching to reply to something said early on. I've been there. But here are a few problems:

1. People doing this is exactly what makes threads long and tedious to read, especially since each new post tends to repeat a lot of what's been said before without adding anything.

2. Shallow conversations. Sometimes conversations progress beyond the first post, even take turns that have little to do with the first post. An author has his question answered, for example, asks a follow-up, but in the midst of the follow up here comes another comment on the original, long dead question. In fact, I find it difficult to get follow-up questions answered and to deepen or richen a conversation past what I initially post when I start a thread.

I guess these are the biggest two problems I see. Don't get me wrong, I'll do some skimming as I read, particularly when it comes to long posts within long threads, but at least reading the last few posts to see where things have gone and how they've progressed from the initial question...

Anyway, that' just my thoughts and opinions. I'm not shy about sharing them, you don't have to be either.


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TL 601
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I didn't read this thread, but the biggest two problems I see with people posting in threads they haven't read are 1. tedious, repetitive threads, and 2. shallow conversations.
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Elan
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I don't see the repetition as being a problem, especially in the F&F section, primarily because it provides an additional insight: is this something many people notice, or the quirky stylistic preference of only one individual. When I get crits back from several people and all of them point to a particular passage that bothered them, and if they give the same reasoning, I figure I have something that needs attention. If it's only one person, and I know I made that choice based on style considerations, I don't place as much weight on the comment.

I tend to skim some posts, but more in the Opinion forum rather than F&F. I mean, how many times do we need to reiterate all the reasons it's impolite to argue with crits?

Of larger concern to me than these two issues is that we seem to be in a dry spell in regards to informative topics in the Opinion section. I like when folks introduce interesting comments or questions. Questions of research are always fun to read. The poison thread is always a favorite when someone bumps it up.

I'd like to see more of the people who pipe up on the "Introduce Yourself" forum add to the discussions in the other areas. We all learn from the questions that are asked.


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hoptoad
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I read the threads. However, it is sometimes after I have posted something so I subsequently have to go back and rethink my post.

I tend to jump to another thread if I have nothing to add except , 'Yep, I agree with everyone else." But to not post means that the author may not realise just how many people agree with what has been said. That leads to the possibility of discounting good solid advice because 'it only bothered one person.'

For this reason, how can not posting a 'me too' comment be helpful?

Edit for spelling.

[This message has been edited by hoptoad (edited November 16, 2005).]


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rcorporon
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I find that having a large post count makes up for certain "other" areas that I may or may not lack in.

Ronnie


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Robert Nowall
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I admit I don't necessarily read everything posted here...I'm more or less absent on the "Fragments and Feedback" board...and that my responses more than occasionally wander off the central theme.

But conversation in real life does much the same thing...and I enjoy the serendipitous discoveries I make along the way.

It's a wild ride...enjoy it...


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Christine
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Elan, I haven't posted in F&F in so long I forget about that whole section. You're right, though, and it is subject to different rules. In fact, when I used to read F&F I did just the opposite: I specifically did NOT read the other replies so that my response was fresn and uninfluenced by other opinions. I figured this was fair to the author.

hoptoad: I dont' see anything wrong with posting "I agree." You're right, this let's the original poster know how well certain ideas went over, if nothing else. But "I agree" is a short thing to say, barely adding to the clutter and adding precisely what's needed to the conversation. Five praagraphs that fail to acknowledge any other post but essentially saying the same thing is annoying.


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Elan
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It saddens me to see how many of the writers I truly respect (mostly cause they are a lot better than me) who never post in the F&F section. I count you among that group, Christine. Your insight is very valuable.

I sense that since I joined Hatrack (hmm.. in March or April, I think), we've lost a lot of excellent writers. I know they continue to read through the posts because once in a great while, when someone such as yourself posts, they will respond. But I don't see them mentoring the newbies.

