I’m always curious about people’s – readers’ and authors’ – reactions to ratings.
I’ve read some interesting discussions about their value as well as posts about the various systems reviewers and readers use in order to determine them.
At the same time, I’ve also seen responses to ratings which have left me scratching me head, particularly when an author goes into a hissy fit over a 4-4.5 star rating. That just seems, well, weird arse to me considering the fact this would tend to indicate a pretty bloody good review.
Anyways, after my post the other day about gushing, I decided to posit a question I’ve been wondering about; that is, when you rate a book on a 1-5 scale what is your level/threshold for indicating whether it sucked or not.
In my case, I’ve always been accused, for wont of a better word, of being a hard rater so I decided to take a closer look at my goodreads bookshelves to see how nasty I really am. 😉
I have 2231 books which I’ve ranked at goodreads and my average rating is 3.03.
This actually surprised me – apparently I believe my own press 😛 – so I decided to drill down into the detail. This was the result:
Besides obviously liking the number 3, what interested me was that my 2 and 4 ratings were essentially the same. For the purposes of this post, though, let’s focus on the 2s.
At goodreads, a reader gives a book 2 stars when they think ‘it was ok’.
This explanation says it all because, while I probably won’t look at it again, the book was a relatively pleasant distraction for how ever long it took me to read it.
Sure it may not have blown me away or anything, and I could have easily gone straight on to the next story without giving it much of a second thought, but it really, truly was okay.
I am also likely to recommend it to people to whom I think the writing, the sub/genre, the themes or the characters etc are likely to appeal.
For me, therefore, the threshold for suckage is between 1 and 2 stars, with 1 star being something I didn’t like for whatever reason/s.
However, I have the feeling that my threshold differs from other readers and certainly from what some authors may think.
So how about it? What’s your suckage level?
For me, this is how I think of my ratings:
5 stars = A = warm fuzzy time/super awesomely intense = very likely to read again
4 stars = B = quite enjoyable but didn't induce total warm fuzzy time = may read again
3 stars = C = it was OK/meh= won't read again
2 stars = D = it wasn't good, but I'm disappointed rather than angry that I spent money on this crap = suckage
1 star = F = Blech! I'm so angry I spent money/time on this piece of complete and utter crap, and I might even be angry that this piece of crap was published or that someone told the author this book was even halfway decent let alone good = the black hole of suckage
My average rating is 3.29. 🙂
I think that most books are going to be 3s – good reads, but not spectacular. 2s are generally ok or so-so reads for me, and 1s are meh. Generally, 1s and 2s have quite a few problems, be they editing, characterization, plot, etc.
4s are very good reads. 5s are excellent – they might not be perfect, but they have that something extra, that draws you in and draws you along and simply WORKS.
My average rating is 3.85.
That could be because I tend to pick books I know I will like.
I rate A-F. A&B being “OMG reads” while C is “I liked it. It had some probs but I would still recommend.”
If I give a D or F then “it was a waste of my time and frankly I wouldn't let my dog piss on it.” But I don't say that.
I think it makes sense that 3 is average. 5 is absolutely exceptional. However, it seems there are so many review sites where all one sees are 4 and 5-star reviews, that the ratings have become somewhat meaningless (and I guess I'm speaking of actual review blogs here, not reader reviews on GR or Amazon). 4 seems to have become the “standard” rating. Maybe even 4.5 I think that's why some authors start to freak out about 3-star reviews, because on most of the reviews sites, 3 is the lowest rating anyone ever sees.
I'm in no way trying to justify bad author behavior. I'm not saying we SHOULD freak out over a 3-star review. But I think that's why it happens.
Suckage levels is 1 star, D grade or below or DNF.
3 stars is a “B” grade to me, which means a solid read.
Alaina typed it out for me. LOL Thanks hon. To me 2 out of 5 (between 20-40% likage) is not “okay”. That means I disliked it at least 60%. Unless 5 star is like one of those weird teachers who only gives an A to those kids who get between 98-100% but a B is between 80-98. I like even distribution.
I tend to be an easier rater than some. It's us Canadians, we're born and bred to be “nice”. 🙂 My Good Reads stats are: (not just m/m but mostly)
Average of 1084 books is 3.47.
