“Accepting criticism, or how to handle the opinion of the internet like an adult”


“Any publicity is good publicity.”



It would be equally true to say: “Any feedback is good feedback”. It merely depends on what you choose to do with it.

Recently, I managed to figure out a way to shoehorn a bit of (selfish) feedback by making one of the questions for our Liebster Award nomination how other bloggers felt about and perceived our blog, The Well-Red Mage. We managed to get a few choice quotes from some very nice people, and I’ll want to home in on the strengths that they listed and emphasize those with the idea of diminishing the impact of our weaknesses.

Because let’s be honest: we’re not perfect. The Well-Red Mage, contrary to popular belief, is not perfect. I’m not perfect. But I can reach degrees of better or worse and one of the great ways to become better is by learning how to receive quality, constructive feedback whether good or bad.

The problem is: this is the internet. And generally feedback is far from constructive, far from qualitative. Generally it’s ad hominem and straw men. Just look at the comments on YouTube which range from cruel to illiterate. In 2016, it’s tough to have an opinion without facing some faceless opposition on the web which may wind up labeling you an idiot, a retard or just fat and dumb, or a number of expletives.

So what is the blogger to do with poor feedback? Act like an adult, avoid getting defensive, and learn.

Case in point (somewhat): I was eye-balling some of our metrics recently to see how we can improve when I discovered that we’ve received about 25 views from Reddit since our blog’s inception. What’s strange about that is I never visit Reddit and so far as I know we’ve nothing to do with the place. I found out some kind soul shared a few of our reviews there! “So shines a good deed in a weary world.” The Well-Red Mage salutes you, nameless soldier.

I also came across this reply someone wrote:


“One thing I don’t really like is the whole separation of categories (Graphics, Story, Difficulty, etc.). Games are cohesive experiences, and the reviews should be as well. Breaking out the categories seems really amateurish. It’s much better if you can touch on the different elements in a cohesive, organic way. You’d never read a film broken down into Acting, Script, Cinematography, Score, etc., or a music review with Vocals, Production, Lyrics, etc.”

There was a link to our blog following the statement as an example of this kind of review style. There’s no hiding it. We’ve stuck to the same format for our reviews since the dawn of the Mages, deliberately deciding to utilize both a “cohesive” body of text and a broken down score system for various elements of the game in order to accomplish two things:

1. Appeal to people who don’t care to read long posts by delivering quick and accessible to find info and scores, and 2. Appeal to people who still like to read posts with personality that sound more like narration than like grading homework.

There could be a third reason which is that personally this helps me to write the in-depth reviews that I want to write by having the scores present so I don’t forget about any elements.

So, to reiterate, it seems to me that some people just really don’t want to skim through a whole post to find isolated information, like how good the multiplayer in a game is or how hard it is. I fit into this category. Reading and writing as much as I do, while still making time for the most important things in life, takes up so much energy that I rarely read entire blog articles. Sorry, everybody I follow. I scan posts for the information I want. But if a post is too long, it’s too time-consuming to try to find the information I want beneath all of the fluff or other important but not relevant info.

Then there are the people who do like to read the body of a review without the grades. This is motivating to me to write that portion of our reviews better! And I’m glad that we chose to have that portion present. But is there really a way that reviews “should be” written? I’m not a professional gaming journalist, but how many home-brew bloggers are? Writing is a subjective territory! And furthermore, Metacritic, IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes use scoring systems for film! AND further furthermore, I have indeed read film reviews that break down a movie into separate scores like “family friendliness” or “originality” or “plot”!

ragemage  RARWR!!

*Ahem* Now… lest someone say I’m becoming defensive, let me assure you I’m not. “Amateurish” is a word that stabs a little wound in my soft flesh, but I’d be a fool not to learn from this statement. Still, I won’t be changing our format any time soon. I can’t try to make myself seem more scholarly than I am by avoiding seeming amateurish to someone of Reddit. What then have I learned?

You can’t appeal to everyone. Also, the quote shows me the benefit of the cohesive body of the review which would appeal more to that person, just talking about what we did or didn’t like about the game without the scoring like any individual would in ordinary conversation. We would hope that we’ve chosen a path that could appeal to both types of reader.

Feedback can hurt sometimes, but take it like an adult. The best word of advice you can get for online interactions is “don’t get offended”.

I’m not sure if any of you struggle with taking criticism or have been hurt in the past by it, but if so, you have my empathy. Yeah it can be hard to take. You may never know why a total stranger chose to say something to you that they wouldn’t have otherwise said to your face, except for the internet. However, there’s no point in devolving into an argument with the person who gives a poor opinion of you. Learn from it.

“Any feedback is good feedback!” Feedback is one of the most valuable things your readers can give you. So bring it on, NPCs!

