Through an initial concept that Dragonfree has so kindly and smartly elaborated, I would like to present:
The Serebii Fanfiction Review Exchange - BETA Model
Managed by Dragonfree and Draco Malfoy
About the Review Exchange
Tired of your story's view count rising while your reply count remains stagnant? We've all wished for more reviews, but not all wishes have been granted. Also, sometimes you read a story and feel a small inkling to offer feedback, but the bug of procrastination bites you and the lack of definite reward dulls your motivation. Hence, stories get lost without much in the way of good reviews. What could you do? The solution: you exchange reviews. One review for another similar review, as a tacit but semi-formalised agreement.
This review exchange is designed to be asymmetrical. Rather than both parties agreeing to review one another in advance and then both lazing around out of fear that they're wasting their time if they review first, there are two different roles between which you can choose when participating in the exchange, each with its own costs and benefits:
Open Participation: With this type of participation, you review second, so you'll never spend time and effort reviewing someone who doesn't reciprocate; however, this also means you have an obligation to review back when someone has reviewed you, provided they followed your guidelines.
Participating openly means you make a post in this thread listing your fic(s) along with details of
- what kinds of reviews you wish to receive
- and what kind of review you will give in return
- any constraints on the fics you'll be willing to review in return
- an estimate of how long it will take you to give your return reviews.
Subsequently, one of the thread supervisors will edit a link to your post into the requests queue, below. Once in the request queue, closed participants may browse through it and decide to review your work according to your guidelines, noting in their review that they are part of the review exchange and linking to the fic they would like you to review in return. Once you have received a valid review, you will be removed from the request queue until you have written and posted a reciprocal review. When you have done so, you may PM a thread supervisor (with a link to your review) to be placed back on the request queue, and the cycle starts again.
Closed Participation: Closed participation does not require you to post in the thread or announce your intention to review in advance, giving you zero obligation; however, this is at the cost of having to review first, risking the possibility that the other person will fail to reciprocate.
All you have to do as a closed participant is to browse through the requests queue below, find a fic you want to read whose author offers the type of review you want, and then read and review their work according to their specifications, noting in your review that you came from the review exchange and linking to your own work. It is your own responsibility to make sure your review and fic meet the standards specified in the open participant's post; if you didn't read it well enough to see that they're not reviewing romance when all your fics are romance, say, that's too bad and they're not obligated to review you anyway. Once you have reviewed, you should PM a thread supervisor with a link to your review, and the author you reviewed will be temporarily taken off the requests queue until they have returned the favor.
You can play both roles if you wish; ultimately the core difference is that closed participants review first and open participants review second, and even if you're signed up to review second there is nothing stopping you from also reviewing some people first.
PROCESS (OPEN PARTICIPATION)
If you've chosen open participation, fill out this form and post it here in the thread:
Status: If you're not taking reviews at the moment, change this to CLOSED; otherwise, make it OPEN. When you receive a review and have yet to reciprocate, Dragonfree will change your status to EXCHANGING; you are not allowed to go in and edit your status from Exchanging back to Open until you've posted your return review, and anyone caught doing so may be fired from open participation in the review exchange.
Fics: Links to your stories, including a short summary and the current length of each one. Also indicate whether each story is CHAPTERED or a ONE-SHOT/TWO-SHOT.
Reviews Given: A clear, thorough description of the type of review you will give. Provide links to some sample reviews of yours, if you can.
Things to Include:
- How long and in-depth are your reviews generally?
- Do you quote parts and comment on them as you go, or just write your thoughts in paragraph form after you've finished reading?
- What elements of storytelling do you focus on? [e.g. plot, characters, humour, style, grammar, etc.]
- How critical are you? Do you focus on the negatives or praise the good parts? Be honest.
- Do you tend to speculate on the story?
- For chaptered works, do you review chapter by chapter, or read the whole thing first and then write a single review?
If you offer many different types of reviews or will adapt some aspects to the other participant's wishes, say so (if you have discrete types of reviews, list details for them all, preferably giving a linked sample of each type; otherwise, just note where you're flexible), and the closed participant can specify more precisely what they want when they review you. Also specify if some aspects vary depending on the review you receive: for instance, if you'll write an in-depth review only if the other participant reviewed you with an in-depth review, say so.
