META: The Problem of Subjectivity

Eagle eagle at
Thu Mar 13 16:45:46 PDT 2008

Martin Phipps <martinphipps2 at> writes:

> My "thesis statement" is that purely subjective criticism is completely
> useless and, as tem2 points out, potentially insulting.  Somebody says
> they don't like my story.  So?  They go on and on about not liking it.
> Okay.  Does the person have anything constructive to say?  Apparently
> not.

They can tell you why they didn't like the story, which is still just as
subjective, but which gives you something to consider if you want to write
stories that they would like in the future.

A review that just says "I didn't like this story" is fairly pointless, I
agree, because it fails all of the potential audiences of a review: other
readers who are trying to decide whether to bother, other readers who have
read the story and want to discuss reactions of it, and of course the
writer who is looking to improve their later work.  However, saying "I
didn't like elements A, B, and C of the story" is a useful review for at
least the first two audiences, and may provide useful input for the
author, despite being just as subjective.

The problem with bad reviews isn't subjectivity, but rather lack of
information.  Providing more information, including additional subjective
information, makes the review more useful to all of its potential

Eagle (eagle at                            Windrider of Crossroads
<>          rec.arts.comics.creative moderator

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