Negative Internet Feedback Isn't About You, It's Them

Negative Internet Feedback Isn't About You, It's Them

Nika Harper, formerly of Riot Games, made some great points about how to prepare for the hateful comments you'll get on the Internet.

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In other words, the internet has the bad effect of dehumanizing people and makes it much easier to attack someone when it's just an avatar on some website. Not everyone goes that way but it definitely explains why it's so easy for some people to sprout such vile crap. No different than abusing a computer AI in a game. Interesting read and something I didn't think of before, hmm.

... But what about when you truly deserve to have your ass chewed, or when the feedback is presented in a way so that it isn't hateful? Sure most content creators don't deserve the level or intensity of "negative internet feedback" they receive but to basically state none of it is meaningful is just as bad.

The obvious counterexample is (new) Sim City.

Sometimes your game really is that bad and you made some very bad decisions and decided to release a bad game for bad reasons. Then you will defend it vigorously for a year or so, and even blatantly lie about things, on the grounds that the entire internet are bad people for saying bad things about your bad game so they deserve to be lied to for saying bad things.

Yeah, I get what she's saying. There's a lot of hate for hate's sake. You have to ignore that for your sanity and integrity. But if there's an overwhelming consensus maybe you should think twice. Or once. She did throw a bone about approaching critiques with hard reason, but that was the standard 'of course not all [x] are [y]'.

Of course for your sanity perhaps it's better to treat it all as unwarranted.

I guess that would be the american way, arm yourself and go to war...
I propose another way, don't go to war. With that approach you quickly realise hostility fuels itself, not only are you put on edge and wanting to interpret comments as "hate", but everyone that comes in contact with this attitude will also take a defensive stance.
And it doesn't take much for completely calm reasonable people to be put on edge and start ignoring all logic and reason, just tunnel visioning on winning some senseless battle by any means necessary.

In short, don't default to hostility and there will be far less of it, most people just really have no clue what they are talking about.

Oh man, I can't wait to see this dude get chewed out for having the gall to suggest, among other things, 1) that internet trolls should just be ignored, 2) that you shouldn't meet criticism with emotion but rather cold reasoning, and 3) that it's important to understand the nature of the internet and what you face when becoming a public figure. I can't wait for the more enlightened denizens of the web to ride down on this fool for daring to suggest that a person take precautions or assess the internet rationally. Bloodbath ahoy!

Wait, it's a woman saying it. That's okay then. Stand down, tumblr.

Extremely insightful and true observation. It must have been a very interesting speech...

It's funny when you think how many people, how many professionals, how many creators of marketeers treat social media and the internet at large as a valid source of consumer or general feedback.

And yet, it's true that most of that chatter isn't talking to ANYONE. It's stuff people write, expecting that nobody will read them, especially not the people that they are addressing. When you are the post No. 245 at a public gaming forum, writing that Mario is a badly designed character and a stupid idea in every level, you don't really expect that Miyamoto will ever read it, let alone quote-reply you. Do you?

So you just write some crap, venting some acid, thinking that nobody will ever read it. Nobody that truly matters, anyway...

P.S. Case to the point. How many of us, writing replies in this forum topic, do you think have read any of the other posts here... We just write our own brand of "wisdom", post it and leave, never to return and never to read what anyone else wrote or thinks. The only reason we may return to this topic is if we get a notification in our inbox that someone quoted us...

P.S. 2. I read what the people before me posted...

Is there anywhere that I could go and watch these panels? Were they recorded/streamed anywhere?

These topics are really interested and would like to hear them.

DarkhoIlow:
Is there anywhere that I could go and watch these panels? Were they recorded/streamed anywhere?

GDC tends to record all their session talks, but you normally need to have a GDC membership (i.e. been a purchased attendee) to get access to their Vault.

So, Mr Tito, have I ever told you exactly what I think of your DragonAge 2 review?

DarkhoIlow:
Is there anywhere that I could go and watch these panels? Were they recorded/streamed anywhere?

These topics are really interested and would like to hear them.

GDCVault. I believe there is a paywall to have access to the ones that are recorded. Some have been streamed but most are not cause well, money for GDC.

As for the topic. I disagree. I disagree with her trying to create archtypes creating groups especially when people should be treated as individuals. Only by trying to clump people together you just enable yourself to become ignorant of the most critical thing when creating your work. Feedback.

