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Critic Discussion

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Remæus on Tue Nov 21, 2006 11:00 am

Perhaps the current Mercenary Spectators can come up with some sort of grading scale?
Last edited by Remæus on Sun Nov 26, 2006 3:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Circ on Tue Nov 21, 2006 8:59 pm

For those who are wondering what Master means by that (and it is largely my fault he brought it up), consider:

It would be nice if we could get feedback on our writing critiques, so we know whether or not we're actually being helpful or just making people feel a particular way toward us. In other words, it allows for us to grow in our analytic abilities while we help others in their writing endeavors.

So, what type of evaluative criteria should be applied to our critiques? I'm thinking: helpfulness, cruelty, example (the writing prowess exhibited in the critique itself), organization, or evocativeness.

It could be applied to our karma or an entirely different review mechanization altogether.

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Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Dovey on Wed Nov 22, 2006 12:37 am

Oooh, I thought he meant grading the writings! I thought it was like some checklist of writing errors and whatever.

As for me, I'm not expecting karma points or anything. I'm just doing it for fun, because I figure I need yet another channel for procrastination.

I think the categories Circ has come up with sound good. They could be scaled from 1 to 5, like "helpful," "somewhat helpful," "neutral," "unhelpful," and "DIEKILLDIE."

So, taking Circ's proposed categories and adding my own:
1. Was the critique helpful?
2. Was the critique considerate of your emotions?
3. Was the critique clear? (i.e. examples)
4. Was the critique knowledgeable about the subject? Maybe we should have a resume at hand... or specialize in certain styles and literary areas. I haven't participated in any RPGs here, so I understand if anyone thinks I'm a complete hack.
5. If applicable, since your last critique, has the critique helped you in your role-playing or writing?
6. Could you have obtained the insights provided by the critique had you worked alone? Do you need us?
7. What do you mean by "evocativeness," Circ?

The most objective critique would be those based on grammar. When it comes to style, it becomes more subjective; we might have to include, "Did you feel the critique was forcing you to abandon your style?" I mention that tongue-in-cheek, wondering if this survey-type thing is really necessary; if someone has a bone to pick with us they can just send us or the admin a PM. Although I admit a survey would be more accessible and possibly friendlier.

But whether or not we have a grading scale, I think we should make basic guidelines for editors to follow.
Here is a quickie:
1. Neutral critiquing style
2. Examples in white, bold font
3. Grammar edits in bold, yellow font.
4. Spelling edits in bold, red font.
5. Syntax edits in bold, green font.
6. The editor can post once per draft.
7. Editors must read previous edits before posting own edits to avoid redundancy. (haha, I was sounding like Mojo Jojo for a second there. Anyway...)
8. At least one editor should critique a piece within five days/week/2 weeks (pick your poison) of posting.
9. Conflicts between editors must be taken to PM.

I was also wondering what we should do with our editing tools. Such as, since we can, should we directly edit the original post or should we make new posts for edits? Maybe the critique-ee can specify certain things like:
1. The original post can be edited: y/n
2. Comments/critique/both
3. Do you want advice on writing style: y/n

And one last thing that will make me sound like a total bitch, but I would also like to request RPers to do the following things before submitting their pieces for critique:
1. Run spellcheck, either by yourself or on Word.
2. Run grammar check, either by yourself or on Word.
3. Try to polish the piece as well as you can before submitting.

Um. That's it. Sorry for sounding like a Nazi. Don't have time to pussyfoot--James Spader is on Conan O'Brien NOW!

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Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Remæus on Wed Nov 22, 2006 12:55 am

Both, actually. :)

Allow a judge to grade a work, and the author being able to being able to rate the critique. Karma should work well for critique reviews.

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Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Circ on Wed Nov 22, 2006 1:57 pm

By evocativeness, I mean an indicator of how much the object of the critique feels it makes them to think about their writing, i.e.: whether it spurs mental growth.

There seems to be a consensus for a rating survey to accomplish this, although I can't say whether that would be the easiest implementation or not. Maybe Master could drop us some logistics on what is the most pain-free manner to implement such an animal.

If we do take that direction, I think the less questions the better, although they should be very on-point. Five seems a good number, with five stars for each. Kind of like the WinAMP skin rating mechanism.

Rate this Crique (1-5)
1. How helpful was it?
2. Was it sensitive to your emotions?
3. Was it clear?
4. Did it focus on the area of growth you were hoping for?
5. Did you learn anything from it?

As to how we format a critique, I don't want to feel too boxed in to color coding and whether the text is in italics or bold. There are times when it is helpful, but not always.

Yes, it would be helpful if the writer would specify what type of growth they are looking for.

