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  #1    
Old July 8th, 2010, 06:36 AM
Alais
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Hello Pokecommunity

For those of you who use Fanfiction.net to find stories (when you've run out of material here, of course ), you may have found that it is exceptionally difficult to sort the well written, quality stories, from the generic drivel. This is because unlike Pokecommunity, there is no quality control, and therefore no means to find something actually worth reading outside of communities. Communities are not comprehensive, are very biased, and are rarely updated.

Fear not!

I have written a code script which pulls all the info about every story for an entire fandom (including review count!) and exports it to Excel.

tl;dr - skip to final paragraph.

This means that you can sort stories by review, or update date, or any of the other info provided by Fanfiction.net in its regular search. My favourite index of quality is number of reviews divided by number of chapters, since many people review every chapter so this gives an idea of how many people have reviewed.

A quick note about why such a search is not available on Fanfiction.net: Sorting by reviews means that stories with low review counts (because of low quality or newness) get overlooked. If everyone only read stories with lots of reviews, no new good stories would ever get reviewed, and so they would never get discovered. Please keep this in mind, and search the newly published/updated stories often!

I won't link to the databse just yet, but if anyone is interested in it, for pokemon or any other fandom, please reply here, and I will put it up or PM you.
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  #2    
Old July 8th, 2010, 09:15 AM
Giratina ♀'s Avatar
Giratina ♀
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Yo.

While personally I don't stalk fanfiction.net enough to be able to use this function, I should note that there is a critical problem in your thinking when it comes to the "index of quality" you prefer, and that is the fact that lots of reviews do not equal quality. I can point out a very bad old story of mine that laughed at the normal conventions of grammar and competent plotting, which got twenty reviews in as many chapters. I can also point to the story I'm writing right now, which I seriously pray is better than the one I wrote in 2008, which got two reviews in twenty-eight chapters. (Granted, the reason nobody likes my stories is because I don't inject mindless romantic slop in there, but still.) I don't think there's any concrete way of finding a "quality filter"... though, knowing the nature of Pokémon stories on FFNet, you'd do a pretty good job if there were a way to filter out certain genres.
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  #3    
Old July 8th, 2010, 10:30 AM
JX Valentine's Avatar
JX Valentine
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Giratina ♀ View Post
and that is the fact that lots of reviews do not equal quality.
*nods* Likewise, the reverse isn't true, either. Even if something gets few reviews, that doesn't mean it's not a generic new trainer story we've seen thousands of times (only badly written by an unknown author). So, if the OP created a database that also listed stories without reviews, it still wouldn't necessarily be considered quality. On the other hand, you could be a really popular fic author who's writing a new trainer story with a fresh twist, and it might actually be better than a lot of other stuff out there. (See Dragonfree.)

The problem with that one Q word is the fact that quality is all in the eye of the beholder. One man's treasure is another man's trash, after all. For example, lots of people think srgeman's work is incredible and the best stuff in the Pokémon archives, but personally, I thought A Little Night Music was only okay. (I could list off why, but I've seen his fans rip apart anyone who didn't think that fic was amazing.) Even if you've got a fic without grammatical errors, it might fall flat in some viewers' eyes due to the storyline or the way the characters are created -- both of which are judgements that rely on personal opinions.

So, in a nutshell, any database built on quality will need to define in a lot of detail what quality is, and even then, you might end up just defining it by your standards.

Quote:
(Granted, the reason nobody likes my stories is because I don't inject mindless romantic slop in there, but still.)
That and you don't follow generic, in-vogue plots or gimmicks. For example, if you added "will accept OCs" to the beginning of your story, you'll apparently get an obscene number of reviews, just because that happens to be in fashion right now. I know this from experience, hilariously enough.
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  #4    
Old July 8th, 2010, 04:30 PM
Alais
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It's not supposed to be a catch-all. It's just a tool. High review count is a great indicator that people like something, which means there is a reason they like it. Sometimes it's not a good reason, but it is easier to check 100 stories for how good their first chapter is than it is to check 9000 (the number listed on the site). You will note that I mentioned the flaw that a story must usually gain reviews to be noticed, and for that you just have to keep checking the listed of updated stories, use recommendations by authors you like, and check communities of the particular flavours of story you prefer.

Personally, I find sorting by reviews is a good first filter when you don't want to go trawling, and just want something that's probably a good read. It's also great to have the info of the entire database of stories in an easily searchable format (e.g. for keywords).
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  #5    
Old July 8th, 2010, 05:13 PM
JX Valentine's Avatar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alais View Post
Sometimes it's not a good reason,
Isn't the point of your database to help people find quality stories? If the reason why lots of people review it is "sometimes not a good reason," then the story's not really quality.

Quote:
You will note that I mentioned the flaw that a story must usually gain reviews to be noticed, and for that you just have to keep checking the listed of updated stories, use recommendations by authors you like, and check communities of the particular flavours of story you prefer.
People who visit FFNet do this anyway without tools. That's how lots of authors end up with groupies -- because it's the norm over there to follow one author and check out his or her recs. Not to mention that's why FFNet provided us with a way to filter stories by genre, character, word count, et cetera.

