There is no right way to rate a product or item in a review. But there are a few really bad ways to rate, and unfortunately some of the most visited websites and review sources use them.
Why? Because we’ve become a society of critics, instead of a society of fans and product users. We’d rather spend more time emphasizing the bad in something, then looking at the good.
Here’s my thoughts on the most commonly used ratings systems.
First off, percentage point systems like 0-100% and 0.0 to 10.0 are the worst offenders. Using them like we did in school we perceive 90+ the be great, 80-90 to be good, 70-80 to be decent, 60-70 to be barely passable and 60 or less to be unworthy of our time/money. That means we give 60 points of rating over to the worst (0-60), 20 points to average (60-80), and only 20 points to degrees of greatness (80-100). How’s that fair? It’s not.
OK. So what about star ratings (1-5 stars)? Well those systems are better, but they still disproportionately favor the worse. Again, anything below 3 stars is usually considered below average and not worth our time or money. Did you ever once consider buying something that got a 2 1/2 (out of 5) star rating? And the differences between getting 4 or 5 stars is perceived of as huge. That one star represents either it being a good product (4 stars) or something that’s magical (5 stars). It’s still not a fair system to those who make average, but value driven, product.
We could simply use the good old pass vs. fail rating, the thumbs up or down review. This balances the good and bad very well but leaves no room to expand between good and great or average and poor. Not good enough.
So I simply went back to school report cards. And I use a grading system everyone understands and that seems more fair.
PERFECT = “As close to perfection as something man-made can get”
A = “Exceptional, demanding our time and money”
B+ =”Missed it by that much.” Just a fraction away from exceptional, and more than Good.
B = “Good, very entertaining or highly successful”
C = “Average, it meets the requirements for success and still has value”
D = “Misses the mark, comes close to succeeding in some areas but overall doesn’t cut it”
FAIL = “Fails in every area it tries, definitely not worthy of our time or money”
There, four “grades” differentiating between ‘average’ and ‘perfection’ and only two “grades” focused on degrees of failure.
It may not be the perfect ratings system, and may definitely not be good for ‘Google Snippets’. But I think it’s better than the others.
Chad, July 2013.
Update Sept. 2013:
After looking over my early reviews I’ve discovered something that needs clarification, “What’s with all the reviews getting a B?”
Well, basically, I don’t review crap. Why waste my time? And “B” is a solid grade to give the music, movies, books, and tv I really enjoy, but that don’t deserve an “A” or a “Perfect” grade. Those grades are reserved for the truly special.
You should consider (most)any review given on this site as a recommendation. If you ever find something reviewed here with a “D” or a “Fail” grade it means I expected it to be much, much more and I couldn’t keep my disappointment to myself.
Update March 2014:
I’ve grown sick and tired of constantly grading my reviews with B‘s.
So I’ve decided to make a slight revision/addition to my grading system: Introducing the B+!
From now on, if something justifies a less than perfect, but still worthy, grade I will have two options–and hopefully a more discriminating final grade.