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Now, I'm coming up to nearly a year of being a Ciao member, and having been writing since I left college, it has come to my attention recently that there seems to be a feeling that the community spirit, confidence and general effort to write quality original work has waned slightly. Several things have made this clear to me. Firstly the amount of churned out poor quality 'reviews' to simply get any such a bonus which Ciao place on any given category. This is an issue yes, but more seriously, is the bad attitude and general bitterness of some members and their feelings toward these problems and other members who don't deserve such abuse. This, for me, is infuriating. Normally, these things would wash over me, as most of us are adults who can take care of ourselves, but the thing that bugs me is the effects these 'critics' may be having on the whole Ciao community, but don't realise it. I would hate to think that good writers and good people have be turned off and their confidence drained because of these issues have arose or been shoved forcefully in their faces. People write on this site for many different reasons, maybe they want to home their writing skills, help other people in buying choices, or simply, to make a little extra money. Either way, that's their prerogative, and as long as they don't flood the site with rubbish on a daily basis, why should they not have that right? It's better to have constant new reviews on a varied of topics, as long as they are original and of good quality.Although I would never think of myself as a fantastic writer, I am proud of the work I submit, as should many of you out there. I also would not say I have no greater wisdom over anybody on this site, and therefore not talk down to them or patronise people. This is merely my thoughts and advice about Ciao as it currently is, and most importantly, it's members which make such a vibrant, interesting and varied group of writers, who always need something. Something which may have been tarnished of late. Inspiration.
First off, I'll talk about the problems with Ciao itself at the moment. I don't want to bang on about this, because many of us are fully aware of the problems, and don't need to be told what they are like we are newborn children. As members, we know the issues, and most of us take steps to avoid such unhelpful and site-damaging material. When it comes to the current crop of 'churners', by this I mean members who reel off a paragraph or two within a feature category, and produce 10 reviews per day of low quality, many members I know create daily or twice daily reviews which are of high quality and useful to the consumer, making them valuable members of the site. Most 'churners' don't last over a month, as they make the typical errors. Copying, bad English, low knowledge, little opinion and next to none read and rates of other peoples genuine hard work. Sites like Ciao, and similar sites which relay on user generated content (Dooyoo, Hubpages, online shopping forums etc etc...) will always suffer from a degree of abuse, and it's up the hardcore members to highlight this and largely, ignore it. If it is ignored, it will not be of any use to the 'churner' in question. They soon get tired and bored of having to write something which they would consider a chore and not a pleasure, like most of us do. So, instead of throwing the toys out of the pram, concentrate on your own work and that alone, because that's what is important to you. That said, Ciao could do more to stop this, and having the bonus categories is something to be avoided and stopped. Recent changes to the monthly and weekly competitions looked promising, but with yet another change in the POTW rules, this seems to have not been as effective as first thought. This is something the guys behind the site will have to work on, hopefully, with our constructive help.Now, onto reciprocal rating. Some people do this, Yes, of course, I'm not blind or ignorant. Again however, this is another issue that a site like Ciao in it very nature will have, and they know this, hence the rules put in place. Asking someone to rate your own work because they have rated yours something which I find pretty sad, as you should be confident that submitting your work was good enough on merit. Despite what some members think, most members of this site DO NOT do this. It is considered rather bad form surprisingly. I, like many, read and rate fairly to what I see and read. I DO NOT put special privileges on members who are in my COT, or members whom I know personally. It will surprise the negative bunch yes, but this is the general take on mostly every proper writer on the site. If I wrote a load of copied garbage, I would expect people to rate it down, even people whom I am friendly with. This leads onto to other issue, ratings.
