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July 6, 2004
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Guide to Commenting

Tue Jul 6, 2004, 7:17 PM
Cosh's Guide to Commenting


I've never really thought of doing anything like this before, but it's being brought on for 2 reasons:

1. The recent ` I received for apparently leaving consistent constructive comments and critiques. I feel that I should be giving back something to the community now that I've been given something like this.

2. splat's Comment Revolution has been lulling as of late, and a recent note warranted that things should get started up again. This is my contribution to the cause.

I am not infallible, nor am I even that credible. Anyone that has got it in their minds that I am one of the best commenters on dA hasn't been privy to such people as inziladun, justthorne, newklear, onewordatatime, and many others whose names I can't quite remember. This is merely my contribution to a cause that is trying to better the community. I forewarn that this will probably end up being very long. Hell, this intro is already getting long.

The basic guide to this is going to follow the format that is set-up by the Comment Revolution, along with a couple things I've picked up here and there.

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:pointr: Introduction

Since its inception, deviantART has been built upon a few basic building blocks. Of course, the main factor would be the Art itself. Showcasing anything from brilliant works of art from some of the most promising artists to be revealed in years, to stick figure sketches on the side of someone's math homework. However, with the sense of community that is meant to be created with this, the strongest block under the art is exactly what appears underneath the art when you click it. The comments.

Commenting has been a very important part of this site for the longest time. Now becoming less and less of a need, comments are starting to be judged for their content. With a growing number of deviants, and a community starting to develop with a sense of respect for quantity over quality we may be heading backwards to what this website was originally established to do. This community is not only based upon getting people around the world to see art and see each other, but to live and experience art and grow in it. Without our sharing of thoughts and ideas, what have we done at the end of the day? Added more statistics to impress the newcomers, who will eventually just do what you have done to try and build up their status? Or have you sat down and helped people grow in their art, get to know something and made someone feel truly appreciated? That's what commenting is about.

:pointr: History

When trying to understand about the situation on dA involving commenting, it's good to take a far look back to some of the first comments ever left.

Date: August 7th, 2000
Deviant: omega
"It's not really my style but I like the message, what I can read, and the effects put on it. Keep up the good work."

This was left on a deviation by matteo on the very first day that dA existed. It was the first and longest comment left on the most commented deviations of the day. Let's travel a year into the future.

Date: August 7th, 2001
Deviant: liquify
"simply beatiful, dustin. the texture you used gives this piece a realistic feel that i have yet to see elsewhere. the roses are absolutely perfect and they look real enough to reach out and touch. the mascot that you have placed underneath the rose, however detailed and wonderous, doesn't fit in with the rest of the image. overall, this is a beautiful wallpaper, you did a spectacular job."

Probably the most detailed comment of that day, and in general this set seems to be of a much longer length than the previous year. Judging from a few deviations I checked, it seems to be a strong trend.

Date: August 7th, 2002 (4 days before I signed up)
Deviant: dark-echo
"I know what you're talking about. I used to swing as high as I'd dare too, even higher than the tree in front of the swing. Then just leaning back and get into some kind of trance, especially with a lot of oil lamps lit across a dark garden.

Wonderfull composition, though IMO there are some points within the 3D render here and there that could be improved (which you undoubtedly already know about)  
The image has quite an odd feeling, as some parts look more like a painting than actual 3D, but the overall effect is spectacular. I especially  the dragons in the sky. But then again, I always loved dragons, such fantastic creatures of the imagination.

This is a definete one to my favourites."


Probably one of the best comments I found on this day. However, the general trend I was beginning to see here was a bit strange. Last year to this date, there were only about 32 comments even on the most popular deviations. Now, we're seeing upwards of hundreds, and most of them are short, simple, one sentence comments. And yes, quite a number of them are simply "+fav"

Date: August 7th, 2003
Deviant: incubury
"Glad this one is in color. It seems like the kind of photo that would also work in black and white (but not as strongly). The shadow on the leg is too sharp and seems uncontrolled as well as the fore glare on the bench. The reason I mention this is 'cause, the sharp shadow does not agree with the soft shades on the model, just like the fore glare, brings out dull textures that disagree with the vibrant textures rendered in the image. But aside from these two miniscule issues  , this picture is flawless. Excellent shoot."

At this point in time, finding a good comment is much more difficult. Submissions are doubled from last time, and the comments are flooding in more than ever. However, even on some of the more favourited deviations are getting one sentence or more in most comments. Some may be littered with emoticons, but they're still there. We've progressed slightly.

Date: July 6th, 2004 (August 7th, 2004 doesn't exist yet)
Deviant: martango
"*applouds and pats u on the back* awsome work man, i was going to fav it when i saw the preview, but i had to see the detials, or i would feel bad for doing so, im stuned by this, ur determination and hard work paid off well my friend
The terragen and the nebula/space dust own man babies lol, and awsome job with the planet textureing.....theres one thing that bugs me, the sun/moon, its just there like...BLAH, if u ment for it to be a moonish thing then i think some sort of texture should have gone over it....but thats just my 2 cents, and u did what u whant with it becuse its your peice anyway  awsomely awsome job alyn +fav"


I'm sure you'll be seeing this deviation in the DTFs very soon, and just from studying this and a few others I've seen that long, thought out comments such as this are much, much harder to come by. However, people are still commenting more, and there is a trend in some cases to have the one sentence comments. One word comments are at an all-time high, and the rating system is still scarcely in use. I saw 1 rated comment in my spelunking, and it was due to its structure.

At this point in History, we're noticing that when critiques come...they are much longer than they've ever been. However, those kinds of comments are being drowned in many other simpler comments of praise. It's hard to distinguish between individuals due to the similarity of many of the comments. So, as a collective, we're commenting more than ever, but generally leaving less and less pertinant information in any of the comments. Everything seems very generic, but we do have some of the better critics and comments gliding around and people more aware of what they're writing. This is why it is necessary to spread the love, this is why it's necessary to make these simple guides. This is why we need to set an example for everyone else.

