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Eric: Mean? Moi?

I had an interesting e-mail yesterday. One I've had to turn over in my head (after the initial rush of excitement with launching Gossamer Commons, anyhow. One that needs some attention and thought.

Said e-mail came from an artist -- someone whose strip I haven't snarked yet (though it's just a matter of time, I think) who's been reading me for a moderately short time. Someone who has had some criticism for me -- both positive and negative -- and who seems very intelligent and insightful. And this person asked me why I have a specific listing of the strips that fall under "You Had Me, and You Lost Me" in the sidebar. Paraphrased, he asked if that was really necessary, given that I also have a "You Had Me..." in the category listing. Specifically, he asked if it wasn't just a little... well, mean, to have them over there.

And I have to wonder if he's right.

I stand by those essays -- I think they each contain both what it was that drew me into those strips in the first place, and the elements that made me disenchanted with them. But there's a difference between standing by them and... well, glorifying them in the name of dislike. What's more, I don't have a corresponding "positive" list over there, to reflect biscuits or shortbread winners or anything else. In fact, the only three snarks I have permanently linked on the home page are the three snarks for strips I don't read any more.

At the same time... those are popular essays. Some people agree with them, and some disagree with them, but in all three cases, they're something people are actually writing about or talking about.

I'm actually torn. Would it make sense to cut that entirely, and leave the category link instead? Or perhaps create a "You had me..." portal page, and link to that,, for the people who are specifically interested in those essays. Most of all, is it just plain mean to leave the links (and the names of the strips in question) sitting up like some kind of list of shame in my sidebar?

I think something should change, but the question is what. Suggestions cheerfully solicited.

Posted by Eric Burns-White at March 21, 2005 5:59 AM

Comments

Comment from: thok posted at March 21, 2005 6:07 AM

To be fair, the Daily comic trawl is sort of the opposite of the "You had me, but you lost me" group. But you don't mention any particular comics there.

I'd suggest just making a portal page, even only for site functionality. I mean, what would happen if you ever get to the point where you have 20 comics on the "You had me, but you lost me list"?

Comment from: Kristofer Straub posted at March 21, 2005 6:17 AM

Might as well make it a portal page and remove the direct links.

Comment from: Jennifer posted at March 21, 2005 6:46 AM

I like the "You had me, but you lost me" category. It takes balls to put up the names of comics that you just don't like anymore (linking to the articles that detail the reasons why). It's one of the things that drew me to Websnark, which has since turned into part of my daily trawl. I would not change the Category heading, nor would I remove the names of the "lost" comics.

My suggestion would be to add a favorite comics category, to counterbalance the "You had me" stuff. Of course, that's easy for me to say, as I won't have to be the one to choose a handful of comics out of the many. But that's what I would do... Select about as many favorites as "lost" comics (if you list a couple dozen, it kinda loses it's appeal), and list those, too.

The main part of Websnark, as I (a member of your audience) see it, is that these are your opinions that are remarkably well thought out and presented. Hiding your opinions behind a portal is just that... Hiding. And if you were ashamed of your essays, or afraid of what others might think of your opinions, Websnark wouldn't exist.

The main page should contain things that are important to you, that define Websnark, and that introduce the general population to the site. What do you want people to notice?

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at March 21, 2005 7:15 AM

Hm....

Jennifer, maybe some kind of "The folks who do it right" list? To cover strips like Narbonic (to throw out the example everyone already knows) that just hit on all cylinders from my point of view?

Comment from: Joe Zabel posted at March 21, 2005 7:18 AM

The Had/Lost essays are some of the best you've written, Eric. I say leave them out where they're easy to find.

"It takes balls to put up the names of comics that you just don't like anymore..." That's true; but it really shouldn't. Unfortunately, many in the webcomics community have a virulent anti-critic bent, and don't understand that pointing out where comics go wrong is a necessary part of developing high standards.

Comment from: Christopher B. Wright posted at March 21, 2005 7:56 AM

While I'd be the first to disagree quite strongly with your comments on GPF (well, I'd probably be the second, since I suspect Jeff is more likely to be the first) I also think it's your site and you shouldn't censor yourself... unless it involves the admission of something that can get you arrested. As to Joe Zabel's comment that "Unfortunately, many in the webcomics community have a virulent anti-critic bent," I couldn't disagree more. The webcomics community loves critics. What the webcomics community hates is bad reviews...

