Why criticizing anime blogs is a bad idea

Every so often, anibloggers get the urge to evaluate each other in the name of meta blogging. Most never really work up the courage to get the task done; they usually just offer a few short remarks on a handful of sites. After all, how could anyone really criticize the entire community? There are just so many anime blogs out there. Plus, the more people you criticize, the higher the chance for drama. Still, this doesn’t prevent people from raising the idea every now and then. Oh, I’m not talking about a tournament where people vote anonymously for their favorite blogs. I’m talking about full blown editorials on the merits and demerits of specific blogs. In this post, I’m going to argue against the latter. First, however, a few prefacing remarks.

I’m not blind to the fact that others might interpret this post cynically: “Of course you don’t want people to criticize anime blogs. After all, they’ll bash your shitty blog.” Hey, that’s a fair interpretation; I’m not going to pretend as if I’m above the negative criticism and that it doesn’t bother me. Still, hear me out. Also, people can and will do whatever they find fun, and if a group wants to critique anime blogs, I can’t stop them nor am I going to pretend otherwise. It also goes without saying that everything here reflects my personal, subjective opinions. I make no claims to objectivity. With that said, I’ll begin.

Lack of clout
Ultimately, any attempt by the community to criticize itself results in amateurs critiquing amateurs. Simon Cowell can act like a jackass on “American Idol” because he’s an actual A&R executive. He makes a living out of evaluating and assessing musical talent. When one anime blogger acts like a jackass, however, he or she just looks silly. What makes he or she more qualified than any other person to judge other blogs? Because his or her blog has more page views? More comments? In the end, most of us are amateurs. Oh, sure, there’s (generally) freedom of speech on the internet and it’s ultimately your prerogative if you want to criticize other people for their anime blogging. That doesn’t mean, however, that you have any clout.

“But you don’t have any clout in criticizing anime either.”

True, but anime is commercial. On the other hand, there’s just something especially ridiculous about criticizing amateurs in general, which leads me to my next point….

Amateurism
Most of us bloggers are amateurs. Most of us don’t watch and write about anime for money. We just do this because, well, it’s a hobby. Look, I agree that most anime blogs aren’t very interesting or insightful (mine included). I also understand that anything in the public will naturally be criticized. My point, however, is that this is ultimately fruitless. I’ll try to explain with an analogy.

Suppose John McEnroe, a legendary tennis player and current tennis commentator, went down to the local park and started to criticize a father-daughter match. “Her forehand form is too open! He’s chipping and charging at all the wrong times!” Wouldn’t this sound ridiculous? Oh, the duo are out in the public so, technically, they’re open to criticism. But of course the father-daughter duo sucks at tennis; they’re not pros nor did they ever claim to be pros. What, then, is the point of critiquing the father-daughter pair? John McEnroe wouldn’t be telling me anything I don’t already know nor is he telling me anything I want to know.

Likewise, of course most anime bloggers aren’t good at what they do, but so what? Just because there’s a “Publish” button to the upper right corner of the screen doesn’t mean anime bloggers are legitimate reviewers nor did they ever claim to be. For a lot of people, writing about anime is just yet another outlet in their lives just like how some might enjoy playing tennis at the local park on their free time. It’s not as if anime bloggers are pretending to be the “New York Times” or even “Parade” magazine of anime blogging. I’m not denying anyone the right to criticize these blogs. I just don’t personally see the point of doing so.

I do believe there are exceptions to be made, especially when a blogger’s writing is repugnant in its views. It can be argued that we have an obligation to oppose hateful and discriminatory messages, but even in these cases, we would be criticizing an opinion anyway. I’m not arguing that one shouldn’t criticize opinions (it’s still a little silly to meta-blog about opinions on some sort of panel rather than just responding directly to the blogger’s posts). To criticize an amateur’s writing form, style or structure, however, is something else entirely.

24 thoughts on “Why criticizing anime blogs is a bad idea

  1. flomu

    The OEG is a good example of why criticizing anime blogs is a terrible idea. No matter how intricate their about page was, they never had any real clout in the ‘sphere. They tried to sound important, but everybody knew they weren’t. Heck, nobody cared about their half-assed definition of ‘otaku.’ It felt more like an excuse to bash the entire ‘sphere, which they somewhat succeeded at (never end sentences with a preposition!).

    I hated their methods and was relieved when the much better Aniblog Tourney rolled around.

    Colony Drop sucks. Just putting that out there. They’re like the OEG, except without the shroud of anonymity.

    Why I criticize other blogs: There really isn’t much ‘why.’ I tend to write and say what I feel, and that includes “wow, this post sucks (link post)” or “NICHIJOU (link post) also that post is good.” I sure don’t have the clout or respect to be pulling off what J159 suggested, but I do like to look at other aniblogs and say what I like or dislike about them.

