I’m only a writer on Wattpad so my comments will come from that. I both love and hate the inline comments. There are times when I do wish I could turn them off.
First I’ll start with the why I sometimes hate them: I don’t have a high level of confidence in my writing so sometimes those comments do make that confidence worse because I’ll get people who leave just one word because they’re correcting a typo. Not even a “hey I like this story but I found a typo” it’ll be literally something like *bear because I used bare instead.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m dyslexic so I damn well know I need help catching my word swaps since unfortunately there is no program (that I’ve found) that will help me with words spelled right but used wrong, however in the drafts I post to Wattpad I’m far more concerned with knowing if there’s plot holes, character flaws, and other developmental issues more-so than my dyslexic mistakes. Those I will wait for the final draft. So for me to get a constant reminder of my dyslexic mistakes when I didn’t ask for that help it unfortunately becomes more of burden to me. This past year when I’ve been struggling big time with confidence those comments have done major damage and is part of the reason I’ll be taking a break from Wattpad until I get myself a bit stronger mentally to be able to handle them again.
It just gets hard because I struggle to find the balance between knowing they’re just trying to help with something I’ll need help with eventually, and knowing that I’m not at that stage yet so the help isn’t quite needed.
Now on to why I love in line comments: Just recently I had someone reading through my book Power Uppers, it’s a book that I admit when I finished writing it I knew I wanted to re-write it from the view of a stronger MC. I didn’t like the MC at all but I adored the world of super power giving drugs. But this reader was using in line comments and reacting to things as they happened in the book. So while dealing with crap at work, I’d get a comment like “OMG Tayla! Figure it out already!” or “And this ship is now sailing, toot toot” in reference to things happening in the book and it brought such a huge smile to my face. Little things like that will do the opposite of the typo comments, it’ll actually boost my self esteem.
Realistically, it’s not the readers job to do that. This I know. It’s my job to find strength and confidence in my own work by myself, but comments can either pick an author up or let them down.
Here is my dream world: I wouldn’t mind being able to turn them off from time to time. If I know I’m in a mood where any type of criticism will hurt me, I can turn them off until I can sort my crap out. But most importantly, I would love to be able to tell the reader what kind of feedback I’m looking for. Then when they go to make a comment there’s some way of letting them know that. I mean I have no idea what way would be effective, but maybe like a text that says “this writer is open to…”
So say I want all help, including typo help, I can put that down. If I want just help with plot issues, inconsistencies, or other developmental help, I can put that down. If I want no feedback at all, because maybe I know I’ll never go back to edit that book (I do have several books I just wrote because I wanted to write it, but have no intention of ever doing more than one draft of) I can say that. That helps save the reader time (hopefully) from pointing out things things the writer might not want to hear for a varying amount of reasons.