Re: My third 0.5 in a row in a span of 2 wks

#1
Hi just wanted to let everyone know that I got three 0.5 stars anonymous rating in a span of 2 weeks, after months of only 5s and 4.5s. I have repeatedly asked the moderators to look into it and they say they cannot do anything. So, is that how it is going to be? Admins of this site will just sit and watch as some bigoted people and trolls abuse authors like me? 

Re: My third 0.5 in a row in a span of 2 wks

#2
I have gotten around 12 0.5-stars in April alone, 10 of them within a span of 2 weeks. I made a ticket, and they said: "Nope, nothing suspicious going on here; there are even people with over 7-year-old accounts who gave it 0.5."

Which to me, just confirms that they have allowed toxic fucks who give out 0.5-stars to persist on the site for over 7 years.

The entire rating system is a disaster, and it is just a shameful display that nothing has been done about it. If I were in the decision-arena of RR, I would be embarrassed. Sadly, time and time again, a reluctance to even attempt to alleviate has been shown, so yeah, I guess you gotta live with it. Maybe the RR leadership team just likes to reward trolls, bigots, and assholes? Because the system sure as fuck does.

Re: My third 0.5 in a row in a span of 2 wks

#5
they're not going to do anything about it. Someone, on the same day, gave me .5 on my main story, a 3 on my 5 star short story that has had nothing but glowing reviews by every single person that has read it, downvoted all the reviews on all my stories, and then they even gave me a 1 star on my world building book. 
A fucking world building book with pictures.
what the fuck?

Re: My third 0.5 in a row in a span of 2 wks

#6
Wow. At what point do we decide that a larger number of ratings isn't worth allowing anonymity? Like if we just only allow ratings with a review it would drastically reduce the number of ratings. But it would also completely kill troll ratings. And at this point I'm thinking it's worth changing. Also, I don't think I've ever heard a positive thing about RR rating system in the 3 years I've been on this site...

Re: My third 0.5 in a row in a span of 2 wks

#7
I read your first 4 chapters and glanced at your 1st prologue. And I'll be honest, you're probably losing people there.

IMHO, a 200 year gap between your prologue and "the present day" is just too much. A time gap that large often means there is nothing we the reader need to know when we are first introduced to your main character, and sure enough, I was right: none of it came up within the first 4 chapters. The mythos in the prologue should be distilled through the story when the reader/characters need that information.

I'm unsure if you are familiar with The Expanse by James SA Corey, but that has one of the best prologues I've ever read. It sets up the inciting incident of the story in a way that's interesting and it does tell a story in its own right instead of being an expositional dump. It follows a character who, despite not personally appearing again until the end of the story, is the main focal point of one of the main POV characters tasked with finding her and another POV character who sets off the major events of the story based on her prologue. And both of these narrative arcs start early on, as in, within the 1st few chapters these characters are introduced.

----

You use a lot of phrases to name your characters instead of just naming them. "The youth in gold", "The young princess", "the black clad youth"...

It tends to make the story impersonal and the descriptors clutter the page, making it easy to lose track of who is who. Your descriptors in your fight scene also tends to drag the focus away from the fight. Taking focus away from the fight in a fight scene isn't necessarily a bad thing, but you don't shift that focus into character building. We don't really get a sense of either their personalities or their capabilities because you don't have the description in the right spots (ie the choreography or their dialogue with each other). Rather, I'm left wondering "which youth am I supposed to be rooting for here?"

----

I understand that RR/webnovel publishing lends itself to shorter, more frequent chapter updates, but your scene:chapter:word count ratio is still pretty low. At an average length of ~1k words/chapter over your first 4 and like 2 scenes per chapter, there just isn't enough information being given to the reader to get invested in the story. We know very little of the setting beyond the larger words you've thrown at us (and defined in the author notes—which honestly should be defined through descriptive words in the narration). We don't really know where the characters are. Combined with the previous point, it makes it a little hard to get invested because we aren't getting deeper character & setting building at the most crucial part of the story: the beginning.