I only have 5 one star ratings, (and I'm surprised a couple of rabid fans haven't tracked me down for those as they are known to), but generally if it's one star it means I didn't even finish it and I don't rate the books I didn't finish.
I had a bunch more two star, can't figure out how to pull that information out without counting, but I seem to have been harsher back in the day because some of those I gave two stars at the time I know kind of like and have reread. Hmmm. Okay, so I'm a totally arbitrary rater and depends on my mood, where the moon is in the cycle and whether I had anything good to eat that day it seems. Don't trust me people, don't trust me.
I do sometimes wonder when I gave it two stars and the average is 3.88 what I'm missing but I also know there are certain authors who have a HUGE fan base who give every book a 5 and they just don't work for me. I've tried and something about it just doesn't mesh with my brain, so sometimes it happens.
I rate pretty much exactly like Alaina does, though she said it much better than I ever could have 🙂
My ratings are similar to Alaina's:
5 = A = Excellent
4 = B = Solid
3 = C = Average
2 = D = Below Average
1 = F = Not recommended
My Goodreads Avg so far is a 3.96. But then I haven't finished loading all my books or ratings yet. My average should go down by the time I'm finished. It's taking me forever to bring all my reads up to date there.
My Goodreads average is 4.36, but then again, I give up on any book I consider to be a two star rating or below, and I've decided not to post any more three star ratings as other authors seem to get in such a tizz about them. As far as I'm concerned, three stars = decent enough but not my kind of story, or really interesting but hugely flawed. Fours and four point fives are for stories I really enjoyed, and fives are for ones that leave me wanting to read them again straight away!
So far I've been fairly successful at seeking out lots of five star reads, but as I work my way through the genre classics and become more adventurous, I suppose I'll end up with more and more fours (and unposted threes)
Wow, Kris, you've got an almost perfect bell curve going on.
My average is 3.89. I started rating books on Goodreads, and just went with their system. I do wish we could have half stars. 🙂
I dont rate books myself but if I go by the reviewers that I follow their reviews mine is about 1 star..
and that is also depending on the mood I am in…
I have been known to binge on a bunch of 1 star rated books in a weeekend – because I just want a book that I dont have to think about it at that time……
I rate pretty much like Alaona too.
Heh, snd I just realized my avg rating is 4.09. I must be really easy. I think in part that's because I'm really picky about the books I choose to read. Also if a book is boring me, I tend to not finish it, and I don't rate DNF books. And finally, I have some 2 and 3 star reads that I never rated on GR because I feel like I should write something about it to justify the low mark, but I've been too lazy to do that.
I hate rating books. I've done it on GR, but only with a.) nonfiction and fiction outside my genre, and b.) stories within my genre I've liked very much.
Now, as a recipient of ratings… Ever since I saw the movie Amadeus and heard Salieri's not-so-mad rant about “mediocrities,” I've hated getting 3s and Cs. I'd rather fail spectacularly than feel like a mediocrity. Producing work that's passionately despised seems like more of an an achievement than producing something that's forgettable. (And it probably results in better royalties, too. *g*)
Alaina: Your ratings are pretty much as mine albeit your 5 equals my 4, etc, etc with your 1 star being a DNF for me.
Oh, and can I just say as one ranter to another… I think you should patent your explanation of a 1 star rating. I was in awe. 😉
Chris: So we're pretty similar in our view of ratings, although you are obviously *slightly* nicer than I am. 😛
“… 5s are excellent – they might not be perfect, but they have that something extra, that draws you in and draws you along and simply WORKS.”
Yup, that WOW factor regardless of any niggles that you might have.
Tori: “That could be because I tend to pick books I know I will like.”
I've noticed several other people say that as well. It's interesting. Me thinks, I need to post on it. 🙂
“If I give a D or F then “it was a waste of my time and frankly I wouldn't let my dog piss on it.” But I don't say that.”
Erm, you know you just did, right. ;P
Marie: “I'm in no way trying to justify bad author behavior. I'm not saying we SHOULD freak out over a 3-star review. But I think that's why it happens.”
I tend to avoid review sites which are full of shit, erm, I mean, 4 star reviews, preciously because the opinions expressed there have become meaningless. I can see, however, how this would give an author an 'inflated' or skewed view of their work. I still think it comes across as being ridiculous, but I can see now that type of context would make it difficult. Thanks for that perspective, Marie.
