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08 August 2013 @ 09:15 am
A lot has been said about commenting, specially that people are doing it less these days, which makes me sad because it's not only fun, but I think it's important, too; to let someone know, who took time and effort to share something with the fandom, that you enjoyed their work.

Sometimes commenting doesn't come easily, but it doesn't have to be complicated either. So I wrote a list, a sort of step-by-step guide I go through when I do it.

I wrote this for fun. I admit, I don't religiously follow each and every one of these steps, but on the whole, this is how I basically go about writing a comment.

Like I said, all for fun. The lovely eidheann_writes corrected my mistakes (and seriously, isn't she the loveliest thing on the planet?), but lets not blame her for the content. That's all my fault.

So I present you:

8 ½ Fail-Safe Ways To Write A Comment (or my step by step guide to successful commenting)

1. The first thing I say to myself is: Do it now. Sometimes I'm in a bit of a hurry and I tell myself (Yeah, I'm optimistic like that): "I'll just do it later, when I can do it properly!" (Exclamation mark included.)

Sometimes it doesn't happen. I will mean to, I truly will, but most likely I'll end up not commenting. Maybe I've lost the link to the story, or have moved on to a different story. I might have forgotten what I liked about the story in the first place and the author will never know.

So doing it now, right after reading a story is the most important step.

2. It doesn't always have to be an epic comment, with lots of insightful and witty content. Though yes, those are great. But comments don't always have to be like that. Sometimes something as simple as, "I really loved your story. Thank you for sharing it," is enough, if you are really in a hurry and don't have time. It's best if you take your time, but sometimes it's enough to let an author know you enjoy their work and you appreciate the fact they shared it.

But really, I do try and take my time if I have a moment. Once in a while, I'm in a hurry or it's a short story, it's understandable, but I can't forget; I am talking to someone, not leaving a message on an answering machine. Chances are, this author is going to eventually reply to my comment and I will have missed my chance to say something gracefully.

3. I try not to limit my comments to those stories that changed my life and I will never, ever forget.

You know why? Because not all of the stories I read will change my life, but because most will evoke an emotion in me. If a story made me smile, chuckle, laugh, melt, say aww, or got me hot & bothered, then why not say so? I should! If we enjoy someone's work, then we should be appreciative of it. Let's not be a Wham, bam, thank you ma'am reader. Let's show some gratitude. Plus, let's not forget, someone will read it and will be pleased by the response.

4. I try to be generous with the comments.

It's good to say something like, "I liked your story. It was very sweet." But you know what's better? Saying more. Like why I liked it and what I liked about it. Take a moment—trust me, it won't take more than five seconds—and think about what you're feeling. Did it make you smile? Did it touch you? Did it chill you? Did it make you melt? Did it make you feel hot and bothered? Say so.

If I don't know what to say beyond "I loved your story. It made me smile", I can always quote the bit I liked the most. Authors really like to know that.

When I'm about to say (and I've made this mistake many a time) "I loved it all, if I had to quote my favourite bits I might never end," trust me, quoting large chunks of a story is no problem at all. No author is going to tell you, "Oh, gee. That's a lot to like, you should have just said you liked the whole thing." That's not going to happen, they'll be happy to know which parts worked best.

5. When I want to leave a more meaningful comment, I find the easiest way to do so is to write my comment as I read a story. This is awesome for longer fics.

I just open a Word Doc or a Text Edit, or click 'comment' and keep that window next to the story, and as I read, write about the bit I'm especially enjoying.

For example: There's a lot of action going on. Harry and Draco are duelling the bad guys and for a fleeting second they share a look and they just know what the other is thinking…

And you go "omg! <3333!" Go to your comment doc or comment window and write "And I loved that while they were duelling they shared that sultry look."

It's a detail that in a 20K fic you might forget because there is bigger stuff happening, but you still loved it, yeah? Well. That's the sort of thing a comment is about.

Turns out there are a lot of those moments? Well, even better! No one, no author is going feel you loved too much stuff about their story and get annoyed. They'll love to know those things.

And think about the other things you enjoyed. Did you like the characterisations? The banter? The UST? The smut? The plot? The secondary characters? The original characters? It's easy, just say you like those things and why, the words will flow. Sometimes you just have to start.

6. If it's a longer story and I downloaded all 50k or more, the first thing I do is save the link.

In fact, make a habit of saving the link along with the story. It's not only dead useful for future references or reccing it, but then you don't have go through your web history looking for it. And you know, maybe this fic is going to be one of your all time favourites.