    Whether they listen to me or not is up to them. I’m just saying things, not really looking to improve another person’s blog.

    tl;dr There is no point. I like saying stuff, and said stuff covers metacritianiblogging.

    P.S.: Nice analogy with John McEnroe, though I’d say the situation with anime blogs is a little different. From my point of view, there are quite a few anibloggers out there who, for example, don’t realize or have never been told that their site is a Sankaku Complex clone. Of course, they may just not care…

    P.P.S.: Where is that last picture from? It’s stupidly hilarious.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      I initially had a paragraph about the “The OEG,” but I thought better of it. The less said about those guys, the better. I’ve never heard of this “Colony Drop” you speak (I’ll end my sentences anyway I like!) of.

      Although the timing may have suggested otherwise, this post wasn’t motivated by your recent meta post. Instead, it was this line from a Formspring answer you linked: “WE WANT TO GUIDE THE NEXT GENERATION OF ANIBLOGGERS!!!”

      It simply struck a nerve with me.

      From my point of view, there are quite a few anibloggers out there who, for example, don’t realize or have never been told that their site is a Sankaku Complex clone.

      I editted in something regarding this just as you posted your comment. But to repeat myself, yeah, if someone’s writing and advancing hateful opinions, people should definitely criticize that. I just dislike the attitude that if a blog is boring, because the content and analysis are shallow or whatever, we should make an example of it. I wouldn’t criticize amateur tennis players for having fun at a park. Likewise, I wouldn’t critically analyze someone squeeing over the latest “Naruto” episode and providing an episode summary of it. I may not like this person’s blogging, but to make a big to-do about it in some sort of judging panel is too extreme.

      P.P.S.: Where is that last picture from? It’s stupidly hilarious.

      I edited the order of my argument so I’m not sure which picture you’re referring to specifically. The Sonic one came from a search for bad anime drawings; the Simon Cowell just came from “Simon Cowell funny.”

      Reply
      1. flomu

        All right, I’ll stop there with the OEG (and Colony Drop as well). I could rant about the two of them for a while.

        “WE WANT TO GUIDE THE NEXT GENERATION OF ANIBLOGGERS!!!”

        It simply struck a nerve with me.

        Haha, I’m sure J159 was kidding in that Formspring response, but the point still stands. I’m sure there are people out there who sincerely believe that.

        But to repeat myself, yeah, if a someone writes hateful opinions, someone should definitely criticize that. I just dislike the attitude that if a blog is boring, because its shallow or whatever, we should make an example of them and criticize their amateur writing.

        For me, the line between amateur writing and something… unacceptable isn’t very clear. Case in point: my bit about NSFW posts, with the CSW blog. I have a few basic guidelines listed out in my head for anime blogs*, and CSW crossed the line with their NSFW post.

        But from Jubbz’s point of view, I crossed the line by criticizing his blog.

        An even more borderline example is me linking a post on Twitter from some Naruto/Bleach fanblog that I found on Nano. I didn’t say anything directly criticizing the blog or the post in my tweet, though the sentiment was there. This is the kind of thing where I get stuck. I didn’t know if I should criticize the post or not, so I ended up saying “found a strange post.”

        * Things like no discrimination, original posts, decent English (grammarfag here), and no… male appendages.

        Reply
        1. E Minor Post author

          J159

          Yeah, I’m sure he wasn’t serious, but the OEG existed for a reason. Like you said, someone out there believes or used to believe that they have some noble purpose in trashing anime blogs.

          Borderline examples

          Well, I’m no expert on where exactly one draws the line, and I’m not even sure a line could be drawn. As long as people understand my general sentiment (i.e., what’s the point of criticizing the average anime blog?), I’m satisfied with what my post has accomplished. I guess I just don’t peruse Anime Nano often enough to the point where a contentless Naruto/Bleach post bothers me.

          Reply
  2. Joojoobees

    This is actually an interesting idea. I can imagine it being amusing if someone were to honestly try to critique aniblogs — not bash, or respond to specific opinions, as you say, but actually set out to regularly review various aniblogs. I’m not saying amusing because I would read it, but amusing in the sense of your tennis example. Many to most blogs are just someone saying something pointless. Some are very thoughtful at least part of the time, but, LOL, what a waste of time it would be to seriously critique the vast majority.

    On the other hand, there is some benefit to tying the aniblogiverse together, I think. Janette at Black and Blue Socks occasionally puts out a collection of links to blog posts she thought was worth reading. I try (at least on occasion) to look over what other people wrote about a given episode, and then either try to detect a theme in the reactions, or react to their reactions, or something. This is more like curating than critiquing, perhaps.

