Star Ratings

After doing the Jawgrind podcast with some friends for the past couple of years, I’ve realized just how much a five star rating system can vary among different people &emdash; and even myself at different times. As I’ve been rating entertainment (and even goods, as in the case of Amazon) for years, I’ve always had something of a descriptions for setting star ratings. I think it might be worth putting those down, for my own sake, as well as anyone who might be interested in reading them.

  • ★★★★★ – This is a work I feel I could watch, read, or listen to at any almost any time. It holds cultural significance (to me) and I feel may help you to better understand me as a person1.
  • ★★★★☆ – This was an excellent piece of work. Though it might have had some flaws, I would enjoy revisiting it again in the future. I would recommend this to most anyone, particularly if this seems in line with their interest.
  • ★★★☆☆ – This as a solid piece. I would recommend it with some reservations, but I might not have much cause to revisit in the future.
  • ★★☆☆☆ – This piece suffered from severe flaws. Though I may have enjoyed parts of it, I almost certainly wouldn’t recommend it to anyone nor would I want to revisit it.
  • ★☆☆☆☆ – This piece had very few, if any, redeeming qualities. I may not have even finished it2. I would actively encourage others to avoid this. Knowing that someone did enjoy it might make me question their taste or, at least, question if I really understand them.

So, if you search for about a minute, you’d surely find something I’ve rated that doesn’t seen to fit into this scale. I don’t claim to apply any rigor to this at all (as I indicated by the need to document them here).

Jawgrind ratings, for example, are done in the vacuum that is Star Trek: The Original Series (for me, at least; I can’t speak for others on the show). I’m not saying a five-star rating I gave to an episode of that show would compare to a five-star rating of a novel, film, or album3. Those episodes are rating on a microcosm version of this scale, and should only be compared to themselves. Had I tried to use this universal scale on those episodes, I wouldn’t have had the granularity to usefully describe each one 4.

I do try to apply this scale to books on Goodreads, films or shows on Netflix, or albums in iTunes5. In the case of Netflix or iTunes (and Amazon, even), this has a positive feedback of helping recommendations (though Netflix seems to have given up actually trying to recommend anything despite that whole million-dollar prize thing). Even there, I’m sure I’m not as consistent as I like.

  1. I cannot, though, say I universally recommend my five star ratings, though. Why? Because something so well loved by someone may require some very specific tastes. That level of enjoyment isn’t necessarily going to be felt by all, but this is why I indicate you might understand me better as a result.
  2. Though, out of fairness, I try to never rate something I didn’t complete (or, in the case of foods, at least thoroughly try). I don’t see how someone can give a valuable rating to something they never finished watching or reading, for example.
  3. However, I’ve considered that a overall series rating (or at least by season) would would be useful in this scale, though.
  4. They’d pretty much all be 2 or 3, to be frankly honest about it.
  5. If you didn’t already know this, you can rate entire albums independently of songs in iTunes, which can be very helpful in constructing genre favorite playlists (genre + album with 3+ rating).

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