Staff : Info : Reviews

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Edit Page

Before you can enter the details of your review, you need to find the "Edit Page" for entering your review content. Let's assume for now that the issue you intend to review has already been entered into the system. If this is your first review then this is almost certain to be the case.

Simply find the issue details in the pages of SpiderFan. You may need to use the "Search" box for the appropriate "realm" index. E.g. try the Comics Index for comic titles.

Once you've found the issue, look across to the right and you will see a set of links marked "Staff Edit". Click the "Review" link to take you directly to the review edit page for that issue. You will be directed to the SpiderFan development server.

If you have not already done so, you will need to supply the "Front Door" password and your personal password. After doing so, you will be returned to the review edit page which looks something like this:

Enter the detail on each tab. Note that icons will appear on each tab to tell you if a tab needs attention:

Indicates that the tab requires you to make some change, e.g. toggle a setting or add further information before the review can "go live".

Indicates that a warning has been generated by some of the data you have added. E.g. you have created a hyperlink which cannot be resolved. The review may still be displayed but something is wrong with the content.

Indicates that an error has occured. This normally means that the review will not display at all, even if the review has "gone live".

Anatomy of a Review

The basic content of your review should consist of the following parts:

BACKGROUND - A paragraph or three giving the history of the issue, what went before, or for a #1 of a new title, maybe explain where the title came from. For historical stories you could talk about world events at the time. Maybe if there's changes on the creative team, mention that too.

DETAIL - Here's where you get into the detail of the story. Anywhere from five to fifty paragraphs of description. You must do more than simply retell the story, it's important that you also interpret and comment on the events. This is a "review", remember, not just a "translation".

GENERAL - Here you look back on the issue as a whole and give your general comments on the story. What bits you liked, what worked well, and what was a total disaster.

WEBS - Your web-rating. 0.5 Webs to 5.0 Webs. The system won't allow zero webs, sorry. An "averagely decent" story gets 3.0 webs. There's no shame in being an average story. 4.0/4.5 Webs should be reserved for very good comics. 5.0 Webs for EXCEPTIONAL comics.

SUMMARY - A paragraph explaining why you gave the web rating you chose.

FOOTNOTE - An OPTIONAL paragraph or three. If you like, talk about what the characters in the story went on to do, or what happened to the creative team after, or where the title went, or anything of a "footnotish" nature. Some reviewers covering old comics will talk about real-world events that happened in the month of publication. This section is entirely optional.

In addition, there may be one extra field required.

LOOKBACK CATEGORY - Whenever you review an old issue (cover date more than six months in the past), you must allocate it to a "lookback category". This must be done before the review can "go live". Choose the one which seems to match best. If you are planning to review a lot of old issues with a consistent them, you can always ask a site admin to create a new lookback category just for you.

DRAFT FLAG - Once everything else has been entered, then you may make the review "live". Change the "Draft" option from DRAFT - DO NOT PRINT to LIVE CONTENT and click "Save Changes".

Where is My Review?

After clicking the "Save" button on your first review, the traditional thing for all new reviewers to do is to send me an email asking "where is my review?"

Your review should appear on the "dev" site within three minutes. It should appear on the "www" site within 24 hours.

Here are the standard reasons why you cannot see your review yet.

  1. You have not marked the review as LIVE CONTENT.
  2. You did not click "Save Changes" after marking LIVE CONTENT.
  3. There is an error which is preventing the go-live.
  4. The system has not had time to generate the HTML yet.
  5. You are looking on "www" and the daily re-sync has not run yet.

The "dev" site is updated every two minutes. The "www" site is updated once a day. If this isn't clear, have a look at the Overview again.

General Notes

Check your spelling and grammar. There's a basic expectation that you proof-read your own review for typo's and grammar. Use a spell checker please!

No offensive language. "Damn" and "Heck" are fine, and "Bloody Good" is allowed if you are Australian. But don't push it too far, please. This is a family show.

