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PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2009 9:03 am 
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On Saturday, November 14, we received the following feedback via our Feedback page on the website:

An Anonymous Visitor wrote:
Subject: Your stuipid website reviews
Comment: Who the hell does Peter Trevor think he is? The website authors worked very hard on thier sites and this ass Trevor has the nerve to flame just about all of the sites with his so called "reviews". Very dispointed that you would do this to all the website authors who worked so hard on their stuff. I am very embarrased for you and disapointed in you guys.

Freelance Traveller feels no remorse or embarrassment about carrying Peter's website reviews.

Peter took it upon himself to look at and critique various Traveller websites and allowed us to carry the results. In every case, we have found his reviews and criticisms to be well-considered, and fair. They are in no way "flames".

The fact that a website author "worked so hard on their stuff" is - and should be - irrelevant to an evaluation of the quality, utility, accessibility, desirability, et cetera, of the website, just as it is irrelevant to a review of a movie, TV show, or book. That an author "worked so hard" to write a book that is unreadable does not change the fact that it is unreadable; should a review of that book make any sort of allowance for the hard work that the author put into it? That the actors, writers, and director "worked so hard" to make a movie or TV show that is unwatchable does not change the fact that it is unwatchable; must a review take that hard work into account and make allowances? Society says not, and acts accordingly. Why, then, should a website be treated any differently?

One might argue that the book, TV show, or movie is done for personal and/or corporate monetary gain, and that society should know what it is getting for the value of the coin they will be paying to read/see it. It is our position that one makes an investment when one visits a web site as well - perhaps not monetary, but is your time worth nothing?

"But the author/writer/actors/director are PROFESSIONALS! The occasional bad review is part of the price of being a professional!" And once, they were all amateurs, much like the majority of website designers/builders for noncommercial hobby sites - including Freelance Traveller itself (which has also been reviewed by Peter, and that review is on our site as well). Part of the transition from amateur to professional is taking criticism, and taking more criticism, and taking still more criticism, and LEARNING from it, rather than rejecting it out-of-hand as though it were a personal attack. And even after becoming a professional, you listen to the criticisms, and learn from them, tempering those criticisms with your experience.

Is the critic always right? No, and many times we have seen the critics pan a blockbuster or best-seller - or proclaim a triumph for a dog. Perhaps it is because the critics have their own biases; perhaps it is because the critics are using criteria other than those of the general public; perhaps it is because the critic happens not to be part of the target audience for the work at issue. The why is irrelevant; the critic gets it wrong occasionally - but even in getting it wrong, the critic may well say something that the author/writer/actor/director sees, and stops and says "Gee, y'know, maybe he's got something, there.". And then, the author/writer/actor/director examins his/her own work in light of what the critic says - and maybe next time, does things a little differently. There are several words that describe that process - growth, maturation, evolution, development, improvement... and none of them, when used in this manner, imply anything negative.

What's more, OTHER authors/writers/actors/directors see the reviews, both before and after reading/seeing the work at issue. And after doing so, they may come away with ideas for improving their own work.

So too with website reviews. Perhaps the webmaster will never see the review (we hope that's not the case). Perhaps, as this visitor did, the webmaster will find the review insulting (we hope not). We can't control that. We can hope that anyone who reads the reviews will learn from them - what works, what doesn't, what's worth their time to visit, and what's not. That is, after all, the PURPOSE of a review. And when Peter returns to writing website reviews, we will continue to carry them.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2009 4:38 pm 
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It would help if you gave us some context for this. Where are these website reviews that this person is complaining about, so that we can see what they are like for ourselves?

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2009 4:58 pm 
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Never mind, I found them:
http://www.freelancetraveller.com/featu ... index.html

I have to say, I'm not impressed with the reviews either. They are very subjective, and the "improvements" that the author suggests are all very well for his tastes, but he doesn't seem to appreciate that some people may not have the time or the knowledge of HTML to make the improvements he suggests. He even reviews a PbeM page and then complains that there's not much there for people who aren't involved in the PbeM campaign... what does he expect, exactly? Going to a site designed for a specific purpose and then complaining that it isn't good for anyone else is not remotely constructive or useful. At one point he complains that a site uses frames, which IMO is a pretty dumb complaint - sure, the author could use css or not use frames at all, if only they had time to sit down and learn it, plan what the site would look like, and change every page to accomodate the new code. I doubt that anyone would do that to a site that works fine regardless, just because one guy doesn't like frames.