As you read you can highlight your favourite parts and then go through them as you write your comment.

7. If you're a studious commenter and you want to leave constructive criticism, that's great, too.

Bear in mind the author will most likely want to answer you, so be polite, and if you are expressing your opinion don't do it anonymously. They'll probably take you more seriously that way. It's best if you email an author or PM (personal message them) and always be respectful.

If it's for a fest fic you mean to leave concrit and the author hasn't yet been revealed, it's probably best if you save your comment for after the reveals and then mail it to the author, otherwise he or she will be unable to reply it, perhaps for several weeks.

Think what you're going to say. If you're reading a Dub Con story and your critique is, "I don't think Harry would ever force Draco." That's not exactly constructive criticism. It's your personal opinion; and yes, you are entitled to have one, but no one forced you to read a story that has elements you don't like. Think if you're giving valuable input or if you're just listing why that story isn't what you think it should to be.

And if you're going to criticise someone's grammar and spelling, at least make sure yours is perfect. I know you're not writing a story but leaving a comment. Still, it's the principle of the thing.

However, if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all. If you started reading a story and have problems with the writing, stop reading. No one is making you read a story you are not enjoying. Just walk away, or rather press you back button, and don't look back.

Now, if that story is lacking warnings you feel it should have, of course you should speak your mind. If you point this out, most authors will immediately try to correct the fault. But try to keep in mind that this was probably an oversight from the author rather than a wish to upset a reader.

If it's a story you feel has potential, offer yourself as a beta reader, or suggest a beta reader, but don't comment just to complain. Always do this privately, if you are being honest about your advice, you don't need to embarrass an author by pointing out flaws on a public forum.

Better yet, if you want to make sure your concrit will be welcomed, you can always check with the author in a friendly and respectful manner and see if there are open to receive it. And to understand that someone not wanting concrit is a perfectly reasonable and mature choice.

8. Remember; not every author replies every comment they get. The vast majority do, so the fact that a story was posted months prior in a community by a community moderator doesn't mean your comment won't be read and appreciated. Most authors track their own stories in different communities, so leave them some love even if it isn't a new entry.

Fandom is like a living entity, if you give something, it's more likely you'll get something in return; if you leave a review or a comment on the stories you read, the authors will be encouraged to keep writing and sharing their work.

8½. If after all this you're still determined to be just a lurker and you're on a site that allows you to rate a story, or leave kudos, or happy faces, or thumbs up, or plus marks, or whatever, for the love of God do it!

But you know what? Between you and me, leaving comments is half the fun of reading. It's a way to meet people you already have something in common with. People in fandom are incredibly kind, generous and friendly. Leaving comments gives you a chance to open yourself experience that first hand, and it will make you feel an important part of fandom.

Writers and artists share the stories they mean to say with you and I, showing appreciation of their work is a small way to give back.

I know, I'm not re-inventing the wheel here, and some of these are pretty obvious, but I thought I'd share them anyway. :)
Current Mood: sillysilly
LiveJournal: pingback_botlivejournal on August 8th, 2013 01:28 pm (UTC)
Capitu on Commenting
User eidheann_writes referenced to your post from Capitu on Commenting saying: [...] d try to do our very best to celebrate and remember that. ♥ Originally posted by at Commenting [...]
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welcome to villa cariño!capitu on August 8th, 2013 01:40 pm (UTC)
Holy shit! It's really you! This is a surprise! *beams*

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Vaysh Swiftstormvaysh on August 8th, 2013 02:25 pm (UTC)

I am following your advice #1 to say that this is an awesome post. Everybody who wants to be a part of fandom should read it, whether they ever leave a comment or not. :)

The only tiny bitsy bit I see differently is the word "serious" in #7. Every commenter is serious not only those who have constructive criticism. ;)

welcome to villa cariño!capitu on August 8th, 2013 02:49 pm (UTC)
#1 is very important! :)

You're right about the word 'serious'. I know exactly what you mean, because it's what I meant too. Maybe I should have used better a different word, like studious. Yes.
(no subject) - vaysh on August 8th, 2013 03:28 pm (UTC) (Expand)
oakstone730oakstone730 on August 8th, 2013 02:28 pm (UTC)
A lovely reminder. I need to get better and more consistent at writing reviews. When a fic is truly amazing I do, but the reality is all the fics we read -- if they are worthy of the time we are spending reading them -- are worthy of the time to say thanks to the writer for creating and posting.

