cruiscin_lan: (Default)
cruiscin_lan ([personal profile] cruiscin_lan) wrote2010-02-17 11:16 pm

Using Polls for Feedback on Fic

EDITED TO ADD: I went back and found the link to the post that made me decide to try this in the first place: I wish that writers left polls at the end of their work by [livejournal.com profile] gaudinight.

Before I start rambling, allow me to state that nothing I have to say is at all definitive or even remotely scientific. While I pretty much fail at research methods forever, at least I can offer a few reasons why:

  1. I do not always remember to include polls.
  2. My polling options are not always consistent.
  3. My polling options are quite often silly (i.e. remember that time [livejournal.com profile] metafandom told me I was good-looking?).


Still, while it might not be useful to examine the results I've gotten so far by using feedback polls, it's certainly interesting, and perhaps someone with a better mind for this sort of thing can take the ball and run with it, so to speak.

I. Reasons to use polls.

One reason to use polls is to find out how many people might actually be reading your fic. LJ Stats can give you an idea of how many people clicked the fic, but unless they leave a comment there's really no way of knowing whether they actually read it or whether they backbuttoned without finishing. By using polls, you can presumably get a number of how many people read a particular story, at the very least.

I'm kind of surprised how the poll numbers compare to comment numbers. The best example is probably this story. Out of fifty-five comments, there are twenty-five unique reviews, but as of right now ninety-nine people have responded to the poll. When I checked that same poll a month after it was posted, there were about seventy poll responses, although you'll just have to take my word for that since I forgot to screencap it or something for posterity.

What this may show is that a) most readers are more comfortable responding to a poll than responding via comment and b) people are especially more comfortable responding to a poll when the fic is no longer "new." This would probably require a better investigation in order to come up with more reliable results.

But this leads to the the second reason I started to use polls - many readers are just more comfortable leaving feedback via polls than they are leaving comments. From what I've read and heard, there are many, many, many reasons for this. And, because I love receiving any and all kinds of feedback, I thought that providing polls might make it easier for readers to respond.

I think it's working.

II. Poll options.

In his long-ass book* Everyone Can Write, Peter Elbow describes four different kinds of audience, and three different kinds of response. The map looks a little like this:

Sharing, but no responseResponse, but no criticism or evaluationCriticism or evaluation
Audience with authority, eg., teachers, editors, supervisors, employers
Audience of peers
Audience of allies - readers who particularly care for the writer
Audience of self alone - private writing




The stars simply mark the intersections on the map (because I am not html-savvy enough to recreate the map exactly as it appears in the book). According to Elbow, ideally a writer should be all over the map in terms of audience and response. But while Elbow is thinking in terms of writing in and for the classroom, I would posit that it fits in pretty well with writing fanfiction too, except I'd probably arrange the "audience" column in reverse. While this might not be entirely accurate, I believe most fanfic authors write with themselves as the primary audience. Then comes the audience of allies - friendly betas, flist members - and the audience of peers. I'm not quite sure how the audience with authority fits into this model, because fanfiction is written for primarily entertainment and enjoyment, and not evaluation.

At any rate, more relevant here than the types of audience are the types of responses that we receive on our stories. At the archives and sites I'm familiar with, response is received through comments, hit counts, or private emails, and the community aspect of many social networking sites makes it hard to categorize some types of feedback. For the most part, I would equate concrit with "evaluative feedback," and lump most other responses ("I loved this!/Good job!/Thanks for sharing!") into "nonevaluative feedback."

I think anyone who's posted anything on the internet knows what "sharing, no response" feels like sometimes.

Moving on - I think of these feedback polls as occupying some strange space between the "nonevaluative feedback" and "no response" columns. It requires very little effort on the part of the reader; one of the options I consistently include is "read it" which provides a way of keeping more detailed stats, simply testing out to see who didn't back button right away. The other consistent option I use is "liked it," which is closer to the "nonevaluative feedback" column.

Another option I used to include "review in the comments," which I've started to phase out because personally I think it's redundant most of the time.

A recent addition to the poll has been the option "didn't like it." I added that option first to a fic that dealt with mature themes, because I can understand being intrigued by the story but not liking the execution, or vice versa. Since I started including the "didn't like it option," it's been marked at least twice.

The only problem with "didn't like it"? I don't know why. What exactly didn't they like about the stories? Since it's a response to a poll, there's no dialogue between reader and author as to what issues in the fic might need to be addressed. But while I'm boggled by this response, as a reader I might appreciate the option to be honest without facing the possibility of confrontation via commenting or email.

I also include silly options in polls. The response they get is varied.

All feedback polls I make are check box polls, because a) it allows readers to choose more than one option, in case one doesn't adequately express their response and b) I can make stupid ticky box jokes.

III. Personal observations

Initially I had reservations about using polls, and sometimes I still do. A part of me fears that using them might come across as self-important, or as treating readers as little more than numbers, I'm not sure. Still, I've never gotten a negative response to the polls themselves (just the stories they accompany). In fact, several people have told me that they think they're a good idea, or interesting at least, and now if I forget to post a poll, at least one or two commenters will be quick to point it out.

IV. Questions?

I know I've got 'em.

  • For authors: Would you try using polls to help encourage reader response? Why or why not?
  • For readers: Would you use polls after reading? Why or why not?
  • What improvements would you suggest for those who might want to use polls?
  • What was the most awesome dinosaur ever, as rated by science?
  • Is receiving feedback via poll as satisfactory as receiving feedback in other ways? Why or why not?




    And, hot damn, I'm too used to doing these now.

