Here's the drill: As I get more and more rejections, I'm going to start compiling a rating system on them. There are a number of sites that specialize in interesting rejection stories (I'll link to them soon), but on this page, I'm going to have occasional updates about odd, confusing, negative, rude, and pleasant / surprising rejections. For this first entry into this ongoing list, I'll explain the three terms and list the first three rejections they'll refer to, Good, Bad, and Clerically Ill. Each of these entries will show the listed market's editor and the publication's name. Let's hope no one considers this libel.
The Good: A rejection that surprises me by not being a form rejection, being friendly and seeming to be a cut above the norm. In short, a thoughtful, non-automated rejection (sometimes containing critique). If you send me a rejection that's handwritten, or that details the reasons behind your decision, you qualify to be listed under the Good.
The Bad: A rejection that seems overly rude, mean, snotty, or just plain shitty. If you send me a response where you've simply written "I don't think so." on the face of the return envelope, you qualify to be listed in the Bad.
The Clerically Ill: A rejection that I find confusing, unstated, an office screw-up, or haphazard. Also, as a bonus, any rejection with really bad clip-art on it qualifies for this ranking. If you send me a slip of paper that's supposed to have a response but you forget to write the response on it and I receive nothing but a blank scrap of paper, you qualify to be listed in the Clerically Ill.
So, for this first entry, the nominees are-
The Good: Jen Hawkins @ Arsenic Lobster, for a friendly, thoughtful, and very informing email that vividly described the nature of their response and explained the circumstances and reasoning behind it.
The Bad: Rowena Silver @ Epicenter, for annoyance. This rejection was a squared quarter-sheet that said in huge, bold letters: SORRY! TRY AGAIN!, and showed a strange clipart image of a little girl crying and throwing a tantrum, beating her fists on the floor and wailing. The rejection then went on to say: "After meticulous examination and discussion of your submission(s), we have decided that your work does not suit our needs at the time." The word 'meticulous' combined with the girl throwing a tantrum made this rejection seem rude to me (though I do admit, if someone else got this rejection and then showed it to me, I'd probably think it was funny).
The Clerically Ill: Julian Palley and Kate Ozbirn @ California Quarterly, for causing me several days of confusion. Basically, there was no response. They returned the poems like most magazines do, included a flyer mentioning all their contests, a subscription form, and a strange little scrap of green paper that I believe is part of their office filing system. Later, this rejection was clarified by email.