    I guess for me a good part about blogging is the dialogue — the back and forth (not arguing, but discussion). As such there is some appeal to the idea of looking at the aniblogiverse itself as a text that can be commented upon, just as anibloggers comment upon episodes, series, or whatever.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Oh, if people want to promote good posts they’ve read, I can’t imagine why anyone would have a problem with that. But if someone isn’t looking for criticism, and blogging is just an outlet for his or her anime watching hobby, I just find it particularly pretentious to criticize these blogs under some notion that we are improving the anime blogosphere.

      Reply
  3. inushinde

    If the people ask for criticism, there’s no problem with it. Since the majority wouldn’t in this case though, it would end up with more hate wank from those at the receiving end than anything. Agreed, in that these people are doing it mostly for fun, rather than out of some misguided pretension toward being some kind of authority on the matter.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      If you’re criticizing others for fun, however, it then comes across as rather cruel. But trolls will be trolls, I guess.

      Reply
  4. dyssymulation

    Can’t the arguments you use to defend anime blogging equally well be used to defend anime blog blogging?

    I think you’d have been better off restricting your assertion to the last sentence of your second-to-last paragraph: you haven’t presented evidence that criticism is a bad idea, you’ve merely suggested that it’s pointless. Show me anime blog blogging’s negative effects, or the widely-agreed moral principles that it breaks, and you might have a case. Until then, your post is just as pointless.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      First, I’m not defending anime blogging. Criticizing misguided meta blogging is not the same as defending amateur writing.

      Second, I’m not going to play your game of false equivalencies.

      Third, you’ve completely ignored my analogy to tennis, which is supposed to illustrate why it’s ridiculous to criticize amateurs who never once asked to be criticized.

      Show me… the widely-agreed moral principles that [anime blog blogging] breaks….

      Oh give me a break.

      Reply
    2. Joojoobees

      Heh, heh. I see what you did there. Your criticism of this blog post is an expression of the “blog blogging’s negative effect” that you cleverly deny exists. You witty fellow you.

      Reply
  5. TRazor

    As much as I agree with this post completely, there is one reason why I’d like to occasionally see some metablogging:

    It’s pretty damn entertaining, from a neutral perspective.

    Good post :)

    Reply
  6. MkMiku

    Good points you have here. As you mentioned, most of us do it as a hobby not as a profession. Though, I don’t see anything wrong with a bit of constructive critism here and there. Critique leads to colloquy which is important as long as it’s not offensive. In other words, attack the blog post not the blog. ^^

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Constructive criticism sounds great on paper, but of course, things are a little trickier in practice. Hey, if John McEnroe went up to the father-daughter duo with smiles and some light tips at the start, I’m sure the amateurs wouldn’t mind either.

      Reply
  7. MkMiku

    Good points you have here. As you mentioned, most of us do it as a hobby not as a profession. Though, I don’t see anything wrong with a bit of constructive criticism here and there. Critique leads to colloquy which is important as long as it’s not offensive. In other words, attack the blog post not the blog. ^^

    Reply
  8. seinime

    …Man.

    I remember visiting this blog when it used the white/minimal theme (I forgot the name). Now I’m visiting it again and it’s gotten nothing but better.

    Nostalgia aside, I believe that subjectivity should be used in a better outlet. Rather, instead of people criticizing anime blogs, they should bring out the best in them. Not that I’m against well written, constructive criticism, but it would be more productive to, like you said, finding and promoting well written posts that you’ve read on other blogs instead of finding anime blogs that get bashed, if the criticism is not well based. That way, subjectivity can draw away from bias and become more opinion. However, I find it hard to do without others viewing it as shameful self-promotion in some cases.

    Regarding your John McEnroe, well placed. I’ve been interested in the business world for awhile and been watching a show called Dragon’s Den. It’s about people trying to pitch their idea to a bunch of millionaires hoping that they’ll receive some funding for their project. Within the millionaires, called Dragons in the show, there’s one guy who keeps blowing people off and even ticking people off because of his arrogant attitude. His name is Kevin O’ Leary. Even with his arrogant attitude, one thing he always says that lingers in my mind is his obsessive view on money. “How much money did you make?” “What’s your revenue?” “You’re not making any money!” “IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY!” And through his crazy obsession of money lies a point. No matter how creative an idea is, if it fails to make any money, it’ll crumble in the business world. Coming from a multi-millionaire with several established companies (I believe he even bought out some companies, iirc), I see what point he is trying to make. Similar to blogging, there’s no point in criticizing when the criticizer himself isn’t well known or anything. Not that he can’t make some good points, but it can be hard to linger or actually make that much of a difference.