:pointr: Why Spend the Time Commenting?

I've mentioned several times about various reasons why it is important to give good comments, though I think it's best to drive the point home in a more organized manner. When someone starts a description with "Comments and critiques welcome" it is a bold face challenge to anyone out there, or an opening opportunity, for you to express exactly how something made you feel, what you saw that was wrong, what you loved, what could be changed and any questions that you may have about the deviation.

When you have written an essay for school, and you need to be sure that it is absolutely perfect, your first impression may be to hand it off to a friend or confidant to see if they can point out any errors. Fresh eyes are a perfect way to point out any miscalculations or grievous mistakes that may have been made. When you have your friend hand it back to you with no more than a "this is great. I love it." you may be happy, but also I'm sure that you'd be a bit weary of whether or not they really paid much attention to what you've done. If someone is able to take apart the whole thing, you may feel a bit distraught, but you'll be able to fix and collect yourself, and also have the knowledge that someone took the time to really identify your message and meaning. Someone took the time to really make sure that you conveyed exactly what you wanted to. This is one of the reasons why it is very important and beneficial to leave comments that have thought put into them. Without that bit of insight, you've basically left nothing more than a first impression or just another meaningless stamp of a comment.

Now, this isn't to say that the only important comments are the ones that are critical of the works, because that is far from the truth. Praise and simple recognitions of skill is still a wonderful thing to do, but it's able to connect a lot more with you as a person if you give some more depth to what you're saying. When you leave a comment that something is "cool", why not say what's cool about it? Wouldn't that let the person whom you're addressing know that you really do appreciate their art, and not just the fact that it's done by them, or the subject matter is something you're simply familiar with. Praise is just as good as a critique, it just shows how much you really understand.

A good comment can sometimes be the difference between a good day and a bad day for some people. Quantity over quality aside, some people really do appreciate seeing someone's deep analysis and personal reflections or anecdotes about a particular image or writing. For them, that extra bit of recognition could bring a smile to their face, at only a couple minutes cost on your account. You may also find yourself with something that a lot of short comments to an artist can't normally bring, and that's a deep felt gratitude and respect for the time that you've invested into them.

:pointr: The Rating System and You

Some of you may remember before version 3 of this website was integrated, it was very easy to distinguish a person's misbehaviour by the scathing remarks on their pages and the amount of Policy Violations that were on their page. This system basically resulted in some people staying with almost a black mark on their reputation, not being able to recover very well. As well, it also meant that people were banned much more frequently for travelling to insult people for the comments that they left on their pages. The insults and flame wars still exist today, but they don't have to.

The rating system was established from a very different calling than the original set rating system that dA had. In the beginning, deviations were able to be rated by the various deviants. Now, we see that a person's comments can be rated instead of what they submit. This comes as a magnificent step forward in the progress on this site, but some people still are confused as to how this system works.

Example:

Rating System Example

1. This points to the dropbox in which you place your rating for the comment. You simple select which number you think best applies to the comment that you are rating. You can continue to select as many comments on the page that you'd like to rate, and the continue to...

2. The "Rate All" button is for when you're finished selecting the ratings for each comment on the page you're viewing. Instead of having to refresh every time that you pick a rating, this button allows you to select as many comments on the page that you would like and then rate them all at once.

This very simple process is all that it takes to start your own work to making dA a better place. Of course, many people still wonder exactly what the rating system can do for them. For one, it is a way to indicate which deviants have been causing trouble on the site, without having to go through the process of reporting them to an admin. This helps when someone doesn't necessarily break policy, but becomes simple an antagonist for everyone they come in contact with. Every admin on the site is privy to a view on every deviant's user page that shows how many ratings they've received in the forums and through comments and the average rating they've received. If an admin spots someone who is unusually low, they are able to keep an eye on their activity.

For those that aren't breaking policy, the rating system simply acts as a filter for good and bad comments. In your settings there's a section under Comments that allows you to select the "Minimum Rating" from 1.0 - 4.5.

Minimum Rating Dropbox

This system allows you to filter out any bad comments from your view. Instead of being bothered by an endless steam of emoticon riddled one word comments, or flagrant policy violations, you can set your minimum view to a level that you're comfortable with, and know that you will only view comments that the people have deemed to be of a certain quality. This will not only help you, but it is also a good coax to encourage better commenting, and a way to make sure that people who are doing wrong are given punishment by way of simply ignoring them.

Of course, this, like any system, has room for abuse. People who would give all comments a rating of 1.00 who simply disagree with them. People who would give 5.00 to anyone making fun of something. People who just hand out 1.00's in a hope to make others' comments ignored. As well, we have to take into account translation of what makes a good and bad comment from person to person. Someone may view length as value, while others simply with the information that is presented. Some people will judge harshly, others not so. This is the inherit flaw of the system, but should not be ignored because of it. As long as we remain responsible as a group, and understand what we deem to be quality works and wording and try not to be overly critical of others, we can make this work.

Journals and user pages aren't a place to judge harshly. You wouldn't necessarily want long winded comments all over someone's page, and greetings and hellos are fine when they aren't in discussion related areas or artistic. As long as focus more on using the system as a filtration from certain poor parts of the site, and use it to average out the comments on the deviations, the system will work for you and for everyone else.

:pointr: Before You Comment

There's not much to pay attention to before you comment, but what's there is rather important. When you come to a deviation, especially ones that already have numerous comments, you may feel as if you have nothing to say or add now that there's a certain level of comments already there. This usually results in simple cop-outs of short commenting just to let the deviant know that you were there and give your recognition of the work they've done. This itself is not a terrible practice, however it still isn't the best method to do.

First thing, always, is to look at the deviation. Don't just breeze over it, really get a good look at it. This isn't meant to be in depth, but instead of just gathering a simple view, this is to make sure that you gather some first impressions. For most people, this is where the commenting process starts and they begin to comment or attack the work. However, this is only the beginning of what you should be doing.

