sidra: mandala (Default)
posted by [personal profile] sidra at 06:52pm on 04/01/2011
Kudos are often compared to comments. And rarely favorably. They're seen as a sort of "poor relation" to comments. For people who are too lazy to leave "real" comments.

But kudos are not inferior comments. They're more like hit counts on steroids.

For people who find it difficult to communicate with words, kudos are a way to communicate through actions.

There is a huge lurker community. We read, but we don't write, and we rarely if ever leave comments. We vote with our clicks. The authors we love we follow, the stories we love we bookmark and re-read.

I've been in fandom for about seven years and have written a grand total of two stories. I want to write, I just can't. The words don't come. When they do come, they're trite or meaningless.

I've read tens of thousands of fanfics. I've left maybe a couple hundred comments. Maybe. And not necessarily on the stories I've loved the most, or thought were the best. But because at that single anomalous moment, I was able to think of something to say.

It's not because I don't think the fics I read are worth commenting on. It's not because I don't love and adore them and their authors. It's not because I'm lazy or selfish or ungrateful.

It's because I don't have the words.

If I read it all the way through and I like it enough, you may say I should leave a comment. But that's not easy for me to do. It will take me longer to write a comment than it took me to read the story. If I'm expected or required to comment, I don't leave more comments, I just read less. It's no longer an enjoyable pastime, it's a difficult, stressful, and unpleasant duty.

When I open your work, it gets a hit. That means I thought it was interesting enough at some level for me to at least open it and take a look. If I never finish it, if I abandon it after a sentence, or half-way through, or if I don't like it, my hit count still stands as a testament that I was at least interested enough to visit. If I like it, I can bookmark it. I can come back later (creating another hit) and read it again.

If I read something on the AO3 I can leave it kudos. Kudos aren't a replacement for that comment that I would have left if kudos hadn't been available; that comment doesn't exist, and never will. The rare times I have something to say, I'll still leave a comment. Leaving a kudo doesn't replace leaving a comment, because they come from a very different place. If I actually have words that I want to share, kudos aren't going to be what I use to express them.

Kudos are wordless. If I had to put words on them, it might be that my hit, my clicking on your fic, my time spent reading your fic meant something to me. That I didn't just finish your story, that I appreciated it. That I thought it was a worthwhile way for me to spend my time. But kudos are not words. They are actions. And the fact that I'm willing to take that action publicly and make it visible, not only to the author, but to other readers, is significant.

Well, it's significant to me. But some people say they want words, not actions.

Actions are something that I can do. I donate my time every day to fandom. I work hard and put in long hours on the AO3 because fandom, fanfiction, and yes, fan writers, are important to me. I put in the equivalent of a full-time job programming the archive software to make it better and administering the OTW servers to keep them running, because that's something that I can do.

Some people aren't good with words, and if you reject their actions because they didn't come with words, then you're saying that words are all that count, and that actions are meaningless.

But actions aren't meaningless to those of us for whom actions, not words, are our interpersonal currency. Kudos are not meaningless. I can leave kudos on stories where I care enough to do something, to take an action. I can leave kudos when I want to.

I can come up with words when I have to. I can come up with words when I see a great need. I can come up with words when I'm forced to. But I will never be able to come up with words just because I want to.


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