KBC: Another reader who rates similar to me. Whodathunkit. 🙂
Tam: The way to work out your % etc is by clicking directly on your average rating. That's how you get the nifty little table thing that I got.
“To me 2 out of 5 (between 20-40% likage) is not “okay”.”
I think this might be why I see a 2 star different to others. When I'm rating at goodreads I'm doing it more with regard to what the stars mean there as opposed to it being a score out of 5. Does that make sense??
It might just be that I'm a perfectionist, but I love that your grading falls in an almost perfect bell curve >.< I don't think that makes you a tough grader at all. I'd be more likely to trust your ratings because your not arbitrarily ranting or raving about every book you read. You clearly have some system that works consistently for you. My Goodreads average is 3.41. For me 3 is “average”, but looking at my stats, 4 is the most common rating I've given. I think that's because I tend to read reviews and carefully pick books a lot of the time. 1 star is reserved for books that are like nails on a chalk board. I've had DNF's that didn't even make 1 star.
Rachel: Excuses, excuses. Aren't you meant to be a writer or something? 😛
Hilcia: Consensus so far is that your rating system is the standard. It's interesting that you predict your average going down once you've finished loading all your books at goodreads. Why do you think that is? If you don't mind me asking. 🙂
Josephine: “So far I've been fairly successful at seeking out lots of five star reads, but as I work my way through the genre classics and become more adventurous, I suppose I'll end up with more and more fours (and unposted threes).”
Or 2s and 1s. ;P Maybe you could start a bookshelf at goodreads under a different name so that you feel comfortable posting all your ratings and reviews. Then, of course, you could tell us what pseud you're using. Pink swears, we won't tell a soul.
Eyre: “Wow, Kris, you've got an almost perfect bell curve going on.”
And you all are fucking with it. 😛
I've seen many other readers say the same thing about wanting 1/2 stars at goodreads… and that has given me another idea for a post. Inspiration, I haz it. 🙂
EH: “I have been known to binge on a bunch of 1 star rated books in a weeekend – because I just want a book that I dont have to think about it at that time……”
I find that fascinating, EH. You should do a post about this. I'd be very interested to see if any other readers do the same.
Richelle: “I must be really easy.”
No comment. Also, I think there should be a rule that those who force you to join goodreads can't use laziness as an excuse not to rate.
“Also, I think there should be a rule that those who force you to join goodreads can't use laziness as an excuse not to rate.”
Gosh, that was so long ago I really can't remember which of us joined GR first. I think maybe I joined because you did. 😛
I really should go back and rate some of those books. I think my other problem (besides laziness) is I feel bad when I post a poor rating, especially since most of the m/m authors are on GR (and on my friend's list so they get my updates). Just easier not to post it in that case. Of course if it's really bad then I also feel guilty for not warning other readers about it.
Funny, even though I think I'm an easy rater, of the books we have in common, my ratings are 90ish% similar to Jen's and Tam's. They're actually pretty similar to yours too if you add a star to your rating. I think a large part of it really is that I don't rate the bad books– well, that and I do my best to avoid reading them in the first place. Even still, I sometimes have the urge to go back and re-rate all the books I've read (moving some 5's to 4's and 4's to 3's).
KZ: “And it probably results in better royalties, too. *g*”
*snort* I can understand what you're saying, KZ. I would be curious to know, however, if there were others who felt as you do. Maybe you should do a poll? 🙂
DL: As I said in my post, having been told how tough I am as a rater, I was pretty amazed when I saw the results of my ratings. If anything, I'm pretty much average.
“… my stats, 4 is the most common rating I've given. I think that's because I tend to read reviews and carefully pick books a lot of the time.”
That's it. I'm definitely doing a post about this. I want to know more about how carefully people choose the books they buy. 🙂
Ah, mine is almost a perfect curve of 4 as I have no 1 star reads. 3 and 4 almost equal.
5 – 8% 94
4 – 40% 436
3 – 41% 457
2 – 8% 96
Definitely half stars are needed.
Richelle: “I think maybe I joined because you did.”
“They're actually pretty similar to yours too if you add a star to your rating.”
