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The People On Yahoo! Answers
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The People On Yahoo! Answers

...are not very nice.

Seriously, head in there and take a look around. Y! Answers seems like such a good site when you're googling and find those rare threads where the question is exactly what you asked and the answer is exactly what you needed.

But the rest of the threads? Terrible, terrible answers to easy, perfectly basic questions.

There's one thread where this writer is asking for an opinion on his/her opening chapter. It's a short passage meant to be suspenseful, where a couple are stuck-up in the middle of the night by a seemingly random assailant, but at the end the male in the couple recognizes the assailant, and it's a cliffhanger ending. The scene is a prologue to a longer story.

Truthfully, it wasn't that interesting. You didn't get the sense of "impending doom" that the writer intended to convey. The characters could've been tortured and I wouldn't have cared.

But I knew why.

I've been reading amateur stories for years on online forums and giving and receiving feedback on those places for just as long. I've seen just about every kind of writing mistake possible -- and, of course, made a number of them myself.

The problem here was that the scene didn't give us a reason to care. We go in learning nothing, we leave learning less.

So I pointed out what I thought was wrong. Less telling, more showing, less adjectives, basically.

Wait, what?

Believe it or not, editing isn't as simple as telling someone "we don't care about the characters; give us a reason". That kind of response is vague, unhelpful, and a bit disconcerting.

Personally, I didn't care that the content may have been cliche and that the scenario was predictable. The writer asked for my opinion, and in my opinion, every story is cliche, and every scene has potential.

No one ever gave me bad criticism on those amateur forums. If my story didn't grab them, they told me why, I fixed it, and I went to the next story, the next critique, the next fix, and so on. When you're in an environment like that, you eventually adopt the same school of thought as your critics, and start criticizing stories the same way.

Step-by-step criticism. Objective, that-right-there criticism. Actual. Freaking. Criticism.

The folks who responded to this question didn't get the picture. They couldn't even put their discontent into words. All they were was mean, rude, and incompetent.

Here's the only response with a thumbs-up (paraphrased):

"Your writing is boring and stupid and I hate it and the scene wasn't exciting, and also, whether you want to hear it or not, your grammar and spelling is not to great, that's right your grammar AND spelling IS not TO great. It needs a bit of work, but it has potential. Good luck teeheehaha."

Again, paraphrased. Sparsely.

Oh, okay, thanks Jim, I'll just go improve my grammar and spelling then. Wait, how do you do that again? Oh dear. Your response is devoid of any helpful information. It's boring. The criticism seemed like it was supposed to be exciting, but it wasn't. Also, whether you want to hear it or not, your spelling and grammar ARE not so great. In my opinion, your criticisms need work, but you yourself have potential. Good luck.

That's how it's done hypocrites.

Sure, this is what the writer asked for, and sure, this is the kind of criticism writers should expect more than once in a while. I myself got my shares of "boring", "uninteresting", "confusing", "madly written", and etc. in the past (and -- sigh -- I still do), BUT like I said, the folks who stabbed me still left me a thread and a needle. While I'm still not impervious to that teeth-cutting kind of criticism, I declare, I've gotten damn good at handling that needle!

My simple three-pointed answer got the top rating, and when you look at the rest of the thread, it's almost embarrassing how flatly I demolished the rest of the "answerers". I almost didn't even have to try.

I like that look. Helpful, encouraging criticism at the top of the heap. Middling nonsense down under.

Note to critics, amateur and professionals alike: Being mean on the Internet doesn't count as criticism, it just gives your arrogance a place of permanence for the rest of the world to see. Conversely, being supportive does the wonderful opposite.

Oh, and no offense intended, answers-folks. I'm just being -- ahem -- critical.

I've started to like Yahoo! Answers, actually. Particularly that Books category, where I get to flaunt stuff I never knew I had. It's an enlightening experience. Additionally, as I continue to be the Good Samaritan that I am, these "askers" continue to provide me with some really insightful information for my own website.

Needless to say, it's a good hotspot for article writing ideas!

Now, here's a question for you readers out there. 10 Points to the top answerer.

"I can't stop beating my girlfriend. I beat her like 20 times a week, no kidding. She's started locking herself up in the bathroom and crying about it. What the heck, you know? She should be used to this by now. She has all day to prepare for it. But still, when I get home she's all OMG PLS STOP OH NOOOO. I need your guys' help. I'm debating whether to just let her win a game or try to get her into Halo or something instead. I made an awesome team with Juventus that she can thrash me with, but I wonder if that'll be enough?"

Hey, no one said there weren't funny questions on there too.

Street Talk

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