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Hey, I'm Jordi aka etherealwinds. I'm a vocalist, composer and Celtic harpist. One half of Forest Elves, one half of Phoenix Up. Available for commissions.

Jordi Francis @etherealwinds

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The Importance of Honest Reviews on NG

Posted by etherealwinds - April 29th, 2019


The Culture of Honest Reviews on Newgrounds Encourages Valuable Development: Discuss.


I came to Newgrounds from the YouTube community in 2013, and on YouTube, I benefited (on the majority) from a lot of short but positive comments that never really zoned into anything in particular about the music. Of course, I was always very grateful to read these comments, and while they motivated me to keep making music and uploading, they never really challenged me to improve, or help me to develop my craft. So, the first thing that I noticed about Newgrounds was how different it was having a 'review' system rather than simply a 'comment' system.


I was pretty much encouraged to join that year's Newgrounds Audio Deathmatch competition, and for those familiar with it, one of the biggest elements and (in my opinion) benefits of it are the in-depth, specific reviews/feedback participants receive from judging. In the few months I was creating music in that contest alone, I was given feedback I'd never been given before; actual useful knowledge I was then able to apply to my work. My perspective shifted and I could immediately see an improvement in the quality of my work, and it was exciting!


While we all know that Newgrounds is no stranger to a troll, generally, the community has a healthy culture of sharing work with the expectation of feedback, and of giving honest feedback knowing that as long as it's given in good faith, the creator will be quite glad for it (though I'm sure we all know people who don't fit into that category)! This, in my opinion, is what makes Newgrounds special, and what Newgrounds is able to offer creators more-so than any other communities I've seen on the internet. This unique dynamic between creation and honest reviews can be really educational, and has the potential to continue to uplift and invest in the growth of the community.


This is what's kept me around on Newgrounds since 2013, and why I continue to actively invest my time and energy into doing the same for others, when I can (though not as much as I should and would like to).


I'd love to hear some other opinions on the value you as a community-member places on Newgrounds, and what keeps you here, either as a creator or as an audience-member?


21

Comments (25)

People want honesty but only when it's falsely pandering to them. I've been posting tracks for over like 8 years now and they still tell me the same thing over and over again "lower the bass" "lower the bass" "omg the bass is too high" and I lowered it and lowered it until I got frustrated to the point of just making kicks with no bass but somehow these comments kept rolling in telling me to lower the bass when there was no more bass so what the hell am I supposed to do?

Ahh yes, it can be quite frustrating when lots of people are saying something over and over again that you're not able to hear. I've certainly had situations like that where I simply either couldn't hear what others heard, or I just generally disagreed and put it down to differences in preferences. That said, when people have said the same thing over and over, it's good to have somebody to not just make an idle statement, but actually give some sort of possible specific solution and a bit more clarity in where exactly the issue lies. I've gotten many reviews that are clear and specific, and those IMO are the best reviews because it's managed to expand my knowledge beyond where it already was :)

Ahhh yes yes yes. This is the kind of shit I like to see!

Glad to read it :)

Honesty in reviews, as in all other facets of life, remains the best policy. That's my personal opinion, at least.

When writing a review, we should try not to extol unwarranted praise on mediocre offerings that show little or no potential, nor should one hatefully bash or "zero bomb" anything that actually possesses merit. Sometimes it's as easy as being able to tell if someone put real time and effort into a project, as opposed to just cranking out some no-account rubbish that was haphazardly and very unprofessionally thrown together.

A very simple mantra that I try to keep in mind while offering up feedback is "CONstructive, not DEstructive." Admittedly, I tend to err on the side of kindness, and offer up any suggestions for improvement if I have any and feel that they could be beneficial. If not, then I'm content to just let the artist know that I really enjoy the work. In either instance, I believe that the review should, by design, encourage an artist and make them want to improve, rather than make someone feel discouraged.

