As one might observe rather quickly, most of my posts (as of 2020) tend to be reviews of books, music, or movies and I rate them on a 1-3 scale. If you’ve spent any time with me in person, you might’ve heard a frequent expression (borne out of frustration) at the way people tend to rate things. While sites like Yelp, Google, and Facebook offer a 1-5 star rating, in my experience, people tend to rate things on a much smaller scale: As though the person in charge of the thing/place/experience is either Hitler or Jesus.

For example, this is a negative (1 star) review for a fairly popular restaurant here in Idaho:

“Absolutely, positively the worst dining experience we’ve had in over 20 years.”

Contrast these with a positive review (5-star):

“There is no better Mexican food!”

While there is usually some delineation in the actual review content, it’s much more common to see a 1 or 5-star rating than somewhere in between. I think a component of this is the fact that people are asked to first rate their experience and then talk about it (it’s easier to get people to rate than to write). If, after writing a review, they were prompted to re-evaluate their score, I suspect there would we more nuance.

This brings me to the way in which I’ve chosen to rate the things I review:

1 – It was OK.
2 – Pretty Good…
3 – Great!

As of June of 2020, I’ve only once had a rating that didn’t fit into this range (I couldn’t finish the book) and I simply rated it NaN/3 (note for non-programmers: NaN stands for ‘Not a Number’ and is used in a language called JavaScript). While there have been a few books that I was (initially) hesitant to rate at a 1 (as opposed to a 2), I think sticking with an ‘It was OK’ is perfectly fine.

Tagged in: