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Forum: Editors/Reviewers Hangout

What stories to review?

richardshagrin

It might be useful for us reviewers to discuss what stories need to be reviewed in order of priority, or at least some of the time dip into the pool of older stories that haven't been reviewed in the past. Sometimes you just read a great story and want to tell others about it. And that is fine, but if it is currently on the front page as a new story or even is spending the last couple of weeks on the 30 day new story list, people have seen it and likely will read it before it goes away. Similarly, stories by extremely well known authors likely will not need to be boosted by a new review.

My theory, for what is worth, is that what reviews should do is bring golden or at least gold colored oldies that otherwise likely would remain in obscurity to the attention of a few potential readers, or help those that languish on unvisited author pages, because the author isn't writing new stories. Sometimes a story you like that is older could use a review to encourage the browsing reader who wants something different, and might take a chance on an older story if it has a good review.

Do you other reviewers agree? What makes you decide to spend an hour or maybe less writing a review? If it is already on the top 50 list of stories or has other good reviews, does it make sense to review that story rather than another one with appeal where your review might make a difference?

JohnBobMead

@richardshagrin

I _did_ have an author to suggest, but I just looked, and six of his nineteen stories have been reviewed, so not gonna put him forward; he's got plenty of exposure, and his most recent story is from 2016, so he's not lost in the mists of time.

Jim S

@richardshagrin

Do you other reviewers agree? What makes you decide to spend an hour or maybe less writing a review?

I've been reviewing for about 4 years now and my reasons for reviewing a story have changed slightly. When I first started, it was primarily to share my opinion to the story. Some were so good, IMHO, that I just had to share. I still do it for that reason but I've slowly incorporated another second reason, that of trying to offer another viewpoint for stories with, again IMHO, wrong scores. Either way, i.e. wrong high or wrong low.

While the first is easier, and I still do those, the second is a little tougher because you have to clearly justify why you're disagreeing with the "typical" reader. Maybe I've lost my struggle against a Don Quixote complex. Or maybe I'm getting garrulous in my old age. And maybe another reason will creep in the longer I stay at SOL. But thats it for me.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
awnlee jawking

@richardshagrin

I couldn't be a reviewer here because I'd be brutally honest but I have a suggestion you might like to consider. Take an author you like and see which stories they have favorited. If those stories haven't been reviewed, you have some candidates for your consideration. Then follow those authors' favorited stories etc etc.

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
rvbuilder

I tend to review stories that I like, with an eye to encouraging others to read them. I think reviewing older stories that have fallen into the cracks is a great idea. Other than digging through the thousands of entries, is there another way? Maybe selecting a "random story" similarly to the way it's done on the home page.

In addition, I invite critiques of any of my reviews to see if I'm doing it right.

sunkuwan

there are many >1000kb stories with good scores that never had a review.

Replies:   Jim S
Jim S

@sunkuwan

there are many >1000kb stories with good scores that never had a review.


Sounds like a target rich environment. Have at it! :)

Goldfisherman

I have given many reviews under different pen names at different sites, including this one. I generally prefer longer stories in the order of 120 to 400 pages. In one site I posted several in that range and had a couple of replies (positive)before the site broke down. I have been rewriting a couple of the long ones to possibly repost them here. Replies would be through the site mail. I have gotten rid of Windows OS and Office in recent years for security reasons. I can review or edit stories without borrowing stories. I can export any format for ,doc,docx, or txt. I have a very good spell check and also catch grammatical and textual errors quite well.
I am retired, and have lots of time.

Safe_Bet

Time to revisit this subject?

Shouldn't we try to add reviews to stories that don't already have them, first and foremost?

