AN: My twentieth story...and it's an essay. Are essays allowed on here? Dunno. Still, I'd like to share it.
The Six Types of Reviewers
Reviews. We all love them and we all feel sudden warmth in the general vicinity of our hearts when we receive one. And, regardless that you'll read the occasional author saying in his/her profile, "I don't really care for reviews. I just like to write," be assured that they check their email inbox twice daily, and that there's a dopey smile on their face whenever someone's reviewed their story.
But who leaves reviews? Reviewers, of course! In the marketplace of literature, they are our (authors) customers. They stroll along the proverbial aisles, eyeing our wares until they've settled on something worthwhile for them to purchase. Would they like that Harry/Hermione/Ron threesome? Do they really need that Marriage Law fic of Luna/Lucius? Can they afford that Severus/Neville with possibilities of MPREG?
And so, according to the display (summaries!) of our goods, they make their choice. In this general goods store called fanfiction, they have been given the ability to sample their choices as thoroughly as they like before they decide to pay us – the poor, hardworking drudges who've laboured against the pestilence of Real Life and (sometimes) the goats of Adulthood to bring them something worth their time.
Having fully tasted their choice to their heart's content, here is where the true nature of a Reviewer comes to light. From personal and witnessed experience, I've managed to categorise six types of Reviewers known to me thus far:
The Thief: These Reviewers…don't review. As we've already likened fanfiction to a market, these kinds of customers take what they want, enjoy it, and then waltz off to another stall without leaving an appreciative payment. And, like perfect shoplifters, they advertise their stolen produce in their personal cabinet (favourites!), silently gloating that they have it, but couldn't be bothered to pay for it. These Reviewers are intensely disliked.
The Taste-Tester: Just one level above 'The Thief', these Reviewers are like two-edged swords. You are pleased by their usual and very enthusiastic, "This is really good!" but their reviews leave you lacking, and driving yourself insane with questions. Why was it good? Where was it good? Tell meeee! Taste-Testers rarely review more than once. Most likely, they've regressed to being The Thief, reading the rest of your story without reviewing, or they've wandered on to something else.
The Critic: As authors, we delude ourselves into thinking, "I can so take constructive criticism!" but when all is said and done, we become like ferocious mama cats defending the offspring that is our fic. Some of us will even go so far as attacking any and everyone who voices the tiniest complaint of OOC characterisations and ridiculously AU plotlines. That is why The Critic is very unpopular. They have taken the onus upon their shoulders to let you know what is wrong with your fic. Occasionally, they will be nice about it, but more often than not, they do not mince words. And when they're finished, that warm gooey feeling in your heart upon reading: '[FF Review Alert] Story: … ' in your inbox is completely obliterated. You are left wondering whether you should delete your story, or if reviewing their story negatively in a fit of spite is as immature as it sounds.
What is especially noteworthy about The Critic is that they generally avoid being identified. The Critic hardly allows the author an avenue to reply. They are very much aware of the effect of their (sometimes unnecessarily) harsh words, and are taking pre-emptive steps against retaliation - a wise but cowardly move.
The Troublemaker: Sharing similar qualities with The Critic in regards to unnecessary harshness, The Troublemaker is truly the worst of the worst. Whereas The Critic might provide you with suggestions of improvement, The Troublemaker exists purely to…well, make trouble. They come up, have a go at your fic, and whether they liked it or not, they launch an attack on your story and you ("This relly sucked! Your a patehtic peice of s-t to call this writting!"). There's no constructive criticism in their reviews, mainly grammar and spelling gaffes, and possibly some swearwords thrown in for added effect. Frequently, they make attempts at sarcasm. Sometimes it's successful, most often it's not. Likewise, The Troublemaker will never, ever provide their identity to their target of the day.
The Regular: These Reviewers are perfection exemplified. They make their choices and they pay for it – handsomely. They leave semi to fully in-depth reviews that lets you, the author, know what they liked from what they did not like. If they must, they will leave constructive criticism, but in a friendly manner that forces you to consider their suggestions. The Regular is not a Taste-Tester magnified, because one amazing trait of The Regular is that, once satisfied with one sampling of your produce, they will keep returning for more, and may even purchase whatever else you've got on offer in your stall. When you receive reviews from these Reviewers, thank them in kind. These Reviewers are extraordinarily rare, so don't muck it up! Show your appreciation that they've taken the time to not only read your story, but review it as well…and wonderfully to boot!
The Inundator: It's questionable whether these Reviewers are superior to The Regular - this can only be a personal assessment. The Inundator's name says it all: they flood you with reviews. Have a multi-chaptered fic totalling 20 chapters? They review every single one, driving up your review count exponentially in a short space of time. Generally, they leave you one-liners concerning what stood out to them in a specific chapter, but sometimes, they'll give you a full review for each and every chapter! As a matter of fact, The Inundator might even go so far as to leave payment on all of your available produce! And when one considers how many hours and crazy devotion it must have took them to achieve this feat, it is a must that you reply. If you do not, shame, shame, shame on you! You do not deserve such a remarkable gift.
So, there you have it. These are the types of Reviewers I've encountered over the course of my ongoing labour that is writing fanfiction. I, myself, have been a few of these types, namely: The Thief, The Taste-Tester and The Regular. Granted, I'm sure there are more that exists which I've yet to come across, but I believe the abovementioned six are the most common in our market.
So, yes. We've come to the conclusion of this very strange essay. I haven't a clue as to what to say next, so I suppose all that's left to ask is:
What type of Reviewer are you?
AN: Rusty essay skills abound! That's why I should just stick to writing fiction...