To rate or not to rate; that is the question

I have a simple question for my readers, and I hope you’ll give me some feedback on this: would you like to see ratings attached to my reviews? Do you find ratings useful at all?

I have always had conflicting views on this matter. On the one hand, I feel that any review worth the keystrokes spent writing it should be able to get across how the reviewer feels about the book in question, and give the reader some idea of the book’s worth. I also feel the reader, if interested in the review in the first place, should put some time and effort into actually reading it, rather than glancing at a simple numerical rating and then perhaps just skimming the rest.

On the other hand, I’m well aware that my reviews are not always as good at conveying my thoughts as I’d like them to be, and maybe in such cases a rating might be a useful additional element.

Another reason I’ve shied away from ratings is because I find them rather slippery critters. I have a tendency to see them as relative rather than absolute. When I rate something, I have an automatic impulse to compare it against all other works of its kind. The problem is that new works are being encountered all the time, and so this relationship is constantly shifting. So if I come across a new book that blows me away, and I give it 5 stars, then I think of that other book I gave 5 stars last year that wasn’t nearly as good as this new book, so how could it really deserve 5 stars? If I do implement ratings here, I’ll have to find some way to fight this urge to constantly re-evaluate everything I’ve rated in the past. But I suppose I can get over that, and find a new way to think about it.

I’m gonna post a poll and see what the opinion is on this. Feel free to leave me any comments you have as well. I’m more than willing to add ratings, if enough people say they find them useful.

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9 responses to “To rate or not to rate; that is the question

  1. I attach ratings to my reviews because they are useful to me. The ratings help me decide which books to keep in my collection. If they aren’t helpful to you first, I would say skip the ratings and just write the reviews the way you want to.

  2. Ratings are less important than a well written review.

  3. The issue is a little more complex than it appears. By what yardstick do you intend to rate?? Quality of prose?? How much you enjoyed it?? Compared to other similar books?? Some other measure?? As you know, I rate on my site, but in the “How to use this Site” section I explain that I use my level of enjoyment to arrive at a rating. It is sometimes possible to have a poorly written book from one perspective, be an enjoyable read nevertheless.
    I think that if you communicate exactly how you rate then it’s got to be a good thing. anniegirl1138 is absolutely right, ratings are less important than a well written review, however, they are an additional avenue to communicate something about the story.
    People like myself who follow your reviews get to know your style, and be it positive or negative, a rating would become a pretty useful gauge as to whether we will find the book worthwhile or not.
    Not only that, they can also be fun and look pretty.

  4. crotchetyoldfan

    I think that a formal rating system is something that can easily go along with a review without affecting the review itself. Those who like/use such things will benefit and those who do not can easily ignore it.

    If anything, I think giving the readers the opportunity to weigh in gives added value.

  5. Thanks for the answers so far. Everyone makes some good points. I’ll let this poll go on for a while and see if anyone else has an opinion.

  6. Pingback: Things I Appreciate in Book Reviews « Books Worth Reading

  7. Ratings are, I think, a great idea. as long as you have clearly stated objective standards that you adhere to. A rating has to say something inherently, otherwise its kind of meaningless to readers, who just go and attach their own meaning to the number or stars or whatever you use.

  8. All right then, ratings are a “go”! I’ll put this into effect with my next review.

    Of course, now I’m stuck with deciding if I want to go back and rate all my past reviews as well….. lol.

    Thanks to all who offered an opinion.

  9. Just added the Ratings Scale tab at the top of the page explaining my scale. Pretty standard stuff, but just to be thorough and clear, there it is.

    Thanks again to all who offered an opinion and/or voted.

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