I understand WHY this happens... I admit I don't critique in the F&F section as much myself, either. After a while you feel like you are simply repeating yourself over and over. We get a lot of newbies in F&F who tend to post without reading the FAQs, they keep repeating the same mistakes, don't take advantage of the "search" function to learn what's already been said on the topic, and lots of them argue with the advice they're given.

And there is a point where good writers needs to be able to extract some good out of the critiques, too. If you can't find knowledgeable people to reciprocate with insightful critiques, then there really isn't a lot of good in submitting your stuff to be critted.

I just think that is sad, because the newbies end up having to mentor themselves, and the rest of us miss the chance to learn from people significantly more experienced than ourselves. It's a great loss, I feel. I wish I knew what the solution is.


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Christine
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<aside>

You know, Elan, it's not the repeating myself again and again that keeps me from posting on F&F. Not at all. As many times as I've told people that beginning a story without naming a character, for example, doesn't work, I'd say it another twenty times. I recognize the importance of each person hearing it for the first time, and hearing it in relationship to what they do.

No, the reason I stopped posting in F&F is that I finally got fed up with the new members who came, posted a story, and went, typically not even responding to anyone else or contributing in any lasting way to the community. It's really a shame, but the last time I looked (and it's been a while) we were getting half a dozen posts a day by new members who then left in relatively short order. It used to be, when I joined, that the new members tended to hang out in the open discussion a little more before braving F&F. I know I did. I thought it was only polite to involve myself in the community before asking for specific help and in fact, I made it a point to help several other people in F&F before I posted my first fragment.

</aside>


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sojoyful
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Kick me if this is too drastic, but maybe kdw can set up the board so that it doesn't allow new members to start new threads in F&F? They could comment on other threads in F&F and start threads in the Open Discussion forum. After a certain amount of time/participation, the ability to start threads in F&F would become available.

Dunno. From my perspective, I'd rather learn a few things before putting myself out for display.


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pantros
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Sorry Christine, your issues are just a fact of life in the world of message boards. Annoying as they are, we just live with them.

I think each forum needs a sticky note attached to the top to remind people how to use and thus benefit the most from them.

Like you mention in your aside, too often does a new writer come, post their story (usually having not read the rules or purpose of the board) and then argue a little over the feedback before vanishing having never contributed to anyone elses work.

This is a board for learning how to be a better writer, this is not really a place to come to polish your work or even your hooks. This is a place to come to learn how to do that yourself. We put our first 13 in fragments and feedback to fuel the educational process. And, yes, every other new writer will start their story with "He woke up" or "He looked around" without naming their character.

Its okay to respond with the exact same response as someone just did, you can even say it all again rather than just say I agree. First, two people with the same opinion ensures that that opinion is not just one person with a wrong opinion (no such thing but appearances and all)
Second, it lets people who read the board regularly and value your opinion, see it.

If you are unsure if posting on a long thread in response to something posted 42 replies ago will be relevant or seem like a bad tangeant, start your post with, "In regards to " (quote)


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Robyn_Hood
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quote:
Kick me if this is too drastic, but maybe kdw can set up the board so that it doesn't allow new members to start new threads in F&F? They could comment on other threads in F&F and start threads in the Open Discussion forum. After a certain amount of time/participation, the ability to start threads in F&F would become available.

That solution has been proposed in the past, but for various reasons has never been implemented. I think I got started in F&F before venturing into Open Discussions; the reason being I saw Open Discussions as a place for friends to sit and chat about stuff, where as F&F was the place for for business. I thought I'd start out with business and move to the more social/familliar threads once I sort of knew people better and vice versa.

Hatrack was the first on-line community I chose to be a part of. Something I heard several years before that, though, was that when joining a message board, you should spend a few days lurking, reading old posts and getting a feel for the community BEFORE you start posting. That way you have a better idea how things are done and you are less likely to step on toes.

