WPF Critiquing Guidelines


WPF Critiquing Guidelines

Postby admin » Sun May 16, 2010 11:39 am


If you are offering critique, please keep in mind . . .

. . . that all commentary should focus on the POEM, not the POET!

. . . that it is NOT your place to change someone's style or content, make light of it, ridicule it, or disapprove of it. It IS your place to make suggestions for improvement in as generous and non-confrontational a manner as possible. Remember, you are Switzerland; you are neutral.

. . . that critiquing the work of others is NOT the place to flaunt your extensive knowledge and enormous brain power. Critiquing is NOT an exercise in power, control, or ego. Critiquing should make you humble, not boastful. Do feel free to "teach," if that is appropriate. But do so as a good teacher would, sensitive to your students' abilities, experience, and feelings.

. . . that if what you intend to say is more beneficial for you than the author, refrain from saying it. We critique others' work to assist them, not glorify ourselves.

. . . that if you would have enough discretion, sense, fear or whatever it requires NOT to make rude/belittling/taunting comments, racial slurs, etc. in a live, face-to-face critique group in the real world, then DO have enough of the same NOT to do it here at WPF. Much as you would like to believe you are anonymous here, you are NOT. You are a member of a civil/mature community. Conduct yourself accordingly.

. . . that you need NOT respond to every poem you find here at Wild, particularly those poems that do not engage you or that you dislike or find objectionable. The best response to these types of poems is NO response. Do not waste your time or the time of the author. Move on to something more palatable for you.


If you are receiving critique, please keep in mind . . .

. . . that by posting your work as a LIGHT critique or HEAVY critique member, you ARE asking for a critical review and suggestions. Not everyone will approve of your poem, agree with its current incarnation, and tell you it is wonderful. Wild is not a publishing venue; Wild is an active workshop. If you feel the work is finalized and not in need of further editing, then submit it to a print or online journal. Posting work on a critique forum that you feel is above reproach is pointless.

. . . that the critique you receive is simply one person's opinion of your work (not YOU).

. . . that the critique you receive can often be conflicting. Different people may have different opinions. If you do not have a strong sense of your own voice, this conflicting advice can be confusing. Remain true to your own voice.

. . . that there is no need to defend your work. If you defend it or yourself, if you give numerous justifications about why the suggested changes won't work, you lessen your chances that anyone is going to respond to you in the future. Soon you will find yourself standing all alone in your own threads. No one wants to waste their time offering critique to someone who only argues about it in their own defense.

. . . that no matter how much you disagree with a critique you have received, the bottom line is that someone DID take the time and effort to read your work and respond to it, even if they are wrong in your opinion. They may have spent the better part of an hour reading it, analyzing it, and formulating their response. This, even if objectionable to you, is still worth something positive.

. . . that the only public response necessary to a critique you find objectionable is this: "Thank you for taking the time to review my work." Or you can say nothing at all. Anything more than that is only going to cause dissension and conflict. And it isn't going to make the poem or your relationships here any better.

. . . that two other responses to critique you find objectionable are available to you. You are free to write to the commenter privately (e-mail addresses are often available on member profiles), if you feel that's necessary, requesting further back channel discussion on how this commentary made you feel. And/or you can simply request that the member in question no longer comment on your work. These two non-confrontational responses are appropriate here at Wild. Abusive public commentary is not permitted nor is it your "right," no matter how deserved your perception of the event makes you feel that it is. Please also understand that private back channel communication between members of WPF is not under WPF or WPF Administration jurisdiction. We cannot control, police, mediate, halt or take any other action or responsibility regarding private e-mail between WPF members. If you choose to privately e-mail another WPF member or to respond to an e-mail sent to you by a WPF member, you do so at your own risk.

. . . that we ask that you report any rude/belittling/taunting comments, racial slurs, etc. made to you by a commenter while you are here at WPF directly to WPF Administration. Refrain from responding to someone who you feel has disrespected you or your work. Inflammatory comments made by you in response to someone else's inflammatory commentary is only going to escalate the incident. Please allow WPF Administration to step in and handle these problems for you.


