I’m known as a rather prolific reviewer around the FE section of Fanfiction.net, as I’ve mentioned before. Today I’d like to talk about why I leave reviews so much, along with some general advice on reviewing, at least on FFn.
The main reason I leave so many reviews is out of a sense of giving back to the community. Another thing I’ve mentioned before is how the Fire Emblem fandom, though not my first online haunt, was the one I stayed the longest with and which left the longest-lasting and largest impact with me. As I prepare to leave this part of the internet (admittedly slowly, but still determinedly), I think I should offer something back to it. I find it’s only right, since Fire Emblem and the people who love it have given so very much to me! Giving people reviews on their own fanfiction is my way of doing so. I may not leave the longest, most insightful reviews ever (I just don’t have time these days, though I do leave longer ones for very close friends), but I always try to be at least supportive. And oftentimes (though not invariably, as I’ll get to later), even a small “I really liked this!” can make an author’s day, or even give them just the bit of encouragement they need to continue on. I myself appreciate and am heartened by even the smallest positive review, and judging by the many thankful responses I’ve received, I’m far from the only one. If all my little reviews can put a smile on at least a few people’s faces, then they’re worth it, IMO, and my time in the FE fandom was worth it as well.
The second reason is, as I implied above, the philosophy of “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I personally love reviews, and I’m always happy when I receive a new one, no matter how short it is—as long as it’s not hateful or ill-intentioned, of course! If I like reviews so much, it therefore follows that I should give them to other people. If you want to be shown kindness, show others kindness, and all that. 🙂
Lastly, some bits of advice I have after leaving so many reviews for so long:
1: You don’t have to feel obligated to leave reviews for everyone. First, if you’re busy and can’t leave big reviews, like me, there are some people who don’t really like small ones, as you can see in this thread. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that: Everyone has their own preferences, and you should respect them. If someone says they’d prefer a longer review, either respect their wishes or respectfully say you can’t oblige, and don’t leave them reviews which annoy them.
There’s also no shame in refusing to review stories by people who either dislike you or are well-known troublemakers. If someone’s put an offensive story up that seems like it serves no other purpose than to annoy others, don’t bother reviewing it! If there’s someone who dislikes you and would react badly to a review from you (no matter how constructive), or a group of people who feel the same, don’t review their work! Saves everyone involved a lot of aggravation and inconvenience.
Now, it can be hard to tell who dislikes you if you’re in a fandom where lots of people come in and out on a regular basis, or even shuffle around screenames constantly. In that case, going with your gut is often a good decision. If you get a bad feeling from someone, even if they seem innocuous, it may be a bad idea to leave ‘em a review or even interact with them. Intuition can often be a livesaver, off-line or IRL.
2: On that note, remember that not every response to a review, even a well-intentioned one, will necessarily be positive. You never know (at least if you’re in a fandom with lots of new people coming in and out) what might annoy someone or make them react badly. If this happens, don’t take it too seriously. Just apologize, see if the offended party is willing to explain what you did wrong and how to correct, or if not, just shrug your shoulders, accept the loss, and continue to go on your own way. In all the hundreds of reviews I’ve left for people, I only recall this happening maybe once or twice, and this is how I’ve reacted. Still, maybe I’ve just been lucky, so you might wanna take this bit of advice with a grain of salt, then XD
3: Even if you don’t have time for a long review, try to note at least one thing you particularly liked about a story, even if it’s just a single line. While most folks will be cheered with just a “I liked this, write more!” adding in something specific can really make someone’s day. On that note, you should generally try to be positive and upbeat, even when delivering criticism. It goes without saying that extremely nasty reviews are unwise, but even harsh reviews can irritate authors *and* raise the ire of their friends, along with, on occasion, simple passers-by or other members of the fandom. I would not risk it if I were you. Try to keep your criticism leavened with sugar, so to speak, and you’ll probably deal with less drama overall, at least if you really like reviewing a lot of stuff.
Well, that about does it for this week…no idea what I’ll write about for next, lol XD Stay tuned, I guess!