Ratings Craze

When sites like Amazon started allowing and encouraging ratings of the products they sold, it seemed like a good idea. Lately, it seems to me the whole ratings craze has spun out of control.

Ratings for books, movies, and music are useless to me. I’m dubious of rating art of any kind. But when people give books one star ratings because they don’t like the price, or a five-star rating because the author is their friend, that spells disaster for the usefulness of any rating system. Rating products like backpacks, furniture, etc., is slightly more useful.

As a person who uses a product or service, whether it is a book, a gadget, a piece of furniture, a restaurant, or an app, I should feel under no obligation to rate or review the product. Yet, I am bombarded by reminders to  provide feedback:

  • Authors ask me to leave a review on Amazon—not necessarily because the book is good, but more reviews lead to better sales.
  • Amazon even asks me to rate the packaging that products are shipping in.
  • Apps are particularly aggressive. I can’t stand it when a useful app is interrupted by a reminder in the app to rate the product. Many of these reminders are manipulative. The app will pop-up a message that reads: “Do you like the app?” What am I going to do, say no? I’m using aren’t I? But if I click “Yes” then I’m asked to rate the app.

The entire system is overcomplicated. I either like something or I don’t. I find it useful, or not useful. The five-star spectrum is as obnoxious as the one hour meeting default in Outlook calendar. How about: “Did the product meet your expectations?” A simple yes or no will suffice.

Audible takes ratings a step further. You can rate the story, the performance, and provide an overall rating. Three ratings for one product!

When we bought our new car this summer, the salesman told us that we’d be getting a call about our experience at the dealership. We’d need to rate our experience on a scale of 1 to 10, ten being best. His boss, our salesman told us, considers anything less than 10 a failure, so please give him a 10 if we don’t mind. What kind of jerk of boss considers anything less than 10 as a failure. In school, 9 out of 10 is still an A. And anyway, what does a 7 mean as opposed to an 8, or a 6 for that matter?

Some services that should ask for ratings never do. My doctor and dentist never ask me to rate the quality of my last visit. I suppose they don’t want people to know how much time I had to spend in the waiting room, or how little time they spent with me. I never see rating requests from the insurance company, either.

I’m tired or rating things. I gave up rating books a long time ago. On the list of books I’ve read, I’ll note books I recommend with an asterisk. Otherwise, nothing.

If you don’t mind, please let me know how well you like this post by rating it on one-to-five stars. I won’t tell you which is better. You can also leave a review in the comments.

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