Next step is to go over the description that the author has provided. Sometimes these are very detailed in the process and any errors that the artist has noticed, and this would be good to take into account or even open your eyes a little to something about the deviation that you weren't aware of. This may also answer any questions you may have up to now, and won't need to ask them in your comment. This tends to be a common trend. You can also check if there's any recognition of stock photos or original images that you can use in comparison to the result that they've come to. Another excellent bit to use later in your actual commenting.

At this point, it's good to go to the more in depth look of the deviation. Rooting through it to understand what you like, what you don't like, what's wrong, and what could be fixed. This doesn't always have to be done with a cynical eye, so don't think that doing this style of commenting is going to present you as a critic, it's just a better way to get to know the artist and the deviation. You can also try and relate some personal experience or ties into what you're thinking of saying. This is where the original commenting thought process starts.

After you've done looking at the deviation, you should probably read the comments that have already been left on the deviation. This is to avoid massive repetition of a specific point in the deviation, such as a spelling error or a line gone astray. Not to say that you can't point such things out, but to dwell on them when they've already been addressed tends to make your comment dull and avoidable to the artist. Also, any questions you may have may have already been addressed, as well as points that you were thinking of bringing up. Monotony of comments tends to create apathy to it to certain artists. Having your comment as fresh as it can be will really help you get noticed, and help your points get across well to the person you are trying to address.

:pointr: Comment Structure

To make something perfectly clear, this guide is not concrete. This part especially is translatable, as there is no set standard as to what is really a good structure for commenting. Some people don't like the use of paragraphs, and some don't like separating their words into specific thoughts as more into the specific parts of the deviation. What follows are various styles and structures that can be used as guidelines for commenting.

Inclusive¹

This style is focussed on more of an all encompassing style of comment and critiquing. It's based on more abstract thoughts and collecting those thoughts into specific parts and paragraphs. This is perhaps the most formulaic style of commenting.

Paragraph 1 is devoted to Interpretation. This is where you put a part of yourself into your comment. It is the more interpersonal aspect of commenting, showing your first impressions up to your current ideas of the meaning and general depth of the deviation. You try and convey to the artist exactly what their piece means to you.

Paragraph 2 is Critique. This is where you begin to take all of the flaws and errors, or just personal preferences you developed from your pre-commenting time. You should also refer back and forth from the actual deviation to get a better understanding or to even bring new things to light as they come. It's best to sound objective when you do this section, because presenting things lightly means you will not be taken seriously. Don't second guess yourself, or say "in my opinion" a lot, because that is implied with yourself as the one expressing it. However, harsh critiquing is not looked upon any better. It's best to be factual and objective where you can, but soft blowing when your releasing your own opinions.

Paragraph 3 is for Compliments. This tends to be where most deviants take their hearts to, as it seems to be the safest route. And it is. This is a section where you are able to let out as much of what you like of the piece as you can. If you really like a piece, and you've spent a long time critiquing it, you need to be just as articulate with your compliments to make sure that the artist is aware that you really did enjoy your piece. This is a less objective part of the commenting, but very important to letting the artist know that what they've done is just amazing.

Paragraph 4 is the final part: Asking Questions. This is more important than some people realise. If there's something that you don't understand about the deviation, you need to make it known to the artist. With the wonders of the reply system, the artist is able to quickly and efficiently answer or address whatever concerns you may have, so it is best to get them up in the air. It could also prove vital to pointing out an unnoticed error in translation, as sometimes artists don't realise that their mistake is tangible, but takes away from the message of the piece.

There's always more that can be piece and woven into this bit to bit, but this is the very basic structure of a more Inclusive style of commenting.

Objective

This style has become my own personal preference in the last while that I've been commenting. It is normally saved for Prose and Poetry, but I've found that it can be useful for visual arts as well.

Objective commenting involves taking the piece step by step. Whether this is critiquing, or just basic commenting, you're taking each section or aspect of the piece and turning it into its own section. There's no set formula for this particular style, but it can be easily adapted to by a process.

In Prose or Poetry, this is more easily applied:

Opening: This is the spot where you'd address specific aspects of the piece that jumped out at you first. The theme, and what you think of it. The motivation, and your initial thoughts. It's basically your pre-comment comment, trying to segwey into a thicker critique.
Stanza/Paragraph 1: You start by addressing the first section of the piece in a critique and comment. Picking at the parts you like, and that you don't. You'd continue this with each paragraph or stanza as it stands, until you're finished your objective analysis of each section.
Closing: This is where you tie up some loose ends, give your overall impressions of the piece, and leave some general closing comments. Sometimes best to address some general issues that you found with this as well.

The structure almost reads like you're just reading the prose/poetry as you begin, and read through it with the artist to the very end. It helps identify any issues in the piece and makes it easy for the artist to find any errors.

This can also apply to visual arts as well, but in a much more general sense. Instead of tackling from Paragraph to Paragraph, you could address things in the form of: Anatomy, Structure, Colouring/Shading, Meaning, etc. There's no set way to carry out an objective comment, only a method to take it section by section, part by part.

Reflective

Sometimes people like to comment with something that's a little more personal. When you spend most of the comment focussing on how you can relate to the image, or the meaning behind it, this is known as a Reflective comments. Reflective comments are neither meant to be Praises, nor Critiques, but a true reflection of how the artist managed to convey their message to the viewer. This cements any doubts to the artist of exactly what people are seeing, and what people are thinking. This is an important section to many of the comment structures, but in itself could be taken to much greater lengths.

There's no structure involved in reflective commenting, as it usually unravels like a story or a journal. Just something tangible for the artist to hold onto, something that they can see in their own work the next time they care to look at it. It's the real draw between art and people.