Whether you are giving or receiving critique, please keep in mind:

. . . that Wild is NOT the place for you if you write, but do NOT read, poetry. Consider why you would attempt to write something you do not enjoy reading. And we are not referring only to poetry posted at on-line critiquing forums like Wild. You should be reading the poetry of published or publishing poets. Your published poetic ancestors and contemporaries have much to teach you. READ THEM. Especially the contemporary ones. Their work is an excellent indication of what is being accepted in today’s poetry marketplace.

. . . that Wild is NOT the place for you if you do not understand what it means to be a member of a respectful community of adult writers. You should have a mature attitude toward any critique you receive or offer. Any incidents of flaming or insulting commentary should be reported to Administration immediately.

. . . that Wild is NOT the place for you if you have the manners and graciousness of a bull in a china shop. Ever been told you are rude, abrasive, boorish, egotistical, and/or just plain insufferable? Or been asked to kindly take your feet off the coffee table? Then seek out anger management classes or etiquette lessons before posting on our forums. We are not here to provide you with training in either. Nor do we provide psychotherapy. Treat others with respect.

. . . that Wild is NOT the place for you while under the influence of whatever you've swallowed, snorted, shot up, and/or inhaled. Just as it's not a wise idea to drink and drive or take medication and operate heavy machinery, it's likewise not a good idea to post poems or commentary while in an altered state. Not just here, but anywhere. What looks rational, even genius, when you're high as a kite, will look much less so in the cold light of a hangover. Guilt and regret will follow you wherever you go. Trust us. We've had enough experiences with this to know. If you or the people in your life feel you have a substance abuse problem, please seek professional help. We're not in any position to handle you or your addictions.

. . . that Wild is NOT the place for you if you have an agenda, hidden or otherwise, or something to prove. Please take these things elsewhere. And by elsewhere, we mean somewhere outside Wild's front door.

. . . that Wild is NOT the place for you if you are itching for an argument, either in response to a critique or in the body of a critique you will offer to others. Restrain the impulse to argue. It's doubtful you will change other people’s mind or opinions.

. . . that Wild is NOT the place for you if you wish to discuss/argue/debate the "hot topic" views, i.e., political, religious, cultural, racial, societal, etc., of the author or the speaker of his/her poem. Wild is NOT a hot topics discussion board. We are a WRITING CRITIQUE FORUM. Please seek out appropriate discussion boards if you want to debate politics, religion, and other controversial issues. We've found these debates to be or to turn antagonistic, argumentative, upsetting, and pointless. They take us away from the REAL work we are trying to do here. And it fractures our community and our ability to work together.

. . . that Wild is NOT the place for you if you are disdainful of some types of poetry, whether that be traditional, modern, abstract, free verse, etc. Wild is primarily a contemporary, free verse board. However, we do entertain and accept other types of poetry. Those among our membership who are experienced with and enjoy other forms will attempt to help you. There is one proviso: if your poetry contains many instances of "thee" and "thou" or other antiquated language, you will most likely not be comfortable here at all. There are other poetry forums out there that you will find more suitable to antiquated language and styles.

. . . that we are not at all concerned about your background and experience here at Wild. Even if you are an editor for Poetry magazine, even if you have a doctorate in the language arts. Wild is a level playing field. Everyone here is an equal no matter their backgrounds or credentials. Even beginners might have important observations to make. You needn't crow about who you are and what accolades you have received in the past. What matters is NOW and what matters is the WORK. So, take the focus off yourself and your ego and get down to the business of this craft.

. . . that there are REAL PEOPLE on the other side of your computer screen. If you don't understand a comment, ASK for clarification, rather than assuming intent. Remember that for the most part, we do not know one another and are relying only on our words to convey all the nuance that facial expression, body language, tone of voice, and personal history convey in face-to-face interactions. Ask for clarification before jumping to conclusions.

. . . that WPF is a de-militarized zone. You will be expected to do your part to keep it that way. Leave your verbally abusive weaponry outside the door, whether you are offering critique or responding to critique. Abusive commentary is NOT permitted at Wild. If you make rude, abusive, or insulting comments to anyone, personally or as it regards their work or their critique of your work, you will be warned by staff to discontinue this behavior. If you cannot control this behavior and repeatedly ignore staff warnings, your membership will be suspended or terminated.

We thank you for the time you spent reading these guidelines. If you should have any questions concerning them, please write to us at adminwpf@wildpoetryforum.com.

WPF Administration
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