I'm going to do a little something different with this data point, if only because it gets a chance to welcome those who might be new to Lunch to the experience. It's also a good chance for those unfamiliar with Lunch to really learn what the experience of it is all about. So let me preface this by saying this isn't a review about the website itself. If you must know, Lunch has it's own datapoint
which you can find. So this is more of a welcome, and a way to talk about one of the key things that people enjoy about Lunch. And that's feeding one's curiosity. Of course, without someone putting something on the table for you, you might finding feeding your curiosity pretty tough. Luckily for every datapoint there's a wiki, but the biggest attraction are the reviews written by other members, whether Micro or not.
This brings about what I think is the most important aspect for those who wish to write a review. And that's actually writing a decent review. You can think of this as a "How-to" guide, if you wish, but I like to think of it as a way to help people who just aren't sure whether or not reviewing is something they want to do. There's a reason why the people who write reviews do well with what they write, and a reason why some aren't too good. If you want an example of a huge slew of bad reviews you can just as easily go to Amazon.com
and go to any product and click 1-Star Reviews only. The reason these reviews get pelted with so many negative votes and comments is because many of them are not really a review. Let us put it this way, "This sucks!" is NOT a review. "This roolz!!!111" is NOT a review. I'm writing this so that people can understand that writing a review isn't hard, but part of the reason it can be fun is because it actually forces you to think about why you have the opinion you may have. An opinion is as good as a parasol in a hurricane if it can't be backed up. But there's something more that goes into a review. It may sound strange to say this at first, but reviewing isn't just a past time for some people. It's a passion. Some people just LOVE to discuss... whatever it is they want to discuss. This is part of what Lunch is all about. Not just expression, but passion.
To give your opinion is golden but to give an analysis is divine! So I'm mostly writing this to help those struggling with writing a review. I mostly center around reviewing movies, video games and books, but I've branched out a lot since coming here. As I did with a former review, this one is written a little differently. Being divided into sections rather than being a straight shot review.
This is a pretty long one, and I tried to write it in such a way that I didn’t sound like some egotistical asshole. I’m very much not, but writing about
reviewing is something I think many of us would like to do, but don’t get the chance. So it is kind of a risk, but the intent here is to help those getting started on Lunch and maybe to provide a service for those looking to make some of their reviews better. I'm in no way suggesting I'm this awesome reviewer, only that there are things about the process that work! 1. Let's Get Started.
So, you decided you want to start on Lunch and you want to write a review. You won't need any help figuring out what to review, but I do urge one thing: Review what you're interested in. If movies is your thing, review movies. If video games is your thing review video games. But if you know nothing about say... a particular TV show, then you better learn a bit more about it before reviewing. I'm not saying form your opinion based off what others think. I'm saying that the last thing you should be doing is writing a review with absolutely no knowledge of what you're reviewing. If you have little interest in Video Games, for example, then your review isn't going to peak too much curiosity among those that already know. That doesn't mean you can't build on that interest if you don't want to. You can... if you're genuinely interested. Is anyone going to stop you from reviewing something you have no interest in? Certainly not, but if you choose to go that route you better be prepared to face the consequences. A gamer knows a gamer and a movie goer knows a movie goer. The reason I express reviewing what you have an interest in is because you're apt to be knowledgeable about that. And part of the purpose of a review is helping those that lack the knowledge of what it is you know. How can you expect to feed ones curiosity if you haven't satisfied your own? 2. Don't Hate An Apple Because It's Not an Orange
If there's one pitfall all of us have fallen into it's this one. That is to say that you go to see a movie, and it isn't what you wanted and so you hate it and give it a bad review. The idea that a movie is bad just because it wasn't what you wanted is absurd. People fall into this all the time. As I've been fond of telling people: Don't get made because your apple wasn't an orange. That is to say that going to see say... Zombieland
and then complaining that it was funny and silly would be like going to the beach and complaining that people are running around in Bikini's. What did you expect? A horror movie? Certainly someone did, but then that would be expecting Zombieland to be something it clearly isn't. So the rule here is simple: Review something for what it is and not for what it isn't. A lot of people think this means you can't compare things. Well, you can. Within reason, that is. Comparing Zombieland to say... Shaun of the Dead
seems like an apt comparison. They're both comedies about zombies. But it would be unfair to say Zombieland is horrible because it isn't Shaun of the Dead. Does that make sense? Zombieland is Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead is Shaun of the Dead. They can be compared because they both appeal to a very similar audience. But comparing Zombieland to say... Twilight
would be like comparing Pork Beans to Fried Shrimp. It doesn't make any sense to do so.