To avoid conflict or redundancy, should we limit each thread to one review writer? The problem with that is we may each see different things. If we're mature enough to not step on each other's toes, I don't feel that will be a problem. Still, it something that will need looking into.

I am almost certain people will be outraged if we actually edit their original post. A subsequent thread is satisfactory.

People should use a word processor, but we've already seen several examples of where they haven't. The main reason is they were in a rush to type it out, or whatever. I guess the path to follow there is, if they aren't willing to use one, we will have to act in its proxy.

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Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Dovey on Sun Nov 26, 2006 1:44 am

Okay, Circ's rating system sounds good:

Rate this Crique (1-5)
1. How helpful was it?
2. Was it sensitive to your emotions?
3. Was it clear?
4. Did it focus on the area of growth you were hoping for?
5. Did you learn anything from it?

I haven't used the karma system yet, so I'm not sure if there's a word limit or formatting bug, but the writers could copy and paste this in their karma comment and add or subtract a point.

Sorry, I meant that each editor should make one post per piece. Not one editor per piece. That would be silly! But we'll just nix that idea for now--the current set-up, just replying spontaneously will encourage more repartee.

Yeah, the whole font color thing could get a bit hairy with all the mark-up involved. However, I like the organization Circ has established with his posts, labeling "Grammar," "Style," etc. Even if we don't make an editing format, I hope you don't mind if I adopt that system myself, Circ.

The thing with the word processors is so they could edit their pieces. It would be a waste of my time if I were editing something they slapped onto the forum just because they were rushed when they could easily correct grammar mistakes and typos on their own. If they want to just post something in a hurry, they could label their thread like Title of the piece-WIP, WIP meaning Work in Progress. There is also a "Save" option for reply posts, but it didn't do anything when I tried it.

As for what the writers want in their critique:
1. Do you want comments or critique?
2. What do you want the critique to focus on? (such as grammar or style)
3. Is this a WIP (work in progress)?
4. Do you want your piece to be graded?
5. Do you want your grade to be posted or PMed?
Once they post a thread and if they don't specify, we'll post the survey for them to fill out later.

As for actually grading the writing pieces... we might need different grading scales for different types of pieces. Grammar is relatively easy to grade numerically. But as for grading writing style... there are some styles I'll never understand. And some writers are quite touchy about style, whether they actually believe in it or if they're using it to hide their inadequate writing. Or should this be a completely subjective grade?

Okay, so here is what we have so far:
1. Critique Rating--Done
2. Editing mark-up--Done
3. What writers want in their critiques
4. Grading scale for writing pieces

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Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Remæus on Sun Nov 26, 2006 2:23 pm

Karma is generally a matter of approval. If you like someone's post altogether, add a karma point for it. If it's just a normal post, leave it. If it is exceptionally bad, negative. Naturally, it can be used however users see fit, but that's how I envisioned it when it started. Use it to get a general user consensus of an individual's posts.

In terms of grading a piece, I've always been a fan of the cumulative grading method. Set a number of categories, and each counts for a certain amount of points, with a fairly well defined requirement for each score. Usually, I see a 100 point total, with 10 items for 10 points each, or less with some items being more valuable than the others. This seems a bit too extravagant, but an effective description of what I'd think would most suitable for the application.

Example:
Grammar - 10 points.
Spelling - 10 points.
Consistency - 20 points.
Syntax - 10 points.
Storyline - 20 points.
Characters - 20 points.
Intrigue - 10 points.
Flow - 10 points.

For a grand total of 100 points. With the point system diversified, it makes it a bit more difficult to attain the full and perfect score, allowing a writer to determine in exactly what areas they need work in. It would be significantly beneficial to commune on the points covered in such a scale, and the appropriate value of each.

Another item to consider would be taking these scores and providing a comprehensive "assessment" of a writer's ability. Perhaps on a 10 point scale, this would be more of a leveled assessment, where the author would request an "audit" of a certain number of works. The reviewers would then look over their work, mayhap even allow the author to list a number of preferred or showcase pieces, and determine what level their writing ability is on, with clear guidelines as to what a level 1 writer is, level 2, etc, etc, with a level 10 writer being akin to the writing abilities of Dante, Milton, Shakespeare, take your pick among legendary authors.

In terms of rating a critique, I may be able to provide a system in the future that will completely automate the five star process - and give a critic a collective score, likely an average of the reviews of their critiques. Much later on down the line, of course. ;)

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Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Circ on Tue Nov 28, 2006 12:58 pm

I suppose the emphasis of my posts have been on grading a critique, rather than the way a critique grades writing to begin with. Friendly is the best way to go; something non-intimidating that people can look at and emotionally recover from. I suppose there does have to be some method to the madness, so here are my two cents.

