On the Subject of Ratings and Reviews; Or, How I lost the motivation to write following a bad rating

#1
Now, this might come across a bit whiny, but hear me out. I feel that Royal Road should do away with the anonymous rating system in favour of the review full-time. It is way too easy for someone to completely tank a story's overall stars-rating by picking smol number of stars. I have not been a victim of (yet, but I feel like I'm making myself a target for it) the dreaded 0.5 star rating, but I know a lot of very successful authors have been. Empirically, very rarely have those who've given a story 0.5 stars provided any sort of explanation, and in fewer cases have those few aforementioned explanations made any sort of sense. 

I understand that jotting down a few words as to why you maybe like or (more likely in this particular case) dislike a story might be a bit of a hurdle, but there is nothing more discouraging to a would-be author/hobbyist-writer/happy amateur than waking up and seeing their story failing hard because of a single bad rating which pushes their story's median down really hard. Why did you dislike what I wrote? What can I do better? How many chapters did you read before you decided to leave that rating? What in particular would you like to see more or less of? Most of the time these questions will remain unanswered.

This goes back to the reader as well. What do you actually want to read? If you don't want to read what I write exactly, give me some hints as to what you want to read. Don't just hit us with the "nyaah, me no like", leave some instructions as to how me might adopt the story so that you might like it. And then, we'd perhaps try to adopt it into the story that we've started to write from the outset, that the other fans like, and merge into a comprehensive story. Just a thought.

Coming back to the title of the post, I've had nothing but 5.0 or the occasional 4.5 rating all the while writing on this site, and this one 2.5 rating tanked my will to write further. Before you imply that I'm a fragile human being, I deal with enough open critique in my professional life on a daily basis in academia, but while that might be cut-throat, it is polite enough to tell you which doctor or professor disliked your article, based on academic feedback and peer-review, and they tell you what should ideally be improved upon. What I really don't deal well with is anonymous... -"harassment" is way too strong of a term, but "critique" implies some sort of constructive feedback-
fire-and-forget attitude which has become so entrenched in modern western society.

I don't know what I want to accomplish with this post, I won't change the nature of this website, which is actually one of the least toxic ones when it comes to posting original stories, but I feel like fighting the good fight for those who've been afflicted by the dreaded anonymous 0.5 review.
Am I original? Hell no.
Will I probably be hit with the same? Probably.

Pray for me.

Mithradates Eupator

Re: On the Subject of Ratings and Reviews; Or, How I lost the motivation to write following a bad rating

#2
You have tons of glowing ratings and reviews, and you let ONE 2.5 stop you in your creative tracks? 

Listen, you have to cultivate the virtue of spite. 

I’m an artist. I’m an artist who has and does work in the game industry. I’m also a woman. This pisses various people off for some reason. I’ve literally had people make entire accounts on certain websites just to tell me they masturbate to thought of me losing my job and crying. So, I cultivated spite. Now it brings me joy to know the existence of my creations on the internet gives certain other people negative feelings, because those certain other people suck and deserve to have negative feelings. And when the criticism is based on the actual quality of my work and not who I am as a person, I’m fine with that too because when I recognize I need to improve, I do…which makes the people who just dislike me on principle even angrier. It’s a beautiful cycle, the ultimate win-win scenario. And yeah, you just kind of have to accept that you aren’t always going to know WHY people don’t like your work or possibly even you, and just be cool with that. It’s part of honing your craft as a writer, in my opinion. 

Re: On the Subject of Ratings and Reviews; Or, How I lost the motivation to write following a bad rating

#3
KittraMcBria Wrote: Listen, you have to cultivate the virtue of spite.

LOL, that's a great line. And so, so true.

And OP, sorry you had a bad review. But hey, at least it wasn't the FIRST review you had after posting 2 chapters. I'm in the same boat, it hurt, when I first saw it. Then, I decided to take a chance on myself. Was I going to let the opinion of a single person derail something I want to do?

No, I won't.

Life is full of roadblocks—this is just another one. Climb it, and see the field of green on the other side.

