General Discussion

QUACKCAST 89 - needs your contribution! Subject: feedback, advice, praise, criticism!
ozoneocean at 8:29AM, July 23, 2012
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For Quackcast 89 we want to know people's iseas on Feedback!
 
-How do you get it? Do you want it? How do you take it? How SHOULD you take it?
- How do you give it? What do you prefer, praise, abuse, critisism or advice?
 

This will be recored on Saturday the 4th- two weeks from now, please cotribute ^_^
 
Gunwallace at 12:07PM, July 23, 2012
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Feedback good.
Me make mistakes. Need to be told.
Me make plot errors. Need to be told.
Me make coffee. Hot!
Me want to get better. Me like feedback. Any feedback.
Feedback make me feel appreciated, read, worth time of audience.
Me want more feedback.
Me need to give out more feedback. Give feedback and you often get feedback. It like some deep philosophical thing.
Me go back to scribbling on cave wall now.
David ‘Gunwallace’ Tulloch, www.virtuallycomics.com
kyupol at 8:09PM, July 23, 2012
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length of audio clip?
NOW UPDATING!!!
ozoneocean at 10:33PM, July 23, 2012
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Thanks Gunwallace!
 
Kyu- 3 or 4 minutes plase :)
 
Genejoke at 2:09AM, July 24, 2012
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Feedback…  well it usually gets seperated into the latter subjects.
Advice, I generally dake it with a pinch of salt unless it's asked for.  Not to say it will be bad advice but all too often it's vague, inaccurate or maybe even very much to personal taste.  i try to respond regardless and sometimes will ask for a little more feedback to get a clear idea of where they are coming from. Even if I don't agree I will thank them for the suggestion.  Of course some people give advice badly, if advice is asked for don't be a dick.  hell don't be a dick if it is asked for.  What would you rather read/hear-
1. Ugh! comic sans is a horrid font used by rank amateurs. GTFO!
2. Just a quick heads up, I'd recommend checking out dafont for some better fonts.  Comic sans really doesn't look good and many readers will look down on the use of it.
Praise? However it comes, I ain't fussy and I don't think many are.  That said while we all like to ghear how what we have done is awesome it is really great to get some insight into why it rocks.  As for how you take it…  well I generally say thanks.
Criticism. Ties into Advice as they go hand in hand, but advice is easier to take.  No one really likes to be criticised and it does take a little toughening up to be able to take it on the chin and not get offended by it.  An important thing to remember is that while the work may be precious to you, it ain't to the person giving the critique.  
I will expand on this later but my time is up for now.
bravo1102 at 3:18AM, July 24, 2012
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If I goof up please feel free to tell me.  And then I'll tell you that it was probably intentional, including my use of MS Comic sans. At times something is exactly what it appears to be.  

But most of the time it's because there is no spell check when I'm putting in the dialogue or I forgot to write something down for continuity sake.

But please I love to be told because it means that the reader has a pulse and is paying attention.  I love the pithy remarks some make that underline a point in the story.  It's like “Wow! They get it!”

Though I could live without some of the internet “meme” remarks like the “WTF I'm 12 and Jewish” comment I got on Mask of the Aryans.
ozoneocean at 5:38AM, July 24, 2012
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Good stuff! Keep it coming! ^_^
 
Genejoke, I think that's the best advice to people who GIVE advice:
“Don't be a dick”
 
I've seen some real meat-heads from time to time that fall into that category! They didn't comment on my work, but their comments on other people's stuff were pretty bad. The funniest thing was their attitude though-
They seem to think that their commentary was of greater importance and a greater work of art than the comic itself, and by offering it they were offering the comic artist a precious and valuable gift- even though it was mostly badly constructed and worded to be deliberately offensive, they still had the gall to act personally insulted if the comic artist ever rejected it.
 
You see this mostly on sprite comics, but a while ago there was a group of them doing it to drawn comics too.
It was a trend I found annoying… because I like to support and nurture the little guy, not stomp all over them, but also because I know far better about art criticism- having studied art academically for almost a decade, as well as art teaching in a tertiary institution, I know what criticism is, and how to give it in a useful way. And it's a completely different thing from being a dick.
 
————
 
Bravo- good point: it nice to know your readers are living and breathing!
 