There are, of course, a lot of things to keep in mind regarding the reception of reviews, as well. One very simple truth is that you just can't please everybody. Ever. It's frustrating to get a review where someone says something like, "This really isn't my kind of thing," or "I don't like it," without any kind of explanation or actual critique. But hey, that's just the way it is. For me, personally, I'm also kind of bothered by the one-liner reviews that say "This is awesome!" and the like. But hey, we've all got people to see and places to be, so maybe that's all any of us really have time for—unless we make the time for more.

And really, it's still better than getting no review at all.

Thanks for your input and I think we're definitely on the same page with that! I think over the years, I've found it easier to take comments like 'not really my thing' because I get it, and I've realised it's not something I should take personally. Especially in much of the music that we do, there will be a certain niche of people that will absolutely adore it, and then there will be many more that may be able to appreciate it, but not necessarily enjoy it. I'm also not too bothered by short kind words, as I do tend to get on my YT, because I'm appreciative of the encouragement! I also hope that if somebody had any pointers for improvement, they'd feel they could openly express them and know that I would take it on board, as long as it's valid and framed helpfully :)

I've seen some kids develop into prolific artists. It's bizarre how a well worded, helpful review can tumble a person into years of toilsome creation. Every now I then I hear a kid do something special and I will lurk. Years will go by and those little cygnets will become swans.

I'm not good at being useful 100% of the time but I get a mom vibe from pushing kids in the right direction. Also it beats lurking in general forum and talking about dicks.

I think that's a really good attitude to have, and it's part of what makes this place special for me. I've seen a lot of people flourish incredibly over the few years I've been here too. It's really amazing to watch.

Usually saying someone's music suck is the most straight forward review. :P

ya big old troll haha at least you're consistent

Interesting points going on in your post and in the comments. I do think that the review culture of NG really helped to grip me and keep me here as well, and generally speaking I like to try to do the same. However, I am certainly guilty of just throwing a barrage of praise in a review if I find something that really blows me away, and in those instances I'm not likely to leave much in the way of real, substantial feedback. I'm a bit ashamed to admit this, but the same goes for if it's just a user that I like, or a user that has made a lot of content that I liked in the past. In those instances, I'm much more likely to vote 5 even if it isn't necessarily deserving of a full 5.
On the flip side, I'm much less likely to even leave a review if I'm voting low. I know that's kind of a gross thing to do, but this largely happens for one of only a few reasons:
a) It's something that I've seen (I should not here that I mostly hang around the movies portal) a million times before. "My First Animation!" for example, and it's a 3 second long stick figure animation. I used to try to leave a lot of real constructive feedback on these years ago, but I don't always have the same motivation to do that anymore, considering that I found myself writing the same things on practically every single one of these.
b) It's content that just doesn't appeal to me. I don't zero-bomb things in this category though, I just tend to vote on the lower side. If it's clear that someone did put a lot of work into something and there aren't necessarily many ways to improve it that are obvious, but it also just isn't very appealing to me for whatever reason, I'm more likely to vote 2-3.5 stars, but not leave a review.
c) It's spam. Vote 0 and move on.
So, this post has me thinking that maybe I should start putting in that work again to leave reviews that will actually help people improve. It's certainly something to keep in mind. Thanks for posting this and getting me thinking!

When I first came here, especially coming from YouTube, I certainly found it strange to adjust. I would only want to review tracks that I was giving 5 stars too and I always wanted to maintain a reputation of always being nice or kind. I came to realise that I can still be polite and kind whilst also being helpful too, but it does take some confidence and diplomacy as well I think! I never wanna personally offend somebody or demotivate them, but rather the opposite. You always run the risk of giving unwanted advice, but we're on a platform that warrants advice so I think it's an invitation to give it when necessary.

I myself tend to avoid leaving reviews on tracks that I'd vote low simply because the cons would outweigh the pros and it's like "okay, where do we start with this?" haha! But if somebody asked, I'd be honest in that scenario.

