Help:Critiquing Proposals

From Blaseball Wiki

When lore writing goes perfectly, people will expand on each other’s ideas, enthusiastically encourage them, and unanimously agree on every piece of lore that gets proposed.

Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world.

Conflicts are inevitable on this wiki, for a multitude of reasons. With that in mind, we, the wiki team, want to be clear about what we consider an idealized way to handle situations where you come across a lore proposal with which you disagree. These are not hard-and-fast rules for when critique is valid or invalid; someone can follow these guidelines and still act in bad faith, and people acting in good faith may still step out of line or fail to communicate as well as they intend. Despite any desires to the contrary, we are still emotional beings, and those emotions can get the better of us. Stay calm, remember that we are all love Blaseball, and try to keep the following ideas in mind when you’re preparing your responses.

Be Specific, and Offer Solutions

If you’ve ever had someone say “you just need to do better,” you know exactly how frustrating non-specific advice is. Don’t be that person! Instead, try to figure out why you’re against a proposal, and be as specific as you can. If the proposed lore feels out of character, what specific actions or mannerisms feel out of character? If you don’t like what it implies about a team, where are you getting that implication from? The more specific you can be, the easier it is for the other person to understand what you want changed. That said, do not feel like you must bare your soul in order to explain why you dislike lore. It is sufficient to say, for example, “For a variety of reasons, describing Wiki McBlaseball as ‘that horcrux over there’ brings an energy to McBlaseball that makes me really uncomfortable.”

Additionally, creative labor goes into developing a lore proposal, and asking the lore proposer to keep revising on their own can be exhausting. With that in mind, you can ease some of that labor and accelerate the discussion by offering suggestions that you would accept as a solution to the conflict. To carry on the example above, you might continue, “Would describing McBlaseball as ‘the drink hole with the lich soul’ work instead?” Of course, recommending solutions that you know won’t be accepted isn’t particularly productive, which is why you should also...

Seek Compromise

People rarely, if ever, write something without any attachment to the ideas they put in, and you should be mindful of that fact. When you’re offering solutions, try to identify the important themes and elements in the proposal, and retain them in the new version. If you aren’t sure what those important themes and elements are, ask! It’s better to take a moment to clarify these things than keep proceeding and hoping you get it right eventually. It will also help the person on the other end if you can be clear & specific about what you find important to your position, too. Is there a particular tone you want to hit? A personality quirk? A favorite food? It never hurts to say, “This is what I want to make sure ends up in the final version.” In fact, we encourage it! That said, be critical about your own desires. Does it matter that the player specifically loves the saag paneer from the old Indian buffet three blocks down from their apartment above everything else, or is representing Indian food culture sufficient? Generally speaking, you should assume you can find an acceptable compromise for everyone involved, even if it’s not ideal for anyone in particular.

It’s Okay to Not Like Things

It’s not uncommon for people to find something they dislike, then find reasons that other people should dislike it too. It’s not just that they don’t like blue, it’s that blue is a symbol of masculinity in contemporary Western society and thus evokes ideas of the patriarchy, so nobody should like blue! It’s not just that they don’t like chocolate, it’s that cocoa plantations are destroying the Amazon, so nobody should like chocolate! It’s not just that they don’t like a queer character having a heel turn, it’s that the heel turn matches a pattern of villainizing queer people in media, so nobody should like the queer character’s heel turn! It can be difficult to tell where the line is between “righteous indignation” and “rationalized distaste.” After all, factually, all of the above statements are true. Contextually, however, is a blue sky always a symbol of masculinity and the patriarchy? Is boycotting chocolate an effective way to combat Amazonian deforestation when most of the land is cleared for cattle? Is a queer character’s heel turn a slight on queerness when there are five other queer characters who are still uplifting examples?

Grant yourself permission to dislike a lore proposal. It is an acceptable reason to critique one, after all. That said...

Not Liking Things Is Not Justification To Block Compromise

The wiki team takes what we call a “lore positivist” stance. Generally speaking, if an author wants to write lore, then we will find a way to host it. Exceptions are made for special circumstances (see our collaboration policy), and the presentation may be a compromise in its own right, but in most cases, nobody has the right to reject lore. With that in mind, approach every lore proposal with the question, “What would make me the most comfortable with this?” You do not need to be enthusiastic about every addition to lore that gets made, you just need to find a compromise.

Recognize When There Is No Further Compromise

If one party says, “It’s important to me that the player loves to dance,” and the other party says, “It’s important to me that the player hates to dance,” there is clearly no effective middle ground. Sometimes these differences will be this obvious, but more often you will find these at border lines: a particular attitude towards the past, the characterization of a relationship, perhaps the name of a beloved pet. While you may have compromised repeatedly to get to this point, offering middle ground after middle ground, sometimes there simply isn’t a middle ground that retains everything you find important. When this happens, you are faced with a choice: do you refuse any compromise, or do you flex on something that you were inflexible about before?

If you or the person you’re critiquing choose to accept an imperfect compromise, then you have found a solution. You may not walk away particularly happy, but you at least have preserved some portion of your desires through the compromise. If neither of you are willing to accept a compromise, however, this is when the wiki team must step in and declare a solution. If there is no clear side to favor, we will ask both parties to write independent entries for the Interdimensional Rumor Mill and leave it at that. Typically, nobody leaves this situation happy, as lore gets fragmented, compromises may be undone, and the underlying tensions get left to fester. Think carefully before you decide to dig in your heels.

Take Time and Find Distance

Blaseball moves at a blistering pace, but that doesn’t mean you have to match it. Please, take things slow, and give yourself room to breathe around contentious issues. Whether it takes an hour or a day, the wiki isn’t going anywhere, and when you get back you will probably be able to approach the situation with a clearer head. At the very least, when you feel yourself starting to get heated, ask yourself: When was the last time you drank water? Ate some food? Got some sleep? Many things affect your ability to approach a situation with a clear perspective, and it’s important to keep that in mind.

Similarly, when we engage with fiction, we often invest parts of our identities into the characters we imagine. We care about them more because they share our religion, our ethnicity, our gender identity, or any number of other things. Sometimes, this can provide us valuable insight into a situation. Other times, however, this can make it hard to tell where the line is between our feelings about a character and our feelings about ourselves. Keep this in mind when you’re getting upset over a lore proposal, and consider: is it really a significant change to a character, or does it just feel bigger because it’s not your own personal experience?

You Are Not the Author

To end this guide, we want to remind you: there are other people who want to play with the characters people have built, and they are not you. Each of them has their own voice and way of writing lore, and we want to preserve that. This means when you offer solutions, don’t argue over individual words. We want to help develop contributors’ independence, so do not rewrite the entire proposal to your liking. And, perhaps most importantly, we want to display a diversity of ideas on this wiki. Do not expect new lore to connect perfectly to everything already present, and do not expect it to align with your vision. We love to see collaboration, and often that means interesting compromises and imperfect but acceptable solutions, but compromises require you to bend just as much as the other party does.