Tantz Aerine at 12:42PM, July 24, 2012
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Great points (and insights) so far! I think Bravo and Genejoke mentioned the basics of how to give feedback already!

I have received my share of feedback on all my works, but I will leave professional writing aside for a moment, and focus on my non-professional artwork which is comic making. For my comics (as opposed to my novels) I have received it all, I think; from abuse to gushing to sensible feedback to feedback that SOUNDS sensible but is in reality a less blatant version of abuse. Somehow for my professional work I have never received abuse or negative criticism, despite having been given several official reviews. Not yet anyway; I hope I haven't just jinxed it! XD

I really don't think there's any creator out there, professional or amateur, who doesn't wish for feedback, constructive comments and praise.  It's only natural- hard work only demands and deserves just reward and in many a case a comment is all the reward there is to be expected. Also for many of the amateurs/ non-professionals it can be the only source for pointers, tutelage and goals to achieve or further, since not everyone has access to or can afford art classes for one reason or another.

But what I think nobody wants is abuse, especially on something one has cared for and worked for, often for several hours or days, only to watch careless or malicious people virtually trample upon it like it's something the devil spawned.

I have been on the receiving end of (completely unexpected) abusive feedback, and while it didn't dissuade me in the least from continuing with my comics and self-improvement, it DID make it infinitely more energy consuming, because not only did it burden me with the recurring emotional backlash of feeling irrationally that my art was completely worthless and a waste of internet space (despite cerebrally telling myself it isn't); it also made me feel that I was being hated on for it. Deciding it's not worth pushing through such feelings to continue and just give up is really easy, especially when you take it at face value and not as something malicious. I just love my comics too much to stop, I have a good feel on the objective level of my art, reviewers I trust and I have actually sold comics to strangers, which are parameters that really help with this situation. Also I do keep working on my stuff and I'm extremely, frighteningly super stubborn. ;)

These latest years there has been a trend which is being cultivated globally of the ‘intelligent/superior/genius and horribly insulting and snarky savant’ that preys on everyone who is not directly or openly or widely recognised by mainstream media. From Simon of American Idol (we got an equivalent to him with Greek Idol and I suspect every ‘Idol’ has its abusive snarker in the trio of critics) to Hugh Lawrie's character Dr. House, to game shows where people are rewarded to do or suffer or put up with demeaning/ traumatic things, we see a systematic reward and encouragement for abuse that in reality is very likely to cause psychological problems, and traumatic experiences that are unnecessary and don't serve the purpose they pay lip service to, even when they are being sold as ‘true grit’ that ‘true artists can take’ (which is tripe imo).

For the record, I loved Dr. House as a character (as opposed to the characters they put him up against, they all pamper him!) and his lines are very witty, but if we were put in a room together, he and I, he'd lose. By me punching him repeatedly in his achey thigh with his own cane while pretending to be doing it to toughen him up so that he loses the limp; and when he would be reduced to tears, cusswords and insults, probably needing surgery and a sturdier cane, I'd tell him that he'd just experienced a concrete example of his version of feedback to others. 

Sorry if I scared anyone just now. XD I was making an analogy, I don't actually beat on crippled people even if they are being dicks…
But my point is generally this:
1. abuse is NOT ‘tough love’ and it doesn't help the creator. It is far more likely to cull that creator's motivation to continue furthering his/her art, because abuse is conditioning him/her to expect punishment for the effort he/she is making, rather than reward. It's the best way to dissuade someone from pursuing anything, artistic, academic or behavioral, and it's been proven several times in psychological experiments. 

2. those writing abusive reviews, especially in the style Ozone just described, I have come to believe are doing it as a form of entertainment and in order to get themselves positive feedback from it from other commenters or their gaggle of followers- like stand up comedians that point their fingers and demean a person, selling cheap and crass humor rather than wit like proper stand up comedy artists do. I do think that these people believe their abusive feedback to be a form of entertainment and their target audience is not the creator whom they are abusing, but rather the third parties watching the abuse.  They also fantacise they are exceedingly intelligent and superior than both the artist and that artist's audience, at the very least. 

Which is why they act as personally and unjustly insulted, Ozone, as you very well put it, if they are contradicted on it, and pretend that the negative feedback they are receiving is proof of their feedback's inherent quality and superiority. Which of course doesn't make any logical sense most of the times.

