Etiquette in the Critique Forum

timd's picture

I have been asked to start a thread to discuss etiquette in the Critique Forum.

A while back when I first started reading threads and joining discussions on Typophile, the Critique Forum was one that had a large number of posters and replies, this was during the period when you could post an image with your comment and it was visible to all who visited that thread. This lead to Critiques which were inundated with images posted from all and sundry that deflected from the topic that the thread's creator had intended or desired*. So it was agreed (in this thread) that before anyone could post an image with their suggestion; permission was either sought from the thread's creator (or offered in the initial post by the thread's creator). There were many reasons presented for this, chief among them – to keep discussions on-topic, and therefore more helpful to the creator of the thread.

Circumstances have changed so is there a consensus for change, or should things remain as they were and if so should this information be offered in some way to posters of comments in the Critique Forums or indeed further afield.

My opinion is that it is more useful and supportive to the thread's creator to not post links to images of their work reworked or amended for two reasons
1. We can never have the full story behind the brief or concept (due to client confidentiality or time)
2. It shows a lack of respect to the thread's creator's work (because we can never devote the time and thought required)
There is a positive aspect too, that although we are basically image based in a professional sense, it is a useful skill to be able to verbalise your criticism.

The floor is now open to your opinions please feel free to link to images if you feel it will support your point of view.

Tim

*While this can be useful and provoking in a General Discussions thread.

ebensorkin's picture

I think the limitation suggested that we communicate in text only unless we ask nicely first is too limiting. Reading the link you provided I found that the arguements made that suggested a difference between a sketchy kind of work & reworking somebody else's design to a finished piece the most compelling. I do understand Joes's point about letting them do their own work too. I am sympathetic.

On the other hand it is too easy to look at something say arbitrarily 'that looks too finished or not sketchy enough'. Finnished isn't a visual state ( no more sketch marks ) it's a decision made by the designer. Deciding what finnished is very grey. Selection is also a design function.

If sombody uses an image I post here I consider it fair game. That is a seperate issue we can talk about later.

The example I posted to the time design thread wasn't a finnished piece of work ( it was pretty weak) - it was an example to explain my own preferences in rough form. It might have looked finished to you but that's just your own decision/view. A view you are entitled to.

While I think we *could* all agree that asking permisssion is best for now, later on some nice fellow/gal will come along & break our rule as a result of wanting to help out - A positive kind of common human nature. Then somebody will have to have the unpleasant job of letting them know that they broke a rule that nobody let them know about in the first place & this kind of thread will have to be created again so we can all discuss it again. And so on. In the end it isn't practical.

We could instead have a list of 'rules/suggestions' on Typophile that a new user is shown & can refer later about how they are encouraged to behaive on typophile but we don't have that yet. But even if we did, I'm not sure it would be a good idea. It would create an additional burden for Joe & Jared to deal with when there was a rule breaker. They made Typophile for us & that should be enough. They shouldn't be asked to patrol us too. It's too much to ask. They have pretty much said so already - if I recall correctly.

Obviously you feel strongly about this or you would not have brought it up with me here on this thread.

http://typophile.com/node/14153

On the other hand, I thought that these interactions were mutually interesting/helpful/polite/etc.

http://typophile.com/node/13233

Before I write any more about this miasmatic but sympathetic topic, I'd like to know if anybody objects to what happened in this thread; and most importantly why they object.

> This lead to Critiques which were inundated with images posted from all and sundry that deflected from the topic that the thread’s creator had intended or desired.

This is unfortunate when it happens sometimes, for some people; but sometimes it's really helpful or just natural. Redirection/misdirection of a thread in and of itself seems like a non-reason for not posting images for the reason that it isn't controlable in text or image, and even if it was it wouldn't be worth it and in fact it could be more damaging than helpful.

For example this thread gets away from topic's initial thrust but was quite enjoyable & helpful to me at least - and I started the thread.

http://typophile.com/node/13875

So far I think the best thing to do is to allow the thread's starter to complain if they feel justified. It's simple, effective & isn't a pain to Typophile admin.

