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Subject: Is it worth writing negative reviews? rss

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Zoe M
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I'm fairly new to BGG, so I've only just started writing reviews here. Already, though, I'm starting to wonder... is it worth writing negative reviews? I'm hoping some more experienced reviewers could advise me about this. Writing a positive review, I may get a few nice comments and people saying that they agree. Writing a negative review, I'll get plenty of negative comments or even attacks, and I'll have to spend a lot of time writing point-by-point defenses of everything I've said, when it's often a game that I don't really want to spend more time thinking about. Even worse, when I wrote one lukewarm review, I found that the responses of the fans were so strong that I actually ended up liking the game less than I had only 24 hours before.

I don't know whether I'll eventually learn that I should just pay less attention to the comments or whether I'll eventually learn that it's just better to avoiding writing negative reviews at all, but either way, I'm hoping to speed up the lesson a bit. Any advice?
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I think so.

I think many negative reviews are what a lot of people want to say but just don't for some reason.

Go for it.

You'll be surprised how many people agree with you.

-DK
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Darrell Hanning
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My advice is just what I do - write what the hell you think. But back it up, don't just give out some knee-jerk impressions. Whether you express a like or dislike about something in a game, explain if you can why it is you feel that way.

People are much less inclined to take exception with your criticisms about games, if you can explain why something doesn't work, or work as well as it should.
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Choubi Gogs
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It depends whether you mean, is it worth it in terms of GG or in terms of addition to the site.

For the first one, yes if it's a game that people love to hate (Agricola for instance, I'm pretty sure writing an openly negative review would give you thumbs and GG), for the rest, probably not.

As for is it a wirthy addition to the site, I'd say yes, definitely, all the time. Negative reviews are a very good way to know whether you will like a game or not...
Of course it helps if you argue...
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Jim Cote
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Negative reviews are the first things I look for. I take a positive approach to game buying. If I am interested in a game, I am going to buy it UNLESS I can find a reason not to. Good negative reviews with well-thought-out points are priceless.
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Patrick Hanley
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I rely as much on negative reviews as I do on the positive ones.

Keep 'em coming!
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myles
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It can be. I mean, if you've played a game enough to write a defensible review, your opinion might be of value to someone whether you follow concensus or blaze your own trail. I think it's good to be honest. Just because a game is high rated here on BGG, does NOT mean you must bow and worship. I'd rather hear an honest opinion even if negative, than one from someone with a grudge or who's a shill. It's good to learn from different sides of the aisle. You can get a fuller picture if you look at it from different angles.

I wouldn't worry too much about answering every critic in every detail. Just be true to yourself and you'll find your own voice and audience.
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James Ridgway
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I would say that negative reviews are greatly appreciated even if that is not often expressed. To minimize your flak and keep the discussions civil, always give some context to your review ("I'm a big fan of X, Y, & Z as well as _____ type games.") and focus on why the game was not appealing to you. Always acknowledge factors that are personal turn-offs, but may be appealing to others. If you think a game suffers from a fatal flaw even for its intended audience, try to be as specific as possible as to why you think it doesn't work. When in doubt, be humble and respect all the hard work that was done by real human beings in designing and producing the game. If you write in that manner, your opinions will be greatly valued and you can hopefully minimize needless grief.
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Zoe M
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Quote:
It depends whether you mean, is it worth it in terms of GG or in terms of addition to the site.

Thanks for clarifying this. I mean, Is it worth it in terms of personal satisfaction? If I were just in it for the GG, then sure, I'd write as many reviews as possible, because they get at least a bit of GG automatically. And if I were entirely selfless, then I'd just contribute reviews for the betterment of the site and put up with whatever came back at me.

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Agricola for instance, I'm pretty sure writing an openly negative review would give you thumbs and GG

Yeah, I think if I stuck to really popular games I'd see some support no matter what. It's when I recently wrote a lukewarm review of a game ranked in the 700s that I was less satisfied with the result... because I'm guessing no one except the real fans follows those games closely.

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My advice is just what I do - write what the hell you think. But back it up, don't just give out some knee-jerk impressions.

This is probably where my reviews could be "improved". I don't think I'm just giving knee-jerk impressions, but I do tend to write reviews for people who aren't familiar with the game in question, not for the experts, so I try to avoid making points that require detailed explanations of minor rules. I'm not sure I want to do better here--I could write reviews that were twice as long and less accessible, but those aren't the kind of reviews that I personally like to read.

Thanks for all your comments (and more would be welcome)! There's a lot to think about here.
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Steven D
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When I write my reviews I do so from my point of view. I'll start out with my background on the game, what I'd like to see and then how it played. Generally, when people disagree with me they are polite (on the BBG anyways) and say why they feel that way. Sometimes they will even offer me a different way to look at the game or play it. This helps me to can see it from their point of view and grow from their experience.

