Your “constructive” criticism is a little off-putting

March 12th, 2012 · 67 comments

This was the “constructive criticism” Peter received from a classmate on his latest creative writing assignment. (Doesn’t it make you really want to read the whole paper?)

This paper is very choppy and unclear. It is written more like a long winded rant in you exact manner of speaking than an essay. You tend to make run-on sentences and overuse commas, on top of including minute details which make the paper boring & dry, which is a bummer since the topic is interesting. You also tell it in a very arrogant manner, it seems like you think you're really cool for this. Try not to sound like you're such a special snowflake, it's very off-putting.

related: So you were hoping to get an A for “asshole-like entitlement?”


FILED UNDER: college life · Iowa · most popular notes of 2012 · way harsh

67 responses so far ↓

  • #1   looney

    Wow… I wonder if the critic was intending to be ironic here. After all, the criticism is full of minute details and arrogance itself. Although they did manage to lay off the commas.

    Mar 12, 2012 at 5:56 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #2   FeRD bang

    I can’t decide if the fact that the run-on sentence complaint is itself a run-on sentence is the height of brilliance, or of cluelessness, but then again I suppose it could be both, tho the overall hypocrisy evident in the rest of the feedback makes it unlikely that this was written by a snark savant.

    Mar 12, 2012 at 6:00 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #2.1   Editor

      that’s not a run-on. It may have been improved by ending sooner, but it is a sentence nonetheless.

      I say go Team Honest Feedback.

      Mar 12, 2012 at 6:37 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #2.2   Jason Rohrer

      The note does of course include two textbook examples of run-on sentences (independent clauses joined by a comma) immediately following the one that complains of run-ons. This clever delay allows the awesomeness to creep up rather than overwhelming me all at once.

      Overall this note exposes peer-review for what it is: the insufficiently educated misleading the underinformed. Peter’s writing doubtless has its faults, but he should hesitate to accept literary advice from whoever wrote this note.

      Mar 12, 2012 at 7:17 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #2.3   Eula

      I think your comment is brilliant!

      Mar 12, 2012 at 7:30 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #2.4   infanttyrone

      I want both papers to have had something to do with the influence of Faulkner’s writing on that of Pynchon and Wallace.

      I also want to win the Powerball lottery, which is more likely to happen.

      Agree with Editor & Jason that sentence #3 is not a run-on and that sentences # 4 and #5 are. Intentional ? Who knows ?

      Mar 12, 2012 at 9:21 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #2.5   A.J.

      I’m on Team Honest Feedback as well.

      If the note writer isn’t aware that his/her own sentences may be run-ons, imagine how long Peter’s sentences must be for them to be noticed as such.

      Mar 13, 2012 at 1:07 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #2.6   Who passed out the Haterade?

      Also Team Honest Feedback. From his Twitter account, on why he likes Santorum:
      “He doesn’t think women are inferior, he is pro-life, and anti-conception, and will protect my right to practice my religion.”

      On Twitter. One can only imagine what he sounds like when he waxes bombastic.

      Mar 13, 2012 at 11:42 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #2.7   johnnyboy

      Sorry for asking the obvious, but why is everyone here apparently holding a handwritten feedback note to the same grammar standards as an assigned college paper ?
      I’m deffo on Team Honest Feedback, if only for the ‘special snowflake’ snark. And also because Peter is obviously enough of an asshole to think that honest criticism of his shitty writing qualified as a note worthy of PAN-ridicule, which it most definitely isn’t.
      (you may now cue in your criticism of my own poor grammar).

      Mar 13, 2012 at 12:28 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #2.8   cate

      Exactly right. Before I changed majors, I was focused on English and even I’m not stuffy enough to care about how her note was written. It probably took her about a minute to write.
      Also, judging based on his Twitter account, it’s hard to imagine him writing a good paper; he comes off as a nitwit.

      Mar 14, 2012 at 9:06 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #2.9   DuffPaddy

      Surely the last two sentences in the note are comma splices, not run-on sentences?

      @Haterade: Essay Man reckons Santorum is “anti-CONCEPTION” … and is fine with that? Wow!

