Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Squidoo's Star Rating System

Squidoo has a rating system for lenses that allows logged-in people to choose a rating of between one and five stars. Today in the SquidU forum I saw a message from someone who apparently had a lens with some ratings that weren't five stars. So I replied with the following:

There's not a whole lot you can do about ratings other than try to make a good lens. People who visit the lens and rate it do it according to their own thoughts and feelings about a lens. If you look at the popup boxes that tell you what the star ratings mean, you'd see:

1 - I can do better
2 - Jury's out
3 - Pretty darn good
4 - Splendiferous
5 - Awesometastic

If people were rating by those descriptions, there would be a lot more 3 and 4 star ratings. But a culture has developed on Squidoo that highly encourages - you could say practically forces - people to rate with 5 stars or not at all. Within that culture, 4 stars is considered to be not good. Only 5 stars will do.

This is not what the people who developed the star rating system intended.

But not everyone got the memo about "5 stars or nothing," so they'll see a lens they think is pretty good and give it 3 stars. They'll see a lens which is better but not really outstanding and give it 4 stars. They're just being honest, not realizing they're "supposed" to give a lens 5 stars if they rate at all.

The only star rating I can see as honestly being not good is 1 star: "I can do better." 2 is so-so. 3 should be an acceptable rating if you take its description literally. 4 should be high praise and 5 should be reserved for the truly great lenses that people find extremely helpful, informative, useful or entertaining depending on the nature of the lens.

I don't like the "5 stars or nothing" approach that seems to be the norm for Squidoo, but I don't want to rain on anyone's parade, be a party pooper, a curmudgeon, a downer, etc. so I usually do what everyone else does and give 5 stars or none. But that means I rate fewer lenses because I really don't want to give 5 stars to lenses that are fair to good and strictly speaking deserve a 2, 3 or 4 star rating.

If I were to take the star descriptions literally and rate accordingly, people who saw the effects of my less-than-5 ratings would take it as evidence they were doing something wrong or they'd figure someone doesn't like them and is being punitive.

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