Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Don't Neglect The 1/4s and 3/4s!!

First, a huge thank you to all of you who have been busily critting.

As we've seen before, there's a pattern of neglect in two distinct segments of our submissions. One of our readers spelled it out in a comment box for me:

D. Robert Pease said...

I was noticing a definite trend in which posts were receiving higher numbers of comments, and I wondered if it were true so I charted it out. :-) It looks like there is a definite tendency to comment on the ones toward the beginning, and the ones toward the end. Then there is a little bump right smack dab in the middle. This all makes sense as people would think "Ah the people at the end aren't getting any love, so they go there, then they see they are so they go to the middle. That leaves two little dips at about 1/4 and 3/4 of the way through... Just thought it was interesting (and because mine just happened to be tied for the least number of comments.) If anyone wants to see my fancy chart I can upload it somewhere. :-)

There you have it. If you haven't jumped into the critiquing yet, you might consider hitting those entries who are trailing behind in comments.

Someone ought to write a thesis on this. Or something.


  1. Does it say anything that over 80 percent of these entries are mg/ya stories? Not sure that it does, but it is a bit interesting.

  2. I have yet to critique and can't until later tonight, but I will definitely start in the neglected places! Thanks for the heads up. This reminds me of the primacy and recency effect for word lists, to remember what comes first and last and forget the middle. :)

  3. I didn't enter this time, but I'm hoping to critique at least some of them. I'll go for the quiet spots first!

  4. Someone ought to write a thesis on this. Or something.

    "Someone," has. In fact lost of people have not only written on this subject, but researched it to. The data is readily available through your local library, but you'll have to search the scientific journals to find it.

    Not only does this sight exhibit the First and Last Advantage, it is also guilty of the bandwagon effect (everybody is doing it). The trends are as follows.

    Early posters are on the positive bandwagon.

    Midway through, comments become "more constructive" but also are more likely to contain negative words. (The extent of negativity is correlated to the extent of praise. More praise often leads to stronger and greater number of negative words.)

    The greater level of "dislike" by the first person who deviates from the positive trend, is correlated to the level of criticism that follows. To rephrase if the first change is mildly critical, then the following posts will deviate from positive language in that they will be mildly critical. If the subject I (instigator) is highly critical, the following comments are also highly critical. The middle posts are more likely to pick at the same things subject I (instigator) commented on, more likely to use strong language, and less likely to present new arguments.

    The last comments follow the trend to combine both the good and more negative critiques, usually ending on milder note. They are also most likely to present new arguments and ask probing questions.

    One of course can argue the this is not the bandwagon effect, only that everyone agrees. But if that were true, the trend of positive, critical, and positive/critical?

    (and yes this trend is measurable)

    Critiques should never read other critiques before they comment. And I admit that is most of the fun. (call me a sadist, which I'm sure you will, but I'm being honest that I rather enjoy reading the negative comments. I know other people do to, whether they'll admit it or not- it's human nature to ogle disasters, scan for dead bodies and be glad that wasn't "me". This is why I never comment if I've read other peoples opinions. There is no way, not to be influenced.)

    The only to be certain the comments are truly objective post the critiques after a specified period.

    Consequently scientific research supports what I see happening here. It's really quite common.

  5. Fascinating!!! And, exactly spot on, from what I've seen as well. Like you said, "The only (way) to be certain the comments are truly objective (is to) post the critiques after a specified period." This makes so much sense. Authoress, might this be something to consider? ;-)

  6. I started at Post 50 and worked my way backward to Post 1 throughout the day yesterday. Now, I only commented on entries where either the title or the first few sentences viewable caught my attention. I plan to go back to some of the ones I missed sometime today. If anything, after critting for a while, my comments get more brief. I'm not sure if that is a good or bad thing.

  7. I started at the top and skimmed down to number one. Of course I only read the women's fiction because I don't read YA so didn't feel qualified to comment. And, for the record, I didn't enter. =)

  8. I only commented on Women's Fiction as well, which made it easy this time. I did notice the trend right away of where the heavy commenting was, and tried to make mine equal.

  9. Just to let you know, I graphed it out again. (just based on number of comments) and it is has almost evened out. So people definitely took Authoress' advice and hit the low number ones.

  10. I critique by category, starting with what I like most. I always read the entry before reading the critiques already posted, but I often do read the other critiques before posting mine. Probably should stop doing that.

    I do tend to avoid responding to things I don't write myself, but this time I have tried to rethink that approach. My critiques often aren't very useful in some ways, because I will read practically anything that isn't full of obscenity. But I can catch major flaws, so I feel I'm helping in that small way.

    Thanks to whoever posted the specifics about the bandwagon effect. Interesting.

  11. I sometimes read other comments before posting mine--that does have a skewing effect.

    I don't have a lot of time to crit here, so I just did all the entries sitting at 15 or below. Might come back for some 16ers if I have time.

  12. I'd like to say (as an author of one of the pieces) that the feedback has been great. (Thank you Authoress for hosting and organizing this event.) I really appreciate everyone being kind and professional and taking the time to comment on my piece. By pointing out areas that work for you as a reader and most definately those bits that don't, you are helping me out in ways you can't imagine.

    As well, to the secret agent, thank you for taking the time out of your day. I know it takes a long time to make your comments. They are most appreciated. I'm sure I'm not that only one that will benefit from your comments--not just on my own work but seeing your POV on other pieces as well.

    This has been a fantastic experience so far and I'd like to say, "thanks!"

  13. This has been a lot of fun. A lot like Christmas and getting gifts with Secret Agent as Santa Claus and Authoress as the fun host that has us all over for drinks.

    Thanks to everyone for the comments, Secret Agent for taking the time to review the entries, and Authoress for hosting.

    And, Authoress, I'm in awe of your initiative with this blog. It's quite impressive.

    One of the Secret Authors

  14. I plan to critique all of them, even if it takes a couple of days. I think i got all of them last time (my first exposure!) and it was great fun. I will try to read the others after mine this time; however, I don't like repeating what's already been said. Still, it seems like the best way to do it. Even when negative, most critters are polite and constructive. This is great!

  15. I would like to see more Women's fiction. They were the only one's I commented on. Maybe YA should stand alone and not be combined with Women's fiction.

    Congrats on the Writer's Digest Award.. you deserve it..

  16. I echo those above who applaud the critiques. They are fantastic, honest, and in my case extremely helpful, especially the negative feedback. How else can one learn?

    I never read the posted critques until I've done mine. I find it much more of a learning experience to not have my attitude 'skewed' as one posted indicated. I'm learning as much by reading the critiques as I did by posting!

    My thanks join the many in this contest, and I suspect the past contests that appreciate all the authoress and the secret agent have done to make this successful. I can't wait to see the winners posted.

    I will continue to post critiques until I've worked my way through all of them. thank you again.

  17. Same as Meg above - I comment first, and then afterwards scan the other comments to see how close (or distant) I was to other people's opinions.

    It's like one of those personal challenge things.

  18. High 5 to megs. Even if I end up with a cream pie in my face for looking foolish. At this point, I can only offer my humble opinion, but with time--watch out!