    [Poll #1526944]

    *Okay, it's not really that long. It's not quite 500 pages and actually if you're interested in writing pedagogy, it's an engaging read. It's just that I barely have enough attention span to finish a sen
  • [identity profile] perdiccas.livejournal.com 2010-02-18 05:13 am (UTC)(link)
    I have a question... is it possible to do a truely anonymous poll? That is, can people answer as anon or do you have to be signed in to answer a poll as I think that might affect the number of "I didn't like it's" a fic might get?

    Okay, apparently I actually have two questions. Do you always set up your polls with the answers viewable to all? I think that could influence how many people answer/answer honestly. I remember once there was a poll on some comm about whether we should have some community event (awards or a comment fic meme or something) and I remember feeling terrible being a) one of only a handful of people who said it was a bad idea and b) that everyone would know I was one of the killjoy stick in the muds. It's one thing for the author to know I ticked didn't like it, but I'm not sure I'd want that broadcast to the whole world, it makes me look like a bitch, y'know?

    Oh! I thought of another question... when there's a discrepancy between the number of "read it's" and "liked it's" do you assume those are people who didn't like but for whatever reason didn't tick "I didn't like it?" Does everyone who ticked liked it also tick read it? When I answer, I'm never sure if I'm meant to tick both or if it by ticking "liked it" you know I mean I read it too. Have you tried with options like "Read it", "Read it and liked it" and "Read it and didn't like it", to seperate out those who read the fic and had no opinion on it?

    [identity profile] perdiccas.livejournal.com 2010-02-18 05:21 am (UTC)(link)
    # For authors: Would you try using polls to help encourage reader response? Why or why not?

    Um. Probably not? I'm kind of uncomfortable asking for reviews like that even if I have no problem with other people using them.

    # For readers: Would you use polls after reading? Why or why not?

    I tend to comment on most stuff I read and like anyway. I don't think I'd fill it out for a fic I didn't like any more than I would leave a comment for it. There's always the chance the author could PM me to ask why I ticked didn't like it which would mean I would be dragged into a discussion I was trying to avoid.

    # What improvements would you suggest for those who might want to use polls?

    Only the read it/read it & liked it/read & didn't like it options above for stupid people like me.

    # What was the most awesome dinosaur ever, as rated by science?

    STEGOSAURUS. TRUFAX.

    # Is receiving feedback via poll as satisfactory as receiving feedback in other ways? Why or why not?

    I've never done a poll on a fic but I think the answer for me would be no? I've done a bunch of polls on random crap and while it's nice to have a whole bunch of people weighing in on the sexalicious nature of Zachary Quinto's ass, the comments prompted by the polls are always way more fun. I like have conversations with people. And getting a compliment without being able to say thank you makes me a bit uncomfortable receiving it.

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    [identity profile] cruiscin-lan.livejournal.com 2010-02-18 02:32 pm (UTC)(link)
    I have a question... is it possible to do a truely anonymous poll? That is, can people answer as anon or do you have to be signed in to answer a poll as I think that might affect the number of "I didn't like it's" a fic might get? Do you always set up your polls with the answers viewable to all?

    Yes. I don't think it ever occurred to me not to. As I said to [livejournal.com profile] etoile_dunord below, I tend to check out the comments first to see what sort of response the fic has already gotten as a way of gauging whether or not I might like it, and if I see the names of people I know there, then their opinion factors in more heavily. But it might be worth a shot to switch it up, and see if there's a marked difference in poll response.

    Does everyone who ticked liked it also tick read it?

    No, and this is something that gets pointed out by readers from time to time. I think people just click "liked it" or the goofy option without thinking to click "read it" most of the time, because their having read the fic would be implied. I think perhaps I'll start rephrasing the options on your suggestion and we'll see how it turns out!

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    [identity profile] cadesama.livejournal.com 2010-02-18 05:33 am (UTC)(link)
    Oh, very interesting and informative! I've been thinking over the idea of using polls to supplement feedback for a while, but I always got hung up in the details. I did think it might present me as pretentious, given that it's not fandom wide, or somehow obsessive and neurotic. I also worried about the anonymity aspect, since fandom seems so obsessed with the idea that no one ever think we think badly of them -- while I can set the poll results to only be for me, I still know who thinks my writing is crap. It also has the problem of only working for people who have log ins, which do constitute the majority of hits, but not necessarily the entirety.

    And, well, the other problem I keep hitting up against is knowledge of other fandoms. If I get ten reviews on LJ, I think I came out pretty well. If my roommate does, she gets pretty annoyed. But I'm in Heroes and she's in HP, and even though I can rationalize that size of a fandom matters, I think there's also just a lack of commenting culture in certain fandoms. Polls would probably help fix that, to a certain extent, but sometimes I wonder if it's just how things are.

    I would still very much like to implement them, though. I think everyone wants to know if they are being read, particularly beyond the obligation of friendship. I think real reviews can never really be replaced and will always be much more satisfying -- it's always great to know that a specific concern you had was resolved in a way readers like, or that they got a jokey detail -- but even a thumbs up/thumbs down system would, IMO, be nice to have.

    Personally, I think I would be quite likely to reply to someone's poll. I actually long for the old, old days of fanfiction.net, when there was a star ratings system. I routinely voted in it and used it as a metric for finding new stories. These days, reviews alone are misleading and incomplete, IMO, when you get them at all. Recs and awards are similarly so, but with LJ polls I don't really think we'd get a solution.

    I'm not quite sure how the audience with authority fits into this model, because fanfiction is written for primarily entertainment and enjoyment, and not evaluation.

    Possibly exchanges? I think they may represent a limbo between an audience of friends and an authoritative audience. You can't be 100% sure it is a friend you are writing for (unless you cheat), and you are writing to fulfill criteria set by an external source.

    What was the most awesome dinosaur ever, as rated by science?

    Archeopteryx. Clearly.

