Home « Forum « Editors/Reviewers Hangout

Forum: Editors/Reviewers Hangout

Reviewers Rejoyce!

richardshagrin

Management (Lazeez--I got it right!) has graciously given us a corner to well, hang out. (Zip up that fly).

It has been discussed elsewhere (see Bug spray) that reviews may or may not give Appeal to Reviewer scores less than six. I actually gave a 5 once, but felt bad about it. I explained I wanted to see why all of the author's other stories were 8s or above (well one was 7.99 that day) except the one I reviewed. I consoled my self it was a collaboration for the first couple of chapters, which was all I could read. Not with a current author here, and there were situations designed to test my ability to suspend disbelief beyond what I could endure. The author sent a very nice email, indicating I used the wrong School of Business as the one that educated one of the King's advisors.

I love one of his other stories, but somebody beat me to reviewing it and with certain exceptions (like the old review is ten years old) reviews should help bring attention to stories that haven't had reviews before. Your opinion may vary. If you strongly disagree with the first reviewer it might be worth while to be the second reviewer.

There are a lot of reviewers who don't do very many reviews before they seem to give it up as a bad job. Compared to being an author, its easy, IMHO. I just need to be careful to review stories I like. I like a lot of them. I try to wait until a story is complete, but there are other editors who beat me to the best stories that way. The reason I like to review complete stories is that mostly I don't read stories until they are complete. I broke that rule with Banadin's Ricky Jackson Saga Ninth Grade. I got all the way to the 25th chapter before I decided other people should know how great the story was. I admit the final chapter, 40, lacked a little plot, but it was a list of books the hero had read in the other chapters. On that list is a story Banadin is going to post next. I am going to try hard not to review it until it is complete. Impulse control, that's my problem.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

Ha-ha. A LOT of stories have bad endings. Sometimes an author gets to a planned ending, and the pieces just don't mesh properly.

You shouldn't be afraid to post a second review. Reviews aren't a one-time only thing. On most review sites (say, Goodreads or Amazon), decent stories will have plenty of reviews, which often disagree with each other. The idea isn't to be the only one bringing attention to someone, it's to point out why you found the story intriguing. Even if you didn't like how he handled credit, you can acknowledge what he accomplished, and point out where the story fell didn't work. The idea isn't to blast or praise someone, but to highlights what makes the story unique, and why reading (or not reading it) is a worthwhile endeavor.

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

I agree although it may be against management policy to suggest not reading a story you, or especially I, review. I have done it, a second review, no I think I did either a third or fourth review of Dance of a Lifetime. I had subtitles I wanted to suggest. Because it was so long, Warrens Piece. And because the Heroine was named Sophia, Sophia's Choice. I guess it was funnier in my mind than typed on the page. Its all tens, of course.

If the review isn't funny somewhere, or at least peculiar, likely it isn't my review.

The problem is that there are 37,411 stories on SOL last time I looked and probably less than a thousand reviews. All those unrevieved stories need to be evaluated and recommended if they are good. I don't get paid, but its my job.

I can't write a story, I have tried in my head and it doesn't work. Which may be why there are holes in my head. Eyes, ears, nostrils, mouth and don't forget the throat. Plus all the places that used to have hair follicles.

As long as I am gibbering, lets discuss what the numbers mean at the bottom of the review. In theory you get a choice of all integers between one and ten. The management is likely to unpost reviews with lots of low numbers, and below five is definitely low. So I have my own little grading system. 6 is a C. Average. 7 is a B. above average. 8 is an A. good. 9 is an A plus. Ten is a once a month, if that, reward for stories better than almost any other. There aren't any stories posted on SOL with scores over 9.7 that I am aware of. Theoretical perfection.

If you give tens to all the stories you read, you have been very lucky finding the very best of the best. I am aware other reviewers and people who score stories as they read them do not agree. I have been guilty of some grade inflation myself. But if they are all tens, how will people know which ones I liked the best?

Replies:   Lumpy  Crumbly Writer
Lumpy

@richardshagrin

Something that surprises me is I have looked at some reviewers who have reviewed 20+ stories, and 18 of them have 10s across the board. I'm not saying they are all good, but what are the odds that every story they review is as good as it can be?

But, I am also confused by the site ratings and review ratings in general. Why have a 1-10 rating when there are no ratings for anything lower than like a 5 or 6? Is every story here above average or better? (since a 5 out of 10 should be, average, ya know)

Ernest Bywater

@Lumpy

I know a couple of people who've done a few reviews, and they don't do 10s across the board, but they both say they usually don't put in the time to write a review unless they like the story (in which case it will rate high in some aspects), or they were specifically asked to write a review of it (in one case the only story they have with everything below 5), or there's something in it that strikes a cord with them (good or bad). In one case the reviewer loved the plot and the story kept him reading, but the quality of the writing was very bad - mostly bad grammar and spelling - so that part got a low score and the other two parts high scores.

So scores below 5 aren't taboo, just not liked, and not that likely since most reviewers only write reviews on what they like.

richardshagrin

@Lumpy

Somewhere Lazeez discusses the rating system, its well thought out and a good guide for the reader. Its not for authors. Its ok if they look at it, but they are not supposed to get upset by it. I will repeat my understanding of it and I am sure someone will correct my errors. The scores are adjusted by a formula that keeps the stories in the same order as their raw score average (with some of the top and bottom scores removed to help keep the fanboys and the haters under control and let the middle of the voting public do their thing rating the stories they cared enough about to vote on. So the average score gets adjusted to 6.0. If stories are distributed on a normal curve (and with so many data points the chances are they are, when n exceeds 40 other possible distributions are less likely.) In a past life I majored in Business Statistics and Operations Research. I have forgotten a lot of it, but I do remember the bell curve is described by the mean and the standard deviation. I expect the mean is six and the standard deviation is one. So pretty close to two thirds of all scores fall between five and seven. Of the remaining third, half are above seven and half below five. Only a few percent of those are above eight or below four. Very, Very few would be nine or more or three or less. My expectation matchs pretty well when I cruise the author pages. I looked at all the authors whose names begin with A. I think the distribution fits fairly well. If you look at the most popular stories you see 8s and 9s. Well the most popular of 37,000 plus stories would be up in those ranges. And a lot of stories are in the 5s and 6s.

If I didn't satisfy, please ask someone else who knows more about it.

Replies:   Lumpy
Lumpy

@richardshagrin

I get the way Lazeez does it. There have been a bunch of posts before explaining it. I guess I am saying, why have a 1-4 if nothing gets a 1-4.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Lumpy

The scoring is explained here:

http://storiesonline.net/help.php?cmd=getAnswer&id=8

I can assure you, there are people who score at 4 and below, I can see them every time I look at the raw scores on my stories. I've few people who dislike me and ans soon as story goes up they give it a score of 1 without reading it. This is clear due to the score being given to the first chapter of a multi-chapter story. Most people wait and score after it's finished.

richardshagrin

Research, I actually did research. Well I looked at the first fifty stories that start with the letter A. And two of them had scores less than five. The lowest was 4.3. And at least one wasn't scored. That's more than 4% below 5. Of course when you get that far out on the bell curve, randomness can be found somewhat easier than near the center. There were more scores over 8 than I expected, too. One possible reason is that the scoring adjustment did not occur when SOL started, there are older stories where the mean may not be 6 and the standard deviation might be different than 1. I recall seeing a story in the 2s although I don't know where. I'd have to do more research than its worth to me to find it again. But just like there are really really high scores, there are lows to pretty much match them. Not to two or three decimal places, but roughly.

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@richardshagrin

Richard, considering the site (and reviewer) not wanting to pan stories, that why I emphasized reviews (even negative ones) should focus on what works, rather than on what doesn't. Readers don't really care why the author isn't the next Stephen King, they want to know why they should read this particular story. Even if the story ultimately fails, you should emphasize what the author brings to the story, the genre and the readers. Focus on what he does well, and then, at the end, briefly list where the story fell apart.

I wouldn't attack a story over these issues, simply pointing them out is fine. The reader will make of them what they will. What's more, the author will be more receptive if 1) you're polite in your review, 2) you start out on a positive note, and 3) you provide him with details he can use in improving his story.

Lumpy, considering grade inflation, often it's a matter of a reviewer, like Richard, only reviewing stories they like. There are no low scoring reviews, because the reviewers, like the readers, will bail on a bad story instead of finishing. On the other hand, for every 100 reviewers who give all 10s, you'll have one who'll rank every single review a 1, no matter how good they are (luckily all of these type of reviews seem to live on Amazon).