Tim, I am open to changing my mind - but so far I am utterly unconvinced of the wisdom of what you propose even though I am really utterly sympathetic with your motivation - that is if am understanding you.

In a nutshell, I think you want to avoid having one typophile be destructive to another typophile's creative process. Correct?

dan_reynolds's picture

Tim, thanks for starting this thread.

In my personal opinion, I think that it is perfectly fine for others to post images in critique threads that are not theirs. Critique is a two-way street, like any real dialogue. Sometimes, people can say things quicker in an image than with words.

Also, it would be scandalous for anyone on Typophile to "steal" someone else's work. I think that we can all agree on that. However, everyone should be aware that everything posted on Typophile can potentially be seen by the entire world. If one cannot live with the possibility that work might get ripped off, they should not post it on the internet. (This is not in any way a blank sheet for piracy!)

But those in the world likely to steal work are probably not the kinds of people who would enter into to an online dialog with you about your project. People who give constructive visual pointers are friends—or at least casual acquaintances—who are taking time to participate in a forum and helping you to make you project better.

I think that, if someone does not want others to post images on his thread, the onus is on him. He should state that at the beginning of his thread. Otherwise, image editing should be allowed. Some people might not want to post anything though on such a "closed" thread, but that is their perogative. That's just my view, though.

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www.typeoff.de

Joe Pemberton's picture

There's a line between giving a critique and doing someone else's work for them. That's always the temptation in a critique to tell someone what to do instead of helping them see alternatives or think differently.

So, if you think an image will communicate better than text then post an image. Just avoid the temptation to do the work for them.

Norbert Florendo's picture

My best drawing and painting teachers at Cooper Union NEVER EVER touched any of my work, not because it was "sacred" but because they verbalized their critiques. Sometimes there is a subconcious tendency to emulate or incorporate a teacher or respected designers style into your own. I think good teachers guide you as oppose to show you.

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Yes, I'm old, but my style is my own!

timd's picture

I think a relationship of the sort that Norbert refers to exists in the Critique Forum although in the form of colleague to colleague.
There are justifications for images in the forum – for example, to point out a style of illustration, handling of type or to warn that a very similar design already exists. I think there is a clear line between that and taking somebody's work and recreating it or altering an existing logo to make a point, unless you have prior permission. I also believe that onus of permission should remain on those giving a crit, because, putting yourself in the position of a designer who has invited a fellow designer into your studio and asked their opinion of your work in progress, I suggest that you would not expect them to jump on your computer and make changes without asking you first and that situation is magnified in these forums when as a designer you are inviting any passerby to discuss your work.
I agree that any form of dishonesty is despicable and that no convention will prevent this.
As to an advice it might be possible that in uploading a comment and a link being discovered, a simple message along the lines of "are you aware of the image posting convention" with a yes/no button where the no button would lead you to an explanation. But I do not want to add to anyone's workload.
Eben, it is not so much the possible destruction of a creative process that I oppose, as a lack of respect for the original work, I am not suggesting that was ever your intention, I am trying to view this from a hypothetical thread creator's point of view who has devoted time and expended energy in their work only to have someone else pick it up and alter it. Nor do I wish to limit the efficacy of a critique, I think, for example, that the critique on TimeDesign was productive and helpful, including your contribution. And as I should have made clear this was never intended as a rebuke to you more as a general comment about etiquette although you did cross the line in another recent critique when you provided this sample. But as I have said, you were unaware of the convention and I believe you were acting with the best of intentions.
Tim

dan_reynolds's picture

lack of respect for the original work

I just don't believe that we really have that here. Typophile is, in a nut shell, a caring community. I think that adding new "rules" to discussion (which Typophile, at the moment, really does not have) is unnecessary.

Of course, in a perfect work, everyone would just say everything with words. And in most cases, because of the nature of the forum, it will almost always be easier and quicker just to type in critique instead of going through the hassle of making & uploading an image. But even the very idea that image editing in an infringement on the creative process? Must this really become an issue?

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www.typeoff.de

dan_reynolds's picture

“rules” to discussion (which Typophile, at the moment, really does not have) is unnecessary.

Let me clarify that. I meant that Typophile doesn't really have stated rules, which all new visitors read. I certainly didn't mean to imply that Typophile doesn't have any discussion.

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www.typeoff.de

timd's picture

Dan,
I don't believe it is an infringement on the creative process, nor do I believe that anyone intends a lack of respect when making a critique, more that I was taking the position of a thread creator who has already put effort into their work and the action of taking that and amending it without invitation does not respect their effort nor does it take into account concepts that have been considered and rejected.
The reason I brought this up for discussion is that it has been an issue in the past and a convention already exists, it is rare that offence is taken but it exists to prevent that occuring. By avoiding that situation a critique, in my opinion, will be more productive and helpful. But as I said circumstances change, so a review of the convention might be applicable.
Tim

miles's picture

>Typophile is, in a nut shell, a caring community.

ha ha, that was not my experience, I've never posted work in progress here since.

hrant's picture

I think a big reason that some people want to limit crits is a sort of artistic insecurity. The main point of design should be to help others, and when other people try to help you do that, that's a good thing, even if your balloon gets a little bit deflated.

Miles, you'll be glad to know that the anonymous lynch mob has been exiled.
Please do post again.

hhp

dan_reynolds's picture

Bingo, Hrant, on both points!

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www.typeoff.de

ebensorkin's picture

> you would not expect them to jump on your computer and make changes without asking you first and that situation is magnified in these forums when as a designer you are inviting any passerby to discuss your work.

This is in no way a similar thing to posting a modified image. First of all there is a very real security issue - there in a studio it exists - here does not. Secondly there is data integrity/damage issue. There in the studio it would be a serious issue - here on typophile it's no issue at all.

I think you didn't mean this in quite so litteral a way probably - you wanted to get at the emotional impact of that kind of act. Correct?

> My best drawing and painting teachers at Cooper Union NEVER EVER touched any of my work, not because it was “sacred” but because they verbalized their critiques. Sometimes there is a subconcious tendency to emulate or incorporate a teacher or respected designers style into your own. I think good teachers guide you as oppose to show you.

Again, this isn't a phyisical room. It isn't the same thing. Unlike your studio example where there were disadvantages aplenty to somebody getting on your computer, Norbert points out all the advantages to in-person meeting! I think Norbert makes your point best. I agree that ideally & with gesture as an aid - maybe chalk on a board or pen on pad - you need never touch work in progress. And I agree that that spirit aught to be what guides us here. Excellent point.

> as a lack of respect for the original work

How do you arrive at this? The phrasing to me it suggests that something is done before it really is. Like somebody wants a crit but maybe not too much of one.

> I believe you were acting with the best of intentions.

Thanks - I think you are too. So far we don't agree yet - but thats okay. I think smaller points asside we disagree on three things.

- 1. That altering a logo to make a point is sometimes the only way to show an idea effectively. I think it is sometimes and you aught to be do it without permission as part of a the free flow of ideas and that it is not harmful per se. You do not agree.

-2. That 'the convention' of asking permission before offering a modified image has existed at in the maybe 8 months or so. You clearly think it has. I think it has not.

- 3 ( & most importantly) : That it is possible for a 'convention' of the kind you suggest to exist unless there is significant social adhesion to that convention. You think it can - I do not.

In the end I think point 3 is the most important because what you & I think indvidually isn't going to make a huge difference to this issue from a practical point of view. What's going to count is what everybody else thinks & the acts and the direction they take. I think your intention is positive and despite some misgivings about some of the analogies you have used I am sympathetic to the spirit of what you propose.

Let me suggest an imperfect compromise - Perhaps we can mostly agree ( & that is all that counts ) that while we can't & don't want to control what folks do here, we do think that ideally speaking modification of somebody else's work aught in general be done as a last resort to try to explain an idea. And we should avoid the temptation to do work for them.

Perhaps that can be the 'convention' to the extent that one is possible.

Norbert Florendo's picture

Hmmmmm...
so over a year ago Kevan Davis and Typophile were mentioned in a Slate/MSN article called "Art Mobs" about online collaboration.

