Arawasi contest #8

Monday, 30 April 2018

Commenting & criticising on this blog

Before we start posting models for our latest contest I would like to take this chance and touch upon the subject of commenting and criticising.
A few weeks back there was a similar posting on HS asking "Is it bad form on this site to say anything when you see someone's model here and it is very incorrectly detailed? Or to keep your opinion to yourself and let them continue?".
Here are my favorite answers even though I don't necessarily agree with all of them:
Best to not say anything unless they ask for it, there's some raging snowflakes out there even if you're nice about it. As long as someone says it in a nice way I appreciate getting any criticism but then that's a problem too, some people have horrible social skills.

- give effusive praise even when models are garbage. Presumably this is due to such modellers being precious little darlings and/or incredibly insecure.

- how you word it that's important.
Posting "Hey dumbo you've stuffed up the way the undercarriage fits - geez what a dickhead" may have the opposite effect to simply posting -
"My apologies, I don't mean to be rude, but I notice you've reversed the placement of the undercarriage legs. Is it possible to fix that."
The latter may been seen as helpful while the former might be seen as just plain offensive.

- Unless it would actually benefit you from saying anything, and it wouldn't. I say don't. As a young Management Trainee. I was taught to praise in public and discipline or say anything negative in private. All it would take is for someone to give unflattering commentary, no matter how constructive, and then the trolls and wagon jumpers lurking about here would show their ugliness with tacked on posts.
It would perhaps do more harm to both of you, publicly. So I would ask the builder to contact me offboard. Then be tactful.

Years back it was allowed, nowadays, nope, don't even try it.
Everything must be " excellent build and finish ", " looks great " and so on even if it is a absolute piece of you know what.
So i would suggest keeping it to yourself.

- I wouldn't comment negatively on a model on a forum because I have no idea if the guy on the other end will be hurt or not. It's hard to be sincere when you can't look someone in the eye.

- No one learns if they are encouraged to continue in their mistake

- No pity and straight to the point! (my absolutely favorite comment)

- I`d say you should be able to politely point out errors that aren`t related to the craft involved, like using a Walter HWK on a Stuka, but criticising the paint job is just rude unless it is asked for.
 People post pictures of their builds on the internet because they are proud of it, and who are we to tell them that they shouldn`t be?
 I remember 35 years ago I was at hobby exhibition in my little hometown, where they had some models on show. One of them immediately caught my attention because it was a 1/32 Me 109E in a very eye catching green metallic. I thought to myself "Wow, the guy who has built that really has no clue, and perhaps someone should tell him", but then I saw that the guy who had built it, who was standing behind the table looking very proud, had Downs syndrome.
 He enjoyed his hobby very much, and was very proud of his creation, and why not?
 We have all different abilities, and you know nothing about the background of a guy/girl who posts pictures of their creation on the internet, or how many kits he/she has built.
 So just stay away from it.
 You wouldn`t comment on another guys wife, would you?

- It is praise in public and criticize in private.

And here are the official guidelines of HS:
"Plastic Pix" is a forum for posting images of your models, under construction or completed. Constructive feedback about these models is permitted if the modeller posting the images makes the request.
In addition, Plane Talking is not a forum for the public criticism of the models that appear as Galleries or Articles. Please make any suggestions for improvements or criticism direct to the author via the email link at the bottom of the Article"
Here's my personal experience. A few years back I was invited to iModeler. I contributed a short report with my photos from Shizuoka and received some friendly and some really rude and hostile comments that I let pass. And one day a modeler posted photos of this model of his without any details about scale, maker or any other explanation as to his choice of scheme etc. He presented it as an exercise in weathering

