This is the second part of my editorial about review score ratings. While part one looked at the "cursed" 7/10 and how to avoid it, this article will discuss the difficulties of using an unadjusted (i.e. non-inflated) rating scale, focusing on the lower side of the scale.
|My face when I'm deciding what ratings to give.|
[Note: for the purposes of discussion, I will restrict ratings to "shows," so I don't have to say "show/game" and "watch/play" all the time.]
So, let's just jump right in, shall we? First I guess I'll talk about the difficulties with above average ratings, the 6-10 range. I may as well start with 10. This is perhaps the most misunderstood rating of all of them. This is because everybody has different opinions on what makes a 10/10. Some people feel that a 10/10 should be reserved only for those shows that are perfect and flawless in every way. These people generally never give out any 10/10 scores, because nothing will ever be totally perfect. Other people believe that a 10/10 is a "masterpiece," and that only those exceptional (but not necessarily perfect) shows should get it. They are much like the group above, only a little more lenient in giving them out. Then, there are the people who give 10/10's based on how much they enjoyed the show. If they absolutely loved watching it, then it gets a 10/10. Then there are the people who give 10/10's based whether or not the show was well-made, disregarding the overall quality and focusing on production values, then there are the people who rate based on personal feelings, et cetera, et cetera. All this to say, there are a lot of standards for what makes a 10/10. This can get very confusing for a readers, because there no common standard. They have to jump from one review standard to the next, and the jump is not always successful. The result of all this is that 10/10 are extremely hard to use effectively on an unadjusted scale. Heck, on any scale. One has to very clearly state what their criteria for a 10/10 are when they give it, otherwise people will assume they're using the standards of those other reviewers they've seen. Often, this leads to a misunderstanding between ratings, and subsequently leads to an unsatisfied reader.
Next is 8/10 and 9/10. These two are actually the easiest of all the ratings to use. The reason is that they are pretty much the same no matter where they are used. An 8 is almost always "great," and a 9 is almost always "excellent." There are very few varying definitions on what an 8 or a 9 out of 10 mean.
Then, the cursed one, the 7/10. This one is actually fairly straightforward to use as well. One simply has to explain that a 7/10 implies a higher quality than a non-inflated 7/10 does. There's not much more to it than that.
Now we're getting into more murky waters. A 6/10 is difficult to use, because most everyone thinks that 7/10 is "average." Thus, they immediately think of a 6/10 as "below average." Since this is the opposite on a non-inflated scale, and a 6/10 is actually above average, it can be tricky to use. You have to strongly defend the reasons why it's good, but you can't overplay them, otherwise it will sound like it's a 7/10. As I discussed in part one, many people tend to apply school grades to media ratings. This means that a 6/10, or 60%, is a "D." D's are kind of the cursed letter grade. They're liked a mark of shame, even more so than an F. A "D" means that the person almost had it, but not quite. It's like telling them that they sort of understood, but didn't try hard enough and that's why they didn't get the passing C grade. Apply this to media, and people start thinking "Oh, this show is just 6/10. That means it missed the mark, it has wasted potential, it's not worth it." Trying to communicate that this mindset should be abandoned is difficult, to say the least.
|You looking like this yet?|
Last we have the bottom of the scale, 1/10 (or 0/10, if you do that). This one is a much like the 5/10, in that when you give this rating out, you're establishing that show as the standard of terrible. If something worse gets a 1/10, then people will ask why the first show wasn't higher, and if something better gets a 1/10, people will ask why it isn't higher. It's not quite as difficult to use as a 5/10, but it's close.
There is another reason why non-inflated rating is difficult. This reason is that, like with school grades, we have a tendency to rate down from 10. This creates the problem that we have now. Around 6/10, we feel that things are far enough away from 10 that they're no longer worth our attention. Rating on an unadjusted scale means that you to rate both up and down from 5. This is hard, both to communicate and to practice.
|Trying to rate intelligently is like trying to find Russians.|
What are your opinions on the unadjusted scale and how to use low ratings? Please, share your thoughts!