Do we need star ratings when reviewing on our blog??
Unlike my last post I’m going Troll hunting!!! which was a sarcasm laden and foul-mouthed vitriolic tirade of biblical proportion today’s post is nice and relaxed, it’s a pleasant and polite little ramble through sunlit fields of grass with no swearing, that’s right NO swearing, colour me shocked! 🙂 Whereas I’m going Troll hunting was akin to a late-night 18-rated/r-rated movie with bad language, innuendo, debauchery and buckets of visceral gore this post is like a mid-afternoon matinee child friendly animated film, it’s fun for all!
For most of us with the name of ‘book blogger‘ we predominantly all use a rating system for our book reviews. The most common would be star ratings, ranging from either 1 star to 5 star or 1 star to 10 star as the rating system with the lowest number being for the lowest rating and the highest number being for the highest rating, simples! Of course a ‘star‘ rating is merely the generic rating term we see near everywhere but you might have a rating that fits in with your blog. For example if your blog is called Pillowy Clouds and Cuddle Bunnies then you might forgo the use of ‘stars’ and rate in either ‘pillowy clouds‘ or ‘cuddle bunnies‘ as your rating system. Or for the grimdark fantasy version, your blog might be called Severed Heads and Bloody Knives and you rate in ‘severed heads‘ or ‘bloody knives‘. Heck, if you like mixing it up you might even name your blog Cuddle Bunnies and Bloody Knives, you can see what that rating system would be and where I’m going with it, so I’ll spare you me actually writing it and boring you! Point is that in some form or other, be it stars or your own personal term, you are use a rating system to tell us what rating you have given a book.
Recently though I’ve seen a few bloggers moving away from actually rating their reviews and simply offering their thoughts on the book they’ve reviewed. One might ask, but with no rating how do we know if they liked the book or not?! Yes we’d obviously read the review and see their thoughts. But where the rating is usually found with the book information at the beginning of the review, it’s missing, there’s nothing there, a big blank cavernous space of emptiness. For readers of the blog that means no way of knowing if the blogger liked the book or not until we’ve actually finished reading the review.
There’s also bloggers out there who instead of simply having no rating system whatsoever, choose to review using a more straightforward approach than the numbered system out of 5/10 star. They give us something to tell us if they liked the book or not, an indication of their preference. For example, say they would class it as either a ‘rate it‘ review or a ‘hate it‘ review with the rate it review being the equivalent of between 4 star and 5 star and the hate it review being the equivalent of between 1 star and 2 star. Then you’d also need something to rate and class a middling book of 3 star. I could be looking too much into that though and the majority of blogs might just have the equivalent of ‘rate it‘ or ‘hate it‘ but you get the gist of what I’m getting at and I’d personally have three choices (hate it, not bad, rate it).
With bloggers moving away from the star rating system and edging more towards no ratings or a simplified system on their blogs it begs the question of why?? Why are we ensuing a system that has been around for years and years and is known the world over as the standard rating system??
One answer would be uniqueness, changing up the system from stars to something that matches your blog name while only a minor thing adds that personal touch, it’s something a little different to make your blog stand out from the crowd.
But, I think the main reason is stress and that it’s getting harder and harder to decide on what rating to actually give to a book. Recently I’ve struggled on what rating to give, thinking to myself is it to high, to low, etc. I know it’s a personal choice what rating you give but when you start questioning it, well then it’s adding stress to the review. You try to decide on a rating and then stick to it. If you gave one book 4 star and another 4 star you then might start thinking ‘I’ve rated them the same but I enjoyed that book more‘ and you ask yourself should I have rated that book higher or maybe the other one lower?? And if you have the unfortunate occurrence of reading a book that you don’t enjoy, you rate it low but do you then start asking yourself was it really that bad?? Should I have rated it higher??
Then you weigh up what you liked and disliked about the book and you come to the final rating that you decide on. How do you determine the difference between a 4 star or 4.5 star book, obviously a 5 star read would be a book you couldn’t fault. But if you look lower down the rating scale how do you determine between a 2 star, 2.5 star or even a 3 star read what makes you pick the exact rating that you end up giving??
Thinking about it, to me it seems quite freeing NOT to have to decide on a rating that you give a book instead just offering either your thoughts or a like it/hate it simplified rating.
To answer the question I posed in the title of this post No, I don’t believe that we do need star ratings when reviewing on our blog. How we review and rate is of course a personal choice and is upto the individual.
If someone rates a book low then we know that they didn’t like it regardless of the actual rating, likewise if they rate a book high then we know that they enjoyed reading it and we still read the review though to know why the blogger actually felt that way about the book. Also, when we see a specific star rating we immediately perceive that the book is going to be good or bad without knowing the reasons behind the bloggers view, we pigeon-hole the book to that particular rating. And that begs the question when reading blogger reviews are star ratings included with the review beneficial to the book or detrimental to it?? If we see a 2 star review we perhaps won’t read the book at all or we will read it with very low expectations, not everyone likes the same though and what one person dislikes another may in-fact like. Same for a 5 star review, it means the blogger who reviewed it found the book to be perfect, that doesn’t mean however that you will also find it to be perfection, you might only give it a 4 star review and feel disappointed that it didn’t live up to that 5 star billing. Is it perhaps better to just go with the notion that the blogger didn’t like the book or really rated it without the stigma of a star rating being attached??
Has anyone recently stopped rating the books they review on their blogs?? Do you feel free and like a burden has been lifted not having to decide on a rating?? Has there been any comebacks from fellow bloggers, authors or publishers due to it?? If you don’t rate on your blog how do you choose what rating to give on Amazon and Goodreads??
What about those of you who use the star rating system, what do you think?? Should everyone use it?? Do you look down on those who don’t rate the books they review??
And a question for you all, is a star rating really that important on a blog review??
You might be wondering why I chose this topic to babble on about and surprisingly I do have a reason. As I mentioned earlier I’ve struggled recently on what to rate a couple of books I’ve finished read, I found myself questioning why I came to that particular rating and it got me thinking that it could be time for a change.
I’d still give a star rating on both Amazon and Goodreads, though I must admit that once I’ve posted my review on either site I tend to forget about it (unless someone trolls it, hi Amazon jerk), it’s done with, posted, time to move on. But with my blog I pay more attention to it as it’s my review on my own blog.
But I’m seriously considering getting rid of the star rating system that I use to review (1 star lowest up to 5 star highest, yep, I’m generic) and changing to a simplified rating system. I think it would be fresher for my blog and also a burden lifted on me as I wouldn’t need to question the actual specific rating that I decide to give.
The rating system would be classified as:
- Hell No!!! Book Review. Which would be for 1 star to 2 star reviews.
- It’s OK!!! Book Review. Which would be for the middling 3 star reviews.
- Hell Yeah!!! Book Review. Which would be for 4 star to 5 star reviews.
(If you are wondering how I decided on those terms, it’s simple, I’m a wrestling fan and back in the day Stonecold Steve Austin would say ‘gimme a hell yeah’ and it’s always been one of my favourite sayings along with hell no, so a hell no review for a poor book and a hell yeah review for a great book).
Thoughts my fellow bloggers?? Is it a stupid idea?? A good idea?? Would you stop reading my blog if I change the rating system?? Does it not bother you how bloggers rate??
Follow The Tattooed Book Geek on: