I’ve been a member (albeit a mostly silent one) of this community since back in the RR days. It’s true that I mostly lurk and read, but it’s mainly because I don’t usually feel qualified to critique the work. I can usually only comment on what I “like” or what I “don’t like.” One of the things that keeps me coming back it that this is a pretty tight community. A lot of these folks have been commenting on and supporting one another’s work for a long time… and they have become “friends” online. However, this has not deteriorated into a love-fest or mutual-admiration society.
For the most part folks here are both supportive AND constructively critical, offering opinions and suggestions on how to improve the work. I do not believe that identifying the voter in a contest poll would prevent folks from offering legitimate critical analysis on a mix. Even if you can’t put your finger on it but you just “don’t like” what you’re hearing, I think the people here would say so… and without fear of being ‘crucified’ for having their own opinion. That’s what makes this place different than most.
It’s been my observation that the people here do (appropriately) gauge their responses. This site welcomes ALL levels of recording enthusiasts from beginner to pro and the people here are wise enough to deal with each type of user accordingly. I only posted a recording once for bashing, and the comments I received were critical and at the same time supportive. I know there had to be an ENDLESS list of things wrong with my recording, but I wasn’t berated or belittled over every item that could use improvement. I received some encouraging words along with helpful criticism, as well as suggestions from some really talented people as to what I could do to improve my submission. That atmosphere alone sets this place apart from most ‘communities’ on the 'net. IRD actually is a community.