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Hello everyone.

For those who may be reading this, you may be on here wondering what constructive critique is, what that entails, or someone recommended you to read this thread. Well look no further. Speaking as a visual artist currently attending art school for animation, I often find it very common on here during the past eight or so years for people to get mixed up and confused on what criticism is meant to do and what ends up being destructive as opposed to constructive. It's also been a thing where new people often come to us posting their work and not understanding why we're offering advice to you, the potential pixel artist in the making.

Of course, speaking as a member of TVGR this also applies to the other creative boards on here as well. So this could very well apply to drawing, modeling, writing, and game development as well.
If you’re a newbie and you’re reading this, don’t worry! Like you, the reader, I was at that point where I was a newbie  once too. In fact I used to be far more defensive about my work just like anyone else, there are people on here who can attest to that. As for the more senior members who are reading this, this thread may also be good to remind yourselves the terminology of criticism as well, but not necessary for you to read too deeply into assuming you already know most of this.
So, what is criticism?

The answer may come with just a simple google search to find the definition as provided by Merriam-Webster:
the expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes.
"he received a lot of criticism"
censure, condemnation, denunciation, disapproval, disparagement, opprobrium, fault-finding, attack, broadside, stricture, recrimination.....
informal    flak, bad press, panning, put down, knock, slam, brickbats, potshot(s);
formal     excoriation
"she was stung by his criticism"

the analysis and judgment of the merits and faults of a literary or artistic work.
"alternative methods of criticism supported by well-developed literary theories"
evaluation, assessment, appraisal, analysis, judgment;
commentary, interpretation, explanation, explication, elucidation
"literary criticism"

While both definitions are essentially true, the second definition is what we'll be essentially looking at. Typically if creatives are offering criticism, we're offering an in depth analysis of what could be wrong with the piece that another person is working on. However, I think it's worth mentioning at this point that criticism doesn't necessarily have to be on the person's craft necessarily, but this can also apply to the work ethic as a creative.

Of course, there are different ways of giving criticism such as Critiquing and Criticizing, but we'll get more on that in a moment.

But wait Dioshiba! That’s being an elitist! You think you’re better than everyone else!

Nope, in fact I’m far from that. You see if I were being an elitist then I wouldn’t bother discussing any sort of skills that are being utilized or reasons on why I think something could be better. Having dealt with elitist members before, I can tell you that they would be far more insulting towards you and not even bother to give any sort of constructive feedback to you to begin with! In fact most elitists would rather go out of their way to try and drive you out of the community criticizing you at every angle and throwing various insults to drive you away, and that’s the exact thing that I aim not to be because I know what that feels like. And besides, I still don’t know everything myself compared to the person next to me willing to give me tips on what could be done on my end to improve my craft, and I would expect the same from other people if I have criticism of any kind to offer.

Bare in mind, this does not mean that we are being angry people who just want to spite your work. In fact, it’s quite the opposite! As a community we always want to help each other improve our work and advance our skills, because we’re always learning from each other and being inspired by each other. Yes, sometimes it can come off as harsh, but that in no way makes it the intent of the person critiquing the work.

But wait a minute, isn’t offering critique and criticizing someone the same thing?

Not exactly, this is where the English language tends to get confusing with the terms. Simply giving thorough feedback is not the same as out right saying it's shit with none at all.

To define what is critiquing, criticizing, and outright flaming you have to understand what may constitute in those three areas:

Critiquing (constructive):
This is probably the most constructive form of criticism any one can get. In simple terms the person who is offering criticism is trying to tell you in a positive light on what the flaws not necessarily to take it as a fact, but in a way that will help you improve. This is usually seen when the work itself might actually be good but people might wonder what would happen if you did something differently to help mold your piece even further. At the end of the day it will still be your piece and the main point is to have you consider information you probably haven't considered to help help push your work to the fullest. And this is what I would help encourage users to be doing if they feel that any member's work is good, but could potentially be better.

Criticizing (Indifferent):

So here's where criticism could tend to come off as harsh, but not entirely. Criticizing someone is the more harsher form of critique that doesn't necessarily compliment it.

And this is where being able to distinguish it as valid or not tends to get tricky, if there are obvious fundamental issues that exist in someone's work then they may tell you things like "start over from scratch" or "this sucks, and here's why". Sometimes the advice that is given is valid in this sort of scenario. However some people who criticize you may not tell you why, the best thing to do in that case is not to get offended and wait for someone to explain why the other person might be saying your work isn't good.

Part of the reason why I would show Triptych's/1up's/Hunter's/abigjerk's criticism here isn't necessarily to demonize him, mind you. Rather, I want to point out that he actually had valid reasons for posting his criticism. However, what should be pointed out is that the language he's using here isn't necessarily in a way that comes off as critiquing and fits perfectly to what I'm talking about here.

I would also encourage anyone to read the thread this post is from here. This was back from when I was a younger artist and a little less open minded than I am now, and it will give you an idea of what NOT to do when responding to criticism.