But just as an example of what I mean, Indra and Surya are friends. Their dialogue in chapter 3 feels extremely forced and it doesn't feel like there is enough narration to discern whether it's intentional (they're speaking like that because they are in a ceremony—they don't actually speak this way to each other in private) or you're trying to use a larger vocabulary because you think that's how they should talk because they are royalty. Perception has me leaning towards the latter assessment, but I can assure you that most friends (especially since childhood) wouldn't speak to each other that way unless they were upholding propriety in a formal setting (such as where the position of "king" should be treated higher than that of "friend" like in a court meeting). Most friends will use far, far less formal speech and titles (which again, serves only to clutter the story)

Sort of on that note, we never get an idea of how old these characters actually are. I get the feeling they are early 20-somethings, but the dialogue and narration specific to the last paragraph feels more like someone twice or even thrice their age.

----

I'm not suggesting some people aren't giving you .5 stars because they are assholes (anyone giving that low a rating without justifying with a review is an asshole), but based on my assessment above is an attempt to offer a different perspective on why people might be .5 starring you that isn't necessarily tied to just being an asshole.

I will admit, the 200 year gap on the prologue is a pretty big barrier for me. If I feel I have to skip a chapter, especially the first chapter, I am less inclined to read the second one.

Re: My third 0.5 in a row in a span of 2 wks

#8
My very first review was .5 stars. It was given to me sometime after I posted chapter three and thank goodness I've been writing long enough not to take it as a serious commentary on my storytelling/writing ability and let it undermine my confidence. While my plot, content, and style won't appeal to everyone, it's in no way a story worth less than one star with no commentary. As annoying as it is to me, it's so much more discouraging for newer and younger writers, of which there are many on Royal Road. I understand not everyone wants to read the works of people learning the craft, but this also shouldn't be an environment where people are actively discouraged because their first fictions aren't up to publishing standards. Most of these stories have excellent bones and amazing high points and if those exist, they shouldn't be discouraged with a .5 star rating. (And as others have alluded, I have only been here a few weeks and I've noticed stories who mention LGBTQ characters in their synopsis tend to have a higher number of troll ratings, and it makes me wonder).

I say all of this as someone who posted with the understanding my story wasn't going to draw in a huge crowd on Royal Road as it's an emotional, character driven sci-fi with a cast of mostly queer women where the story progression has less to do with physical power/magic and more with internal strength, mental fortitude., and politics. I just believe there's an audience for all stories out there and people who simply don't like your premise or are against the content of your story, unless it's truly abhorrent and handled horribly, shouldn't be able to drag down the entire thing to such an extent and make it less likely for it to find the right audience.

Edit to Add: I have actually read your story and while there is room for improvement, you have a lot of wonderful things going on. A beautiful world, interesting characters, a hint of mystery, and a story that's taking off from the point where I'm at. It's not a .5 star story at all and while I can see how it might not be some readers' "thing", they can just close the story and move on or leave a more accurate rating with proper constructive criticism. If there's one lesson I wish the world could learn is just to leave something they don't like for personal preference reasons (or reasons of bigotry or whatever else) and say, "This is not for me."

Re: My third 0.5 in a row in a span of 2 wks

#9

Sereminar Wrote: Also, I don't think I've ever heard a positive thing about RR rating system in the 3 years I've been on this site...
The Royal Road rating system is one of the better implementations of a five star rating system that I've seen on the internet.  It of course has its flaws, which leads to undesired and uncomfortable behavior.  Though there is no known remedy to those flaws that does not in turn cause other undesired consequences.  Royal Road is well aware of these problems and has selected this rating system as the lesser of two evils, as is their prerogative.  



FantasyBliss30 Wrote: So, is that how it is going to be?

Zogarth Wrote: If I were in the decision-arena of RR, I would be embarrassed.
Sereminar Wrote: At what point do we decide that a larger number of ratings isn't worth allowing anonymity?


A mere complaint or emotion about the rating system is unproductive.  Present to Royal Road an alternative, a change, a tweak to the rating system; and argue why your suggestion is better than the existing system.  You may still fail, but the possibility of success is significantly higher.

Re: My third 0.5 in a row in a span of 2 wks

#10
I came here to rant my 0.5 ratings for my fiction but who am I seeing here. Is it, my pal fantasy bliss.

BA Tucker was very harsh. I still don't know whether he was for or against 0.5 ratings.

