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Bad Horse

You shall love your crooked neighbor with your crooked heart. -- W. H. Auden

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FIMFiction survey! · 5:33am Dec 14th, 2016

I spent the past 2 days building this

to ask you & everybody on fimfiction your opinions, mostly about fandom, fan-fiction, & other fiction. There's one monster question about 3/4 of the way through. All questions & all parts of all questions are optional. Please try not to take it twice; copy or PM or email yourself the link it gives you at the end if you want to change your answers later.

This has a purpose, but I'm not supposed to tell you what it is before asking the questions. I'll post a blog explaining why I asked these questions after I get 1000 answers, or die give up trying. Please help! Reblogging is appreciated.

Report Bad Horse · 3,652 views · #survey #fimfiction
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Comments ( 109 )

Oh hey, haven't had a nice fanfic survey in a while, since...a while, actually.
Done and done.

For those who've taken the survey: What did I do wrong here?

Where does a story get most of its meaning from?
The reader's interpretation: 60%


A story...
should leave it up to the reader to find a meaning for it: 0%

Shouldn't those numbers be the same?

You didn't lump the two questions together into a 1-5 agree/disagree?

It might be blurring the lines between "this is what a story should do" vs. "this is the kind of story I tend to read"

That was an fun survey.
I was glad to help.
Need more answers, I'll give an essay! :rainbowwild:

Anyways, was that your first survey ever done?
Beacuse it excelled!
Plus, I say, in an crazy way, it was fun!:twilightsmile:

1) "Where does a story get most of its meaning from?" I don't have a binary answer to this, but I had to pick one. Perhaps I should have skipped it.

2) Supposing a reader does supply most of the meaning, it does not follow to me that authors should alter the intent of their stories accordingly. Whether or not readers "should" be finding their own meaning in stories, they do it.

3) It's 1:30 AM. I can go back and strive to be more logically consistent about art tomorrow.

4) You now probably have a decent shot at linking me to my survey answer by seeking among the reduced sample of early responders. I don't much care, but I request that you only use the knowledge for Good, and if you do use it for Bad, let me at least get a little fun out of it, okay?

Paint Splasher is my new, chain-smoking OC. Just wanted to let you know.

Also, would you like this shared in groups?

bats #7 · Dec 14th, 2016 · · ·


What you did "wrong" (though I question if this is a "wrong" thing) is that the first question rings as a polling about how a reader feels in regards to Death of the Author, since the choices are pretty much binary, whereas the second question presents a gradated view of a piece's clarity to a reader, from everything explicitly spelled out in the text to nothing spelled out at all. Thus the first question feels like you're asking a reader's ideological stance on something and the second question feels like you're asking their content tastes. And I wouldn't assume that the majority of people would ever put down 'obtuse, murky text that leaves everything open to interpretation' as their preferred reading material.

The political attitudes section was fairly shallow, framing politics on a highly American-centric series of highly polarized spectrums forcing me to either skip or nail at 3. Although I did feel compelled to take a 5 on the progressive one since someone has actually accused me of being a SJW before. Granted, I've also been accused of being a heartless conservative and (I believe unironically) a Nazi, but then, such is life.

Also, Tolstoy, but no Dostoyevsky? No Nietzsche? No Voltaire? Victor Hugo? Goethe? Lovecraft? So many high brow classics and none of the ones I actually like :P

In my mind, those are two fairly separate things. The first relies heavily upon the reader assigning their own meaning to the story while the other has a preexisting meaning told within the story and allows the reader to assign additional, but not all, meaning to the story.

But then again, I'm just a casual reader on this site who hasn't written a single story. Take it how you will.

As a reader, I'll never know exactly what an author intends for me to get from their work. Whatever I take away from a work of fiction is the result of my own interpretation.

Ideally, though, I'd want the author to be able to articulate the events of the story well, so that I can deduce the author's own meaning. I might not agree with the author's intended message, but I'd certainly like to know what themes the author was going for.

As an example, one of my favorite works on this site is The Lantern, by Cold in Gardez. It was initially published as a oneshot, which left its framework horror story unresolved. That was fine, though, because the real meat of the story was Daring Do and her own internal conflicts. Everything leads up to a choice she makes, and after that point the reader doesn't really need to see the consequences. The choice she makes ends the story. And that's great. As originally written, CiG was able to make the "meaning" of the story obvious enough that I could see how he viewed the character, and what he wanted readers to take away from it.

Interesting. Especially going and looking at the answers so far.

I feel strangely morally justified that a majority of other people who'd heard of him do not regard Kinkade as a producer of "good stuff". I'll allow almost anything as art, but not that scummy waste of space's pap. *ahem*

But yes. Though ask me tomorrow I may change half my answers, a lot of those questions I don't have firm opinions about.

4339095 I wanted to contrast Dostoyevsky with Tolstoy, but the question was so long... and there was some bug so that the first batch of answers I got had the answers matched up to the wrong names, so it said that everybody loved Gertrude Stein and Marcel Duchamp, but not one person had read Shakespeare... so I thought people were just clicking madly to get through it, said "screw it," and removed about 40 names.


