Responding to Criticism

I have been eagerly anticipating criticism from readers since starting my blog, but so far I’ve gotten nothing but crickets. Even though I have been blogging for only a short time, I should have received some criticism regarding my blog by now. Surely I’ve missed a detail, miffed an analogy, or muddled some explanation along the way. Don’t people jump at the opportunity to point out mistakes? Is that not what the safe anonymity of the internet for? And more concerning, are people reading my blog posts uncritically? 

This lack of criticism came into focus yesterday during a conversation with @27andaphd, who had just responded to, ironically, a poorly written suggestion that she “take a simple course on the English language.” Now, I can’t speak to her reader’s intentions, but if you’re going to criticize someone else’s writing then you should be pretty damn sure that your critique is not a long, incomplete, run-on sentence laden with typos. I quickly reassured @27andaphd that she writes better than many native speakers do, and as our conversation wound down I found myself anxious for some of my own critical feedback. Getting positive input is great and encouraging, but I can’t improve as a communicator without knowing what I’m doing wrong or what I could do better.

And then, shortly after my conversation with @27andaphd, it happened. Someone, having read my post about fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva, tersely commented, “The cellular signal repeater diagram lacks explanation. Whatever analogy it is hinting at is tenuous* at best.” After my initial and reflexive “wtf” moment passed, I took a look at the diagram I embedded in the post:

Admittedly, I deserved the criticism as I did not bother to include a legend to explain the figure. Instead, I made the mistake of assuming that the reader would intuitively understand what I was trying to convey. Maybe I was thinking that a picture was worth a thousand words. Anyway, it’s the type of intellectual laziness that I would like to avoid in the future.

I’ve updated the figure with what I think is a better analogy, complete with legend: 

Cellular messaging. Cells can communicate with each other by sending proteins “messages” that are received by receptors on the cell surface. BMPs are just one of many types of different protein messages. These messages can instruct other cells to grow, divide, transform into other types of cells, or even self-destruct. This is analogous to people communicating by text message. BMPs and the ACVR1 receptor can be thought of as the text message and the cell phone receiving the text message, respectively.

Hopefully, you will all agree. Thanks again to A. N. Onymous… And please keep the comments, suggestions, & critiques coming.

*Enjoyed the use of tenuous here. Feedback isn’t just helpful for improving my blog content but also my vocabulary.

2 responses to “Responding to Criticism

  1. You’re lucky that I even your blog, let’s not get picky now. Most of the time, I just look at the photos. I’ve been meaning to comment on some of your posts, now that you’ve mention it, I will do that now :)

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