I disagree with a lot of what Tucker said in his reply but he complained loudly about all negatives when this post is all about our fiction really worth 0.5 ratings? Isn't it unfair?

Before I go into my rant please Tucker please speak for yourself and don't speak for the whole community. When you are expressing your views just express 'I feel' and not 'you probably lost readers because of' unless you are a royal road expert who can speak for swathes of readers (hivemind!).

Now that is out of my system. I came here to express my righteous anger 'how dare they' but I changed my mind (because I went off tangent and lost steam).

I want to ask something sensitive are they targeting a certain demographic or is it random?

Re: My third 0.5 in a row in a span of 2 wks

#11

Blackleg Wrote: BA Tucker was very harsh. I still don't know whether he was for or against 0.5 ratings.


"0.5 stars without justification" is what I am against. 0.5 stars as a concept, I think it's fair to rate a story that. Though personally if I find a story is worth a 0.5 star, I would drop it without rating it as I wouldn't even bother wasting any more time with it.

How do you define harsh? My tone wasn't mean, I didn't call anyone names. It's constructive feedback on areas I thought might be causing people to drop the story or hand out 0.5 stars in a manner that isn't necessarily linked to malice.

If you want to accuse me of being harsh, posting the critique in a public forum might be harsh, but the critique itself wasn't. You'll get a lot worse from an editor than you will from me. Trust me, you aren't paying them to stroke your ego by only calling attention to things you're doing well. 


Blackleg Wrote: Before I go into my rant please Tucker please speak for yourself and don't speak for the whole community. When you are expressing your views just express 'I feel' and not 'you probably lost readers because of' unless you are a royal road expert who can speak for swathes of readers (hivemind!).


I did not claim to speak for the community.

I am merely someone with 5 years of writing and critiquing experience who has worked with dozens of people who have later gone on to publish their stuff either traditionally or the self-publishing route.

My opinions are subjective, but it's based on experience with what does and doesn't work as well as critiques I've received on my own writing,which you'll never hear me claim is perfect. I'm actually working with a professional editor whose job is to "mark my manuscript with red".

Re: My third 0.5 in a row in a span of 2 wks

#12

Blackleg Wrote: I came here to rant my 0.5 ratings for my fiction but who am I seeing here. Is it, my pal fantasy bliss.

BA Tucker was very harsh. I still don't know whether he was for or against 0.5 ratings.

I disagree with a lot of what Tucker said in his reply but he complained loudly about all negatives when this post is all about our fiction really worth 0.5 ratings? Isn't it unfair?

Before I go into my rant please Tucker please speak for yourself and don't speak for the whole community. When you are expressing your views just express 'I feel' and not 'you probably lost readers because of' unless you are a royal road expert who can speak for swathes of readers (hivemind!).

Now that is out of my system. I came here to express my righteous anger 'how dare they' but I changed my mind (because I went off tangent).

I want to ask something sensitive are they targeting a certain demographic or it is random?


I want to know the same thing, and it's hard to know the actual answer. There are a lot of past threads speaking to issues with LGBTQ content being unable to maintain the same above 4.5 star rankings fictions with straight characters do specifically because of anonymous .5 star rating bombs. It'd require an actual study of the website, but there's enough smoke warrant an investigation. Especially since I've seen some comments in the forums around LGBTQ content (I searched before deciding to bring my story here as I always do) that have turned my head a bit. Nothing outright hostile, but certainly dismissive and not at all inclusive, including one that indicated gay folks should go to Wattpad if that's what they're looking for. Except, most stories with LGBTQIA+ characters don't deal directly with identity and issues surrounding those identities. The characters are just characters living their lives and having adventures the same as their hetero counterparts.

I am willing to bed some .5 star ratings are random trolls. It'd be interesting to see the types of stories some of the serial rating bombers are rating, though.

Re: My third 0.5 in a row in a span of 2 wks

#13

luda305 Wrote:
Sereminar Wrote: Also, I don't think I've ever heard a positive thing about RR rating system in the 3 years I've been on this site...
The Royal Road rating system is one of the better implementations of a five star rating system that I've seen on the internet.  It of course has its flaws, which leads to undesired and uncomfortable behavior.  Though there is no known remedy to those flaws that does not in turn cause other undesired consequences.  Royal Road is well aware of these problems and has selected this rating system as the lesser of two evils, as is their prerogative.  