Read comments. Understand feedback.

Obviously nothing should stop you from actually continuing your work but it is foolish assumption that comments are somehow a force that is going to stop any person from the job or craft they are a part of. The only person who stops oneself if themselves.

Also, it isn't a bad thing to consider the preferences of others. It's called perspective. Something that we should understand just like feedback. So when a person does tell a person has too many tattoos, while that won't affect who you are, it should make you at least consider the effect of having too much. Sure you might have the luxury to not in your career where you can have a lot of tattoos, but others don't. That is just one factor to consider, nevermind considering that first impression when pursuing a relationship.

The only thing I can agree on is to avoid for validation. Because while many will be more than happy to create their own online echo chamber the only thing it does is prevent people from actually continuing to work on their craft and invest in themselves.

But hey now we can just group up people now into little archtypes now and just ignore what everyone types on the internet cause it is now just more negativity.

Which for the past two years I've seen nothing but the video game industry bitch and moan and confront this negativity by...being more negative and identify anything and everything in a negative fashion. Not to mention to solve all their problems by being negative.

This is good advice for small individuals moving into a dehumanizing world where people don't act like people. The problem comes when legitimate criticisms get ignored and when people get angry about not being heard they are further tuned out. Big companies have been seeing negative comments as so much 'white noise' for decades now all whilst listening to whatever voices they feel justify their actions.

just apply a variant of the mst3k mantra

"its just the internet, I should really just relax"

People are dicks online. Thats what the ignore button is for. Use it liberally, without hesitation, and without regret. You have a finite amount of brain CPU cycles to work with, no need to spend them on useless things like trolls.

Scrumpmonkey:
This is good advice for small individuals moving into a dehumanizing world where people don't act like people. The problem comes when legitimate criticisms get ignored and when people get angry about not being heard they are further tuned out. Big companies have been seeing negative comments as so much 'white noise' for decades now all whilst listening to whatever voices they feel justify their actions.

^That's the point I took from this.
Filtering noise is one thing, but a big company run by marketers and executives more than anyone with any real creative ambition looks at public feedback as PR backtalk.
It's noise in an echo chamber; Something to be marginalized and ignored, or demonized and made into a scapegoat.

As a media company grows larger they become more dependent on finding a larger audience, which means broadening appeal. Eventually, individual feedback becomes completely worthless, and larger scale trends become the most valuable.
At that point, the best they can do is pretend to care.

And that assumes the consumer is trying to give USEFUL, VALUABLE feedback; throwing trolls and the Internet Hate Machine into the mix made everything worse. It gave the execs and their PR people a wonderful scapegoat to point to for their apathy. (I can think of one pseudo-academic who twisted internet hatred into a 6 figure payday)

Which is why I stopped bothering to send feedback to the developers at all unless I had a "face to face" encounter, and they specifically asked (smaller/indie developers are more inclined to do this).

Because giving specific answers to a firm that's only looking for broad trends and buzzwords is a worthless endeavor.
They don't care, so why should I?

As much as I tend to think that anonymous comments are useless to a professional on a day to day basis, I do think they serve a purpose when taken as a whole.

Considering the Sim City issue or the Diablo III auction house issue - if everyone is really pissed off, don't worry about the individual comments, but do try to figure out what exactly you did that pissed everyone off. On an individual basis "terrible idea, kill yourself" is around the most unhelpful feedback you could possibly receive, but when a huge number of people are saying it and your game has far lower playership than you had anticipated, time needs to be taken to figure out what you did that so offended the people, and why exactly they find it so offensive.

The same idea can be extended to many games that fall under the radar. Dealing with negative feedback sucks, believe that I know, but simply being ignored by the world at large is infinitely worse. If nobody has anything to say about your game, good or bad, then what didn't you do? Or perhaps more importantly, what can you do to make them love you, or at least hate you so you know what to change.

Simply shutting out the haters is a pretty good way to convince yourself you are doing a good job when you really aren't. Even if 'good' is entirely relative and 'hater' runs the line from 'doesn't like wolves' to 'thinks you're trying to kill the franchise.'

HEY! I was the one who called you a social justice creampuff! Thanks for validating my own insecurities Tito. Sorry you had to give me a warning for that.