BTW, I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing to give 5 stars and offer no pointers! Some music I hear, I don't actually have any pointers that I can think of that would improve it, or they just don't seem relevant or important; it might be down to my own personal preference which wouldn't necessarily improve it, but improve it for *me*. I find a lot of great music that compositionally is amazing, the production quality is awesome and is often better than what I could do. :)

Good points. I think that not everybody should be able to vote. The ratings are very inconsistent and getting good scores is generally a matter of luck. I create content and a stupid buggy game I made in 10 minutes got higher votes than a game I put my soul and a lot of time into. People keep dropping 0 bombs because they don't like a particular genre (this is not only for games), because the games are too hard for them, because they don't like 1 thing about something and that makes them give 1-2 stars. Like wow, yeah I don't like that a particular game is hard or it has a minor bug but that won't make a 4/5 star potential rating a 0/1 like what the hell ? Again this is not only about games, some people like certain songs, but because a certain part of the song is too slow/fast or off tune a bit they are willing to ignore that and give a shitty rating. Don't get me started on the porn problem. Fucking hell (litteraly) I've seen art masterpieces on here and they have been rated lower than some shitty fetish porn... So my point is, remove porn ratings and don't give everybody the permission to vote.

What solution do you suppose would fix the issue of 0 bombing and how would you determine who could vote and who couldn't? I suppose a system of a 'trust-network' could help, similar to the scouting system we have, but I'm not sure if that's ever been tried and tested. I think on the internet where there is a community of people, individuals will always have the right to vote 0 either way, and part of NG's appeal is (apart from the 18+ warnings), treating all content equally without censorship as pieces of art.

Agreeing with most of both what's said above and in most comments below, the review culture's one of the things we really ought to cherish here, but with ease of reviewing also comes ease of not being as constructive in those reviews... I've been wondering if the gradual simplifications with the review system (removing individual score categories for submissions, merging review title/summary, lowering necessary review length, lowering waiting time between reviews, merging score and review system) are giving the impression that you don't need to be as serious with your reviews as you used to, but then again I keep seeing some really impressive writing amidst the one-lines ones, and not just by the regulars, so maybe it's a culture that we all pick up on due to our appreciation for it, regardless if the standards are lowered or no.

Personally my in-depth-ness probably peaked a few years ago, and then dwindled again... I started out writing as quick reviews as possible, then started to appreciate the room for helpful critique, and focused more on more on that, and then... maybe you lose interest with time. Maybe you start seeing the same things in so many different submissions. Maybe there's just certain ones, creative and/or new, that spark a solid review. Maybe it's just a lack of time, overall. Seems review length varies highly, but all too often turns out almost unnecessarily short. Then again the pressure to write longer can really kill your drive. Best just write. No pressure. All impressions are good impressions. Even if it's not helpful it shows that you were there, and that you cared, and sometimes something really sparks some real critique.

A good review doesn't necessarily have to be long either. Sometimes just pointing out that one thing about something that the author clearly wasn't aware of, that might make for a life-altering change with their artistry, can be the most rewarding thing. There are so many reviews out there that don't offer anything but praise (which isn't bad either of course - just not as helpful), but also incredibly long reviews that don't say a thing either. Then there's the question of: is it better to leave one really in-depth review on one submission, or a few shorter ones on many, just focusing on the essentials?

There's no one way but the more you write the better you get I think, and the more you learn, and look for things to improve, the easier it is to find them. I'm glad NG still seems to cultivate this kind of helpful creative change, and this post reminds me I need to start looking at stuff with a bit more curiosity when I do; find some things that need feedback again... it's so easy to fall into routine too.

Gotta challenge yourself; see new things to stay interested, and interest = better reviews.

I think there's always going to flaws when the functioning of a system relies on good faith of the users, but I've mostly seen examples of this being used in good faith. The experience that comes to mind, at least, within the audio portal, is during the many contests throughout the year such as the AIM, NGUAC, the NGADM as I previously mentioned in my post, and the other mini-events scattered throughout the year. I feel like these opportunities are a bit more controlled and take advantage of the review system positively to give feedback in good faith. We see less examples of this casually in day-to-day uploading, but as long as we even have a minority of active reviewers (such as yourself it seems), there are always going to be many people benefiting in some way.

