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Reviews And Feedback
by RRR/Oxyron

For scene magazines and scene productions in general feedback is the most important factor to review the current status in the scene and to receive information about the quality level directly submitted by the target group. It's the only way to get an impression about what others currently think and how actually do they rate your production.

But what kind of feedback is really desired? Are you looking for people praising your production as a god-given gift to the scene? Surely nobody is interested in totally destructive reports, too. What are people exactly looking for? The only answer can only be fair and objective critism. Can this dream come true?

WHAT KIND OF FEEDBACK CAN BE SUBMITTED?

Valueable feedback can be provided by writing reviews for magazines and websites, sending feedback e-mails and letters, directly face to face or in phone calls. The most important aspect is that it is valueable and contains more than just a few words like "rocks", "sucks" or if you prefer thumbs up and thumbs down.

Another sort of feedback is voting in magazine charts, website charts or in competitions. The main difference is that you simply rate a production without commenting the decision. It might be quite a success to receive a high ranking, nevertheless it doesn't really provide the producers the information which factors influenced the ranking. The main problem here are friendship votes, strategic votes and downvoting so the result may not reflect the current situation. Maybe some people don't care and are dazzled by a satisfying rankings while others are still interested to improve their skill levels and their productions.

HOW TO RATE FEEDBACK?

To receive objective feedback would be the ultimate and most desireable solution. But what is objective feedback or an objective review?

Feedback and reviews containing any rating can never be 100% objective. A listing stating the name of the production, the responsible group, the credits and the size is storing unrated information but in the moment the reviewer adds a rating it's personally influenced. A test with predefined answers can be rated objective, because the answers can only be true or false, but if you can add a free answer the rating depends partly on the mercy and the interpretations of the reponsible reviewer. I think you understand what I'd like to express here, don't you?

HOW TO HANDLE FEEDBACK?

Feedback or reviews are personal impressions compiled by a person who dares to share his experience and impression made with that specific production. Normally it contains next to some basic facts personal opinions leading to a rating, too.

As a receiver, or victim if you prefer, you can complain about errors made by the reviewer concerning the listing of facts, e.g. about stating a wrong number of demo parts, magazine chapters or giving wrong credits just to name a few examples. Regarding the personal opinion there's no right or false - it's a matter of individual taste. For example one person likes a specific music style while the other hates it. Who is stating the right opinion? One of them, both or even none?

Meeting expectations ia the keywords to talk about here. The responsible producer(s) of a reviewed production are definately expecting positive critism, no doubt about it. These people have the strong opinion to have put a lot of effect and perhaps even heart and soul into the production. Ofcourse it's a very disappointing experience if you see that others don't share your view, mostly leading to thoughts that they do not appreciate those efforts, too.

And what can you do about it? Personal communication. To find out why the review and the expectation differ that much. Both parties can take advantage since the have the chance to hear and perhaps even to understand the other ones point of view. And what seems to be even more important, both can learn something for the future, may it be for the job of the reviewer or regarding certain things to take care of during the development of your production. A little hint: unless you intend to entertain the entire scene keep this kind of communcation personal.

THE POWER OF REVIEWS

A reviewer has definately a chance to influecing his readership concerning the quality and the overall impression of a product. Normally people are supposed to have an opinion after watching a demo, intro or magazine before commenting it but it seems it is just a therory. Adapting an opinion can be based on lazyness, lack of intrest or even loyalty towards personalities. Yes, it is possible to form opinions and it has been proven that certain people make the conclusion of a review as their opinion concerning about this production.

WHO SHOULD GIVE FEEDBACK/WRITE REVIEWS?

Regarding the principle of freedom of speech everyone is free to state his own opinion, to give feedback and to write reviews. That's a right nobody wants to deny. Furthermore I'd like to encourage people to give feedback.

Regarding benefits it's definately a benefit for all if you know what you are talking about so it makes definately sense e.g. to let a programmer judge about the level of coding. If you have absolutely no clue about the topic you simply cannot give a qualified rating. You can state an opinion, that's true, but surely it is something very different than a qualified
form of a review. The overall rating can differ if the reviewer is a novice or an expert. The higher the skill level the more reliable should be the review - atleast in theory. Jealously and inobjectivity are factors that could affect reviews, too, so sometimes it could be more wise to review productions of a direct competitor, too.

AN IDEA HOW TO PRESENT FEEDBACK

How to create feedback that might point out all the negative aspects in a way that the so-called victim doesn't really feel like a victim but receiving the good feeling that he's getting some valueable support? Okay, surely there does not exist the perfect and ultimate solution, but you can give the following one a try. There exists a feedback form called sandwich system divided into three parts. First there's the intro, then there's the main part and last but not least the outro.

Here are some interesting options how to fill those parts.

Intro
Here you can start with some information regarding the producers, e.g. how long the group or magazine exists, report about the activity level and optionally list some archievements made by author(s).

Main part
The main part is the part to report all found mistakes and to share your personal impressions, regardless if they are positive or negative. Report what can be found inside. State your honest opinion.

Outro
In case certain parts did not meet your approval there's your chance to forward some hints to the producers how to improve, ginving tips how to avoid the failures. Last but not least please do not forget to note down the overall rating.

WHAT'S THE MAGIC BEHIND THIS SYSTEM?

By adding both intro and outro it is possible to present a rather negative review in a package that doesn't smell like bashing or a ruthless attack in first case. As you might know the first impression is quite hard to change later on. The reviewer has the option to show in the end part that he did not intend to edit a sort of punishment but giving a helping hand with certain tips to improve future productions. Exactly at this point the producer has got the chance to understand the motivation and the background standing behind the rating, with the benefit of receiving valueable information how to improve. The outro is providing a positive aftertaste and raising the chance that the producer will be open minded towards even negative reviews. Furthermore it's leaving the chance for a better review in the future, just in case the producers really try to pick up the tips and try to develope further. This is infact a quite important aspect.

To come to an end and to answer the question of the headline if feedback is actually blessing or threat just let us reconsider this text. It depends on the editing style of the reviewer and concerning the producer it's the way to grasp it. Very important is the fact of understanding eachother and perhaps to exchange opionions and ideas more often in order to support the one and only 8-bit computer platform. This is exactly something both parties can take benefit of, and if active scners can take benefit it's benefitting the entire scene, too.

Regards,
RRR/OXYRON

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