Sporadic

This, in itself, is not really a style of commenting. This encompasses any comment that follows no specific structure. It may use some of every bit described above, or none of it. It can be both Objective and Inclusive, or it can be simply a praise of the piece with no substance. It can be a very in depth look at the piece, but with no apparently structure. Many great commenters still use this structure with no chagrin, but it just makes the comment much more difficult to read.

There's no limit or boundaries that you need to set yourself into. Just because you don't fall into a category, doesn't mean you're not commenting correctly. These are meant to help people understand different ways of commenting to help or improve something they've already got working for them. When it comes to expressing your opinions, there's no set structure.

:pointr: Critique Guide

There's no way to teach someone to critique definitively. It's all about perception, about personal feelings and how one reacts to the art and the message it conveys. It's about being able to describe what you love and what you don't love in a clear and concise manner. What I'm trying to present in this section is a couple of examples of comments and critiques so that something can be tangibly drawn from them.

Date: July 5th, 2004
Deviant: coshdaddy
Deviation: Blood On The Moon by LiquidAshes
"I find that scanners tend to be either a blessing, or some terrible, terrible curse. A lot of amazing artists I know are plagued by their scanner's inability to pick up fine details, or colours. I don't think there's too much butchering going on here, though I guess I can't really tell. Nothing looks too terribly blurred or skewed, everything looks pretty solid. Maybe resizing this a little bit might help that. Or at least changing the composition of the entire picture, meaning moving things closer together, or eliminating the white space with some of the design to the far left.

It almost looks like a collage on first glance. Three seperate pieces, angles, shots of the same person that just blend together so nicely. Almost like a movie poster, how it manages to capture many different moments and emotions into one frame. The main head shot is amazing, I must say. The anatomy of it is just wonderful, and considering that I don't usually comment on anime styled pictures, I am impressed. The colouring seems to be the only weak point of that piece. Splashes of red seem to stand out everywhere, even where they shouldn't be (i.e. the teeth, the top of the head) The red on the side seems to add a certain effect or lighting, but the darkness of the texture makes it look almost like a smudge. Love the eye, though. Has such a lifelike look to it.

The small picture on the cheek is wonderful. Not much to say about it, as it seems pretty solid. The middle girl has a couple glaring issues. The hips, as you pointed out, are a little big. Normally wouldn't be a problem, but the legs also seem to balloon out a little bit. It doesn't seem proportional with the upper body at all, and doesn't seem consistent with the character design on the smaller version. The breasts also seem to be a bit odd, not seeming to fall in a natural way (even with the arms in the position they are) and too far to the side of the chest. The raised arm seems a bit oddly bent, and the hand is virtually indistinguishable. Would be good if it were fleshed out a little bit better. The colouring is pinacle, though I'd say the blood looks a little thick and dark. Everything else is great.

The background work, and the general atmosphere you've created with the trees, webbing and poles is excellent. Like I said before, it makes it seems like a collage of works. The colouring is all around solid, though there's spots of white in and around that could be remedied. A little bit more practice with the pencils might help with that, but it seems you've got a knack for them already. Overall, it's awesome work. Great job, Liquid."


This is an example of an Objective comment. It takes each piece of interest within the image and draws it's own subject from it. Travels from piece to piece until the issues are exhausted and then closes out. The weakness of this comment is it's general sporadic nature, as it seems to jump into certain points within paragraphs that have no tangible connection. Even the ending seems to wrap up a little too strong, and a little too quickly. The language used is fine, as it is civil and direct, but it doesn't have much introspective look into what the critic thinks of the piece itself. This impersonal tone is the weakness of this comment, as it almost comes across as a bit too negative and only takes apart the technically without celebrating the actual parts of the image that the critic enjoyed.

Date: March 27th, 2003
Deviant: old--dog
Deviation: P A Z by adixion
"I can't tell you how much this relates to me right now i really identify with your poem. I just can't find peace no matter how hard i look. The other day i had a feeling i'd never had before where i felt absolutely everything was just too much even the simple fact i was alive. This world is just so fucked up. On the other hand i love life and always have but i need peace and love just how you've said. This war is a big dark cloud that is sending me into depression and making me think is there any good that can come out of our civilisation. As for the pic it also backs up these feelings and recalls hearing of a college colleague hanging himself in a prison cell which haunted me in ways i cannot express. I would make it a favourite but it will just remind me how i feel right now."

This is an example of a Reflective comment. It goes in depth and beyond about how the viewer felt about the piece. Bringing in current news and their perspective on it, and how they were able to relate to the whole message. It also shows that the person read the description and was able to gather more thoughts from the words the author had put there. The spelling is not great, and there's an inherit lack of real structure. This weakens the overall strength of the comment, but the style and message that the viewer felt is put forth very well.

:pointr: Commenting Etiquette and Language

When addressing someone, whether it be in person or through the comment system, you have to make sure that your language is at it's best so that your message is not misunderstood in any way. As well, when you're dealing with English as a second language in the artist or your own experience, certain precautions should be taken.

First off, when dealing in other languages, you should be sure of a few important aspects. If you are more fluent in another language, and wish to convey your message in that language, it is fundamentally important to be aware of the artists understanding of that particular language and dialect. Otherwise, you'll just be talking to the wall, and may come off as unintelligent for doing so. If the artist isn't fluent in English, you must also be careful with your language. You don't want to be using words that are not necessary, or digging through a thesaurus to sound more intelligent. This may end up confusing the artist, or yourself, and leading to questions that are totally unnecessary.

Catering to an old cliché, it's not what you say, but how you say it. The way you present yourself, not only in structure, but just in the diction and general language use is going to be very important to exactly what context your words will be taken in. Sarcasm and other such things are not necessary to use, especially online, and the use of an emote such as :roll: is not going to make whatever remark made seem anything but scathing. Anything that requires body language or tone of voice will do you no good, so you must be careful how you word things. Comments are forever, there is no edit or delete function, so you don't want to be taken out of context.

