A negative review or opinion about something can be entertaining and useful. In my explorations of the E2 database I have stumbled across some mighty venomous writeups. Some are about things like books, movies or music. Others are scathing overviews of a person's career or place in history. Do these have a place on E2? Movie and book reviewers have often made names for themselves by severely slamming certain releases. They gain notoriety from making or breaking certain works by advising their audience not to patronize the work in question. Their work is highly subjective and generally presented as fact.
"In this person's opinion..."
Avoid highly subjective writeups. To me this means more than just shying away from blatant GTKY nodes. A subjective writeup includes presenting your opinions as fact rather than your point of view. We all have people and things we intensely dislike and ideas and beliefs we think are complete crap. Sometimes the negative writeup is meant to follow an extremely glowing report on the topic and as thus disses everything said in the highly positive treatment (overly glowing is almost as bad, but at least everyone feels like dancing). Avoid this. Instead of simply bashing, perform a factual and critical analysis. State the facts and present opinions on both sides to produce a balanced writeup on the topic. A hateful and emotionally rampant writeup on anything is rarely useful. I've seen too many of them lately and deleted quite a few. Sarcasm in a writeup is sometimes missed, but starting a writeup with "So and so is the biggest hack to ever grace the literary world" is just plain dumb. If someone or something is such a waste of time to deal with, why are you wasting your time on them? There are plenty of fish in the sea. Find some you aren't as anxious to throw back.
Degree of Difficulty
I vote quite a lot on writeups and part of that is to produce unofficial and very primitive statistics on trends here on E2. Because over the course of the last few months I have spoken to many new users and not so new users about the nature of voting and how to gauge voting, I've taken to looking at it more closely. Of course, you should not take the voting/experience system too seriously. Voting is your true means of being subjective here and everyone has their own agenda. What many people are puzzled by is how to tell whether or not their writeup is a good writeup, a bad writeup or a great writeup in the eyes of the E2 audience. Face it, you are writing for an audience and the audience is here. This is different from publishing a short story or having your piece printed in an academic journal. The same things that work there may not work here. Part of what you seek as a writer is to be read and to have some kind of impact on your core audience. On E2, your core audience is the names in the Other Users list.
You may feel the need for positive reinforcement. Especially as a new user you may feel tinges of pain when you see Ack! show up on the page. If you are looking to avoid this and want to feel the imaginary love that warms your heart when upvotes come your way, you must study the degree of difficulty on different types of writeups.
- Factual Writeups on Well Known Topics. These are the easiest to research, write and gain positive reputations on. When many people are familiar and interested in a person, place or thing that pops up in the New Writeups listing they are very likely to click on it and render a positive vote. Of course, this is provided that you research the topic well, write your piece well and provide information that is useful and interesting. If you provide some lesser known information or special tidbits, this is also quite good. Give it a splash of color to make it enjoyable to read and you will likely have a writeup that reaches a +10 or higher reputation before it leaves the New Writeups list as well as a C! or two.
- Factual Writeups on Obscure Topics. If you want to avoid downvotes and aren't concerned about volume of traffic or the number of upvotes, provide valuable information about lesser known people, places and things. There may not be as much information available for research, and thus the writeup will probably be shorter than one on a well known topic. However, avoid a one sentence writeup along the lines of "A place in northern France" or "Famous surgeon in 16th century Bavaria." There has to at least be a little more than that. A good writeup in this vein generally will stand around +3 by the time it cruises off New Writeups. A great writeup in this vein will sail towards +10 and gain a C! from an impressed user.
- Critical Review or Analysis. If you are very well versed in a certain area of knowledge and you know how to write a review or analysis "the right way" this could be a good avenue. However, if you fumble, you will fumble quite badly. Many do. There is probably someone else here with as much or more knowledge on the topic as you. Avoid bashing or falling in love with the topic. Present facts as facts and then provide your views. This is a very difficult type of writeup and if you are unable to create it properly it will likely draw many downvotes and perhaps even be deleted. This should not be a rant, but when you let your emotions carry you away it becomes a rant and rants make people sick.
- Prose. Works of fiction and creative pieces have a long history on E2. There are those who flat out believe they do not belong here. There are others who find many of them facsinating and welcome well written pieces with open arms. This, of course, is contingent on them being well written and interesting pieces that capture the imagination of the reader. A truly good prose piece will generally gather twice as many upvotes as downvotes, but those downvotes will come regardless of the merit of the writeup. Your choice of a title can be very important. Often you can find an empty node, or nodeshell, with a fitting title or an existing node with a title that suits your piece. An interesting and provocative title may attract readers, but it will also attract more downvotes. Long and obnoxious titles annoy many people who feel you are just pimping for attention. Use something concise and to the point, especially if you are creating a new node. Have the title give the potential reader some idea of what to expect when they click on it. A good prose writeup will usually bring in about 20 upvotes and 10 downvotes and a C! A great prose writeups will bring in around 30 upvotes and 10 downvotes and quite possibly more than one C!