Additionally, while I understand that you're trying to make it easier on yourself, you're not really helping people to actually find quality. As Giratina said, there's a lot of awesome writers in that category who never get exposure because their stories just don't center around things that are in vogue at the time. This doesn't mean they're bad or that someone who gets more reviews most likely has a better story. They just don't have subjects that appeal to the average reader on there -- and, unfortunately, the average reader tends to have sheep-like tendencies that force them to completely ignore otherwise decent stories in favor of something that's not exactly quality but is still about something that appeals to them.

Hilariously (for me), I actually have an example of this on my own profile. Currently, the story I've spent almost two years writing, Anima Ex Machina, is on FFNet. So is Momentum, a story I spent two weeks (so far) writing. AEM has seven chapters on there, all of decent quality if I may say so myself (although I need to edit them), and as you can probably tell by the reviews here, the story's not a generic new trainer plot. Momentum is currently a PWP fic with only two chapters to it and probably the driest attempt at a narrative I've written since high school. AEM has nine reviews. Momentum: twenty-four, not counting the numerous PMs I've received concerning it. The difference? AEM is not about something that's currently in style. Momentum is a submit-your-own OC story, and that happens to be in fashion now. Is Momentum a better story than AEM? Pfft, no. Hell, I don't even know what the story is as of current, and I almost want to torch the first chapter.

Point is, I'm more inclined to view the underdogs (the ones that don't get reviews that often) as being better fics overall compared to the big-name fics on FFNet. This is because there's a lot of gems that are just new, fresh, and not afraid to play with never-been-touched ideas, but that sort of thing only appeals to a small percentage of the audience. Of course, this is naturally just my opinion, and the aforementioned sheep might disagree with me (and potentially claw my eyes out over calling them sheep).

Likewise, one should take into consideration the fact that there's a lot of people out there who aren't sociable authors and therefore are great writers who rarely get reviews. Meanwhile, you might have a sociable author who's writing a generic shippy story but just has a lot of groupies who're backing their story because the author backed theirs.

Tl;dr, there's a lot of factors that go into finding quality fics on FFNet, and it's unfortunately an exercise of sifting through for the diamond in the rough. There's no real easy way to do it without being horrendously biased. Of course, if sorting by review count works for you, then by all means, do it, but it's not going to work for everyone (like yours truly), sorry to say.

Tl;dr to the tl;dr: Fanfiction.net = exercise in Your Mileage May Vary. (Insert standard TVTropes warning here.)
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The Leaf Green Incident (SWC 2012 winner)
Braid (Creepypasta apparently)
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  #6    
Old July 8th, 2010, 06:11 PM
Giratina ♀'s Avatar
Giratina ♀
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It was certainly a valiant attempt, and making such a thing that improves FFNet searchability is actually really great. Especially if there's a way to filter out various genres (no more bad romance fics, yes).

Also, just adding my comment to the whole story comparison idea: one of my stories, Castle of Comic Torture: Elite Fail (as well as its not-doing-too-well sequel, Castle of Comic Torture: Fail to the Chief) is primarily about the Champions of the various Regions asking people on FFNet to give them ideas for tormenting the Elites they are locked in a large, well-stocked castle with for three months with. It was created as a joke when I had nothing better to do, and I didn't even think I would get ten reviews, let alone thirty-three. It's a yearly vacation in the Orange Archipelago, with its own canon (man-child Lance FTW). In total, those two stories have gathered fifty reviews. The other seven have gathered thirty reviews in total, and that number was tripled by one older story (Metal Coat).

Know why the CoCT series did so much better than all my other stories combined? Because all my other stories followed FFNet's rules, of course. Because the very nature of the CoCT series - characters interacting with real reviewers - made it necessary for the reader to review, instead of just optional like it is in most other stories. And yes, I enjoyed writing CoCT quite a lot, thank you, but it just goes to show that there are too many different ways to count quality fiction (not even counting the "beauty in the eye of the beholder" ordeal) for you to call this mechanism a quality fic finder.
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  #7    
Old July 8th, 2010, 08:13 PM
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Astinus
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alais View Post
but it is easier to check 100 stories for how good their first chapter is than it is to check 9000 (the number listed on the site)
I think you mean 32,973 stories. That's hpw many it says are in the category.

At any rate, I agree with the other posters. On ff.net, reviews aren't a good way to look for stories. Stories that deal with romance between well-known canon characters, OT fics with short chapters, and "submit your characters" seem to get more reviews than stories that don't fit those categories. And those three categories might be full of stories that don't meet whatever standards a reader has.

That, and ff.net allows the author to review their own story with each new chapter, and anonymous reviews so the author can get their friends (or the author can pretend to be different people) so that their review count can be higher. Because there is the prevailing notion that the more popular something is, the more attention it receives, despite the fact that it might not be good. (You may all insert your own "popular doesn't mean good!" form of media right now.)

This is all why if I'm going to read fanfiction on ff.net (it's the only place to find fanfic for a fandom I'm in), I either go by summary, the characters written about (I love the lesser-written characters), and recommendations from friends. It's easier to find stories that way because I can see the quality I'm looking for upfront (especially with summaries) than to find the story with the most reviews. (Scanning the second page of the Pokemon section shows that the stories with the most reviews are OT fics accepting submissions for reader characters and Ash/Misty fics.)

So yeah, this "sort by reviews" wouldn't work for me either, because there's so much more I go by when finding fics.
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