Comment from: William_G posted at March 21, 2005 7:57 AM

Dude, having "The Biscuit List" there is so damned obvious you should have thought of it six hundred posts ago.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at March 21, 2005 8:00 AM

There's a lot of biscuited comics, though. I'm a lot more likely to give one of those out.

Or is that perhaps the point that should be made?

Comment from: Julio Dvulture posted at March 21, 2005 8:02 AM

"The folks who do it right" list is a nice concept. Specially if you do a in-depth special review like the "Had Me, and You Lost Me" category, using examples from the entire run, pointing up the flaws that exist but still are not bad enough to remove the comic from this category (or who knows, maybe is a flaw that makes the comic special and likeable in the vast options of your daily trawl). I mean, everyone can see the care you put on the Had Me... entries: is sort of a bittersweet goodbye, showing how much you liked the comic and how sad is that is no longer up to the job. Considering that Narbonic have some of the best snarks out that you made, I don't you will have problems making a essay. Linking on the article to the snarks you already made is also a nice thing... the same could be done on the Had Me category.

Comment from: William_G posted at March 21, 2005 8:33 AM

"There's a lot of biscuited comics, though. I'm a lot more likely to give one of those out.

Or is that perhaps the point that should be made?"

Sure. It's not as if you're Straub taking a piss on anything that crosses your gaze. You're very reasonably explaining why you enjoy reading such and such a comic, and why you're not reading such and such a comic any more.

Having "The Biscuit List", (which I think is a magnificent name. It rolls off the tongue well.), would really be there to act as both a sort of quick links list for readers, as well as to dispel any feelings of being a negative nelly you may have.

Comment from: William_G posted at March 21, 2005 8:34 AM

Oopsie... messed up the coding... silly me.

Comment from: RADeobald posted at March 21, 2005 8:41 AM

I think having the "you had me but you lost me" list on your menu twice is a little excessive.

If it were me, I'd cut the first part out, and just leave the "you had me but you lost me" under categories.

Rob.

Comment from: djcoffman posted at March 21, 2005 9:15 AM

I like things the way they are.

A biscuited list would be cool. :)

Comment from: Wednesday posted at March 21, 2005 10:03 AM

One vote for status quo plus biscuit list.

Comment from: Robotech_Master posted at March 21, 2005 10:35 AM

It seems to me that the opposite of a "You Had Me But You Lost Me" category would be a "You Didn't Have Me But You Found Me," where you do a spotlight on your latest cool new comic discovery (as opposed to one that you've been reading for a while). Instead of explaining why you used to read a comic but stopped, explain why you think you'll start reading this one (or, if it's one that's finished its run, why you read all the way through its archives). Maybe try to do one every week or so, and rotate them out so you just list the 4 or 5 most recent, consigning the rest to a category.

Of course, I don't know that you're likely to discover interesting new webcomics that often...maybe you could do one "reader-suggested" snark a week for that category...or...I dunno.

I can see where people are coming from about the "You Had Me But" list being kind of mean—but in my mind it's not really due to the duplication, but rather because of the permanence of the category. You've said yourself that once a strip goes on the "You Had Me But" list, you don't snark it anymore...it implies a sort of finality that, no matter how much the strip might subsequently improve, it's always going to stay on your list. To have that static list on the front page may do a disservice to the artists of the comic in question because while it reflected the state of the strip at the time you wrote it, it may not necessarily reflect the state of the strip now.

Comment from: Wednesday posted at March 21, 2005 11:06 AM

Unrelated: "Mean? Moi?" makes me think of the running gag about Nuriko from Fushigi Yuugi:

"Pretentious? Watashiiii?"

Comment from: Milligan posted at March 21, 2005 11:08 AM

I don't think the list is mean.

I think the links have the opposite effect that Eric intends them to have.

As a comic creator, I subscribe to the theory that ANY publicity is good publicity. Heck, I'd kill to have a permanent link to a review of my strip (with direct links to my page nested in it) on the front page of a popular Website. Sure some folks are going to agree with him, but virtually everyone who reads the review is going to check out my strip for themselves. Bang, new readers.

Those links are free publicity for comics that Eric deems beneath attention. I don't get it.

