Hey Newgrounds regs, EDM364 here with another help resource I typed up in my spare time -- How to Review Anything, the Right Way -- and I do mean anything, in a constructive manner according to Newgrounds' rules and general good nettiquette. Pay attention, and you might even score some medals along the way.
Now, it may seem common sense, but if you've been around NG any length of time, you've probably seen enough useless reviews to know why proper constructive criticism is important. Still, maybe you're confused about what exactly separates a "useless" review from a "helpful" one, or what your average review is supposed to encompass. Perhaps you're even looking to bolster the number of reviews under your belt without having to worry about lesser quality ones disappearing, or how to write reviews more efficiently without sacrificing quality. Statwhores, I'm looking at you.
Well, whether you're trying to break your first 10k reviews without the hassle or just curious about how to leave proper feedback, this guide is for you. Let's get started.
What are reviews? What's their purpose, and why are they important?
It might seem like a stupid question, but reviews and comments are a staple of any user-created content site. YouTube, SoundCloud, DeviantArt, even Facebook, they all have some form of commenting system, often with comment threads where people go back and forth about things that aren't even remotely related to the actual content they're viewing. YouTube is pretty much a giant cess pool and in general a great example of what happens when you have a large community with little to no rules or guidance regarding what it can or can't talk about in the comments. Just look at this shit.
This is why we can't have things -- or rather, why Newgrounds doesn't have a threaded comment system. The General Forum is cancer enough. However, some sites have more direct alternatives; you'll notice DeviantArt has a critique system. This is most similar to what we have here, scored reviews, which are regulated with help from the userbase and a team of moderators. Unlike the scores that rank our content numerically, these are actually the driving force behind the ever-improving body of work we see from the great artists, animators, and music producers endemic to Newgrounds.
Think about it. Would any of us as newcomers have been motivated to keep submitting content if no one ever bothered to say, "Hey bud, your stuff right here is crap, but there's this one thing I like about it that you should keep doing," or vice versa?
Well, this is what a good review does: it tells people what they're getting right, what they're getting wrong, and how to step up to the plate better prepared next time they're making a submission, without the flame wars, verbal garbage, and drama inherent in other communities. This keeps creators motivated and opens up new avenues for fresh and improving content -- because a Newgrounds review isn't an opportunity for people to get brownie points for making asses of themselves; it's an opportunity for the creator to learn something. In fact, this is precisely the reason our site isn't subject to a plague of amusingly accurate Star Trek memes like the sterling example below, and probably what we owe our staying power to.
So, what separates good reviews from bad? How can I write reviews that won't get deleted?
Let's start off with what a proper review strives to accomplish -- telling the creator what they got right, what they got wrong, and how they could possibly improve, if you know. There's plenty of leeway since each submissionis different, but if you keep that in mind, you and your reviews should be safe.
Just remember your absolute DON'Ts:
- DON'T write anything that breaks Newgrounds review guidelines
- DON'T ask about anything unrelated to the author or submission
- DON'T talk about breaking NG rules. This will get you banned
- DON'T accuse the submission, author, or reviewers of breaking rules
- DON'T leave one word reviews. Even a sentence can be meaningful
- DON'T mass review without offering any useful comments about the work
- DON'T ask to be scouted or advertise your own work
- DON'T ask the user to upload something else aside from an update
- DON'T aim personal attacks at any other users
- DON'T solicit and just be a douche in general
- DON'T plagiarize other reviews
Pretty simple. Stay on topic, keep it clean, and make sure your reviews don't look like these:
Additionally, if you find on your quest any reviews like this, flag them either useless or abusive -- the latter only if they explicitly break Newgrounds rules, such as in the case of reviews containing personal attacks, accusing anyone of theft or rule breaking. @NekoMika has said that reviews asking to be scouted or soliciting uploads aren't written-in-stone abusive in the guidelines, but she and most review mods will remove them anyway. @RohantheBarbarian's slightly dated Abusive Review Guide goes back and forth on the topic, and you can find more examples of abusive reviews, as well as resources, there. There's also @Hacsev's Abusive Review Quiz, which is a pretty good assessment in identifying helpful, useless, and abusive reviews, and @Psychopath's Whistle Cow Crew.
Now, why is the distinction between useless and abusive so important? Useless reviews can and do get the chop, but flagging a review that simply reads "shit" the same as you would a review that says "you are shit" is an error. One is a useless review, and the other is a personal attack. If you see more than one single-word review by the same person that just says "shit", then these fall under the "don't make tons of crappy reviews just to up your stats" rule, and you can flag them abusive.
There are some exceptions to the general rule, such as instances when reviews containing long strings of gibberish are actually level exports from games like Punk-o-matic 2. For the purposes of this guide though, just don't write useless and abusive reviews. It's not worth it.
Now, that we've covered what not to do, your absolute DOs:
- DO always pay attention to the submission in its entirety
- DO try to give feedback to the best of your ability
- DO talk about what the author got right
- DO talk about what the author got wrong, and try not to be a dick about it
- DO offer advice and alternative methods and improvements, if you have any
Since there were fewer images of helpful reviews than I'd hoped for, I figure I'll just rip some that I personally found helpful. Note that you don't have to know a lot of terminology to leave a good review, but it does help!
Not all helpful reviews have to be long or detailed, of course, but the more detailed, naturally, the more helpful and constructive. Sometimes, there isn't much to say about a short animation, simple art piece, or tiny loop, though, and even something as simple as "Decent but could really use more detail" is about as good of a comment as you can leave behind. No shame.
That's about all there is when it comes to leaving good reviews. I'm sure you're wondering by now when my next book comes out, and I really need to get back to writing on things for this masterpost of resources. See ya!
Closing footnote, if you're mentioned here, I probably used your content as a resource in this guide-slash-filibuster. Special thanks to @Psychopath, @RohantheBarbarian, @Hacsev, @Tekcos, @splap, @Asandir, @JujubeLock, @TaintedLogic, @Daydream-Anatomy, @CyberDevil, @NekoMika, @Malachy, @Exedor, and many others for your contributions in making Newgrounds great!