Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Review Ratings - Good or Bad?


I've noticed a number bloggers are no longer rating their reviews anymore. What are peoples views on this?

For me any rating with a 3 star or higher is good - it means I enjoyed the book and would buy more from that author. I think I have been lucky this year as I have only read one book I didn't particularly like but even then I would have given the book 3 stars as I thought it was really well written - I just hated the character with a passion!

When reading other peoples reviews I find a star rating gives me a overall feeling for what they thought of the book - something I can't always tell from the review itself. I often find myself surprised by a low rating after reading what seems to be a great review or vice versa. So I don't know if this is good or bad. Does the star rating distract from the review itself? Do I rely on it too much?

I've been thinking about this for the last couple of days since seeing some of the New Year Resolutions posts. Initially my thoughts were definitely for the star rating system but now I'm questioning myself so I'd love some input:)


UPDATE: I have decided to stick to my star rating for now - it seems the general consensus is that people like a rating system of some kind and at the moment this one works for me. Thank you all for your input on this - it was such a great response and it was really interesting to read your opinions:)

19 comments:

Luisa at Chicklish said...

I can't decide about this one myself, to be honest! I suppose we're all used to ratings on Amazon and Goodreads, etc, and if we transfer our reviews, then we need them. I can see it's quite freeing not to use them, though, and reviews speak for themselves. (Although I take your point that you can have a glowing review with a low rating - and I think we often do on Chicklish, because we tend to focus on the positive in reviews if at all possible.)
So the answer is: I don't know, but I'd love to hear what other people think!

So Many Books, So Little Time said...

I like them when reading reviews that other people have written, but I find it very hard to do myself!

Book Crazy Jenn said...

I like the star thing - or at least at the end making a "my final thoughts" kinda thing - if I am searching say google reader for reviews on a book - lets pick Fallen for instance, and I want to find some reviews of it to decide if I want to read it - I dont want to read 100 reviews - I just want the basics of what they thought. KWIM?

As such, I tend to look at the star rating, or the Final thoughts - to get a jist if I want to pick that book up next.

Does that even make sense?

Luisa at Chicklish said...

Interesting! Maybe one of the problems is that I mostly just use 3, 4 and 5 ratings - I probably wouldn't finish reading a "1" or a "2" as it wouldn't be a book for me, so there wouldn't be much point in reviewing it. (This is one thing that baffles me about negative reviews - I'm surprised that reviewers bother finishing the book!)
Anyway, this only gives me three grades to choose from, and I wonder if it becomes a bit meaningless?
Or not! (See, I really can't decide!)
Sorry I'm going on! Thanks for bringing this up, Sammee. :)

I Want To Read That said...

Book Crazy Jenn - yep I do know what you mean and I think I do the same thing. I look at the star rating first and then read the review.

Luisa - I agree - I don't think I would finish a 1 or 2 star book and if I hadn't finished it I wouldn't feel right reviewing it.

As I used half stars I suppose I am effectively rating out of 10, or 5 if you discount any ratings under 3 stars. Hmm now I think I'm just over thinking it.

Luisa - as an author which part of the review is more important to you - what is written in the review or the rating?

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

I like the stars! It helps me gauge the overall vibe of a book.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I guess Amazon got everyone used to the five stars.
As an author, three stars says 'average' to me. And since so many people skim, they might see the three stars and not read the review, which could highlight some really good points. Guess it's all in perception.
I tend to rate books like I do movies - on a scale of 1 to 10.

Luisa at Chicklish said...

You know, I think I often look at the star rating first too, and then read the review. The rating would never affect whether or not I read the review, though. It gives an overall impression, as others here have said.

As an author, I'm a total wimp. I definitely look at the rating first, and if it's low, I have to read the review with my eyes shut (!) But reviews are for readers, not authors, of course. :)

When I write reviews, I hope that people will read them and think, "Oh, that's a book for me!" So, in a way, the rating is irrelevant because a reader can't get much from it. (Unless they already know a lot about your taste in books, maybe?)

I'm still undecided, but this is very interesting!

Luisa at Chicklish said...