Personally, I do occasionally check the number of views my stories get and it is nice to see the numbers increasing, but maybe 1 in 500 view will leave a comment. This always makes me wonder if they went 'meh' and moved on to someone else's story.

And, I do love all your reviews. Your collection of recs is amazing and well-organized - a true contribution to the HP fandom.
welcome to villa cariño!capitu on August 8th, 2013 03:30 pm (UTC)
I fell in love with the ship, then I fell in love with the fandom. Commenting and reccing is a small way to contribute to something that given me, us, so much. That you say this, I'm simply floored. Thank you. ♥

*nods* Yeah, understand what you mean. I've seen a lot of writers and artists wonder the same thing. I think it's a tendency to be complacent, you know? When it really takes only a few moments to let someone know you enjoy their work.
LiveJournal: pingback_botlivejournal on August 8th, 2013 02:28 pm (UTC)
Capitu's 8 ½ Fail-Safe Ways To Write A Comment-Guide
User vaysh referenced to your post from Capitu's 8 ½ Fail-Safe Ways To Write A Comment-Guide saying: [...] Originally posted by at Commenting [...]
Pandorepandorasbox88 on August 8th, 2013 03:59 pm (UTC)
Merci pour d'être si honnête

Vous pouvez m'envoyer une commentaire comme vous voulez :)
welcome to villa cariño!capitu on August 8th, 2013 06:51 pm (UTC)
Merci. :) Je vais!
Marinatalithan on August 8th, 2013 04:37 pm (UTC)
What a great post! I try my best to leave comments whenever I have even a single positive thing to say, but sometimes it's hard, particularly on those occasions when I don't have time and tell myself I'll come back later--by the time I do, I can't remember a thing :( So I definitely agree with your number one, haha. But I so often want to be as specific and thorough as possible in discussing what I liked, which then means I feel like I need to really devote time to it, which makes it feel like a much larger endeavor than it really is.... So this was a nice reminder that it doesn't have to be an intense thing and really can be just a kind word for the author whose work you just enjoyed. Your comments and reviews are so consistently thoughtful and kind and it's really interesting to get this peek at how you manage that :) Comments mean a lot to me, and I really appreciate both your commitment to leaving them and this encouragement to others to do the same!
welcome to villa cariño!capitu on August 8th, 2013 06:56 pm (UTC)
Number 1 is very important yeah? :D

I think that, when it comes to commenting, you just have to start. If you think about it too much you might find it's hard to do, but it isn't. When you've enjoyed a story (as much as I've enjoyed yours Ohhh, A Piercing Comfort, the feels!) it's really easy. And leaving a thoughtful comment makes the whole experience even better. :)
Roelroelliej on August 8th, 2013 05:47 pm (UTC)
I totally agree with you. As a writer it's frustrating when only a few comment on a story which you worked hard for, but that's just the way it is.

I try to comment as much as possible (especially when I know the author's work), and I think a good summary does half the work. You have to warm up potential readers to read YOUR story. :-)

I also like to make new friends. ^^

Thanks so much for this, hon! :D
welcome to villa cariño!capitu on August 8th, 2013 07:06 pm (UTC)
A good summary is very important, but I understand they can be hard to write. More often than not though you just have to dive into a story and just let it surprise you. :)

*hugs* Thank you!
Bring forth the tale of dicksbirdsofshore on August 8th, 2013 06:10 pm (UTC)
Gosh I adore this! This should become a fandom classic, like that guide that always gets posted on how not to be a doofus during exchange fests. Can this be posted on comms just before a fest begins? We really really need comments and commenters, and speaking personally, kudos don't really cut it!

You are really a queen among commenters, so it makes sense that your comment guide would be the best ♥
Marianneeidheann_writes on August 8th, 2013 06:22 pm (UTC)
Can we add "ever so slightly longer but not quite as thick" to that list? *g*
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NathalieWeasleynathalieweasley on August 8th, 2013 06:23 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for this post! It was very helpful. ♥
welcome to villa cariño!capitu on August 8th, 2013 07:20 pm (UTC)
<3 I'm glad you think so! *hugs*
(no subject) - nathalieweasley on August 9th, 2013 10:52 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Machiavellian Puppet Mastertjs_whatnot on August 8th, 2013 07:02 pm (UTC)
I love you!
This was great! I love AO3 for longer fics because I can download them to my kindle and read them like a book, highlighting passages I loved and making notes. This makes leaving thorough heartfelt comments super easy.