      Mar 15, 2012 at 7:36 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #2.10   Who passed out the Haterade?

      @Duff: I was wondering if anyone would comment on that. But yes, that really is what he said.

      And ever since, I’ve been wondering how someone can be “pro-life” and “anti-conception.” =/

      Mar 15, 2012 at 12:12 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #3   Miri

    Shoot! I want to read what the “special snowflake” wrote now.

    Mar 12, 2012 at 6:00 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #3.1   Lindsay

      “My mommy says I’m a special snowflake!”

      Mar 14, 2012 at 1:42 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #4   wonderbeech

    THIS is why “peer” reviews in community colleges should be discouraged. Peers are a holes. The teacher needs to his or her job instead of leaving it to a bunch of clueless students.

    Mar 12, 2012 at 6:02 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #4.1   Erik

      Criticism from someone with zero interest in not hurting your feelings can be extremely useful.

      Mar 12, 2012 at 6:15 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #4.2   GojuSuzi

      Surely the teacher/lecturer should have zero interest in your pwecious feelings, with the bonus of actually knowing what the heck they’re talking about.

      Mar 12, 2012 at 6:25 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #4.3   herpderp

      Teachers aren’t overencumbered with spare time, as a general rule.

      Mar 12, 2012 at 6:36 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #4.4   Jitty

      The peer review process is educational for the reviewer as well. But, I never got a peer review comment that I thought much of.

      Mar 12, 2012 at 6:40 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #4.5   Jolly

      It would be an incredible waste of the teacher’s time to read every draft of every student’s paper. If you have 5 periods of 25 students each, you’re already grading 125 papers. If you are checking each and every draft, you just put it up to around 375, which is ridiculous. It also would be more or less useless, since reading and analyzing other people’s work and getting multiple opinions on your own is way more helpful. I mean I have have some shhhhhitty peer reviews in my time, and it sucks when it happens, but the peer review process still makes much more sense than having a teacher constantly checking over your work.

      My main issue with peer reviews comes from the same issue I have with the education system in America: if I’m majoring in English and there is a chemistry major in my English class because it fills one of their general ed requirements, the odds of them giving a fuck about analyzing my work is a lot lower than if they were someone who was actually interested in writing. If anything, they should reform the absurd “general education” part of four year degrees and actually turn it into a sensible system where you take classes in the field you are studying. But that is just my take on it

      Mar 12, 2012 at 6:54 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #4.6   Jason Rohrer

      That’s ingenious, Jolly. So chemistry majors shouldn’t take English. I guess then they can just write messages to one another in the alphabet you find on that chart thing, the Periodic Table, or whatever it’s called; my major didn’t require that I study it, so I don’t know what it’s called. But you get my meaning anyway, right?

      Your argument that it’s “way more helpful” to get peer review is equally supported by your own post, since no teacher has successfully persuaded you to care about subject-verb agreement (odds is), pronoun number agreement (one chemistry major = they), or critical thinking (teachers shouldn’t analyze homework because it’s too much work).

      Mar 12, 2012 at 7:29 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #4.7   BRBonobo

      I found in my community college classes that my peers would never say ANYthing critical. Just a lot of “it’s great.” I had to tear them a new a**hole when I reviewed their work before they would give me helpful feedback.

      Mar 13, 2012 at 12:14 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #4.8   jadefirefly

      Some teachers – a friend of mine is one of them – retain their positions based on student’s reviews.

      So allowing peers to verbally beat the shit out of someone’s work rather than the instructor sometimes allows them to keep their jobs.

      It’s shitty, but there you have it.

      Mar 13, 2012 at 12:33 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #4.9   Daniel

      Then you know nothing about the creative writing program.

      Mar 13, 2012 at 9:51 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #4.10   The Elf

      There’s a middle ground to what Jolly’s talking about. In a large school, it would be easy to pull aside some classes commonly taken for general education for majors in the subject. Then you’d have English 101 for everyone and English 101 for English majors. This would also have the additional advantage of getting into greater depth of the subject in the major class, since it would be reasonable to assume that people majoring in the subject already have a base of knowledge. There were a few classes I took that were designed with non-majors in mind, like the Astronomy class I took. It was a deeply fascinating class about the movements of celestial bodies without getting into the dreary math.

