Re: reviews should not be on if the story is good or not, but on...

#1
reviews should not be on if the story is good or not,
but instead, to let you understand objectively  on what you are actually going to read, without spoiling.

the synopsis is usual not sufficient most of the time to understand that,
and i find reviews dont give me the answer other then to actually be wasting time by starting to read the story.

is the story will focus on what? on the general experience?
what this is about? a MC slowly going on progressing life in a new world, or a MC that is on the run or never get a moment he is not pushed into doing something urgently?
is it an adventure? or a story with a plot?
is the grammar bad? can it still be readable?
is the drama good or not?
is the magic system interesting or not? the abilities? the why it affect the world?
world building in large? in the small parts of life? is it realistic? alien?

overall, i think reviews should not be on rating but on what you can expect from a story.

there are waaaay to much review i read (and i am not  talking on the the short ones) that are just invested in saying with is good and what is not, but dont actually give me an understanding on what i am actually about to read.

it is even worse since every one is interested in something different when they read something. so the rating they give is not reflective of what someone else that look for somting else will give. it like someone that is going to a sci fi movie give it a low score because it was not an action movie but one thous that are based on some book (like arrivel)

for example: when it come to litrpg or xianxia, i just ignore reviews since they NEVER tell me what i want to know.
is the system good? is it feel immersive? i dont fking care it dont have good characters or plot. its a fking a solo adventure that i am searching.

in the end it all reviews do today is give a score on the popularity contest, that in the end only serve the ones that have interests that only popular stories will be presented to readers, and to bury that one that are less then popular. because all it do is make unpopular story less poplar by making readers that might like them not even read them if they find them. and goad readers that will not actually like the story to try anyway, increasing the popularity, even if they dont rate the story.



what is your take on what reviews should actually be about?

Re: reviews should not be on if the story is good or not, but on...

#2
You are basically saying that reviewers shouldn't be reviewing, but rewriting the author's synopsis for them.  I'm sorry, but I'm going to disagree with you.  I'll admit that most authors don't know how to write a synopsis, but weather they go through the effort of overcoming that weakness or asking for help, that's on them.  And the flaw that results from that decision is reflective of their stories quality.  

Royalroad is popular because we have a very critical review system.  There are lots of other sites that have garbage reviews or no reviews that you can use.  Webnovel for example allows authors to delete any review they don't like.  Pretty much every other site than this one has a barely functioning review system.  

Even assuming you did achieve a site like what you are describing, I'm pretty sure no one would care to use it. 

Re: reviews should not be on if the story is good or not, but on...

#3
How can you accurately let people know what they are going to read, without spoiler or opinion? And while a synopsis tries to do this to some extent, the barrier there, is that it has to be super short and catchy so it sells the novel. And as you yourself already experienced: those are often not done very well and/or don't accurately portrait what a novel will be like. And if the author themselves can't do this well, what makes you think a reader can? Moreover, what makes you think readers will want to even participate in a system like that? People want to give their opinion, they don't want to write someone a synopsis or summary. 

And while pointing out technical errors is useful, the summary of those errors will almost always be subjective. What for example is worse? Someone who occasionally misspells a word, or someone who occasionally makes a grammatical error? Or do you want the statistics on that? Because that would be objective. And that is assuming a reader even knows and notices mistakes.
The whole idea just sounds completely unrealistic to me and simply not how people read novels. How people interpret a novel is subjective. Even how they experience objective errors is subjective. One person might be bothered by constant their/they're mistakes, while another might not even notice, and yet another notices it, but isn't bothered. 

And that's just the technical part of a novel. What about the artistic parts? Because a large part of what makes a novel good is its artistic merit -- which is pretty much by definition subjective. Take some of the examples you yourself give: "is the drama good or not?" and "is the magic system interesting or not?". Large parts of what makes drama good and a magic system interesting, is subjective. One might like it, another might not. Just let everyone explain what they like and dislike by themselves. That's what reviews are about, what reviews should be and also what is valuable to other readers. And sure, some -- or even most -- reviews might not be valuable to you. There is however always that one review that is. And the more reviews there are, the more likely it is there is a useful review for you. So increasing the barriers for writing a review also doesn't sound like a good idea.

So realistically a reader can either give their opinion about a novel -- which is basically what we're doing now on this site -- or they can write a synopsis or summary. A pure objective summary or synopsis without spoilers tends to hold very little value to readers, because if you leave both opinion and spoiler out, you're left with an incomplete and boring piece of text that none wants to read or write. And because no one wants to read or write it, the entire review functionality on the site won't be used.

In my opinion the review system on this site is one of the better once out there. Sure it has some flaws, but the alternatives are infinitely worse. 

Re: reviews should not be on if the story is good or not, but on...