- Poetry. You'll have to have a strong stomach and a great deal of talent if you want to bring your poetry to E2. The number of automatic downvotes for poetry are bigger than they are for prose. Many simply hate clicking on a node title and finding a poem. Especially if it is not a particularly good poem and it happens to be angsty. Don't expect much of a reception or a reputation unless you can blow the reader away with your poetic talents. Degree of difficulty is very high.
Lyrics. There are several schools of thought on lyrics nodes. What most agree on is that the simple cutting and pasting of lyrics from a lyrics site or retyping them from an album sleeve and stating "by Morris Walker" at the bottom just doesn't cut it. A group of prison inmates could be recruited to do that instead of making license plates. More is needed to really qualify it as a writeup. First, properly list the credits, as in the author of the words and music. Note the publishing company as well as the band or bands that recorded the song. List the album it can be found on (too often the band that recorded the song is credited but someone else wrote the song). That is all that is necessary to be in the good graces, but many openly profess a dislike for lyrics without anything added. I openly admit to such myself. You can round out a node with a brief history of the song, what you know about how and when it was written, or wrap a tale around the lyrics that somehow fits into the scheme of things. This last option turns a lyrics node into a prose writeup that offers the lyrics (two for the price of one). The degree of difficulty varies depending on which road you go. You will not avoid downvotes with any lyrics-oriented node.
Other Non-Original Material. Cut and paste writeups will die. Any material that is copyrighted, whether that copyright is held in the world of physical publishing or on an internet site is fodder for the evil scythes of the angry and always drunken Content Editors and gods. There are legal issues to consider as well as ethics and fair play. There is material out there which may be freely reprinted, falls under fair use or has no copyright holder. You must be certain that you can post the material here without pissing off the Mongolian hordes who will surely descend upon E2 and slaughter us like albino monkey babies in The Congo. Personally, I don't much see the point in posting material here that was written by some nitwit you never met. There is no mandate to have everything that exists on this site. Voting on these things just feels strange. Am I upvoting you for cutting and pasting a story by Lewis Carroll here or upvoting Lewis Carroll's corpse for having his story being posted somewhere he might never have wanted it to be?
- Humor. Satire. Parody. Jokes. Weirdness. Sarcasm. There are as many different kinds of humor as there are reactions to it. Want to cruise the system and never see Ack! appear on your screen? Don't try noding humor. You might hit the mainline and thrill the Other Users with your spectacular wit. However, you are likely to get very mixed reviews. Some will get it and some won't. There will be those who completely flip out on you and those who will tell you that they broke a smile for the first time in twenty years after reading your offering. The degree of difficulty is very high with humor and the slope is very steep. You might climb high but you might slide all the way back down into the mud. Humor writeups are target practice for lovers, fighters, grim industrialists and people who dress up like clowns for birthday parties for other peoples' kids. Be careful. Humor is likely to attract a lot of votes, but are often nearly evenly divided between positive and negative. Especially if you are a newer noder and people don't quite get your "bit" yet. It also has a high degree of nukability if it attracts a lot of downvotes and no one seems to get it. Avoid at all costs noding the joke you heard around the water cooler this morning at work, funny lists (especially of a top ten nature) and e-mail forwards. Brian Setzer won't be able to save you.
Schools of Thought
A number of newer users I have exchanged words and thoughts with in recent months have decided to leave, while others seem here for the long term. Here in writers' purgatory, there are so many reasons. Some felt E2 just wasn't what they were looking for. I find that a good reason coming from someone who spent a few weeks exploring and submitting. I am sad to see them go, but I have liquor in my house.
There are many schools of thought on "why am I here?" For different people the answers will be different. Some are dedicated to the creation of an encyclopedia of facts, often to the point of being hostile towards anything that does not fit their personal definition of E2. There are those who like to read a variety of writeups from history to technical information to recipes to movie reviews to stories and humor. There are those who are writers who are accustomed to being locked away in their ivory tower or wooden shack. They see E2 as a way to expose some of their work to a limited audience and receive some sort of feedback on it. There are also those addicted to the experience/levels system and those who take every downvote as a personal affront and every upvote as personal validation. You need not know why you are here. For most of us the answer is not easily put into words. Even for those of us who are writers.
See also: E2 FAQ: What Not To Do
For what people who really know have to say
Remember, I'm just crazy.
There. I'm sorry. It was me. I deleted all your writeups. It was an accident. Love, TDG.