As for people not bothering to read long posts...I don't know as there is a solution. Like Pantros said, it seems to be the nature of the beast. That said, I think having little threads like this pop up from time to time helps wake people up. Just like the arguing with critiques threads, profanity threads, and other forum etiquette discussions.

We shouldn't have to do it, but sometimes it may be necessary just to get the idea back into the collective consciousness. I would hate to see a post length rule imposed or to see half a dozen new threads pop up just to discuss a slightly different tangent to an existing thread.

Some message boards have a function that allows a thread to be split so that the main thread can be kept more "on topic". I don't know as that is a solution that would work for Hatrack though.


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franc li
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I always say so if I'm posting without having read a whole thread.

Beyond that, I think the best remedy is to mock offending parties without mercy.


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Christine
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Just to be clear, I never wanted to impose any rules. Mostly, I just wanted people to see this and think a little bit before posting.
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Elan
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I only know my own experience. When I first joined the board, I started with the "Introduce yourself" but once I'd volleyed a few commentaries back and forth I launched right into the F&F. I joined the board without being a lurker first. I DID try to locate an FAQ page (without success... Kathleen has since added one). I remember saying, "I look forward to learning from you," thinking this was an assurance to the members of the board that I respected their greater expertise. I recall HSO telling me, "I would hope you plan to contribute, too." I was a little taken aback because I hadn't meant to offend. And I'm so used to being a contributing member of a whatever group I belong to, that it hadn't occurred to me that Hatrack members might have a different experience with newbies.

The end result was that, while I started reading the Opinion forum and gaining information, I posted to F&F first. I had my writing ready, I wanted to test the waters to see what others thought of it. I sort of looked at the Opinions forum as a little scarier. I didn't know what *I* could say that would be useful in that discussion. I do remember jumping on the bandwagon when Mary Robinette did a "Search for Survivor" and the whole HUB thing, which I've still never fully read.

Anyhow, if I have a point to make, it's just to say that different people ease into different forums, depending on their perceptions and comfort levels. As someone with a whole 9 months or so under her belt, it doesn't matter to me which forums newbies post to, as long as they post, and as long as they attempt to learn the etiquette and are polite.

I'm always delighted to keep making new friends, and some of my best connections have come as a result of offering to do offline critiques beyond the 13 lines at F&F.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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quote:
maybe kdw can set up the board so that it doesn't allow new members to start new threads in F&F?

If there were a way to do that with this software, it might not be a bad idea, but aside from closing the F&F board to any posts at all except for those by authorized posters, and only authorizing people to post there after they ask my permission, I can't see how to do it.

And I think that would be more work than I could handle.

I'll have to think about it. Maybe we could do it in a "vote people onto the island" kind of way, or something.

Does that sound like something that could be worked out so it would be fair and helpful?


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sojoyful
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I think it would be a good idea, for two reasons:

1) rather than discouraging new members from posting (the negative spin) it would channel them into activities that would help them constructively before they posted their own work (the positive spin)

2) 'established' members would be more likely to post more in F&F (addressing Elan's concern) because it would become a more serious arena

Just my 2 cents. Personally, I lurked, now I critique and discuss, and when I finally feel I have something decent to post that won't be a waste of everyone's time, I'll post in F&F.


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Jeraliey
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I'd just be a little concerned that that kind of approach might chase away legitimate, but maybe shyer potential newbies.

One thing that attracted me to this board was that everyone was really open and welcoming when I first posted, soliciting new-writer-type advice. (I lurked a little before I posted, but...) I would hope that anything we did wouldn't close people like that out.

I agree that it's annoying to have people pop in and out (and that's really why I stopped hanging around F&F), but I don't know if our small annoyance is a good enough reason to put in place a potentially prohibitive hoop for newbies to jump through.

$0.02


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Robyn_Hood
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My concern with not letting new members post in F&F is that they won't learn. If they can't reply to threads and offer feedback, how will they learn to critique?

