Gatekeeping is annoying. I personally think the act is pretentious.
Suggester: They should add more flower blocks to Minecraft! *details*
Critic: Mojang should work on new monsters instead, no support!
Unless you work for Mojang; what you think Minecraft should add next is no more pertinent than the OP you just shot down for no real good reason. The direction you think Mojang needs to take is irrelevant to the suggestion.
You weren't harsh on my example. It was ad hominem. If you were harsh on my example; I wouldn't have had to tell you to sit in a corner for a few days to reflect.
You claim this as a matter of style, but I'm saying your "style" is functionally weaker: You are not being as informative, or as persuasive, as you could be.
We'll get back to this later.
You talk about wanting to be concise -- but the flip side of "concise" is "terse" -- and the most concise way to say something is usually with jargon or other specialized vocabulary. But there's a series of prices there: First, the more compressed your statement is, the more it asks of the reader. And then, compression all too easily slides into coding, where you're giving a reference that you expect the reader to fill in. And that's exactly what you've got up there. "Inhibiting player agency" isn't a "because" explanation unless you already know what the point of "player agency" is and why inhibiting it is bad. "Game caused griefing" is our local jargon (code), but even there, you're not actually explaining why their idea is going to make all this trouble.
Much of my methodology in most posts is to explain myself thoroughly. I don't include such things in what I hope to be a quick post here because I want to avoid a discussion of the example itself and hope that a simplified example will be enough to explain the point without going into the individual points one a thread dedicated to a much wider net (guidelines).
Instead, your focus is on how my methodology is weaker because it's not passive aggressive like your stance. So, a few notes: I understand that my writing style isn't as direct as yours; but also doesn't have the biting and stinging sarcasm of "too bad about that base you spent weeks on, your neighbor got the Bomb first".
And then there's your justification.... "Honesty" is simply a false flag here, because giving an example or a clear explanation is not less honest. The sense of "brutality" from a terse explanation like yours, comes from you expecting the reader to do the work of interpreting your statements. That's how a boss might talk to their subordinates, or a teacher to their students. Except you don't actually control your readers' paycheck or grade, so people will resent you talking as if you do.
This is going into personal standards and principles. I'm not actually that terribly smart of a person. I consider myself reasonably average; I also consider myself reasonably patient and ... reasonable. I expect others to be on my level; to have the same level of intellect as me. Loosening my vocabulary to reach those that might not understand makes me feel like I'm not only insulting myself but them. It literally makes me feel like I have to belittle children for them to understand which is quite uncomfortable for me (it actually makes me feel like I'm being patronizing by not using my normal vocabulary). Not only that, but it goes against my nature and is very difficult for me to maintain for any period of time; extended or otherwise.
And one bit from your last letter:
On the contrary! Objectivity is carved out with effort, from the subjectivity of ordinary thought, and truly "objective" truths are scarce, especially in everyday experience. One truth can certainly be more or less subjective than another. In particular, any judgment of skill or expertise will have at least some subjectivity in it, even if it's also backed by standards and norms. (And nearly all our criticisms of suggestions are going to have at least some subjectivity.)
You're going to have to give some examples on this bit; if at least to form a rebuttal against the three flavors of ice cream I provided.
But, more to the point, one truth can also be more relevant than another, and that's part of honesty, as distinguished from "truth". When someone proposes a "nuke", I really doubt the PvP potential or Mad Mining Speed is the first thing that goes through your mind -- rather, it's the mass-destruction issue, of landscapes, resources and especially bases. So addressing that head-on is more honest than talking about game balance. No sugar-coating required!
Relevance is in the eye of the beholder. So... you're completely correct... and horribly wrong... ALL at the same time! Yes, wholesale destruction is the first thing to go through your mind; but game balance and fun factor is first and foremost in mine. We're going at the same problem from different angles, which is... fine.
Ah, so should I now declare that you're only disagreeing with me because you can't handle the "brutal truth" yourself, that you're happy to dish it out, but not to take it? Here's some truth for you: Tone, context, explanation and examples, all that mushy stuff, it matters. Indeed, social negotiation -- all that consideration of and response to emotional factors -- is far more basic to human nature than formal or abstract principles, or intellectual analysis.
Perhaps you missed the part about "discussion" in discussion forum. Dropping down into ad hominem doesn't actually help your point of view. You disagree with me, that's fine. You took a offensive tone with me (with your previous post) without provocation from me, that's fine.
The rest of what you say is also fine. We all must perform politics when dealing with others. THAT'S FINE.
The point is that the seed of truth is still there; buried in the pretty bows and colorful ribbons like the gnarled point on the stem of a rose.