I think it helps the community to give my honest view of a game and it helps me to get ideas from other players.

And if someone is treating you in a way you don't like, well you don't need to respond.

A typical not positive review from me and the responses:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/404048
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Pete Lane
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I think if the review is well thought out, it shouldn't matter what "rating" you would give it. As said, back it up, and explain a little bit why you feel the way you do. I trust a negative review that is smart and gives insight more than a overly positive review of a game I might end up buying and hating. If you write in your review that you hated a game because of certain characteristics that I find appealing... I'm going to consider it in a different light.
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CJ
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Write whatever the hell you like and be as illogical and capricious as you like. The negative reviews are ALWAYS the most valuable on a game forum. Not only do they pick apart the essence of the game far more effectively than positive ones but they also generate more replies than positive ones, offering up a more balanced perspective in a single thread.

There need to be more negative reviews in my opinion.
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Lance
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It is important to remember that very few if any reviews will be all negative unless it is a giant stinking turd of a game, and even then, there is usually something redeeming worth mentioning, unless the reviewer is having a bad day.

In my few reviews, I have had a negative tone to a couple, but overall they tend to remain positive.

I can usually find something good in anything that has hit my gaming table.
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Steve Duff
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Depends on what your purpose is. If you're writing a negative review thinking you're going to "correct" the thinking of those who like it, and the masses will carry you around on their shoulders as a hero, well that's just not going to happen.

If you just want to offer your opinion of a game, of course you should expect some dialogue after you're done, it's only natural that the majority is going to want to reply to the contrarian. Respond to the rational discourse, ignore the idiots and flamers.

elgin_j wrote:
Write whatever the hell you like and be as illogical and capricious as you like.


"This game sucks because the pieces are all the same colour. All pieces for all players should be puce. That way nobody can tell which pieces belong to you, and you often move the wrong ones and it's really great!

This game also sucks because the rules state that the other players get to take a turn, not just me. Clearly broken. I give it a 1".

Illogical and capricious is no better than random. Any review without logic and support for it's declarations and conclusions is useless.
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Mike Jones
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I think you can write 'negative' reviews around here, but I would hope that you do it with professionalism and do it in a 'positive' way. There are good ways to give criticism and then there are ways that will just draw ire and will just make everyone look bad,
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Yes, write any review you wish. People often write reviews positively because it's easier to get excited about a game and write the review with that excitement...
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Dunyazad wrote:
I'm fairly new to BGG, so I've only just started writing reviews here. Already, though, I'm starting to wonder... is it worth writing negative reviews? I'm hoping some more experienced reviewers could advise me about this. Writing a positive review, I may get a few nice comments and people saying that they agree. Writing a negative review, I'll get plenty of negative comments or even attacks, and I'll have to spend a lot of time writing point-by-point defenses of everything I've said, when it's often a game that I don't really want to spend more time thinking about. Even worse, when I wrote one lukewarm review, I found that the responses of the fans were so strong that I actually ended up liking the game less than I had only 24 hours before.

What is your motivation for writing a review in the first place? If it is to be heard, then state your mind and don't feel obligated to respond to your detractors. If you are seeking mass approval, then only write positive things. If it is to engender debate, then write illogically. If it is to earn GeekGold, then there are other, less contentious avenues available (image submissions, session reports).

I'd recommend that you disassociate your own valuation of self worth from the 'Geek, and then write what you honestly feel. A pure, genuine opinion is far more interesting than another regurgitation of the rules, or a repeated display of hero worship.
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Zoe M
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Quote:
Generally, when people disagree with me they are polite (on the BBG anyways) and say why they feel that way.

Oh, absolutely. I didn't mean to give the impression that everyone is rude. But it only takes a few to sour the whole experience.

Quote:
of course you should expect some dialogue after you're done, it's only natural that the majority is going to want to reply to the contrarian.

I certainly don't object to dialogue in principle, and I'm generally happy to argue my view to a certain extent (I admit, I gave up on one discussion after 4 pages... but I still feel guilty about it and plan to respond again eventually). Sometimes the discussion tends to focus more on the reviewer's credentials than the actual review, though--"How dare you offer that opinion after only 8 plays!" It's comments like that that make me want to stop writing reviews.

Thanks again for all the responses!
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Yes.

If you're worried about attacks and rebuttals, make sure to explain why you react negatively to the game. I don't mean an exhaustive defense, just a frame of reference so other people can connect the dots between the game itself and your reaction. They can't do that when negative reviewers give snap judgments.