I don't think giving or receiving very short reviews that aren't that constructive are particularly damaging in nature, just not as valuable and more redundant. As you mentioned, a good review doesn't have to particularly long. In a lot of the advice that's really helped me improve, in a big wall of text, one particular sentence that I've never thought of could be the piece of advice I remember and carry with me. All these tips and tricks pile up over the years though :) I'm really not against encouraging or uplifting reviews either, as I feel there are a good mix of people in this community that are less critical but more uplifting, and more critical but knowledgeable. Then there's the trolls, but I don't really include them in my discussion necessarily because you get trolls everywhere and anywhere.

As you said though, we all have our own lives! I definitely go through spurts of creativity and productivity in both uploading and reviewing. Hope you're well and good luck! :)

@GoodL Regarding not reviewing content you rate low, I do the same in a lot of cases, though usually it's because either:

A) I expect the submission to be blammed, and though my review might help the user regardless, it just doesn't feel as rewarding if my reviews all disappear when I write them. I wish this in particular could be changed so that reviews show on your profile regardless, and there'd be incentive to review especially submissions that really need it, but even if this WAS implemented it'd lead me to...

B) Since vote and review scores were merged, and more so since they were made visual (each number now represents a certain emotion in the voting bar - so scores no longer feel as individual, a reviewer choice, but rather need to adhere to this standard to make sense), it doesn't feel right to make my score visual if it's too low, or it'd seem aggressive, and at the same time I don't want to leave a review without a score. The reader will know there's a reason I don't want to show my score if I do, and if I leave a review when I don't want to show a score then: it doesn't feel honest after all.

I sometimes rate submissions higher than I feel they deserve just because of this, when for example leaving a review on some friend's content that's really pretty crappy, but still deserves good feedback. This makes my other review scores seem imbalanced in comparison, though, so I avoid this whenever possible. Basically: combining vote and review scores, and more so giving them a more visual standard - possibly more so giving them an unfairly aggressive visual standard with lower votes in particular, seems like a major barricade with regard to leaving honest reviews on the content that deserves it. The option to hide your score doesn't feel like the right way either. It's not honest to hide. Maybe it's social conditioning speaking, but I don't feel like a review is really a review without the rating either.

And yes, you definitely lose motivation when you've reviewed the same kind of stuff so many times... it seems to apply to both low and high-scoring stuff. So easy to turn to praise with the latter, or when artists don't take to the feedback you give just: stop pointing out that feedback. I do plan to catch up with the FLS stuff eventually btw. ;) Never the same kind of content with those. Just: lacking time = lacking commitment.

Definitely agree on this and feel that perhaps emojis and star-ratings shouldn't necessarily be associated with each other. It's a bit too simplified and reminds me a little (but to a lesser extreme) of YT's likes and dislikes. It just seems quite a reductive and unnecessary element for the sake of simplicity.

What keeps me here is the fact that I know I'll always find new creations and creators that I would otherwise not find on websites like Youtube. Also I've met some nice people Like @Cyberdevil or @Thereviewtrickster. Also it develops my critique senses. I learned to understand what I love about a game,a song,an animated film,or a drawing and such through writting reviews.

Developing your sense to critique is something I didn't mention, but a really good point. I've been asked to judge a few competitions in the past and I've never felt like I'd want to, simply because I didn't feel I was necessarily qualified to judge a wide scope of things. Reviewing a lot of different content from all portals is actually great practice though, and allows us to reflect on the things we like about our own work, and how we would or could do things differently :)

@Cyberdevil I usualy prefer to hide my score when I write down a detailed review about what I liked or disliked about a submition. It's not just when I rate low,I can give 5/5 and hide it; it's just that I want the content creator to focus on what I have to say about it,rather than the amount of shiny stars i chose to give.
So for me it's not this case where you hide the score because you don't want the content creator to feel bad about his work,it's to focus on the inside rather than the shape.