One thing I appreciate about Hatrack is that it is so open. Sure, there will be people who will try to take advantage of that, but I would rather see this continue to be an open board rather than an exclusive club.


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sojoyful
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As I mentioned in my first post in this thread, new members would be able to post in F&F, but they would not be able to start their own threads in that forum. In other words, they could reply to others and offer feedback, but they couldn't post their own work. This would channel them into exactly the kind of learning experience you're referring to, Robyn_Hood.
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pantros
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KDW, is there a way to enable some users to start new threads and allow everyone to reply?

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pantros
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nevermind i think you answered this.

I don't think there is a way to keep the inviting spirit of Hatrack and keep the bad users out.

I think all anyone can do it continue to try to maintain the standards they would like others to maintain and hope other people get the hint and follow suit.


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Robyn_Hood
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A tactic I use for determining whether or not I will offer to do full critique, is to check what other posts the person has made. I don't have a problem offering comments on fragments that are posted, but I like to see that the person is jumping in and commenting in other threads before I offer to read the whole thing.

Also, if I notice a new name several times when looking at the new threads in F&F, it raises the red flag, especially if that person has only made 3 posts: two of which are posting new fragments and the other one is a follow-up to his/her own threads.


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Elan
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I prefer Hatrack to be an open, welcoming community rather than going the direction of becoming more "closed." If we want closed discussions, I believe Kathleen has a way to do that (in the same manner the Boot Camp groups are restricted.)

In my opinion, we have to be the change we wish to see. I hope that people better than me will continue posting in all the forums on Hatrack. I try to "pay it forward" by critiquing newbies in F&F as much as possible, and to periodically go through and greet newcomers.


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Elan
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And, I have to say I agree with Robyn Hood. I get annoyed when someone asks for a lot of crits on their own work but isn't giving critiques back. It makes one feel used. But how clear are we about our expectations when people first join?

I know that critters.org has a requirement, you have to do so many crits before asking for a crit of your own. While I don't advocate that as a solution, perhaps the FAQ could recommend to newbies that they critique, say, 5 pieces before jumping in and posting their own 13 to be critted. That would get them in the mindset of: giving is more important than getting. Not only would it be more fair to other writers, in truth it would benefit the individual as a writer since we all know you learn more from critiquing than you do from being critiqued. Plus, it might help them comprehend that just because someone says something critical of your piece doesn't mean 1) you should give up writing, or 2) you should get annoyed at the fact they didn't recognize your brilliance.

I dunno...I'm not sure of the answers.

[This message has been edited by Elan (edited November 17, 2005).]


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Silver3
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I agree that this has to be one of the more annoying sides of the F&F section.
I'm not sure recommendations would do a lot of good, though: I'm naturally cynical as to the ability of people to actually follow instructions. But it would get some of them thinking about the proper way to go about it.
(if memory serves me right, back when I joined Hatrack, I became guilty of first asking for crits before I actually critted anything. Of course, I was young back then and there was no FAQ, but still...:s )
FYI, I know the Online Writing Workshop, of which I'm a member, works on a points sytem: a review brings you 1 point, you need 4 to post a submission. You're given 4 when you join to post one thing. But implementing a system like that in Hatrack would be too complicated and counter-productive.

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Elan
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... not to mention that I doubt the software would support such a thing.

When I first joined Hatrack I had been writing in isoloation, for the most part, all of my life. I know that my feelings when I first joined were that I did not know enough to offer critique to others, who were obviously more knowledgeable. So I thought I'd start out by putting my own work up on the board to see how I fared.

I assume many new people feel the same way, that critiquing is a higher skill level than being critiqued.

In my opinion, it would be very useful to place an explanation in the FAQ/Welcome section to explain to new people: 1) your opinion as a reader is valuable; 2) we encourage people to offer critiques before submitting their own 13 lines for critiquing; 3) you should keep a healthy balance between what you contribute versus what you expect others to give to you; 4) critiquing is the fastest way to strengthen your own writing skills; 5) more importantly, critiquing is the fastest way to begin developing a network of support with other writers.

