The Evolution of Rating Systems

Am I the only one that looks at some of my old ratings and visibly cringes?

I mean, when I first started blogging I genuinely meant to give certain books four stars. Now I look at those book and wonder how that was even possible because they're totally not up to par with my current four star reads. I feel like now that I've read more and have more books to compare other books to, my taste has gotten much pickier. This year alone I have given the final book in at least three series lower ratings than all of their predecessors. I'm just becoming ten times more analytical because of how much reading I've done. With more books in ones repertoire, rating books just gets trickier and trickier.

It makes me wonder if the rating system is worth it.

le gasp!
People will go and read some of my first ever reviews. They'll cringe because, well, they suck. They'll also cringe because, well, some of my ratings will probably mislead them. I genuinely meant well in the moment, but naivety and illness and overall loving a book a lot more than you know you should can impact ratings a lot, as can emotions.

But, in the end, I can't imagine blogging without ratings. I know a lot of people do that, but it's almost like my own system to help me sort out my thoughts in my reviews. When I hit writer's block, I sit there and look at the rating I gave it and try to think about what I loved and/or hated to make the book deserve that rating. When I start thinking, my rating becomes more defined and on point because I'm realizing that my initial reaction was totally off the mark and was blinded by my love or hatred of the ending. So, in other words, ratings make me think clearly when I go to write my reviews.

Merci, ratings, merci.
Then I see other blogs that don't really have number ratings, but they utilize another system. They have words that express their overall summaries and then they actually put ratings to work on Goodreads, separate from the review so that they can differentiate between the two. At times, these frustrate me only because I can never tell where the book is on the scale of good to bad since it's all 100% through interpreting a review in your own way. Am I the only one that experiences this issue?

I see blogs come up with their own rating system out of 100 or using letter grades from high school, but I'm used to my five star scale. Heck, even I go off scale when writing The Broadway Review because I use a "thumbs up" scale since I associate that with show-business. There's a ton of ways around ratings, but can someone really go without ratings entirely?

The answer is that I don't really know. I go nuts without some form of a rating system, which a lot of blogs have decided to leave out. I happen to co-blog on a blog like this and, at times, I find my reviews to be misleading. I focus on the positive or negative too much in order to express the rating I have in my head and on Goodreads and the review may turn out be the equivalent of a review with a much higher or lower rating. How do people balance everything and make their thoughts come across equally without the rating as the ultimate equalizer?

But I want to!

So, really, this is my question to you: what kind of rating system do you use and what made you use it? Do you find reviews with or without ratings to be more bothersome? Please share your thoughts below! I was thinking about this the other day and I'm genuinely curious since everyone works their own way for a reason.


  1. I like rating systems. I honestly have a hard time reading blogs that don't use them at all. I don't mind if it's a star rating system or a "word" rating system (like "Liked it", "Loved it", etc.)—I just need SOMETHING.

    I always like to get a quick glance at the rating before reading the review so that I can go in knowing what to expect. But if there's no rating system, sometimes I just feel less desire to read the review X_X Maybe that's weird, but I can't help it :P

    My ratings do change, but I think that's just a part of reading/blogging. Sure, I may have given Insurgent 4 stars and now I'm sitting there a year later thinking "WTF? That was like 2.. 3 tops". But whatever. We get more critical, but ultimately our readers read those reviews in the moment, and at that time, 4 stars felt right to me. Sure that may change later, but that's okay! I think that happens to a lot of bloggers.

  2. I use a five star rating scale, mainly because it was the one I had seen the most of and it seemed to feel natural for me. Though I sometimes wonder if I'm rating them correctly because I will give a book that I absolutely loved 5 stars (occasionally if I really loved it I'll say it needs an extra star or something), then I'll read a book that I loved but not as much as the other. Do I still give it 5 stars or do I give it 4.5/4?
    I feel like standards change for everyone at some point. I might try to keep the same standards but they end up changing just a teensy bit at times. It can't be helped!

    When I'm reading a review I find it really nice if there is some kind of rating system. I don't care if it's stars, numbers, letters, words or what, it's just really helpful to have something that sets the tone for a review, and I find it less confusing. Sometimes it's okay if there is no rating system, but sometimes at the end of a review I'll be like well they seemed to really love .... But didn't like .... And said ... and I just don't truly know whether or not they liked the book

  3. I use a 5 star system too, but I totally agree with you about the evolution. I look back at books I've rated (especially on Goodreads) and I'm like "what was I thinking, that book was dreadful!?". But, when I'd read it, I was just starting to get back into reading again, and it wasn't so bad.

    And yeah, I have to have a rating system when reading reviews. Even if it is just a "bottom line" at the end of the post. Because even if the positives and negatives are laid out well, I still want to know what stood out the most- and ultimately, if the reviewer thought it was worth his or her time. Usually, I look first at the rating, and then read the review, so I have it in mind.