Want to be a RPG Superstar? How about get into Wayfinder, or freelance as a game designer? It's the competition's worst kept secret that most of the best get there by practice and work-shopping. This however isn't going to be an advice article on how to get the most out of work-shopping this is going to be an article about being good at helping others through work-shopping.
The thing some people don't seem to get is that to get better you have to give more.
When giving feedback the first and most important key is that it is specific. Telling someone something as general as "I like it" might be good for their ego but it doesn't help them identify what makes their work good that they can take to their next piece. Just slamming something in a general sense and saying you do not like it without being specific as to why is equally useless in helping them improve.
I used the good, bad, and ugly format with a summary for feedback for awhile because it forces em to look at something positive, something that isn't majorly bad but worth noting, my biggest issue, then a summation of my overall impression. Generally that turns into 4-5 talking points which is about right for a pass at something. Going more in-depth then that can be helpful but only if you're asked to do so, otherwise you might be overwhelming the author by giving them too much to focus on. which leads me into my next point.
Know your role as a pit crew person. What kind of feedback is the designer looking for from you. Grammar and format editing? Where they looking for focus group feedback (like this, dislike that and so on?) Are they looking to bounce and build which is to day they suggest something you expand on it or suggest a direction they run with that suggestion and develop it further into a new idea and so on... For the record I'm the king of bounce and build sessions or focus group style feedback and shit at grammar and format editing as I have a tendency to auto correct as I read. Knowing your strengths helps you build others and it also informs on what you need from them when they return the favor.
Detach from who they are. It is natural for you to want go go easier on your friends or perhaps be a little less respectful to someone you do not know or like. It is important to be around people that challenge you and it is important that you are that person even to people you really like.
Being honest isn't brutal. I tersely informed one contestant this year that his inherent concept would be an immediate must have for every power gamer. He toned it down but kept the concept going because the phrase every blaster would want one was in there and he held onto that. He made top 100.
Except for a pair of DQs I missed (sorry again Jeff and Andrew details aren't my thing) of the 16 items I pitted for 8 made top 36 along side my own item and the remaining 6 made top 100. The range is my best friend to people I've never met outside the boards. This doesn't mean I want to do 100 items next year this is me telling you as a community find people you trust and work off of one another. Practice, learn and come back stronger next year... because I know I will.
To the top 8, you know where to find me.