Grammar, syntax, and spelling could probably be all chunked into one category called syntax as, programmatically speaking, if you make typos and break the rules for writing a language you get a syntax error.

Character, flow, intrigue, and so on--they all seem to fall into the story aspect. And then there is style. So that makes three categories.

Three categories, five stars each: syntax, story, style. The big three Ss. We could probably write a tutorial just based on those. :D

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Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Circ on Tue Nov 28, 2006 1:12 pm

It occurred to me that grading a story is very subjective, so here are some things to base it off of.

1. Creativity.
2. Believability (buying into the idea).
3. Connectivity (relating to the story, character, et cetera).
4. Synergy (different parts working together).
5. Flow.

Just award a star for yes or no, and boom! There's the grade.

Flow is even more subjective, so I'll wait for other ideas.

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Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Dovey on Fri Dec 01, 2006 1:36 am

Aaagh! I thought we were getting close to a resolution, but these suggestions are opening up more things to think about.

So, combining Eric's and Circ's ideas...



I. Grading the Critique:
I think karma is fine. One user account per critic should probably solely be used for the Growth section so the karma doesn't become inflated, though. What I like about the karma system is that it there is verbal feedback right next to the score. But I suppose the point is that a single karma point doesn't rate well, so you need five, especially since we have this:

Rate this Critque (1-5)
1. Was it helpful?
2. Was it sensitive to your emotions?
3. Was it clear?
4. Did it focus on the area of growth you were hoping for?
5. Did you learn anything from it?

I don't know. Both the karma and the five-star system have their pros and cons.



II. Grading the Writing (Stories)

1. Grammar
a. Grammar
b. Syntax
c. Misspellings/Typos

2. Story
a. Creativity
----Plot
----Characters
----Prose
b. Believability
i.e. Intrigue/Immersion
----Plot
----Characters
----Prose
c. Synergy
i.e. Logic/Clear Cause and Effect--more plot- and character-oriented
----Plot
----Characters
----Prose
d. Flow
i.e. Use of Transitions/Readability--more prose-oriented
----Plot
----Characters
----Prose
e. Consistency
i.e. Connectivity/Sense of Unity
----Plot
----Characters
----Prose

3. Style (basically all of the "prose" sections above)
a. Writer's Voice
----Originality
----Immersiveness
b. Consistency--throughout piece; doesn't suddenly shift POVs or whatever
c. Consistency--genre/time-period
d. Appropriateness... like does it help or hinder the story... um...
----Effect
----Purpose



Other things to consider, such as writings without plot and characters:
IIa. Grading the Writing (Poetry)
----Effect
----Purpose
IIb. Grading the Writing (Other prose)
----Effect
----Purpose

As for scoring, I prefer the cumulative scores, as it allows more leeway for more ambiguous/subjective situations.

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Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Remæus on Fri Dec 01, 2006 9:12 am

I think we'll just stick to Circ's five star system for evaluating a critique. It is more flexible, and provides a better chance for a critic to improve the way they critique, as well. If karma is warranted, it'll just be something above and beyond.

When a rubric is created for grading actual writing, we do need to consider things such as poetry and other prose, just like Dovey pointed out. Some stories don't have characters or a storyline - there needs to be an allowance for such things. How? I know not.

And pertaining to the writer evaluations - does anyone object to a 10-level scale? I think it'd actually be an 11 level scale, with a level 0 writer having not been evaluated.

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Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Circ on Sat Dec 02, 2006 10:57 pm

True. Poetry is a bit more difficult, but that's merely because it is something we have less experience in, I think. It would be nice to have one rubic for creative writing, poetry, and lyrics, but I'm not sure that is possible.

As far as evaluating poetry, we could obviously use typos, and ... uh. "Does it get the idea across." Pretty much the same thing I mentioned in that other thread.

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Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Gabriel Faile on Sun Dec 03, 2006 12:21 am

I just wanted to point out that we should not critique work unless it is specifically asked for by the author.

I wasn't exactly sure if that was mentioned or not earlier. The worst thing in the world is having someone pick appart your art when not invited.

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Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Grimbold Theoman on Sun Dec 03, 2006 4:03 am

I have missed this discussion so far but I would like to say I am absolutely against grading a critique. When I write on this site you read it more or less as I have typed it. I don't compile in a word processor edit and recompose before posting. Therefore the best you get is a second draft having had one readthrough and any obvious errors changed. A criticism at that stage is only minimally helpful. And to then have to rate the helpfulness of the criticism is pointless.