My comment to the modeler, whom I didn't and still don't know personally, was: "Hmmm…It’s Nakajima, not Nakajimi. Scale? Maker? And sorry to say but the inaccuracies are just too many! What you basically did was use decals from a Zero kit, an IJNAF a/c, on a Hayabusa, an Army plane. Sorry but the end result is rather poor for my eyes."
I don't know how rude and inappropriate my comment was but apart from the dozens of abusive and plainly rude answers I received, what really amazed me was the number of comments saying "I don't see anything wrong with the model".
The "Editor" who I believe is the owner of iModeler commented:
"The Editor believes that modeling is a field to express one’s creativity in a way that satisfies the modeler’s own vision.
The pursuit of “accuracy” may or may not be a part of this effort and is one of the many choices that a modeler may do.
Everyone is allowed to comment and point out what they think. That said, I’d be always encouraging doing it with respect to the builder’s effort and without imposing one’s own modeling ideals on the work of others.
One of the beautiful aspects of of this hobby is the variety of artistic license out there. That’s what ultimately drives our hobby forward…"
And then I was banned from iModeler (for which I don't give a rat's ass or στα αρχίδια μου as we say in Greece) and the commentators were free to blame Hasegawa for the model or how difficult it is to be accurate when it comes to Japanese colors.
So, it seems that on iModeler the unwritten rule is: "unlimited artistic licence is allowed and models should always be praised no matter what. Furthermore, our friends are allowed to say whatever they like but newcomers or people we don't know should sheepishly keep their heads down and preferably stay quite or else".
Good for them, very glad I have nothing to do with their site. 
Personally on HS I only praise the models I really like. I do not comment on models I find  technically less to my liking, like over-weathered Zeros or less skilfully built. I have never contacted any modeler personally to start a conversation (ain't nobody got time for that) unless they did first. Luckily I haven't seen on HS a model as blatantly inaccurate as the one above.
I think there is confusion between accuracy and artistic licence. If a modeler is striving to replicate as accurately as possible the actual aircraft (or whatever other real subject) then criticising the accuracy of the result should be acceptable. Accuracy should be objective. If the modeler is just having fun, have let their fantasy and creativity loose and accuracy is the least of their concern, then criticism should be minimal, because art should be subjective. It would be absurd for example to say that the "Quernica" by Pablo Picasso is innacurate but you can say this statue doesn't look like the real person at all, like here or here.
This accuracy versus artistic licence controversy is better portrayed in the following video:

And so, in closing, I would like to say that on this blog I'm really proud of you all for keeping the criticism during our contests civil and most importantly creative. I'm also very happy that whenever there was a case of a model with inaccuracies, the builder was really open to suggestions.
I'm also very happy there have been no personal attacks or any bickering between modelers.
You have made my job as moderator really easy!
As I see it, this blog is a good example of how people should interact when they share the same passion and their aim is to get together, share and be better.
So a huge "kudos" and an even bigger "thank you" to you all.
This is how I feel but how about you? Do you think that something should change regarding commenting and criticising on our blog? Do you think that some comments were too harsh or too soft?


Dizzyfugu said...

A big problem I see with criticism is everyone's subjective point of view. It's hard to fathom for outsiders to recognize what a person means, and a general lack of awareness for this fact makes comments (or posting pics of a model!) hazardous. And it becomes a pain when people think that what goes on within the confines of their minds is the ultimate truth.

I have been part of several modelling groups and forums where this happened frequently - and in most cases only initiated by singular persons - but it became a pain when disrespect for personal style and taste ("No airbrush - then it's rubbish") created déjà vus. Consequently, I left the groups, because I got fed up with having to justify what I do or like. As a consequence, I left.

Among bowling players, there's the saying "Never argue with an idiot - outsiders will not be able to tell who it is". And the same goes for modelling. As a consequence, I personally like the simple policy "Praise in public and criticize in private" very helpful.

Thinking and respect helps, frequently, especially when you want to comment in a negative way and on something thet comes from a person you do not know. In that case, it's IMHO better to shut up, or make the comment so clear and constructive, that it does not sound like a personal insult.

Arawasi said...

Thank you Dizzy. Will we see any what-if "Hayate" this time?
There were a few (?) night fighter "Franks" with obligue cannon mounted in the fuselage.

Michael Thurow said...

This is a very interesting and controversial topic. Thanks for bringing it up, George. Every time I'm writing a comment all the arguments that you quote run through my mind. In the end I suggest that fair and factual critiscism is acceptable since many readers also want to broaden their knowledge about historical, technical, modelling, camouflage, marking etc. aspects of an aeroplane.

When I started modelling in the 1960s, kits were very basic, information scarce and after-market items non-existent. Still many a modeller created phantastic exhibits through laborious research and imaginative craftsmanship. At that time 'Modellmagazin', a German periodical, demanded in all seriousness that for 'plastic' models only 'plastic' parts are acceptable, down to recommending that the antenna wire should be fabricated from wrought sprue! This paradigm dominated competitions!

