23 CommentsMetablogging, Site News, Ye Olde Days / By Scamp /

Critique us please

So it first started with the Otaku Elimination game and the criticism of anime blogs they decided to distribute. While some people seemed to recoil at the possibility of their writing being critiqued (usually from the people whose writing was in dire need of a kick up the hole funnily enough) most of the aniblogsphere embraced the prospect of finally receiving some constructive criticism. However, lets face it, the OEG isn’t exactly giving wonderful advice on how to improve your blog, certainly not while they’re in Danny Choo suck up genocide mode at the moment. So a man dangerously low on hit points decided that the best idea was to simply ask on the blog for constructive criticism. This followed suit over at Anime² (::Edit:: and later over at Mikitoism) so now over to Bokutachi no Blog.

I invite you all to provide us with constructive criticism.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be about me either, it can be for any of the writers on the blog. Although I will say that none of us have any sort of coding skills whatsoever so the layout will have to stay the exact same.

Upcoming is a long, meandering ramble that you can ignore if you would just like to provide critique.

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I really don’t think this is the ideal way to provide constructive criticism for the blog, or the aniblogsphere in general. You’re instantly limiting your audience to people who obviously already read your blog and hence feel that your writing standard is up to scratch, obviously otherwise they wouldn’t be following you. This instantly limits the array of people providing critique. Then there’s the problem of how difficult it is to provide criticism. Lets say you do have an idea of how a writer could improve. You’ve got to first overcome the huge mental barrier of asking yourself what the hell gives you the right to give critique. This can especially ring true for non-bloggers and lurkers who might feel that, since this guy has been blogging for ages and you haven’t, he clearly knows better than you. Then there’s the difficulty of natural human kindness. I know this is the internet where anonymity reigns true but to say something truly harsh still takes quite an amount of mental strength. Even if you manage to overcome all these mental blockades you then have to deal with the problem of trying to form your critique into coherent english so the writer will understand what he feels you can improve on. This is much easier to do if you were just commenting on the design and layout of the blog but trying to comment one someones writing is insanely difficult and there’s a high chance you might just dive into vague sentences that mean nothing. I know this from personal experience with trying to provide critique on Anime squared. I must have spent 10 minutes deliberating over that comment.

Hence, I believe an Otaku Elimination Game styled blog is the ideal way to go. Lets face it, the OEG at the moment, while certainly fun to watch and has opened my eyes to the extraordinary number of Danny Choo suck ups there are, is hardly that far from a trolling site. But a troll that gets this much attention gets it for a reason. It hits on a nerve. Would Endless Eight have had as much an effect if it wasn’t Haruhi who pulled it? The dvd sales are proving exactly what people predicted, that people would scoop up the same crap, even if every episode was the same. The OEG hit on the fact that there is no form of constructive criticism on the aniblogsphere. People claim that the blogs are the greatest medium for uncensored opinion but there’s a hell of a difference between censorship and someone helping improve your writing skills.

So this OEG style aniblog critiquing blog thing. Ideally, it would have between 10-20 people behind it, preferably not all of them being bloggers already, each with noticeably different tastes, to review the aniblogsphere. Not an elimination game though. That’s nothing more than a competition, which is just a step away from patting the big boys on the back and telling them how marvelous they are. That’s where the Anime  Blog Awards failed. It’s aim was to highlight great blogs that might not get enough attention but I think there’s already plenty of ways these new blogs can be found. Something I’ll do every few weeks is click on the most recently joined blogs on Animenano and take a look at each of them. Plus, isn’t that exactly what the intention of a blogroll is? Telling everyone what blogs you think are worth visiting? So yeah, the OEG styled critique blog. The pros of it are huge. Since these guys are in the are of providing constructive criticism, that pretty much renders all mental blocks obsolete and repeated critiquing will mean they should develop a knack for doing it. Practice makes perfect. The more blogs they review, the better they get at providing constructive criticism. The general quality of the aniblogsphere increases and everyone is happy.

