Monday, 12 January 2009

Why ‘Anonymous’ feedback is the worst possible kind

Even though I’ve been publishing for cold hard cash for just over three years now, I still have a bunch of stories available to read for free over at StoriesOnline. They are mostly older, short pieces and the Ruthie’s Club stories that have gone past their six month exclusivity period.

And I still get feedback from the site on some of the stories. In fact, I’ve gotten quite a bit of feedback in recent months – more than I’ve had for a long while. One story in particular generates more feedback than others and that is Reunion. Matt and Kelly’s story still tugs and people heartstrings, raises their pulse-rate and prompts them to write to me and tell me why they loved/hated the piece.

And being a good little author, I do like to reply to any messages I get. And not just a ‘thanks, glad you liked it’ kind of response either. Where ever I can I like to do a considered reply, answering any questions and perhaps pointing the reader in the direction of some of my other stories.

But… SOL allows users to submit feedback anonymously. And it’s really, really frustrating to get a message and find that you can’t reply to it. I can, perhaps, understand why you might want to remain anonymous if you are going to slag off the author, although it’s not something I’d ever do. I have always believed that if you want to state your opinion you should at least admit to who you are when you do it. But to remain anonymous when you are praising a story just seems a bit silly. Take this message I got yesterday.

Very well written.    Just a few typo's that can
easily be cleaned up.
Congrats !!!!

Why does that need to be anonymous. The reader clearly liked the story, so did they think I would be offended by the “typos” comment? I know that unfortunately some authors would have been. Me? I know that the version of Reunion on SOL isn’t as clean as it could be, and I’d have offered to send this reader a ‘clean’ .pdf copy I have on my heard drive. I know I should clean up the SOL copy, but whenever I’ve tried to update stories on the site before, it hasn’t worked so I stopped bothering and publish up-to-date copies on my website instead.

It is a shame that some authors can’t take criticism and this leads to some readers feeling the only option they have is to comment without revealing who they are. Writing is a tough business – you have to have a thick skin. You’ll get criticism and you’ll get knock backs. But some people can’t take that. They write ‘for fun’ and ‘for themselves’. They only want their ego stroked. It’s a good job these people aren’t publishing for money.

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