Also, a mini-lesson on HOW to critique would be useful. I had no clue how I was supposed to indicate my comments. Directions on how to utilize the "Track Changes" and "Insert Comment" functions in WORD would be nice, plus perhaps a suggestion for an alternative system if you don't use WORD. For instance, before I learned about the Track Changes feature in WORD, I would put opinions in (parenthesis) and suggested replacements in [end brackets] and color code them differently -- which was a lot of work. I was happy to learn of Track Changes instead! A little primer on critique etiquette would be nice, too, ie: "Don't say: you suck", say "In my opinion your manuscript would benefit from these changes..."

I was nervous about critiquing when I was new. If I had known all these things when I first started, I would have been more than willing to jump right to crits first.

As you can see, I still have a pretty fresh memory of being a newbie. Kathleen, if you think a critique primer has merit but you don't have time or inclination to do it, I would offer my services to draw up a rough draft sometime after this weekend is over.


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Spaceman
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quote:
I get annoyed when someone asks for a lot of crits on their own work but isn't giving critiques back

That problem is easily solved by ignoring them.


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Kickle
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When I first came here, I did post to f&f without lurking and chose to stay dispite a baptism in fire( that is what it felt like to me at that time). Personally, I think that newbies coming and going is a matter of people finding out how much work being a writer really is -- some people jump in and learn to swim, other run for the beach and disappear. I read f&f regularly to see if there are newbies or regulars who are posting something that I am interested in, to be reminded of the basics and because I feel like I owe it to Hatrack to give back when I can.
Newbies will come and go, I think it is up to everyone as individuals to judge who they wish to mentor or become writing friends with and who to ignore. Even after being here for quite some time I still am not as confident about critiquing on f&f as I should. And for those of you who haven't been checking out f&f, there are some very strong writers who are over there supporting the newbies -- several of which have posted to this thread.

[This message has been edited by Kickle (edited November 19, 2005).]


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JmariC
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Here's my two cents:

.01) re: Posts that /seem/ like no reading of the thread was done.
I would like to present a simple hypothetical example.

FirstPost: What is this thing?
Reply 1 : That is a large, perennial, woody plant. Also considered a botanical organism with a solid but branching trunk, not many collateral stems.
Reply 2 : It's a tree.

They both say the same thing, but they say it in a different way. One description may be easier for the original poster to understand than another. I find this happens often with discussing writing. Some times a when a person asks about POV I won't understand some of the posts, but then some one will say the say thing in a different way that suddenly makes sense. Repetion is only bad if it is the exact same words. Different perspectives can be helpful and sometimes a person will say the same thing as some one else to start with but then will take it in a new direction that can also be helpful. As far as feedback goes, it's better to understand a majority feeling a character isn't developed than to have several different people each trying to find some thing else to pick at and not mentioning that they felt the big problem was character development. Kind of like when someone had 30 critics back for one piece of writing. The majority said to focus on the critics that were the same as that can signify something that needs to be fixed more than one or two mentions of something else.

.01) re: New people posting fragements and not giving feedback or just leaving.
That's going to happen. Just like trolls will happen. When I first came here I lurked for a bit, but I really wanted to get involved. I didn't start posting in the Open Discussions, but I read from there. After a while I posted something in F&F. I had other things to post, but I waited until my first post was no longer within the first 3 pages of threads. I didn't feel confident in my criticing abilities, since I had never done such for anyone but a friend who asks for an opinion. I didn't want to go shooting off my mouth and giving people bad advise. I knew I had (have) a lot to learn and felt that uneducated answers may not be so appreciated. I did eventually try to participate and even offered a full critic of someones story. Since then we've had the How to Critic thread and I understand now that my method of criticing isn't terribly appreciated. I like to break things down sentence by sentence to help locate errors and such. I like to give too detailed critics and I want the same back, but I know now that I am not likely to get that. Since then I've learned to give a 3 stage critic. A basic feeling of the work, a more detailed critic and then I offer my line by line breakdown. I haven't had anyone take me up on it yet, but maybe someday it will happen.
I now no longer go to F&F and I get very confused when an thread shows up here that has to do with a specific situation in F&F.
It's nothing against F&F, it's just me. Instead I plan on staying around the Open discussions section and learning through intellegent conversation. Next month (read:after Nano) I'll be looking at joining either Critters or OWW, because they encourage a line by line critic and that's what I want.
In the meantime, if you spend time in F&F I'm sure you can figure out who you often see as a reply instead of as a First Post. Each person in a bulleten board enviroment has to be in charge of their own mental killfile/scorefile.