*sigh* I know. I hear it all the friggin' time.
“Even still, I sometimes have the urge to go back and re-rate all the books I've read (moving some 5's to 4's and 4's to 3's).”
I re-rate books occasionally. It could be because I've had a rethink about my first rating or I've read something similar and had a change of heart about the rating of the first book. As a rule, I tend to re-rate lower… I've not really thought about that before. Heh.
Tam: You're fucking with my curve too. I used to hate the kids that did that. 😛
Well, I'm glad my ratings system is on par with everyone else's, but apparently I'm much nicer to books than a lot of you. My average rating is 4.16. But that could also be because I've gotten pickier about the books I read and don't just buy things willy nilly or because they have pretty naked men on the cover.
It's kind of funny actually, because as a teacher my average grade for student papers tends toward the C+ range. I guess my standards for my personal enjoyment are little more easy going. Plus, my students aren't half naked or fully naked men (at least during the time they interact with me, thank goodness!) so that probably accounts for my meanness there!
But, I've only given about 12 one star reviews, and those are all for books I've finished. I don't assign ratings to books I don't finish. I guess if I had to describe those books I'd say that they're what's on the other side of the black hole of suckage.
I don't know. I'm getting really tired of how pissy people get over ratings on goodreads. They're more for me personally and the few people who follow my reviews anyway. It's not like they're an assessment of the author as a person, although the way some people react you'd think that was the case. Either that or the book really is their baby and you just told them it was ugly and smelled like split pea and spinach baby poo.
My Captcha: racista (huh? that's rather unfortunate!)
“I can understand what you're saying, KZ. I would be curious to know, however, if there were others who felt as you do. Maybe you should do a poll?“
I had a feeling you'd understand. 😉
However, I don't think too many writers would. And how would I even phrase the question? “Dear fellow authors, do you prefer that your work is considered mediocre, bland, acceptable, unremarkable, tolerable, and/or just okay, or that it's judged a hellish stink in the nose of the fiction gods?”
I mean, come on. We're dealing with divas here. All writers want to believe they've written the best thing since…the last best thing. Although 3s and Cs are “graciously” accommodated, I doubt a place in Mrs. Giggles' caning queue would be welcomed with open arms and bare asses. 🙂
Alaina: And that their baby is the ugliest bloody thing you've ever seen in your life. Remember Kramer's reaction in that episode of Seinfeld? Too funny.
I hear you about getting tired of the hissing fits that some authors throw over reviews and ratings. It seems that not a week goes past sometimes without some author behaving badly. There's only so many times you can say 'when will they ever learn'. The idgits.
“… apparently I'm much nicer to books than a lot of you…”
*sigh* Yet another person joining in on the 'Kris is a hard rater' bandwagon. Maybe I need to get some t-shirts printed. 😛
KZ: “I had a feeling you'd understand. ;-)”
It's the Libran in me. Sometimes it can be a real bitch when you just want to be angry as hell about something.
“We're dealing with divas here. All writers want to believe they've written the best thing since…the last best thing.”
Definitely true for some and, nope, I don't think the responses would be too good if you couched the question in that particular way, KZ. LOL.
How 'bout I do the poll? I'm still curious as hell to find out what other authors would say.
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Okay, I'm trying again – I wrote out this really long comment and Blogger ate it. Grrr.
After working tirelessly to find out where the heck my average rating on GR was, I can see it is 3.73. I have only 679 books on there so far though and there must be at least that many again to put on one day when I have some spare time. *snort* Initially I thought the extra books might bring the average down but then I decided that it probably will stay the same or go up slightly. The remaining books are probably 2/3 or 3/5 paper and the rest ebooks. The paper books are mostly* ones I wanted to keep so that probably means they're better than average – the ones I didn't like so much I've sold on eBay or exchanged at a USB. And, I can't remember what they were so they're not going on GR. 🙂 OTOH, I keep all my ebooks even if I don't like them much so that will probably flatten things out a bit.
*by mostly, there are some I've kept just because they make a set and I don't want to mess up the collection. I'm sure you can relate Kris! 🙂
On my blog I use A-F (although there are not D's or F's yet) and I also use +/- so I definitely think there should be half stars on GR!