Ergo: don't take OR give abuse, people, it debases EVERYTHING. 
 
last edited on July 24, 2012 1:11PM
bravo1102 at 10:24AM, July 25, 2012
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Praise in public, criticize in private.  You got a really deep insightful but heavy critique? Send a PQ.  You can also really go in depth in a PQ as opposed to the comment section.

Always start a critique with something they did right, then come in like gang busters on what needs to be improved.
Tantz Aerine at 11:44AM, July 25, 2012
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bravo1102 wrote:
Praise in public, criticize in private.  You got a really deep insightful but heavy critique? Send a PQ.  You can also really go in depth in a PQ as opposed to the comment section.

Always start a critique with something they did right, then come in like gang busters on what needs to be improved.
Exactly! (…what's a gang buster?)
Also when saying what needs to be improved, don't be vague like, “this could be done better”. That is a true statement for everything a human can make, no matter how advanced or amazing. Be specific, concrete and above all, clear in what you feel you can help the artist improve with.  
 
bravo1102 at 1:45PM, July 25, 2012
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From Idioms.thefreedictionary.com
come on like gangbusters  (American informal)
to start doing something eagerly and with a lot of energy, especially performing or talking to people
Usage notes: Gangbusters was a radio program in the US about police who went after criminals with much energy and success.

Specifically a 1930-40s radio show.  Very common expression. I picked it up from Bugs Bunny
  
last edited on July 25, 2012 1:47PM
ozoneocean at 10:31PM, July 25, 2012
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I'm pretty sure people still use “gangbusters” a lot here in Australia.
 
OK, taking criticism…?
 
Bad, nasty, vicious-
Leave it and move on. Delete it, whatever. Limit your response, if you must make one, to something pithy and SHORT.
Do NOT get angry, mad, sad and respond in that way:
If they didn't intend to be mean, now you've just made an enemy.
If they did intend to be mean, now they've just got some bonus entertainment.
If you are popular, do NOT set your fans on them. That's just a good way to start messy, stupid flame-wars and bring way more attention to them which is what trolls live for, and it it's not a troll it just spreads bad feeling all over the place.
 
Constructive criticism-
Take a breath, try and see it from the critic's point of view and see how that advice could help you improve.
DO NOT be disheartened, this is just the opinion of one person. If you can't use what they said to help you and it only makes you feel bad, then just ignore it.- Keeping on with your work is better than quitting because you're too depressed to continue.
You won't improve by quitting!
 
Anything to add here?
 
Genejoke at 11:34PM, July 25, 2012
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@Ozone, you've very nicely summed up what I wanted to come back to.  With most reviews I've done things are taken well enough but occasionally you upset someone regardless of intend and what follows often spirals out of control.  In Lite bites we often play it for laughs but sometimes those have caused a little offence, see the page linked below as i know dr blkknight wasn't too fond of this last part of the review of crossing death.
http://www.drunkduck.com/Lite_bites/5328812/
bravo1102 at 4:44AM, July 26, 2012
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I'm going to speak bluntly here; there are loads of comics out there that I wish I could just let loose with both barrels and tell the creator and his/her audience just how insipid and worthless their work is.

Sychophantic behavior is theother extreme of comments and feedback.  Oh that's so clever and you're so great, when it's a lame joke Sid Caesar did in the 1950s and every other comedian has done again ad infinitum ever since and here it's done even worse than every before imaginable by mere mortals.  I understand that there is an internet mentality with the sense of humor of having stagnated in the first year of High School but get out and read a book, it wasn't that funny.  That work wasn't that inspired, it wasn't that brilliant.  It was borderline lame and tolerable but not “let's shoot for the stars” awesome. 

So on the one hand we have nasty trolls and the other sychophants, toads and lackeys who worship anything certain artists do no matter how awful it is.  It could  almost be like Hollywood where you can do one real great piece of work and everyone worships you for all the other crap you turn out.

So it can bite both ways.  And behind how many of those “5” and “great page” are there sighs of discontentment over another pedestrian piece of mediocrity?  Can't hurt the artist's feelings because he had such a bad childhood and his momma didn't love him enough so have to dance around and play nice as opposed to telling him the emperor has no clothes and he should hang it up and find a more productive hobby like stamp collecting.  And then you find out that people pay him to do things and well there's no accounting for taste or talent, just another hack who lucked out with his portfolio because of his pleasant dispostion and winning smile and all the right connections.

