META: The Problem of Subjectivity

Andrew Burton tuglyraisin at
Wed Mar 12 22:29:06 PDT 2008

Martin Phipps wrote:
> I wouldn't go that far because that would mean that all criticism is
> subjective.  If we eliminate value judgements from our reviews and
> just make factual statements then those factual statements are, by
> definition, objective.

And by definition, that's not a criticism, it's recounting facts.  That 
might make for a great Wikipedia entry, but it kind of sucks as a 
criticism or review.  To paraphrase a college English teacher, 
recounting the facts may have been okay for high school, but it won't 
cut it here.

What's the point of an "objective review" the way you describe it, and 
why would I bother reading it when the full story is just as readily 
available?  That's like asking me to watch a version of MST3K where, 
instead of mocking the movie, Joel and the Bots narrate the story.

> True.  But that's because spelling errors don't bother everybody
> equally.  It doesn't mean that people don't notice when somethimng is
> spelt rong. :)

Things that "don't bother everybody equally" is the very nature of 
something being subjective.

> I forgot to make the point that a story can be riddled with errors and
> still be enjoyable.  So pointing out errors is not the same as making
> a value judgement.

It can be.  I make fun of comic writers *ALL* *THE* *TIME* for getting 
technical jargon and practices wrong.  My view of their story is 
subjective, because my knowledge of technology is often different (re: 
much greater) than their own; my criticizing their incorrect use of 
jargon and practice is both objective, because I can show how they're 
factually wrong, and subjective, because not only does it ruin the story 
for me but also, as you say, it doesn't ruin the story for others.  I do 
make value judgements based on errors, and I'm sure I make value 
judgements based on errors I don't catch (re: I love "House, MD").

> That being said, I've noticed that when I point
> out errors that people make, they also want me to say if I liked it.
> If I can't find anything I liked in a story then I won't bother
> writing a review then because I wouldn't want to upset anybody.

Then let me save you the potential trouble of ever having to review one 
of my ASH stories right now: Doctor Developer acts like a pervert, Lady 
Lawful gets tied up, they have sex, and nothing remotely adventurous 

Andrew Burton
tuglyraisin at - A Guide to Esoteric Technology in Paragon City - Take a guess. ;)

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