I believe whatever doesn’t kill you simply makes you… stranger.
-The Well-Red Mage


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42 replies »

  1. Well… I’ll get to the awesomeness of this post in a mo, but 1st…
    I can’t speak for others (obvs!) but I can, at least, clarify a specific point:
    I’m mentally Ill, (or, as I like to put it ‘Born Broken’)
    specifically I’m a Sociopath, & what that means in regards to its relevance here, in real terms is: A, I talk to myself All The Time! but more to the point, I have pretty much no filter. At all.
    So if I say something online I would ‘ave said it in real life too! (Unsurprisingly, I get a lot of trouble for both above reasons, but hey, I’m just me!)
    Back to the article though…
    As always beautifully written, well thought out & well put! Quality observations as always.
    Coupla final points:
    1, the online community is basically an arse for trolls & such obvs, but as a ‘Broken’ dude, I’ve lost count of the sheer amount of times I’ve left what I thought was a fairly innocuous comment or pretty mild statement (leavin aside innuendoes & jokes etc) & caught hell for being misunderstood/misinterpreted time & again (especially on twitter, character limit notwithstandin *Sighs*)
    & 2, it is truly to your benefit that you are able to understand & cope with criticism (constructive or otherwise)
    another facet of being ‘Broken’ is: I have ‘Undying Rage’ which means I cannot take any criticism At All… (It’s really bad!) But as I’m about to be 32 on 1st Feb, this’ll be 14th yr I haven’t lost my temper, so kudos to me for that, but Even More Kudos to you, for your success at becoming a ‘Well-Red’ *Grins* adult of the blogging & internet communities!!!
    also, jus fer me, I like the way it’s written.
    Given my current ongoing battle w/depression (*Me* Hmm think I’ll read a book now… *Brain* hold on there a mo!)
    These are realistically the longest & most wonderful things I actually read right now, so I thank you kindly for that at the very least! *Bows Politely*

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gotta love criticism on Reddit. I’ve received it before. And I mean the sour, mean-hearted type of feedback. But on my blog, not so much. I rarely get anything negative. On YouTube, I have one guy who likes to make somewhat negative comments, but he mixes them with some odd questions and positive comments. He speaks English well enough in his videos, but his comments look like a child typing. I mostly ignore his comments, since he often doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He has a gaming channel, I do books. Most people who do book videos speak calmly and coherently. Many gamers shout and scream. He said I should be more like that, shouting and screaming. Yeah, right. Does not apply to my type of video.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your comment. I don’t frequent Reddit, so if there is any other criticism there it’s a matter of ignorance being bliss. I’ve had a few nasty comments here on the blog that are more personal attacks than criticism, so I just moderate those. Everyone else is very friendly and I welcome the feedback. I don’t know that I’ll ever have the guts for creating a YouTube persona and enduring the brutality that goes on there. Seems I’ve never even watched a video and then scrolled down to see comments that weren’t extremely negative. Not sure what kind of a kick people get out of demeaning complete strangers. I mean, I tease my friends but man…

      And I’d like to think that I wouldn’t be a “screamer” if I was to do videos. Can’t stand those. Thanks again for commenting!


  3. If you’ve ever played a sport of any kind, you know constructive criticism when you hear it. Once need simply weed out the trash and listen to those who actually have legitimate gripes.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ll read the full column later (lol, I will! I’m just stupidly busy this week), but I got the gist in the first paragraph. I did an online strategy guide a while back for a mobile game and after posting a link, the one response was a long drawn out tirade blowing me out of the water for making the guide for novice players who’d NEVER played that sort of game before and not one that followed this guy’s idea of how an EXPERT player would tackle things.


    It got worse with Mr. Expert Commentary (or Emperor Palpitations as I called him) going ape over a bunch of other stuff, some of which was not my doing (I didn’t pick the screenshots in the guide, so some weren’t images he liked). I was going to respond in kind with a point by point teardown of his vinegary sludge, but after a week of scribbling notes, re-reading his screed and stressing out, I just gave up and let his words stand as the off-base opinion they were.

    Which is why I moderate any comments on my site now. If it’s constructive criticism, it goes up and maybe gets an answer if the comment warrants it. If it’s someone just venting about other stuff not on topic, I don’t bother letting it through. Thankfully, there have been maybe four comments I didn’t post because they were just insults or someone making the mistake of misreading/not reading past a certain point and yelling at me thinking I missed something when I didn’t.

    That’s when I email them personally and point out reading is fun(damental)…


    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s quite the experience, and I’m glad I haven’t had a similar one on this blog. Seems like I get into that sort of thing in RL though. Sounds like you did the adult thing and just let it go. It’s clear that some people just don’t want to reason so much as rave and scream and bully. Thanks for the comment! And hopefully you’ll have more time on your hands soon, haha!


  5. There’s nothing out there that will appeal to everyone, unfortunately. Draw what you can from the comments, but from what I understand, trying to draw actual good feedback from the internet is a very difficult thing to do. Just gotta either ignore it or learn out to filter out the useful from the useless I suppose. Good post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Hatm0nster! You’re absolutely right. It’s one of the biggest challenges of the internet. At the very least, ridiculously bad feedback can teach you how to ignore people rather than get into a fight, eh? But it can be like sifting through all the sand of a seashore for a single pearl.


