1s & 5s: Rating and Reviewing

When my younger brother was very young, he would go through the JCPenney’s 2-inch thick Winter Catalogue and circle every toy in the toy section in response to Mom asking us to create a wish list. Every toy. Not a very discerning child. I would mark the few things I really wanted.

I think of this when I see that someone rates every book they read as 4 or 5 stars. Pure grade inflation. What if the newspaper did that for movie reviews? Likely, I’d stop reading the reviews if they thought every movie was amazing. For the Chicago Trib and its 0-4 star scale, 2 is a good movie. 3 is better than good. 4 will likely earn an Oscar though most of the nominees probably fell in the 2.5-3.5 range. 4 means something for them. And me.

I use the Goodreads 1-5 star scale. “3 stars” has the hypertext “I liked it.” That should be the solid like. 4 is “I really liked it.” Self-explanatory. 5 is “I found it amazing.” This should be rare. But some people use it like my brother used the JCPenney Catalogue.

At the convention this past weekend, I was talking to an independent author who boasted of her “first troll.” She clarified that she meant her first 1-star rating. [Not usually something to boast of.] But she felt it was a rite of passage. Goodreads’ 1-star says “I didn’t like it.” I replied tactfully, “Not all 1-star raters are trolls. Perhaps they didn’t like it.” The author countered, “If I don’t like something, I give it 3 stars.” How does that help anyone??

I think raters should give at least a partial review to explain anything other than a 3, but really always. Otherwise, the rating can’t be contextualized.

I also think people who stop reading something without finishing it should be blocked from rating it. They should not be able to give a 1-star for an unfinished book. Maybe there needs to be separate stat for not finishing a book with a multiple choice explanation section. This, too, could be telling.

As much as I want to make an informed decision about what I am buying, acquiring etc. I also want an informed view of the reviewer-rater. Differences in our perspectives could be more telling than the review itself.

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4 responses to “1s & 5s: Rating and Reviewing

  1. Makes me think of my first semester of college. I was an A student in high school. Just breezed by without ever studying or giving a damn. Then I had this honors English professor who gave all 7 of us in his class a C for our first assignment. He explained that a C was average, what was expected. If we wanted a B we’d have to go beyond average. An A, hell, above and beyond. Made us all work a bit harder, that’s for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t experience this until I went to Wales to study. I had been a 4.0 in HS and honors in college. My 1st paper earned a 62. I was in shock and didn’t want anyone to see my grade, but someone did and exclaimed that it was a decent grade. The 80 I received later was considered very rare.

      When teaching HS later [in Tx], we were discouraged from giving Ds and Fs. Even if the student wasn’t doing the work.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I taught German at the college level for roughly 5 years. It’s the same. We had to bend over backwards to get the students to a passing grade, mainly because the department needed money and flunking students who didn’t deserve good grades was highly frowned upon.

        Liked by 1 person

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