The decline of webcomic reviewing seems to be related to social media. The point of this post isn't to bash Twitter, but it should be self-evident that social media and reviewing are inherently separate modes of communication. However, the social media mindset has been creeping into and corrupting reviewing, warping it to fit the mold of bite-sized socializing. An example of what I mean is this review by newcomer Tailsteak (the guy who does Leftover Soup), where he briefly summarizes a webcomic "done by someone who is not only giving me ten dollars a month, but who is also a close personal friend." Then there are other newcomers, including Altermentality, The Definitive Webcomic Review, Robert McGuigan, and webcomically, who wrote low-quality summaries of well-known webcomics like Ava's Demon, Gunnerkrigg Court, Oglaf, and xkcd. To me, these "reviews" are basically glorified tweets.
Summaries are appealing to write because they're objective and uncontroversial. They strip the messy human element from criticism, allowing reviewers to present the unremarkable perspective of the average Joe. In other words, reviewers have a choice between being an entity or a nonentity, and they often pick the latter. This is an unfortunate decision that condemns individuality and diminishes the reviewer's identity, and it's a bizarre approach in a medium that's based on unrestrained creative expression. Further, it's considered brash to acknowledge the existence of unpopular webcomics, with the "polite" approach being to echo the other nonentities and compliment the storytelling skills of a top-tier creator. Nonentities don't show much confidence in their writing abilities, and it puts them in an awkward position when they appear to be critiquing others' work.
Shitty Webcomics isn't mainly about webcomics, but it's the most important review blog since it loudly endorses being an entity. It could be described as "hateful," "misogynistic," and "stupid," especially by one of the feminists or "social justice warriors" the blog often criticizes, but it's significant that it has an identity people can form opinions about. In comparison, the clearest descriptions you could come up with for a nonentity are "irrelevant," "lazy," and "uninteresting," and this makes their posts entirely redundant. Shitty Webcomics is also commendable for attacking people who base their identities on the groups they belong to, which is another form of being a nonentity. I respect anyone who expresses a bold opinion and can firmly back up what they have to say, and I agree with Shitty Webcomics that the Internet should be regarded as a haven for free speech and open discussion. What nonentities are doing is practicing a form of self-censorship, and it reflects a pessimistic attitude about reviewers' abilities to express negativity in a responsible way.
Entities sometimes get criticized for aggravating people, and the discussions they inspire are mainly unanimous complaints about low-quality writing. The Bad Webcomics Wiki and John Solomon are notorious examples of unpopular entities. However, since webcomics are a relatively new thing, examining these entities is an important part of the medium's development. I think one of the reasons nonentities are prevalent is that it's ambiguous what an acceptable review blog would look like, and while The Webcomic Overlook served as a good model, El Santo's style didn't catch on for whatever reason. Reviewing's not considered to be a conventional hobby in the way making comics is, and it's understandable that people are reluctant to take a pioneering role. Just look at the previous decade, for instance, where it seemed like almost everyone was copying Penny Arcade rather than trying to do their own thing. Still, without a defined context, it's problematic to make statements like "This comic is good," since these statements derive meaning from the reviewer's identity. In this way, a review isn't a standalone object, but is rather part of a larger pattern, sort of like how a page is part of a novel.
Everyone who judges webcomics is a negative critic, a reviewer, or a scholar, and it's irritating when someone thinks they can write reviews without falling into one of those groups. Approval's overrated, and it's unfortunate when someone restrains themselves too much because they treat their online presence as something sacred. And even then, if someone's concerned about backlash, they can always just post their opinions anonymously. People upload all kinds of dumb webcomics without making everybody freak out, and being an amateur reviewer isn't really that different from being an amateur webcartoonist. The best and worst thing about the Internet's that anyone can post anything, and people should be cool with that and look at blogging as the sandbox environment it is.