OT: This article needs to be read by more people. The internet is full of crappy people who are not going anywhere anytime soon. Anyone who knows how the internet works should realize that fighting the internet is a futile exercise and it only makes things worse. Better to just learn how to ignore it, cope with it or even feed of it.

Zhukov:
So, Mr Tito, have I ever told you exactly what I think of your DragonAge 2 review?

Indeed. It's hard to take someone seriously when they create a review as mind boggling as that.

I can certainly recognize some of the things listed in myself and how I've improved over the years.
I still seek validation of some sort and it makes me genuinly happy when someone responds. If I didn't care, I don't think I'd post at all.

Early on, here on the Escapist, I thought this was a pretty cool place, that there was room for opinions and some measure of actual problem solving rather than just bickering, as there is so many other places.
Lately though, I think it's mostly bullshit covered with a nice vocabulary, highly theoretical what if's and a total black and white approach to anything moral or ethical, especially when it comes to sexism.
I see a lot of good intentions, a lot of bad reasons behind them and a hefty intolerance for anyone who doesn't think the same way they do.

Once in a while though, I still get a good discussion (meaning someone has been able to show me something or make me see a point) and a PM alongside.

Lovesfool:

P.S. Case to the point. How many of us, writing replies in this forum topic, do you think have read any of the other posts here... We just write our own brand of "wisdom", post it and leave, never to return and never to read what anyone else wrote or thinks. The only reason we may return to this topic is if we get a notification in our inbox that someone quoted us...

P.S. 2. I read what the people before me posted...

Honestly? Quite a few, unless the thread extends to some +5 pages where you usually begin to see the "I didn't read the last 200 posts but I think..." posts. Like you (and me) though, I doubt many keep up with the thread unless they expect a reply or are reading discussions between others.

I'm not going to sit here and say that a lot of what is spewed on the internet isn't the mindless bile of 100 hundreds of monkeys pounding angrily on their keyboard, because it is.

The problem comes when there are legitimate gripes about a game or its content and they go ignored because 1) The developers don't care, or 2) They are drowned out by the sounds of 100 monkeys pounding on keyboards.

The easiest solution would be for developers to actually focus on the quality of their product again, but I suppose I'll have to continue to deal with the monkeys instead.

It's a 2 way street.
Places where the comments get most negative tend to be the places most ignored.
If developers actually listen, and are seen to listen, and can answer at least some of the more reasonable criticisms, then the audience is less likely to start just spewing crap at them.

But yeah, G.I.F.T. is, and will probably remain, an issue, and developers can, and indeed should, ignore it when comments get personal, or just pointless.

This is one of the first times I've actually agreed with a person about how to handle internet hatred.

Seriously, this is absolutely perfect.

Take what you can because there can be good points hidden in the foul language, but otherwise just ignore it. It isn't difficult. 99.999% of the time, there is no actual threat to a person being insulted online. Hatred on the internet isn't going away any time soon and trying to connect it to people in real life isn't going to help the situation in the slightest.

Thank Lady With Way Too Many Tattoos, thank you very much.

I don't think she is talking about negative feedback as much as completely hateful trolling.
As a musician, DJ, and small time youtuber: negative feedback is great. You'll never improve if you expect everyone to love everything you do right out the gate.

So really, to summarize:

Have a thick skin.
Don't feed the trolls.
Don't immediately assume that negative comments are by default hateful.

Absolutely nothing new to be had here, but every bit of it valuable. Ana Kasparian said everything she already did but much more eloquently years ago. Some people will always play the victim though and they're just as bad as the hateful commentors.

In such a line of work you're going to have to be faced with obnoxious safely anonymous negatives feedback and often personal attacks so I hope techniques/preparation like this helps people in the industry deal with some of this issue.

Alek_the_Great:

Zhukov:
So, Mr Tito, have I ever told you exactly what I think of your DragonAge 2 review?

Indeed. It's hard to take someone seriously when they create a review as mind boggling as that.

O MY GOD! Someone really liked a game I didn't, and had the gall to put his opinion about it on a website. The world is ending because a reviewer really liked Dragon Age 2.