Personally, I don't agree with restricting F&F at all. If someone wants to jump in feet first and make a 13 line post for feedback, let them. As I recall, I posted 13 lines before I ever gave anyone else feed back because it's easier for me to take criticism than to dish it out to some stranger knowing that other people will be reading my words and possibly making decisions about my knowledge level based on what I say to someone else. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has felt this way. I know my work is not me, so I can easily maintain the seperation. It's not so easy if someone slams my opinion. My point of view, beliefs and opinions are part of me. They are subject to change as life goes on, but that doesn't make them less a part of my character, thus critics of my critic would not be taken so well. So I didn't offer feedback to others until I felt I understood enough on the subject. I read alot of posts before I found 13 lines that I felt confident to reply to.
If you lock out someone from posting their 13 lines until they have made a requisite number of replies in F&F, then you might be preventing someone who is reading and not repeating other posts or reading and learning from getting the feedback that brought them there.

Inadvertantly I have also shown another point. This post is long. Kudo's to anyone who can get all the way through it before replying.

More coffee. Yep, that's what I need.


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JmariC
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Oh, one more thing:

I didn't understand the theory of "Criticing helps writers learn" until after quite a while hanging out at Liberty Hall. I have to give critics there (and I don't mind at all). It wasn't until someone posted a story with an OMNI POV that I finally understood what /I've/ been doing wrong, based on the things they did that was so much more right. At that moment it became more than "Learn from others mistakes" and became "Gather knowledge from examples". I've also noticed that my critics have improved (at least I think so) and are more specific without being nitpicky or line by line breakdowns.
New people who post 13 lines but not feedback may still be lurking and not have learned that giving feedback is just as important as receiving feedback for a writer.

And another tidbit for the original subject of reading the posts:
I read the posts, but threads grow over the progress of days and what I read 3 days ago may have been forgotten. I may repeat on accident because I forgot someone else already said that.

That is all.

[This message has been edited by JmariC (edited November 19, 2005).]


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sojoyful
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quote:
Kick me if this is too drastic...

These are all good points. I'll consider myself kicked.


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Totty472
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as a relative newcomer, i feel i speak for others when i say that non critique of other work can be a form of shyness. As in, 'i am new, what right have i to say what's wrong.' Yet because you are all polished writers, they feel your opinion is worth asking. Though i agree critisim should be listened too. I have not been to F&F yet, as my internet time is severly limited, and at mo, just enjoying listening to other writers talking about probs that i have suffered alone with for last seven years.
worried that if only 'known'posters can reply, will clics be formed that stop people like me form submitting

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pantros
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no one will stop you or people like you from submitting.

If you submit twelve stories and never offer any advice to anyone else, people will have issues with you. But, by seeing your activeness on this part of the board, I doubt you will have that problem. You seem more than willing to provide your 2c. and that is a good thing here.

edit: repuntuated to mean what i meant.

[This message has been edited by pantros (edited November 22, 2005).]