    [identity profile] cruiscin-lan.livejournal.com 2010-02-18 02:25 pm (UTC)(link)
    I did think it might present me as pretentious, given that it's not fandom wide, or somehow obsessive and neurotic.

    This is really what gets me. I'm really surprised that any comments about the polls themselves have been overwhelmingly positive, and I've never heard from anyone that they think they're a bad idea. I'm suspicious that nearly everyone really hates them, and they're simply a silent majority...

    I also worried about the anonymity aspect... It also has the problem of only working for people who have log ins...

    I know when I read something, I tend to check out the comments first to see what sort of response the fic has already gotten as a way of gauging whether or not I might like it; that's why I haven't set the polls so that only I can see them. I still have anon commenting turned on, though, so if someone ever felt they really needed to tell me how much my fic sucked, they can (this is not something I typically advertise, though. Maybe I should).

    the other problem I keep hitting up against is knowledge of other fandoms

    I would love to see what sort of comparisons we could get by doing this in other fandoms.

    I think everyone wants to know if they are being read, particularly beyond the obligation of friendship.

    This, very much this. Sometimes it's fun to trace how they found your fic, too - seeing if you share relevant comms, or have friends in common, etc.

    These days, reviews alone are misleading and incomplete, IMO, when you get them at all. Recs and awards are similarly so, but with LJ polls I don't really think we'd get a solution.

    I don't know that there is a solution, but here we are, throwing spaghetti noodles at the wall to see if any stick anyway.

    Possibly exchanges? I think they may represent a limbo between an audience of friends and an authoritative audience. You can't be 100% sure it is a friend you are writing for (unless you cheat), and you are writing to fulfill criteria set by an external source.

    I think exchange fics and feedback have their own tag at metafandom now. Now you've got me all interested in trying to make correlations and whatnot...

    Archeopteryx is pretty badass.

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    [identity profile] etoile-dunord.livejournal.com 2010-02-18 07:01 am (UTC)(link)
    Disclaimer: I'm rather braindead at the moment. Also, none of this is intended to be argumentative or antagonistic, just my perspective. <3

    Interesting. I'm somewhat confused by the section about the types of responses to writing, though. Did you include that to explain which types of responses you wanted to get from polls, or to describe which types of responses you wound up getting from polls, or for some other reason entirely? I think I kind of missed your point.

    And while we're on the topic of the types of responses to writing, I'm wondering if the book you're talking about mentions any specific examples of the non-evaluation feedback, because it seems to me that expressing one's enjoyment of a fic is an evaluation. I mean, unless you're writing something that someone considers to be enjoyable because it's so atrocious. It's not a technical or formal evaluation, but it does seem like an assessment. That said, this leaves me unable to think of what exactly non-evaluation feedback would be.

    Anyway, onto the questions:

    Would you try using polls to help encourage reader response? Why or why not?

    Not personally, no. One, polls hate me--they always get horribly screwed up whenever I try to make them. Secondly, and this is just about me, not you, I'd be paranoid about being perceived as exploiting the "poll culture" that exists in my corner of LJ. Polls cause excitement and people rush to fill them out, because, dude, TICKY BOX, and I don't like the notion that I might be riding on the coattails of the ticky box's popularity to get more feedback. But I'm weird and paranoid. >.>

    Would you use polls after reading? Why or why not?

    Probably. If I had a lot to say, though, I might just skip the poll, since I'd probably just choose the "read my comment" option if I could. Plus, filling out a poll and then also leaving a comment feels like saying that your opinion counts twice or something. Did I mention the paranoid?

    What improvements would you suggest for those who might want to use polls?

    I would suggest putting in a couple options with reactions you were expecting and/or hoping for, to see if the overall impression of your fic came across.

    What was the most awesome dinosaur ever, as rated by science?

    Wasn't the brontosaurus proven to never have actually existed or something? If so, I choose that one. It's so awesome that science made it up! =)

    Is receiving feedback via poll as satisfactory as receiving feedback in other ways? Why or why not?

    They're different, and each is satisfying. While I've never used a poll for a fic, it's interesting to see which things get said when people use their own words, compared to which things get said when people use words provided for them.

    [identity profile] cruiscin-lan.livejournal.com 2010-02-18 01:40 pm (UTC)(link)
    I'm somewhat confused by the section about the types of responses to writing, though. Did you include that to explain which types of responses you wanted to get from polls, or to describe which types of responses you wound up getting from polls, or for some other reason entirely? I think I kind of missed your point.

    It was late when I wrote this, and it is early now, so forgive me for not making sense. I think by including that bit I was just trying to show that I was actively thinking about what I wanted to put into polls, and not totally half-assing the idea.

    Re: specific types of nonevaluative feedback: The book does offer examples but it's all the way upstairs and I'm all the way downstairs, so I'm paraphrasing here and offering some of my own. While evaluative feedback can offer criticism and ways to improve, there are several kinds of nonevaluative feedback that can appear in comments, which might be remarks on:

  • the subject matter that doesn't necessarily discuss its treatment in the story (for example, In a fic about Character A: "Character A is my favorite!" or in a hurt/comfort fic "I love hurt/comfort fics")
  • the format or organizational structure of the fic ("I see that this fic is a drabble/multichapter/five times fic")
  • most often, "Thanks for sharing!" which doesn't necessarily imply like or dislike, or even acknowledge that someone has read the story, but it does express an appreciation for the author being able to share it. (Even "good job!" can be read the same way - maybe it doesn't always mean "good job writing this," but "good job posting and sharing it.")

    It might also be useful to think of evaluative feedback as asking, objectively, how good is the story, while nonevaluative feedback simply shows that a story has been read and understood.

    I think most comments I get on fics tend to be nonevaluative, but longer comments tend to incorporate aspects of both evaluative and nonevaluative feedback, like when readers pull out their favorite lines.