Since websites are not commercial products, the most a reader can waste is the time it takes to read them, and readers are going to be smart enough to determine whether a site is worth reading pretty quickly. Also, I doubt that many people will actively go searching for random Traveller sites to read - I think most would look for specific sites for a specific reason.

Overall I found his "reviews" to be somewhat over-critical, mean-spirited, and not very useful. Pointing out HTML errors is one thing, but I don't think the "improvements" when it comes to the content of the site that he suggests are very constructive - websites often aren't things that people actively maintain (especially nowadays in the age of Facebook, Livejournal and blogging, and discussion forums), and I don't think a lot of website authors are going to jump to change their websites just because some random guy on the internet is providing unsolicited feedback about them on some other random guy's website (especially if the comment is along the lines of "add more articles". Sure, they can get right on that...). It doesn't seem to be very different to complaining about someone's Facebook or Livejournal page... well, sure, the reviewer might not like the content much, but the author is putting up whatever material he likes on his site for his own benefit, so why should he care what some random guy thinks?

Maybe the reviews would be more useful if Peter Trevor just emailed his suggestions to the authors directly, though frankly if I received one of his "reviews" via email then I too would probably wonder who the hell this guy thinks he is and not really care what he said either. I don't really give a rat's arse what anyone thinks of the content of my own website - if they like it then great, if they don't then they can bugger off and read something else: the internet is big enough for that. If someone points out an actual error in the site then that's usually going to be appreciated, but complaining about the site's content itself seems somewhat specious.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 16, 2009 5:46 pm 
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"The proof of the pudding is in the tasting."

I followed the link and read a few reviews.
When I tried to access the websites being reviewed many were gone.

Clearly the owners DID learn about the reviews and have dealt with the percieved shortcomings.
I just don't quite see how the world is a better place now that these sites have been driven to closing.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 16, 2009 6:01 pm 
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atpollard wrote:
"The proof of the pudding is in the tasting."

I followed the link and read a few reviews.
When I tried to access the websites being reviewed many were gone.

Clearly the owners DID learn about the reviews and have dealt with the percieved shortcomings.
I just don't quite see how the world is a better place now that these sites have been driven to closing.


Note that several of the sites were housed on Geocities, which closed down at the end of October - that might be why they're gone. I can't really see why those "reviews" would drive anyone to close their sites though, unless the owner was really sensitive.

If anything Freetrav should probably remove the reviews to the geocities links (and any other dead sites) though.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 17, 2009 11:31 pm 
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Some reviews do not currently have dates; we are looking through our submission archives to find the dates that these websites were reviewed, and this information will be added when we find it. Most reviews can be assumed to date back to before 2002.

2002? Holy crap! I can't see how these reviews would even be useful as we're on the cusp of 2010!

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 18, 2009 1:33 am 
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Yeah, I think if you are going to have reviews, somehow they have to be kept current (which is impractical, I know), or they need to be clearly dated - and removed at some point when they are no longer valid.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 06, 2010 12:48 am 
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Our hosting provider seems to have met disaster, and their entire network is down - and has been so for over 21 hours as I write this. We may be looking for a new hosting provider very soon. If anyone has any insights into what may be happening in Canton, GA that might have caused this - other than suggesting that our provider's disaster might be fundamentally fiscal rather than technical (believe me, we're wondering that ourselves) - we'd be interested in hearing it.

Because of this outage, oure email addresses at freelancetraveller.com are also out of service.

As a temporary measure, email to us can be sent to freetrav@gmail.com

You can also visit our website mirror at http://freelancetraveller.downport.com

We will try to keep our fans updated as we find out more.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 06, 2010 2:02 am 
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Location: Sonthofen / Germany
According to my network diagnostics software, your DNS server
is down. In my experience this should not take more than a day
or two.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2010 12:47 am 
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rust wrote:
According to my network diagnostics software, your DNS server
is down. In my experience this should not take more than a day
or two.

As I write this, it's been down for a minimum of 45 hours. I just checked again, and they have updated as of 18:00 Eastern time 2010.Feb.06 - they are saying that two separate and (ostensibly) unrelated incidents took out both their primary and backup systems, and OnTrac has been called in 'at great expense' to do data recovery. They do not have an estimate for restoration of service, other than 'as soon as we can', and they are claiming that they will have new and better redundancy/backup solutions after restoration.

This, obviously, does not help us right now.

We're still watching and waiting and fuming. And I'm going to be talking to some friends about this sort of situation, from a theoretical standpoint. Which may not stay theoretical, depending on what I learn.


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