There's only one way to get around the "Don't Hate an Apple Because It's Not an Orange" rule... and that's research. Who'd have thought your opinion would require research? Well, no one. Even so called "professional" reviewers tend to miss this. I read a review of Tropic Thunder
on some movie website in which the reviewer complained that the movie was too silly. If you can't figure out what's wrong with that criticism then you're beyond saving. I'll give you a hint: Tropic Thunder is a comedy. Reviews that lack research or even a basic understanding of what it is they're reviewing can be misleading and give you misinformation. Even if you thought Tropic Thunder was a bit too silly, a quick visit to the imdb would've easily been able to tell anyone that it was supposed to be silly. Sometimes what you want isn't always what you get. If the reviewer wanted a serious war movie he should've been watching Apocalypse Now
Expressing your opinion is good. It can't be right or wrong. But what you tell people about a specific film, video game, article in the newspaper, actor or actress etc. can
be wrong. And sure, perhaps even someone who knows Tropic Thunder is a comedy might still say it was "Too silly," but if done in the right context then the reviewer can show that he or she understands that it is a comedy. This is precisely what I'm getting at. Know what you're reviewing. And along those lines: 3. Know Your Audience
This is another pitfall that some people fall into. Part of the reason people hate so many movie critics is usually because they send someone out to review something that they have no interest in reviewing. So what ends up happening is that they lack knowledge of what they’re covering... and they’re also reviewing something they’ve already told themselves they’re going to hate.
A lot of people say that someone who typically likes horror films shouldn't be reviewing horror movies. The same goes for people who are fans of a particular video game, author, etc. I happen to disagree. You WANT a horror movie fan reviewing horror movies. If he's actually into horror and reviewing horror films he's apt to give you much more informative review that shows an understanding of what it is he's reviewing. The result when you get someone who doesn't know horror? Usually a review that shows a lack of understanding. You typically get the people who complain that it's too violent, that children shouldn't go to see it (as if Parents Regularly take their children to a chair and make them sit through the latest slasher flick) and that it has "scary images," that people have to be warned about. What I'm saying is, even if you don't have an understanding of what your reviewing... your audience typically will. A guy looking for a review of the next horror movie (and obviously you can substitute "Horror Movie" in with anything of your choosing from the Twilight books to the Final Fantasy series of video games) probably already has an interest in horror to begin with.
So we've established that. Keep your audience in mind. And as I just said, you're probably part of it. And if you are a part of it then by reviewing you have knowledge that someone else probably doesn't. Not only would you be interested in horror films but you'll also have the knowledge of what works and what doesn't work. And your audience is going to expect you to know those things.
4. Be Informative But Stay on Topic
Staying on topic is hard for some people. If only because it’s easy to get sidetracked into talking about something else. You can always comment on things such as Tim Burton’s art style in a review of one of his films, but just remember what it is you’re reviewing. If you’re reviewing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
, you might point out that Burton has worked with Depp several times. You might, for example, mention Edward Scissorhands
in your review. This is fine, but going on to write a “mini-review” for Edward Scissorhands is a waste of time for the reader. Again, the reason these data points are there is so that people can learn about them. Some reviews are overly long because they spend so much time talking about something other than what they’re reviewing. A sentence or two is fine, but going on for paragraphs upon paragraphs probably isn’t the best idea.
5. Stay Focused--Some Things People Don't Care to Hear Along with getting sidetracked, there's the idea of going on tangents. If you're reviewing Grand Theft Auto IV, for example, the last thing anyone reading the review cares about is how you feel about violence in video games. If someone is interested in playing Grand Theft Auto IV you might point out that it is violent, but it isn't necessary to go on your own tirade about violence in video games. Face it, no one likes it when you get on your soap box to preach. The guy who's interested in playing Grand Theft Auto IV probably doesn't care what you think about violence in videos games. If you really have to talk about violence in video games... create a datapoint called "Violence in Video Games." On Lunch you can do that. You can also start a discussion or reserve something like that for the comments. But in your review--where you're supposed to be informative--it's probably best left unsaid for the time being.
