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Critiquing suggestion

Posted by Eka 15 years ago


This is a post that I've been meaning to write for a while. It is not inspired by anyone in particular, but my own critique toward the criticism we have found in many communities as a whole. I am not a stellar example of giving or receiving good criticism. So, hopefully this post will encourage myself, and perhaps others, into a more… shall we say, “efficient“ attitude toward criticism.

Drawing and writing, for business, personal, or even entertainment like fan fiction and fantasy, as soon as we involve the word “Art”, it becomes a personal thing. We cannot help but make strong emotional connections to our creative work. For us, it is more than work, it is a performance, an unique presentation of ourselves, whether we express ourselves through writing, pictures, sculpture, music, or more. This, of course, is not a bad thing. But it can lead to conflicts when we feel that our “personal stuff” is being pointed out as a problem or a shortcoming in someone else's perspective. Some people might even go out of their way to attack others with their criticism, but even then, you can still learn something.

When responding to criticism…

- Don't make excuses. If you just don’t care to put much effort into your work, for whatever reason, guess what? That is fine! It is also ok if you just don’t care to fix a particular mistake, or even, intentionally make it. None of these matter. However, do try your best not to make excuses for doing what you did. That tends to make your critics feel unappreciated at best, and that you intentionally wasted their time analyzing your work.

- Don’t be defensive. It is alright to disagree with someone, but being defensive is a different thing. For example, if someone says “I think you drew the left hand too long” and you agree. Why not just agree with them? There is no point in distracting them with saying things like, “Yeah but the fingers are very proportional, I don’t want to ruin that by fixing it.” unless you feel that your critic might benefit from your own perspective.

- Don’t judge your critic too fast. Sometimes when you look at something, all you can see are the parts that you dislike. Once you have seen something, it cannot be unseen! So do understand that, even when the comments don’t have anything positive, it doesn’t mean the person hates you, they might even actually like that piece of work! Just be careful about how you read critical comments. Most, if not all the time, assuming the person is trying to be helpful is the best course of action.

- Don’t feed the trolls. This one is just obvious, if someone is being an ass, delete their comment, report them, or just ignore them. Don’t let them bring you to their level, or they WILL beat you. With experience.

- Do thank your critics. Disagreement happens, and it is not the end of the world. Even if you disagree with what someone said, or if you aren't planning on working on it more, criticism might still influence you in the future. You never know! Thank them for their time and effort. Reward the good behavior, and good behavior will happen more often.

~ Above all, do not take criticism personally.

When writing criticism…

- Don’t fixate on the negative. As they say, “you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” When making a comment remember to put in the positive things you see too, so the negativity doesn’t get all the attention. Even if you can’t think of anything, be encouraging. Be sincere, do try not to make up something just to be “fake nice". There's a difference between being tactful and being false.

- Be respectful, even if you disagree. Just follow the same policy as responding to criticism; be respectful and everything will work out just fine.

- If you feel qualified, offer advice. Sometimes artists or writers could use more guidance than just having what is wrong pointed out -- they need to be pointed in the correct direction to fixing it. But if they are more qualified than you, be respectful about it. "ur grammer sux needs moar oral vore" never helped anyone.

~ Above all, don't give criticism personally.

Some people benefit from criticism more than others. Some people do well at spotting deficiencies in their own work, but everyone has had that moment where you have a feeling something is wrong, but just can’t put your finger on what! So even if they don’t tell you how to improve it, it can still help you brainstorm in new directions. If you need help, ask for it nicely.

The key point here is respect! Even if you think someone is being disrespectful, that is not an excuse to be rude in return. Show your class, instead of fueling rudeness with rudeness, and we'll have a much more enjoyable community.
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Posted by Eka 15 years ago Report

Oh and, thanks to Phantelle and ImRhys for editing and suggestions!


Posted by Jurodan 15 years ago Report

I agree. How you receive a critique is just as important as how you give a critique. I enjoy responding to critiques more than simple praise. If you can find something wrong with my story, I'd like to hear it so I can avoid doing it again the next time I work on a story. Sometimes, asking a few questions about the story, for clarification, may also bring up some interesting thoughts.


Posted by Teni 15 years ago Report

some good advice :)


Posted by Deleteduser_120 14 years ago Report

I think that's some very good advice. I've had people on FanFiction (which I haven't visited since August 2007) respond with quite abhorrent defence on some stories which I've given negative reviews, one of which had actually plaigirized the lyrics of several well-known songs. I was even told by one user to get off their back when I reviewed a particularly badly written story. I'm a person who rates hard no matter who I'm reviewing, and do not judge only on the basis of what they think of my work (which I have seen some people do). Find something wrong with my work, and I can correct the respective mistake with a compliment for pointing it out. Praise or insult my work with constructive language and I'll likely appreciate it more because of the points stated; the more detail the better. Simple, right? :-D


Posted by JoeBro 14 years ago Report

Thanks for the tips, Eka! :D

I'll be sure to follow them! :)

(Btw, plz rate my stories for constructive criticism; I sure need it! lol)


Posted by von-de-rush 13 years ago Report

ok I agree I do not mind criticism


Posted by voreme 13 years ago Report

I'm looking forward to critisism when I get my gallery every idea people have will be tried to be put into the next drawing and I'll ask them in the discription after I'm done describing if it suits what they wanted. I'm open to all ideas and this post shows me how to take it even better thank you eka!


Posted by AwesomeAustin21 12 years ago Report

I feel that being crituqued will make the writer, artist or whomever strive to do better work instead of them not noticing a major flaw that affects their overall work.


Posted by GTSdev 11 years ago Report

A very neat thumbnail Eka. It's good to keep all this in mind :) thanks.


Posted by sweetladyamy 8 years ago Report

I must admit, I'm not much of a critic, but I've always kept respect, and more importantly, neutrality in mind. Meaning that, more or less, I don't say things that would indicate support or discontent with the subject matter, not in a critique anyway. Now, if I'm just commenting/complimenting, neutrality can be tossed out the window, to a degree.

" 'ur grammer sux needs moar oral vore' never helped anyone."

I often deal with improper spelling/grammar, so much so I can translate it. I do try to help with that as I can; I was academically 'blessed', so to speak (not to brag).


Posted by DRayElliott 8 years ago Report

Y'know, that saying "you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar," I don't know about that. I volunteer at my local food bank, and we can have a serious gnat problem. I created a gnat trap out of a clear plastic solo cup, cling wrap with some holes in the top, and cider vinegar inside. Works like a charm. If you think about it, vinegar smells like rotting fruit, and flies love rotting things. Plus it has a much stronger odor than honey, so it's a better attracter.


Posted by Detective 7 years ago Report

There is definitely a difference between constructive criticism and downright trying to hurt feelings...lean towards the former and give good advice rather than just saying something is crap. Well that's my two cents at least


Posted by AraHaan 3 years ago Report

Not to mention those who use people only to treat them like total crap later. And then you give them multiple chances only for each time they end up doing the same thing. I just hate how people be like: "You messed this up, you cant do anything right." or in those lines. Like heck I might not know something but they do not know what the fck I can do. Just because I might be good in normal irl art but suck at making computer art, or am good a programming but not good at programming a webapi does not make me magically "not good at anything.". People just need to learn to keep their mouths shut, or just not message when they got nothing good to say.