Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Peer Review Sites - good or bad?

The voice in my head - you know the one that constantly nags and nags - tells me it is time I added another post. I hear and obey, oh Master! (Right you can cut that out for a start.)

So following on from the last entry, I was wondering about peer review sites and whether they are a good or bad thing. I've experienced a few in the last five years and I have mixed feelings about them. Like any writer's group, they seem to attract a peculiar species who want to set the Rules of Writing in stone, but really it's just a way of formalising the rules of belonging to the group. If you disagree you will find yourself sidelined pretty quick, and it's not a nice feeling however much you pretend you don't care.

Support groups are great, don't get me wrong. The trouble is when it goes further and becomes an exclusive clique. I've witness some particularly nasty bullying and playground behaviour on some sites, and the price I paid for objecting to it was being kicked out. Ah well. I suppose some individuals never grow out of this behaviour the way the majority do. In the words of the seventies icon but now disgraced pop-star, Gary Glitter: "Dyou wanna be in my gang, my gang, my gang..."


Tracy said...

Peer review sites - could be great but get ruined by people who think they know best, know it all, and feel they should be in control which often results in bullying and nastiness.

The site no longer becomes about the quality of writing or the talent of an individual, it becomes as you say, about whether or not you're part of the clique, the in-crowd.

I've left two sites for these reasons because, quite frankly, I don't want to be associated with these people. I find their behaviour appalling, the bullying and nastiness is just too much to bear, the oft spoken words of supposed wisdom are quite often rubbish.

I still belong to one site which is an invitation-only critique site but consists only of members who write for my market, who therefore understand how that genre works. There is mutual respect, helpful, constructive criticism and I have never witnessed bullying. This is the only site I'll be offering my work up to review on from now on.
I've cut my ties from the others and it's a relief. They should come with a health warning and also, just how many of these peer reviewers really know what they're talking about. I've never professed to know it all, I'm a novice writer, but some people seem to think that their word is sacrosanct yet have never been published. All peer reviews should be taken with a huge dose of salt, and the author should use their discretion in deciding if the reviewer has anything valid to say.

Writing is a lonely business and yes, we all need support, but we should choose that support as wisely as we choose our friends.

Lixxy said...

I agree with both of you - have had various really horrible experiences on a particular peer review site.

It was almost like playground rules take over and if you aren't in the 'in-crowd' you get ignored, stomped on from a great height or made to feel like you have no right to be there.

Phil Brown said...

Which ones do the bullies live in? Let's have a few specifics here.