I'm a regular over at the Writer's Digest forums, particularly in the Science Fiction/Fantasy Critique Central area. That's where SF/F authors-in-training can post segments of their works-in-progress to get feedback on various elements. I've found it extremely useful for uncovering problems with logic that sometimes, as the author, I'm too close to see.

Recently, it's come up that occasionally new members to this section of the forums don't feel welcome. That made me scratch my head a bit, so I went looking for these new members' posts. I found the critiques offered were well-stated and not overly harsh, even though there were some major problems with the pieces posted.

It got me to thinking about what you should expect when you post something online for feedback. Here's Jenn's Online Critiquing Dos and Don'ts List™.

1. DO make sure the piece you're offering for critique is as polished as you can make it. Check for spelling (using more than spell check!), punctuation and grammar before you even think about posting it. The occasional typo gets by the best of us, but obvious spelling or punctuation errors tell critiquers that you didn't take the time to perfect your piece before posting it, so why should they take the time to look over it?

2. DO tell critiquers what kind of feedback you're looking for. If you don't want line edits, say so. If you need readers' impressions of the main character, ask for them. This kind of guidance is invaluable in directing feedback to focus on what you need.

3. DON'T post your work expecting everyone to fawn over your brilliance. No matter how good you think your piece is, there are probably issues with it. Maybe just minor ones, but no one is perfect.

4. DON'T take feedback personally. Remember—you posted your piece for critique, so you need to be mature enough to hear what people have to say. You might not agree with the feedback, and that's all right. You're the owner of your work, so you can pick and choose what feedback you'll incorporate. But people aren't pointing out problems because they dislike you, or because you're a terrible writer, or whatever—they're trying to help you create the best story/novel/chapter you can.

5. DO remember that the people on the forums are doing this for fun and are volunteering their free time. Read the forum rules and stick to them. Keep your posts under the forum's word count limit. That's not to say you can't post a whole chapter, just break it up into multiple posts over the course of a week if it goes over the limit.

6. DO remember to offer your critiquing services in exchange for others'. If you've put up something to be critiqued, do your part and offer critiques on other posts. Try to provide helpful, insightful information. You don't have to be an editor to point out problems with logic or issues with characterization, and those comments are infinitely more useful than "I liked it" (although every writer likes to hear those three words too).

7. DO what you can to add to the online community. That's what makes websites like the Writer's Digest forums so great: the sense that even though we're miles, countries and maybe continents apart, we're still united by the act of writing. Be friendly, be courteous, and come in with an open mind.

Anything to add?