Daily Archives: June 15, 2009

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.