A Risky Approach to Feedback

Whenever you write something criticizing of other people’s work, you should really stop and consider if publishing your message is the best thing you could be doing.

This past weekend WordCamp Toronto 2009 happened over 3 days, and it was a fun event. And not surprisingly like any other event, there was something about it that almost everyone didn’t like. I remember during the event we all chatted a little about what we thought of the session we just sat through, the lunch that was served, and the venue. The sessions were fresh in our minds and chatting about what we though was a very natural way to make conversation with people around us that were unfamiliar.

It’s a big difference though making small talk then to publish a long thought out article criticizing the event, the organizers, or the speakers themselves online in a format that’s negative and lasts forever.

As much as a coincidence as it is there were two instances over the same weekend that convinced me that being negative online is rarely needed. One being a short video by Loic le Meur on Facebook titled “Never Criticize Your Competitors” and another was a comment by Joey DeVilla warning about looking like an ass online, since that never goes away.

I’ll admit I wasn’t a fan of a few of the sessions I saw, and I did criticize a few things that happened at the conference, but it was probably a bad idea on my part. Especially since there were a lot of different ways I could have commented on them, without being negative. So afterwards I was doing some thinking on what I could have maybe have differently, specifically on what are the effective ways of giving candid and honest feedback, without making  yourself look like an ass, and really putting down the effort and work of other people.

Take a “What I learned” Approach

Look at what happened not as an opportunity to vent or to place blame, but instead to reflect on what you personally took away and learned from the incident. You might learn how you may better organize an event, or what kind of speaking style you prefer and would like to emulate.

Take a Deep Dive of The Problem

There are ways to point out problems while keeping a neutral tone, and still creating something positive out of it. Analyze what happened, the source of the problem and what should be planned before hand for next time.

I don’t know everything about facilitating useful feedback sessions. But since an event like WordCamp brought out over 200 people, and since we have a lot of events in social media, maybe having a strong method for constructive feedback could provide a lot of value even in the short term for the particular communities, for organizers, and even the participants.

Something very cool that the folks from WordCamp Toronto have just done is release a blog post retrospecting on the event; what went right and also what went wrong, WordCamp Toronto 2009 Wrap Up.

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