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[personal profile] transposable_element
I had a slightly weird interaction on AO3 just now. I wrote a comment on a story saying "I don't usually like this sort of thing, but I'll make an exception." The author responded that she knew I meant it as a compliment, but that it was a rude compliment.

In retrospect, I can see that "i'll make an exception" could come off as obnoxious, as though I'm condescending to enjoy the story, but all I meant was that the author got me to enjoy something that I ordinarily don't enjoy.

Anyway, I apologized and s/he replied that it was no big deal, but I thought the whole thing was kind of weird. 

Date: 2016-06-25 12:21 am (UTC)
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
From: [personal profile] edenfalling
I think it is partly that your phrasing has a slightly condescending tone: saying "I don't usually like Thing X, but I'll make an exception" carries an implication that you're doing the writer a favor by setting aside your usual preferences. It also says nothing about why this particular instance of Thing X worked for you when others don't, and therefore doesn't give any useful information to the writer to counteract the implicit criticism of Thing X (which, presumably, they like or they wouldn't have written it).

But I suspect the main problem is that variations on that general sentiment -- "I don't usually like Thing X, but..." -- are often deployed as part of a longer 'review' that boils down to "Thing X is terrible and you shouldn't like it. Stop wasting time on this trash and write things I like instead. Don't you know that all writers I deign to consider reasonably skilled MUST cater to my tastes???"

Obviously that is not what you were doing! But I have received that kind of review often enough that I am a little hypersensitive to anything that reminds me of it, and I'm sure I am not the only person who reacts that way.

A more neutral phrasing might be something to the effect of, "I don't read a lot of Thing X, but I like how you did [certain aspect] in this story." That both removes the implicit value judgment a lot of people will read into "I don't like Thing X" and offers a specific example of why this version of Thing X worked for you.

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