I see your point on not having the star rating take away focus from the actual review. For me, I generally don't hide my ratings but I try my best to explain my thoughts well enough so that my choice of rating is clear enough to the creator. I don't think there's any right way or wrong way of going about that though - down to personal preference! I don't get annoyed if I see someone's hidden their rating. (Usually it's easy enough to tell anyway based on the average of the entire score of the track if someone's given you a high, low, or average score)

@Hesiolite you dare summon me!?
I agree with you tho lol. I have learned a ton reviewing. Before I seriously started with that I never thought I was capable of reviewing a story, pacing, etc. I like to think I get better at it as time goes on, but who knows?

@Cyberdevil it is weird how blams might be getting removed because they're too negative, whereas the new and improved voting/review icons are cartoonishly angry at low-sore submissions. I was like that too about blammed submission reviews not showing up on your page, and you probably remember that. I still feel that way, but since I've long given up on reaching any kind of daily/monthly/whatever review quotas, it doesn't bother me and I just leave reviews where I think it's needed. If it's spammy stuff or, like, a still image or a 3-second crude animation of a ball bouncing or the occasional Pivot stickman wave, I feel like the author will understand why it was blammed. If not, they kinda should have read up on how Newgrounds works first. When there's some semblance of story or something like that however, I tend to leave a review. If I have time/don't forget about it, of course. I am only human after all and it is usually the same stuff. I try to be as gentle with the beginners as possible with the way I word things, since they're kids about 60% of the time and if I go in too aggressive they'll just reject my feedback outright. I told this one guy once, he made short stickman videos with 5 or so frames where each frame lasted like 4 seconds or something, to keep working for at least a few days hard on the next animation, though I initially said months/weeks, but realized that was too much for a beginner. Told him to PM me before he released the next thing so I could check,if it was blammable. He made the next two movies that very same day. Didn't even keep working for a good couple hours. I told him add a plot. He purposefully made something with 0 plot and made a point about it, even implying I would want to punch him through the screen (though he didn't name me specifically, he stopped responding to PMs at that time and I knew it was directed at me). Of course, all of his movies were blammed. He released some audio that was "dedicated to all his haters" but before I could listen to it he took it down. It can be a thankless business, people often don't listen to you. Especially kids. It was pretty funny though when he started calling me a hater indirectly.

@GoodL I try my hardest not to be biased. Sometimes I do give a higher score by half a star if I'm really not sure and/or don't have the time/nerves to figure out what to give it. I'm always worried I'll discourage them and they won't come back to animation. When it comes to "creator I like" bias, nope. I have none of that. No one can escape my honesty! MWAHAHAHAHA!

@NikProBG you offer no idea for who should bebe allowed to vote. Besides, it's a pretty badly thought out idea and would no doubt cause outrage from 80% of the community. Because NG has always been about the users choosing. It's all subjective, so just because you don't like something doesn't mean other people have to dislike it too. Of course, I'm often baffled at the things people give high scores to, despite the flaws being obvious to me. And yes, it is pretty sad how people vote with their cocks. Not because I hate the porn on NG. There are some absolute masters on here, but I feel like people will give ANY porn a 5-star rating just because it's porn. That's what I don't like, it clashes directly with my philosophy of total honesty. Though, then again, maybe they actually think it deserves 5 stars, so it's not dishonest, it's just an opinion I disagree with and ain't nothing I can do about that. Also, if only certain people were allowed to vote, that could cause all sorts of elitism where only one group's views and opinions are represented. Maybe they'd dislike everything you like. And I'm sorry about the scores you get, but you just gotta move on. It's their opinion. Maybe to them the one part of the song or the one flaw diminishes the enjoyment. You can't know that. If you think someone is legit 0-bombing you, report them to the mods.