I agree that The Trawl or Biscuited lists should be featured more prominently. And The Trawl needs to be updated. There are strips that I know Eric reads yet are not found on the Day, Afternoon, or Evening Trawls. *cough*lostandfound*cough*

Comment from: TheNintenGenius posted at March 21, 2005 11:32 AM

I would honestly just keep things the way they are concerning the list. Your "you had me but you lost me" list was one of the things that drew me to read Websnark in the first place. I do agree that you probably should balance it out with a positive criticism list, but then again, I'm a cynic and the name of your site, after all, is WebSNARK. Of course, maybe I'd just like the list to stay because I agree wholeheartedly with at least one of your "Had Me, Lost Me" strips (On my now-defunct website, for a time, I had a rant about why I stopped reading Megatokyo with many of the same complaints as you, and this was, like, 2-3 years ago, which probably just implies that you have far more patience than I). Or, well, whatever. Your call, really.

Comment from: ANT Link posted at March 21, 2005 11:38 AM

How about this for the Biscuit List? You could keep a list on the side of the last 5 or 7 or however many number of strips to receive biscuits along with a link to a portal page of all the other biscuitted (yay, another new verb!) strips. Maybe you could call the list Fresh Biscuits or something. I don't know how much work it would be to set up something like that, but I think it could be a viable addition to the rest of the sidebar.

Also, chalk up another vote for keeping the You Had Me... essays where they are now. I agree that they're among the most interesting essays on the site, plus, they serve a valuable role that too few webcomic critics' essays fulfill: constructive NEGATIVE criticism. I would think essays like that do far more for new and existing webcomic creators by showing them what not to do and, perhaps more importantly, what not to STOP doing. You can't get that kind of feedback anywhere else that I've seen. I say leave the essays right where they are as a public service for all webcartoonists. They are far from being mean.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at March 21, 2005 11:44 AM

Instead of Fresh Biscuits, how about top biscuits, for the people who've gotten the most? And a "Biscuit" category added to the categories list?

Comment from: DarkStar posted at March 21, 2005 11:55 AM

Having the links there never bothered me. They were just a part of the sidebar. Perhaps I disagreed with them, but that is neither here nor there (perhaps I simply have an unending amount of patients when it comes to comics). Either way, it was informative. I've read quite a few snarks where you've referenced those on your Had/Lost list, and having them right there (with links to the essays explaining your opinion) may be helpful to those new to Websnark. I know that I needed to become familiar with some of your terminology and history before I was able to understand all of the references in your snarks.

Now that I primarily use the RSS Feed from your site, I never really see the sidebar anyway. But if you are looking for a way to karmic-ly ballance your site, perhaps having SOME biscuit links would be appropriate. You give out biscuits more readily, true, but you also don't qualify them to the same length that you have with the Had/Lost essays. Perhaps having links to just the last five (or so) biscuit posts. Or perhaps to recent essays of length and quality. Removing them (or hading them behind a portal page) would only server to make them harder to find for those who want to. Puting all your biscuit/shortbread links on the side would effectively do the same. The sidebar should be a reference to the best and most important essays you've posted (reguardless of their opinions).

-D

Comment from: kirabug posted at March 21, 2005 12:05 PM

A few weeks ago, you did an essay on Schlock Mercenary where you specifically highlighted Howard Taylor's "best practices" approach to production. And a long time ago, you called out Irregular Webcomic for its "best practices" approach to linking, etc. Those are the things that I (as a quasi-creator-hack) really value - I'd love to see those things highlighted in the Biscuit List. Who nails it every time in production quality, pacing, even site design? If they're that good, they deserve a spot right up there with the sites that you *don't* read because (for whavever reason) they've missed the mark that much farther the other direction.

And no, I don't think it's mean, I think it's honest. You're not really hurting those other artists - any advertising is better than none. Especially since people are liable to read those strips because you highlighted them - and make their own decisions on whether they're good strips.

Comment from: ANT Link posted at March 21, 2005 12:18 PM

Sure, Top Biscuits works fine too. Fresh Biscuits was just a suggestion for the list which contained the most recently given biscuits; in other words, the biscuits fresh out of the box, or oven, or where ever you get your biscuits from. Having a Top Biscuit list for the strips with the most biscuits would be great, if that's what you wanted to highlight. I think having a Fresh Biscuit list would help to point out a greater variety of strips than a Top Biscuit list, but a Top Biscuit list would certainly help to counterbalance any negative connotations from the You Had Me list with strips that have been snarked the most for positive reasons.