Or those are all the things that race through your head as you go through your daily reading and you smile to yourself because it's so true but no one will mention it and at the same time it belongs in a comedy routine as the ridiculous hyperbole it is.

You know it's really hard to format this stuff, I mean how many times I have to hit “enter” after every paragraph to put in a space?  Four!  Jeez-louise
Tantz Aerine at 5:31AM, July 26, 2012
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bravo1102 wrote:
I'm going to speak bluntly here; there are loads of comics out there that I wish I could just let loose with both barrels and tell the creator and his/her audience just how insipid and worthless their work is.

So on the one hand we have nasty trolls and the other sychophants, toads and lackeys who worship anything certain artists do no matter how awful it is.  It could  almost be like Hollywood where you can do one real great piece of work and everyone worships you for all the other crap you turn out.

Both of these things are dreadfully bad quality pieces of feedback. I think it comes down to a very simple test: if the feedback will cause an artist to stop trying to improve or culls his/her motivation to even keep at it, then it's HARMFUL. 

Feedback that gushes in a way that passes the message to the artist that he/she is done and there's nothing to work on, improve or pay attention to as now he/she has been crowned Unchallenged Comic King or Queen, then that feedback is as harmful as the type in the other end of the gamut, that is such a flame attack and acidic conflagration that the artist feels he/she will have their fingers burnt off if they so much as touch a pencil again.

I think the best type of feedback is the ones that convey enthusiasm and/or optimism, with a positive approach. Being in the psychology of education field, I can tell you there's a ton of ways to tell a person they suck without making them feel bad, but rather bolster them to make it so they don't suck anymore.

It has nothing to do with how ‘fragile’ an artist is. Even the most ‘thick skinned’ person gets hurt by a review that knows where to hit, if its author is intentionally malicious or has a natural talent for making other people feel like crap, pardon the expression.

Also I think maybe we should differentiate between feedback when it comes to technique and feedback when it comes to content- some readers may disagree profoundly with the way your comic approaches your subject matter and if the subject matter bears an emotional charge, then just a spark is enough for a full blown hostile debate that might devolve into juvenile name calling.

Ozone's advice to ignore some of it if you firmly believe it should be dismissed is correct; I just know from experience it's VERY hard to follow, especially when you know you can refute the accusations made. Because I'm talking about reviews that read like a cross between a prosecutor's indictment and a public shaming, not average mannered ones that simply seek to discuss a few points with the author or express a personal opinion.

Personally if I have nothing good to say about a comic, I don't say anything UNLESS I feel that the author can improve from what I have to say and it's worth it to invest in doing so. And when I decide to give feedback that will contain negative comments, I phrase them in a positive manner and stress the fact that they are just a point in that creator's development that is certain to be overcome. I have never been snapped at or accused of having hurt a creator for my feedback (except one time where I intended to do it for reasons of providing a succint example), no matter how much criticism I enclosed in it, and for that I pride myself to be honest. 
 
bravo1102 at 5:59AM, July 26, 2012
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Tantz Aerine wrote:

 Both of these things are dreadfully bad quality pieces of feedback. I think it comes down to a very simple test: if the feedback will cause an artist to stop trying to improve or culls his/her motivation to even keep at it, then it's HARMFUL…. 

Thank you for your well thought out essay.  I had much of what you wrote in mind when I typed my bit of whimsy and I was hoping it would inspire someone to express what you did so well.

One can completely tear apart a piece of work but if it's put postively and details how the work can be improved it has performed a great service to the artist, no matter how personally the artist takes it.  That's when the artist has to step back as Ozone puts it and see the work how the critic sees it and go to work on making it better.  But also the artist should keep in mind that much is in the eye of the beholder and the critic may not be seeing what the artist intended or could have different ideas in how something should be represented that are at odds with the artist.  Then it's the job of the critic to step back and look at the work how the artist sees it.
Genejoke at 12:40PM, July 26, 2012
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I'm going to speak bluntly here; there are loads of comics out there that I wish I could just let loose with both barrels and tell the creator and his/her audience just how insipid and worthless their work is. 
It's alright Bravo, i know my stuff isn't great :(
bravo1102 at 12:54AM, July 27, 2012
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Genejoke wrote:
I'm going to speak bluntly here; there are loads of comics out there that I wish I could just let loose with both barrels and tell the creator and his/her audience just how insipid and worthless their work is.  
 It's alright Bravo, i know my stuff isn't great :(
Your work is the last I'd ever say that about.  Just look at all those nominations and being featured and glowing reviews, where are those accolades for my crap?  It's always "I like it but… "   There are always reservations. 
 