    Edited for HTML fail.
  • Edited 2010-02-18 13:40 (UTC)

    [identity profile] cruiscin-lan.livejournal.com 2010-02-18 01:47 pm (UTC)(link)
    I'd be paranoid about being perceived as exploiting the "poll culture" that exists in my corner of LJ. Polls cause excitement and people rush to fill them out, because, dude, TICKY BOX, and I don't like the notion that I might be riding on the coattails of the ticky box's popularity to get more feedback.

    This gets me every time I go to post a fic now. Every time I forget a poll, though, someone mentions it to me, so I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't. I think the only way I reconcile this is by making sure the polls go beneath cuts at the end of the story, so at least they aren't susceptible to drive-by clicky madness.

    Plus, filling out a poll and then also leaving a comment feels like saying that your opinion counts twice or something.

    This just reminded me of how [livejournal.com profile] perdiccas once responded both to the poll and with a comment saying "I think I picked the wrong option." I think she cancelled herself out.

    I would suggest putting in a couple options with reactions you were expecting and/or hoping for, to see if the overall impression of your fic came across.

    I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to do this in an unbiased way, but that's definitely going to be on my mind now.

    Re: poll feedback - I think I'm just as happy with poll feedback as I am with comments, although I think if I were to receive only poll feedback and no comments, I would be a very sad panda indeed.

    Final note: brontosaurus never existed, so yeah you've got your dinos in a row. :)

    [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/_takemeaway_/ 2010-02-18 07:51 am (UTC)(link)
    Okay, sorry, this is a total non sequitor, but I had to share: I think I finally figured out your user name.

    So I was trolling iTunes in an attempt to find "The Men of the West," a Clancy Brothers old Irish song that my dad and uncles always sing at family gatherings and it was kind of a bizarre childhood lullaby for me when, lo and behold, the song "Cruiscin Lan"!

    Right? Do I win anything?

    (Yes, yes, I realize I could have easily Googled or asked you. But I have a case of The Lazy.)

    [identity profile] cruiscin-lan.livejournal.com 2010-02-18 01:21 pm (UTC)(link)
    Yep, you caught me. That's exactly where my username comes from. I grew up on a steady listening diet of the Tommy Makem and the Clancy Brothers (my grandfather used to sneak me into concerts - I think I have a picture with them from when I was a baby).

    Also I like to hit the sauce, so yeah the meaning's literal, too. ;)

    [identity profile] b-dsaint.livejournal.com 2010-02-18 10:05 pm (UTC)(link)
    ha, I almost just clicked the poll and backbuttoned, but then I started reading the comments... interesting. Not sure what that says, but interesting.

    # For authors: Would you try using polls to help encourage reader response? Why or why not?

    I'm very tempted to now. Thanks to the new "mystats" on LJ, I can see how many people have visited a story, but I don't know how many read it or liked it or hated it, and I am curious.

    # For readers: Would you use polls after reading? Why or why not?

    Yes!!! I read a lot of fic, but if I don't know the author I tend not to comment, because I feel like they have no idea who I am, so it's kind of intrusive. Which is absolutely backwards thinking, because as an author I love hearing from people I don't know.

    # What improvements would you suggest for those who might want to use polls?

    The ability for the results to remain anon. I suppose.

    # What was the most awesome dinosaur ever, as rated by science?

    Dilophosaurus -- even if it didn't really spit poison

    # Is receiving feedback via poll as satisfactory as receiving feedback in other ways? Why or why not?

    I think so, I just like knowing people are out there reading. Hence why the new mystats counter is fun to see :-)

    [identity profile] cruiscin-lan.livejournal.com 2010-02-19 05:10 pm (UTC)(link)
    I almost just clicked the poll and backbuttoned, but then I started reading the comments... interesting. Not sure what that says, but interesting.

    Comments beget comments! They're like bunnies that way.

    if I don't know the author I tend not to comment, because I feel like they have no idea who I am, so it's kind of intrusive. Which is absolutely backwards thinking, because as an author I love hearing from people I don't know.

    I think this is a mindset a lot of us have.

    The ability for the results to remain anon. I suppose.

    Completely anon, or with results viewable only to the author?

    Dilophosaurus killed Wayne Newton in Jurassic Park, right? It had some slammin' headgear.

    I just like knowing people are out there reading.

    I feel the same way, but I don't think anything could replace a sincere review. :)

    [identity profile] cadesama.livejournal.com 2010-02-19 01:21 am (UTC)(link)
    Another thought, if you mod another round of [livejournal.com profile] heroes_exchange have you considered implementing this system for it? It seemed like the commenting was pretty paltry, with a lot of folks seemingly waiting for a repost to the author's journal, and simple polls would probably be good for giving people a clear idea of whether people like the story itself.

    [identity profile] cruiscin-lan.livejournal.com 2010-02-19 05:15 pm (UTC)(link)
    I didn't do such a hot job modding this past one (nearly all the responsibility fell to [livejournal.com profile] boombangbing for various reasons) but if I did it again I might consider adding polls. I don't know. Personally I felt like the feedback frenzy worked out well, but I know others thought it was generating disingenuous comments.

    Still, it'd be interesting to see the results when the author remains anonymous.

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    [identity profile] kitty-wake.livejournal.com 2010-02-19 01:51 am (UTC)(link)
    Well, I kind of feel I exploited a slight weakness in the setup of your poll. I ticked both "Liked it" and "Didn't like it". Not to screw with your mind, just because that's how I felt.

