Introductory BitBefore I get started, I'd like to make it clear that this article is made up of my own thoughts, my own opinions. I hope that some of you read this and it sparks a little internal dialogue, but I'm not expecting that on any great level. It may spark a little external dialogue too, and that's fine. You don't have to agree with me and I would never expect everyone to agree with everything (or anything) I say. This is a collection of thoughts on a concept, a gathering of my own ideas and an act of sharing those ideas with others. There is no right and wrong. But there is motive and there is intent, and that's the perfect place to start...
Not seeking critique?When you come across a piece of work that the artist hasn't enabled the Critique option for, do you leave a critique anyway knowing that it will not be welcomed? If so, why?
Because you feel annoyed with that artist and assume that they already think their work is perfect? Do you think they're confident? Or arrogant? Do you feel they have a right to be? Do you assume that they just can't deal with anyone not liking their work? Do you think they have no place on DA if they aren't actively seeking the opinions of strangers? Do you think they shouldn't post their work anywhere on the internet if they can't accept that anyone and everyone may leave a comment with their opinions, hurtful or helpful?
When someone has actually stated that they don't want their work to be critiqued, why do you feel that you must critique it anyway? Perhaps leaving unwelcome critique has more to do with making a public statement about that piece of work, that artist or a group of people or genre of art that you have a problem with than actually trying to help another person to progress.
Or perhaps you genuinely want to help someone. If this is the case, there are plenty of people who would jump at the chance to have their work critiqued, so why not spend your time and effort helping those people instead? That way you get to help someone who really wants your help.
Daily DeviationsWhat about comments left on Daily Deviations that relate not to the piece of art itself but only to your opinion that it doesn't deserve to be featured in such a way? Surely no-one could be under the impression that comments like that are in any way helpful to the artist. They didn't choose to have their work featured, so you're expressing your annoyance at something that they had no power over whatsoever. So why comment in this way other than a) thoughtlessness, b) unawareness of the correct way to approach the featuring of art that you don't approve of or c) to make a point publicly even though you're not going about it in an appropriate way?
If you have a genuine issue with the featured work, for example if it's a copyright violation (this is extremely unlikely but it does happen once in a blue moon) , you can report it using the Report link on the deviation page. You can also drop the relevant Community Volunteer a note to make them aware of the situation.
By all means, if the artist who created the featured work is open to comments and critique, leave comments and critique. I'm not saying it's wrong to say anything that isn't 100% positive on a Daily Deviation or any other piece of art. Just that the comments area on a DD isn't the right place to complain about the fact that the work was featured.
If you feel that you've seen better work that never gets featured, start sending suggestion notes! Openly criticising the work that DOES get featured isn't the way to get your point across and won't change anything. There's always the possibility that you simply don't share the taste of the person who suggested the work or the person who featured it.
And don't forget faithful old FAQ #873...
FAQ #873: What do I do when I disapprove of a Daily Deviation feature?
A Daily Deviation is intended to give an artist a chance to be seen by a large portion of the community and as not everyone has the same tastes, it is obvious that you may not appreciate every piece that is selected as a daily deviation.
If you have a problem with a particular Daily Deviation feature, do NOT leave your disapproval among the other comments on the piece. It is disrespectful to the artist featured, the person who chose it and/or the person that suggested it.
If you absolutely must voice your disapproval of a selected feature, feel free to note $Moonbeam13 however, unless the image violates policy in some way, it is highly unlikely it will be removed.
In severe cases, if you "flame" or harass a featured artist, you may be banned.
Model BodiesAnother common issue that incites negative feelings and negative comments is the size and shape of models in photos. People come in all shapes and sizes and while we are all aware of eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, BED (binge eating disorder) and COED (compulsive over-eating disorder), it is important to remember that a thin person is not necessarily anorexic and a larger person is not necessarily a slave to binging.
Often photographic models are in their line of work BECAUSE of their natural, or preferred, body shape. Before you start typing "Go and eat something" or "Eww, muscular women are gross" or "Stop eating, fatty!" take a pause for the cause and consider why you feel the need to attack the appearance of a model. Is it an act of genuine concern for the model's health? If so, is it appropriate to express this publicly in an insulting way?
Is it a statement about society's standards of beauty? If so, does your comment have any relevance to what the artist is saying with their picture? Are you angry with the artist, with the model or with the media or society as a whole? Are you perhaps misdirecting your rage towards someone who doesn't deserve to be attacked in such a way?
Different StrokesIt should go without saying that we don't all like the same stuff. We don't all enjoy eating the same food, dressing in the same clothes, listening to the same music or looking at the same art. We don't have to label our world with good or bad, right or wrong, beautiful or ugly. It isn't necessary. What is necessary is that we accept that with rights come responsibilities, and that applies to how we communicate with other people online as well as offline.
Got a problem with seeing a penis, a nipple, two men kissing, a face covered in fake blood, a piece of fan fiction or fan art, 'too much' anime or nudity or My Little Pony? It might sound obvious, but it's not massively difficult to simply avoid things you aren't into. There's the Mature Content filter for a start. And then there's the obvious option of not venturing into galleries which contain work that you don't like.
I want to make it very clear here that I'm not suggesting you ignore genuine violations of policy. If you see something that you genuinely believe is in violation of policy, you can and should report it. Don't assume that someone else already has reported it or that there's no point in bothering to make a report.
Excuses, ExcusesSo often, hurtful comments are justified as being an exercise in freedom of speech and the right to an opinion. Those words are frequently thrown around as catch-all excuses for simply being hurtful, for letting off steam in the direction of someone who doesn't necessarily deserve to be the target of your rage. Everyone loses their temper sometimes. It's normal. I've typed comments, read them over, hit send and then gone back a minute later to explain myself better. Its not something I do all the time, but it does happen. And it happens to everyone.
While you DO have the right to have and express your opinion, you also have the responsibility to express it thoughtfully. 'This is the internet' isn't an excuse for being vicious and nasty. Behind every piece of art, behind every comment and every reply, behind every username and every computer there is a person, a human being with feelings that can be hurt, just like your own. Before you comment, take a moment to consider whether you would be comfortable saying those words to someone's face. If the honest answer is no, take a moment to reword your thoughts.
In ConclusionTake some time to ask yourself why you feel the urge to critique work that the artist doesn't want to be critiqued, to insult a model's weight, to tell someone to draw something different for a change, to puncture what you see as confidence without foundation. Ask yourself what your comments and the motivation behind them say about you. Ask yourself - Am I comfortable with my intent as well as my actions?
I believe that, as often as possible, the answer should be yes.
But you are, of course, free to disagree