How often do you review newer authors or previously unpublished ones? Has this number changed since you joined?
I think I'm probably much less likely these days to review a newer author than I used to be. That's not so much a reflection of a deliberate change in my reviewing habits though as an inevitable consequence of being around longer and getting to know people. I'm much less likely these days to pick a random story to read. I tend to mostly read stories by authors I know or stories that someone has recommended to me, and so I don't tend to read many first stories.
Also, although this is a bit of a generalisation, the sorts of pairings and stories I prefer to read aren't the sorts of stories that people tend to start out writing. I think in general, most authors start out writing quite close to canon (unless of course they go the self-insert OC route) and write about the major characters and canon pairings, and those aren't the sort of subjects that usually grab my attention.*
Will you review a newer author even if you have mostly negative critique? Do you see it as for their own benefit?
I won't review anyone, new or experienced, if what I had to say would be mostly negative. Partly, that's altruistic, because, particularly with a newer author, I don't want them to be disheartened. It's also partly more self-interested too though, because I wouldn't enjoy writing a very negative review. For me to want to spend the time and effort reviewing, I need to be enthusiastic about a story, which I'm not going to be if I've primarily got negative things to say.
New TQ: Do you find it easier or more difficult to review newer authors than more experienced ones?
To answer my own question, I find it harder to review newer authors. With more experienced authors, I have more of a clue whether they will appreciate the review, and especially any crit, than with newer authors.
More significantly than that though, I generally find it harder to get sufficient depth to the review. Again, this is a generalisation, and not true of all new authors by any means, but authors who are just starting out do tend to write simpler stories, I find, and I like to really get under the skin of a story I'm reviewing and analyse the underlying concepts and themes and pick apart the characterisation and symbolism. There's usually less for me to work with on that front in a standard Ron/Hermione proposal-type first story.