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Quick Tips in Communities on Lunch

A way to share one's opinion in a quick-take format in Communities on Lunch.

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The Art of the Blurb

  • Aug 7, 2010
  • by
A while back, "Quick Tips" were known as "Micro Review."  The point of which was to be able to write a quick review with 140 characters.  Like a Twitter update.  Part of my point in that particular write up was to express that the reason Micro Reviews worked was because they good for when you don't always have the right words to say.  And I still stand by that.  That's what's nice about Quick Tips.  I've thought about going to change the review slightly, but I think I can actually write something of a "Part 2" here.  Calling them Quick Tips as opposed to Micro Reviews made me consider a different layer of the Micro Review in and of itself.

Recently I tried a little experiment with Quick Tips.  One that actually seemed to prove quite successful.  If you go to some of my movie reviews, you'll find a Quick Tip from me that's actually just a pulled quote from the review.  The reason I started doing this was because "Quick Tips," made me consider what "Micro Review" only made me consider briefly... that sometimes people who come by to read about a specific topic... just don't have time to read an entire review.  They don't have time to sit down and read my entire Inception review, for instance.  It's lengthy, and I know it's lengthy.  Almost all of my reviews are.  When I considered that people want to learn from reviews, it dawned on me that sometimes people just want to know whether it's good or not.  I only touched on this briefly in my previous review

So, looking at a couple of reviews, here is how I figured out a good way to do Quick Tips for those who are curious.  If you want to have both a review and a quick tip... this is perfect for you.  When the idea of Quick Tips was first introduced I was weary.  I didn't like the idea of writing a Quick Tip because I don't like to do things quickly.  I like to be detailed and give people an idea of how I'm thinking.  In short, I'm almost incapable of writing Quick Tips because, well, I'm just not a very brief person. 

When I began to consider Quick Tips my only thought was, "There has to be a way that I can have a Quick Tip and a review while having the Quick Tip able to express what the actual review expresses."  Put simple, I believe a Quick Tip should give people the gist.  If a movie, TV show, Video game etc. is good... you need a quick tip that's going to be able to give them a quick run down.  You don't have to dive into the "Why?" so much as to get the basic idea of what you're review is going to say.

If you're a good writer, then at some point (usually near the beginning or the end, but rarely in the middle) there is a statement you'll make that more or less sums up your feelings on the topic you're reviewing.  By this ONE statement alone, people should be able to tell whether or not you liked it.  You don't have to say, "I liked it."  To say JUST that is boring.  And if you're really REALLY good, then that one statement you put in your review gives people an idea of why you gave the particular topic the rating you did.  There's your quick tip.  Easily.  For example, my review of Inception is a rather glowing review.  It should have a rather glowing Quick Tip to accompany it.  And if we're going by the idea of pulling a quote from the review, then that particular quote should be able to express that.  You can call this lazy if you want, but I don't think it's lazy.  It's not work either (you've already done the work; you wrote the review), but the point of a pulled quote is to give people the gist so that they don't HAVE to read the review if they don't want to (but it does serve as a nice advertisement).

Turns out for Inception my Quick Tip was in the very first paragraph.  The Quick Tip reads as follows:

After the wild success of The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan reached the ranks of movie making freedom that so few directors reach. So what did Christopher Nolan do with his golden key? Made a movie he'd been wanting to make for ten years. Inception. A movie where your mind is the scene of the crime. It's big, it's complex, it's beautiful... and it's absolutely amazing.

It's not the best quick tip (readers of the full review will note that this is the VERY FIRST SENTENCE OF THE REVIEW).  But it works.  As I said, a Quick Tip needs to be a QUICK Tip.  You're now allowed up to 500 characters.  ANYONE can find something in their review that can express the gist of what you say now.  Since you can have more than 140 characters, it means you've got more than enough room to pull something from your review that sums it up for those who don't have time to read the full review.  Those who want to dig into why or an analysis... they can do so.  But those who don't aren't being robbed of anything for not doing so.

The review for SALT takes on a different approach.  The opening paragraph sentence didn't work.  But the beginning of the conclusion does.  With that I was able to make the following Quick Tip:

In a nutshell, SALT is a fun movie if you're the type that likes action and likes to have fun. Because if you're willing to disregard the story SALT really IS fun. If this is what they were going for then my hat goes off to them. On the other hand, it's really REALLY hard to forgive the shoddy script. SALT isn't really a bad movie, it's just an incoherent one.

Expressions such as "in a nutshell," bug the hell out of me (I can't help, though, sometimes you have to accept you're just an ordinary sinner) but the Quick Tip itself actually isn't so bad.  The whole gist of the review was to express that the story in Salt isn't really great... but that the action still makes it fun.  You don't get the full analysis but the point isn't to give you a full analysis in a Quick Tip.  It's to give you the gist of what the review was saying.  For Inception you should get the idea that I loved it.  With SALT you should get the idea that there are problems, but I had fun. 

So what about one where I'm disappointed?  Same deal.  If you're review is written well enough, the Quick Tip writes itself.  The gist is there.  Here's the Quick Tip for my review of Shrek Forever After:

The story is pretty simple and the movie is pretty short, but you get the feeling after watching it that the light bulb must be flickering just before it goes out. The heart and soul of what made the Shrek movies so good is almost completely gone.. To keep the franchise going at this point would be like forcing a kid with a broken leg to walk. It just seems cruel. Shrek had a decade of making us laugh, and we salute him for it. Which is why perhaps it's time to send the big green ogre off to a well deserved retirement before they kill the magic completely.

Again, for those who actually read the review... it's pulled directly from it.  I'm not the best at summing the gist for a negative review (the hardest is actually a mixed review) but if I can find it and it works, then I will most likely use it.  If it gets the basic idea of what the review is trying to say.  With Shrek Forever After the idea was to express that I was disappointed and that it doesn't do right by Shrek, a franchise that used to be worth going to the theater to see.

Sometimes I can do it.  And it's not just movies.  This technique works for books, video games, even my Facebook review I was able to make a good Quick Tip by using an excerpt from the review.  If you need a metaphor to see what it is I'm doing, just visit Rotten Tomatoes or something like that.  They use pulled quotes from reviews all the time for those who don't want to follow the link and read them.

Does it work all the time?  That depends on the kind of writer you are.  The simple answer is no.  Sometimes you can't find a pulled quote that serves you well for a Quick Tip.  I've got dozens more reviews where a Quick Tip is hardly possible than I do where a Quick Tip is possible.  But the practice of using pulled quotes for a Quick Tip can be liberating.  It's also easy.  You've already done the work on the review as it is.  And while it doesn't take long to write a quick tip at all if you don't do the pulled quote method, you may find that what you've written in the review just serves you well for a quick tip because it's very definitive. 

The best thing about this method is that your Quick Tip becomes something to accompany your review.  Now, if I write a review, it's tempting to see if there's something I can pull for a Quick Tip.  I always reserve Quick Tips for after the review is done.  Never before I've written the review.  Once I have my thoughts down it's easy to find the one that best illustrates my feelings.  I've already uncovered it and don't have to dig.  It's just my method.  It doesn't work for everyone (it seems like everyone on Lunch has an easier time with Quick Tips than I do, I actually find writing something that short to be extremely difficult).  Some may find this to be easier.  The difficulty for some who may attempt this method might be finding the right passage to use.  As I said, you'll usually find it near the beginning or near the end.

I like this method.  It gives me a chance to have my Quick tips not only be a companion to the review... but an excerpt.  If people like what they find in the Quick Tip... it just might influence them to read the full review later (or just simply be of help).  And if it DOES inspire them to read the full review later, then it's a win win situation.  The reader is able to explore more of the writers thinking while the writer gets the satisfaction of knowing he or she is appreciated. 

Try it.  The technique may help in those pinches where thinking a Quick Tip just isn't easy.

What did you think of this review?

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August 11, 2010
This comment is a blurb. the writer of this review is awesome. LOL!
August 10, 2010
Great technique you came upon here, and very useful to the community. Thanks!
August 20, 2010
I sometimes think it could be liberating for those who have a fairly tough time with these Quick Tips.  If you can't do much.  A blurb will suffice. 
More Quick Tips in Communities on L... reviews
Quick Tip by . April 05, 2012
I can see a quick tip as a notice of a future full review.    Also a retrospective glance at books read long ago.    How differentiate from a short wikipedia blurb?
review by . September 27, 2010
Get a thought out, review it later
I agree with many people when the old quick tips were around in that they were too short to get out what you wanted to.  It was just enough for what would have amounted to a TV Guide blurb.  It wasn't too difficult at first but it did get easier with the expanded room to write in.      There is plenty on the lunch.com site that I am interested in talking about.  I may only have a thought or two if I come across a certain topic and get back to it later but that …
Quick Tip by . September 22, 2010
Heres a quick tip on quick tips, they're great and let you get an idea out and work on a review later.
Quick Tip by . April 12, 2010
I like the general idea behind them, but the name just doesn't work for me. They are cool though, since I can hint at upcoming reviews...
About the reviewer
Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #7
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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Quick Tips are a feature that allows for Lunchers to way to share their opinions in a quick-take format on Lunch. To share a quick tip, rate the topic and then post a short review. Quick Tips can be written towards the top of any topic page.  Videos and images can also be added.  If a Luncher has more to say, they can click on the "write a review" link underneath.

Community Founders on Lunch can use this tool to encourage their members to engage in their Communy.  The Quick Tips posted in Communities will also be posted to the communities' Twitter accounts if the Twitter Feed tool is enabled.  Quick Tips also show up in the activity feed for Communities, as well as the main Lunch.com activity feed.
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"The Art of the Blurb"
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