Re: On the Subject of Ratings and Reviews; Or, How I lost the motivation to write following a bad rating

#4
You can't write for the sake of approval.  I mean you can, but I doubt it'll be any good. Write the story. Be happy any one reads it. A random bad review is like someone doing something dickish to you, mostly likely that won't matter in the long run. You might not even remember in a couple hours and it had nothing to do with you. That's what most reviews are, noise. Pay your attention to be the people taking time to talk back at your story with comments and reviews. 

Re: On the Subject of Ratings and Reviews; Or, How I lost the motivation to write following a bad rating

#5
I respect the arguments made in in argumentum of my original post. Of course I shouldn't be writing for the sake of approval, that would imply that I started out with an inflated sense of importance. However, after posting this, I've gotten more than one 0.5 ratings. Baiting the trolls, maybe? But holy hell, I don't want to be part of a website that is this vindictive/small-minded. I just wanted to voice my opinion and I was rewarded with being review-bombed. I have had a very positive impression of RR so far, but I was apparently wrong for offering my opinion. My story suffered for my honesty.

Re: On the Subject of Ratings and Reviews; Or, How I lost the motivation to write following a bad rating

#6
You cannot please everybody, neither should you expect everybody to be pleased with you. See, ratings are more often than not a matter of opinion. If I think that an artist's color palette looks very dark, gaudy, and way too purple then that's an opinion, one that the artist might not have much use for yet one which I will nevertheless still posses. Would it be useful for me to give input and change the author's style? What if someone with the opposite opinion now dislikes what the artist is making?

Ratings will always follow that same dilemma, but at least you have the benefit that RR, and most people on the web, are very positive when it comes to people's creative endeavors. You said it yourself, one 2.5.

Do you really want to be influenced by the opinion of one person?

(Edit: or a small group of people for that matter)
(Edit2: and on the topic of opinions, I'm sure you don't mind the 5 star reviews you receive even though they, just like lower star ratings, offer little in the way of positive influence on your work. Just food for thought.)

 

Re: On the Subject of Ratings and Reviews; Or, How I lost the motivation to write following a bad rating

#7
Started to read your story and it's really good.  But I don't think you can please everyone, no matter what you do. That's why not everyone buys Mercedes Benz or Tesla.  It's just a matter of preferences.  Also, there are enough mean people out there that you can't go through life not running into some of them.  Just the way it is.
When I run into them, I tell myself that they are not my teachers, that they cannot change me.  Or move me.  If they do, it's not that they win.  It's that I lose.  Hope that helps a bit.  I'll keep on reading your story.

Re: On the Subject of Ratings and Reviews; Or, How I lost the motivation to write following a bad rating

#8
Mithradates Wrote: I respect the arguments made in in argumentum of my original post. Of course I shouldn't be writing for the sake of approval, that would imply that I started out with an inflated sense of importance. However, after posting this, I've gotten more than one 0.5 ratings. Baiting the trolls, maybe? But holy hell, I don't want to be part of a website that is this vindictive/small-minded. I just wanted to voice my opinion and I was rewarded with being review-bombed. I have had a very positive impression of RR so far, but I was apparently wrong for offering my opinion. My story suffered for my honesty.

It really does suck that that sort of thing happens, but I don’t think it’s unique to this site or this community. The mods seem to work pretty hard to make this a better place for readers and writers, including banning people who regularly abuse the rating system or forums. You can try reporting those .5s as suspicious by opening a support ticket, and they -might- get removed. It can be hard for them to provably discern between troll and genuine ratings sometimes, but other times they can tell right away and nuke that shit for you.

Re: On the Subject of Ratings and Reviews; Or, How I lost the motivation to write following a bad rating

#9
Paradoxcloud Wrote: You cannot please everybody, neither should you expect everybody to be pleased with you. See, ratings are more often than not a matter of opinion. If I think that an artist's color palette looks very dark, gaudy, and way too purple then that's an opinion, one that the artist might not have much use for yet one which I will nevertheless still posses. Would it be useful for me to give input and change the author's style? What if someone with the opposite opinion now dislikes what the artist is making?

Ratings will always follow that same dilemma, but at least you have the benefit that RR, and most people on the web, are very positive when it comes to people's creative endeavors. You said it yourself, one 2.5.