I am really tired of people complaining about scores. Opinions from ANYONE is just that ... an opinion. It doesn't hurt you in any way. (But what if I buy it based on his review?) Then you were too dumb to get second and more OPINIONS about the game, but it still doesn't change the fact that He genuinely liked DA2 a lot. There is nothing wrong with that. I mean people always complain about strawmen on this forum, but what about the Bandwagon (appeal to popularity) fallacy.

A thick skin is mandatory. The internet doesn't so much change people, as it heightens existing personality traits, opinions, or behaviors because of the lack of real world repercussions.

It's a six of one / half dozen of the other problem. I'll be the first to say the internet could do with a few lessons in tact and decency. On the other hand, I'm not grading you on your effort. If I think what you do is flawed, I'm under no obligation to mute myself, or lie to preserve feelings. Yes, sometimes we should, but we don't improve if we don't acknowledge our faults, and we don't do that all that well by avoiding our critics. Just because you create content of any kind doesn't make you flawless, and looking at the comments for people telling you how great you are makes you little other than a narcissist.

I mean, I get the frustration of the content creator. People get into that line of work to make their dreams a reality, only to find they're subjects to the mass market, hence a desire to put as much of the fan demand as possible into the "angry and unreasonable" pile so it can be safely dismissed. Still, that's a path to self absorption. If you have done everything to try and please the fans and the complain, you have a valid concern about what they send you. If you don't, that concern holds less validity. Do things that openly piss off the end user and you forfeit any right to be angry that they're angry no matter how they put it. (no name dropping to keep things civil, and we all know a few examples)

In a search for a middle ground, it's safe to say the internet as a whole needs to learn threats are not criticism, and content creators need to be more open about how they'd accept criticism if delivered. A part of me thinks the anger comes from the mindset that being polite gets you nowhere, and there needs to be an avenue for criticism to flow and be received, or that anger festers and grows into a one dimensional "us against them" issue.

Well, thank God someone gets it. I was beginning to think I was alone in this whole "I actually care about this thing I made and I'm not gonna change it because of one or two people whining online" thing.

This is something that I feel like a lot of people, even fans (Especially fans, really) don't understand about the media they consume. Someone put their heart and soul into that. Your favorite movie, your favorite book, your favorite game - chances are good that, whoever went through the effort of making it, loves it even more than you do. I feel as though many fans, while they know, intellectually, that someone made this and cares for this, on an emotional or subconscious level, they think it sprung fully formed from the aether. They think they're discovering it, not having it given to them. They think they OWN it, not just their copy of the thing, but the idea or work as a whole. Any changes to that work, especially when it's a change they don't approve of, isn't just the creator taking their work in whatever direction they think is best. It's a personal betrayal, some one taking what that fan thinks of as "theirs" and making it "someone else's." And it can be difficult to remember that it's not theirs, not really. It's the creator's, and ultimately it's the creator's decision.

This does not mean that it is free from criticism, of course not, but it does warrant some... delicacy and understanding, yes? Because vitriol, ultimately, only helps you. It makes you feel accomplished and right, but that's all it does. No one listens to the crazy guy yelling at them online. No one's going to change because of that. Plenty might listen to the calm, rational human being who understands why you think like that, but perhaps it would be better if you tried this out instead.

NvrPhazed:

Alek_the_Great:

Zhukov:
So, Mr Tito, have I ever told you exactly what I think of your DragonAge 2 review?

Indeed. It's hard to take someone seriously when they create a review as mind boggling as that.

O MY GOD! Someone really liked a game I didn't, and had the gall to put his opinion about it on a website. The world is ending because a reviewer really liked Dragon Age 2.

I am really tired of people complaining about scores. Opinions from ANYONE is just that ... an opinion. It doesn't hurt you in any way. (But what if I buy it based on his review?) Then you were too dumb to get second and more OPINIONS about the game, but it still doesn't change the fact that He genuinely liked DA2 a lot. There is nothing wrong with that. I mean people always complain about strawmen on this forum, but what about the Bandwagon (appeal to popularity) fallacy.

It's not that he had a different opinion, it's just that his opinion was just as bad as some random gamer giving the game a 0 because they didn't like it. The difference here is that he's supposed to be a professional and review things with a little more tact. He's literally the only professional reviewer I've seen give the game a perfect 10/10 and hailed it as the "pinnacle of role-playing games".

