Cathy and I recently had another one of our chats where we talked about how we agreed with each other, but didn’t understand other people. This time, we discussed rating systems. You might have heard of The Internet, which features Websites, which often feature Rating Systems. Users are asked to give something a certain number of stars or thumbs up or even to just pick a number on a scale. I always assume that the star/thumb/one on the left is the lowest and that the star/thumb/five on the right is the highest, unless otherwise indicated. Our issue is that we see people giving Five Stars (thumbs/numbers) to everything.
How can everything be Five Stars? Giving Five Stars to everything diminishes the point of the rating system. Between one and five, three is the middle, which makes three the average. So two is slightly below average and four is slightly above. One is fully below average and five is way above average. You can give them varying degrees, but we know that Five Stars is the best, the most, the greatest whatever of the stuff that you’re rating. If you give Five Stars to everything, then what you’re really doing is throwing off the rating system because now, five is the average. Instead of the rating system being a scale of little-to-high quality, it’s now just a scale of high quality. Instead of, “Was this book/song/movie/donut good?” the rating system has become, “What level of greatness has this book/song/movie/donut reached?”
Now, don’t get me wrong. It annoys me that so many news outlets go for negative stories because it’s what gets attention (I’m equally disappointed that people give so much attention to the negative stories), but this slanted rating system business is just too durned positive for me. Cathy and I agree that you save the Five Stars for the best and the One Stars for the worst. Most of your ratings, by the nature of the numbers, should be Three Stars. Three is the average, and the average is, well, average. This carries over even if you have a different scale. Whatever is in the middle is the average and the extremes are the extremes. Treat the extremes with the respect they deserve. Make a book really have to blow you away to get a Five! That crappy beet better taste like the worst of the crappy beets if you rated it a One! Everything else can fall into the middle.
If, after reading this, I haven’t convinced you to go forth and give more accurate ratings to random crap on random websites, then that’s fine. No hair of my chest, no skin off my ear, no bear shittin’ in my woods. Just know that if you see me sign my name to a Five Star rating anywhere in the world, then whatever the hell I’m rating is a True Fiver.