Do you really want to be influenced by the opinion of one person alone?

(Edit: or a small group of people)
(Edit2: and on the topic of opinions, I'm sure you don't mind the 5 star reviews you receive even though they, just like lower star ratings, offer little in the way of positive influence on your work. Just food for thought.)


Now, one 2.5 and two 0.5's (fucking kill me now, should never have posted anything). I appreciate where you're coming from, and while your arguments are very logical, I fear that both, me, you (potentially), and a lot of authors do *actually* feel the disapproval of our writing as personal failures. And yes, you're very correct, I did take the 5/5 ratings as par for the course, and while the positive written reviews were like manna to the soul, I kinda didn't expect what it would feel like when someone aggressively disagreed with the direction of your story. Now that I have experienced that, I would like more than just "tanking my stats" and I would ask you, whoever you are, to explain what you don't like, so that I might improve in your mind's eye. 

Re: On the Subject of Ratings and Reviews; Or, How I lost the motivation to write following a bad rating

#10
I feel you on that. I’ve had a lot of helpful/positive feedback, which has improved my story, but some ratings gut-punch you for sure. Coming to Royal Road, I had already developed a thick skin from a friend who was brutally honest with me about my writing, so that over prepared me. My first review was harsh and stung, but I got over it fast since they clearly didn’t read it and talked about stuff that wasn't happening. I’ve just got the mindset now that not everyone will like your stuff, and that’s okay. 

But anyway, sending good vibes toward you. Your book is really well written, IMO. 

Re: On the Subject of Ratings and Reviews; Or, How I lost the motivation to write following a bad rating

#11
Mithradates Wrote: Now, one 2.5 and two 0.5's (fucking kill me now, should never have posted anything). I appreciate where you're coming from, and while your arguments are very logical, I fear that both, me, and a lot of authors *do* do *actually* feel the disapproval of our writing as personal failures.
While I won't deny that I'm generally blunt, I don't think it would be remiss to say that a thicker skin is what you need. There is a difference between humility and having a complete lack of faith in one's self or one's capabilities.

This doesn't mean that I promote a blind "fuck all the haters" mentality as that's very reductive, cough, cough, but still, have some self-esteem. Putting yourself out there is hard and getting burned is part of the process not a flaw in the system.

Re: On the Subject of Ratings and Reviews; Or, How I lost the motivation to write following a bad rating

#12
Mithradates Wrote: I respect the arguments made in in argumentum of my original post. Of course I shouldn't be writing for the sake of approval, that would imply that I started out with an inflated sense of importance. However, after posting this, I've gotten more than one 0.5 ratings. Baiting the trolls, maybe? But holy hell, I don't want to be part of a website that is this vindictive/small-minded. I just wanted to voice my opinion and I was rewarded with being review-bombed. I have had a very positive impression of RR so far, but I was apparently wrong for offering my opinion. My story suffered for my honesty.
Sorry to hear that this post may have gotten you some bad reviews. That sucks, but that's a risk of getting attention. You'll also get some new readers too so hopefully some good reviews to balance it out. Mostly, I wouldn't sweat the bad review too much. Unless its constructive or a pattern of complaints just let it go

Re: On the Subject of Ratings and Reviews; Or, How I lost the motivation to write following a bad rating

#15
Look, like it or not, one of the best training you will ever get from RR is to thicken your skin as an author. Bad ratings will come for you again and again for seemingly no reason. You simply cannot make everyone happy. True, maybe that second one came because your thread obviously showed how affected you are by the last bad rating you receive. Or maybe, another rando reader simply did not like your story because it is not Litrpg. Who knows exactly what happened?

I checked your threads and posting before this and I had the distinct impression that you never cared about ratings before this hit you. I'm saying this because you might not be aware, but your "suggestion" to get rid of anonymous ratings is not exactly new. Someone will demand this almost 2x-3x a month, mostly from new authors who got hit for the first time by bad ratings. For years, the mods are steadfastly defended this because they want to promote ratings. It took me some time, but now I agree with it.

What I'm trying to say is that crap like this will happen all the time, not only here in RR but in any other place. There is nothing you can do about it. So I suggest that you do something about what you can control. And that is your writing. 