I'm not up on the latest browser based real-time collaboration programs. Is there something (inexpensive) that allows for on screen notations? I do know of several network based programs that synchronize and update files within workgroups, but that's not what I mean.

It would be cool if a hosted image could be placed on the screen and we could see "red marker" notations in real-time. Sort of a virtual chalkboard.

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Yes, I'm old, but I'm back in style!

ebensorkin's picture

> red marker” notations in real-time

That would be *very* cool. It would eliminate much of the image posting we choose to do - but not all of it.

And it would nothing to change the essentially grey quality of personal judgement required to meet your & Joes sense of what aught to be done & how far it should go. Personal judgement isn't ever something that structure or technology can relieve us of. You can still go 'too far' with a red marker be it in real time or with a delay.

BartvanderGriendt's picture

Is there a fundamental difference between the sentence 'try moving that letter slightly to the right' and an image showing the same thing?

In my opinion, putting up your work here is in itself a way of permitting people to influence your design. Whether they do so in words or images is not the problem.

I think etiquette is relevant to the content of the critique.

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My work is a game. A very serious game [M.C. Escher]

timd's picture

I think Norbert makes your point best. I agree that ideally & with gesture as an aid - maybe chalk on a board or pen on pad - you need never touch work in progress.
Norbert's point, as I read it, is that his teachers used verbal critique.

> as a lack of respect for the original work
How do you arrive at this? The phrasing to me it suggests that something is done before it really is. Like somebody wants a crit but maybe not too much of one.

I am referring to the work that is done before we get to see a sample as well as the result, the amount of work might or might not be obvious, but I believe that in all cases some has taken place that we are not party to.

- 1. That altering a logo to make a point is sometimes the only way to show an idea effectively. I think it is sometimes and you aught to be do it without permission as part of a the free flow of ideas and that it is not harmful per se. You do not agree.
As designers we should be aware that it is not the ‘only way’, however, if you feel that it is the case, what harm is done to the process by asking permission and waiting?

-2. That ‘the convention’ of asking permission before offering a modified image has existed at in the maybe 8 months or so. You clearly think it has. I think it has not.
I have made and repeated the point that I believe you were unaware of the convention, so clearly, you would think it has not.

- 3 ( & most importantly) : That it is possible for a ‘convention’ of the kind you suggest to exist unless there is significant social adhesion to that convention. You think it can - I do not.
I am missing your point here

Let me repeat that the only purpose behind pointing out the convention was to avoid situations like the one that discouraged Miles away from posting in the forum not any lack of security, artistic or otherwise, I think it has to be taken as read that anyone planning to appropriate another's design will do it whatever the circumstance.
Tim

Chris Rugen's picture

This is a bit longer than I planned, but I think we're getting a bit side-tracked on what makes the visual critiquing work or not work.

I've been reading/participating in the crits for nearly 2 years now, and I've seen a lot of examples of good crits, bad crits, timid crits (no one wants to hurt any feelings), and abusive ones (it's only about hurt feelings). I don't think giving visual examples has anything to do with it. It's the people posting and the people critiquing and their respect for each other's appropriate role in the process.

Some people who post for crits here are showing nearly-complete work, others are showing raw prelims, and some are just lost and need help getting direction. This can be tricky, as some people just want impressions to measure responses and others want explicit guidance to implement. When the critiquing posters and the critiqued poster have different goals, it can get ugly. Sometimes visual examples are perfect, sometimes the examples are redesigns, and the project is virtually stolen and redesigned by another designer. This can create tension and anger. This makes sense, and it should be avoided by not redesigning the project for the posting designer. It's a crit and we aren't the art directors for the project, just professional advice.

I treat crits here exactly the same way I do in a studio with other designers. I've never had someone shriek when I take a pen to their laser printout, and I don't expect it here. I can write 5 paragraphs trying to describe 3 simple visual adjustments, so why not take 2 minutes to throw something together? 90% of the visual examples are exactly that: adjustments or examples for clarity. I don't give people high-res EPSs to use, just like my drawing mentor would never draw directly on my work. He would draw on a piece of tracing paper, to show me how, then let me do it for myself. It's a visual medium. It's graphic design.

