Wednesday, April 6, 2011

To Rate or Not To Rate??



UPDATE: WOW! Thanks for the comments everyone! I know the rating discussion gets talked about every now and then, but I wanted to post about it because I love posts that generate discussion. I also love hearing that a lot of people really like ratings-makes me feel better!:) I think I'm going to work on a larger rating system (plot, characters, etc) so that will be in the works. And thanks again-you guys made my day! This is one of the reasosn I love blogging-I love reading everyone's thoughts!:)

There's been some discussion about book ratings recently which has gotten me thinking about book ratings on my blog. Currently I rate books on a 1-5 star scale and I put this information at the top of my reviews. I like to be able to give people a snapshot look at what I thought of the book, and if they're interested, then they can read the entire review.

But maybe this just encourages my readers to be lazy. They don't have to read a review, instead they can just look at the rating and move on. I would like to think that people would still be interested if they're interested in the book and read the review as well, but I know that's not always the case. That's not always the case for me. Sometimes I'm just too busy to read everything and my feed reader is too full and there's just no way I can read every review I have listed.

For me, a rating system helps me see what the general census of a book is, even if I can't read the reviews. Honestly, most of the time I do end up reading the reviews-via blogs, Goodreads, Amazon, etc. But I like having that snapshot view of the reviewers thoughts. And any book review site such as Goodreads, Amazon, LibraryThing, etc. you are going to end up rating books anyway, even if you don't rate them on your blog.

It's really, really hard to rate books though. I've often given half stars and even
.75 stars because it's hard to get just the right rating. I've seen comments that ratings are dependant on the reviewers mood, but I have to argue that reviews are the same way. If the book wasn't the right fit for me, or I wasn't in the right mood when I read it, won't that play into my review, rating or no rating? To me, a rating reflects my overall review of the book. At the same time, I can see how ratings might turn off readers. What if they see I gave two stars to a book they loved? Yet, if they read my review and discover I didn't like the book when they loved it, wouldn't that turn them off as well, with or without a rating attached?

So I'm stuck. Do I join the no ratings club and start reviewing books without my star ratings attached? Or do I stick with it and continue to rate my reviews as is? What do you think of book ratings on blogs? Stay or Go Away?

33 comments:

  1. I still rate books because it helps me and like you, I like to just get a quick snapshot of another reviewer's opinion. I especially look for ratings when deciding to buy a book or not. The ratings let me read both the negative--1/2 star ratings--and the positive--4/5 star ratings. Without ratings I would have to read countless reviews and I hardly have the patience for that. Ratings also lets me ground myself when I review.

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  2. I like seeing ratings, but agree they're extremely hard to give. I want to give a great book four stars, but I also gave another four stars that I loved so much more - it's hard to balance!

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  3. I like the rating, because even after reading a review sometimes I come away thinking "So did that person like the book or not?" because they have a list of likes and dislikes about the book.

    Another suggestion/request. I love your site and your reviews but I was wondering if you could point out if there is a lot of language or sexual content in a book. Since you do review books for tweens and teens it would be nice to know what to expect on that front.

    Thanks again for your wonderful reviews!

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  4. I don't rate but that's because I'm lazy ;) However, I do like the rating scale because it does help me when I look at other blogs. Hmmm...I might have to take my own advice.

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  5. I'm in the process of reformatting my reviews to include a shorter version of my review for those on the run.
    I currently use a star system but I sometimes don't use it because the book falls in between. I use to just round up or down accordingly but I got frustrated with that and just made sure my review was well enough.

    I have written a post like this, to get feedback, and have been using that to help reformat my reviews.

    Rating scales can be nice as the reader... but as the reviewer they can muck it all up.

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  6. Yan-Like you, I don't have to time to go through everyone's reviews. Ratings do give a good snapshot-I'm glad someone else likes them!:)

    Belle-It is hard to balance but I think it's worth it.

    Kara and Chant-So true, sometimes it's just a list of things about the book and you're left wondering what they really thought. As for content in books, I believe that is subjective and up to the reader. What I find to be a clean read might not be what someone else finds as a clean read. So I don't include content info in my reviews. But there's a great site: www.storysnoops.com that's a site run by moms who lay out content in books if you're looking for a way to research books you read.

    Karen-I'm glad you like to see ratings. Rating is hard though, so maybe it's better to be lazy!;)

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  7. Flippin' Fabulous-YES! They are great as a reader, but not so great as a reviewer. It is interesting to hear from everyone and I love getting feedback! And I like your idea of shorter reviews.

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  8. One thing you could do if you decide to continue with the rating system, is to put the rating at the END of your review. That way your readers will still need to read the entire review to get your rating. Or you could hide the rating somewhere INSIDE the review that way your readers have to read to find it.

    I just started rating books I review and I put mine at the end of my book reviews.