  6. For the past week, I’ve been telling my wife, Louie that our phones are opinion boxes! (Same goes for PCs as well) Then I told her, “we don’t talk to anybody on them anymore” and that we use them to bitch, complain and globe know how we feel. (Even if they aren’t listening) That’s why I’m worrying about the site traffic. I might try to set up a reddit sometime just to expand, but outside of that, I do it for the readers.
    You’re doing EVERYTHING right, dude! You know always got my support!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, thanks so much for saying that! It can truly be a ruthless place online, and it’s like all the inhibitions drop and people show just how mean-spirited they are. Why use an ugly ad hominem against someone who’s just expressing their opinion? But I don’t understand what you meant by worrying about the site traffic, sorry?

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Bravo! I just wanted to let you know that I’m a fan of your review style, and I think that you should continue doing what you think works best for you and your readers! Keep it up!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well thank you very much! I’m always open for improvements but I think we’ll stick along the same lines as what we’ve been doing. The only thing I’m conscious of write now is my reviews tend to sometimes be longer than I’d like them to be, longer than I think holds attention reasonably.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Great post. Yes, it’s good to receive feedback, so long as it’s constructive. I’ve had posts shared on Reddit, no idea who, as like you I’ve never visited it, but I’m grateful for the traffic it brought. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to review on a blog. It’s your space to present and write how you want. I try and mix up styles, long, short and in depth reviews / articles ect. Someone once suggested I give each review a rating, but I never have, as I feel my review make it clear what I think. Overall I’ve found blogging a very positive and enjoyable experience, but I don’t get bogged down in stats and statistic, I write my blog for fun and the connection I’ve made with my readers, that’s what I like the best 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading! Maybe there’s an appealing or less appealing way to review on a blog, but there is no right or wrong way, though the internet would lead you to believe that there are wrong ways to share an opinion. Suggestions and feedback can be helpful, but it sounds like you know what you’re doing by sticking to your tastes and convictions. Writing for the fun of it has got to be the foundation, otherwise it can get to be a chore. Thanks for your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Cheers. Yeah, I think you find your own way blogging really. I started mine when a friend of me suggested it to me, they said it would act as a kind of digital portfolio of sorts for me, which in many ways it has as its led to me writing on other sites as well. But, first and foremost, I find blogging such great fun, and that’s what I base it all around 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  9. “Stop being so biased! This post is rubbish! RAWWWWWRRRR!” …is what a troll would say 😛 lol. I liked this article 🙂 There is a lot of cynicism out there sadly and everyone’s going to react to it differently.

    I used to love listening to a now-dead gaming podcast called Weekend Confirmed. Oddly enough, I disagreed with the main host’s opinions on games about 90% of the time XD But I loved his charisma and lack of bias so I always enjoyed tuning in and had a good time.

    With a lot of people, I think malice gets mixed into the criticism… an unconscious (or fully conscious) intention to make the reader of your criticism feel bad. That’s when things get ugly 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, trolls can be flat out hard to deal with, as their more so just teasing and bullying than providing any kind of feedback. We live in a cynical time, unfortunately, where human kindness is rare where we socialize the most.
      Disagreement can make for wonderful, civil conversation! You’ve got to wonder what makes people malicious to perfect strangers.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Reddit is a poisoned chalice for feedback. Some communities can’t handle any form of criticism regardless of how valid.

        The standard comment you’ll get is “I stopped reading when…”.

        I actually struggle to get feedback from anywhere other than Reddit. Individual comments are not that useful, but Reddit will give you tonnes.

        I got called up for the section thing too, but my view is same as you. Always done it, I like it, my choice.

        Have changed a few things though based on Reddit feedback.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Yeah like I mentioned I have little experience with Reddit though it seems it can be as toxic as YouTube. That’s internet socialization I guess: human behavior without any of the normal inhibitors of direct human contact, which results in this weird, gloves-off verbal melee. I know people are entitled to their opinions, but if its toxic, I hope there’s some silver lining in there that I can learn from. I’d consider myself an amateur game reviewer, though I wrote book reviews in the past. Maybe once I reach a year, I can ascend to novice! lol
          I’m curious as to what kind of feeback you’ve received that provoked you to make some changes?


          • I’m more analytical of games now. Earlier reviews were too “matter of fact/description of bosses”.

            When I started the site it was primarily aimed at 5 of my friends so it was full of in jokes.

            People have pointed out errors in things I describe, so I have edited out errors, or made some of the grammer clearer to help the point get across better.

            Some of the criticism I get on one particular post I might ignore as I disagree, but I can often think of an example in another post that I’ll then go and edit.

            Final Fantasy X is one I have edited the most, made it less of a rant about how much of a gimp Tidus is.

            My writing style has also improved a lot over the last 2 years too, so I find the early reviews painful to read.

            As a result, I am spending more time editing older posts than on newer ones.

            Liked by 1 person

            • That’s great! It’s amazing how much one can improve their writing by consistently doing it over a period of time. I’ve still got a rough draft novel I completed in high school that I can’t read… makes my eyes bleed.
              I’m lazy when it comes to editing, so I have my wife do it. Haha!
              I’m glad that feedback comes along to make us sharper, more aware of what we’re saying, and more analytical in our reviewing. Keep on improving! Imagine what you’ll be like in another 2 years. Bill Shakespeare.

              Liked by 1 person

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