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Elan
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Totty472, you will find that everyone -- polished writer or not -- will appreciate your opinions. If you are a reader, you have valuable insight into how you perceived the first 13 lines of a story. Does it hook you in and make you want to read more? Do you see flaws in the writing? Does it leave you confused? No need to feel shy in the F&F forum. It's for everyone!
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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quote:
As you can see, I still have a pretty fresh memory of being a newbie. Kathleen, if you think a critique primer has merit but you don't have time or inclination to do it, I would offer my services to draw up a rough draft sometime after this weekend is over.

Elan, I've attempted something of the sort here:

http://www.hatrack.com/forums/writers/forum/Forum6/HTML/000002.html

Please let me know if you think there is anything else I should add.


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Elan
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Kathleen, I would address one issue up front, and that is the fact that new people are shy and reluctant to post critiques to the F&F.

The biggest hesitation I think new people have (I know *I* had it, and I've seen several other people admit to this as well), is they don't feel qualified.

Addressing this issue clearly and up front will let them know to take the plunge.

I suggest something along the lines of:

WHO IS QUALIFIED TO CRITIQUE IN F&F?
You. We encourage new members to jump right in and participate by offering critiques and comments. You are already pre-qualified by the very fact that you have expressed an interest in learning more about writing through joining Hatrack. Everyone's opinion is valuable on Hatrack, new members as well as old-timers.

You can let the writer know if the story hooked you (made you want to read more), if it was clear to you or left you dazed in confusion. No one is more qualified to express your opinion than you. So jump right on in; don't be shy!


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Monolith
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I wholeheartedly agree with Elan on this one.
Jump right in and let the author know how the story grabs you or if it doesn't.

There's been times that I've been hesitant to post the only things that I've written on the F&F board, because I want to finish what I've started.

Sometimes it takes fresh eyes to give the author insight on what might help make his/her work better. And those fresh eyes are the eyes of the new people around here.

This is getting to be a long post for me, so let me reiterate what has been mostly said already: Jump in and offer crits, even if it's to let the poster know that it didn't hook you.

Good luck and jump in you newbies.

-Monolith-


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pantros
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Mention somewhere that its okay to be wrong. No biggie at all, someone will correct you and then everybody learns what is right.

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franc li
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I'm not sure I'd go so far as "it's okay to be wrong." It's okay to turn out not to be right, and sometimes the only way to find out is to post something.
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Spaceman
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quote:
that moment it became more than "Learn from others mistakes" and became "Gather knowledge from examples

It's both, and you learn critiquing from having your work critiqued. If you get the chance to have your work critiqued by someone who has been through the bootcamp, pay close attention to how it was done. Your growth as a writer isn't smooth, it comes in spurts, with awareness and epiphanies that you might not even be aware of. I stopped going to F&F for a few months while I was busy with Codex (another site that has some fairly strict access requirements), and when I came back,I was astonished at how much I was seeing in other peoples' writing. Keep at it, and you'll have those growth spurts, too.


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Jakare
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I am a newbie here, and I know that I was intimidated about writing new posts. Especially when I still had the 'New Member' designation under my name. It was only when I saw another newbie really jump in and send a lot of different posts that I really got any confidence. I started to post, and even if people didn't find my advice useful, it became useful to me.

This was a great help to me, as it has been a really long time since I have written anything. I found once again that I really enjoy writing, on almost any subject. I know that the critiqueing helped me out, but I was intimidated, and sometimes still am, when I have a difference of opinion with a long standing member.

I wanted to be an active member right away, I read some of the FAQ, F&F, and more, but I didn't feel part of the group. I was grateful for the 'Please introduce yourself section', and I don't know if there is some way that we might take it one step further. If we could have a mentor program, or someone to offer person to person encouragement. Someone to relate personal experiences, instead of just a quick post saying "Welcome, blah blah make sure you post feedback, as you learn more from critiqueing than you do from being critiqued." I have been as guilty of this myself, and it is a pity. I know that there are many people who must become intimidated, or disillusioned, and yet they have invaluble feedback to give to everyone.

