June 21, 2013

Ratings: To Have or Not to Have, That is the Question

Fact: I don't like coffee. I just like saying Coffee Clutch in my best and deepest New York accent. Considering I'm a New Yorker, I'm pretty freaking good at it. So I've got my tea and I hope you have your heated beverage of choice, because it's time to gab the day away.

In my opinion, ratings is one of those hidden, secret obstacles you don't realize is going to stress you out when you start blogging/decide to start blogging but then you write your first review and ENTER THE KEYBOARD SLAMMING AND CUSSING (you heard me - CUSSING).

How do I know this? Well in addition to having more than one serious conversation with blogger friends about ratings, I also went back and forth on this when I first started blogging. At first I was like: YEAH RATINGS OBVSIES. But then I was like: but my books don't all rate on the same scale. Seriously. Try putting The Mediator Series and The Fault in Our Stars on the same, 5-star scale. If you can do it, you have my utmost respect. 

But I bet, if you've read a review on my blog, you're mentally asking me: GABY, YOU HAVE RATINGS ON YOUR BLOG. WHAT THE WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT RIGHT NOW?

Well, I was conferring with my friend who is currently majoring in business (he's a smart kid. Really smart. HI JOEL) and he was all: "Gaby, if you wanna be critical and be taken seriously, you've got to have RATINGS." 

And, REALLY, who doesn't want to be critical and taken seriously?

So if this crisis happened nearly 7 months ago, why am I talking about it now? 

Well, in the last couple weeks I've been having issues rating books. I THINK this is because I've become more comfortable with my voice on my blog. It's also possible I no longer care about being critical or taken seriously. I just want to have fun, read some books and hang out with my blogger friends. I ALSO think that sometimes people just look at the ratings and leave before reading the words and, while that's a totally legit life choice, I feel like it misrepresents my opinion. Which I definitely don't want.

ALL OF THIS BEING SAID: I get the other side of it. Clearly. Because I had ratings on my blog for the last 6 months. But I also see reasoning for NOT having them - or for not having a numerical, star system. So I'm picking a happy medium (I think). I'm gonna keep my little sum up at the end of my reviews, which I feel like are good for readers who want the quick and dirty and swap out the stars for adjectives. Or emotional short sentences. Because I'm a flail-y, emotional kind of girl. And, well, like, Goodreads will just have to be a gut reaction star thing, I guess (stupid Goodreads).

So did I use this post as a sounding board to figure out my personal blog issues? Yeah. Did it help you guys too? I hope so. Either way, be sure to let me know what system YOU use to rate books. Just don't tempt me to change my mind again, okay?


  1. I can see why some people don't have ratings; really, sometimes it's hard to place a book. If I have something silly and fun that's rated five stars and an amazing, wonderful novel like The Fault In Our Stars that's also five starts, I guess I'm okay with that because I love them both, but in different ways. Though I guess I'm the only one who knows that. Still, I don't think I would ever not rate novels, but that's just how I am. Lovely post, Gaby!

  2. I've been having problems with ratings lately too. I like having them, but at the same time they're always changing depending on my mood. That's what makes it difficult for me, I think. Different scales, different moods, changes over time, etc. I don't know if I want to get rid of my ratings or even change them, but it's definitely on my mind.

  3. Ratings are so complicated because there is no one way to do it. I personally use them just because I think it's helpful for readers to get a snapshot of how I feel (whether completely accurate or not) and it helps me able to put it on Goodreads. Is there ever stress and debate about which star it should really get? Yeah, but so far I haven't let myself stress about it too much. We'll see how that goes in a couple months though...

  4. You're preaching to the choir, Gaby! When I started blogging, I'm gonna be honest: I had a stick up my butt. I thought I had to be SO critical, analytical, and professional. So, ratings, starred ratings of course. But at some point I started thinking, like you, "hey some of these ratings aren't fair." So I went to a "feel" based system of ratings, and did away with stars (though darn you GoodReads app for MAKING me star a book when I finish it.)