    Don't know if you remember our little conversation in [livejournal.com profile] fandom_secrets, but I said I was going to comment on one of your stories - I went for your dandy little Artie/Rachel number, because that's the one I remember reading - and so I did... and it just felt so insubstantial ticking some ticky boxes compared to leaving even the most cursory of "I liked it!" comments. Though maybe it was because I genuinely enjoyed your story; I've read floods of other stories that were mildly diverting and enjoyable, and if they'd had polls I'd probably have gladly voted "Read it, liked it". (Hmmm... that's a thought. A ticky box saying "Liked it, but not enough to leave a comment. I just liked it, OK? It didn't change my life, it just made five minutes of my mortal shuffle through life fractionally less grim".) The problem I see with polls is that they will never be able to express what a comment can. It's the author's words, not the reader's. Then again, if you've got comments open, who cares? If someone feels that strongly about a story they can always comment... but they might be put off from explicitly commenting to say "I had issues with your work". So the author would have to offer that option in a poll, but how many authors are self-aware enough to think of specific problems that might be in their own work? Do you see where I'm going?

    Incidentally, I'm pretty sure I first heard of that Peter Elbow book in a book I own titled "Bizarre Books". In the "Appropriate Author Names" section, there's "Writing with Power" by Peter Elbow.

    The most awesome dinosaur is clearly Baryonyx. I saw a skeleton once in that Natural History Museum in London. It was like a religious experience. Almost as good as seeing an Archaeopteryx in Berlin, but that's not a dinosaur so it doesn't count.

    [identity profile] cruiscin-lan.livejournal.com 2010-02-19 05:29 pm (UTC)(link)
    You totally did screw with my mind. It was awesome. :)

    Don't know if you remember our little conversation in fandom_secrets

    You never forget someone you were in the foxhole with!

    Definitely going to consider adding your suggested ticky box option, but only if there's enough room for all that text. I might just shorten it to "made five minutes fractionally less grim." But you're write, checking a box is not ever going to be the same as expressing a thought or an idea that the story's shaken loose in one's mind, but not every story does that for every reader.

    Elbow's name does lend itself well to making horrible puns. "I'm up to my Elbow in composition theory, but I Faigley remember reading any of it!"

    Don't tell [livejournal.com profile] cadesama that archeopteryx doesn't count, since that's the one she picked!

    I saw a skeleton once in that Natural History Museum in London. It was like a religious experience.

    It's because of the lighting, I bet. And the space. Museums are like churches that way.

    I could come up with a poll all its own about issues with my work, I'm sure...

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    [identity profile] perdiccas.livejournal.com 2010-02-19 07:12 am (UTC)(link)
    It occurs to me that you should poll your readers asking if they prefer the feedback polls or not.

    [identity profile] cruiscin-lan.livejournal.com 2010-02-19 05:30 pm (UTC)(link)
    That would be too easy. :P

    [identity profile] quillori.livejournal.com 2010-02-19 05:42 pm (UTC)(link)
    For authors: Would you try using polls to help encourage reader response? Why or why not?

    Probably not? I think I'd feel weird and pushy, and it might look like all I cared about is number of comments. (Which isn't true: lots of comments would be nice, but I'd take one person who really appreciated something over 10 who were politely lukewarm.) Plus, no or few replies on a poll would feel far more damning than no comments: I know how rarely I comment myself, so I always assume more readers than commenters, whereas I think I'd normally tick a poll. Mostly, though, I'd just feel I was being too pushy.

    For readers: Would you use polls after reading? Why or why not?

    Oh, absolutely. As a reader, I think they would be great. Which is ... totally inconsistent with my answer above. I realise this. But I don't like to post bare little 'I liked this' type comments, even though it's such hard work to come up with more comprehensive evaluations. So often I don't say anything, and then I feel bad, because I know perfectly well the writer would have preferred 'I liked this' to nothing. A poll is so much easier and less intimidating. I think it might even encourage me to comment more, because after I'd broken the ice, as it were, with the ticky boxes, I'd feel more like I'd been introduced to the writer and could expand on the poll in a comment without being intrusive or feeling like I had to provide a whole critical essay to justify taking up the writer's time with my comment. (I know, I know: that isn't a logical thing to feel in the first place, but I can't seem to help it.)

    What improvements would you suggest for those who might want to use polls?

    I don't know. The only concern I can come up with, is any writer who ended up the target of any sort of wank (or was just the target of unwarranted envy) might find there would be people who would tick 'didn't like it', without even necessarily reading the story, when they wouldn't do the same in a comment, which seems that tiny bit close to face to face, and where the writer has more options (delete flames, reply then freeze thread etc). Polls are less under the original poster's control.

    What was the most awesome dinosaur ever, as rated by science?

    My mind has gone completely blank on this one. Which, given Primeval is one of my fandoms, is a pretty poor showing on my part.

    Is receiving feedback via poll as satisfactory as receiving feedback in other ways? Why or why not?

    Maybe not? It does seem a little ... mechanical, maybe? On the other hand, it's undoubtedly better than no feedback at all.

    [identity profile] cruiscin-lan.livejournal.com 2010-02-20 12:37 am (UTC)(link)
    Isn't it funny how we automatically think of polls differently depending on the point of view we're taking? It's a catch-22. Every time I go to post a poll, I question myself for doing it, and yet if I forget it, a reader ask me where it is!

    Polls are less under the original poster's control.

    This is true, but they can be closed (and, I imagine deleted) if they do start getting subjected to that sort of abuse.

    I agree that poll results seem mechanical, and don't measure up to comments, but I do find any feedback better than none!

    (no subject)

    [identity profile] quillori.livejournal.com - 2010-02-20 02:39 (UTC) - Expand
    embroiderama: (Default)

    [personal profile] embroiderama 2010-02-21 06:08 am (UTC)(link)
    Hmm, my feeling on polls for feedback is a big no. As a reader, one thing I personally get from leaving a comment is that my LJ comment is e-mailed to me, and I have them filtered out of my inbox, but I keep them forever to make it easier to find a re-read stories down the line. As a writer, I like to see comments come in, and votes in a poll would feel relatively lifeless. I think I'd prefer silence to knowing that people liked the story but not enough to bother typing a few words.