And I wouldn't assume that the majority of people would ever put down 'obtuse, murky text that leaves everything open to interpretation' as their preferred reading material.

Isn't that what "the meaning is in the interpretation" means?


Also, would you like this shared in groups?

Yes, but you may get called a spammer. I really want to post a notice in the clopfic group, but I don't know if that's kosher.

4339158 Do it.

Oh and I was the guy who said he writes because he likes attention.

It's true.

Answered and PM sent!

I'd reblog your survey for you, but it occurred to me that I might not have enough followers to make a difference. :unsuresweetie:

4339173 Don't worry about that! All I've got is all these people in Group 5.3. Besides, half my followers seem to be dead. It's not my fault they couldn't make a decent cappuccino.

Alright, well I'll give it a try.

If you like I can help you bully Kaidan-senpai into doing it as well. He technically counts as a clopwrite, right?

'Kay. Done.

~Skeeter The Lurker

Excited to see what the results are. Done!


Where does a story get most of its meaning from?
The reader's interpretation: 60%
should leave it up to the reader to find a meaning for it: 0%
Shouldn't those numbers be the same?

Of course not. The first answer says 'a story is experienced through the reader, therefore most of the meaning is subject to what happens on the receiving end. Whatever the author intends, the experience of the story is inevitably personal'.

The second answer says 'the story shouldn't intend', which is an abdication of certain kinds of writing, and rather a stunt: only found in unreadable experimental fiction, and typically frustrating to readers. I'm not a bit surprised it got a zero.

Of course the numbers are wildly different. The questions are wildly different, and if you think they're the same, that's possibly a blind spot you can work on :ajsmug:

Funny how the survey has a specific option for my country... :rainbowhuh:

Just hit that one, and I felt (one of?) the problem(s).

First question: it's a collaboration between the author and reader. You provide the framework, I fill in the gaps. The more detail you put in, the less I have to project my own views on it. The more you fill in, the more I may disagree (and the book may go sailing across the room without being finished), but I'm not going to be assuming things the author didn't intend. I put "don't care" as the "none of the above" option, because otherwise I'd be picking them on a coin-toss.

Second question: the author had better do their job and tell the whole story, not "leave it up to the reader". That's not a story, it's an overly-long writing prompt. That's a 0% chance of me picking that answer.


Dude, the politics section? Those questions were poorly/vaguely worded to the point of uselessness for anyone whose understanding of the subject exceeds "lives in the US and watches TV". I dunno if you're just trying to appeal to the broadest segment of the readership or what, but I had to put down all middle-of-the-road answers due to a lack of detail about what either extreme really meant.

I probably won't get called a spammer in groups I'm a mod for. I'll post it tonight.

4339045 Part of what influenced my answer was the wording. The alternative answers said "should" which makes them feel very limiting whereas the most popular answer said "can" which makes it feels less judgemental. Stories can have ambiguous endings but they don't have to. My answer may have been different if the option had said that stories should have ambiguous endings.

But in that question, I see two answers on the authors' intent side and two in the readers interpretation side, with all four spanning a spectrum. The answer maybe suggests the audience prefers the readers' interpretation side of the question, but that preference is not very strong.

Did this thing.

Also now that im more awake.
Some/several of the answers where a struggle to answer. In that out of the choices I really needed to have been able to pick two. I dont fit neatly into a single answer for a lot of the questions.
As for the question you posed, I dont recall what I picked. But I did want to pick multiple answers as I like both kinds of stories/ways of writing.

This was interesting. Surveys usually just piss me off, I did this one without any issues.
It is well-worded enough and really makes me wonder what it will be used for.

I wish you luck.

Yes and no. In the context of story clarity, it can certainly be. In the context of Death of the Author, it just ranks the reader's takeaway as more important than the author's intent, regardless of story clarity.

4339196's blog post sent me here.


Also, would you like this shared in groups?

Yes, but you may get called a spammer.

I know at least one populated group where it'll be perfectly acceptable to link to this blog survey. :twilightsmile:

You like or liked the show

I find it interesting that every given answer is "because I want to be there in one way or another" or "I don't really." Similarly, other questions on the first page that are about identity and potentially identifying with ponies.

Which achievement would you admire you the most?

Error in the question.

This is interesting.


The difference between "does" and "should" is the difference between the real and the ideal, something that causes a lot of arguments. Here is a statement one might reasonably construct, using these two results, because of the difference between "does" and "should":

"(Respondents say) Meaning does mostly come from the reader's interpretation, but authors should try to put meaning into stories themselves."

I'm not even sure I could disagree with that constructed statement, at least not with any particular vigour.

The pick a bunch of authors question triggered me something fierce.
Most of them I've never heard of, yet because they're grouped up in bunches I ended up picking the option with the least unknowns even though I didn't especially rate them just because I know of them.
Maybe that was the intent, but it felt like a very messy way to go about it.
There was an individual list for 'famous' artists, so why was there not one for 'horse famous' ones?

