August 06, 2020, 10:30:33 PM

Author Topic: About ambiguous comments  (Read 1554 times)

Offline Iramesoj

About ambiguous comments
« on: December 14, 2019, 06:34:09 PM »
Hello mates:

Before talking about this subject, I want to make it clear that this concern I have is not coming from this forum, but from other websites. Without further ado, I will expose the topic:

As a newbie writer who uses the internet, there is a topic that worries me a lot, which are ambiguous comments about literary texts, something that proliferates on writer's websites. I refer to comments like these:

Example 1: Very good story, I loved it.
Example 2: The beggining hooks, I hope continuation
Example 3: An attractive story, enjoyable and well written, I liked it. Greetings

These comments are suspected of not having read the text, since they do not mention anything about it, and may be written only to receive visits to their own texts or another selfish gain. Sometimes, if they are asked things to be more concrete, they retain so much ambiguity that one has a reasonable suspicion that they have not read the text and are trying to conceal themselves. Example of this:

Commentator: An attractive story, enjoyable and well written, I liked it. Greetings
Author: why is it attractive and enjoyable? Why did you like it?
Commentator: It is attractive because it is written with great sensitivity, resulting in a beautiful story, and enjoyable because it is pleasant to read and does not get tedious.

Unfortunately, this, together with the "likes" and "follows", are some of the problems of websites of writers who share their texts. I think it should be fought, but with all possible consideration, because, in fact, we have no evidence about noone of people who comment like this do not read the texts (although in some particular cases we can have such evidence...I have a funny anecdote about that). And really, it is possible that there are people who read the text and only comment “very good, I liked it” because they are spared with words/in a hurry/whatever (we should let the benefit of the doubt, at least at first).

What strategies occur to me to start to fight against this problem? My ideas are the following:

Idea 1. When we receive a comment like this, we must follow the following protocol:

1. Ask the person who wrote the comment what they liked about the text (such comments are always “positive”). If he/she have said something more concrete than "very good, I liked it", but still ambiguous, ask him/her specifically (for example, if he/she says that the story is attractive, ask him/her about what he/she found attractive).
2.If the answer remains ambiguous (very probable), it is time to let him/her see that the ambiguity of his message causes suspicion. This matter is very delicate, since the person may be offended/disturbed. That is why we must point out the following points:
A) That you are not accusing him, because every person is innocent until proven otherwise.
B) That the ambiguity of his/her comment does not show that he/she have not read the text, but there are reasons for a reasonable doubt.
C) That such doubt will be dispelled if he/she makes a more concrete and less vague comment.
D) That the distrust comes from previous experiences in which it is stated that they have made similar comments without reading the text.

Despite all that diplomacy, I think it is very likely to bother, but it is a sensitive issue and I do not think it can be said softer than as I put it. The only way not to bother is to not say anything against that kind of comments, which is negative because then, they will continue to proliferate.

Anyway, this is a personal opinion of mine, based in my own experiences. I have surfed in a bunch of virtual communities of writers (all of them in spanish, this is the first time I write in an english site) and I have lived this kind of experiences.

Well, my questions to you:

1. Are ambigous comments frequently posted in non-spanish writting sites?
2. Do you agree with my proposed strategies to fight against them?

Best regards.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2019, 09:50:37 PM by Iramesoj »

Offline Bender

Re: About ambiguous comments
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2019, 10:02:30 PM »
What in your opinion is an ideal comment? Can you give an example?
"I shall hunt your firstborn children and laugh with glee as I tell them of your death in terrible detail, with many unpleasant adjectives!" - M-Bot

"Who needs science when you have a dragon?" - Neil DeGrasse Tyson in Sharknado 6

Offline eclipse

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Re: About ambiguous comments
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2019, 10:11:12 PM »
What in your opinion is an ideal comment? Can you give an example?

Constructive criticism.

No good saying this is brilliant or rubbish tell me  why it is brilliant or rubbish a proper review I’m guessing.
According to some,* heroic deaths are admirable things

* Generally those who don't have to do it.Politicians and writers spring to mind

Jonathan Stroud:Ptolmy's Gate

Offline isos81

Re: About ambiguous comments
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2019, 10:19:49 PM »
What in your opinion is an ideal comment? Can you give an example?