    I guess I just don't understand why people hesitate to leave brief feedback or why people feel odd about commenting on older stories. Do other authors not LOVE receiving comments on older stories? I just have no idea why people feel like leaving a comment might not be a good thing.

    [identity profile] cruiscin-lan.livejournal.com 2010-02-22 03:43 am (UTC)(link)
    As a writer, I like to see comments come in, and votes in a poll would feel relatively lifeless.
    This is true for the polls. I turned off poll notifications a while ago, and if I didn't get curious every now and then, I wouldn't ever know how many votes they're getting, whereas comments always pop up via email/notifications.

    I think I'd prefer silence to knowing that people liked the story but not enough to bother typing a few words.
    Most reader I know who like the polls don't cite this as reasons for not leaving comments. Part of the time, yes, it's not true - but a lot of people deal with staggering social anxiety that extends even into online settings, so a poll is the more comfortable way to go for them. And I've seen others who are tired of seeing authors complaining about the kind of feedback they get, so a poll kind of takes it out of their hands (I can only complain about how I wrote the poll, in other words, and not how others responded to it).

    And yes, most authors I know love getting comments, no matter how old the fic or what fic it is, but even knowing that it can be difficult to respond.

    here via metafandom:

    [identity profile] vonquixote.livejournal.com 2010-02-21 06:11 am (UTC)(link)
    Thank you for the recommendation of Elbow and, doubly, for the example poll - I'm highly averse to leading questions and unarticulated responses (I want to know why people didn't like things - yes, this is an entitlement issue, but I'm not quite ready to say "because it is an entitlement issue, it must BEGONE" just yet), but I suppose that simple finish - like - dislike thing is open to further elaboration and does have that visceral "yay, someone likes it" factor. So I might try it.

    Do you find the joke poll option skews the feedback when people like me just select that one and nothing else?

    Re: here via metafandom:

    [identity profile] cruiscin-lan.livejournal.com 2010-02-22 03:48 am (UTC)(link)
    I also want to know why people don't like things! It's taking all my self-restraint not to bust into entitled author wailing, crying "Why? Why didn't those two people like those stories? Whyyyyy?" while rending my clothes and tearing out my hair.

    It's usually balanced out by the "likes," though, and many readers participate both in polls and commenting if they liked the story.

    And yes, I think the joke option skews poll results (see here for a recent example).

    here via mf

    [identity profile] mexta.livejournal.com 2010-02-21 07:52 am (UTC)(link)
    On the question of possible improvements ... have you ever considered a poll that asks a very specific or technical question about the mechanics of your story? I don't mean one of those "comprehension" questions we used to get on standardized tests in public school ("The bunny Peter saw outside the window was a) brown b) white ...") I mean something you as a writer struggled to convey - a subtle plot or character point that you tried to make in a particular way and don't know if it worked or not. That would be "evaluative" in terms of how well your writerly craft is working, rather than as a broad judgment (the story was good/bad). I wonder if readers would be more willing to answer a specific question than "did you like it?". If they are, you would get your "read it" stat along with feedback that's actually useful to a writer.

    I put up a poll at the end of an old story of mine, essentially asking at what point the reader knew two characters were going to get together, and including a few options. People responded to the poll who didn't comment and I got some really interesting information. In a way, I don't really care whether people like my stories (because I write what I like and that's not going to change) but I do care about whether I'm communicating what I mean to communicate.

    Re: here via mf

    [identity profile] cruiscin-lan.livejournal.com 2010-02-22 03:52 am (UTC)(link)
    One concern I'd have with a more detailed poll is that you'd find less willing participants by the end of the story. I know I, as a reader, am not looking to do anything that seems like work when reading fanfiction, so if I were to encounter a long poll that asked lengthy questions about specifics, I might skip it entirely rather than consider it seriously.
    meridian_rose: pen on letter background  with text  saying 'writer' (dear diary)

    [personal profile] meridian_rose 2010-02-21 10:21 am (UTC)(link)
    This is a really good post and raises some interesting questions.

    I believe most fanfic authors write with themselves as the primary audience.
    This, so much.
    Except now I'm thinking of exceptions: gift fics, for example. I want to please the recipient. Still, I've got to enjoy the story I'm telling.
    Ditto for challenge comms, mostly I want to love what I'm writing. However there's a difference here; I write things (pairings, styles, etc) that I normally wouldn't, which is great for my development. I also complete what I'd usually abandon and share what I'd hide on my hard drive. I'm now wondering if I should stop rambling and go write my own post!

    So, back to your questions

    Would you try using polls to help encourage reader response? Why or why not?
    Maybe. I'm rather taken with the idea. As you say, FFnet for example, lets me see how many hits I've got whereas LJ...I didn't know about stats but if that's the thing where you have to let everyone see where you've been as well as how many leave footprints, I'm not keen. Sometimes I visit journals just to be sure, for example, someone isn't a troll. I don't want all of my visits made obvious.
    My only concern about polls is my inherent shyness. I've got better about sharing and every positive comment boosts my confidence. I know that leaving a poll would probably be useful but I'd feel a little like I was fishing for compliments...

    Would you use polls after reading? Why or why not?
    Absolutely. Primarily because I'm lazy and I love ticky boxes. Also it takes the onus away from me having to find a way to say "love it" or "like it" when I have nothing else to say.
    I find I'm more likely to comment if there are particular words/phrases that stand out, if there's something very right or very different about a fic, or it just really rocked my boat. If it was just enjoyable while I read it I sometimes don't leave feedback.
    Also I may have concerns about the fic/character depiction but not want to address them if I don't know the author so I don't comment at all. I'd be happy even in those circumstances to click a "I read this" button since I did at least feel engaged enough to read the fic in its entirety.