Reviews Wanted: What kinds of reviews will you accept as sufficient to reciprocate? Describe how long, in-depth or critical you want the reviews you get to be, if you'd prefer quoting piece by piece or a summarized paragraph format, particular aspects (e.g. the plot, chapter 12) you'd especially like to get feedback on, and so on. This doesn't need to be as detailed as the above; if you're willing to accept any non-one-liner, for instance (and still reciprocate according to what you specified above), that's fine too. Keep in mind that if you want something very long and in-depth, but will only give something short and basic in return, people aren't likely to be willing to expend that much effort for so comparatively little reward; it usually pays to give reviews at least as long and detailed as the ones you want.
Story Qualifiers: If you're unwilling to read and review a certain genre, rating, or fics meeting any other particular criteria (e.g. you won't read romance, or you won't read journey fics, or you won't read anything with fake Pokémon or Pokémorphs, or you won't read anything that's more than ten chapters in), note so here so that closed participants won't bother reviewing you if you'd be unwilling to review their works in return. If you forget to specify here that you won't read something and then somebody reviews you whose only fics are something you absolutely won't read, you'll have to work that out with them, but to prevent further mistakes, you should then immediately update your post to add what you forgot.
Reciprocates Within: A time window within which you feel confident you can guarantee a return review. A shorter time window makes people more likely to review you, thanks to the promise of a swift reward, but it also puts more pressure on you. If you're going to be absent or busy and know you won't be able to make deadlines for a time, edit your post to explain it and modify the time window; if you're going to be away long enough to want to temporarily withdraw from the review exchange, however, PM one of the thread supervisors to be removed from the requests queue and edit your status to Closed. If somebody has already reviewed you and some circumstances or other make you fear you won't be able to make the deadline for this particular instance, work it out with them via PM.
Referrals (optional): You may specify the names of other members who will vouch for your reliability here. This is not required, but it can make people more likely to trust that you'll reciprocate. Closed participants you've reviewed may add themselves to this list if they wish; Dragonfree will handle adding them into your post.
Completed Exchanges: Initially empty, but as you complete review exchanges, you should add links to your reviews here. The more exchanges you've faithfully completed, the more reason closed participants have to trust you, and therefore the more reason they have to pick you over the other open participants, so it's in your best interests to keep this updated.
Or, in a copy-pasteable form:
[b][u]Completed Exchanges:[/u][/b] None
Upon the completion of the form, the thread supervisors will put a link to your post at the bottom of the New part of the requests queue. Now you simply wait until a closed participant posts a review exchange review to one of your stories.
When you receive a review that's part of the review exchange, you will be removed from the requests queue. This is to prevent multiple people reviewing somebody who turns out not to reciprocate and to give you extra incentive to complete your return review swiftly. If you find that the review you received is unacceptable due to clearly not meeting your guidelines, you may PM a thread supervisor with a link to the review and an explanation of why it doesn't meet the guidelines, and if they deem it justified, they will put you back on the requests queue without you reviewing back. Similar rules apply if the fics they give for you to review don't meet the specifications from your post. However, if you seem to be repeatedly reaching for excuses to not reciprocate, you may be banned from open participation altogether, so do this sparingly, only when it is plain the reviewer utterly failed to follow your guidelines. Otherwise, try to work it out personally with the reviewer by PM.
Of course, in most cases the review you get will hopefully meet your guidelines just fine, and you will have the time you specified in your post to read and review one of the works provided in the review. If the work is especially long and you need more time, or real-life circumstances are causing you to be late, or for one reason or another you feel the need to deviate from your stated review format for this particular work (for instance, if you specified that you review chapter by chapter but this is a fifty-chapter epic and doing so would just be impossible), again, work that out with your reviewer by PM. If they're being completely unreasonable about it, you can PM a thread supervisor to explain the situation and have them rule on it, but this shouldn't usually be needed.
Once you post your review, you should add a link to it to your post here under "Completed Exchanges", and also PM a link to one of the thread supervisors to have yourself added back onto the requests queue, this time at the bottom of the Veteran category (of course, if you don't wish to get any more reviews and just want to quit for now, you don't need to do this). As those above you do exchanges and get moved to the bottom of the queue, you will move upwards to a higher priority and hopefully get many more reviews.
If at any point you wish to resign from open participation in the review exchange, permanently or temporarily, change the "Status" in your post to CLOSED and PM a thread supervisor to remove you from the requests queue if you're on it.
PROCESS (CLOSED PARTICIPATION)
As a closed participant, you don't have to post anything or declare yourself; all you have to do is check out the requests queue and pick an author to review.