For me, even though I may be guilty of the odd "Top Review, E!" sometimes in the comments box, my rates will reflect what I have read. I never care of who the author is, or neither take into consideration if they have given me an E or a NH in the past for my work. It's a clean sheet. I take every review at a time. Most honest writers on this site have that philosophy, I know that to be true because of discussions with other members, both far and wide. This is the very heart of the community, honesty, but this always has to be justified correctly. If I were to give a H to a review which has mostly got VH, I would always comment or guestbook that author, in a polite but frank, honest and pleasant manner. To do this without justification upsets people of course, hence why certain members believe that other members feel they deserve high rates. That is not the case. If an intelligent, constructive and non-offensive comment or message is relayed explaining your down-rate, this is normally met with gratitude for being honest in your convictions. I can think of many examples that I myself have down-rated members whom I am fond of, because of a certain single article they have wrote. Let me tell you all something. The girlfriend is a member of this site. Some of you may know her. Do you think I give her Exceptional's all the time because she sleeps with me? No, I don't. I take her work on merit as she does mine, as the majority of REAL members do so to. Some people will get upset even with a correct and civilised explanation, but this is the condition of our wonderful human minds. Both parties should just take it on the chin, let it blow over, and onto the next review.The final issue is researching. I research considerably for my reviews, but do not ever hit that ctrl+C combination. The internet is a vast information resource, and sites like Wikipedia help this, that is their purpose. Using Wikipedia is not the problem, apart from it's sometimes dubious facts, but this should be well known among the more experienced of us, that's why many of us research the topic's own site or fan-sites. Using information from such sources is fine as long as you only use the actual and true FACTS, and not their descriptions, summaries or opinions. Factual information about any given subject is a constant, and cannot be plagiarized. Using books, friends and tools from the internet to gain this information is not a bad thing, if it is to enhance your writing. Just always avoid lifting sentences directly, this is copying, and as a writer, you should be ashamed to do this. Use the facts yes, but write original words from your brain, you can do it, because that is why you are here on Ciao. Some people will always argue that this is the same words re-ordered. If that's the case, the majority of reviews and articles throughout the entire world could be deemed as plagiaristic. There's just no pleasing some people.
This researching, in turn, leads to the 'churners' and the 'blaggers' trying to pull the wool over our eyes with copied material and such like. It never works, and to think that it causes damage to the site on a whole is incorrect too. Yes, I am fully aware of the fate of Ciao.com, but I am confident that the true writers of this site would not stand by and watch it fall, and you know what? They don't and won't. Excellent reviews and opinions are submitted daily by ALL members, that are genuine, original and very helpful to the consumer. I cannot think of another site beyond Ciao and Dooyoo that, despite all the rubbish they also unfortunately include, have a more varied and wide range of opinions on a vast amount of products, topics and services. Add in the background details of companies, films, bands and other products, it makes for a very rich and valuable resource indeed.You may think that all these problems WILL end in the downfall of Ciao, and maybe it will be too much for the site to handle, but I hope not. With the correct adjustments to the infrastructure and the continued civilised behaviour of members, this will be avoided. Surely members leaving on mass, or losing the inspiration to write quality write-ups would damage Ciao much more. Every review, even the poor ones, will drive traffic to Ciao and some shape or form, but to keep the focus on the site, maybe Ciao should implement a more stronger recruitment member policy. This would prevent the rubbish and the REAL Ciao law-breakers to upset and anger not only the docile writers, but also the more aggressive among us. Certainly, openly upsetting and accusing other members of hurting the site is not the way forward, and makes any member who goes down that road look rather puerile. The other negative option is the 'Fuck it, I can't be bothered anymore!" answer. That's a shame, because ALL members on the site who put in effort, intelligence and thought into their work deserve respect and at least a bit of self-satisfaction. It's sad for me to see members with talent leave under a cloud of anger or disillusion with the site or other members. We all joined this site for our own reasons, my reason? To improve my writing, to have it opened to an audience, so to receive praise and criticism alike, otherwise I cannot hope to improve. What's so wrong with that? It's natural for us to make ourselves feel better and improve ourselves, and If we can achieve that through clever, insightful, good and sometimes even poor writing then that a big positive isn't it? For all the members, the consumers and Ciao.
I would hope that all the recent events, negativity and the lack of a once strong community don't prevent you, the heart of Ciao, to stop writing quality articles in what ever style you wish. You, when you sit down to write about your experience of that little hotel in Barcelona, or about the horror film you have just watched, or the soap you have washed with, are the most important member in the whole of Ciao at that point. We are the site, and by losing our inspiration to write because of stupid and minor reasons, is not something which will stand us in good stead. As a whole, we should all work together to help each other for the greater cause, for our enjoyment and satisfaction, never mind the problems and personal differences, this is something that we all should learn to take in our stride so to better ourselves.
One final thing. I know that still after these words, some people will want a debate or have a disscussion with me, maybe to say I'm naive or trying to win people over. Far from it, this is from what I believe truthfully and from what I love with writing. I welcome you as always, I love a good debate, just be sure to leave your bitterness at the door please. I have found a massive positive in my life with Ciao, to further something I hold dear. It may be just a website yes, but as an aspiring writer, it has helped me with confidence, hope and a greater understanding of what I want to achieve in life.Again, I'll say, to all those true writers, no matter what your outlook is in life. Keep writing everyone and everybody. Our differences is what makes us so interesting and amazing. Gain your Inspiration from all off us alike, and also, inspire us too!
Yours with a Passion... © Novabug
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