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There is no such thing as negative feedback

June 6, 2012

Earlier this year I followed with delight a documentary series called Metal Evolution. The series walk through the history of rock music and disects where, when, how and why certain genres of rock music emerged, and looked on their legacy today.

The series had an interesting presenter by the name of Sam Dunn, by heart a devoted fan of rock music (or “metalhead” if you will) but also an anthropologist, which gave the series a very interesting perspective.

As a big fan of rock music, it wasn’t hard to sell me on watching the show but I can definitely recommend it even if you aren’t that into rock as the series touched on many interesting ideas about our society that stretches beyond the music itself.

And one of those ideas is what I’m going to talk about today.

In the 9th episode of the series, the topic was about a genre known as Shock Rock. If you aren’t familiar with the genre, the unifying theme is the musicians desire to be provocative, scary, creepy and try to essentially shock the audience with their performance. From this genre we find many famous bands, such as Alice Cooper, Kiss, Venom, Marilyn Manson, Slipknot, Rammstein and more.

Anyways, in the episode while the presenter did his interviews with several artists, a recurring point came up again and again while the interviewees tried to answer why they and other bands within the genre had been so successful over the years.

The thing is, the bands within the genre received notoriously negative reviews from critics, calling them bad, horrible, vulgar and so on and advised people not to listen to their music and go watch them play live shows. In fact, these bands were so despised by a significant part of society because of their provocative material that their music was censored, restricted and even banned in some places!

The point that about everyone who was interviewed during the episode tried to explain was that there is no such thing as negative feedback.

You see, when someone goes great length to call something…well, bad, you still intrigue the people that you talk to and makes them think: “It can’t really be that bad/vulgar/scary/you name it, can it? I need to find out for myself!”. It’s this line of reasoning people make that fueled these bands popularity and attracted a lot of people to go and check them out in the first place. As far as these bands reckon, there is no such thing as negative feedback. Any feedback is good feedback!

The same kind of reasoning can be applied to explain why terrible and ridiculed movies still attract a fairly large audience and the people behind the movies still make a lot of money out of them. And of course, this phenomena doesn’t stop at music and movies…

So, what have we just learned that can be applied to the world of Magic writing and publishing?

As an author, you shouldn’t fear that people comment on your work and say they didn’t like it or comment that your assessment/s in the article was wrong and so on. What you should really fear is when people don’t say nothing at all, since then for all you know you haven’t affected the readers at all…and that is troubling since then, what was the point with writing the piece in the first place?

Don’t take this the wrong way, I’m not encouraging authors to write articles and blogpost that are horrible on purpose to generate heat from their audience. What I’m encouraging is not being afraid on leaving the general accepted consensus and trample on some toes every once in a while to generate a response from your readers. Without any response to your work it’s very hard to develop as an author and very difficult to expand your reader base.

As for readers goes, I haven’t spent 600 words so far on telling you it’s okay to spew out random hate in the comment section and motivate it by: “Hey, I’m generating attention here!”. There is a difference between negative feedback, which is constructive and is just as good as positive feedback, and bad feedback, which is just nonsense hate and doesn’t accomplish anything.

Comments like the following should just not been posted at all and aren’t worth the effort to be written in the first place: “This is bad.”, “I didn’t like it”. or “You can eat @$!& and die!”

What I encourage readers to do is that if you have taken the time to read an article and or a blogpost that someone has spent as much as days working on it, please let them know what you thought about it. It doesn’t have to be positive, negative is just as fine as long you are constructive and tell the author why something was wrong, bad or could be improved. If you do that, not only do you help the author to get better at his/her writing, you also generate attention to the piece and will naturally attract more people to read it.

So, if you really want to be mean to an author, you shouldn’t voice your criticism. Keeping you mouth shut is even worse. Not suggesting you should, but that is the lesson of the day.

Clearly I have vouched for myself with this post quite a bit (comment, damn it!) but what I have brought up today should be applied for any author by any reader. Be a lam and let the authors know what you think!


2 Comments leave one →
  1. vic permalink
    June 6, 2012 22:33

    I loved metal evolution! I think you should do like dunn, when he searched for the roots in nu metal, which he (as I) clearly hates: head out to the local fnm with a deck you really don’t understand why people like, and see if you can make it work and find the charm in it.
    (generally, as a regular reader, I’m always interested in reading event reports, large and small.)

    • BernhardZ permalink*
      June 6, 2012 23:54

      Interesting idea. Might be something I will look into doing later in the summer when there is not much going on in Magic otherwise. Thanks for commenting! 🙂

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