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What is the value of having a review?

anim8ed

What is the value of having a review?

You may think this is a silly question for a reviewer to ask. I am asking both readers and authors to tell me honestly how much they pay attention to the reviews. Reader, does a review affect your decision to read a particular story? Author, has any review changed how you write your stories? Is their anything in particular you want to see in a review that would give it more value?

Basically as it stands now most reviews are little more than a favorites list of the reviewer and if no one is paying them any attention what is the point of expending time and mental energy on writing and posting reviews. If anyone out there actually uses reviews I may find enough motivation to return to writing them. I suspect that is not the case so I throw the question to the masses.

aubie56

Yes, I have occasionally used a review to decide whether or not to read a story. No, I have never had a review modify how I write a story.

Replies:   anim8ed
anim8ed

@aubie56

Yes, I have occasionally used a review to decide whether or not to read a story.


Was it anything in the review or was it just the fact that it had been reviewed?

Crumbly Writer

@anim8ed

Honestly, I don't even know how to find a list of Reviewers. The only time I notice reviews, is when they're listed for a particular author (or my author dashboard shows I have one). I consider them like 'Author Recommendations', it's nice, but they're too infrequent to be a dependable source for locating interesting stories.

If Laz could find a better way of highlighting them, it would probably boost the number of reviews and increase their relevance.

Replies:   anim8ed  sejintenej
ustourist

@anim8ed

As a reader I pay attention to all reviews, though do have my own opinion about the value of some reviewers.
They have drawn my attention to stories I would otherwise have missed.
They have encouraged me to read a story now, rather than defer it.
On a couple of occasions they have been so fulsome in praise I was turned off reading the story as it came over as a fan review and not an objective one.

I like information on readability, plot continuity, and overall quality. Comparison to other stories by the same author only works for established readers of that author anyway, so is preaching to the choir. When part of an open universe it helps to know if the author is original or just regurgitating the same story line others have done.

Out of interest, is there any log of how many times reviews are read? That may help answer part of your overall question.

Replies:   anim8ed
Ernest Bywater

@anim8ed

some people read the reviews to decide if the story is worth reading, however, most reviews are done well after the story is no longer on the SOL front page and the review gets the title back on the front page for a while, and thus back before the new readers.

Replies:   anim8ed
anim8ed

@Crumbly Writer

I don't even know how to find a list of Reviewers.


The Home Page top of page menu has a link for Reviews. From there you can look up reviews by Date, Story, Author or Reviewer.

anim8ed

@ustourist

is there any log of how many times reviews are read?


Not that I have seen.

anim8ed
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater

I agree that a new review may give a story some new exposure and have posted reviews with that in mind. Unfortunately nothing stays on the front page for very long.

While I enjoy sharing my thoughts about what I have read and hopefully helping others to find something worth reading there has been zero feedback that anyone has even read the review much less gained any benefit from them.

Better I think would be to post the review in the forums where at least there would be some feedback and discussion (even if it is to tell me it is a fan boy puff piece).

[EDIT] Not to mention a much longer exposure time for the story reviewed.

aubie56

First, in answer to anim8ted's question: the review did have enough positive comments along the lines of something that I would like to read that I chose to read the story.

On the other hand, most of the reviews of my stories have been very favorable except for one. It was the review for "Shit for Luck," and I couldn't help wondering if the reviewer even read the story. The review was so full of errors of fact that I could not help wondering what story he had read, it certainly was not the one that I had written. Oh, well, it was still a popular story and I received a lot of favorable comments on it in spite of the review. In fact, I wonder if anyone besides me even read the review! LOL

Grant

When I first found the reviews section, I went back to the earliest ones & then made my way back to the present looking at stories that might interest me.
If I read a story, and find I (overall) agree with a particular reviewer's take on it, then i'll check out other stories that they have reviewed & consider worth the time.

As a reader, they are a very useful resource.

Replies:   anim8ed
anim8ed

@Grant

I like that approach of looking at the earlier reviews. I am going to have to give it a try and see if I can find some older stories worth a read.

I agree that reviews can be a great resource. Unfortunately, from previous conversations, I believe that few people actually are even aware that they exist and fewer still that actually make use of them. I could be wrong about that but I have no way of knowing how useful my reviews have or have not been to the readers or the authors. There are no stats nor feedback mechanism so I am just throwing reviews out there and hoping they are useful.

I have only received one thank you from an author for reviewing their story and I think I initiated the communication by sending feedback on something I did not include in the review.

