[uf-discuss] hReview feedbac

sfam at cyberpunkreview.com sfam at cyberpunkreview.com
Mon Jan 30 13:33:50 PST 2006


Here's some stats people who read and write movie reviews (most are film students or trying to get in the business):

I asked the question, "What rating scheme to most reviewers prefer?"

1 - 5 stars, no half-stars - 2
1 - 5 stars, with half-stars in-between - 8
0 - 4 stars, no half-stars - 0
0 - 4 stars, with half-stars in-between - 13
1 - 4 stars, no half-stars - 0
1 - 4 stars, with half-stars in-between - 4
1 - 10 stars, no half-stars - 11
1 - 10 stars, with half-stars in-between - 15
ABCDF Scale - 6

One other commented that I should have included the "thumbs up" or "Thumbs down" scale.  Also, in questioning, all respondents who voted for the ABCDF scale said they needed "+" and "-" options for their ratings (meaning, they needed to be able to review the movie as a "C+" movie).  In the comments, this scale seemed to get far more comments then votes, but partially this was due to one board where I put "other" instead of this (I forgot about it on my first board).  Many of the comments followed up saying this was the easiest to understand, as really, most people "know" what an "A+" movie is, or a "B-" (Not great, but still watchable), etc.  The other important thing for each scale involved knowing the cut-off for good movies.  Most mentioned this in their reasoning.

You'll notice that with the exception of the 1-10 stars with no half stars, virtually every other category that came up high used half stars.  In follow-up questions, most agreed that the half-stars on the 10 point scale were more critical for the higher end movies.  This was also the case with a few who use percentages - they find the 90%-100% part most critical in terms of breaking out really good movies, primarily oscar-calibur contenders.

There were a number of interesting comments that indicated some of the thinking using one scale or another.  Here's a few of the comments:

    "Whats the focus of the site going to be SFAM? If its going to be debating the merits of well known films I'd say a percentage, 1-10 with halfs or letter grades with plus and minus would be a better idea. If its going to be more about recommending less well known films to people then I'd go with something smaller like 4 stars as with marks out of ten or percentages most stuff seems to end up around 6-8/60-80% which isnt very helpful."

    "I think that if you give someone a smaller less exact scale they tend to use more of it when reviewing things, giving a film 4 stars out of four with no halfs for example is a lesser comitment to its quality than giving something 10/10...I think that kind of system would help as it makes it easier to pick out the better reviews and encourages more indepth reviewing as you can't be so exact in the rating."

    "I use the 1-10 system, with half points included. I abandoned the 4 star system with half stars roughly two months ago......it served me well at one point, but I found it to be too damn limited."

    "My first choice would be 0-4 w/ halves. My second choice would be 0-10 w/ halves..."

    "And also, everyone seems to think that there is some absolute standard that films are being judged against, which just isn't true. In reality, a 4 out of 5 or 19.5 out of 20 or F only really means something if you know whatever films the reviewer has liked or admired, and how the particular rating in question fits in with the rest of their scheme..."

In terms of whether knowing the bottom end was important, almost all but one (see first comment below) agreed that it was important to know, although there was mixed opinions on the use of the "0".  Most thought this was critical for a 5 point scale (0-4), but when you get to the 10 point scale, the uses for it differ.  Here's a few comments on this in terms of answering my follow-up, "is a 1-4 scale significantly different than a 0-4 scale":

    "A zero rating usually means that you hated the film so much that you want to make that VERY clear. It´s only different from a 1 in that it shows your unchecked ID and rabid hell´s-a-coming anger better. I don´t think it makes a 3 rating any different, to use your example. So, no (it's not important to know this)."

    "Yeah, I think it makes a big difference. Making it just 1-4 would mean getting rid of the 0 and 0.5 ratings, which would completely alter the scale I'm going by. I'm basically looking at it the same way one would if he chose to use a scale of 1-9; my 0 star rating would be like a 1 on that scale, and **** would be like a perfect 9."

    "I use 0-4 star rating, with 1/2s. And ABSOLUTELY yes, I think you need to know the bottom end of the scale, and it should be 0. For me, there's a few select movies that get perfect, 4 star ratings. On the other hand, there are a few select movies that get a perfectly awful 0 star rating. There are movies that have barely any reason for watching them, so they get a little bit more then 0 stars, but other movies are painful to watch, and get the 0 star. I have been thinking about changing to a 0-10 rating. I think you need the ultimate high and the ultimate low, though, in any scale." 

    "If you're going by 1-10, then in actuality you have a range of 9 points ( SFAMNOTE-others disagreed with this and stated it was a range of 10 points). 0-10 would have all 10 points. 10 is the perfect set of points, because you can split them directly in two for a 5 and 5, thus having a point of where the film fails or succeeds. So to me, 5/10 is fresh, but barely. Anything below that is rotten. I would also round up all the elements that make a good film, and start subtracting from the 10 point system if there are any flaws to that film. Story, execution, acting, dialogue, fun factor, would this appeal to the genre fans, would it appeal to anyone etc.. To me the better form of criticism is not just saying I don't like this movie for so and so reasons, because what is good to you maybe good to someone else. I guess empathy would be a useful thing to have. More importantly though and of course this would be reaching, but I think to be an efficient critic you MUST love ALL genres. Biased opinions whether it's based on religion, morality, or particular genre, is useless. If critics are going to be any sort of guide, or a helping hand for the potential viewer, then we should be more constructive. If someone has an interest in say HOSTEL even though they have never gotten into the horror genre, then even though I would like the film I would have to let them know what the film's demographic is targeted for."
So in terms of having a default value, this survey seems to indicate that half-stars are widely used and expected.  If you're not going to have them, then probably your best bet is a 1-10 star rating.   

More importantly though, in terms of gaining acceptance for this in the plugin world (Wordpress, for example), if the half-stars aren't an option, chances are that adoption will suffer.  While I generally am thrilled with the wordpress plugin, not having a the 8.5 and 9.5 option definitely causes me consternation. For instance, in my case, "Serial Experiments Lain" isn't really a 9 star anime in line with the other ones I have there, but its certainly a step up from some of my 8 star ones. 

sfam at cyberpunkreview.com

"Paul Bryson" <paul at msn.com> wrote in message news:dqpvmu$e8q$1 at sea.gmane.org...
> <sfam at cyberpunkreview.com> wrote...
>> I will pose this question on a few boards though, and see what others
>> think of this. As I understand it, your big concern is wondering whether
>> explicitly defining the bottom number is critical (my guess is YES, most
>> certainly). Secondarily, you are interested in what scale most prefer?
> Well, I am primarily trying to figure out a way to present the information 
> in a way that is easily parsable, and as part of that I would really like to 
> include a lower end.  Understanding how important the lower end (both in 
> current usage, and desired direction) is to people is important to deciding 
> how critical it is.
> As per microformat protocol, the primary source is what is currently being 
> used, which appears to be the 1-5 inclusive scale.  I would still be 
> interested though in what people actually want as far as scales.
> Atamido 
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