Also, if you feel like doing more work: what about a list for the Shortbread winners, with a new essay just for the strips that won? Assuming you ever get around to finishing the Story and Toolset categories, of course ^_^

Comment from: TODCRA Productions posted at March 21, 2005 12:21 PM

I really like leaving the "You Had Me..." essays on the sidebar. If space weren't an issue, I'd just suggest actually doing a list of all the comics you check up on on the sidebar, but, well, that'd basically make a print-out of the front page go for about 10 miles, I think. So, I think as it is is good, but I did like the suggestion of singling out Strips What Are Doing Things Right.

(You might even do a thing where you keep the numbers even; whenever you add another "You Had Me" essay, you add another "Doing Things Right" entry. This might be trickier if you want to have Similar Essays for the "Doing Things Right" ones, though. Unless you just want to, basically keep those as archival-type essays, so you can just throw one up when you need one. Although that sounds sort of mean, but I'd wager that the "Doing Things Right" essays would typically be more plentiful than "You Had Me"s, otherwise, I'd say perhaps stockpile those for when you had a new "Doing Things Right". But that's probably all sorta silly all around.)

Comment from: ANT Link posted at March 21, 2005 12:23 PM

Oh, and there should definitely be a Biscuit category added. Don't know why we didn't think of it sooner.

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at March 21, 2005 12:36 PM

I favor a tab that links to a seperate page for YHMAYLM. As was pointed out, what happens when you get a dozen comics for the list?

Myself, I've seen the point on one strip (GPF, which is on my deathwatch list), been ambivalent on another (It's Walky, and I admit I've always been forgiving of Willis), and disagreed with another (MT, which has really picked up of late). But I'm all for negative critiques, so I think it's needed.

How about this: maybe you should reorganize your trawls. Instead of by time of day, reorganize them based on how highly you esteem them. Start with "The Biscuit Factory" and work your way down to the "Why Do I Read This?" list, capping with YHMAYLM. If nothing else, that should stir some interesting debate (I know of at least one comic that you rate much higher than me that I would debate about).

Comment from: Alexis Christoforides posted at March 21, 2005 1:25 PM

Eric, if you leave the list right there, you must consider it an ongoing responsibility! Ok, 'It's Walky' is pretty much over , but in the Megatokyo world it's been a while since a Shirt Guy Dom, and the filler art used instead is pretty high quality. So that' one point down. Oh, and the story's kinda progressing.

My point is, they're popular essays, yes, but it's not fair to the cartoonist to potentially lose readers for problems that no longer exist. So when I email you in 3 years saying that the MT cast page is up, make sure you put that in the essay somewhere :)

Comment from: RoboYuji posted at March 21, 2005 1:53 PM

Ha ha, I just love the pretentiousness of the "free advertising" arguement. I mean one of the comics on the list is freakin' MEGATOKYO for crying out loud. Regardless of any opinion of quality, it doesn't even NEED advertising from Websnark. You can buy the whole damn thing in your average bookstore.

And from what I hear, the other two were pretty damn popular too, regardless of whether or not one dude on a blog still read them.

Comment from: RoboYuji posted at March 21, 2005 1:56 PM

Of course, after all that, I'd say keep the links where they are and don't worry about it. It's not like you are the first person to say bad things about those three comics.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at March 21, 2005 2:03 PM

And from what I hear, the other two were pretty damn popular too, regardless of whether or not one dude on a blog still read them.

Totally true, and totally agreed.

Is there the possibility of advertising for them? Maybe. Really, I hope so. If someone who hasn't read GPF or Megatokyo or It's Walky finds it via Websnark and ends up liking it -- good!

But none of those guys ever sweat me posting about them.

Comment from: Shadowydreamer posted at March 21, 2005 2:07 PM

I'd rather see the new biscuit winners than the ones who win over and over. Which isn't to say I don't think those winners don't deserve every single biscuit, but give us some fresh blood.

But that said, I like the "You didn't have me, but you found me!" list idea much better.