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  9. I don't mind when people rate books at all, it's just not the preferred style for me when I review. It's hard to equate 3 stars with how wordy I can get when I digest a book I guess.

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  10. I don't do ratings, but I can understand why someone would. For me, it's hard to boil down books to a number. I'm not a numbers person and never will be.

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  11. I like the rating system. I don't think it takes away from the review at all. A rating without a review is pretty meaningless, in my opinion, but the two together give a nice balance.

    I like having the snapshot and the explanation together - sometimes it influences what I'll read and what I won't. Maybe I'm only looking for reviews of books that I'm already interested in, but then I see a five star rating for a book I've never heard of - I'll read the review. It's like a teaser/trailer that gets me interested in the review, which in turn gets me interested in the book.

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  12. When I started blogging I didn't want to rate, but I found I had to because there are some books that I LOVE and some I like and some that I finish but don't really like. It helps me with my review!

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  13. I love ratings. Even if I do read the review, I still like to get an idea about what "rating" they'd give it. But if rating books is hard, I can see why one would give it up. It's always been easy for me, though.

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  14. I'm not a ratings girl on my blog. The only reason I rate on Library Thing is to give myself a quick reminder of what I thought of a book in a series, etc if I can't think of it off the top of my head. I sort of wish those ratings could be for my eyes only, but alas. I DO like that LT allows you to give 1/2 stars to things, whereas goodreads does not.

    I never pay attention to the ratings of a book in a post, I go right to the review and read what the reader thought.

    I have no idea why this topic is making the rounds again, it crops up every so often. I do think people should just stick to what they feel like doing. Ratings or no ratings, it's a a personal choice.

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  15. I don't mind ratings but I usually read the review because I like to see the reason for the rating. Someone might dislike a book for a reason that I find appealing in a book, and vice versa. For instance, one reviewer didn't like that a certain book had so much action and not enough 'down time' in between. I, on the other hand love a steady jolt of action. So in that case, what caused her to give it a lower rating was something that would make me like it!

    It really all comes down to personal preference. Rate or don't rate, just enjoy what you're doing!

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  16. I wonder about it sometimes - recently because Steph Su is testing a no-rating review.

    I like to know ASAP if a reviewer enjoyed a book or not - and I like to see the rating at the start of the review. Sometimes I run across a pretty good review with a low or mediocre rating at the end, but maybe that is just my comprehension skills! :) I just like it at the beginning because then I know what I'm getting myself into - instead of figuring out where the reviewer stands as they present both negative and positive features before their overall opinion.

    Whether it is high or low, I still like to see what others thought about a book that I may or may not have liked. It's always interesting to see if a reviewer LOVED a book that I didn't care too much for - and sometimes it makes me want to give the book a 2nd chance.

    I don't hold a low rating against a reviewer - or even the difference between "I liked it okay" versus "LOVED IT GO READ IT NOW". I know every person has their own tastes, and I like to read their thoughts.

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  17. I struggle with this question too. I've never rated books. I think it's really hard to be accurate. Some days I think wow, that book was amazing - clearly 5 stars. But the book I read after that could be even better. Again 5 stars, but nothing says it's better. I usually just say what I like and sometimes dislike about the book. Probably my enthusiasm doesn't always come across, but I hope it does!

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  18. I love the ratings and find them extremely helpful. Please don't stop!

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  19. Like Alyssa, I read the review to see the resons for a particular rating. I actually find the ratings helpful.

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  20. Whatever you want to do is fine. I do ratings because it is just a summary. Somewhere in your review needs to be a short summarizing statement or paragraph just to make it easier to read on the web. No one likes to read huge paragraphs of text. But, I read plenty of blogs, some do ratings, some don't. Both are fine.

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  21. Ratings and I are in a weird space right now. Everyone seems to be discussing this lately, and I'm not quite sure where I stand. I can see why people don't like them. People might see 3 stars and think it's not that good a book, yet they might miss out on the good parts of the book because of that (or it might be a great book for them, and just not for me) .... but like you said, ratings and reviews are BOTH very personal and depend on the reviewer's mood, etc. Unless you're re-reading a book before reviewing it and then looking at it very critically, you're always going to write something personally relating your experience of the book (and even then there's always bias). I personally like ratings, because even if someone writes favourably about a book, it could still be a 3 or 4, rather than a 5 star book which blew them away. There's something comforting about the concreteness of a rating. The only thing I wonder about with ratings is how do you judge a book? Do you look at it in isolation, and say "I really loved this book, but it didn't totally blow me away, so it's a 4" or do you say "I really, really liked this one, but it's definitely not as good as ____, so I can't give it a 5" ... that's where my hesitation is coming in right now. I used to only give fives to my all-time favourite books, but since starting my blog I'm a bit more lenient.