FantasyBliss30 Wrote: So, is that how it is going to be?

Zogarth Wrote: If I were in the decision-arena of RR, I would be embarrassed.
Sereminar Wrote: At what point do we decide that a larger number of ratings isn't worth allowing anonymity?


A mere complaint or emotion about the rating system is unproductive.  Present to Royal Road an alternative, a change, a tweak to the rating system; and argue why your suggestion is better than the existing system.  You may still fail, but the possibility of success is significantly higher.
Oh boy, has there not been better suggestions and long discussions of improvements directly with admins on Discord servers, plenty of ideas offered that would without a doubt improve the experience for authors, including but not limited to: Downvote/upvote, individual chapter ratings, weighted averages, different statistical models to remove outliers, automatic shadow-banning of people who systematically give low ratings, and so much more. So far, all it has boiled down to is "all system's are bad, so we just go with our bad version"


Let's just go with an upvote downvote button for now as a potential solutution. As the current system is, my own novel with an average above 4.5 essentially has 1 "upvote" that can be given that will positively impact the average and 9 "downvotes" that will negatively impact the average. Each of them of varying degrees. If I have to explain to you why such a system isn't inherently flawed within the current rating culture of RR, then I don't know what to tell you.

If I took that approach with a major issue at my old job, I would be fired.

Re: My third 0.5 in a row in a span of 2 wks

#14

B.A. Wrote: I read your first 4 chapters and glanced at your 1st prologue. And I'll be honest, you're probably losing people there.
Well damn this was an extensive helpful review of her story. You bored and wanna do the same for mine? DrakanLaugh 



Zogarth Wrote: Oh boy, has there not been better suggestions and long discussions of improvements directly with admins on Discord servers, plenty of ideas offered that would without a doubt improve the experience for authors, including but not limited to: Downvote/upvote, individual chapter ratings, weighted averages, different statistical models to remove outliers, automatic shadow-banning of people who systematically give low ratings, and so much more. So far, all it has boiled down to is "all system's are bad, so we just go with our bad version"


Let's just go with an upvote downvote button for now as a potential solutution. As the current system is, my own novel with an average above 4.5 essentially has 1 "upvote" that can be given that will positively impact the average and 9 "downvotes" that will negatively impact the average. Each of them of varying degrees. If I have to explain to you why such a system isn't inherently flawed within the current rating culture of RR, then I don't know what to tell you.

If I took that approach with a major issue at my old job, I would be fired.
Later this year Amazon's Kindle Vella will release without a rating system, and without a dislike button. It just has a like button and a crowning system for readers to crown their favorite book every week. I genuinely like the idea of removing ratings and dislikes. It basically removes the ability to troll an author and damage a book out of spite for a particular topic (like LGBT). Instead we're just given a system that shows which books are liked more than others. Simple.

It's surprising that even after all the feedback that RR has been given they keep a system that makes so many authors unhappy. I've been here for a little over a month and all I hear is complaints about the rating system, so clearly it's broken.
I remember Msng a few days ago talked about chapter rating which I thought was a cool idea, but really we'll just run into the same problem if it affects an algorithm that rewards good ratings.

Re: My third 0.5 in a row in a span of 2 wks

#15
has anyone ever thought of keeping the current system but having a sidebar that says  something like
"Akata rated this 4.5/5 stars"
Because anonymous reviews are what keep trolls doing what they're doing. If you have a little sidebar of what people reviewed, it might help the issue, without ruining the current system, as a deterrent. However, that might stop people from rating in general. 

Re: My third 0.5 in a row in a span of 2 wks

#17

Sereminar Wrote: At what point do we decide that a larger number of ratings isn't worth allowing anonymity?

Ha!! THANK YOU!!
peolove

B.A. Wrote: I read your first 4 chapters and glanced at your 1st prologue. And I'll be honest, you're probably losing people there.