Also, don't try to forestall the attacks by a heavy-handed disclaimer about how you're entitled to your opinion. I've never seen that work. Instead, invite people to discuss the points they disagree with. If they attack you anyway, they look like jerks and you look like a reasonable person.
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Dave Lartigue
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Absolutely. I look at negative reviews and comments first, because it seems to me that the people who write those are usually more clear about what they didn't like than the positive reviews are clear about what they did like.

I'm not trying to be a jerk here, but there is a large amount of fawning enthusiasm here over anything that's remotely new, and therefore I find positive reviews to usually be worthless. With a negative review, you often get more details on the game and can decide for yourself if the issues the reviewer had are things that would bother you.

I just looked at comments for a game I was thinking about buying, and went straight for the negatives. A lot of "nothing you haven't seen a million times before" steered me away from it, and that's awesome.
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Zoe M
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Quote:
What is your motivation for writing a review in the first place?

That's a good question, and not actually one that I have an easy answer to. I like contributing to the site, but at the same time I like to feel that my contributions have been recognized. I like to be rewarded with thumbs when I write a review, but only because those thumbs are meaningful: I could get more thumbs more easily by posting pictures of people playing games in low-cut shirts, but that's not the point.

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I'd recommend that you disassociate your own valuation of self worth from the 'Geek

Yeah, this sounds good in theory, and it's something I can readily tell myself, but it's not quite so easy in practice. How do other people manage this? I can't help feeling that my reviews reflect on me.
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Christopher Dearlove
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I think all reviewers have an obligation to be accurate, but that this is even more the case for negative reviews. Sometimes this is just being careful to distinguish what's opinion and what's fact in a review. But as they are rarer, a negative review can have a significant impact and a bad (that is to say, inaccurate) negative review can have a a significant impact, especially if this then starts a bandwagon.

Case in point - Beowulf the Legend. Now I happen to like the game better than many, so it got some negative reviews. Some of those were entirely fair. Some weren't. For example, "I didn't like the random element that bluffing introduced" or "For me, auctions do not bring out the flavour of adventure", those are fair comments that someone who didn't like the game might put in a review. But "This game is pure luck, you should take every risk, and then whoever succeeds most will win" is factually inaccurate (in at least two ways) at shouldn't be in a review.

So what if you play once (more on that below) and in that game everyone takes all risks, the player who succeeds the most wins, and you can't see why that isn't always the case? In that case it's not time for a review, it's possibly time for a session report, or just a simple question "We played a game, it seemed to us that you should take all risks, then the player who succeeded most won. Can someone point out if I'm missing something, and if so what it is."

I noted number of plays above. I'm not saying, no reviews after one play. I'm not saying no negative reviews after one play. (I've played games that ten minutes into what would be a one hour game it's time to cut your losses and move on - and I could have written a fair negative review at that point, although actually I wouldn't actually waste the time. That is the exception, but it does exist.) But here you have to take a view based on the game complexity and number of options and so on. Beowulf (as it seems to be my example of the day) has quite enough complications (especially if you play - as you always should in this case - the advanced gold rules) that one play and a negative review is too early. But I could imagine a fair negative review of Risk Express after one play. (Not by me, I like the game as a filler, but that's not my point.)

Note that one play and a comment "This is not for me, I have better things to do with my life" is on the other hand fair enough. It's even fair enough to say that. But that's not a review.

(There also incidentally was at least one comment that said Beowulf was to be avoided as it was just another cooperative game like Lord of the Rings, whereas it as it isn't, that really missed the point. Thus although comments have a lower bar than reviews, they still have a bar.)

Of course none of the above is set in stone, it's my opinions. But they are good opinions.
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If you can offer valid reasons supported by persuasive argument written in an engaging style, then yes, it is worth it!
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Markus Rathgeb
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Without having read all those previous posts I dare to say that all has ben said already.
I think it's important for BGG to have negative reviews - Thank God, we are all different, love different games, ... If I'm looking for a game I don't know, I first look at the user rating, then I read some reviews. And sometimes I decline a higher rated game because of some negative reviews, because me too (is "me too" correct? sounds strange) don't like the game mechanics or something like that.
So please write negative reviews, may be I can appreciate your "work" with the next game I'd eventually like to buy.
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Jim Cote
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Dearlove wrote:
But "This game is pure luck, you should take every risk, and then whoever succeeds most will win" is factually inaccurate (in at least two ways) at shouldn't be in a review.

It really irks me when a reviewer factually mischaracterizes a game, and I pity those who accept their words. Conversely, I love the discussions prompted by rational negative reviews.
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