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Rated: E · Article · Opinion · #544855
Wondering how to approach the rating system on Writing.Com?
Writing.Com is a reading and writing community where writers come to receive honest feedback from their peers. Ratings handed out here should be constructive and not just a pat on the back.

If you want to send encouragement, give out a few Gift Points.
Reserve your ratings for the sincere
evaluation of items.

The following statements and questions are common among timid or confused reviewers; I have followed each with my opinions on how one should rate at Writing.Com.

If a piece has a bunch of 5.0 ratings, even though I might find a mistake here and there, I feel obligated to rate it 5.0 stars, too.
I, on the other hand, become skeptical that the item doesn't deserve all of those fives. At the first sign of a grammar or spelling mistake, I know that the 5's were handed out as "encouragement" to keep the author writing, instead of the true rating that the item deserved. Telling someone that his/her item is perfect when it is not does nothing but give false hope to the author.

Instead rate the item with a number you feel it truly deserves and send a review giving your opinions on why. Encourage that author to continue working to perfect that item; maybe eventually it will reach that point of 5.0 and the author can feel confident that it is indeed worthy of that rating. Tell the author to let you know when the item has been edited and you will reconsider a new rating for the item. Take your ratings seriously and the authors will, too!

I want to encourage authors to keep writing, so I give them high ratings.
See above: false hope. Give them something to work toward instead. By rating an item honestly, you are helping that author with an item, not simply covering up the mistakes. If you want to encourage them, send a few Gift Points along with your ratings to show them you have confidence in their writing abilities.

I feel bad giving my friend a low rating.
If you can't rate it honestly, then don't rate it at all. You are not helping your friend by giving false feedback. People can get that from family and friends offline; they come to Writing.Com for honesty. Be straight with your friends!

If I see a lot of effort has gone into an item, I will rate it highly regardless of the mistakes that I find within the item.
While a lot of effort may have gone into an item, slapping a 5 on there as a pat on the back is telling that author "You're done! It's perfect! Move on!" when that is most definitely not the case. An honest review and lower rating accompanied by "Write On!" tells the author, "Even though I found some mistakes, I see a lot of potential here and you're on a good path; keep writing!"

What are my responsibilities as a reviewer?
There is a difference between your job as a reviewer and your job as a reader. As a "reviewer", you want to give that author honest, usable feedback with an honest, believable rating. I also suggest including both positive and negative points within your feedback. Let that author know what worked for you and what did not. A movie reviewer won't watch a movie, then give it 5.0 stars if there were parts he/she didn't like. That reviewer would not be respected in the field of "movies" because he/she would be known as giving false reviews.

A "reader", on the other hand, reads through the item, notices what things he/she liked and disliked, makes a mental note of it and gives a star-rating to reflect that mental note. Instead of not "telling" that author that there was something wrong by giving him/her a 5.0, give them a 3.0 or 3.5 to reflect those mental notes you had while reading it.

I won't hand out anything lower than 4.0 rating.
If this is the case, you are basically just walking around the community patting everyone on the back without actually telling them what you think. Also, by doing this, you are degrading those items that actually deserve the "above average" rating because you are handing that out to everyone regardless of the item's quality.

I feel that giving anything below a 4.0 means "This is awful and I didn't like it at all."
You feel this way because that's how you react when you get those numbers. You need to start with yourself and reevaluate your own reaction to the numbers. You'll find that eventually, you can hand out those ratings truthfully and feel good that you're helping an author instead of lying to them.

I think Writing.Com should come up with a different rating system.
It's not the rating system that's wrong. Members that use the system to hand out high ratings as encouragement skew the numbers and degrade the integrity of them.

How do I know if someone wants honest feedback or not?
If an item is rateable, you can feel confident that the Author is asking you for honest feedback.

I am confused on how I should rate an item; I wish the author would tell me how they want me to rate it.
If you wonder this, you are confusing yourself by changing your rating methods. You yourself need to come up with a standard of how you rate. I suggest that you come up with something like my "Comment-In-A-Box, as it makes it easy for me to refer to when I read an item. Don't worry about how someone else "wants" you to rate. They wrote it; now they want your honest opinion on it.

What if I review someone honestly and the author does not appreciate my review?
If you review someone that doesn't appreciate the honesty and constructive criticism that you are giving, then that person is not here for the reasons above and he/she has chosen to ignore and disregard the guidelines of this piece. In a perfect world, every member of Writing.Com would have read this piece and understood that this site is not only about encouragement, but more about honing your skills and perfecting your writing so that it can be the best it can be. Since it is not a perfect world either online or off, there are members that will not respond well to anything less than 5.0 and a pat on the back. If someone responds negatively to a positive, but less than perfect rating/review, then he/she is not here for constructive reviews and I would recommend that you make a mental note of it and move along to find another author who does indeed appreciate and is looking for those honest reviews from his or her readers.

Be confident in your honest ratings and reviews;
our writers appreciate it!


If you're interested in viewing my rating criteria, please read:
 Comment-In-A-Box  [E]
My view on and methods of rating items on Writing.Com.
by The StoryMistress

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