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How much of something do you need to have read before judging?

Discussion in 'Fanfic Discussion' started by BTT, Jan 2, 2020.

  1. BTT

    BTT Viol̀e͜n̛t͝ D̶e͡li͡g҉h̛t҉s̀ ~ Prestige ~

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    Inspired by a recent (-ish) internet controversy over a reviewer not watching all of the Witcher Netflix show before reviewing it, and also a discord conversation where it turns out not everyone reads a whole fic before reccing it.

    The topic of this thread: how much of something do you need to have read, listened to, watched, etc. before you're "allowed" to judge it? Is there a certain milestone you consider necessary before you recommend something, and if so, what is that milestone: a certain amount of words, a certain amount of chapters, a certain amount of plot developments (however that's measured), or something else?
     
  2. Clerith

    Clerith Ahegao Emperor ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    I judge things on a personal level after half a chapter or half an episode all the time - whether to continue or not.

    If it comes to publically talking about them, beyond an "I disliked it, it wasn't for me" - when you've read or watched around half is when I think you can talk about it with some substance.

    If I was recommending something, or doing a review in any sort of official capability, I'd absolutely have had to finish the entire thing.
     
  3. ScottPress

    ScottPress The Horny Sovereign ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    It comes down to a subjective interpretation for me. Sometimes you know a fic is trash after one chapter. I don't have a standard benchmark I stick to. I've finished entire fics/books I hated just to shit on them more thoroughly, and I've reviewed behemoth fics of many hundreds of thousands of words after reading a book's worth of wordcount.
     
  4. TheWiseTomato

    TheWiseTomato Prestigious Tomato ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    If it's fanfic, you can tell in the first few paragraphs. Sometimes in the first line. Something you don't even need to look past the summary. That could just be the voice of experience talking though.
     
  5. Arthellion

    Arthellion Lord of the Banned ~ Prestige ~

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    If you're a professional reviewer, I'd argue you have an ethical obligation to finish the entire series before reviewing.

    For personal though, I can usually tell if a fic is trash by the summary to first chapter.

    I give published books a bit more time, two to three chapters.
     
  6. Heather_Sinclair

    Heather_Sinclair Chief Warlock

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    If it's really easy and I can judge in the first few lines of whatever I read: major spelling and/or grammar issues, etc. Sometimes, it just takes a while to see if the story actually goes anywhere or if it's simply a stream of thought type of story where it's obvious that the author has no idea where it's going.

    Sometimes I get lucky and there is an author's note that actually reads "I have no idea where this is going", and I can bow out immediately.

    However, there are times that the first chapter isn't enough. I'm currently reading I Fleetly Flee, I Fly (an HP/MCU cross). The title is bad, the summary is unhelpful, and the first chapter is very lackluster. I was about to dump it, but had absolutely nothing else to read, so I moved onto the second chapter and found it much better. It's still a thinly veiled retelling of the original HP plot, but with Kaecilius (from Doctor Strange) as a master to HP as an apprentice. A unique take on the genre, but held in the realm of guilty pleasure material, because of numerous issues.

    As others have said before me, it's a very subjective thing.
     
  7. Silirt

    Silirt Death Eater DLP Supporter

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    If I don't want to read it because the author is using annoying tropes or doesn't know what grammar is, I stop reading it. After that I can say that I didn't like what I read of it, most likely the first chapter. I wouldn't review the entire thing because I hadn't read the entire thing. On ffn, reviews are tied to the chapter, which automatically tells you how far the reviewer has read, something I appreciate.
    I can't read Harry/Fang/Draco/Aragog without skimming. I have no intention to attempt it. If I had to review it because we had to clear fics out of the 'up for review' section or because it was a competition entry, I guarantee I would miss an intriguing plot or incredible depth of character because I just wouldn't fucking like it. I don't have a solution for this. I forced myself to keep reading Made of Common Clay without skimming because shitting on the dumb tropes was fun, but it's not going to be fun for everyone every time a story like that shows up.
    I have been reading and writing fanfiction for seven years and without any exaggeration at all I've never seen a single begrudgingly positive review; if it doesn't land subjectively, then it's terrible. By contrast, I've seen plenty of glowing reviews for unoriginal stories that can't be called objectively good. As a community of reviewers, we're doing this for free; we're only going to positively review what entertains us.
    Authors have actually impressed me with how they've managed to respond to this; there's a commonly circulated tagline in summaries and authors' notes to the tune of 'reviews will be appreciated, criticism will be taken into account; flame will be ignored'. They've learned to take stock of only the reviews of people who subjectively like their stories because they've learned those are the only people who seriously read their stories. It's relatively circlejerk-y, sure, but they're leaving open the possibility that someone will criticize it fairly while hating it; it's just never happened.
    upload_2020-1-2_10-17-11.png
    Regarding the Witcher reviewers, that kind of thing would be regarded as 'flame' by the general fanfiction community. I've seen reviews for stories that to their credit acknowledge that the reviewer skimmed through the first chapter, went straight to the end, then jumped around in the middle a bit to figure out what led to the end, like, thanks, jackass; the world's best roll of sushi isn't going to be good after being deep fried, frozen, and microwaved. Again, it's great that they mentioned they didn't read/watch it properly, because it makes their review easier for the author to toss to the recycle bin where it belongs.
     
  8. Zombie

    Zombie Lo-fi Snake Jazz Moderator DLP Supporter

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    Usually the first couple chapters. With fanfic it they have a five paragraph authors note then I just skip it.
     