    Is receiving feedback via poll as satisfactory as receiving feedback in other ways? Why or why not?
    It's better than nothing :P
    I don't think a poll can beat having a nice comment that describes someone's favourite part, or that comments on technical ability.

    [identity profile] cruiscin-lan.livejournal.com 2010-02-22 03:57 am (UTC)(link)
    I didn't know about stats but if that's the thing where you have to let everyone see where you've been as well as how many leave footprints, I'm not keen.
    You can set that feature off, and stats will still tell you how many LJ users or how many hits you've gotten on your LJ, or particular entries, etc., going back to September or so. I believe it's only available to paid account users, though.

    I know that leaving a poll would probably be useful but I'd feel a little like I was fishing for compliments...
    This isn't an uncommon sentiment, going by others' responses.

    Primarily because I'm lazy and I love ticky boxes.
    I think I owe any poll success to these two factors in general. :P

    [identity profile] elwing-alcyone.livejournal.com 2010-02-21 01:14 pm (UTC)(link)
    Here via metafandom!

    For authors: Would you try using polls to help encourage reader response? Why or why not?

    Seriously considering it. I've often wished there was a way for people to register like without commenting, for totally selfish reasons; I write in a pretty small fandom where not many people read in the first place, so most of the time I get no comments at all, which gets disheartening after a while. Just knowing that somebody out there enjoys my work would be a huge morale boost. But I wouldn't want to seem pushy or desperate either, even if I secretly am!

    For readers: Would you use polls after reading? Why or why not?

    Probably only if I liked a fic. Which skews the results and probably isn't helpful, but I'm too nervous to click "Didn't like it" and leave; and I also think the author would want and deserve more than that. I assume the writer worked hard on their fic, and just clicking "Didn't like it" on a poll seems dismissive to me.

    But especially on older fics, or fics whose author I don't know, or very short fics where there's not a lot to say, I'd love a way to register that I like it without invading the author's inbox to say nothing much.

    What was the most awesome dinosaur ever, as rated by science?

    Iguanadon! Who wouldn't love a thumbspike?

    Is receiving feedback via poll as satisfactory as receiving feedback in other ways? Why or why not?

    Eh, again, I'm skewed, because if I did put polls and people did answer them, that would probably be the only feedback I got, and I'd be delighted to get any. Everyone loves getting a comment notification with a nice review, but then again, not all feedback is more substantive than "I liked it!", so it's not as if I'm choosing between a long, in-depth review vs. a vote in a poll anyway. I think most poll-voters would probably not leave any feedback at all if the poll weren't there.

    [identity profile] cruiscin-lan.livejournal.com 2010-02-22 04:02 am (UTC)(link)
    For readers: Would you use polls after reading? Why or why not?

    Probably only if I liked a fic.


    I think this is why I haven't gotten more "didn't like it," to be honest.

    Iguanadon was one of the first dinosaurs identified and classified, if I'm not mistaken! Doubly awesome.
    turlough: deckchairs on Brighton Beach, June 2013 (my dysfunctional romance)

    Here from metafandom

    [personal profile] turlough 2010-02-21 08:19 pm (UTC)(link)
    Interesting. I don't think it's something I would like to see catching on though. I love reading other people's responses on a fic and if everyone started using polls there would be nothing to read.

    For readers: Would you use polls after reading? Why or why not?

    Almost certainly not, I like commenting on fic and telling the writer what I liked and why. And I always comment on stories I liked enough to finish reading so polls wouldn't make me more likely to feedback either.

    What was the most awesome dinosaur ever, as rated by science?

    Triceratops of course!

    Re: Here from metafandom

    [identity profile] cruiscin-lan.livejournal.com 2010-02-22 04:04 am (UTC)(link)
    I love reading other people's responses on a fic and if everyone started using polls there would be nothing to read.

    You could always read the fic itself. ;) But in all seriousness, I don't think it's going to catch on. I think many writers would be afraid of how it might make them appear (begging for comments, needy, desperate for feedback, etc.) even if as readers they appreciate the option.

    Oh man Triceratops! Hard to beat three horns and a head that had to have weighed at least a ton.
    yourlibrarian: Angel and Lindsey (Default)

    [personal profile] yourlibrarian 2010-02-21 09:58 pm (UTC)(link)
    I think I've hit a poll once or twice and I would be glad to have it as an option even though, with fic at least, I generally leave feedback. That's because on occasion I have a difficult time coming up with something to say in the feedback. Having a poll option would allow me to record that I read and liked without having to say something specific. However, it's even more likely to be handy with art posts where I have an even harder time thinking of anything specific besides "I like it!" Given what I've heard from vidders, I suspect this would also be true for them.

    Since I don't write fic, it hadn't occurred to me before to use one. But seeing your poll here in a meta post, it made me think it would be a great addition to those. Especially since meta posts tend to wrestle with ideas, it would not just be reading feedback, but perhaps voting on particular points of view or ideas in the essay.

    [identity profile] cruiscin-lan.livejournal.com 2010-02-22 04:08 am (UTC)(link)
    However, it's even more likely to be handy with art posts where I have an even harder time thinking of anything specific besides "I like it!" Given what I've heard from vidders, I suspect this would also be true for them.

    OMG THIS. THIS SO HARD. I have no idea the kind of skill or process that goes into making vids, so I have very little to say in response to them. I can respond via the star sytem on youtube, for example, but I am hard-pressed to come up with something besides "I like your song choice!" or "Thanks for sharing!" if it comes to leaving an actual comment.