There are things that will never be accepted and given all kinds of feedback and comments no matter what and an artist has to accept that.  Some artists will never have anything they do accepted and have to accustom themselves to that and to the fact that others can do anything and be heaped with praise.  That is the nature of doing something for an audience.  They are fickle and sometimes their likes and dislikes seemingly make no sense.  Many also discriminate according to beliefs that have little logical basis and it is very difficult to change their predispostions and that is something else anyone putting anything out for public consumption should be aware of.

Yeah, bravo has some kind of complex and projects his own negative feelings on everyone else but one has to take everything with the proverbial grain of salt. 

*please not, though absolute terms are used in the above the author accepts there are always exceptions but it's beyond his ability to write noting them most of the time without diluting the prose.
last edited on July 27, 2012 12:57AM
Tantz Aerine at 5:43AM, July 27, 2012
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bravo1102 wrote:
  Your work is the last I'd ever say that about.  Just look at all those nominations and being featured and glowing reviews, where are those accolades for my crap?  It's always "I like it but… "   There are always reservations. 
Hey, I didn't write any ‘buts’ whenever I commented on your stuff! Whatever I've said is always sincere and without reservation! 

 

There are things that will never be accepted and given all kinds of feedback and comments no matter what and an artist has to accept that. 

 Never is a big span of time. Many get recognised posthumously.
…not sure if that's something the artist cares about in the post humous state though. 
 
Call Me Tom at 7:08AM, July 27, 2012
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bravo1102 wrote:
I'm going to speak bluntly here; there are loads of comics out there that I wish I could just let loose with both barrels and tell the creator and his/her audience just how insipid and worthless their work is.
 


You're talking about my comic right.
bravo1102 at 8:29AM, July 27, 2012
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Call Me Tom wrote:
bravo1102 wrote:
I'm going to speak bluntly here; there are loads of comics out there that I wish I could just let loose with both barrels and tell the creator and his/her audience just how insipid and worthless their work is.
  


You're talking about my comic right.
You found me out, now I have to hang my head in shame.
Banes at 6:32AM, July 28, 2012
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What a great discussion!


Abuse is bad, for sure…I've taken a few lumps of criticism here and there that affected me for days on end. Tantz, you express it so well - it takes away the will to work on the stuff.


And sometimes this “abuse” is from people who have insight and are very smart, or who do actually care – but the critisism was so all-pervasive in these cases, down to the very nature of the characters and motivations, on the deepest level, that it was clear that this person wanted a page zero rewrite.


To be clear, this sort of thing would not affect me if it came from some random person, or from someone who didn't seem to “get” what the work was in the first place. That doesn't bother me at all, except as something that takes away a little energy, maybe.


In terms of comments on comics:


By and large, though, readers who will point out errors, especially errors in logic or inconsistencies in characters…those people are gold to me. You can tell these great people from the abusers, because these people are usually RIGHT. I have a few readers who will comment when something seems “off”. Just good, honest reaction, and I love ‘em for it!


Fortunately those crits don’t fall on every page, because of course it's great to bask in the “HAHA!” s and “LOL - HILARIOUS” -es and “I love her!” type stuff, and people talking about the characters and situations as if they're really there…that's great, heady stuff.
last edited on July 28, 2012 6:44AM
Banes at 6:46AM, July 28, 2012
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The difference can be subtle, too - I talked to someone about collaborating on a story and the person didn't care for it, because it seemed to him to be “off” in terms of my series. I had zero problem with that reaction, and respected the guy greatly for his honesty. It was not hurtful at all and took nothing away from me, and he took the time and effort to say what he actually thought.


There's a right way and wrong way to give feedback, but also a right and wrong way to HANDLE feedback too, I s'pose.
Tantz Aerine at 10:44AM, July 28, 2012
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Yes you're right Banes. :) Those people who are genuinely interested in helping are invaluable. I don't think feedback from those people needs any handling. If you need to handle something, there's probably some degree of aggression within it, conscious or not.

