CONFESSIONS

[Confessions] 5-star rating Systems; why I more often than not have come to hate them

This is an article that’s been long overdue. I’ve been having a lot of conflicting thoughts on rating systems and the use of them for the past years, ever since I started writing reviews on books actually. And I could never really find the right words that explained how I truly felt and got across my message without coming across as rude or anything because that’s definitely not my goal here haha. I just find it a really interesting topic to to think and talk about, so I decided to finally give it a go and publish the article already.

| Rating Systems and my reverse thoughts on them|

Whether you use a 5-star rating system, a 1-10 rating system, symbols (you get the point)… We’re all familiar with them by now right? But more often than not I come across books I can’t really fit into a 5-star rating system (the one that’s being used on Goodreads and many other platforms for example) because to me, it’s really difficult to set boundaries as to what qualifies as a 1 star, 2 star, 3 star read and so on. Everyone decides where these boundaries lie for themselves, but I find, especially with the 5-star rating system on Goodreads for example, this system lacking more often then not.

| Why I most of the time don’t use a rating system in my reviews, on the blog, anymore |

I find it easier and more honest towards a book – no offense to everyone who likes using rating systems though, because I won’t stop using them entirely either and even so; no judgement from me, since I’ve used it for years as well. But this is just me spilling my thoughts on the matter as to how I feel about it at the moment – to not use any star-ratings (WHEN WRITING REVIEWS ON A BOOK), but to just talk about what I liked and didn’t like without adding a specific number/symbol to the book – I found myself constantly forgetting to add how many stars I rated a book in my review on the blog lately anyway, so subconsciously, I’ve gotten rid of the rating system already haha.

I understand why it’s being used on Goodreads and such, so that people can easily see how much a book is loved or isn’t loved by the community for example, but I don’t think it has any value persé in a written review because it’s the thoughts on a book that counts to me, no matter which rating it got. I just like to see the thoughts of a reviewer rather than them focusing on a certain number from a/their rating-system and then decided for myself if I want to read it or not. To me, seeing a specific rating isn’t really that important anymore to be honest.

I just often feel like there really isn’t a number/symbol you can use that explains how good or not good a book is as words do, I think. I just find it difficult to link a certain rating to my feelings and thoughts on a read – finding the words to put down my thoughts on it here is difficult as well so I apologize if this article is chaotic, lol. There are just so many gray areas in between when we look at the 5-star rating for example. A lot of people see a 3-star rating as something negative while for me it’s still a book I really enjoyed but one I had remarks on as well. And especially those books, I think, would fair better, in my opinion, when I just write reviews on them without adding that specific star-rating.

| But I can’t and won’t stop using rating-systems entirely either, and here’s why |

Forgetting about the rating system entirely? It’s impossible, I think. Especially when you want to let the world know on a large scale as to what you thought about a book, when you aren’t interested in writing a review about it. When you still want to let people know a bit as to how you felt when reading a book, rating a book is the only option then – when you don’t want to review one, which is totally okay as well of course – really.  Seeing the 5-star rating for example; you get a general idea of what people thought about a book because a 1 star rating is obvious of course; someone didn’t like it at all and a 5 star rating is obvious as well; someone really loved it a lot – I think my own problem with the rating system is mostly because I don’t only want a general view on what someone thought of a book, but I just like to see more specific thoughts and rating only full stars on GR for example, complicates things then haha. 

I definitely don’t write reviews on every book I read, so that’s when I’m in need of the rating system the most. I want to be able to track my read books and I want to be able to look back on my reading stats at the end of the year and by using platforms like Goodreads and using their rating-systems, that’s the best way to go about it I think. So I do keep rating them on Goodreads for example, even when I don’t add a star rating to my reviews on the blog anymore but seeing my own rating system on Goodreads is much easier since I know for myself as to what I count a 3-star read, a 4-star read, etc. It’s anticipating what other people really feel when rating a book a certain number, that’s the challenge I think haha. I wish giving half stars was an option on Goodreads, because then you could be a little bit more specific as to what way you’re swaying with certain books. I often find myself wanting to rate a book 3,5 stars for example, which means I’ll have to choose to pick a 3-star rating on GR or a 4-star rating and I hate doing that! Giving a 3,5 star rating is me being specific about how I feel about the book and I don’t like to ‘downgrade’ or ‘upgrade’ it to a 3 or 4-star rating then.

And I still continue rating books I review for authors and publishers on Netgalley as well, for example since it’s an inquiry. But then I also write a review so I can elaborate on it, so it’s a combination of both. But since publishers more often than not use quotes from reviewers instead of their ratings, I personally don’t see why they keep clinging to the rating system to be honest, when asking for reviews.

I understand the use of them on sites like Amazon and such so customers get to see in an instant if a book is loved or not. But this can also be a negative thing when a book gets a lot of negative ratings for example, which doesn’t mean the book is bad, since every reader experiences a book in his/her own way. But a lot of customers tend to, understandably, skip those negatively rated books and then it’s a downward spiral into a situation where this particular book gets a lot less love and attention from then on. So the rating system can be a good thing on retail websites but definitely a negative thing as well in my opinion – you can always choose to ignore ratings of course! I like to focus more on the synopsis of a book rather than on a rating when prowling for new books on Goodreads or retailer sites for example since I often have read books I really loved while their rating on GR or such wasn’t that great. I’m a firm believer of finding out for yourself if you like it or not, regardless of a rating and that’s also why I’d rather read reviews in which I don’t come across specific ratings but just the thoughts of someone on a book without adding those numbers, you know?

| Your Opinion |

I think this is quite an interesting topic to discuss with other readers and reviewers out there. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. How do you feel about rating-systems? Do you love using them or do you prefer to review/talk about books without using them and why?

Thanks for reading!

 

One Comment

  • Annabel

    I agree I find it very hard to have boundaries for this as well. If I love a book I want to give it five stars because people look at that. But there is a difference between loving a book and LOVING a book. And you can’t out that into stars or any other rating.

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