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  1. #1
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    By Royal Decree

    In this thread, you will find any and all announcements from your SPEW Queen/Fearless Leader.


    And I shall kick it off with a few things! First off, I have made a few changes to the SPEW Extended Rules. Please, check your LiveJournals and read the post thoroughly. Yes, it's long, but this is information that you need to know.

    Second, the sadness is that departure has touched us. Our beloved leader for over a year and long-time SPEWer Jen/jenny b has left us, as has Mere/MerryD. I have started a goodbye/going away party thread for them, which will remain up the entire month of July. Please, drop in and give your best wishes!

    Third, I bring good news! We will be blessed once again by Hannah/h_vic, who is returning from hiatus. She's been around longer than all the rest of us, so it's great to have a mix of veterans and up-and-comers in the group.

    Lastly, though, is the best part. In the few months, some big, exciting changes will be coming to SPEW. We could do with some good old fashioned cage-rattling around here.



    That's it for now! So, you lot should, er, post in the babble.
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  2. #2
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    As SPEW has recently lost a long-time member in friend in Mere, the RAC has, as well. At this time, I will be taking applications to join the band of merry review elves dedicated to helping our members flourish and develop. First off, I'd like to tell you a bit about the position and what it entails.

    The RAC is conducted completely within LiveJournal and is visible to no one but members of the community. Not even past leaders of the group who are no longer in SPEW can see it, so it's like a vault. The only part of it which is visible to anyone besides members are the anonymous comments you receive via PM, and only that SPEWer has access. The goal of the group is to point out strengths and weaknesses in individual reviews, which allow for for improvement where it is needed and credit where it is due, not to mention the SPEW Review Award.

    Each month, reviews are divvied up at random to the committee members (typically about 3-5 reviews each), and they judge based upon several dimensions (which will be clarified for you soon). No, the RACer is not required to read the story in question, but occasionally, they do choose to do so, but the concepts judged in reviews are universal and not entirely confined to the story being reviewed. Each review is then assigned a score and a paragraph or so of comments, notes, and concrit.

    Though it sounds like a lot of work, it truly isn't. This can easily be done in under an hour, or maybe an hour and a half if you want to be ultra thorough. The deadline is typically two weeks from the assignment date, so it is by no means a tall task. After that, a debrief is given by each member of the group (a couple paragraphs about the overall quality of each RACers assigned reviewers, as well as any patterns etc that may be cropping up), but these are confidential and are only for me to know what is going on with everyone and what I may need to do to improve SPEW as a whole, who IS improving, or to know who is doing a great job consistently. That takes 20 minutes tops.

    So, knowing what being in the RAC entails, are you interested? If so, don't be afraid to apply. Not only is it a great service to your fellow SPEWers, it's also a review replacement. So you would essentially be trading the time it takes to read a story and write a review with RAC duties, so it would not infringe upon your time. Even if you don't feel like your reviews are top notch, being in the RAC is a sure ticket to improving them in a hurry.

    I would really like to have two new RAC members, so don't talk yourself out of it by thinking you won't get picked or considered over someone else. I really hope that many of you will step forward and join up. It's a privilege to work with everyone in this group, so a bit more can't be a bad thing.


    If you're interested, please PM me with the following form:

    PHP Code:
    [B]Name: [/B]
    [
    B]Favourite part about reviewing: [/B]
    [
    B]Anything that might impede your ability to complete assignments on time: [/B]
    [
    B]Why you think being on the RAC is something you'd like to do: [/B] 
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  3. #3
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    A note to SPEW!

    For many years, SPEW has striven to bring the authors of MuggleNet Fan Fiction high quality feedback, both to give them a pat on the back for a job well done and to lend them in-depth, detailed insight from an impartial source. After all, it is the Society for the Promotion of Evaluation for Writers.

    But how are we doing? How are you doing?

    Really, as a recent 'regular' member, I couldn't have told you a few months ago. Honest to goodness, if someone would've asked me how good my reviews were in certain areas, I would not have had an answer. All I would do as a member was leave my review links in the monthly thread and call it good. Yes, there is a Review Award Committee which assigned scores to my reviews, and nearly every month, a Review Award was given out. Sometimes I would win, and sometimes not. What I was never quite sure of is how I actually got there. However, this is where the exciting part comes in.

    As SPEW members will have noticed, you have begun to receive your RAC scores via PM. Are you surprised by your scores? Do you want to know more? Do you want to know what you're doing right or what can be improved? Do you just want to know specifically what we're actually looking for and what makes a SPEW review? Well, the time has come for that to happen. Starting soon, a whole new world will open up to you in terms of feedback. You will no longer receive a blanket score with overall comments; instead, there will be focused scores on three critical areas of reviewing. These areas are expanded below.

    Tone: This evaluates the manner in which the reviewer addresses the author, both for praise and critique. It includes the helpful and courteous attitude we expect from SPEWers whilst delivering both positive reinforcement and constructive criticism. Was the reviewer supportive of the author, or were they talking at the author with more regard to their own views than that of the author? SPEW is all about helping the writers of MNFF and giving credit where it is due, and how we as a group purport ourselves is the absolute greatest priority. Every writer receives comments differently, and how well the reviewer tailors their arguments and concrit to the author is something that one should bear in mind in this aspect.


    Organisation: This assesses the presence, or lack thereof, of discernable structure in reviews. Key points to be considered are grouping similar comments and subjects together, such as, for example, addressing all aspects of characterisation before moving on to plot, flow, canon, etc.

    Also, a healthy and appropriate balance of subjects being expounded should be noted, such as spending too little or too much time on one area of discussion while barely brushing another or even ignoring it entirely. For example, did the reviewer spend six paragraphs talking about the plot of the story while only mentioning style, flow, or characterisation in passing?


    Reasoning: One of the most important aspects of offering praise and critique is specificity. In this area, the reviewer's ability to provide examples that demonstrate his/her opinions is crucial. This is even more key when a reviewer mentions something that (s)he dislikes or feels could've been improved. A lawyer will never win a trial by talking alone; juries respond to concrete evidence. Pointing out possible plot holes, faulty characterisation, style issues, etc. is nearly useless unless the author can see where the reviewer is coming from and can see the merit of the comments. Inversely, being specific in praise is far more likely to facilitate improvement and continued excellence in the author. Generalisations in either area do not tend to influence nearly as much as targeted examples.

    Authorial intent should be acknowledged as well. It's one thing for the reviewer to mention that a certain aspect of the plot or a bit of characterisation didn't work, but it's also necessary for the reviewer to convey whether (s)he understood what the author was trying to do and try to make helpful suggestions to help them get to that end. Many times, reviewers pick apart a plot or character portrayal, only to find that, in the author's response, that they'd missed the intended point entirely. There have even been instances when this has happened and the reviewer has gone back to re-read the story, only to find that they had misconstrued something. That's okay; it happens. But authors appreciate it when concrit comes with the effort to understand what they wanted to put across. That way, if there was a mistake on the author's part, they know what they might want to fix, and if it was a mistake by the reviewer, the author can respond and set the record straight.


    Currently, the points system is a 1 out of 6 scale (which will be posted below as a reminder or for your information if you were not already aware of it). This isn't going to change. What is going to change is that you will receive a score for each of these subsections, as well as a cumulative score for the review. This means that the maximum score will be 18 and the minimum is 3. A 3/6 for each section will still be a 'passing' mark (though it would be lovely if everyone would aim for a 6/6), so the minimum acceptable score will be a 9. I'll go into what and where certain scores will bring you at a later time. This is merely to inform you of the way your current scores from the RAC will be changing in the near future.

    6: Freaking amazing, makes you beam with pride, no definable room for improvement
    5: Practically perfect
    4: Better than normal
    3: The example of just what a SPEW review ought to be
    2: Good, but room for improvement
    1: Doesn't meet SPEW standards
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  4. #4
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    Due to the success of the activity, I have decided to make the Three Broomsticks activity a permanent activity to replace a review. It won't exist as a second review replacement, but as a regular review replacement, but it's a fun and helpful thing for the people over at TTB. So, if you don't normally have drabble competitions or other challenges going on, this is a great way to take a break from a third full length review here and there.

