Saturday, October 15, 2011

Saturday Discussions: Do you comment on negative reviews?

I write negative reviews. I don't like to but I feel like it's my duty to be honest. If I'm not honest with everyone, what's the point? And though it's uncomfortable to write them, sometimes it's also uncomfortable to read them too. On the flipside, there is something kind of exciting about them too. Sort of like learning all the gossip from your best friend. But do you partake in the gossip yourself? So I want to talk about whether or not it's appropriate to comment on them.

There are really three situations you face when reading a negative review: you either agree with it, don't agree with it or don't know. For me, with each situation I'll usually comment.

If I agree with the review, I generally state why I agree with the reviewer.

If I haven't read the book, I generally comment and say it was a bummer the reader didn't like it but if it's something I want to read, I'll still read it to decide myself.

If I don't agree with the review, it depends on my mood. If I really love the book and someone doesn't like it, I'll usually comment on the review and respectfully disagree. But this all depends on the review itself.

There are two types of negative reviews. There is the respectful review that looks at the book and can constructively and politely say why they didn't like it. Then there is the not-so-respectful reviews that trash on a book.

If it's a respectful review, I'll usually comment and respectfully disagree with reviewer. But if it's a disrespectful reviewer, I will not comment. No matter how mad the review makes me I don't comment. I might yell at the screen, call the person and idiot and thrash around the house for a couple of minutes gaining the satisfaction of scaring my cats but I never comment. Generally speaking, reviews that bash the author or the book are just meant to draw attention and aren't worth my time.

I think the key to commenting on a negative review is the same as writing a negative review. You must be respectful because you really never know who is looking.

So what about you? Do you comment on negative reviews or steer clear of them like the plague?


  1. I do comment on negative reviews but not if they're crazy rants (those I definitely don't comment on). And I've commented on positive reviews of books I didn't like -- not much, just something like, "Glad you liked this, though it wasn't a fave of mine."

  2. To me a negative review isn't about whether someone rated a book one star of five. It's about how they want their readers to interact with and respond to the materials that they present. For instance, if someone writes:

    "Anyone who has even the slightest bit of taste will agree..." or anything in this bent, is writing a negative review in my opinion. Why? Because taste is an individual thing. If we all liked the same things, or if all things were suppose to be designed to appease a specific individual's brand of taste, there would be no need or reason for reviews.

    A truly negative review goes beyond insulting (or even praising in some instances. Some positive reviews can fall into this too.) the author or book and actually attacks the person reading the review as well, bring into question their intelligence, preferences and right to have choice.

    I like the way that I do my reviews. I open with some type of funny story relating to my experience with the book. I then give a summary from goodreads and discuss plot, then characters, then romance (if applicable). After that I might add extra topics that the book in question made me feel a need to call out. Last I give my general impression and conclude with some form of a tageline. (Ex. "An absolute must read, beautifully written and not to be missed" <-- for Daughter of Smoke and Bone)

    Then again, my background as a reviewer is pretty ... out there. :D I review thinking from a writer's perspective as well as a reader's. I also review in an organized format (see above) that mirrors reviews in the gaming industry moreso then what I have seen from most book bloggers. Why? Because I feel that the need for reviews comes from wanting to not squander something. In gaming, it's money. The hobby is expensive and it's either get the hang of knowing what you'll actually play, or be out nearly $100 a pop after taxes over here in Canada. (Talking 360 and PS3). In reading it's time. And I still haven't mastered analyzing my selections enough to be reading everything I get. I can *afford* books. But getting to them can be a whole other animal.

    Anyway, this is getting really lengthy, but this is an awesome topic of discussion and one that has been on my mind the last couple days.

  3. It really depends on the book and the review. I just commented on a wildly negative review about an old book by a dead author. The reviewer was clearly writing for fun and to be funny -- and I thought she was hilarious, so I jumped in. I wouldn't have jumped in if the author was still living.

    Otherwise, I'm uncomfortable commenting on negative reviews.

    I think it's very helpful if a reviewer lists her rating scale with examples so that readers have an idea of the reviewer's preferences.

  4. If it's a negative review on a book I really love, I don't comment, because I'll probably end up saying something I regret.

    What I really hate--though it's not exactly the topic for today--is when the top review on Goodreads is just the reader complaining about the author and how "stupid" the characters are. I mean, really? Could you at least state your opinion respectfully? It must be awful for an author to see that the top review on their book is just full of insults. I think there's a limit on how far you can go as to expressing how much you dislike a book. Now, I know that this does not correspond exactly to today's topic, but I just thought I'd share. :)

  5. The thing is our tastes are widely different. I only comment on reviews I tend to agree with whether they are negative or positive. If I don't agree with them or they irritate the hell out of me - I'd rather not comment. Better for the soul ;)

  6. I don't usually comment on negative reviews unless I agree with them, and then I might leave a sympathetic comment perhaps pointing out another thing that bothered me and asking if it bothered them, too.

    I don't like writing negative reviews so I don't do it often. When I do, I am gennerally respectful but sometimes if it is a book that really made me mad I can get a little carried away. It takes a lot to do that, though.

  7. I tend to comment on negative reviews if I agree with the review or if disagree. I haven't come across any really hateful reviewers all of the reviews I have read have been respectful.

  8. I will usually comment on a negative review, yes. I hate having to write them (the reviews, I mean) because while I try and be constructive and point out that it is only MY opinion, I still feel like I might be crossing a line.

    A Marmite (Do you have that in America? I don't know. If not, it basically means love/hate) book will generally generate the most discussion in the comments though, which is always fun

  9. I do comment on them especially if I agree with them because then I don't feel like I'm the only one who didn't like it and really especially if it seems like everyone else loved the book! I, like most everyone else, don't respond if it seems like a rant and is rude towards the author.


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