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Numerical Ratings on Reviews

anim8ed

I have decided upon my restart into writing reviews to no longer use the numerical rating system. I find the numbers are interpreted differently by different reviewers and are an apples to oranges comparison when comparing reviews on the same story. You end up having to read the written review to interpret the numbers anyway.

Out of 19 reviews I have so far not rated 2 stories. To keep unrated stories from receiving any negative connotation I am removing all numerical ratings from previous reviews so any that pop up on the home page in the next day or so are just edits of previous reviews.

I find the numerical ratings leave too much room for misinterpretation so for the sake of clarity I have decided to no longer use them in my reviews, both past and future.

Comments?

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@anim8ed


Comments?


zero comments

Crumbly Writer

What does Lazeez think? Are numerical comments required, or even encouraged? If not, then why did you include them in the first place.

While numeric scores are tricky, they're also a good short hand. Most people will look at a review, see how many 'tomatoes' they include and smile. If it differs from their own opinion, they may skip over the review. It's only that initial response that they'll continue on. Sometimes, a lengthy review is a bit of a commitment, and the reader need encouragement to continue. Being assured the reviewer agree with them, or has an interesting opinion, is a necessary step.

By the way, do you include a snappy title to your reviews, or just list the name of the story?

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@Crumbly Writer

What does Lazeez think? Are numerical comments required, or even encouraged?


If I thought numerical valuations were necessary I would have made them required programmatically.

While creating the reviewing functionality, I realized that some were comfortable with assigning numerical values to their reviews and some weren't. So I made it optional.

anim8ed

@Crumbly Writer

Numerical ratings are not required per the reviewer guidelines.

I at first tried to use the ratings to be consistent with the majority of reviews. Over time that left me frustrated as there is little consistency between reviewers and what to my view is a tendency of reviewers to overrate the stories. I myself generally pull up reviews from the link on the story description itself. When you do it that way you get the story description followed by the text of the most recent review then the numerical ratings followed by any other reviews of that story. The only place where the numerical ratings might be useful is on the reviews by reviewer page.

Reviews are filed by story name, author, and reviewer. There is no option to place a title on the review. On the other hand I try to ensure the first paragraph catches the interest of the reader. I am not always successful. I am constantly reviewing how best to convey my thoughts about the stories I am reviewing.

richardshagrin
Updated:

No rating numbers? But, but...Readers are accustomed to see numbers. There may be a surplus of tens in a typical review, but some review readers might not think the story is recommended if there is not a sufficiently high number. Most of the time reviews are done by reviewers who at least mildly liked the story. If you don't like it, why will others like it?

If you don't want to use the numerical shorthand, you need to spend at least a few sentences explaining how you feel about the plot, the absence or presence of proofreader errors (Technical), and whether you liked it (and hopefully why.)

If you don't want to use numbers, you will be cheating your review readers of
"Its the best story ever written, or
Its a damn good story, or
I liked it, or
its better than average, or
Its an average story but people who really like (insert genre) stories should like this one. Or
I can't really recommend it because...

I suspect we won't see a lot of "I can't really recommend it..." reviews. Not any more than we see lots of reviews with scores below 6. Why read it and then bother to review it if you don't like it. If you like it, one of the numbers helps tell number oriented readers how much you liked it.

If you must don't use numbers, but remember the information they give readers should be in your review in words. The best reason I have seen recently to use N/A was because the reviewer couldn't give elevens.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@richardshagrin

Why read it and then bother to review it if you don't like it.


Because reading stories and reviewing them is what you do, and you might save one of the five readers who pay attention to reviews from reading a god awful story?

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Dominions Son

In theory I like all SOL readers. But why would I like them enough to read a god awful story, and then organize my thoughts enough to post an unfavorable review. Guidelines from Management indicate if we don't like a story, send the author an email with suggestions to improve. If you write a lot of reviews that are hatchet jobs, there is a good chance your reviewer credential will be revoked. With over 35 thousand stories on SOL there should be some you can recommend to others.

I have been assured by others that it is ok to post second or third or (pick a number) reviews if you have something to say about the story. You won't run out of stories to review quickly.

Replies:   Dominion's Son
Dominion's Son

@richardshagrin

But why would I like them enough to read a god awful story, and then organize my thoughts enough to post an unfavorable review.


1. Because it's what you do? (queue GEICO commecial)

2. How do you know it's a god awful story before you read it?

Replies:   Grant
Grant

@Dominion's Son

2. How do you know it's a god awful story before you read it?


1. By looking at previous reviews or the current scores.

2. By looking at all the tags.

3. By starting it, and not being able to get through the first couple of paragraphs.

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Grant

I agree and would add reading the story description, if there is one. Most of the really old stories don't have one.