Hopefully with the new forum more people will become aware of the resource and begin using it.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
richardshagrin
Updated:

Ok, lets talk about feedback to reviewers. I have very occasionally clicked on the reviewer's name, and brought up his biographical statement and the list of stories he has reviewed. If you click on his name at that page, you get an email form. If there is something you want to commend, criticize, suggest or otherwise comment on, send one to him or her (Rache did reviews as Jared Nariasis (something like that, I could look it up but as she is dead, sending her an email is likely unprofitable for either of you.)

If reviewers want feedback getting something from another reviewer should be superior to an author complaining your review didn't give him all tens.

If you would like to look at some really professional grade reviews, there are some by Celeste on this site. Older, of course, but she did reviews for years on another site and had more experience reviewing than almost any of us is likely to acquire.

I think I mentioned before, the reason to review stories is to increase downloads for that story. Almost any publicity is better than no publicity, particularly for stories that are no longer on the front page or one of the top fifty lists. The reason, I think, the site wants more downloads is that it probably makes authors happier (scores for readers, downloads for authors) and happy authors tend to post more stories on SOL. There is a chance stories read by more readers might generate more feedback to authors. At least some authors want feedback, so again a review may make happy authors, who write more, etc.

There has to be some reason LaZeez lets reviewers pollute his story site. I'm not sure I have the right reason, but it could be correct.

Crumbly Writer

@anim8ed

Unfortunately, from previous conversations, I believe that few people actually are even aware that they exist and fewer still that actually make use of them.

That's a common problem, and affects Blogs as well. Few readers read blogs, prologues, prefaces or even epilogues. I think Laz helped with the blogs, by putting them on the front page, but as you said, the front page doesn't last long, and many of us only check the 'serial updates' page.

I have only received one thank you from an author for reviewing their story and I think I initiated the communication by sending feedback on something I did not include in the review.

That's one reason why I suggested sending a copy to the author in question, because if they aren't checking in every day, they'll miss it. Also, if I was a reviewer, I'd be interested in if they thought the points were valid or not. If nothing else, it can promote an interesting feedback. (However, I wouldn't change a review based on the author's negative response, it's just a common courtesy.)

The reason, I think, the site wants more downloads is that it probably makes authors happier.

Richard, I doubt it. Instead, I think it's to promote the sites best stories and to promote discussion and involvement of the readers (since that will keep them coming back).

One of Laz's biggest fears is that, if a particular author dies or leaves, his fans will flee the site. Thus making them feel like they have a home here is a definite bonus (as it is most places).

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
sejintenej

@Crumbly Writer

Agreed that they are infrequent but SOL front page does mark them as such. Those I have seen have been of individual stories but I have seen blogs where the author has listed other liked stories, usually of a similar genre; that I do find useful

Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


That's one reason why I suggested sending a copy to the author in question, because if they aren't checking in every day, they'll miss it.


Too trues, I checked mine and was surprised to learn some of the reviews existed. I knew of two because the reviewers sent me a copy, but had no idea about the other two.

While talking about reviews I notice there isn't a review of Shiloh. Considering the trouble we had co-authoring the last half of the story and how much we had to revise and clean up the start, I'd appreciate if someone could do a review of Shiloh when they can.

edit typo

Replies:   Grant
Grant
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


While talking about reviews I notice there isn't a review of Shiloh.


I have to admit that's one of the stories that has a good score, is of a genre that I enjoy, and I have started reading it & tried to get in to it about 3 times; but I just can't do it due to the way it is written (I think I got about as far as chapter 8 or so).

Part of it is the lack of dialogue, and that we're being told what is happening and we're not a part of it.

The biggest part is the way the dialogue that is there, and the description of what's happening, is written- the tense (tenses?) just seem awkward eg from Ch8.

Robert has no problems with the directions, and in less than thirty minutes he's back at CyberFun. Parking in the rear where Kyle directed, he brings in the cooked batch of wings and notifies the kitchen staff he's back. Three young men and a girl go with him to get the rest of what he picked up.

Once the car is empty Robert leaves to join his son in the front, but on the way he notices a significant transformation has occurred.


Would be easier to read (for want of a better description) if done this way.

Robert had no problems with the directions, and in less than thirty minutes was back at CyberFun. Parking at the rear where Kyle suggested, he brought in the cooked batch of wings and let the kitchen staff know he was back. Three young men and a girl went back to the car with him to get the rest of what he had picked up.

Once the car was empty Robert went to join his son out the front, but on the way he noticed a significant transformation had occurred.

Dialogue,


Robert finally reaches Kyle, and finds him talking to a couple of the employees. Kyle senses a presence, looks up and asks, "Any problems?"

"None, except I suspect we might need to get some more food before the day's over."

Kyle replies, "Well, the game will be over in less than an hour. If we win, then I'd agree. If we lose, most of this crowd will disappear, and we'll be in a mad rush to reset the game rooms for those who want to bury their loss in cyber activity. Let's go back to the office and get a bite to eat. I'll get Sara to cover the front for a few minutes."


Would be easier to read (for want of a better description) if done this way.

Finally reaching Kyle, Robert found him talking to a couple of the employees.

Sensing a presence, Kyle looked up and asked, "Any problems?"

"None, except I suspect we might need to get some more food before the day's over."

"Well, the game will be over in less than an hour." Kyle replied. "If we win, then I'd agree. If we lose, most of this crowd will disappear, and we'll be in a mad rush to reset the game rooms for those who want to bury their loss in cyber activity. Let's go back to the office and get a bite to eat. I'll get Sara to cover the front for a few minutes."

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Grant


I have to admit that's one of the stories that has a good score, is of a genre that I enjoy, and I have started reading it & tried to get in to it about 3 times; but I just can't do it due to the way it is written (I think I got about as far as chapter 8 or so).


Shiloh was started by The Scot back in 2005 and he originally wrote it in the past tense. By 2009 he'd all but given up on it, then added two chapters in 2011 and actually gave up on it due to personal reasons. Since I was already writing in the DiD universe he asked me to take it over. We came to an agreement, I could change it from past tense to present tense but nothing else. So I converted the first 25 chapters, then I entered into discussions with him and he reviewed what I'd done, looked at the areas I said needed fixing, and cut a lot of excess out of it, but didn't add much in the way of extra dialogue. I then went on to write the rest of the story, thus the first 25 chapters is very heavily his style while the rest is part mine and part his. The Scot reviewed and edited the next ten chapters and had to give up further involvement due to his personal life situation. Thus there should be a noticeable difference in the way the story reads between chapters 1-25 and the rest of it.

Some people objected to the change from past tense to present tense, but the story has had a higher rate of download and high votes since it was finished than before, despite the number of 1 and 2 vote protest votes against the tense.

BTW The slicing and dicing I suggested cut the first 23 chapters back by about 20% of the narrative.

Replies:   Grant
Grant

@Ernest Bywater

thus the first 25 chapters is very heavily his style while the rest is part mine and part his.

Unfortunately there is no way I'd be able to get through those first 25 chapters to see how the rest of the story pans out; the style of those first 25 is just one of those things that does my head in and there's no getting around it.
It's a shame (from my point of view) that he didn't allow you to re-write it from the beginning to get the tense to something more "me" friendly.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Grant

It was his call, and I went as far as I could with it. The biggest part was getting him to agree to cut out huge swathes of minute detail in the narrative that I saw as excessive. Mostly to do with describing rooms and the like.

Lostlady

@anim8ed

I haven't been posting on this site long, and only have a few stories, however I do see value in what the reviewers do. I was surprised when I logged on one day and found one of my stories had been reviewed; pleasantly so because the review was positive. Now this is not a case of mere flattery, I value all feedback, including what readers send me via email. But you have to remember, readers are often commenting on the story content rather than quality. You're writing about something they like to read about, so they enjoy the story. There's nothing wrong with that, it's good. But with a reviewer, you get the impression that they're commenting on the story's quality as a whole, even though they may not be thrilled by the subject matter or genre. Now, authors who have a large catalog of stories and an established following may have a different opinion, but for us still working our way out of the trenches, reviewers offer a chance to see what we may be doing right or wrong. Also, I imagine they have probably encouraged more than one to continue writing and trying until they gain acceptance. Thanks.

Replies:   anim8ed
anim8ed

@Lostlady

Welcome to the site and thank you for sharing your writing efforts Lostlady.

But with a reviewer, you get the impression that they're commenting on the story's quality as a whole, even though they may not be thrilled by the subject matter or genre.


Most of the reviewers are only reviewing the stories they like to read. I try to be objective and point out what I liked, what I thought could use improvement and let others know if there were squicks they may want to avoid (The quickest way to a low score is to surprise a reader with one of their squicks).

When I have review a story my main audience is the reader though I try to keep the author in mind as well. I keep criticism general in the review and save specifics for private feedback if I feel it is needed.

I have not been reviewing lately and most of the stories I have reviewed were stories that I felt I could recommend. Thanks to your comments and others in this thread I will probably resume writing reviews both here and at finestories.

sarcastic_cynic

Just a reader here, whose knowledge of proper English is so-so at best. One of may classed I hated in school.

I sometimes look at reviews, just to laugh due to a writer not using comma's etc. where needed. Unless the sentence is totally mangled, which happens then I agree with a lower rating.

As best I can tell, most are not professional writer's so why slam one. jmo.

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