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Reviewing 101

Written by ladyinthecloak


"Please review. It's like chocolate. I can never get enough."

"Reviews are love."

"If you leave enough reviews, I might be coaxed into uploading another chapter."

"Thank you for reading. If you like what you've read, please leave a review. If you don't like it, why have you been reading up to now???"

After browsing through and reading some fan fiction stories, Reader was astounded by the variety of Author Notes at the end of a chapter. Oh, my, there really is a review button here. What do I do? Reader clicked on the Reviews button and read some of the reviews left for Chapter Five of Harry Potter and the Dilemma of His Best Friend Shagging the Dreaded Greasy Git.

Reader was amazed by the diversity of reviews.

Squeeeee. You absolutely ROCK. I love you. Have some chocolate. Please update soon, I'm really sitting on edge here, waiting for the next chapter.

Yuck. U suck.

I really like some scenes in there, such as Snape kissing her out of the blue. Others, like him telling her to go screw herself, could be a bit worked over in my opinion. But overall, I'm really enjoying it, and I'm looking forward to reading the next chapter.

I read your other story, XXX, and I must say that you are just using fanfic as an outlet for promoting xyc. Go kill yourself.

Your Hermione is such a MarySue. *yawn*

What's one's true love is another's bane and everything between in, and Reader also learned instantly that not everyone observes basic courtesies.

Reader thought, This story is interesting, but what do I say in a review? I'm not squeeing, but heck, it sure doesn't suck. In fact, I find the development of the story quite interesting.

If Reader's thoughts ring a bell for you, welcome to fanfiction. As a reader, you can do your bit to keep fanfic alive by leaving a polite review. Not necessarily a squeeing one, but not a condemning one either. After all, reading fanfiction is far more convenient than going to the library and certainly much cheaper than buying books. Keep in mind that authors' only "pay" for the stories they spend many hours writing and then put up on-line for your entertainment is in the form of reviews. If you come across a seriously badly written story, you're doing yourself and the author a favour by clicking the button that closes that window and leaving it at that instead of leaving a scathing comment.

If you limit your fanfic experience to unmoderated archives, you will come across works clearly written by immature youngsters who think it perfectly fine to write in net-speak; it's inevitable. However, you will not find such abominations in moderated archives, unless something is clearly marked as "crackfic", a story written purely for the purpose of making fun of everything potentially negative one comes across in the fandom, from net-speak to MarySues to cliché galore. A story posted in a moderated archive might not accommodate everyone's taste, but you are likely to find something to your liking by simply browsing, without having to weed through net-speak, mobile phone style text, and generally poor grammar and/or spelling that are distracting.

A reader to a fanfic author is what a commuter is to a busker in a London tube station. The commuter may or may not register there is someone playing music, may or may not leave a bit of change, may or may not smile. A reader may or may not care about the story, may or may not leave a review, may or may not approve. A busker will have a fair idea how many people hear his music, just like an author can see how many people access any given chapter of his/her stories. If an author sees that a few hundred people have accessed the chapter, but only two left a review, the author is likely to become disheartened, concluding that her/his story is not good enough, and eventually give up posting further chapters or even writing to the end of the story.

The numbers of reviews for stories vary greatly. Often, they rise with the quality of the writing and the popularity of an author. However, that's not the only factor. A story containing erotic scenes will generally garner more reviews than a PG rated romance. A one-shot is likely to end up with more reviews than a chaptered story. But even within those different types, the number of reviews varies widely. Some authors report as much as fifteen percent, that means fifteen reviews per one hundred reads, whereas others receive less than half a review per hundred reads. Many authors report a ratio of one to two percent.

In fan fiction, the reader is, overall, the winner. Anyone with an internet connection can read fan fiction at no cost. An author dedicates time to write a story, be it a short one or novel length. A beta-reader dedicates time to correct any grammar, spelling, punctuation mistakes and plot-holes. An admin of an archive spends time weeding out any left-over errors, ensuring that the work is posted in the correct format standard for the archive, spotting any potential plagiarism, and the owner of an archive not only spends time ensuring the smooth running of the site but also money keeping the site up. The reader reads, if, when, and as it suits them. Leaving a review takes about thirty seconds. Writing, correcting, finding culprits, writing code, etc. takes many hours.

You find yourself in a place where coffee is being offered. You'll either accept and say thank you, or you decline and say no thanks. It's common courtesy. You find yourself on a website where fan fiction is posted. If you read it, leave it a review as a means of common courtesy. Even saying something along the lines of, "I've just killed half an hour of sheer boredom reading this," will at least indicate to the author that you didn't run away screaming after reading the first two sentences.

A/N: Grateful thanks go to my friends on Livejournal who willingly answered any questions I had with regard to reviewing, to Southern_Witch_69 for looking it over and ensuring I have the most important bits covered, and to Notsosaintly, headmistress extraordinaire, for posting this.


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