Thank you soooo much BA Tucker for your in-depth analysis for why my story deserves 0.5 star which is great, and I really appreciate taking your time for doing it and I truly welcome your feedback and WILL critically think about your suggestions. BUT, if you read my OP, it was not about whether I deserve it or not. It was about ANONYMITY of it all and the system letting trolls rate a story 0.5 anonymously without telling us anything why it was rated so. You infact with your in-depth analysis made my argument stronger and for that I thank you.


B.A. Wrote: IMHO, a 200 year gap between your prologue and "the present day" is just too much. A time gap that large often means there is nothing we the reader need to know when we are first introduced to your main character, and sure enough, I was right: none of it came up within the first 4 chapters.

Regarding this, it comes up in chapter 4 though. And chapter 1 and 2 are parts 1 and 2 of the same chapter, BTW. Also, the prologue is just what it is supposed to be, a prologue. 

B.A. Wrote: The mythos in the prologue should be distilled through the story when the reader/characters need that information.

And this exactly why it did not come up in the first three chapters because as per your own suggestion, I literally littered it throughout the story, instead of infodumping it in the first three chapters, just as you suggested in your comment. 
But I truly will take a deep hard look at the 4 chapters you read and your feedback (again thank you) and see where and how i can incorporate your comments.

OwlishIntergalactic Wrote: My very first review was .5 stars. It was given to me sometime after I posted chapter three and thank goodness I've been writing long enough not to take it as a serious commentary on my storytelling/writing ability and let it undermine my confidence.
What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. <3 Also, once more, 
OwlishIntergalactic Wrote: Edit to Add: I have actually read your story and while there is room for improvement, you have a lot of wonderful things going on.
Thank you so much, @OwlishIntergalactic. These are such encouraging words, just knowing that I am doing okay and that I can do even better. Love you for that.
peolove


luda305 Wrote: Though there is no known remedy to those flaws that does not in turn cause other undesired consequences.  Royal Road is well aware of these problems and has selected this rating system as the lesser of two evils, as is their prerogative.


luda305 Wrote: A mere complaint or emotion about the rating system is unproductive.  Present to Royal Road an alternative, a change, a tweak to the rating system; and argue why your suggestion is better than the existing system.  You may still fail, but the possibility of success is significantly higher.

Luda, while I am happy to see that the system IS working for you, I totally disagree that it is the only best option, because there are many for whom it is not. AND, an alternative WAS presented btw, by @Akata. Here is the thread:
https://www.royalroad.com/forums/thread/109416

I even saw you commenting on it. So I do not know why you are saying here that a better alternative was not presented.
And there are a bunch of suggestion tickets to overhaul the rating system. So, I am not sure why you are writing what you wrote here. I do respect your opinion, but that does nothing to help the ones that are suffering because of the broken rating system. <3

Blackleg Wrote: I came here to rant my 0.5 ratings for my fiction but who am I seeing here. Is it, my pal fantasy bliss.

Dawww, thank you so much @Blackleg!!
peolove

B.A. Wrote: "0.5 stars without justification" is what I am against. 0.5 stars as a concept, I think it's fair to rate a story that.

I am a little confused here. You are implying that I see all 0.5 stars as unjustified but NOWHERE in my post I said that.

I am literally questioning why trolls get to rate 0.5 anonymously without justification (as in without justifying their rating). But according to you, trolls anonymously rating my story is justified but me complaining about them is unjustified? And then, you go on a tangent and read my story only to justify those troll ratings that did not even bother justifying their own rating. I am in a 'justification' labyrinth right now. But strong disagree here. Sorry.

Edit: Okay I reread the part above and I think it is clearer to me that you do, at the end of the day, agree that anonymous 0.5 stars are unjustified, right? 

Lastly, and mostly importantly, we all can agree that data speaks for itself and here is the data:


https%3A%2F%2Fi.imgur.com%2FNEdCEwy.png
As you can see, anything before mid april was high up there, and most of them were anonymous 4.5-5 ratings, ( I did some review swaps which were even before them). You can see the back to back three recent 0.5 ratings. Even someone who does not understand data can see that it is out of normal (statistically significant). The difference is so stark that I could barely fit the entire graphic in one screencap. Unless I took a dagger and metaphorically killed all the characters in my novel, this is NOT NORMAL.