This may also not be the way to go, as some have insinuated earlier. This might be a way to weed out those who don't have the real desire or drive to right. We all have to some point an insatiable desire to write our thoughts and ideas. This desire impels us to not only write but to share, and overcome any embarrasment of maybe critiqueing erroneously, etc. So is the beginning of this process like a chick who gains it's strength by breaking out of it's shell, or is it something like teaching a kid to ride a bike, where you help them to start, but then let go? I don't know the answer, but it sure is a interesting topic to debate about.

So there are my post midnight ramblings. I hope they make some kind of sense.


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Elan
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The idea of a mentor program, while a good one in theory, isn't too practical. Mentorship is something that takes time, and most of us are pressed for time simply to write. The mentorship we are ABLE to give, we give here, in bite-sized doses that fit into our hectic lives.

Honestly, there is one person on this website who is an awesome mentor, and that person is Orson Scott Card. Take advantage of what he has to teach, both in the "Uncle Orson's Writing Class" section of this site, his books, and the lessons posted by Bootcamp survivors.

When 'old-timers' here tell newbies "you learn more by critiquing than you do from being critiqued," the new people file that under "Isn't that nice to know?" information in their minds. What newbies don't realize is that the old-timers are telling you: This is the Road to Enlightenment.

Doing thoughtful, thorough critiques of other writers' work is essential if you want to be on the fast track to learn.

The bonus is that it also integrates you into the group at the same time. Getting to see a writer's larger potential by reviewing a manuscript in its entirety is a lot of fun. When you start developing those one-on-one connections, you begin to feel you belong.

The thing I love most about joining Hatrack has been to feel, for the first time in my life, that I belong to a community of people who understand my obsession with writing. Never before have I talked about the mechanics of writing with people who understood, who understood the concept of a character dictating the writing for you, of being caught rehearsing dialog aloud, of the high you get from penning a particularly pithy piece of prose.

These are my people.

And the only way I became a part of the community was to step into it. It's really not scary after all. No one gets surly unless you are vulgar or rude. (And frankly, you will find a similar reaction from folk in every other walk of life, so you might as well get used to it.)

I wish there was some way to impress upon the newbies the fact that the only thing that keeps you on the "outside" is to refuse to take the steps required to get to the "inside."

Critique. Participate. Critique. Post. Critique. Those are the names of the steps required to step "inside."

(Edited because this teeny-tiny box we have to use isn't too conducive to proofreading.)

[This message has been edited by Elan (edited November 26, 2005).]


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sojoyful
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quote:
As in, 'i am new, what right have i to say what's wrong.' Yet because you are all polished writers, they feel your opinion is worth asking.

Funny, my feeling was just the opposite:

"I am a typical run-of-the-mill reader without any professional writing experience, therefore my input will reflect the reaction that a typical run-of-the-mill reader might have. Since most readers are run-of-the-mill folks, my feedback will be useful."

AND

"These folks are more experienced, polished writers, and I don't want to insult their intelligence by wasting their time with my amateurish crud."

That's how I felt, anyway. So hopefully by offering my run-of-the-mill observations, I will learn enough to promote my work to intermediate crud.

[This message has been edited by sojoyful (edited November 26, 2005).]


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hoptoad
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cheeky bump

[This message has been edited by hoptoad (edited January 12, 2006).]


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Johnmac1953
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Well I've been here a few days...I've read this thread and I don't pretend that I remember all of the points made in these posts. However I do know how I felt...I felt out of my depth, but critiques were asked for so I give them, my opinion is just as valid as anyone else's.So far I have not summoned up the courage to submit any of my work...it is a fear (shrug) I'll probably get over it, but until then I'll critique. I will also contribute to threads like this because I'm enjoying it!
Whether my contributions to this Group help another writer only they will know.
My years of isolation are now over - I could not go back into my shell, I'm enjoying this too much - long may it continue...
Best Wishes
John Mc...

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