Constructive criticism.

No good saying this is brilliant or rubbish tell me  why it is brilliant or rubbish a proper review I’m guessing.

+1
Kallor shrugged. 'I've walked this land when the T'lan Imass were but children. I've commanded armies a hundred thousand strong. I've spread the fire of my wrath across entire continents, and sat alone upon tall thrones. Do you grasp the meaning of this?'

'Yes' said Caladan Brood. 'You never learn'

Offline Iramesoj

Re: About ambiguous comments
« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2019, 10:35:18 PM »
Well, Bender, imagine a text like this:

Quote
When the sunlight began to hide, Amara came out of her hut with the small bag where she kept her dinner, a small bowl and two flints, and began to walk towards the river hurriedly. Suddenly, she felt a thick branch split in her head, and he collapsed full of pain. She clenched her teeth and tried to move, but her head hurt so much that it was hard for her to perform any action.

—Even you can be caught off guard, Amara. Thanks for the gift, I will eat it in your honor!

That voice was unmistakable, and more with that mocking tone: she was Nasha. She could not consent that, precisely, she stole his food. After his thief took her rabbit and took several steps away from her, Amara got up. She had a hard time standing up because of the pain, but she ran after his enemy, who, hearing the footsteps, was dumbfounded: she didn't think she could show any vigor after that blow. When she turned bowled over, she was punched in her face.

—Give me back my food!

Nasha was the only woman in the tribe who might be able to rival Amara in strenght, especially now that she was at a disadvantage due to the severe pain in her head. However, she could not take advantage of this advantage because she was paralyzed by surprise and fear. Amara managed to throw her to the ground by pushing and dropping her by putting her right leg beindh her rival's feet, and having done this, she took a thick branch of the ground and broke it on her head, knocking her out. Once this was done, she finally fell unconscious on the chest of his rival, who was lying on the ground. It had taken a long time not to collapse before, but her pride had kept her with strenght.

Now, here we have some examples of good comments:

Example 1: you wrote “behind” in a bad way, and put “chest of his rival” instead of “chest of her rival”. Both are female so you should put “her”.

Example 2: I don’t like Amara. She is a Mary sue, because she can knock out a bigger woman even having an huge headache due to the blow she received.

Example 3: I totally love Amara. She is a strong woman that not let others to abuse of her. I love how she defeats Nasha even having received that blow before.

In the 3 examples, the commentarist has read the test. In fact, commentarist 2 and 3 has different criteria (2 doesn’t like Amara, 3 love her) but at least, there is no doubt that both read the text before posting.

In my opinion people should comment AT LEAST like this.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2019, 10:56:17 AM by Iramesoj »

Offline cupiscent

Re: About ambiguous comments
« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2019, 10:44:25 PM »
I have definitely experienced the same in English-speaking writing groups, Iramesoj! Vague supportive comments can be really useful for beginners--they encourage the writer to keep going, and to keep trying--but once you reach a certain level, you want to get more useful feedback on how to actually make the story better.

Good critique partners are worth their weight in gold. Like gold, they're relatively scarce. :) And it's understandable, because really digging into and engaging with someone else's work takes time and effort, and we can't spend that on just anyone, especially when it might turn out that that person might not want the constructive criticism!

Building relationships helps. Getting to know what people want, and knowing that they know what you want. Finding through experience the people who understand what you're trying to do and can help you do it better. (Because not everyone who reads and comments will have the same sort of vision that you do, and that's fine. Fiction contains multitudes.)

But also, I find it helps to have specific questions when you offer up a piece for comment. "What am I doing well? What needs more work? Are there any lines that confuse or throw you out of the story? Does the slow tension work or is it boring?" Or even questions that let you know whether you're achieving a goal, like, "Which character do you trust in this scene? What do you think happens next?"

Offline Iramesoj

Re: About ambiguous comments
« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2019, 11:07:35 PM »
Quote
Vague supportive comments can be really useful for beginners--they encourage the writer to keep going, and to keep trying--

The problem, cupiscent, is when there are reasons to think people that write vague supportive comments have not read the text. I think it usually occurs. So that comments won’t be benefical for begginers if they are being cheated.