Has modelling become easier since with the abundance of literature and after-market accessories? I think it has led to a differentiation of modelling approaches. And when you aren't a natural genius the only things that help produce a superb model are subject matter knowledge, creativity and experience. For this reason constructive comments help us develop our fascinating hobby, if they are backed by evidence in the best scientific tradition. So, let's point out areas for improvement and not 'mistakes'.

David Brizzard said...

As a retired owner of my own hobby shop I always, and still do, tell people that "It's your model, build it anyway you want". The only time I offer an opinion is when I am asked, and then it is always "constructive" criticism. After all, it is only a hobby.

Toryu said...

The most remarkable sentence: "You wouldn't comment on another guy's wife, would you?".
My wife always suspected that I love my models more than her!

D. Chouinard said...

This is a very good subject to get out in the open. I think some people suffer from a sort of "model snobbery", if it's not the latest, greatest kit and/or perfect build, it will suffer the slings and arrows of the overly critical "expert". I have seen quite a bit of it, and no doubt, it puts people off. Some modellers prefer old kits that others shun, doing their best with a 50 year old product. Some prefer to paint with a brush for many reasons, while some use a "rattle can". Some enjoy building "what if" topics with very creative results.

Personally, I think there is room for everyone at the table, and being overly critical for no reason other than personal ego stroking, is very bad form indeed. If I see something wrong about somone's model, and decide to point it out, I will do it constructively. "This detail is not quite right, BUT...." and go on to say something positive and helpful. We have all done it, overlook some detail which may only noticed when the pictures are posted, so no reason to to flame someone for the same thing.

Everyone has their own approach to the hobby, as well as their own skill level. I think that should be taken into consideration when making a critical assessment on someone's work. I have seen many "imperfect" models that I enjoy looking at just as much as a "perfect one. I agree with all here.

Arawasi said...

"You wouldn't comment on another guy's wife, would you?".
Certainly not to his face. Behind his back, absolutely. That's what friends usually do, right?
But how about your wive's cooking? Would you continue eating the same awful food for the rest of your life or would you say something like:
1. "This food tastes like shit!"
2. "honey, nice effort but a little less salt next time please"
The first answer will probably leave you with a bump on the head from the pan but I know there are wives who would be offended even with the second kind of comment. But aren't they on the wrong if they do?

I mean, back to modelling, you chose to show in public an awfully inaccurate model and you expect nothing else but applauds? Isn't this called narcisism?

Here's something I found on-line: "Criticism is pointing out wrong with someone. Wrong is a perception, but not the reality. Usually the person who criticizes is going about it in such a way where the other person is left feeling insignificant. Criticism only causes resentment, and there is no positive result. "Constructive Criticism" is in truth "destructive"."

But there is such thing as "wrong". If you cook chicken in the oven and present it as chocolate cake then obviously you're wrong. If you put red hinomaru on a plane and say "I built a Spanish fighter" then obviously this is not correct. And I'm not talking about controversial subjects like the tone of "hairyokushoku" but clear mistakes.
Would you say nothing if a modeler built a "Lily" in IJNAF kamikaze markings and present it as a Pearl Harbor a/c?

Michael Furry said...

This is an interesting topic to discuss since it brings up a variety of options and ideas. If I am going to display a model online or at a show and claim it as "my work" I am going to make sure it is built and painted to a high standard. This is my personal choice, as I do not want my name attached to sub-standard construction and painting.
In terms of commenting, I typically comment on construction and painting. I rarely get involved in the technical aspects since I use quite a bit of artistic license when I build and paint. It is my opinion that a model should be interesting to the eye and offer the viewer an enjoyable journey into the art of model making. Again, these are my opinions. I have had many "technical" comments made about my work, one in particular is my Ki-43 that was part of a contest on this blog. Someone had an issue about the landing light. I could care less about this minor technical accuracy, and who is to say that the pilot did not want this installed anyway?
I would rather look at a well built and painted model that is highly interesting rather than a "technically accurate" model that is poorly built, poorly painted, and boring to look at.
I think what has gotten lost in this hobby is that it is a hobby for enjoyment and creativity and each person has his own idea of what that is.

Anonymous said...