Those pointing to zero rewrites though might not be all that constructive, because more often than not a comic does not need a zero-point rewrite. Art improves over time anyway- just look at comics like No Need for Bushido. As far as story goes, I have only very rarely encountered stories where the writer had TRULY written themselves into a corner. Most stories can evolve, just like real life, and characters can be fleshed out. To tell a creator to change everything is like telling him he should never have created the comic he/she is creating. It's a little heavy and very rarely truly warranted.


 
 
El Cid at 4:42PM, July 28, 2012
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@Genejoke: I can't believe you posted the Crossing Death review! Gawd! That last part, that was one of those things that sounded really clever when we came up with it, but looking back, I can see how comparing someone's comic to explosive flatulence may be taken with offense! Gotta be more subtle.
 
Um, well, while I'm here, I guess I could say a little that's at least semi on-topic. Just in general, I think that inevitably sites like this have a tendency to breed an environment of mutual sycophancy. Most webcomickers aren't used to giving and receiving criticism, because the only language they're familiar with is Praise (well, that and High Praise).
 
And most hobbyists don't really want criticism anyway; that's for people who really truly wish to improve. Most hobbyists are just out to have some fun, and maybe impress a few people along the way. Taking criticism, making improvements… that all sounds too much like work. I know I'm being immensely cynical here, but I believe usually when people ask for a critique, they're really just fishing for accolades or for any feedback or attention whatsoever.
 
Oh, and one other thing, I think Banes brought this up, about Page Zero. It's not uncommon for articles, short fiction, and even larger manuscripts to require a total rewrite, if not several rewrites. The difference with regards to webcomics is that, when you tell someone their article sucks, they can usually have it rewritten for you in a couple hours or so, but just one page of a webcomic may represent hours or days of intricate work, and with several pages you may be talking about years of the artist's life. They can't just stop and re-do everything… but that doesn't make the criticism any less valid. The rules are still the same. You just may need to find a different way to apply the suggestions, is all.
 
Most webcomics are a rough draft, often written on the fly with just the barest of preparation and foresight, and usually without the priceless insights of multiple contributors. You have to expect that there are going to be problems, even potentially fatal structural problems, with a lot of them. That's probably why so many webcomics don't get finished, because they got off on the wrong track and everyone was too busy singing their praises to warn them they were headed off a cliff. Being able to spot your own deficiencies as a writer and artist is one of the hardest things to do, and that's why you need eyes on the outside to give you an honest assessment from time to time. So, like cancer screenings, you should be sure to get reviewed early and reviewed often! (had to end things on a sunny note there)
Tantz Aerine at 7:40PM, July 28, 2012
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Hm, I'd say a webcomic community or any art community can get just as acidically unfairly and non-constructively aggressive as it can get sycophantic. Which are the two extremes that lead an artist to not improve as previously said… 

I think in the end it comes down to a few tested readers that you will be able to trust to tell you what they really think in a way that agrees with you and you can actually use. All the rest is going to be chance meetings, good or bad, that will simply either add to your experience or stop it- because like most things in life dealing with an audience, whether professional or amateur, is a sink-or-swim deal. 
 
bravo1102 at 1:18AM, July 30, 2012
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Tantz Aerine wrote:
 because like most things in life dealing with an audience, whether professional or amateur, is a sink-or-swim deal. 
Of course being drowned in praise, although one may indeed be sinking, is a pleasant experience.

Good critque, even if it tears you apart, can be as valuable as gold. Good critique will be specific and will give you hints on how to improve as opposed to just saying how awful something is.  I'm usually pretty good at getting past the pain if I've given something specific  to work on.  Tell me “your paneling doesn't flow well, here's a tutorial on paneling”  and I'll run off to the tutorial and read it and live it and print it out.  And years later still do it wrong, but at least I know I'm doing it wrong and how to tweak it so it's not that bad.

And then there are things that were on their third to fifth rewrite and still weren't quite right because I had extra time to question myself and throw in stuff to make it worse. One of the problems pointed out in the Lite Bites review of Attack of the Robofemoids is that many of the gags seem to have been injected and repeated just so there'd be a gag there.  That was part  of  the rewrite process as I was second-guessing myself all over the place because of the prior critique I got from the DD Awards. 

Be specific and always include a tip as to how to make it better.

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