Letterboxd is a new site, currently in its beta phase, that has been designed purely for movie enthusiasts. On it a user can write reviews and catalogue the movies they have seen including thier ratings.
The idea isn’t new, there are many sites that have a similar approach but Letterboxd ease of use makes it like a Facebook for film buffs.
It all sound really good doesn’t it?
And it is, but already I’ve seen problems arising.
Many people use iMDB for similar purposes, chatting on the forums and commenting on the films they have seen, but what puts me (and many people I have spoken to) off using that particular site is the constant trolling that permeates it.
As a fairly serious film fan I spend a lot of time considering my reactions to the films I watch. Even when I dislike something considerably I will always consider the ramifications of my opinions. This means that when I write a review or comment on a film (or anything else for that matter) I find that I offer arguments for my thoughts rather than opinions for my feelings.
There is a difference.
Opinions are subjective and only rely on what your personal feelings are whereas arguments are objective and should strive to act constructively.
Which brings me back to Letterboxd and my thoughts concerning it.
It is always easy to be negative, especially when you are not required to justify it and looking through the “reviews” on Letterboxd I see that the vast majority are in fact comments that offer no objective reasoning. In fact they rarely even offer evidence of an intelligent understanding of what a review is supposed to be.
Many of the “reviews” consist of a single line, and so many of these single lines consist of a single negative statement.
These are simply not reviews and its clear that it is far easier and quicker to produce these faux-reviews than it will be to produce considered ones. From this it is obvious that without some thought and intervention Letterboxd will quickly become just another iMDB littered with the trolling lack of thought all that implies.
So, first things first, what could be done to fix this potential problem?
Firstly there should be a place for these people who just want to comment, and this place should be clearly marked as “comments” and should not be confused with actual reviews. Then perhaps there should be a minimum amount of words to constitute a “review” and then there should be something there to encourage people to write with consideration and quality.
So perhaps a “league table” for the reviwers themselves should be created, something that take into account quantity of work but focuses mainly on some form of objectivequality of the reviews. Perhaps this could be done with a simple rating system or perhaps a team of volunteers could be selected who could trawl through the many reviews to select some of note.
Whatever the process is to be it seems clear to me that in order to keep Letterboxd to a level above that of iMDB and its ilk something should be done and done fast before the site shifts from its beta phase. Unfortunately when asked about this the administrators of the site seemed unconcerned with the trolling that has already appeared on the site.
I write constantly and take some pride in what I do. I also take some effort with my reviews and so I feel that I attempt to have some level of integrity with what I say. The problem with Letterboxd attitude is that If there is no attempt to raise their own integrity by policing what appears on their site then how can I be sure they will have any respect for my own?