Sorry for this gigantic essay, I'm usually not the one who writes these on newsposts, but know you know what I think about the matter.

hahaha sounds like that kid was trying to make himself a brand or something. I think some people do tend to get defensive about things and when taking things personally, can act irrationally or even throw the towel in. I've found that in the long-run after they've had their tantrums so to speak, some months later, the advice they're given does start to sink in and they produce better work eventually as they mature. I wonder where he's at now!

It's hard to give assign an objective numerical value to something you experience on a subjective and sensory/emotional level, so I think it's always good advice to anyone to take the value of ratings with a pinch of salt. I'd extend this advice to any type of ratings/reviews out in the 'real world' as well. With a creator I like, in a way, I'm usually more comfortable sharing the brutality of my honesty (though I rarely find myself having to) simply because I'm personally invested in them and really want to see them flourish, and I know that they're comfortable enough with me to take it. There's that mutual respect there that allows for complete honesty.

I do agree with potential elitism occurring when you take away the democratic and open essence of the freedom to vote and review. It's all about taking the good with the bad, but having the wisdom to see the bigger picture. Yes, there are trolls, and the more you try to rid a community of them, the bigger the problem will be. That said, as a community, we should have the foresight and wisdom to be able to place value on the things that deserve value, and to dismiss that which comes from a place of little value or legitimacy.

Anyway, please don't apologise at all for your essay. If ever there was a place to hold such a discussion, this is it, and it's very welcome. Thank you for sharing! :)

Yeah you're right about the contests really bringing forth the right kind of feedback! Maybe it's the aspect of challenge along with the reward. Or feeling like everything you write serves all the more purpose. In many cases it brings together creators and consumers too. It's another thing I feel a large part of our competition's missing, regarding the bonds between those who make and those who consume. We're not all artists, but at least a large portion of users are at least involved in some creative area here, or end up getting involved due to the content they reach (I know I did). I wonder if other places fuel users the same way...

In regard to ratings the stars were definitely a more neutral element too. Emoticons really need an ideal balance to perfectly reflect a score, and even then emoticons can be perceived differently by different people. It's a bit like how when they added captions to the reactions, suddenly a few of them meant something entirely different than what I'd been using them for. The :D face has always signified happiness, to me, not a laugh. The dangers of too much clarification is that clarification isn't done on the every user's terms. Like with good writing (story-wise), you just have to leave certain elements up to the readers imagination for them to nuance the story so it appeals most to them. Indeed, reductive's a good word, and it's strange how some things get both simplified and complicated at the same time.

Regarding a trust/scouting-like system to determine who votes, though it might seem like a good way initially, the more I think about it the more elitist it feels. Maybe it wouldn't, depending on who's in control, but it could very well turn into a very closed off community in the long run, where entry is based on the impression a select group of users get on you, rather than a larger body of anonymous users judging everything individually, integral, with integrity intact. As it is there's no consequences of critique, but a system that favors some over others...? There may be downsides.

I've been thinking about this more and more now that the B/P system might be seeing some changes, and feeling like taking away the current approach might really impede on the values that make this place so great. Scouting definitely works, that's been proven too, but I feel like this might have an unwanted cultural change. Maybe different groups of users hang around different types of media. IDK. Would like to see another way anyway. And indeed: no censorship. Neither on content nor on users... to a functional extent.

I am well on my way at least, and thank you. :) You too!

@Hesiolite That's fair too. :) And I'm sure a lot of users who start reviewing now don't have a need for stars in the first place. It works well there. Personally I like those stars, so skipping them on just certain submissions would give an off impression; especially when I've used them so long. I feel they give a sense of instant gratification, or conclusiveness, too. You immediately know what to expect from a review when it has a rating. Can't say I've stumbled upon any cases where it's been a problem with a review NOT having stars, but I imagine it'd be possible for the author to read something the wrong way if there isn't a definitive rating tied to the message - depending on what's written, of course. And if everyone hid their score it'd be impossible to get a quick impression of what people think. You can only read so much, but ratings are a quick show. But of course, pros and cons both with and without them. They definitely do have an attribute of distraction too!