    As with the monthly activity, you're still meant to comment on the three RAC rating areas, but I'm sure you would be nice and well-behaved. This activity also has the endorsement of Barmaid Madam Carmerta.

    With that, happy commenting!
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  5. #5
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    A few announcements:


    1.

    Due to the malware attacks that the Mugglenet site at large has been suffering, I am extending the review period until 7th March. February is a short month as it is, so handicapping you all at crunchtime isn't fair, despite the fact that you have had all month to get your things turned in. However, that being said, I heavily encourage that you get your monthly activities and reviews done as quickly as possible in case any future attacks are more prolonged and the warnings keep you off the site at an inopportune time.


    2.

    This also seems a handy time to announce another ongoing plan I've been sitting on. Starting next month, review periods will begin and end on the 15th of each month. The reasoning behind it is simple. Many of you are in multiple groups here on the forums, and most if not all of them have requirements which are due at the end of the month. I myself have found myself with two days left in the month, two reviews to write, a handful of discussions, and a twitch in my eye as I stared down that ominous to-do list. It is my hope that this will alleviate a lot of stress for some of you, as well as (sort of forcibly) promote a bit better time management for some of those struggling to make deadlines.


    3.

    As SPEW grows and flourishes with a shiny batch of new members, this is the point where the Review Award Committee needs to do the same. At this time, I will be taking applications to join the band of merry review elves dedicated to helping our members grow and develop. First off, I'd like to tell you a bit about the position and what it entails.

    The RAC is conducted completely within a hidden community here on the forums and is visible to no one but members of the group and to moderators. Not even past leaders of the group who are no longer in SPEW can see it, so it's like a vault. The only part of it which is visible to anyone besides members and mods are the anonymous comments you receive via PM, and only the SPEWer in question has access. The goal of the group is to point out strengths and weaknesses in individual reviews, which allow for for improvement where it is needed and credit where it is due, not to mention the SPEW Review Award.

    Each month, reviews are divvied up at random to the committee members (typically about 3-5 reviews each), and they judge based upon the three main aspects of reviewing (as illustrated at the top of this thread). No, the RACer is not required to read the story in question, but occasionally, they do choose to do so, but the concepts judged in reviews are universal and not entirely confined to the story being reviewed. Each review is then assigned a score and a paragraph or so of comments, notes, and concrit.

    Though it sounds like a lot of work, it truly isn't. This can easily be done in under an hour, or maybe an hour and a half if you want to be ultra thorough. The deadline is typically two weeks from the assignment date, so it is by no means a tall task. After that, a debrief is given by each member of the group (a couple paragraphs about the overall quality of each RACers assigned reviewers, as well as any patterns etc that may be cropping up), but these are confidential and are only for me to know what is going on with everyone and what I may need to do to improve SPEW as a whole, who IS improving, or to know who is doing a great job consistently.

    So, knowing what being in the RAC entails, are you interested? If so, don't be afraid to apply. Not only is it a great service to your fellow SPEWers, it's also a review replacement. So you would essentially be trading the time it takes to read a story and write a review with RAC duties, so it would not infringe upon your time. Even if you don't feel like your reviews are top notch, being in the RAC is a sure ticket to improving them in a hurry.

    I would really like to have two new RAC members, so don't talk yourself out of it by thinking you won't get picked or considered over someone else. I really hope that many of you will step forward and join up. It's a privilege to work with everyone in this group, so a bit more can't be a bad thing.


    If you're interested, please PM me with the following form:

    PHP Code:
    [B]Name: [/B]
    [
    B]Favourite part about reviewing: [/B]
    [
    B]Anything that might impede your ability to complete assigned assessments on time: [/B]
    [
    B]Why you think being on the RAC is something you'd like to do: [/B] 

    That is all for now. If you have any questions, my inbox is always open.
    Last edited by ToBeOrNotToBeAGryffindor; 02-25-2012 at 09:07 AM.
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  6. #6
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    Two items of business are on the SPEWly agenda today. Firstly, I have made a minor change on the monthly requirements cataloguing. The month labelled in the thread titles will now apply to the month in which the review period ends, rather than when it begins. Hence why you don't see a 'January' currently, but a February in the new monthlies. This is a minor change, but an intuitive one I've been waiting for the Christmas break to implement.