One thing that have close connection to that question and also to the Online Model Contest hosted by Arawashi.
Formally we are supposed to vote from 1 to 5.
But look, I never see 1 or 2, may be even 3. Only something between 4 and 5.
Shouldn't rating system be changed to 4.0 to 5.0?
And may it happens that after we will see something like "4.85" or "4.78"?


Toryu said...

I agree with Mikhail. George observed that there were not too many voters at the last contest. I think the reason is that many visitors participate and (rightly) refrain from rating their fellow participants' work. What's the choice? Vote low (not very nice) or vote high (that's a bit like suicide ;-)

My recommendation therefore: All entries receive visitor comments upon presentation but no votes yet. After closing all entries are listed with numbers and everybody can choose three for their best ones. No 1-5 voting - just three ticks. The one with the most ticks wins. You may even vote for your own model, but you have to give two more votes.

Mario Holly said...

Since "No pity and straight to the point" refers to myself (comment made by Panagiotis Koubetsos) I feel entitled to add some ideas.
1. The moment anyone decides to post his/her work on any message board that person by default accepts the risk of being criticized, harshly at times. So this is NOT the problem of people criticizing but a poster. Some people are very proud of their work BUT many times they obviously lack the knowledge of the scale modeling community, specific boards (and people), "experts", pundits etc.expecting praise only.
When I go to ski there are disclaimers everywhere that this is by default dangerous sport that may result in serious injury. Yet I go, enjoy it and accept the risk. Similar disclaimer should by part of modeling website where you show your work.
2. Arbitrarily eliminate criticism, like Hyperscale did, is:
- hipocricy, how can ALL models posted be "great, work of art, excellent etc.etc.", like the current trend in schools "everybody is a winner"?
- death of the progress and continuous learning
notion I should criticize privately is BS, if I tell you publicly what's wrong with your model and WHY everybody reading, of course remaining civil but "no pity and straight to the point",
ARC, Czech Modelforum for instance have critique corner, no major problems and you can learn something
3. building models is NOT an art, despite all those exaggerated claims, arguments, Japanese magazine Model Art, etc. etc. It's a scale modeling which purpose is to represent the REAL THING in miniature, that's why we buy tons of reference materials, debate (sometimes ad nauseum) certain details such as colors, modification and so on i.e. to represent that real thing in scale most ACCURATELY.

And that's fun, enjoyment, hobby. What "artistic license"?
IMPS USA doesn't judge accuracy, go figure! Claim that judges cannot possibly know all the types and details is ridiculous. Submit reference material with your entry, it works perfectly in Czech and Hungarian modeling contests.
OK, let me contradict myself a bit. Figures probably come closest to artistic form.
But they're mostly league of their own, major activities are outside of IPMS.
I would probably bow to vignettes and dioramas a little but aircraft, armors, ships, cars... sorry, not an art, SCALE MODELING.
And I love it.
Model on.
Mario Holly

Anonymous said...

I think thats a great idea!


Michael Thurow said...

Thanks, Mario, for your statement. I would fully support it with (1) a proviso and (2) a clarification.

(1) A model by definition is a simplified representation of reality. How simplified is not determined and therefore leaves room for personal choice. However, an error is not a simplification! Example: If I don't weather the panel lines of my model, that's a simplification; if I add wing cannons to a Ki-43 that's an error. What most modeler blogs rate is how nice a model appears to the average observer. That's OK because observes can't be experts in every specific field of aviation. On a website like Arawasi specialized on Japanese aircraft - well?

(2) Modeling - at least for the ambitious participant - requires skill and factual knowledge. In science there are two accepted methods of finding "facts". First, you provide evidence for your allegation. Or second, you make a logical deduction and present your thought process. This second "fact" is valid until someone else comes up with information that indicates that your deduction was wrong. Example: A picture that shows wing cannon on a Ki-43 is evidence. Assuming that the upper surface colour of a Betty on a 1944 monochrome picture is dark green and not dark blue is a logical deduction in the light of today's research wisdom. If however someone finds a Japanese Navy directive stating that G4M in Formosa have to be camouflaged in dark blue then the deduction has proven wrong.

Of course all modellers are free to chose which philosophy they want to pursue to enjoy their hobby and they should present their results here. But equally your fellows should be entitled to rate both, skill and knowledge. Being tender about a polite and fact-based comment regarding an error or about a suggestion for improvement does not help us to progress.