“Any publicity is good publicity.”
It would be equally true to say: “Any feedback is good feedback”. It merely depends on what you choose to do with it.
Recently, I managed to figure out a way to shoehorn a bit of (selfish) feedback by making one of the questions for our Liebster Award nomination how other bloggers felt about and perceived our blog, The Well-Red Mage. We managed to get a few choice quotes from some very nice people, and I’ll want to home in on the strengths that they listed and emphasize those with the idea of diminishing the impact of our weaknesses.
Because let’s be honest: we’re not perfect. The Well-Red Mage, contrary to popular belief, is not perfect. I’m not perfect. But I can reach degrees of better or worse and one of the great ways to become better is by learning how to receive quality, constructive feedback whether good or bad.
The problem is: this is the internet. And generally feedback is far from constructive, far from qualitative. Generally it’s ad hominem and straw men. Just look at the comments on YouTube which range from cruel to illiterate. In 2016, it’s tough to have an opinion without facing some faceless opposition on the web which may wind up labeling you an idiot, a retard or just fat and dumb, or a number of expletives.
So what is the blogger to do with poor feedback? Act like an adult, avoid getting defensive, and learn.
Case in point (somewhat): I was eye-balling some of our metrics recently to see how we can improve when I discovered that we’ve received about 25 views from Reddit since our blog’s inception. What’s strange about that is I never visit Reddit and so far as I know we’ve nothing to do with the place. I found out some kind soul shared a few of our reviews there! “So shines a good deed in a weary world.” The Well-Red Mage salutes you, nameless soldier.
I also came across this reply someone wrote:
“One thing I don’t really like is the whole separation of categories (Graphics, Story, Difficulty, etc.). Games are cohesive experiences, and the reviews should be as well. Breaking out the categories seems really amateurish. It’s much better if you can touch on the different elements in a cohesive, organic way. You’d never read a film broken down into Acting, Script, Cinematography, Score, etc., or a music review with Vocals, Production, Lyrics, etc.”
There was a link to our blog following the statement as an example of this kind of review style. There’s no hiding it. We’ve stuck to the same format for our reviews since the dawn of the Mages, deliberately deciding to utilize both a “cohesive” body of text and a broken down score system for various elements of the game in order to accomplish two things:
1. Appeal to who don’t care to read long posts by delivering quick and accessible to find info and scores, and 2. Appeal to people who still like to read posts with personality that sound more like narration than like grading homework.
There could be a third reason which is that personally this helps me to write the in-depth reviews that I want to write by having the scores present so I don’t forget about any elements.
So, to reiterate, it seems to me that some people just really don’t want to skim through a whole post to find isolated information, like how good the multiplayer in a game is or how hard it is. I fit into this category. Reading and writing as much as I do, while still making time for the most important things in life, takes up so much energy that I rarely read entire blog articles. Sorry, everybody I follow. I scan posts for the information I want. But if a post is too long, it’s too time-consuming to try to find the information I want beneath all of the fluff or other important but not relevant info.
Then there are the people who do like to read the body of a review without the grades. This is motivating to me to write that portion of our reviews better! And I’m glad that we chose to have that portion present. But is there really a way that reviews “should be” written? I’m not a professional gaming journalist, but how many home-brew bloggers are? Writing is a subjective territory! And furthermore, Metacritic, IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes use scoring systems for film! AND further furthermore, I have indeed read film reviews that break down a movie into separate scores like “family friendliness” or “originality” or “plot”!
*Ahem* Now… lest someone say I’m becoming defensive, let me assure you I’m not. “Amateurish” is a word that stabs a little wound in my soft flesh, but I’d be a fool not to learn from this statement. Still, I won’t be changing our format any time soon. I can’t try to make myself seem more scholarly than I am by avoiding seeming amateurish to someone of Reddit. What then have I learned?
You can’t appeal to everyone. Also, the quote shows me the benefit of the cohesive body of the review which would appeal more to that person, just talking about what we did or didn’t like about the game without the scoring like any individual would in ordinary conversation. We would hope that we’ve chosen a path that could appeal to both types of reader.
Feedback can hurt sometimes, but take it like an adult. The best word of advice you can get for online interactions is “don’t get offended”.
I’m not sure if any of you struggle with taking criticism or have been hurt in the past by it, but if so, you have my empathy. Yeah it can be hard to take. You may never know why a total stranger chose to say something to you that they wouldn’t have otherwise said to your face, except for the internet. However, there’s no point in devolving into an argument with the person who gives a poor opinion of you. Learn from it.
“Any feedback is good feedback!” Feedback is one of the most valuable things your readers can give you. So bring it on, NPCs!
“I believe whatever doesn’t kill you simply makes you… stranger.”
-The Well-Red Mage