The other thing I'll comment on (since I don't want to post a half-dozen comments) is that I think it's a wonderful courtesy for reviewers to notify and send the author a copy of the review before it's posted. This often will generate a communication, where the author will work with the reviewer to improve their stories (even if they're rants).

Lumpy, the reason why you have a one to ten system that doesn't include 1 - 4 is that those reviews don't add anything. If a story is bad, it's bad and it won't get read. That's why I emphasize focusing on what works, and then merely suggest what doesn't (so the author can potentially fix it, or so the reader can understand what the author's issues are). You don't need to belittle the author, but you want them to know what their problems are.

Ernest, as I've discussed before, I pay attention to my chapter-by-chapter score valuations, and I can guarantee you, each of my 1-voters reads Every chapter of mine, usually within one or two days. They vote one for a specific, single reason (generally politics or squicks), and not because they don't think the story is good.

Richard, one final note, I suspect you'll find most of those story scores 4 or below are due to quicks (stories about eating shit, babies or gay stories, etc.)

jimh67

If the reason for a negative review is explained, it might well lead me to read the story. If a reviewer says that he doesn't like a fantasy story or novel because there is not enough world building or the magic system is not fully explained that's a POSITIVE for me because for me, those things get in the way of the flow of the narrative and bore me to tears.

jimh67

If the reason for a negative review is explained, it might well lead me to read the story. If a reviewer says that he doesn't like a fantasy story or novel because there is not enough world building or the magic system is not fully explained that's a POSITIVE for me because for me, those things get in the way of the flow of the narrative and bore me to tears.

richardshagrin
Updated:

Guilty for (mostly) only reviewing stories I like. Celeste reviewed whatever crossed her desk (I may be wrong there, but there is a wider variety of stories she looked at than almost any other reviewer. And she was a lot closer to your suggestion/ideal of a reviewer. I looked at some of her reviews before I gave my five to Morgan, and was quite apprehensive about it. LaZeez has been a lot more supportive of me cruising all over his rules/guidelines for reviewers but maybe not quite breaking them, I hope. The clear part of those lets call them rules, is to not cause any writer to want to stop writing stories and posting them on either SOL or Fine Stories, or ideally both. If they qualify for both, and lots do, at least with very little editing. Can be as simple as taking out a profane interjection and substituting Shoot! or Ouch!

And only one story per review. Sol readers and writers might get confused which story you are talking about if you review an entire series, or more than one of the stories an author has written. Entertain, reviewers too are in the entertainment business, or nobody will read their poor rants. We share with authors the desire for our pen names to generate praise, not flames.

Although I am not as sure about all authors not wanting to get flames. I understand your character will not be valid or interesting unless he cooks and eats babies, but you are going to either not get read, if the story description is accurate or lots and lots of ones. Don't expect me to review your story, I have plenty of other stories I could read and like. Similarly for vampire and zombie stories. Yours might be the best one of that genre ever written, I don't want to read it. I though about saying "Sorry", but since I don't mean it, how about "Have a nice day". Most of the clerks who say that to me don't mean it either.

Peter_H

When I asked to be allowed to review stories (on suggestion by an author) I was told (loosely paraphrased) that the idea of reviews was to encourage authors and that negative reviews weren't desired on the site.

Ok, I've stuck to that. I have come across a few stories where I thought "yeesh, people should be warned off this crap" but I refrain from doing so, because of The Word. And, well, folk will find out for themselves I guess.

I save my tear-em-up reviews for Amazon and Goodreads :-D

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Peter_H

I have come across a few stories where I thought "yeesh, people should be warned off this crap" but I refrain from doing so, because of The Word. And, well, folk will find out for themselves I guess.

Most readers get pretty good about avoiding stories they don't like. Instead, they'd look to reviews to find recommended stories. However, even if you review ones you like, you should mention any negative aspects about the story (ex: "His grasp of football is bad, and his dialogues are weak, but his characters are really strong.").

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Crumbly Writer

They are so strong they bench-press hundreds of pounds.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@richardshagrin

They are so strong they bench-press hundreds of pounds.


Well, several hundred pounds in twenty pound notes weights less than a kilogram!

Back to Top