While it's also better to be critiquing over criticizing, there are cases where if there are glaring issues that are obvious in the piece, then sometimes it's going to be unavoidable to be unable to give any sort of praising comments to the piece somebody made and they need to do their research and studying before attempting to make something again.

But wait, aren’t there cases where someone is giving bad advice? What’s the best way to determine what is being said is credible?

That is a fair point. There have been cases where people have often given bad advice in the past and tried to fight with members who would disagree with them. I can tell you that criticizing can also be destructive if the person hasn’t done their research in what it is exactly they are trying to critique and could easily come off as criticizing. A general rule of thumb is that if someone else is suggesting that the criticism one person is giving might not be valid, and then chances are it is not a valid critique and the person giving it should probably step back. Likewise, it should be mentioned that if other people are agreeing with the advice that is being given, then it might be a good idea to take the criticism that is being offered, because it will help you out in the long run.

Another thing worth mentioning is that sometimes someone with more experience may offer critique and another user with less experience may offer something that contradicts that. Of course while this doesn't happen to often, this may result in a possible discussion between users to help clarify things. Sometimes someone with less experience may raise a point to an experienced user that they might be forgetting, and that's OK. However, more often than not someone with more experience in a creative field will be able to back their points with the knowledge they had gained over the years in their respective crafts, regardless of how long they've been on TVGR community in general (There are other communities that exist outside of this site. It would not be a wise idea to judge a book by it's cover just because someone is still fairly new to the boards as well.)

This example comes from some of the early days of TVGR, while I don't think it's necessary to post the entire thread; I think you can gather why I responded the way I did to Bnewton and why everyone else was challenging what he was saying. He pretty much flat out admitted that he didn't know the style he was aiming for, and more often than not whenever he said something people disagreed with him in that regard.

In situations like that it may be best to wait to see if other people are going to agree with what is being said by other members. If you’re absolutely unsure of what is being said however, ask the person why they think their criticism is valid to seek clarification. We’re all just people on the internet and with that said it’s easy for people to forget that it’s a bit more difficult to understand the context of what is read as opposed to being in a formal setting with other artists and hearing their voices.

But what if I think that you’re being too mean? I don’t want to take criticism from you just because you’re criticizing my work!
Now hold on, that’s not exactly what the intent of criticism, is as discussed earlier. It’s not exactly a good idea to brush off every form of criticism you see just because you don’t like hearing it. We’re not here to give praise to everyone that posts his or her work nor are we here to give respect to those who demand it. We see this type of thing happen with a variety of new people every so often that it’s become the main reason why I’ve chosen to make this thread in the first place.

Bare in mind that giving criticism to the work does not mean we are criticizing you. So don’t take it as a personal insult if we’re telling you that you may be missing something that could help you improve on your work immensely. However, if there is a need for someone to be critical of you then it’s probably because you are constantly brushing off advice and insulting the people who are trying to help you, so you have to understand that getting defensive is simply not going to get you anywhere besides frustrating other members and getting us to be on your bad side. Which actually leads me to another discussion point that follows perfectly after this point.

Trolling, Flaming, and Bullying (Destructive):

Now here's where we'll have to talk about the obvious.

To begin with, you can easily pick up on something that someone says that's egging you on and straight up being insulting towards you. Specifically telling someone "Your work looks like shit", "You fucking suck at art", or "You're better off just giving up." Without any form of advice is exactly what this is. Typically, these types of one liner comments don't help out at all and is far more insulting than telling someone that "You need to learn the basics before approaching this again" or "If you want to quit, that's your choice to if you can't handle the criticism given to you."

If someone isn't telling you why your work might be bad, it's better to ignore the comments and or report it. The general rule here is that if someone is trying to get a response out of you, don't engage in a conversation with them. It won't get you anywhere.

But hold on for a minute, if someone is acting childish in response to my critiques, how is that different from comments that come off as trolling? More importantly, why should I be expected to act as an adult here?

If this happens then the person who is responding to your critique may be defensive in this case, which is where the difference is and also a reason why I've chosen to create this thread given that it has happened quite often here on the boards in the past.

If you present your argument in a logical reason, the person on the defensive should ease up at that point. If they aren't easing up then there's probably an underlying issue that you aren't seeing on the computer screen, the person could have a mental health issue or they could be a kid faking their age. This usually depends on how they are writing their comments.

This does happen and in cases like this it's best to get a staff member involved to diffuse the situation instead of taking things into your own hands. You can also choose to privately message the user in question if you think that you can diffuse the situation without making a scene on the boards visibly if you feel that you can be civil with them, but know that shouldn't be your last ditch effort to deal with a defensive member.

Any other points that should be taken from this conversation?

I think that the one thing that should be mentioned to everyone from all sides that there are rules in place on the forums that are easy for anyone to forget to read up. I get that we all want to be on here to post our work or be eager to show off what we make, but It’s always a good idea to be checking on them and reminding your self of what’s acceptable to do on these boards and what isn’t. Especially considering when there is a whole subsection of rules specifically for boards such as “Creativity” and “Pixel art”, as well as some other ones.