    Now I have cringe-worthy (I felt nothing/it was so bad), shrug-worthy (okay book, didn't connect, some issues), beam-worthy (good book, some feels, some big issues), squee-worthy (omg great book, lots of feels) and swoon-worthy (crying is about the only way to get a swoon-worthy rating from me. I've realized even just this year, although I've had that system for awhile, that I'm getting a LOT more comfortable blogging, that I want to have as much fun with it as I can, and that it's not FAIR to give arbitrary stars to books. I mean, can I give a novella 5 stars? What does that mean for a full length book that gets 5 stars then? It throws a lot into question and basically I think starred ratings are kinda silly. Of course, some people might think *my* way is silly, too, but it works for me. (And now you've reminded me I need to edit my rating system to talk more about feels, because that's what it's based around.)

    Anyway, do what feels right, chica. Personally I DO glance to see what a blogger rated a book when I'm reading their review but I care more about the actual review itself - how did it make you feel, are you being honest about the issues it had, etc.

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

  5. I totally understand where you're coming from. I'm new to written blogging, I normally booktube, and on Youtube I barely ever say the rating I give a book. However, I feel compelled to give a rating on my blog because I feel it sums it all up nicely. I use a /10 rating as I feel its more accurate, and I always mention at the top the genre and age range so people know what category I'm comparing it too :)


  6. I use stars but I think about changing. I don't know what I'd change to, though. I do feel like some books don't fit on the same scale. I like there being some short good/bad/middle rating on reviews so I can glance at reviews of books I haven't read yet without reading too much. Sometimes I read the whole review if it's something I want to know more about but sometimes if I want to go in blind I look for a rating or quick idea. Ratings are very difficult.

  7. I'll admit to using ratings on Goodreads, but only because (1) I NEED to put the stars in or I'll feel like my GR review is incomplete and (2) I like rating things based on how I feel right when I finish on Goodreads. Generally, my GR ratings work as follows:

    1 star = MEH. DID NOT LIKE.
    2 stars = IT WAS JUST OKAY.

    But on the blog, I don't actually use ratings! While I would like to come up with some awesome way of summing up my review (like Jamie's clever post-it and your little summary at the end or the way Estelle and Magan rate their books), I just haven't yet. It's part of my mission before January 2013 to figure that out and implement it! It would be nice for people to have an easy way of seeing my overall opinion of the book. I'd still avoid using an official rating system (like stars) on mine though, because it's too hard for me!

  8. I tend to use ratings because I've VERY Type-A and goodreads has them and I like them to match. That being said Some of my 5 star ratings aren't equal to other 5 star ratings and I do know that.


  9. I agree, ratings drive me crazy at times. I use those half stars a lot! And one 5 star book doesn't always match another 5 star book in quality. I think you can only take a rating in to account along with a review, together they give the full picture. But each on their own feels a bit imcomplete.

  10. I also have trouble rating books, I've been looking over my rating and thinking well yes that is a four star but it just doesn't compare to that four star, am I being too generous?

    I think what it boils down too using 5 for a rating just isn't enough! It doesn't supply enough of a range! I've considered going back and reworking it with a 10 but then how does that translate to Goodreads. UGH

    new GFC + bloglovin follower

  11. I thought I need ratings when I started too. I've had them, and they still appear on some of my older posts. I'm trying to go back and fix that though because I just don't think they're necessary. I mean, I don't think a rating really tells anyone anything except that I liked to didn't like a book. The point of reviews is telling people what is good or bad (or both) about a book. I take my cues from professional review sources (like Booklist and School Library Journal), and I just don't use ratings. I do clearly state whether I would recommend it though. I hope that's helpful enough to those who read my reviews.

  12. I totally understand being confused about ratings, but I'm still a firm believer in them. Granted, before I stopped blogging I was using my own system who a friend helped me make up: Miss(didn't do it for me at all), Near Miss(it had some redeemable qualities, but ultimately not that great for me), Hit(solid book, really enjoyed), and Direct Hit(totally loved it).
    I still use these when I rate on Goodreads. Even though people reading my review likely don't know what it means, I like having it their for my own future reference. It also helps me figure out how I feel about the book as a whole.
    And I always go with gut-reaction on stars on GR.

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