Even in critiquing, it's best to remain civil. Being too harsh, or using lots of negative words will usually turn a deviant off of what you have to say. Sometimes it may result in the deviant feeling personally attacked, and warrant unneeded anger towards you. Sometimes, when you feel strongly about a deviation being totally unwarranted, you need to calm yourself down and be sure that you're not being too volatile and getting yourself in jeopardy of violating policy. As well, use of all caps or excessive punctuation do not help your argument, they usually just make you seem unintelligent.

Emoticons can be a really good thing to use sometimes. If there's something that you're not sure if how to present it in a light fashion, or a sentence that you'd like to be taking lightly, sometimes an emoticon can convey the exact way you're trying to present something. This is best used as a positive, and as infrequently as possible. As useful as they may be at times, they also skew the fonts on the site and clutter the page. They are a distraction from the overall message and importance of the words. It gives your work a much more powerful conviction when you avoid using them all together, as if you've been totally clear they are not really needed to express how you really feel about a piece.

:pointr: After Commenting

When you've finished your comment, before you submit, it's very important that you go over what you've said. Treat it like a micro-essay in that you need to make sure that you haven't made any errors that are going to lessen your argument when it's read by the artist. These are just tidying functions, best to do just to ensure you've got everything to your satisfaction.

First thing that should be done is a simple re-read of exactly what you've written. It's not necessary to have someone else proof read a comment, as it's an opinion piece and not to be taken all too seriously, but it is good just to go over it again and make sure that you haven't left any holes in your arguments or basic grammar mistakes. Sometimes you may even realise that you've forgotten a point you wanted to make, and now can fit it into your structure or tie it on to the end.

You may also do well to take your comment and put it through a text editor equipped with a grammar and punctuation corrector. MS Word or Word Perfect are such editors, and they would help grab misspellings that you may have missed, or some sentence fragments that you may have not picked up on when you were writing. This is another chance to take a look at your writing in a different perspective, as well, and maybe show where you might need to add something in.

Revision is not necessary, but tends to be something that comes naturally to any well thought-out comment. I've pointed out in each step after you've finished writing that you need to gather a new perspective to really get a good sense of revision. However, drawing to this last step, it's best just to glaze over what you've done so far and give it its final touches. Changes to structure, or style. Even addition or subtraction of certain words can make your comment a better thing to look at, and much easier to understand.

:pointr: In Closing...

As verbose as this guide is, you do not need to be threatened or intimidated every time you comment. If you decide to put some simple words about how you feel, be free. If you don't have the time to plot out something so ridiculously complex, then something simple will suit you fine. This is not an elitist attempt and trying to demonstrate that someone is better than you just because they decided to write a small essay about a deviation, whereas you may have only written a couple of sentences. This is merely a tool, and a message the community. Commenting is very important to this site, and leaving one word comments may be a good way to build up your stats and get you into the Active Deviants slot on the Today slot on dA, but they don't help the artist or really show that you even paid the slightest bit of mind to their work. Even silly things could use some introspective views, or even just a funny story. From doodles to full blown works of art, your opinion and voice is important and meant to be heard.

What you say could very well shape what you see. Get interactive. Get commenting!

"That is what the highest criticism really is, the record of one's own soul. It is more fascinating than history, as it is concerned simply with oneself. It is more delightful than philosophy, as its subject is concrete and not abstract, real and not vague. It is the only civilized form of autobiography."
- Oscar Wilde

ZirTuan's How To Give A Better Comment entry.
  • Mood: On Strike
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:icontmpst24myst:
tmpst24myst Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2008  Student Writer
I hope you don't mind, but i printed this for easy reference. I learn better with pen and paper than a computer screen that gives me headaches after so long.

:hug:
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:iconmikkelt:
MikkelT Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2006
I still refer to this guide when writing comments ;) :heart:
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:iconcoshdaddy:
coshdaddy Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2006
:)

I really should update this some time. Things getting a bit dated in some aspects. Much appreciate, though, sir.
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:iconmikkelt:
MikkelT Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2006
Please do, please do ;)
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:iconmagicalgirl:
magicalgirl Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2005
This comment is a bit longer and more self-righteous than I had intended, but I will let that stand.

I was reading the comments on the memorial to `randomcasualty when I saw =Star-Tachikawa's signiture and decided to explore. I was intrigued because I've spent a lot of time thinking about commenting and how it ought to be done. When commenting, I generally follow the Golden Rule: if I had written this piece, what would I want/need to hear? I do get upset sometimes when people become self-righteous about commenting: "People who comment to get comments are Satan's spawn" and whatnot - a sort of "I'm part of the comment revolution and you're not, therefore I am a superior human being" attitude. It gets on my nerves; after all, is there some better way to attract comments than by finding a new member of the community and giving her work a useful, satisfying critique? I mention this only because I had been close to writing a petty little rant in my next journal. Now, I think that I will simply create a link to this journal of yours. It presents the comment issue clearly, usefully, and calmly. It even explains the rating system - maybe I can now make it work! Thank you for writing this (and I'm going to thank =Star-Tachikawa). Some people may be put off by the thought of expending such energy in a single comment - even (god forbid) proofreading it, but to quote the signiture of a friend: commenting is an art.

There's no chance that you'd update it for today, would you? It's been almost a year since you wrote the thing (and there are a few typos - but egad, who could perfectly proofread a journal that large and remain sane?).

p.s. - I usually use Objective. It is great for prose critiquing, which is my job around here.
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:iconcoshdaddy:
coshdaddy Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2005
I've been considering revising it once the year anniversary of its release comes around. There are certain things that are dated, and I'd love to start the whole thing from the bottom up to give it a good cleaning. I'd also like to submit it as a deviation rather than a journal, mostly because I'm sick of getting pageviews simply because of this entry. I don't really link to it anywhere, I actually rely on everyone else in the community to do that for me. I'm glad Star still has it there, otherwise people would never find this beast.