So why don’t you start one then instead of whingeing about it? First, this is not the ideal time to go starting a project like this. The OEG has still only begun and it’s still very much a ‘wait and see’ situation going on. I’d argue that any project like this shouldn’t start until at least next year. The other thing is: I’m Scamp. I’m hardly a behemoth in the aniblog world. Bokutachi no Blog appears on about 10 blogrolls. I’d love to be part of such a project but this post will hardly be the rallying cry. But hopefully we have enough influence to at least put this idea in the back of peoples minds. If the OEG burns out, which I’d say there’s a 50/50 chance they will by the end of the year, then hopefully some bigwig, or maybe a collection of smallwigs, will remember this post and get the project going.

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tl;dr Just provide critique for now. It’s the system being currently suggested and we’re always open to ways that we could improve the blog.

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22 Comments

  1. DAndrews
    Posted November 19, 2009 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    I have got to say, I follow no blog as closely as this one. There is usually much value to what you say and your writing style is informative and entertaining.

  2. Posted November 19, 2009 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    One critique I would like to make — even though you warned against criticizing styling — is to better express who wrote what post, maybe by making the author’s name more prominent in some way. It’s kind of hard for me to give suggestions, as I’m not sure what options you’re given here at WordPress to modify this theme. And you’re not the only blog that has confused me on occasion (why is ghostlightning saying he’s finally picking up a show he’s been blogging for weeks… (protip: he had other authors writing on his blog and I never picked up on that (and he wasn’t the one writing that post))). Personally, I tend to associate a blog with a single person, which I do know is wrong in many cases. Of course, it could just be that I’m the only *genius* in the world who doesn’t check the post meta at the top to see who’s name is on the post… So you can take all of that with a grain of salt.

    On an even less helpful note, I can only say that I rather like your writing, Scamp. Of course, that might not sound like much coming from the guy who just dropped triple parentheses on you one paragraph above… I’m partial towards non-episodic content, so more general anime writing would tickle my bone. But that’s just my personal bias and opinion.

  3. Posted November 19, 2009 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    Frankly, I don’t openly ask for this…

  4. Posted November 19, 2009 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    @Michael is Low on Hit Points

    Hmmm…I think I have an idea for that. On Epic Win anime blog they had a system where at the start of the post they include the writers avatar and their name under it so you can’t possibly miss who is writing the post. You’re not the only one who makes mistakes on who the author is. I’ll see about implementing that idea.

    As for episodic vs editorial, I’ve found that editorial attracts bloggers and episodic attracts the more everyday fan, the lurkers. I always try to keep a balance between the two.

  5. Posted November 19, 2009 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    @Scamp: Editorial attracts both bloggers and fans. Just look at my post on Lelouch DOA status. Some include flamers, casual fans, hardcore fans, and myself, at first. Then I lost interest of the topic. FYI, I do believe Lelouch is dead.
    However, I do agree we should keep a balance between the two; editorial and episodic. Episodic is a standard for most anime blogs. What we can do (as an extra) is anime news but that would be too much hassle because we need to update ourselves to anime/manga (maybe games) news more frequently and most of the new sources are in Japanese. I’m sure none of us are Japanese literate.

  6. Posted November 19, 2009 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    @Brian

    Ah, the comments on that Lelouch post make me grin. There’s always an extra comment every month with someone yelling ‘BUT WHAT ABOUT THE CART DRIVER’. I’m pretty certain that post is the current record holder for the most comments on a single post.

    As for anime news, I’ve always felt it’s kinda pointles reporting on news. Anything really worth mentioning is reported on ANN and will tell you the exact same information as any other news site. The closest thing we have is my Upcoming Anime page and that’s more for me to act the idiot and blab away about upcoming series.

  7. Posted November 19, 2009 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    @Michael is Low on Hit Points: Regarding your point on “better express who wrote what post, maybe by making the author’s name more prominent in some way”, this can be easily solve by including the name of the writer in the title of the post eg. [Brian]Darker than Black Episode 100. What does the rest of the team think?

  8. blindability
    Posted November 20, 2009 at 1:14 am | Permalink

    It is a little hard to see who’s written the post unless you’re looking for it. I’m up for anything that works.