Comment from: Sage posted at March 21, 2005 2:08 PM

First off, I think your article on MegaTokyo is your finest work to date. I read MT for about the first year of its existence and then stopped for exactly the reasons you've cited, and I've never looked back. Your essay articulated the exact reasons why it is, in my mind, the most disproportionately, undeservingly popular comic on the web. That article singlehandedly gave me reason to frequent your site.

Your article on It's Walky also mirrored my own reasons for dropping that strip from my list of reads. It's nice to know that someone who really cares about comics as an art form shares those views.

So I quite like that series of articles, at least, so far. As such, I also like to know when there have been additions. Having that block on the front page is the best way to do that.

Is it mean? If it's mean to have those articles linked from the front page, then it's mean to have those articles up at all. Whether or not they're linked right from the front is irrelevant, if you ask me. Those articles are still honest criticism, and sometimes the truth hurts. But this is your site, and your opinions, and I think there's something to be said about putting your best foot forward. You can choose to take articles out of that block if the author manages to woo you back, but I wouldn't say that's a responsibility on your part.

When you get right down to it, honest criticism will help those authors far more than hiding it.

Comment from: Arra posted at March 21, 2005 2:22 PM

As far as all this Best Biscuit stuff . . . What about the Shortbread stuff you were doing at the beginning of the year? At least that's already written--it'd make a placeholder if nothing else.

That's assuming that you need to do anything at all. I happen to be a fairly avid Megatokyo reader, and I've never been offended by having the 'You Had Me . . .' links on the sidebar. I /come/ here for opinions, you know?

Comment from: Colin L. Burke posted at March 21, 2005 2:37 PM

Were you worried about being mean when you first wrote those articles? Or posted them on the site? And did you ever hear from the authors reacting to those articles? People write scathing reviews for movies, music, and books, and no one says it's mean of them to put them into newspapers, television, or websites. You've done nothing wrong. I say leave it.

I do like the idea of specific articles detailing why you got sucked into a new comic. Doesn't have to be every week; just whenever you find a new one that you're really happy about finding.

Hey, it's your site. Do whatever you want with it.

Comment from: quiller posted at March 21, 2005 2:57 PM

I'm not sure what my opinion is. It is weird to have it twice in such short succession. It does highlight those essays in exclusion of others.

But those are pretty much the first things I read after coming here (after the bit that I was actually linked here about, I think it was from Questionable Content or something). They did set the tone that dropping a comic is not something you take lightly. I'm still reading all of them, but it did help me make clear what was bothering me about parts of It's Walky, and re-examine GPF (which I might have dropped if I didn't use quickkeen navigation). I don't agree with your points about Megatokyo, but I see where you are coming from on them. (And I agree with the one commenter who was suggesting you look at them in book form where the pacing seems much more natural, and it is easier to flip back to check on something.)

My suggestion is to forget about categories. Just put some of your other essays that you are most proud of up there for balance as well. Call it a Snark showcase or something. Maybe drop the You Had me and you lost me category from the category list, at least while there are only 3 of them.

Comment from: Jamie posted at March 21, 2005 3:30 PM

This is your house and your rules. While I may disagree with you on some points, (especially the GPF essay), I respect your rights to them. Websnark has become a big deal in the webcomics community with some salivating at the prospects of a snark. At the end of the day, however, its just one guys opinion. A very written, well thought out opinion, but just an opinion. A counter to the Lost comics list might be nice, but again, your house, your rules. What we really need is a serial/adventure version of Websnark. Heh, maybe someone, some day. Take care.

Comment from: Shadowydreamer posted at March 21, 2005 3:43 PM

Ah, but Eric is here to offer feedback on *web*comics. Not books that are/were webcomics. Now, that isn't to say he may not go pick up the Clan of the Cat #4 and go all giddy and snark it. (My world shifted slightly at the thought) But that's not his self-designed purpose. MT is published on the web, it should be paced for the web.

And while I'm one of the biggest Jeff Darlington fans on the 'net.. I pretty much agree with everything Eric said about GPF. I've always felt GPF is like pizza.. even bad pizza is still pretty good. ^_^

Comment from: Grumblin posted at March 21, 2005 3:48 PM

Hmmm... Websnark itself *is* the Biscuit.

Despite having become sort of an Institution in itself, Websnark still is Eric Burns (and now Wednesday as well, but leaving her out for the moment) talking about what he likes and doesn't like in webcomics he reads, or in the case of the "You had me"'s read.