Offline cupiscent

Re: About ambiguous comments
« Reply #7 on: December 14, 2019, 11:56:49 PM »
Quote
Vague supportive comments can be really useful for beginners--they encourage the writer to keep going, and to keep trying--

The problem, cupiscent, is when there are reasons to think people that write vague supportive comments have not read the text. I think it usually occurs. So that comments won’t be benefical for begginers if they are being cheated.

But is it more beneficial than complete silence and the beginner thinking that no one at all is reading or cares so why even bother...?

(Let me be clear: I agree, I prefer comments that are specific and show engagement with the text and, preferably, help me improve. But I have been told before that my comments are too harsh and all the writer really wanted at this point was encouragement to continue. Everyone's at different places and wants different things.)

Offline Iramesoj

Re: About ambiguous comments
« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2019, 09:53:27 AM »
Quote
But is it more beneficial than complete silence and the beginner thinking that no one at all is reading or cares so why even bother...?

I don’t think so. If a begginer show his work and no one comment it, he’ll check if other works by other writers in the same community receive comments or not. If not, he noticed the problem is scarce participarion, not his work. If other writers receive ambiguous comments and he doesn’t, he may be deceived and think others are better than him, being the real fact commenters have not read any of the texts. If other writers receive non-ambiguous comments and he doesn’t, he may notice he should improve (but I admit there are risk to give up).

If a begginer receive ambiguous comments like “great work, I like it”, he may think, in first place, that he is a better writer that he really is (and that would be damaging for him). But if he is intelligent, he finally suspected he is being cheated.

So I don’t find vague comments as benefical, and I think they are damaging.

Quote
Let me be clear: I agree, I prefer comments that are specific and show engagement with the text and, preferably, help me improve. But I have been told before that my comments are too harsh and all the writer really wanted at this point was encouragement to continue. Everyone's at different places and wants different things.)

I am not talking about being too harsh or not (this is another interesting point...how to comment with justice, imparciality and psychology?). I am talking about ambiguous comments are probably a way of cheat other writers to reach a selfish gain. For example, two experiences I have lived:

Experience 1: Once, I registered in a social network for writers and commented on several texts. The texts I uploaded (extracts from my novels) were only commented by a person whose coments were always like "a very interesting story”, “very good story", or "a story that hooks". I felt a reasonable suspicion that that person had not read any of my texts.

To sum up, the texts in that site, once users send them, are pending moderation. Once the moderators have read them, they upload them all at once. Well, if one day they uploaded 20 texts at the same time, this person commented much of them in a minute. Does anyone think anyone can read so fast?

To put in evidence this person, I uploaded a new fragment breaking the fourth wall, and the protagonist commented that "the author of this novel upload it on a website" and that "on that website there is a person, called ******, which comments all the chapters but seems not to read any of them. " Another character told her "this is a very serious accusation." Then, the protagonist said "if ****** really reads this, he/she will comment something about what I say about him/her. In that case, our creator will apologize for thinking bad about him/her." Once the text was uploaded, that person gave a "like” to the very text in which he/she was attacked. I waited two days to see if he/she commented (I always have to give the benefit of the doubt. How about he/she read it, liked my trap, gave it a "like" and thought to comment when he/she had more time?). But he/she did not comment (but connected daily and commented on other texts). It became clear to me that my writings were not read (and seeing that he/she almost always comments that way, I think those of nobody).

Experience 2: in a literature forum, there are an user who usually comments like “it hooks, I hope to read continuation”, “very good story, congratulations”, etc. This user has his/her blog in his/her signature, and usually posts lot of his/her writtings in that forum. At first time, I already suspected he/she acts in this way to get more visits to his/her blog and his/her own forum threads.

One day, accidentally, he/she put him/herself in evidence. Another user resurrected a thread from several months ago (that this cheater already commented when was a recent thread with “very good story, I liked it”). Seeing that thread in the first page of the thread list, this person commented again with the same kind of comment several months after. I think if he/she would read the texts, he/she would think “Hum, this sounds familiar to me, I may read it before” and then checked the date of the thread and if he/she already commented that text or not.

In conclusion, I think some people try to cheat other writers with ambiguous comments and it damages writer’s communities on the internet.

