Don't Be a Jerkface: How to Comment Well

by GMB13carat

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I have to say, I love CYS.com. I really do! It's a place that's inspired creativity, and most importantly of all, good writing. Better writing. And in the end, I think everybody wants the best writing.

There are quite a few published games on this site. (After all, there have been new games almost every day, and this site's been around for 14 years as of this writing.) Some of these published games are amazing and some of them are of lower quality. The thing is, though, all of the games on this site share one thing in common: they can all be better. No matter how good a game is, it can always improve. A good way to improve is by getting feedback from fellow writers. Which is why there is a commenting feature for storygames on this site. 

However, not all comments can help. The ones that do help contain what's called constructive criticism, a term most everyone here should be familiar with, but just in case you aren't: it's criticism of a game (or other work of art) that is meant to improve the game/other work of art's quality. 

This is constructive criticism: "This game had interesting characters, but the background of Tiffany could have been explored a bit more."

This is not: "Why r u makin games lik this. 1/8 you shouldnt make games your stupid and probably 11"

Can you tell the difference? You probably can, but not all bad criticism has improper grammar and insults. Here's another example.

This is also not constructive criticism: "This game was... okay. I didn't really like it. 3/8."

Notice that that comment had proper grammar and didn't drop personal insults, but it also didn't tell the writer anything specifically that could have been improved. This comment is vague and thus doesn't help the writer at all- so there was no point in even leaving the comment! It is this recognition of comment value that is the first step to becoming a good commenter. Which gets us to a few rules:

Rule #1: Be nice. There's no need for flaming, trolling, or any insults.

Rule #2: Leave the comment with a reason in mind. This is important. Remember to have an idea of the purpose of your comment. Also, make sure the reason is a good reason (i.e. not to offend).

Rule #3: Be specific. Vagueness makes a comment worthless. Call out specific good parts and bad parts.

Rule #4: Use good grammar. Otherwise, no one will take you seriously.

Those are some basic rules to follow when writing a comment. They're pretty much comment sense (get it?). And yet so many people can't even follow a single one of those rules! But you can, right? Well, let's see- try to determine the better comment in these duels, on a make-believe game, WC Story: Flamestar's Defeat.

ROUND 1

Comment 1A: "This story was very detailed and had good charactersbut could have used more choices- some parts were very linear, like when Leafpaw first encountered Flamestar. Other than that, this game was quite good. 5/8."

Comment 1B: "Wut is this storey it sux so bad stop writeng my eyes wil blead."

Winner: Pretty obvious, right? 1B breaks every rule I listed- it appears that the only reason he even commented was to offend the writer. Comment 1A is the clear winner.

ROUND 2:

Comment 2A: "This story was all right, but kind of sucked. 4/8."

Comment 2B: "This story needed some work. It could have been more descriptive and the characters were kind of bland. 4/8."

Winner: This round is a bit harder, but Comment 2B is still more descriptive, and thus, it wins.

ROUND 3: (FINAL ROUND!)

Comment 2A: "This story was okay. The characters were funny, but some of the humor was a bit cliche. 4/8."

Comment 2B: "This story was absolutely amazing! I loved this. Keep up the good work here, buddy- this is one of the best works on the site! 7/8."

Winner: This one made you pause for a second there, didn't it? But trust your insticts- Comment 2A is the winner here. Why? Although Comment 2B is very enthusiastic, it is also very vague and tells the author no specific details. That's not to say you can't have enthusiastic comments like this one, but if you do, make sure to include some specific reasons why you liked it so the author can know what to do in the future!

Well, you're now a bit smarter and less of a jerkface when it comes to commenting! Thanks for reading!

     ~~~~GMB13carat