    I might have lost my point somewhere in the middle of all this, I don’t know.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Now I’m visiting it again and it’s gotten nothing but better.

      It’s just a ruse — we’re still nothing but episodics!

      finding and promoting well written posts that you’ve read on other blogs instead

      That reminds me of how I personally got into writing. I’m not a great writer by any means, but the willingness to accept criticism didn’t come until I started to put work and care into the craft. Once you sink in the hours, it starts to hurt when things go wrong. So for me, that started to happen after I saw examples of excellent rhetoric, i.e. great lectures and papers during college. That’s when I thought to myself, “Y’know, I want to write like them.” I became more receptive to criticism after that. So yeah, we can go on and on about how constructive criticism is great, but unless bloggers specifically ask for it, I think it’s best just to indirectly guide people with examples of great posts from other bloggers. When people are ready for criticism, they naturally ask for it. No need to go guns a’blazin from the start and do a point-by-point deconstruction of someone’s blog.

      Reply
      1. seinime

        Same here, I couldn’t tolerate criticism before as well, but now writing a well written and constructed post feels rewarding in itself, and constructive criticism even better.

        “Y’know, I want to write like them.”
        The spark came when I started writing again. Then I realized you can actually relate and refer to a bunch of topics in writing, and bring it to another level.

        Reply
  9. Yumeka

    Excellent points. I especially like that tennis analogy.

    I agree with everything you say – there really is no point in criticizing an anime blog. We’re all doing this for our enjoyment and not as a professional career or anything, so it’s not like any of us have to follow any rules. If you don’t like a blog, just don’t read it. I don’t know why you’d want to spend time writing about a blog you dislike rather than something you like, which is what a blog should be about. Unless the blogger is writing about something so immoral you just can’t keep quiet, I respect the fact that my fellow fans have different views about anime, and if their writing isn’t to my taste, I’ll just leave them be and concentrate on my own blog.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      I don’t know why you’d want to spend time writing about a blog you dislike

      It sort of reminds me of when neighbors complain over that one home with a bad lawn or ugly cars in the driveway. Even though people are free to live however they want on their own property, Homeowner Associations love to argue that this particular home will negatively affect the property values for the entire neighborhood. Well, there is some objective basis in this argument: people do judge neighborhoods by the cover so if they see an ugly house, they are less eager to buy a home near it.

      I wonder if the same thing is occurring with anibloggers who are eager to criticize under the guise of some noble cause. It’s as if, somehow, a mediocre blog cheapens their efforts and these people feel sullied.

      Reply
  10. Anonymous

    The comparison between blogging and a father-daughter tennis match is incredibly flawed.

    I think any blog worth a damn will enable or even encourage readers to discuss the things that are said on it. Bloggers publish their thoughts on the Internet for all to see and it’s only fair that people can respond to it, even (or rather, especially) if they don’t agree with what’s being said.

    Anyone who expresses his/her opinion, online or offline, should accept that someone could disagree. That’s how discussion works.

    The father and daughter who play tennis in the park don’t want to impress anyone or push their viewpoint on anyone. They’re merely having fun together (not in that way…..). So your argument really doesn’t hold up.

    If you take issue with criticism of your opinions then you can always start a private diary rather than post them on a blog for the entire world to see. Just saying.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Bloggers publish their thoughts on the Internet for all to see and it’s only fair that people can respond to it, even (or rather, especially) if they don’t agree with what’s being said.

      Your argument misconstrues my point. I’m not telling you not to disagree with a blogger’s opinions. Feel free to generate discussions through an exchange of (opposing) ideas. Most bloggers are not publishing their writing, however, for you to criticize their writing form, style and structure. In this sense, the tennis analogy still applies.

      If someone wants to summarize every single episode he or she watches, so what? If a blogger posts nothing but reactions to harem anime, so what? You can disagree with opinions and express your disagreement, but what’s the point of criticizing what an amateur blogger chooses to write about or how they write?

      Reply
  11. Sapphiresky

    WOOOOW Excellent, I am so excited someone wrote a post like this, I always thought it was completely pointless when people just blog for fun, and others find it cool to criticize them when they weren’t asking for it. It’s true that it seems like people who do that don’t even appreciate the fact that there’s all these people talking about it. Try a fandom where you’re like the only freaking person doing a blog and nobody else even knows the shows to write about it, perhaps these people would appreciate that there’s so many Anime blogs out there, and be grateful people are just writing because they love it and want to share their thoughts. I personally find it helpful when people really explain why but it doesn’t help that a lot of those critiques are just being asses, and as you said, there really isn’t a point in that, especially if the person isn’t looking for it.

    Reply

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