Offline Skip

Re: About ambiguous comments
« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2019, 05:45:05 PM »
How is it cheating? What is the cheater gaining?

How is it harmful to the author?

I still don't understand why you just don't ignore the gnats. Sure they can annoy a person, but that's no reason to try to rouse the neighborhood on a gnat elimination campaign.

Offline Iramesoj

Re: About ambiguous comments
« Reply #10 on: December 15, 2019, 06:33:44 PM »
Quote
How is it cheating?

It is cheating when the commenter doesn’t read the text but posts a comment like he/she has read it.

Quote
What is the cheater gaining?

Example 1:The cheater can put a link to his/her own blog in his/her signature and write lots of ambiguous comments. Then, cheated persons could click in the blog link and read the entries. Not only cheated persons but also other users of the same community.

Example 2: there are a REAL spanish social network for writters in that Texts with more than 20 likes receive the “reward” of appear in the main page. As consequence, some users give tons of “likes” only to receive a feedback-like. In that site comments are scarce, but the few comments that are posted are ambiguous, so I guess they are trying to receive “likes” as a consequence of their aparently-nice comments.

Example 3: Cheaters could give tons of likes, follows and comments without reading the texts, only to gain more followers and readers to their texts.

Quote
How is it harmful to the author?

Is harmful in several ways:

Way 1: The author, if cheated, can visit the cheater’s texts and comment honestly. Then, he/she helped a person who fooled him/her. Nobody wants to be in that situation.
Way 2: The author, if cheated, can believe some persons are their fans and his/her texts have quality, so he/she may believe he/she is a better author that he/she really is, and this will be harmful for his/her formation as a writter.
Way 3: The author, if not cheated, would feel discouraged if all or almost all of the comments are like this.

Quote
I still don't understand why you just don't ignore the gnats. Sure they can annoy a person, but that's no reason to try to rouse the neighborhood on a gnat elimination campaign.

A small proportion of gnats isn’t a serious problem. However, in a bunch of writting sites, it’s reslly hard to find a non-ambiguous comment, but “likes”, “follows” and ambiguous comments are aproximately 90% of the activity (So I think we can talk about a plague lf gnats). This is harmful for the newbie writers, because they need honest and useful critics, and receive them is really hard.

Offline isos81

Re: About ambiguous comments
« Reply #11 on: December 15, 2019, 08:21:26 PM »
I really don't care about these comments so they are automatically ignored my subconscious. Why don't you do so? How many times can you be the victim of clickbait :)

Just ignore and learn from experience.
Kallor shrugged. 'I've walked this land when the T'lan Imass were but children. I've commanded armies a hundred thousand strong. I've spread the fire of my wrath across entire continents, and sat alone upon tall thrones. Do you grasp the meaning of this?'

'Yes' said Caladan Brood. 'You never learn'

Offline Iramesoj

Re: About ambiguous comments
« Reply #12 on: December 15, 2019, 09:14:14 PM »
As I have already said, isos81, the problem is when, in some writting communities, most of the activity are follows, likes and that kind of comment... and the posibility of read a single constructive comment is really scarce.

I wouldn’t thing ambiguous comments are a problem if the circumstances were different. However, I thing Internet would be a great tool for newbie writters if mosts users of that communities wouldn’t have that behaviour. I wish this to change... if ambiguous comments would be frowned upon, good users would try to do their best, and bad users would dissapear (and some bad users become good). Then, writting communities would be a more useful tool.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2019, 09:23:21 PM by Iramesoj »

Offline Skip

Re: About ambiguous comments
« Reply #13 on: December 16, 2019, 04:13:49 AM »
Naw, they aren't ever going to disappear, no matter how much frowning goes on. Many of the people are clueless and don't really have anything of substance to say. They just want to be nice. The ones who are looking for clicks or whatever will still be looking and will ignore the frowns, much the same as spammers ignore their bad press.

I repeat and echo: the best course is ignore and do not engage.

Offline Iramesoj

Re: About ambiguous comments
« Reply #14 on: December 16, 2019, 07:20:24 AM »
I agree about ignore comments is better than fall into cheater’s trap.

However, I think explaining people about that comments are unreliable and why is a good action.