The most important piece of formatting you will need is the ENTER key. To start a new paragraph, hit the ENTER key twice. It's simple, just go ENTER ENTER... that. That will leave a complete blank line that will force a new paragraph. Otherwise, your entire review content will run together as one large block.

In addition, we would love you to use cross-references in your reviews to generate hyperlinks to other articles, reviews, items, staff members, Marvel creators, etc. SpiderFan has a simple and powerful hyperlink system which is fully described in our Formatting Guidelines. Please read that before entering your review.

Adding Issues

You may find that the issue you want to review has not yet been added to the database yet. In that case you will need to add the issue, and maybe even need to add the title. See our Title Guidelines for more details on that process.

Style & Detail

Every reviewer has their own style, and that's cool. Some reviewers write lots of detail, others skim. Some are serious, some a light and funny. Just choose a style that suits you. If people hate it, they'll let you know.

How long should it take to write a review? I personally find that even a quick review takes me at least an hour for a single comic issue. A detailed review can take 3 or more hours. Eric Engelhard's reviews of Spidey Super Stories must take more like eight hours each month, as do Al's detailed "From the Beginning" looking back reviews.

What You Should Review

First up, be aware that the system only allows one review for any given story. We used to support alternates, but the management overhead just got too painfull. Maybe one day we'll work around that, and support altenate reviews in some form or another. But for now it's just to complicated to manage the reviews if we allow alternate reviews. One review per story it's just going to have to be.

That means that you'll need to pick out issues that currently have no review written for them. There's still a few thousand of those, so we're not yet getting close to running out of options. But there are a few things to bear in mind:

Any recent issue of a Active Spider-Man title, or a Spider-Man Spin-Off will quite likely have an allocated reviewer, called the title "Owner". You can see who the title Owner is by looking at the top of the title's summary page. If a title has an allocated Owner, then you shouldn't go reviewing recently released issues of that title. The exception is of course that if a supposedly "Active" title is actually a few issues behind, the reviewer might be struggling. Feel free to contact the site editor, point out the problem, and offer assistance.

At the other end of the scale is "The Forbidden Zone". Any comic with a date before September 1971 (i.e. Amazing Spider-Man #100) is reserved for Al Sjoerdsma, our longest-serving reviewer, and writer of the "From The Beginning" series of Looking Back reviews. That's Al's special preserve, so just leave it be.

Other than that, it's pretty much first-come, first-served. There's bound to be the occasional conflict, but we'll deal with them as they arise. But in general, just pick an issue that has no review, and go for it. The only other problem arises if you really, really want to write a review for an issue that already has a review. Of course, there's not much point in re-doing existing work just for the sake of things. But there are a couple of reasons why you might justifiably want to replace an existing review.

Firstly, the existing review might be rubbish. There are a few reviews that were written almost as "placeholders", and there are others that were written by reviewers that had more enthusiasm than skill. Secondly, if you're reviewing an entire title, you might find that there are one or two existing reviews just ruining an otherwise clear run of empty review slots. I agree that it's nice if a single reviewer can review an entire title, though if the existing review is well-written, I'm loathe to replace it..

In either case, if you think there's a good reason to replace an existing review, please do talk to me first, don't just go ahead and trample it. We'll talk it over, and see what's the best thing to do on a case by case basis.

Late Reviews

If you're reviewing a current title, you're expected to have a review up on the site within a week of the comic book hitting the shops. Two weeks at the most.

If you are over a month late, i.e. there are now two issues of your title waiting to be reviewed, then I will look at finding a guest reviewer to write those reviews. I will usually email you and give you a day or two to catch up, but not always.

If reviews are regularly late, then I'll have no choice but to give your title to somebody else. I'll probably use psychology to make you feel bad as well. Don't say you weren't warned!

If you're only reviewing old issues, i.g. for our Looking Back section, then it's a different story. You can work at your own pace.