#4

Quote:reviews should not be on if the story is good or not, 
but instead, to let you understand objectively  on what you are actually going to read, without spoiling



I’m sorry, but I think the concept of objectively criticizing an artistic work is kind of ridiculous. Art is inherently subjective—no two readers will see a story the exact same way, and what’s fascinating and exciting to me is trite and boring to someone else. Characters and relationships that I hate remain popular, even though I personally can’t stand them. Some of the top-rated stories on this site exclusively use tropes and plot lines that bore me to death. It’s impossible to ask reviewers to only discuss objective facts, because even basic questions (including some of the ones you listed as examples) have entirely subjective answers. Whether the drama is compelling or overdone, whether the magic system is intriguing or useless, whether the worldbuilding is interesting or distracting, is mostly a matter of personal opinion. The point of reviews is to see other people’s opinions and decide whether the story sounds like something you’d enjoy. Besides, most major, story-breaking mistakes happen in the plot and character departments; objective errors like grammatical problems and dates that don’t line up are usually less noticeable than poorly written plot lines and annoying characters. If you forced people to only discuss objective mistakes, you’d just get a ton of reviews like “they missed a comma in line 18 of chapter 27” and “they said this character’s birthday was November 11 but now it’s December 11.” 


Quote:overall, i think reviews should not be on rating but on what you can expect from a story. 



If you read the synopsis and looked at the tags and still have no idea what the story’s about, that’s the author’s problem. Readers shouldn’t have to leave beat-by-beat summaries of every story they review (and how would they even do that without spoiling anything, anyway?) If re-summarizing works that already have tags and synopses was required to leave a review… well, no one would participate in that system. People leave reviews because they want to share their opinions about the work, not because they want to redo an author’s work for them by writing a complicated summary. If the synopsis is useless, blame the writer, not the reviewers. 


Quote:It is even worse since every one is interested in something different when they read something. so the rating they give is not reflective of what someone else that look for somting else will.



I do think you have a point here—it’s dumb to read a sci-fi work and then complain about it because you don’t like the genre. I think the best way to avoid having this happen is to simply stay away from stories you don’t like. Don’t participate in review swaps with authors who write in genres you aren’t a fan of, don’t ask for feedback from people who hate stories like yours, etc. “Dead dove, do not eat” is a good rule to live by—if something is clearly marked science fiction, and you hate science fiction, don’t open it, read it, and write a review complaining about the fact that it’s science fiction. 


Quote:for example: when it come to litrpg or xianxia, i just ignore reviews since they NEVER tell me what i want to know. 



Quote:is the system good? is it feel immersive? i dont fking care it dont have good characters or plot. its a fking a solo adventure that i am searching. 



If you don’t care about the characters or the plot, you’re probably going to have a difficult time finding reviews that help you, but that’s not a flaw in the reviewing system. Most people care a lot about characters and plot, so that’s what most reviews will focus on. It’s fine if you don’t care about those things, but it’s not fair to say that most reviews are useless just because they don’t contain the specific information you personally want to know. 

I like RoyalRoad’s review system as it is now, to be honest. It encourages people to discuss different aspects of the story rather than make blanket statements about overall quality, it weighs actual reviews over simple two-second ratings, etc. Creating a perfectly non-biased review system is pretty much impossible, but I don’t see any major problems that need fixing right now. 

Re: reviews should not be on if the story is good or not, but on...

#5

DarkD Wrote: You are basically saying that reviewers shouldn't be reviewing, but rewriting the author's synopsis for them.  I'm sorry, but I'm going to disagree with you.



That's pretty much what I was thinking as I read the original post. It almost seemed as if emperor yair thought my main duty as a reviewer would be to write advertising copy on behalf of the author to help promote his story. The sort of thing that might be printed on the back cover of a paperback novel, or appear inside the book jacket of the hardback edition? 

My feeling is that if the author wants to carefully explain his storytelling decisions to readers in more detail than the synopsis permits -- for instance, clarifying just how his LitPRG system works (if that's the sort of story he's telling) -- then it's his job to figure out how to accomplish that! Not mine! If I write a review, presumably I will explain what I particularly like or dislike about the story, based on my own tastes, but I may put a lot less emphasis on such worldbuilding decisions as "how detailed and logical is the local magic system?" than some readers -- such as emperor yair -- might prefer. 

There's also another little point I want to mention. On this type of website, I tend to assume that most people  will make the decision to read the first couple of chapters of a story -- or else to not bother! -- without checking out other people's reviews of the story first. I base that on my own experience. In other words, when I'm deciding whether or not to give the first few chapters of something a fair chance to impress me, it usually doesn't even occur to me to read a few reviews of the story before I click my way in to the beginning of the story itself. I'm not planning to let some total strangers essentially "make the decision for me" by telling me why they think I should or shouldn't like this story. 

After I've examined those first few chapters, and have developed some sense of the writer's tone and style, and what sort of world is being built, and so on and so forth, then I may decide to keep reading more chapters because I find this reasonably entertaining. After I've decided to invest some serious time in that story, then -- as an afterthought -- I may decide to finally take a few minutes to read whatever reactions other people have already posted as reviews. (If anyone has.) On the other hand! If I had decided in the first ten minutes that something about this story -- the writing style, the personality of the main character, the basic plot premise, etc. -- simply didn't appeal to me, then I would never bother to look at the posted reviews, because they wouldn't tell me anything I really cared about at that point, when I had already chosen to drop the story like a hot potato.

