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I'm a big fan of constructive criticism, but I'm afraid that the term has become a cliche - or even a buzzword!

What are some good synonyms for it?

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As an example of what I believe to be constructive criticism, I offer my opinion that constructive criticism is not, and never will be, a cliche. It is simply good use of language, conveying exactly what is intended. IMHO the only alternative offered so far that really comes close is helpful criticism, but why use an uncommon phrase when we've already got a more common one? – FumbleFingers Sep 23 '11 at 22:57
Alternatives to Constructive Criticism? Down Voting. – LarsTech Sep 23 '11 at 23:37
@LarsTech: IMHO by definition up/downvotes without an explanatory comment are simply favourable/unfavourable criticism. To be constructive, criticism must help the author see what he can do to improve his output. – FumbleFingers Sep 24 '11 at 0:25
@FumbleFingers Sorry, I forgot the smiling sarcasm face. :-) – LarsTech Sep 24 '11 at 1:12
@Kyralessa: It's possible to be witheringly critical of something without being in the least constructive. Especially if you're just a consumer/customer who's not satisfied with what you just paid for. Often you just want your money back so you can get something better. – FumbleFingers Sep 24 '11 at 3:46
up vote 9 down vote accepted

Critique is less forceful in a negative way than criticism. E.g. as a verb:

He critiqued the movie script.

That would not come across as unconstructive. Critique as a verb seems quite valuable in this scenario.

Also, there is nothing wrong with using your own phraseology, even if it's not a common expression. Hence you could say helpful criticism, where the helpful has more positive force to it than constructive, due to the latter's overuse. There are many other ways to communicate this as well. For instance, you could say someone offered some efficacious remarks.

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Simply call it "feedback", without trying to qualify it further.

(Works best in business environments; I would not give my wife feedback, for example. I would share something with her.)

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Feedback really just means any reaction, not necessarily constructive criticism. I normally assume it implies a continuous back-and-forth exchange which you'd hope would be constructive, but on the other hand there's not necessarily any implication in constructive criticism that the author and the critic are together at any time, or that there will be follow-up after the first critique. In short, feedback is quite likely to be a different process entirely. – FumbleFingers Sep 23 '11 at 22:49
@FumbleFingers I think you are confusing the concept of a "feedback loop" or feedback in a sound system with the meaning I intended: The return of information about the result of a process or activity; an evaluative response. I meant it as a word that would be completely neutral, so in that sense it is not a true synonum for constructive criticism, though. – JeffSahol Sep 24 '11 at 0:07
Well, I'm not exactly confusing the two meanings, though I hope you'll admit it's no coincidence that they both share the same word-form. I'm just saying firstly that feedback/criticism isn't by definition constructive, and secondly that I do normally expect such feedback to be part of an ongoing process. Whereas you might get constructive criticism in a single letter from a publisher rejecting your blockbuster manque, with no expectation of further interaction. – FumbleFingers Sep 24 '11 at 0:20
...okay, so that publisher's letter could be called feedback. But it still could if all he wrote was "Your book is rubbish. Don't call to discuss it". – FumbleFingers Sep 24 '11 at 0:21
I see your point. Thanks for the feedback. :) – JeffSahol Sep 24 '11 at 0:36

I like the word review. Usually, I use the word suggestions in the context.

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Depends on the context and type of comments, but here are some acceptable substitutes:

  • Feedback
  • Responses
  • Advice
  • Thoughts
  • Reactions
  • Suggestions
  • Comments

"Constructive Criticism" isn't a terribly descriptive phrase -- it refers primarily to the intentions of the person who delivers it rather than the thing being delivered. Focus instead on the type of comments you're giving or requesting, and use the common name for that specific thing.

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If we're sticking with alliteration, how about actionable advice or honest opinion? Gut reactions and first impressions are usually pretty honest too.

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My alternative is "Insight through Hindsight". The word "criticism" immediately puts one side in a defensive posture and can destroy any possibility for a positive outcome.

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That has very little of the meaning of constructive criticism. Specifically, criticism is a shared thing, where insight is personal. If you want to share that insight, your phrase says nothing about that. A synonym has been asked for, not an entirely different meaning. – itsbruce Nov 21 '14 at 13:43

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