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Rants vs Critiques

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Whelp, it looks like it's about time for another community-oriented blog post. The problem I've been seeing lately: People are confusing rants with critiques. They look very similar, but I assure you, they are not the same. And I am going to explain some of the crucial differences.

For starters, let's get something straight here: Constructive criticism is not synonymous with positive criticism & destructive criticism is not synonymous with negative criticism. Positive/negative deals with whether a particular thing is good or bad. Constructive/destructive deals with whether what you say is beneficial to anyone, or if you're just being a jerk. Which leads me to the first point:

Critiques are constructive, rants are destructive.

You don't benefit anyone by ranting. Don't let your feelings cloud your judgment. There are several questions you need to ask yourself when composing a logical argument. What do you expect to change with your criticism? Is this goal realistic? Are you talking to the right people to make this happen?

If you want to get Legend of Korra cancelled; that is not realistic, & you're never going to do it by arguing with people here. So, overall, you should just get over it, or take it to someone who can actually do something about it. If you want to change fans' minds about the show, then you are talking to the right people, & this may or may not be realistic, depending on how you go about it.

Critiques are written for an audience, you might as well be ranting to your wall.

If you're ranting, it doesn't really matter whom you're ranting to. You just want a captive audience to hear your complaints. Nobody else likes getting this treatment. No one wants to be your punching bag.

If you've ranted, I'm sure you've used the phrase, "I'm such a big fan of Avatar, so...." Well, here's the deal, some of us are fans of Korra/Amon/LoK/Bolin/Mako/Asami/whatever. You should respect that. Oh, & by the way, people put a lot of effort into this series. You should respect that as well.

I'm not saying you have to agree, or not say anything negative. I'm just saying, if you wouldn't like it if someone talked to you about X the way you're talking about Y, or if you wouldn't make a similar argument to the faces of the people who made Y, you should really re-think what you're about to say. Reword it until you get it just right.

And no matter how just you feel your cause is, there is a point where you need to agree to disagree. You don't want to cross the line to being harrassing about your complaints. I don't like Naruto, but I do not specifically go to the Naruto Wiki to insult it to its fans.

Take it from me: Some day, you might look back on the things you said, & wish that you'd said them differently.

Critiques are logical, rants do not prove themselves

Here's the thing, if you think you understand logic, think again. A lot of people think that you can just intuitively know good logic from bad logic. This is a half-truth. You can tell if logic is obviously terrible, but humans are naturally gifted at making total nonsense look believable to other humans. Even if you have a formal education on logic, you still have to work at making, & understanding good arguements.

I could go on for pages about this subject, but let's try to focus on the main issue of what is being confused on this website: You can't just throw terms around & expect people to buy what you're selling. Anyone can just say that a show has "nonsense plot, poor character development, bad morals, & overall terrible writing."

To set yourself apart from someone who's just whining, you actually have to prove it. With words. The more specific, the better. I know, it's a lot of effort, which is why a lot of people try to cop out by just ranting & trying to pass it off as a good argument. They do this by using logical fallacies, which I won't spend a great deal of time on, but one in particular has to be noted: The ad hominem (against the person) attack.

An ad hom is not an insult. An ad hom is when you say something about the person's character, specifically to try & give people justification to ignore their argument. "Well, you just can't handle anyone who disagrees with you, so I just won't read anything you say."

Note that if the person's character is relevant to the subject, then it is not fallacious to bring it up. If you clearly are not reading my posts, I'm not going to waste time explaining things to you. This goes by the same rule: If I can prove it with specific examples, then I am not guilty of a logical fallacy.

Either way, this should almost never be your first line of defense. If asked to explain yourself, you should always give the person at least 2 or 3 elaborations on your argument to get the point.

But can you possibly prove everything you ever say?

Both deal with fact & opinion

Even though a rant is the wrong way to go about making a point, it can nonetheless have truth in it. And even though you should be striving for constructive criticism, you can never completely separate yourself from opinion. Eventually, you're going to have to make the jump from self-evident occurrances that everyone can see, to a judgment.

That's not bad, that's just how a review works. You're trying to support an interpretation of positive or negative. Your conclusion is ultimately going to be opinion, but you support it with facts.

Be warned, though, you are not in the clear just because a person might agree with your facts & conclusion. There's still the counterargument: Something you failed to take into account that, when added to your assessment, changes the conclusion.

For example, an argument to prove that Mako is a jerk by focusing on his romantic relationships, but failing to take into account his non-romantic ones, can only, at best, hope to prove that Mako is a jerk when dealing with women.

Consequently, you should not be in a huff just because someone rejects your claim, so long as they have good reason.

Conclusion

If the point you got from this is, "Rants are bad," that is also a mistake. Rants have their place, it just isn't in a fair debate. The point is, opinions without perspective are dangerous. If you get too carried away with hating something on this site, you run the risk of starting flame wars, making enemies, & ultimately, maybe even being banned. Not that I care about people reaping the negative repercussions of their own ill-thought actions, but if I can cut down on annoying buttrage-filled rants, that's a real win for me.

Since we're nearing the end of this post, I should clarify one more thing: I've been focusing on the expression of negative opinions, because that is the issue on this site right now. However, most of these rules should also be applied to positive opinions. There are few things in this world that I find more annoying than someone who thinks they can say anything they want, wherever they want, just because they're being positive.

There is a reason that "hater" & "fanboy" are both derogatory terms.

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