      Mar 13, 2012 at 10:35 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #4.11   RB

      The difference between non-major astronomy and non-major English is that everyone actually needs English skills. I was that biology/chemistry major in English classes with people from other majors, and I actually put forth the effort required to do well. I understand that not everyone does, and I got some pretty useless peer reviews from my classmates. Now I’m in graduate school, and I cannot believe some of the truly awful writing I see from my peers. These people either already have doctorate degrees, or will soon — and they have no idea when to use “lead” versus “led,” “procreate” versus “reproduce,” “principal” versus “principle,” “fewer” versus “less,” and “compliment” versus “complement.” And that’s just word choice! I haven’t even touched on subject-verb agreement, colloquialisms in formal writing, or comma use. I weep for my colleagues, I really do.

      Mar 13, 2012 at 11:14 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #4.12   Jami

      Most of the teachers I knew in college didn’t know what they were talking about themselves. Except the drama teachers.

      The English/creative writing teachers were the worse though. Especially the one I had who likes long, boring, rambling stories about women who stay with their cheating husbands.

      Mar 13, 2012 at 11:52 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #4.13   The other Sarah

      But that makes me wonder… I live in the Netherlands where in college, you generally just take classes that are useful for your major, except the classes that are useful for your minor. But if in the US, people need to take English in college to learn not creative writing or literature analysis but just grammar and spelling… then what do you learn in high school?

      Mar 27, 2012 at 2:26 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #5   infanttyrone

    This one might be just foreplay or a warm-up act.
    I want to read what Peter the snowflake had to say about this guy’s paper.
    And, of course, I want to read both papers.

    snark savant :-)

    Mar 12, 2012 at 6:06 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #6   Jolly

    While this critique could have been worded a lot better and given more specific/helpful criticism, honestly, this is still leaps and fucking bounds more helpful than most of the peer reviews I ended up getting in school. I would MUCH rather have someone give me an honest opinion about how my writing sounds to other people (even if it is vague and slightly douchey) than just breeze through the paper and write “NICE JOB !” or write nothing at all.

    Also I’ve read enough papers that came off like the one this person described that I don’t really think of it as being THAT douchey, just poorly worded as a critique.

    Mar 12, 2012 at 6:38 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #6.1   jaylemeux

      I agree. 95% of the peer review I received in community college was worthless but this reviewer is clearly giving real feedback and I suspect it’s well warranted.

      Mar 23, 2012 at 10:18 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #7   holycrapboredom

    If you click on Peter’s name in the beginning of the post, it links to his Twitter account. Judging by his tweets, I would say this critique is less passive aggressive and most likely fairly accurate. Dude is kind of a jerk.

    Mar 12, 2012 at 6:39 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #7.1   Jitty

      (sorry this is kind of mean to point out, but)

      Tweet March 7:

      A little brain break before I start my paper due tomorrow.


      Mar 12, 2012 at 6:44 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #7.2   holycrapboredom

      Must’ve been another paper he was slacking on, he posted this picture to Facebook on March 1st before submitting it to PAN. Why doesn’t anyone make their pages private? People like me can just sneak into their lives. :P

      Mar 12, 2012 at 6:47 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #7.3   Jolly

      Yeah, I have definitely read enough papers written in a way that comes off completely douchey to not feel that put off by the reviewer’s comment. Many people have a VERY hard time arguing a point without sounding like an arrogant shitbag, which should come as no surprise to most people. It seemed like a valid critique to me, though it could have been worded more delicately.

      Mar 12, 2012 at 6:58 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #7.4   Amber

      Yeah, this guy does have all the trappings of douchiness, if only based on his tweets.

      “Let’s see how many tweets I can shoot off while Philosophy Professor rambles on about hypotheticals.”

      “Who does this TZ think he is, counting us a point down if we are late to lecture.”

      “watching Jericho. Maybe it’s a show that I’ll continue to watch”

      YEeeaaahh. Douche.

