Honest Feedback in SL

I think being open to constructive criticism is difficult. Having people pick apart your work, your behavior, your performance or whatever you do inspires fear in most of us, no matter how healthy our ego. In SL, where so many of us are engaged in highly personal creative work, I think constructive criticism is especially difficult to hear. Having said that, I know I have grown and improved when I have really listened to people who critically evaluate my work. And believe me, for every cheerleader there are about 50 critics who are incredibly quick to point out my errors no matter how big or small.

Over the past week or so I have experienced and observed a number of situations where honest feedback was offered with very mixed results. Because I am feeling a little sassy this morning I thought I would offer up Ches' rules of engagement for offering and receiving criticism.

For the Critic

1) Pick the right time and place

2) Offer thoughtful suggestions, not impulsive bashing

3) Be direct, yet sensitive and kind

4) Be specific and descriptive

5) Do not use criticism as a weapon

For the Creator

1) Listen

2) Don't get defensive

3) Ask questions

4) Read between the lines

5) Act on the criticism only if you think it is valid and will help you to achieve your goals.

I am not offering anything that has not been said a thousand times, by people far more eloquent than I am this drab Saturday morning. Sorry about that folks. Let me just say this -- please correct me when I am wrong. I am harder on myself about my mistakes than you could ever be so don't hold back. If you could refrain from calling me names I would appreciate it, but I appreciate feedback.

I have friends who are designers as do most of us who have been in SL for any length of time. When they drop work on me and ask for feedback they know I will be honest about what I like and where I think the work can be better. Its actually fun to work with people in this way, especially when the relationship is based on trust and mutual admiration.

ETA: The photo above is from our new build. There is a grouping of huge flowers that have sweet sit animations built in to them, scattered in a field of meadow grasses and floral ground cover. I had to add soft floaty particle stars and the bird cage. Of course the bird is sitting on top of the cage as I could not bring myself to lock him up inside. Stop by and tell me what you think!


Emerald Wynn said...


I get slammed often, for various things. The critics that kill me the most are the blog critics. Some of them just read it so they can drop me notes about how much they hate it. And I guess that kind of criticism makes me want to scream, "GET A LIFE!"

But there are times when, yes, it's hurt so much that I've ripped the whole blog down. So kudos for your tips to people with genuine feedback.

chestnut rau said...

Em I love your blog. When I see your name pop up on my blog reader I know you are going to entertain me, make me think or touch my heart. I usually skip all the other posts and read yours first. When someone slams you think about those of us who adore your writing.

Anonymous said...

You hit it right on the head, Chestnut. This is about basic respect to each other. It is good to offer criticism but as you said it should be offered with thoughtful suggestions and opinions in a kindly, sensitive manner. Sadly, too few know how to do that these days. While I might not agree with something someone has said, done or presented; I feel comfortable offering an opinion/suggestion in a way that is not 'hit you between the eyes cause I can.' Sometimes I think we all need to think, "What would my mother say?" before opening our mouths, lol. We ALL know what behavior she would expect of us!

ahuva18 said...

No question - it hurts when someone finds fault with your work, even if you actually agree with them. :) My favorite tip for offering constructive criticism: say something positive first. Once you have heard something positive it is much easier to accept the negatives. It no longer feels like a personal attack, it feels like an honest, helpful response.

Mister Crap said...

God bless the critic.

Yeah, I'm brutal. I'm Gonzo. I'm an old pickup truck riding the rails, slipping into the bushes and mashing possums every so often.

We're already immersed in a grid where Reality is optional and Weird is ever-present. Moreso than RL, and the sainted HST showed us that our attempts to conceal the underlying weirdness was, in fact, even more weird than the base weird.

Look in Google for "Nigerian" and "Witch" and "Penis" and "Thief" - yes, you share a planet with people who not just believe that crap, but REPORT it as NEWS.

What chromosome... what gene makes the Weird?


Some can handle it.
Some can't.

Sure, we'd all love a grid were everyone kept in mind that there's a human behind the pixels, but when I last checked, we're in a world where people barely recognize others as human even when witnessed in the flesh. (And building layer upon layer of protection against that hard truth with caricature, racism, intolerance, and dehumanizing campaigns.)

It ultimately starts with looking in the mirror every morning, recognizing the folly you are faced with, and laughing for a while to set the tone for the day.

Laugh. Laugh at the monkey that walks upright, worries about slips of paper with numbers on it, seeks out the latest marketed magic to deny the inevitability of decay, dementia, and demise.

And then, make a difference.

Yeah, Gonzo is ride with a narcissistic subjective nightmare perspective while still awake, but the thing I love about it the most is that it is honest about the lies.

It's those that aren't honest about them, especially the lies we tell ourselves constantly to get through the day, the insane contradictions... that's when the problems start and collisions happen.

Knock Knock.
Who's there?