  9. Humanity_Cat
    Posted November 20, 2009 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    Unfortunatly I don’t read enough of the stuff that comes out of this blog to give some proper critique, but one of the best things I’ve noticed about Bokutachi no Blog’s writers (Okay, really Scamp, Brian, and Blindability, sorry, I haven’t really read much of Loba or Kaza’s stuff) is the sense of humor they put into their posts….for lack of a better wording.

    I think this is a good idea, but it might not be as…public(?) as the Otaku Elimination Game…which I’m still wary of their ‘critique’ system. But as they said, they never said they would give critique, and hopefully those bloggers who signed up for the Game know that.
    But I like this, and hopefully it will get some more publicity.

  10. kaza
    Posted November 20, 2009 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    Hey Scamp! How’d you do that little picture/name thing in the beginning of the post??

  11. kaza
    Posted November 20, 2009 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Sorry… I’m really horrible at putting and resizing pictures into posts and stuff like that…

  12. Posted November 20, 2009 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    Scamp came up with the solution…he probably used paint. If we can get a japanese literate writer, we can probably start fansubbing instead LOL.

  13. Posted November 20, 2009 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    Yeah my photoshop demo ran out and I haven’t bothered to get a new one yet so I cobbled that thing together in paint just to see what it looked like. Hence why the picture quality is pretty shit. But if you look at the avatar pictures in the season preview you’ll see that the pictue quality is much better since I used photoshop for those. I’ll make one for everyone if you want when I have photoshop again unless someone else wants to.

    @Humanity_Cat

    Trrust me when I say I will NEVER drop my sense of humour in my posts. I hate those blogs that look at anime from an academic point of view. Fantastic way to kill the fun so it is. Watch ouf for blogs that use the word ‘musings’ in their post titles

  14. Posted November 21, 2009 at 1:40 am | Permalink

    Tremendous! That’s perfect.

  15. Humanity_Cat
    Posted November 21, 2009 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    Good. ;) It’s one of the things that keeps me with this blog.

  16. Posted November 21, 2009 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    I haven’t read enough of your posts to give good feedback.
    Anyways, the idea of an OEG styled blog that gives constructive criticism is a good idea, but would be quite hard to achieve.
    Anyways, OEG is fun to read and no one should take it too seriously. At the same time, I also believe that self proclaimed critics of blogs will not and should not be taken too seriously either. I think tastes, personal values, and writing styles are way too important for each blogger, and it’d be a shame to suggest changes that change the fundamental basics of a blog. That then reduces the constructive criticism to content, which is again a matter of personal taste, insignificant stuff like spelling, and blog layouts, which many people have an understandably limited affect on. In short, that means that real constructive criticism will either change the essence of each blogger or will have useful suggestions on rather shallow aspects, such as layouts and such.
    Still, I agree this is still a very nice idea and should be attempted. I have a strong feeling I’m horribly wrong about my views on such a project, and people will be able to get real good feedback.

  17. blindability
    Posted November 21, 2009 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    Spelling…? Insignificant? That makes me sad.

    Actually, I think I’m more sad that proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation have disappeared from the writing scene in credit to “personal styling”.

    But there’s always room for improvement without stepping on anyone’s toes in regards to literary personality; I received a critique-comment once that I summarize too much and don’t give enough opinion in my reviews. I appreciated that.

  18. Posted November 21, 2009 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    @blindability: And just like that, I now see the project in a new light and have faith in it. I do hope if something like that were ever started, critiques will be careful. I do think that spelling is insignificant overall though, unless it’s horribly distracting.

  19. Posted November 21, 2009 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    I have Photoshop. Just email me all your avatars and I’ll email back the photoshop-ed avatar to you guys. But regarding this avatar, do you want to include it on every forth-coming posts?

  20. Posted December 6, 2009 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Honestly I think your blog’s leet as it is…the only thing i think would be cooler is heading over to your own domain. Since I imagine you have a pretty solid fanbase atm, I’m sure it wouldn’t be hard, but money’s the other thing :( Other than that, I think your site’s sweet.

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