      Mar 12, 2012 at 7:13 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #8   Marv

    Another choice tweet from Peter: “according to the @HuffingtonPost, gays don’t break laws or do anything wrong. Nobody’s perfect, cover everything, not just things”

    I imagine the reviewer was spot-on re: arrogance!

    Mar 12, 2012 at 6:48 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #8.1   tvelociraptor


      He also derived his Twitter handle from a particularly shit-headed football player.

      Mar 13, 2012 at 1:29 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #8.2   Chinchillazilla

      Yeaaaah, Peter’s gross.

      Mar 19, 2012 at 9:28 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #9   Jess

    The peer reviewer admonishes the OP not to write too casually; to double-check for run-ons; to make sure details in each paragraph enhance the points they’re being used to support; and to check his/her tone. Even including the “special snowflake” barb, this is still infinitely nicer than about 99% of interactions on the Internet, and more helpful than 99% of college writing peer reviews I’ve received or seen getting exchanged. Maybe the essay writer’s a bit of a douche. #fakestatistics

    Mar 12, 2012 at 6:48 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #10   nick17

    I didn’t think the review was that bad until the “special snowflake” part. That just made me laugh and think he probably deserves it.

    Mar 12, 2012 at 7:13 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #11   Steen31

    Ugh, judging by his Twitter feed, this guy may as well have DOUCHE written on his forehead. Sounds to me like the snarky peer review was well-deserved.

    Mar 12, 2012 at 7:30 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #12   Alexandra

    I’ve read enough rambly, douchey college papers to automatically side with the note-writer on this one.

    Mar 12, 2012 at 7:37 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #13   Dewprisms

    Reminds me of high school when my teacher handed me back a paper saying I needed to be less pompous and glib when I wrote.

    And you know what? He was right!

    Mar 12, 2012 at 8:19 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #14   zenvelo

    There’s nothing passive-aggressive in that critique, unless you’re a special snowflake….

    Mar 12, 2012 at 8:30 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #15   Hapax Legomenon

    I’m pretty sure this guy judges people by their Tweet count. That’s enough for me to side with Team Note Writer.
    Peer review is hit-and-miss, but some kind of review is necessary for creative writing, and peer review is at least easy.

    Mar 12, 2012 at 8:40 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #15.1   Who passed out the Haterade?

      I’m pretty sure you’re right.
      “@beefstickk tweet me when you have more tweets than me. haha #rookie #socialmediaelite”
      “@crouchtopflight ooooo 14 tweets. big shot.”

      Mar 13, 2012 at 11:37 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #16   cate

    Siding with the note-writer on this one. Just the fact that he included a link to his Twitter makes it obvious that the note was accurate. Now that we’re all agreed that Peter is lame, I suggest the rest of the comments comprise of his tweets so we can all laugh at him.
    “Chorophyll [sic]? More like Bore-ophyll.” hahaha. I’m not laughing for the reason that he intended and that makes it hilarious.

    There’s a link to his facebook on his Twitter account. What an idiot.

    Mar 12, 2012 at 9:11 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #16.1   Jorge Barnes

      Wow, he announces his milestone tweets. What a maroon!

      Mar 12, 2012 at 9:58 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #16.2   cate

      Really? Lemme see… Ahahaha! He posted it on his facebook. Of course his friends are stroking his ego. I think he’s the type to surround himself with sycophants, though, so it probably doesn’t mean anything. I don’t have to look at his friends page to know that every single female is either 1 related or 2 sorority brat and 3 never has met him and doesn’t know what he’s like. He has apparently never heard the phrase “not your personal army”.

      Mar 12, 2012 at 11:28 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #16.3   A.J.

      “13 minutes left… and 19% battery. #cmonmacbook #youcandoit”

      “@HuffingtonPost good thing I’m only 20 and not 20-something”

      “4,500 tweets”

      Actually, I found spending a few minutes on his Twitter page more nauseating than laugh inducing.

      Mar 13, 2012 at 1:26 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #17   We shall speak Anon

    Write what you know.