    Food for thought.... :/

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  22. I like book ratings! I say you keep them. The review, I feel, helps to clarify a rating, so I may like a book that you thought was middling, or hate one you loved, but I still want to know on a quantitative basis how much you like a book. I'm definitely going to give a book that reviewers give 5's more of a shot than I would otherwise.

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  23. I like book ratings because it helps me get to the bottom line for people who are readers, but don't have enough time to read several reviews. It also helps books in priority too if you got a large pile.

    I do have a content section in each of my reviews. I've had lots of teachers and fellow librarians comment on how helpful it is when it comes to collection development. If I can, I also try to include a suggested reading level. I try to give enough info about the book so that the parent/teen/kid can make their own choice of whether or not to pick up the book.

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  24. If you feel the star ratings are a little too brief, have you considered using 3 or 5 or so metrics? For example, Plot, Characters, Style, Interest...you get the idea. Kind of like rating restaurants not just with one rating, but on Food, Service, and Setting.

    I'm not saying I think you need to change anything, but if the star ratings seem too one-dimensional, this might help.

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  25. I rate on GoodReads for ME and that's all. I don't rate on the blog since, well, I see the blog as a review for myself and others, vs a rating being for me alone.

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  26. I'm a big fan of ratings because it gives me a better idea overall of what the reviewer thought of the book.

    I always read the review but a rating also helps me to track if a reviewer has similar tastes in books as I do.

    I like to follow blogs of bloggers whose reading tastes are close to mine.

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  27. Ratings help me a lot. They ground me in the review and help give me a general idea of where the reviewer feels. Honestly, I'm less likely to read a review that has no ratings than be turned off from reading based on a particular rating.

    If the review says the plot was very slow and it was slow enough that they removed a star, that means something to me. Likewise, if they say the plot was slow, but this didn't hinder their experience enough to lower the rating, then that also gives me information.

    Without the ratings, both reviews would mention a slow plot, but I wouldn't have any real understanding of how that affected the reviewer's overall enjoyment.

    Ratings also help give me a better idea of a reviewer's tastes, which is really helpful.

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  28. I personally like ratings and I use them myself. As a reader it's a easy way to see how much (or little) someone liked a book. I don't just look for ratings - I read the reviews as well but it does help. Especially with reviews that read more like a play by play of the book...I want to know how the book made the reader FEEL. Ratings help with this.

    Also, my ratings reflect how I feel about a book. It's pretty straight forward (in my brain at least) how many stars I'll give a book. I don't go into great detail explaining my rating system on my blog - I assume people will realize a 5 / 5 star book is a great read for me and a 1 / 5 star book is one I didn't enjoy at all.

    It's really up to you! Do what feels right to you! Never mind that everyone has been talking about it. If someone else didn't bring it up, would you be questioning your rating system at all?

    Love your blog! :)

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  29. Hmmm! I'm a soon-to-be-published author and about to enter uncharted territory for me with all the rating stuff. :)

    What I can say from my limited experience, ratings are fine, but a review really does help to give a more refined understanding of what the reviewer felt about the book. Everyone doesn't rate the same way, so one reviewer's 3 doesn't always mean the same as another's. But the actual comments are what convey a sense of the book and the reviewer's thoughts. I'm not likely to make a buying purchase based on ratings, but I do remember specific comments.

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  30. I would read the review with or without the rating. I don't read them until the end of the review.

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  31. As a blogger who recently decided to give rating-ditching a try, I'm still torn on this. I like that ratings give a snapshot picture of the review, but I also think that snapshots can be too simplistic. How many people are going to look at a big fat 3 on a review and decide not to even read the review because, oh, the blogger gave that book a 3, it must be a mediocre book? They miss out on so much because sometimes I give books a 3-star rating not because it disappointed me, but because it surprised me.

    What made me ultimately decide to try not rating my reviews was the realization that I will at least skim reviews written by my favorite and trusted bloggers, no matter the book. And that bloggers whose reviews I've never really read, I *still* don't read even if they have, say, a 5 on their review. The rating-less review seems to me to encourage blog loyalty. I don't need my favorite trusted blogs to give ratings, because I read them not primarily for book recommendations, but to see how they interact with books.

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  32. I really like the ratings. It gives me a snapshot view of what the reviewer thought of the book. As a librarian and a blog reader, I see several people review the same titles. If everyone gives it a 4 or 5, I will probably buy it. Having the rating cuts down on how much time I have to spend reading reviews. I can focus on the highlights more. I like how VOYA gives ratings for both popularity and readability.

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  33. I'm not a rater (except on Goodreads) mainly because it's so subjective. I tend to see the ratings others give and if it's really low I'll pay attention but other than that I tend to glaze over them. But, I think that if you like doing the ratings and it helps you better portray your thoughts/feelings you should do it!

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