I was a member of AW for a while, and I find myself going back every few months to check up on some of the horrible discussions. The advice is juvenile and hardly critical or informed...incompetent in many ways. Creative writing is being taught on this site as though there were rules to writing fiction! Any opinion given as advice that challenges this status quo in any way is immediately dismissed, as though there were one way in which fiction must be undertaken, and one way only. I have also gotten into EXTREMELY passive aggressive debates with other users and mods on several occasions, and, although that is the lay of the land when it comes to internet forums, there tends to be causes to incite such exchanges. On AW, no such causes are needed. It is also important to note that the vast majority of advice being given is coming from fellow amateur/unpublished writers, many who are far too inexperienced in both life and actual writing to possibly have the perspective to form good critical advice, and many of whom clearly don't read books--how are they expected to write?!? I would put good money on 75% of the users not even knowing who Borges is, and these are people who are supposed to be giving legitimate advice? Their credibility isn't helped by the fact that several of the published authors on the site are self-published (not inherently bad), and most of the published works (both self and not) are horrible supernatural romance/horror romance/fantasy romance (notice a trend?), the kind with well built white vampire dudes on the cover. Again, nothing inherently bad about this fact, except that, to me, the trendy YA/teenage audience these cookie-cutter works cater to is further evidence that they actively perpetuate and defend a kind of status quo, in which anything that challenges the fiction they write is artsy/pointless/breaking nonexistent rules/evil.
Further proof that many of the users are incapable of reading critically, including mods: I tend to word my posts very carefully, using very specific vocabulary and always prefacing and qualifying what I am saying with caveats and so forth, so as to allow for the possibility of my opinion on said writing subject not meshing well with others, so anyone who puts a smallest amount of effort into reading it will be able to understand I am offering a single perspective on an otherwise all-encompassing issue. Yet I would get post after post, some from mods themselves, dismissing and attacking points I made, almost always ones I prefaced with something like "to NEEDLESSLY do this is bad", as if I did not go out of my way to state clearly that I did not mean what I said as an "absolute" truth. If the people meant to be giving advice cannot even read an internet post carefully enough to grasp what was actually said, I doubt their ability to truly help anyone. Thankfully, I can say in the few years I was with them back in the day, I gained a few pointers on how NOT to teach someone, and, now that I'm an English tutor at my college, I hope to do what AW can only dream of doing--actually helping someone improve their work with thoughtful criticism.