    But seeing your poll here in a meta post, it made me think it would be a great addition to those.
    Actually, I think this would be a great idea, especially if one finds their points have already been made in discussion, or when (like me) they'd rather watch the discussion unfold and make up their mind as it develops instead of jumping in right away.

    [identity profile] seraphtrevs.livejournal.com 2010-02-22 06:26 am (UTC)(link)
    # For authors: Would you try using polls to help encourage reader response? Why or why not?

    I've actually thought about doing this in the past and never have, because - well, no one else was doing it. /o\ So hooray for you being a trail-blazer! If I ever manage to get something written again, I'm so doing it.

    # For readers: Would you use polls after reading? Why or why not?

    Definitely! I am terrible at commenting, but I think even I could manage to click a ticky-box.

    # What improvements would you suggest for those who might want to use polls?

    I'm not sure if I'd include a 'dislike' option, for the reasons you stated. I actually think that I might just include a "read it" option - that way, I could tell about how many people were making it through to the end of the story without them feeling like they have to tell me if they liked it or not.

    I think polls could also be a fun way to spark a conversation with readers - like, you could ask people what they thought of the ending, for example.

    # What was the most awesome dinosaur ever, as rated by science?

    Archaeopteryx - it had feathers!

    # Is receiving feedback via poll as satisfactory as receiving feedback in other ways? Why or why not?

    I think it's very satisfying just to know that you're being read - of course, comments are great, but just knowing that someone made it through the whole thing is just as nice to know.

    [identity profile] cruiscin-lan.livejournal.com 2010-02-24 11:58 pm (UTC)(link)
    It's worth trying polls at least once. I think the results you might get will be really interesting.

    What's funny about having the "read it," "liked it," and "disliked it" options is that much of the time people will click that they liked something or didn't like it without indicating that they did, in fact, read it first.

    Man, archaeopteryx is causing problems in the comments...
    bauble: (Default)

    here from MF

    [personal profile] bauble 2010-02-22 05:45 pm (UTC)(link)
    Would you try using polls to help encourage reader response?

    Yes. I wanted to tell you that I thought this post was just fascinating and that I have decided to experiment with putting polls at the end of my own stories from now on. I wrote up a response post here:
    http://bauble.livejournal.com/71855.html

    And actually used a poll in a Kirk/Sulu PWP story I wrote here:
    http://bauble.livejournal.com/72584.html

    Since the story's only been up for about 12 hours and Kirk/Sulu is a rather rarepair, AND I'm a new author in ST: Reboot fandom, I don't anticipate a huge response. However, I think I'll get a lot more data when I post in SPN to [livejournal.com profile] deancastiel which has 3,000 members and probably many, many more lurkers.

    Would you use polls after reading?

    As a reader, yes, I would love a poll on pretty much all stories. This is true of stories where it sometimes feels awkward to comment on an "old" story even though as a writer, I know I like comments on old stories. This is also true when I read a story I like but have no response to other than, "I liked it."

    I also sometimes read a story and run out of time to formulate a proper comment (and I almost never remember to go back to a story to comment if I don't do it right after I first read it), so a poll would be a good way to let an author know I read it. It's less than ideal, obviously, since I'm pretty sure most authors would prefer a comment to a poll check mark, but at the same time I'm sure most authors would prefer a check mark to no response at all.

    What improvements would you suggest?

    Hmmm, I'm not sure. In the poll I did, I took out the "disliked it" option since I highly doubt than any reader is going to want to pick that option since in a poll that is not anonymous. And to be honest, I'm not sure I even want to know that a reader disliked it because it would be far too tempting to look at the data, find their username, and PM them with a whiny message "WHY?" Naturally, that kind of confrontational and childish response is what the lurker is probably trying to avoid with their honesty in the poll--otherwise they probably would have just left me a comment with what they didn't like.

    I also included a "LOLed at the fic" option because the fic I posted was meant to be funny as well. I might consider adding more options like this that evaluates whether the tone of the fic comes across clearly: ie, a fic that's meant to be sexy is sexy. I'm also considering adding a poll at the end of the each chapter of, say, a long fic to see whether there's a drop off in readership after a particular chapter or something.

    What was the most awesome dinosaur ever?

    The mighty T-Rex and their ridiculously tiny claws.

    Is receiving feedback via poll as satisfactory as receiving feedback in other ways?

    No, but I think a poll will capture responses by people who would ordinarily never leave me comments anyway. It's like comparing apples and oranges in a way--the people who always comment will continue to comment regardless of whether there is a poll or not, and the people who never comment won't comment under pretty much any circumstance, but may very well vote in a poll.

    Of course, I believe most readers falls into a third category between those two extremes: people who comment under certain circumstances but don't comment under others (people who comment on, say, 25-75% of the fic they read and like). I have no idea how polling might affect the commenting habits of that group of people--whether it'll encourage laziness or spark guilt/a sense of obligation. Or perhaps it'll simply make some readers think I am a pompous ass demanding feedback.

    I certainly don't think feedback polling will become a fandom norm for a multitude of reasons: it's too much work for some authors, some people don't have the polling function available to them, some authors are worried about the possibility of wank, etc. I know I have a group of consistent readers who tend to read my fic. I hope the polling will allow me to get a better idea of how big that group is and what its composition is--whether it's, say, 5% people that I talk to and am friends with with 95% lurker/readers, or a more even 50/50 split.

    Re: here from MF

    [identity profile] cruiscin-lan.livejournal.com 2010-02-25 12:07 am (UTC)(link)
    I'm going to keep an eye on your polls and see what comes of them. Keep me posted if you have interesting results!

    And I can't believe you're the only person who responded who selected T-Rex. What is everyone else thinking?

    Re: here from MF

    [personal profile] bauble - 2010-02-25 15:39 (UTC) - Expand