@TheReviewTrickster Man I'm curious who that was now. :) And how you formulated those particular reviews... it's been so long since I got a response like that, but then again it's been a long time since I reviewed that type of content too. Or partook in it, basically. I do review beginner stuff occasionally but not THAT beginner stuff. XD Maybe I stopped because of ungrateful responses hmm, who knows... good that you're keeping up with the calling though! And you definitely have the right attitude about reviewing. Leaving them where they matter the most; not caring as much about numbers as the content; not feeling the pressure to write but letting it be it's own reward... if that is how you feel about it. Amounts dull you, y'know. :P But I'm catching some good inspiration here though. :P Becoming like a writing competition up in here.

And yeah, weird indeed. They removed the 'Blam this crap' from the voting bar to PC things up a bit and then this...? In a way I think I related my ratings more to the intentions of the old than the expressions on the new ones... I'm just never as angry as they show. Can't give an honest 0 when expectation doesn't match the visual.

Note that all my views here are from a games perspective.

I have a really hard time writing reviews for peoples games. A game is composed of a crap tonne of things: code, art, game-design, music, sound effects, story etc... I don't know what they actually want feedback on. If someone submits a game that is just a bunch of squares, they prooobably don't give a damn about the art. But they will of course get tonnes of reviews complaining about the lack of animations etc.

Another difficulty is time, how long did someone put into this creation? I would judge a game that was made in an afternoon way differently from one made over a month or more! Depending on the experience of the creator; games made in these timespans can even look the same lol. This transitions well into my next point: not being a dick. Giving someone a page of critique on a game they made in 2 days is both a waste of time, and can feel a bit mean.

Im just whining at this point, so il try to offer some solutions.

1) Maybe NG should encourage people to be upfront with how they want critique & how much effort/time was put in. A simple critique amount choice: brutally honest -> I dont want any. And a way to mention what your focus was with this piece/how long it took.

2) An early access system. Basically a way to let people know this is a work-in-progress & you are still working on it. I would really love this, it would also let me get updates from games as the progress!

Thanks so much for your response! It's great to get some opinions from primary members of some other audio portals I'm not so familiar with. As I don't know much of the ins and outs of what goes into making a video game, the main thing I personally look for is emotional impact. I also look for beauty, uniqueness, entertainment value, storyline (if applicable) and those sorts of things. Even if it's a really simple game made for a game jam, I think all of those criteria can still be met, just to a different extent :)

I think especially with shorter creations, when it's not intended to be super ambitious, yet reviewers hold it to that standard as if they feel you were, that can be a little frustrating I'm sure, so I do agree with you on point #1. In that way, it's easier to appreciate it for what it is and what it was trying to achieve, and not what it could be or was never trying to achieve in the first place.

I'd personally be on the game portal a whole lot more if there were an early access system. I think that's a really neat idea!

The reviews is basically what I looked forward to when I submitted my games. Over time some of the reviewers became not only fans but eventually beta testers and facebook friends.

I relate to this as well. We have a great sense of community spirit here. I mean, I'm in a relationship with another audio portal member whom I met through NG, and I'm about to move country next month to start a life there with them! This community is a mysterious, yet amazing one.

A low star review next to a paragraph is one of my favorite things to find. The 4 and 5 stars with praises are a flattering way of letting you know the project was enjoyed by some, but a good criticism opens your eyes to your creative blind spots. This kind of feedback helps your future work. I think there's reasons this site has lasted so long and reviewing is a big part of it. New animators releasing cartoons on other sites like YT or twitter are bound to get ignored unless you have a way to plug it in to a larger community's framework and get it circulating among popular users. I love the daily/weekly/monthly awards in tandem with the judgement portal, because it keeps out garbage and gives dues to anyone who put time and effort into something. This is the kind of environment where a driven creator can build a following and then branch out to other platforms.

Here here! :)

Well it appears your post struck a chord.
What makes me appreciate this community is more so the relationships rather than the reviews that the music has allowed me to connect with. I personally look at my own music with no expectations on whether someone will like it. If one would consider their music to be esoteric, even if that's not the reality, then one would have to not expect any feedback.