Is there a point to adding yet another review that basically agrees with the prior one? I can possibly see posting a review if we totally disagree with a prior review, but to repeat pretty much the same thing as before seems a bit much, IMO.

richardshagrin

If the story only has one other review and you have something interesting to say about the story, a second opinion, even if it reinforces the other reviewer's view is not a bad thing. If the earlier review was years ago your review will bring the story up to the front page again until it ages out. And even a bad joke can't hurt, too much. I like pirate stories since I can mention the pie-rate is a buck an ear.

Crumbly Writer

@Jim S

I've been reviewing for about 4 years now and my reasons for reviewing a story have changed slightly. When I first started, it was primarily to share my opinion to the story. Some were so good, IMHO, that I just had to share. I still do it for that reason but I've slowly incorporated another second reason, that of trying to offer another viewpoint for stories with, again IMHO, wrong scores. Either way, i.e. wrong high or wrong low.

As an author, I support that motivation for reviews. And not just with stories with 'the wrong scores' (which might result from a variety of different factors), but those which have been badly reviewed by others, or which the reviewer has a different perspective, a 'new way' of viewing the story, if you will.

Essentially, if a review allows readers already familiar with a story to have a new reason to go back and reread it with new eyes, it's worth devoting space to, even if it doesn't help the author in question. After all, the authors are there to benefit the readers, not the authors!

Replies:   Jim S
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

I couldn't be a reviewer here because I'd be brutally honest

The key isn't 'brutal honesty', but fairness. Thus you wouldn't like ever nit which sticks in your craw, but you'd balance the author's strengths against their weaknesses, regardless of how highly rated his scores are. If his endings are weak, if he's unable to resolve central conflicts, if his character development is weak, then readers deserve to know that before they invest 100+ chapters in a story.

The point isn't to write glowing reports that makes everyone fall in love with a story, it's to bring up issues that readers might not know, or which they might not suspect about a little known author.

So if an author has never completed a story, it's fair to write a review saying 'This story deserves to be read anyway because of the character depth'. If the author finished every story, but always fumbles the endings, then the reader (and the author in question), need to be told that it's a problem.

I dislike any review that is either all positive or all negative, as I feel like I'm being lied to.

Replies:   Safe_Bet
Safe_Bet
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


The key isn't 'brutal honesty', but fairness.


True fact! VERY often "constructive criticism", "brutal honesty" and "I'm just trying to 'teach' the writer" is a thin shroud to obscure the reviewer's diss'ing of a story.

If the story sucked that bad why the hell otherwise did your read it or at least finish the damn thing and THEN review it?

Sure if the story really, really sucks (and you have the proven writer chops to do so) you can let the author know. But shouldn't something like that be done via PM vs. showing the world just how superior and hoity-toity a reviewer can be? (read: VERY often condescending, supercilious asses)

P.S. I also think that "10"s need to be a rare exception just as I think anything below a "6" should be.

If there are issues they can/should be pointed out to prospective readers, but seeing as how I consider a review to be an arrow pointing reader towards good stories and a reward to authors for well written pieces, I am going to go the way the Review Guidelines tell us Laz wants us to go. (...and, yes... I know that was a horrible run on sentence. I'd give myself a tech "5" for that one! LOL)

Replies:   richardshagrin
Jim S

@Crumbly Writer

As an author, I support that motivation for reviews. And not just with stories with 'the wrong scores' (which might result from a variety of different factors), but those which have been badly reviewed by others, or which the reviewer has a different perspective, a 'new way' of viewing the story, if you will.

One thing I'd like to add is that it is a lot easier reviewing a story that is "wrong low" as you're praising it. "Wrong high" critiques are much harder for a variety of reasons, not least of which is the rule against totally negative reviews. And that rule is enforced.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
richardshagrin

@Safe_Bet

"10"s need to be a rare exception just as I think anything below a "6" should be.

