I’ve decided to make an unorthodox move and get rid of the rating system on this blog. I’ve been questioning the purpose and effectiveness of ratings for a while, continually adjusting and redefining them, but now I’ve decided to just purge them. So, goodbye ratings.
I was reading the NYT book review a couple of weeks ago (I’ve intermittently read Michiko Kakutani’s reviews since she pissed off Carrie in that episode of Sex and the City) and I noticed that she, and the other reviewers, don’t rate the books they review. Then I scoped out other renowned book review sites and noticed that they didn’t rate reviews either (or some just give a star rating if the book is exceptional), so the seed was planted. It took some convincing before I decided to remove the ratings, because it seemed counterproductive. This is a blog where I state my opinions on books and state whether I’d recommend them or not. So how was I going to do that without ratings, or some kind of ranking system? With the review, of course. I’m so slow sometimes.
I thought about ratings some more and reflected on how I utilize them and realized that they might be hurting more than they’re helping me. And when something in my life is more problematic than beneficial, then I get rid of it. Here are some of my reasons:
- I think people place too much importance on the rating, when they don’t really mean anything. They’re completely arbitrary. Even if a blog places a rating scale on their site, and the reader references it every time they visit that blog, ratings are interpreted according to the reader’s scale so it could end up interfering with the message the reviewer is trying to convey. Even I will sometimes just scroll to see the rating, and then decide whether I should add a book to my list. But that’s ridiculous, because my 3-star isn’t your 3-star, and your 3-star isn’t her 3-star, so the only way to truly see if the book was positively received would be to read the review.
- I think some depend too much on ratings when reviewing a book. I’ve seen too many reviews that are basically just synopsis breakdowns with barely any words expressing an actual opinion of the book. And if there are more than a few words expressing an opinion, they’re so vague and generic that they don’t really tell you anything. But there’s a rating. I sometimes wonder if those bloggers are using the rating to tell prospective book readers whether they should give the book a chance.
- I started depending on my rating too much when reviewing a book. I sometimes found myself trying to get my review to fit the rating. For example, if I decided to rate a book 4-stars and really gushed in the review then I wondered if it’s worth more. No, I just really liked that book, but it’s still a 4-star read. Or, I sometimes compared books to other books with the same rating and wondered if they were worth less. With no rating, I can just write whatever I think and let other readers decide how they’d rate it and if they want to buy the book.
I’m not sure if this’ll be a permanent change, but I’m excited to try it out. Based on the few reviews I’ve already written without rating, I can already feel a difference in the review process. I feel less restrained. I’ll still rate books when I post my review on a vendor site, but I already had to adjust my ratings to match their system, so nothing will change much on that end.
What do you think? Am I crazy to do this? Does it make any sense? Do you rate? Why or why not? I wanna know.