6. Be Descriptive!
When it comes to description in your review what I mean is, be sure that you’re able to back up some of your claims. If you’re reviewing a video game and you say, “The gameplay is mediocre,” you better be prepared to go into what makes it so mediocre. As I said before... anyone can say something sucks or that something is awesome. It takes a lot to get to the specifics of why. If a video game “sucks” just simply writing, “It sucks,” isn’t going to be helpful to anyone. In fact, you’ve probably just wasted your time. If you can’t really describe why something is bad, you can always write a micro-review, and the Micro Review is helpful because for those who can’t find the words to really describe something, you can do that. But if you’re going to turn it into a full review, you better be prepared to give people some details. Lunch actually gives you some neat little things you can do that places such as Amazon don’t. You can put in videos and pictures if need be. If you can’t describe something for us there’s a good chance you might be able to show us. As long as you can embed a video you can put it on Lunch.
That doesn’t mean you should make every review long (especially not as long as this), but it means that sometimes there’s nothing wrong with giving specific examples of what you mean when you say, “The gameplay in this game isn’t good...” or “The movie has bad writing.” If a movie has bad writing it doesn’t take a lot to pull an example of it. Don’t be stingy with the detail. The worst reviews are always the one liners. You almost never find them on Lunch, thanks to the Micro Reviews, but you find them all over on Amazon and they are rightfully voted down.
7. Like and Dislike is not Synonymous with Good and Bad
This one is pretty confusing. What does this mean? Well, it actually isn’t so bad. It simply means that you can Like something that’s pretty Bad and you can Dislike something that’s pretty Good. Even if I dislike a movie, I just might find that it was well done. The trick is to effectively combine your opinion with your own analysis.
This is actually far harder than it looks. In order to be able to do this you’ve got to learn what makes something good and bad. You don’t have to be snobbish or critical in order to do it. You just have to be analytical. Some people call this being objective. It can be done. You won’t be 100% Objective all the time, and your opinion will never fully go away. But it does mean the difference between showing you understand something and showing you don’t. People are a little too quick to point out bias, without actually seeming to know what being bias is. Here is how some people see it: If something is positive or negative then it is inherently biased. This isn’t right. Not only is it not right, but that would mean that those looking for so-called balance will never find it.
It is actually more about giving credit where it is due. Sometimes it’s subjective, but there are times when it’s not. Let’s look at video games. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
just came out, and it’s a beautiful game and makes excellent use of the PS3’s capabilities. This isn’t
an opinion. This is a fact. To say Uncharted 2 looks terrible might be an opinion--and indeed someone might think it does look terrible but try passing off to someone that the game looks terrible and then show it to them in action and they’ll probably call you an idiot. Sometimes beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but if we’re talking the power of the PS3 it’s no toss up that Uncharted 2 utilizes a lot of it. To say otherwise would be misrepresenting something that is clearly set in stone. You can
do this if you want... but the result will be people beginning to distrust you. It’s the equivalent of using your own bias to block your own rational thought. Those who decide to do this are sure to run into a lot of problems. You are
allowed to be biased, but you shouldn’t
let your biases cloud your analytical judgment. Those who get too emotional in their review tend to make off the wall statements. There’s nothing wrong with passion, but remember that in the midst of being too passionate, people often use how they feel as an excuse not to think rationally and thoroughly about what it is they’re saying.
Of course, some really do review everything based on whether or not they like it or don’t. You might think this gives you free reign, but keep in mind that you still have to take a moment to be analytical. Again, as I said before, anyone can say, “It sucks.” The same goes with like and dislike. Anyone can like something or dislike it, but when reviewing you’ve really got to dig deep to tell people why. When it comes to the Like/Dislike, anything is on the table, but that doesn’t mean you keep hiding behind the tired old, “But that’s just my opinion.” Perish the thought of ever using such a phrase. Be bold, sit up straight and just write it. Be definitive in what you say. Don’t say, “In my opinion Megan Fox
isn’t a great actress.” The phrase “in my opinion,” makes it seem like you’re afraid to draw criticism. People use it as an excuse not to really back up what it is they’ve said, and gives them an excuse not to stand behind it. Drop the “In my opinion” nonsense. Be bold and daring and just write, “Megan Fox isn’t a great actress!” The one who writes that sounds far more sure of his opinion and sounds far less hesitant. Besides... we KNOW it's your opnion. You're writing a review aren't you? If that opinion should change... well, that "Edit Review" is there for a reason.