If there are typos, please let me know. I can never find them, but I know they're there. Hiding.

I'm glad you enjoyed the writing. I do also tend to reject the general idea that because I am part of the comment revolution that I have some superiority. I don't. Hell, I feel a bit like an underling to those who I comment on, never above the art that they create. If I'm spending as much time as I am to critique it, I must have some kind of reverence for it, right?

Thanks for the comment. Makes me want to get back into writing the sequel.
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:iconmagicalgirl:
magicalgirl Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2005
Going over that for typos might require monetary compensation. Well, maybe not... but I'll only do it if you're actually revamping the thing. If you are, I'll read it over thrice, then print it out and proofread it again - whatever it takes. Should you happen to use the email link on my page and send me whatever you intend to post, I'd be happy to do all of that. It's worth the time and effort - and besides, then I can brag about having helped to create the glorious guide to commenting. That'd be something to tell the grandkids about. "Yes, little ~Jimmy141, I was once a member of dA, just like you...."
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:iconcoshdaddy:
coshdaddy Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2005
Oh, no. I didn't mean you had to go over it for typos, I thought that you had actually found some in there already. If it means more work for others, I'll usually say no, don't trouble yourself. If I need proofreading, I'll just print it out myself and go over it with a fine tooth comb. Doesn't bother me if they're found after the fact, anyway, as MS word catches most of the good ones.

I doubt the grandkids will be able to think of a unique username under 15 characters by the time that age rolls around.
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:iconmagicalgirl:
magicalgirl Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2005
I know you didn't mean that I had to - what, you'd ban me if I didn't? I did see some, but with a piece that large, going back and finding them again would be a trick. It's a trick that I'd be glad to do, though, if you remake this guide. Please note me if you do.
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:icondanoodlebox:
DaNoodleBox Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2005  Hobbyist General Artist
Can I quote you on this?

My friend has a website that is having problems with constructive criticism...
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:iconjorji:
Jorji Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2004
Interesting and helpful all at once.

I found this through some weird trail that I just clicked along. Always an exciting journey to travel and to see where you end up, maybe interesting art, or in this case an interesting journal.

Discovered I am a bit of combination being both a reflective and inclusive commenter.... and discovered what the heck those rate boxes were for

Thankyou :D
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:icons2photos:
S2Photos Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2004  Hobbyist Photographer
thers been a club started ~ CommentFactory that is commited to helping people on DA comment more effectively.
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:iconmsstriker:
MsStriker Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2004
thank you very much for this really good how to. this is a very good job :thumbsup: keep it up ;)
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:iconaceoft:
aceoft Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2004
I'm sorry to post a short comment, but this makes me think of a sex-ed teacher saying "Ok, now lets apply what you have learned. Johnny!"


this is funny to me... "how to comment. comments?" ;) oops sorry for the emote :p hehe
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:iconcoshdaddy:
coshdaddy Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2004
Emotes are fine, don't worry about short comments and I aced Sex-ed.

Funniest thing I remember from grade 9. My Phys-Ed teacher coming up to me and saying "Wow. You really know your penises and vaginas" What a weird day.
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:iconaceoft:
aceoft Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2004
Thanks for the reply! I can't say I remember a teacher saying anything like *that* to me... hm. Good one.
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:iconlegionofmeanies:
legionofmeanies Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2004
I'm putting a link to this in my journal, using your picture header, if that's alright.

BTW, if anyone else is going to, rather than filling the web with the headers, I put a smaller version with a border at [link] so you can just hotlink that.
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:iconlegionofmeanies:
legionofmeanies Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2004
I love you.

Maybe this will encourage people to give more useful, meaningful comments.
Now can you do a "Guide to Not Bitching When You Get Criticism"?

By the way, you should make this into a tutorial:!:
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:iconcoshdaddy:
coshdaddy Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2004
I was thinking of turning it into a deviation for easier access...but I don't know if it will do any better as a deviation than it is doing as a journal. The message is getting out better than I even planned.
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:iconlegionofmeanies:
legionofmeanies Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2004
Well, I've linked it in my journal, and in my sig, and while I don't know how many people will look at my journal, enough people will see my sig, whether they like what's written above it or not :P
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:iconinternethead:
internethead Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2004
if you could +fav a journal, you'd get it mate, straight away. this is a light for a dying art. i'ma great fan and friend of alyn, and each time he releases a piece he gets 400+ comments. i scroll down the page and at least 70% of comments are "+fav :D". what a comment. and ironic it's for somebody liek him who values the community so much. if all that exists is one line comments, we've reached a time where people can only adore artists, not critique, and a time where the human race is so intellectually derelict, i doubt we can survive.
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:iconcoshdaddy:
coshdaddy Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2004
Very pessimistic, but very well worded review there. I would say that *alyn has his share of troubles, I'm sure. I specifically noted that deviation due to the popularity of his work.

The problem is not that the praise is bad, but too frivilous. Mindless praise is good as long as the artist knows what you like. Of course, mindless critique is heartless, in essence, and doesn't end up being much more than scathing. Just need to find your own groove and what you find would be something you'd comment on.