Alek_the_Great:

It's not that he had a different opinion, it's just that his opinion was just as bad as some random gamer giving the game a 0 because they didn't like it. The difference here is that he's supposed to be a professional and review things with a little more tact. He's literally the only professional reviewer I've seen give the game a perfect 10/10 and hailed it as the "pinnacle of role-playing games".

He didn't give it 10/10. He gave it five stars. There's a subtle difference.

OT: It does cut both ways. It's important to ignore the people who are just making hateful noise (DA2's homophobic complaints spring to mind), but developers are often guilty of dismissing legit criticism as just noise (hellooooo, EA).

Alek_the_Great:

snip

IN YOUR OPINION it was just as bad as a random gamer. Let me give you the definition of review from Merriam-Webster:

: an act of carefully looking at or examining the quality or condition of something or someone : examination or inspection

-note that the first one only refers to examinations or inspections.

----->: a report that gives someone's OPINION about the quality of a book, performance, product, etc.

: a magazine filled mostly with reviews and articles that describe the writer's thoughts or opinions about a subject

Note the word opinion in there, it is important. Nowhere does it say anything about professionalism or tactfulness. Who cares if he called DA2 the "pinnacle of role-playing games"? That is just how HE views it. It's worth no more or no less than your opinion about DA2 or mine (Decent but the lack of locales does make it boring after awhile). Every review you ever read is just some other person's opinion about it. There is no such thing as objective reviews because it is subjective at its core. People need to realize this.

Shamanic Rhythm:

Alek_the_Great:

It's not that he had a different opinion, it's just that his opinion was just as bad as some random gamer giving the game a 0 because they didn't like it. The difference here is that he's supposed to be a professional and review things with a little more tact. He's literally the only professional reviewer I've seen give the game a perfect 10/10 and hailed it as the "pinnacle of role-playing games".

He didn't give it 10/10. He gave it five stars. There's a subtle difference.

OT: It does cut both ways. It's important to ignore the people who are just making hateful noise (DA2's homophobic complaints spring to mind), but developers are often guilty of dismissing legit criticism as just noise (hellooooo, EA).

Considering they give half star scores, 5 stars is comparable to a 10/10 score. Just like a 2.5/5 stars would be comparable to a 5/10 score. The difference between the 10 and 5 star system is pretty much negligible.

NvrPhazed:

Alek_the_Great:

snip

IN YOUR OPINION it was just as bad as a random gamer. Let me give you the definition of review from Merriam-Webster:

: an act of carefully looking at or examining the quality or condition of something or someone : examination or inspection

-note that the first one only refers to examinations or inspections.

----->: a report that gives someone's OPINION about the quality of a book, performance, product, etc.

: a magazine filled mostly with reviews and articles that describe the writer's thoughts or opinions about a subject

Note the word opinion in there, it is important. Nowhere does it say anything about professionalism or tactfulness. Who cares if he called DA2 the "pinnacle of role-playing games"? That is just how HE views it. It's worth no more or no less than your opinion about DA2 or mine (Decent but the lack of locales does make it boring after awhile). Every review you ever read is just some other person's opinion about it. There is no such thing as objective reviews because it is subjective at its core. People need to realize this.

He's one of the ONLY reviewers that has said this, which makes his opinion far outside the general consensus. As for "it's his opinion, he can say whatever he wants", he's not just some random guy giving out his opinion on the game. It's part of his JOB. Hence the whole professionalism and tactfulness comment.

Alek_the_Great:

Considering they give half star scores, 5 stars is comparable to a 10/10 score. Just like a 2.5/5 stars would be comparable to a 5/10 score. The difference between the 10 and 5 star system is pretty much negligible.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/editorials/7149-What-Our-Review-Scores-Mean

Other websites often use 10/10 to mean 'perfect'; whereas the Escapist makes it explicitly clear that 5 stars does not mean the game is perfect. It also notes that stars are relative, meaning the experience of what is the 'pinnacle' of a genre will likely change over time.

Alek_the_Great:

Zhukov:
So, Mr Tito, have I ever told you exactly what I think of your DragonAge 2 review?

Indeed. It's hard to take someone seriously when they create a review as mind boggling as that.

Uhh... that was a joke dude.

Y'know, 'cause the article is about people being nasty pricks and Tito's DA2 review...

OH NEVER BLOODY MIND!

 

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