Persuading, or educating, someone isn't just about Giving Them The Truth, it's about making your claims both understandable and acceptable to them. If you can't figure out how to do social negotiation at least sometimes, you're doomed to wander through life as a Misunderstood Genius, wondering why nobody appreciates your special understanding, woe is you, the only rational person in a world of fools yadda yadda. (I've been there myself, but I got better.)
Look, I'm not even going to entertain this point. It appears to come more from triggered anger than anything anyone can defend against. Go outside, eat some pudding, drink some tea.
The people on the forums vary widely: Yes, there are people who can't take any criticism whatsoever, and will lash out at anything short of a cheer. And on the other end, there are people who will respond to your terse dismissal by googling "player agency", and sitting down to think why their idea might lead to "game-caused griefing and frustration". But both those groups are small minorities; most people will start by considering how seriously they should take your comment in the first place, and they'll do that triage with social judgment, like they do everywhere else:
Does this person sound like someone like you who's actually interested in your idea? Or someone who's already filed and forgotten it? Are they explaining what's wrong, or just dismissing your idea From On High (prob'ly because you didn't have enough fancy words and maybe numbers to back it up)? Your original "example response" sounds like the latter, my "responding with examples" sounds like the former.
I've gotten that before. I don't type the way I do because I want to sound high and mighty. I type the way I do because I want to be concise. Exact words with exact meanings reduce the chance for misunderstanding.
When someone's deciding how seriously to take your criticism, they will most certainly be looking at your tone, and at how much effort (not just technical, but social) you put into your own letter. Given a friendly response that points out issues in a way they can easily understand, many more of them will be willing to see your points. If you instead dismiss someone on "general principles", without explaining how those principles apply to the occasion, then even someone who does actually understand the principles, might well dismiss you right back with "haters gonna hate". That's not "unable to accept criticism", it's you failing at persuasion.
"Unable to accept criticism" doesn't apply to most people on this forum I've seen. Most people are easy to work and reason with. When I talk about "unable to accept criticism", we're dealing with a small minority of people; say 5~10% of the forum. Otherwise most are enjoyable to work with.
To address your "nuclear bomb" example, you're nattering about balance and implementation; the real issue is that it would turn the game into a demolition derby, and trash everything that most players value (bases, scenery, farms, projects, etc.). Fine for a mod or minigame, not for vanilla. And explaining it like that, along with "too bad about that base you spent weeks on, your neighbor got the Bomb first", makes the point more briefly and, yes, more honestly, than talking about balance or excessive lag.
Except these are all points on the "truth" board. One truth cannot be more objective than another truth. It's like saying that vanilla is more of a flavor of ice cream than chocolate or strawberry. It doesn't make sense.
It's just that you prefer your writing style over mine which is --you guessed it-- fine. There's nothing wrong with that. There's also nothing wrong with disagreement.
Perhaps the reason I'm disagreeing with you is less because "I can't take it" and more because of differences in point of view and opinion. It basically goes to the idea of "think exactly like me or you're close-minded."
Add as many examples as you feel sufficient. The recipient will still feel like they're being targeted or attacked because your review isn't sunshine and rainbows and unadulterated agreement.
There's something wrong with the suggestion; therefore there's something wrong with them. It's part of human nature.
In the above, telling them that the suggestion would promote strip mining, etc. can be seen as bullying or picking on the person or patronizing simply because of the level of detail you're going into with your explanations. "You're spending an awful lot of time and energy correcting me; you must be trolling; etc."
The truth hurts; but it hurts less than thinly veiled lies that eventually come back and bite the OP.
If I were to say "nuclear bombs would not work in vanilla minecraft because the blast radius would be enough to grind whatever server you're on to a halt as it has to raytrace and damage/destroy blocks within the blast radius. It's totally overpowered because of it's ability to one-shot anyone in range of it and has a heavy and long lived poison that effects you long after you leave the affected range; it's unfeasible to build as it requires many new blocks that serve only one function (making the bomb) and would ruin the existing aesthetic of Minecraft." - That is honest, lots of examples, and cuts to the bone. There's no attempt to outright hurt the person; there's no attempt to dismiss the person or belittle them. It's just making an honest opinion off of personal justification.
Can I ask a serious question? What is 'brutal honesty'? Why does being brutal make it more honest? In what part of the thought process do you decide that to give a genuine criticism you need to sound like a bit of a jerk, to the point where you need to take precautions to make sure the reader isn't offended?
Brutal honesty is actually a bit of a redundancy. honesty is brutal. People don't like hearing that an idea they put a lot of time and effort into is not being enjoyed. I don't think anyone likes having their work shot down. This, in itself, is brutal. Having to tell someone an honest opinion is opening them up to a brutal truth.