Of course, all that is just how I approach these things. Others may actually make a point of reading the existing reviews first, before they read (or don't even bother to read) a few sample chapters of the story itself. I have no data on how often that happens.

Re: reviews should not be on if the story is good or not, but on...

#6
That's more like how reviews used to be. Saying "This story is a about X, Y, and Z. It's similiar to stories like Story1 and Story2, but what's different is that it's W and Q. I loved A, B and C. I hated D. The writing quality is fine/bad/good/amazing." 

Advanced reviews talking about "style", "grammar" and stuff are way more useful to the author, than to the reader. And so often people write a wall of text of complaining to the author in the reviews, which is 0% useful to any reader out there, and can only make them think "Ok, this guy hated it to much he wrote 1k words of complaining, it must suck..."

I disagree that this is a job of the synopsis, because the synopsis can't be trusted. Authors always overhype their stuff, make it sound more amazing that it is, or don't write enough. Even if it's a good synopsis, it's like reading an ad, unrealistic. So you go to the reviews to see what it's really  about, and weather other people are enjoying it, and what aspects they're enjoying. 

Re: reviews should not be on if the story is good or not, but on...

#7
Quote:There's also another little point I want to mention. On this type of website, I tend to assume that most people  will make the decision to read the first couple of chapters of a story -- or else to not bother! -- without checking out other people's reviews of the story first. I base that on my own experience. In other words, when I'm deciding whether or not to give the first few chapters of something a fair chance to impress me, it usually doesn't even occur to me to read a few reviews of the story before I click my way in to the beginning of the story itself. I'm not planning to let some total strangers essentially "make the decision for me" by telling me why they think I should or shouldn't like this story.

I really disagree with you here, I feel like reviews' primary purpose is to help readers decide weather to read or to not waste their time. Same like when you're buying a phone, you look up reviews for it, to see whether it will last long, will it get slow after 6 months, does the battery explode, are there any major problems people are having, etc.

Reading such things AFTER your battery has exploded is completely useless. You've already wasted your time, your money, on the product, and got screwed over by it. 

And yes, batteries "explode" on Royalroad stories all the time. It's not rare for the plot, or a character, to go in a direction so ridiculous, that everybody hates so much that most people stop reading right then and there. I don't want to waste my time reading a story that will turn to trash after 50 chapters

Re: reviews should not be on if the story is good or not, but on...

#8

Ararara Wrote: That's more like how reviews used to be. Saying "This story is a about X, Y, and Z. It's similiar to stories like Story1 and Story2, but what's different is that it's W and Q. I loved A, B and C. I hated D. The writing quality is fine/bad/good/amazing." 

Advanced reviews talking about "style", "grammar" and stuff are way more useful to the author, than to the reader. And so often people write a wall of text of complaining to the author in the reviews, which is 0% useful to any reader out there, and can only make them think "Ok, this guy hated it to much he wrote 1k words of complaining, it must suck..."

I disagree that this is a job of the synopsis, because the synopsis can't be trusted. Authors always overhype their stuff, make it sound more amazing that it is, or don't write enough. Even if it's a good synopsis, it's like reading an ad, unrealistic. So you go to the reviews to see what it's really  about, and weather other people are enjoying it, and what aspects they're enjoying.

this is exactly what i wanted to convey in the beginning.


also, in my opinion reviews are NOT the place to address the author on this site. that is what comments in the bottom of the chapter are for (and not for saying "first")

Re: reviews should not be on if the story is good or not, but on...

#9
For what it's worth, when I do one of my reviews, I try to stick to a pattern:

Part 1 - indicate what chapter or page I read to and then summarize the story elements akin to rewriting the synopsis in my own words.  I find that as a reader and an author myself, it's valuable.  What the author's synopsis says is not always accurate - or rather its accurate for the first arc and they're on arc four now.  As a reader, seeing other readers interpretation of what the story is about is helpful to me.  As an author, it helps me to polish my own blurb.

Part 2 - in a spoiler section, I go over all the different requirements Royal Road asks for in an advanced review, such as Story Score or Grammar Score.  I put this in a spoiler, because I use examples from the story to support my rating.   Such as "I found no issues with the pacing, but the story shifted from a progression fantasy to political intrigue around chapter 35 which broke my immersion."  This way, any readers who look at my reviews know that what I'm saying about the story (good or bad) will be based on knowledge that might spoil the read.  

Part 3 - after the spoiler, I leave one or two summarizing statements that indicate whether I would recommend the story to be read.  Sometimes that means, "If you don't like x, this story might not be for you, but if you do, then..." etc.


Of course, trying to stick to the pattern doesn't mean I always have or will.  There's a couple of stories I've read and then when I look at the other reviews, I scratch my head.... like an overly critical review that indicates it was reviewed at chapter 400 something.    It's like... come on.   You got 400+ chapters of enjoyment outta this story for free but chapter 423 is where you draw the line because you don't like character x or y?   That is ridiculous.    Especially when considering just how many books stories like ah or rg would equate to based on pages.   

Anyway, those are my thoughts.  If you think I can improve my review process,  please let me know!