Also, the very latest 5 star rating (at the very right top of the graphic) is something I just received from a kind soul possibly because they read this post and wanted to support me. But yes, I am 100% willing to be honest and forthcoming with my data. Where is the honesty in the rating system?

Re: My third 0.5 in a row in a span of 2 wks

#18

Zogarth Wrote: Oh boy, has there not been better suggestions and long discussions of improvements directly with admins on Discord servers, plenty of ideas offered that would without a doubt improve the experience for authors, including but not limited to: Downvote/upvote, individual chapter ratings, weighted averages, different statistical models to remove outliers, automatic shadow-banning of people who systematically give low ratings, and so much more. So far, all it has boiled down to is "all system's are bad, so we just go with our bad version"

Let's just go with an upvote downvote button for now. As the current system is, my own novel with an average above 4.5 essentially has 1 "upvote" that can be given that will positively impact the average and 9 "downvotes" that will negatively impact the average. Each of them of varying degrees. If I have to explain to you why such a system isn't inherently flawed within the current rating culture of RR, then I don't know what to tell you.

If I took that approach with a major issue at my old job, I would be fired.
Excellent! Many people have provided positive and constructive feedback on improving the rating system.  And Royal Road has exercised its prerogative to continue to utilize the present system. (Actually, I assume that there has been non-obvious backend changes that were accepted and implemented, but it's not relevant to this discussion).  The debate is over until the next new idea comes along for their consideration. The system is working as intended.


As to the 9:1 argument, yes, I've seen your discussions on that point a few times.  If there is any room for argument (which I doubt), I think kanadaj's rebuttal is much, much stronger.  And, even if it's not, then (again) it's Royal Road's prerogative. And while I'm not super clear on their organization/ownership, the staff clearly have a lot of independence to do what they want (or at least compared to your old job).

Re: My third 0.5 in a row in a span of 2 wks

#19

FantasyBliss30 Wrote: Luda, while I am happy to see that the system IS working for you, I totally disagree that it is the only best option, because there are many for whom it is not. AND, an alternative WAS presented btw, by @Akata. Here is the thread:
https://www.royalroad.com/forums/thread/109416

I even saw you commenting on it. So I do not know why you are saying here that a better alternative was not presented.  And there are a bunch of suggestion tickets to overhaul the rating system. So, I am not sure why you are writing what you wrote here. I do respect your opinion, but that does nothing to help the ones that are suffering because of the broken rating system. <3
I wouldn't say that the system is working for me.  For my more popular fiction, I hit as high as 4.735, then bottomed out at 4.392, and am around 4.517.  And 2% of all of my ratings are 0.5 star ratings without reviews.  Trolls happen. 

But, totally, there may be better options. I just don't know of any that I can say are undisputably better.  And as with the stories on the site, I am trying to apply the principle of charity to Royal Road's decisions on how to change (or not) the ratings system.  

As a matter of terminology, I have a problem calling the Royal Road ratings system "broken."  That term implies to me that the rating system is wholly uncorrelated with quality or, perhaps, very loosely uncorrelated with quality (let's say r^2<0.5) (apologies to the non-math readership).  And while there are both (a) stories above 4.5 that I think are terrible, and (b) stories under 4.0 that I think are great, there's at least a decent correlation. Sure the rating system is "flawed," and I can work with that, but it's not complete garbage. 

Re: My third 0.5 in a row in a span of 2 wks

#20

Quote:How do you define harsh? My tone wasn't mean, I didn't call anyone names. It's constructive feedback on areas I thought might be causing people to drop the story or hand out 0.5 stars in a manner that isn't necessarily linked to malice.

If you want to accuse me of being harsh, posting the critique in a public forum might be harsh, but the critique itself wasn't. You'll get a lot worse from an editor than you will from me. Trust me, you aren't paying them to stroke your ego by only calling attention to things you're doing well. 


Dude why are you harping your five-year experience every time. Since you said the views are subjective. Let's leave it at that point.

 I called it harsh because It was harsh as you insinuated some readers might give 0.5 ratings for her novel (pls give me your criteria when you will judge the fiction as 0.5)
Also just because your editor was rude to you don't need to be that harsh to a non-native speaker who was trying her best.