    Mar 12, 2012 at 11:50 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #18   Red Delicious

    If you’re going to be a teacher, come to terms with the fact that it’s not like “Dead Poet’s Society.” Most of the time, you’re going to deal with the drudgery of having to grade hundreds of papers, but you knowingly stepped into that role. So don’t bemoan the fact your job turned out to be much less inspiration and way more work than you thought it would be. You made your bed, now sleep in it.

    Mar 13, 2012 at 9:00 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #18.1   konkonsn

      Believe me, if you’re going to be a teacher, you’ve had the rose glasses broken long before you ever stepped into the role officially.

      Mar 13, 2012 at 8:02 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #19   caprica

    Maybe I’m just horny but the tone of that note turned me on.

    Mar 13, 2012 at 9:39 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #19.1   johnnyboy

      Then you must be a sub. I bet there’s someone here willing to spank your snowflake.

      Mar 13, 2012 at 12:39 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #20   Tiger

    I think that’s just aggressive aggressive and honestly the kind of crit the guy should get used to if he plans on writing in the future.

    Mar 13, 2012 at 10:22 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #21   erindgr8

    This dude is exactly the kind of writing student who fills me with rage. He doesn’t understand the function of peer review exercises because he doesn’t want to listen to anyone else. Then he spends his time in class firing off tweets while the “boring professor” lectures and fails to understand why he can’t get a good grade (I’m going out on a limb there, but I imagine it’s true).
    And on top of all that he complains that the HuffPost doesn’t portray gay people in a negative light (how dare they!), and thinks that the government should stop encouraging people to go to college and should instead get jobs for the people who “don’t want to go”. Take a page from your own book, buddy: get a job and stop wasting space in my class. *Or* if you’re one of those who actually wants an education, or at the very least thinks that going to college is in fact necessary for employment in this economy, suck it up and *earn* your degree by putting in a modicum of effort.

    Mar 13, 2012 at 11:01 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #22   yolanda

    Definitely a personality conflict in this class but the advice is still sound if you can listen past your ego to digest it. I had this problem in my essays and thankfully the prof who taught me did not make it a personal event like this. This letter could be taken to the dean as demonstration that this teacher is not sufficiently separating herself emotionally from her work and putting too much personality conflict into it. After all, the student will be in school only a few years, the teacher all her life.

    Mar 13, 2012 at 11:04 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #22.1   infanttyrone

      This letter could be taken to the dean as demonstration that this teacher is not sufficiently separating herself emotionally from her work and putting too much personality conflict into it.

      This “letter” was written by another student, not by a teacher.

      Mar 13, 2012 at 9:17 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #23   Jenn

    Come on Peter 85! Post your paper. We’re all waiting on tenterhooks over here.

    Judging from his Twitter I bet the peer reviewer was probably thrilled to get his paper and tear into him. That is pretty passive aggressive, but incredibly satisfying. (I’ve done it, but I’ve been much more subtle about my criticisms)

    Mar 13, 2012 at 11:52 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #23.1   catethulhu

      I’m not certain he would understand subtlety; it doesn’t seem like something he uses.

      Mar 14, 2012 at 9:11 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #24   Juniper

    Look at the Twit account – Peter’s a douche. ‘Special snowflake’ is brilliant.

    Mar 13, 2012 at 2:05 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #25   I like pie

    Wow, Peter is a huge D-Bag. Hopefully this is from a political science class…

    Mar 13, 2012 at 5:55 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #26   Dana

    “someone called me the most smug person on facebook today. Haters be hatin’”

    Someone may likely be onto something. He’s also on about the Huffington Post a lot.

    My favourite Notes are the ones where there’s no hero.
    Although ‘douchebucket’ and ‘kinda rude’ obviously aren’t even. (thank you whoever it was who first said douchebucket).

    Mar 14, 2012 at 1:38 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #27   JC

    Classmate did sound like a dickbag initially…but then I went to Peter’s Twitter page.

    ‘Special Snowflake’ had me cracking up.

    Mar 14, 2012 at 8:34 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #28   Ziyo

    I want Peter to come on here and read all these comments already. I’d love to see his reaction.

    Mar 31, 2012 at 11:03 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up


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