The queue is split into new and veteran sections; as the names would imply, the new section contains open participants who are new to the review exchange and have yet to exchange any reviews, whereas the veteran section contains those who have completed one or more exchanges already. Though veterans have the benefit of having proven themselves reliable already, you are very much encouraged to review the newbies; the reason they haven't proven themselves, after all, is simply that they haven't gotten the chance yet. Within each queue, those at the top are the ones that have been waiting longest without a review, and thus, if choosing between offers that sound about equally good, you should go for the one that's higher in the queue. If something confuses you in someone's guidelines or you just want to be absolutely sure they'd accept your fic or reviewing style, you can contact them to ask for clarification before reading, but this is not required and shouldn't be necessary in most cases.
Once you have chosen a story to review, having made sure to read the author's guidelines carefully, just read it on your own time and compose a review that fits the specifications. Finally, post it in the fic's thread, including the necessary information for the author to review you back at the beginning or end of your post. Though you aren't required to use this exact template, it's a good guide for what to include:
This is a review exchange review.
Fics: Link to the fic you'd like the author to review in return, or if you have several and don't mind which, list them all with a brief summary of each.
Review Wanted: If the author has multiple types of reviews or is otherwise flexible, specify your preferences for the return review here.
Or, for copy-pasters:
When you have posted your review, PM one of the supervisors of the review exchange with a link to your review, and they will change the author's status to EXCHANGING and remove them from the requests queue. Then simply wait for the author to reciprocate. If the time they gave in the "Reciprocates Within" section of their post here has passed without a peep, PM them about it to ask what's going on, and check their post here again to make sure they didn't go on vacation sometime between the time you read their post and the time you posted your review or something.
[b]This is a review exchange review.[/b]
If the author either refuses to reciprocate for petty reasons or their return review doesn't meet the promises made in their post here, you may PM a review exchange supervisor to complain, linking to the reviews and explaining the situation. However, try to resolve things with them first. It's easier.
Of course, in most cases you'll hopefully get a review to your satisfaction, in which case this exchange is done and you can go find another fic to review. If you find the author's conduct exemplary and are willing to vouch for them, you may PM Dragonfree to have yourself added as a referral to their post.
The rules of conduct in the review exchange are simple and straightforward and can be summed up with "don't be a jerk", but here they are laid out in a somewhat more orderly fashion:
~ Thou shalt remain polite, patient and understanding. If you're an open participant and nobody's reviewed you yet, don't whine about it. If you're a closed participant and the author you reviewed just failed to meet their deadline, don't flip out; just PM them a poke to see what's going on, and respect that their other commitments might interfere with their reviewing. Accept sincere apologies. Don't put extra pressure on someone who's already stressed out.
~ Thou shalt give thy reviewers the benefit of the doubt. If the review isn't quite as insightful as you'd hoped, but they clearly did their absolute best to follow the guidelines, don't turn your nose up at them. If you're an open participant, only outright refuse to reciprocate if it's plain the reviewer put little to no effort into reading your rules and meeting your standards. If you're a closed participant, don't jump up to complain unless it's a very clear case of false advertising. Help your reviewer improve their review by giving them pointers by all means, but don't treat it as betrayal if it was clearly made in good faith.
~ Thou shalt try to resolve misunderstandings peacefully. If you're an open participant and get a perfectly good review but their fic isn't something you'd read, it is better to PM them to explain, and perhaps offer to review them in the future if they write something you would be willing to read, than to just refuse, even if the mistake is theirs. If you're a closed participant and it turns out the author you reviewed actually forgot to mention they absolutely can't read your fic or they can't review it quite the way they specified, be sympathetic as far as you possibly can. Always be ready to compromise a bit to come to a mutually satisfying agreement. Refusal and complaining to the supervisors is best used as a last resort, even when you're in the right.
REQUESTS QUEUE - FOR OPEN, UNPAIRED REQUESTS
Please note that when there are a lot of people on this list, you're better off being a closed participant than an open one. Check out the reviewers below and find somebody who suits you to review, instead of applying for open participation and getting lost in the crowd.
Draco Malfoy and Dragonfree, the organizers of the review exchange, have carried out one full exchange as a sample of how this is supposed to go. The sample exchange is currently ongoing.
Sample open participant post.
Sample closed participant's review.
Sample open participant's return review (part 2).
If you have any further suggestions regarding the running of the Exchange, don't be afraid to PM us! This is a Beta model after all; it will be susceptible to change and updates, as we become more aware on how to actually run this thing.
A final model will solidify once we understand the intricacies and little tweaks that we can learn only through practical work.
Now, have fun and be civil!
Rediamond -to- ShadedSkies
Xman96 -to- phoopes
Draco Malfoy -to- Rediamond
Draco Malfoy -to- Dragonfree (part 2)
Xman96 -to- .Bright Side.
Displeased Owl -to- MHugs