I'm babbling, I'm tired. Sorry.
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:iconinternethead:
internethead Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2004
nah, you have got a point. its just... dA is getting to a point where you are judged by how many comments and favs you get, not by your art. people will mindlessly fav every piece by certain artists due to an earlier impression, and not be open to new artists, always viewing them as secondary to their old favourites. some people really do put effort into this community, and some don't. what annoys me is that people who don't are still worshiped by the masses.
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:iconinziladun:
inziladun Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2004   Writer
As you know, I am really wowed by this. You included everything important, including the rating System which I didn't feel comfortable writing about since it is, as you point out, unfinished as a system. And I am really impressed by your different 'categories' of Comment Structure, those were some really amazing inventions. :D Also the 'Before You Comment' bit was truly amazing, you included everything and anything that has to do with pre-experiencing a piece, before commenting. :thumbsup: And the History portion is excellent indeed, you put in a lot of work on that I can tell.
But there are some things I didn't think were as good.. While the Comment Structure section is truly brilliant, I think you set up a far too strict set of guidelines for some of them. All the different sections within a comment, the right order.. It's enough to intimidate any deviant from commenting in that way. And the high school paper-example isn't that relevant, or not that good a comparison to the situation, I feel.. Also the whole tone of that example is a little iffy, a little too informal perhaps.
But otherwise this is practically perfect, and absolutely stunningly thorough Guide!! :clap:


On another note, have you received a note I sent a few days ago? I sent it to all the 'usual' Revolutionaries, but I haven't had a single comment from any of them, including you. :| Anyway, in case you didn't get the Note for some odd reason, I'd very much like you to look into this: The Art of Commenting. It is my contribution to the eventual Guide, though it probably isn't quite as thorough as yours.. Anyway I would appreciate it if you looked through it and gave it a good critiquing. :D
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:iconcoshdaddy:
coshdaddy Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2004
Critique 1 (Strict Guidelines): The first guideline is the most strict, and based upon the Guide that `leodadominico did. I also stated that commenting is not subject to those guides only, and just because someone doesn't fall into a category it means they're not doing it right. If anything, I think giving people a specific guide may help some people who don't know how to organize correctly.

Critique 2 (High School Paper): I really had no concept of what you were talking about at first, but I remembered something about this kind of insinuation. I never really focussed on it, but if you've ever done an MLA format essay, the structure is very strict and reminds me of the Inclusive guide, which is probably why I brought it out. As well, just bringing through some obvious ideas about the need to edit your work or have others do it for you. I meant to draw that conclusion not that you necessary need someone else to read your comments, but it's always good to edit for spelling.

Note: Yes, I have received your note. I got it when I was away this weekend and have not had a good enough chance to go over it fully. I'll do it in due time, but I'm not exactly living with a blank schedule these days. It's also mostly opinion piece than anything, so it's hard to critique opinion. But, I will do my best to give it a good look over soon enough.

Thanks for the comment/critique. Definitely needed.
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:iconinziladun:
inziladun Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2004   Writer
Ah, thanks for the clarification! I see just what you mean now, and even though the guidelines are strict I don't expect anybody will actually follow it verbatum. It's more like an extremely informative thing to read and remember, even if you don't follow it exactly. :nod:
Hehe, I fully understand your being busy, and don't rush yourself over anything. I'm a little excited to have the Revolution up and running so well again, that I've become very impatient in the process. :blush:
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:iconredness:
redness Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2004
This is a very good journal and very well laid out. I started doing more extensive commenting on things that really caught my eye a while back. Sometimes i feel bad for not leaving really good comments, but unfortunately time doesnt really allow for me to be as extensive as i want to be on everything.

This is a very good way of helping people reformat and structure their comments which i think is very good. :)
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:iconcoshdaddy:
coshdaddy Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2004
I'm glad to hear that you think highly of it.

I'll admit, I have troubles giving comments alot. Mostly for the reason that there's an expectation that I must give out rather lengthy comments, and I don't always have time to do so. Probably why my commenting has been more sporadic and infrequent as of late. It's not about the length, it's about the content.
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:iconthedevilmyself:
TheDevilMyself Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2004
I made that abbreviated guide i was talking about... here it is! I'd love some feedback on it, so any and all said feedback would be deeply appreciated.

DEVIL!
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:iconcoshdaddy:
coshdaddy Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2004
Besides displaying a tendency to almost become a rant, it's a good min-version of a comment guide. Though, I'd say it could use a run through a spell-checker, as well as a bit of a turn down in certain aspects of the language. Basically presents the more important points, though it does focus on a couple of points a bit vaguely and some lesser points a bit too much. Pretty good, though, nonetheless.
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:iconthedevilmyself:
TheDevilMyself Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2004
Spell check would be a good idea. I consider myself a decent speller, but i'm nonetheless imperfect. The harshness and rant-style is, well, just me. ;-) Can't help myself! And i kept it vague enough that they got the idea, but left open enough that those who take to the ideas will check out your guide and the other parts of the revolution.
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:iconthe-deviator:
the-deviator Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2004
Very good! I've been waiting for someone to release a journal like this for some time. I actually was going to make my own untill I ran intot his one. This shouldn't just be a journal but it should be a news article; in fact it should be a sticky, one that stays at the top and becomes noticable to everyone. You pointed out many great things in this journal. The sad thing is that people that already leave sad comments aren't going to bother with even going to this journal. It's just the way that they are, you know? I am going to put a link to this in my journal.

`coshdaddy , do you think I could use your header image (to this journal) and its location in my journal? I will just hotlink it to my journal and make the image the link to this journal. Do you give me permission to do that? Thanks :) (even if you don't). And thank you so much for making this journal. - *the-deviator
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:iconcoshdaddy:
coshdaddy Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2004
First off, thanks a whole lot of the comment and the time that you took reading this. I never really formatted this for anything but a journal style. It's more like a personal, organized reflection than anything else. It's something to work with, a first draft of a future dogma perhaps, as I basically just kept going with this. It's mostly impromptu and random thoughts etched together with some research.

About the link, though I would be honoured to have you link this in your journal the space that I use to store my pictures for my journals is not mine and I think it would do better not to link it directly from that location. You can download the image from there and store it elsewhere, but I'm not sure about the bandwidth rules and wouldn't want to jeopardize my friend's webspace hospitality.
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:iconthe-deviator:
the-deviator Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2004
Ya, now theres a link to my journal, with the same image as the header but smaller and baxed in. :)
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:iconcoshdaddy:
coshdaddy Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2004
Keen. Maybe it'll get some people who really need it to take a gander at the behemoth of a journal.
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:iconthe-deviator:
the-deviator Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2004
My intention exactly. :)
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:iconthe-deviator:
the-deviator Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2004
Your welcome and....