If I say, "honestly, I think that sentient village miners is a bad idea because it inhibits player agency and would be a source of game-caused griefing and frustration." It's considered brutal honesty. I consider it "plain honesty", but the fact that it's candid and not sugarcoated is what distinguishes it from other forms. OP likely wouldn't want to hear it and would be frustrated at the post.
I personally distinguish it from outright flaming the poster.
If I added "and your an idiot for posting it in the first place." - That would cross the line straight into flaming and bashing and what others would consider 'brutal'. - This part is obviously not allowed.
I tend to telegraph if I have to be brutally honest. "Look, I gotta be honest here, ___." It doesn't really make the blow that much easier; but it does at least prepare the reader to brace for impact and it does mean they're more likely to survive it as they see it coming.
That's fine, I mean, I suppose neither of us have any solid proof that it's one way or the other.
Well... It's more like you had the burden of proof. You made an assertion. I mean, it was an assertion on the back of good intentions; but it was still an assertion. This meant that you had to back it up in some way. I was simply refuting your assertion. FWIW I do try to back up assertions with studies or experiments. Sociology is icky; and even if you do find a study that supports your hypothesis; you're bound to find others that debunk it. Humans be human.
Again, a purely negative critique is not ineffective. It has its uses, and if you know the person, I suppose it may be even more effective. But in general, a critique that includes both positives and negatives is more likely to get the OP to improve his suggestion, and is especially important for first time posters, as you don't want to scare them away.
I like you and I like your point of view; but I have to argue this. I want to believe you; but there isn't proof to your assertion. There isn't a link to a source that would encourage adding both positive and negative feedback to a suggestion over purely "negative" feedback. I can bet there are several socialogical studies that confirm it; and just as many that find no causal link as well. It's a REALLY difficult thing to prove which means it's hard to justify the position as more than personal preference.
Personal preference cannot be argued as it's simply an opinion. But an opinion cannot be used as an effective guideline as each person is different. While I personally think that a criticism should seek unbiased feedback; the critic may not have the time, patience, or energy to add positives and negatives; especially when the negatives are exhaustive. But because of this, I don't think that guiding people to add positives and negatives to their critique makes a more meaningful critique. Again, it's based on personal experience, confirmation bias. I've personally seen my attempts turn into a wash. Attempts that list positives WITH negatives tend to hit the same adoption rate as purely negative feedback (in other words, I've tried it your way and found that it yields no significant change to response quality.)
Trying to balance positives with negatives is really just a personal thing I do; I suppose it's not required but I find it helps the OP take me more seriously.
Ah! Bingo! You said it right here.
Again, I'm not holding this opinion purely to challenge you; but because I think there's a bit of ethical ambiguity associated with your proposed guideline.
Look, being direct and tactless isn't ineffective. It's just generally not the most effective way in my experience.
Consider this scenario: two twins, Bob and Rob, are working the same position at the same job but have two different managers. They are both given the same assignment and made the same exact mistakes. Bob's manager yells at him and says that his report sucked, he produced false information, and he misspelled a couple of terms. Rob's manager sits down with him privately and tells him good job for getting it in early, but that he made a couple of misquotes and used the acronym MTD instead of YTD in several locations. He then ends by telling him that he trusts him to learn from his mistakes and do better next time. Regardless of the personality, background, and maturity of the two employees, who do you think is more likely to learn from his mistake and do better next time? Who is more likely to quit? While either of them could do either, Rob's manager would have to be considered more effective at criticism.
It depends on how the individual reacts to stimulus. Some people are harder learners than others. You can have Bob and Rob in the same situation; but if Bob is apathetic and unmotivated, a harsh lecture may be all he needs to correct action where a light coaching would be ineffective or seen as the manager being weak or easily-cowed.
Which is why, like anything else, you practice. It may sound weird to practice optimism, but it can be acquired as a skill. You may have difficulty, or even find it impossible, to find anything good with the suggestion, but you should always at least try, and you'll get better at it.
Optimism isn't a skill, it's a state of mind. You can _practice_ optimistic sentences; but it doesn't change state of mind. If you're pessimistic or are a "realist", then optimism becomes a facade.
If you want to be effective and helpful to the suggester, sometimes one does have to set aside their pride and speak in a more tactful manner.
The big issue here is the assumption that direct and tactless is somehow an ineffective or non-helpful method. I get that you find a tactful approach to be more encouraged (who wouldn't); but I'd like to see some metrics or something that isn't anecdotes to convince me that there aren't other methods.
What works for you may not work on another poster.
It doesn't matter whether they speak with reason or emotion; without truly knowing the person you won't know their agenda, and there's always the possibility that the critic's reasoning is flawed.
