Constructive Criticism- we need to do better at the constructive part

Posted by Ernestpcosby on 28 March 2020 in English (English)

This started off as a response to Yuanls' recent diary (which I agree with wholeheartedly), but figured it was worth making a separate post.

Mapping improvement of any serious scale, especially for existing mapping is generally contingent on willingness to accept tips and feedback. I think a lot of the mappers who have been here for a while, including myself, are sometimes tempted to just blame new mappers for conflicts and a lack of receptiveness, but to be honest, in most cases, a lot of this is really contingent on how they're approached. While I 100% agree with Yuanls that we need to focus on fixing the front end in the expectations of new mappers, I also personally think all more-experienced mappers active in giving advice to newer mappers need to become much better at constructive criticism so that we're able to properly encourage newer mappers to improve rather than to fight us or to want to leave the site.

To be completely honest, the average critiquing style on OGF can often come across really toxic and condescending at times, which only grows the issue. Frankly, in addition to tweaks on the new mappers side, an "OGF:How to Give Constructive Respectful Feedback and Advice" page is probably in order for the older/more senior mappers here.

I've discovered even myself just these last couple months that a lot of newer mappers that can seem standoffish if confronted in an antagonistic manner are more than willing to take advice and tips if given directly, kindly, and with encouragement, acknowledgment of areas with potential, and respect. If our response to newer mappers is basically "your mapping is crap and you should feel bad", of course their response will be a defensive one rather than receptive. We don't want that. The spirit of the OGF experiment is one of collaboration and respect- and that spirit won't thrive, or frankly, survive, if we don't know how to approach mappers respectfully when giving feedback or advice.

Comment from Toadwart on 28 March 2020 at 01:39

I would be happy to give constructive advice under circumstances which are respectful.

Recently I left some comments which were just short of being respectless. Of course I could have just shut up instead. But sometimes it is just annoying to leave some things uncommented.

If one uses the diary (or the forum) to show something with a title of the caliber "Look what magnificent work I have done" and it is really not magnificent by far, then it is not easy not to be annoyed. Especially if they only react to appraisal and ignore criticism completely.

I mean, even I may forget to respond to every comment, when I ask something. But when you try to show off, and there is one comment telling you that it is not magnificent because it has a very serious flaw, then it is respectless not to respond.

And then, especially if the time between the last show off without a response and the next is very short, I am tempted to make a comment which has a bit of sarcasm in it.

Probably, the advanced users should start to repectfully criticise each other or ask for advice. Hopefully users will then get a sense of quality and of common mistakes, while now only newbies show off, which gives a very skewed image of quality.

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Comment from whateversusan on 28 March 2020 at 04:59

Thank you for posting this! I've noticed that some mappers who have been here for a while can be pretty brutal when critiquing new users.

Mapping is hard. It takes a long time to get proficient at it, especially for someone just starting out. I know it's frustrating to see the same mistakes and problems over and over again, especially when new users don't pay attention to the rules! But when someone's making an honest effort and wants real feedback, they shouldn't be talked down to.

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Comment from histor on 28 March 2020 at 09:03

As Toadwart wrote: It is a difference, if someone maps without asking others or if someone ask in the forum or diary for feedback. If someone ask for feedback it can be possible, that the feedback is realistic - means, that the comment declare clear heavy mistakes (as too small curves at railways, to much motorways, spaghetti-junctions, no rectangled houses and other beginner mistakes). I think, in OGF are many examples of better mapping and a beginner can see, what is important, before asking for feedback.

Sure you can use friendly words - but why not say, what is wrong?

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Comment from Jamie Clumpas on 11 April 2020 at 05:52

I couldn't agree more!

I think sometimes new mappers can be a bit annoying, but it's important to remember they're just excited about finding something new and fun - they might not be the best at it yet, but what's really the point in shooting them down? They're not going to learn to improve from sarcasm and smarm, and honestly, one has a good chance of driving away a someone before they are able to develop their mapping and geofiction skills.

Of course, people make errors and flaws, and it's good to point them out, especially when they've asked for it, but that's not mutually exclusive with being respectful and understanding. I can practically guarantee that at lest half of these so-called 'show-offs' are just people who are excited that they have discovered ogf and what it can do.

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