Re: On the Subject of Ratings and Reviews; Or, How I lost the motivation to write following a bad rating

#18
I agree with your premise but I totally get why they let people rate without writing reviews. A lot of people want to rate what they read but don't want to take the time or feel like they don't have the time, or maybe don't have enough to say to constitute a proper review. Maybe I'm talking out my arse since I wouldn't have any rating at all if it wasn't for my two anonymous star ratings LOL. But I think both rating styles have their place. Maybe they could require a written review on the lower starred ratings so it would be easier to separate the trolls from the people who genuinely dislike the story? I don't know. Just throwing ideas out there.

Re: On the Subject of Ratings and Reviews; Or, How I lost the motivation to write following a bad rating

#19
Mithradates Wrote: This goes back to the reader as well. What do you actually want to read? If you don't want to read what I write exactly, give me some hints as to what you want to read. Don't just hit us with the "nyaah, me no like", leave some instructions as to how me might adopt the story so that you might like it. And then, we'd perhaps try to adopt it into the story that we've started to write from the outset, that the other fans like, and merge into a comprehensive story. Just a thought.
 
How about no.

There is a very thick line of difference between:

 "How I can improve to make this story better for what this story is"  Vs. "Tell me what I can change my story to cater your tastes."

If you start following the latter advice to change a story to fit the personal tastes of readers, your story is not going to please anyone more than it has before. You have a greater chance of making a story worse and loosing fan who like the story for what it was. Not to mention, there is a chance you stop liking what you write.

Write for the fans, not for people who didn't like it.

One thing a writer needs to learn is to have confidence in what they write.

It's a sort of protection you need to keep yourself for going into panics and knee-jerk reactions to what people say about your writing. It allows you to think more critically about what they say. And this person said nothing. They just left a rating. So they didn't like it. There might not be anything you can change to make them like it. Not everyone is going to like your work. They are not your audience. Don't worry about them.




Re: On the Subject of Ratings and Reviews; Or, How I lost the motivation to write following a bad rating

#20
Like others are saying, show us a single book series or art piece that is universally loved by everyone. It's impossible. 

The very things that will make some people love the story will make some others hate it. Even the classics that are universally considered masterpieces aren't universally loved. You can go on reddit and find a massive thread bashing DUNE for being generic sci-fi with a stupid story, despite it having spawned an entire sub-genre of sci-fi. 

I think it's better to consider the source of bad ratings, and they generally come from four types of people:

1) The miserable dodo-eater - Always upset, always doesn't like anything they read. Can be spotted by looking through reviews, they'll usually always rate everything they read a 2.5 or worse. Comments are just as caustic, and hilariously the poster themselves doesn't realize just how down the dark side they are. You can't fight trolls, these people are a lost cause. 

2) The arm-chair critique/honest reader - Can't really dislike these guys, they believe in what they're writing, and a lot of them are writing to help improve the story rather than trash it. But they generally won't rate you under 3-stars, so they're not that harmful to your book. You can fix up the issue they point out, and send them a PM asking to update their review. Most times that actually does work. You can fight honesty with honesty, these people are not a lost cause. 

3) The rate manipulator - Usually you won't have these guys show up unless you're in the running for best rated or other long-term lists. Signs you have one include every recent review getting a downvote, no matter the quality or content and a random .5 at the last chapter posted, even if it's your single best chapter ever.  You can't fight greed, these people are a lost cause. 

4) The contrarian - Pathologically required to disagree with the majority, even if they don't believe in their arguments themselves. So long as it's popular, they cannot say they like it. You'll often see them saying vague sweeping statements, and they love to talk about PH, HWFWM, AH, ect. You can't fight phycology, these people are a lost cause. 

3 out of 4 types of low-star raters are not worth even trying to comply to. And the only one that is will leave a review giving you a chance to see what points they're making. 

As for ranking, low raters attack everyone equally. Over time, everyone gets dinged about the same amount so it evens out. 

Ergo: Don't worry, if you get a low rating, other stories are also getting low ratings from the same people, and those people aren't right about their complaints, whatever their gripes are.