You should be trying to combine both worlds in some way, shape or form. Some things are subjective, such as whether or not you’re attracted to Megan Fox. And some things aren’t subjective such as whether or not Uncharted 2 makes use of the Playstation 3 hardware. Opinion is a beautiful thing, but often times people like to hide behind the tired excuse of “That’s just my opinion” to say some pretty stupid things. As I'm fond of saying 2+2 will not suddenly equal 5 just because in your opinion it does.
8. Be Independent and Honest, Not a Rebel and a Snob
In our society we all have a tendency, to some degree to be skeptical of popular opinion. Sometimes our skepticism is well deserved, but often times--and I mean very often--this skepticism leads people lying to themselves and to others. We get it, there are some people who make it their mission to take a dump on things everyone seems to like and some who make it a point to be the Great Defender.
Don’t do this. Plain and simple. Here’s a little story to think about.
Let’s say you’re a fan of a great Indie Band. Their music is incredible to you. You’re passionate about them. And the passion just feels even better because not too many people know about them. Part of you feels good because you’re not being trendy, and another part of you feels good because you feel as though you’re in an exclusive club that only so few people get a chance to partake in. Suddenly, before you know it, your favorite Indie Band has been discovered by a major label and they’ve suddenly gone mainstream. They’re still making good music, but now everyone enjoys it. But now because it’s “popular” with everyone you decide you don’t like it anymore. Well, this says two things:
1. You were never that big a fan of said band anyway. If you were you wouldn’t care whether or not a ton of other people like it. I understand this need to be independent and free spirited but you are almost never alone in anything you participate in.
2. You are being trendy, just in a totally different way. Your “trend” just happens to be hating whatever is popular--and yeah, that’s a BIG trend that seems to be growing in popularity.
You can be skeptical of trends, but disliking them for the soul purpose that everyone likes them (or liking them for the soul purpose that no one does) seems like the teenager trying so desperately hard to show he is his own person. It’s not individuality, though. Not if it’s just to go against the grain. It becomes just another crowd to go along with.
Taking this attitude into reviewing doesn’t help the audience that’s reading the review. Being an individual when reviewing and being critical should be the easiest
part about reviewing but for whatever reason people have made it the hardest
part. We know you want to be independent, but being independent just means liking because YOU like it. To hell with the people who love Twilight
or hate it. If it’s your
opinion and your
analysis, the last
thing you should care about is whether or not people love it or hate it. So people love it... you just might love it too. But you probably don’t love it because everyone else does. You probably love it just to love it. And you may not like something. But you shouldn’t dislike it because everyone else does or because everyone else does. Again, the idea of rallying against popular opinion is just another one of those excuses people use not to think. What you end up getting is people who are digging for an excuse to criticize something because in their mind they keep saying, “It’s not perfect, and it’s MY job to make sure people know it isn’t perfect!” And they have this thought in their head as if people don’t know mistakes can be made. In short, the one who rallies against popular opinion often seems to think he’s doing you a favor. Other times it’s for the sake of telling us how stupid we are for following such a trend like sheep. In short, many of these people seem to think they’re somehow smarter than everyone else because
they’re not following a trend. Doing this in your reviews is suicide, and what you end up getting as a result is often reviews that are trying too hard to look for an excuse to criticize or dislike something, and what you get is people who either don’t know what they’re talking about, or don’t actually know why it is they have the opinion they do.
The point of a review is not, I repeat, not to criticize. The point of a review is to provide an analysis that will help whoever reads it decide if what you’re reviewing is for them or not or (as is the case much of the time) to open up discussion into other topics (those comment boxes are there for a reason ya know). In a word, it’s to be informative. That doesn’t mean don’t criticize. You’re totally allowed to tell people how much something sucks. But making it your mission to do this just because you feel that everyone else who enjoys it is dumb says much more about you than it does those you’re trying to bash.