  9. DrSarcasm

    DrSarcasm Unspeakable

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    Well when it comes to watching anime, there's something of a "three-episode rule." If, by episode three, you haven't become invested in the story, you probably won't like the rest of it. Although even then there are certain shows that you just immediately know that you'll dislike in the first few minutes.

    It works much the same when it comes to fiction/fanfiction. There are some stories that you immediately can tell you aren't going to like. Bad spelling and grammar, poor characterization, pet peeves, and so on. Stories with those usually don't get better. Then there are those that take a bit to reach their stride. For example, HP:MoR is stated in its opening chapter to be considered to hit its stride around chapter five. The first two books of the Dresden Files are considered to be considerably weaker than the later books. Star Trek TNG's seasons 1 and 2 don't hold a candle to the later seasons.

    It really depends on the individual and is too subjective to quantify into an actual number of chapters or words before you can judge. Someone who has stuck around for season 3+ of TNG would consider it to be one of the greatest shows of all time, while someone who dropped it partway through season 1 could rightly say that they don't want to have to suffer through 2 seasons of bad storytelling to reach the good stuff. (Ignoring the option to just skip to the good episodes, since that doesn't work in a format like fanfiction.)

    If I had to though, I'd guess about 20,000 words barring immediately apparent issues. That's enough words to set up a story and start the main plot. That's about 1/4 of the way through book 1 of Harry Potter, for reference. I'd cut that word count down to 10k for published works, since those are typically held to a higher standard than fanfiction.
     
  10. Agayek

    Agayek Master of Death DLP Supporter

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    On a personal, "am I going to keep reading this?" level, I feel like the threshold is "as soon as I realize I'm not enjoying it". That could be two or two million words in, and it's equally valid. From there, it's just fine to decide that you just don't like it and operate accordingly

    As others have said though, I feel like a professional review has an obligation to consume at least most of the material, with an honest effort toward consuming all of it. The whole point of a professional review is to be able to get a decent understanding of the material from it, and "I watched half an episode and it's shit" doesn't really do that.
     
  11. Agent

    Agent Professor DLP Supporter

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    One thing that immediately makes x out of a fic is when the writer doesn't use double spacing for Paragraphs.
     
  12. Quick Ben

    Quick Ben In ur docs, stealin ur werds.

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    For a book, Five chapters if I have heard good things about it. Which is the norm for me, because I don't think I have ever read anything without seeing the review or a recommendation from someone I trust.

    For a show though, it has to hook me in the first episode. Watching a show is usually a significant time investment, and if the show doesn't show that its premise or characters are worth the time investment, then I promptly move on. Its why I have never watched procedural shows.
     
  13. Utsane

    Utsane DA Member

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    I generally review books and fics in my head at least every chapter, but will hold off on judgement until the first small arc is complete.
    I feel like once you've read a complete storyline, you have an idea of the kind of the kind of writing you're going to be reading. For example, once Hagrid tells Harry he's a wizard is when I decided that I would probably enjoy the Philosopher's Stone. At the very least, I decide whether or not reading further is worth the time and effort at that point.
     
  14. DrSarcasm

    DrSarcasm Unspeakable

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    I usually count it as an hour. That makes it 3 episodes for a standard 22-minute show, or 1 episode for a full-length show.

    A mini-arc is a good unit of measure. I'd also have the 20k limit as well. If you can't resolve a storyline in that many words, then you better strap in for a goddamn long ride.
     
  15. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter

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    To review fanfic? I'm happy to review at any point. I'll only review the parts I've actually read, however.

    To rate (not just review)? This has a slightly higher bar and is why sometimes my reviews will say I think it's too early to rate. For this I need to have a 'feel' for the story itself. Often this means getting to a point in the story where I can see how the author will handle something complex, such as a major plot point. Stories that spend several chapters on getting Harry to Hogwarts, for example, will make me want him to get there before rating. If they drag on for 'too long' then I'll rate negatively based on the fact that we are past the point I feel we should have gotten there and didn't, etc.

    This is the one that gets me. Back in the day I remember being incredibly frustrated at how low people were rating Alexandra Quick without reading it. Oh? Harry isn't in it? 1/5! And so on. I feel that while everyone can review everything at any point, I'd prefer people had a sense of the story before rating it.

    Sometimes that doesn't take very long. A poor story that needs more ratings to be moved into the Bin or Almost Rec or whatever? I'll start off reading, note where I started skimming, and if it's bad enough I just don't want to keep going I'll skip ahead a bit to see if it's better. Then I'll review/rate. Sometimes this might only take ten minutes. But I do put a minimum of effort in if I'm going to rate something - but I try to make it clear which parts of it I read vs which parts I skimmed and where I stopped.

    Professional reviewing? If someone wants to write a review about the episodes of the Witcher they watched, fine. But if they try to extrapolate that out into being a review of the entire season (when they haven't seen it) I view that as an issue.
     
  16. fire

    fire Unspeakable

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    You can tell that a fic is terrible by the first sentence alone - utterly stilted prose that reads like a 12-year old's first attempt at writing (probably because it is) being the all-important tell.

    For original, serious works - you'll need longer, to judge on a more substantive basis like theme/plot/characterization.
     
  17. Anarchy

    Anarchy Half-Blood Prince DLP Supporter

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    Usually just the first word of the title
     
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