I do get sad though when I've devoted time and effort to leave these amazing comments only to see the author has stopped replying to the story like a year or more ago. For me all this fandom stuff is a lovely back and forth between creation and consumption. It's what makes it worthwhile and so different than real life where the interactions between creators and consumers is so weird.

welcome to villa cariño!: capitu/tjwritter OTP 4EVERcapitu on August 8th, 2013 07:23 pm (UTC)
Re: I love you!
Yeah, when I leave one of those comments to an author I know has left the fandom I always hope they remember that work fondly and still get happy with the reviews it gets even if they aren't active any longer.

I <3 SM!!!!
writcraftwritcraft on August 8th, 2013 11:07 pm (UTC)
Fantastic post! You are such a wonderful presence in fandom because not only are you clearly awesome, but you are also so diligent with your comments and reccing. It is something I need to be better at and it's always 'tomorrow, tomorrow'

I really have paid attention to this and I will follow your guide. Thank you for writing this post! A useful and much needed poke for me <3
welcome to villa cariño!capitu on August 9th, 2013 11:18 am (UTC)
:) Thank you! I'm glad you think it's useful, this little list.

Sometimes you just have to start, make a habit of not leaving it for later, because you meant to (as in general) but then it slips your mind, so now is the best time to start. :)

Thank you for your words, love. They mean the world to me. <3
writcraftwritcraft on August 8th, 2013 11:12 pm (UTC)
The one caveat actually to #7 is concrit should (in my view) be limited to post-reveals or fic which is already attributable to an author. There is nothing more frustrating than being anonymous and itching to explain why you did X or Y :D

Just a personal view!!
welcome to villa cariño!capitu on August 9th, 2013 11:22 am (UTC)
Oh, I bet wanting to answer a comment like that would be maddening. You're right of course. Common sense and courtesy would say you should wait until the author has the chance to reply to you. I probably should will edit that, along with vaysh's observation. Both valid points I agree entirely. :)
(no subject) - vaysh on August 9th, 2013 11:47 am (UTC) (Expand)
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evening12: cheerleading//animeevening12 on August 8th, 2013 11:29 pm (UTC)
Step #5 is what I do with Big Bangs! Because it's true that with longer story you might forget that line that so and so said in the first two paragraph of the story. Or maybe there is art to go with the story and you want to say how great the two go together. :)

It's a way to meet people you already have something in common with. That is so so true! I've met loads of people (including some that ship some of my rare pair) simply because I remember their comments to certain stories. And on the opposite side, some people have friended me because they saw my comments.
welcome to villa cariño!capitu on August 9th, 2013 11:25 am (UTC)
Yeah! I do that with most stories over 20K. There are so many details to love, sometimes I even find myself going back to my comment to add them. :)

I've met most of my friends, in one way or another, through the comments I've left. It's a way to recognising people in such a huge fandom. And I'm sure it's the same for people who has friended me, they remember me from a comment I left, and boy, some of the most amazing friendships I've made have been born this way, too.
Annjust_ann_now on August 9th, 2013 12:19 am (UTC)
Wandering by from Friends-of-Friends to say, WORD.

Especially; leaving comments is half the fun of reading. It's a way to meet people you already have something in common with. I agree with this so, so much - I'm not a particularly prolific writer, so most of the relationships I have developed have been meeting people by commenting on their work. Whenever I hear people say that they are having trouble making friends in a fandom, I always want to ask them how active they are about leaving comments. Because that really seems to be the way to go.

Also: Sometimes I'm in a bit of a hurry and I tell myself (Yeah, I'm optimistic like that): "I'll just do it later, when I can do it properly!" In cases like that, I try to leave a placeholder comment: "I really love this, but don't have time to do it justice, but don't worry, I'll be back to comment in loving detail!" The big thing after that, of course, is to actually do it. I have a "Read It Later" (or whatever it's called, something like that) extension on my browser, and I keep the story bookmarked there until I have the chance to get back, reread, and comment more fully.
welcome to villa cariño!capitu on August 9th, 2013 11:28 am (UTC)
Yeah, when I first started reading Harry/Draco I honestly didn't know how to go adding people, but it just happened, through comments and interactions in communities, you recognise each other and you already have this huge thing in common, it's easy making friends when you have something so wonderful to relate to. :)

Yeah, that's the thing about coming back to a story to comment. To do it. I made that mistake with many stories I read when I first got into Harry/Draco, so I kind of learned my lesson. Now is the best time.

I also go through my friendsfriends often. :D It's fun! :D