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Spotlighting and Feedback - A Unified System Proposal

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In another thread, I noted that I had a rather lofty idea for what I believe the feedback and spotlighting system should look like in Pony.fm. Feld0 contacted me and said that a new thread for it would be best, so here it is.


Creating a Standard


In various other threads, I've noted on this idea called "creating a standard". Gauging a piece of music is not a 100% subjective decision. Objectivity plays a large role, especially in recorded music. There's a difference between what a person likes and what can actually be considered good. Knowing that difference and being able to focus on the latter and ignore the former is what makes a good music critic. I'm explaining this first because the ability for music to be judged objectively is how the system works, especially in the upper tier, which I'll explain shortly.


Critique: The Backbone of the System


Because the objective ideas of music must be taught, and the brony music community is largely absent of teachers and schools, most brony musicians aren't going to know what qualities are needed for their music to be good. For this reason, a robust critique request system is necessary. For those musicians who are completely confident in their abilities and want to test them, critique is necessary there as well to make sure that music lives up to those standards.


The people who deliver the critique necessary to determine whether a track is above the bar for being... I'm gonna call it "spotlighted", will be only those who have demonstrated that they're able to judge music to a high degree of objectivity, and with consistency.


Similarly, a musician can't -- and shouldn't -- just jump into the pit asking to be featured because it's the only way he can get feedback on his music; it's devastating for many musicians to get their hopes up to be spotlighted only to have those hopes dashed. It's very disheartening. It can even cause a musician to give up.


A way to get feedback prior to submission is necessary, as is a way to measure music to standard and determine its quality. That's where the tiered system comes into play.

Tier One: Feedback Request and Feedback Providers


The idea starts off pretty simple: A user who has published a track on Pony.fm clicks a button in his edit track screen to flag his track for feedback from a Feedback Provider. These would be people that would be designated to review tracks that are flagged for feedback and set that flag back to 0 once they're done.


Being a Feedback Provider would be on a volunteer basis; it would something that you opt in for on your profile page after creating a Pony.fm account to show interest in reviewing music other people want reviewed. This is also something that could be revoked if abused (such as simply posting "this sucks" and setting the flag to 0).


Because being a Feedback Provider would be initiated by the member in question, there are no guarantees for the person who requested feedback other than that they're going to get some input on their music; the feedback provided could be almost entirely subjective or unhelpful, though the idea is to be as helpful as possible. Regardless, in this way, people at least get some sort of feedback from fellow musicians or even fans.


Because this system would be so open-ended, there would be no limits on feedback requests: The person can request feedback as often as he wants, and reset the feedback request flag to 1 if they've worked the feedback into the track and updated it, or even if they're just not satisfied with the feedback they received for whatever reason.


So at this point you may be wondering: Why would anyone want to flag themselves for mandatory review of tracks? And that reason for being a Feedback Provider, among the warm fuzzy feeling they'd get from helping other musicians grow in their music, is because being a Feedback Provider also flags that person for possible recruitment into...


Tier Two: Spotlighting and the Judges Panel


Once a person wants a track to be reviewed for its time in the sun on the front page of the world's best brony music site, they would flag it for Judging. This is srs bsns: Not everyone can be the in the spotlight at the same time, so it's reserved for only the very best comers. A person flagging their track for judging for a potential spotlight post would be subject to harsher restrictions and a critique system that goes beyond mere feedback.


Once a person hits that button, it's added to a Judges Queue, where a selection of handpicked Judges would provide unbiased, thorough critique, and cast a vote. If a track gets four YES votes before three NO votes from the Judges Panel, it gets spotlighted on the front page of Pony.fm. If not, it gets rejected. Either way, the critique/votes are all added to the track as specially-marked comments.


A person would only want to do this with his best work, because unlike requesting feedback, a musician would only be able to flag a track for judging every once in a while, a long enough while to make the musician really think about whether or not that track is the best he can offer, and if it's in the best state he can offer it in (I use two weeks on BMS). In that way, it becomes a form of quality control before the actual quality control, as well as a limiter to keep the workload on Judges from becoming excessive.


The Judges Panel would ideally consist of more Judges than what would be required for a full track's vote; that is, larger than seven people. This would lessen the workload on Judges, making it so that not every Judge needs to critique and vote on every track, allowing them to save their most thoughtful and helpful critiquing efforts for the tracks and artists that would most benefit from them. These Judges would be picked by hand by either the Head Submissions Evaluator (who would also count as a Judge during a vote), a staff vote, or some other formal process from the Feedback Providers that have proven themselves to be capable Judges by reviewing tracks in a manner that indicates objectivity, experience, and diligence. Basically, being a Feedback Provider would be a stepping stone to being a Judge.




There are several things missing from the brony community:


1. A place to get feedback on music, guaranteed feedback.

2. A way to measure your music, a definitive line separating the cream of the crop from the rest of the harvest.

3. A single website that does either at all, let alone in a way intended to build up musicians and spotlight music truly deserving of recognition.


The detailed above would allow Pony.fm, in addition to being a brony music hosting site, to take on all of those currently-absent roles as well in an intuitive way that brings fame to the deserving, new skills to prospective musicians, and brings the entire brony music community together.



Right now, the only issues I haven't quite figured out is whether or not the possibility of being on the Judges Panel is enough incentive to make a person volunteer to be a Feedback Provider, and the possible workload that Feedback Providers could have.

Edited by DusK
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I very, very much agree with everything you've so very carefully and thoughtfully laid-out!  :D



If I were to add something, it would be a hope that folks could apply for the ability to critique by submitting a critique on a test song, (possibly a specified test song the moderators in charge well know that which is good within it and that which can be better -- so at not too long a glance, a busy moderator can easily assess the skill and style of the one applying for critiquing powers).


The reasong I would like to see this is that I feel that it is the ones still very much cutting their teeth that can most benefit from critique -- it takes help to learn how to differientiate good from needs-work in any new medium.  And critiquing others at this level requires delicay and compassion so as to not squash someone who might have become a Brony star if they'd been gentled into learning.


(In art school we would loose marks ourselves if we didn't follow this format: 1) Clearly describe an element/elements you feel are working successfully... 2) Clearly lay out specifics that in your opinion/experience would make the piece better and/or address areas in which it is struggling... 3) Wrap-up by clearly describing other element/s you feel are working successfully especially about the piece as a whole.)

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I am in full support of this. Kudos to you DusK, that's a very well planned process.


I'm really looking forward to seeing this go live! biggrin.png


Well, this is just an idea I had. No guarantees. wink.png

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