The Mannerly Art of Critique

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Title: The Mannerly Art of Critique
Creator: Peg Robinson
Date(s): 1997
Medium: meta
Fandom: Multifandom
External Links: Trekiverse; at VenicePlace
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Essay posted by Peg Robinson in 1997 that explained and clarified the concept of public critique in the usenet. The essay acts as the foundation for the rules of critique for many fandoms to this day.

The essay is currently posted to ASC monthly as part of the FAQ and other documents and is maintained by Stephen Ratliff.

Peg Robinson's disclaimer: "Distribute freely."

Used as a Guide at Other Mailing Lists

Taking Robinson's request to "distribute freely," other mailing lists used this essay as a guide. One was VenicePlace. Another was Critical Edge.

From comments by a mod from Critical Edge, the Highlander list, shortly after this list was created:

We've gotten a question about this offlist, and want to address it here.

"The Mannerly Art of Critique" is a document that has been around for quite some time in the newsgroups where Mary Ellen and I started reading and critiquing fan fiction. We're both used to it, to the point of forgetting that there are things in it with which we don't necessarily agree. We apologize for not checking it more carefully.

In general, it is an excellent guide for how to have critical discussions without degenerating into personal attacks. It is also a piece of material that we didn't want to lift entire chunks from wholesale, nor did we want to rewrite it; further, the entire document is phrased as suggestions, not as hard-and-fast rules.

To address the specific question we were asked:

"The Mannerly Art of Critique" contains the following:

> 1. Only crit those who have INVITED crit, or who have given you permission when you ask.

This is *not* policy on this list. We consider the very act of having made a piece of fanfiction available as both invitation and permission to critique; no specific permission is necessary.

It may be necessary for Mary Ellen and I, or for this list as a whole, to write an internal guide for mannerly critique that we can refer list members to. Any questions about "The Mannerly Art of Critique" or Macedon's "The Mannerly Art of Disagreement" can be addressed to Mary Ellen or I, either on or off list.

Thank you. Laura J. Valentine, Critical Edge Listadmin #2 [1]

Related Links


  1. Laura J. Valentine at Critical Edge, October 27, 2000