This is a powerful discussion indeed, some very valid points are presented here.
In the opening thread, where the reviewers guidelines are originally listed, there is one in particular that caught my attention and also encapsulate the backbone to a good critique. "Be Well-rounded."
Don't leave only positive comments or only negative comments, but a combination of both...which is in essence, the "Sandwich" method (My favorite).
But let me be honest. Some entries are really written well, with the exception of a forgotten period at the end of a sentence, a comma in between a list, or an end quotation. Is it really that important to point out "1" such error in a review on a well written article? When it is clear that mechanics is not a weak area of the writer? Sometimes
just saying "This is a great article," is just enough.
I do agree with you Graham, giving a good critique is time consuming. That is why I totally support Shann's idea of adding a critique option
to the Writing Challenge. If everyone select that option, then it is clear that "fluffing" is ruled out.
Having the critique option attach to the writing challenge will also ensure that all levels get a fair chance of getting red ink, because I don't think most beginners know about the Brick throwing. I notice that it's mostly
persons from the Advance and Masters levels throwing bricks. Which brings me to my next point. I am scared to critique articles at the Masters level
. Yes, yes, I know my opinions are welcome, but that doesn't take away from the "social norm" if I may, or the obvious hierarchy difference.
Committing to reading entries each week is very thoughtful. Though I"m not in a place to make that commitment, I definitely set aside some time to critique several articles. Mostly from the beginners level; that's my idea of paying it forward. I remember when I was there and I got the support and critiques of seasoned FWs. It made a difference in where I am today. So I try to go in and critique as much as possible, making sure to end with "Keep writing."
With all of that being said, I really appreciate this thread and I am greatful to FW in general for creating such a unique place to accommodate budding writers with Christ's love.