Let me say, O best-beloveds, that there is nothing at all wrong with giving compliments. I used to not do it very often, because it felt safer to keep things to myself than to court the potential embarrassment of engaging in a possibly unwelcome interaction. But then I got older and I decided that life is too short not to tell someone that you like their shirt or that they have beautiful eyes.
Last night I sent a message to someone I know on Tumblr just to say I really liked their posts, and I made them really, really happy. That made me happy too. Being nice is almost always a win-win.
I've mentioned before about how I leave kudos on AO3 for fics if I read them the entire way through, because someone went to the effort of writing the story. A kudo is a quick way of complimenting them for that effort. Clicking it says 'hey, I liked this. You did good.' Nice comments are even better, but a kudo is so easy it astonishes me that so many people don't leave them.
The last time I posted about leaving kudos (the link above), someone replied that they only give a kudo when something really moved them. Otherwise they thought that the hits alone were enough acknowledgement of the writer's effort.
I've honestly been thinking about that on and off for two years, and I still have a problem with it. While I can understand the principal--be happy anyone bothered looking at your fic--all that hits actually show you is that someone went to that page. Maybe they noped out after reading the tags. Maybe they got three paragraphs in and hit the back button in a panic. It's impossible to tell. But a kudo means that they both read the story and thought it was good, or good enough. And seriously, we're writing this stuff for free, here. Isn't a story that keeps you reading until the end automatically good enough for a lousy click on a burgundy button?
I know that some people like certain stories so much they read them several times, and unfortunately (or fortunately, I suppose) you can only leave kudos once. But there are loads of readers out there who don't bother leaving them in the first place. Not one little compliment saying that they appreciate your time and effort.
And that, honestly, is just mean. Sure, no one forces a writer to put their stuff out there, just as no one pays us. But that's also the point. We don't have to do it. That fic you rolled your eyes at but still gave you ten minute's worth of entertainment is completely, totally free. Our only expectation as writers is that people will read our work, and our only hope is that they'll let us know they did.
So, why should anyone think they deserve a masterpiece before leaving a kudo? It's one click. One tiny, easy little click. But I can tell you as both a writer and reader that one tiny, easy little click can actually mean the world.
And life is too short not to say something nice.