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Rated: ASR · Article · Writing.Com · #551156
A post regarding ratings on Writing.Com turned into an item!
This was posted in a message forum, but since I did spend about an hour assembling it and it does pertain to ratings and Writing.Com in general, I'm posting it as a personal item in my portfolio for future reference.

In regards to changes we are making to bring more honesty into the 1 to 5 star rating system on Writing.Com, a member included the following in a response post to me:

I personally know of 4 moderators who don't agree with you SM, and who want to delete their accounts entirely.

The following is my response:

I really dislike threats, insinuations, or references members who "want to delete" their accounts; and I'll explain further as to why that is throughout this post.

It should be very well understood that I do not expect and I do not require that moderators agree with me. I do not stop anyone from deleting their accounts. I do not stop anyone from using the freely accessible account relocation tool. I do not have a knife to any member's neck that logs into this site. I do not force them stay once they login; I do not force them to return once they log out.

I do not expect every moderator to remain a moderator forever; No organization should expect 100% of its members to stick around for ever. You can not please all of the people all of the time; I accept that. If a number of our 145 Moderators do not agree and do not agree to the extent that they can not support the paths the site chooses to take, it is very much their right to relocate themselves to either Preferred Author or Registered Author, or even to leave the site completely.

It is just my opinion of my own importance, however, I was indeed the first member of this site. For more than 2 years (nearly 3 years since the first version was launched in Feb 2000), I have worked night and day, weekday and weekend on Writing.Com. I have driven its vision and created the tools for our visitors and members to use.

I do believe I have done at least an "ok" job to date. We've outlasted any competitor and have far outpaced the tools and growth of any sites that started when we did. I do not believe I will do any less as good a job tor in the future.

In the future, I will continue to do the same. *I* do not have the choice of demoting myself; or threatening to do so; and I do not have the choice of deleting my account. Neither is an option for me. I am responsible for the policies I put in place and the way they are enforced. And in the end, the consequences of the actions on the site most effect SMs and myself. It is our livelihood, our 24 hour a day job, and what we have invested everything of ourselves, both financially, physically, emotionally and mentally into for the last 1,000 days of our lives.

While I am very sorry if some moderators disagree with me to the point that they leave the site, since I do not have the option of leaving if I disagree with them, there's little I can do. As I said, I will not try to please every single individual, especially if I think doing so is detrimental to Writing.Com, my home, my site and my livelihood.

So then, onto a little more of what I think Writing.Com is about.

My goal for Writing.Com has always been to bring writers together to help them improve their skills. I do not feel that 5 starring a portfolio, regardless of quality, is a help to anyone.

Further, I believe that I have heard from writers from all corners of the globe through more than 400 testimonials, endless reviews to my own items, reviews to SMs' rating articles and too many direct emails to count; and what I hear from them is that they are not interested in a place just for the sake of encouragement without truth. Most have that at home from friends and family; and they note that they can get it from many places online already. What writers want is a constructive, powerful site with honest and useful feedback.

Please, do not misunderstand me. I am *not* promoting harsh, mean, useless, and/or insensitive reviewing. That's simply not true.

I am promoting full and correct use of the entire 1 thru 5 star rating system. *We* are trying to explain and putting in place both policies, tools and documentation to make the star rating system as useful as it can and should be.

Rating every piece the same 4 or 5 stars here does not help new writers and it harms established writers, while giving a horrible image to Writing.Com. Not utilizing 3 stars and below because you feel it is unfriendly or mean simply devalues the 4's and 5's on the site. It hurts everyone.

Clear and succinctly:
I am promoting sending honest, helpful, and pleasant reviews, while making sure that these reviews are accompanied by honest ratings that use the entire 1 to 5 stars on the scale provided by the rating system.

I am promoting NOT slapping a 4 or 5 star *rating* on an item just because someone asks for it. Or just because the writer appears to be trying, even though the quality is still bad. Or just because the topic is extremely sensitive; we've given unrateable items for item members don't want honestly rated.

I am promoting giving the member something to strive for over time when there is room to grow and improve.

A significantly imperfect piece should receive the 2 to 3 star rating it deserves, accompanied by a review encouraging the author to improve the piece with perhaps suggestions and a note "I'll come back and re-evaluate my rating if you'd like me to look at any changes". A "Don't give up, keep trying" goes a long way. If they don't want to make changes, it's up to them. Not everyone will agree with everyone's opinion, but YOUR honest opinion was asked for if you see the rating block!

Your rating should be based on your honest opinion; not your fear of hurting someone. Perhaps the honest review and realistic rating will be the call to action a writer needs to really improve on something that can be. Perhaps they won't, but when you give the next 4 or 5 out to a piece that really deserves it, you'll know the person really deserved it and earned it and it will mean more to them and more to you.

Leaving a piece that deserves a 2 or 3 without rating it degrades of the value of the 4's and 5's given. More importantly, it leaves the author wondering why, even though they got so many views to their item, it received very few ratings. They do not understand that people didn't like their item and rather than rate it, they just left. These members are left utterly confused. They think that our site is not helpful and that no one rates their stuff! They leave here disgruntled and unhelped. If you haven't heard this feedback or seen the posts about this, please take my word that I have received, seen and read them.

Lively's poll results show, so far, that people do want honest reviews. I think we should assume they also want an honest rating to go with it.

It is important for the future of the site we figure out how to make honest ratings work the way they should. I will take steps to make it happen and to help ensure we provide honest ratings to our authors as we move into the future.

If some people are not interested is coming along with us as we take yet another step in building Writing.Com, I can not stop them from leaving. I believe that in the future we will have a much larger membership base that consists of more people really interested in improving their writing skills; and I think that is a road to success for Writing.Com and its writers.

On the other hand, we have provided unrateable items that allow for endless non-anonymous feedback in a format that does not allow the reader to use the 1 to 5 star rating system. If a member does not care what the rating is, they should use this system! If they do care, they should want honest ratings using the full scale from 1 to 5.

Thanks for listening.
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