Generally, an A is one where I loved it, flaws and all – I connected and enjoyed and/or it moved me and made me sigh/smile.
B is really good.
C is average – I'd give that 3 stars on GR. A “meh” read will be 2.5 stars rather than 3.
2 stars is for D and 1 star is for F or DNF. So far I only have one 1 star review on GR – it was an old Linda Howard which just didn't work for me in terms of story and I got bored and quit reading – I've given other books of hers 4 stars so it was just that particular book.
It bugs me that my GR grades aren't consistent with my blog grades because there aren't 1/2 stars – but that's just my OCD (or DCO as the case may be!). I tend to put in the half star in the comments but they don't appear on the averages so the figures aren't quite right anyhow.
I really was much more articulate the first time I wrote this…
Kaetrin: “… by mostly, there are some I've kept just because they make a set and I don't want to mess up the collection. I'm sure you can relate Kris!”
No. I have absolutely no idea what you mean. 😛
Your system of rating seems to be essentially the same as Alaina's, Tam's, and others, although you use A-F on your blog.
There have only been a few – a very few – instances when I've ummed and arred over the half star thing at goodreads and this was mainly when I was reviewing for Wave. At the risk of being stoned to death, I like the simplicity of the whole stars. Less work for my little brain. 🙂
See, I'm the opposite with the half stars. When something is better than average but not “really good” I um and ar about giving it 3 or 4 stars – where it sits with me is in between but I can't rate it that way – either I overrate or underrate and that offends my sense of fairness!
I'm the same as Alaina, both in how I rate my books and my average rating which is 4.05, rather than being in the 3 star range like many people here.
2 stars is definitely my 'disappointed' grade and I would only give 1 star if I actively hated the book.
Kris, I don't know that I think you're a hard grader– it could just mean that I have fairly low expectations! ;oP
Hey, go ahead! But choosing between “average” and “insanely bad” won't be easy for too many respondents — just sayin'.
What Chris said 🙂 Although, I can't get my average at work since they block goodreads… the heathens.
Anywho… I usually give the book the benefit of the doubt and give the higher rating when I'm on the fence about it. I'm a moody reader, so why take it out on the book?
Kaetrin: “… either I overrate or underrate and that offends my sense of fairness!”
See. Much nicer than me. 😉
Jenre: “2 stars is definitely my 'disappointed' grade and I would only give 1 star if I actively hated the book.”
I don't even think in terms of 'disappointed'. I'm beginning to think I'm just damned lazy. LOL.
Alaina: Or that mine are too high. *g*
KZ: Hey, I can be subtle and sensitive.
Mariana: Your work actually expects you to work. How very dare they!
“I'm a moody reader, so why take it out on the book?”
*clutches pearls* I can't believe you would say such a thing, Mariana! As a moody person you should know that you always, ALWAYS take it out on something or someone. It's a rule.
I'm so ashamed of you.
::hangs head:: my bad 😦
Another fab post!!
I've got over 2400 books on GRs but have only rated 1509 books so far with an average of 3.57
5 star 7% 106
4 star 46% 697
3 star 43% 656
2 star 3% 46
1 star 0% 4
I wish they had 1/2 stars on GRs because I've got quite a few rated as 3.5 and 4.5
5 stars… I totally loved the book
4 stars… I really liked it a lot
3 stars… I like it
2 stars… It was an okay story but I wouldn't read it again or recommend it
1 star…. Didn't like it AT ALL or DNF
Thanks Lily. 🙂
Your percentages are really similar to Tam's. No wonder you guys get on so well and like each other's recs. LOL.
I hate rating…I'm probably one of those people everyone hates, because I rate a lot of books '4'. Weirdly, I see '3' as being average and '2' as being less than average… Hmm.
Orannia: I don't think you're weird at all! If you have a look at what others said about ratings you'll see that your approach is very similar to the majorities. 🙂
Thank you Kris 🙂 Still hate ratings though *grin*
Me too, hun. Me too.
Sorry it took me a while to return and respond, Kris. My prediction is based on the fact that I loaded and rated my favorite books first. I'm still loading books (the older reads) and keep leaving the DNF's or low-rated books for later. 🙂
Aw, okay. I can see now why you are so sure about your average rating going down. Thanks for answering my question, Hilcia. 🙂