The Review Revue

04.04.16 Brogan
If you’re interested in reviews, reviewing reviews, viewing reviewed reviews, or even re-viewing reviewed reviews, the Review Revue is for you.

In the vast majority of my discussions of reviews, judges have excuses–why they don’t write reviews or don’t like writing reviews. These excuses often boil down to fear.

People are always saying that reviews are scary: they’re afraid that others will judge their feedback or their writing. This feeling is totally understandable and legitimate. Most people hesitate to crush someone with negative feedback. Others hesitate to write overly positive reviews; after all, the feedback form includes “Areas for Improvement.” These extremes defeat the feedback process before it starts. And sometimes, submitting reviews seems impersonal, like sending words out into the vacuum of Judge Center, never to be seen again.

But feedback doesn’t have to rest on a ridiculously high pedestal.
And feedback doesn’t have to fit in an impossibly small box.

Feedback is a process that involves a thoughtful discourse between judges. Reviews are snapshots of that process. They don’t have to be scary. What’s the hurdle preventing you from writing reviews? Not enough content? Fear of confrontation? Writing the first line? Writing in general? The Review Revue can help you achieve these two essential goals:

  1. Write more reviews.
  2. Write better reviews.

In this Facebook group, a coalition of Eric|ks (Eric Dustin Brown, Erik Aliff, Erik Morton) and I challenge judges to stop making excuses and to start writing reviews. We hold each other accountable. We foster discussion about what makes a good review. We set goals. And we incentivize!  

It’s feedback about feedback!

One of my favorite features of the Review Revue is that the group provides a place to post written reviews, scrubbed of personal information. Then the group discusses the reviews themselves, i.e. What’s good? What’s interesting or unique? Is there something that you think could be worded more clearly or meaningfully?

Here’s a portion of one of the conversations we’ve had after a judge submitted a review for evaluation, along with two discussion topics: the effectiveness of bullet points and the practice of discussing feedback with the reviewee in person before submitting the written review. In the snapshot below, you can see a portion of the conversation we had.

04.19.16 Revue Review discussion-2

The Review Revue basically started in December with the admins posting reviews for discussion. Then more judges started posting their own reviews with specific questions and ideas. Around the same time, we started running a review incentive project: the group admins drew a silly picture for every judge who submitted a review before the deadline. During that first month-long window, we had 23 requests. That’s 23 judges who had previously been intimidated by the idea of reviews or had needed renewed motivation for writing them. 23 judges investing in other judges, making the judge program better.

So what’s next for the Review Revue?

New review incentives
More structured discussion of reviews
Resources, ideas, and techniques

Ultimately, we are recruiting more perspectives and more content.  As the group grows, I want to see perspectives from varying levels of experience and writing skill. An L3 who has written and received a ton of reviews over the years may perceive a good review very differently from the L1 who is trying to write their first review. But everyone, regardless of judge level and experience, can contribute feedback in significant ways.

Now that we’ve reviewed reviews and reviewing reviews, The Review Revue hopes that you will soon review with us, too. Phew.

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