OPINION: Constructive criticism should always stay constructive

When critiquing somebody else’s work or art, it’s important to stay positive, courteous



Critiques of writing and art are always tough to get right, but it’s important to always be respectful.


If you do not want to be criticized, do not create anything.

In different areas of art, such as drawing, music, poetry and writing, authors can face negative opinions about their work. It happens very often, especially when people confuse their opinions with criticism.

Some opinions help authors develop and improve their skills, but some are unhelpful and harmful. Many times authors can come across negative comments that commentators will believe to be criticism.

“Any criticism should be done as an acknowledgment of the humanity of both the person giving the criticism and the person receiving it,” said Joshua Munroe, political science teaching assistant.

No matter how much the person likes or dislikes art or writing, one should respect the author’s work. It is healthy to disagree with somebody’s perspective, just as it is healthy to dislike somebody’s art. It is not acceptable to give rude feedback and not appreciate the effort authors put into their work.

“Number one, when you are giving any kind of criticism about anything, whether it is writing or a piece of art, you need to specify exactly what part of the totality you have trouble with,” said Elizabeth Siler, clinical assistant professor of English. “Number two, you need to clarify the trouble you are having with it. Number three, explain your reasons for that. Four is if you have a suggestion or different solutions, you can give that.”

I think the main difference between acceptable constructive criticism and the desire to put the person down is noticeable. It does not mean criticism should contain only positive comments. It is not helpful when criticisms only contain negative comments, putting down the author.

It is important to remember that all of us have differing opinions. With that being said, what is right for one person may not necessarily be the same for others. People should not attack the writer solely on the fact that their opinion is different from the writer’s.

“A lot of criticism, especially in the arts, can come down to subjectivity. Art tastes unique to us,” Munroe said. “Any type of criticism, which is offered, should be constructive, instead of just saying ‘I do not like that.’”

If somebody is too lazy to absorb the entire work, one should not criticize the work at all.

Today’s society is very focused on being online, and with the COVID-19 pandemic, this has gotten worse. Saying negative things and bullying somebody is easier to do behind a keyboard than face-to-face. I think most people would never say even half of the material they provide in comments online.

Student writers, especially, should be allowed to make mistakes, because they’re not professionals.

“I noticed when somebody posts a Daily Evergreen article on Facebook, people from the surrounding community will get upset because they have other opinions,” said Bryan Fry, clinical assistant professor of English.

Siler said we should be clear about the different technical aspects of the writing because it is a complex process to criticize somebody’s writing skills. The difference in opinion between the author and reader should not push the reader to say it is terrible writing.

“Constructive criticism is delivered with the intent to help the writer to improve on the next draft, and criticism with negative comments does not lead anywhere,” said Melissa Nicolas, associate professor of English. “If I say I do not like it, there is nothing the writer can do with that during the revise.”

Munroe said the desire to protect the reader’s opinion is often the only reason to make negative comments about writing. On the other hand, constructive criticism’s goal is to help writers improve their writing skills.

Siler said that criticism of anybody’s work should not be directed against the writer’s personality, including the author’s race, ethnicity or age. Putting the author down because they are not a native English speaker is not constructive criticism.

Negative comments that only disagree and attack the author offer no constructive criticisms either. Disagreeing and giving a personal opinion, as well as having a conversation about writing skills are normal.

But an opinion should be provided with respect. Any type of criticism should be constructive and bring the author to the highest level of writing.