It's ok, I will just load it to my space that I got. Do you need some space? Because a while ago I found this site that gives you 100 mb free space... no ads, no cost, very easy to use... and its all for images, and they allow hotlinking, that's what the whole purpose of the site is. If you need some space I'll note you the site url. I wouldn't want to jeopardize your friend's webspace hospitality either :) ;) - *the-deviator
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:iconlestikitty:
lestikitty Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2004
O.O;;;;...you...you dont actually expect me to read all of that, do you? you couldnt possibly make a shorter version could you? ^^;
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:iconcoshdaddy:
coshdaddy Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2004
I may come up with a Coles Notes version of the whole thing, depending if it's really needed and if I have the time. For now, it's going to have to stay the length it's at. ;)
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:iconsnowmask:
snowmask Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2004  Professional Traditional Artist
Beautifully written :*)

This should definetely be an official guide. Love how you made it easily-understandable (for all idiots alike) as well as eye-pleasing. Definetely something one would take their time to pour over. But then that's just me ;]

:heart:
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:iconcoshdaddy:
coshdaddy Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2004
I don't know if this really screams 'official', but I am glad that you found it to be easily understandible. It's hard to do that when you're facing this much material, so I think I did my job well then.

:thanks:
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:iconsnowmask:
snowmask Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2004  Professional Traditional Artist
Well, you wouldn't. You been looking at this damn thing for far too long :P

But seriously, yes. It should be a feature. I'm longing for a button on the top far with a link to this.

:hug:
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:iconmoonbeam13:
Moonbeam13 Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2004  Hobbyist Photographer
18 pages printed baby.. woo. Coshdaddy you're my hero

:blackrose:
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:iconcoshdaddy:
coshdaddy Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2004
I thought it was 17 pages. Or, rather it was in the original code. Maybe with the images and such it could be 18 pages.

That's a lot of writing, even for 8 or so hours. Didn't even realize. :P
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:iconmoonbeam13:
Moonbeam13 Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2004  Hobbyist Photographer
Ah you're right! I have the images at the top, even still, bloody impressive job and it's well written and easy to follow. You spent a great deal of time putting this together and it shows in the end result. :worship:
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:iconthedevilmyself:
TheDevilMyself Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2004
Sporadic! HA! Yep. That's me!
About the ratings system: "Now i understand"
About the History: "That was very informative"
About the Methods Suggested:
I do believe that your guideline is quite solid. As it stands, i feel that it could help an awful lot of people, though i also think the majority of people who don't take time out to write comprehensive comments will not take the time out to read this as well. I admit, a few parts i skimmed (though i assure you my scanning skills are above par - hell they got me through high school) but i've never had a very great attention span (which is also why i don't review poetry/prose... couldn't do it justice if i didn't pay enough attention to it in the first place)
Anyways, as i was saying, these people who leave the "+fav" or other such 2-10 word comments will probably think the suggestions you've set to better their comments to be too time-consuming. Not that we can cure this - people who just won't take out the time, just won't take out the time. As i see it, the revolution is for those who seek to improve... those who comment for a good portion of the day, but don't know how to expand their comments. I know a few of these people, and they've taken to the revolution like flies to my leftover pizza.
"Any suggestions?" - Well, yes. Maybe making a brief, notelike version of said commenting guide. Hell, maybe i'll do it myself. I think i will. Yep! As soon as i get around to it. HA! Seriously now, i'll probably do it today - not like i have anything better to do!
Good guide. Quite long, but words & writing is your art, so i'd expect no less. Well thought through, and i particularly enjoyed the history! Thanks for the experience and the inspiration to write my "Abbreviated Guide to Commenting".

DEVIL!
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:iconcoshdaddy:
coshdaddy Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2004
This guide is definitely not oriented to the people who are not subject to change. I agree, that the length is definitely a turn off (but believe me that I didn't intend it to be this long when I started...I just kept going) but I think that a more concise guide may miss out certain things. Of course, I absolutely encourage people to right a less loquacious version of a commenting guide to appease those with a much shorter attention span. It's a good idea.

Thanks for your time and suggestions. :)
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:iconthedevilmyself:
TheDevilMyself Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2004
Hey no problem - i understand about getting carried away with length - hell, when i started writing that comment, i didn't intend for it to get to the length it did!

I assure you when i write my tinier version (well, not really version... more of a personal guide, but since it's the same principles...) I'll definately add links to the comment revolution and your guide as well for those who wish to learn more!

Thanks for writing it in the first place!

DEVIL!
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:iconblackzer0:
blackzer0 Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2004
[ Incredible. :D Screenshots and all, a similar journal is sitting on my hard drive awaiting upload. ]

Was redirected here by *splat. And so glad I was. I haven't seen such a concise and all-inclusive guide to commening since Leo's "How To Give Better Comments". :)

The history part impressed me specifically. How interesting to see that "quality" was the original form of commenting, and not a recent "invention".

Good to see that you treated the subject of emoticons fairly. Some wuold say emoticons should be banished from comments altogether, but I beg to differ. Emotes are especially useful when one needs to "dampen" a suggestion that more "sensitive souls" might consider harsh. So, kudos on that.

Leo's comment skeleton is in my opinion the perfect form for all-inclusive commenting, and seeing it emphasized here was very satisfying. As well as the aspect of rereading and proofreading, a safeguard against misunderstanding (and embarassment).

Altogether a fine addition to the Revolution, and a resource I will be pointing out explicitly in my upcoming series.

Thank you!
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:iconcoshdaddy:
coshdaddy Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2004
I wouldn't exactly label this guide as "concise" as it does seem to go on for miles, and miles. However, there are certain spots I didn't go into as much depth as I could've done and should be worked on a little more in the future.

The History part was my favourite to do. Really got me to dig deep into the times of this website I wasn't all too familiar with. I'm glad that people have been enjoying it so far.

Glad that you enjoyed this, and that you took the time to read through it. :)
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