    Secondly, it's time, as SPEW expands and strengthens, to add to our family. I am now accepting applications for the Review Award Committee. Two posts above this details the ins and outs of the job, as well as an application form. I hope that you all will duly consider this matter and that I might get one or two applications to weigh.

    Just as in SPEW, all new RACers will have the benefit of a mentor, as well as a comprehensive guide to the process. And as for being qualified, don't let that stop you; you are all qualified if you're willing to learn. Please have your applications in by February 1st.
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  7. #7
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    It's that time again! The RAC is ripe for a new addition, and I would like to see one of you step in and be that fresh bloodnew recruit.

    I know no one applied last time I posted this, but before I ask again, I'd like to go over some of the amazing benefits of joining the Review Award Committee. Aside from the warm, fuzzy feeling of being an integral part of picking a reviewer of the month, the role of a RACer is so, so much more than that. Ever since the new scoring system was implemented, I've seen a radical spike in the quality of reviews and in the feedback from authors who have received these reviews. For reasons I never understood, up until a couple years ago, reviewers weren't privy to the scores or to the feedback they received from the RAC, but as we evolved and changed leadership, these things began to change, and so did SPEW. I've seen that feedback developed and used by reviewers to great success. As a result, if someone were to ask me who is the weakest reviewer in SPEW, I can proudly say that we don't have weak reviewers.

    The RAC is the backbone of SPEW. They are the ones who indiscriminately examine your reviews and find ways to help you, rather than just fix a number on what you present. And to a man, I've never met an RACer who didn't find this rewarding or extremely beneficial to their own reviewing. Ask any of our current RACers (Soraya, Sophie, and Meg) if being on the RAC made them a better reviewer, and I am 100% confident that they would give you a resounding 'yes!'.

    All of this is available to you, should you choose to send an application my way to join. It's an automatic review replacement, but more than that, it's a chance to disassemble the nuts and bolts of reviews and see what makes them good, great, and amazing. As mentioned above, no one is sent in blind; a mentor will be available to you, and we have an extended guide to what the three judged categories mean, how they are scored, and why. If your scores are low and you are struggling to bring them back up, sometimes it helps to see why others' scores are what they are to understand why yours are what they are. This understanding can be the difference between a score of 9 (which is average and the bottom tier of what is considered 'acceptable') and a score of 16-18 (which is eleventy-one stage quality).

    With all this in mind, please consider joining RAC, not only for the group's benefit, but for your own. You're a member of SPEW and graduates of the mentoring programme, so I already know you're qualified. I would just like to see some of you take another step in the right direction. Even if four of you apply, I might even accept everyone just because the skills you learn in RAC are too valuable to withhold from anyone.

    /SPEW Queen out
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  8. #8
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    I'm still perusing and mulling over the survey results (hence the ultra late monthly threads; I was debating what activities to set), but in the next few days or so, I should be producing some new, shiny ideas in order to both improve your experience as SPEWers and to help those of you who feel a bit left behind in things. I really want to touch bases with all of you in some fashion, but if you want to question me directly about anything regarding SPEW in that timeframe while I'm percolating in my brainpot, feel free to slip me a PM (please, no IMs, as I tend to forget things not pasted in front of me).
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  9. #9
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    So, since I'm feeling benevolent and know that many of you are still crawling out of school foxholes and fresh out of soul-crushing exams this month, I'm going to give you all until the 17th to finish your requirements. <3
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  10. #10
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    Unfortunately, due to lack of a "wow" factor in those months' reviews, we've decided not to award a SPreviEW this time round. That is NOT to say that your reviews the last few months were bad, by any means, just that no one in particular stood out, and so we thought it was better to hold out on awarding the SPreviEW until someone starts getting consistently higher scores.

    On a related note, the activities for next month should hopefully help push our reviewing skills as a group up a level, but I shall say no more until then. :X
    Last edited by babewithbrains; 07-30-2013 at 02:15 PM.

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