Another indication whether to read a story or not at least to me is story length. I am one of the poor people who only get 16 stories in a 24 hour period. Lets say I read 16 extremely short stories in one hour. What should I do with the other 23 hours? It may not be "god awful" but I would just as soon not read it.

Really good writers can put a lot of entertainment or pathos, or whatever they wanted to share with readers in a few thousand words. I have heard of 69 word stories. Do you want to recommend them to others like me who can read 16 stories a day? Some of them are scored in the 9s. I am not curious enough to read one.

Ernest Bywater

@richardshagrin

Another indication whether to read a story or not at least to me is story length. I am one of the poor people who only get 16 stories in a 24 hour period. Lets say I read 16 extremely short stories in one hour. What should I do with the other 23 hours?


You can try asking the authors for a copy of some of their stories as a direct email instead of reading them on-line. Some will send you a copy of works not at SOL, and some will send an e-copy of a work at SOL, and some won't; but you lose nothing by asking.

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Ernest Bywater

I never thought of that. Are there any authors here who would be interested in doing that, at least as an experiment? It seems to me it would take a lot of time for the author. Unless it were something in progress that might benefit by proofreading (homonyms a specialty) or a beta reader. Does a beta reader need to know Greek?

JohnBobMead

@richardshagrin

Does a beta reader need to know Greek?


No, but he does need to keep them separated in the aquarium.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@richardshagrin

Are there any authors here who would be interested in doing that, at least as an experiment?


On many occasions I've sent an e-pub or pdf copy of a story to a reader who was on a low income and asked me for a copy of something to read because they've read all I have on SOL. I know of a few others who've done the same, but won't name them because it's their choice, not mine. If you ask and an author refuses you lose nothing, but they may send you something.

Everything I've completed is now available on:

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/ernestbywater

but not all are available on SOL due to contractual obligations.

Ernest Bywater

@JohnBobMead


No, but he does need to keep them separated in the aquarium.


At if you don't they get into philosophical arguments that can be very noisy and messy.

Perv Otaku

I remember this argument playing out regarding video game reviews. On the one hand, numerical scores tell you almost nothing about the game, you have to read the review's paragraphs to find out if it's a game you would like. On the other hand, numerical scores are the only shorthand available to aggregate different reviews or compare the reviews of one game to another game.

In the end there's not really a single good way to do this.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Perv Otaku

numerical scores tell you almost nothing about the game


My cable company used to include a numerical rating (0-4 stars) for a movie in their guide. I thought it was a waste since I'd watch a 4-star movie that sucked (I think they gave it 4 stars simply because it was old and had a great cast).

But they dropped that "numerical" rating. I miss it. Not because of the missing 4-star reviews, but because of the missing under 2-star ones. Basically, if the movie got less than 2 stars I was sure it was crap.

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Switch Blayde

The Science Fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon had a law, "ninety percent of everything is crap." I am not sure he used "crap." Somebody else had a corollary to that law, and to Murphy's Law that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. That corollary is that Murphy and Sturgeon were optimists.

I don't go to movies any more for lots of reasons. Effort and expense are part of it, but at my advanced age movies they are making these days are crap. Some of the crap is different colors and artificial flavors are used (but still taste bad), but crap is crap. Just put single stars on all of the reviews. Pessimists can be pleasantly surprised, but seldom disappointed.

anim8ed

The other factor in my choosing not to add numbers is they usually already have the voter score numbers that are easier to find and fairly accurate.

I have mentioned the voting score in some reviews including what I voted for the story. Technical ability is not something I feel comfortable scoring as I am not well versed in grammar myself.

Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

Really good writers can put a lot of entertainment or pathos, or whatever they wanted to share with readers in a few thousand words. I have heard of 69 word stories. Do you want to recommend them to others like me who can read 16 stories a day? Some of them are scored in the 9s. I am not curious enough to read one.

That's why, for as many well-written short stories as there are, why it's such an under rated genre (right word?). Many readers just won't touch short stories, and while many others cut their teeth on them, they often feel left adrift because of the lack of support they get for writing them.

On SOL, especially, long series get a substantial bonus come scoring time.

Richard, many of us (like me) keep their stories on their website, however, each of those is also here on SOL (though I'm not always as good at updating the SOL stories, as someone recently pointed out to me).

Since most of us (authors) do the same thing with our proofreaders, it wouldn't really be a big deal to do it for readers (shipping them advanced copies of stories). We probably wouldn't ship a pre-edited version, or even one offered for sale, but we'd be more likely to send one if asked nicely.

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