The fact the he writes exceedingly well, and exceedingly logical from a critical readers' point of view about the comics he reads and read makes it a rare gem amongst opiniative sites/blogs.

It's easy enough to write scathing critiques about things you don't like. It's *much* harder to write about things you do like, and exactly point out why. It's even double hard to vocalise an accurate view of why a comic stopped having appeal. At least, one that doesn't feature terms like "Suxx0rz" , or "stfu u suxx0rz diethx" and other AOL-isms. (and "Largo" in the case of MegaTokyo.)

His "You had me" critiques are excellent opinionate pieces in themselves, and the public that comes here ( mostly those that have an attention span exceeding 15 seconds. ) should be able to recognise the quality, the origin, and the intent of the texts.

Personally, it think it's enough to only link to the categories, and give those a prominent place in the menu. But the negative critiques should never be hidden, it's hard enough to find stuff on the 'Net you can point to and say : "See? That's how it's supposed to be done."

Comment from: Tangent posted at March 21, 2005 3:54 PM

Obviously you never had pizza from my high school. *grin*

I think as a counterpoint to the YHMBYLM bit, the Shortbread Awards would work quite nicely. However, I don't even see a /need/ for a counterpoint, to be honest.

Of course, the question becomes this: Where does YHMBYLM go from here? Wednesday has become a fixture of this blog as well, and an important one. However, she doesn't have the problem with two of those strips that Eric did. Is she allowed to Snark about them? If and when Eric recruits a third opinionated soul, is that person also limited by Eric's opinions?

And what if Wednesday and/or any future Snarkees decides THEY have a comic they had and which lost /them/... are they allowed to do a YHMBYLM thread? Would it be accepted into the Halls with the other three?

Still, I think there is a place for it, and that it should not be removed or turned into a link leading to those specific blogs. Well, unless we eventually have over half a dozen comics in that category... *mischivious grin*

Robert A. Howard, aka Tangent

Comment from: JackSlack posted at March 21, 2005 5:33 PM

I'll continue to advocate the "Fond Farewell" list as the counterpoint -- If YHMAYLM are the comics that you dropped, then the Fond Farewell are the comics you never did. As such, they have to be comics that have ended, because otherwise whose to say they won't suddenly turn bad? But when a comic ends up its run, and the whole damn run was good, then that's worthy of praise.

WIGU, Queen of Wands, and Flint would be contenders here.

Comment from: Merus posted at March 21, 2005 6:04 PM

I agree that the Shortbread list would work as a counterpoint - it's one of the things that has made Websnark 'known' and it simultaneously serves as a list of the top biscuits, a favourites list, and an easy guide to people who don't read many comics.

I also think it's a mistake to hide the YHMAYLM articles behind a partition. They're very carefully written and thoughtful articles, and some of the best on the site. It also serves as a leader - the comics there are/were reasonably big, and someone having the guts to say exactly why they're not all that is worth reading. And they're good articles.

And I just got to use 'all that' in a sentence. Woo.

If you're that concerned about it, have a 'Websnark History' section where the fan favourite snarks reside.

Comment from: Bc9b posted at March 21, 2005 6:23 PM

"You Didn't Have Me But You Found Me"

Kind of like the Skinny Panda essay, that would work.

Any outhers like this?

Comment from: Amadan posted at March 21, 2005 6:26 PM

Leave it. No, it's not "mean" to offer thoughtful, lengthy critiques. It's not like you're saying "These comics SUCK 'cause they totally jumped the shark!" If someone's feelings are hurt.... well, too bad. Putting your work on public display implies accepting the fact that some people may not like it or may become disappointed with it, and will say so. I think it's reprehensible, actually, that anyone should take you to task for honest and *considerate* critiques.

And no, you don't have any duty to be "fair" and post a "biscuit list." Most of your snarks are positive. The vast majority, in fact. I think a site calling itself "snarky" can get away with having a few negative essays.

Comment from: Wednesday posted at March 21, 2005 6:35 PM

For the record: when I came on board here, one of the first things I said to Eric was that I wouldn't touch the stuff which had Lost Him. He didn't have to decide whether or not I was allowed, because I didn't feel right doing that. (Given the timing, this was a frustrating decision to make -- I've been pretty vocal elsewhere about my dissatisfaction with that third strip, even though I still read it -- but other requests just didn't seem appropriate.) It's not my car.

I suspect anything else would be on a case-by-case basis, but, again, not my car. My hope would be that I could make such a post, but that he wouldn't be bound by it.

Comment from: Montykins posted at March 21, 2005 9:45 PM

I think the "You Had Me, But You Lost Me" list deserves the special treatment because those essays are, in general, longer and more thoughtful than the regular snarks. They're excellent examples of criticism and I like that they're easy to find. The GPF one always makes me want to read through all the archives and see for myself how it comes off (this impulse wears off when I realize how long it would take).

For me, the unifying principle isn't that they're negative reviews but that they average to over 2500 words apiece. I'd love to see a similarly thoughtful piece praising, say, Narbonic and explaining what's so great about it.

Comment from: Zaq posted at March 22, 2005 12:11 AM

The fact of the matter is, the You Lost Me essays and the average Biscuit snarks (note the terminology) are so different that to even call them opposing categories is folly.

One thing which, I believe, nobody has yet noted, is the fact that the Biscuit usually (there are exceptions to everything, of course) does most of the talking for you. Most Biscuit snarks amount to "Go. Check this out. This is awesome for . This person gets a biscuit. A tasty, tasty one."... or sometimes you leave off the reason, intending the strip to speak for itself. (Reading that, it sounds rather sarcastic and derogatory... that's very much not my intent here. The Biscuit snarks do exactly what they're supposed to.) And, frankly, that's the way it should be, so far as I'm concerned. If a strip is top-notch enough to earn a coveted Tasty Tasty Biscuit, it shouldn't require a long-winded explanation. Anyone should be able to click the link and, assuming any requisite knowledge of the strip itself, say "yeah, that's great" without having to read it two or three times first (unless, of course, it's a really well-crafted and subtle pun, but I don't recall seeing any biscuits for those alone. But I digress.)

In contrast, the You Lost Me essays are a totally different beast. They are some of the crowning examples as to why people (myself included) consistently point out Mr. Burns as a very good writer. A well-thought-out negative opinion presented tastefully yet without diluting its message is hard enough to write, and of course every point is well-made and supported. There is a big difference between saying "Wow, this is awesome" and saying "Whatever I once thought of you, you've crossed the line and frankly, I'm through with you". A Biscuit is a reward for a single, shining moment, whereas you don't get Lost until you've become intolerable for so long that any past glories have been fully obscured. Anyone can see why a Biscuit is given, yet a Lost strip deserves a careful, thorough explanation as to why it has become, in your opinion, irredemably bad. There is absolutely no comparison between the two, and therefore the creation of a Biscuit section solely to "balance" the Lost section is folly.

On the other hand, a Biscuit category might be worth having on its own merits (though to list all of them in the sidebar, as with the Lost essays, would be prohibitive), but if your sole intent is to balance out the Lost pages, you'd be better off with something else. (With what, you ask? Offhand, I couldn't say. I don't feel they need balancing. But that's really not the point.)

Comment from: Zaq posted at March 22, 2005 12:13 AM

ah, I missed that. I meant to say something like this:

"Most Biscuit snarks amount to "Go. Check this out. This is awesome for [insert reason that can be said in three sentences here]. This person gets a biscuit. A tasty, tasty one."... or sometimes you leave off the reason, intending the strip to speak for itself."

I originally used pointy brackets instead of square ones, and they were eaten as HTML. Sorry for missing that (and the resulting double post).

Comment from: Jennifer posted at March 22, 2005 7:05 AM

Having a "The folks who do it right" list would be awesome, but I'd keep it as slim as possible. Which, really, there are only so many that "do it right" on a consistent basis, I'm thinking.

"The Biscuit List" is also a nice idea, but of course it would contain many more comics. I really like Robotech_Master's idea of rotating the list out to include the most recent ones, as the "biscuits" seem to be given out when a comic particularly impresses you on a given day. And ANT Link's suggestion to add a portal link to all of them is good, too, but maybe redundant if the Biscuit List was also added as a category link.

In any case, I'm loving the discussion on this topic. Lots of people have come up with excellent ideas. I like the fact that you're putting this much thought into how you present yourself through the site. And with all of that, I'm confident you'll come up with something that fits you and Websnark.