Possibility? Near certainty. Critics are people, people make mistakes. If you're going to be a critic and are going to speak with any air of authority; it's on you to fact-check. If you don't do a fact check; or if you speak out both sides of your mouth; be prepared to be criticized yourself.
A critic is meant to work with a suggester to improve the suggestion; if someone brings in misinformation; it's up to a critic to correct the assertion.
Giving constructive criticism by highlighting both the positives and the negatives does not aim to make them feel good. It aims to let the suggester know what is wrong with his suggestion while minimizing the risk of reasonable offense.
I'm beginning to think that people are attributing a bipartisan opposition concept to suggesters and critics. Critics are not supposed to oppose suggesters; they're supposed to work with them. While people continue to insist that suggesters and critics are opponents; they will remain opponents. You're supposed to be on the same team.
With this granted, sometimes you just don't like a suggestion. That doesn't mean you should dislike the poster; but that you wouldn't want to see the suggestion implemented in Vanilla MC. If you don't like a suggestion; sometimes you won't see anything redeeming about it. But your voice shouldn't be silenced because you can't lump some good with the bad. Listing what are problems and why is constructive criticism. OP doesn't have to like it.
*snip* I would hold your criticism less valuable than someone who both pointed out what they liked and disliked and might even ignore it entirely.
Which is awesome. It speaks to you and your mindset; but it doesn't speak to the community as a whole. Different strokes for different folks, yo!
While you may value the criticism less (which is your right); it doesn't mean another suggester would hold it less valuable.
While you may not be actively trying to offend the OP, he sees it as offense, and depending on his maturity, he may or may not listen to you at that point. If you are really trying to help him improve his suggestion/suggesting skills, then trying to avoid offense helps.
There's not really much anyone can do about that. I can't and won't control others. Offense is solely in the mind of the person being offended.
People will take offense; they take offense to the strangest and most banal of things. I can SEEK to avoid offense; but in my attempt to avoid offending one person; I may cross the line in the sand of another. There's too many people in the world with too many triggers for me to please anyone. I'll try to remain within the rules; but for the sake of my sanity and my own personality; I won't try to actively avoid offense. When I do say no offense, I mean that in a way that what I say may be seen as blunt and harsh; but there is no way I can say it without the message losing meaning.
A concept I've encouraged is to provide the suggester with a few things to improve the suggestion as opposed to highlighting the positives and negatives. I figure others are going to do the easy job of saying what's good and what's bad. The harder part would be to provide improvements to OP. Again, there's no need for minimal support. Instead, "no support, but X may help others to actually support."
With all that being said, even if I totally no support a suggestion; I do make it a point to provide things that could improve the overall suggestion. Often my improvements turn out to be complete rewrites. But it's just my attempt to ensure that my opinion remains only my own; and that any recommendations on suggestions I "no support" can at least improve the OPs chances with other critics.
Just as you don't want to strap a suggester down to a specific way of creating a suggestion; you don't want to strap a critic down to a specific way of providing feedback.
We're not all plucky and bubbly; and shouldn't be expected to be.
While I personally advocate including positives; some people are just blunt; and there is nothing wrong with that (shame on you if you think there is). It's just a personality type. I like to get to the point. One question, one answer. I've just been forced to elaborate on the point where it's become habit. Therefore, if I see a problem; I say it's a problem. I try to use tact to dull the blow, but at the end of the day, I'm not going to change who I am simply because someone is easily offended.
You already have read my stance on polarizing opinions; minimal support or partial support may as well be no support for all the good it does for OP. If a suggestion is to a point where you wouldn't want it in a practical sense; then a "minimal support" is dishonest. In the above "redstone tools" case; there is no practical change the OP could do where you would go from "minimal support" to "full support" and any attempts are wasted effort. It's better to just say "no support" than to build up some false hope in OP. No offense meant.
Well, yes, I mean all suggestions have some merit in terms of their basic concept.
Ah, in that case, I agree. Though I argue that a good concept doesn't mean a good suggestion. Lots of really awful media have really good concepts. Garbage is garbage though; and I'm not going to praise a suggestion's concept when it fails at execution.
Okay, your right on this point, though I don't see any reason why this guide couldn't be applicable to the other sections. I still believe all suggestions have some merit, but there's no point in arguing this any further.
All concepts have merit. Not all suggestions do, though.
I don't find any merit in "Can we please add thirst for realism." mostly because any merit there would have been has been thoroughly exhausted by 300+ previous threads that said the exact same thing if not some facsimile.
So, I'm all on board for the concept. There's much depth in simple nuance. For this alone, discussion can happen. A garbage post that some kid did 3 minutes before he has to catch the bus to school? Not so much. No merits there, in fact. Demerits, serious and soberingly harsh demerits.