Something about Rating Systems

We all have our own criteria when it comes to reviewing an event or product, and a lot of us choose to sum up our thoughts with a rating of some sort; this might take the form of a thumbs up or a thumbs down, a numerical score out of ten/one hundred/percent, or a count of stars between zero and five.

To each his/her own… however-

If you ever choose to summarise your reviews with a numerical, percentile or star rating- please, for the love of Abraham, DON’T use decimals or fractions in your final rating.

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The System: 

The universal scale

Things that are terrible are given a rating of= 0-1/10; 0-19%; Zero or one star.

Things that are great are given a rating of= 9-10/10; 90-100%; Five stars.

Anything between great and terrible is simply bad, average and good. It’s all a reader needs to know and all they care to read about.

It’s a good system and everybody understands it.

It’s when you as a reviewer start giving things scores like 7.5/10 or four and three-quarter stars that you begin to look like a wishy-washy narcissist.

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Numbers and Decimals:

Okay, so it’s not such a crime to add a .25/.5/.75 to an x/10 score, you’re just being precise, right? Well, why don’t you just switch to an x/100 or percentage rating then? Your ratings are not measurements for lunar lander components, they don’t have to be anally precise.

When you’re dealing with x/10 or percentage scores- whole numbers are all that matter.

Nobody cares that you think an item is .25/.5/.143 above or below an 8/10 rating; the fact remains that the item didn’t reach an 8/10 rating, and 7/10 still falls into the “good” bracket of the universal scale anyway. You think the item is “good”, message understood.

Get over yourself, be clear with your decisions and let us move on with our lives.

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Stars and Fractions:

Two stars and nothing else of any relevance.

Adding fractions to star ratings however- is a crime.

The star system only works when represented by five stars maximum. When people start upping the cap to ten stars (or god forbid- one hundred stars) the system just becomes an x/10 score in drag.

The star system is attractive because it is so unambiguous.

The x/5 scale is so compressed and concentrated that only by representing your verdict with celestial bodies of the night sky can your point be made clear.

Tell me- what is half of a star? Or a quarter of a star?

Nothing, that’s what. Half a star won’t grant you entry to Mario 64’s next boss chamber, that’s for sure.

What annoys me is the fact that it’s always a quarter, half or three quarters of a star that gets added; why isn’t it ever one-fifth of a star? Or twenty-one twenty-ninths of a star?

It’s because the reviewer is lazy. They want to be precise, but not too precise. It’s imbeciles like these whose opinions don’t matter and aren’t worth reading.

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When numbers and stars fail you, use words to express your dis/liking of something. A reader might feel less inclined to ignore your writings if you don’t sum up all of your thoughts with a number or star graphic.

I rate this rant 3.142 stars %

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5 thoughts on “Something about Rating Systems

  1. ‘Half a star won’t grant you entry to Mario 64’s next boss chamber, that’s for sure.’
    Good line. It seems you’ve been around the blogosphere a bit lately… or review sites. Anyway, the ‘Half Star’ is common; televised review shows use it, Rolling Stone uses it; and I’m sure they knowing that using it is the same as using an ‘out of ten’ but the stars – particularly the red star or the white star – is somehow more acceptable than a number. Unless you only review games, and then it would be numbers.

    Over time I’ve come to feel that rating stuff is at best useful for keeping track of how much you liked something at the time in comparison to you liked it another time, or how much someone else liked it. And if you start to think about ratings too much, all you think about is the rating you’re going to give something at the end of an article… and that is a shit way to go about it and is one of the reasons I haven’t written anything new for my blog in almost a year.

  2. Hilarious rant, chaz. Rating systems have always annoyed the hell out of me, mostly because of what you summarized here:

    “Okay, so it’s not such a crime to add a .25/.5/.75 to an x/10 score, you’re just being precise, right? Well, why don’t you just switch to an x/100 or percentage rating then? Your ratings are not measurements for lunar lander components, they don’t have to be anally precise.”

    I wonder how the rating system of Awesome-Good-Average-Bad-Shitty would hold up upon review? And what about the coveted, only awarded twice, rating of Awesomely Shitty?

    • The AweShit scale is a lingual star system of course; it gets the message across; works perfectly.
      Convention-defying awards are all in good fun. A rating of “Awesomely Shitty” expresses a lot more than “73%” for example.

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