Comment from: Tangent posted at March 22, 2005 12:38 PM

Actually, a "Fond Farewell" list might be interesting. The problem is, of course, that the You Had Me blogs are detailed and critical and go into a lot of explanation as to what is wrong. The Fond Farewell strips however... what can you say, besides "goodbye"? What critical points need to be said?

And how many other strips are in danger of becoming "You Had Me" strips? (I mean, sure, I've had Sluggy Freelance lose me... it lost another Boardie last night when he decided he'd read any guest-strips but was no longer interested in anything Pete was writing... but Eric has stood firmly behind Sluggy Freelance and I'm unsure of what else he's reading that could be considered endangered.)

I don't think the You Had Me articles will grow out of control. Instead... it is something that will grow very slowly. And who knows... someday maybe GPF or MT will tack across the winds and regain Eric's interest and leave the You Had Me list.

*wry smile* I wonder then... might someday we have a "You'd Lost Me But You've Found Me Again" listing? :)

Robert A. Howard, whimsical Tangent

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at March 22, 2005 1:16 PM

One note -- I stood firmly behind "That Which Redeems." The current pirate Bun Bun cross time... thing has bored me to tears.

(The weird thing is, I'm now actively looking forward to Saturdays and enduring the dailies.)

Comment from: Tangent posted at March 22, 2005 2:05 PM

Two note -- first, I also thought "That Which Redeems" was one of the most powerful and spectacular Sluggy Freelance stories to date. While I was disappointed that Pete took the expected and anticipated route out (killing Zoe2) and that Horribus survived (even if stripped of his rule at the end), the rest of the story held it up and proved most spectacular. Second... you seriously should Snark the problems with the current Sluggy Freelance story. If he isn't going to listen to his fans (hell knows that my criticism was not, to the point my ending critique when I left was deleted as a "dramatic exit message", and I wasn't alone in feeling the strip was not up to Sluggy standards)... maybe he will listen to a contemporary and renowned critic.

And hey, that's what you are, when you come down to it. You're a fairly respected critic that people listen to. If you see a problem... then snark about it. *grin*

Meh, I'm tangenting again. Sorry...

Robert A. Howard

Comment from: Tangent posted at March 22, 2005 2:06 PM

How ironic. As soon as I post this... I find out you just snarked Sluggy Freelance... *blinks*

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at March 22, 2005 6:51 PM

Hey, I understand the theory about keeping them all there... and as long as they're manageable, I'm fine with it. But if there are a few more, then they should be their own page linked from the sidebar. As much as we might like the idea of an infinite canvas, after all, not everyone wants to scroll that much.

Comment from: Bezman posted at March 25, 2005 10:55 AM

Heya,

Long time casual reader, first time poster.

Personally, I only read Megatokyo, simply because I was only familiar with that one effort. And unless they're reccommended by someone whose opinion I respect, I'm unlikely to ever read the others purely on the basis of their status in your mind.

I found it astonishingly well written, well argued, and though some of the details are becoming less valid, the overall point remains a valid one. It also opened my eyes to points I hadn't known about, or fully appreciated, before.

(For the record, I personally consider it worthy of visiting but only after very long intervals.)

Even if the situation changed, the text itself seems to admit that possibility. So there should really be no surprises there.

For me, the article simply came across as a well written one, with fully argued explanations but little faff. It does seem that if you consider it 'mean' to have them on the front page, then it would be 'mean' to have them anywhere.

I would personally like to see a short list of your favourite webcomics on the sidebar, with detailed reasoning of what makes it so great.

True, the best should speak for themselves, but the Megatokyo analysis was excellent because it was just that - an excellent analysis. This was something that said what others had tried to, that could actually be of some help to the author (or others about to make the same mistakes).

Personally, what I think gives the article I read (and probably the others) is simply the fact that it is so well written and explained. An article of this quality making that bold a statement deserves to be up there for all to see.

I do like the idea of 'fond farewells', but it would be a shame to exclude those who manage to 'do it right' for years and simply don't stop.

I vote for the status quo, minus the link at the bottom if you feel the need to avoid duplication, with the addition of one or two 'doing it right' articles, up to the standard of your YHMAYLM ones focusing on comics that have been consistently quality and have now either ended or have at least, say, 400 strips.

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