Several people on here seem to believe that every post is there for a critique and as Gabe has said some do not want the criticism. I do wonder if there are people who sign up and do not contribute because of the level of cricticism sometimes leveled. There are a lot of people who do join and never contribute more than an odd post or two.

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Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Dovey on Sun Dec 03, 2006 4:04 pm

Thanks for your input and concerns, Gabriel Faile and Grimbold Theoman! We understand that grading writing is a subjective task, and we have already proposed a procedure and set of questions that may help resolve any confusion.

We are taking the writer's preferences on criticism and grading into account. The procedure will be like this:

Procedure
1. Writer posts his or her writing piece.
2. A critic posts the following survey:

1. Do you want comments or critique?
2. What do you want the critique to focus on? (such as grammar or style)
3. Is this a WIP (work in progress)?
4. Do you want your piece to be graded?
5. Do you want your grade to be posted or PMed?

3. Writer posts the completed survey.
4. Criticism/grading or lack thereof follows.

Of course, a writer can immediately post a completed survey if he or she remembers.

An edited version of that survey is in the works, but that's the gist of it. I admit we haven't thought about it for awhile, so thanks to Gabriel and Grimbold's concerns I'll make it one of our priorities. Here is a cleaned up version with explanations:

C&C Survey--Edited
1. Is this a WIP (Work in Progress)?
This means the writer is still editing the piece on his or her own before submitting it to criticism. If critics were vampires, a "WIP" would be like garlic or a crucifix. A critic will insert "WIP" into the title of the thread like so: Title--WIP. When the writer decides he or she wants comments/criticism/other, the writer can PM a critic to remove the "WIP" label and/or the writer can post a newly completed survey.
2. Do you want comments?
These are general observations and suggestions about the piece.
3. Do you want critique? If so, what do you want it focus on?
This is more specific than comments. For instance, a writer can request the critique to focus on grammar or style. This can be as specific or as general as desired.
4. Do you want a grade?
This is the grading (probably cumulative) scale the critics are working on.
5. Do you want the critics' remarks to be public?
The critic will post his or her remarks publicly in the thread by default. Otherwise the critic will PM the writer with the criticism/comments/grade.

As for Grimbold's concerns of having the writer grade the helpfulness of the critique he or she has received, that is a good point. But with the "WIP" system, grading the critique should be OK.

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Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Circ on Mon Dec 04, 2006 2:37 pm

This is mainly in response to Grimbold's concerns.

I have missed this discussion so far but I would like to say I am absolutely against grading a critique. When I write on this site you read it more or less as I have typed it. I don't compile in a word processor edit and recompose before posting.


If someone is drafting a critique on another person's writing, they should hold themselves up to a higher standard than that. It doesn't have to be perfect, but effort is a must. What kind of respect will someone giving critiques garner if they don't? Anything else borders on hypocrisy. Oh, and there is a spellcheck option right on the forum itself. How much effort does it take to click that?

Several people on here seem to believe that every post is there for a critique and as Gabe has said some do not want the criticism.


This is the growth section. People shouldn't post here without expecting feedback, otherwise there is no potential for growth. Another subforum could be created for people who just want to post their writing for the reading pleasure of others, if such a forum doesn't already exist.

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Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Gabriel Faile on Mon Dec 04, 2006 4:26 pm

Well, then I am over glad that you have had so much progress and that you were so easily able to answer Grim's and my own queeries. You have my full support.

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Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Circ on Wed Dec 06, 2006 10:19 am

Well, then I am over glad that you have had so much progress and that you were so easily able to answer Grim's and my own queeries. You have my full support.


Thank you for your support, but I don't consider myself to have any more progress than others, and hopefully don't come across as such a pretentious person. As I stated in the beginning of this thread, I want my critiques graded so that I can improve as a writer and as a critic. How else will I know if they [my critiques] are useless?

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Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Gabriel Faile on Wed Dec 06, 2006 3:39 pm

I agree. I have had one of my works posted on here critiqued, and the other I asked specifically not to have it picked appart.

I'm sure a person will be able to ask for a grading as well as a critique, or even seperate? There are a few works that I would like graded and critiqued where as there will be some that I only wish graded. Would that be acceptable? The player would have to specify of course.

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Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Circ on Fri Dec 08, 2006 6:31 am

Gabe, that's perfectly acceptable. And you're right--people may want a grading, critique, or both, so it is helpful to have the individual specify, and the mercenary spectators shouldn't be too quick to jump on the carcass, so to speak. Of course, things that aren't being posted for growth, but simply to put out there, don't belong in the 'growth' subforum. Maybe another subforum can be made for that called the 'scratch pad'.

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