That being said when it comes to the role of being a reviewer, I find that if I were to give an honest and real review, I would, at first, dissociate the composer/writer from the music. This has helped me try to find the secrets within the music. Of course, I tend to only listen well when my own ears are in tuned to the same wave frequency, ergo this is where I find these relationships. That's how I find the value in the Newgrounds community. If I can hear what another composer is saying through their music, then naturally, I'm on the same wavelength and thus has allowed me to develop a relationship with.
It seems that as I write this, I'm realizing even more now how music means to be human.

Yes! @Eggy mentioned the relationships that came from reviews. I know that personally in the past, I've found your reviews to be quite valuable, simply because I respect you as somebody that knows what they're doing musically more-so than I. To receive the time of day from somebody you really respect in your medium, and to receive advice and know that you can trust it's coming from a source you have a lot of faith in, it's quite invaluable and really stays with you.

@Cyberdevil That's true if you don't exprimate the way you feel about the submition . If one has decent writting skills,then I'm sure that it's totally possible to make the reader understand your intentions toward the author's work. If I liked something,I usualy start with a "Loved it","that was really good" and such,and then I follow with a more detailed critique.

Like @etherealwinds said,it's important to give an honest opinion.
However if I didn't like the submition at all,if I give an honest opinion the person may take it badly.
Once I made a review for an animation meme video where I said:
"I didn't really like that. Probably because of the rather badly drawn character and the insultingly simple animation. I like to see peope improve,so I'll see how your next animation goes ."
The author's answer was something like (here are a few quotes) "then get out of this video","its not criticizing my work, its telling people to dislike my content", "don't you dare calling it badly drawn. otherwise, get out of my profile for god sake, you are not welcome in one of my videos i uploaded here."

I don't think he liked the adjectives "badly drawn" and insultingly simple". And those were honest thougts. If you want to check it out yourself : https://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/720232

What I've learned with this review is that it can be really hard to tell someone that you don't think their work is good while having them take in consideration your criticism. Yes,in that review I didn't tell the guy how he could improve on this animation,because I thought that the things that needed to be improved were obvious. But not for him.

So now when I review something I didn't like, I work toward avoiding "too honest" adjectives,explaining that this is indeed my opinion and only my opinion,and trying to give a piece of advice on how the author could improve alongside each of my criticisms.
All that so if I come across a young anime meme animator, he might not think that I'm insulting his work and instead that I'm trying to give my opinion on how to do better.But afterall,maybe he doesn't want to improve.

So yeah,sometimes when you're honest about what you didn't like with someone,he might shield himself against what you think.

While I do agree with some of your points, I'm not sure I'd class 'badly drawn character' or 'insultingly simple' as the most constructively worded criticism. It's important to be honest, but it's also important to package critiques and advice in a way that is easier to swallow and less feels like a personal attack. Comments worded in that way might strike a nerve and be taken personally, because you can't see the term 'badly drawn' and use that as a way to improve. Constructively, I'd ask you to think about "what about the protagonist would you say makes you feel that it is badly drawn?" and "what makes the animation, to you, 'insultingly' simple?"

I personally might have worded it in a different way. Composer Laura Shigihara once spoke to me about the 'sandwich' approach she likes to use when giving critique. To sandwich a perhaps, negative critique (the filling) between two more positive notes (the bread) to make it easier to swallow and digest.

Using your link as an example,

"Really nice choice of music here! I enjoyed the smoothness of the animation and the timing to the beats of the music.

Perhaps I'd be able to enjoy it more if there was a bit more complexity in the animation as it seems pretty simply drawn. I think it might help to give the animation a bit more depth.

I enjoyed the colours that came in at 0:28, added a nice dynamic to the scene."

That way, the point is being gotten across and more likely to not be taken too personally, and be seen as constructive, yet it's also easier to swallow because it's not all negative :)

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