Also gonna second the p. disappointing politics bit, most of which I had to ignore because I don't live in the US, and the metrics used there can't even properly display my values. (Words don't mean the same thing etc.)


For those who’ve taken the survey: What did I do wrong here?

Lots of things…

Language is an ambiguous thing. I’m constantly amazed people say they understand me at all, I’m pretty sure half of them are lying.

Your questions constantly ask people to pick between things they might not have consciously decided on. Which is fine, but you shouldn’t expect the straight answers to mean what they really think if you ask them. Too often you write a dichotomy for what is actually a sprawling continuum in a person’s mind.
There’s a big difference between “what you think you should answer” and “what do you actually think” and it’s important to differentiate that when asking. A few questions did not. The answer to “what should you do to be a good person” is not the same as the answer “so should you be a good person by this definition in the first place,” for example.
Not everyone’s memory works the same. You gave helpful reminders of what they were famous for with mainstream authors, but didn’t do the same for fanfiction authors.

Writing good surveys is more art than science, unfortunately, and it gets more difficult when you go worldwide.

Not at all. One is a question about what actually happens when a story is being read (and has a disappointing lack of nuance in the answer choices); the other asks me what I would prefer for an author to strive for when writing a story.

4339045 Well, as a general thing, the questions are all structured as though it's only physically possible for us to have one opinion. The question about one's favorite approach to canon felt like it was trying to make me acknowledge one part of myself as inferior to the other, because I like canon-adherent and wacky AU in equal measure but I wasn't given the option to say so.

That question where you randomly ask us to select one of several small groupings of authors is quite frankly idiotic. Let's say I recognize one out of the four names in one of the selections, but have never heard of the other three. I have the option between looking them up and reading enough of their stuff to get a general idea of how good they are, or just making a snap judgment and lumping all four of them together because I happen to recognize bookplayer's name. Would it really have been so hard to give a list of genres or writing styles instead?

Every single answer for 'Do you believe some stories are good and some are bad?' is a miniscule variation on the other answers. They all boil down to "Yes, some stories are good and some are bad".

The question on 'Which achievement would you admire the most?' lacks an option to express a sentiment along the lines of 'Neither'.

This one is particularly subjective, but the question asking me to agree or disagree on 'This person made a lot of great stuff' made me feel like an uncultured swine for how many names I either didn't recognize or haven't absorbed a large amount of their library. You managed to make me feel uncultured at not having listened to Lady Gaga.

Two questions in, my reaction to the politics section is 'Screw this noise'.

Done. Completely admitted that I have very lowbrow tastes and mostly just like reading stories for silly fun.

I have done the survey it was nicely mad too

If I could thumbs this up I would, this blog should be in the featured box

So... who is this "Not Bad Horse" guy that I need to send a PM to to verify myself? I can't find him anywhere!!!!1!!1!1one!!!


4339181 FWIW I started on it last night but am suffering from jet lag and fell asleep. :scootangel: I'll complete it after work, unless you plan to make significant changes.

4339142 Kinkade's art is lame. His character was garbage.

Did the survey, cause I'm a slut for surveys. I echo some of the complaints here: this one might have been better kept cooking a bit longer. Some of the questions are worded to suggest that one answer should be picked, and others suffer from answers that are poorly worded for a survey. Still, it's a survey, so I had fun.

i didn't like it

If there is no God, then there is no meaning to life.

I don't know that I really like this question. I would say: "If there is no God, then there is no absolute meaning to life---but meaning can be created by living things." (So I'm answering 'Disagree', but they seem like fundamentally different concepts of 'meaning' to be jumping between.)


Shouldn't those numbers be the same?

Alright, let me attempt to give the meta answer to your question, as is my tradition. (My educated guess is that-) You believe that those two would be the same because your thinking is constrained by your pre-conceived notions of what other people believe. If the questions are between X and Y, and between Red and Blue, in your mind there is a box labeled "people who choose X and Blue". This box of thinking doesn't just blind you to people who would choose X and Red, or X and Purple; it also makes X appear to be equivalent to Blue, (and vice versa,) even when it's not. I would recommend destroying this box and building a new one to the limits of your imagination posthaste! (At this point I believe my box-based analogy has gone off the rails. Oops?)

Either all that or, as everyone else is saying, you thought that the two answers were basically the exact same viewpoint and didn't realize how they would be interpreted as two different things. It's probably that, but saying so would be saying what everyone said, and that's just not Derpy enough. :derpytongue2:

The universe has a severely insufficient amount of silly fun. We should make our own universe to fix this problem. :trollestia:

Absolute meaning is a myth created by philosophers looking to inflate their own self-importance. :flutterrage:

I don't know who anyone in those groups of writers are.

4339907 I only knew of 'sir hat' the rest are a complete mystery to me.

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