I asked Josh Kalveledge, who handles Garbage Bag Johnny in AWC, the very tactful and tasteful question yesterday "Who do I gotta blow to get someone other than you to leave me feedback?" It was half-joking, of course. I mean, yeah, I'd like to see more people give me feedback, but then again, I really don't have time to read a lot of RPs myself, so I don't give it either. But that's not the point of this post.
I often times get afraid that people don't like what I've written if they don't leave feedback. You'd probably say that I shouldn't think that way, that the e-fed community on the whole (outside of a few pockets here and there) is apathetic. If no one says anything, then they probably haven't read it or they read it and are too lazy to post in a feedback thread. Or maybe they're too inhibited. Why?
Because they don't want to run the risk of leaving negative feedback and thus hurting feelings. Not everyone is good at giving or accepting constructive crticism. I've been guilty on both ends. Because e-fedding is such a cooperative hobby, if you feel like you've offended someone by telling them their writing/angle/feud/whatever could be better, then you think you could be running the risk of having them hate you, have a vendetta against you or just not want to work with you. It sucks.
That's why I'm afraid when people don't leave me feedback. I'm afraid that they don't like my work. But in the end, I tell myself three things.
- Not everyone is going to like your work.
- Maybe you do need to improve if people don't like your work.
- You don't leave a whole lot of feedback yourself, so stop whining.
The first and last two are easy to deal with. The middle one though... how are you going to be able to improve if people don't tell you what they think you're doing wrong? That's the whole point of feedback. It's not to fellate each other. Nothing is gained by posting threads with caps locked titles saying "OMG LOOK AT SO AND SO'S 23 PAGE RP OPUS!" Something is gained, however, through subdued praise and through civil constructive criticism.
I'm not going to sit here and lie to you that praise shouldn't be doled out at all. When you tell someone you like their work, that's an enormous confidence booster, and it can help them improve through boosting their confidence levels. They dare to explore, push new envelopes, improve because they know they have a captive audience wanting to read their stuff. I mean, I hate the overboard OMG stuff, but if you keep it low-key, you can do some good.
In the same vein, people SHOULD be able to tell constructive criticism from flaming. Some people take the former as the latter, and that can ruin the feedback process for us all. Therefore, I say to everyone to take criticism in stride. I know it's easier said than done, but if we all strive to be able to give criticism without being dicks and taking it without being a sandy vagina, the flow of ideas will be much less constricted.
And maybe I won't have to blow anyone to get meaningful feedback for my work ;)