The most important rule, for me, is to stay focused on the work of the designers seeking a crit and only give as much as is necessary to help the designer and their project. I don't critique the visual suggestions by others involved in the crit. If the designer seeking the crit chooses a path I don't like, I still try to give whatever advice I believe will aid their stated goals. Those posting should be professional enough to accept that not everyone will agree on any design and will be honest about it. And those critiquing should be professional enough to respect the designer's autonomy without sniping or hijacking their project.

aluminum's picture

A critique is a critique. If you are asking for one, then I would expect you to be prepared for any feedback. Suggestions are part of a critique. Having to ask for permission to suggest something visually is rather absurd, IMHO.

hrant's picture

Darrel just gave me an idea:
Instead of putting the onus on the critic (since we need to encourage them as much as possible anyway), put it on the asker. Make the "unwritten rule" or whatever that the person asking for a crit has to specify he doesn't want images, or whatever.

hhp

timd's picture

Dan & Hrant,
I think that is turning out to be the best solution.
Tim

ebensorkin's picture

I agree - that is the most practical & realistic. And it can probably reduce (but not eliminate) the chances of feelings being hurt, disrespect being preceived etc.

> I think etiquette is relevant to the content of the critique.

Bart van der Griendt puts it well - I think this is the nub of the thing. It's not a question of marking up somebody's work or not per se; it's how you do that, your intent & the perception of that intent. All important to be sure - but quite grey. Two people of good intent may disagree legitimately over how a crit should best be done or if a posted image crosses some kind of line of ettiquette.

Specification of what you want & don't want in a crit when you start a thread may not insulate you perfectly but it at least gives the person giving a crit some idea of how to approach things.

TBiddy's picture

"It would be cool if a hosted image could be placed on the screen and we could see “red marker” notations in real-time. Sort of a virtual chalkboard."

Funny you mentioned this Norbert, I was envisioning the same idea a few days ago for working on long distance collaborative projects.

aluminum's picture

the person asking for a crit has to specify he doesn’t want images

Even going way back to art school, I can't think of a critique session where pens and paper weren't present. Why would I be offended if someone explained their critique verbally rather than via text?

aluminum's picture

er...VISUALLY rather than via text...

Dan Weaver's picture

I try to focus on the business goals of designs and allow the type designers with better eyes critique letter spacing. I find a lot of designs, are good designs, but the designer never got a good marketing reports and therefore there are gaps in the design that would more likely focus it on solving the communication goal(s). I don't post my thoughts as examples, only my word thoughts/directions. I'm not in the room with the client, nor do I believe my taste is the end all, say all. Just based on my years of experience I hope to guide some of the posters in thinking about things like end-users (demographics), visual environments, etc.

beejay's picture

I haven't followed Typophile closely enough since the redesign to know what's up in the critique forum, but I did start that original thread. The reason I started it was because there were a lot of unsolicited jpgs being posted without even a thought. I was guilty of that, too. I remember a critique thread where someone was having trouble with a logo, and I saw a solution, did it up in Illustrator, and posted it, as if to say, Here's an easy solution to your problem. I soon realized that this was not the most effective way to give a critique. (Imagine if all of us posted our versions of a logo in a critique thread.) I think quick sketches are okay, if the suggestions cannot easily be described. But with the IM function, there's really no reason not to ask. I agree with the points made by Tim ...

Eric_West's picture

I just started a search for 'real-time web-based graphics software.' All are welcome to join the hunt. I find this thread very interesting BTW. Maybe we can get some structure in here. Hopefully one day Typophile v2 will be fully functional WOO! and we can start evolving how we crit.

Eric

... I'll start a new thread for ideas ...

Norbert Florendo's picture

That would really add a new level to critiques and collaborations. Hopefully we can all respect what guidelines are needed and not start any free-for-all marker fights! Hmmmm... did my suggestion let Pandora out of the box? She should be thinking out-of-the-box anyway!

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Yes, I'm old, but give me a red marker and WHOOHAA!

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