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 — 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’d like to be.

  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). []
Categorized as General

By Jason Coleman

Structural engineer and technical content manager Bentley Systems by day. Geeky father and husband all the rest of time.

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