With few exceptions, reviews should be for stories you recommend others to read. Why go to the trouble to review a story you don't like? So since 6 is an average score I agree there shouldn't be a lot of scores below 6. Possible exception for Technical, when it is below average for an otherwise good read, reviewers should mention any issues. Be fair to potential readers of the story, most of the time you are recommending a story to then to read, not grading a students effort for your class. On the other hand, If every story you review is a 10, perhaps you have fairly low standards. Normal (Bell shaped) curves would predict most stories would be within a couple of standard deviations of the mean. I am not sure the reader scores are bell shaped, there probably are more stories above 7 or above 8 than below 5 or below 4. However I recommend my approach, I use 10 when the story blows me away. Even 8 is an A and 9 is A plus.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@richardshagrin

However I recommend my approach, I use 10 when the story blows me away. Even 8 is an A and 9 is A plus.


Sadly other reviewers sprinkle 10s around like confetti, so a well-reasoned 8 makes a story look relatively poor :(

AJ

Crumbly Writer

@Jim S

"Wrong high" critiques are much harder for a variety of reasons, not least of which is the rule against totally negative reviews. And that rule is enforced.

Again—and this is all from someone who's never written a review on the site—it's all a question of how you frame it. If you write the 'wrong high' review, you start out stating why it got the high rating, emphasizing everything the author did well, and why it IS worth writing. But then you counter that, saying "The author still has several issues he's unable to resolve in the story, and these are …"

I consider a review like that to be more meaningful, because they're aren't all 'sunshine and unicorn farts', but instead provide readers with an informed perspective, listing both the good and bad points, not just of the story in general, but the specific weaknesses of the author in particular.

Safe_Bet

I just want to suggest to my fellow reviewers that it is totally nonsensical to write a review of a story that isn't finished, is being religiously posted every other day (well done btw, R_S) and probably is 2/3 - 3/4s of the way to completion (based upon historical story size).

I mean, geez... I get trying to guide readers to good stories, but let the guy finish the story first. To do otherwise is moving the reviewer from "critical analyse-r with impeccable taste (LOL)" into "public relations hack trying to get the writers download count up-ers" and, IMO, that ain't our job.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Safe_Bet

I just want to suggest to my fellow reviewers that it is totally nonsensical to write a review of a story that isn't finished, is being religiously posted every other day and probably is 2/3 - 3/4s of the way to completion (based upon historical story size).

That's easily corrected, it's fine to say (in a review), check out this developing story, as long as, once it's done, you then re-review the work, to pronounced whether it was as good as you first claimed it was.

On SOL, a review, like many stories, aren't finished just because the review is posted.

This is especially important, because many SOL readers fit into the 'never-ending series' camp, who may continue with the same story for years. You're holding them to the same standard as those who write a 10 to 20 chapter book, which you only judge as acceptable once it completes. But if the NES authors never write another story, they're doomed to NEVER receive a single review.

A better response would be to post a disclaimer in the review: "I realize this story isn't completed, and likely won't be for some time, but ..."

Replies:   Safe_Bet  richardshagrin
Safe_Bet

@Crumbly Writer

But if the NES authors never write another story, they're doomed to NEVER receive a single review.


Nope. That is exactly why I qualified my comment with "based upon historical story size".

All I'm asking for is for a bit of common sense. OF COURSE, NES writers like Cropo, rlfj, Foxtrot, or one of your own "Catalyst" series deserve reviews , but if you look at the writer's other stories (like a reviewer worth their salt should) and see that it is a relatively new story, see that they are posting frequently, say how long the story will be in their blog and/or are almost to their average story size then the reviewer should wait.

I guess what it breaks down to is if the reviewer is actually writing an analytical review or is simply promoting a story. Doing some actual analysis is "reviewing" IMO, everything else is PR.

richardshagrin

@Crumbly Writer

This is how I did it for Banadin's Richard Jackson Saga, 9th Grade.
Reviewed: 2015-05-22

"This is my ten for May. Its not finished yet, hopefully its less than half done. I try to wake up early on Fridays so I can read the next chapter ASAP. Normally I only review complete stories but this one is so good I don't want anyone who checks out reviews to miss it."

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