Hmm, and following on from what I said above, I think I've got to know the kinds of books that appeal to the bloggers I follow - including you, Sammee! I find your ratings meaningful, and I'm sure other regular readers do too.

AnimeGirl said...

Im a bit iffy about rating too, though I do it. But I too mostly rate 3 to 5, if I don't like or didn't finish a book, I just skip it -I'm afraid of being too mean with a bad review and end up bashing a book just because it wasn't my cup of tea, like
Twilight which I hate, and I sometimes just don't want to bother.

In the review proper I try to put both the things I liked and the things I didn't as to give a feel of why I rated it that way.

prophecygirl said...

I rated my reviews for about 6 months, and found it the hardest part of writing my reviews.

I decided to stop just because I didn't feel that I was giving an accurate overall review using stars - it was just too hard to pick a star sometimes. I'd often want to give a book 3 stars, but when looking at what else I'd given 3 stars to, I realised that there was a big difference in how much I liked them. I didn't think 2 stars was enough, and then I didn't know what to give it.

I'm trying to come up with another way of rating books overall. I haven't thought of anything I'd like to use yet, but we'll see.

I like reviews star ratings, and I like reviews without. At the end of the day, it's all down to how you personally feel, and how they effect your ability to write your reviews.

hcmurdoch said...

I definitely like stars (or some sort of object) for reviews. It helps me get an overall sense of the book from that blogger's viewpoint.

Becky said...

I've been thinking about this a lot since Lauren's New Year Post. I have given reviews everything from 1star to 5 stars. I am very good at finishing books I don't like. I am very self-disciplined that way. If I couldn't finish I book, then I would post that on my blog. Maybe I'm meaner than everyone else but I'd rather my followers trusted my reviews. Having said that, now I'm getting to know authors I feel very nervous about hurting their feelings. When someone puts their heart and soul into writing, I don't want to hurt their feelings by giving the book 1 star if I don't like the book. I'm just one reader so I can only review from my perspective. But today, when I reviewed Keren's book I was so thankful to have my star rating because I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that she deserved each and every one of them.

I personally don't like systems where books earn points for various elements. I find it convuluted.

If I do away with stars, I will create a Bookette Extraordinary Novel Award or something. So I can give it to authors liek Keren who write something that is outstanding. But I'm going to think long and hard about abadoning my stars.

Kay said...

I really, really rely on star ratings when reading reviews.

This is mainly because I rarely have time to read absolutely every review out there - but if I can see, at a glance, what you thought of a book I get a much better picture of whether or not I want it.

I also sometimes stop a read a review because of the rating. If it is a book I had been longing for - and then discovered you had only given it 1 star, I will certainly read that review!

But I completely agree with you about reviews that seem positive but then have low ratings. In those cases, I expect there to be a description of what they consider to be a 2 star book somewhere on their site (like the one you have)!

prophecygirl said...

Hey, me again! I just thought I'd contribute again and say that I'm going to try a grade rating instead of stars. Fingers crossed it works better for me!

Nikki @ Bookizzle said...

I definitely prefer a rating system, especially if I haven't read the book. It's a quick indicator of how the reviewer felt without giving too much of it away.

So in short, I'm sticking with the stars for now! :)

Bookalicious Ramblings said...

I'm in favour of the star system too! It's just easier to see what a reader thought of the book that way, especially if different aspects of the book (plot, characters, cover etc) are rated. Each to their own, but I'm sticking with the stars! :)

Sassy CC said...

I like reviews with ratings be it 5 star or out of a 100.
It might be easier if there is a score for different aspects then averaged out for an overall rating- so if people enjoy plot driven or character driven books they can see what a book is to you, at a glance Hope that makes some sense.

Lauren said...

This post (and the comments) makes for really interesting reading.

I think it all depends what type of review you're aiming for. I didn't think about this too much when I started reviewing, but having done it for a few months I realise that my aim is to find the book a 'home' with whoever might like it. It might be one that everyone will like, or maybe just a niche group of readers. A star rating doesn't really work with that.

As you've decided to stick with the star rating, it must work for you, which is great. I kind of envy you for feeling confident in using a ratings system. Especially since it sounds like many people prefer them!

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