Again, if you’re hating it because it’s popular, or loving it because it’s unpopular... you’re still a sheep. You’re just following a different Shepard. Don't base your own opinions on any particular crowd.
9. What One Enjoys is NOT a Sign of Their Intellect
I have to put this one in here because this is often the ones that gets out of hand the most. The idea that because so-and-so likes say... Michael Bay
or someone enjoys reading Twilight they must be dumb and not know good films or books when they see them. If you’re going to be like this then you’re not only being snobbish and arrogant, but now you’re being quite elitist.
You ARE allowed to think Michael Bay makes dumb movies (as I happen to think he does) but there is no way you could possibly know how smart or dumb someone is based on what they review or how they review it. I may think Michael Bay makes dumb movies, but I would never assume the audience who sees his films are dumb. One needs to always keep in mind that there are different strokes for different folks. You can be smart but like really dumb things. There’s nothing wrong with that. Maybe the guy who likes Michael Bay movies enjoys them because they don’t engage his capacity to think. Perhaps what he needs is explosions and mindless action to forget about his troubles. I salute him for that. And besides... who is going to see a Michael Bay movie for intellectual stimulation anyway?
In short, you are in no way, shape, or form allowed to judge your audience. Ever. Intelligence is as diverse as a rainbow. There are some things some people know and some things people don’t. But their interests are hardly a sign of what one knows. It seems really silly to put this here, but I feel it’s something to keep in mind. We know, you’re smart and you’re proud of yourself for being such. But judging ones intelligence based off their reviews on Lunch.com
when there is an entire personality you know nothing about on the other end just seems silly and (dare I say to the intellectuals here) illogical. Again, it seems silly to put this here, but you’d be surprised how often people might say, “This guy must be stupid, he thought Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was great. Argh @#$%^&!” Think it in your head, keep it out of your review.
10. Be Respectful of Others
Along with the, “Don’t be an elitist,” sentiment is the obvious: Be Respectful of others. This is to say that when you write your review consider that people are going to read it and consider that not everyone is going to agree with what you have to say. In the comments its easy to devolve into clucking chickens, but within the context of your review... resist the temptation.
To put it in simple terms: Being a Dick is a good way to lose an audience. It’s hard to agree to disagree, sure, but what seems to be harder is resisting the temptation to lug an insult at your audience. This is especially true when people give negative ratings or write negative reviews. Resist this. Don’t put in your review stuff like, “Anyone who thinks Linkin Park
is a good band is retarded!” Forget about stuff like that. You do that and even the people who agree with you will be turned off. Some people get away with insulting their audience, but for the most part you’re better off not doing it. Don’t group those who have a differing opinion from you and don’t push those away who have a differing opinion. If you’re able to be respectful and inviting, you might discover that while you don’t have Linkin Park in common with one commentator, you just might find a similar interest in Drama films or LOST or something like that.
It’s important to be respectful. It allows one to engage in the community. Besides, that review in which you called a bunch of people retards in... just might be that first impression you make. The problem with first impressions is you only get to make one. And you’ll find disrespect becomes a vicious circle if you let it.
You Don’t Have to Take My Word for It...
No, you really don’t have to take my word for it. But you can perhaps take the word of other Lunchers who have been successful doing some of the things I listed above. You don’t have to think of it as a complete step by step guide or anything like that. These are just a tips that have helped me and a few other reviewers.
The following you’ve just read is, I’m hoping, a good way to help those who just aren’t sure how to go about reviewing. It’s not meant to be some writing guide, just a way of showing you how other Lunchers and myself go about what it is they do and that they do have fun with it. There’s nothing that you can’t
do on Lunch.com
. Absolutely nothing.
But the real thrill and the real fun of Lunch is getting involved with the community... and when you write well, or even just put in an effort, it’s a lot easier to do. For those who are reading this for the first time and are new here, I welcome you to Lunch and hope you have a good experience reviewing. You don’t have to do anything I’ve talked about above. Nor do you even need to be concerned. Everyone has their own way of doing it. You can think of the aforementioned as simple suggestions. That or you can think of it as a guy with “Too much times on his hands.”