Given that there are a lot of gray areas that are need to be shined on and explained on so that most new members aren't left in the dark, again I would like to elaborate that these are forums and that sometimes the context may not be entirely clear on what people might actually be saying. It should also be understood that not everyone here has English as a first language. In this case, be patient with the other member if they clarify that.

In any case, while this post will be subject to change in the case something else comes up that might not be clear. What I hope for this thread to do is clear up any misconceptions of these concepts that aren't necessarily made clear to begin with. Which is why I've taken the liberty to write this thread out of my otherwise busy schedule. Of anyone has any sort of tips on what can be done to improve this thread feel free to leave a comment!

10/02/18 - So a quick thing that was brought to my attention was that there are situations where discussions may happen between users who have different levels of experience in regards to criticism that may contradict each other. Having that mentioned to me I made a quick edit to the initial post to help clarify that sort of situation and what to do.

10/03/18 - Based on further feedback I've gotten, I've decided to do some reorganizing to this post and get rid of most of the screenshots. I've also chosen to elaborate on what the differences are between critiquing and criticizing a little more thoroughly as well as throwing in what could be seen as actual destructive comments. I'll be seeking out some examples through the boards based on a few situations that happened years back, but more over I think these changes will help clarify things and make this article sound less condescending and more informative. Also noting that JewyB has offered to create a graphic to help elaborate on what to do in these situations even further, which will be posted on here within the next update.

I've also decided on my own terms to add in a section regarding defensive members who are receiving critique, while it's not necessarily talking about taking critique itself it's all the more relevant to bring that one up for everyone since giving critique is part of the process of making artwork.

10/10/18 - So I decided to dig up some more examples of criticism by digging through some old threads, one of which being one that I made a few years back and another where myself and a few other members had to step in and inform someone that their criticism wasn't exactly valid.

Also, I've decided to re-name the thread to my own accord given the fact that I think this has become more about the process of criticism as opposed to solely constructive criticism on it's own. Which I think better highlights what we are doing in this thread more so than anything else. I also chose to elaborate a bit on what the purpose of criticism is under the definition of the word itself which I think will give users some better insight on what we're trying to do when criticism is being offered.
what happened here?
sounds like some kind of drama happened and it got a sticky to avoid future problems
Got stickied because it’s a pretty good resource for new members interested in sharing art / projects.
(10-03-2018, 07:52 AM)Kendotlibero Wrote: [ -> ]what happened here?
sounds like some kind of drama happened and it got a sticky to avoid future problems

Well that's the thing.

Yes some minor drama happened but this has kind of been an ongoing issue for years now where new members don't have much of an understanding on criticism and try to argue with everyone to a point that everyone gets frustrated. I don't think anyone really attempted to address it in this kind of way so I figured with some of the insight and knowledge I've gained over the years I'd try to explain it in the best way I can.

I think other members in the past have tried but at the same time it's also kind of a time consuming thing to really explain these concepts as well. That's why I felt the thread was necessary at this point to curb that kind of thing with the hope of being able to have new members stay on here for as long as they can. While also hopefully, if all goes well over the next couple of years boost activity on the forums just as much as the discord servers.

I'd also like to add that at the end of the day, ultimately we have to help put slow issues like that down because the forums are going to keep being inactive if people aren't going to give a little to the community, this is something that I've been meaning to do for years now and I think I can start putting in the spare time to contribute in my own way before I move up in the world.
well, that's praiseworthy from you
Godspeed, dude
If you would like, I will, at some point soon(hopefully), create a graphic to go along with this, just to refer to for people so they can follow a kind of process of how critique etc can be valuable to them, and the levels at which it can come a.

I do thing this is a great and helpful post though and can really clear the air for a lot of newcomers, maybe worth putting a link in the rules for those newbies who do read them?
I know I've mentioned this in a private message already, but I think that is a good idea to have a graph to help elaborate on taking the criticism.

I've also updated the post to cover some of the things we we're talking about in PM as well as another thing that I felt needed to be touched on in regards to the critiquing process. As mentioned in the edit I'll probably be looking at some old situations in the archives to bring up in the original post to help elaborate on these kinds of situations and do some further formatting to the post.

Actually I think if I might ask this to everyone on the boards, given that I've thrown in something about where someone might not be taking critique would it be appropriate to change the title to be something like "The process of criticism and you" as opposed to "Constructive criticism and you?"

Let me know what you guys think and I'll update the title as soon as I gather any relevant information as needed.
Hey Everyone, sorry for the delay. School work has been a priority for me in the past few weeks. However I've updated the original post, you can see what is updated simply by the title and with some of the little things I added into the post.

Also I wanted to ask JewyB, but is there any progress on the graphic chart? No rush if it isn't done yet, just wanted to check in on that.
Sorry Dio, i have been a bit sick recently, been over to the doctors yesterday and feeling a bit better now, hopefully by tomorrow i can make something, sorry for the delay!