Ratings…What do they mean?

January 11, 2016 Blogging, Discussion 6

I hate ratings. For me, the worst part about reviewing a book is rating it. I find it extremely difficult and in fact gave up on ratings on my blog reviews last year. The only place I rate books now is on Goodreads but still, I hate it. How are we as readers and fans of these books meant to sum up a thousand words with just 5 little stars?

Last year I had a rather awkward experience with a book that I rated and reviewed on Goodreads when I was asked by the author about my rating choice. The author was confused because they felt that my review and the rating I had given the book on Goodreads didn’t quite match.

This is in no way me wanting to complain about the author (and it’s for this reason that I am not including their name), because we were already corresponding at the time so it wasn’t like the author had randomly contacted me to complain about my rating, and also the way in which the conversation went it seemed that the author was just genuinely confused as I had written some quite good things about the book in my review but in the authors mind my rating was saying “meh, it was ok.”

After a few emails back and forth with the author we quickly realised that ratings meant two completely different things to us, and here in lies the problem.

So what are the correct descriptions for ratings?

If you were to go by the Goodreads rating descriptions this is what it would mean…

  1. Did Not Like It
  2. It Was Ok
  3. Liked It
  4. Really Liked It
  5. It Was Amazing

Does this match your ratings?

I had a look around quite a number of the blogs that I follow and I was really surprised that a big majority of them actually do not offer any explanation for what their ratings mean. I could be thinking that their rating means one thing whilst they actually mean something totally different.

I think providing an explanation is the best thing to do when using ratings, so that when checking out a blogs review we actually know exactly what their rating means.

Blog Ratings Charts(Confessions of CarlisaA Perfection Called Books) (Lost in Wonderland)

Just from these three charts that I pulled from some blogs you can see the differences. The 5* and 1* ratings are the same, but things tend to change a little bit around the 2* – 4* areas.

For some people 3 stars means they liked it whereas for others it means ‘meh, it was ok’. Does 2* mean it was bad or just not for me? Is 4* like or really like?

But there are other ways to use star ratings too…

Through my noseying around the blogging universe I found some blogs that are doing different things when it comes to using star ratings…

At Such a Novel Idea they still use a star rating but they break it down  so we can see what influenced the rating. This doesn’t help much for knowing what each star rating means, but it helps us to see what went into the decision.

Rating breakdown

Then there are blogs like Chrissi Reads who instead of using their star rating to tell us how much they liked/hated a book, they instead use it to tell us if they would recommend the book to others…

Chrissi Reads Ratings(Source: Chrissi Reads)

Then there are the blogs who just decide to do something completely different…

Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner has a sliding scale for her reviews and she points out exactly were on the scale the book would stand…

Book Rock Betty organises her reviews by ‘shelf’. Top shelf is good, bottom shelf is bad. You can see her descriptions for each shelf on her rating page here.

Book Rock Betty Rating

Every one is doing something different…

From what I have seen no two blogs are doing the same thing and although everyonesratings are, in a lot of cases, similar they are not always the same and this leads to massive amounts of confusion.

For a while now I have been using words, rather then numbers to rate the books I read:
Loved, Really Liked, Liked, It Was Ok, It Wasn’t For Me, I Didn’t Like It, I Hated It…etc
But after seeing what everyone else has been doing, I thought I would change it up a bit.

So I have decided to go with a a rating scale on which I can tell you what I think about the book. It may end up changing at some point, but for now here it is…

Really Liked.5

How do you rate books? Do you ever get confused by ratings?

Have you ever wanted to rate differently to how you do now?

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6 Responses to “Ratings…What do they mean?”

  1. Carey

    I agree with you – they are confusing. I’ve always just arbitrarily assigned a number. I’ve always disliked doing that and thought I need a formula to come up with this number. I admit that I don’t have an explanation of my rating scale on my blog. To tell the truth at this point I couldn’t give you an explanation. I will have to think long and hard about my ratings and come up with something. Thanks for posing the question!

    • Brocs Bookcase

      Thanks for stopping by. I know that a lot of people just go by a gut feeling that the book “feels like a 4*” I also find it weird sometimes if I have rated 2 books with the same rating but then I don’t feel like one as as good as the other. It’s such a confusing topic! Thank you for stopping by, I’m glad my question piped your interest and good luck wit your future ratings!

  2. Amanda Marie

    Star ratings can definitely get confusing. Everyone does things differently. I wasn’t even going to use star ratings on my blog but then I had to use a star rating on Goodreads so now I do use a scale. It is hard because a book can easily fall between two ratings. Part of the book can be epic and another part can be meh. I’m glad you have found something that will work for you.
    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    I keep forgetting ratings get confusing but it really, really does because there is no one rating system everyone uses. I always like to post a star rating, no matter how pointless it is, but I also try to make sure I have some kind of summary thing in my review which sums up my feelings, for more clarity. I will probably always end up sticking with star ratings simply because I like them. Sometimes, the best reviews don’t bother with ratings and instead it’s all in the writing because that is where your real thoughts come out anyway.

    I don’t have a rating explanation and I think that is probably something I should do (along with general blog maintenance) but since it’s different on every blog even that is not that helpful as people will easily forget and are highly unlikely to keep referring back to it. Maybe a word rating system would be better and I do like the scale thing as you can then show the degree of like better.

  4. Sara@LibraryHuntress

    I don’t rate books at all anymore. It’s so subjective and there’s no consistency, so what’s the point? It’s quite freeing to just read a book, and not worry about picking it apart/trying to fit it into a certain category/rating. I’m really working on being a free range reader this year and not rating books fits in with that 🙂

    • Brocs Bookcase

      I think not rating is a good thing to do, as I don’t go by people ratings anyway. I will always read the full review instead. I like the sound of that, a ‘Free Range Reader’ 🙂 Sounds freeing!